Thursday, May 12, 2005

The lowdown on Enloe

<< (1) Steve: I am not a "leader" in any "movement". I am just a guy trying to get his B.A. in liberal arts (with an eye to future graduate work in Medieval studies) but who currently pays the bills by working at Wal Mart. I have no standing in Christ's Church beyond that shared by all Christians in Christ. I am not a teacher in the Church, much less a "leader." >>

This is a non-sequitur. You needn’t have any institutional standing to be the leader of a movement. Indeed, Tim is challenging the Reformed establishment, challenging the Reformed status quo. So that, in some sense, already puts himself outside the institutional organs.

But since he doesn’t like my terminology, suppose I substitute his own self-characterization. Tim has a vision. Tim is a visionary. And Tim is using his blog to promote his vision for the church—for a Christian society, no less.

Tim also tries to recast the debate in hyperbolic, emotive terms: “hysteria,” “knee-jerk reactions,” “pontificate,” “sinister,” “nefarious,” “bizarre Reformed inquisition-like behavior.”

Okay, let’s set the record straight. On his blog, Tim feels free to question and criticize anything he doesn’t approve of in the Reformed tradition. But he doesn’t see this as a two-way street. No one, except the elders of his church, has the right to question his publicly stated views.

He doesn’t need any ecclesiastical standing to question what others believe, but they need to have some ecclesiastical standing to question what he believes. And when he is questioned, he plays the role of the victim. The persecution-complex seems to be epidemic these days--especially from those casting the first stone.

All I did was to take him seriously. He is airing his views for public consumption. So I took him seriously enough to comment on his views and pose a few follow-up questions. Does Tim not want to be taken seriously? If so, it would simplify matters if he issued a public disclaimer to that effect.

If there is any “hysteria” or “knee-jerk reaction,” it is coming from Tim, by resorting to hyperbolic, emotive language instead of offering reasonable answers to reasonable questions.

Why is Tim blogging unless he wants to use this medium as a public platform in which to promote his own views, to persuade others of his vision? This is not a private, subscriber-only discussion board. Tim has laid down no ecclesiastical criterion for readers to read his blog. But if they should question what they read, then they must have certain ecclesiastical credentials. So Tim is trying to play both sides of the fence.

Notice, in so doing, how Tim is attempting to shift the question from what is right to having the right. He appeals to his local session as his “get-out-of-jail-free” card to excuse having to explain himself or defend the veracity of anything he says.

Why the defensive tone? Didn’t he believe what he said? If so, why not clarify his position?

The only authority the Protestant Reformers had was the authority of God’s word. Truth is its own authority.

The Protestant Reformers had no ecclesiastical sanction for what they did, since what they did was to buck the system and break with the established church. Were it not for that irregular, schismatic action, there would be no session. Instead, Tim would be a papist.

<< (2) I have not "reentered the inerrancy debate". The comment about the Chicago Statement in my entry was aimed SOLELY at those Evangelical readers whom I KNEW would read the articles to which I linked and instantly go "Gasp! Tim's rejecting biblical inerrancy now! Will his compromises never cease?" I do not reject biblical inerrancy, but affirm it. >>

Is this a deliberate distortion of what I said? Go back and read what I said. I carefully described Tim’s position in his own words. To say that he affirms biblical inerrancy, and leave it at that, is an obvious dodge. He affirms some “form,” of inerrancy, but he disaffirms the form of inerrancy articulated in the Chicago statement.

So, having told us what version of inerrancy he denies, the next logical question is to ask him is what version of inerrancy he affirms. What is his positive alternative?

Remember, the Chicago statement was specifically framed in response to a liberalizing trend in Evangelicalism, triggered by Harold Lindsell’s bombshell book. So since Enloe has gone public with his rejection of the Chicago doctrine, we are waiting for the coin to drop. What does his own version amount to?

<< (3) The Chicago Statement is not some kind of creed literally and ministerially defining basic Christian orthodoxy, deniable only by heretics. It's not a statement of a Church court, but only the result of a scholarly conference amongst a sub-group of conservative Evangelicals, that's it that's all. It's not a sin to ask questions about things like this. I do not "[owe] the Christian community an explanation", and in any case I would deny that the set "Christian community" is restrictable to conservative Evangelicals. Again the only reason I mentioned it was because I KNEW knee-jerk reactions would ensue the moment certain people read the articles to which I linked and saw Hunter's discussion of the Chicago Statement. >>

Once again it’s necessary to set the record straight. Tim was the one who singled out the Chicago Statement. He was the one who took this statement as his frame of reference. He was the one who chose to position himself in relation to this statement. And he was the one who chose to distance himself from the statement in question.

