Women Bishops, N.T. Wright, and Douglas Wilson

I am thrilled to introduce Brad Littlejohn to Mere-O’s readers.  Brad is a D.Phil. candidate at Edinburgh, working with Oliver and Joan O’Donovan.  He’s one of the sharpest young theologians I have read.  I commend the below to you, not all of which I agree with but all of which is worth your time.  Read more from Brad at his blog The Sword and the Ploughshare-MLA

Two weeks ago, the Church of England was thrown into disarray by the House of Laity’s unexpected rejection of the measure introducing women bishops into the church.  The measure failed by the narrowest of margins, winning 64% of the votes when two-thirds were needed, after having already gained the overwhelming support of the House of Bishops (94%) and the House of Clergy (77%).  As with last month’s US Presidential election, the most surprising thing about the vote was how surprising it was.  The House of Laity’s failure to approve the measure was greeted not merely with disappointment, but with shock, incredulity, and even outrage.  Supporters of the measure had great difficulty grasping the fact that a significant number of their fellow citizens and churchgoers could actually be willing to stick with the status quo.  As with the US Presidential election, this incredulity was the more odd given that nothing was changing.  For an electorate to strike out in a bold new direction, embracing a political outsider or a revolutionary new measure, might well elicit surprise and incomprehension.  But for an electorate to decide that it was willing to keep living with what it had already been living with for some years, while perhaps disappointing to those ready for change, should hardly be seen as an inexplicable bolt from the blue.  This is particularly the case in the English church’s decision.  Given that for nearly 2,000 years, that church had never had women bishops, that many of its members have shown grave misgivings with the idea of women’s ordination since it first became a prominent issue 40 or so years ago, and that the English are still renowned for their reflexive conservatism, a bit of hesitation on the brink before taking the plunge ought to be perceived as the most natural thing in the world, however frustrating to activists.

Canterbury Cathedral: West Front, Nave and Cen...

Canterbury Cathedral: West Front, Nave and Central Tower. Seen from south. Image assembled from 4 photos. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That it was not so perceived betrays the collapse of British public discourse, as of American, into a fog of incomprehension; and as with the US elections, the result, far from prompting a call to self-examination and renewed engagement, has shown the losers at their worst, attacking the moral integrity of their opponents and threatening to resort to force.  The progressive agenda, in short, for all of its rhetoric of dialogue, democracy, charity, and concern for minorities, has shown that it is really just interested in getting its way, and is ready to resort to bullying if that’s what it takes.  Even David Cameron, the Tory, declared, “the Church needs to get on with it, as it were, and get with the programme” and that it needed a “sharp prod” from Parliament.  His comments were reserved, however, compared to that of many of his Parliamentary colleagues, who, suddenly aroused from their chronic apathy regarding the Established Church they are supposed to oversee, sought to outdo one another in their expressions of outrage and veiled threats.  MP Diana Johnson lamented “The Church of England now stands to be left behind by the society it seeks to serve and made to look outdated, irrelevant and frankly eccentric by this decision. It appears that a broad Church is being held to ransom by a few narrow minds.”  MP Eleanor Laing suggested proposed disestablishment—”Does he agree that when the decision-making body of the established Church deliberately sets itself against the general principles of the society that it represents, its position as the established Church must be called into question?” while MP Chris Bryant, on the contrary, proposed making aggressive use of Parliament’s legal authority over the Church—”we will have no truck with more concessions to the hard-liners who want to make women second-rate bishops. We need to speed this up. Would it not make sense to have a moratorium on the appointment of any more male bishops until there could also be women bishops—no nomination without feminisation?”  MP David Winnick offered one of the most apoplectic outbursts, declaring, “this opposition to women bishops bears comparison with the opposition 100 years ago to women having the right to vote and to sit in the House of Commons? It is an anti-women attitude—a feeling that women have no place in public life, in religion or in politics—that I find contemptible,” and MP Helen Goodman paradoxically blamed the vote on too many concessions to the dissenters (when the evidence suggests,  rather, that it was concern about the lack of concessions, not flat opposition to women bishops, that influenced most of the “No” votes).

