by Mike Ratliff
Though the Lord is exalted, he takes note of the lowly, and recognizes the proud from far away. (Psalms 138:6 NET)
But he gives greater grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but he gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6 NET)
I received an email yesterday from my friend and dear brother in Christ Ken Silva. In it he explained, “…Richard Abanes has threatened a lawsuit against IPower who currently hosts the website Apprising Ministries.” IPower had alerted Ken about “accusations” from Abanes in which he stated that Apprising Ministries contains content that is alleged to be, “untrue, offensive, slanderous, harrasing or controversial in nature.” They then demanded that Ken remove that content within 48 hours or his website would be terminated.
Ken included the letter from Abanes to IPower in his email. In that letter Abanes accused Ken of engaging in, “posting libelous, defamatory statements on his website about me — i.e., Richard Abanes.” Then Abanes “introduced himself” to IPower this way: “By way of introduction, I am an award-winning, bestselling author/journalist with twenty books published by major publishing houses. My public reputation, therefore is of paramount importance to my livelihood and carreer. Mr Silva, with no regard for factual information, has posted on his apprising.org website:
– defamatory accusations,
– baseless commentary that impugns my personal/professional integrity, and
– factual errors about my published materials.
He then goes on to tell IPower that Ken Silva through Apprising Ministries has libeled Abanes in the article A PASTOR’S ASSESSMENT OF RICHARD ABANES .
I suggest you read that post by Ken. I’ve read it at least 5 times now. Now, please read the following definition:
“In law, defamation (also called calumny, libel, slander, and vilification) is the communication of a statement that makes a false claim, expressively stated or implied to be factual, that may give an individual, business, product, group, government or nation a negative image. Slander refers to a malicious, false, and defamatory statement or report, while libel refers to any other form of communication such as written words or images. Most jurisdictions allow legal actions, civil and/or criminal, to deter various kinds of defamation and retaliate against groundless criticism. Related to defamation is public disclosure of private facts which arises where one person reveals information which is not of public concern, and the release of which would offend a reasonable person. “Unlike libel or slander, truth is not a defence for invasion of privacy.”
Now, we know that Ken and Abanes have been in a very long debate online. This is a public debate, therefore, what each of them said or stated was not an invasion of privacy. Therefore, for the content of that post by Ken to be considered slanderous or libelous it would have to contain untruths used in a malicious way in order to defame Mr. Abanes. Is that what you read in that post?
Not long ago I ran a series of articles on Rick Warren and the Purpose Driven Paradigm. Mr. Abanes made several comments (I did not post all of them because I was preparing to travel and did not have time to address his arguments at that time) on one of my posts, “Christ the Cause of Division,” in which he attempted to dismantle all of our arguments with a blanket, Rick Warren is right and, therefore, you are wrong in any attempt to show that the Purpose Driven Church model is wrong. At least that was what I got out of his arguments. One really stood out for me. He commented on my point in my first rebuttal that Rick Warren plays fast and loose with scripture in his book, The Purpose Driven Life.
I said that that book is the, “prime example of Rick’s failure to be one who rightly divides the word of truth. In it he takes passages totally out of context to support his thesis. That sir is “proof” that the one you are supporting has failed the test.”
Here is Abanes response, “No, that is proof that Rick Warren doesn’t use every verse in the Bible perfectly like just about 90% of pastors in America and about 100% of Christians.”
That one got my attention. Really, so it’s okay for a pastor to misuse scripture just because most other pastors do too? What was Abanes reasoning for this being okay?
He said, “…because we are all sinners and fallible.”
Well, that is true, but Pastors and Evangelists are called to “rightly handle the word of truth.”
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15 ESV)
That is the standard my brethren. Is it okay for a Pastor to handle the Bible like Rick Warren?
Richard Abanes has said that there is no proof that Rick Warren doesn’t preach the gospel or that the gospel he preaches is not orthodox. In fact in his comments to me he listed all of the things that Rick Warren professes to believe and I agree that those things are orthodox. That was not my point. My point and problem with the Purpose Driven Paradigm is its corruption of the local church with an emphasis on the fallacy of “seeker-sensitive” orientation. That church model states that the full gospel should not be preached. Instead, the preacher should dummy it down and preach only the high points and never the negatives. Our point has always been that the truth of the genuine Gospel is divisive. It divides those who believe from those who don’t. It divides those who are in Christ from those who are not. It divides those who believe they are Christians because of their religiosity from those who really are Christians because of the saving work of Christ in their hearts. Abanes and company believe that it is these points that are divisive instead of the truth being divisive. I’ll let you decide that one.
Lastly, I would like to make a comment about my impression of Richard Abanes tactic of using intimidation in order to silence those who disagree with him. Is that the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of a slave of Christ? What are Christians commanded to do when there are disputes between brothers in Christ?
When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? But you yourselves wrong and defraud–even your own brothers! (1 Corinthians 6:1-8 ESV)
I struggled quite a bit in determining whether to address this so I asked for prayer from some close to me. I also prayed about it all day today. I became convinced that I must post this. What Richard Abanes has done with his intimidation tactics is that he has presented his case before the unrighteous instead of the saints. As I read the debate between Ken and Abanes I saw that Ken received a great deal of abuse from him. Did Ken go to the secular authorities to get Abanes intimidated and to back off? No, he simply presented the truth of the debate to all for them to read for themselves, to judge according the the truth from God’s Word. That is the humble way of a godly Pastor in a dispute like this. However, what was Abanes modus oprandi? He uses intimidation tactics. What is his motivation and basis for his accusations? He is an important, best-selling author who cannot have his character impunged. Well, if that is true then how can he participate in public debate? Certainly he doesn’t really believe that he is 100% right all the time does he?
According 1 Corinthians 6:1-8 the slaves of Christ must never resort to this sort of thing in disputes. Instead, Paul says that we are to be humble before each other and allow ourselves to “suffer wrong.” That is the godly response my brethren. Genuine believers are slaves of Christ and must not be all about self-promotion and self-protection. I wonder if Abanes actions are part of his following Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven model where he says we are to love ourselves?
I don’t know what his motivation is, but it looks like he has determined that Ken will not be intimidated so he has resorted to a threat of a lawsuit in order to silence him. I pray that God will intervene in this. I know that even if he allows this to take place that none of us, including Ken, are intimidated. Instead, we are bound to our Saviour and the cross which we have taken up as we follow Him. We are His slaves and must obey Him and do what pleases Him,not men. That means that even if we are threatened unto death, we will never forsake the truth nor will we compromise it. God’s will be done.
Soli Deo Gloria!