About 3 weeks ago, I posted one of the softest, least-offensive and least-aggressive criticisms of anyone on earth I have ever made. It was in response to an article by David Aikman in CT, and because Dr. Aikman wasn't pressing any theological points but merely matters of pragmatic action, I thought it would be a good place to show that I am not the proverbial one-note tuba.
As a preface, doing that has re-educated me on one of the reasons I hate Blogger. It does a lousy job of notifying me/us when someone toddles through the back-issues of the blog and posts a random comment for whatever reason. However, I am edified that the essay in question was one of the top-3 posts we made at TeamPyro in August, and you have to take the good with the bad.
A fellow named "Todd" posted a few notes on my essay to Aikman, and because I have 15 minutes this week, I'd like to respond to Todd in detail.
Very poor article IMO. Here's why.That's actually a great, pithy start – "I think you're full of beans, and here's why, dude." And in that, I thought I was going to get some schoolage from Todd. What I got instead was this:
You've put forth two topics.It seems that Todd doesn't actually understand what I said to Dr. Aikman – because "it takes one to know one" is not an argument at all but an insult. My complaint is that Dr. Aikman's essay is itself of the type of criticism he's complaining about – so if that type of criticism is not valid, then Dr. Aikman's essay is not a valid complaint.
You say, "But problematically, your essay does what it sets out to criticize."
That argument reminds me of the argument I used to use when I was a kid when I would say "it takes one to know one". How satisfied that would make me feel. That's all you've accomplished putting that sort of argument forth.
You said:Yeah, no.
"You equate criticizing Joel Osteen with KJVO enthusiasm"
That statement would be inaccurate. Aikman cited people who referred to Olsteen as a "viper", and then farther on down the article cited people with an obviously extremeist blog and likened their mentality to those who consider any other version of the bible than the "King James Version is a step toward apostasy". The two references which you claim are a comparison have nothing in common with each other.
Dr. Aikman says this in the 4th paragraph of his essay:
What disturbs me, however, is the extent to which some Christians have turned themselves into the self-appointed attack dogs of Christendom. They seem determined to savage not only opponents of Christianity, but also fellow believers of whose doctrinal positions they disapprove.And that is the title of his essay, right? "Attack Dogs of Christendom"? He lumps all the "attack dogs" together, for better or worse.
And after doing that, he says this:
It is easy to laugh at these websites, which feature subheads like "Mixed Swimming" (dangerous, of course) and "Bible Guidelines for Clothing." Often these sites seem convinced that every translation of the Bible done after the King James Version is a step toward apostasy.I added the underline, but it's Aikman's thesis that the KJVO guys and (for example) Ken Silva are the same people – the same kinds of critics. And they offer the same "laughable" kinds of opinions – which would be the range of opinions from criticism of Osteen and Billy Graham to (as above) KJVO advocacy.
So my first criticism for the Toddster (note to bob.blog: see how the overly-familiar acts as a dismissive epithet – very useful when done on purpose) is that in order to respond to a critique of some essay, you have to read the essay first and understand it. Dr. Aikman's not talking about all kinds of things here: he's saying that blogs ranging from Ken Silva's blog to some unnamed KJVO web site are all doing the same thing. They are all 'attack dogs'.
Not only did Aikman not in any way equate them together but, in making such a statement as you did, you seem ready to equate "King James enthusiasm" with the notion of 'regarding anything other than the King James version as a step toward apostasy'. You effectually equated those two distinct mindsets(grouping one sound one in with an extreme one) by saying what you said, and I don't think you'll get much agreement in fudging them together.This would be another place where you ought to read more carefully. Because my phrase was, "KJVO enthusiasm" – King James Version Only enthusiasm. "Only" being an important word (as you note), but it was actually included in my statement, "You equate criticizing Joel Osteen with KJVO enthusiasm – trying, I guess, to demonstrate how backwards and uninformed these opinions must be."
What's really odd is that you actually cut-and-pasted my exact phrase in the next part here, Todd, but you didn’t actually read it. That's sloppy.
Virtually your only criticism of Aikman is, "equating criticism of Joel Osteen's preaching to a KJVO bibliology is a stretch at best", and, "You equate criticizing Joel Osteen with KJVO enthusiasm", and the support of that criticism is not even sound. Think further into it somehow and get more from Aikman's great point.Well, if there was someplace to go with with your criticism, I'd be glad to. The problem, plainly, is that Dr. Aikman has equated criticism of Joel Osteen with KJVO enthusiasm, and in doing so has marginalized his criticism of people who may or may not deserve it by confusing them with people who are actually doing something which is, well, we really don't want to get into KJVO issues here because those people tend to be less dignified than even the EC people we have been dealing with lately, so let's just say that the KJVO folks are happy to be their own little remnant. Given that Ken Silva is not KJVO, he's not in that remnant, so I think it's safe to say that both sides could take offense at Dr. Aikman's point of view.
However, you were about to give me some advice about how to get something out of Dr. Aikman's essay, so let's hear it.
Here's how.What he did, Todd, was to say that criticism of Joel Osteen is as baseless as KJVO bibliology.
"Your criticism of them, in a nutshell, is that their "approach" is flawed – and this may well be true. But your approach to reproach is not really much better – because it does the kinds of things you are very sincerely worried about, only without the Biblical epithets of "whitewashed tombs" and "vipers".
That's the whole point Frank. Aikman did it without the vitriolic epithets. Soundly, without making those false comparisons you claim. He didn't misquote anybody or paraphrase anybody.
He may have not used the words "aberrant", or "cultic", or "crazy", but he is the one who said that they are doing their criticizing while they are doing their KJVO advocating. That's a pretty straight line, if you ask me.
Now, here's the part of your comment I think betrays your own bias:
He did take a cheap shot at the extreme KJV mindset but that extreme mindset does exist and is worthy of any and all constructive criticism it can get.I wonder if that includes lumping it in with criticism of Joel Osteen as the same kind of work?
Topic Two:Well, Todd, you read my essay about as well as you read Dr. Aikman's essay, so my opinion is that you need to start over, re-read his essay, and then see if you can grasp the finer points of his view of criticism – which is self-defeating – before you try to defend what he has done here.
I'm sure Aikman appreciates your criticism that he did not provide many tenable constructive alternatives but then you unpacked quite a few words yourself as well along that vain and weren't really able to give it much justice either.
So all in all I see more defensive posture that useful substance in your article.
Thanks for your comments.