This Is the Last Post I’ll Ever Write about Ken Silva

June 17, 2011 may have been the best day of Ken Silva’s life.  It was also, most probably, the worst day in the history of journalism.  For it was on that day that the USA Today quoted Silva in its article on the upcoming Wild Goose Festival.

It seems that the USA Today didn’t call Silva, since it’s difficult to find a phone number for him (I have, and I’ve called him a couple times).  Instead, the USA Today simply cribbed a quote from one of Silva’s blogs and took his word for his own credentials.

Silva is the pastor of Connecticut River Baptist Church in Claremont, New Hampshire.  It is a church with no website, a hard-to-find phone number (or this phone number), and at last report, eight members.  The address of the church, 24 Crescent Street, is a vacant building.  (It is actually listed as the home of “Stevens Alumni,” whatever that is.  It has also formerly been the home of “Green Acres Fine Food and Wine.”)

Silva does not have any pictures of himself online, nor any more than the most sketchy of biographical information.  He does not allow comments on his site (though he does not hesitate to comment on others’ sites).  He has repeatedly refused to appear on Doug Pagitt Radio.  He has refused multiple invitations from Doug and me to join us at our events.

Since Silva does not allow for any other means of communication with the outside world, I called him at the numbers linked above (you can, too!).  I first spoke to him in 2007 and blogged about it.  He was a decent human being on the phone.

And he may be a decent human being in person.  I wouldn’t know.

This I do know: on the internet, Ken Silva is a troll. He doesn’t play by the rules (yes, there are rules).  Among those rules are, if you’re a blogger, you should allow comments, especially if you comment on others’ posts.

He runs two sites, neither of which I will name or link to.  He often double-posts — that is, posts the same thing at both sites — and he constantly links between the two sites.  This is a way to game the system of search engines, since permanent in-bound links from authoritative sites is a major way that Google prioritizes search results.

He also uses names (like mine) and URLs (like mine) in posts that have nothing to do with me.  Again, this is gaming the system, for it’s giving Google the impression that his site is an authoritative site regarding information about me.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe in free speech above almost everything.  Silva has the right to say whatever the hell he wants about me or anyone else.  He’s free to game the system (until Google catches him).  He’s even free to solicit donations, which he’s been doing recently.

But you, dear reader, should know that every time you click on a link of his, every time you rise to his bait on Twitter, you’re aiding and abetting a gossip and slanderer.  You’re also helping him trick Google.

I encourage you, if you care for what is good in the world, and if you want to protect your own soul from hatred, gossip, and slander, to never again click on a link of his.

  • Annie

    The worst day in the entire history of journalism?

    • Tony Jones

      Geez, Annie, allow a guy some hyperbole, okay?

      • Craig

        I’m beginning to feel that hyperbole is a dying literary device. I use it all the time and no one really picks up on it.

        • Rick Bennett

          That is the most preposterous thing I have heard in my entire life. Hyperbole is not dying!

          • Zack Polozune

            Touche good sir.

  • Travis Mamone

    And knowing how Ken is, he’ll probably comment on this blog post and say, “I’m not a troll, you are!” The only reason why I still go to his website is to see if he’s written about me yet (which might not happen since I’m a layperson and not a minister. Heresy hunters go for the ministers and teachers while giving the laypeople a pass. Plus my blog only has 20 regular readers, so I’m not too big of a “threat.”)

    • Tony Jones

      Travis, set up a Google alert for your own name. That way you’ll be informed if anyone blogs about you, but you won’t have to repeatedly visit their sites and give them the traffic.

      • Travis Mamone

        Good point.

    • JoelR

      You mean no matter how controversial I get, Silva will never mention me? Damn. I kinda see being called a “heretic” or “neo-Gnostic” (his latest slam against those who don’t agree with him) by someone like him as a badge of honor. Oh well, If I just keep plugging, maybe someone else will notice me.

  • Sara Acosta

    Rock on, Tony. Well written, calm, and to the point. Thank you for articulating what is probably many people’s disgust with Silva, and definitely mine.

  • courtney

    Coming from the world of journalism, I was shocked and saddened to see that USA Today quoted this nobody. I realize all to well that newspapers are understaffed and those staffs are extremely overworked, but any journalist worth his/her salt knows that anybody (including a nobody who wants to make others think he’s Somebody) can create a blog that makes her/him appear a valid entity. Especially considering the multiple recent cases of false high-profile bloggers, it should be apparent that the genre is a terrible source for quotes. I would go so far as to say the paper should issue a correction and withdraw that “source.” I’m embarrassed for USA Today.

    • Rick Bennett

      This is USA Today we are talking about. I wouldn’t expect standards from a source that has helped destroy long form journalism.

    • Gavin

      Quoting Ken Silva was totally appropriate and made that story worth reading.

      • Rick Bennett

        You are correct if they got a quote from him personally. It would even be acceptable to quote him and say it was taken from his blog. But you are wrong that it is appropriate in this context. Journalism 101, which I have taken.

    • Steve K.

      VERY embarrassing for USA Today. HUGE mistake to quote Silva as if he has any credibility in any of these communities. Maybe Mike Croghan (who works at USA Today) can do something about it … ;-)

      • Mike Croghan

        Steve K. is a troll.


        Yeah, I already issued a mea culpa on behalf of my Benevolent Employer, though it was more like an “I apologize, but they don’t really care what I think, and anyway, they didn’t actually report or write it; they only re-published something from the Religion News Service.” And so it goes.

    • Robert Warren

      For a “nobody” who has a very small church, the location of which is difficult to nail down from the other side of the country, he sure has you folks all lathered-up.

      • Nancy


  • Connie Waters

    Brilliant Tony!! We finally got Ken to stop talking about us by thanking him over and over for the attention he was drawing to the Outlaw Preachers. I rarely visit now, which in a way makes me sad, I used to find so many wonderful new “heretics” to follow and I know so many others that have done the same thing! I bet it would KILL Ken if he realized he was futhering our ministry with his ridiculousness!!