Much of the criticism focused on the clear injustice of a decision-making process in which a majority view could be defeated by a minority, in which a two-thirds majority of all three houses was needed for a binding decision.  Of course, the irony that those whose creed is the empowerment of minorities were hell-bent on letting the majority impose its will went unnoticed, perhaps because it was nothing new.  Progressivism, by its zealous fidelity to progress, can champion the cause of minorities only in order to establish new majorities, after which the old majority, now a minority, may be safely trampled underfoot.  In the present case, this irony was rendered more than usually awkward by the fact that it was not the out-of-touch, hoity-toity bishops who had rejected the measure (they’d approved it almost unanimously), or even the straight-laced, narrow-minded clergy (who had passed it by a comfortable margin), but the average everyday folks in the pew, the ecclesiastical proletariat.  Progressives were forced to express their solidarity with the hierarchy, and their contempt for bigoted ordinary folks.  Again, however, this irony is in fact a regular feature of progressive politics, since ordinary folks are those most likely to have conservative instincts.

The overwhelming consensus, voiced only slightly more delicately by leading churchmen, was that the Church was stuck in a positively medieval attitude that was unthinkable in a 21st-century society, and that as a national church, it had a duty to modernize itself so as to mirror that wider society.

N.T. Wright offered a typically refreshing dismissal of all this nonsense in a brief essay for Fulcrum, quoting C.S. Lewis, which is always a good sign:

‘But that would be putting the clock back,’ gasps a feckless official in one of C. S. Lewis’s stories. ‘Have you no idea of progress, of development?’ ‘I have seen them both in an egg,’ replies the young hero. ‘We call it Going bad in Narnia.’

Lewis nails a lie at the heart of our culture. As long as we repeat it, we shall never understand our world, let alone the Church’s calling.”  He goes on, “‘Progress’ gave us modern medicine, liberal democracy, the internet. It also gave us the guillotine, the Gulag and the gas chambers.

He is equally peremptory in his dismissal of the rumblings of Erastianism in the House of Commons: “The Church that forgets to say ‘we must obey God rather than human authorities’ has forgotten what it means to be the Church.”  He decries the fickleness of the spirit of the Age, and reminds us that the New Testament writings “were notoriously on the wrong side of history. The Gospel was foolishness to the Greeks, said St Paul, and a scandal to Jews.”

Just when conservative evangelicals might be cheering, however, he turns and says that the problem with all this appeal to “progress” is that it dilutes the real argument for women bishops—the Bible.  He then offers a super-condensed version of his New Testament argument in favor of women’s ordination, one which rests considerable weight on the fact that the Resurrection was, contrary to all prejudices of that culture, first witnessed by women, on the clear empowerment of women in the New Testament, and on the ambiguity (as he contends) of 1 Timothy 2.  Such an exposition is sure to appeal to many and appall others.

One of the latter was Douglas Wilson, who, far from hailing Wright as at least a co-belligerent for his clear sense of priorities and his tribute to C.S. Lewis, sought to laugh him out of court instead.

Which brings me to the second part of this reflection—the admonition that conservatives not fall prey to the very same sort of arrogance and incomprehension that was on such dismal display amongst progressives during the past two weeks.  What was troubling about Wilson’s response was not so much that he disagreed with Wright’s exegesis (those couple short paragraphs on Fulcrum might not quite amount to “exegesis,” so Wilson also goes after Wright’s somewhat fuller argument here), but that he mocked the very notion of trying to muddy the issue with complex argument.  With a remarkably anti-intellectualist posture, Wilson suggests that to appeal to the need for careful scholarship is already to give in to the progressive agenda: “Having banished the Whig view of history out the front door, here we find it banging in an agitated manner at the back door, demanding entrance. What is the password that Wright demands before he lets the progressives skulk back in? You guessed it! Serious scholars disagree. . . . You see, serious scholars are the ones who graduate from Whig-accredited seminaries.”  He goes on to mock the idea that 1 Timothy 2:12 could possibly be in need of the kind of scholarly makeover Wright wants to offer.

Now, I should make clear before going any further that I do not find Wright’s arguments very convincing.  His points about the resurrection don’t really establish anything about ordination, as Wilson points out in another post, and could use a little dose of two-kingdoms doctrine, and the references to women diakonoi and apostoloi in the New Testament, which Wright makes much of, are really very little to go on.  I am no Greek philologist, so I cannot pronounce on Wright’s “translation ninja moves” on 1 Tim. 2:12, but I must say I am skeptical.  Rather stronger arguments for women’s ordination seem to me to lie in the direction of Reformational doctrines of the two kingdoms and adiaphora, though these still would have fairly high obstacles to clear in the way of Scriptural and natural law arguments (I hope to explore these in another post).  However, when a scholar of Wright’s stature, who has earned every right to the respect and appreciation of evangelicals, says that “It’s complicated,” I’m willing to hear him out.

