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Feedback archive Feedback 2008

CMI slammed over Singapore slammer

Singapore lion fountain statue

Photo sxc.hu

We received many emails following our 10 May feedback article Wolf among the fold? Refuting critic of a CMI church talk and international Infobytes item ‘Slammed in Singapore’ of 21 May. The great majority of respondents expressed their disapproval of the tone of our rebuttal of CN’s blog review1 of Dr David Catchpoole’s presentation at a Singapore church.

For example, DP (from South Africa) wrote:

I just read ‘Wolf among the fold? Refuting critic of a CMI church talk’ [in which] you state ‘A critic misrepresents a recent creation talk in Singapore. The response explains our aims in church talks and our materials, and refutes the critic’s errors in facts and logic.’

I have to agree, you certainly refuted CN (not his errors) in fact and logic. You took out the battering ram and you knocked him into bits and pieces and left him crying and bloodied on the floor.

My above comment is emotional, not fact or logic. CN seems to be a fellow creationist and Christian. (with probably many issues) I think you missed the ‘read inbetween the lines’ note he left. I believe that you should’ve addressed the emotional side of his blog as well, not only the factual.

My opinion is that you don’t refute emotions and issues, you minister to it with God’s love and mercy and I had difficulty finding God’s love and mercy in your response.

I don’t know why I write this to you, maybe it is my fallen nature that makes me moan more than love. I love CMI and the work you do, but I write this probably because deep down I know what CN tries to say. The excitement he had…the led down he experienced in the end. This is emotional stuff, and then in the rest of his blog he tries to explain what caused this emotion of feeling led down. He mention money matters, way of reasoning, the mocking of the evolution theory etc. Whether he is correct or not is not the point, emotions are always valid, because he felt it.

Argggh, just delete this email and go on with your life. I also just needed to be heard.

PC (Australia) echoed similar thoughts:

After reading ‘Wolf among the fold’ in your latest CMI Infobytes, I feel the need to respond.

First of all, let me state that I agree with your points, I just don’t agree with how all of it was presented.

What I am talking about here is how insults are mixed in with the logical responses to CN’s critique.

I was reading with interest both CN’s comments and Jonathan Sarfati and David Catchpoole’s replies until I came to the line ‘The reality is that many uneducated people may be reading this blog.’ and your response ‘That would not be entirely surprising.’

As much as CN’s point of view was obviously annoying you, showing disrespect and disregard for the person themselves does not improve your point. To me at least, it actually detracts from the professionalism of your responses.

Please correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t insulting the person who disagrees with you lowering yourself to the level of the people who do the same to you?

I personally can identify with CN. Note that I do not agree with him, but there was a time when the mention of ‘buy this, buy that’ put me off the ministry in question to the degree that they could do no right afterwards. Perhaps bookending your talk with a sales pitch hit that same note in CN. For me it was a spiritual issue that needed sorting out (Satan didn’t want me to hear the ministry in question, so the profit button was pushed until everything else faded away. Thankfully this was dealt with soon afterwards).

I can assure you that if the people of that ministry mocked me in response then I would not have been able to listen to them later and receive release from the whole ‘Christians are just trying to make money from me’ issue I was suffering from.

The Scripture verse that comes to mind is Romans 12:20–21, although I’m sure you can come up with more relevant. :-)

Please keep up the good work, and please do take note of my point.

Thanks for listening…

NC of Cobden, Australia could not even bring himself to read to the end of the article:

I wanted to express dismay at the tone of your ‘Wolf among the fold?’ article referred to in the ‘Slammed In Singapore’ article in today’s Infobytes. I’m normally completely supportive of Creation Ministries, but not in this case. …
… what I read of the article (I decided not to finish it) has a sarcastic tone that is, frankly, ungodly. There’s nothing wrong with disagreeing but please, do it in a godly fashion.

