Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Friday, May 12, 2006

What A Meta!

Due to being plugged by James White at his site and getting a mention on the Dividing Line as well, the debate review post is the first blog article ever on Hip and Thigh to receive 20 or more posts in the combox. Now, I realize that is no where near Frank Turk, Team Pyro or even Fide-O territory, but I count that as one of my personal best.

This new record mark is primarily a result of a Muslim who goes by the net name of Rambo (unless of course that is his real name) who took umbrage to some of my comments concerning the debate. I finally had a little time to ponder the exchanges.

I truly found Rambo's remarks about Bart Ehrman being one of the greatest NT scholars next to Metzger to be just precious. He was obviously bothered by my description of him as being the current go to darling for the media when some investigative TV reporter wants to do a smear piece against biblical Christianity. There is a reason why they tap him for these in-depth interviews instead of D.A. Carson, Wayne Grudem or Daniel Wallace, men of equal if not greater NT scholarship: Ehrman has as his goal to pillory fundamental, biblical Christianity.

It is not like this guy has any original thought about NT criticism. Anyone who is even remotely familiar with the field of textual criticism realizes there have been a share of anti-supernaturalist cranks occupying the discipline. Yet, Ehrman (who by the way strikes a resemblance to Al from Home Improvement) has the so-called academic credentials that provides some sense of respectability for those uninitiated in the realm of textual criticism, plus he is going to say what the NPR/CNN/MSNBC reporters wants him to say: The Jesus of right-wing Republicans is sorely exaggerated.

What I find humorous is how individuals like Rambo, so eager to quote Ehrman in favor of their non-Christian presuppositions, ignore the vast body of work by those scholars who have dismantled Ehrman's arguments years ago. Daniel Wallace, whose books Ehrman probably had to read when he was in graduate school, has posted a review of his recent book Mis-quoting Jesus, and clearly shows it is all biased liberal window dressing with no true substance. Wallace is the executive director of the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts, where he handles, photographs and catalogs the many NT manuscripts used by folks like Ehrman who claim they have been intentionally altered. Wallace has direct contact with the manuscripts in dispute; he says Ehrman is prone to overstatement and argumentation not sufficiently nuanced; why does Rambo ignore him? It is quite simple: Wallace doesn't support his presuppositions; Ehrman does. Reading Wallace's works may help improve Ally's presentation the next time he debates.

Even more precious is Rambo's assertion that the "consensus" of NT scholarship accept the fictitious "Q" document as being real. First, majority rules doesn't automatically equate truth. The consensus of the members of the National Academy of Sciences adhere to pure atheistic Darwinianism when they interpret scientific evidence, yet none of them have demonstrated the reality of descent with modification. They pretend to, but in real life it hasn't happened. So it is with the majority of NT scholars. They can pretend all they want about "Q," but until they produce one fragment, it is still fantasy. Pretending unicorns exist doesn't make them real, either.

Then lastly, in spite of all of these other points, the one issue Rambo kept coming back to was my comments about the group of Muslim guys who were hammering James during the intermission. Without rehashing the entire thread, Rambo seems to imply I was manufacturing an incident with Mohammed cartoon rioters preparing to burn down the gym. He was quite agitated by my description despite the fact he read into it. The way he responded with his comments, you could say he was talking loudly and waving his hands. I think what set him off was my analogy to Middle Eastern culture and haggling for figs. I guess I can understand how people can become sensitive to others pointing out the quirks in one's culture. I know I have suffered from hill billy references in the past, references, by the way, that are generally based in reality.

P.C. sensibilities cross national boundaries these days. Rambo suggests that I am ignorant of his kin folk from that part of the world, but that just goes to show you he is reacting from emotion. I know way more than he thinks I do about Middle Eastern culture, hence the reason I can use an anecdotal illustration of what I saw during the break. If he can't appreciate the light humor with what I wrote, my suggestion is to wake up to himself and where he is from.

