Frank Turk (Pyromaniacs): The End.

"So what's left for me to do at this point is close up shop. The content here has been and always will be under Phil's purview, and if he would keep it as-is, I trust his judgment. I'll be archiving all the other blogs under my name and closing them in the next 60 days." The End.

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Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I haven't follow Pyro closely and am less familiar with Turk's work than the others there I think. So, no surprise, I don't know what Frank is talking about in most of his final post. I guess I don't read the same blogs he does... and Twitter even less (usually just confuses me).

Still, his overall take seems strangely cynical to me.

Way far north of 95% of Christian blogging is really just exhibitionism, either exposing one's own poor judgment and thinking or exposing others faults (usually both) for the sake of gaining attention for one's self.  I think unintentionally, I have done this.  I repent of ever doing that, and I repudiate everyone who is blogging for the sake of exposing himself or herself to gain an audience.  If you think that's only people with modest-sized blogs, or people on the fringes, you aren't reading the big blogs with any kind of wisdom or insight, or tracking how many people in Christian circles are getting famous from blogging rather than from having actual accomplishments or a decent faith and a world-tilting local church.

There's a distinction I think needs to be made here. If you believe you have something important and helpful to say, you naturally want to say it to an expanding audience if possible. This is not the same thing as self-aggrandizement, though it can look very similar. And some bloggers live off of their blogging and related businesses. So "getting attention" in that context is called advertising... Doing it on the Internet doesn't make it evil

Can seeking attention be unethical and spiritually unhealthy? Sure. But Turk seems to be seeing much more of that than is really there.... due to lumping too many somewhat similar things together.

But he does have some good points in the post. Some sins are easier to commit on the Web. Some are easier to commit elsewhere.

What I've always loved about Pyro, when I did stop by, was energy, wit, and those endlessly weirdly fascinating graphics.

TylerR's picture

Editor

I had trouble understand exactly what he was talking about. I gather he feels he has inadvertently influenced far too many "internet apologists" who sit at their keyboards and run their own "discernment ministries," while being completely disconnected from the local church. In short, I think he feels his blogging has abetted loser "heresy hunters," and he feels personally responsible for that. 

I understand. I think everybody who writes blogs should consider why they do it. Better yet, I think a Christian should spend more time involved in their local church than at their keyboard. 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

T Howard's picture

The Pyromaniacs blog was already at "the end" before Phil Johnson signed off. Pyros became the anti-TGC hit squad, and Dan and Frank endlessly obsessed over it (on the blog and on twitter).

Frank Turk wrote:
The problem I am having at this point in my hobby-on-hiatus is that as I look at many (most) of the people who were inspired by the work done by this blog and some of my other blogs, those people are terrible. From my perspective, however, this problem has not gotten better with age: it has gotten worse.

This is refreshingly honest, yet also finally reveals the real "fruit" of Frank's and Dan's blogging. They were not building, but tearing down, other believers. That is the same "ministry" they inspired in others. Now, when the tables are turned on them or one of their friends (probably Tom), they finally realize the monster they created. As the saying goes, "You live by the sword. You die by the sword."

Honestly, if someone is pastoring their small-to-medium flock right, I don't know how he can have time to keep up on the latest evangelical scandal, blog about it on a regular basis, adequately prepare for preaching, shepherd his people, and train his leaders. Something has to lose. Usually, that something is his flock, and ultimately his pastorate.

John E.'s picture

I’m not very familiar with Pyromaniacs (I’ve read several posts over the years, but my knowledge of who they are is limited), and while, like others in this thread, I’m not entirely sure what he’s talking about in this post, I can empathize with the sentiment … I think.

As a Christian who makes most of his living from writing on the internet, I am continually struggling with my responsibility to my editors (and my paycheck) and the potential conflict that responsibility presents in reference to my responsibility before God to share the gospel in and through my involvement in my church (the rest of my living is made as a staff member at my church). There are times when I feel as if I’m hurting more than helping; that I’m adding to the shrill noise on the internet, and that whatever “good” I contribute is drowned out by the medium’s limitations and the ways in which online communities work and interact with each other.

I am incredibly thankful for the Godly and wise men that God has placed in my church. As I pitch articles, write, and pursue other writing avenues, I am in constant communication with my Elders, seeking their counsel and advice. Even while doing that, there are still times when I look back on past articles and cringe. I pray for the humility and faith to set aside my writing job if my Elders ever tell me that it’s begun to negatively affect my ability to minister to the church, our community at large, and others that the Holy Spirit has placed in my life.

