Using Kids as Pawns in Theological Battle

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The title sucks, I know. It’s long and dry – not the kind of click-bait social media craves and gets from Upworthy – but it’s what I want to talk about.

Every once in a while you’ll find someone online who has a special thing for criticizing a single person. It’s not always bad or negative. Sometimes the critic is going after an unscrupulous leader who seems to be untouchable. So the critic comes against the leader time and again in an effort to show people the truth. On Twitter you can see people do this against Fundamental Baptist leaders. I’ve had an occasional Tweet or dozen about Mark Driscoll under #DriscollSchoolofEthics

But in most of the cases I’ve seen, those of us who try to call attention to the dealings of people in power talk about the people themselves.

We don’t use their kids to attack them.

Unfortunately, we’ve just seen this very thing happen.

JD Hall has a special fixation on bringing to light the errors and misdeeds of Ergun Caner. I’m not an expert on the matter. I don’t personally know either man. Caner certainly seems suspect in some of his claims. From an outsider’s perspective, though, it seems Mr. Hall’s fixation goes beyond revealing Mr. Caner’s behavior – Hall is determined to ruin Caner.

Then yesterday it took an terrible turn.

When called on pulling Caner’s son into the fray, Hall defended himself with:

The problem as I see it is that Hall wasn’t calling out poor behavior in a young man for the sake of rebuking the young man or correcting his behavior. The only reason Hall for bringing a minor into the picture was as a launching pad to further his argument against Ergun Caner.

In a blog post defending himself, Hall writes:

Furthermore, there was no “attack.” There was no “going after.” Much of the vitriol was in response to the characterization of my tweet as an “attack” or “going after” a “child.” Again, consult the Twitter feed. There was no such thing. I pointed out public error – error that Caner himself should have pointed out to his son a long, long time ago.

Yet I doubt that Hall points out public error in all young men who do stupid things on social media. Rather, these remarks were directed towards the man he is intent on bringing down. The specificity of the error pointed out speak to the truth – that Hall is utilizing the actions of a minor as a springboard to further his attack on the father.

Hall claims 1 Timothy 3:4-5 as biblical grounds for using the son to attack the father:

4 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? (ESV)

But Paul doesn’t really go into great detail about what this kind of parenting looks like or how to handle good, godly men and women who have children who behave poorly. No matter what we do as parents, children will ultimately walk their own path. Too often I have seen this very passage used to batter Christian parents.

It is poor justification for bringing the teen into the mess. The astounding immorality he refers to simply isn’t. The boy’s Twitter feed might have been scrubbed, but from what I see it is not astounding immorality. Hall is making mountains of molehills.

Don’t get me wrong – this is not a defense of Ergun Caner – this is a critique of JD Hall’s methods.

This should not have happened.

What do you think?