Archive for the ‘Jamin Hubner’ Category

Rebuttal to Hubner’s Response to DeYoung

August 22, 2012

Jamin Hubner has posted a response to Kevin DeYoung on the topic Baptism and the covenant.

Jamin quote KDY as stating: “If circumcision was for Abraham a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith, then we cannot say the cutting away of the flesh was simply an ethnic identity marker or a sign of mere physical import.”

Then Jamin responds:

Not true. Circumcision was a seal of the righteousness that Abraham had by faith because he had faith. Obviously, if he didn’t have faith, circumcision wasn’t and isn’t a sign of his faith! I honestly don’t know how Kevin misses that one since it’s explicit in the text.

It’s really unclear what Jamin is trying to object to. His comment doesn’t really seem to address what KDY said, and later on in his comments he seems to agree with KDY that the sign was not merely of physical import. Perhaps Jamin just misread something.

Jamin quotes KDY thus:

And if this spiritual sign—a seal of the righteousness that comes by faith—was administered to Abraham and his infant sons, then we cannot say that the thing signified must always be present before the sign is administered. Isaac was circumcised, and so was Ishmael—both being given the seal of justification by faith before the exercise of faith. Just like infant baptism.

Then Jamin responds:

Kevin again misses that circumcision is “a seal of the righteousness that comes by faith” – that is, Abraham’s faith and righteousness, not somebody’s else’s!

Again, it’s not completely clear if Jamin follows KDY’s argument. Assuming that he does, Jamin seems to be trying to argue that all circumcisions were a sign of Abraham’s faith (not of each recipient’s faith). If so, it is not clear how Jamin derives this from the text. Of course, Abraham’s circumcision was a sign of the faith he himself had, but by extension the same is true of each circumcised person – his circumcision signed/sealed his (the individual’s) faith.

Jamin quotes KDY thus:

So whether infant baptism makes sense to you or not—and I deeply respect my non-paedo friends in my church and in the broader church—shouldn’t we at least agree that the basic spiritual import of circumcision and baptism is the same and that there is biblical precedence [sic for precedent] for administering a spiritual sign without the immediate presence of the thing signified?

Then Jamin responds:

The answer is no, because the basic spiritual import of circumcision and baptism is not the same, precisely because the covenant’s [sic for covenants] are not the same (Heb 8).

The question then is, “what was the basic spiritual import of circumcision,” if it was not faith? Acts 15 confirms for us that the Jews were saved by faith, just like the Gentiles. So, on what point is the basic spiritual import different? We don’t get an answer from Jamin.

Jamin continues:

As Wellum has thoroughly argued in Believer’s Baptism a number of years ago, and more recently in Kingdom Through Covenant, circumcision and baptism signify different realities (which is why they are radically different signs!).

They are radically different signs because Christ has come. The bloody has been replaced with the bloodless, because Christ’s blood has been shed. But the question is what Jamin thinks the different spiritual realities are.

Jamin then quotes himself as previously stating:

Circumcision marked out a male line of descent from Abraham to David to Christ, served as a physical sign to mark out a nation and to distinguish them as people who would prepare the way for the Messiah, and was part and parcel of Mosaic law.[1] None of this is true for baptism.

But, didn’t circumcision point to new life like baptism does?[2]Yes, but there’s a difference between looking forward to something and looking back to something after Christ has accomplished his work. As Sam Waldron puts it, “Baptism, therefore, professes what circumcision demanded. Circumcision did demand a new heart, indeed, but it did not profess a new heart. Baptism professes a new heart.”

a) So, wait – Jamin does agree that circumcision points to new life like baptism does. So, then why did he answer “no” instead of “yes” to KDY?

b) The attempt to limit circumcision to the Mosaic administration fails as well. Ishmael was circumcised – not just Isaac. Abraham’s slaves were circumcised too. While many of the male ancestors of Jesus in the male Abrahamic line to Joseph and Mary were circumcised, we are not told that all were, and the hill of foreskins at the entering in of Canaan suggests that some were not. Indeed, Abraham comes before Moses.

c) More to the point, while circumcision was associated with the Mosaic administration, the “basic spiritual significance” does not lie the nation being marked out – the marked out nation was itself a shadow (and likewise with the promised land etc.).

d) There is a difference between pointing forward and pointing backward, no doubt, but that difference is not one that is at the level of the “basic spiritual significance.”

e) Waldron’s way of putting it may be catchy, but it is not consistent with Paul’s discussion of Abraham’s circumcision. Paul claims Abraham already had faith and treats circumcision (in his case) as a profession of the faith that he already had. The same would the case with any proselytes.

f) Moreover, while it is easy to treat circumcision as law and demand (by simply lumping it in with “the law”), circumcision was a profession of the thing demanded. The way of salvation was always by faith, for all people, for all time. It was not uniquely demanded of the Jews in the Old Testament. Even if you will say that the gospel preached to the Jews (in shadow) and was not preached to the nations, surely it was preached to the female Jews. Thus, while circumcision was uniquely received by male Jews, faith was not demanded only of the males.

g) Further to (f), the idea of circumcision “demanding” what baptism professes is a confused idea, if one is trying to apply Paul’s teaching that a person who is circumcised is a debtor to the whole law.

h) Also further to (f), leaving aside the Pauline comments mentioned at (g), the idea that circumcision “demanded” anything is not a teaching of Scripture. It seems instead to be an inference from the fact that it was applied to infants who were later to learn about their responsibilities. What is missing, though, is any notion that the circumcision was a demand, rather than a profession.

Jamin concludes:

Thus, in the Old Covenant, you have the command given to God’s people to “circumcise yourselves to the Lord; remove the foreskin of your heart” (Jer 4:4) to those who already bore the physical sign, hoping that maybe in the future this would happen. But in the New Covenant, the Apostle speaks to God’s covenant people in the aorist, “In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands…you have been buried in baptism” (Col 2).

Jamin seems to treat Jeremiah 4:4 as though it were part of an OT AWANA curriculum. What distinguishes the two cases is that one is addressed to merely outward members of the covenant, and the other is address to members of the covenant both outwardly and inwardly. Abraham’s inward circumcision preceded his outward circumcision, just as the Colossian proselytes’ outward baptism followed their inward circumcision.

The unbelieving Jews professed faith, but they did not have it:

Isaiah 29:13
Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:

So, in fact the Jews professed a faith they did not possess, whereas the Colossians possessed faith. But that’s not a difference between baptism and circumcision, but between hypocrites and faithful.


