Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Absolutely Amazing

I recently had a dialogue with Debbie Maken over on the comments section of the Boundless Weblog, and I am truly amazed. I think the irrationality, not only of Debbie Maken, but also of people who just simply could not represent me properly came out very well. The worst, however, has to be the misrepresentation at the end. Someone asked me about why it was that Hanna was crying in the temple at the beginning of first Samuel. I wrote:

With regards to Hanna, it is more than likely that Hanna was weeping over not having a child mostly because, at that time, being barren was as bad as being a nerd in school. You were often the subject of immense ridicule and that may be what Hanna is upset about.

The response I got back from a man named Darren Allen to this was:


Adam,
Are you joking????
You are comparing being barren and childless to being a nerd??????????
She was upset being ridiculed????
I don't know what sort of la la land you live in but you have lost credibility in this debate.


Then Debbie Maken said:

On my blogspot Adam as Puritan Calvinist said that stewardship of our bodies meant that we should enjoy our maleness and femaleness by refusing to cross dress. Credibility is only one problems here.

This is absolutely amazing. What kind of irrational commitment to a system allows you to misread my words where I specifically say that I am referring to the time first Samuel happened and was written? Then, when told to go back and reread it, they persist in their misrepresentation. Not only that, I have had this same misrepresentation repeated on Anakin "Niceguy"'s blog just this week.

This is a woman who is speaking in London this week. It is bad enough that she has written that book when she has no training in Biblical studies, and has been invited on radio programs to discuss this topic... but now she is being invited to speak to be a guest speaker??????? That is sad.

Also, this woman always accuses her opponents of being childish. How can you accuse other people of being childish, when you say something like this?

We need to have more discernment in our Christian culture. There are many people I read and respect: James White, R.C. Sproul, John Gerstner, Greg Bahnsen, John Frame, and B.B. Warfield [among others]. Yet, I am not in univocal agreement with any of these men. In thinking through what you believe, it requires discernment to know what you should believe and what you should not. Reading other authors can help, but we must remember that we are ultimately responsible for what we believe. We cannot believe it just because it is what is popular or radical.

Also, the modern church is obsessed with counterculturalism. That is, the modern church is obsessed with anything that the Christian media promotes as countercultural. This is dangerious, because what it means is that people who are popular control the morality of the Christian community. In reality, Christian morality needs to be derived from careful exegesis of God's word. We need to test and challange these ideas we get from the popular media, and do the work necessary to rightly divide the word of truth. Are we to be under the authority of a local church? Yes. If someone is not the rule of a local church body, then they are definitely in sin. However, we also must realize that the church is fallible, and makes mistakes. When they do make mistakes, such as allowing someone untrained like Debbie Maken to write her book, they need to be accountable for the bad fruit they cause.

I am not saying that everyone out there in the mandatory marriage movement is like this. I am sure there are honest Christians out there who hold to this position. I can only hope that they will rightly call Debbie Maken to accountability for this kind of childish behavior.

5 comments:

Philippa said...

Puritan,

As I said to you on Anakin’s blog, the issue you were being challenged on was that it sounded like you were trivialising Hannah’s agony by comparing the anguish of a barren woman to being a nerd in school. I’m not saying this to accuse you, but it did come across as a clumsy and insensitive analogy. It's not that I think you were treated with absolute fairness (I don't think you were, and sadly a degree of misrepresentation and over-reaction has characterised this whole debate) but it was that particular point that got people riled up.

When they do make mistakes, such as allowing someone untrained like Debbie Maken to write her book, they need to be accountable for the bad fruit they cause.

Well, you know, anybody can write a book. They don’t have to be formally trained theologically, they just have to write well and convince a publisher to take them on! We can’t censor people who write things we may not agree with – the world doesn’t work like that. I don’t agree with everything in Debbie Maken’s book either, but she makes some important and valid points and obviously she has hit a real nerve with people who are deeply frustrated with what they see as the church’s super-spiritualisation of singleness. If I didn’t already have a prior commitment this weekend, I would be very interested to hear her (since I live quite close to London.)

I think there has been some bad behaviour on both sides of this ‘gift of singleness’ spat. I think it’s regrettable that Anakin allowed some misogynists to comment on his site (in previous threads).

Your policy of not allowing anonymous comments is a very sensible one. :)

Anakin Niceguy said...

Hey PC,

You might want to clarify that I wasn't the one doing the attacking on my blog. LOL. I am basically in agreement with you. The whole "countercultural" shtick wears thin with me as well. Actually, the marriage mandate movement is not countercultural, it's subcultural. In fact, I'll go so far as to say they are parroting the "everybody needs luv" sentiments of our everyday world.

Anakin Niceguy said...

Slightly off-topic but ... if I haven't already said so, I really liked your post, "Debbie Maken, Descriptive, and Delay of Marriage." Excellent textual analysis. I don't see how Mrs. Maken can respond to it.

By the way, have you had a chance to read some of my earlier installments of my critique (parts two and three)? I am curious what you think about my remarks on Debbie Maken's exegesis of key passages.

Take care.

PuritanCalvinist said...

philippa,

I appriciate your willingness to dialogue about this issue in a fair and honest manner.

First of all, Darren Allen wrote this after I responded to him:

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YOU said she was upset about being ridiculed.

