Saturday, April 03, 2010

Polemic Theology: How to Deal with Those Who Differ from Us

Here's an interesting article from Roger Nicole: Polemic Theology: How to Deal with Those Who Differ from Us.

What Do I Owe to the Person Who Differs From Me?

What Can I Learn from Those Who Differ From Me?

How Can I Cope with Those Who Differ from Me?

Food for thought. Here's an interesting snippet:

How then do we desire to be treated? First, we want people to know what we are saying or meaning. If we are going to voice differences, therefore, we have an obligation to make a serious effort to understand the person with whom we differ. That person may have published books or articles. Then we should be acquainted with those writings. It is not appropriate for us to voice sharp differences if we have neglected to read what is available. The person with whom we differ should have evidence that we have read carefully what has been written and that we have attempted to understand its meaning. In the case of an oral exchange where we don't have any written words, we owe the person who differs from us the courtesy to listen carefully to what he or she says. Rather than preparing to pounce on that person the moment he or she stops talking, we should concentrate on apprehending precisely what his or her position is.

In this respect, Dr. Cornelius Van Til has given us a splendid example. As you may know, he expressed very strong objections to the theology of Karl Barth. This was so strong that Barth claimed that Van Til simply did not understand him. It has been my privilege to be at Dr. Van Til's office and to see with my own eyes the bulky tomes of Barth's, Kirchliche Dogmatik (incidentally, these volumes were the original German text, not an English translation). As I leafed through them I did not see one page that was not constellated with underlining, double-underlining, marginal annotations, exclamation points, and question marks galore. So here is someone who certainly did not say, "I know Karl Barth well; I understand his stance; I don't need to read any more of this; I can move on with what I have." Each of the volumes, including the most recent, gave evidence of very, very careful scrutiny. So when we take issue with somebody, we need to do the job that is necessary to know that person so that we are not voicing our criticism in the absence of knowledge but that we are proceeding from the vantage point of real acquaintance.

36 comments:

Lvka said...

How to Deal with Those Who Differ from Us?


If I were one of the Triabloguers, my answer to you will be: bash them and trash them and mock their S till kingdom come... and back! (Hey, after all, even Elijah did it, so why can't we!?)

But since I'm not: Christ is risen!
Have a blessed Easter! Happy Holidays!

James Swan said...

If I were one of the Triabloguers, my answer to you will be: bash them and trash them and mock their S till kingdom come... and back!

Sorry, I read the same blog, and this isn't the case.

Lvka said...

St. Paul said "if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness" (Gal. 6:1): but for some reason, their Calvinist Bibles read: if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are bullies, belittle such an one in the spirit of mockery... or something to that extent...

James Swan said...

St. Paul said "if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness" (Gal. 6:1): but for some reason, their Calvinist Bibles read: if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are bullies, belittle such an one in the spirit of mockery... or something to that extent...

Are you not doing exactly what you say shouldn't be done?

Lvka said...

No.

Lvka said...

There is nothing victimizing in being seen as a bully, because a bully is the opposite of a victim.

There is nothing mocking in being seen as a mockerer, because the mockerer is the opposite of the one being mocked.

There is nothing belittling in being seen as a belittler, because the belittler is the opposite of the one being belittled.

James Swan said...

"their Calvinist Bibles read"

That's mocking and offensive to Calvinists, and you're also mocking the T-blog people in return. I suggest being more careful when voicing your concerns so as to not contradict yourself.

Lvka said...

That's mocking and offensive to Calvinists


That's only half-right: they're self-described Calvinists or Reformed, and as such it's alone their fault that they make a bad name for their religion by their uncharitable behaviour towards all other non-Calvinist commenters (i.e., I'm not the only one complaining about this, not even by far). -- though I gladly agree with You that, thank Heavens, they do NOT constitute a representative majority for Calvinism from this POV. (Lots of Reformed blogs out there, but no-one berhaving like they do).

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Lvka,

The second most prolific poster at Triablogue isn't even a Calvinist, and he generally approaches conversation in an irenic and patient fashion. You should know better.

