Monday, July 25, 2005

Coffee Conversations Kicks the Can [?]

Kevin D. Johnson, owner of a few Areopagus Coffee stores in the Phoenix area [I'm jealous of anybody who lives in Phoenix], has seemingly closed down his Coffee Conversations weblog. Perhaps business is taking off and he no longer has the time, in which case may he rake in the coin and take his place in the world of successful businessmen if he hasn't done so already. Perhaps he has other interests that are taking up his time. Or, perhaps, he just doesn't want to do it anymore, which of course is his right, as blogging can eat up more time than planned!

These reasons are speculative. One nonspeculative clue as to why he closed down his blog is given by one of his final posts:

I’m done with the overly critical spirit I’ve learned all too well from certain Reformed pastors and laymen over the last five years.

I’m done with the cynical and partisan ecclesiastical showmanship and pride.

I’m done with the cowardly ravaging gossip that goes on in Certain Reformed Evangelical Circles.

I’m done with those who condemn without first looking at their own errors.

I’m done with the biting sarcasm that often accompanies such condemnation.

I’m done with a prejudice against Rome and other communions that exists merely because they are different.

I’m done with the idolatry of our own opinion in Reformedville.

I’m done with an idolatry in Reformed churches that rivals anything Rome has ever had to offer.

I’m done with men who have shown themselves to be neither friends nor brothers.

Even though I'm not in the Reformed camp, I have followed his writings and those he opposes with a general interest.

Johnson's writings have, for the roughly long 18-month period I've read them, been those of a provocateur and of a highly personal nature, and I've more than once had the feeling that despite all of the talk about catholicity and unity, certain ideas that various conservative Evangelicals hold are a priori not welcome.

One such idea is that somehow an Evangelical such as myself [as a stand-in for the great bogeymen of Reformed Catholicism] is grossly deficient in how I read the Bible and apply it to various areas, such as Roman Catholicism, say. Now I haven't been attacked personally in any substantial way, but my position has been declared deficient and such by the likes of Johnson and his ally [if this is the right term] Timothy Enloe, not to mention the amateurish band of philosophers who discuss epistemological affairs. Among the inventory of my deficiencies are charges such as: (i) I lack a community through which I may interpret scripture, and (ii) the grammatical-historical method leaves me at a great loss, among other things.

To my knowledge, I've never seen an actual argument or evidence produced in favor of the charges given in (i) or (ii). What I have seen is plenty of bravado and churlish claims, not done in a spirit of jest but in a style that fits right in with a group of people who take themselves far too seriously as the anointed shepherds who will guide we lost Modernistically-imprisoned sheep to a greener pasture. While I would imagine that both Enloe and Johnson and I are on the same side on a lot of things, especially in the idea of culture-at-large, I see the same sort of bullying and condescension that is more appropriate for a leftist professor who will brook no challenges nor allow any competing ideas to take hold in their classroom.

As a consequence, it is interesting that Johnson merely has a quotation from the New Testament on his blog. And, I ask in all seriousness, what I am supposed to do with this? Presumably, I'm reading the page by myself; am I to have a "community" with me as I read it? And, if I try it on my own, am I not being a logocentric and arrogant maverick by assigning fixed meanings to the words on my own? Am I not, as Tim Enloe would put it, being mechanistic with my parsing of verbs as I run the text through my Mark V Exegete-O-Matic 4000? It would have been nice if, for once, the goods would've been delivered and a little blurb on "How to Read the Bible" was attached, so that I could get the full import of the quoted passage. Is there a meaning to the text? If so, what is it? Or are there other equally valid meanings? Can I say that that passage means "Buy A Lot of Areopagus Coffee NOW!!" because my community says so? Etc, etc, etc.

But for now, all I see are some black pixels superimposed on a white background. God help me if I read it like any other written text, for then I'm shackling myself in a
logocentric prison with Enlightenment-styled shackles, and we're all supposed to know that such a thing is an objectively bad thing, since my side of the fence is constantly berated for its allegedly modernistic, Cartesian, and mechanistic views of things. For all I know, the words could be random ink-blots we're supposed to look at and play free-association, a la a Rorschach Test. I see a duck, no, now a sheep, no, now a balloon, no, now a cup of joe, no, wait a minute, I think I see an airplane, wait, that's not it, I see a cocker spaniel...

On the other hand, maybe Johnson assumes that those of us in the benighted world of conservative Evangelicalism can read and understand the text. If so, how is the given passage different from the other parts of the Bible that we can read and fix a meaning to the text to this passage but not to others? That is another question worth asking.

We'll have to answer that one on our own, it seems.

Related article: click here for some other comments from another perspective.


Blogger Ransom said...

As a consequence, it is interesting that Johnson merely has a quotation from the New Testament on his blog. And, I ask in all seriousness, what I am supposed to do with this?

Well, apparently we're supposed to take this text of Scripture and abstract it out of all connection to the space-time world, using hermeneutical methods that are organically disconnected from the larger body of the Church.

I could be wrong, though. Are there any Truly Reformed Exegetes in the house that could help us?

Monday, July 25, 2005 1:58:00 PM  
Blogger The Christian Library said...

Read about Phil Johnson and Steve Hays and theonomy here.

Monday, July 25, 2005 2:55:00 PM  
Blogger centuri0n said...

Sometimes you have to just put the blog down for a while.

What I don't underdtand why every time KDJ or TGE do it, they have to be such drama queens. Hey: take a break. Apologetics in the void (a-hem) can be rough and some feathers can get ruffled. But if you go on blogcation, just go. Don't tell me it was my fault you had to take a break.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005 2:33:00 PM  

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