03 November 2008

Kids?

by Phil Johnson

oug Pagitt calls us "kids" and falsely claims we are proudly Platonists and Aristotelians. (This after claiming he can't remember ever calling anyone a Platonist.)

But:
  1. We're all older than Pagitt is.
  2. Not one of us gives a hang for Aristotelian or Platonic categories in theology.
  3. Contrary to what Pagitt claims, we have never applied those labels to ourselves.
  4. Nor can those terms be accurately applied to us.
  5. We're not particularly fond of Aquinas, his natural theology, or his Aristotelian syntheses, either.

But in the interview those comments were extracted from, Pagitt manages to sound like both a nihilist and a wag. He also makes it pretty clear that he is not particularly interested in what's semantically accurate or theologically correct, as opposed to what he "feels." So, it's no surprise that he so badly misrepresents us.

The above audio excerpts came from an interview conducted by Chris Rosebrough on his "Fighting for the Faith" podcast. (I hafta say, however, that Chris wasn't doing much fighting here. Perhaps because the interview was made on Pagitt's dime). The interview is nevertheless very eye-opening. Listen to the complete broadcast here.
Phil's signature

53 comments:

Andrew said...

Man...and he "dissed" the posters. That's just wrong.

Willem Bronkhorst said...

"He (Pagitt) also makes it pretty clear that he is not particularly interested in what's accurate or correct, as opposed to what he "feels".

That sounds like a "Pagittist" to me- a full-grown one.

Willem Bronkhorst

Andrew E. Courtis said...

This clearly shows how ignorant and theologically uninformed Pagitt is!

Phil, with all this "spare time on your hands" (making posters) why did you bother taking a hiatus ;) ?

Frank Turk said...

I think I have just achieved whatever the blogging equivalent of a contact buzz from that clip. I have never been so happy to hear somebody say something so ... um, uninteresting about me or people I know in my life.

I count that one as desperation by Pagitt -- because when he says "Aristotelian" and "many", I hear "enlightenment category" and "vague exaggeration". I dismiss him for putting his inventive opinions on a higher epistemological shelf than, for example, the experience of at least 500 years of church history and the text of the book of Malachi.

Going forward, my suggestion is that we simply label Pagitt's criticisms as "cartesian antics" and move on. No sense arguing with a guy who is going to act like all his major criticisms don't apply to himself first.

dac said...

how can one be both a platonist and an aristotelian? Pretty much two ends of the spectrum

But it seems to me that the two categories have had a large impact on religious thought over the centuries.

donsands said...

When I hear these kinds of things I think of how simple the Apostle Paul preached Christ and Him crucified:
And exhorted the believers in Corinth to take heed, and hold tight to the simplicity of Christ, because there will be many, who look righteous, but are ministers of Satan. They will twist the words of Scripture, and preach a different Jesus and gospel.

If I were thought of as watering down the gospel, or preaching a different Jesus, then I would want to make this right, and clear up any misconception with pure and simple declarations.

But some teachers in the Church seem to say a lot, but I don't know what they are talking about. Sad.

Everyday Mommy said...

"Your version doesn't work for most people in the world"? Prolly not. I think it has to do with that whole narrow gate thing. Or is that just for kids?

Johnny Dialectic said...

I think he was simply using the categories to describe Western thought. Which he was using in that clip (e.g., non-contradiction) to communicate his thought that such thought is not to be thought of by those he thinks with.

It's like he's trying to use a flame thrower to put out a house fire.

I don't mind standing up for Western thought in the slightest. I don't think the Logos does, either.

Just my thought.

Chris Rosebrough said...

Phil,

I admit I wasn't doing any 'fighting' in this this interview. That was intentional. My goal was to ask Pagitt about his views and then let him run.

On later shows I went back and Biblically critiqued what he said. But for that show I wanted people to hear and experience for themselves (without me as a filter) what the Emergent movement believes and promotes.

Frank Turk said...

Chris --

I personally would love the links to those critiques. I ask mostly becuase I'm too lazy to sort through your archives. :-)

Chris Rosebrough said...

Frank,

You're a man after my own heart. I also hate sifting through people's websites looking for things. It is always much easier to ask for the links.

http://www.fightingforthefaith.com/2008/10/analysis-of-pag.html

http://www.fightingforthefaith.com/2008/10/analysis-of-p-1.html

threegirldad said...

Corrected versions of Chris' truncated links:

Part 1

Part 2

Chad V. said...

Forgive my ignorance but does Pagitt have any real influence or is he just a blow hard? Does what he say have any real effect on any one in the church or does he get so much press only because he's paid attention to by those he criticizes? The only thing remarkable about him that I can find is that he sports a soul patch and has a slick publicist.

DJP said...

...does Pagitt have any real influence or is he just a blow hard?

