05 November 2006

Tying up a few loose ends

by Phil Johnson

Note: Part 3 of Gary Johnson's review is coming. Watch for it late tonight. I'm trying my best to get it posted, but my schedule today has made that impossible. See my comment in this thread for further details.
ere are four items that have been rattling around in my head for a few days. None of them is worth a complete blogpost, but it's time to empty my brain's recycle bin, so here you are:

  1. Revisiting the Driscoll issue. The notion that I have utterly anathematized Mark Driscoll has apparently entered into the canonical lore of the blogosphere. The iMonk did an entire podcast exegeting a comment posted in our meta by Steve Camp. I had written, "The comparison between Driscoll's style and Luther's is not far-fetched." Camp demurred, saying (among other things) that Driscoll is the mirror image of Sam Kinnison and nothing at all like Martin Luther. According to Camp, "Driscoll is just not that important and certainly shouldn't be taken seriously."
         So the iMonk intimates that Camp actually speaks for the PyroManiacs. See, Camp has the courage—and we don't—to say what we really think. Thus the iMonk reckons that if you really want to know where TeamPyro collectively stand on issues, you should ignore what we say in our posts and look for the most extreme and outrageous comments by other people in our meta. Presumably, we plant people with more guts and more candor than we possess, and we let them spell out our real position. Sometimes, as in this case, we disguise what is really happening by having the ghost-commenters appear to disagree with something we have previously written.
         It shouldn't be necessary to answer that sort of bosh, and we ignore as much of it as we can—but there are evidently people who still take the iMonk seriously. The mythology has taken on a life of its own: I have written Driscoll off completely; I have called for his excommunication, I have labeled him a heretic, and whatnot. Listen around the blogosphere and ignore what I have actually written, and you are likely to get the impression that I've done just about everything to Driscoll short of accusing him of using the crystal meth Ted Haggard threw away.
         Let's be clear about this: In my entire life, I have made exactly two significant statements about Mark Driscoll's ministry: 1) I appreciate his courageous defense of the authority of Scripture, penal substitution, and other key doctrines that are unpopular in the arena where he ministers; and 2) I don't appreciate his predilection for employing (especially in the pulpit) lowbrow scatalogy and other explicit language not usually deemed fitting for general audiences.
         That's it. I have no hidden motive and no long-term agenda with regard to Driscoll.
         I made one complaint about Driscoll's language, and a chorus of squeals arose—almost as if I had called for Driscoll to be stoned. Yet some of the squealers are the very same people whose only complaint about my every criticism of the "Emerging Church," postmodernism, and the evangelical fringe is that I'm "simplistic."
         My reasons for deploring Driscoll's language were specific, and I explained myself dispassionately: Driscoll spoke flippantly of aspects of Christ's humanity in a way that he would deem impolite if someone spoke publicly of the church secretary that way. That argument went totally unanswered in all the hue and cry that went up. People who were wholly unconcerned about whether Driscoll had shown due reverence to Christ were certain that I had shown insufficient respect to Driscoll—and they were outraged.
         That should tell you something. The problem is not that Driscoll's critics have been unreasonable, but that his admirers will tolerate no serious criticism of him whatsoever.
  2. And another thing. . . While we're talking about mythology invented by the iMonk and his friends, let's make another thing clear: No one around here ever suggested it's "wicked" to change one's mind or theological perspective. What I said is that people who are prone to undergo regular seismic worldview-level paradigm-shifts every other year or so prolly shouldn't fancy themselves fit teachers or be chronically argumentative until they have stood firm in an opinion for at least five years or thereabouts.
  3. Half a million. Earlier this evening we hosted our 500,000th visitor. At the rate we accumulate hits, I estimate it will be 6-8 months before we hit a million. We could do what Doug TenNapel did, and close our blog down as soon as we hit a million. I'd get a big piece of my life back. There are lots of other advantages in that plan that appeal to me. I'm actually going to think about it. In the meantime . . .
  4. New car decals. We've got some brand-new "Pyromaniacs" decals. These are high-quality colorfast vinyl die-cut decals, not cheapo bumper stickers. In keeping with the blog's non-profit, non-commercial status (pace Frank Turk), I'll send one of these free and no strings attached to anyone who sends me a stamped, self-addressed envelope. I promise not to add your name and address to any mailing list (I won't even write it down anywhere).
         Only one condition: You must supply a stamped envelope big enough to hold the decal without folding. The decals are 4.75"x4.75"—about the size of a standard CD-ROM. Don't send me stamps or loose change and expect me to hunt up an envelope or stamps for you. I don't have time for that.
         On the same day I receive your SASE, I'll send back only the decal and a letter of authenticity. (Actually, I'm kidding about the letter; you'll get nothing from me but the decal.) A 39-cent 1st-class stamp will be sufficient for domestic postage. If you live in Canada, you'll have to put 63 cents' worth of US postage on the envelope. If you're in the UK, meet me at the Men of Kent Conference in December and I'll bring whatever decals may be left by then. If you live in Australia or elsewhere, you're on your own.
         Supplies are limited, and it's all on a first-come, first-served basis. The decals are worth about $3 each. So this is a real deal. If you want to contribute to the cost of future printings, feel free, and we'll use any donations exclusively for that purpose. But we're not soliciting donations, and donations are not tax-deductible.
         There are two styles of decals. We're offering one per person. Request the style you want, and we'll do our best to send you the one you prefer. Don't request autographs. Tim Challies auctioned an autographed decal on eBay last year, and in order to drive up the price for Tim's preferred charity, I promised the buyer I would never autograph another one. I have no clue why a collector would be interested in these. But I can safely say many more people "collect" them than display them. Last year I made 100 decals. This year I made 100 each of two styles. The limited number is driven by cost considerations, but they are, technically, "limited editions."
         For reasons I am not going to spell out, style 1 is probably the more collectible of these two. When supplies run out, that one will never again be reprinted in its current format.