Hubner’s Recommended Reading

December 30, 2011

My friend Jamin Hubner has posted a list of books (from “both sides”) regarding, in his terms, “Economics and Christian Zionism.”  Feel free to check out the list.  He makes one remark that I’ll address and let the rest pass: “they will at least pause when Tur and Hays’ [sic] essentially point a finger and say “propaganda” – especially as one reads all sides … .”  Some of these authors (for example, Alan Dershowitz) would be a better choice as a source when accusing Israel of “atrocities” as Hubner manages to do twice in this post.  He’s a more credible source on those issues than regular Sojourner’s contributor, Burge, who Hubner lumps in with O. Palmer Robertson.


A Trivium of Responses to Jamin

December 26, 2011

Let’s tackle Jamin’s recent post in three parts, which we will style rhetoric, grammar, and logic.  Those familiar with classical education will catch the allusion.   The labels don’t perfectly fit, but we’ll shoe-horn the arguments into those labels.  We’ll also take them out of the traditional order, addressing Jamin’s rhetoric first (but immediately I will start abusing my outline by using rhetoric in a more conventional sense).


Jamin begins his post by what appears to be an appeal to pity (argumentum ad misericordiam fallacy).   He claims he will try to clarify the record “without repeating Tur’s condescending tone … .” Of course, that doesn’t stop him from using a form of “absurd” and “silly” twice each in his post as a substitute for an argument.  But leaving aside any hypocrisy of the tone complaint, the tone of my criticisms of Jamin is totally irrelevant to the truth of the criticisms.  Moreover, in this case, Jamin sounds like the parricide who seeks the court’s mercy because he’s now an orphan.  He’s complaining about something he brought on himself.

As for the tone, what exactly does Jamin want the tone of my criticism to be?  He gets upset when Steve Hays lampoons him with sharp criticism and he gets upset when I criticize him “condescendingly”.  Is there some tone of criticism that Jamin would accept?

I recognize that a few people who – like myself – appreciate and value Jamin and Jamin’s effort may get upset that my criticism is now taking a more sharp turn.  And, they may rightly point out that Jamin’s ability (or lack thereof) to take criticism is not relevant to the validity of arguments.

And that’s mostly true.  Whether Jamin is dispassionate rock or a crybaby (he’s not at either extreme) is irrelevant to whether his conclusions follow from his premises.  On the other hand, Jamin seems to want to make it an issue by bringing it up from the very outset of the post.  So, he made it an issue – we’re just responding.


Except that these points seem rather fundamental, they do not really fit the “grammar” tag well, as they have little to do with the mechanics of language.  Perhaps you could say that they have to do with the mechanics of knowledge, but that might seem a stretch.

Jamin asks:

But seriously, can you imagine if our judgments on people’s character and the reliability of their work was based solely on the reading of other people‘s opinions of them? 

Yes, that is one reason why people write book reviews, because other people wish to form judgments solely based on reading other people’s opinions of the work, without having to read the work themselves.  We have an expression, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” but people quite often do.

Jamin again:

Take for example Dr. James White and his work. Could you imagine the kind of picture of his work and character that would emerge if all I were to read were what other people online wrote?

Yes, I can imagine that. Dr. White has both critics and fans on-line.  The critics criticize, the fans praise.  In point of fact, some of Dr. White’s books have reviews/endorsements printed on the outside cover for the very purpose of leading people to form a (positive) conclusion about what Dr. White wrote, so that they will be inclined to purchase and/or read the book.

Jamin himself has three posts under his “book review” tag on his blog, in which he has reviewed five books (three in one post).  So, you might think he’d understand the concept of people forming judgments about books based solely on reviews.  It’s not as though reading any of those reviews intellectually commits the reader to subsequently buying and reading the work.  And if one does not have such an intellectual commitment, then it follows that people can and do (in many cases) form conclusions based solely on reviews.


One might think “logic” would better fit my identification of Jamin’s fallacy above.  However, I have selected the following points for the “logic” tag, because they deal with how Jamin actually addresses the substance of the argument regarding his use of sources.

As for the problem with Jamin’s sources (something that Steve Hays has dogged him about for a while), Jamin gets the closest yet to actually dealing with what Steve has presented.  Don’t get your hopes too high, though, for Jamin admits: “I haven’t addressed any of the reviews Steve proffered … .” 

Jamin, however, offers several reasons, justifications, or excuses for why he hasn’t addressed any of the reviews Steve proffered.

1) Steve’s Thesis “is absurd”

Jamin begins his argument by asserting that Steve’s contention (he often seems to attribute that contention to me, but we’ll leave that problem aside for now) that Jamin’s source is essentially propaganda for Hamas is “absurd.”

He claims that it is absurd because “The book is little more than a good Bible study on “Israel” (!), with some middle-eastern history on the side … ” (emphasis and exclamation point in the original)  How that’s supposed to render a propaganda thesis “absurd” is not explained.  Such a book falls within the genre of books that a Hamas’ propagandist (even a knowing, intentional one, though that wasn’t Steve’s claim) would produce.

Jamin further supports his claim by vouching for the history in the book: “the vast majority of which is accurate by other historians’ (Israeli!) accounts … .”  Jamin seems here to be grasping the concept of source bias.  Had he cited to the Israeli accounts, Steve wouldn’t be able to allege source bias.  As for Jamin’s vouch, that rests on his credibility.

As for whether the book is a “good” study, we simply are given Jamin’s own vouching for the matter.

2) “Anyone who has read the book knows that.”

Then one would expect that all the on-line reviews would reflect that, no?  I mean, assuming those reviewers read the book.  Otherwise, this just seems like Jamin vouching more dogmatically.

3) “But that’s just the problem: Tur and Hays haven’t read it, don’t intend to, and remain at the mercy of online reviewers”

Of course, it is totally irrelevant to the criticism that Jamin is receiving whether or not Steve or I read the book.  Neither Steve’s arguments nor my criticism require such a premise.  Jamin is fallaciously reasoning when he insists that “the problem” is that his critics haven’t read the book he cites.

Even Jamin’s own review of the book suggests that middle eastern history is just a side topic of the book, and that some unspecified portion of that history is not accurate according to other historians (perhaps the portion cited by Jamin, perhaps some other portion, we’re not told).

Most importantly, though, whether or not Jamin’s source is biased is true whether or not Steve or I ever read the book, much less whether we intend to read the book.  Do I have to read “the Protocols of the Elders of Zion” to know that it is an anti-Semitic propaganda piece?  Do I have to intend to do so?  Certainly not.