Fact is that translation is a very tricky business, so that it’s almost never a good idea to rest one’s case too firmly on a single verse.  Sometimes, as in the case of 1 Tim. 2:12, a different rendering of a key word could alter the whole sense of the passage.  When traditional translations are challenged, the best response is not to clasp them ever more tightly to our chests, refusing to let go and barking at those fiendish “scholars” who assail us, but if we’re convinced of our reading, to patiently argue for it, or else to show that we have a broad enough biblical base for our overall view that we are not dependent on a single reading of a single verse.  Sometimes, admittedly, “serious scholars” put out a load of absolute tripe that does not deserve to be taken seriously, but again, “our list of allies grows thin,” as Elrond would say, if evangelicals want to start treating N.T. Wright that way.

Wilson seems to think that the reason Wright’s reinterpretation cannot be taken seriously is its motivation; Wright would only have been moved to these new readings of New Testament texts if first prompted by the zeitgeist of women’s liberation. But so what?  Can only problems internal to the text ever prompt us to re-examine it? No. The classic and cliched example here, though there are many others, is of course Copernicus and Galileo.  Scripture was once tenaciously invoked in favor of geocentrism, but then “serious scholars” recognized that Scripture could and should be read so that it did not require that view.  It is perfectly legitimate in principle for contemporary concerns about women to prompt us to ask new questions of the text, so long as we are still honestly seeking to supply our answers out of the text.

Wilson’s most troubling argument against Wright, which appeared in his third post on the subject, amounts to the claim that we should beware of permitting “reasonable disagreement” with other Christians, because it is a slippery slope:

Debates over issues like women’s ordination are not like solving an algebra problem. Before one side can prevail, they must first get their option on the table as a “reasonable option.” Step one is “consistent Christians differ on issue x.” Step two is the insistence on the new orthodoxy. When I laugh at the exegesis of 1 Tim. 2:12 offered up in journals like Serious Scholars Clown Car Review, I am not just indulging my own sense of humor. I am fighting the monstrosity at step one. I am anticipating the play that is being run on us. So should everybody else. This is not the first time this has happened, everybody. . . .

So when serious scholars tell you that pink is blue, and you pull thoughtfully on your chin, and ask, pensively, whether or not, at the end of the day, there might be other readings that allow for a different take on this — congratulations. You have already lost. And — not incidentally — your whole approach to life is the reason you lose so much.

Our first question when confronted with the claim that reasonable, consistent Christians differ on an issue, is to ask whether that is in fact true, not what might happen to us if we admit it.  If it is true, then we need to admit it, and be willing to engage in a reasonable discussion with them, rather than shying away from it out of fear that we’ll have the rug pulled out from under our feet.  If we’re actually so confident that our view can withstand all challenges, then why are we so afraid of even opening a discussion?  In this case, I think it is hard to deny that reasonable, consistent Christians can and do differ on the issue; this is not a concession that it’s all ambiguous and there is no right answer, only a recognition that that debate over that answer exists among brothers and sisters who all acknowledge the authority of Christ and his Word.

Another way of getting at this is to ask whether the issue in question is an adiaphoron, in the classic Reformation sense—an essential of the faith, or a mere question of outward order?  To say it is adiaphorous is not to say it doesn’t matter, or that the Bible has nothing to say on the subject, only that disagreement about it does not affect the essentials, and hence should be tolerated for the time being.  Of course, people will here pull out the slippery-slope argument that while not in itself essential, it is so clearly in Scripture that the authority of Scripture is at stake, and so it is essential.  But the problem is that that argument can be made on any issue whatsoever where we are convinced of our own reading of Scripture. The response to it is fairly simple—do one’s opponents happily acknowledge and submit themselves to the authority of Scripture as well? There are plenty of times nowadays when they do not.  But in the case of Wright and other evangelical advocates of women’s ordination, they do.  If we’re going to claim that this is all just part of a ploy to subvert the Gospel, we will soon find ourselves isolated indeed.