  • Mike Croghan

    Thanks for the scoop, Tony. I apologize on behalf of my Benevolent Employer, not that they give a crap what a lowly software developer thinks about editorial decisions. FWIW, apparently said Benevolent Employer doesn’t really deserve credit nor blame for that journalism; only for deciding to publish reporting done by Religion News Service (, so the original decision to treat KS as an “authority” was theirs – not an excuse, by any means. I could comment on the way big “print” media works these days – the vast bulk of the “reporting” being just “copy, paste, publish” from one news wire or another – it’s not like declining print revenue and shaky online ad revenue can pay for enough editorial staff to do much more than this – but I guess I’ve said all that needs to be said about that.

    I have to admit – when I saw that quote, I didn’t think anything of it. I don’t really know jack about Ken Silva – but I sure have seen him talked and fretted about ENDLESSLY in the emerging Christian blog0-twitter-bookface-o-sphere that I’ve been hooked into in the past five or six years. I didn’t “grow up” anywhere near the evangelical/fundamentalist/conservative-Reformed worlds, culturally speaking, so by the same token I don’t really know jack about folks like John Piper, Mark Driscoll, James Dobson, or any of a host of other guys who are both a) routinely quoted in the mainstream media for the obligatory conservative Protestant Christian take on whatever, and b) endlessly fretted about on the emergent Christian social-web-o-sphere. I just assumed that he was some kind of a big deal in that world, like these other guys apparently are. The question arises: why then has so much blood, sweat, and tears been shed giving a crap what this guy Ken has to say – not by big media, but by little churchyblog? But I suppose the same could be said for a lot of people who are all about the tearing down, as opposed to respectful (if pointed) critique/dialogue, whether they’re really “credentialed” or not.

    Anyway, thanks for the heads up. I will resume ignoring Ken Silva with renewed vigor. As for the state of journalism in today’s world…that’s a whole other kettle of fish.

  • Hugh Hollowell

    Exactly. The folks who talk about Silva only help Silva. If you ignore the trolls, they go away.

    • Jason

      I generally agree with you Hugh. However, the problem is that USA Today quoted Silva as a reputable source. So someone needed to point out that he is not, in fact, a reputable source. The journalist who wrote the original piece should have figured this out before quoting him.

  • James McGrath

    The funny part is he isn’t listed as a minister for the SBC on their site and his church address is not listed on the SBC site. He is a fringe figure among the SBC for sure. He did comment on the blog post from the Conservative Calvinist going to wild goose. He was complaining how you should never hang out with liberals and progressives, sounds like a non Mormon Glenn Beck.

  • Ed Taylor

    Sure, I can ignore him, but because of these “heretic hunters” I seem to spend a lot more time than I would like talking people back from the lunatic fringe. I view these guys like malicious email hoaxers – I want to ignore them, but is it more important to educate people on how to identify them and put a stop to them? Could turn into a full-time job – like anti-ken-silva :)

  • Dan Hauge

    There was a point where it got kind of predictably funny that whenever I would try to Google a prominent emergent theologian, or happening, one of Ken’s posts would be in the top three results. Then it just got old, cause I wasn’t very interested on his take. Does he have a lot of traffic/influence in the blogosphere? My initial take was similar to Mike C: why waste so much time and energy worrying about him? But I suppose if a lot of questioning people are really drawn in by his approach then it would be an issue.

  • Sharyl Carlson

    We could go round and round with this thing…but i can speak to the damage this does. I minister to teens, people in substance recovery, un-documented immigrants…mainly people who dont fit the demographic many “nice people” dont want in their church anyway. I run head on into this guy! It happens when I share a teaching, offer a book, or even suggest that people check out a blog. Some “loving christian” family member, counselor, sponsor googles Tony Jones, Phyllis Tickle, Peter Rollins, etc. and drops on to his site. Next thing i know the phone calls start, or worse, they stop! This can result in confusion that leads the individual further away from Christ, rather than to Him. Often, these people in the margins, in urgent situations, go with what they understand. They get “false teaching”, “going to hell”, and “liberal”. But lost are lost on “progressive”, “universal”, “meditation”. Try introducing The Sacred Way to small group, and just see how long it takes for KS’s name to show up!

    • Dan Hauge

      Thanks for that perspective, Sharyl–that makes sense.

      • Mike Croghan

        I echo Dan’s thanks, Sharyl, and I ask in all seriousness: is it OK for those of us in contexts where he truly doesn’t seem to matter to simply ignore him? Or put differently, what do you think are the most constructive things that we, as the church together in differing contexts, can do to deal with “trolls”?

        (I’m not a fan of that kind of label, but it is a handy shorthand for folks whose focus seems to be simply on tearing down others and their work, without interest in any attempt at mutual respect, dialog, etc. I’m also not trying to define Ken as outside the Church – God love him, he’s ours. Hallelujah. :-) The Church gots trolls too – and at times in my journey I’ve probably been one.)

  • Steve Chastain

    I’ve never heard of this guy. Ever.

    • Aran

      Same here Steve . . . the only way I heard about Mr. Silva is by hearing Tony and Doug talk about him on blogs and radio. Interesting . . .

      And really?!? EIGHT members?

  • Dena Hering

    I think you might be wrong on a few issues, I have emailed him several times to actually disagree with him and literally emailed back every time and quickly. It actually gave a better opinion of him. And he was very kind in my disagreements. I realize he is trying to inform Christians to trust in what their Bibles actually say and test it against mans opinion. Lets just stick with Gods Word because I believe we will be held accountable for how well we defended what our Lord has told us. Revelation 3:8, we who have kept his word and not denied his name.