Jamin knows that, he’s just not reasoning logically.

4) “online reviewers – certainly many who are as biased as Burge or anyone else”

Huh?  So, is Burge biased or not?  Are his critics biased or not?  Is no one biased?  This seems to be an attempted “your mother is too” argument without the actual support for the assertion about your mother.  In other words, Jamin does not identify any particular bias of any particular online (or offline) reviewer, but simply waves his hands.

5) “The burden of proof is to demonstrate that so-called pro-Hamas’ propaganda actually is pro-Hamas propaganda – if that’s what all of this is really about.”

Steve already offered evidence in support of that contention.  That shifts the burden back to Jamin to revitalize his source by addressing the evidence (something Jamin admits he has refused to do).  While Steve cannot just claim that Jamin’s source is biased, Steve didn’t just claim – he also provided supporting evidence.

6) “For me, it’s obviously more than that, esp. since I know that Burge’s assertions can/could have been substantiated by a number of other sources, as Burge says nothing profoundly new in the larger scheme of things.”

a) That’s a demonstration of why it was not particularly wise to cite Burge for this particular point.  Jamin didn’t have to cite him for that point, and Burge isn’t really “the authority” on that point.  As Jamin seems to concede above, middle east history wasn’t even the focal point of Burge’s book.

b) Jamin’s attempt to get past this issue would proceed a lot more smoothly if he would just say to to Steve, “You’re right – that was a bad source for that point.  However, here is a good source for that point.”  Then Steve would have nothing left except to drag up a mistake that Jamin has already acknowledged.  I can understand Jamin’s desire to deal with other topics, but he keeps posting about this one, leading to reply posts.

7) “It’s about the truth of what I was discussing in that original article the first place: the atrocities behind and consequences of the establishment of Israel and that the Israel of today is the Israel of the OT”

No doubt that is the subject Jamin would prefer to discuss, rather than whether his source was bad a source, but see above.

8) “Tur says “people are capable of knowing what an author’s intention was without having read the original book.” Then perhaps Tur should inform us about what Burge’s intention really is in Whose Land?

Of course, this is a non sequitur.  Just because it is true that in general one can know an author’s intention without having read the original book does not mean that I personally know it in every case or in any particular case.  Also, see below.

9) “if not simply to briefly portray middle-eastern conflict from the eyes of Palestinians (that’s primarily a geographical group, not ethnic group) and examine what Scripture has to say about “Israel.””

I’m not sure if Jamin knows this, but we now have Jamin’s thesis conveyed to us about the author’s intention (without us having to read the book).  That supports my contention that people are capable of knowing what an author’s intention was without having read the original.

10) “If there is some hidden pro-terrorist agenda behind this Wheaton NT professor’s work that we should know about, then perhaps that should be demonstrated before going any further.”

a) “Hidden pro-terrorist agenda” puts too intentional a turn on the matter.
b) But Steve has already provided the demonstration that Jamin has refused to address.
c) Given that Steve has already proffered evidence and Jamin refuses to address it, it’s disingenuous for Jamin to continue to demand demonstration.

11) “I haven’t addressed any of the reviews Steve proffered because it’s entirely unnecessary: I’ve read the book!”

Jamin’s confused.  Reading the reviews might be unnecessary if one has already read the book.  However, if the reviews are presented as the evidence that the book is biased, and if Jamin wants to maintain that the book is not biased, based on more than just his personal vouching, he needs to address the evidence.

Obviously, Jamin is free to vouch for the book himself (as he seems to be doing over and over again), but simply vouching for the book himself isn’t really addressing the opposing reviews.

12) “I know what’s in it. I don’t have to consult secondary sources on the work since I’m one to produce them.”

This is just a continuation of the same confusion already addressed at (11).

13) “Nevertheless, it is certainly possible that other people see things that slip my attention and expertise.”

Expertise?  In any event, this is just a concession that reading of the reviews might be helpful even to a person who read the book.  However, this line of thought is confused, as explained at (11).

14) “But do any of these “reviews” (which I have looked at) really establish through adequate facts and documentation that this college professor is intentionally helping terrorists … through his work or otherwise?”

a) Jamin adds in a layer of intentionality and specific intentionality that’s not really necessary (As Steve explained: “Obviously Burge doesn’t see it that way. That’s the nature of dupery. If you knew you were being duped, you wouldn’t be a dupe.“).  And Steve further suggests just looking at Burge’s recent blog posts (link) with topics like “Five Frustrations When You Debate Israel and the Palestinians” and “When Will 3.5 Million Palestinians Get Their Chance For Freedom?” Burge (or whoever titles his blog posts) does not seem to try to present himself as an unbiased source on the matter.

b) More importantly, until Jamin actually addresses the reviews, we won’t have a counter-argument as to why they fall short of meeting the standard that is necessary (whether the standard is that Burge is an unwitting or intentional propagandist for Hamas).

15) “That’s why I ignored this tangent on sources and sought to address the underlying presuppositions behind Hays’ violent reaction by asking him 3 simple questions, all three of which Hays (to my knowledge) has not to this day answered himself.”

a) Why on earth should Hays answer three admittedly irrelevant questions?  This is a gigantic red herring.

b) What Jamin has actually done is to impugn Steve’s motive.  But, of course, Steve’s motives are not relevant to the truth of Steve’s arguments.  Whether Steve is an evil “Zionist” or not does not make his criticism of Jamin’s sources true or false.

16) “I wanted to get past the silly (and I mean silly) assertions about Hamas shills, Britney Spears, man-crushes and Lord knows what else (recount some of it here) and hopefully have a meaningful discussion on something substantive.”

a) Hays’ raised an objection to a use of a source.  It seems like Jamin has three options: (1) to address the criticism by rebutting the source; (2) to withdraw the source; or (3) to ignore the criticism.  But to respond to the criticism by trying to force the critic to talk about something else is just irrational.

b) Calling the criticism he receives “silly” isn’t really a substitute for an argument as to why it is silly.  Steve’s lampoon regarding the overly sympathetic fan of Britney Spears may well have been over the top, but that is the nature of lampoons.

17) “But it has been clear that anything but that will happen – whether Tur’s mockery or Hays’ absurd comparison of Dr. White to Norman Geisler.”