Send your requests to:

The Spurgeon Archive 28001 Harrison Parkway Valencia, CA 91355-4190

Phil's signature


Craig Schwarze said...

"The iMonk did an entire podcast..."

When are we going to get the Pyromaniacs Podcast? I'd certainly tune in...

donsands said...

"ignore what I have actually written"

"The heart of the righteous studies how to answer" Prov. 15:28a

"So then, my beloved brothers, let every man be swift to hear [and read], slow to speak [and blog], slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God." James 1:19-20

I truly appreciate the posts here.

This is a fine ministry to the body of Christ.
Keep on.

C. Stirling Bartholomew said...

Ted whats-his-name has sort of grabbed the stage for the moment and Driscoll has become yesterday's news. Did you all know that Mark D. is now preaching in West Seattle? Even if he were to preach at Three Tree Point I wouldn't be there to hear him. I can always get as much Driscoll as I can stand off the web. A college student friend of mine, an early 20s black man from central Seattle, tells me he can only handle Driscoll in small doses. He also tells me that Driscoll isn't in touch with the 20 somethings from the inter-city.

I was amused to see how Mark D. was in a big rush to cover his hind-quarters when the rose-garden-rubbish hit the fan for Ted whats-his-name. Driscoll also gave us a sure fire set of rules on how to keep your life clean. This isn't such a bad idea actually but somehow I think Driscoll has missed the mark. I am not sure that what Ted whats-his-name is suffering from can be cured by implementing a well thought through set of procedures.

Mista Kurtz, he dead.

We are the hollow men
we are the stuffed men ...

I should have a quote handy Conrad's Heart of Darkness but it is late in the day and I am tired.

David A. Carlson said...

Everyone knows I speak for the Pyroettes

Just call me Alexander Haig

Frank Martens said...

Ra.. Ra.. Rock on!

Michael Spencer said...


The podcast was entirely a commentary on Steve Camp's comments and not on anything else. It had nothing to do with this blog, and I never said in any way that Camp spoke for this blog or anyone on it.

Steve asked for an interview to respond to the podcast, which I would do if I had the technical means, but I offered him a podcast response (not interview) or an unedited IM post to respond. I said in the podcast- repeatedly that I have the utmost respect for Mr. Camp, as I still do. My offer for him to respond still stands. You can read the comments at the podcast to verify all of this.

Your assertion that the podcast was about this blog is untrue. Did the issues involved refer to the general treatment of Driscoll by the reformed community? Of course.

Anyone can listen and see for themselves who I was dialogging with.

DJP said...

