Friday, December 15, 2006

Adrian Warnock closes his blog to comments...

...except apparently to those which agree with him and with Dr Grudem.

He outlines his new comment policy in what has now become a footnote to every posting on his blog:
Comments posted since 15 Dec 2006 have been approved by Adrian Warnock or an associate but do not necessarily reflect his opinion. Please be cautions of older comments and content on sites with links from or to this blog. ...

Comment moderation introduces a delay to discussion, and due to the volume of comments, many will be rejected. Writing a post on your own blog with a link to this page may be a good alternative.
Well, I am here taking up his last suggestion.

But what does his new policy mean in practice? I wrote a comment on part 7 of Adrian's interview with Dr Wayne Grudem, actually before this new policy came into force (which means that it should have been approved because it met the policy in force at the time), which was rejected. I asked Adrian why, and submitted a revised comment, but this was also rejected. The comment was entirely on topic and of general interest, as Adrian appears to accept. And for once I was agreeing with and supporting Dr Grudem's position. But it seems that Adrian will not allow me even to refer to the fact that Dr Grudem has rejected the positions which I hold on other issues.

Adrian's blog has become one of the most respected in the Christian blogosphere. Does he now want to "castrate" it (see the PS below re such language), turning it into a forum for himself, Dr Grudem and others who agree with them to pat one another on the back? At least this kind of castration is reversible, although it needs to be reversed quickly if Adrian is not to lose his reputation as a good blogger.

Here is my comment on part 7 of the Grudem interview, in its original form as posted 12/14/2006 10:55:16 PM and then deleted:
Well, having been condemned by Grudem for being a "feminist" and again for not accepting that penal substitution is a complete description of the atonement, I am glad not to be condemned a third time for being in a paedo-baptist denomination, the Church of England!

But actually in fact the C of E in practice, and semi-officially at least in our diocese, recognises dual modes of baptism and allows them to continue in parallel. In my congregation, it is up to each family whether they want their child to be baptised as an infant; in practice most church members choose instead to have a dedication service, whereas it is outsiders who want a proper infant baptism! Adult believers are encouraged to come forward for baptism by immersion (in our church in a borrowed portable baptistry), or if they have already been baptised as an infant for "renewal of baptismal vows", which comes to almost the same thing, usually immersion in the same water, but cannot be officially called baptism. Alternatively, some are baptised as believers at other churches, camps etc, as I was before there was a "renewal of baptismal vows" service; and no one complains as long as we don't teach publicly that everyone should do the same. Indeed a friend of mine who was baptised in this way, and didn't hide it, was recently accepted for ordination in the C of E. We are not allowed to teach that infant baptism is invalid, but we can opt out of it for ourselves. We cannot insist on believers' baptism as a condition for church membership - but then most UK Baptists don't either.

While this kind of compromise is certainly not ideal, it does seem to work in practice. Of course the C of E loves compromises, and this one is much more acceptable than some of the others!
Adrian rejected this, and I asked him why. I understand that there could be a problem with the word "condemned" in the first paragraph. I wrote the following to him in an e-mail (links added):
Well, what can I say? Would you prefer "damned"? As far as I can tell that is what Grudem is trying to say, about both "feminists" and Chalke supporters. Not exactly bridgebuilding! But I will leave Suzanne to complain about this. Grudem was not quite so explicit in what he actually wrote. He did say, completely without foundation, that "Chalke is denying the heart of the Gospel." But he doesn't quite say that Chalke is going to hell, and so he might not say the same about me.

So how about "Well, having had my beliefs rejected by Grudem for being a "feminist" and again for not accepting that penal substitution is a complete description of the atonement, I am glad not to be rejected a third time for being in a paedo-baptist denomination, the Church of England!"? If I start the comment like that, will you accept it? Well, I'll try it and see.
And the answer quickly came back: no, Adrian would not accept this. Why not? He gave me a rather unconvincing reason, which I will not publish because this was in a private e-mail. But it seems to me that the real point is that he doesn't want any reference on his blog to any disagreement with Dr Grudem. He just wants to post Grudem's propaganda without allowing for any proper discussion of its validity.

Adrian, if I have misrepresented you in any way, you are welcome to comment, but I will be convinced only if you open up your blog again to proper discussion of the issues you raise.

