When I don’t listen, everyone agrees with me

So Adrian is able to write about how fantastic it is not to have comments on his blog: My First Week Without Comments.

In that post he is careful, as always, to only link to those who agree with him. How accurate a picture is that? Adrian links to Rick Ianniello: blog comments unscriptural who thinks he is wonderful and loves the scripture that Adrian appropriated to justify no comments. Fortunately Rick does have comments and so a more balanced picture emerges. Charity wrote

I think it’s a shame that Adrian equates disagreement with him to
quarrelsomeness. He seems to think that it’s ok for him to post
controversial material as long as he doesn’t give people the
opportunity to respond to him publicly.

If we look back we can see Charity has addressed this before on her own blog Still trying to understand: To debate or not to debate.

Adrian failed to link to IndyChristian’s post Loving Change .com: "The Audience Is Up To Something." that includes:

Question:   At what point does a ‘blog’ become just another controlled institutional voice?

That is, when does it become just another ONE-WAY mechanism?  (albeit cleverly leveraging this low-cost, hi-speed tool-of-choice of the common man)

I
suggest this may well occur when its sound becomes as finely tuned as
their microphone, such that no feedback enters the sound-system. It’s a
pure stream. The signal-to-noise ratio is superb. And the blog-er is
elated.

But is the Church?  And is the mission well served?

And he points out the obvious flaw in Adrian’s choice of supporting scripture. Namely that it does not support him.

"And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness."

Ok,
we all realize ‘comments’ can be troublesome at times. [translation:
time-consuming]. But likewise emails. And phone calls. And children.
And hospital visits. [...not to mention that thing of the past called
'home visits'.]

When this happened Peter Kirk, myself and others doubted Adrian’s view that he would hear and respond to challenges. In that we have been proved correct. I have seen no evidence that Adrian has actually engaged with any of the challenges of bad theology that have been made in a number of places over the last week. There is no accountability and all we get is that anyone raising issues is quarrelsome for daring to challenge things that are without fault.

It does seem that I have been more quarrelsome in the last week, I am not blaming it on Adrian stopping comments and I have been challenged on it (see the comments on my posts, plus some at Peter’ Kirks post: Gentle Wisdom » Driscoll’s Horrible Histories).
In my defence if anyone thinks I am negative about Mark Driscoll they ought to try this Ship of Fools thread. I guess that I feel frustrated that if only we were able to engage, if only we were all open to being challenged then what would emerge is better theology for us all. I don’t claim to be right on all things and I know I do get angry with those who do claim to be so.

One thing is for sure, it seems that every time I read something supporting complementarianism there are some obvious problems with the use of scripture (this week it was Mark Driscoll’s comments on Genesis 1 & 2, his ignoring anything on singleness in scripture, his turning of Songs of Solomon into commands, particularly for women). Now I never seem to be able to engage complementarians on these scriptural matters. I therefore simply conclude that they know they are skating in thin ice.

Complementarianism depends on lots of fast and loud shouting, on moving the targets fast enough that nobody notices that their foundations are built on sand and hence   they will not respond to honest attempts to debate the issues. I think that is why Wayne is struggling so much with his brave attempt to explore the issues with Complegalitarian. It is also worth seeing Peter Kirk’s series "The Scholarly and Fundamentalist Approaches to the Bible" from last year:

Of course this is not just happening with complementarianism. We see very much the same people shouting loudly and aggressively for Penal Substitution (I started saying arguing but of course it is not an argument as it includes no listening). Henry wrote about that recently: Threads from Henry’s Web » PSA: An Unbalanced and Ineffective View of the Atonement. Notice too Adrian’s comment on that post:

Well thanks for expressing ‘the other side’ as it were. I of course
dont agree, and sadly dont have time to explain why. I am glad, though,
that you have explained your position for me.

Adrian, thanks for expressing the problem so clearly.

13 thoughts on “When I don’t listen, everyone agrees with me

  1. Peter Kirk

    Thanks for all the links. Seven in on post should push me up the rankings, maybe I will evolve from a TTLB amphibian to a reptile like you!
    Seriously, have you seen this story about how a couple were treated at a complementarian church? You really need to skim it all to understand it, but it seems that this lady’s worst offence, described in the latter part of this post, was to dare to comment on her pastor’s blog.

    Reply
  2. Dave Warnock

    Peter,
    Reading some of Jen’s stuff I have to say it felt to me as if that was way beyond simply complementarianism into a cult rather than a Christian church.
    Bit maybe it is indicative that complementarianism is a slippery slope.

    Reply
  3. Rick

    I’m still amazed at the interest this has generated. I didn’t think that many people would care let alone have the kind of energy I see generated.
    Anyway, my angle is that there is an overwhelming amount of contention out there. The nature of the blogshere fuels this in that in the end, there is little to no real relationship or accountability between those engaged in the conversation.
    Additionally, writing back and forth limits the effectiveness of the communication. Then it is an open forum so the thread can easily splinter and get off track as others toss in additional points. Then there is the timing and follow-up issue on top of that.
    For example, how will I know how you responded to this?
    In the end, it is wearing and when the effort put forth is compared to the real fruit born, I suspect it is not worth it.
    I quit blogging a few months ago just to better use the time elsewhere. I hear Adrian saying this about managing comments. A lot of effort with minimal relative fruit. Makes sense to me.