Yet, regardless of my best efforts to clarify what I wrote about the "intermission incident," if we can call it that, Rambo, who was not present at the debate or even in the state of California for all I know, has been relying upon contacts who were eye-witnesses to what I saw who tell him I am sucking the whole thing out of my thumb. I wish to be accurate with details in all that I do, and even though other folks who were there have confirmed my description of the events, I emailed James and asked him if I was hallucinating what I saw. He wrote me back and gave me permission to post the following:

Fred: Thanks for your note.

Yes, I saw "Rambo" appear on your blog. Now you see why I don't have comments! There is a never ending supply of folks out there who have all the time in the world and a chip on their shoulder. I was going to comment on his reviews, both on your blog and elsewhere, when I realized once again the futility of such an attempt. Here is a man (I assume) who has not seen or heard the debate. He is going on second hand information at best, and yet, despite that, has already concluded that I am wrong about just about everything I had to say. To say the man is biased is to engage in understatement. Prejudice is closer, blind bigotry may well be right on. Hard to say.

But one thing is for certain: I gave up worrying about mud-slingers like Rambo many years ago. When I was young I would have stayed up half the night taking his arguments apart piece by piece. Maybe at the time that was a good thing. But as I have gotten older, I have come to realize that there are far more important things in life---like the book I need to get done over the next few weeks, the articles due next Monday, arrangements for future debates that will impact many thousands, not just one hot-head.

Now, you asked specifically about the group of young Muslims who rudely decided to ambush me during the break. I say it is rude since...it is. I was clearly working on organizing my notes and materials for the next portion of the debate. At other debates the moderator has asked folks to leave the debaters alone during the break so that we can get a drink, organize ourselves, etc. That didn't happen here, so I had a guy standing at my desk wanting to monopolize my time almost instantly. I had to ask him to leave. Others started coming. The feeding frenzy was about to begin. I know many of these folks are Christians, but they are Christians who don't think about what is best for the debate and the debaters, only that they have a question and my whole duty in life is to answer it for them. So I had to get some of my Biola student friends to come up and keep them at bay.

Well, anyway, I do not recall exactly how it came about, but a group of young Muslims, led by a little older fellow (older as in his 20s) came up and less than quietly began demanding that I quote from memory for them the references to the beating of ibn Mas'ud. I told them they could track it down easily enough by Googling the name at answering-islam.org. They became abusive at that point, for they know the site, and evidently don't believe that you can find an accurate reference to anything therein. I quickly discerned that they had no interest in the truth, only argument and mockery, and dismissed them. I then took a moment to pull up a reference from my Tablet PC and insert it into my notes, thinking I would take a moment in my closing to read it for their benefit. However, Shabir raised the issue (I wonder if they spoke to him? I saw the leader of the group talking to Shabir after the debate was over) during the student questions so I had the opportunity of reading a reference at that point. Many were witnesses to that encounter, and, after the debate, the same leader came up and wanted to try to salvage the Mark 14/Matthew 24 issue by attacking the RSV rendering of the texts that had led Shabir astray. When he would not admit to any variations in the pre-Uthmanian manuscripts, despite the MOUNTAIN of evidence on the topic, I ended the conversation as being meaningless.

Now, Rambo claims he is going to write a long, formal rebuttal exposing me as being a big racist, so I look forward to it. However, I can only wonder that his comments will be wildly out of context and will come no where near representing anything true as to who I am as a person. But, I guess we will have to see.



Blogger Johnnie Burgess Jr said...

People who dont like Christiaty will find people who teach what they want to hear.

12:40 PM, May 13, 2006  
Blogger Yahya Hayder Seymour said...

with a blog such as "little green footballs" in your regularly visited blogs, I'm not surprised he's accused you of being a bigot. The website hardly depicts an accurate picture of Islamic Theology or Jurisprudence.

12:18 PM, July 23, 2007  
Blogger Fred Butler said...


All that little green footballs is doing is linking people to news articles around the world. What?! are you under the impression the guy is making that stuff up?


6:12 AM, July 24, 2007  

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