Sunday, January 27, 2008

Dude!

There’s a new website named Dude, where’s my seminary? which some pretty bright folks apparently uploaded in response to save our seminary, a pathetic website appealing to Westminster Theological Seminary’s graduates to sign a petition that urges WTS’s administration to reconsider its philosophical direction. I called it pathetic because the author of the petition exhibits the literary talent of a teenage girl lamenting the existence of smog in the atmosphere. The third paragraph alone strings five incomplete sentences back to back. Like, wow, go back to school.

So take a look at Dude, where’s my seminary? especially the comments.

Thank you.

22 comments:

Towne said...

In the spirit of the "Dude" website:

SEMINARY SEX-CHANGE!:
Looking over the SOS com box, we're troubled by this entry:

40. Former (female) M.A.R. student
January 24th, 2008 at 6:40 pm, says:..."

So what, is she/he still a student?

Towne said...

Back to the SOS site, I'm struck by several features:
1. How often the SOS signers rely on emotion rather than logic to make their points, e.g., "I'm weeping as I write..."
2. Most of the signers are known supporters of the Federal Vision, emergent church, neo-orthodox, and other decidedly anti-Presbyterian errors.
3. Biblical Theological Seminary (also in Phila.) has already been radically turned toward the emergent movement. Thus this is a bold play to seize yet another institution. If Westminster is lost to the errorists, it will be a sad day indeed. Their goals are transparent: seize the institutions in order to claim institutional authority for their errors and to gain unbridled freedom to promulgate further error.

Sean Gerety said...

What do you mean "if Westminster is lost to the errorists"? You mean the same Westminster that took SEVEN years to deal with Norm Shepherd (and by dealt with, I mean just let him go) and that is now being run by Shepherd's followers and supporters?

anonymous8 said...

Over at Wilson's blog the FVists are associating Lillback with FVism.

Towne above states that "most of the signers are known supporters of the Federal Vision"...

Dishonest spin control again from the Wilsonites?

Mark T. said...

Anon8,

I’m confused, to whom do you attribute the dishonest spin control?

Towne said...

Anonymous8:
No, I meant was that most of the signers on the SOS site were EITHER FV or emergent or neo-orthodox or feminist or RCC or Anglican or, etc., etc. No Old School Presbyterians or anyone else with an allegiance to the Old Princeton tradition that is supposed to be what Westminster used to/does/should (take your pick) stand for.
Also, in my read of DW, he was not associating Lillback with FV, rather, he was correctly (only in this point) noting that the SOS site was trying to establish guilt by association, simply because Lillback spoke at a VisionForum meeting.

anonymous8 said...

Well, I mean, since apparently the liberals who signed the website are - some of them are - associated with Federal Vision it would seem that the Wilsonites are trying to counter that bad impression (they don't want FV to be associated with theological liberalism even though that is exactly what it is) by saying that Lillback (the guy supposedly tooo conservative and all that) is somehow favorable to Federal Vision.

anonymous8 said...

I'm referring to the comments under the Wilson post more than to the Wilson post. For instance one Wilsonite in a comment says that he "learned alot about Federal Vision" by listening to Lillback, whatever that means. That and similar comments come across as 'say anything' spin to get the heat off FV as being part of the liberals who want to change WTS.

anonymous8 said...

I want to say I think Wilkins did the right thing. Federal Vision's main crime was to pretend to be something they are not (Westminsterian in this case). To leave and be in their own denomination is fine. Now Wilkens, and unfortunately his church, are like any other denomination with bad doctrine.

That they will still use names that don't belong to them (Calvinist, Reformed, Geneva, etc.) will be a problem, but one that is more easily dealt with. They will acquire the reputation they deserve. That they don't really value Reformed Theology or historic Reformed theologians will show itself more and more, and their appropriating of names and things they are doing now will fade as time goes on. It's hard to maintain a false face to the world.

snubnosed in alpha said...

"...the author of the petition exhibits the literary talent of teenage girl..."
Um, thanks, Borat. You might want to dislodge the grammatical plank from your own eye before pointing out the speck in your brother's. Like, wow, that is soooooo ironic.

Oh, by the way, Towne, did you really think that SOS was the sort of website where the signers of the petition were going to engage in discursive argumentation? The theological arguments have been made elsewhere time and again. What has not been voiced in any sort of organized way is the alumni's disapproval of the current regime at WTS and appreciation for those professors who are feeling the brunt of that regime's dealings. Besides, the professors and alumni who are getting edged out of the WTS community have consistently trounced the guys with the power on logical and evidential grounds. We are grieved not just by the paucity of charity being shown amidst the theological discussions but also by the underhanded political maneuverings being employed against the biblical studies professors.
Excuse us for expressing our emotions.
Hey, are any of you guys even affiliated with WTS? I mean, what do you know about it?

