Last week, a string of false accusations were made against Karen Swallow Prior. You may read my initial post on the topic here, although I have written one other post on the topic and there are posts from many others as well. Dr. Prior has posted the following to her Facebook after an extended conversation with Greg Smith. Greg will no doubt face sharp criticism for doing what is right. For that, I would like to personally thank him, and encourage others – especially many of those who have contacted me in private – to follow his example. Call JD to repentance. God is so good, and so gracious.
Dr. Prior writes, “The following is a post by Greg Smith. He tells me he was one of the first to try to take me down based on a deep misunderstanding of me. Facebook seems not to allow the post to be made public. In order to post it publicly, I am copying it here.”
The following is now live in the Pulpit Bunker. A Facebook group of which I am a member and which was responsible for launching last week’s assault on Karen:
After much prayer, research and deliberation. This will be as concise as possible for now.
Certainly nobody who is a part of this group is unaware of the galactic controversy that has erupted with regard to Liberty University professor Karen Swallow Prior and allegations of homosexual affirmation and “shocking liberalism”. As I stated last week, I had raised concerns about Prior to the ERLC last year with reference to a Christianity Today article wherein a young lady was the subject of a favorable Prior interview, whose blog, linked from the article, is filled with bisexual, hedonistic, ultra (and I do mean ULTRA) theological leftism. I was ignored.
Since then I had sent my findings to a few people privately, each of which were surprised by what I was showing them. Naturally when the information from Jordan and Landon began coming out, I was on board. It fit right in with what I had found myself. Or so it certainly did appear. I was happy to see this person finally being exposed, along with the libertine tolerance of those she works and fellowships with. Again. Or so I certainly did believe.
When people I knew to be very conservative and capable began defending her, (Chris Bolt at first), I quite frankly wrote it off initially to what I thought must have been bad historical blood between them and Jordan. As the evidence began to mount, on a whim I sent Dr. Prior a half tongue in cheek request for an interview. About 95% convinced I would get no response at all. She did respond. Surprisingly, not to turn me down outright, but to tell me of her time pressures and also the fair and obvious fact that she had no idea who I was. I sent her my Facebook page. A little while later I received a friend request. I did not see that coming. I accepted.
The short version is, through not only the steady stream of mounting evidence, but also a pretty fair bit of personal conversation with her over the last four days, I am now convinced that Dr. Prior is guilty of none of the original charges that initially launched this affair. I hasten to add that this does not mean that substantial differences between her and I do not exist. They most assuredly do. The point is however that she does not affirm homosexuality as a God blessed alternative. All of her activities and event attendance have been for the purpose of calling homosexual people she loves out of that life of sin and death and into new life in Christ. I disagree profoundly with some aspects of how she practices this, but that IS the reason. Not to be a groovy progressive with the in crowd as I myself suspected.
Even the gender neutral bathroom remark, if allowed to speak in its context, is only a suggestion for single occupancy unisex restrooms. Not a transgender free for all in open multi user facilities. Further, once she explained to me the situation behind the Christianity Today article, I am pleased to report that I now understand how that came about as well. The woman in question was not at that stage of apostasy when the interview was given. (it IS a few years old and the woman is young) She was also a student of Dr. Prior that Dr. Prior was seeking to help draw back in the direction of orthodoxy by allowing her to tell her story publicly. I believe her. Dr. Prior has told me plainly that she considers the state of this person as evinced by the later direction of her blog, to be one who has tragically forsaken the historic faith.
I certainly hope not, but if I make enemies with what I’m about to say next, that’s tough.
Four things went wrong with this and two right from the start. I myself participated so I bear some blame too.
The motivation was clearly to demonize an individual as an instrument for demonizing the organizations of which she is a part. The Bible is festooned with passages warning of and condemning evil associations. Of course that’s true. However, finding fault should never be done with glee and we should WANT to think the very highest of a person that the unassailable evidence will allow. It is not possible to credibly deny that most of the primary attackers were thrilled to have found dirt on somebody that they felt could be wielded against the SBC and ERLC. This attitude is what fueled the next three points.
I’m not going to be the one to say which, or whether it was some of each. The fact is, the documentation brought to indict Dr. Prior was not suited to establish the ORIGINAL case. It was, as I say, either inadvertently in the haste to go live, or deliberately “molded” to convey the conclusions desired. (To be fair to myself, I absolutely believed the information I had was a conviction.) The research of others, which I originally approached as ulteriorly motivated attempts to discredit Hall by defending Prior, became increasingly convincing as time went on. There was a tipping point at which I was forced to the conclusion I am expressing here now.
God’s cause is never served by falsehood. Ever.
While I do fully believe that public sin and heresy warrant public rebuke and denunciation, it is nonetheless the charitable thing to approach somebody in a restricted arena before announcing to the world a set of mortally serious accusations proclaiming them a moral heretic, the existence of which they learn of for the first time in a semi viral news blitz. Even a public space like the person’s blog, phrased as a set of questions asked out of concern could have avoided this whole thing. As I said above though, the motivation was not to rescue one who is hopefully an erring sister, but to destroy her in order to harm those she associates with.
Number four is the future credibility killer.
When confronted with ever escalating evidence that the accusations will not survive close scrutiny, the very worst response is to dig in and futilely stand by them. Once that strategy has put a noose around your neck, jumping off is when you then abandon the original case altogether, change definitions and begin groping around for ANYthing that could possibly cast your mark in a negative light. By this time you could almost produce photographs of them in a loin clothe with a hatchet, stalking children and it wouldn’t make any difference. The levelheaded clear thinking spectator has already concluded that this whole debacle is much ado about what ultimately amounts to relatively nothing after all. The only people who are convinced are some of those in this group.
Pastor Hall, I love ya brother. Where appropriate I’ve defended you to her as well. Ask her. I do believe at bottom you want to see God’s word exalted in purity. As a man at war with the same self exalting pride, I am tellin you these ego driven now kinda semi annual lapses in judgment are killin you. If you do not get with God and have him tune this up, you will permanently cripple your credibility beyond a small group of adoring fans. The very thing your detractors are accusing you of as I type this. A real tragedy I do truly hope will be averted..
As I send this, I pray that it is received in the spirit in which it is bring sent.