  • Beth Walters

    Thanks, Tony, for outing the guy they quoted. I just figured a response such as that would have been easy to find and that they did it for “balance.”

    However, there were so many other things wrong about the story that I wrote USA Today’s editor about it, listing the errors (down to bad punctuation in a sentence toward the end). Reporting and editing is the foundation of my life’s work, and it’s part of my DNA to be picky… as their reporter should have been.

    I understand she was at WGF all weekend but only saw her once. Have any folo stories come out?

    Thanks again!

  • Jerry DePoy Jr.

    So beautiful. Thanks for speaking the Truth in Love.

    - Jerry DePoy Jr.

  • Michael Dise

    I think I actually blocked him from coming up on Google a while back. Always a good choice.

  • James

    By the way Tony, thanks for the film suggestion. I just finished Into Great Silence last night on Netflix. It was a pretty good film. It freaked my wife out because of the lack of talking but I enjoyed it very much.

  • Sean McLaughlin

    God bless Ken Silva for his willingness to contend for the truth. I stand with him.

    • James

      He doesn’t have the stones to defend anything he says. He hids behinds his blogs and doesn’t let anyone respond. I guess you can thank Tony for allowing you to speak your mind on his.

      • James


    • Travis Mamone

      But he has not love, so therefore whatever “truth” his stands for is just hogwash. Truth and love must always be joined at the hip.

  • Joe

    I have had clients reference his website and lighthousetrails when talking about treatment options.

  • Matt

    Ken Silva is a well respected man and known by many that follow sound doctrine. Tony Jones is leading many astray and the way he is behaving towards Ken is just childish to put it kindly.

    • James

      He is a very well respected man….to the 8 people that go to his “church” in that abandoned building.

    • Travis Mamone

      And unfairly slandering people isn’t childish?????

      • Rick Bennett

        I was an SBC pastor in the BCNE for a number of years. I think Matt is misinformed regarding his standing or the standing of his church in a small group he is tangentially connected to.

    • Rick Bennett

      No response to the proof you are wrong?

  • Jim W

    Travis, since Tony didn’t provide any proof of his allegations, perhaps you would?

    • ronnie

      Jim,the silence is deafening….but not unexpected!

  • Kate Snyder

    Ken Silva is a sorely needed watchman on the wall in this day of total wickedness and apostasy. I’m so thankful to the Lord Jesus for his website. Jesus said we shouldn’t be surprised when we’re hated for living and speaking truth. Ken Silva is a beacon of light in emergent darkness.

    • James

      So if you like his website so much, what are you doing here, to see what the emergent sinners are talking about?

      • Kate Snyder

        James, are you a sinner? Have you repented and believed on Jesus? He said except you repent, you will perish. Do you believe that? Do you believe *anything* Jesus said? Do you believe Him when He spoke of the flood? Or are you a flood denier like McLaren?

        I’m hear to preach the gospel, something you won’t hear from emergent leaders.

        • James

          Aren’t we all. I came from the faith tradition that Ken is a part of. I left it because of people like him. It is one thing to have a conversation but when it is onesided and mean spirited, I am not interested. I have heard those style of arguements all my life and I just got sick enough of them. I don’t 100% agree with anyone frankly, it is between me and God. Again I don’t like the way Ken deals with things. It is rather cultish.

          • James

            …and besides you can’t preach, that is an SBC (ken’s camp) rule because you are a woman.

          • ronnie

            James, seven times you referred to yourself…….maybe this is not about you but what Jesus teaches and warns about (that is proper teaching of His flock). I have found the best arbitrator to be God’s Word when confronted with questions with proper teachings.

          • Kate Snyder

            Interesting! I came from the unbelief traditions of men that emergents like McLaren, Pagitt, Bell, Jones et al. are promoting, and I’ll never go back to that deceptive darkness. I find it amazing that those who reject so much of what Jesus said, taught and lived want others to accept them as genuine believers in Christ. It’s like, How to be a Christian in Name Only – as long as you “believe” the Beatitudes, you’re good. Nothing is more cultish than the emergent movement.

          • Kate Snyder

            James, I’m not a Baptist, but I think you’re misrepresenting the position of the SBC. Women can’t be pastors but they believe everyone is called by God to evangelize because all of us have been commanded to preach the Gospel. From their website:

            “Women participate equally with men in the priesthood of all believers. Their role is crucial, their wisdom, grace and commitment exemplary. Women are an integral part of our Southern Baptist boards, faculties, mission teams, writer pools, and professional staffs. We affirm and celebrate their Great Commission impact. While Scripture teaches that a woman’s role is not identical to that of men in every respect, and that pastoral leadership is assigned to men, it also teaches that women are equal in value to men.”

        • Randy Buist

          Kate: I can say I’m a sinner, have repented, have become a disciple. And it’s true. And yet my most conservative Christian friends won’t believe me nor likely will you. If we can’t trust one another with who we claim to be, then we have no basis for relationship.

          Ken will refuse to acknowledge that Tony, Brian, or Doug are followers of Jesus no matter how many time they say otherwise and regardless of the fruits of their lives. While I strongly disagree with Ken’s position as well as yours, I won’t say you don’t love Jesus. I believe your faith is sufficient. It probably will help others find Jesus too, but it will also alienate many people who currently want nothing to do with the church simply because a faith without goodness, kindness, gentleness and respect, fails Jesus example of agape love.

          ~ Grace & peace in the midst of living in the lion’s den of conservative conundrum.

          • Jim W

            Randy, you and Tony, Doug, etc may be followers of the way of Jesus, but I sadly don’t see that you are Christians i.e. saved. All of you believe that your works will save you. You also refuse to humble yourselves before God and acknowledge that God does know what He means and says it clearly to all humans. You (Tony, Doug, et al) keep putting your own fallen human knowledge in place of God’s. That means that you have set yourselves up in place of God. So, any fruit you claim is spoiled.