Just call me Alexander Haig

Rats. I'm old enough to get that.

Jonathan Moorhead said...

I really was hoping to see Frank's face on the sticker.

C. Stirling Bartholomew said...

Driscoll's comments on the Ted thing:

"...Thankfully, I was married to a beautiful woman. I met my lovely wife Grace when we were seventeen, married her at twenty-one, and by God’s grace have been faithful to her in every way since the day we met. I have, however, seen some very overt opportunities for sin."

Here we have a man who was totally sanctified two years before his conversion.

Jim Bublitz said...


You can't close the blog in 6 months; stop that talk! Besides those of us who appreciate your thoughts, you know that the iMonk and Pastor Rod would miss you greatly :-)

striving... said...

I have to say that if pyromaniacs was not around anymore I would be sad. :( I very much enjoy reading your blogs and all of you always peak my interest on other religous groups who I do not know much about. I have read more books in the last few months about theology and such because of this site. So do not make such jokes about leaving. What would I do?(LOL)

Kay said...

Kent in December? I can't even manage the drive to my own church. Tsk.

Oh, and stop that pesky 'I'm-going-to-close-down-the-blog' thing. It's really mean to the many mildly obsessive shut-ins like me who can't cope with too many shocks.

Kim said...

If you close down your blog, you will make more than one (including this one) homeschool mom cry, and then you would guilty of being unchivalrous. Then we would have to appeal to Darlene.

Caleb Kolstad said...


Great post. People dont read the full context when they interpret the Scriptures and naturally make the same lazy mistakes when they come to the internet.

Keep up the good work


Adam Omelianchuk said...

My "mythology" BHT post was in reference to a broader debate I've witnessed on more than one ocassion between Reformed and Emerging (or even non-Reformed) believers about theological change. The comment in the post that tipped this off for me (Chantry?) said something to the effect of admiring people whose theology doesn't change, and characterized those that do as being tossed to and fro like babes on the high sea by every wind of change (i.e. it is wicked).

Tom Chantry said...

"The comment in the post that tipped this off for me (Chantry?) said something to the effect of admiring people whose theology doesn't change, and characterized those that do as being tossed to and fro like babes on the high sea by every wind of change (i.e. it is wicked)."

Which comment, of course, was in support of Phil's initial post. He said that they (the Pyro-guys) rarely change their doctrine, and was promptly pillaried by commenters for "arrogance." My post (should anyone wish to read it) suggested that doctrinal steadfastness is a virtue commended by the apostle in Ephesians 4. It was not a post calling out anyone, but was a post supporting our host in his contention that a rarely-changing theology is a good and scriptural thing, not a sign of arrogance.

joey said...

"supporting our host in his contention that a rarely-changing theology is a good and scriptural thing, not a sign of arrogance."

hmmm...I agree, except I would qualify it by saying that if the theology that is rarely changing is wrong, than its rarely changingness isn't good.

(and I am now going to begin using the phrase "rarely changingness" as much as posible.)

Phil Johnson said...

CraigS: "When are we going to get the Pyromaniacs Podcast?"

The closest we'll get to that, I'm afraid, is the already-available podcasts of my preaching, produced by Will Moneymaker at the "GraceLife Pulpit" website. There you'll at least find evidence that I have a life outside the blog, and I am not just a full-time critic.

If I had to produce a podcast that parallelled the aims and content of the blog, it would prolly become a full-time career, and it might even permanently sour my attitude toward life and ministry.

I'm actually looking for ways to make the blog less time-consuming, so a podcast sounds to me like the exact wrong way to go.

Sorry. Part of me thinks a podcast would be fun, but I don't think it's the sane and prudent part of me that thinks that.

SB said...

I wonder how the phrase "Semper Reformanda" affects Team Pyro's theology?

FX Turk said...

I'm just waiting for Part III of Gary Johnson's essay.

And Phil acts like it would have to be a daily podcast. A weekly podcast would still get plenty of listeners. And who says it has to be 30 minutes long? 15 minutes is way plenty, which turns into about 5 m inutes per pyro.

Of course, that assumes we would have anything to say worth listening to.

FX Turk said...

and for sb, who got exactly on my one good nerve today, "semper reformanda" doesn't mean "we take sin lightly because we're not perfect."

