Thursday, October 16, 2014

Tremper's tirade

I don't know if it's really worthwhile for me to comment on Tremper Longman's tirade in response to Lillback's reply. Longman is planning a series of responses. This may be my only comment. But for now I'll offer an initial comment:
I am writing this time because I am thinking of posting the transcript (or part thereof) of a conversation that you had with Van Til about forty years ago. In one sense it is old news, but in another it shows a trajectory of thought of trying to undermine the Seminary in the eighties that I and others think lead to your actions today. 
Also, I should point out that if you use my friend Bruce Waltke for political reasons I will expand my efforts to expose you. Yes I am seeking to undermine the present Westminster. The difference between you and me is that I am transparent in my efforts and you and Carl and others work in secrecy and with misdirection.
Since you all have chosen not to respond to our public and private approaches to you, I will give you till Thursday to respond or I will assume that you accept my assessment of this situation and will proceed with my post.

i) I think Longman comes across as sophistical, egostical, and delusional. To a great extent, Longman is just a purveyor of gossip. 

ii) I don't think Longman is putting all his cards on the table. I expect he's so invested in this issue because he views the position of the current regime at WTS as a repudiation of the position he and Dillard took in the OT introduction they coauthored. So he may well view the current policy change as an tacit, implicit attack on his own views. That's why he takes it so personally. There's also the question of whether he thinks Enns is out of bounds. Although, from what I can tell, Longman is to the right of Enns, he teaches at Westmont and Fuller, so he may feel that even if he disagrees with Enns, the position taken by Enns falls within permissible diversity.

iii) He also acts like Waltke is a senile old fool who's being manipulated by others. Now, admittedly, Waltke's about 84, so perhaps he's losing his marbles. But is there any evidence that he is, in fact, becoming feebleminded? 

iv) Then he lays down an ultimatum, and pretends that if Lillback doesn't respond by his dictatorial deadline, that means Lillback agrees with Tremper's assessement of the situation. Pure sophistry! 

v) He spins an elaborate conspiracy theory out of his fervid imagination. The Van Til interview was part of a long-term plot. The Waltke retirement gig was a diversionary tactic. The ghost of S. Lewis Johnson is behind this hostile takeover. 

