Monday, May 05, 2008

Chaff Removal

Trey Austin begins his latest post with more personal antipathies - not against Dr. White, this time - but against this present anonymous author.

Trey writes:

"It has taken me a while to post this, primarily because i [sic] have decided not to pursue further interaction with TurretinFan."

The fact that this purported resolution of Trey's is the lead-in to a lengthy response to questions I posed is odd. Nevertheless, this sort of parting-shot mentality is something I'd steer my readers clear of. It has gotten other e-poligists in trouble in the past, especially when they post their next round of response to the folks they are supposedly ignoring.

"His anonymity is very problematic."

My anonymity, of course, is problematic for people who want to make the debate personal. It is problematic for people who want to debate the other person, rather than the other argument. All that they can do is latch on to the anonymity itself as some sort of excuse for not addressing the issues. It is also problematic for those who think that there is justifiable jihad, or who simply want to take debate to the level of fisticuffs.

It is also somewhat problematic, one might argue, for the anoymous person. It limits the ability of the anonymous person to attach his personal positives to his arguments. Instead, it forces the arguments to stand on their own strength. It makes the writings speak for themselves.

"He can say or so [sic - perhaps "do" was intended?] anything he desires, and there is no way for anyone wronged to see [sic - perhaps "seek" was intended?] recourse and correct his behavior other than trying to contact him through his blog."

Several responses here:

a) This isn't really a problem for someone interested in dialogue, discussion, or even debate. It is a problem for someone who gets somehow personally injured by something that is said. Notice, however, that Trey doesn't make any claims to falling into such a category. If he does think that something I've said somehow injures him, he really ought to contact me.

b) Which brings us to the second part of the issue, namely that not only can one contact the present author through the blog (such as by leaving a comment); but also by email (my email is available through my Blogger profile). In fact, many people have contacted the present author by email, though (at least in my memory) none has contacted the present author about a matter of personal injury, without receiving satisfaction. If there are any out there who feel they have been injured by something I wrote, I encourage them to please hurry to take advantage of the opportunity to resolve this with me privately, if possible.

c) Finally, of course, there is a further way for the matter to be remedied, namely publicly. If, for example, I were to say, "Trey believes in sacrificing goats in the New Testament era," on my blog, Trey could set the matter straight by denying that on his own blog. Now, one would hope that I wouldn't make things up about people, but if I did do so, and in public, there's a public way to respond to those sorts of things.

As a continuation of (c), I encourage all my critics to use public fora like their own blogs to address what they perceive to be my public errors. More than one person has tried to sieze the opportunity to do so, and I am willing to let the record speak for itself. Put your response somewhere where the search engines like "Google" can see it, and anyone who is wondering can find the answer. On top of that, I normally do not delete links to the posts that I make, though I suppose I could, which makes it even easier for people to find your rebuttal.

"My personaly [sic] view is that this kind of hiding behind false names does not lend itself to open debate and discussion."

"Hiding behind" false names (or behind no name at all) has a very long history of promoting open debate and discussion. Surely Trey is aware of that fact. In fact, I recently posted a discussion on the maxim "in the essentials, unity - in the non-essentials, liberty - in all things, charity." As I noted there, the maxim first appeared in what is believed to have been a pseudonymous work.

And of course, in this day of 6+ billion people, simply a name (whether true or false) is almost equivalent to anonymity, until more details are provided. The Chinese are starting to really feel the burden of this problem as a small handful of family names dominate their population. Similar problems exist in the "Smith" and "Jones" clans in the English-speaking world.

Apparently, in the imagination of my theological opponent (or is he? more on that when we get to the grain of his post) open debate and discussion must be between people who have some way of tracking the other person down. If that kind of mentality bothers you, you and I are not alone.

"Children of light not not seek the darkness as a place to hide while they discuss the things of God."

I wonder whether this was first penned by a pope who was unaware of a certain former monk's whereabouts, or by Saul when he sought David's life. I wonder if it was penned against those in the catacombs. Regardless of who penned it, it is absurd.

I present arguments in the light of the Internet. As far as I know, my arguments are more open to the light than arguments have ever been before in the history of mankind. I write in English, a language comprehensible to the vast majority of the Internet-equipped world, even where it is not their primary language - and a language from which many machines can translate into other languages for those who do not read English.