These are strong criticisms from people who support our ministry. While we don’t wish to respond directly, we do want readers to know that we do not casually dismiss such criticism, and will definitely keep it in mind in future responses.

Not every response we received was critical. BT (Canada) expressed a different view to the majority of respondents:

Thank you for the sensitively-written (and well-written, too!) article ‘Refuting critic of a CMI church talk’. It was a real blessing to read. Certainly any person who loves truth will have to take away the gentle Christian attitude held by Dr Catchpoole and Dr Sarfati. Keep up the good work!

RS (Canada) asked about our choice of title:

Question: is there a reason why you insinuate in your article that the person who disagreed with a talk given by Dr. David Catchpoole might be a ‘Wolf among the fold’? Just because someone openly disagrees with you doesn’t mean that they are a wolf …

Pic Description

Composite photos: sheep morguefile.com, wolf sxc.hu

We would like to offer an explanation on this particular point. This explanation is not intended as a defence to the earlier criticisms above, which are on separate issues.

Many Christians disagree with us on certain points, but that does not make them (or us) ‘wolves’. Jesus said: ‘Watch out for false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will know them.’ (Matthew 7:15–16a)

Our only outward measure of the fruit of CN’s heart were his actions and words (Matthew 6:21, Luke 6:45). We had earlier commented that some of CN’s thinking, as revealed in what he says on his blog (‘[Evolutionists] must be given credit for looking at evidence and crafting naturalistic explanations to describe how things came into being, rather than the creationist method of looking at an ancient text and using that text to interpret evidence.’),1 directly matches that of overt atheists. As we wrote:

So here we see CN’s true colours: the Bible is just an ‘ancient text’, although Jesus affirmed its authority, including in Genesis. And CN shares the naturalistic presuppositions of atheists, even when it comes to origins and contradicts what God has revealed in his word. For more on his errant philosophy, see Naturalism, Origins and Operational Science.

And also, CN’s behaviour towards David at the church could not be distinguished from that of certain atheists/Skeptics who attend CMI presentations then write a hostile ‘review’ for posting online. Their motive appears to be to dissuade others from inviting CMI speakers. Indeed, some anonymous antitheists have cheered CN on his blog—cheers CN should not be welcoming as a Christian.

CN did not reveal his name to David nor his intentions as to what his report might say. Presumably, a genuine sheep that believed a fellow sheep (David) to be in error, particularly when that fellow sheep has sacrificed time with his family, etc., to travel to far-off churches believing his mission is to encourage believers in truth (not falsehood), would have pointed out to David where he is propagating ‘error’. But CN did not engage David in conversation at all (beyond asking permission to take a photo) despite ample opportunity to do so. (At other churches, sometimes earnest ‘long-age’ Christians do indeed question CMI speakers one-on-one in love, resulting in their mutual edification (Proverbs 27:17)—whereas CN’s actions were inconsistent with sheep-like behavior.) To paraphrase a famous saying: ‘If it thinks like a wolf, and speaks like a wolf, and acts like a wolf—and joins with known wolves in attacking known sheep—then … maybe it might be a wolf?’ However, of course we cannot be sure, hence the question mark in the title of our original article.

It’s also notable that the first comments of CN himself about our article were:

The people at Creation Ministries International responded to my post about the logical fallacies of their speaker. They do make some good points about the limitations of my criticisms and they clarify some things that I misunderstood. I suppose I was a little bit ‘reminiscent of a beginning philosophy student who has learned about logical fallacies for the first time.’2
Their response did bring to light some fundamental errors that I made.

He also graciously admitted:

I didn’t really treat David Catchpoole with the respect of a Christian brother, but instead I lobbied the same type of criticism at him that I might throw toward a public figure such as a politician, movie director, or televangelist.2

It is very much to CN’s credit that he acknowledges his error on these points. We hope one day he may also see the flaws in the secular view that the Bible is just a book and that the earth is millions of years old.