Hubner would rather discuss “anything but” Hubner’s mistakes.  We get that.  That’s totally natural.  However, that doesn’t justify styling criticism “mockery” and “absurd.”  The comparison of Dr. White to Dr. Geisler was just that neither seems to hold their protege accountable.  As Steve’s post put it: “Geisler syndrome is when a mentor automatically covers for his protégé”  As Steve’s latest comment states: “Jamin continues to suffer from lack of responsible mentoring.”  That comparison could be made absurd by suggesting that Jamin’s use of sources is the moral equivalent of Caner’s behavior, but Steve did not make that suggestion.  Perhaps Dr. White took it that way, which would be unfortunate, but if you carefully read Steve’s post (as Dr. White himself suggested) it becomes clear what Steve’s very narrow criticism was.  Namely: “Because Caner isn’t White’s own protégé, White can clearly see the problem with Geisler. But because Hubner is White’s protégé, he lacks the same objectivity in that case.”  Incidentally, you’ll find me disagreeing with some of Steve’s points in the comment box of that post.  Moreover, whether or not Steve’s comparison is correct is different from whether or not it is absurd.

18) “How unfortunate, indeed, that any of this has to be written.”

You might think that Hays had a gun to Hubner’s head, forcing him to double down on his mistakes instead of retracting them.  Or even forcing Hubner to respond to the criticism of his position.  That’s not the case.  Ultimately, “this” gets written because Hubner doesn’t want to just say, “Sorry, it was a bad source.  However, the same points can be documented from Israeli sources X, Y, and Z.”  “This” gets written because (apparently) Hubner wants to write about it.

19) “Oh, and I did just notice that this ‘Hamas Shill’ and Hamas ‘propagandist’ just wrote a new book endorsed by Craig Blomberg, Marshall, Longenecker and others”

Ironically, those are the concluding words of Jamin’s post.  I’m not sure whether the tone police will be asking for his badge and gun.

More significantly, of course, he’s referring us to the endorsement/review of the book by three men, so we can form a judgment about the author without having to have read the book, conceding the very point he disputes above.


Where can we go from here?  It’s up to Jamin.  He can continue to complain that he’s getting criticized, he can retract, he can address the evidence Steve has presented, or he can just let it go.  I don’t really see what point there would be in my continued involvement in the discussion, unless – of course – Jamin drags me back into the discussion of Jamin.


Maybe Hubner Needs to Look Up "Shill" in a Dictionary

December 21, 2011

Jamin Hubner responds to my recent post by writing:

Turretinfan criticizes a recent post, saying, “ using a source that is a shill for Hamas is still using a bad source.” It seems Tur is suggesting that because a source is used as a Hamas shill, than in and of itself means the source is bad.

But, obviously this isn’t true. Hamas could use a dictionary and that doesn’t mean the dictionary is “bad source.” It is ironic that in the procesess [sic] of trying to reveal a fallacy, brother Tur seems to commit one (a source fallacy).

The only way that Jamin Hubner’s post makes any sense is if he does not understand what the word “shill” means.  Perhaps he should look it up in … a dictionary.

In the meantime, let me reword my sentence in terms he is more liable to understand: “using a source that is Hamas propaganda (or is written by a Hamas propagandist) is using a bad source.”

Later on in the same post, Jamin wrote:

We have to ask in situations like these: how does the author intend the source to be used? Since Tur (and Hays, who made the original accusation about Burge’s work being pro-Hamas) have not even read the original source themselves, they are incapable of even knowing what the author’s intention really is. Hence the lack of any kind of refutation of this supposed Hamas-shill source (Burge’s Whose Land?), and hence the lack of any demonstration that Burge and/or his work is actually a shill or Hamas – and to what extent and in what sense he/his work is.

Yes, in fact, people are capable of knowing what an author’s intention was without having read the original book.  Steve Hays addressed this point a long time ago.  We can read reviews of books and learn all sorts of things that way.  In fact Steve Hays has already thoroughly demonstrated this point.  Jamin hasn’t bothered to address any of the reviews Steve proffered.

But again, let me put this in terms that Jamin cannot help but grasp.  Suppose that the work is a work by Adolph Hitler.  Am I incapable of knowing what Hitler’s intention was in writing Mein Kampf, unless I read the book?  Is that the only way for me to find out?  Or can I read a review of the book?  Can I maybe possibly get some idea by reading the Cliff’s notes?  Or is that a hopeless endeavor?

Moreover, since Steve’s claim was about the man, isn’t it sufficient to read some of his shorter pieces to see that he’s a propagandist or “shill” and not simply a relatively neutral source like a dictionary?  Of course it is.

Surely Jamin is not so dense as to really imagine that the only way one can learn about the content of a book is by personally reading that book or that the only way one can find out about an author’s character is by reading that particular book.

Right?  So, then Jamin should (a) either address the issue of the credibility of his source by addressing the evidence Steve already presented against it or (b) acknowledge that Steve was correct about the source bias problem of that particular source.


P.S. Hubner’s concluding paragraph begins: “All of this is a distraction from the truth and the main concerns that I’ve tried and contiually [sic] try to raise … .”  But the problem is that Steve has seemingly caught him trying to promote his view about Israel by citing/promoting a work that is itself little better than Hamas propaganda.  Perhaps I agree with Hubner’s ultimately conclusions about Israel, but that doesn’t change the fact that Hubner is shooting himself in the foot by citing to Mein Kampf for a supposedly historical report of facts of the bad things Jewish people have done.  Oh, wait.  Of course he didn’t do that.  He would know better than to do that.  But he doesn’t see the problem with the source he did cite (the one Steve described as a shill for Hamas) regarding the bad things the Israelis have supposedly done.  Even if the MK truthfully reports the facts of a particular instance, there is a good reason one wouldn’t cite it.

Hubner Compares Self to O. Palmer Robertson

December 10, 2011

Evidently, Jamin Hubner and O. Palmer Robertson share a similar view regarding Israel on some points.  Hubner seems to think that consistency demands that if he (Hubner) is a “dupe for the jihadists” and is “supporting Arabs with unsound arguments,” then the same must be true of Robertson.

There’s a fundamental flaw in Hubner’s reasoning.  Hubner has some “main points” in mind, and he thinks that Robertson shares his opinion on those main points.  Perhaps Robertson does.  Yet it wasn’t the “main points” with respect to which “dupe for the jihadists” and “supporting Arabs with unsound arguments” were used.

In fact, Hubner himself had complained that his critics were not addressing his main points.  So, one might think he would realize that it doesn’t resuscitate his use of bad sources and bad arguments to find someone who agrees with the points he was trying to make.