SB said...

sorry cent-- semper reformanda on the changing theology bit specifically
how does semper reformanda affect Team Pyro's rock solid theology?

ill buy a tshirt ok sorry
we ned a tshirt

Phil Johnson is my homeboy

Solameanie said...

I don't know whether this qualifies as an "on-topic" or not, but I think it does given the problems people have had with Mark D. PLUS the situation with Ted Haggard.

Shouldn't it tell us something when the subject of bad language from the pulpit even has to be discussed among believers? You would think that would be a no-brainer, but apparently it isn't.

Shouldn't it tell us all something when another nationally known evangelical leader has to be publically disgraced over immorality, as if the Bakker/Swaggart/Gorman scandals weren't enough? Didn't we learn anything?

Holiness is not a popular topic for sermons or Sunday school classes these days. Mention the term and you immediately get derided as a legalist, a prude, out of step, a Puritan etc. Worse yet, you'll get accused of unrealistically expecting everyone to live an unreal "Leave it to Beaver" life.

I think all of us would do a world of good if we would re-evaluate what we pay money to go see in the theatre, watch on television, read in books etc. We denounce pornography, and yet think nothing of watching "James Bond" slither beneath the sheets with the "Bond Girl" of the day. We denounce bad language, but tune it in every day on television. I have known Christian families who have their kids sitting there in front of the television, making them cover their eyes when nudity comes on or to say loudly in outraged tones.."ooh..bad language!"

If I was one of those children (and believe me, I thought stuff like this when I WAS a kid), I'd say, "If it's so bad, why are you sitting here watching it?"

Too often, we use the "freedom we have in Christ" as an excuse to dip our toe into sin. If we're supposed to be transformed by the renewing of our mind, and to keep our thoughts and hearts pure, why do we head to the hog wallow at the first opportunity? Is it legalistic to say that love of Christ ought to deter us from this stuff? In keeping clear of it, we're not keeping some onorous rule to appease an angry deity. No, we're showing our love for a holy God by being holy ourselves. I'm certainly not perfect or even very good at it, but I am pressing on toward the mark. I think if we all loved the Lord like we ought to love the Lord, we wouldn't see admonishments to avoid corrupt things as legalisms. We'd embrace them with joy as loving expressions of commitment to Christ. And in embracing more careful standards, you won't drive the stock price of Brylcreem up. Trust me.

Phil Johnson said...


On part 3 of the Gary Johnson essay, I've been working on getting it formatted and on-line since early this morning, but because I was out of the office all last week, everyone is lined up with questions to ask and issues to be resolved. I keep getting interrupted with important business. So I'm currently less than halfway through the process of prepping part 3 to post, and the seminarians in my discipleship lab are coming in a half hour for our weekly meeting. After that, I'm lined up with meetings and counseling sessions for the rest of the workday.

Which means I prolly am going to have to post Gary Johnson's final installment tonight, which in turn means you and Dan should let it ride and not post on top of it until at least Tuesday afternoon, because it's the best and meatiest of Gary's posts yet. (He's going to show why the charge that Arminianism has semi-pelagian tendencies is not bogus.)

So be patient. The wait will be worth it, I promise.


What are you suggesting? That semper reformanda requires us to tear down everything we affirm and rebuild new foundations again every three years or so? Because that practice is what I said strikes me as pathological foolishness. Do you seriously disagree? Or do you seriously find the point confusing?

Unknown said...

Also Phil,

Don't forget about my challenge of your "absolute tripe" dismissal of Hodges' James commentary. (see Phil's review on Amazon) We're still in the big picture mode in our discussion over on Pulpit.


Unknown said...

...but no rush!

I know your busy.

Craig Schwarze said...

In some ways a podcast could be less time-consuming, because you can just chat rather than having to edit and re-edit a written piece.

You could get Frank and DJP on Skype, and just rant about whatever is on your mind.

But, yeah, time is clearly an issue.

If you closed Pyromaniacs, it would certainly leave a big hole. Would you really want to remove yourself from the conversation? For better or worse, hearts and minds are won and lost on the web...

Luke and Rachael said...

'What are you suggesting? That semper reformanda requires us to tear down everything we affirm and rebuild new foundations again every three years or so?'

