20 January 2007

End of a bad week

by Phil Johnson

t's been a tougher-than-usual week here on the blog. We seem to have irritated a few people who aren't usually numbered among our critics. We really didn't need any more detractors, either.

Note: The following quotes illustrate why we didn't need any more detractors; not why this has been such a tough week. See further remarks on this below.


Faint praise for the PyroManiacs

Here's a sampling of some things various readers here and there have been saying about us—from our first foray into the blogosphere until now:
  • "These men have nothing intelligent to say to intelligent people. They are merely reactionary Fundamentalists who found a couple of things they liked in old records and haphazardly pasted them together regardless of internal coherence or external fit to reality. And you can't just TALK to them, have a decent brother-to-brother conversation. Their whole identity is at stake on every minute little position they hold, so any form of nuance is anathema to them."—Tim Enloe
  • "I was profoundly disappointed in the post that opened the week over at TeamPyro. I can think of few things that have disappointed me more in the past year than that post. It was as if a part of me died. . . .I'm dead serious when I say that what has happened over there is what Spurgeon would have called "downgrade." Reformed blogdom is a little less than it was before."—Chad Bresson
  • "This man has made a cult of C.H. Spurgeon. Spurgeon, a cigar-smoking, overweight pedant, is the darling of arrogant jackboot Baptist preachers and many other slow bellies. Preachers who love to use one text and jabber on and on showing their gifts of elocution read Spurgeon instead of their Bibles for inspiration . . . Watch this creep attack a classic bible-church fundamentalist."—Steve Van Nattan
  • "What you have [here] is independent Baptist fundamentalism, right down the line, with only a few changes. . . . Go and check up on names like Jerry Falwell, Jerry Vines, John R. Rice and Jack Hyles. You'll understand a lot more about what you're hearing."—Michael Spencer, "The Internet Monk"
nyway, let's see if we can do the usual weekend BlogSpotting without picking at any of those scabs:

BlogSpotting


Anyway, that's all I really have time for this weekend. See you at church tomorrow.

Update: For whatever reason, the iMonk is very keen for me to inform my readers that the quote from him (see above) is not anything new. Indeed; it's typical of the kind of thing he was posting about me at his blogs even before I entered the blogosphere.

The quotes above were deliberately juxtaposed to illustrate that our most determined critics cannot even agree amongst themselves about what is wrong with us. The iMonk and his drinking buddies constantly deride us for being too TR ("Truly Reformed"). Others evidently think we're a black hole through which everything that is actually Reformed is being drained out of the blogosphere. And according to iMonk, the only way to understand us is to study the evil legacy of Jack Hyles. But those who are more "Truly Fundamentalist" regard us as the mortal enemies of "classic bible-church fundamentalists." Those on a Romish trajectory apparently think we're so far off base that we must be answered with insults rather than arguments.

I defy anyone to plot all those criticisms on a graph and find a spot on the map where everything that is being said about us could possibly be true all at once.

Of course, that by no means proves we have achieved the perfect equilibrium. But it may well be evidence that some of our critics are pretty seriously imbalanced.

That was my point in citing the above four criticisms together. Sorry if that was too cryptic for some.


Phil's signature

67 comments:

Matthew Henry said...

Yes! First to comment....and per Mr. Johnson's point in an earlier post, I shall actually comment.

All I want to know is, how does a person actually get blogspotted? Do you have to have a blogger account on which you post? I have a Xanga account where I linked to the pyros and even called Phil a "mucky-muck" but got no notice. What does a guy need to do to get traffic to his sad little site? Hmmm, maybe a gratuitous link here would do it www.xanga.com/p_matt

Matthew Henry said...

Yes! Second to comment. Don't become discouraged guys. I think this little storm actually was good. It is forcing some to reexamine their doctrine and, I pray, their hearts and motives. It is amazing how we can easily trumpet our right doctrine, but fail in the basic call of our Lord to show grace and patience to all, most certainly to our brothers and sisters. As I have said to some, "You don't have to agree with me, but don't be a snot about it."

Carla said...

I think the reason it surprises me still, is because I don't feel very convivial much of the time. But you know, it's a great thing to strive for, so I appreciate being categorized that way.

:-)

Phil Johnson said...

Matt:

I appended the post to get your BlogSpot® in, along with a shameless pitch for the decals.