          • Kate Snyder

            Randy, some of the most Christ-like people I know (good, kind, gentle, etc.) realize Brian McLaren is a false prophet leading many astray.

            The agape love of God that John wrote of isn’t separate from eternal truth or genuine spiritual discernment. They’re inseparable. John had a lot to say about truth, too, something emergents wrest – pervert, twist, torture – to their own destruction. Emergent leaders *torture* Jesus, mangling His Word. That’s not exactly agape love.

            Every book McLaren has written spits in Jesus’ face, particularly “A New Kind of Christianity.” He can claim he’s a believer until he’s blue in the face, but he’s not a mouthpiece for Christ. He’s got his own religion with his very own bible, the new ESV (Emergent Standard Version), and from it he’s preaching another gospel with a different Jesus by the power of another spirit. What does the love of God say via the Holy Spirit? Let him be accursed.

            Denying the flood is far worse that denying the Holocaust. Imagine flood denier McLaren standing before the Lord Jesus Christ, bright as the sun in all His Revelation chapter one glory, and he’s looking right into His fiery eyes, saying:

            “Ya know, you’re not worthy of faith, much less worship.”

            Good luck with that, Brian.

            Ah, but he’s already done it in writing. He’s thumbed his arrogant nose at Jesus Christ and encourages others to join him. Refusing to repent, he continues to fulfill Jude.

            That’s where the venom of lying unbelief leads, Randy – right into an antichrist spirit.

          • Randy Buist

            Jim: Really? You know these things about me (& Doug, Tony, Brian, whomever you want to name…) exactly HOW since you don’t know me at all???

      • audie

        So, let me get this straight…

        You don’t like that Silva doesn’t allow comments on his blog, though there are Emergents (Brian McLaren) who do not, either, or who edit out the dissenting comments.

        But, you don’t like it that someone like Kate Snyder comes here to comment, and you basically say that she has no business coming to this blog to comment, because she likes Silva’s blog, even though Jones has devoted an entire post to basically slamming Silva for petty and unsubstantiated reasons. And because his church has so few members.

        So, pretty much, you just want the Jones sycophants to post here.

    • Randy Buist

      The Apostle John wrote, “Let us love one another. If we do not love, we do not know God. He who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love, does not know God.” ~~ There are plenty of people of whom Ken talks dishonestly and without goodness, kindness, respect, or love for the sake of ‘truth’ as he interprets it.
      ~~ So, what part of the biblical text is true, and what isn’t? If goodness, kindness, and love all go out the window as non-essentials to the faith, it seems we are holding a mean god who isn’t the God of ultimate love as the biblical text proclaims.

      • Jim W

        So, Randy, any demonstration of your “love”? You were incredibly rude many times to Ron Gleason. Is that how you show your love?

    • toddh


  • Kate Snyder

    Here is Ken Silva’s website, and if you are open to correction on emergent lies and delusion, you will be blessed. Read it with an open heart…

    • James

      yes you will be blessed…if you definition of blessed is reading a bunch of alligations and insults to which he does not allow anyone including the accused to respond then you are correct.

  • http://thesinfullyecumenicali.e.ReformationrepudiatingEmergentChurch Larry Barber

    Oh, I see, Silva wrote a post about this post on his blog, that explains all the Silva defenders. Stick around, all, you might find out that emergent types aren’t evil incarnate.

    • James

      Speak for yourself dude….hahaha just kidding

    • Ken Silva

      Yes Larry, I did:

      • James McGrath

        Hey Ken nice to see you comment on someones blog because you don’t extend the same courtesy…smells like a cult leader.

        • audie

          I have problems commenting on another blog, too. You can find it here.

          Looking high and low, and I still can’t find any place on it to leave comments. Kinda smells like a cult leader, don’t you think?

  • Dena Hering

    I’ve noticed now that not one single person in favor of Tony’s blog has a single thing to say about the Bible or Jesus, God or the Holy Spirit. I’m beginning to believe the things that Ken Silva and other discernment ministries are saying about the emergent movement. You all seem to hate anyone else that has an opinion other than your own. Is there any tolerance here in the emerging movement for people who actually want to defend the Bible and what it actually says? Do you love Jesus with all your heart mind and strength? Or is it all about y0u?

    • James

      and apparently you are not reading the blog. Read how Ken deals with things such as people who don’t agree with him. At least people here will respond to you.

      • Rick Bennett


        Did you miss the comments only a few inches above yours from people like Randy. Do these not qualify to you? Or would you like to repent and tell those you have slandered against that you were wrong and need forgiveness as Jesus and the NT writers said? I can give you the verses if you don’t have a Bible handy.

        • Rick Bennett


          Apple is sexist. They insist on spelling your name Dean. An SBC programmer must have done it (my background, so I can make the joke).

    • Rick Bennett

      No responses to my pointing out your are wrong?

      • James

        Nope, and you will never get one. That is how that crowd works, I know I was with them at one time. If you are wrong, don’t argue, just yell louder like Bill O’Reilly.

  • Gloria

    Are you insisting that numbers make the ministry of a man? So scorn at 8 people and the Lord Jesus had 12. It seems to me that this post was written in bitterness.

    • Rick Bennett

      We know membership numbers in the SBC are higher than real membership and attendance. So, it may mean he and his wife attend.

  • Joshua Jinno

    Why not just turn him into a Meme… You can’t be a Christian blogger until you’ve been “Ken Silva’d” put up a Wikipedia article on getting the Ken Silva Treatment, make that name proliferate like crazy… two can fool Google.

  • Frank

    I stand with Mr. Silva. Everything he teaches is in alignment with the Word. It makes absolutely no difference how many members he may/may not have at his church. In fact, it’s better to have 8 that have a heart for souls than several hundred/thousand that are not doing any soul winning.

