Response To A Pastor Whose Book I Reviewed

reflections-disenchanted-calvinist-disquieting-realities-calvinism-ronnie-w-rogers-paperback-cover-artNot long ago I finished a series of blog posts reviewing a book called Reflections of a Disenchanted Calvinist: The Disquieting Realities of Calvinism, by Pastor Ronnie W Rogers; found here:

Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI, Part VII, & Conclusion

Recently I received a comment from Pastor Rogers regarding that review that I wanted to repost here and briefly respond to, because there have been some who’ve asked if Pastor Rogers has responded to these blog posts and it may be difficult to actually find the comment (which can be found: here).

I will post his original comment in white, and respond to it in my usual gray.  This will be brief due to his comment being quite brief.

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My dear brother

I have tried on three different occasions to read your “critique” of my book, Reflections of a Disenchanted Calvinist.

By the quotations around critique I suppose I am to conclude that it was not actually a critique.  The only reason I comment here is that I spent a few hours working on this review while working full time and working on a thesis for my masters (not to mention a wife with a child on the way); the review is 8 parts total, touching on each individual chapter, and quoting Pastor Rogers extensively throughout; not that my feelings are hurt, but I should hope that an observer would see that I at least attempted at a critique, however inadequate it may seem.

Unfortunately, you have either elided or missed the point of my statements and therefore misrepresented my positions in each and every response you have made—at least the ones I read. This is not to mention that you have misrepresented me, and the seriousness with which I seek to struggle with the biblical perplexities and texts, inapt as you may deem me to be.

A few things here.  1) Elided is a cool word, I’ll admit…I looked it up.  2) Misrepresentation is different than misunderstanding.  If I misrepresented–especially purposefully–then I have sinned, and practiced dishonesty.  If I misunderstood, then the fault can be blamed on my inherent ignorance.  However, I suppose one could argue that misunderstandings sometimes lead to misrepresentation, so I will not belabor the point.  3) Lastly, I truly hope that I never intentionally questioned his “struggle” to deal with the “biblical perplexities and texts”, and that I never pompously considered him to be inapt.  I will leave that to the reader of the blog posts..

It appears to me, that your mischaracterizations of my engagement with the Scripture are sophomoric.

Sophomoric literally means juvenile or pretentious.  Again, I would like to point out that I did not seek to mischaracterize or misrepresent.  Anyone may go back to the blog posts and see that I went chapter by chapter, and practically word by word to a tedious degree.  It was not my purpose to lie, obfuscate, skip over, or ignore any argument that Pastor Rogers made, but to take each seriously and deal with it as I felt appropriate.

While they may impress some and fuel arguments about the truth, I do not believe they add one whit to arguing toward the truth.

This is indeed a heavy charge.  One that I took some time to consider.  In my first blog post I said this:

“I must respectfully disagree with most of the things contained in this book, in the same way the he [Pastor Rogers] has respectfully disagreed with the Calvinist position.  In a day where any disagreement, especially between Christians, is viewed as something wrong and to be avoided, I feel the need to say that up front.”

I had hoped that my blog review would do more to encourage the discussion about these important matters, but very apparently they “do not…add one whit to arguing toward the truth.”  This charge leveled against me is more serious to me, because at this point I begin to wonder why there is no examples or arguments actually presented.  If I have done wrong then I would prefer specifics so that I might correct myself or grow in the understanding that I apparently lack.

In my opinion, you have simply demonstrated once again why it is excruciatingly difficult for brothers to disagree without using obfuscating maneuvers, which holds our mutual growth in abeyance.

Again, I would very much appreciate an example of where I’ve done this.  What obfuscating maneuvers?  I took each of his words and responded to them in turn.  How did I make it difficult to disagree?  I respectfully–but uncompromisingly–disagreed with his words, but not by obfuscating or lying about what he said.  If I am in the wrong, please someone tell me so that I might avoid it in the future.

I am assuming that you have done so unintentionally and without malice. I sense that you love God and His Word.

Of course.  And thanks.  I would say the same back.

Here is the heaviest charge now:

Nevertheless, you have done damage to Calvinism…

Huh?  I need an example here.  I properly represented Calvinism by most accounts–including several pastors within the Reformed tradition itself–and I don’t know many that would say I did much damage to Calvinism (as if they believed much damage could be done to it..).

Scripture…

Where?  Example.  I make it a point to not say all that much without trying to support it by the Scriptures.  I hope that I did not do damage to the Scriptures, but if someone has a reference to one I am truly all ears.

Truth…

In what way?  Once again, I took his chapters one by one and let his own words speak (even encouraged people to read the book for themselves), and I examined them accordingly…I just didn’t agree with it…naturally…because I am a 5-point 5-sola Reformed Presbyterian Calvinist with a capital T. U. L. I. & P.

…and the spiritual growth of those who read your mishandling of some very seriously nuanced positions…

Two things.  1) I hope I did not hinder the spiritual growth of anybody by my posts, in fact the purpose was to encourage growth and understanding of our sovereign God.  For argument’s sake, I believe that one who does not wish to deal with my arguments in turn and actually discuss in a meaningful fashion is “doing damage…to spiritual growth.”  2) Nuanced positions?  They really are not that nuanced.  I’m not sure what to take from that comment; other than they are so nuanced and over my “sophomoric” head that I couldn’t even begin to understand them.  I assume this was not the suggestion, but it is how I took it..

I do pray that in years to come, you will grow in your understanding of these matters, which is not to say that you are not a dedicated student of the Scripture.

I do not know if that is supposed to mean that I will grow to his understanding, but it is my hope that we will all grow in our understanding of these matters.  But honestly this can not take place if we are not willing to discuss these things openly and frankly, acknowledging our disagreements, but recognizing our need for God’s grace in our growth.

It is to say that we ought to be able to disagree without seeking to trivialize distinctions with a difference and/or summarily dismiss what one does not understand as being merely unnecessary philosophizing, jejune biblical knowledge or arguing emotively.

I will not redact or recant the assertion that synergistic belief must rely upon “philosophizing” or “emotive” arguments in order to make it work…because Scripture simply doesn’t teach it.  I pray I did not trivialize distinctions, but instead expressed their importance, made even more clear by the fact that I would spend countless hours and 8 blog posts to deal with it.  That goes for being dismissive as well…which I feel that this comment is being.

I’ll be up front, I am not really all that bothered by these types of comments, because they really don’t prove or say anything; there is no scriptural proof, no specific examples given, no serious dealing with what I have said.  I wouldn’t accept that type of dismissal from an atheist, Muslim, Roman Catholic, or Synergist; it does not invalidate what I have said to this point.  If anyone would like to truly engage my comments, then please do so…so that we might progress in our spiritual growth, edify the body, and discuss these important subjects with the reverence they deserve.

I believe that a sense of our very limited knowledge (in comparison to what there is to be known about it) concerning whatever we speak about can afford us all some well needed and Christ honoring humility.

Truly.

Regretfully

Ronnie W Rogers

Respectfully, SDG,

Jon

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~ by TSL on May 10, 2013.

 
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