Let me try to simplify the point for Hubner: if you argue Man is mortal; Socrates is an ox; therefore Socrates is mortal, you have reasoned fallaciously and from an untrue premise.  If you come along and say “Einstein agrees with me that Socrates is mortal,” that does not revitalize either your claim that Socrates is an ox, or your fallacious reasoning.  Consistency doesn’t demand that we criticize Einstein, because Einstein didn’t reach his conclusion the same way you did.  Capisce?

Analogously, using a source that is a shill for Hamas is still using a bad source and using an invalid argument that supports Arab claims is still supporting Arabs with unsound arguments, whether or not O. Palmer Robertson thinks that “Never can the promise of the land be properly claimed by those who fail to exercise true faith and faithfulness in the Redeemer provided by the Lord of the Covenant.”

So, when Hubner asks, in his article: “…But, for some reason I don’t suspect Robertson and those who endorsed his book (RC Sproul, Robert Reymond, Richard B. Gaffin) will earn any terrorist associations, titles of mockery or titles of supporting any particular race (e.g. Arabs) for saying the same things I’ve said. I wonder why?”  The reasons may be several: they don’t actually say the same thing, they don’t say it the same way, and they don’t have the same emotional reaction to criticism of their arguments and sources.

– TurretinFan

Responding to Ryrie regarding John Edwards and Dispensations

November 22, 2011

Someone wrote in to Jamin Hubner the following question:

In Ryrie’s book he mentions the dispensational scheme that Jonathan Edwards [sic] (not that Edwards was necessarily a dispensationalist) put forth in his work “A Compleat History or Survey of All the Dispensations”. Would this not pre-date Darby? As I have not read this work by Edwards, perhaps I am missing the context, but Edwards’ dispensational scheme has some similarities to the seven dispensations espoused by modern day dispensationalists.

The author of the comment is referring to the discussion of John Edwards (not Jonathan Edwards) in Ryrie’s book, “Dispensationalism.”  To answer the exact question, yes – it predates Darby.  On the other hand, as Ryrie himself points out, Edwards didn’t believe in a literal 1,000 year physical reign of Jesus on Earth.  There may be some similarities. 

There is an important answer to these questions: it is not the designation “dispensation” or the recognition that God has dealt with people differently in different epochs of time that is controversial about dispensationalism.  So, whether or not Edwards’ scheme of dispensations or dealings has some similarities to the schemes advocated by dispensationalists is a moot point.

Ryrie himself seems to recognize the mootness of such historical appeal.

Ryrie writes (shortly prior to his reference to John Edwards):

Dispensationalists recognize that as a system of theology it is recent in origin.  But there are historical references to that which eventually was systematized into dispensationalism.  There is evidence in the writings of men who lived long before Darby that the dispensational concept was part of their viewpoint.

After discussing some patristic and medieval authors, Ryrie explains:

It is not suggested, nor should it be inferred, that these early church fathers were dispensationalists in the later sense of the word. But it is true that some of them enunciated principles that later developed into dispensationalism, and it may be rightly said that they held to primitive or early dispensational-like concepts.

So, Jamin Hubner’s own response to the question seems a little strange:

Dispensationalists typically play the pre-Darby card in an effort to justify their system, but is rarely an adequate appeal. The idea is to make associations and draw similarities between Darby and previous thinkers (e.g. Ireneaus, Edwards, some Reformers, etc.) to say Dispensationalism goes back (for some, they would say to the Apostles, while others would say back to the Reformers, etc.). But in reality, the thinkers are simply not teaching Darbyism. Resemblances, vague parallels and similarities are not enough to dismount Darby as essentially the Father of Dispensationalism (nor dismount Scofield as perhaps the chief popularizer). But that’s not to say we shouldn’t acknowledge that Darby had previous influences and that attempts have been made to try and systematize redemptive history, address the application of biblical law, and solve various hermeneutical issues. Certainly there have been such attempts.

 And again:

One could list countless other references. But, it’s obviously absurd (and anachronistic) to say Calvin, Bavinck, or Spurgeon were Dispensationalists just because they speak of dispensations in redemptive history, and baseless to say from these facts that Darby’s specific thought found its ultimate origins in these particular thinkers (since Christians from virtually every period have been talking about changes in redemptive history and various epochs; perhaps the author of the Hebrews was the first to put it so starkly). Even organizing such Dispensations into a structure does not add up to the profound and distinctive marks of Darby and Scofield’s Dispensationalism (e.g. stark Israel/Church separation, hermeneutic regarding prophecy, premil pretrib eschatology including rapture of believers, etc.) – which is precisely what we mean by “Dispensationalism” today.

While there may be dispensationalists who make such claims, it seems pretty clear that Ryrie himself explicitly disavows such claims.  Instead, Ryrie makes much softer claims about doctrinal development, claims that don’t claim that the “profound and distinctive marks” of dispensationalism were present in the pre-Darby era.

Ryrie instead argues:

There is no question that the Plymouth Brethren, of which John Nelson Darby (1800-1882) was a leader, had much to do with the systematizing and promoting of dispensationalism.  But neither Darby nor the Brethren originated the concepts involved in the system, and even if they had, that would not make them wrong if they can be shown to be biblical.

Indeed, under the title of “Straw Men,” Ryrie explains:

In discussing the matter of the origins of dispensationalism, opponents of the teaching usually set up two straw men and then huff and puff until they are destroyed.  The first straw man is to say that dispensationalists assert that the system was taught in postapostolic times. Informed dispensationalists do not claim that.  They recognize that, as a system, dispensationalism was largely formulated by Darby, but that outlines of a dispensationalist approach to the Scriptures are found much earlier.  They only maintain that certain features of what eventually developed into dispensationalism are found in the teachings of the early church. 

Another typical example of the use of a straw man is this line of argument: pretribulationalism is not apostolic; pretribulationalism is dispensationalism; therefore, dispensationalism is not apostolic.  But dispensationalists do not claim that the system was developed in the first century; nor is it necessary that they be able to do so.

So, in fact, folks like Ryrie (and I assume Fred Butler would fall in this camp) are not claiming that the early or even Reformation-era church held to a pre-mil, pre-trib rapture.

It may be useful in dealing with dispensationals, therefore, to be careful in distinguishing.  On the one hand, we grant that the use of the term and even a difference in dealings (on some level) are concepts that pre-existed Darby.  Indeed, using that same standard, it seems that we might be classified as “primitive dispensationalists” (using Ryrie’s standards) if we hold to covenant theology.  On the other hand, the more objectionable aspects of dispensationalism do not have the same noble lineage.