The best way to get BlogSpotted® is to register your blog with Technorati. That's the main tool I use for finding blogs that link here. (It also helps if you link us late in the week, because Technorati sorts the results by freshness, and I typically link all the ones I find until I get tired of it or run out of time.)

I link only to people who have linked us in a post. We're very grateful for all the blogroll links we get, but those alone don't get anyone BlogSpotted®.

Rileysowner said...

Those are some pretty harsh comments from others that you opened with. I hope that there was something more to their comments than bombastic ad hominem. Not that it means much, but I appreciate your contributions to reformed blogdom.

Kim said...

I can think of few things that have disappointed me more in the past year than that post. It was as if a part of me died. . . .I'm dead serious when I say that what has happened over there is what Spurgeon would have called "downgrade." Reformed blogdom is a little less than it was before

You know, if what goes on in this blog made me feel that despairing, I think I'd have to do some hard thinking.

I can think of a myriad of things that have disappointed me more than what anyone says at a blog, and if what goes on in a blog caused something inside of me to die, I would be very afraid.

Michael Spencer said...

The quote from me is close to 2 years old. What's the point of running a quote that old as if it were last week? I've not only NOT given you a hard time, I've basically agreed with you all week.

rebecca said...

When you're criticized for being reactionary fundamentalists and part of the downgrade all in one week, you might have hit the perfect balance.

Not that you're not all charmingly unbalanced at the same time.

There. If that doesn't maintain my spot on the convivial list, I don't know what will.

donsands said...

Those are some heavy duty quotes.

I had a coyple quick thoughts.

Dogmatism can make a heart heavy, that's for sure. Been there done that.

I have learned one thing over the years, and that's always remember it's grace, and more grace, that needs to be extended and received on both sides of any dispute.

Also, I must always recognize the person who I may be disagreeing with. Where is he coming from, and what are his values, and what about his charcater.


Oh yeah, and what exactly is convivial? My dictionary says: 1. fond of eating drinking, and good company.

TheBlueRaja said...

I don't think I've ever uttered a single word of approval about Steve Chalke. I certainly don't have any! Beyond that, I actually PRAISED you for your handling of this issue!

I'm glad you didn't see a reference to yourself in the "demented fat guy". You're not fat!

You quoted some criteria, but I don't think it provides the sole basis for all of your critiques of certain movements in the church, and I don't think it addresses the questions of what are legitimate devaluations of "sola fide" and what aren't - and the willingness to dialog more about that.

The Clinging Vine said...

Some weeks you wrestle the bear; other weeks the bear wrestles you.

Next week'll be much better, no doubt. ;^)

Praying 'tis so, anyway.

Anne in Fort Worth

TheBlueRaja said...

I think my point was that those who say sola fide is threatened by Chan's presentation hold the same litmus test as you do. They think it violates that test. You don't. That's where their repudiation of "conversation" can be deleterious, just as it is with your evaluation of those who supposedly (i.e. by your account) deny sola fide.

Tominthebox News Network said...

Woohoo ---- 13th comment!








No, seriously. Sorry it's was a downer of a week. These things happen. I suppose if you never received any criticism you should be worried that you're NOT doing something correctly.

Matthew Henry said...

Heh, guess who is now registered to technorati? No really, just guess!

JSB said...

Sheesh, these guys should be judging American Idol.

Speaking of which, their vitriol seems to be an idol, too. I'm not kidding. It's almost as if such lot compete for the title of Angriest Champion of the Secret Fire, to the exclusion of everything else, like, um, loving your brother and all that other jazz Jesus seemed to emphasize.

Carry on, Team Pyro. You edify and enlighten and, in a good way, shake things up.

Jim from OldTruth.com said...

Wow, Steve Van Nattan is still around? He has been on his anti-calvinist campaign for quite some time. It's funny that he protests to Spurgeon and yet, the last time I looked - his website had Spurgeon devotional pages on it. And the most humorous thing is his website video of him dancing to the tune of "the pope is dead". For an older gentleman, that man can "bust some moves" :-)

Anyway, keep your head up Phil. The Pyro blog is great.

David Ponter said...

Chad Bresson needs to get over me. He's been hung up about me for so many years now. Its kinda been a little obsessive. Its time he moved on. I have. :-)

But a little more seriously, its time he got over his angst about the free offer God's disposition toward the non-elect, and Calvin's view of the atonement, etc.

