Okay last bit on the sad flaying of Dan Kimball over at Pyromaniacs at the hands of Phil Johnson. I promise.
I just can't let this particular bit of ironic hypocrisy (ironic in the "Alanis Morisette" way, that is) go.
David Rudd gets to the heart of the issue with:
"there you go again.
only this time, phil, you are taking yourself out of context to make a convenient argument.
you quote yourself as saying:
"Consider the implications of that: If that's really Dan Kimball's position, then he has in effect repudiated the Protestant Reformation..."
"implication of THAT" is key here. implications of what?
in this thread you are suggesting that Kimball's "repudiation of the Protestant Reformation" is his lack of precise language regarding the Reformation credo, "sola fide".
that's not what you meant back then. back when you first said it, you were speaking in much more general terms. you were questioning dan's commitment to anything beyond Nicea, and you were wondering about his willingness to "fight" for the core doctrines.
this whole thread began with very general accusations. dan responded with general statements. it seems that every time dan responds, the criticism becomes more focused. that's fine, but if what you wanted from the get-go was a precise theological statement from dan regarding his ideas about what lies at the heart of orthodox/reformed theology, you should have asked for that first.
that way dan would not continue to take needless attacks from people who really don't know what he believes..."
To which Phil responded with a comment that will no doubt be in serious contention for Least Self Aware Comment Made On A Blog for Year 2007:
What an utterly ridiculous argument: You as reader get to decide what I as author meant. There you see how postmodernism has made a perfect hash of the very concept of truth.
Anyone else catch that???
This whole brouhaha started because Dan Kimball made the simple statement: "When we move beyond what the Nicene Creed discusses, I feel that it is not as easy to be saying so confidently that we have things all figured out. I wonder quite often if, beyond the Nicene Creed, we end up shaping some theology or even choosing what theology we believe because of personality and temperament"
From that Phil concluded:
1. Kimball gives the distinct impression that he thinks any doctrine not settled by the time of the first ecumenical council is not really worth fighting over.
2. He has in effect repudiated the Protestant Reformation, not to mention Augustine's refutation of Pelagius and the Council of Carthage's condemnation of Pelagianism (which occurred nearly a hundred years after the Nicene Council).
When pressed that these were RIDICULOUS inferences from the actual comment that formed the basis of all this, Phil insisted he was merely trying to get Dan to answer one simple question, "I've been asking the very same question since the original post in this thread, and anyone who wants to verify that can do a search in the comments there."
So- which of the following 19 questions that Phil posed to Dan in the course of this dicsussion is the One? (I'm cutting and pasting verbatim from a comment here):
"First question from the original post: Is “Everything beyond that … negotiable? —or at least he dismisses all differences on such matters as consequences of a person’s genetic predisposition, personality quirks, or whatever.”
Second question at 7:13 am, 4/6: are “the things deemed “core” beliefs in the ECM … a vague and moving target”?
Third question at 8:07 am: are “Dan Kimball’s doctrinal convictions … vague and moving”?
4th question at 12:17 pm: “why (do) you (Kimball) keep suggesting that the Nicene council is a dividing line between what we can affirm “confidently” and “what . . . we believe because of personality and temperament,”?”
5th and 6th questions at 12:53 pm: Does Kimball “think(s) any doctrine not settled by the time of the first ecumenical council is not really worth fighting over.”? And “Would he be willing to fight for, say, the Protestant position on sola fide, or the authority of Scripture, or the doctrine of penal substitution, or the principle of inerrancy—and if so, why did he scold Driscoll for fighting for issues like that?”
7th question at 2:06 pm: “would (Kimball say he) regards the doctrine of justification by faith as one of those things “the Scriptures do make clear.”?
8th, 9th, 10th and 11th questions at 5:01 pm: “where do you think the boundaries of essential Christian doctrine are properly drawn?” and “Why did you draw such a line at Nicea in the first place?; and, Are there any “post-Nicene” articles of faith you are certain about enough to regard them as essential doctrines of authentic biblical Christianity?” and “(would you) most likely embrace as an authentic Christian someone who signs off on the Nicene Creed but also teaches a purely Pelagian works-system of salvation.”?
12th question at 9:54 am, 4/12/07 on the “Update” post: “how (do) we define the essence of Christian belief. If we can agree that the Nicene Creed is not a sufficient summary of everything essential to Christianity (and Dan Kimball says he agrees with that), then what is the best starting point for understanding the essentials (the gospel or a 4th century creed)?
13th and 14th questions at 10:18 am: Is Kimball “retreating from historic Protestant doctrinal standards in order to “become more of a Nicene Creed doctrinal statement believer”? and what is “his position on sola fide”?
15th, 16th, 17th, and 18th question at 4:24 pm: “(does he regard) the historic Protestant principle of sola fide as essential to authentic Christianity”? and is “ sola fide as essential to the gospel message”? and “Is Dan Kimball advocating a kind of “Reformed Catholicism,” or would he still affirm a classically Protestant doctrinal position?” and “why did he not simply say so in a book devoted to describing Emerging doctrine—especially when not saying so put him in a position of seeming to disagree with the very clear position Mark Driscoll had laid out?”
19th question (but per Phil Johnson, actually his first), from the original post and in the 7:06 pm/ 4/12/07 comment under the “Update” title: Is Dan Kimball repudiating the Reformation by dismissing differences outside the Nicene Creed? [“If that’s really Dan Kimball’s position, then he has in effect repudiated the Protestant Reformation, not to mention Augustine’s refutation of Pelagius and the Council of Carthage’s condemnation of Pelagianism (which occurred nearly a hundred years after the Nicene Council).]
My favorite quote by Phil: “I’ve been asking the very same question since the original post in this thread, and anyone who wants to verify that can do a search in the comments there.” At 6:19 pm, 4/12/07 in the “Update” post. Um, I did that Phil and it doesn’t look like the same question to me."
Aside from the clear and manifest fact that when faced with a poop-storm over his original skewering of Kimball, Phil began an obvious program to minimize damage by
1. apologizing for the easy stuff
2. driving harder at a target which he by no means had defined (at least anywhere outside his noggin) in the first thread
3. insisting over and over and over that Dan had refused to answer questions that Dan had answered
4. dodging and weaving like Jackie Chan in "Legend of the Drunken Master."
and then to top it all off, has the gall to rebuke someone for thinking that they "as reader get to decide what I as author meant" the EXACT offense he committed against Kimball to start this whole sad affair off.
Why am I writing this here? Because in true Slice of Laodicea Fashion, the comments at Team Pyro have actually gone like this:
“We need precise answers.”
“It’s a valid question.”
“That’s not sufficient. You’ve not answered me well enough.”
“I don’t believe the words you are saying correctly cover your true belief.”
“Matthew 18 is a cop-out.”
“I’m only trying to discern.”
“He hasn’t answered my question and obviously I have the right to an answer.”
My original assessment stands- Phil and his buddies (you know who you are) owe Dan an apology for the shabby, shameful way you've treated him. And how about this- quite complaining that "the Emerging Church" refuses to answer questions if you are not going to acknowledge when we show up and do just that.