A public apology to Johnson for a perceived rebuke

It seems I have fallen into the very same trap that I have been trying to address in my recent posts on “tone” in the blogosphere. I recognised this trap yesterday and tried to address it to some degree in my post 2001 posts and counting.

What trap have I fallen into? Well it is the trap of writing in such a way that I can be misinterpreted. My original post which was intended to serve as a complement to Phil for his measured and appropriate response to Michael instead led some – not least Phil himself – to instead perceive a direct rebuke to The Pyromaniac himself.

I was at first mystified as to why my post could have been seen in that way. I have now gone back to the post and looked at it again, and wish to elaborate on and apologise for the wording of some aspects of it which I now realise may have led to this misunderstanding. Ironic isnt it that a post on the importance of tone and how we need to be careful how we come accros was itself not written carefully enough!

  • I should have made it clearer that my “heart sink” on the first read of the post was more a personal reaction than a valid response to that post by Phil- indeed my own response to the post changed completely when I read it a second time.
  • I wrote “I am actually beginning to wonder if the arch rivals – Michael Spencer and Phil Johnson and more importantly their respective followers have made some encouraging moves towards engaging with each other whilst retaining a modicum of understanding and civility.” Here I fear that I am falling into a classic error of confusing Michael and Phil with respective groups who would themselves see some allegiance to their respected “champions” but are in no sense an organised army. Phil is quite clear that he has always had the same genuine attitude to Michael and I was wrong to impute a change in approach to him.
  • I regret giving the impression that the blogopshere wars are in any sense co-ordinated. I am not convicned that any of us can be held accountable for what others say. We must all learn to try not to attribute comments made by someone else to the most prominent blogger from a certain group – something I see far too often in my own posts as well as others. I would not like as an example for some of the harder comments that Phil received on the charismatic issue to be blamed on me simply because I am a prominent charismatic.
  • I do however believe that we can be held responsible to a significant degree for what bloggers and other commentators say on our own blogspace – or at least for deleting the more offensive coments pointed out to us. I do think that the facts show that Phil has done a better job of keeping the rest of the pyromaniacs in check than Michael has with the Boars Head Tavern – I am not too sure that Michael even sees it as his role to hold his drinking mates to account for the things they say there.
  • I think my use of the labels “truly reformed” and “truly deranged” was not helpful to the discussion and speaking personally I intend not to use them in any context again.
  • When I spoke of Michael’s comments about being virtually “banned” from a “certain TR blog” I should not have assumed that was Team Pyro- Michael himself has since confirmed he was in fact referring to a different blog.
  • I am increasingly convinced that the myth of a big blog war between Michael and Phil is just that – it seems that the repeated criticisms of the so-called “TR” that Michael and the BHT are so fond of are not always intended to include Johnson as we all tend to assume (including Phil)
  • I said of Phil “I can so clearly see why so many bloggers find him very exasperating” which was not a helpful comment without explanation – I think that what I was intending to refer to here was simply Phils style which combined with the lack of “tone” in written words and our sinful tendancies to think the worst of people can lead some people to misinterpret his intentions. I want to go on record as saying I do NOT find him exasperating, and that we should all learn to think the best of each other. Phil is a good man and I know that I have learnt a lot from him. It is inevitable too, that bloggers who are clear about the truth will offend some – for that very clarity we whould thank Phil not criticise him.

So Phil, a public sin calls for a public confession and repentance. Please accept my apologies for all this and I hope that this post goes some way to correcting the misunderstanding about you that there is in the blogospehre which I aknowledge I have unwittingly contributed to.

A final point that I would want to make is that anyone who remains in any doubt about the motives and attitude of Johnson should simply go and listen to his some of his many sermons and talks that are avaiblable online. No one listening to those talks should come away with any other impression of Phil than that he is winsome, caring, considerate, thoughtful and understanding of others positions. Phil is a real gift to the church, and I love listening to his talks and reading his blogging. Lets honour him appropriately and for my own failure to do that I humbly apologise.

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