Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Postmortem on Holding-1

Holding has issued yet another whirlwind reply to my comments. It's gratifying to see that he sets a higher standard in his response time than the dreaded bloggers!

The reply is littered and larded with his trademark volley of invective--the better to plug up the all gaps where the argumentation breaks down--which is frequent. Much of Holding's reply consists of blanket, indignant denials rather than reasoned disproof of what I've said.

Indeed, his invective has become so coarse that parents may well wish to install a v-chip in the kids' computer lest their little ones stray into his website and have their imagination sullied by his foul mouth and dirty mind. I will try as best I can to retrieve what arguments I find floating in his sewer-hole.

"White now appears to be content to rest his laurels a bit and relax under the headdress of the Drama Queen while allowing his parrot Hays to handle his affairs."

I'm afraid this does me far too much credit. Remember that I had commented on Holding's TULIP series long before White ever got around to it. In order, therefore, for me to be his parrot, I'd have to be a pretty prescient parrot. But I lay claim to no such feats of precognition. So as honored as I am to have Holding attribute to me the divine gift of prophecy, modesty compels me to decline this--his most magnanimous compliment.

"Hays is no more than a tame ape with a dictionary at his disposal, able to use his vocabulary as a bludgeon to fool the ignorant into thinking he is actually saying something."

Well, this at least gives me a considerable headstart over Darwin's simian typists, who had to reconstruct the collected works of Shakespeare from scratch. Does this mean that Mr. Holding is a theistic evolutionist?

"No doubt he [Hays] had too many Chick tracts to read the day that The Only Wise God was assigned."

I read Craig's book many years before Holding belatedly heard of it--not to mention of my having read number of Craig's more academic presentations of Molinism.

"The second section is of absolutely no relevance; granting that indeed Paul had access to GR technique of rhetoric, this was also taught even in Jerusalem."

So the fact that Paul made use of philosophical reasoning in Romans is of "absolutely no relevance" to the possible role of logic in Rom 9--even though Fitzmyer specifically identifies its presence in 9:14,19-21,30 and elsewhere.

Remember that it was Holding who had patronizingly advised Dr. White to bone up on Fitzmyer--in connection with this very debate. But when someone takes him up on the offer, this is suddenly of "absolutely no relevance."

"May we remind the reader further that Hays has STILL not figured out that it was not I, but Jaltus, the TWeb seminarian, who referred to Fitzmyer."

May we remind the reader further that Holding has STILL not figured out that it was not Jaltus, the Tweb seminarian, but Holding, who referred to Fitzmyer. Remember what Holding said to Dr. White?:

"Sorry, but White clearly does not have his exegetical ducks in a row. I recommend he read Kasemann, Fitzmyer, Esler, and Witherington. That should run the gauntlet for him, and maybe throw in a healthy dose of Cranfield for the grammar."

Now, either Holding wrote this, in which case he is the one who referred to Fitzmyer, or else Holding doesn't write his own material, but employs the services of a ghostwriter. If the latter, may I humbly suggest that Holding needs to hire a better ghostwriter.

"As an aside, since Fitzmyer is a liberal, Hays by his own rules has no business citing Fitzmyer, since he is a tainted source. Let the fundy tangle himself in his own woven web."

What rules of mine? Can Holding quote me to that effect? The only time I recall using the word "liberal" was when Holding said that Dr. White should get his ducks in a row, and then indulged in a little show of name-dropping to wow the reader.

In that context, I drew attention to the theological diversity of the writers to which he referred.

Since, however, Holding brings up the issue of liberals, I do happen to think it makes no small difference whether you read John Spong or J. Gresham Machen on the Virgin Birth--to take but one example.

"But as it turns out, Childs says nothing here of an 'apologetic' and assuredly nothing of a proof for the mere existence of God, per my original point:

'The unit [41:1-7] opens with Yahweh summoning the nations to appear in court for a trial. The claims of the foreign gods will be tested according to legal rules…[21-29] The force of the argument in both parts of the trial appears to be that the claim to true divinity rests on the ability not only to control the course of future events, but also to have predicted the events before they occurred. Consequently, the ability to match the prediction with its fulfillment can then be tested rationally in the trial,' Isaiah (Westminster John Knox Press 2001), 317,321.