Then again, aren't you the same Lvka that was banned (see here and here)over at Triablogue months ago, yet continues to regularly violate that ban (see the comments section here for an example from February 28 of this year)?

By the way, for someone who wants people to act with "meekness," you certainly approached discussion at Triablogue with an entitlement attitude:

Your other behavior wasn't exactly stellar either:

http://triablogue.blogspot.com/search?q=lvka

Rhology said...

You haven't exactly been the meekest of mice at my blog either, Lucian/Lvka.

Lvka said...

Mat and Rho,

I don't understand.



Mat,

1). to be more specific: see here.

2). I've been banned from a few other blogs also (it seems me and the guy from my avatar have this little thing in common)... that's not the problem... *the problem* is that the owners of those others blogs from which I was banned didn't treat me like a piece of $h!# (long before banning me), nor did they make it a habbit of "serial-banning" people, as the Triabloguers have done: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, etc.


Rho,

yet for some reason you didn't treat me like a piece of $h!#... no matter how great our disagreements, and/or how much I've stressed you out in our kilometric conversations...


So, as far as I'm concerned, yeah, the Triabloguers have a problem...

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Lvka,

What don't you understand? You have failed to address the fact that Triablogue is not populated only by Calvinists and not everyone there engages in the kind of behavior you find objectionable. Are you going to correct your misrepresentation or not?

2). I've been banned from a few other blogs also (it seems me and the guy from my avatar have this little thing in common)... that's not the problem...

You don't think there's a problem with, on the one hand, calling Triablogue to a higher standard of dialogue, and, on the other, acting dishonestly by repeatedly violating your ban at Triablogue, acting entitled, etc. among other behaviors that contradict your standard of "meekness", without any indication of remorse? It seems your actions fit the definition of hypocrisy. This suggests you don't really care about "meekness," but are merely using "meekness" to attack Triablogue because they wounded your ego or some such thing.

*the problem* is that the owners of those others blogs from which I was banned didn't treat me like a piece of $h!# (long before banning me)

They were patient with you for a long time considering your behavior, behavior for which you seem to take no responsibility.

And instead of engaging their stated reasons for their approach to apologetics, you just assume they are wrong and go from there. Instead of using Beggars All material to simply whine about Triablogue, why don't you engage their position on the matter? Tell us why, theologically, practically, etc. their approach should be corrected.

nor did they make it a habbit of "serial-banning" people, as the Triabloguers have done:

How disingenuous. How many people regularly post at Triablogue? How many hits does it receive? Do you have evidence that these people were unjustly banned? You need to do a lot more than just cite a few instances of banning in order to demonstrate "serial-banning," and all of the negative implications associated with such a term.

Lvka said...

Mat,

I'm not talking about "violating bans" and other fine-tasted ways of "rebelion"... what I'm talking about is this: repeatedly calling people names, from the get-go, not after "being patient with someone for a LONG time", as you've put it: everybody who differs from them is called *constantly* and *systematically* mindless `apparatchik`, as well as other despicable ad-hominem labels that are directed against him personally, as well as his religion: neither myself, nor other blog-owners I've come accross with, all from the most diverse ideological backgrounds, have ever made recourse to such reprehensible abhorrent tactics as some of the Triabloguers, most especially Steven Hays and Jason Engwer (and to a certain extent Paul Manata) -- so that I may not be accused of blaming ALL Triabloguers.

Lvka said...

How many people regularly post at Triablogue? How many hits does it receive?


There are at least two atheist blogs I frequent, both of them very popular, yet no-one was ever banned or called names there.

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Lvka writes:

I'm not talking about "violating bans" and other fine-tasted ways of "rebelion"...

Who said you were? I raised the issue. It's relevant to your motivations and whether we should take your comments here as sincere or hypocritical. Given your latest response, I suppose it would be the latter.

most especially Steven Hays and Jason Engwer (and to a certain extent Paul Manata) -- so that I may not be accused of blaming ALL Triabloguers.