Burns said...

Many people think that Lillback's book, "The Binding of God," is quite congenial to the Federal Vision. You would do well to read it and judge for yourselves.

And why must you berate the author of SOS? That is just plain mean. Does it glorify Christ?

Mark T. said...

Snub,

You made my point: teenage girls make arguments by expressing emotions. And after you learn to write a grammatically correct sentence, I suggest Strunk and White.

Burns,

You and Snub share two things in common: (1) You both favor the petition and (2) You both think with your feelings, and this second point is the glaring problem with the petition. The person or persons behind SOS lack the ability to frame a cogent argument and you betrayed your logical deficiencies both in your written document and your tactical blunders.

It’s hard enough to get people behind any given cause. It’s even harder when you split them on two issues. In this case you cited Lillback’s visit to Vision Forum and faculty opposition to Enn’s book, and you tried to unite these entirely separate matters beneath the banner of some right-wing conspiracy to takeover the seminary, or something like that.

The only way you could have succeeded is by picking one hill — either the Vision Forum issue (I’m no fan of Phillips, but guilt by association is a weak argument) or the Enn’s book — and making a solid case for winning that hill. But the whole petition thing should have been a last resort after you exhausted all other means, and even then you never stick your neck out unless you’re assured of a certain result, because the last thing in the world you want is 49 comments. Always consolidate your base before you move. Just ask Wilkins.

So I apologize if I came off “mean”; but the site strikes me as pathetic and the author should learn to think critically and write properly.

Thank you.

Towne said...

Dear Snubbed:
As a Westminster alum, I paid my tuition and am entitled to speak.
If I must remind you, Westminster was founded to continue the tradition of Old Princeton. Perhaps it has strayed from that goal, but neither is Old Princeton the goal of the SOS bunch. Instead they are transparently those who value innovation above orthodoxy. If anything, they're worse than _New_ Princeton, speaking from sympathies that are decidedly heterodox.
Lastly, "paucity of charity"? Sounds like a plea for tolerance, and tolerance, as Der Dougmeister recently observed, is just a false truce ("Like Butterscotch Pudding", 1/17/2008 5:45:55 PM). And as Rush puts it, a truce is just a chance for the losing side to re-arm.

snubnosed in alpha said...

Marky-Mark T.,
Thanks for not adding the absent indefinite article to your original post and allowing the tragi-comic irony of your grammatical lecturing to stand. If you would like some less teenage-girlish (as it were) engagement with the issues, you're welcome to check out Daniel Kirk's blog or the Conn-versation. For that matter, you take a looksy at my October 1, 2006 post on my blog on inerrancy or one of my February 2007 posts on Calvin, Enns and inspiration. Tell me if you think my writing there passes muster as rational argumentation or if it amounts to so much adolescent, emotive blubbering.

Towne,
Good to meet another WTS alum. You certainly are entitled to speak. But I can't help but wonder if you haven't got the wrong idea about Old Princeton. Here are some bits of Old Princeton that the boys on the first floor of Montgomery Library tend to ignore:
“Our views of inspiration must be determined by the phenomena of the Bible as well as from its didactic statements. If in fact the sacred writers retain each his own style and mode of thought, then we must renounce any theory which assumes that inspiration obliterates or suppresses all individual peculiarities.... The errors in matters of fact which the skeptics search out bear no proportion to the whole. No sane man would deny that the Parthenon was built of marble, even if here and there a speck of sandstone should be detected in its structure. Not less unreasonable is it to deny the inspiration of such a book as the Bible, because one sacred writer says that on a given occasion twenty-four thousand, and another says that twenty-three thousand, men were slain.”
Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology (1:169-170)

“[The Scriptures] are written in human languages, whose words, inflections, constructions and idioms bear everywhere indelible traces of error. The record itself furnishes evidence that the writers were in large measure dependent for their knowledge upon sources and methods in themselves fallible, and that their personal knowledge and judgments were in many matters hesitating and defective, or even wrong.”
B.B. Warfield & A.A. Hodge, Inspiration, pp. 73-82

The fact is that the biblical studies guys ARE in accord with what Old Princeton was doing. If you're a WTS alumnus, then you know as well as I do what Pete Enns teaches (and it is Enns and the biblical studies department, NOT FV, that is at the center of the controversy). It is only by suppressing some aspects of Old Princeton and fronting others that one can get the idea that the biblical studies guys at WTS are entirely out of step with that tradition. Heck, listen to Enns' inaugural lecture on the WTS website and then tell me that he has no precedent in Old Princeton for his project.

luther007 said...