Since Dr. Childs is a highly 'credentialed' scholar, I trust that Holding will pay proper homage to his social betters in this matter.

I do indeed. Unfortunately for Hays, Childs only agrees with my point: There is nothing here of an argument for God's existence but of YHWH's superiority over the false gods."

i) Once again, Holding exhibits his usual deficiency in distinguishing between words and concepts. Naturally, Isaiah doesn't use the Greek derivative. The question is whether the concept is present. Apologetics is simply a rational defense of the faith. To quote Childs once more, "the force of an argument" according to which the "claim of true divinity" is subject to a "rational test," certainly qualifies as an exercise in apologetics. If that doesn't measure up to Holding's standards, this says a lot more about his standards than it does about Isaiah.

ii) In addition, there is certainly more to Isaiah's argument than Yahweh's superiority over the false gods. The whole thrust of Isaiah's argument is that the existence of the true God and nonexistence of the false gods can be put to a rational test. His existence is verified by prophecy while theirs is falsified by its absence.

It is not as if there were other gods who exist, but are merely inferior to Yahweh. Unless, that is, Holding happens to be a polytheist. At this point, I suppose that anything is possible.

I said: "Let's clarify the burden of proof here. Holding was the one who initiated an attack on Calvinism. The onus is therefore on him to acquaint himself with the supporting arguments for Calvinism in order to render an informed judgment on the system under review."

He said: " Since I did, there is no more for me to do."

It is clear from his admitted ignorance of Molinism going into the TULIP series that he did nothing of the kind.

"Hays provided not so much as one word from Warfield; he merely threw the reference at us like an elephant, as though this was some sort of data-argument."

It isn't my job to do his reading for him. Holding initiated a public attack on Calvinism. As a Christian apologist, the burden on him is to research a topic before he goes on the attack. Warfield's article runs to over 60 pages of closely reasoned argument. No, I'm not going to reduce that to a comic strip.

"Hays is incapable of supporting his point, and would be better off returning to his daily duties of sorting milk cartons at the 7-11."

This says less about me than it does about Holding's elitist attitude towards manual laborers and the working poor. He might consider brushing up on the Book of James to cure him of his sub-Christian snobbery.

"Unlike Hays, I do not live in a diaper and do not look for ways to throw the contents of it at others for cheap rhetorical points."

Welcome to Holding's argumentum ad excrementum. When he can't be logical, he can always be scatological. Perhaps, though, he'll accuse me of quoting his obscenities "out of context," or making "abusive" use of them.

I said: "Notice, also, the patent equivocation here. To say that psychology is prior to text is not to say that "block logic" is prior to the text. Holding is smuggling his conclusion into the premise."

He said: "Yet another confused and misplaced comment. Block logic is a product of Hebrew psychology; therefore it indeed must be prior to the text along with every other psychological element, and it certainly is absurd to suggest that psychology associated with the particular people emerged after the text."

All Holding does here is to clumsily repackage the original equivocation. Yes, psychology is prior to the text. But to define "Hebrew" psychology as "block-logic" is just another ham-handed effort to smuggle the conclusion back into the premise.

"Hays is once again offering excessive lines of verbal diarrhea to cover his enormous bungle in misreading my point."

Ah, Holding's argumentum ad excrementum. One is tempted to say that this is one type of argument where the genetic fallacy does not apply.

"Does he deny that there is actual dialectic in these pages of the OT? Does he deny that dialectic was a characteristic of Hegelianism? Does he then deny in turn that the OT shares this particular description with Hegelianism?"

As I originally said, I've already offered my own interpretation of the wisdom literature in my essay on "Vanity of vanities." Holding's comparison is so sloppy and anachronistic that it would die the death of a thousand qualifications.

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