Is Engwer a Calvinist? No. Does he engage in the kind of behavior you dislike? No.

That leaves Hays and, to " a certain extent," Manata. Now that we've dispensed with the broad brush, please engage Hays' and Manata's stated defenses for their behavior.

There are at least two atheist blogs I frequent, both of them very popular, yet no-one was ever banned

Do you honestly think this somehow demonstrates that Triablogue is engaged in "serial-banning"?

Pilgrimsarbour said...

I am not a member of the Triablogue team and have no real vested interest in its policies as they pertain to whom they let comment on their site. I am no one in particular, though I am a regular observer, if not a regular commenter.

However, I did want to affirm that it is, as always, their right and their decision to let comment whomever they wish, just as it is for James here at Beggars All, or me at my site.

That being said, I thought it would be interesting (at least to me) to take on Lvka's challenge and check out the links he provided as examples of why people should not have been banned from Triablogue, and to see if there is anything unreasonable (in my view) in their decisions. They correspond to his links as follows:

1) Boris' boorish comments over a period of time got him banned. Boris had created multipile screen names to get past the ban. A fundamentally dishonest person.

2) David's boorish comments over a period of time got him banned. David had created multiple screen names to avoid being banned. A fundamentally dishonest person.

3) Beowulf2k8 was banned for consistent irresponsible subjective statements about Reformed theology, of which he appears to be woefully ignorant. Here is a sample of his writing from Don Sands (bold emphasis mine):

I was banned on Triablogue merely because they can't accept any dissent over there, much like the Democrat party. What I was trying to say here is that most Arminians do not have the spine to stand up to Calvinism even though they know that Calvinism is a tyrannical system that attacks Christians who believe in free-will rather than it and would rather make them atheists then allow them to continue in the joy of their salvation.

And this:

Its essential attitude is "how dare they believe in free-will and human freedom! We will crush their spirit by constantly telling them that God is the author of evil by a decree to make all men sin, until we finally make them hate Christ and become atheists!"

I would not long stand for such asinine mischaracterisations and downright lies. There is nothing whatsoever edifyiing in what he writes.

4) The banning of David is repeated here again. Why, I have no idea, unless it can be demonstrated that it is a different David altogether. I'll withhold judgement until someone can confirm this one way or the other.

5) James was cited as being a troll who regularly insulted the people who "run the blog." That is an excellent way to get yourself banned. If you came on my site and insulted me regularly, I'd only allow so much posting. Continuous insulting, without a change in behaviour and apology, is a perfectly acceptable reason for banning, and is, in my view, a symptom of a much deeper spiritual problem.

6) Seraphim was banned for multiple postings of the same material over and over and over again. Continuous unsupported assertions without any attending argumentation may indeed get you banned. A non-responsive commenter is a drain on the morale in any thread.

There's no doubt, from my perspective, that things can get a little rough over at Triablogue. I am constantly amazed, however, that those who try to push the Triablogue owners' envelope in matters of courtesy, charitableness and logic, are quite suddenly shocked to find a push back. The trolls and other dishonest folks that comment there are often quick to find the speck in the Triablogue eye while completely missing the log in their own. And this is true, to varying degrees, at many of the blogs.

Lvka said...

Pilgrim's Arbour,

don't you find it rather odd how other popular sites don't seem to have the same problem?

Those "trolls", as you call them, or myself, when did you find any of us constantly calling the Triabloguers names? (apparatchiks, KKK-members, racists, blind, etc.?)

The only other blogger that I personally know of who follows the same rule of conduct as the Triabloguers do is the (atheist) Barefoot Bum, who constantly calls people who are against his views on abortion "f***tards", as well as other 'well-meaning' epithets.

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Lvka writes:

don't you find it rather odd how other popular sites don't seem to have the same problem?

You have to demonstrate that Hays' and Manata's defenses of their behavior fail in some respect before you're allowed to call it a "problem."