So the remaining issue is: how much distance does he put between himself and the Chicago doctrine? I’m framing my question to him in exactly the way he chose to frame the question. Is there something unfair about judging a man’s position by his own stated standard of reference?

His stated standard may only have been for the sake of argument, but for discussion purposes, that will suffice since he himself chose to cast the question in those very terms.

<< (4) I want to know who you are, Steve, to pontificate about my supposedly needing to keep "doubts" private and not using blogs to "plant seeds of doubt in others minds." Good grief, man, get some perspective. I am not a leader in some movement, much less do I have any authority in the Church. I am just a guy with a blog. >>

Yes, he’s just a guy with a blog. And why is he blogging? To advance his vision. To have an influence on what other people think.

And, yes, Tim, you are responsible for what you say. And your responsibility does not begin and end with your elders. You are writing to be read by whoever happens to read your blog. So you bear some responsibility to them and for them since you are writing to them and for them. Connect the dots, Tim—it isn’t that hard. You’re much too smart to play dumb.

<< (5) Since my post was not about the Chicago Statement itself…>

It wasn’t? This is what Tim originally said:

<< The reason that the questions raised about the Chicago Statement are important is the fact that the questions expose the unstated modernistic assumptions of that form of the inerrancy doctrine, and in the process end up shedding significant light on the very important issues of truth and epistemology and community that postmodernism raises against modernism. >>

<< The third essay's discussion [on the Chicago Statement] of logocentrism (especially the distinction between autonomous human concepts of the logos VS the biblical Logos). Also in the third essay note the incessant dualisms that logocentrism's metaphysics of presence ontology / epistemology… >>

<< Lastly, observe the discussions about the fluidity of language. Note that meaning "always surpasses intentions" [an allusion to the third essay on the Chicago Statement], and that the metaphysics of presence view of language [another allusion to the third essay on the Chicago Statement] is fundamentally based in pagan Greek thinking about the supremacy of the "soul" (in this case, speech) over mere "matter" (in this case, writing). For the metaphysics of presence view, speech is more fundamental than writing because speech is "closer" to the author's disembodied mind than is writing. Note that this binary opposition leads to viewing the Bible as the ultimate binary opposition-filled written preservation of God's direct speech--which means that by obtaining an absolutely undoubtable and forever fixed interpretation of the Bible we are ourselves attaining to an unmediated grasp of God's own speech.


  1. Steve --

    Nothing more true has ever been said than when you blogged this:

    Tim also tries to recast the debate in hyperbolic, emotive terms: “hysteria,” “knee-jerk reactions,” “pontificate,” “sinister,” “nefarious,” “bizarre Reformed inquisition-like behavior.”

    Okay, let’s set the record straight. On his blog, Tim feels free to question and criticize anything he doesn’t approve of in the Reformed tradition. But he doesn’t see this as a two-way street. No one, except the elders of his church, has the right to question his publicly stated views.

    Well done.

  2. Steve,

    I'm glad you posted this. You certainly have more patience than I do. It's ironic that those who are most shrill in their diatribes invariably complain about the "shrillness" of their critics. And why is it that the guy who thinks everyone else should just shut up and listen to him is the first one to accuse someone else of "pontificating"?

    I read Enloe's blog yesterday, and the pugnacious chip-on-the-shoulder style ("I want to know who you are, Steve, to pontificate . . .") struck me as all too typical of "Reformed Catholicism." (NPPers and other products of postmodernism often employ the same approach.) While complaining about the "narrowness" of others, they themselves brook no disagreement. They feel perfectly free to broadcast their carping criticisms of just about anything and everything, but they cannot stand being citicized. They prattle incessantly about the need for "dialogue" but they instantly eliminate the possibility of any meaningful or constructive discourse the moment someone differs with them--usually by lashing angrily out the way Enloe has done with you. I don't think they really want dialogue or debate debate. I think all they want is an audience.

    Carry on.

  3. Steve,

    Blogs are dangerous in the wrong hands. I've been struck by a nexus of "Reformed" blogs, many tied to the one you mention on your site, which sound like denizens of the Democratic Underground in the way they speak of those who oppose them. Sad that "lying liars" should be considered a proper response to ecclesiastical authority.

    This particular blog is a case of sophomoric preening and should be dealt with by a local church.

    David Bayly

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