[*] the blog chasers

Whoo boy! Adrian Warnock is sure going to be mad about this post, so before I start let me encourage him not to read it to keep from being antagonized.

One of the stunning parts of my history of interaction with iMonk is the number of times the things I have actually said are replaced by things I have not at all said. For example, in the meta of last week's final comment, Michael Spencer said this:

Thanks for the inclusion of the links, as readers can go there [and] decide for themselves if what I've written is well represented by your post.

Since this is someone else's experiment and not mine, interested persons
might follow my links to lief rigney's blog to actually dialog with
someone who eschewing the label "Christian." I am not that person.
Michael Spencer | 03.11.06 - 1:22 am |
What I find interesting is the question as to whether I have represented iMonk correctly. For example, did I say he was the one abandoning the label "Christian"? No – in fact, what my last blog post on this subject said was that he does some extraordinarily-bad things in trying to defend what his friend has done. For example, his case that "the Bible is on [rigney's] side" is such a poor example of considering Scripture that we cannot even call it exegesis.

And so I replied to iMonk:

Please note for my readers where I said you where the one tossing the tag "Christian". I think I was pretty circumspect to say you were -defending- your buddy's decision, and not that you were joining him in his little (one-man) piece of performance art.

Your link, which you posted in the meta, prompted this reply. Please do not play yourself off as someone who got blindsided, rail-roaded, dragged out into the street and pants'd.
centuri0n | 03.11.06 - 7:59 am | #
Fair enough, right? iMonk says I have misrepresented him, and I ask him "please tell me where". It's a fair question.

Now please hear me clearly: if it is not a fair question, then there is nowhere this discussion can go. See: when I offer iMonk my opinion, I have the audacity to cut and paste his text, and comment on the substance of his actual text. In that way, when I say, "his reading of 1Peter is absurd because ..." I am referring to something he actually wrote rather than to something I think he was thinking and was trying to sublimate when he wrote what he actually wrote.

But what is the response? Is it, "well, cent, you said, 'and iMonk is himself now abandoning the Christian moniker.' That's pretty self-evident." Or is it, "well, Turk, when you say, 'and iMonk's in the same boat which is taking on water fast,' you are implying that he's doing what rigney is doing." Because those replies would be ways to correct the matters of fact and my own muddy self-perception, right?

Yeah: the problem is that I never said anything like that, so iMonk has the problem of having no evidence. Remember: his original point is that I have misrepresented him as joining in rigney's experiment. Let's see iMonk's response:

rigney's project is not about not wanting to be known as a believer in and follower of Jesus Christ. He clearly states that he is a public follower of the Lord Jesus Christ and wants to encourage others to do the same.

I work with hundreds of unbelievers, many of them from all over the world. All my Ethiopians are Orthodox, and all believe they are Christians. Based on my conversations with them, I doubt that any of them understand the Gospel at all. But if I ask all the Christians in our school to raise hands, they all do. So clarification is a big part of evangelism.

rigney is in a major university setting. His project is not about denying Christ. It is about being able to have conversations with people who hear the word Christian and run down the road of a hundred wrong assumptions. If the experiment allows him to talk about Jesus with people who usually want to ridicule Christians, then he has my prayers and encouragement.

This whole discussion just dances around your desire to say that someone at the bht is denying the gospel, when in fact the very opposite is the case.

Michael Spencer 03.11.06 - 5:08 pm #
OK: so there's no substantiation of the claim that I am misrepresenting iMonk – but a lot of extra information about rigney.

Now: for the sake of argument, let's assume for a second that my stripper-evangelist example was out of line and I have misunderstood what rigney does. In what way does that have anything to do with the central theme of my blog entry that says iMonk has mishandled Scripture to make his point, or the additional theme that disavowing the label "Christian" is itself a misguided effort and anti-church? See: those are the thing I have actually said. The use of Professor X's Cerebro in order to locate my true motives may be useful in the movies, but if you want to complain about what I have done, please complain about what I have actually written.

Thus, my response to this statement:

What is interesting is that I haven't said anything about the BHT "denying the Gospel". What I have said is:

(1) Your assertion that the Bible supports your buddy's view is incorrect

(2) Your buddy's "experiment" sacrifices a moral tenet -- identification with the church -- for a pragmantic piece of "evangelism" -- starting a "conversation". (for Steve: if I deny that I am a Christian, or repudiate the label which is still a valid label for the church {and has been since the Apostolic age} in order to distance myself from actual Christians, I have done exactly the same kind of thing that the stripper "missionary" has done: I have sacrificed a moral standard for a pragmatic approach to evangelism. I stand by my comparison.)

(3) Your buddy's one-man discipleship is exactly one-man deep and wide

After that, where this post makes this into an imputation of all the BHT is up to you to prove rather than merely assert. But I suspect you will simply call me mean again rather than admit that my vivisection of your original post doesn't say anything outside of the scope of your pal rigney (like e.e. cummings, I suppose) and you personally.

Listen iMonk: if you don't want to be accused of defending the ridiculous, don't defend the ridiculous. It's a pretty easy formula to follow. And you have, via e-mail, my desire for you and the BHT. To here synthesize motives for me speaks again to your lack of balance in approaching hard criticism.

centuri0n 03.11.06 - 11:16 pm #
And let's be honest: the shot at rigney via ee cummings was uncalled for, so shame on me. At best, his views are an object in this little exchange, so taking a shot at him ... not good form. Sorry to rigney for venting on him for my frustration with Spencer.

However, that doesn't mitigate the problem that iMonk has said (in words to this effect), "you heap bad person" without any "heap" of "bad" to point to. And what that call gets from iMonk is this:
Your endorsement of the Universal Church of those calling themselves Christians is great. Mormons, JWs and millions of Roman Catholics and Orthodox thank you for your approval.
Again: the question is whether iMonk has any justification to say that I have done him wrong, and again iMonk tries to use a rabbit to divert the hounds. And why? Seriously: I'd like to know why it's so hard simply to review the evidence – that is rehearse it here – and explain what I did that was so wrong. Where did I say that the BHT denies the Gospel? Where did I says iMonk has abandoned the church? Where did I do any of the things iMonk wants to hang on me? Tell me, and I'll offer a correction.

But let's keep something squarely in the center of this plea for substantiation: I didn’t go looking for iMonk's essay on rigney's experiment. I wrote a blog entry responding to Bill at Thinklings, and iMonk took that opportunity to link to his essay – as if my post to Bill was about himself or his band of merry bloggers.

"cent," comes the retort, "your closing comment in that essay was about the BHT. You brought it on yourself."

Ironically, the closing comment in Bill's blog entry was about the BHT and it was his generalization which I referred to. So I guess I could blame Bill for this little bruh-haha, right?


You can scroll down to read it for yourself, but I began that last paragraph, "As for your closing note that some at BHT are thinking about abandoning the monicker 'Christian', ..." Those were Bill's words, and I was commenting on them. If Bill was wrong about representing "some" at BHT, then the generalization was carried over in that way and not as a pot-shot.

If the readers of the blogosphere would like to chime in, please let them come – but let's not start the unfounded idea that I came after the BHT or iMonk here. I was commenting on Bill's essay at Thinklings (which I found via Best of the GodBlogs), and subsequent to that iMonk linked to his essay on rigney's wager, and subsequent to that I commented on iMonk's essay.

And after all of that is said, let's be clear that I'm still looking for the way in which I have misrepresented iMonk's own words. Steve and Ellen have posted some interesting thoughts on that, and I will address them separate to this issue. If iMonk wants to explain that, I'm all ears.