By the way, where did you demonstrate that "other popular sites" don't have this "problem"? And what made them the standard of conduct?

The only other blogger that I personally know of who follows the same rule of conduct as the Triabloguers

You should mean the same (perceived) conduct as Hays, and, to "a certain extent," Manata. You keep painting with a broad brush.

is the (atheist) Barefoot Bum, who constantly calls people who are against his views on abortion "f***tards", as well as other 'well-meaning' epithets.

Where has anyone on Triablogue ever called anyone "----tards" or anything nearly equivalent?

Lvka said...

Where has anyone on Triablogue ever called anyone "----tards" or anything nearly equivalent?


Mat,

if I were to constantly call you a mindless Protestant apparatchik who thoughtlessly regurgitates spoon-fed dogma, ... how would that make You feel? :-\ Or to systematically repeat to you that you've intentionally blinded yourself by pulling your hat over your eyes, ... what would that be like to you? :-\


You keep painting with a broad brush.

I've linked you to two articles in which my religion and my character are being trashed in the most ugly manner possible to man.

Turretinfan said...

"There are at least two atheist blogs I frequent, both of them very popular, yet no-one was ever banned or called names there."

That Reformed blogs have higher standards of behaviour than atheist blogs shouldn't be surprising.

"I've linked you to two articles in which my religion and my character are being trashed in the most ugly manner possible to man."

Whether or not that is true (and "most ugly manner possible" seems to be hyperbolic language), you gave those guys plenty of ammo with your behaviour.

- TurretinFan

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Lvka,

I challenge you to read my post here regarding the most vicious, ugly statements I have ever read online anywhere directed toward Calvinists, particularly those on Triablogue, by supposed Christian "brothers." As I said there, I have never been quite incensed as I was when I read what some Arminians really think of Calvinists, and to what ends they will go to crush our spirits. They speak of the "God of Calvinism" as an evil dictator and tyrant on the level of Adolf Hitler. In addition, the "God of Calvinism" is the ultimate racist, and His Calvinist followers are to be likened to KKK thugs. There is nothing equivalent to it aimed towards Arminians anywhere on Triablogue. Nothing.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"Polemic Theology: How to Deal with Those Who Differ from Us"

Lucifer differed with God.

How did God deal with Lucifer's difference with God?

Darlene said...

Mr. Swan,

Thank you for writing this article. I suspect that we all have failed miserably in treating those who differ from us in a manner that we would want to be treated. First, each time I point the finger at someone else, the finger is pointing right back at me. I must first have the attitude to count others better than myself. I must confess, I am prone to be judgmental toward others; it makes me feel better about myself.

Sadly, many Christian blogs, OF ALL TRADITIONS, have fallen into the trap of nastiness and unwarranted attacks toward those who differ with them. It's the good old US versus THEM mentality.

As of late, I have been convicted by the Holy Spirit of my part in participating in foolish debate and senseless controversies on the worldwide Internet. In doing so, I have used my time unwisely and will answer to Christ in this regard.

May we all learn to love others in the manner in which Christ would have us love. And thus it is that I am learning to pray often, "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on ME, a sinner."

God be with you and bless you.

Lvka said...

That Reformed blogs have higher standards of behaviour than atheist blogs shouldn't be surprising.


My point was quite the opposite: atheists didn't treat me (or others) like a piece of ----, whether by verbally abusing me or my faith, or by retorting to backhanded ways of "silencing the opposition".

Lvka said...

They speak of the "God of Calvinism" as an evil dictator and tyrant on the level of Adolf Hitler.


But, unfortunately, I didn't... :-\


and His Calvinist followers are to be likened to KKK thugs. There is nothing equivalent to it aimed towards Arminians anywhere on Triablogue. Nothing.


Against Arminians, no. Just against the Orthodox.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Show me where the Triabloguers called you a Nazi, or Hitler, or a KKK thug. Show me. Give me the link. If you can't, then I conclude you're making it up. If you show me where they said that about you, I'll apologise.

James Swan said...