PS: Here is another comment I made, this time on part 5 of the Grudem interview and in response to Donna L. Carlaw's comment on that post of 14 December, 2006 23:38, which Adrian has at least not yet accepted:
Donna wrote "a good help mate will see when her husband needs her gentle intervention. She can do that without further wounding him by castration." Then she explained this with "I do believe that a woman can be a strong help mate without seeking to knock her husband out of the leadership role in the marriage. That is what I meant by "castration", removing him from his God-given position because of his handicap." (typo corrected)

This is an example of one of the worst logical fallacies and methods of argument, labelling one's opponent's position with a highly pejorative label (like "castration"), when it has no connection at all with the literal meaning of that label, and implicitly arguing that the position is wrong because it bears that label.

Donna, how would you react if I wrote something like the following: "An egalitarian man does not rape his wife", in a context implying that complementarian men do, and then explained this with "by 'rape' I mean 'exercise a leadership position over'"? Of course I would not dream of using such language. Maybe some egalitarians have done so, but not in this discussion. Please let's keep this kind of rabble rousing argument out of this blog.

"No need to apologize", you think, Donna? On the contrary, every need, for your explanation has made your slur worse, rather than better. If your mother can take the lead over your invalid father "without making a man feel like less of a man", without castrating him physically or presumably in the non-physical sense you have in mind, then why can't the same happen in a marriage in which the couple agree on an egalitarian relationship? Note that I am not talking about a case where a wife "assumes authority" or "usurps authority" over her husband (something which Paul rightly did not allow, although he reserved "castrate" for the Judaising false teachers of Galatians 5:12) but where this relationship is agreed between the couple.
I didn't write what I could have done (but which would surely have guaranteed the rejection of this comment), that Dr Grudem also uses the kind of argument by attaching pejorative labels which I objected to Donna using. One of Grudem's favourite pejorative labels is "feminist", which is not as bad as "castrate", but by arguing in this way at all he is encouraging others down the "slippery slope" into using labels like "castrate". Actually I wouldn't be surprised if someone finds that Grudem has also used "castrate" in this way, but I don't have any evidence for this.

Well, if Adrian's new policy introduced 22 minutes after Donna's comment stops people making generalised slurs of this nature on egalitarian women, and refusing to apologise for them, then maybe the policy is not all bad. But if he allows comments like this to be made, he should allow replies to them - if he doesn't apply his new policy to them retroactively by deleting them, as he did to the original version of my comment, as copied above, posted 43 minutes earlier and then deleted.

UPDATE: Adrian has now accepted an even further weakened version of my comment on part 7 of the Grudem interview. So the answer to the question I put to him in a private e-mail:
Or is your policy in fact that you will not allow any mention that anyone might disagree with Grudem?
must in fact be "No".

I realised that the opening of my posting above, "...except apparently to those who agree with him and with Dr Grudem", was grammatically confused as "those" appeared to refer back to comments rather than to people, but was then followed by "who". I considered correcting this to "...except apparently to those made by people who agree..." But it now seems clear that in fact Adrian's policy is not directed at individuals, but the content of their comments. So I have corrected this to "...except apparently to those which agree..."


At Friday, December 15, 2006 5:21:00 pm, Blogger Tim Chesterton said...

Peter, it might be better just to post your views here anyway. In my experience arguments in the comments boxes on blogs rarely change people's minds. In fact, with notable exceptions such as your own blog, I think real dialogue in the blogosphere is extremely rare.

Can real dialogue happen when you can't see people's faces? I'm getting more and more sceptical about that. I think real dialogue needs coffee, and hugs, and preferably a shared mission project as its context as well. Now, if all participants in a theological dialogue had to work together for two days at a Habitat for Humanity building site first, things might change a bit...!!!

At Friday, December 15, 2006 6:11:00 pm, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Thanks, Tim. You may be right about real dialogue. Certainly a good cup of coffee together and a hug helps! And I'm sure a shared mission project would as well. But you seem to be doing quite well at persuading Dave Warnock and me about anabaptism without meeting us at all. So please don't conclude that blogging is a complete waste of time.

At Friday, December 15, 2006 9:26:00 pm, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

I am encouraged to read that Adrian has allowed one person to disagree with the statement which he put into Dr Grudem's mouth, that Steve Chalke's words were "blasphemy". In fact what happened was that Adrian asked Grudem if he agreed with this statement, and Grudem said "yes". But on further reflection Grudem has distanced himself from the term "blasphemy", and Adrian has posted Grudem's statement about this on his blog.

