PAUL OWEN SAID:
The fact of the matter is that you are a middle-aged seminary student who does not yet know enough to recognize how little he knows. Why don't you at least finish your seminary degree before acting like you are some sort of authority in NT studies? Speaking as a published scholar in the field (and yes, I know I'll catch endless abuse for citing my credentials when the occasion calls for it), who has a terminal degree in New Testament studies, I can tell you, you most plainly are not any kind of authority in these issues.
This is one of these unintentionally revealing ad hominem attacks that discloses more about the critic than it does about the target.
And it’s worth addressing because it’s symptomatic of a larger pathology and pathological ecclesiology.
I, of course, have never asked my readers to accept what I say on my own authority. Rather, I cite other scholars. And I cite them for their arguments.
Credentials can be useful, although Owen is a paradigm example of someone well-credentialed, but intellectually unstable.
Conversely, a man like Kenneth Kitchen has no “terminal degree,” but is a far more distinguished scholar than Owen will ever be.
Owen’s the classic company man—who’s fanatically loyal to whatever name-brand he happens to be selling at the time, and transfers his fanatical allegiance from one company to another whenever he changes employers. When he’s selling a Ford, a Ford is the greatest car in the world. When he’s selling a Chrysler, Chrysler is the greatest. When he’s selling a Chevrolet, GM is the greatest. And so it goes—Ford, Chrysler, Chevrolet, Audi, Honda…
Or, to drop the metaphor:
For the record, I grew up in the LDS Church, and had a “born again” experience at the age of 15…From that point on, during the years 1986-1997 I mostly attended Pentecostal churches, ranging from Assemblies of God, to Foursquare Gospel, to Calvary Chapel. During the years 1992-1997, I grew increasingly sympathetic to Calvinism...In the year 1997, while living in Scotland, I began attending a Free Church of Scotland congregation, and gradually was won over to Reformed covenantal theology and infant baptism, though I was never entirely convinced of Presbyterian church government…I was a member of several Presbyterian congregations during the years 1997-2005. During the years 2003-2005, I undertook a fresh look at the Scriptures and much of the literature and confessions of the Reformation and post-Reformation periods. This period of reflection led to my decision to be confirmed in the Anglican church in 2005.
Why is Owen so fixated on authority? Because he suffers from a father-complex.
And that’s why Evangelicals cross the Tiber or the Bosporus.
An authoritative Bible isn’t enough for them, so that they look to an authoritative church, which they personify, as their father-figure.
Indeed, this is explicit in Catholicism. A priest is a “Father,” while the Pope is the “Holy Father.”
Catholicity is a quest for Big Daddy.
The father-complex can take different forms.
There’s the good boy and the bad boy. The dutiful, adoring son and the resentful, rebellions son.
Owen represents the good boy. Lives for his father’s approval. To make the old man proud.
And Owen runs through one father-figure after another, searching for the perfect father. Naturally, no one quite measures up.
Owen grew up in a paternalistic cult, and he currently belongs to a paternalistic sect.
There are grown men who remain boys on the inside. They live their entire lives in their father’s shadowy presence. Even after he’s long gone. They never felt they were able to please him. And his absence in death will cast as long a shadow as his living presence.
Incidentally, this points us to a central truth of Christian theology, but it’s misdirected when it’s redirected to the Church.
Then there’s the bad boy. The rebellious son.
Enloe represents the bad boy. The underlying pathology is the same, but the reaction is different. Enloe has “authority issues,” as they say.
He projects his authority-issues onto father-figures like Svendsen and White. In his paranoia, they represent the stock character of the evil stepfather in fairy tales of the Brother Grimm variety. You know the type. Beats the kid with a broomstick and feeds him cold gruel.
At one level, it’s odd that Enloe is involved with Reformed Catholicism and the Federal Vision. Wouldn’t this rub against his anti-authoritarian streak?
Ah, but that’s a way of getting back at the evil step dad. A way to spite the old man. Stick it to him!
For immature males, Dad is either godlike or demonic. No reasonable mean. Pure good or pure evil. Either worship him or desecrate his name.
And this is where the extremes meet. If you begin with an illusion, then that queues you for disillusionment. Adoration turns to loathing if the object of your adoration lets you down. Of course, it only lets you down because you were indulging in a false expectation.
And this brings us to another variant of the bad boy. And that’s the militant atheist. This often takes the form of the apostate.
Paradoxically, the anti-clerical apostate is the flip side of the high churchman. They are obverse sides of the same coin.
These are simply differing adaptive strategies in response to the same underlying, psychological malformation.
And just as almost every heresy is a half-truth, the appeal of catholicity lies in its insidious appeal to a heretical half-truth.
For God has, indeed, implanted a paternal ideal in the human heart. And when we’re young, our human fathers, for better or worse, play the proxy.
Men who mature spiritually and emotionally learn to transfer their ideal from their human fathers to God the Father.
This transition also liberates a son so that he can evolve a realistic
relationship with his human father. He no longer idolizes the old man or holds him to a superhuman standard of perfection—an expectation which, sooner or later, Dad is bound to disappoint.
But men who suffer from arrested development either search for surrogate father-figures or take it out on surrogate father-figures.