I doubt SB is suggesting tearing down the foundations. That's making a caricature of a good question. Why can't the suggestion be to keep the foundations--the deliverances of the ecumenical councils, for example--and constantly hold the rest open to re-evaluation in the light of Scripture and new-and-improved ways of reading it?
Surely we can admit that advances in hist-crit work shed light on how we understand the text; if so, why not be willing to evaluate the non-essentials in the light of these advanvements?

Ebeth said...

Please just post what you can when you can rather than knocking yourself out. We appreciate whatever you post whenever you post it, after all. If you need to rest, please rest. And Darlene did not ask me to say that.

Phil Johnson said...

Luke & Rachael: "I doubt SB is suggesting tearing down the foundations. That's making a caricature of a good question. Why can't the suggestion be to keep the foundations--the deliverances of the ecumenical councils, for example--and constantly hold the rest open to re-evaluation in the light of Scripture and new-and-improved ways of reading it?"

All you have done by that statement is define the "foundations" in the most minimal possible terms. In my assessment, that is tantamount to tearing the true foundations apart unwittingly.

Protestants have always insisted that the true foundations of the Christian faith include the inspiration, authority, and sufficiency of Scripture, as well as the doctrine of justification by faith. In the Reformation these were the formal and material principles—sola Scriptura and sola fide respectively.

I don't understand 21st-century evangelicals' sudden and widespread willingness to abandon all the central distinctives of historic Protestantism and act as if the only non-negotiables in the Christian faith were all settled by the end of the Arian controversy. That puts both the heart of the gospel and the vital question of who is the final arbiter of sound doctrine back on the table for perpetual discussion.

Especially if you're the type who thinks a world-view overhaul is necessary every three years or so in order to remain "humble," paring back your notion of the essential foundations of Christianity to such a minimalist definition is particularly dangerous.

Remember, Protestants and Reformers died for the truths that were at stake in the Reformation. They didn't sponsor tea parties to dialogue about our disagreements with papists and Socinians. They correctly understood that both sola Scriptura and sola fide are foundational—even though neither principle was spelled out in any of the ecumenical creeds.

Notice also: I'm not saying anything that would be critical of a Christian who in the normal process of learning changes his or her views to correct misunderstandings, inconsistencies, or error. I didn't even criticize those who suddenly see a great truth like the sovereignty of God and are forced to rethink and apply that truth to practically every other truth they have ever affirmed. I've been through a couple of major awakenings like that, which have forced me to change my mind and deepen my understanding in major ways. I'm still learning, and I will be worried if that process ever stops. No one here has suggested that this sort of growth reflects a sinful instability.

My criticism was specifically aimed at the serial paradigm-shifter who has never held a consistent worldview for as long as it takes to earn a college degree—and yet who fancies himself a fit teacher or critic of others' convictions. There are lots of people like that nowadays, some of them famous, some of whom blog, and some of whom publish and sometimes manage to sound very articulate and knowledgeable. They are usually the ones saying they are "post-" everything. They boast of their own inability to hold a steady conviction as if it were a wonderful type of humility. It's not.

That's what I'm saying. That way of thinking is a fruitless merry-go-round, and it has nothing to do with real humility.

Now, if you seriously want to argue against what I am saying, address that point.

SB said...

My actual question is actually posed in an irenic fashion(sorry about the "rock solid" jab sometimes I felt like my theology was rock solid at Masters and that we had the corner on truth), since I agree with you Phil, how does total depravity and semper reformanda personally affect your theology?I hold to a high view of scripture, the doctrines of Grace, the 5 solas, and the fundamentals.

I am just asking you to bring to bear the doctrines of semper reformanda and total depravity on your theology and maybe describe how it informs your theology.

I am asking these questions sincerely.

If the foundations be destroyed what may the righteous do? (Psalm 11:3)

SB said...

O you answered my question above sorry.

hang in there phil we are blessed by how you serve your readers and ultimately the Lord. prayin for ya

Sharad Yadav said...

