Dedicated to the devotional, exegetical and philosophical study of theological paradox in Conservative, Thoroughly Biblical, Historically Orthodox, Essentially Reformed theology . . . to the glory of God alone!

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Troll Patrol - Answering the Critics of Sovereign Grace

I received a troll-style comment after the previous post about the Sovereign Grace Ministries Marriage Conference at Metro Life Church in Orlando, Florida. After rejecting the comment, I sent the following note to the sender in a direct email. Awhile back I wrote something similar as a comment on the sender's website, but as far as I can tell it was never published. I wonder why . . .

I have also responded to a comment made by the same person here:

Dear Sir,

Every time I post a blog article about Sovereign Grace Ministries, I get a comment from you in response. It's always the same comment, with links to some disenfranchised-with-Sovereign-Grace-Ministries websites. I see that you feel strongly about promoting these sites, and I don't blame you for trying to do what you think is right and important. However, the way you are doing this is technically called "trolling." I almost never publish a "troll" comment on my site (although I did once post your comment in order to respond to it, for your benefit and that of my readers).

I want to tell you about my experience leaving a Sovereign Grace Ministries church one and a half years ago. After admiring SGM from afar for about 10 years, I was able to become directly involved in two different SGM churches for several years. I was involved in low level leadership and very committed to the church in every way. Never did I suffer from the illusion that these were perfect churches, but they were some of the best I've seen - even with their limitations.

When I felt God was moving my family toward a different church, I went to my pastor and told him what I was thinking and why. I included some mild criticisms, but I was not in any way hostile. I asked him for his honest feedback, and whether he saw any dangers in the direction I was heading. He told me he would like very much for my family to stay, but he said it seemed clear that God was indeed moving us in another direction. He also said that my family and I were welcome to return in the future if we were so moved, and he invited me to share any further criticisms or evaluations of the church that might come to mind in the future. We conversed about this on several occasions, and he did not apply pressure or manipulation of any kind. In every way he showed a genuine concern for the well being of my family, even beyond what seemed to be in his own interest.

This is the kind of gracious, loving attitude I experienced in SGM from start to finish. It's possible that you have some real and valid bones to pick with Sovereign Grace Ministries, but based on my experiences and observations you will never get me to join your crusade.

So I ask again, kindly, please refrain from leaving troll-type comments on my blog.

Derek Ashton

I decided I would take the opportunity to provide a few more back links to Sovereign Grace Ministries and do my part to build up what these critical folks are working so hard to tear down. Funny thing is, these antagonists would want me to leave my Sovereign Grace Church - which is exactly what I did, but not for their reasons and not with their unbridled angst. The anti-Sovereign-Grace blogs display exactly the kind of unteachable, arrogant, bitter, and overly critical attitude one would expect to find in people who have responded poorly to pastoral care and correction. The tear-down campaign might say more about those who have joined it than it does about their target.

I suppose these folks will respond by criticizing me and launching a THEOparadox Survivors website, for people who have become so theologically orthodox and balanced that they just couldn't take it anymore and had to become hyper-Calvinists. At the least, I'd guess I'm going to receive the same slab of troll spam in my in-box (again).  UPDATE: To their credit, these folks have not sent me another email.

For the record - I love, appreciate and highly recommend Sovereign Grace Ministries and its leaders. God will be the judge of their faults, and also of mine (and of their critics, too).

Psalm 75
1 We give thanks to You, O God, we give thanks,
For Your name is near;
Men declare Your wondrous works. 
2 “When I select an appointed time,

It is I who judge with equity

3 “The earth and all who dwell in it melt;
It is I who have firmly set its pillars. Selah
4 “I said to the boastful, ‘Do not boast,’
And to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up the horn; 
5 Do not lift up your horn on high,
Do not speak with insolent pride.’” 
6 For not from the east, nor from the west,
Nor from the desert comes exaltation; 
7 But God is the Judge;
He puts down one and exalts another
8 For a cup is in the hand of the LORD, and the wine foams;
It is well mixed, and He pours out of this;
Surely all the wicked of the earth must drain and drink down its dregs. 
9 But as for me, I will declare it forever;
I will sing praises to the God of Jacob. 
10 And all the horns of the wicked He will cut off,
But the horns of the righteous will be lifted up.


  1. Today on the Survivors site you did not treat the moderators of that blog "with respect and grace, speaking the truth in love."
    You assumed you were censored and then appeared to lash out with accusations of how commentators with a positive view of SGM are treated on the blog. You appeared to swagger in and mock them for not treating you the way you felt your comment should have been treated.
    I am not judging your heart. just communicating how you came across.

  2. Singing Cook,

    Thanks for bringing this to my attention. You are correct. I did misinterpret the commenting policy, then assumed the worst, took offense and responded harshly. This was a deplorable manifestation of pride and poor judgment on my part. It probably did more harm than good.

    I have posted a retraction and admission of guilt on the Survivors site.

    Again, thank you for caring enough to offer your feedback.

    Derek Ashton


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