A high-strung guy by the name of Glenn Peoples (or, as Inspector Clouseau would say, “Glenn Pippuls”) is undergoing a very public meltdown because of a passing remark I made about him, in response to something he wrote about some others and me.
Just to put things in context, my remark was in response to something that he said. I did two little posts about something William Lane Craig said. Some folks, like Matt and Maddy, took great offense at this. They coauthored a reply at their blog, naming names.
Glenn Peoples then did his own post, referring back to their post. It was only after he initiated his attack that I responded to him.
Here’s the way in which Glenn chose to phrase and frame his reply:
I will admit to jumping on a bandwagon with this one. A good recent post over at MandM alerted me to just how far and wide the phenomenon of apparently ignorant evangelicals bashing William Lane Craig is spreading based on something he said recently. Since such uninformed critique seems to spread like wildfire...
Why the furore? Why the extreme nature of the attacks? Why the accusations, hostility and wilful enmity? I know I’ve said this before, but it is such a major problem within evangelicalism that it can’t be mentioned enough. The problem is twofold: Ignorance and insularity. Actually there’s a third problem stirred up by ignorance and insularity, namely an unwillingness to listen carefully and charitably to what another person is saying.
Not exactly something you’d put on a Hallmark card.
I responded by pointing out that “Of course, Glenn isn’t really defending Craig. Rather, Glenn is using the Craig incident as a pretext to defend himself. Glenn is a liberal (denies hell, denies inerrancy), so he wants to make evangelicalism a big tent. Defending Craig is just a ploy for making his case that evangelicals should be more tolerant and open-minded with respect to the Glenn Peoples of the world.”
At this point Glenn got terribly agitated:
I realise that you do not share my beliefs as expressed in my defence of Bill Craig, however as you know, I neither named you nor accused you of engaging in sin.
That’s an odd allegation on several levels:
i) I didn’t accuse him of engaging in “sin.” Of course, if that’s how Glenn chooses to interpret his own conduct, who am I to take issue with his self-assessment?
ii) What’s wrong with naming names? Matt and Maddy named names. Glenn acts as if his privacy was violated. Yet before I ever responded to him, he did a post, referring back to Matt and Maddy’s post–where they “name names.” So there’s no great mystery regarding the identity of the culprits.
It’s not as if Glenn spoke to me in confidence. Indeed, he also started to publicly quote our “private” Facebook exchange.
Steve, I did not name any of Bill Craig’s critics. I certainly did not single you out and attack your character, yet you have made the choice to do this of me – without contacting me at all.
This betrays the same obtusity. Glenn is a blogger. He operates in the public domain. Matt and Maddy named the critics, and Glenn took it from there. So what’s the problem?
Moreover, Glenn made things personal at the outset by accusing the critics of “ignorance,” “hostility,” “willful enmity,” etc.
He also said “That would require him [Hays] to stop swinging his Bible (assuming he has one) around on a chain while he beats his chest and actually read it. I can’t see that happening anytime soon.”
It’s hard to know what to make of Glenn: Bambi one moment–Tony Montana the next.
Here you accuse me of:
1) Being a liar (pretending to do one thing when I am knowingly doing another.
2) Being a liberal in spite of my ostensible conservatism and of my repeated defence of evangelical Christianity against liberalism.
3) Being self serving in the defense of another.
None of these accusations are true.
i) I accused him of ulterior motives in his ostensible defense of Craig. Ironically, in the very effort to refute the charge, Glenn corroborates the charge. Listen to some of what he said by way of response:
Every now and then I make a remark about the unfairness and crippling partisanship of some evangelicals and the way that it harms our collective effort to present the Christian message to the world.
This sums up just the kind of partisanship that has prevented so many evangelicals from being effective. The worst enemies are deemed to be those who agree on all things but differ on a jot or tittle, and these (namely, people like me) are the ones most worthy of public smearing.
The behaviour you have exhibited is exactly what is wrong with evangelical Christianity: The intention to persuade the world that our intellectual universe is intact when we cannot even get our moral compass and behaviour right in the way that we deal with each other.
Notice Glenn’s backdoor admission that his real agenda is to rectify what he deems to be wrong with evangelicalism. He seized on the Craig incident as an excuse to further his personal agenda.
ii) As for liberalism, Glenn denies the inerrancy of Scripture, and the doctrine of everlasting punishment–as well as the historicity of Adam. These are hallmark positions of the theological liberal. The fact that he can demotes these denials to the rank of “jots and tittles” shows you how far the downhill slide he’s already gone.
It’s nice to see that Glenn currently retains some residual conservatism from his former days as a Van Tilian theonomist, but the very fact that he’s drifted so far to the left doesn’t leave one sanguine about the stability of his present position.
iii) I’d add that (i) and (ii) may well be conjoined. To judge by his CV, Glenn has been unsuccessful in landing a job with an Evangelical institution. Is that because he’s too...uh...liberal?
If so, it’s not surprising that he has a very personal stake, indeed, a professional investment, in shifting the evangelical border stones to the left.
iv) I didn’t accuse him of being a “liar,” but the fact that he’s so quick to draw that inference is a bit self-incriminating, if you ask me.
After first of all defending his doing what I was complaining about, Steve now tried to back away from the claim that he had even made false claims about me. If this was his position, he could have said so right away.
What a silly misreading of what I said. He’s so blinded by his self-justification that he can’t even recognize the tendentious form of the statement.
I’m not backing away from my initial claims; rather, I reject his mischaracterization of my claims as false.
PS – Steve intially claimed that my three posts were deleted by the spam filter “automatically” and that I should stop being so “ignorant and paranoid.” However, he uses blogger. When I posted those comments, all of them made it through the spam filter and appeared on his blog. I checked each time by visiting the blog again. Then minutes later, they had disappeared after being visible on the blog for a short time. I have used blogger and I know others who use it now. I know that this is not how blogger’s spam filter works. If a comment is picked up by the filter as spam, it does not appear at the blog. It can later be moved tot he spam folder, but this requires manual action by an admin. I make no comment on why Steve made this claim about why my comment vanished three separate times. Make of it what you will.
i) To my knowledge, there’s nothing sinister or suspect about the phenomenon of comments briefly appearing, only to disappear into the spam filter. For example, that was happening to comments left by David Waltz at Beggars All.
It tells you something about Glenn’s fervid state of mind that he leaps to a conspiratorial interpretation. But then, Glenn nothing if not touchy or moody. Consider how quickly the abortive debate between Tom Talbott and him (over at the “Evangelical Universalist”) turned acrimonious.
ii) The further fact that some of his comments took, but others did not, ought to be an obvious cue that we’re dealing with a random mechanical quirk rather than a systematic effort to censure his objections.
iii) It’s also ironic that for someone who’s so hypersensitive about imagined slights to his honor, his first resort is to accuse his opponent of underhanded conduct when an alternative explanation (the spam filter) is readily available.
If Glenn took Jesus more seriously, and took himself less seriously, he wouldn’t be so easily agitated.