All of this talk about starting over every three years, or undergoing "seismic" shifts every couple of years - I don't know anyone that fits that description. I'm not saying that you don't - but even leaving the foundations as bare as the solas of the Reformation doesn't lock a person into a Reformed Baptist position on everything, does it? It still leaves quite a bit open for revision, and even the foundations can recieve a refinement that is far less than "seismic" now and again, and actually be reinforced rather than "torn down". All of that is easy to say in theory, of course. The problem is in naming the particulars where reinforcement or revision (in a person's theology, not in the Gospel or the Bible itself) are being suggested. Some will always say it is wholesale destruction of the foundations (as some said of Luther) and some will always say it's recovery or reinforcement (as some said of Luther).

That last point is what I'd like to see addressed in a series of posts here (not that I have a vote). Without simply decrying "postmodernism" (or "late modernism" or whatever it is - or was), it would be really great to see someone deal with the Protestant Christian's appeal to the Bible in order to solve the impasse described above without simply (and frustratingly) yielding two (or more) sides trying to simply shout louder than the other.

Authoritative Popes and councils in such cases are usually replaced with one's favorite teachers of the Church in years past as well as the interpretations of the Church's most trusted contemporary leaders. Historical-grammatical exegesis is marshalled on all sides of the debate in hopes of being the arbiter, but there end up being differing legitimate takes on the "historical" background and different opinions on the most salient "grammatical" features (examples abound).

In the end people are left to choose between the strongest personalities which represent the differing views. Beyond deconstructing postmodernism, how do you (constructively) solve such hermeneutical difficulties? Personally, I've personally found authors like Kevin Vanhoozer, Richard B. Hays and "he who shall remain nameless" to be really helpful, but I know we'll probably not agree on that. Still, it'd be great if you got a guest blogger to tackle it from your perspective!

Phil Johnson said...

Raja: "I don't know anyone that fits that description."

Sure you do. The neighborhoods of the blogosphere you inhabit are full of people who have renounced Calvinism and adopted epistemic skepticism as the cardinal principle that governs all their thought and doctrine; abandoned Rousas Rushdooney in favor of Stan Grenz; disavowed their Baptist beliefs and embraced a kind of neo-Puseyism instead; or moved away from being (supposedly) solidly Reformed to becoming harsh critics of practically everything distinctive about Protestant history and theology.

You probably will want to quibble about whether those are really "seismic" changes. That's a significant problem in itself, IMO.

Sharad Yadav said...

I guess I haven't known most of the people in the blogosphere I've interacted with for very long, so I don't know how regularly they undergo the sorts of changes you mentioned. I'd agree that the changes you mentioned are pretty big ones - but I have no evidence that such shifts are recurring features in their lives. Moreover I'm also not sure about the degree to which people's views have actually changed. In other words, though someone may appropriate this or that from Stan Grenz, I don't know if, for the majority of them, it would constitute a relinquishing of Reformed theology and wholesale embracing of postmodern approaches as much as a piecemeal adjustment here and there in an otherwise Reformed theology.

Phil Johnson said...


First of all, let me say something uncharacteristically nice about you: I appreciate that you come here and actually participate in the discussion, rather than merely lobbing insinuations from some distant members-only blog. I also appreciate your persistence (sincerely), even though I'm sometimes annoyed by it.

Anyway, it seems like you are wanting me to name names and document specific examples of serial paradigm-shifters.

I'll tell you what: if time permits, in the next few days (or maybe next week) I'll do a whole post on the virtue of being willing to change one's mind and the corresponding evil of never actually making up one's mind.

And I'll name and document a couple of examples of people who seem to be suggesting that chronic ambivalence is the very essence of humility—but who in the midst of their own repeated seismic worldview shifts have never once paused from writing, preaching and making polemic pronouncements long enough to regain their own spiritual and intellectual footing.

Just because you asked. OK?

Sharad Yadav said...

Wow! Cool. Thanks, Phil! I should have asked for something bigger, like some Hindi music or something.

Phil Johnson said...

Raja: "I should have asked for something bigger, like some Hindi music or something."

Ask and ye shall receive.

Sharad Yadav said...

It's like Thanksgiving at my parent's house!

Phil Johnson said...

... or there's this one, featuring Anil Kapoor, who looks pretty much the way I picture you, Raja.

Sharad Yadav said...

This is crazy - being at my parent's house every week, I've actually HEARD THESE songs before!

And I'm going to own those pants and glasses if it takes my life's pursuit.

Seriously though, I'm glad that the entire wardrobe from every Michael Jackson video ever made was available for that video.