Ultimately, though, we agree with Ryrie that the test of history is not the ultimate test: the ultimate test is the test of Scripture.  If the teachings of dispensationalism are the teachings of Scripture, then we ought to hold them regardless of whether anyone held them between the time of the apostles and now.


TurretinFan’s Criticism "May Be True" Per Hubner

October 4, 2011

Jamin Hubner has posted a response to my post that criticized his unsound argument

His post is something of a goulash of various points, from which I’ve extracted the parts seemingly related to my post.

He writes:

The last few posts on this blog have generated a flurry of responses. But unfortunately, very little is directed at the central concerns I have raised. Virtually none are written out of an interest in seeking the truth with love, nor from an understanding of what I myself even believe regarding Middle-Eastern conflict (Israel, Palestinians, etc.) as a whole, nor from a perspective that is even close to what a common man would say is “fair” or “balanced.” Middle-Eastern history can be a complex subject and I have much to learn. But it is unfortunate that in attempts to publicly untangle even small portions of history and draw a handful of conclusions, some usually fair-minded readers are hasty to generalize in ways that I think are very misleading (blog titles of “Supporting Arabs,” and such statements as “Hubner…is just a dupe for jihadists,” etc.), or just hasty to criticize in general.

That’s why I left a short annotated bibliography in the last post – so that if you’re truly interested in the truth, and not in the latest blogosphere drama, you can read some good books and draw your own conclusions. I don’t live on the internet folks. I hardly have time to read, let alone respond to those who critique my work. And this blog is but a small part of this ministry. That’s something to keep in mind as I make the following observations.

For one reason or another, Turretinfan (an able mind on Roman Catholicism and Reformed scholasticism) joined the discussion and believes I am making unsound arguments “supporting Arabs.” Of course, the title itself is loaded (“Supporting the Arabs with unsound arguments”). In principle, I do not support “Arabs” today or yesterday any more or any less than “Asians,” “Africans,” or “Germans.” I support whatever party is in the right/not in the wrong in any given context, and condemn the party that is in the wrong in any given context, regardless of ethnicity (shouldn’t we all?). Even, so, I don’t see my material “supporting Arabs” inasmuch as it tries to do history with more balance than the average Zionist/pro-Israel Christian. Turretin says that the McMahon correspondence didn’t actually promise the Arabs a state. This may be true, depending on what is meant by “assist them to establish what may appear to be the most suitable forms of government in those various territories,” and what is being asserted by the British in general during this period. Perhaps the Commissioner never intended to promise an Arab state, and Sykes (British diplomatic advisor) in the Sykes-Picot agreement (which undoubtedly did promote an Arab state) wasn’t really in step with the opinion of British Commissioner McMahon. Turretin can make that argument and it would lead to some interesting conclusions, though I’m presently not persuaded that the assertions in/behind the two documents are that different. Turretin says I am “blissfully unaware” of “the perceived English need to have the Arabs fight the Turks during World War I.” That’s odd, because Tur just quoted me a few paragraphs earlier where I said, “This promise was given in hopes of gaining Arab support for the British war efforts against Turkey.” Not sure if Tur was just sleeping at the wheel on that one, or misunderstood me, or what.

Time does not allow for a further response. I’d like to finish my response to Feldman but I fear that in this environment, it honestly wouldn’t be helpful to many (send me an email if you wish). And given how much energy has been invested in the blogosphere to not merely criticizing my material, but trying to cast a shadow on my integrity, character, etc., let it simply be said that if you have any serious doubts about my character, please, stop guessing and do the obvious: call my pastor, my parents, my siblings and cousins, my employer, my landlord, my current and former professors, my friends; go to and listen to my public lectures, debates, podcasts, and sermons; read my published books and essays; watch the youtube videos…and after all that, read my public profile, my blog, my google+ updates and then draw your own conclusions. I might be a Calvinist and I might believe the state of Israel has no religious significance today. But I can assure you, I don’t hate or favor any particular ethnicity over others, I don’t desire the destruction of present day Israel, and I don’t eat babies or Dispensationalists for breakfast. Go serve God and love your neighbor.

As to the actual issue I raised in my response, namely that Hubner’s salesmanship of the evidence “promised that the Arabs would have their own state in Palestine” and “promised the Arabs an independent stable state – presumably the land/or within the land of Palestine,” does not match the facts, Hubner’s central response seems to be:

1. This may be true.
2. It depends on what a particular expression means.
3. Maybe Sykes was not in step with McMahon.
4. I (TurretinFan) “can make that argument and it would lead to some interesting conclusions.
5. He is not persuaded that the assertions “in/behind the two documents are that different.”

I don’t see how any of this is supposed to serve as a rebuttal to the argument that I did already make in my post. His response appears to amount to saying that maybe I’m right, but he’s not convinced. This hardly seems blog-worthy. There’s no counter-argument that he’s offered that I need to refute.  My original post stands.

As to the remainder of his post, what value is it?  He impugns his critics’ motives and character and waxes on and on about himself.  Many of his accusations are vague, but I’ll address one of the trifling points he raises that seems clearly directed at me:

… some usually fair-minded readers are hasty to generalize in ways that I think are very misleading (blog titles of “Supporting Arabs,” …

Of course, the title itself is loaded (“Supporting the Arabs with unsound arguments”). In principle, I do not support “Arabs” today or yesterday any more or any less than “Asians,” “Africans,” or “Germans.” I support whatever party is in the right/not in the wrong in any given context, and condemn the party that is in the wrong in any given context, regardless of ethnicity (shouldn’t we all?). Even, so, I don’t see my material “supporting Arabs” inasmuch as it tries to do history with more balance than the average Zionist/pro-Israel Christian.

The only one generalizing here is Hubner.  The arguments I addressed were those supportive of the Arabs and their claim that Britain promised them a Palestinian state.  That title does not indicate Hubner supports Arabs in general or that he supports them more or less than Asians, Africans, or Germans.  It doesn’t indicate that he has ethnic prejudice.  Finally, won’t a balanced treatment sometimes support one side and sometimes another?  If so, then there is no conflict between the title of the post and Jamin’s claim to balance.  After all the title of my post didn’t say that Hubner always supports the Arab position against the Jewish people.

In short, Hubner’s complaint over the title of the post was unfounded and guilty of the very thing he accused me of – generalization.  I note that Hubner indicated that he hardly has time to read those who critique his work and that “Time does not allow for a further response.”  Perhaps if he squandered less of it attacking the motives and character of his critics, he’d have more time for considering the arguments and revising his position.