David

Paul said...

I would love a de-cal but seem able to get one. Doug McMasters sent one to me but it got lost in the post.

Any help for UK readers?

BTW. Your Blog is the first read for me when I log onto the net. Keep up the great work.

UncleNut said...

I think the only comments I have ever posted at TeamPyro were in the last post. I have been a couch potato rather than a player, but heavens, what a difference the Pyromaniacs have made. Since James Spurgeon turned me on to you guys, I have been a regular reader, and know I am much better as a father and in my walk with Christ as a result.

TP (TeamPyro, that is) has pushed me to read more books, read my Bible more and differently, and discuss things with other brothers that otherwise I would have left un-discussed. My wife has put up with dinner-table conversations about topics addressed on this site. My kids are learning "a catechism for boys and girls" directly as a result of you guys. And TP has introduced me to a whole new world of bloggers, authors, and preachers.

Thank you guys for what you do. I sincerely appreciate the time and effort you put in, the flames you deal with, and the topics you write about.

Jeremy Weaver said...

Thanks for the link. I enjoy having company at my blog.

DJP said...

JSB--...their vitriol seems to be an idol, too. I'm not kidding. It's almost as if such lot compete for the title of Angriest Champion of the Secret Fire, to the exclusion of everything else....

As the kids say, "Word."

TheBlueRaja said...

DJP and JSB,

You're making me angry . . .

wfseube said...

If you made everyone happy, you would probably be too wishy-washy. My theory is - if you eventually tick off everyone, then you're right on target.

Therefore, congratulations... :-)

----
bill

TheBlueRaja said...

I don't see how the differing critics are in any contradiction. Roman Catholics don't like you just like they don't like Reformed people or fundamentalists, and the same people who criticize you for being TR also think there's a fundamentalist sort of militarism among the "Truly Reformed" that is quite compatible. The fact that there are people who are more fundamentalist than you or more Reformed than you doesn't invalidate any of the former criticisms either. All in all, a graph might not be so impossible, though I'm not the one to draw it.

My criticisms were a little more specific, though - and they didn't ever accuse you of being TR or attaining to that title.

Cindy said...

For what it's worth, Phil, I have a great deal of respect and appreciation for you and your colleagues, and I just want to encourage you. I guess you don't have to worry about the "woe" that comes when "all men speak well of you." :)

Anyway, I think you're a good man, and I'm honored to be called "convivial" on your blogroll.

Blessings.

Phil Johnson said...

Cindy:

Thanks.

Raja: "My criticisms were a little more specific, though - and they didn't ever accuse you of being TR or attaining to that title."

1. That wasn't about you. Believe it or not, you weren't even a fleeting thought in my head when I wrote those comments about the contradictory complaints of our various critics. (That's why no quote from you was included in the mix.)

2. But if you seriously don't see how there's a contradiction between the twin charges that we're too Reformed and not Reformed at all; and between the accusations that we're Jack-Hyles-style fundamentalists, yet cruelly hostile toward all fundamentalists of that stripe—then I don't want to awaken you from whatever dream you are living in.

3. However, now that you have brought it up, I know for a fact that you're smart enough to understand that the way the "TR" label is regularly used at the BHT is utterly fatuous—and that it's especially dishonest for your drinking buddies to keep tossing that accusation my way. If you spent a tiny fraction of the energy you employ nitpicking so much of what I say and occasionally turned your critical eye on some of the sneering remarks coming from your favorite virtual watering hole, I might think of your occasional expressions of concern about truth, accuracy, and even-handedness over here as something more than a convenient pretense.

northWord said...

step outside, look up in the night sky and stretch out your arms,
close your eyes,
take in a long, deep filling breath
and just thank Him.

know that He is God

return to life,
hopefully renewed.

/of course if it's raining this could be a problem, or freezing cold, ah well :)
~
Seriously, wishing y'all a great week ahead.

DJP said...

Phil, my question is—does Spencer have a pager that goes off when you mention his name, so that he can do a poof! and "correct" you? ("It's 'spen-SAY,' not 'SPEN-serr'")

Does it only work when you say The Name?

I want to try, too.

Spencer!

TheBlueRaja said...

