I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:1-5, NASB)

To Reprove And Rebuke Is Not A Personal Attack And/Or Libel

Toward the end of his life the late great defender of the Christian faith Dr. Walter Martin (1928-1989) used to say of the above passage of Scripture: Well guess what, we’re here. By this he meant the time had already arrived when people will not endure sound doctrine so they will instead gather and accumulate for themselves teachers who will tell them just exactly what they want to hear.

Even if I was alone in thinking he was right, and I am not, I would still say—Amen! Having been called as a pastor-teacher the text I cited forms a large part of my duties in the Body of Christ. First and foremost I am to preach the word, i.e. the Word of God in the Bible; and what is more, I am also to do so in season and out of season. This means whether I live in a time, perhaps like the First Great Awakening, where it is a bit more welcomed or whether I live in a time such as this where preaching what God has actually said will quickly bring one into conflict.

And as much as I don’t personally like it the truth is that this conflict today very often involves others who claim to be Christian. Even so however, the pastor-teacher is still commanded by his Master to reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. Men and women, the social climate in which we find ourselves—even within the Church—is one where to reprove, i.e. criticize, reprimand, and/or to rebuke, i.e. scold, admonish, is often immediately reimagined as a personal attack.

It is true that sometimes we do have to reprove and rebuke individuals, which by that fact alone will make it “personal”; but, it does not then logically follow that this is an attack upon the individual person. Such is the case with my opinion piece A Pastor’s Assessment of Richard Abanes. What needs to be understood is that article followed a very public dialogue, which was begun by Richard Abanes himself. The interested reader can find out more about that in Setting Richard Abanes Straight On My Rick Warren “Attack” .

When Abanes made the choice to criticize me he did so publicly and in my estimation he said some very uncomplimentary things e.g. about my reasoning abilities. So hear me: He was welcome to attack my writing publicly because I am in the public arena and he is certainly entitled to his opinion of me, which is without a doubt quite unflattering. This is his prerogative and I fully support anyone’s right to have whatever opinion they wish to formulate of me. All one need do is Google my name and you’ll quickly find many pretty harsh things said concerning me. It just goes with the turf of the Internet Front of this Truth War.

However, you’ll look in vain to find me crying “libel” as does Richard Abanes concerning the aforementioned assessment piece. And now on the heels of Abanes’ unsubstantiated charges of libel, about which he has never supplied any specifics to either IPower or to me, comes yet another person alleging I am guilty of a “slanderous accusation” concerning him. First of all, this statement is in a short intro I wrote to a post at Christian Research Net called “Because The Bible Says So…”:Stupid Things Christians Say. Having spoken with my own legal counsel what this person actually means is libel because slander concerns the spoken word.

The Media Law Resource Center informs us that:

Libel and slander are legal claims for false statements of fact about a person that are printed, broadcast, spoken or otherwise communicated to others. Libel generally refers to statements or visual depictions in written or other permanent form, while slander refers to verbal statements and gestures. The term defamation is often used to encompass both libel and slander.

In order for the person about whom a statement is made to recover for libel, the false statement must be defamatory, meaning that it actually harms the reputation of the other person, as opposed to being merely insulting or offensive. 

The statement(s) alleged to be defamatory must also have been published to at least one other person (other than the subject of the statement) and must be “of and concerning” the plaintiff. That is, those hearing or reading the statement must identify it specifically with the plaintiff.

The statement(s) alleged to be defamatory must also be a false statement of fact. That which is name-calling, hyperbole, or, however characterized, cannot be proven true or false, cannot be the subject of a libel or slander claim. (Online source)

This aforementioned man wrote to me privately in an email entitled, “You calling me agnostic” saying that we “need to resolve this issue” of my supposed libel “amicably.” Further he informed me that he’d had “two separate attorneys look at it and both agree there is a claim there that is presented as fact, when there is no facts to support your claim.” I do wish to acknowledge that this person was at least kind enough to inform me what it is that he considers libel. It would be the following opinion: “The title should make it clear to you what this Christian agnostic is communicating in his screed…” (Online source)

Below is my reply to his false charge of libel:

You are correct in that I have received no phone call from you. Concerning “some” whom you refer to [in your email] as having ability to contact me I can’t speak to that. However, in this particular case there really is no need of my sending you a “contact number” because as far as I’m concerned you are actually creating a non-issue even from the very subject of this email itself: “You calling me agnostic.”

