Not Friel

You people make me crazy. The guy I'm responding to is Todd, but -not- Todd Friel. Hence the Title, "Not Friel".

Don't send any more e-mails.

WOW BIG UPDATE: Had an e-mail exchange with Todd, and without divulging anything private or confidential, go easy on Todd -- he's not a troll.

Just a few preliminary notes as we open up Todd's comments here. The first, which I think is obvious to anyone reading Todd's view of what Dr. Aikman wrote, is that it seems that Todd hasn't actually read much of the blogosphere. And let's be serious: it's not a very reputable place. Who can blame him if he's not reading it? It's like blaming him for not reading the vast output of vanity presses globally - who has that kind of time and patience and intestinal fortitude?

But in that, many of Todd's rejoiners on behalf of Dr. Aikman reflect a pretty shallow understanding of what is happening in the blogosphere. So while I don't blame him for not being a blog reader, I think I find it a little weird that he wants to make distinctions in a genre or media (or however you classify the blog-bandwidth) which he doesn't know that much about. It doesn't hardly take apart his argument to say that, but if I started trying to distinguish between types of short-haired domestic cats, and I had never really seen any such cats, I'll bet my categories would be somewhat suspect.

The second, which is about to supplant "like ministry" as an idiom in popular arguments, is the confiscation of the term "gracious" by people who really just want to escape or deflect criticism. "If you were more gracious, I'd talk to you about my inability to formulate a reasonable syllogism about my position, or I'd be willing to discuss whether I have ever seen a fact or have mine straight. But you and your ilk are ungracious, and since we worship a God of Grace, you must be bad guys."

We worship this God who is an interesting fellow, if we can say that without being disrespectful. He has these people who are sinful rebels, and he doesn't wait for them to show some grace before He pours it out by the bloody pint (literally): He pours it out by speaking to them, and staying on subject, and putting them right by verbal correction, and not trying to coax them a little with a kind word but says things plainly and in the way He means them. And He pours it out at the cross in a way which is an offense to the world.

So if you have the market cornered on Grace, speak to me the way a gracious God speaks to us -- and don't run away like all the phony prophets and all the hypocritical religious leaders have always done throughout the history of man's relationship to God.

The last thing I'd preface this reply with is that one ought to engage what is said and not what one thinks will win the argument. That happens over and over in Todd's comments, and it doesn't help him any.

So with that, here we go:

|| You're a hard guy to find when
|| someone makes a comment you
|| find difficult to reply to. I
|| didn't want to miss you again
|| and here is something that
|| should be useful to you.

Gummby returned that serve already, but given that I'm just a guy with a blog and some somewhat-famous friends, I'm probably in the top-25 people in the blogosphere you can find without really putting yourself out. The next time you want to find me, come to this blog and leave a comment in any thread, or else e-mail me as I have already given you the link to do so. That link is also in the header, above.

|| Hope this script makes the
|| trip from my word processor to
|| here in good form.

Yes -- it seems to have turned out fine.

|| On the day Christianity
|| Today's on-line newsletter hit
|| my emailbox, I read the essay
|| by Dr. Aikman and upon
|| finishing it I was commenting
|| over at your post on your
|| reply to his article. I think
|| you were the first link
|| underneath the article so you
|| got the visit.

I had actually posted the reply prior to CT making the essay a web article; I read it by accident in CT print, and it sort of annoyed me because it was a little condescending and a little misrepresentative of what is and was going on in our little corner of the intellectual and theological outlet mall.

So it must be providence that you found my link.

|| I saw that the
|| discussion had ended a few
|| weeks earlier but commented
|| for the record anyway. I
|| checked back for over a week
|| and saw you elected not to
|| return comment.

As I noted in my reply to you, one of the reasons I hate the built-in Blogger comment system is that it doesn't have a very clean way of keeping track of when a past thread has new comments. You either have to get every comment in via e-mail (which I loathe -- no offense to anyone, but it's worse than spam), or nothing. The drawback of Haloscan (which I use here at the FoF blog) is that it has a max length per post (which is a mixed blessing); but I get a control panel where comments are listed by the newest comment first -- and when a long-dead thread gets a passer-by, I can notice that person effectively.

So in your zealousness to get re-noticed, consider that the world was not waiting for your entry into the blogosphere, and it is uncommon for most bloggers to bother with old threads. Again, consider it providence that I found your comment. I think I got elected to find it.

|| I thought that
|| was only to be expected
|| because the conversation had
|| run itself out there.

This add-on, btw, is why I come across pretty hard on your little quip, above. You "expected" the conversation to be "run out" but I "elected" to ignore you.

