Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Defending...Contending overreacts again

They're still among my favorites, but their touchiness does sometimes get on my nerves a bit.

Now Coram Deo, a writer I enjoy reading and whom I appreciate, has turned his sights on a caricature cartoon depicting Jesus and one of His apostles. He becomes very critical of Triablogue and Dan Phillips among others, and these are not worthy targets of critical attention.  That's the problem.
Here's the first comment I left:

CoramDeo,
Yes, you are being unreasonable.
You pictured Christ in this blogpost and The Pilgrim did so here.
So, seriously, unless you think it’s a fair expectation that people are going to be worshiping this Twitter cartoon…lighten up on the “2nd commandment” nonsense.
Grace and peace,
Rhology
In response:

The Pilgrim says:
Actually, Rhology, to be entirely fair, none of those pictures in my previous post were depicting the Lord Jesus Christ. The context of that post was false christs that people have created. In every instance the image was of a false christ. So if displaying an image of someone’s idol is wrong, then I am guilty as charged. The one and only instance in which the true Jesus was cited in that post, a picture of a page of Scripture was presented. Additionally, I checked out the other link you provided to Coram’s blogpost and it appears that he did the same thing.
Sincerely,
- Pilgrim

And:
Coram Deo says:
Thanks Pilgrim.
You don’t need to apologize, Rho; I forgive you. I couldn’t help noticing, however, that apart from a weak effort at deflecting the charge of breaching of the 2nd commandment, you failed to respond to any of the other scriptural proofs I cited, and you didn’t give any Biblical exegesis in support of the caricature.
In Christ,
CD
So in response this morning, I said:
Brothers,

Come on now. 
ALL of the pics in those posts depicted Christ, but by use of a caricature!  That's exactly the point of this Twitter cartoon thing!  You yourself use the word "caricature" of it, and that's precisely what the "hippy Jesus" and "neocon hawk Jesus" and all those other ones are supposed to communicate. 
I am not faulting you for those, not at all, so don't get me wrong.  I'm faulting you for your inconsistency.  I thought those caricatures were dead-on and actually a lot funnier than the Twitter cartoon.  The Twitter cartoon thing didn't do a lot for me, just b/c it wasn't all that funny.  The reason it was cited was b/c it made use of obvious caricature to poke fun at modern evanjellyfish practices.  You did the exact same thing with your "hippy Jesus" picture.  And each is a great point and a good illustration of modern practices to be opposed by the biblical Christian.

You're making a mountain out of, not a molehill, an imaginary molehill.  If you really believed that the 2nd Cmdmt says that no images of Christ are permitted in any way, and then you go after someone for enjoying a caricatured image of Christ, you wouldn't post caricatured images of Christ.

Rather, you should withdraw this nitpicking and recognise that the 2nd Cmdmt applies when people are, for example, worshiping images of Christ.  And then stop making unnecessary trouble among faithful followers of Jesus.  Sheesh, even ripping Driscoll some more (of which you do too much) would be preferable to this.

Grace and peace,
Rhology

42 comments:

Carrie said...

Yeah, I like a lot of what they say but sometimes they go too far in my opinion. Is there a fine line between orthodoxy and legalism?

Rhology said...

Most definitely there is! And they walk right on it sometimes.

NAL said...

Since my comments over there are "awaiting moderation",

Anyone, besides me, notice the similarities to the Mohammad Cartoon controversy?

NAL said...

DavidW:

To even speak of God in a way that is incorrect merits His wrath upon a person:

And who decides which way is correct/incorrect? You? Funny how God’s wrath isn’t enough, humans have to add their own.

Rhology said...

Anyone, besides me, notice the similarities to the Mohammad Cartoon controversy?

No.
Was there some report of rioting over this? Help me out here.


And who decides which way is correct/incorrect?

God does.

NAL said...

Rho:

Help me out here.

Accusations of blasphemy.

God does.

Then how can humans claim to know God's decision making process by labeling the cartoons as blasphemy?

Coram Deo said...

Rho,

Brother I admire your fire, and I appreciate you; and that's why I can say in all love that you're smarter than this, and you ought to know better.

The "false christ" imagery at DefCon that you're referring to was explicity that, and the context was clearly a stern rebuke of the man-made "jesus".

The images were representive of various false christs, and were in no way referents of the Jesus Christ of Scripture.

On the other hand, the cartoon christ under discussion at DefCon [and other comboxes] is a direct referent to the Jesus Christ of Scripture as demonstrated a) by the title of Josh Harris' original post and b) by the imputation of a corrupted scriptural reference attributed to the christ-image in the adjoining speech balloon.

Despite your protestations to the contrary, there's simply no rational correlation between the usages of imagery within their respective contexts.

And I'll only note in passing that your stated view of the 2nd commandment is easily argued to be as at least as overly narrow as the overly broad interpretation that you're attempting to assign to me (see WCF Larger Catechism Q&A 109).