    Reply
  4. Peter Kirk

    Yes, indeed Jen’s experience was of a cult. Unfortunately it is the cult which is behind Vision Forum which is a major provider of homeschooling materials in the USA. Many people don’t realise the danger lying behind their apparently innocuous materials. But I accept that this is not the CBMW, St John’s Shaughnessy, or Oak Hill variety of complementarianism.

    Reply
  5. Adrian Warnock

    Dave
    Well, I have now linked to this post as a way of demonstrating that I am willing to at least listen to my opponents. I really think you guys don’t understand the pressures on my time with church stuff including preaching, blogging, a full time high-pressure secular job and a family of five kids and a wife as well. Its a wonder I ever have time to answer any critical posts! I will endeavor to post some more at some point on the complementarian issue, but I dont expect either of us to persuade each other really.

    Reply
  6. Dave Warnock

    Rick,
    One problem is lack of accountability, by allowing people to comment I am opening myself up to some accountability to the readership.
    Also it is about avoiding presenting misleading theology or statements to the world. It does not matter if I respond to you, readers in the future can see that not everyone agrees with me and that other understandings are possible. In other words it is about not claiming to be infallible in all I say (note that for the Pope to make an infallible statement requires a number of steps to be taken, it is not simply all he says).
    In those cases a bit of fragmentation and off-topic stuff does not matter, we are used to it from all other forms of conversation.
    “For example, how will I know how you responded to this?”
    a) I have a comment feed you could subscribe to that.
    b) My blog home page lists the last 20 comments, so you can see which posts have new comments
    c) If you use Firefox you could install Commentful to track comments on a ny blog page.
    It is also about integrity. I question the claim that it is only those who make comments who are quarrelsome while writing highly provocative posts that call people heretics, that redefine Christianity and Evangelicalism and which promote extreme and bad theology as if it is normative.

    Reply
  7. Dave Warnock

    Adrian,
    It is not simply about comments. As you know from other posts I have supported your right to choose whether to have comments.
    My problem is with what might be called hit and run theology. Especially when it is so controversial and when you describe the commentators as quarrelsome, justifying yourself from scripture.
    It is not about time, it is about accountability. It is your choice to move on and post new attempts to justify complementarianism for example while ignoring the criticisms of your theology. And that does not make it about persuading one another, it is more about honesty that you recognise that your arguments are not so clear cut and obvious and acceptable to all. That you even recognise that there are alternative views and that sometimes your heroes may not be right.

    Reply
  8. Suzanne

    Adrian,
    Considering the kind of radio show Grudem has produced in the past and the confidential stuff I have heard about his campaign against the TNIV from some of his fellow complementarians, I fail to see how anyone could possibly rate as more quarrelsome than he is, but you gave him plenty of time.

    Reply
  9. Jen

    Hello! I am the Jen you are talking about here.
    “it seems that this lady’s worst offence, described in the latter part of this post, was to dare to comment on her pastor’s blog.”
    Yep! You got it! Actually, he doesn’t take comments on his blog either, although he posts highly controversial stuff almost daily, but on this one occasion, he did invite reader responses via email (very controlled).
    It’s interesting to me how many people, hundreds or possibly even more, didn’t seem to think for themselves when they read Doug Phillips’ blog. After several months of my exposing his false teachings and the innuendos that filled his blog, other people started realizing that there were at least two sides to everything he posted.
    I have a highly controversial blog and I take comments from both sides. I have posted all public attacks against me (except for the vulgar ones). Being willing to be held accountable for your actions and your words is high on my list of admirable qualities in bloggers.

    Reply
  10. Dave Warnock

    Jen,
    I hope it is ok, I deleted a duplicate comment by you.
    My problems with Doug Philips start far far far earlier than his blogging. Silence for women in Church is just the beginning of the problems.
    I admire your courage and openness in tacking him.

    Reply
  11. Jen

    Dave, sorry about the duplicate comment. I tried to hit the back key to return to the previous page and it re-sent my comment!
    I see that you are overseas from me. Are Doug’s name and his teachings well known over there as well?

    Reply
  12. Dave Warnock

    Jen,
    Don’t worry about the duplicate comment. I was just being obsessively tidy and did not want you to think I was censoring you.
    Yep I am in the UK, no I hadn’t heard of Dippy Doug until Peter Kirk pointed me to your blog in an earlier comment.
    Until recently (past couple of years) I had not come across complementarian/male headship teaching. I had thought that had died with the crusades or Spanish inquisition. It still shocks me today that it is considered acceptable by some in the UK and by many in the US to still teach and practice something so horrible,

    Reply

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