In the end, Wilson suffers from the same problem as the blustering politicians in the House of Commons—he cannot fathom that a rational and morally upright person could hold contrary views on this subject.  This disease of incomprehension afflicts many conservatives in the Church as much as it does their progressive counterparts.  ”The Bible says, and the Bible is clear, darn it, so get with the program,” seems the basic posture.  But this is not going to get us very far.  What we need instead is to cultivate the habit of “intellectual empathy” that Matthew Anderson describes in a recent post here at Mere Orthodoxy:

[Intellectual empathy is] the decision to enter into a person’s way of the seeing the world and look along with them.  It is, in a sense, an imaginative exercise that goes beyond the “willing suspension of disbelief” toward the granting of principles and premises that we may very well like to reject in order to see how the whole framework holds together—if the whole framework holds together.  Intellectual empathy is a form of seeing how.  As in, “Oh, I see how you could think that.  It’s wrong, but I can see how it might make sense.”  It is an act that is aimed, first and foremost, toward the good of understanding, a good that persuasion may flow from but can never precede.

Like all virtues, intellectual empathy needs some sharp edges to be of much use.  For just as ‘compassion’ can become a sort of loose affection disconnected from a normative order of goods, so too the intellectual good of empathizing and understanding can be disconnected from pursuit of both people’s good of discovering and affirming what is true.  Still, when the gap between outlooks is so wide, it is easy to skip the empathizing and move straight into the work of objecting and persuading.

But lest there be any confusion, let me reiterate that I am not suggesting we should give up our first principles or revise them in our imaginative exercising.  If anything, the opposite.  It is precisely because of our confidence that we are able to enter in to how others see the world, with the freedom to explore along with them and see what they see.

email
  • Christopher Benson

    Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, theologian Sarah Coakley,
    and philosopher John Milbank all “happily acknowledge and submit
    themselves to the authority of Scripture,” so I hope conservative
    Evangelicals will also hear them out:

    Rowan Williams: “A priestly people: Women bishops and the unity of the Church”
    http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2012/10/23/3616348.htm

    Sarah Coakley: “God and gender: How theology can find a way through the impasse”

    http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2012/03/08/3448940.htm

    Sarah Coakley: “Has the Church of England finally lost its reason? Women bishops and the collapse of Anglican theology”

    http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2012/11/23/3639111.htm

    John Milbank: “Unrepresentative laity: The women bishops debacle demonstrates why bishops need more authority” http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2012/11/23/3639113.htm

  • http://alastairadversaria.wordpress.com/ Alastair Roberts

    Great stuff, Brad. Thanks for this thoughtful piece!

  • Kip’ Chelashaw

    Annoying and disappointing.

    K

    • http://www.mereorthodoxy.com/ Matthew Lee Anderson

      This comment, however, is neither.

  • Phillip Ross

    The social bookmark on this page covers the first three letters on the left margin, making the page unreadable.

    • http://www.mereorthodoxy.com/ Matthew Lee Anderson

      Phillip, sorry about that. What browser are you on?


      Matthew Anderson
      Sent with Sparrow (http://www.sparrowmailapp.com/?sig)

  • Ann Lowrey Forster

    Great Stuff, Brad. The intellectual empathy ‘stuff’ will continue to be an important issue – as it likely always has been. Lack of it makes both sides seem stuffy and not only lacking empathy, but unsympathetic.

  • http://www.facebook.com/david.nilsen David Nilsen

    The issue, it seems to me, is not whether Wright is a “reasonable, consistent Christian”, but whether he is an otherwise reasonable, consistent Christian making an uncharacteristically bad argument. Wilson, for his part, has said repeatedly that he appreciates Wright’s scholarship and has often recommended his writings. But on this one issue, an argument about the meaning of a Greek word, Wright is putting forth a very poor argument that, in Wilson’s estimation, is not worthy of serious head-nodding and long affirmations of how reasonable a scholar Wright is. Wilson is considering an argument, not a man, and his biting satire and easy dismissal is of an argument, not a man.

    In that sense there is no comparison between Wilson’s posts and the shouting match going on in the UK. Wilson is not telling us how silly and unscholarly N.T. Wright is, nor admonishing us to stop taking anything he says seriously. He is saying “this one argument, right here, is a silly and unscholarly argument, and we are under no obligation to take any particular argument seriously just because it is put forward by a serious and scholarly person.” Moreover, as Wilson just pointed out on his blog today, Wright himself doesn’t seem to take his novel argument too seriously, and prefaced his translation of Timothy with a lot of “throat-clearing” and bet-hedging. That’s not a promising start, and it really does suggest that Wright knows he is going way out on an unstable limb here, and he is doing so not because the text requires him to.

