Friday, October 03, 2014

No honor among thieves

Critics of Westminster have made a big deal about how the board/administration (allegedly) mistreated Christ Fantuzzo and Doug Green. They insist that this isn't just an issue of hermeneutics, but ethics. How we treat people we disagree with. People come first. They accuse WTS of engaging in "political machinations" and the like. 

That's the rhetoric. In that regard, it's been revealing to see how the critics treat Bruce Waltke. Now, in general, you might think they'd view hin as a sympathetic figure. A fellow victim of the Reformed purges. He was pushed out of WTS, then pushed out of RTS, by the same faction that went after Enns, Green, and Fantuzzo. 

But it turns out that the critics have other priorities, and when crunch time comes, people are not the priority after all. It boils down to power politics.

You see, WTS is hosting a retirement party for Waltke. When the critics saw that, they saw an opening. They could accuse WTS of hypocrisy. Longman even has a full-blown conspiracy theory. He assures us that the retirement party is a decoy to throw people off the scent. 

However, for the critics to exploit this opportunity, they had to sacrifice Waltke. After all, since the party is in his honor, they can't attack the party without implicating Waltke. So Longman has indicated that Waltke is complicit in the diversionary tactic. He's an enabler of the wicked WTS regime.

The retirement party was just too tempting an opportunity for the critics to resist. So they treat Waltke like a pawn on their chessboard. To win, you must sometime sacrifice one of your own pieces to secure a positional or tactical advantage. And as the critics have now revealed, it's all about winning. Winning at any cost. 

To take advantage of this opening, they must do their best to discredit Waltke. It's striking to see how ruthless they are in pursuing their aims:

  • Pete Enns
    I hesitate to comment here, but for the record, BKW strongly and enthusiastically endorsed and backed I&I publicly and TO THE ADMINISTRATION when the book was released (6/05). He also spoke at my inauguration as full professor the following spring (3/06) and cited the book in his comments, and even at one point gently chiding WTS for not "taking the incarnation seriously enough" (i.e.,applying it to a doctrine of Scripture as I do in I&I). 
  • By June of that year he had made a 180 degree about face without offering an explanation to me, only calling me to insist his name be removed from all endorsements at Baker and counseling me to "recant" or he would take proper steps with the administration (I refused, obviously). To this day I can only speculate why he made this sudden change--though I understand the dynamic perfectly. The reason he has given me and others since has never succeeded in laying to rest my profound disappointment.
    Yesterday at 9:07am
    · Edited · 1

  • Tremper Longman
    Yes, Pete I have never understood it either though I have tried to get an explanation from him. It was a dramatic and unexplained shift.
    Yesterday at 11:05am

  • DebeDave Harris
    But maybe you could comment briefly on this, Dr. Enns?
  • "A theory that entails notions that holy Scripture contains flat out contradictions, ludicrous harmonization, earlier revelations that are misleading and/or less than truthful, and doctrines that are represented as based on historical fact, but in fact are based on fabricated history, in my judgment, is inconsistent with the doctrine that God inspired every word of holy Scripture."
  • -- B. Waltke
  • I'm not sure what you are alluding to when you say he called for you to "recant," but maybe you could hazard a guess? From my limited experience with Dr. Waltke, I gather he takes time to make up his mind about some things, but when he does, he is very firm.
    Yesterday at 11:07am

  • Tremper Longman
    I would say this that the point is that Bruce had made up his mind when he endorsed the book. I am assuming he did not do it mindlessly or without reading it or coming to a thoughtful conclusion. That is not Bruce's style. If that quote represents his mature reading of I and I he has unfortunately misunderstood it. He certainly misrepresents it.
    Yesterday at 11:13am
    · 1

  • Pete Enns
    I also responded in writing to Bruce's later views of the book.
    Yesterday at 11:56am

  • John Davis
    I would rather believe in Bruce Waltke's integrity that perhaps his initial public comments were based on a casual reading and confidence in a friend and colleague, whereas a careful reading led to his written comments.
    Yesterday at 12:10pm

  • Pete Enns
    I would have rather believed that, too.
    Yesterday at 12:35pm


  1. Good stuff, Steve. Question, though: I seem to recall Waltke's retirement from RTS happening on his own terms. I haven't the time right now to double-check this, but if memory serves, he'd done an interview with (I believe) BioLogos, who uncharitably edited it to make Waltke sound a lot more amenable to theistic evolution and a non-historical Adam than he really expressed (and certainly more than he actually is). I thought that Waltke was embarrassed to be put in that position and tendered his own resignation to RTS without being asked to do so--I believe the chancellor or president at the time (Frank James, perhaps?) said something to the effect that he tried to convince Waltke to stay and only accepted the resignation reluctantly.

    Am I misremembering that?

    1. I hadn't heard that. If true thanks for bringing it up!

    2. I seem to recall Michael Milton indicate that he initially thought they could patch things up, but after speaking with Waltke personally, it became clear that it was a bridge too far.