The arguments are open to the light. I don't whisper heresy in secret: I proclaim the truth openly. If my arguments are bad, there errors are evident to the world. Indeed, given the media I use I cannot speak out of two sides of my mouth to two different people: instead I have to be consistent, using the same arguments defending the faith against Muslims as against Mormons and Papists.

"It also does not seem to me that TurretinFan is at all interested in learning anything at all, but only with “proclaiming” his view, cursorily “refuting” the other person’s (with whom he disagrees), and claiming that he has summarily answered it and done battle for the Kingdom of God."

This sort of motive-questioning doesn't deserve a detailed response. The short response is that the very post to which Trey goes on to respond is a post full of questions. Perhaps Trey which is to impugn my motives, but he could have placed his false claims in a more persuasive context!

"Well, that’s not what i [sic] call doing work for the Kingdom of God."

No further comment.

"Bludgeoning people with your views is not what any Christian is called to do—and it would be ridiculous to call that 'standing for the truth.'"

While that word "bludgeoning" is quite colorful, one sees the metaphor start breaking down when it comes out that my instrument of spiritual warfare is not the cudgel of "[my] views" but the sword of the Spirit, namely the Word of God: Scriptures.

"Thus saith TurretinFan," would be an absurd cudgel. It's shadowy weight would damage no heresy, nor leave the slightest scratch in the anti-Christian messages that exist. Throwing the force of the fact that I believe something to be true is like adding the most infintessimal antenna of the tiniest species of ant at the gates of the castle.

I suppose I could try to add some weight to my views by setting forth my name, credentials, etc. - but that would take away from the point of my presence here, which is to proclaim the Word of God, and the true doctrines of the church of the Living God.

To which end, may God give me grace,


P.S. I hope to turn shortly to the "grain" portion of Trey's post.

1 comment:

Turretinfan said...

NatAmLLC submitted a comment that I had to redact, because it was far too generous to me - in ways I really don't deserve ... his redacted comments follow:


Parenthetically first then:

I checked into a world class hotel one afternoon some twelve years ago to be told: "Mr. Natamllc", [let the record reflect my last name is not Natamllc], "you are already checked in, ah, why do you want to check in again? Isn't that your wife over there?"

hmmmmm, I thought!!!! "WHAT"? "No, my agent made reservations weeks ago and I assure you I just got here from the airport and have not checked in already". I said in response to that bit of unsettling information.

"And what do you mean, "" ISN'T THAT YOUR WIFE OVER THERE?"" ??"

Well, as it turned out, there were clearly, four "Mr. Natamllcs" "already" checked into this one hotel and now I presented myself making it five!

What a week of confusion that brought about! Being anonymous keeps things focused sometimes.

Now to this issue at hand, boldly wading into it myself, natamllc/michael, I want to quote Einar Billing and something he wrote to show my own disapproval with Trey:

Einar Billing, 1909, page 18: quote[....Otherwise I know of nothing more typical in the characters of modern literature than this: they are persons who are dissatisfied in their work but they have not been able to find a calling. In order to follow what significantly enough is termed "their calling," they break away from their occupation, break with their friends, break their marriage relationship, break ever and anew with everything that might give stability and continuity to their life. Is not lack of calling the real meaning of the "tearing apart" which always is the subject of remark, sometimes in frivolity, sometimes in deadly earnest?] endquote.

I guess it is this, such a minor essential as that, and Trey wants to break away from some [...] interaction with [...] Turretinfan?

My point is this, "there is nothing new under the sun". Apparently in Einar Billing's day and the Great Reformers of times ago before then, breaking away from the debate was commonplace. Should we then, based on facts in evidence and all known historical accounts of these sorts of things be surprised?

I guess I would be surprised if you were! :)

For what it is worth, natamllc, ah, michael, TF, it seems to me I remember this sort of issue before coming up in a debate on another person's blog with you?

Why do you rub some this way so that they just break away?

I am not bothered by the fact that you have chosen to be Turretinfan and not "John" or "Tom" or "Peter" and if Trey is reading this, I suggest he [...] simply repent of that breakaway idea and get back into the debate!