Show me where the Triabloguers called you a Nazi, or Hitler, or a KKK thug. Show me. Give me the link. If you can't, then I conclude you're making it up. If you show me where they said that about you, I'll apologise

OK, I'll show you... um, never mind, I got confused for a second by recalling it was Roman Catholic apologist Art Sippo that called me a Nazi.

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Lvka writes:

if I were to constantly call you a mindless Protestant apparatchik who thoughtlessly regurgitates spoon-fed dogma, ... how would that make You feel? :-\ Or to systematically repeat to you that you've intentionally blinded yourself by pulling your hat over your eyes, ... what would that be like to you? :-\

What do feelings have to do with it? If it's true, then it's true, and you need to repent of your sin, even if it is presented in a way that is not appropriate. (And, no, I still do not grant that Hays and, to "a certain extent," Manata, have engaged in inappropriate behavior as you refuse to actually demonstrate that their reasons for acting the way they did are insufficient.)

You complain of how you have been treated, yet you keep going back to Triablogue and violating your ban there. You are just inviting the very treatment you so strongly denounce. I would say this makes it harder to take your comments seriously, but you've already tanked your credibility on this issue given your unreasonable behavior in this thread.

I've linked you to two articles in which my religion and my character are being trashed in the most ugly manner possible to man.

Which, like many of your responses in this thread, is an excellent example of an artful dodge. The issue was not how you were treated, but how you keep characterizing all of Triablogue on the basis of what Hays and, "to a certain extent," Manta have said to you.

Lvka said...

Show me where the Triabloguers called you a Nazi, or Hitler, or a KKK thug.


I did, in the two links I've offered (and which You obviously didn't even bother reading...)

I've also described other ways in which I've been insulted countless times (along with other Orthodox commenters, and along with my faith).


The issue was not how you were treated...

The issue of this article is precisely how to treat other human beings, which happen to be of different persuasions than your own.



...but how you keep characterizing all of Triablogue on the basis of what Hays and, "to a certain extent," Manta have said to you.


I've just said, explicitely, in one of my previous comments, that I do NOT regard ALL of them as having behaved as such. -- again, what's the point of a dialogue when you don't even bother reading what the other dialogue-partner writes? :-\


You complain of how you have been treated, yet you keep going back to Triablogue and violating your ban there.

Since their behaviour towards me predates my being banned from there, your observation is wrong based on this fact alone. -- nor was I the only one to get such a reaction from them.

[I'm also a bit concerned that you seem to imply such behaviour is excusable: it simply isn't]. You just *can't* insult people like that -- not unless they're man-murderers, or child-rapists, or something the like ... :-\

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Lvka,

I went back through the combox and found one link you posted to a February 2008 article by Gene M. Bridges which quotes from Jay Dyer. If you have another link, please repost it since I couldn't find it in the combox. I couldn't find anything from Hays or Manata on this either.

In that one link I found that no one called anyone a Hitler, or a Nazi, although it was suggested that the Orthodox hierarchy hates Jews and are also stupid; the first is at least demonstrable since Dyer, who is Orthodox, I presume, refers to Jews as "Christ killers." The second is subjective relative to polemical apologetics. I tend to shy away from both approaches, if possible, though am not perfect, of course, and I am not opposed to polemics in all cases.

My point is, this still does not rise to the level of what has been said about Calvinists here, and you specifically are not mentioned at all; unless you want to own up to being that fundamentally dishonest banned person who continued to post as "anonymous" in spite of being asked not to come back. Are you that person? Do you want to man up to that? And how do you account for it as a matter of spiritual integrity and honour?

Perhaps a reposting of that second link you say you posted previously will change my mind.

Blessings in Christ,

Pilgrimsarbour

Lvka said...

PA,

you've asked me a simple question: when and where did (some of) the Triabloguers call me a "KKK thug"? That post is your answer. (The expression "pointy hats" in the title, the first image in the article, the explicit reference [comparison] to burning incense like the KKK members in the image were burning crosses, etc: the list goes on and on; then there're other insulting references [though not Klan-related], including the second image, etc.)