In this case, I don't think those are mutually exclusive categories. Which is the real problem.

Chad V. said...

DJP
I see what you mean.

Mike Riccardi said...

EDM: I think it has to do with that whole narrow gate thing. Or is that just for kids?

Wonderfully put.

Solameanie said...

Chad,

Given the books published and the impact that the theology of the Emergent Church has been having on evangelicalism, I'd say Pagitt does have some influence, along with the other EC pastors and authors. Imagine it as sort of a reverse "a little leaven leavens the whole lump." You can poison someone to death with a dot of ricin no larger than the head of a pin.

Rhology said...

Chris Rosebrough,

Nice avatar image.

Strong Tower said...

Chad V-

If you write a book you're an expert, donyano?

2 Timothy 4:3

Sola- How right you are my bright little star. Face piles of trials with smiles it riles them to believe that we perceive the web they weave...

Yesterday's Spurgeon again is right on. Our silence is a deadly as their venom and unity at all cost is a unity we cannot afford.

NothingNewUnderTheSun said...

From what I gather Paggit is not even a Christian. If anything he's only clever at applying Christian terminology to a non-Christian pantheistic worldview.

Dave .... said...

I liked Chris' interview with Doug Pagitt. He really let Doug talk about what he believes and his views. It was one of the most cogent "conversations" on emergent perspective I've heard in one place.

It seems that the whole "system" begins with man. He finds fault with the metaphors, the creeds (they were INTENDED to narrow what the church believes, not "start a conversation", sorry), and truth. He inflates "gospel" (lower case "g" intentional) to include anything that strikes him as inclusive and beautiful - not quite a universalist approach, but not many steps away (except that he never broached the category of salvation). And his fixation on God's "participation" is just odd and mushy.

You Pyros have nothing to fear from Doug and his ilk. It is scary that they will attract people with itchy ears and delude them. Notice, he never once spoke about sin, atonement, or redemption, but he jumped right to resurrection. He closed by saying that "God's care for us" is mysterious and he doesn't know how that works out.

Sad. And attractive to a God-hating, self-loving world. I was also repulsed by his dismissive tone toward engineers. ;-)

Chad V. said...

NNUTS

Yeah, he's a professional heretic. There are no knew heresies, just new people spreading the same lies.

Frank Turk said...

And for no conscious reason, I just wanted to link to this.

shaun m. said...

dac: how can one be both a platonist and an aristotelian? Pretty much two ends of the spectrum

Yeppers. He pretty much invalidates himself, doesn't he? But in this age, I can see some saying "Yeah, and those are really big, scary-sounding words... he must be right..."

Matt said...

Saying "Aristotelian" is fun.
I don't know anybody who uses that word, but it is fun.
"Aristotelian."

SolaMommy said...

You guys should almost be flattered, considering Pagitt has also blown off Dr. MacArthur. You're in the "Platonist" club now :)

chad v.: Unfortunately, Pagitt has a pretty wide influence on 20-somethings...he's up there with Rob Bell and Brian McLaren as far as popularity.

alhbible said...

Welcome back from hiatus, friends; sorry I wasn't timely in greeting you all promptly upon your return.

As for Messrs. Pagitt, Bell, McLaren and their fellow travelers, I suggest a healthy dose of 1 John 2:19: "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us."

Matt Gumm said...

I wanted people to hear and experience for themselves (without me as a filter) what the Emergent movement believes and promotes.

Ooh, man. Just the thought of that makes my face do this.

Pagitt reminds me of a guy I dealt with one time at work. It was regarding a trade dispute, and rather than deal with the issues, he resorted to name-calling. The other representative conferenced me in, and then called the guy, but she wasn't able to let him know that I was on the line before he started the abuse.

"People from Phoenix are so stupid. I bet he lives in a double-wide. No, a triple-wide." And on he went.

Mr. Pagitt's rants are a cross between that guy and the college freshman who's just taken Philosophy 101 and wants to impress the girls with his newfound knowledge of "the Platonists" and "Aristotlian philosophy." With a dash of Coco the Talking Guitar thrown in for good measure.

Actually, that's more like calculated existential angst.

NothingNewUnderTheSun said...

alhbible:"As for Messrs. Pagitt, Bell, McLaren and their fellow travelers, I suggest a healthy dose of 1 John 2:19:"


They surely went out:

Doug Pagitt= Doesn't believe that heaven is an actually a place (if it really even exists at all)

Rob Bell= Believes that going to heaven is everyone's default final location unless they choose to opt out.

Brian Mclaren= Believes the cross is false advertising and that Christians sould get a more tolerant logo.

Solameanie said...

After seeing Frank's "despair" link, I suddenly had the chilling premonition that Moon Unit Zappa might become worship leader at Pagitt's church.