Supporting the Arabs with Unsound Arguments

October 1, 2011

Suppose someone argues this:

The first is McMahon-Hussein Correspondence, which promised that the Arabs would have their own state in Palestine. This promise was given in hopes of gaining Arab support for the British war efforts against Turkey. The British High Commissioner Sir Henry McMahon promised the following to the Arabs (Oct 24, 1915) in a letter to Hussein Ibn Ali, Sherif of Mecca: (quotation) So the British promised the Arabs an independent stable state – presumably the land/or within the land of Palestine.

Notice that I’ve omitted the quotation that was in the original. We’ll come to it in a second. If this use of sources is proper, what should the quotation show? It should show:

  • A promise.
  • To “the Arabs”
  • That they would have “their own state”
  • That it would be “in Palestine.”
  • That it would be “independent”
  • That it would be “stable”

After all, that is how this evidence is being sold: “promised that the Arabs would have their own state in Palestine” and “promised the Arabs an independent stable state – presumably the land/or within the land of Palestine.”

What does the quotation actually say?

(1) Subject to the above modifications, Great Britain is prepared to recognise and support the independence of the Arabs in all the regions within the limits demanded by the Sherif of Mecca.
(2) Great Britain will guarantee the Holy Places against all external aggression and will recognise their inviolability.
(3) When the situation admits, Great Britain will give to the Arabs her advice and will assist them to establish what may appear to be the most suitable forms of government in those various territories…
I am convinced that this declaration will assure you beyond all possible doubt of the sympathy of Great Britain towards the aspirations of her friends the Arabs and will result in a firm and lasting alliance, the immediate results of which will be the expulsion of the Turks from the Arab countries and the freeing of the Arab peoples from the Turkish yoke, which for so many years has pressed heavily upon them.

So, it actually promises the Arabs freedom from the Turks (one group of Muslims from another group of Muslims).  Does it promise to build any Arab states?  No.  What about anything Palestinian?  Palestine isn’t even mentioned as such.

It seems that that author of the argument is blissfully unaware of the reality of the massively powerful and expansive Ottoman Empire (based in Turkey, but expanded all over) and the perceived English need to have the Arabs fight the Turks during World War I.  Whether the author of the argument is unaware or not is hard to be sure, but his argument does not seem to recognize the difference between declaring that the Ottoman empire has to let a region go (what the cited McMahon-Hussein Correspondence was all about) and some kind of Arab nation-building (which wasn’t the topic of the correspondence).

The author of the article writes:

Of course, “Palestine” isn’t specifically mentioned. 22 years later the High Commissioner 22 would say he never technically promised a Palestinian Arab state with these words (see McMahon’s letter in London Times, 1937), even though that’s how the Arabs understood it.

But the letter he references actually states:

I feel it my duty to state, and I do so definitely and emphatically, that it was not intended by me in giving this pledge to King Hussein to include Palestine in the area in which Arab independence was promised. I also had every reason to believe at the time that the fact that Palestine was not included in my pledge was well understood by King Hussein.

So, the author of the letter didn’t say X, later says he didn’t mean X, and also claims that his correspondent understood that.

(original article to which this post responds)


Reviewing a Blog Exchange Between Hays and Hubner

May 25, 2011

I’ve been watching, with some sadness, a blog exchange between two guys with whom I’m on good terms. I thought I’d post my thoughts on the exchange here for what it’s worth. It’s a long post and probably only of interest to me, the two guys, and a few of our mutual friends. Nevertheless, I offer it up for your reading enjoyment, if you so choose. I had considered entitling it “Scoring a Debate,” but I think there is a pretty clear outcome to the exchange, and perhaps I can just leave the reader to draw his own conclusion about how I would score it.

1. A Brief History of Dispensationalism and Covenant Theology (Jamin Hubner)

In this post, Hubner writes (amongst a lot of other stuff):

Eventually, in the last half of the century, Dispensationalism became popular enough that it started affecting mainstream politics and foreign policy regarding Israel and Palestine.[2]

[2] See Gary Burge, Whose Land? Whose Promise? (Cleveland, OH: The Pilgrim Press, 2003).

In response, Steve Hays posted:

2. Sleeping with the enemy (Steve Hays)

In this post, Hays did not challenge the question of whether Dispensationalism affected mainstream politics and foreign policy in America. Hays, however, objected to Hubner “plugging Gary Burge’s tendentiously entitled Whose Land? Whose Promise?: What Christians Are Not Being Told about Israel and the Palestinians.”

Hays took the position that “Burge is basically a shill for Hamas.” Hays also posted links to three negative book reviews of Burge’s book.

In response, Hubner posted:

3. Steve Hays, Hubbub, and Hamas

In this post, Hubner expressed confusion (“One is simply left wondering: why was this written, and why now? Whatever the case, I’m not the only one left scratching my head … .”) at the point of Hays’ post, after first impugning Hays’ motives: “Today he wrote an entire blog post … for (what appears) no other reason than to make me look bad through association” and “now Steve stoops to a new low in trying to solidify his “pattern” theory.” In support of this criticism of Hays’ motives, Hubner introduced some prior criticism of Hubner that Hays had provided.

Then Hubner posed three questions, to wit:

  1. Who is the one “sleeping with the enemy” and who is the “enemy” in the title of your blog post, and why did you see those terms as fitting?
  2. How were you hoping your readers would respond to your particular post, in thought and/or action?
  3. Did you read Gary Burge’s book Whose Land, Whose Promise? prior to when you wrote your post essentially criticizing the book, and if not, are you willing to read it and discuss the arguments he raises? (I certainly am.)

The first two questions may be interesting to Hubner, but they don’t have any logical relation to Hays’ argument. The third question also doesn’t appear to have much to do with Hays’ argument. Hays cited three reviews of Burge’s book (he didn’t claim to have read the book himself), and Hays was not addressing a specific argument that Burge presented.

Hays responded with:

4. Siding with the enemy

In this post, after addressing some of Hubner’s complaints about being criticized, Hays pointed out that there is a difference between culpable and inculpable association. Hays wrote:

ii) Jamin isn’t merely “associated” with Burge, in some purely incidental way, because he happened to reference a book of his.

No, Jamin agrees with Burge. For instance:

…Israel is guilty of committing countless war atrocities that qualify and surpass the covenant obligations in Scripture. Mass murder. Torturing men ages 14-60s. Unjust use of water supply and the abusive treatment of aliens and foreigners. The creation of millions of refugees. And so on and so forth.[14]

[14] See chapter 2-3 of Burge, Whose Land, Whose Promise?