One responder to CN’s blog wrote:

I thought your initial posting was a little too critical on DC. Much as you think DC’s talk was filled with logical fallacies, your criticism over DC’s talk was also filled with much logical errors. It is wise to be mindful that without love one often can focus on the speck in our brother's eye while ignoring the log in ours.

As you venture into logic and philosophy, keep in mind that intellectual humility is a virtue we should pursue.

I am glad you admitted your foolishness.2

Another responder wrote:

I say this earnestly yet genuinely kindly, that I don’t think you understand quite what it was you did wrong. This is not a David-vs-Goliath thing where you have rubbed a big ministry up the wrong way and been clobbered. Rather, it is simply a matter of you having an issue with a ‘Christian Brother’ and not dealing with it at all correctly.

Rather than take the time to speak with Dr Catchpoole to express your concerns, or even send a letter or email to have them addressed, you have posted a biased, immature and poorly written critique of the man.

You have accused him of bad motives, of poor presentation and of inaccurately presenting his subject. Seems to me that such things should be done in private before lambasting someone on the Internet where the whole world can see it. Given your public blog CMI really had no option but to respond publicly.

It also seems apparent (and correct me if I’m wrong) that you already had in mind what you were going to write when you spoke with him after the sermon. An honest person would have told him that you wanted his picture so you could feature it in a critical blog post. Of course if you had told him that he might have declined to have his photo taken. But I’m sure you know that already.

I think that CMI, or more importantly Dr Catchpoole, would be more than willing to put the whole thing to rest if you did issue an apology for your post.2

‘Where are the positive responses to Dr Catchpoole’s Singapore ministry?’

Photo sxc.hu

Singapore nightscape

Balmy Singapore as night settles

Several readers suggested that we should not have given so much prominence to the negative comments of a critic—they would have rather heard of any positive responses of people attending David Catchpoole’s ministry3 in Singapore.

Indeed, the reaction was overwhelmingly positive. For example, on arrival at the church that CN attends, Dr Catchpoole was approached by the pastor who said:

‘I attended one of your presentations last week and it was excellent. So, instead of giving you 45 minutes as originally planned, we want to give you maximum possible time—I have now seen that you need it, and make fruitful use of it—so we’ve drastically cut back our preliminaries to give you an hour and a half; include your email news signups and magazine signups as usual; all we ask is that you allow 15 minutes somewhere in there for a public Question Time.’

Following the presentation, the pastor and others in his leadership team, and in the congregation, were enthusiastic in expressing their appreciation and thanks.

Amazingly, when David arrived at a different church later that day to address the congregation during their evening service, the pastor there greeted David with:

‘Normally we give our visiting speakers 45 minutes, but several of our people have heard you during the week, and so we’re giving you an hour—take longer if you need it.’

As David finished his presentation at that church, the elder leading the service got up and gave a ringing endorsement of what had been presented, and urging all in the congregation to do their bit to pass the information on to unbelievers: ‘You see this?’, he said to the congregation while taking his already-ticked 3-year Creation magazine sign-up form coupon out of his pocket and holding it aloft for all to see:

‘My family have signed up today and you should, too. You know, all of you can afford a one-year subscription to the magazine, yes, even you students! Thirty-five [Singapore] dollars for one year is not even $3 per month, or 10 cents per day. ALL of you can save 10 cents per day! And it works out even cheaper if you get a three-year subscription—LESS than 10 cents per day!’

He continued:

‘You know, every three months, I’ll be reading my copy of Creation magazine as soon as it arrives and when everyone in the family has read it, I’m going to take it to my office and put it in the communal area reading rack, so the people at work can read it, and … who knows? Maybe one of them will be influenced to seek the Lord.’

He encouraged the people in the congregation to do something similar.

‘So when you finish reading your Creation magazine, make sure you give it away, and who knows—perhaps you’ll meet someone in Heaven who’ll tell you that it was because you gave, that he is in Heaven.’