I guess I have to ask: was the conversation dying out because I was ignoring all the people who responded, or was it dying out because nobody was responding anymore? If it's the latter, it's a little, um, lopsided to say that I was 'electing' not to respond to you.

|| Then the
|| other night I was cleaning out
|| my bookmarks and saw that you
|| finally had commented.
|| Thanks for summing up your
|| response in your own words
|| with these three statements:
|| 1)"My complaint is that Dr.
|| Aikman's essay is itself of
|| the type of criticism he's
|| complaining about - so if that
|| type of criticism is not
|| valid, then Dr. Aikman's essay
|| is not a valid complaint."

Before we go through what you say "sums up" my comments, I just want to make sure the readers actually read my comments in order to make their own comparison.

But I would stand by that in spite of your rejoiner, below. What Dr. Aikman did was compare concerns about Joel Osteen's dangerous theological vacuousness to people who think that, in spite of the KJV's translators' confession that they did fallible work, the KJV is the only valid translation in English.

That's intellectual hooliganism -- and oddly, it's the kind of hooliganism Dr. Aikman thinks there ought to be less of. So how do we take his complaint seriously? We will see, below, that we can't.

|| 2)"What he did, Todd, was to
|| say that criticism of Joel
|| Osteen is as baseless as KJVO
|| bibliology."

Exactly. I even showed you where he did it.

|| 3)"You equate criticizing Joel
|| Osteen with KJVO enthusiasm -
|| trying, I guess, to
|| demonstrate how backwards and
|| uninformed these opinions must
|| be."

Exactly. Now, seriously: Dr. Aikman's point -- I think we can agree that it's Dr. Aikman's point -- is that there is a kind of rhetoric which is frankly unproductive. Nobody listens to it, and nobody is changed by it. Fair enough, right?

But if one tries to make that point by classifying all blog criticism of American Christianity in the same bucket, one has in fact done what one is allegedly criticizing.

Here's the litmus test: Is Ken KJVO? No? Then how does he classify as part of "these sites" where "mixed swimming" is a topic of heated discussion?

|| Your first complaint is no
|| complaint and Dr. Aikman's
|| criticsim is still valid
|| because it is a different
|| "type"_of criticism than the
|| type of criticism he's
|| referring to.

It's not at all. Dr. Aikman clearly says:

It is easy to laugh at these websites, which feature subheads like "Mixed Swimming" (dangerous, of course) and "Bible Guidelines for Clothing." Often these sites seem convinced that every translation of the Bible done after the King James Version is a step toward apostasy.
"these websites" are the sites which call Osteen a viper, and they are then the sites which Dr. Aikman says are also convinced that no translation but KJV is orthodox.

That's called poisoning the well. It's not unfair criticism: it's trying to make the guilt of one kind of error get in the reader's view of something one thinks is equally reprehensible. That's not even polemics: it's called "lying" in some circles, but I have refrained from using that word so far in order to keep things from going to verbal body-checks into the glass. The fans like that stuff, but it will, of course, make Dr. Aikman tune out because he thinks he's above that. As do you.

But until you can prove Ken is KJVO, that's what it is: a fudge, an excessive overstatement, a misrememberance, a failure of fact-checkers. Or if it was intentional and meant to make Ken look bad, a lie.

|| What type of criticsim is Dr.
|| Aikman referring to in his
|| essay? He says:Criticism
|| "drenched in sarcasm and
|| animosity", "not reasoned or
|| modestly couched criticism,
|| but blasts of ire determined
|| to discredit beyond redemption
|| the targets of the criticism

Yes -- think about that underlined part.

|| And Aikman describes those
|| critics as people who are
|| "deeply intolerant of
|| criticism
". Criticism to the
|| detriment of other listenier
|| who "might be permanently
|| disillusioned" by it. He
|| described the type of
|| criticism he's referring to.

I agree -- that's the kind he's trying to disavow, but that's the kind he make here. Check that underlined part again -- is it reasonable to lump Ken Silva in with KJVO cultists?

If not, what kind of criticism has Dr. Aikman given here?

|| Nowhere in Aikman's essay is
|| there that sort of criticism.

Really? Wow -- I think, as I said before, you better go re-read (or maybe read once) his actual essay. Here's the section where he gives up the ghost:
The angriest websites are those belonging to small, but disturbingly visible, fundamentalist Protestant groups outraged that fellow Protestants appear to be holding out a welcoming hand to Catholics or Orthodox Christians.