First, I cannot speak to all three instances where Dr. Lillback was passed over for a faculty position, but I can for the first two and they were nothing analogous to the Fantuzzo situation. He was interviewed and the faculty agreed he was not the right person to fill that position.
That's not self-explanatory. Does he mean the history dept. thought he was the right person to fill that position, but when it came to a full faculty vote, it went against him? For unless it got to that stage, I don't see that a member of the OT dept. would be involved in the deliberations of the history dept. But maybe I'm missing something.
Second, I knew Al Groves very well, having hired him and worked with him for over fifteen years (and considering him one of my very best friends), and let me just say he deeply loved Doug Green and he would be distraught over Doug Green’s situation. To invoke his name in this context is a travesty.
It's easy to speak on behalf of the dead, since they are in no position to take issue with the words you put in their mouth.
And as far as that goes, E. J. Young (as well as Oswald Allis, Robert Dick Wilson, and Alan MacRae) would be distraught over the OT introduction which Longman coauthored with Dillard. Not to mention that E. J. Young would be distraught over Peter Enns teaching there. So ventriloquizing for the dead is cuts both ways. 
And yes, Iain Duguid, is a respected former student of mine. He also knows that I am deeply disappointed that he accepted the position in the manner that it was offered to him.
As far as that goes, Duguid might be deeply disappointed with Longman's antics and tactics. 
And finally, I did not know Lillback had to hire a senior Old Testament professor to lead the department since they had a senior Old Testament professor, Doug Green, who had not yet been forced to retire.
Of course, that's disingenuous. That represents Longman's viewpoint, not Lillback's. 
But what is most egregious about Lillback’s statement is that it misrepresents the circumstances of Fantuzzo’s departure. For that reason, I asked Chris if he was willing to comment on the situation.
Which becomes a he said/she said situation.
I don’t recall the board’s vote, but I wasn’t passed over; I was appointed as a full-time faculty member, and the search was closed. The idea that once hired I was still competing for the position is absurd.
But in a previous letter, Fantuzzo indicates that he was simply given a 3-year contract:
The only difficulty I faced during the interview process came in a phone interview with Greg Beale, which I thought inappropriate because he wasn’t a Westminster faculty member. He mainly voiced objections to Longman and Dillard’s An Introduction to the Old Testament, expressing disagreement with their views on Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, authorship of Isaiah, and the composition and date of Daniel. We disagreed about his reading of Longman/Dillard, but nothing more came of it. Though ST Prof Lane Tipton told me that Beale recommended that the WTS faculty limit my contract to one year rather than three.
So it wasn't a permanent job. Rather, the seminary was free to renew or not renew his contract when it expired. That's how it looks to me. 
The truth is the OT department, the faculty, President Lillback, the administration, and the board all welcomed me, making it plain that I had safely secured the post and would be promoted once my dissertation was finished. That was not a promise put in writing, but I was told to expect advancement as I met the benchmarks published in the faculty manual.
Let's assume for the sake of argument that that's correct:
i) If so, I can understand why he'd feel that after receiving the red carpet treatment, the rug was pulled out from under him. 
ii) Why would the current regime change its mind about Fantuzzo? In his previous letter, he said a student was recording his lectures, which he interprets as surveillance. If, as a result, the current regime acquired more information about his views, that, might in turn, cause Lillback et al. to reconsider. Keep in mind, too, that during this period there was some change in the composition of the faculty (e.g. adding Beale) as well as the board. So the ground may indeed, have shifted. 
When competent administrations make decisions affecting the future of OT studies at a seminary—of all departments—do they leave the OT department out of the process? Wouldn’t responsible leadership give special consideration to the members of faculty with expertise in the field? So, why did the Lillback administration snub Doug Green and Mike Kelly?
If the current regime deemed the OT dept. to be the source of the problem, then you're not going to consult the very people you intend to replace. 
And why did they keep my other WTS colleagues in the dark? Is it because plans to eliminate Doug were already in the works?
That raises a logistical question. If the current regime planned to cashier the OT faculty, it would be quite maladroit to begin ousting OT profs. unless they had replacements lined up. But timing that is tricky. So it wouldn't surprise me of there were overlapping negotiations with overlapping timelines. It's like selling your house to finance the purchase of a new house. Unless you coordinate the closing dates, you will end up nowhere to live during the interim.
(5) If a fair and open competition were being held, why was Peter’s “presidential constitutional prerogative” required both to block my promotion and to appoint Iain Duguid?(6) And when Peter finally announced Iain’s “nomination” to faculty, why did Jeff insist that there would be no discussion of the matter? Don’t public and fair competitions welcome frank and open conversations?The truth is I wasn’t passed over: Peter Lillback treated my colleagues and me with contempt because I was being eliminated. His actions in my case were simply the next phase in what’s amounting to a ‘totalitarian purge’ of the WTS OT faculty.
Why must there be competing applicants for an open position? I could see a problem of Lillback appointed Duguid, and unilaterally imposed him on the roster. But what's the problem with Lillback nominating Duguid, subject to the approval of the full faculty and board? 
Keep in mind, too, that Duguid is clearly more qualified that Fantuzzo. He's a seasoned Reformed OT scholar who's published several commentaries or expository sermon series. He has extensive pastoral as well as teaching experience. 


  1. All of Longman's comments have been childish gossip.
    He needs to repent and he doesn't know what is going on anyway since he left.

  2. Didn't he write a commentary on Proverbs? Time for a re-reading perhaps!

  3. The more Longman III post on facebook, the more it doesn't help his cause in my opinion.

  4. Indeed. The man has come unhinged. His ultimatum is nothing short of bizarre. It's enough to be concerned over his mental health. Truly.

  5. Longman's rants read like postal fevered high-noon fantasies. He comes across as absolutely delusional. One can easily imagine the wild-eyed conspiracy theorist, punching away madly at his keyboard, adrenaline surging as spittle gathers at the corners of tightly pursed lips, jaws clenched, neck veins bulging.

    I feel sorry for him and his family. He's making an ass of himself in an exceedingly public way.

    Behold the bitter fruit of sinful pride.