Keep fighting the good fight of faith.

In Him,
CD

Rhology said...

NAL,

"Accusations of blasphemy" are not the 1st thing that come to mind when you bring up the Mohammed cartoon thing. Rioting in the streets and wanton destruction of property, perpetual outrage, fatwas directed at the cartoonist - those are.

We don't need to know God's decision-making process in commanding what He commands. Sometimes He reveals such, sometimes He doesn't. What matters fundamentally is to obey what God said.

Rhology said...

CD,

Brother I admire your fire, and I appreciate you

The apprecation, then, is mutual, please be assured.



The "false christ" imagery at DefCon that you're referring to was explicity that, and the context was clearly a stern rebuke of the man-made "jesus".

And so was the Twitter cartoon thing.



The images were representive of various false christs

And this Twitter thing was representative of false Christianity.
(Not to mention that, as you probably know, Jesus didn't really use Twitter during His earthly ministry.)



by the title of Josh Harris' original post

I didn't look at the original; I just looked at the cartoon.
A caption external to the cartoon is just the reader's gloss. But I don't see why, at any rate, it isn't reasonable to understand that Pastor Harris had no desire to break the 2nd Cmdmt, didn't think he was, and was just posting it to mock bad ideas of Christianity.


by the imputation of a corrupted scriptural reference attributed to the christ-image

CD, I think you're really reaching here. It's not a corrupted reference! "Jesus" is telling the "disciple" that the "disciple" had misunderstood what Jesus DID say in Scripture.


your stated view of the 2nd commandment is easily argued to be as at least as overly narrow as the overly broad interpretation that you're attempting to assign to me

B/c I think God is concerned about worship but not quite as much about what pictures one hangs in one's living room?


Keep fighting the good fight of faith.

And you. I simply urge you to direct your efforts toward those things that indeed merit the attention of the heart God has given you, not sowing unnecessarily divisive seeds.

Grace and peace to you,
Rhology

Rhology said...

Quite a propos to both CD and NAL.

Vox Veritatis said...

Coram Deo,

In response to your post and remarks to Rhology, I have a few remarks of my own.

First, by your standards of reasoning, the figure in the Twitter cartoon is no more a "real Jesus" than the figures in the caricatures on your blog. Your notion of representation entails that for X to "truly" represent Y, X must not only be recognizable as Y (from visual features), but must also depict something that is consistent with the character and attributes of Y. Thus, your reasoning goes something like this:

1) The "real Jesus" would not have done X.
2) Figure Y represents a person (who is recognized as Jesus in the popular western religious imagination) doing X.
3) Therefore, figure Y does not represent the "real Jesus".

Now, the "real Jesus" would not have "trivialized" Himself by speaking "irreverent, flippant words" concerning low and insignificant things (like Twitter) in a moment of such great theological gravity (Peter's reinstatement). Such things are obviously too low and inglorious for God to talk about. Therefore, the Twitter cartoon does not represent the "real Jesus". But if it doesn't represent the "real Jesus", why are you getting so upset over it? I don't see you getting upset over the other caricatures on your blog. So, you have two options:

a) The Twitter cartoon doesn't represent the "real Jesus". Thus, to remain consistent, this should be a non-issue for you.
b) The Twitter cartoon does represent the "real Jesus". In this case, you must admit that Jesus would have "trivialized" Himself in such a moment of great theological gravity by speaking of such a lowly and despicable thing as Twitter during Peter's reinstatement, using such "irreverent, flippant words" (in violation of Eph. 5:4).

Which will it be?


Second, in response to Rhology's apt remarks concerning your post, you replied (in part) "I couldn’t help noticing, however, that apart from a weak effort at deflecting the charge of breaching of the 2nd commandment, you failed to respond to any of the other scriptural proofs I cited, and you didn’t give any Biblical exegesis in support of the caricature." As for myself, I couldn't help noticing that the burden of proof is upon you to demonstrate your case, from Scripture, that the cartoon is such an evil and sinful thing as you claim, and that it is not on Rhology to demonstrate why the cartoon is good. But in regards to burden of proof, I also couldn't help noticing that you have not demonstrated your case as to why the cartoon is such a bad thing. You have referenced a few verses, and this is supposedly "Scripture proof". But if all it takes to give a "Scripture proof" is to cite a few verses, then JWs, Roman Catholics, and plenty of others with deviant theology also have "Scripture proofs" for their positions. What counts is an argument, from the text, and as far as I can see, you haven't given one. You've claimed that the cartoon violates the 2nd commandment. I have yet to see a demonstration of this claim. You've cited the Westminster larger catechism - but that provides no argument, either, but rather mere assertion as to what the commandment does and does not entail. You might be right on this issue, but are you willing to bind the consciences of believers on the basis of the mere claims of men, as opposed to an irrefutable argument from the Word of God? I would hope not.