Phil,

Of course I can see how those two claims can be made side by side - some people think you're too Reformed because of what they might say is an over sensitivity to the doctrine of sola fide (you are, after all, professedly Reformed in your soteriology) and those people who don't think you're Reformed enough think you should come all the way and possibly be even MORE sensitive about perceived threats to sola fide. Nothing tough about that. Similarly the fundamentalist thing. You share some in common with fundamentalists, by your own profession. And yet some would wish you'd come even further. We're all living in this particular dream - it's the age old "everyone to my left is a liberal and everyone to my right is a conservative and no on is quite as balanced as me right here in the middle".

As for the TR comments at the BHT, they are usually made in generalities, without specific people being named. I can't think of a time where I've checked the page and saw your name being besmirched (not that it's never been - I don't check it as religiously as all that), or maybe I'd have a chance to defend your honor. In any case, as I said before, my post was a lot more specific than a general "concern about truth, accuracy, and even-handedness" - it was about determining some criteria or methodology for discernment that's not so subjective (I'm not as into skepticism as you think) and can't be so easily turned against the one using it. No pretenses. I'm not sure what it would be a pretense FOR, if it were a pretense. Maybe it was bad timing, jumping on the dog pile and all that.

My favorite local watering hole, by the way, is in fact Kahootz Pub and Eatery in Meridian ID where actual (as opposed to virtual) beer is sold. If you're ever in town, I'll buy you a ginger-ale. The chicken wings are the best.

Phil Johnson said...

Raja:

I did not suggest that it's incomprehensible that different people with conflicting worldviews might level such contradictory criticisms at our points of view.

My point was simply that it's impossible for all those complaints simultaneously to be right.

Also, the tone of those comments and others often aimed at us from certain "enlightened" corners of the blogosphere doesn't exactly inspire me to devote a lot of personal angst wondering if these people may have really discovered a more "balanced" position than mine.

sk said...

"Angriest Champion of the Secret Fire"

I see blog title all over that...

Brother Hank said...

Thanks for the link, and the exhortation. Keep 'em coming. I pray next week shapes up to be a little better for you...

brother hank balch
http://journeymen.wordpress.com

Kim said...

Cindy:

For what it's worth, Phil, I have a great deal of respect and appreciation for you and your colleagues, and I just want to encourage you. I guess you don't have to worry about the "woe" that comes when "all men speak well of you." :)

Anyway, I think you're a good man, and I'm honored to be called "convivial" on your blogroll.

Blessings.


Well said.

centuri0n said...

djp:

The "kids" don't really say "word" anymore.

centuri0n said...

Raja:

I think the graph that might capture all the criticisms would have to be drawn in polar coordinates and in 3D, but at the end you would get a picture that looks something like this.

DJP said...

Frank--you know, we Californians do generally look to Arkansas to get a bead on what's current and cool, so thanks for that.

:^p

SolaMeanie said...

I am aghast.

I can't - for the life of me - understand how someone could possibly rank TeamPyro with Jack Hyles, of all people. Do they really, honestly think that or are they just trying to be insulting?

I am beginning to rethink the whole concept of using a frozen meat chub.

TheBlueRaja said...

Phil -

Capiche. I understand. My point was that they COULD logically be simultaneously true without contradiction since it's the criticism is about a variety of topics - i.e. not Reformed enough in your ecclesiology, too Reformed in your soteriology, not fundamentalist enough in this area, too fundamentalist in that area. Even those areas where the same topic is being addressed (i.e. sovereignty of God in a Gospel presentation). But whatever. Not all criticism is valid criticism, obviously. And as an insomniac, I'm glad you're not losing sleep. It's not fun. But my post was simply trying to say that when you say "the tone of those comments and others often aimed at us from certain "enlightened" corners of the blogosphere doesn't exactly inspire me to devote a lot of personal angst wondering if these people may have really discovered a more "balanced" position than mine you're saying precisely what your critics say about you. That's where the whole concern for discernment methodology came in. Sorta proves my point about the whole "subjectivism" in your criteria for dialog.

Frank,

Love the graph. You're a genius.

Gummby said...

DJP & Cent: isn't it "Tru Dat" now? Or am I still just hopelessly behind the times?

Kim: I'm not really sure why--perhaps because of Phil's statement about iMonk & his drinking buddies--but the first time I read your comment, it said: "You know, if what goes on in this blog made me feel that despairing, I think I'd have to do some hard drinking."