Phil Johnson said...

1. Your parents have fine musical taste.

2. The padded shoulders are as crucial to the look as the leather pants and sunglasses.

Sharad Yadav said...

1. Apparently so do you

2. I'm not sure the pads would stay on since I'm made entirely of cartilage (all 98 pounds of me).

Michael Spencer said...

I was here in comment #8, answering you specifically.

Phil Johnson said...

Yes, Michael, you were. Thank you.

Jeremiah Johnson said...

Well Treat my Williams!

Are Phil and the Raja actually exchanging pleasantries?

This is perplexing!

Jeremiah Johnson said...

And Phil, let's make clips of "Apu Beyond Thunder Dome" a regular feature here at Team Pyro.

Phil Johnson said...

Reject: "Apu Beyond Thunder Dome"?

I can do even better than that.

I don't know if this one was an outtake from Varasat, or what. And I can't vouch for the degree of "contextualization" you'll see here. But it illustrates my favorite feature of Hindi movies: they don't generally allow characters to kiss on screen. Almost, but then . . .


Brendt said...

So, iMonk responds in comment #8, stating that some of the assertions were untrue. 41 comments later and still no response to that fact (I listened to the podcast).

So iMonk (I guess) assumed that his comment went unnoticed, and waves his hand a bit (ooo, ooo, mr kotter) and in return gets what seems to be a pat on the head and naught else.

While I'm not a faithful reader, I have read this blog frequently enough to know that you're not one to shy from disagreement, Phil. So what gives? Is your distaste for iMonk so great that you are unwilling to backtrack a bit, or at least clarify?

Phil Johnson said...

Brendt: "I listened to the podcast."

"Facts" are slippery things in the post-evangelical wilderness inhabited by tavern-lackeys, I guess.

iMonk: (from the podcast): "Driscoll, uh, in a sermon on the humanity of Jesus, has sent the TR blogosphere into outer space. Hunnert 'n' sixty-six comments over at TeamPyro and, uh, I dunno if they've shut it down [Nope.], and then about fifty on another and they just keep goin' and keep goin'. . . .

iMonk: "[Steve Camp is] associated very much with the uh, with the MacArthur, uh, uh sort of folks. He--he's a straight shooter. I, uh--You know, a lot of these guys [what guys? check the immediate antecedent] they kind of hedge, you know? They uh--for example, I think that there's a number of these people that don't like John Piper, but they won't say it, you know? I think they have real issues with Piper. Well, it's not a problem with Camp. . . .

iMonk: "As I said, I have great respect for Steve Camp, cause I think he's a straight shooter, which is opposed to most of these guys [what guys? see "as I said"] which are pretty mealy-mouthed and dodge the bullet and don't say what they think."

For a year and a half, iMonk has continually and sneeringly pointed to this blog and its predecessor as the epitome of what he falsely labels "TR." So "most of these ["MacArthur, uh, uh sort of"] guys" certainly implies (or "intimates," as I suggested in the original post) the inclusion of TeamPyro. I'm by no means the only one of iMonk's listeners who thought so.

Brendt: "So what gives? Is your distaste for iMonk so great that you are unwilling to backtrack a bit, or at least clarify."

Not at all. While I don't agree with most of the iMonk's opinions, I like him OK. But I've had enough arguments with him. As I've told him before, he is much too sensitive for someone so cynical.

So this time, I was planning to let him have the last word.

Oh, well.

Michael Spencer said...

uh....thanks for....uh.....clearing this one up....uh....Phil....I uh.....
didn't realize how....uh clearly I said that Camp spoke for TeamPyro....it's uh....uh..... uhhh.... all over that quote.

Adam Omelianchuk said...

"abandoned Rousas Rushdooney Rousas Rushdooney in favor of Stan Grenz"

Wait. Who did that? What does that even mean? Stan Grenz is associated with a lot of things that he never endorsed or practiced, particularly epistemic skepticism.

I look forward to the list of examples showing this to be a widespread trend.

David Ernst said...

I discovered TeamPyro and Triablogue by following a link from a Lutheran blog to the Internet Monk, then figuring out who he was talking about in his references to the Truly Reformed. There is almost always a lot of substance to posts at TeamPyro and Triablogue. I admire your style of apologetics. Thank you for all your hard work.