Afterwards, the pastor’s wife said:

‘I’m sorry I missed your presentation, I was upstairs teaching the little children. But there’s something I must tell you. My teenage daughter, who did hear your presentation, has just told me: “Mum, it was just so good. Today has been of critical importance to me.”’

Reading Creation magazine

At one of the public meetings the previous week, a father commented:

‘This issue is crucial for our children. I have a 12-year-old who is being taught evolution as fact at school. These printed materials are just what we need to retain the next generation.’

At one meeting where the venue was packed to capacity, predominantly with people in their twenties and late teens, the question time went on and on, and later the organizer said to Dr Catchpoole:

‘That was wonderful! People could have happily continued to have you answer their questions, if we could have let you keep on going through the night!’

The organizer added:

‘Tonight’s response shows that the creation/evolution issue is a big issue in the church—and that it’s an unaddressed issue.’

At another venue mid-week, the question time was driven largely by an elderly gentleman who asked questions such as, ‘Was it fair that the animals should have been cursed along with man, because of the man’s sin?’ and ‘If we are made in God’s image, does that mean God has eyes, hands and feet as we do?’ and ‘With all these people all over the world praying at the same time, how can God possibly hear them all at once?’ To conclude the evening, David presented slides showing how the ancient Chinese characters point to the events of Eden, and our salvation in Christ. The elderly gentleman became more and more excited, pointing at the projected characters on the screen, then jumped up and effusively shook Dr Catchpoole’s hand—David said the gentleman’s eyes were ‘shining brightly’, that he was ‘positively effervescent’! The pastor told David later that the elderly gentleman was a new convert—he had been a ‘staunch Buddhist’ until just a few months ago.

But probably the best feedback of all came after one of David’s seminar presentations early on during this ministry tour, where the brother of a Christian lady (she’d brought him along) said after the presentation: I no longer have any reason to not believe!

Says David: ‘Despite the flak that CMI speakers receive from time to time, it’s comments like that one which so encourage us to not give up, but keep on going.’

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Update:

E.McD. from Victoria, Australia, wrote in response to this feedback article:

I just read the weekend feedback CMI slammed over Singapore slammer and was surprised to learn of the negative responses to Wolf among the fold?
I read Wolf among the fold? at the time and never thought anything of it concerning the tone being overly critical. I thought the comment from DP of South Africa to be unreasonable actually, especially where he/she said, ‘Whether he is correct or not is not the point, emotions are always valid, because he felt it.’ What’s this supposed to mean? Being incorrect doesn’t matter because emotions are always valid?!
Anyway keep up the good work.

J.S. from Australia writes:

I just finished reading ‘CMI Slammed for Singapore Slammer’ and thought, ‘I don’t remember the article’s being so sarcastic or critical.’ So I read it again. No, in my opinion it wasn’t either to any great extent. A little ironic, and maybe a little defensive, but extremely factual, logical and quite gracious considering the criticism DC copped.
You didn’t even point out that his example of logic (about being intelligent and reading his article) was based on a false premise anyway.
Cheers, thanks for the extra positive comments, and keep up the great work!

References

  1. Media Slog—Bridging the gap between Asia and America, Sermon Review: Creation—the missing link by Dr David Catchpoole, <http://cneil.blogspot.com/2008/04/sermon-review-creation-missing-link-by.html>, 29 April 2008. Return to text.
  2. Media Slog—Bridging the gap between Asia and America, Am I a wolf among the fold?, <http://cneil.blogspot.com/2008/05/am-i-wolf-among-fold.html>, 12 May 2008. Return to text.
  3. CMI speaker presentations demonstrate that there are straightforward answers to the common objections and queries people have relating to the creation/evolution issue, which are some of the most frequent objections to faith in Christ. For further info, see under ‘Speaking and direct ministry’ on the What we do page. Return to text.
Published: 12 July 2008(GMT+10)

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