The truth is I did no such thing, so therefore, we really do have a non-issue. Anyone, including your attorneys, should be able to see that I did choose to use the qualifier “Christian” prior to agnostic which, for whatever reason, you have left out as you reference what I said here:

What I share in this introduction is simply my opinion that in your article, and in a way quite similar to Emerging Church teachers, I believe you are denigrating the perspicuity of Scripture just as I see them doing. Further I have publicly shared my opinion that such people are really “Christian agnostics”; as in, a = not; gnostic from gnosis, knowledge, and Christian because I will take their claim to be believers at face value.

In the particular post of yours, to which I link at CRN, it’s also my personal opinion that you are therein exhibiting some of the very same faulty ideas concerning the believer’s ability to know with clarity what the Bible says as does your own pastor Rob Bell, a leading figure within the Emerging Church.

The fact is that these people also make the claim to be Christian, and further they seem to me to be saying they do not have knowledge concerning things the Bible teaches; as such then, in my estimation, they have a form of agnosticism, which they would have to think is also compatible with the historic orthodox Christian faith.

Finally, completely in line with my personal opinions as outlined above, I then used the term Christian agnostic as part of my lead-in for your article because you also do claim to be Christian. And because of this I was very careful to make sure that I clearly delineated you from the non-Christian agnostic.

So I do hope that now you can see there really isn’t any further need for discussion here at all.


Pastor Ken Silva

Slamming Shut A Door Seemingly Opened By Richard Abanes

The reason I now make this known is because I did discharge my pastoral duty with great patience and instruction. Unfortunately my careful, detailed, polite and thorough explanation wasn’t enough for him and I quickly received a follow up email. In it I was told that in his opinion I failed to “qualify” as my “opinion” the term Christian agnostic, which as matter of fact I’ve not seen anyone else use. Instead he feels I “state it as fact.” Then he goes on to instruct me:

Because you have positioned yourself as an expert in this area, you have a high degree of responsibility. Of course, if you’d like to modify the post so that it accurately reflects your statement that it is simply your position and not based in fact that too will satisfy in this case. If not, I am afraid I will be forced to go whatever means necessary to protect my reputation from slanderous statements.

It would appear to me that he’s concerned someone might read this short intro and then “believe” he would himself be claiming to be “a Christian Agnostic.” Then this person says:

Once you are an expert, you can state things without qualifications and not expect people to examine them closely. According to my attorneys (and I have to confess I’m uneducated in the law) because you have positioned yourself as an expert on cults, the emergent movement, etc your statement as it is currently written is libel. Now, the great thing is they have assured me they are willing to go to any means necessary to help me and all for quid pro quo. Latin is such a fun language.

It comes as news to me that I have ever claimed to be “an expert” in anything. However, if I were to make such a claim I would only say that I am “an expert” in falling short of all my Lord and Master would have me be. Like any other Christian I simply do the best I can to walk in God’s grace and to faithfully attend to the labors He gives me, which I am not worthy to perform. And finally this man ends his letter asking if I would “be so kind as to email” him contact information:

for your local congregation and your board at apprising ministries? I feel in light of Matthew 18 that the next step will be for me to go to them. After which I will go to your local DOM and ask that you be brought before that body for church discipline…

Thank you for writing me. I am confident we can clear this up. It is not my desire to have the same broo ha ha that has transpired in the last weeks, but as I originally stated, even according to one of your own contributors you are guilty of libel.

Grace and Peace,

It’s quite obvious my attempt to settle this amicably and privately hasn’t worked because I have already been informed that after talking with my local church and my board of directors he “will go to [my] local DOM and ask that [I] be brought before that body for church discipline…” With this in mind here would seem to be an appropriate time to bring something to light. There are those who have already pointed out the very dangerous precedent set by Richard Abanes when his unsubstantiated claim to IPower, former ISP of the Apprising Ministries web site, ended up in my being judged guilty upon a mere allegation of libel.

So now another has come forth leveling the charge of libel while alluding to the possible involvement of “attorneys.” I have discussed this matter with those God has placed around me in leadership and we are in agreement that both of these charges are baseless. Speaking now in the Lord as a pastor-teacher I wish to inform those who need to know that because of the way these two incidents have played out I will not so much as alter a comma of either post alleged to contain libel. And furthermore, for anyone else who feels they wish to try and intimidate me with the mention of attorneys, I will say that you had best think again.

Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. (1 Corinthians 4:2-4)