Guess I need a little Sunday nap.

Phil: I can't believe you're having a hard time with the hard-boiled Phil decals. Maybe if you threw in an autographed picture of Officer Pecadillo?

Carla: I'm just glad Phil hasn't created a category called "Frank's Witless Sidekicks."

DJP said...

I think "true dat" antedates "word."

But until we hear the ruling from Arkansas, we really won't Know.

bluecollar said...

Frank was born and raised in New York.

Kim said...

Gummby:

Kim: I'm not really sure why--perhaps because of Phil's statement about iMonk & his drinking buddies--but the first time I read your comment, it said: "You know, if what goes on in this blog made me feel that despairing, I think I'd have to do some hard drinking."

In another lifetime, maybe.....

Bhedr said...

What about "Yo" do they say "Yo" anymore or how about "Dog" can you say the "Dog"?

The last time I heard "Word" used was when I was barely a man in the Marines in Panama and heard another Marine say, "Word". That was back in 1989. Thats the last I remember hearing it fizzle out.

What are they saying now by the way?

centuri0n said...

I was going to say something ean about your comment, Gummby, but that new avatar is so boss I can't muster it.

Kim said...

Frank, I'm probably going to regret this, but I'm sick today, and not thinking straight.

You use the word "boss" to describe Gummby's pic. I remember using that word, oh way back in about 1984. Is it making a comeback?

ChrisConnally said...

WOW! Phil, I never thought I would see the day that you were lumped in with the likes of Jack Hyles. Should I start referring to you as a Hylesite? LOL!

centuri0n said...

Kim:

I know that the biggest part of you comment has to do with your jealousy over Gummby's avatar, and it makes that avatar all the more boss. I will relish its effect on you.

centuri0n said...

Raja:

Tru Dat.

Phil Johnson said...

Chris:

That's "Brotherhyles" to you.

iMonk:

I complained that you routinely and deliberately misrepresent me. How does a Google tally of how many times you actually mention my name seem to you like an answer to that charge? That makes no sense whatsoever, unless you are merely trying to misrepresent my complaint once more.

However, since you brought it up, readers should bear in mind also that your references to this blog are usually cryptic enough to avoid names altogether (yet specific enough to make clear whom you have in mind, like THIS post, which was a typical misrepresentation of something I wrote and posted here).

In a similar way, you have demeaned James White almost weekly for two full years now without ever once mentioning his name. See what I mean?

I'm just saying, it gets a little old, and it predisposes me not to take your patrons seriously when they pretend they are deeply concerned about whether we have fairly represented the nuances and fine points of someone we have expressed disagreement with.

However, you can keep your hat. I think you should eat some words instead.

TheBlueRaja said...

I'm just saying, it gets a little old, and it predisposes me not to take your patrons seriously when they pretend they are deeply concerned about whether we have fairly represented the nuances and fine points of someone we have expressed disagreement with.

Phil, if I hear you attribute the thoughts of one member of the BHT to all the others one more time I'm going to tear out my hair and send it to you along with photos of my fresh new Gandhi look. My contribution to the BHT is distinct from Michael's or anyone else's. That's sort of the point. Seeing me and Michael or anyone else at the BHT speaking with one voice isn't a matter of nuance. It's just inaccurate, and I think you're smarter than that.

TheBlueRaja said...

Frank,

Word.

Phil Johnson said...

Raja:

1. You're not the only person from the Tavern who has used the "you don't get the nuances of the view you are criticizing" dodge with me. Hence the plural pronoun.

2. However, I didn't suggest in any way (nuanced or not) that all the Tavernistas speak with one voice. (Frankly, I doubt they could even sing "Ninety-nine bottles of beer" in harmony with one another.")

3. That's a clever dodge on your part, and it allows you to level the "misrepresentation!" charge yet again, but I didn't say what you're claiming I said.

4. You are smart enough to know that.

4. The Ghandi look wouldn't be good for you. I think you need to beef up a bit and study the moves of Daler Mehndi. That's much more compatible with your energy level.

Phil Johnson said...

PS: Daler Mehndi.

Enjoy.

candyinsierras said...

How in the world do you manage to find these...um...creative Indian music videos? It must be Pecadillo's fault.

ddd said...