But then, we don't believe in premonitions, do we? Perhaps it was a dream within a dream.

alhbible said...

Nothingnew: my point exactly. They went out: out, over the hill, around the bend, and across the border. I'd say they and we are not even on the same page - of the Rand-McNally atlas...

Patrick Durkee said...

Pagitt offered typical "emergent-talk" in the interview. Similar to a politician, even when asked a simple question, such as, "What is the gospel," he talked for several minutes without actually saying anything. At the end of the day, he wants to redefine Christianity so as not to confine it to a "box." To do that, he's willing to accept nearly any theology, except that of actual historic, orthodox Christianity (because to him, that boxes Christianity in).

FYI: Chris didn't put up much of a "fight" in the interview, but he said prior to it that he wasn't going to argue with Pagitt, and instead let him speak his piece. If you'll listen to his next two episodes of the show, he spends over 2 hours tearing apart Pagitt's arguments.

Patrick
www.TheologyOfOmaha.com

Barbara said...

Mr. Pagitt's rants are a cross between that guy and the college freshman who's just taken Philosophy 101 and wants to impress the girls with his newfound knowledge of "the Platonists" and "Aristotlian philosophy."

Just reminded me of a really good video.

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Doug Pagitt said...

Someone is touchy today aren't they - 5 points of clarification - wow. And in a list.
Seems like that should have come in the form of a poster. A list is so beneath you.

So, let's step it up kids.
Maybe this will help: I told my neighbor the other day that you are dualists and think heaven has a boundary.

Now I hope that can get a new poster out of you.

And if you have lost your creepy stalker skills for finding pictures on the internet and that is why you are still using 6 year old pictures, then facebook and flickr may help.

So, snap snap.

Rhology said...

Hmm, someone is unrepentant over his name-calling, kids.

Rick Frueh said...

"I told my neighbor the other day that you are dualists and think heaven has a boundary."

This sentence is an object lesson in stringing some words together in a grammatically correct construction while retaining a meaningless core and a nebulous theme. I told my neighbor the other day that you are a Marxist with Harpo being your favorite. Somehow my communication is more substantive than yours because it comes from a dualist, which was made popular in the movie "Deliverance". (banjos)

donsands said...

" I told my neighbor the other day that you are dualists and think heaven has a boundary."

What?!

Could you explain, and explain so a pea brain like me can understand, what is heaven in your opinion?

Mike Riccardi said...

Pagitt, poster's already done.

Ken Silva said...

This may prove helpful...

Fighting for the Faith Podcast: Doug Pagitt Transcript:

http://apprising.org/2008/11/fighting-for-the-faith-podcast-doug-pagitt-transcript/

Strong Tower said...

Pagitt has neighbors? How dualistic. Now we know that he does not believe that I am you and you are me and we are we and we are all together, hahahahahah

Yes Pagitt, there is a spoon and you are not it.

numped... that was my word verification code, but it makes as much sense as Pagitt's assertion that there is no other...

tshirtninja said...

"Someone is touchy today aren't they - 5 points of clarification - wow. And in a list.
Seems like that should have come in the form of a poster. A list is so beneath you."


Wow, that's a snide comment.

tshirtninja said...

Maybe this will help: I told my neighbor the other day that you are dualists and think heaven has a boundary.

Now I hope that can get a new poster out of you.


Please cite sources for this claim. For instance, The Complete Works of Aristotle, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 as well as Plato: The Complete Works should be a good start. I really want to see you back your claim that Team Pyro has a dualistic mindset between Aristotle and Plato.

Jack said...

Pagitt is like some college sophomore who learned big cool words like "culture", "gnostic", and "paradigm" and then spends the rest of his life passing himself off as an intellectual.

Stephen said...

Doug said: "So, let's step it up kids.
Maybe this will help: I told my neighbor the other day that you are dualists and think heaven has a boundary."

I'll bite, and I'll also agree that what you told your neighbor is basically correct. My metaphysics could be described as dualism. I'll accept that. According to my dualistic metaphysics, heaven has a boundary just like every other created thing. This is the biblical, historic Jewish position which is the bud to which Christianity is the flower.

My question is regarding your neighbor. Is she a monist or polytheist that thinks heaven doesn't have boundaries?

Phil Johnson said...

I don't think dualism is a helpful term to describe the Christian and biblical worldview. Most forms of gnosticism were dualistic, believing that good and evil are equally ultimate. The Force/Dark Side dichotomy in Star Wars is classic dualism. Christian theism is not dualistic in that sense.

The fact that we see certain see dualities in Scripture, such as the distinction between flesh and spirit, the two natures of Christ, the kingdom of Christ vs. the kingdom of darkness, etc. does not constitute philosophical dualism. (Pagitt's failure to understand this may be at the root of his chronic misuse of all these terms.)