Joel said...

Okay, help me out here someone: is depicting Jesus even covered under the second commandment? Leave aside whether it's blasphemous to put him in this cartoon, or any cartoon; what's the argument that conflates Jesus' human, eminently photographable visage with that of the invisible Yahweh? After all, Jesus is himself an image, and (cf. Isaiah 53) not particularly unsusual-looking.

Incidentally, if we're going all second-commandment-itis, how about the other guy? Are we okay with other, non-God pictures? I know the usual argument is that the images in general are covered under the subsequent "you shall not worship them" clause, but sauce for the goose...

Rhology said...

I agree - a visual depiction of the man Jesus... I don't see the problem.

TurretinFan does, though, and he's of the Presbyterian persuasion.

Congrats on the new young Pastor.

NAL said...

Rho:

What matters fundamentally is to obey what God said.

What matters fundamentally is to first understand what God said. In order to obey a rule, one must first understand it. What this brouhaha shows is that an understanding of God's commandments is subjective.

Rhology said...

Of course it is. Where's your argument that the correct understanding CANNOT be arrived at?

NAL said...

Rho:

Where's your argument that the correct understanding CANNOT be arrived at?

There is no way to determine if an understanding is correct or incorrect.

Vox Veritatis said...

What this brouhaha shows is that an understanding of God's commandments is subjective.

It is a non sequitur to claim that God's commands cannot be objectively and correctly understood, simply because there is disagreement among some as to how some commands are to be understood.

Furthermore, to claim that there is no way that God's commands can be understood, because one does know of such a way, is simply argumentum ad ignorantiam.

Coram Deo said...

And you. I simply urge you to direct your efforts toward those things that indeed merit the attention of the heart God has given you, not sowing unnecessarily divisive seeds.

You mean like creating blog posts entitled "Defending...Contending overreacts again"? :)

Grace and peace to you

And to you!

In Christ,
CD

NAL said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
NAL said...

VV:

It is a non sequitur to claim that God's commands cannot be objectively and correctly understood, simply because there is disagreement among some as to how some commands are to be understood.

Not quite. Disagreement on one of God's commands increases the likelihood of disagreement on others.

Furthermore, to claim that there is no way that God's commands can be understood, because one does know of such a way, is simply argumentum ad ignorantiam.

I stated that there was no way that the correctness of an understanding could be determined (or confirmed). According to Rho, only God can conclude that the cartoon is or is not truly blasphemous, for example. Others may come to the same conclusion, but only God doesn't require confirmation of the correctness of His conclusion.

Vox Veritatis said...

NAL,

Not quite. Disagreement on one of God's commands increases the likelihood of disagreement on others.

Even if everyone disagreed with everyone else about everything that God had ever said, it would not follow from that state of affairs that the commands of God cannot be objectively and correctly understood. Such a method of correctly and objectively understanding God's Word could well be available to all, with no one choosing to take advantage of it and make use of it. Hence, the non sequitur on your part.

I stated that there was no way that the correctness of an understanding could be determined (or confirmed).

So, are you prepared to make an argument as to why the correctness of an understanding cannot be determined? Or do you simply know of no such way for it to be determined? If the former, where is the argument? If the latter, it is still argumentum ad ignorantiam.

Rhology said...

NAL,

My subjective interpretation of your comments is that you agree 100% with my post and are in fact now a dyed-in-the-wool Reformed Baptist.
If you should attempt to correct me, just remember that disagreement on one of your statements increases the likelihood of disagreement on others.

Rhology said...

Coram Deo,

I'd say "Touché" for cleverness, but I'd like to ask you to consider the severity of your accusations against such men as these. Express disagreement, but don't needlessly cause strife. Such unnecessary divisiveness also finds its condemnation in Scripture.

Grace and peace to you,
Rhology

NAL said...

VV:

Even if everyone disagreed with everyone else about everything that God had ever said, ...

I claim that such a condition indicates that the understandings of God's commandments are subjective.

... it would not follow from that state of affairs that the commands of God cannot be objectively and correctly understood.

Although my original argument was what "is" and not what "could be", perhaps this is possible, as far as the objectivity. But one cannot get confirmation as to the correctness if only God knows the correct understanding.

So, are you prepared to make an argument as to why the correctness of an understanding cannot be determined?

Only God's understanding needs no confirmation as to its correctness. All other understandings need such a confirmation. Without that confirmation, the correctness can not be determined.

NAL said...

Rho:

Even if you are correct, I'll never confirm your correctness.

Rhology said...

Right, b/c on your view, nothing is ever confirmable. We have no idea what anything means. Including the assertion that we have no idea what anything means. Your argument is self-defeating. Try another one.

NAL said...

Rho:

Including the assertion that we have no idea what anything means.

