Thursday, July 14, 2005

Debunking Some Common Myths from the Enloe Crowd

It's never certain just how some myths get started; but once they get started, they die hard. Below are some myths that seem to have become commonly accepted at Confusio Sanctorum and its offshoots.

Myth # 1: Enloe seems to be under the impression that I hired a hitman to go after him on his postmodern views. He writes:
Svendsen asked him to write this critique of my article about foundationalism on Communio Sanctorum, "The Instability and Unworkability of Foundationalism As An Evangelical Epistemology", because as Svendsen also informs us, I am guilty of trying to "undermine the legitimacy of a widely accepted exegetical method" because I am one of a nefarious class of people who "attack propositional truth" and who should be called "Postmoderns formerly known as Protestants."
Earlier he had written this:
I've been reading the article by Dr. McGrew which Svendsen had him write against my summary of Rodney Clapp's single article on foundationalism.
. . . and this:
Observer claimed that Svendsen got the Ph.D. after me because I claim to be an “expert” on these things I talk about.
. . . and this:
He has also called Kevin Johnson and I "dangers" to the Church, so it should be clear what Svendsen's motivations were in getting his friend Dr. McGrew to write the critique of me.
The fact of the matter is, I forwarded the link to Enloe's article to Dr. McGrew in the fifth email I sent in my correspondence with him, and strictly as a point of reference so that he could see the material with which I had planned to interact, and only after Dr. McGrew specifically asked about it. My original plan was simply to read Dr. McGrew's thoughts in his piece on foundationalism, and then to use that material in my response to Enloe. Dr. McGrew took it upon himself to respond to Enloe, for which I was (am) greatly appreciative, and so I happily posted that article after gaining his permission to do so (by the way, I have never said Enloe and Johnson are "dangers" to the church, at least not that I recall; he's confusing me with someone else).

Myth # 2: Enloe is under the mistaken notion that the other party is at fault for the communication barriers that exist between him and us. He writes:
Dr. McGrew seems, from this piece, like a decent sort of guy one could have a constructive conversation with.
Yes, indeed he is. But then again, everyone who has tried to dialogue with Tim in the past has been a "decent sort of guy one could have a constructive conversation with," but that hasn't stopped Enloe from complete breakdowns in his use of rhetoric with them. We have ALL extended this sort of tone to Tim in the past, and he has reciprocated with vitriol. I recall the time he showed up on the discussion forum, where he posted some emotion-charged cheap shots and then announced he was leaving and not coming back. As soon as I saw the post, I returned a post asking him not to leave and inquiring whether he would be willing to dialogue on these matters. I specifically told him I was not interested in winning an argument, only a brother. He agreed to dialogue and even thanked me for my kindness. Then, in the course of dialogue--which, from our end, was completely calm and extremely generous toward him--he completely broke down over (1) our insistence that he offer details in place of the vague generalities he was issuing (which details he still avoids and which generalities he still issues to this day), and (2) his inconsistency in insisting to the Presbyterians on the board that they have no basis for fellowship with the Baptists on board, when his own church is a member of a confederation that itself includes Baptists. When we asked why the Ps couldn't have fellowship with the Bs, his reason was, "well just look at the huge and irreconcilable differences in theology between the two." When we asked on what basis his own church has fellowship with Baptists, his answer was, "What I meant to say was that the Bs you Ps have fellowship with are radical sectarians, and it's impossible to get along with them." When the Ps on board suggested they have no difficulty getting along with us Bs, and that perhaps the problem was with Enloe himself, he responded, "But how could you get along with them; Why, just look at the huge and irreconcilable differences in theology between the two!" Enloe left that discussion in a huff, and issued his usual anathemas to us all upon his departure.

Myth # 3: Enloe is under the impression that my method of exegesis is in conflict with the method practiced by all other exegetes. He had a link to an article by Vern Poythress, and suggested that Poythress' method is different from mine. It's not. It is in fact identical. Enloe writes:
I was thinking about this earlier tonight, and it seemed to me that, to make a concrete example of it, there is a difference between (1) Svendsen writing a doctoral dissertation examining the semantic domains of Greek terms relative to Mary in the New Testament, which dissertation passes rigorous academic tests in a respected Evangelical divinity school, and (2) Svendsen going on after he gets his degree and using his dissertation to make all kinds of really serious polemical claims about other communities of Christians.
. . . and this:
For Mr. Hays’s information, I *have* read some Poythress, at least, and I *do* recognize the sophistication of his exegetical theory. In fact I applaud it and wish more Internet exegetes would exhibit such sophistication in their handling of Scripture. At least in controversy with us, guys like Svendsen and White certainly haven’t exhibited that kind of sophistication.
My dissertation--which Enloe has clearly not actually read even though I sent him a copy of it years ago--is not about "examining semantic domains of Greek terms." That's certainly part of it because that is a part of exegesis. But Enloe has characterized exegesis this way on a number of occasions, making it clear that Enloe just does not know what exegesis is or what it involves. He continues to mischaracterize it as some "mechanical" examination of the Greek text, in which I place the biblical text into the "Exegete-O-Matic," and out comes "pure exegesis." By mischaracterizing it this way, Enloe betrays his ignorance--and I mean woeful, utter ignorance--and disqualifies himself completely from even discussing these issues.

Myth # 4: Enloe thinks I don't work for a living. He writes:
These are the types of things he needs to deal with in some kind of substantial way rather than simply expecting the poor hoi polloi who do “worldly” things like work at Wal-Mart and sell coffee to just believe him because he has A Degree From A Big Name Evangelical Divinity School.
Enloe has raised this point before in his allusion to the story about Luther and the Cobbler. He thinks I'm a gnostic who "flees the material world at every opportunity," while he himself understands the relationship between the gospel and the world because he works at Wal-Mart and (in his mind) I'm in the ivory tower. Let me see if I can clear this up once and for all (though I don't hold high expectations for doing so since I've make this point before and it's fallen on deaf ears). I am a business owner. I have been a busines owner for nearly twenty years. Before that, I "house-painted" my way through college and seminary. No one understands the relationship of the gospel to the work-a-day world more than I do. The real difference between Enloe's work and mine is that, as an owner, mine carries more responsibility. I have to be everything to all people, and I have to do that for twelve hours each day. My education, my minstry, my writing, my teaching has always been intermingled with my work. There is no shame in woring at a place like Wal-Mart--and I would never demean that kind of position. But there's also no shame in doing that AND pursuing an education. And to suggest that I'm some sort of gnostic who is holed up in the ivory tower is nothing more than a figment of Enloe's wild imagination. No one who is "fleeing from the world" starts his own business in which he is forced more than ever to interact with the material world!