The chief difference between Christian theism and philosophical dualism is that Christianity does not posit any alternate or opposing reality that is equal to God. The good/evil distinction the Bible makes is not dualism, because evil is not an eternal reality. Evil did not exist at all before creation was marred by sin, and it will not exist in eternity future. It will be overthrown.

In other words, we don't believe in twin or opposite ultimate realities. We believe in one God, who is ultimate. (His Trinitarian nature explains the relationship between the one and the many, but the Trinity is still One God.) So in eternity past, there's nothing but God. That's an essential tenet of biblical theism, stated in the first four words of our English Bibles.

I was intrigued by Pagitt's incomprehensible juxtaposition of his view that heaven isn't a "place" with his apparent affirmation that Christ rose "bodily." He seemed to treat the latter as an argument for the former, when it is precisely the opposite. Because Christ rose from the dead and ascended bodily into heaven; because Scripture promises that we will likewise be resurrected bodily; and because Jesus Himself said so in John 14, one of the essential beliefs of biblical Christianity is that heaven is a place. Whether heaven has "boundaries" or not seems quite a different question, and a red herring comment by Pagitt. But if the redeemed are going to exist eternally in heaven with real bodies, there must be a there there.

Strong Tower said...

(Pagitt's failure to understand this may be at the root of his chronic misuse of all these terms.) -Phil

Exactly, Pagitt does not appear to understand the subject he addresses. I was also wondering how he would handle the bodily resurrection of Christ and how he would expound on the whereabouts of Him.

It also sounds as if Pagitt might believe in a mere spirituallized resurrection, one that is mixed with a vague monism reminiscent of Eastern Monism with a unhealthy mixure of gnostic eminationism. I would bet that he believes that the bodily resurrection is the manifestation of the restored creation cleansed, and that that to him is the "body" symbolically resurrected as the best understanding of the rightly interpreted narrative. It is a true bodily resurrection within the narrative but what that translates into is a matter of interpretation. Whatever physicality means to Pagitt, it certainly cannot mean "other" seeing as how he denies its existence. Which leaves him with having to explain where Jesus is now. He of course must deny that Christ is seated upon a true throne somewhere, and that he has a true physicality, whatever the spiritual nature of that is. What results in reality is no resurrection in the Christian sense, but a rebirth into the great all, the recoming of Christ as creation. The reality of the Jewish concept of a true glorified body in the resurrection fades into the mysterious beyond of Pagitt's imagine there's no heaven.

Phil Johnson said...

For those who are still interested and still reading this thread, you have got to check this post over at Remonstrans. Doug Pagitt dropped a comment there, too. The post, Doug's comment, and Dissidens' reply are all priceless.

Stephen said...

Hi Phil,

I'm not advocating "philosophical dualism" in general as the explanation for the Christian worldview. You've made very good points that are useful in refuting such ideas that do.

When I accept the term dualism, it is made with the assumption that not every twofold distinction is "philosophical dualism." I hope Doug will join in discussing the distinctions we make in Christian Metaphysics. In doing so, he may discover for the first time that the position he holds is actually a non-Christian form of religious humanism (as seen in his metaphysics).

I think Van Til said it well when he said:

"A position is best known by the most basic distinctions that it makes. The most basic distinction of Christianity is that of God’s being as self-contained, and created being as dependent upon him. Christianity is committed for better or for worse to a two-layer theory of reality or being. All non-Christian theories of being would call this position of Christian theism dualistic. Of this we shall need to speak later. For the moment it is important that the basic concepts of Christianity be clearly set off from other views. And the doctrine of God’s being as qualitatively distinct from every other form of being is characteristic of Christianity alone. From the Christian point of view all other forms of metaphysical theory hold to a monistic assumption

We are probably saying the same things, just using different linguistic vehicles to get there.

In metaphysical terms, everything that exists can be viewed in two compartments. One compartment of reality is God, and all else is created by God. For me there is no problem of the one and the many because everything is two.

As for Pagitt's "heaven" questions, I probably wouldn't discuss it further until definitions were discussed and agreed upon. Which heaven?

SolaMommy said...

http://dougpagitt.com/politics/i-hope-i-can-count-on-your-vote

Words fail me.

Sharon said...

@SolaMommy
Words fail me.

Wait, he posted this on April 1, right? Right?

Oh.

A Musician by Grace

jazzact13 said...

So would I be dualistic if I voted for his opponent and not Pagitt?

(which I can neither vote or not vote for either, since I don't live in Minnesota, but you get the gist of the question, I hope)

Tim Bertolet said...

I just had a very late thought to all of this:
Why is it ok to cry "McLaren doesn't speak for all of us" but not ok to cry "Plato doesn't speak for us"? Hmm...