You made my point: teenage girls make arguments by expressing emotions. And after you learn to write a grammatically correct sentence, I suggest Strunk and White."

One shouldn't begin sentences with "and" as doing so makes for a sentence fragment. I also suggest Strunk and White.


You and Snub share two things in common: (1) You both favor the petition and (2) You both think with your feelings, and this second point is the glaring problem with the petition.

I’m not sure what it means to "think with your feelings" unless you mean that cold rationality is the best way to live life; if this is the case then you have issues. An expert in rhetoric such as yourself might do well to realize the term ad-hominem and its fallacious nature, as this is the meat of your post.

The person or persons behind SOS lack the ability to frame a cogent argument and you betrayed your logical deficiencies both in your written document and your tactical blunders.

If syntactical excellence is the mark of a good argument this rant fails miserably. The above “phrase” should be separated into two sentences, since the subject of the latter phrase is different than that of the former.

It’s hard enough to get people behind any given cause. It’s even harder when you split them on two issues. In this case you cited Lillback’s visit to Vision Forum and faculty opposition to Enn’s book, and you tried to unite these entirely separate matters beneath the banner of some right-wing conspiracy to takeover the seminary, or something like that.

The second sentence is a fragment. You don’t need a comma after the words,“Enn’s book.” The final comma is technically accurate but superfluous.

The only way you could have succeeded is by picking one hill — either the Vision Forum issue (I’m no fan of Phillips, but guilt by association is a weak argument) or the Enn’s book — and making a solid case for winning that hill. But the whole petition thing should have been a last resort after you exhausted all other means, and even then you never stick your neck out unless you’re assured of a certain result, because the last thing in the world you want is 49 comments. Always consolidate your base before you move. Just ask Wilkins.

Yes just like Jesus; one ought not stick out one's neck until having consolidated a power base. Your comment is a great Machiavellian politic, you should write a book (but you ought to pay for an editor).

So I apologize if I came off “mean”; but the site strikes me as pathetic and the author should learn to think critically and write properly.

Don't lie, you aren't being apologetic in tone. You might want to reread the grammar text you cite, as this is a run-on sentence. One doesn’t begin paragraphs with "so" either. Furthermore the entire thesis of your post is fallacious. Attacking another’s "critical thinking skills" and accusing them of “writing like a teenage girl” is an ad-hominem argument. Learn to write well before critiquing another’s words.

Est modus in rebus, sed multi famam, conscientiam pauci verentur…

Mark T. said...

Snub,

Thank you for calling the missing indefinite article to my attention; I have corrected the typo and stand by my criticism because I make a distinction between obvious typos committed in an instant-publishing environment and literary blunders committed out of ignorance. Five incomplete sentences in a document appealing to a higher-ed crowd is sort of a biggie.

That said, it appears from your syntax that you are not the author of SOS. Nevertheless, I still recommend Strunk and White.

Mark T. said...

Double Zero 7,

Thank you for your exercise in pettiness. You’re wrong about “and” and “so,” which is a pretty rough start for someone pretending to offer correction, and you’re wrong to offer me a false dilemma in response to my “feelings” argument. However, you are correct about the ad hominem (please note the correct use of italics). But the term “ad-hominem” [sic] does not have a “fallacious nature” and an ad hominem argument (please note that a hyphen is not necessary with foreign words) is not an automatic fallacy, contra your implication. For example, when I argue that you are ignorant of correct grammar, my ad hom is not fallacious. You are ignorant of correct grammar and you should not offer corrections. And when you compared yourself and your cause to the Son of God, well, there’s not a big enough ad hom in the universe for that one.

So I would encourage you to offer your services to the SOS folks, but I’m not sure what service you could offer.

anonymous8 said...

I would just like to say that any Calvinist/Reformed Christian can have an opinion on any institution that sells itself as upholding apostolic biblical doctrine as that is understood historically by Christians self-identifying as Calvinist and Reformed. I don't have to attend a Reformed seminary to have an opinion regarding it when it downgrades or when it is under assault by the sadly inevitable forces of theological liberalism in general. It's part of being a watchman and it is part of defending the faith once delivered.

Towne said...

