Sunday, June 30, 2019

Accuser of the brethren

I don't know if this is worth commenting on:

He's raising repetitious objections, which invite repetitious responses. I prefer to avoid that, but since his article is getting some buzz, I'll take a shot: 

1. French's attack is reminiscent of Quislings who denounce and disown their fellow citizens to make themselves look good in the eyes of the Establishment.

2. Does he wish to create a society in which we substitute unsubstantiated "claims" of wrongdoing for corroborated allegations? In fairness, given Trump's admitted history of voyeurism and sexual harassment, that erodes the presumption of innocence–not legally but epistemically. Yet even so, we must resist the lynch mob mentality that someone should be ruined by uncorroborated allegations. 

3. It's unclear what French is trying to accomplish. Is his aim to convince folks who don't already agree with him? If that's the goal, his methods are counterproductive. He appeals to his own standards and priorities, as if that's a given. But if he wants to be persuasive, he needs to argue for his standards and priorities.

4.  He doesn't specify what he means by "their previous commitment to political character". Is that a historical allusion to the Lewinsky scandal? If so:

i) Many evangelical Trump voters were children or not even born when that scandal broke, so it's not as if they abandoned their previous commitment to political character. 

ii) Before Bill Clinton there was Jimmy Carter. But many evangelicals voted for Reagan because political character is not enough. 

iii) At best, French's indictment only applies to the subset of evangelicals who at the time of the Lewinsky scandal made a big deal about political character. 

iv) Moreover, there's nothing necessary wrong with adjusting your position when you find yourself in a different situation. For instance, French is an ex-Marine. He understands that the rules in wartime are different from the rules in peacetime. A crisis may justify actions that wouldn't be called for otherwise. 

5. "Fear-based decisionmaking"? Once again, French is an ex-Marine. Is it fear-based decisionmaking to have a professional military class? Is that fear–or rational, moral prudence? 

6. French acts like it's dishonorable for Christians to protect their dependents. But that's a Christian duty (e.g. Mt 15:4-6; 1 Tim 5:8). 

7. In addition, this isn't limited to protecting Christians from harm. Consider the harm done to innocent children of unbelievers by the secular progressive onslaught. Consider the harm done to the elderly and developmentally disabled by the euthanasia ethic. 

8. His standard of comparison is Sunday School theology. That's literally childish, as if our theology should remain at the intellectual level of a 7-year-old. 

In context, the verse he quotes (1 John 4:18) has reference, not to fear in general, but fear of divine judgment. So it has no bearing on the issue at hand. He quotes the verse out of context because he's still thinking at the juvenile level of Sunday School indoctrination. 

9. When he appeals to religious witness, who does he suppose holds the yardstick to measure our witness? Do unbelievers hold the yardstick? Must our witness measure up to their notions of what Christianity ought to represent? Does their opinion dictate what Christianity is allowed to be like? If, on the other hand, the approval or disapproval of unbelievers is not the standard of comparison, then French's appeal is confused and beside the point. 

10. Moreover, his charge is circular. There's an element of copycat syndrome and self-fulfilling prophecy when pundits like French write a script that unbelievers recite. How many unbelievers attack evangelical Trump voter as hypocrites because pundits like French and Russell Moore are feeding them their lines.  

11. It's the duty of gov't to uphold justice and punish wrongdoing. That's straight out of Rom 13. So it's hardly "repulsive" for Christian citizens to demand that gov't carry out its proper mandate. Is it "repulsive" that French is a litigator? He talks out of both sides of his mouth. 

12. "Of all the groups in American life who believe they have the least to fear from American politics, Christians should top the list."

Really? Christian Americans, c. 2019, have less to "fear" from gov't than LGBT mascots of the secular progressive establishment? 

13. French has become a smear-merchant. An accuser of the brethren. It would be one thing if his attacks were more targeted (e.g. Paula White, Falwell Jr., Jeffress, Franklin Graham), but he's become a man who slanders Christians to cheering infidels in the Colosseum. He unites absolute moral certitude with slipshod justifications. That's a bad combination. 

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