My advice to Christians seeking an online writing career is, first, don’t. While partially joking, I’m not sure if it’s worth the potential cost – to be fair, and honest, I’m currently at a place where this is a question that, in partnership with my Elders, I’m praying about and considering for myself. Secondly, spend a lot of time in prayer both before beginning to write online, even if it’s “just” a personal blog, and throughout the entire process. Thirdly, if you’re not committed to serving in your church, do not even think about it. In fact, I think that if you’re not recognized on some level as someone who disciples others in your church, you may want to focus your energies on growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior; focus on growing in your faith in order to serve others in your church before worrying about “helping” others online. Fourthly, seek the advice of Godly men and women before you begin writing online. Be willing to humble yourself and not write if those whom God has placed in positions of authority over you or wiser, more mature Christians advise you that it may not be a good idea. If you do begin writing, remain in constant conversation about your writing with your Elders and other Christians whose advice you value, Fifthly, and somewhat repeating, pray. Bathe your writing in prayer. Pray for the grace and faith to find your sole identity in Christ and not in clicks, social media shares, and comments.

P.S. when writing something, ask yourself, “If visitors to my church or others whom I’m sharing the gospel with knew that I wrote this, how would it affect their opinion of my Savior and my church family? For the record, since we know that Jesus crucified and resurrected is folly in the minds of the unregenerate, I'm not talking about readers taking offense at the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. As long as I've written in love and humility, the scorn heaped on me whenever I write/"preach" Christ crucified is not something that I'm ashamed of nor does it cause me to reconsider my writing(except in the times when my fleshly desire to please men rears its sinful head).  

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

I agree to an extent with the warnings about writing online, but those apply to writing/publishing, period. It's just that with traditional publishing, there are gatekeepers, but with blogging and self-publishing it's more up to the discernment of the reader than the insights of an editor. 

So anyone, regardless of their education, knowledge, and experience, can start a blog and gain an audience. However, anyone possessing even the tiniest bit of common sense can suss out the writer/vlogger who is trying to make a buck or shill garbage advice or just creating controversy. The success of some bloggers/website is just evidence of the lack of critical thinking skills in the overall population. So... nothing new under the sun. False teaching and cults and quacks and shock jocks have always experienced a startling measure of success. The web is just another platform by which people choose to be deceived. 

Personally, I love blogs. They begin a dialogue with the author and others in the audience that books don't allow. This is, IMO, a good thing, and I appreciate authors who have a website or are active on social media, and will engage with their readers.

I think more people with something sensible and helpful to say should get online and say it, not less.

Anyway, I understand the concerns and the warnings, and I agree that the post in the OP is way too cynical. IMO, the Pyro blog was reaping what they sowed. I visited and read their blog less and less over the years, and I exhibit no surprise at Turk's apparent implosion.

Jay's picture

I understand. I think everybody who writes blogs should consider why they do it. Better yet, I think a Christian should spend more time involved in their local church than at their keyboard. 

The timing of this is very interesting to me.  Not because I think that it's a shame to close up PyroManiacs, or because I fault Turk, although it is refreshing to see that he realized it wasn't healthy for him (or for the others that followed/were influenced by it) and pulled the plug on his own accord.

I have been working on launching my own blog, which I had planned on taking live yesterday (1-1-17), and then I decided against it because I wasn't sure that I knew why I wanted to do it.  That, combined with the overarching deceptiveness of my own heart (Jeremiah 17:9, anyone?), and the wise advice of two or three people that knew me well enough to caution me to proceed slowly, made me shelve it for now.

​I don't know what will happen with the blog, but I am more than happy to consider what Frank said...and I'm glad that Frank is learning from his experiences.  The world is a better place when Christians grow.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Mark_Smith's picture

A year or two ago there was a thread here at SI about Mark Driscoll's salary (at least I think that is what the story was about). I believe the source was Pyro. Anyway, I made a post that most didn't like that noted that people howling over Driscoll's salary never showed any concern over John MacArthur's salary. Mind you, I think John MacArthur is worth whatever he makes. I personally have no qualms with his salary. The point I was making, as I often do, WAS HYPOCRISY. I even showed what part of MacArthur's salary that we could determine and showed it was considerable! Fine with me, as I said at the time. The issue was hypocrisy.

Anyway, the thread blew up. Phil Johnson and Turk both made appearances at SI over my post.They both INSISTED that Phil Johnson had NOTHING TO DO WITH PYRO for a good while. OK... fine. At the time I showed this was not the case, and that Phil's name was still listed as being involved with PYRO. Anyway, they insisted.

Reading Turk's post above I see this: "The content here has been and always will be under Phil's purview..." Interesting and very telling. 

Mark Smith

Bert Perry's picture

I generally liked Pyro--a lot of what they wrote was witty & edifying, and as Jim notes, the graphics were fun, too.  Perhaps too much snark at times, but I valued it quite a bit.  And a good warning in his closing note.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.