PLAYING WITH A LOADED GUN (Children shouldn’t)

Snubbie:

You’ve obviously been breeding these pet quotes for some time, but you’ve groomed them too close. For the sake of my time and Mark’s bandwidth, let’s deal with just one:

“[The Scriptures] are written in human languages, whose words, inflections, constructions and idioms bear everywhere indelible traces of error. The record itself furnishes evidence that the writers were in large measure dependent for their knowledge upon sources and methods in themselves fallible, and that their personal knowledge and judgments were in many matters hesitating and defective, or even wrong.” (B.B. Warfield & A.A. Hodge, Inspiration, pp. 73–82)

If the Warfield quote, which originally appeared in Truth, 9 (1883) 124–29, was served to you in such incomplete fashion in course syllabi, then that is quite damning. However, if you edited it to leave a false impression, that is evil. We’ll ignore the fact that you cited the full pagination of Appendixes 1 and 2, rather than the specific page where the quote appears in Baker’s reprint (p. 78), though that does seem to suggest you were spoon fed and haven’t done this research yourself (please don’t say you were just trying to provide context).

Following the quote above that you provided, Warfield continues:

“Nevertheless, the historical faith of the Church has always been that all the affirmations of Scripture of all kinds, whether of spiritual doctrine or duty, or of physical or historical fact, or of psychological or philosophical principle, are without any error, when the ipsissima verba of the original autographs are ascertained and interpreted in their natural and intended sense.”

It goes on, but the point is that you omitted a critical portion of Warfield’s statement. Take heart, for you’re not alone; Warfield notes:

“The italicized portion of this section [the very portion you cited], the Truth [a periodical of that era] singles out for attack as being rash, untrue and hopelessly inconsistent with the infallibility and divine inspiration of the Scriptures.”

Now Snubs, please note Warfield’s next statement:

“The careful reader who will glance at it in its context may be trusted to take another view of it. It is to be observed that it is a portion of a rejoinder to the rather common objection to verbal inspiration, that it makes the human authors of the Bible omniscient. No, it says, verbal inspiration only supposes errorlessness in what is actually said. However much they did not know, however wrong they may have been in their notions on many points — whatever they set down in their books, and thus actually teach, is found to be absolute fact. In fine, however human they may have been in other respects, so far forth as they affirm anything, every statement accurately corresponds to truth. This is what verbal inspiration means; it does not hold that what the sacred writers do not affirm is infallibly true, but only that what they do affirm is infallibly true.”

You, Snub, like most of the other SOS supporters, are obviously quite young. Your arrogance shows. You’ve learned a lot, but you are still incompetent in handling the mysteries of God. You are like a child playing with a loaded gun. You’re going to hurt someone. You are going to mislead God’s people if you teach on these matters while holding these views. Please bridle your tongue until you have learned some humility and a good deal more of what Warfield and Old Princeton actually taught.

Mrs. Featherbottom said...

Mike T: You have deflected every point. Instead of answering the points presented by snub, you write about grammar. Nice move, Chucko. At this rate, you'll never have to deal with the issues at hand!!

Towne: Your quotation from Warfield would not be disapproved by either Snub, nor by Peter Enns. So you really didn't make a point. You must feel foolish now, because you definitely look foolish.

In closing, you guys are idiots. You should hang out with the "dude." He's a douche too.

Towne said...

I felt a bit bad yesterday for writing forcefully in reply to Snubnosed, but I have a strong commitment to the truth, and the quote as presented was misleading and greatly out of context. Snubnosed has elsewhere indicated his agreement with the larger context, and I'll take your word that Enns would agree as well. Perhaps there is hope still. My point, and I did make it, was that Warfield said something entirely other than what was implied by the clipped quote. The Word of God stands and it will never fail His Church.

Now let's tend to you, Feathers:
Rule #1: You completely undo anything you might have to offer when you speak from the gutter. It betrays a vacuousness of both logical argument and personal ethics.
But as to your use of the term "idiots", you have no idea what you are doing. _Please_ read Matt. 5:21-26 and think through the implications of that text! In short, our Lord teaches there that when in anger you pick up a term like idiot, moron, airhead (Gk., raka, empty-headed) you verbally strike not only at your intended target, but moreover you strike at those described by the word, for these words were originally coined to describe those not so blessed as you and I. Worst of all, you strike at the God who made these dear people in His image! He allows them to be handicapped for a reason, whereas your derogation stands in denial of their very humanity. It's not something to shrug off or make light of. I pray you are not too callous to understand this.

snubnosed in alpha said...

Towne,
Don't sweat the forcefulness of your response. I was a bit careless with my handling of the Warfield quote and I appreciate you pointing that out. I really mean that.
I completely understand why you took the tone you did and I share your commitment to the Word. My response to the PLAYING WITH A LOADED GUN post on the main page limns some of my concerns about carrying the Old Princeton torch. If you've got some ideas on those matters, I'm all ears. I'm as troubled by the complexity of the issues as anyone.
Blessings,
Snub