Thursday, October 4, 2007

Half-court Alley-oop

I once commented that one of Lane Keister’s strengths at Green Baggins is his ability and willingness to interact with the excruciating details of Federal Vision and all its theological ramifications. Today let me note another strength, which is easy to miss because of its very nature. I speak of his low-key, understated style — his flat-line approach to analysis. For example, yesterday, as he resumed his book review of “Reformed” Is Not Enough (RINE), he offered this little nugget:

The problem here is that the FV has been operating with Aristotelian logic categories, which do not allow for the null set. Boolean categories are necessary for understanding this logic.

Now the beauty of this quote is twofold: First, he nailed it and, second, instead of merely flagging the obvious false dilemma, he identified by name Federal Vision’s flawed thinking categories. In other words, he beat the Federal Visionists at their own game — naming.

Douglas Wilson has an axiom that he lives by — “He who names it first, wins” — and the Federal Visionists regularly call upon the names and categories that he invented, to propagate their false doctrine. For example, early in RINE Wilson categorized and named the problem of those opposing FV:

It is our conviction that certain epsitemological developments since the Enlightenment have caused many modern conservative Calvinists to read their confessions in a spirit alien to that which produced them. . . . We believe our opponents to be sincere and honest Christians, but men who have erroneously made a bad truce with modernity and who have accommodated their theology to the abstract dictates of the Enlightenment. . . . I would suggest that this is a debate between the Enlightenment TRs (ETRs) and the historic reformed. (pages 6, 7, 9, emphasis original)

Here the category is “Enlightenment,” or “modern,” and the name is “Enlightenment TRs” (notice he named himself “historic reformed”). Elsewhere he has named FV critics “Gnostics” and “pietists,” to dismiss with one word the criticism at hand rather than engage in intelligent debate. In other words, it’s pure sophistry — “Well, of course, everyone knows that the Enlightenment corrupted the Church’s understanding of Westminster.”

So when Lane accurately named Federal Vision’s deficient logic, he beat them at their own game, without resorting to rhetorical deceit. In basketball terms, he scored a half-court alley-oop, but he’s such a deadpan I have no idea if he knows this.

That said, there is still one problem with Lane’s analysis. George Boole was a product of nineteenth-century Victorian pietism.


Kyle said...

Don't forget "Baptists."

For some Presbos, them's fightin' words!