    • Rick Bennett

      How much soul winning happens in a congregation of much less than 8 that never adds to it’s number? I’m glad you stand with Silva and your/ his view of the Word, done alone in front of a computer with no discussion to see how his/ your interpretation of Scripture is imperfect.

      • Frank

        How much soul winning happens in a congregation of much less than 8 that never adds to it’s number?

        You would be surprised.

        • Rick Bennett

          Really? then why is the church not growing? This seems contrary to a conservative interpretation of Scripture. By the way, 8 members in an SBC church means a lot less active attendees.

          • Frank

            Many people that receive Christ never attend church regularly afterwards. I didn’t attend regularly for years. To stay on topic, Mr. Silva’s blog is in line with the Holy Scriptures. These “Emergent” teachings are not. Doug Pagitt wouldn’t/couldn’t even give me a straight answer on whether or not we go to a literal heaven or hell upon death.

  • audie

    –Silva is the pastor of Connecticut River Baptist Church in Claremont, New Hampshire. It is a church with no website, a hard-to-find phone number (or this phone number), and at last report, eight members.

    Oh, so because his church is small, his information must be bad.

    –He does not allow comments on his site

    You mean, like Brian McLaren? Or, maybe, like the other Emergent blogger who do allow comments, but edit out the ones that dare to dissent with them?

    No doubt, like you’ll edit out this comment. Because it dares to put the question to you and your cowardly little hit piece.

    –But you, dear reader, should know that every time you click on a link of his, every time you rise to his bait on Twitter, you’re aiding and abetting a gossip and slanderer.

    By this, you mean he’s showing your lousy theology to the world, calling people to leave the Emergent Church and have no fellowship with false teachers like you, and he’s doing a godly thing by leading people back to God and away from the vain imaginations of people like you.

    –I encourage you, if you care for what is good in the world, and if you want to protect your own soul from hatred, gossip, and slander, to never again click on a link of his.

    And I encourage all of you, if you care about what is right and godly, to not visit Jones’ blog again, unless it is to continue the seemingly vain endeavor to encourage him to repent of his arrogance in thinking he is smarter than God. God is still well able to do the miraculous, and even a man like Jones can be granted repentence.

    • Rick Bennett

      So which part did Tony edit and which blogs does Brian M comment on while his blog doesn’t allow comments.

    • Frank

      Great post. Doug Pagitt wouldn’t/couldn’t even give me a straight answer in whether or not he believes in a literal heaven/hell.

      • Rick Bennett

        Jesus may not have given you a straight answer either.

        • Kate Snyder

          Rick, are you reading from the Emergent Standard Version too?

          Jesus gave us the answer on heaven and hell. Have you read the gospels lately? He is strong and clear on the reality of everlasting punishment in unquenchable flames of fire, and warns us to fear Him because He has the power to destroy both body and soul there. Forever.

          (In spite of shoddy word studies on aiōnios by Beauchemin, Bell and others, eternal means endless. )

          • Rick Bennett

            He made a practice of not answering questions directly, especially those given by Pharisees. You should read your Bible a little closer. You might learn something for yourself instead of trumpeting some theologically immature word jumbles that have little to do with seriously reading Jesus words in context.

            Most conservative theologians would even know Jesus did not give many direct answers to questions by people looking for ways to brand him a heretic. Too bad you don’t follow their lead.

        • Frank

          If you believe what you just said, I hope you will reconsider what you believe.

  • Randy Buist

    Interesting how Silva thought it was a festival for ’20 somethings’ before it ever happened. Nothing like talking about something of which you know virtually nothing. I would like to be kind, but I am also inclined to point out the biblical word for such a person is ‘fool.’

    It’s ironic and saddening for Ken Silva, someone who deems himself to be a biblical scholar and follower in the ways of Jesus, to put more energy into discrediting others than living the good life.

    I hope, but doubt, this will be your last post on Silva. He’s become a thorn in the flesh of many good people.

  • Rick Bennett

    Thanks Tony. This has been fun! The most fun I’ve ever had on a blog!

  • chad farrand

    well said, i know some will disagree with me, but i think you’ve probably been overly generous with ken. glad that you are cutting bait. i’ve been igroing him/them for awhile. i find it easier to sleep rather than getting mad while he stupidly attacks my friends.

  • http://itisn'tslanderifit'strue! Chip

    Excellent intellectual approach (diversion) and a masterful personal attack on Ken Silva! Except Ken hasn’t attacked you personally that I see, he has just pointed out your false teaching such as mysticism and contemplative prayer (among other problems). Your attack looks a lot like the “politics of personal destruction” approach I have seen (guilty) politicians use to avoid a straight answer. Maybe you could address just what Ken has ever said about you that is untrue (maybe even acknowledge the true part) and then you could have that serious conversation about what each of you believe – and compare that with what is in the Bible?
    I don’t blame Ken for not wanting to be on a radio program with you and Doug, actually shows his wisdom. Pick your translation of Proverbs 29:9.

    • James

      No it shows he is spineless and has no stones to back up what he says.

  • Random Arrow

    Tony, your post feels a little weird.

    Are you serious about your blanket rules? Really?

    I don’t know Ken Silva. Or his gig. And don’t care. You have your reasons. I’m not interest in micro-managing them. But, something feels weird.

    If you have/had Ken Siliva’s phone number, and if you felt he was an okay guy, then why not ask Ken Silva directly? Why not ask him straight-out about his status as a church? As a minister? Why not ask why these mysterious gaps in his personal identity? Why not just ask the guy?

    Many of my favorite blogs are closed to comment (e.g., Greg Mankiw). Same too with some clergy who I love, even if I disagree with them (Terry Virgo – a really ‘graceful’ Calvinist). Are you really making a blanket rule? Why does this feel off?

    There are very good reasons for closed blogs and closed webs. Open up a little.