No, I never post as "Anonymos", I always use my real name ([Craciun] Lucian) and/or on-line name (Lvka).

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Lvka writes:

The issue of this article is precisely how to treat other human beings, which happen to be of different persuasions than your own.

The issue at that point in the discussion was not how you were treated.

I've just said, explicitely, in one of my previous comments, that I do NOT regard ALL of them as having behaved as such. -- again, what's the point of a dialogue when you don't even bother reading what the other dialogue-partner writes? :-\

Yes, and then you later continued to paint with the same broad brush. Remember the comment you made at 2:52 PM, April 5 (emphasis mine):

The only other blogger that I personally know of who follows the same rule of conduct as the Triabloguers do is the (atheist) Barefoot Bum, who constantly calls people who are against his views on abortion "f***tards", as well as other 'well-meaning' epithets.

This was after you acknowledged that all the Triabloguers don't act poorly.

Since their behaviour towards me predates my being banned from there, your observation is wrong based on this fact alone.

How does that follow, Lvka? If you were sincere in your protestations of how those at Triablogue have so shamefully and painfully treated you, you would stop violating your ban there. How they behaved before the ban has nothing to do with the sincerity of your complaints now that the ban has occurred.

[I'm also a bit concerned that you seem to imply such behaviour is excusable: it simply isn't]. You just *can't* insult people like that -- not unless they're man-murderers, or child-rapists, or something the like ... :-\

Speaking of ignoring what other people write, how many times have I asked you to address the reasons Hays and Manata give for their approach to apologetics? You opened your last response to me as if you were concerned with returning to the topic of this thread. But that is belied by your consistent refusal to go beyond merely asserting that the methods Hays and Manata have used are wrong. It seems clear you don't actually want to discuss the issue. You just want to whine about your wounded ego.

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Pilgrimsarbour,

No, Lvka violates his Triablogue ban by posting as Lvka. He is too shameless for anonymous defiance.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

you've asked me a simple question: when and where did (some of) the Triabloguers call me a "KKK thug"? That post is your answer.

I have completely missed you being specifically mentioned in that article. Are you an Orthodox priest? If so, then you would be included there and I will recant of my statement.

Lvka said...

The central point has been made (repeatedly); the rest is meaningless discussion over details: their behaviour is disgusting and inhuman, and inexcusable: period. Normal people simply don't talk that way to (or about) other people, unless they're talking about murderers or rapists or the like.


I wrote simply "Triabloguers" so as not to write each and every single time longer expressions.

You asked me where or when did (some of) the Triabloguers address ANYONE by certain labels by which they themselves were addressed by others: these labels included KKK references: I gave you your anwer.

The theme of this whole article and of the whole thread has always been the treatment of others who differ from one's opinion.

If anyone here thinks a man can be called ANY of those names simply for writting one or two (invisible) comments to a post here and there, then I suggest he or she has to do some serious introspection.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Lvka,

Anyone who has read my blog or my comments here and elsewhere knows that I personally try to limit my engagement in ad hominem attacks. It's something of which I'm very mindful, but not always as successful as I'd like to be.

However, it seems to me that you suffer from a malady that inflicts folks of your generation (you are about half my age). And that is a moral equivalence which holds one person's feet to the fire for a terrible wrong, and someone else's equally accountable for a minor infraction. It's the kind of screwey attitude that is devolving our country even as we speak; embracing our enemies and shunning our allies. It is, frankly, the legacy of my own generation--the generation that ushered in the "Age of Stupidity" as Dennis Prager puts it.

I am not unmindful of your concerns. I just do not think you have proven your case against the Triabloguers. And you have engaged in some unwarranted ad hominem yourself, only I suspect you don't recognise it, and wouldn't if I pointed it out to you.

Nevertheless, be well. I will speak to you again if you should ever prefer, that is, if you're ever interested. But for now, I'm going to bow out of this discussion.

Blessings in Christ,

Pilgrimsarbour