Leading the charge against alleged ecumenists is Apprising Ministries (AM), a New Hampshire-based group whose leader is Southern Baptist pastor Ken Silva. ...

Somewhat less intemperate, but scarcely less hard-hitting, is Way of Life Literature, whose website features books with titles like Billy Graham and Rome, The Pentecostal and Charismatic Movement, and Contemporary Christian Music. ...

It is easy to laugh at these websites, which feature subheads like "Mixed Swimming" (dangerous, of course) and "Bible Guidelines for Clothing." Often these sites seem convinced that every translation of the Bible done after the King James Version is a step toward apostasy.
Now, notice my elipses. I have here intentionally omitted some parts of the text -- but those part don't vindicate Dr. Aikman in any way. They are his enumerations of the litany of complaints from the various watch-dogs.

They are, sadly, "easy to laugh at" because they are moralistic and afraid of English translations not the KJV. Well, Ken's not. If he's not, who's been sarcastic and unfair toward him? Me?

Yeah, prolly not. I've been sarcastic toward you, but you're the one who said you wanted more detail and more response. When you order from the take-out window, you're going to get fries with that.

|| Dr. Aikman believes, like
|| many, that there are different
|| types of criticism. Saying so
|| right here:
|| "By all means criticize fellow
|| Christians if necessary, but
|| do so with grace."

One of the really decent things I did toward Dr. Aikman in my original post was to say, "I realize that you had space restrictions and a word-count to abide by, so making an encyclopedia entry for the various phyla and species of 'attack dogs' and their arguments was not in the scope of your work here." But the question is not "should he has said more?" The question is, "is saying what he said the kind of criticism he has abhorred?"

It is. He is frankly-unfair to Ken, and groups him in with people Ken would not endorse or find appealing. And in that, there needs to be a double-take on what Dr. Aikman is advancing here.

Let me suggest something which I have not suggested before, and I do so only to see where you will take it. One of the crater-sized targets for "watchblog" scorn is the somewhat-flakey magazine flagship Christianity Today itself -- the platform Dr. Aikman used to deliver his opinion. What he dexterously avoids is noting that CT receives a great deal of flack over its change in content from foundationally-evangelical, theologically-reformed content to something a bit more, um, not. It has adopted a sociological view of the term "Christianity" in place of a view which says that following Christ means something other than buying a magazine at a Christian bookstore along side the rack of plastic trash, and that view draws watchblog criticism.

So in that, what Dr. Aikman has done here is shilled for the current practices of CT -- without any disclaimer. So if he has really mislabeled Ken, and if he did it in a context where his publisher benefits if Ken is discredited, I wonder: where's the grace in that? Is that what you're talking about when you plaster the "graciously" bumper sticker on the end of your comment?

|| There is a whole range of
|| types of criticism. From
|| criticism lacking in grace(and
|| potentially even a lot more),
|| to criticism done with grace.

See above. In fact, see my original criticism. What you're writing here is simply ignoring almost everything associated with my original critique and my original essay, and Aikman's original essay.

|| Aikman's own criticism made
|| during his essay is of a
|| different type than he's
|| referring to in his essay. Not
|| as you say. We look at your
|| next two complaints for the
|| explanation.

Not hardly -- and repeating that it does is simply ignoring criticism, not refuting it.

|| 2)"What he did, Todd, was to
|| say that criticism of Joel
|| Osteen is as baseless as KJVO
|| bibliology"
|| Aikman never even said
|| criticism of Olsteen is
|| baseless. I'm betting he
|| wouldn't be opposed to
|| offering Joel Olsteen his own
|| helpful criticism.

He calls the opposition to ecumenism "disturbing", calls Osteen an "alleged ecumenist", and calls Ken's site (with others) "laughable".

Does he say, "Criticism of Osteen is baseless"? Not hardly. Does he imply that those who oppose ecumenism are wrong or wrong-headed? Read the essay yourself and think about it for a while -- especially when you measure that against CT's on-going infatuation with the pastor of the Compaq Center. However, you cannot glean in the least from this essay that Dr. Aikman thinks any of the subjects of criticism should be criticized at all. Even the one sentence you have cited, above, does not indicate that Billy Graham or Robert Schuller should be subject to criticism.

|| 3)""You equate criticizing
|| Joel Osteen with KJVO
|| enthusiasm - trying, I guess,
|| to demonstrate how backwards
|| and uninformed these opinions
|| must be."
|| Really? He never faults
|| criticising Olsteen, and never
|| mentions "KJVO enthusiasm".

This is one place where Todd's novice status in the blogosphere, and in apologetics, really sticks out.