    In the end, the main criticism I have of your response is that you generalized way too much. Is it wrong to take a Biblical text about the sun rising at face value if mathematics and observation tells us beyond any reasonable doubt that the earth is in fact moving around the sun? Of course. Is the ordination of women bishops a similar case? Maybe, but not nearly so cut-and-dry. Is this one argument about the translation of one Greek word in one verse a similar case? No. So ultimately references to Galileo are totally unhelpful here, in my opinion.

    I don’t disagree that Wilson seems to get too much joy out of sarcasm and verbal backhands, and that this can sometimes be unhelpful. But he’s not too far off the mark here.

    • Brad Littlejohn

      David,
      Thanks for the feedback. I hear what you’re saying, but I think you’re missing one of the points I’m trying to make. By all means, we can respect a scholar generally and yet reach the conclusion that on a particular point, he’s gone completely off the rails. However, respecting someone means reaching that conclusion slowly, not as a knee-jerk reaction. I would say that if someone has earned a title to our respect (as I would contend Wright has), then we owe it to them, even when they say something we find silly or shocking at first glance, to hear them out carefully and try to see the issue from their perspective before critiquing, rather than dismissing them out of hand (and dismissing, along with them, the concept of “serious scholarship”). Both we, they, and anyone listening in will be the better for it. The conclusion may be the same, but how we reach it makes a world of difference. As far as Wright’s “throat-clearing,” as I said over on Wilson’s blog, I think this is a misreading of him, and he really is confident that he’s faithfully expounding the text of Scripture.

      As far as over-generalizing, my generalization was in response to, and in critique of, Wilson’s. Rather than confining himself to a criticism of Wright on this particular issue, Wilson used it as an opportunity to tar the whole idea of “serious scholarship,” and on the idea that problems external to Scripture could ever legitimately lead us to re-examine the text of Scripture. My point is that sometimes contemporary realizations will legitimately force us to go back and re-examine what we thought Scripture taught (slavery in the 19th-century is a good example), and “serious scholarship” will be an essential part of that task. So, by all means critique particular bad fruits of scholarship, but don’t chuck the whole barrel of fruit overboard, good and bad alike. Of course, I think Wilson would agree with this in principle, but his rhetoric in these posts unhelpfully obscured the point.

  • http://www.facebook.com/david.nilsen David Nilsen

    Lest I seem to be unfairly withholding intellectual empathy from you, I do appreciate your comments and think it a good idea for someone on the side of the “allies” to hold Pastor Wilson’s feet to the friendly fire. ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/erin.zoutendam Erin Risch Zoutendam

    I originally intended to leave comment of thinly veiled peevishness, because I felt the author of this post was misrepresenting the Anglican response to this vote–after all, many serious Anglican clerics and writers have likewise been rejecting the “get with the program” comments that emerged immediately after the vote. These writers have, in the days since, clarified that Anglicans are perplexed and upset not by the lack of feminist progressivism, but by the apparent hypocrisy of allowing women to serve as priests but not as bishops. (On that note, I believe Archbishop Rowan has been much misrepresented, for when he said that Anglicans had been “willfully blind” to the trends of “a wider society,” he was speaking of their inability to render intelligible their motives to those on the outside. He followed that remark by saying that church’s credibility does not depend on the “good will” of the wider society, but that it was still a fact that the church had lost much of its credibility.)

    But that was before I read the second half of the post. I don’t know if I’ve ever been so swept away by the generous charity of a writer with whom I absolutely disagree. Thank you, thank you not for preaching intellectual empathy, but for demonstrating it sincerely and truly. You defended Anglicans–despite disagreeing with them–against hateful pens and ungenerous hearts, and that is no small task when the internet gives them so much scope and range.

    • Brad Littlejohn

      Thank you, Erin, for the encouraging remarks.
      I freely grant that there have been plenty of voices in Anglican leadership offering a much more balanced and mature response to the vote, and that indeed, the biggest complaint is the inconsistency of having women priests but not women bishops (although I think that inconsistency does make sense as a temporary compromise). I did not mean to imply that the response I was critiquing (primarily voiced by politicians) was the main response among clerics. I even agree with you that Rowan Williams’s comments were misrepresented, and defended just those statements to some friends recently. Of course, why then did I link to his comments as an example of the “get on with the program” attitude? I plead guilty of laziness, since I had that link ready to hand. That said, I believe there have been prominent clerics guilty of voicing this attitude, so it was not a straw man.