    I have acquaintances and friends in professions – counseling, legal, clergy – who absolutely refuse to blog at all because of concerns about legal liabilities (people asking for advice or misconstruing exploratory blog comments as advice). Blogs are suicidal for professionals who want to test new ideas and color outside the lines (clergy especially on this one), and blogs are suicidal especially for professionals dependent on local good will, dependent on local economic patronage of their communities or churches. These voices are lost to the blogosphere. You have to catch these voices in coffee shops, church parking lots, private conversations.

    Finally, think about why judges overwhelmingly do not blog – why? How could you blog to a community in which half the people you face – that half which you have judged against in court – who hate your guts for the rest of your life? – a percentage of which who would flame your blog to hell?

    Something about what Justice Brennan said about the difference between the leisure of academics who live for public commentary versus judges (he included Supreme Court Justices here) who have to judge cases which totally piss of half of their audience – vocationally.

    Blogging is not the norm. For good reasons.

    Why not think a little more carefully about the worthwhile voices who never show up the blogosphere at all?

    Inversely, are you able to identify academics, judges, and professionals who blog only under anonymous or pseudonymous monikers? Would you want to loose these bloggers from the blogosphere? How did Mark Twain have it so good?

    I published my full name and phone number on a website once. Because I do pro-bono work in indigent cases, the phone calls asking for free help added up over time to blow out my phone line. I could not even pre-screen all these calls. They buried my work. I’m already two to four days, and 20-40 calls behind. I want the contact with bloggers because I can’t get this kind of contact – with my clients.

    Only an idiot in a profession would be unaware of the need for professional equilibrium on the question of blogging at all (in the first place) versus blogging with a guarded identity or a blog closed to comment. I give mine out in full to people who I don’t know, after trust is earned. As in a recent email from an academic who I know only through public media.

    I really think you need to re-think your blanket rule – if that’s what you’re making.

    So what?

    So if I can think of these good reasons for not blogging at all, or for closed blogs (economist Mankiw, pastor Virgo), or for guarded identities, then it seems to me that the presumption about Ken Silva should be a presumption of no-opinion (“I don’t know”) instead of a negative presumption about scurrilous motives – more especially so if his public speech is provocative. It’s way too easy to bleed from animus over public provocative speech into full blown ad hom laced with smouldering negative ad hom presumptions about everything else.

    Look at all the opinions here sharing negative presumptions – would you trust your own followers here to handle questions about your sexual ethics if you were Strauss-Kahn?

    Think about it.

    Do you know how hard it is to prove a negative? – has anyone accused you of something which would require that you prove a negative (say like accusing you of borderline racism?), an accusation which places you in the near impossible position of proving a negative? – why can’t the presumption about these matters be less strong than a full presumption of innocence, but weaker than negative presumptions smouldering in an ad homs? – a presumption sort of like, “gee, I don’t know what’s up with Silva’s identity. So, I’ll ask.”

    The thing is – that just because we’re ignorant of the cluster of particular reasons why Ken Silva would have his unique overall feel for suffering such guarded access, or even whether this is a conscious and deliberate tactic in the first place (should he have his name and phone number plastered across freeway billboards?) – our ignorance of Ken Silva’s reasons for such difficult access is not an excuse for asking him directly, “hey man, what’s up with ….?” – why not just ask? – if you have access?

    What’s not making sense here?



    • Randy Buist

      Jim – If you have interacted with Ken while disagreeing with him for more than seven days, then you would understand Tony’s perspective.

      For Ken, only doctrinal thoughts determine one’s righteousness. Faith, hope, love, a claim of faith and a life well lived following Jesus don’t matter to Ken. He cares only about what is happening within the neurons of one’s mind and the theology the mind holds to be true.

      Perhaps what ‘feels weird’ is that Tony Jones, PhD., spends an entire blog post “outing” someone who writes crap but can’t back it up with any sort of life. For all we really know, “Ken Silva” could be a web bot and thus he isn’t even a reality whatsoever… it which case you are correct. Tony shouldn’t have posted about a web bot being a troll since a troll would breathe and have a pulse…

  • Mike Friesen

    Thank you Tony. I get sick of the online violence and the childish ethics of blogging. There are far to many members of this hate filled tribe and I’m glad you’re helping diminish them.

  • Matt Jones

    The problem I’m having with the whole thing is that Ken Silva says some great things and stands for some important truths, but communicates them in such a way that makes them entirely unappealing. More than that, many of his beliefs are downright horrifying, such as his bizarre hatred of contemplative prayer and his apostasizing (new word!) of the *entire catholic church.*

    I’m a college student at Wheaton (which is apparently devolving into a contemplative prayer apostasy factory) and am applying to Fuller (which is already an emergent cesspool), and rhetoric like Silva’s is incredibly frustrating as I search for a religious identity rooted first and foremost in God and the Gospel. He essentially poisons the well, mixing bitter, ill-informed reactionism (Roman Catholics are dragging evangelicals to hell!) with needed truth (mysticism and the elevation of experience being very dangerous) and making the latter goodness unpalatable. I’m encountering a lot of people like Silva who are accusing me of compromised theology because I can appreciate (not the same as validate) muslim thought or social justice (helping people is…bad?) or evolution (why are we afraid of it?) or postmodernism (I love it…not gonna lie), and I’m tired of having to defend the fact that I’m not only a Christian but a deeply conservative evangelical!

    I wonder how many people (especially in the ever dwindling 18-30 range) are driven away from orthodoxy because angry and immovable (aka “too ‘biblical’ to learn anything”) brothers and sisters in Christ refuse to fellowship with them, calling them apostates. Fundamentalists are choosing the wrong battles and the church is worse off because of it.