Grudem writes: "I would like (if I could!) to retract my comment about Chalke's statements being "blasphemy"". But his statement is hardly a retraction. He has not in fact changed his position at all. He continues to hold that Chalke:

uses language that I think to be deeply dishonoring to God and to God's reputation, and deeply dishonoring to the Bible's teaching on the heart of the atonement and the heart of the Christian Gospel. To say what he says brings reproach on God's name whenever the true Gospel of Christ's atoning work is proclaimed. What Chalke says is very serious indeed.

That sounds to me like dictionary definition of "blasphemy", defined in the Columbia University Press encyclopedia as "in religion, words or actions that display irreverence toward or contempt for God or that which is held sacred." But if Grudem wants to avoid the actual word "blasphemy", that is of course a small step in the right direction.

Grudem gives his reasons for taking this step:

As a general rule, I try to be cautious about using terms that seem to be inflammatory (such as "heresy" and "heretic"), and "blaspheme" seems to me to be a term like that. The term may carry unnecessary baggage with it.

Indeed. But if he wants to avoid using inflammatory words, he should also avoid words like "feminist" used in a derogatory sense, and words like "errors" and "highly suspect and novel" used of translation choices which have strong exegetical support and in some cases a long history. And his supporters should avoid words like "castrate".

At Saturday, December 16, 2006 6:26:00 pm, Blogger Tim Chesterton said...

You'll have noticed that I couldn't resist weighing on on the latest enormity over there at Adrian's, Peter!

But I'm still sceptical. You and Dave have been kind enough to give me a patient and receptive hearing about the good things to be found in Anabaptism, but then, neither of you have minds like steel traps...!

At Sunday, December 17, 2006 6:55:00 am, Blogger Donna L. Carlaw said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At Monday, December 18, 2006 10:17:00 am, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Donna, this is not a trap, although I am glad that you followed the link to find this earlier reply which I wrote to you. I apologise for using the words "rabble rousing", but it was not intended as a description of yourself, only as a description of the kind of language which you were using, and which since you are not a rabble rouser you should not use.

If you don't understand it yet, I was deeply offended by your use of the word "castrate". It seems to imply that egalitarian men have been castrated by women. And I think you will find that any man, even the most convinced egalitarian, would be deeply offended by a public slur on his manhood. I have apologised to you. I now expect an apology from you.

Then perhaps we can continue the interesting discussion, started in comments on part five of the Grudem interview on Adrian's blog, of matters like how my view of authority might conflict with the Anglican hierarchical system.

At Tuesday, December 19, 2006 6:59:00 am, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

After some discussion on your blog Donna, you admitted that you could not track any comments to yourself from me. You conlude with this statement,

Suzanne, I will let you have the last word on this, and wish you a blessed Christmas.

I accept your denial, and we will leave it at that.

I regret that there has been a misunderstanding but I have never used any perjorative for Donna, and was unaware of her until I read her comment above on this blog.

It would be my wish that she would delete the above comment, but she would rather not. I respect that as long as it is understood that I have not insulted her in any fashion.


Have a happy Christmas.


At Tuesday, December 19, 2006 7:52:00 pm, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

I just wrote the following in reply to Donna's comment on this post on Adrian's blog. I don't know if Adrian will accept it, so I will post it here as well.

Thank you, Donna, for your interesting comment. I feel as if I am eavesdropping on a discussion of my opponents' tactics to defeat me! Well, at least I can't accuse you of plotting secretly.

But I would suggest that if you want your arguments to be taken seriously you should avoid not just words like "patriarchy", but also ones like "castrate". Emotive words like this not only offend and enrage your opponents but also discredit your arguments among your thoughtful but perhaps unconvinced supporters. This word does appear on the CBMW website, but not in ways which might offend. It has however appeared on your blog, Adrian, and in ways which do offend by suggesting that egalitarian men have lost their manhood. I trust that comments using such language will now not be permitted on this blog.

At Tuesday, December 19, 2006 7:54:00 pm, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At Tuesday, December 19, 2006 8:55:00 pm, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Suzanne asked Donna to delete her comment from my blog. Donna has refused to do so. I will delete it in a minute, but will repeat here the part of it which has nothing to do with Suzanne:

... Please let's keep this kind of rabble rousing argument out of this blog.>>>

Hey, you just called me a rabble rouser, and I am offended! I demand that you take that back! How would you feel, after all?