I was checking my blog stats when I noticed the sudden peak in blog traffic and traced it back here. Anyway, thanks for the blog spot, though with my ranting, I wasn't sure if anything of substance got through.

Anyway, if anyone is interested, I would be posting some thoughts on the subject of 'the free offer of the gospel', 'common grace' etc some time in the future, after all the dust has settled of course. And no mention of Francis Chan or his famous video will be made.

TheBlueRaja said...

Phil,

Thanks for thinking me clever - but you DID say that something Michael said provides you with warrant for "not taking his patrons (i.e. me) seriously". So really, I'm less clever than I am . . . literate?

But the only way to resolve any of this, I'm convinced, is to have a televised dance-off with Daler Mehndi, Amitabh Bachchan and Sharukh Kahn acting as judges. You can pick the song, but I get to choose the outfits. You'll be wearing this.

C.T. Lillies said...

Dan wrote: we Californians do generally look to Arkansas to get a bead on what's current and cool

Of course being cool is what counts.

Josh
"...the word of God is not bound."
--2 Timothy 2:9

Garet Pahl said...

I wouldn't be too worried about criticism from Steve Van Nattan, from what I can tell, the only people who are actually saved are those in his immediate family that acsribe to his self-divined brand of fundamentalism. He called me a son of satan a few years ago for insisting that C.S. Lewis was a Christian. Apparently Lewis was a Catholic(!) who to oft quoted that deplorable John Calvin and Augustine, neither of whom used the authorized KJV!

Phil Johnson said...

Raja: "you DID say that something Michael said provides you with warrant for "not taking his patrons (i.e. me) seriously"

Actually, the several points I made were much more complex than that, and perhaps the way I tried to make them was too elliptical to be easily followed, but it all goes something like this:

1. Googling for names isn't going to reveal accurately the number of times James White or the Pyromaniacs have been trashed at the BHT, because you fellows generally like to rubbish us without actually mentioning our names. Google that.

2. I then cited (and linked to) one specific but typical instance of where Teampyro was derided at the BHT in a way that would never show up on any Google search like the ones that were being conducted.

3. I then also pointed out that what was written in that instance was a gross misrepresentation of what the post here actually said--and I suggested that such misrepresentations are typical fare over there. Note carefully: My complaint is not and never has been merely that we are so often criticized in the conversation at the BHT; my actual complaint is that we are routinely misrepresented in the conversation there.

4. Now, here's where I shifted somewhat elliptically to a slightly different point. And it's this: I've never once seen anyone at the BHT quibble about whether James White or I have been correctly interpreted or fairly represented in the discussions there. Check out all those disparaging references to "[name deleted]" (and the slightly more oblique references to the massive TR conspiracy that some of the BHT regulars seem to think emanates from TeamPyro). Nearly all of those wisecracks either pass without critical any scrutiny, or (worse) unleash waves of self-congratulatory sarcasm.

5. Meanwhile, there have been numerous instances when various BHT regulars have accused us of not properly representing the nuances of some opinion we have disagreed with. You are certainly the main critic in that regard, but you are by no means the only one. Michael himself was doing it long before you showed up there.

6. My ultimate point, then, was that if you were genuinely concerned about truth and accuracy in other people's criticism, you'd monitor your own conversations a little more closely and someone (starting with you, I should think, since this is, after all, your main go-to response to every critic) would occasionally raise a peep of protest when Michael (or whoever else has the barroom floor) spews forth with that kind of slanted sarcasm. In other words, the fact that you love to hang out in a place where exaggeration and deliberate overstatement are served by the bartender himself from a large bowl like Beer Nuts more or less takes away your moral authority to stumble over here every so often and complain when you find a dash of hyperbole in the onion dip.

Finally, I happen to have an outfit exactly like the one pictured in your link. If I wore it like that with the jacket open, you would lose the dance-off for sure, because you would be laughing so hard your knees would buckle.

Phil Johnson said...

PS: Raja, does the fact that I not only know who all those people are, but also actually noticed that you misspelled "Shahrukh Khan" count for anything?

candyinsierras: Daler Mehndi has quite a large following even here in the USA. The song I linked to was a huge international hit in 2000 or thereabouts. For awhile it seemed like you couldn't go anywhere without hearing it. The video is priceless. The other day I noticed YouTube has a version with mock English lyrics. Now THAT's humour.

