So, what about anonymous comments...

Again he sent them another slave, and they wounded him in the head, and treated him shamefully. (Mark 12:4)

A reader personally unknown to me and my brother David wrote of his appreciation for Baylyblog, and then asked this question:

Having seen some of the comments you have made (on Baylyblog about anonymity), I wanted to ask if you believe it is wrong if I post a comment only using my first name? The reason I do so is that I am an engineering student and will be graduating ...and it would probably make it quite difficult for me to get a job since employers google names and mine is a rare one... Is that a bad reason?

To which I responded:

Dear John Doe,

I have mixed feelings about this, dear brother...

and don't now what to say. My inclination is that if you don't engage in personal criticism of others here, it's OK not to identify yourself. When the conversation gets personal about sin and error, I think we need to give people the freedom to know who we are—first and last names—particularly if we know who they are.

There was a man who remained anonymous and made many, many fine contributions to our blog (as he does to many other blogs, also). After years of contributions, he engaged in personal criticism of others, here, so we told him he'd need to post his first and last name if he wanted to continue to comment. (We explained this privately.) He declined to do so and thus he no longer has commenting privileges here. It's difficult because he is a friend of God's Truth. Nevertheless he needed to face his opponents like a man, identifying himself, and so we lost his comments on Baylyblog.

I believe there is a place for anonymity. Church fathers of past centuries have sometimes used it well. But the internet is awash in it and it's almost always wrong and bad—particularly for believers.

We have so many truths God has given us that we want to keep private just now, and the list grows with each passing month. We are ashamed of Christ and His Words. Not being confessed publicly, truth dies. Or maybe it would be better to say that not confessing it publicly, we die. Or the Church refusing to be salt and light, the world dies.

But you might point out that Baylyblog confesses the truth. Yet we can count on a few fingers the blogs that work at publicly confessing the Scriptural truths most hated today. Why?

Not because such truths won't get readers; we have a good number of readers. Men are hungry for God's Truth. So it's not for lack of hungry sheep that Reformed pastors and elders are anonymous or silent concerning the truths of Scripture hated today. Rather pastors don't want to admit to these precious truths out there in public.

Why not?

Because it will get them into trouble with their wives, their daughters, and their elders; because it will get them fired and then will keep them from ever getting another pastoral call—not to mention a call to a rich and large tall-steeple church.

Those who admit to the truths commonly confessed here on this blog know they are sacrificing their future ability to move to another pastoral call and they fear it just as you do, dear brother. All of us want to get and keep a job. 

Saying what Scripture says at the crunch points is to give up the perks too many of us Reformed shepherds live for and this has been true across the centuries.

So pray about it and cultivate a love for God's precious Truth that leads you concerning where and when you should be willing to suffer or die for Him keeping in mind that our Lord promotes the man who is faithful in little things.

Love,

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and fifteen grandchildren.

Comments

My sincerest apologies,Pastors Tim & David, for not formerly providing my last name. You may edit the previous one to add my last name to it if you like.

>>I am (an) engineering student

I am a computer programmer. My employer does not currently fire people based on their beliefs-in-action (unlike Cisco http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/top-cisco-employee-repotedly-fired-for-defending-marriage-family/ ).

But supposing they did, and that if once fired for this sort of thing I would be likely to be locked out of the computer programming field...

Why is it that I have to be in the computer programming field? Well, to support my family.

But why can't I be a plumber or painter or HVAC technician or auto mechanic? (In none of those fields would employees be likely to care one way or the other what I did nights and weekends if my work were good.) Well, because I've got to make enough to pay my mortgage.

But why do I have a mortgage? Well, because the size of house I wanted on the good side of town (where the top secularist schools are) was beyond what I could afford.

To summarize, a big house on the good side of town is a must. I hope to boldly proclaim the truths of Scripture someday, when the risk is less.

Brothers, if it is true that we cannot serve both God and Mammon, this is serving Mammon.

----
And as I had all this in mind, I went to Planned Parenthood to hold up my poster of an 8-week baby-in-the-womb...but today no one was with me, which is bad because they can more easily accuse you of things. So I sat in my car and thought, why don't I just pray today instead of holding up my poster and passing out leaflets? I mean, prayer is holy, right? And then I thought, why would I not be holding up the poster? Well, because I might get arrested, and that would be inconvenient...

And then I thought about the women going in and out of there, deciding whether or not to have their babies be torn apart in the womb. And I repented, and held up the sign for the babies, and for God.

Dear Joshua,

We had no problem with you using only one name. If you get in someone's face, personally, maybe you'll need to sign both. But until then, we're leaving it as it is.

Dear Daniel,

Thank you for that.

Love to you both,

One hundred years after Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount, a man approached the great church father Tertullian with a problem -- his business interests and Christianity conflicted. He ended by asking, "What can I do? I must live!" Tertullian replied, "Must you?"

From R. Kent Hughes, The Sermon on the Mount, page 74

Blessings,
Nancy

Cursed be he that smiteth his neighbour secretly. And all the people shall say, Amen. - Deuteronomy 27:24

Dear John Doe,

I don't know the specifics of your situation, but perhaps you may find this testimony to be edifying...

This past winter, I was very busy applying to many colleges, among which were some of the top-ranked schools out east. I was called in for an alumni interview with one of these schools. Upon arriving, the first thing that the interviewer mentioned was that he had googled my name the night before and clicked on the first hit. Apparently, The Google has indelibly associated my name with a mild controversy that I was involved in a few years ago. The interviewer asked me about it and it gave me an opportunity to witness to him about my faith and my decision to honor the Lord's Day. The interview more or less remained in that ballpark, with me answering a few more questions he had about my faith and my interpretation of a few Scriptures.