Try this statement. Egalitarians tend to get deeply offended when offense is not intended, but they never know when they offend, nor do they know how deep the wounds go.

I am a human being. Cut me, I bleed. Hurt me, I cry. Please do not dehumanize me just because I oppose feminism and support traditionalism. I already have enough egalitarian brand marks. I don't need any more.

This is the last you will see of me. I should have known that this was a trap.

Also, I have just found this on Donna's "Punto de Partida" blog, which I looked at for the first time a few minutes ago (having been too busy to follow up the links I have wanted to follow for the last few days). Donna says she may delete these comments. This one certainly deserves to be perpetuated in the hall of infamy:

Now, I am waiting for Peter to apologize to me for luring me to his blog to just criticize me for a perfectly good English word which was not directed at him or egalitarians or anyone else specifically. You egalitarians need to take a deezie, and not be so quick to take offense where none is meant.

Now let me try to understand this. Donna wrote something offensive, which may not have been specifically about egalitarian men but if not was about all men. When I questioned her about it, and whether she really intended to be offensive, she refused to retract her words but in fact restated her point in a clearer and more offensive way. All of this has been stated clearly in the PS to this post. What she is apparently complaining about is that I gave to her on Adrian's blog a link to a place where I had replied to her comments, because Adrian wouldn't let me reply on his blog. And suddenly I am the one who is expected to apologise to her!

Donna, you also wrote this, in the comment you refused to delete and in comments on your own blog.

Egalitarians tend to get deeply offended when offense is not intended, but they never know when they offend, nor do they know how deep the wounds go.

Is this true only of egalitarians? Might it be true of you as well? If I have offended you, I apologise, but I honestly don't know how I have offended, except perhaps by the words "rabble rousing" for which I have apologised. But as you wrote of yourself, "I am a human being. Cut me, I bleed. Hurt me, I cry." Has it not occurred to you that this is also true of us egalitarians, that when offensive language is used of us, whether or not intended, it does really hurt us?

Then Donna has also written:

I wasn't talking only about you over at Peter's. If Peter apologizes to me, and removes all references to me at his blog, I will certainly remove the comment. That's my final offer.

Well, if I do this there won't be a comment left for Donna to remove. But I will only consider anything like this if Donna removes from Adrian's blog the comments in which she uses the word "castrate" and publicly apologises for using this word. Indeed if she does that I will remove references to her from my blog. But then, as for the apology, what am I supposed to apologise for? Posting a link to my blog? Saying that I am offended? Being an egalitarian? Or being a man?

At Tuesday, December 19, 2006 10:52:00 pm, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Donna has now explained in comments on her own blog what she meant by her remarks about castration. It is unfortunate that she allowed her comments to stand for so long without explanation, so allowing people like me to take them as offensive. But I am now happy to accept this and put an end to this dispute.

At Wednesday, December 20, 2006 12:21:00 am, Blogger Donna L. Carlaw said...

Hey, Peter, even though the references to me on your blog have not yet been removed, I came over here to remove my comment, which I wrote while I was upset with you, and Suzanne. It is now as resolved as it can be, and I am more than ready to move on, as I am sure you are.

BTW, you probably did not see my explanation on Adrian's blog, or maybe I did not give complete enough explanation.

In fact, I don't mind if you just leave it all up. As far as I am concerned, it's settled. I would still love to talk about your understanding of Church of England heirarchy and how you balance that with being an egalitarian. Maybe someday, if we get time.

God bless us, every one, as Tiny Tim said, and have a blessed Christmas season,
Donna L. Carlaw

At Wednesday, December 27, 2006 7:18:00 pm, Blogger smellyfeet said...

John Wesley
(text of the 1872 edition)

would that you had the stature of these two protagonists, or the grace and humility both showed in defending each other.

I have read with pain the arguments - about who has the right to comment or remove comments ! - read with dismay character assasination and upholding of personal freedoms, and "rules" of the blogsphere.

All I know is that to be free is to serve Christ, to love the Lord my God, and love others as I love myself.

So please, stop it. Speak the truth, which is Jesus. Nothing else edifies, and like the Countess Huntingdon, I say (or paraphrase), who else cares.

You are free to remove this comment. I have no desire to make myself heard.

And I don't have


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