TheBlueRaja said...

Now, here's where I shifted somewhat elliptically to a slightly different point. And it's this: I've never once seen anyone at the BHT quibble about whether James White or I have been correctly interpreted or fairly represented in the discussions there. Check out all those disparaging references to "[name deleted]" (and the slightly more oblique references to the massive TR conspiracy that some of the BHT regulars seem to think emanates from TeamPyro). Nearly all of those wisecracks either pass without critical any scrutiny, or (worse) unleash waves of self-congratulatory sarcasm.

Fair enough.

if you were genuinely concerned about truth and accuracy in other people's criticism, you'd monitor your own conversations a little more closely and someone (starting with you, I should think, since this is, after all, your main go-to response to every critic) would occasionally raise a peep of protest when Michael (or whoever else has the barroom floor) spews forth with that kind of slanted sarcasm.

Well firstly, I don't detect anything in our conversations that reflect deliberate misrepresentation. I'd be happy to be disabused of that, but past attempts at "conversation" have, to my mind, proven the point I made in the originally blogspotted post. I'm not sure we've ever had anything like "dialog", and I suspect that it's because I don't qualify as a dialog partner in your mind, being the freewheeler you take me for. I'd only point out all of the places I've agreed with you, deferred to you, apologized to you, or expressed appreciation for you compared to your record on that score and ask that you modify your cynical picture of me a bit.

Secondly, I'd point out that my criticism of your outspoken objection to various topics were never so vague as "you're not getting it right" and have always been followed by some clarification before descending into the abyss of "I know you are but what am I". Many of those criticisms take the form of posts you can find at my blog.

Thirdly, to be clear, my objection to your shots at my "moral authority" is that I am responding to issues, not personalities. When I find gross oversimplification and misrepresentation about issues I care about, I never characterized myself as someone fighting the universe for "fair and balanced" coverage of every issue - that's YOUR caricature. I seek to engage the issues that affect me.

Fourthly, I'm not aware of any substantial direct interaction with your views at BHT that would fit the bill for misrepresentations, even if I could agree that there have been shots taken at the ethos of your posts.

Finally, if you post a picture of yourself in that jacket, striking a similar pose, I'll concede every exchange we ever have by singing the words "Aap hamesa sach ho" while shackled to the exotic beast of your choice.

TheBlueRaja said...

does the fact that I not only know who all those people are, but also actually noticed that you misspelled "Shahrukh Khan" count for anything?

It certainly does. Free meal and movie at my mom's house if you're ever in Idaho. Just don't tell her that I misspelled "Shahrukh Khan".

TheBlueRaja said...

By the way - if you want to see me disagree and mix it up with other BHT members about the issues, googling homosexuality might be a start. I'm sure many more issues would surface if I read and posted more regularly. All that to say that when issues I care about are raised, I address the there, too.

Adam Omelianchuk said...

Doesn't my crappy google search at least show that Michael was wrong about the ratio? Throw me a bone!

Phil Johnson said...

Raja: "I'm not sure we've ever had anything like "dialog", and I suspect that it's because I don't qualify as a dialog partner in your mind, being the freewheeler you take me for. I'd only point out all of the places I've agreed with you, deferred to you, apologized to you, or expressed appreciation for you compared to your record on that score and ask that you modify your cynical picture of me a bit."

1. Raja, I like you. I appreciate your wit and intelligence, and on some occasions I have even greatly admired your persistence.

2. Truly honest "dialogue" needn't always be warm and affable and affirming. You and I have dialogued, unless you are working with some definition of dialogue that rules out candor and strong disagreement. There's no reason why dialogue can't even include (when warranted) a dose of pique or frustration in addition to lighthearted repartee. See: it's not every kind of "conversation" that I'm "not a big fan of" (or else I would have turned off the comments here long ago). But what I distrust and despise is the brand of conversation that demands some fundamental level of unconditional affirmation as the price of entry to the round table.

4. As for you personally, I'll repeat: I sincerely do like you. But I am also genuinely, seriously concerned about your spiritual and intellectual trajectory. Some of the ideas that seem to intrigue you most are the very trends that disturb me most. I also think you have an appallingly blithe openness to bad ideas that come with an impressive academic imprimatur. I am not particularly keen to give you any kind of encouragement in those directions. So you're not going to hear many "attaboy"s from me on those issues, which, after all, tend to be the very issues you comment about.