    I want to be able to maintain unity with them (Jn 17! 1 Peter everything!) and *be the church!* but I’m now sure how that is possible. So right now I’m settling for a resigned sadness and a fiery hope that Christ will somehow be glorified through us as a church body. Ken Silva and all like-minded people are still Christians (I’m not gonna do to them what they do to so many brothers and sisters), so I think we need to find a way to love them, because “they” are “us” and “we” need to love each other. As much as I’m hurt and shocked by some of the beliefs I encounter, there is simply no excuse but to continue seeking understanding and peace. Too often both sides devolve into name calling (liberal apostate! hate-filled bigot!) and the church witness is doubly marred.

    Sorry for the overlong rant. I’m just worn down from the absurdity of having to justify Wheaton’s phenomenal integrity and my faith (and Nouwen’s faith, and Mother Theresa’s faith, and Rob Bell’s faith, and every catholic ever’s faith, etc.) to people whose faith I share. Stupid fallen humanity ruins everything :).

    • Jeffrey Ludwig

      Matt, thank you for this beautiful post. Mostly for the heart desiring God’s grace that it shows. Also because I find myself hated by fundamentalists (who call themselves evangelical), because I maintain that we are to love “God’s Word” with more than our mind. And that love is a lifestyle, not something that we adorn our hatred with… “blah blah blah you evil misguided apostate blah blah you never really believed blah you’re going to hell blah blah repent heathen. Love in Christ, your brother.” With brothers like this… seriously.

      Fundamentalists say, “you just got to stay rooted in God’s Word”. I agree, and the Bible is a very important authority in a Christian’s life. But! Don’t worship the Bible as if it is a member of the Trinity, or even the One God (which translation will you choose?) Second, you quote a Scripture at someone to put them in their place, but if they are sufficiently studied in Scripture they will be able to quote something else, and this process continues until egos are bruised and tempers (and maybe weapons) have flared, and no grace abounds at all. Surely Jesus must weep at such intellectual pride.

      Anyway, I’m just venting. Thanks again Matt, and I appreciate this post. I wondered if someone felt the same way about the vitriol spewed about contemplative spirituality.

  • Matt Jones

    Edit: Fourth Paragraph, second line- I mean to say “not” instead of “now.” Bit of a difference :).

  • Rick Bennett

    So most of Silva’s supporters are like Silva. They lurk. They flame. They run away when confronted.

    • Frank

      Actually no. We just get tired of trying to show people that “Emergent” people are deconstructing Christianity.

      It is much better to spend our time winning the lost for Christ for eternity.

      • Rick Bennett

        Then why are here? To tell people they are wrong, but not answer the thoughtful questions and concerns with your approaches to the Bible or simple debate? Most of you don’t respond when someone actually makes a cogent response.

        • audie

          A cogent response? Where?

          About all I see here–

          Silva is evilevilevilevilevil!!

          Silva has a small church. He must be evilevilevilevilevil!!

          Silva doesn’t allow comments. He must be evilevilevilevilevil!!

          Ok, let’s see. If you want a cogent discussions, let’s start here…

          In the original post, Jones accused Silva of gossip and slander. Would I be safe in thinking that he’s saying the Silva is spreading lies, particular about him (Jones)? At least here, Jones gives no examples of these slanders and gossip, perhaps elsewhere he has. If you wish to give a cogent defense here, perhaps you can point out places where Silva has been guilty of gossip and slander, especially against Jones.

  • http://none Alan Heron

    Hi there, just rolling through the ‘net and came across this little self-serving bit of fluff.
    I very rarely comment anywhere, but I do read a LOT, so I’m kind of aware of the subject matter and I wanted to point out just a few little things here.
    First of all, Paul and John (to name just two New Testament writers) ‘slandered’ people such as Alexander the coppersmith (Paul, in 2 Tim 4:14), and Diotrephes (John, in 3 John 1:9-10). These are not the only examples, but will suffice to show that it’s NOT unscriptural to name names, when those names are teaching against what the Bible teaches.
    Secondly; No-one who’s read the Bible could deny that Jesus loved the Pharisees and Sadducees that He debated with so often, but His words to them were often full of what would be called ‘hatred’ by many today. The fact is that His anger (yes God gets angry Virginia, go read about it in your Bible), is not an indication of His being unloving.
    Thirdly; Whether or not a person has a reputation or not, is also not biblically relevant. In fact, God more often than not used ‘nobodies’ to be His agents in the Bible.
    Fourth and final point; This is only of any use to you if you accept that the Bible is the Word of God. If this is not the case, then of course, all bets are off and you can say, think, and do whatever you like. Then again, you have to allow others to do the same without complaining that they’re ‘breaking the rules’. What rules can there be if there’s no final authority to which one can appeal?
    The fact is that many people have said quite disgustingly abusive things about others who believe differently to themselves, yet they have done so with impunity, because the people they were abusing belong to the “Fundamentalist camp”, os some similar such excuse. I have read Brian McLaren’s comments about what he thinks should be done with Christians who hold to a literal reading of the Bible and it’s far from complimentary. For Brian that is.
    His words echo the lunatic Dominionists like C Peter Wagner and his band of ‘Apostles’, who liken of Christians who disagree with them to deserting soldiers and therefore worthy of death! They’re big on Christians being in an army, the NAR people are. Then there’s Creflo Dollar, a week or so talking about gunning down people who don’t tithe!
    So, when you look at folks who say things you don’t like, be as abusive as you like, but don’t complain if they turn and treat you the same.
    You Christians want to have your cake and eat it too, and none of you seem to know your so-called Holy Book very well. Even those that do seem to spend most of their time denying that it IS Holy, or that it IS the Word of God. You seem to spend vast amounts of time pulling down every tenet of what’s been Christian teaching for the last 20 centuries (See Rob Bell’s latest serving about Heaven and Hell), as well as denigrate your own religious writings and then you wonder why people don’t want to believe in your God? Seriously? Are you kidding?
    I have more time for the Muslims than for that kind of wishy-washy pap. At least they’re prepared to live and die according to THEIR Holy Book and God help anyone who even questions that it IS one!
    Anyway, here’s one pretty well educated and very well-read Biker, whose philosophy is that if the Christian Bible isn’t God’s Word, then you are the most arrogant, ignorant, gutless, people on earth, and you’d better not be telling me how to live my life. And spare me all the talk of doing ‘good’. I’ve been betrayed by more people calling themselves christian, than by anyone else, so I’m not interested in your appeals to whatever it is you think is so great about your brand of the opiate of the masses. If the Bible is God’s Word, then it commands some respect, because it has a logical coherence to it that nothing else I’d read does. The only problem is, like I said, Theologians seem to be falling over themselves to either re-invent it, or deny it’s relevance. Bell’s is the most precious bit of nonsense yet! Bottom line, if I was feeling ‘lonely’ and came across his daughter (or his wife) and she turns me on, I have absolutely NO reason not to ravish her, because according to him, I’m going to Heaven anyway! WOW! Sensational! I get to do all the things I want, when I want, how I want, and I’m STILL going to get there in the end.

