A Word about labels
A note to certain commenters who feel compelled to keep posting the same complaint
(First posted Friday, 12 August 2005)
I wholeheartedly agree that dismissive labels are not valid substitutes for sound arguments, and I do try to write accordingly.
On the other hand, labels can be valid shorthand in cases where the supportive argumentation is already well established.
The postmodern antipathy for any and all labels is patently unreasonable. If a Jehovah's Witness comes to my door claiming that Jesus isn't eternally God but the highest of all created beings and a kind of "god," it is perfectly appropriate for me to label his view Arianism and refer him to the lessons of historical theology for an answer to his heresy. Magnanimity doesn't oblige me to seriously consider his error anew just because he himself doesn't call it "Arianism."
To the degree that today's Open Theists have espoused Socinian or neo-Socinian notions, it is perfectly legitimate to label their ideas accordingly. In some cases, those ideas deserve to be dismissed with extreme prejudice.
If someone seriously does not understand why Socinian tendencies have always been destructive to the church, or why a particular tenet of Socinianism is wrong, or why in the world anyone would label some of the postmodern ideas about the atonement "neo-Socinianism"just ask, and I will be happy to try to explain why I have employed a certain label, show why the error I've applied the label to is a dangerous idea, or otherwise make whatever argument you feel has been missed.
But if there is a new postmodern rule about "politeness" that in effect forbids us from ever pointing out that certain aberrant theological notions have already been decisively consigned to the dustbin of heterodoxy by the unanimous consensus of Protestant and evangelical history, I did not get that memo.
And if we're now required by the manners-police to drop all our prior objections to serious errors like Pelagianism, eschew all labels, and give serious consideration to every new denial of Original Sinjust because the architects of post-modern theological folly want to call their views something other than "Pelagianism"then I'm warning you right now: you're not going to think I'm playing nice.