What is "KJVO enthusiasm", Todd? Does the "O" there mean anything? I could have called it "quackery" rather than "enthusiasm", but I was trying to keep the post from going into strange and uncharted lands of hijacking from Riplingerites and Ruckmanites.

He clearly faults the sites he is criticizing as being KJVO advocates, and he plainly disdains the criticism of Osteen -- and he does so by saying, in effect, "these sites do both of these things, and it's laughable".

Do you think someone who thinks the positions he's reproaching have some merit would call those positions "laughable"? If so, I'll say it: your position is completely laughable. It should be a badge of honor to you.

|| Those are two arguements you
|| had to manufacture Frank.

See above.

|| Incidentally, it is truly an
|| insult to say "it takes one to
|| know one, naa naa..." as you
|| in effect said to Aikman by
|| erroneously remanufacturing
|| his arguements. Thanks for
|| picking up on that Frank.

The problem is that I didn't say that at all -- and my clarification in my second post on this subject works that out for you. Please engage that.

|| But what criticism of Joel
|| Olsteen is Dr. Aikman citing?
|| His essay says this:
|| "Leading the charge against
|| alleged ecumenists is
|| Apprising Ministries (AM), a
|| New Hampshire-based group
|| whose leader is Southern
|| Baptist pastor Ken Silva. Rick
|| Warren, according to AM, is a
|| "milquetoast." Schuller and
|| the late Norman Vincent Peale
|| are "the_devil's duo." Richard
|| Foster (a leading Quaker
|| writer on Christian
|| spirituality), Brian McLaren
|| (a leader in the emerging
|| church movement), and Joel
|| Osteen (pastor of Lakewood
|| Church in Houston) are "vipers
|| of new evangelicalism" and
|| "whitewashed" tombs."
|| Buried in this paragraph is
|| the reference you cited to
|| Joel Olsteen as a "viper", or
|| in Christian dialogue you
|| might as well say "satan".
|| Aikman is suggesting that this
|| is not merely criticism, but
|| unfruitful or graceless
|| criticism. It almost shouldn't
|| have the dignity of being
|| called criticism. And there is
|| no reference here to any KJVO
|| enthusiasts or even the more
|| fringe KJVO mindset which he
|| refers to later in a
|| completely different context.

If you think, as you try to work out below, that "these websites" are not the same sites as the two mentioned by name, not the same group of sites, there's no sense in arguing with you. What you need is a review of the usage in English of the demonstrative pronoun "this", and its plural "these".

|| It is awhile before Aikman
|| mentions the fringe KJVO
|| folks.

He mentions them as "these websites". The antecedent of "these" are the sites he has already mentioned. That's how the English language works.

|| Dr. Aikman moves on to other
|| literature, websites and
|| personalities, in the same
|| context_of viewing criticism,
|| and as he leaves a section on
|| Pat Robertson and the Elliots
|| and moves on to a new
|| paragraph, he gets to "these
|| websites". He names these
|| wesites and says, "these sites
|| seem convinced that every
|| translation of the Bible done
|| after the King James Version
|| is a step toward apostasy."
|| What's he talking about Frank?
|| Yes, these websites,_"Mixed
|| Swimming" and ect.,.

There's nothing nice to say about your method of reading here, Todd. It's simply fraudulent. "These" is a pronoun; a pronoun requires an antecedent in English. The antecedents for the plural "these" here are AM and Way of Life Literature.

That's not really debatable. It's a fact of grammar.

|| He makes no mention of any
|| KJVO enthusiasts-unless you
|| are into using euphemisms.
|| Which I'm not.

So I should just call KJVO guys "cultists"? Where the civility there, dude? Or is that the really false stuff, which ought to be criticized, and then when we get to Osteen we should try to rationalize whether or not a wealth-and-prosperity Gospel is what Jesus died on the cross for?

And if the KJVO guys are cultists, what has Dr. Aikman said about Ken again?

|| So what's this about these
|| KJVO enthusiasts you're
|| complaining about?
|| I am a NASVO enthusiast. O.k.?

I doubt it -- that is, I doubt you think people should only use the NASB, or that the NASB is the only translation in English which does not create apostasy.

This is, again, part of your own newness in this territory -- I hesitate to call it "ignorance" because you will undoubtedly take that as an insult. You're not NASVO -- you just prefer the NASV. You might do so enthusiastically. However, I doubt you would say anyone who doesn't use NASV is probably going to hell for altering God's word.

And in that, you don't break any new ground in the rest of your response here, so the only reason to post it is for posterity's sake.

You can do that at your own blog. I can e-mail it to you if you need it.