I did not get accepted to that school. Perhaps it was the interview. Perhaps it was my explicitly Christian application essay. Perhaps it was the fact that I simply lacked the kind of academic credentials that they were looking for. I don't know. What I do know is that I am much happier where I ended up and I am just beginning to realize how richly God has blessed me and how faithfully and mercifully He has answered all my prayers, even down to the smallest of details.

Psalm 50 tells us that God owns the cattle on a thousand hills. By extension, it is He (not Larry Page or Sergey Brin) who directs every Google search.

Sincerely,

I was reading Rachel Simmons's Odd Girl Out today, a book I recommend on how girls aged 10 to 14 are mean to each other. It has one chapter entirely about modern technology, and one strong admonition to parents is not to let their girls get involved with any website where people can comment anonymously. Anonymity encourages lying and rudeness, and girls (1)are tempted towards that and (2) do not realize how much it hurts to be a victim of it. Number (1) at least is a problem for grown men too. That's one reason I use my full name when commenting, even tho some comments may come back to bite me some day: I think to myself "If I don't want people to know I wrote this, maybe I shouldn't be writing it."

I doubt an engineer runs much job risk as a result of his politics or religion. A student applying to college might, but as Mr. Huck noted, it might help too. Certain people do need to think hard-- for example, Christian pastors working illegally in Iran. For another possible example,see the Sept. 2 " Should Applicants for Teaching Positions Remove Their Religious Affiliations From Their CVs?" on Prawfsblog. I have a long comment there where I talk about why you should keep your Christianity off your job application CV but should not keep it secret once you get the job even tho you don't have tenure yet. See http://prawfsblawg.blogs.com/prawfsblawg/2011/09/should-applicants-for-teaching-positions-remove-their-religious-affiliations-from-their-cvs.html#comments

"I believe there is a place for anonymity. Church fathers of past centuries have often used it well."

You may have said it elsewhere, but who and where?

John Knox originally published "The First Blast of the Trumpet
Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women" anonymously...

Well, John Knox wrote First Blast anonymously.

Love,

I think there are times when anonymity is warranted. I've used it many times to protect myself from perceived potential threats. It gave me the courage to say what I really wanted to say.

But then I realized something awhile back... it wasn't really courage at all! In fact, it was complete cowardliness on my part. When facebook came along and demanded that we all use our real names and I began to "out" myself by posting what I really thought, and I did suffer reprisals in the form of many lost friendships. And that has no doubt hurt my career in many ways. I also suffered the loss of friendships from within my church. I lost the respect of the people I had attended church with for nearly 20 years.

But I realized something important from that. The reason we as a country are in such bad shape politically and spiritually is because the Enemy comes up with never ending ways to keep us quiet. And when we won't use our names online, what does that say for what we'll do in person?

If we're afraid to use our names online because of the consequences we know will follow, then we'll surely not speak boldly in person. It is the success of the Enemy in keeping us quiet that is largely responsible for the poor condition we find the world in today.

If all true Christians were courageous enough to boldly speak up and present God's truth clearly and unapologetically, yes of course we would suffer dire consequences. But wouldn't the world be in much better shape?

When we speak God's truth into people's lives God uses that to call those whom He is calling. I took a bi-sexual female friend to church with me recently and the pastor briefly mentioned the sin of homosexuality during the sermon. I cringed, thinking "now she'll never come back." But after the service she got very quiet and after awhile she said to me, "you know, I've done a lot of really bad things in my life." She had a moment of conviction because the Holy Spirit was able to speak to her heart through a pastor who was unafraid to lovingly and boldly speak the truth of God's holy scriptures.

I know it's hard "Anonymous", but I would encourage you to pray to God for the courage to stand up and speak truthfully of Him without being afraid of the consequences.

That's what Jesus did for us. He didn't come to earth anonymously. And he had the courage to do what he knew would get him killed.

I rejoice every day that I am able in some small way to share in His suffering through a lost friendship or a lost business opportunity or an unfair accusation.

I've lived most of my life keeping quiet. I knew when and where I could speak, and I knew when and where I shouldn't. And when I did speak, I knew exactly how to say it so as not to bring offense. When I see millions of American Christians keeping quiet at work, at school, with their neighbors I know it's all lost opportunities to change the world. We can only have an impact on the world for Christ if we're willing to share with people what we believe.

I used to marvel that in America Christians suffered no persecution. Now I see why! Because we remain anonymous and quiet. The minute you start to speak up, you will be persecuted in some form or other. But that's when you know you're doing God's work. It's all to His glory.

John Knox and The Monstrous Regiment is the only instance of anonymous publishing by a man of God that comes to mind. The Monstrous Regiment seems to have had almost no effect on society though, since from the point it was published on, things kept right on marching toward the ubiquity of women in authority over men, to the point that now even Christians have no concept how you could believe otherwise.

I wonder if the lack-of-effect was connected to Knox's failure of courage in publishing it anonymously?

(Jeremiah preached it straight and things got worse and worse notwithstanding; the American federalists published anonymously and succeeded, but still, I wonder.)

Out of respect for a man of faith from the past, let me change to "Knox's failure of courage" (assumed) to "a failure of courage in Knox" (proposed)

In case anyone's still reading this thread, I'd like to suggest that honest witness in the flesh is far more important (and difficult) than standing up to some atheist or liberal you've only ever met in a chat room or comment thread - whether anonymously or not. (I write this as one who finds this a daily struggle.)

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