"Semper Reformanda" means the Church must always be called back to the timeless truths of Scripture because of the sinful human tendency to follow after false doctrine.

Luke and Rachael said...


At the risk of wasting energy on a dying thread, I'd counter your response to my question simply by urging a return to 'mere Christianity' as the standard of orthodoxy. Without it we split, and split, and split, and the name-calling and confusion never ceases.

Irenaeus, Clement, Justin, Origen, Chrysostom, Cyril, Athanasius, Gregory, Basil, Augustine, and many, many others did just fine without 5 solas and inerrancy and whatever else is being touted as this year's standard of orthodoxy. I'm not saying that we shouldn't articulate these doctrines and defend them; just that they're not necessary for orthodoxy.

I respect the Protestant tradition--heck, I am one--but it's not the be all and end all. It expounds and interprets the foundations; it doesn't lay them. The Reformers would've been the first to recognize this. They were willing to die rather than give up what they thought was the right explanation of the foundations. The patristic martyrs, on the other hand, were willing to die to give us something even more foundational than what the Reformers offer. Let's not do an injustice to the Fathers by insisting on something more than what they gave us to count as orthodox; in so doing we rule them out of the orthodoxy they fought so hard to secure.

Phil Johnson said...

Luke & Rachael: they're not necessary for orthodoxy.

See: In your earlier reply you quibbled with the expression "tearing down the foundations." You implied that no one was calling for any kind of seismic paradigm shift. But you've just declared the Protestant Reformation unnecessary.

You might think you "respect the Protestant tradition," but if your view of what's truly foundational is correct, the Reformers were just schismatics.

I'd say the paradigm shift you are advocating is much more significant than you want to admit. It would actually entail the abandonment of true Protestantism altogether.

Luke and Rachael said...


I appreciate your gracious comments. My thought was not that the Reformation was unnecessary; it was very necessary, given the state of the Church at the time. You and I seem to disagree about how or why it was necessary. The Reformation could be necessary for reasons other than establishing a strict criteria of orthodoxy. And my main point just was that to think that it was necessary in the sense of establishing such a criteria implies that everyone pre-Reformation just didn't get it. That's tough to swallow. Anyways, safe travels South of the border.

REM said...

I wrote my responses to Steve Camp out of respect and a desire to become more like Steve as he follows Christ. I think we all have a lot to learn from guys like Camp, even in light of disagreements. As I consider Acts 23:1-5, I need to risk my reputation with a willingness to be bold, even if I inadvertently and unavoidably put my foot in my mouth.

Camp’s comments concerned me because I thought they could cause a godly preacher harm (specifically Piper in this instance), even if that was global opposite of his intentions. Even though Camp himself preaches Christ crucified and I happily lock arms with him on that for the sake of the gospel, I was concerned (see Phil 1:15-17). I did not want to see an honest man (Camp) use tactics that only can appear dishonest, mainly because I don't want to see those tactics reused on honest men like Steve Camp. That was it. Read Calvin's comments on Phil 1:15-17 on my blog for further insight.

Finally, in his podcast, Spencer appreciates straight shooters, even ones he disagrees with. Some false teachers I have observed are rewarded for their boldness or "straight shootin" - straight lies, that is. Please reconsider Michael, your attaboy needs some precision here.

Michael Spencer said...

>Please reconsider Michael, your attaboy needs some precision here.

uh.....I said that I appreciate that Steve Camp openly criticizes Piper, while others who clearly have issues with Piper just say nothing. There are 25 people reading this right now who are in that category.

What "attaboy" needs reconsideration. I'm not following you.

REM said...

I intended the straight shootin' comment as a general statement. My point was that there is a danger in applauding straight shooters because of the willingness to overlook what they shoot at, why they are shooting, their tendency to overshoot, what they cloak from us because of our appreciation, etc soforth. Someone once said we end up practicing what we applauded. In fairness to you, you used that general statement (liking straight shooters) and applied it 'pecifically here (Camp to Piper), so I now see why it was hard to follow (my general warning being taken as exact contention). I hope that clarifies, and I hope you have seen my point as well. Additionally, that was the first podcast of yours I've listened to so it may have been just a style thingy with how you communicate stuff. Cheers.