Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Money into Mouth

At a comment at NTRMin, Steve Hays makes the following statement about Enloe:
From what I can tell, Enloe always, and I do mean ALWAYS, says the same thing. He never gets beyond his buzzwords about the impossibility of objective knowledge. All he ever does is to paraphrase this slogan ad nauseum. He never progresses beyond that stage. He never works it up into an actual argument, much less offer a constructive alternative. Where's his detailed theory of knowledge to match the intellectual pretensions? It's a bumpersticker masquerading as epistemology.


In his latest post at Triablogue, Hays asks the following innocent question regarding Enloe:

What’s the basic difference between the way that Svendsen exegetes a passage of Scripture and Poythress exegetes a passage from Revelation, or Thiselton from 1 Corinthians, or Carson from Matthew, or John, or 2 Corinthians, or Philippians?

I don’t see any difference in methodology. Sometimes Svendsen is more popular, at other times more technical—but the same could be said of Carson or Poythress.

I would like, just for once, to see Enloe get beyond the vague, McCarthyite innuendo and lay out some specific, and I do mean specific—examples involving a direct comparison and contrast between Svendsen’s exegetical style and one or more of the three.

Is Enloe able to do this? Has he already done it? If he has never done it before, or if he is either unable or unwilling to do so now, then what, exactly, furnishes the concrete, inductive data on which he bases his invidious impression of Svendsen?


I concur completely with Steve's question. In the two years or so I've been exposed to Enloe's writings, I've seen nothing but these broad brushstroke accusations of having a benighted epistemology, "prooftexting" in a derogatory sense, sectarian gnosticism, sterile intellectualism, a mechanical view to language, and so on.

It is one thing to criticize, citing evidence, arguments, and so on, to show that one's criticism, if not true, is reasonable, warranted, valid, etc. It is quite another thing to continually beat the same drum of invidious rhetoric used to tar people who are not up on the latest fad, while offering no specific instantiations of just where we benighted Evangelicals have gone wrong. Basically, we have somebody with high intellectual pretensions sitting upon the clouds and throwing down thunderbolts of criticism, telling us how wrong [and often how horrible] we are, not to mention publicly denigrating the likes of Svendsen to others, and yet (a) no workable alternative has been given, and (b) such an alternative has not been justified or shown to be better as far as obtaining truth.

From my own little corner of the world, I have the autodidact's M.Div. degree, having good utility in NT Greek, formerly having utility in Classical Hebrew, and reading many commentaries and books on isagogics, hermeneutics, and other cultural issues related to Christianity-in-General. I've read technical commentaries by the likes of Cranfield, Carson, Fee, Murray, just to drop a few names, and Dr Svendsen, the direct and often-offhand target of Enloe's comments, whatever be his faults, doesn't do anything different than, say, the names dropped above, or many of the authors in my autodidactic adventures.

So here is the question: where, and like Hays, I'll ask exactly where, does Svendsen differ in method and scope from the names mentioned above?

It would be one thing if Enloe was exploring different ways of thinking about certain things and "thinking out loud" --- this is perfectly fine and I'd imagine that we all have changed our minds on many things over the years. But Enloe, like a record that causes the needle to skip [or should we just say a "scratched CD" to update the language?], just harangues and publicly denigrates Svendsen on the issue of epistemology, hermeneutics, and so on. And, since I do things in the same way as does Svendsen, I'm passively included in the daily harangue. So, any criticism of Svendsen on the issue of exegesis, hermeneutics, etc, will also apply to me, hence my interest in the entire affair.

So, how is Svendsen different than, say, a Carson, or a Cranfield, etc, with respect to interpreting the Bible?

Given the amount of Svendsen-critical material that comes forth from Enloe, one would think that there is this vast stockpile of instantiations that he could pull out so that somebody like Steve Hays could say "Good point" or "You're right on that one." But, from what I've seen, all he gets [and similarly those who ask for evidence] is what appears to be a random selection from a menu consisting of (i) a paroxysm of rage translated through a keyboard and internet connection, (ii) a snide dismissal, (iii) more lecturing on his benighted state, and (iv) devolution into somebody who doesn't exist.

Again, the question is repeated: how is Svendsen different than, say, a Carson, or a Cranfield, etc, with respect to interpreting the Bible?

This has nothing to do with whether one likes Svendsen, thinking of him as a modern-day Paul, or whether one loathes Svendsen, viewing him as the fulfillment of the antichrist comments found in II Thessalonians; the question has to do with exegetical method and hermeneutics, nothing more.

Will Enloe put his money where his mouth is? Time will tell.

4 Comments:

Blogger centuri0n said...

Where Dr. S. differs:

(1) He pays attention to TGE
(2) Without saying "Dr. S. fired TGE", in your list of exegetes, Dr. S is the only former employer of TGE.

BTW, I gave Dr. McGrew a PP mug while you were out. I thought he deserved it for debunking Tim's expertise in history of philosophy.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005 8:21:00 PM  
Blogger Pedantic Protestant said...

Frank --- I owe Tim McG for that Chinese buffet he and Lydia treated me to last time up in Kalamazoo, so let's hope the PP coffee mug holds him over lest he call in a favor!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005 10:20:00 PM  
Blogger centuri0n said...

OK -- now I know who you are. You and Lydia have a book you're trying to publish, don't you?

Let me say this: somehow me, the ant who calls himself "centuri0n", has found himself in the land of giants and nobody is trying to step on him. It's pretty humbling to have folks like PP and Dr. S. and DrO and skyman treat me as if I wasn't a complete idiot in spite of the way I conduct myself.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005 7:23:00 AM  
Blogger Pedantic Protestant said...

Hint for Frank: If I'm trying to get a book published with Lydia, that would be news to her! However, I have a rather thick graduate-level book out there somewhere in math-stat-physics land, and a semi-decent collection of papers.

But in the end, in this matter, I'm an ant relative to McG. However, he is an ant relative to my probability background and Chinese buffet skills, so in the end one might say we're even!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005 9:56:00 AM  

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