Some Doctrinal Distinctives

Introductory observations

What follows is the fruit of discussions that have been taking place among the SharperIron moderators and admins over many months, but especially the last six weeks or so. A few points might help frame it properly. First, the team is fairly diverse. We are not all Baptists. We are certainly not all Calvinists, though probably none of the non-Calvinists could be described as Arminians either. Several us are “hard” cessationists when it comes to the “sign gifts,” but some are softer cessationists and one or two aren’t sure. Several of us are, or have been, pastors—but again, not all of us. Also, though the points below reflect the beliefs of the moderators and admins, not everyone on the team is enthusiastic about publishing every one of these points in a list of distinctives—mostly out of concern about the relative importance of one point or another in the overall body of Christian doctrine. In short, probably none of us would say all of these are equally important and some would see one or two as perhaps better left unsaid.

The doctrinal assertions below are not intended to further restrict those who may participate in the forums either now or in the future, nor do we claim that they are beliefs that are essential to fundamentalist identitiy. They are nothing more and nothing less than what the moderators and admins (and most other volunteers) currently believe in some areas that are of special concern.

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SharperIron and Sound Doctrine

What is SharperIron’s role in maintaining sound doctrine among believers? For a couple of years now, a consensus has been growing among the site’s moderators and admins that we need to clarify how we see the answer to that question.

To put the question another way, to what extent and in what way is SI responsible for promoting and defending solid, biblical doctrine? Then, on the nuts and bolts level, how does our answer to that question apply to regulating membership and the contents of posts? An important third question adds a layer of complexity: how particular or comprehensive do we want to be in whatever doctrinal regulating we do?

Though the moderators and admins are not completely agreed on the answers to all of these questions, we have arrived at general agreement on a few points. This two-part series of posts is the result. The aim here is two-fold:

  • To clarify how we see our responsibilities in the area of doctrine
  • To unveil a couple of changes in light of that understanding

Whys and wherefores

SharperIron is not a church or fellowship of churches. Consequently, though there is some overlap in purposes, the site does not bear the responsibilities and goals of a church or group of churches. Though we have more in common with educational institutions that aim to equip local churches, SI’s character and purpose don’t fit precisely in that mold either.

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What's New in 3.1

Here’s some of what’s new…

  • Improved search tool. Now you can sort your results by column headers and search by multiple criteria. Check it out.
  • “Like this” feature (still a bit basic, but gettin’ there)
  • Links to comments (from Foundry or wherever) now work regardless of what page the comment is on
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Tip #1 - Flagging Bad Posts

SI has a system for flagging inappropriate posts
At the bottom of each forum post, an icon appears that looks like this: .   Clicking the icon makes the post appear on the Moderating Team’s list of posts to check for compliance with the Comment Policy. For flagged posts, the icon looks like this.  

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A Few Answers to SharperIron Critics

Should we answer critics or ignore them? Though critics should not be lumped in with fools too hastily, Proverbs 26:4-5 might be of some help in answering this question. Apparently, sometimes we should not answer fools, but sometimes we should. Given the number of leadership experts who say, “Never answer the critics because…” as well as the number who say, “You have to answer your critics because…,” I’m guessing that what’s true of fools is also true of critics in this case: sometimes we shouldn’t answer them, but sometimes we should.

Of course, we should listen to our critics first and weigh their criticism. But when listening to a critic reveals a consistent pattern of factual error (and more than a little evidence of malice), further listening is poor stewardship of our time. That narrows the options to “tuning out” or responding.

Public criticism over an extended period of time narrows the options even further. The likelihood increases that people unfamiliar with the facts will encounter accusations and believe them. Actual damage could occur.

Eventually the question is no longer if we should answer the critics but how to answer them without further empowering them—or perhaps, how to answer them in a way that empowers them less than not answering them! One good way might be to target falsehoods without specifically targeting their source.

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