YOU compared being barren to being a NERD.

These are highly insulting statements to people who are dealing with childlessness.


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Obviously, the author is upset about me "comparing barrenness to being a nerd." However, I did no such thing. I compared the sociological plight of the barren woman *in the first century* to the sociological plight of being a nerd today. It wouldn't make any sense to say that I was insulting people without children today, if I were only referring to Hannah. How can you insult people's barrenness today if you are talking about something that happened 3000 years ago? Again, the only way that can be rationally defended is if someone takes my statements out of context to say that what happened in the first millenium BC should be norminative today. I never said that.

Second, as far as censorship, I am not saying that Debbie Maken cannot express her views. Just that she should be forbidden from doing so in the context of being a teacher. In other words, the church should not allow people to publish their perspectives unless they have the training necessary to teach people through their writings. The apostle Paul said:

2 Timothy 2:23-25 But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels. 24 The Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, 25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth,

Notice, when the church does not refuse ignorant speculations, it leads to quarreling. It leads to opposition, not being corrected in gentleness, but rather in hatred for the other side. Is that not what we are seeing in the church today over what Debbie Maken has published? The fruit of this entire movement is bitterness and hatred for the opposite sex on both sides. Had the church not let Debbie Maken teach these things in her book out of ignorance, it would have never came to this.

Now, I am not saying that you should not publish something just because it may lead to quarrelling. However, you need to be willing and able to carry on an honest dialogue and deal with the issue in a responsible manner. So far, when I have tried to deal with this issue, all I get back is that protracted singleness is all my fault [as if we had already decided that protracted singleness was a sin in the first place]. Then I see someone from the other side say "no, it's all the woman's fault," etc., etc., etc.

The apostle James says:

James 3:1 Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.

Therefore, Mrs. Maken will be judged much more harshly if anything because she did not get the education necessary to rightly handle the word of truth. However, how much worse is God going to look at the behavior both sides have engaged in, and hold both the church and Debbie Maken responsible for their actions? That is what I am saying.

While you are right that people are going to continue to publish books we disagree with, I think it is not too much to ask that the church make sure that the people who are doing so have the training to rightly divide the word of truth. In doing so, we will avoid this bashing of other people, and be able to deal with the topic in a gentle, God-fearing manner as the apostle Paul says we should.

PuritanCalvinist said...

Anakin,

Ya, you was not the one doing the misrepresenting. It was an anonomous poster. I will see if I can edit that.

Anyway, I think that this whole counterculturalism is hurting our attempts to deal with the culture. I noticed an atheist reviewing Debbie Maken's book online, and he said:

-----------------------------------
Unintentional Comedy,

...and it's hard to decide which is funniest, the author calling someone a "eunuch" on their first date (although perhaps if the dude in fact had any nads, he would have left her with the check right about then), her using the phrase "a duty to marry" without a trace of irony, or the fact that the wedding dress on the cover looks oddly and oh so fittingly like an iconic Holy Grail...

Facetiousness aside, what is less funny is the sort of willful ignorance and narrowmindedness that the above "eunuch" comment represents in the first place. That said, it's perhaps helpful to consider that Ms. Maken's home culture is one that in fact both practices and advocates arranged marriages, and her "adopted" Christian fundamentalist culture, or so one might extrapolate from her writing, is one that not only appears to elevate narrow-mindedness to a virtue, but seems needful of, of not desparate for, someone to tell them what to do and how to live -- and which, absent the willingness to think independently, clings to the words of a collection of ancient, metaphorical, allegorical, and altogether unsubstantiated texts. What is particularly paradoxical about this particular book is that its author seems to be a notably intelligent and quick-witted person who has chosen to limit her mind's travels to the hick town of one particular retrograde ideology.

So, to the athiest, agnostic, skeptical and otherwise freethinking out there, I would say: by all means, read as much of this book as you can, at least without dissolving into laughter. It will, largely with eloquence, shed additional light on the crevices of the Christian mind...
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The sad thing is that the fact that Debbie Maken was not trained in this issue is actually causing the atheists to now mock the christian community because of this book. I mean, just because the atheist mocks you does not mean there is something wrong, but notice that he criticizes her for the exact same thing I did...not getting the background to take on the project of teaching the body of Christ [what he calls "willful ignorance"]. That should tell you something. This is another reason why Debbie Maken should not have been allowed to publish her book. If you do not do the background work to prepare yourself to teach others, then the enemies of the faith are going to come around and nail you for it, and this atheist certainly did that. However, what is worse is that he also attacked the Bible, the Christian worldview, and even presented the false gospel of atheism all in the same review. That is frightening.

We do need to be countercultural, but from a Biblical perspective. If we are not, then we leave the foundation of our faith, and it allows unbelievers to nail us for not being consistent.

BTW, thanks for your comments on my last post. I have not gotten much response to it from the mandatory marriage people. In fact, when I wrote Debbie Maken to tell her that I had written it, she didn't touch anything I wrote.

I will see if I can find the time to do a review of your exegesis, and post it on my blog or something. I went over some of it, and thought that what I saw was solid. I am carrying 17 credit hours this semester at college, so, time is not exactly my friend. Maybe next weekend I will have more time on my hands.