5. Seriously, now: Are you claiming that my impression of you as a freewheeler is merely a cynical misjudgment on my part with no real basis in fact? I would genuinely love to be shown wrong on that, but it is the impression I get from reading your posts and comments. You really should be better grounded in historical theology before you immerse yourself so deeply in all the theological fads of the moment.

6. That being said, I do wish our occasional encounters were friendlier, and I have indeed tried to make them friendlier. But let's be honest: most of our exchanges have been initiated by you, over something you disagree with. And (even taking into account your occasional concessions and expressions of regret) will you seriously argue that as a rule you have expressed your disagreements here with genuine respect and without sarcasm or condescension? You set the tone of our interaction from your very first post, and aside from some occasional fine tuning, your tone hasn't really changed significantly from then until now.

7. Still, here's my promise to you: I'll work on being more avuncular in my replies to your remonstrations. Perhaps I'll even put on a Brian-McLaren-style sweater before I answer your next wisecrack. Just don't expect me to adopt a McLaren-style paradigm in my thinking.

8. And the day when you come to our meta having read, say, Thomas Boston or Andrew Fuller, and wanting to have a serious discussion about the historical parallels between the doctrinal controversies they were embroiled in and the issues on the table today—that's when I'll give you the benefit of the doubt whether your itching for theological argument has some sober and valid reason, as opposed to a mensa game based on current theological fads.

TheBlueRaja said...

I really appreciate your kind candor. I wish you could give me a list of questions the answers of which would expose those elements about my spiritual and intellectual trajectory that so disturb you. I know that I've found much more to appreciate in some corners of the theological landscape that you don't think are worthwhile vacation spots, but I haven't relocated to these places and I don't think I've come back with any dangerous diseases either doctrinally or spiritually - and if I have I honestly don't know what they are.

As for my "appallingly blithe openness to bad ideas that come with an impressive academic credentials", I think you'd be surprised at just how little tolerance I have for navel gazing. It's only when I can see a direct line between what I'm reading and its potential to illuminate Scripture or facilitate churchly holiness that I entertain academic books. I read them looking for very specific help. My brother is at Yale, and I can tell you that I wouldn't last two minutes there - not because I don't think I could hack it (though I probably couldn't) but because of my scorn for the smarmy rejection of Biblical faith (he has his frustration too).

You're completely right to say that I typically initiate these exchanges, and I totally agree with the fact they've often been disrespectful and sarcastic (though surely this isn't true in every case).

As for being avuncular, please, for the sake of the children, put the sweater away. We can debate without always being worried about hurt feelings. If Brian McLaren is the poster-child for the sort of "dialog" you think I'm advocating, I agree with its unsoundness. What has been a frustration for me, though, is the innuendo that because I haven't roundly condemned the same people/groups/dangers you see facing the church I must lack a certain theological haleness. Worse yet, the charge of duplicity that always seems to surround your comments - as though I'm somehow not really interested in the Truth, the Bible, the Church, the Gospel, doctrine, exegesis, etc.

Trying as hard as I can to not sound like a psychotic ex-girlfriend here, please tell me what it would take to prove to you that you HAVE misjudged me on matters of theological orthodoxy? More specifically, What propositions, doctrines or practices do I affirm that you would reject which would also place me outside the bounds of trustworthiness and orthodoxy? Or what propositions, doctrines or practices do I reject which you affirm that would place me outside the bounds of theological acceptability?

I think the posts on my blog show that I'm not itching for theological argument for any other reason beyond the sober and valid ones. Can you point to where I appear to be engaged in a disingenuous brain game instead of addressing real theological issues/problems?

What if I post a favorable review of "Evangelicalism Divided" (I did enjoy it, by the way) - would that do it?

TheBlueRaja said...

PS As for immersing myself in historical theology, I'm finishing Justo Gonzales' "Story of Christianity" for the second time, recently read "The Mosaic of Christian Belief" by Roger Olsen, have been working through Luther's sermons, and reading Augustine's City of God. Doing all of that reading is very difficult with my schedule, so the progress is slow. But I also incorporate historically representative commentaries into the book I'm studying (Chrysostom, Calvin, Hodge, etc). In any case, familiarizing myself with church history is a conscious goal of mine.