  • Kate Snyder

    Rick, your argument is spurious at best, and it’s hard to imagine anyone making it who’s read the gospels recently.

    In one of the passages I referred to, Matthew 10:28, Jesus is not only teaching His twelve disciples (the Pharisees weren’t around), He’s commanding them (Mt 10:5, 11:1). He commands them to fear Him because He’s got the power to destroy both body and soul in hell. Jesus gave firm, clear commands throughout this discourse. Read the entire chapter yourself.

    Surely you’re not accusing the Lord Jesus of theologically immature word jumbles. Or do you have a problem with His commandments in general? Either way, I wouldn’t be surprised, if you’ve been weaned on McLaren’s wishy-washy writings. Why anyone who actually believes him would call himself a Christian, I don’t know, as he doesn’t believe much of anything Jesus said, nor does he preach the gospel Jesus delivered to His disciples, nor does he believe in salvation by faith in the shed blood of Jesus. His new kind of “christianity” isn’t Christian at all. He needs a new name for his religious gig.

    Jesus taught plainly and answered questions directly, although He added if any man have ears to hear, let him hear. The dead can’t hear Him. He didn’t avoid the Pharisees when they tempted him on divorce; He hit them head-on with the truth. Why? Because we’ll be judged by words, He said (John 12:44-50), so He deliberately wasn’t confusing or vague.

    However, without the Holy Spirit, one would be in the dark trying to figure Him out – hence, people are harnessed with hapless hooey like McLarenism.

  • Johan Grobler

    Ken Silva is no Troll but a true man of God who holds the absolute truths of the Word of God as non-negotiable. What he says is hard on the ears of those who are creating their own different gospel and jesus and being led by another spirit. Rather take Ken seriously and return to the true ways of the one true God through Jesus Christ. Blessed be Ken when men talk him down like this for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ.
    South Africa

  • JPL

    Well, this certainly proved to be a good idea.

  • Sam

    Creepy. I’ve read some of Silva’s stuff, and he seems to be consistent with Scripture. But these days, that’s a no-no, since the ‘emergent church’ movement paints a gospel in which Jesus is portrayed more like Johnnie Cochrane than like the Son of God.

  • James Hutzel

    Thank God for Ken Silva and his courageous stand against the blind guides of the so-called emerging church movement.

  • Dave E

    I came to this site to gather information from both sides as I have been struggling with a lot of things spiritually. I instantly saw swearing and crude language from both the blogmaster Tony Jones ,and commentors. So far the credebility seems to be going to Mr. Silva…

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  • steveknight

    Looks like Silva got his minions to come and post on here to get the last word. Well, not anymore! haha

  • Tom B.

    So glad to hear you’ve defined RULES for the entire Internet. Seems funny that you would claim the Internet has rules, but hey, Christ doesn’t want us to live by rules but rahter be free….so…….does that make you a Pharisee?

    If you do have these rules of the Internet, please post them, and I’ll be looking forward to seeing your presentation at the symposium in Switzlerland this year. Unless of course you only make ridiculous claims online that you can’t backup – or you refuse to engage with the offline world.

  • John

    Ken Silva is a Religious Bigot. An absolute NUT. Anyone who reads and believes what this man puts on his websites has absolutely no discernment from the Holy Spirit. Ken is everything opposite of the Holy Spirit and he is too blind to see it. Everytime I go to his website the Holy Spirit puts up a big CAUTION light in my spirit. Gossip, slander and lies are not from the Holy Spirit folks. I only go to his website for a good laugh. Anyone who claims to be a Christ follower and continues to publish this kind of trash needs to examine his heart. About 95% of his website is pure trash.


    You know, the truth is that when you just called someone a “TROLL” you were being a “TROLL” yerself. And if you’re wondering, no, I’m not Ken Silva. Why don’t you get a life instead.

  • Raman Kohli

    Yes and Amen. He has nothing but hate for every Christian out there. He claims to follow the “King of grace” , yet shows no grace. I find him more dangerous than a man of different opinion bent on killing a Christian.
    Thank you.

  • juliems3

    He definitely seems to be a Catholic hater (which is probably why USA Today quoted him) acting like he knows more about the faith than actual Catholic writers, bloggers etc…whatever…..

  • Kevin

    I just stumbled upon this Silva guy accidently after seeing some of his hateful comments on Rick Warren…
    I am stunned that a person with so much anti christian sentiment can garner support for his position.. I am a practicing Roman catholic and I respect the genuine faith and beliefs of others..
    Let’s pray for one another and God willing those of us that live out our lives in the footsteps of Jesus Christ will find salvation and find the compassion to forgive those who are misguided and may they encounter their road to Damascus some day…

  • Cicely Duke

    This is Silva’s YouTube Channel:

    Notice that his profile contains has several videos of secular rock musicians (including Guns N Roses!)

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