  • William.David.Troughton

    In Christchurch, New Zealand we have a woman bishop in the Anglican Church and she has provided great leadership in a difficult time, really tough.. Whenever she preaches there is the freshness of someone who spends time in the presence of our Lord, it is Biblically based, and she seeks to glorify our Lord and to bring people to trust and follow Him. She encourages and urges her clergy and lay people to do the same. Her home was severely damaged in the earthquakes and she has lived in her adapted garage for twenty months, identifying with those in the city who are in the same situation. She has been criticised by those who want the cathedral to be rebuilt as an icon and tourist attraction because she and the chapter are obeying the instructions of the earthquake authority, and instead are building a temporary cathedral and also working on the provision of worship centres throughout the city – as I think it it about 28 or so Anglican churches have been destroyed of are unusable. She had a clear experience of being called to the ministry as a 15 year old girl, at a time when women were not yet being accepted for the ministry, and through some difficult life experiences she has learned to live daily in dependence on God’s grace in a very practical way – and it shows. She lives in dependence on the Holy Spirit.

  • http://twitter.com/TheBraveLass Kamilla Ludwig

    Wright can have his one word in one passage. It won’t change anything, really. There is still the dominical practice to answer. There is still nearly two millennia of church history to answer.

    And there is still the prior question of the anthropology lying behind all the iconography in Holy Scripture. Because the nature of the incarnation necessarily means anthropology infects christology, the case must be made from anthropology before we begin exegeting particular words and verses. That case is logically and theologically prior to the exegetical one.

    The weight of all that, and more, crushes the case Wright and the rest of the feminists try to make — whether I Timothy 2:12 or Galatians 3:28 are their cornerstone.

  • http://twitter.com/TheBraveLass Kamilla Ludwig

    Wright can have his one word in one passage. It won’t change anything, really. There is still the dominical practice to answer. There is still nearly two millennia of church history to answer.

    And there is still the prior question of the anthropology lying behind all the iconography in Holy Scripture. Because the nature of the incarnation necessarily means anthropology infects christology, the case must be made from anthropology before we begin exegeting particular words and verses. That case is logically and theologically prior to the exegetical one.

    The weight of all that, and more, crushes the case Wright and the rest of the feminists try to make — whether I Timothy 2:12 or Galatians 3:28 are their cornerstone.

  • Pingback: Things to Click

  • http://twitter.com/matthew_loftus Matthew Loftus

    The problem with folks who don’t have intellectual empathy (Wilson is one of the most prominent examples, but there are plenty of others) is not so much that they’re brash, critical, uncharitable, obnoxious, and directly contradict the teachings of Jesus & Paul (while attempting to claim that they emulate various Bible heroes.) The problem is that most mature Christians realize that they need to grow out of that phase somewhere around junior year of college.

    • Eric Rasmusen

      What is one to do when addressing someone who makes specious, sophistical arguments intended to deceive? I think ridicule is an excellent response, probably better than tearing into the sophist’s lack of character directly. Since this is the meta-question being discussed here, first grant Wilson the premise that Wright is acting the part of a sophist and tell us how you think a sophist should be answered.

      Remember that Doug Wilson is a pastor. He is used to hearing adulterers, drunks, and thieves rationalize their behavior using complicated arguments, and he knows that its pointless to address their rationalizations instead of blowing the smoke away and going right for their hearts.

      Then, the second step is address the question of whether Wright is being a sophist. And finally the third step is addressing the substantive question at issue.

      • http://twitter.com/matthew_loftus Matthew Loftus

        I am all for ridiculing the ridiculous, but when someone takes the time to develop a thoughtful argument from history/tradition/experience, calling them a “sophist” and writing their perspective off is bad manners and bad technique. Even Wright, in his article (didja read it?) dances on this line quite brilliantly with the Lewis quote and the line about the mountain goat.

        You are comparing apples to oranges in your second paragraph. Listening to an adulterer justify his behavior (especially one that you are charged with spiritually shepherding) is not the same as engaging with another theologian or pastor. You can blow away smoke easily in a private conversation. You start to look like the Big Bad Wolf all huffing and puffing when you do it on your blog.

  • Pingback: Taming the Shrewd? On Polemical Rights and Rhetorical Wrongs | The Calvinist International

  • Pingback: Taming the Shrewd? On Polemical Rights and Rhetorical Wrongs ‹ The Calvinist International