My assertion is that there are too many ideas what someting means.

Rhology said...

Sorry, there are too many ideas what that last comment from you meant.

NAL said...

After some insightful comments from VV, I need to modify my previous comment from:

What this brouhaha shows is that an understanding of God's commandments is subjective.

to:

What this brouhaha shows is that an understanding of God's commandments is subjective, except for those who claim their understanding is not subjective.

NAL said...

Rho:

Sorry, there are too many ideas what that last comment from you meant.

I have no idea what you mean.

Rhology said...

NAL said:
I have no idea what you mean.

Yep, exactly. According to your position as expressed here, nobody ever can know what anyone else ever means.

Vox Veritatis said...

NAL,

I claim that such a condition indicates that the understandings of God's commandments are subjective.

Your claim is duly noted. Do you have an argument to go along with it?

But one cannot get confirmation as to the correctness if only God knows the correct understanding.

And you claiming that only God knows the correct understanding? If so, how do you know that? What is the argument?

Only God's understanding needs no confirmation as to its correctness. All other understandings need such a confirmation. Without that confirmation, the correctness can not be determined.

Even if the claim that "All other understandings need such a confirmation" is true, it does not follow that such confirmation is unavailable to us. Beyond that, I am unclear as to exactly what you mean by "confirmation" and why such a confirmation is "needed by all other understandings." Moreover, the objective understanding of a thing, and the "confirmation" that such an understanding is correct, are two different matters. It could be the case that God's commands are objectively and correctly understandable, but that a confirmation that such an understanding is correct is unavailable. Even if this were the case, the unavailability of a confirmation of the correct understanding would in no way render the correct and objective understanding unavailable.

NAL said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
NAL said...

VV:

Do you have an argument to go along with it?

An objective understanding would exhibit wide spread agreement of that understanding. A subjective understanding would exhibit wide spread disagreement.

An objective understanding would not necessarily be correct. A subjective understanding would not necessarily be incorrect.

And you claiming that only God knows the correct understanding?

No, I am claiming that only God knows that the correct understanding is, in fact, correct.
By correct, I mean that a person's understanding is the same as God's understanding. Only God knows if a person's understanding is the same as His.

This, of course, assumes that God understands in a way that is comparable to the way a human understands.

/Edited for spelling.

Vox Veritatis said...

NAL,

An objective understanding would exhibit wide spread agreement of that understanding. A subjective understanding would exhibit wide spread disagreement.

Once again, why is this the case? What is the argument? As discussed previously, there are logically possible worlds in which this is not the case. Furthermore, how many people must agree on something before it is considered to be a "wide spread" agreement? 100? 1000? A million? How many? And if you have a number, how do you determine that that specific number indicates widespread agreement indicative of an objective understanding, while something less than that does not?

No, I am claiming that only God knows that the correct understanding is, in fact, correct.
By correct, I mean that a person's understanding is the same as God's understanding. Only God knows if a person's understanding is the same as His.


Once again, why is this the case? What is the argument?

Vox Veritatis said...

More to the main topic of this post, I think that CD's methods of argumentation on this issue (especially over at DefCon) are pretty well covered here.

zilch said...

This may be on or off topic. Who knows? Vox says:

1) The "real Jesus" would not have done X.
2) Figure Y represents a person (who is recognized as Jesus in the popular western religious imagination) doing X.
3) Therefore, figure Y does not represent the "real Jesus".


Am I the only one here who recognizes Anselm's Ontological Argument here?

Rhology said...

Well, Vox isn't arguing for God's existence here. Besides, I don't think the ontological argument is a bad argument. Just not the best.

Vox Veritatis said...

FYI,

That argument is part of an internal critique of CD's position.

As far as that particular line of reasoning itself goes, it is more akin to the No True Scotsman fallacy than to the Ontological Argument, IMO.

Vox Veritatis said...

An example of the No True Scotsman fallacy in this context.

CD: No depictions of Jesus are okay.
Rho: You have a depction of Jesus in one of your own posts.
CD: Oh, well that's not a depction of the true Jesus. (Or phrased another way: "I have no depictions of the true Jesus in my posts.")

Justin Blake Poythress said...

I have many concerns about this body of believers, as well. They do appear to be very self-righteous. My main concern was with one who goes by Elain, on "Is P.O.D. a Christian band". My questioning, and requests for elaboration, and my defenses were met with arrogance, and assumptions that I do not read the bible like they do, and if I did, I would know. Every couple of months, when she would reply, she used the same circle of arguments, and skipped over points that I had made, and constantly reminded me that she is praying for me.

Rhology said...

Justin,
Yes, I agree. Coram Deo is not such a bad guy, I just want to say.
Chris Hohnholz, who used to be with D.C., has shown himself to be a pretty much mindless Miano defender, which has been disappointing. All too common, this nonsense.