Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Societas Schizophrenia

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As one whose own work with Roman Catholic apologists has benefited tremendously from Eric Svendsen’s, I eagerly looked forward to this book from the moment I heard of its inception. With a delightful wit, obvious reversals, and simple applications of logic all informed by extensive experience with Roman Catholic apologists, Svendsen demonstrates conclusively that the most popular and entrenched arguments of those apologists fail to meet their own criteria of truth and verifiability. Svendsen enables average Protestant laymen—especially those who have no formal apologetic or theological training—to understand the crucial issues clearly. Particularly helpful are the analyses of the flawed comparison of Roman ‘unity’ to Protestant ‘anarchy’ (Chapter 2), and the fallacious nature of the common ’25,000 denominations’ argument (Chapter 9).

“This book is a must-read for anyone wishing to have a solid foundation from which to engage in the double responsibility of casting down Roman Catholic imaginations that exalt themselves against the knowledge of God [note Tim’s allusion to the Antichrist, 2 Thes 2:4, which he here applies to Rome] and building a positive case for God’s ongoing work of reforming His Church in our day and beyond.

Tim Enloe, forward to E. Svendsen, Upon This Slippery Rock (Calvary Press 2002).

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Most of the loudest, angriest individuals denouncing FVism are essentially Radical Baptists (including many who pretend to be Presbyterians) whose "Reformed" Faith is little more than an unbalanced attachment to TULIP (i.e., "unbalanced" as if that was the sum total of biblical teaching on salvation), some half-understood, Christologically-contextless slogans about monergism, and, really the most important thing, an absolutely fanatical obsession with demonizing "Romanism" and pretending to see a creeping slide toward it under every mode of thinking that requires them to do a little bit of hard thinking outside the restrictive boxes they learned in seminary.

Tim Enloe

http://triablogue.blogspot.com/

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This is a little something aimed at a certain sub-group of Semi-Augustinian Particular Baptists (sometimes erroneously called "Reformed Baptists"), who are this week complaining across several blogs about how others treat them when all they really want to do is constantly yell about how much more faithful to The Plain Meaning of Scripture they are than anyone else. Why do people have to persecute them so? Is it some kind of crime to so obviously love Truth and the Gospel more than the next guy? They really don't get where all this unreasonable opposition to their program is coming from, it seems.

Fortunately, not all Baptists are like these loud, charity-challenged war-mongers--indeed, most Baptists that I have known in real life (especially those closest to me, such as my mother and grandmother) have been fairly well-adjusted individuals who have shown far more Christlikeness than I could ever hope to have myself. Thankfully, amongst our Baptist brethren the real below-the-belt troublemakers are few and far between. But, because these self-willed few and inordinately proud members are so loud, I felt that this tale from the Synod of Arras in the year of the Lord's incarnation 1025 would be a nice counterpoint. It goes to show that sometimes the divisive and unstable people actually learn something and repent and help the unity and peace of the Body to be restored.

One word of clarification: obviously not every position attributed to these eleventh century malcontents is attributable to the aforementioned sub-group of Semi-Augustinian Particular Baptists, but there are enough similarities to make the account interesting nonetheless. Some of these folks today have serious (but quite unrecognized by them) historical roots in Medieval-era Marcionite, Manichaean, and Pelagian tendencies, so this makes their screechy perfectionistic ranting about everyone else's "compromises" more than a little bit "speck / log"-like.

In the following account, note especially the running themes of (1) denial of physical means of grace, (2) denial of authority outside of their own sect's understanding of Scripture, (3) a rigorist-perfectionism that results in tolerance only for people who think exactly like they do about a very narrow set of issues, (4) the radical dichotomizing of Scripture, and (5) the quite plainly works-righteousness mentality that excludes children from the sign and seal of baptism.

Tim Enloe

http://www.societaschristiana.com/archives/000429.html#more

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5 comments:

  1. In answer to your question, this is Spencer's key claim:
    << (This is the Big One) Certain types of critics seem to be making the following error: Anyone who uses postmodern insights or takes account of the postmodern analysis of culture and communication is labeled as buying into the evil that is postmodernism. That's intellectually juvenile. In fact, what we have here is a fear that the postmodern critique has exposed some of the rotten underpinings of authority in certain circles of Christianity that are used to talking like people ought to listen and believe their message because they have scripture verses attached. Postmodernism is attacked as "relativizing the Bible" when, in fact, what has happened is a rethinking of communication when the Bible's role in what people "know" has significantly changed. >>

    This statement is problematic in several respects:

    i) It is so vague and abstract that it could be either true or false depending on the particular question at hand.

    ii) Do critics pounce on a postmodern analysis, per se? Or do they pounce when a professing Christian uses postmodern analysis to attack something specific in Christendom, viz., "some of the rotten underpinings of authority in certain circles of Christianity that are used to talking like people ought to listen and believe their message because they have scripture verses attached."

    iii) This leads us to the most important point. When a professing Christian uses postmodern methods to criticize the appeal to a certain prooftext to warrant a certain belief, isn't he, himself, reasoning like a modernist? He is opposing his own belief, his own interpretation, to that of the individual whose message or warrant he is critizing. So it seems like the postmodern Christian is in the same boat as the modern Christian. The postmodern Christian must have access to objective truth or superior certitude in order to present an alternative interpretation or message to be believed.

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  2. Steve said:
    {{ iii) This leads us to the most important point. When a professing Christian uses postmodern methods to criticize the appeal to a certain prooftext to warrant a certain belief, isn't he, himself, reasoning like a modernist? He is opposing his own belief, his own interpretation, to that of the individual whose message or warrant he is critizing. So it seems like the postmodern Christian is in the same boat as the modern Christian. The postmodern Christian must have access to objective truth or superior certitude in order to present an alternative interpretation or message to be believed. }}

    WHAT?! You mean that in order to proffer a logical argument (or at least to seem logical), the pomoist must establish categories of truth (and, by implication, error) by which he can address the shortcomings of those he disagrees with?

    SAY IT AIN'T SO!

    ReplyDelete
  3. BTW, Frank, Dave Armstrong has promoted you to the ranks of Plato and Pascal. So we're definitely making progress!

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