Notice how he defaults to Burge as an unquestioned authority, to validate Jamin’s incendiary allegations.

It should be noted that here Hays is quoting from a different blog post than the originally quoted post. Thus, Hays has now identified two places where Hubner has positively cited Burge’s book.

Hays then went to argue that the purpose of his post is self-explanatory from the content. Responding to question 1 above, Hays wrote:

i) Burge is the immediate target, but to the degree that Jamin is rubberstamping Burge, then he’s complicit, too.

ii) Because we’re in a counteroffensive against global jihad and creeping dhimmitude. In a conflict of that nature, it’s crucial to know the difference between your allies and your enemies. Burge is siding with the enemy.

In responding to the second question from Hubner, Hays wrote:

By considering Burge’s affiliations and reading the reviews, to alert them to Burge’s agenda.

In response to Hubner’s third question, Hays wrote:

i) Jamin is recasting the point of the post. That’s a red herring. As I pointed out, the question at issue are the political (contributor to Sojourners) and theological (PC-USA minister) presuppositions which Burge brings to his book. And you don’t have to read his book to know that, for his book is not the only thing he’s written on the subject. For instance:

ii) And I don’t need to read Burge to know about the nature of the Arab/Israeli conflict.

In response Hubner posted:

5. Steve’s Reply, and My Take On Present-Day “Israel”

In this post, Hubner leads by essentially calling Hays dishonest (“Until then, I think everyone should be wondering, for a well-known blogger who gives advice on how to do apologetics, why didn’t he just say so? Enough sowing seeds of doubt against another fellow Christian, and making assertions with unstated conclusions. Just be honest and say what you believe”) .

Hubner then adds:

and saying my citation of a book “ought to alert one to his presuppositions” is anything but helpful for readers, as it hardly begins to explain why that is the case, or what “presuppositions” they are, or why they are wrong, why any of these things are significant, etc.

This is a strange statement, since what Hays had actually written was: “The fact that Burge is a PC-USA minister, along with the further fact that he’s a contributor to Jim Wallis’s leftwing rag Sojourners, ought to alert one to his presuppositions.” It’s unclear how Hubner’s statement bears any reasonable relation to what Steve actually said. Moreover, that comment was not Hays’ only comment. Hays was pretty explicit in saying that “From what I’ve read by him and about him, Burge is basically a shill for Hamas.” That was Hays’ very next line after what Hubner quoted.

Hubner also writes:

Indeed, publicly calling on the people of God to be on the “alert” for the presuppositions of a certain Christian apologist is a serious charge, and whether anyone likes it or not, it cannot just be brushed aside (though I’d sometimes like to!).

It appears that Hubner has similarly mistakenly interpreted Hays’ criticism of Burge for criticism of Hubner.

And then Hubner expresses yet more confusion:

Now I am really confused. Is Steve actually saying that these historical events just didn’t happen? Or, if they did, that they are irrelevant to discussing…whatever conflict he means when he talks about “taking sides”? I hope Steve can provide some answers to this.

Hubner then goes on to state his position on the Jews.

In short, it appears that at this point in the back-and-forth, Hubner still has not addressed Hays’ challenge to Burge’s presuppositions, perhaps due to Hubner assuming this is all about him, not about Burge – despite Hays’ clear statement that it is about Burge.

Hays responded with:

6. Voodoo dolls

Hays begins by pointing out Hubner’s seeming desire to make this discussion about himself, rather than about Burge and briefly noting Hubner’s double standard of casting doubt on Hays while complaining that Hays is casting doubt on Hubner.

Moving on from there, Hays addressed Hubner’s question/point about the readers needing to be alerted about what presuppositions are at stake in this way:

i) I trust that most readers of Triablogue are capable of drawing their own conclusions. I’m sorry that Jamin can’t give his own readers that much credit.

ii) Is it really so hard to follow the trail of breadcrumbs?

If Burge is ordained in the PC-USA, that tells you something about his theological sympathies, or tolerance for liberal theology. If Burge is a regular contributor to Sojourners, that tells you something about his (leftwing) political sympathies. Those are presuppositions that he brings to his analysis of the Arab/Israeli conflict.

Then Hays addresses the fact that Hubner had misinterpreted Hays words about Burge as being about Hubner with some rather colorful analogies.

Hays then turned to Hubner’s question about whether the events described in Hubner’s post actually happened. Hays initially explained:

i) I didn’t take a position on that one way or the other. Rather, as I specified, the question is whether he should be getting his information from a guy like Burge.

At this point, Hays could have stopped, because the question of whether people should be getting info from Burge was really the point at hand.

Nevertheless, Hays went on to question each of the quite general assertions set forth in the second instance that Hays had identified where Hubner had cited Burge favorably.

Finally, Hays turned to address one point from Hubner’s discussion of his own view of Israel:

[quoting Hubner]

I don’t believe any human being (or nation for that matter) should support – either by word or deed – any secular nation regardless of what it has done, is doing, and intends to do.

You’re entitled to your Pollyannaish blather, but the US has a prefect right to support nations that support us in a military alliance against a common enemy. The president of the US has a sworn duty to defend the homeland.

It’s also simplistic to describe Israel as a “secular nation.” Aside from the sizable number of observant Jews in Israel, let’s not demean the leavening presence of Messianic Jews in Israel.

I think it would be a good idea for James White to do another show with Michael Brown, only this time he can ask Dr. Brown to discuss the Arab/Israeli conflict.

Obviously, at this point, the areas being discussed are expanding.

Hubner responds with:

7. Steve Stoops Lower Still

After complaining about the tone of Hays’ prior post and the fact that he thinks Hays is not interested in talking about what Hubner wants to talk about, Hubner states (I’m omitting the bold that was generously used in Hubner’s post):

First things first. Steve ought to read Burge’s book before his public ignorance of its arguments grows larger than his apologetics blog can handle.

Of course, Hays never claimed either to have read the book or to be familiar with the arguments in the book. Hays had already clarified that his point was about the problem with Burge’s presuppositions.

Next, Hubner suggested that people read Burge’s book because “Burge’s book contains a fair argument … , namely, that if Jews want to claim their God-given right over “their land,” they should at least be consistent in applying the God-given conditions for possessing that land.” Hubner distances himself from other of Burge’s arguments. Nevertheless, Hubner’s point here again does not address Hays’ contention regarding the presuppositions behind Burge’s book. Additionally, in neither instance where Burge was cited by Hubner above was Hubner citing that argument from Burge. Instead, Hubner was citing Burge as a fact witness.

Hubner continued by arguing (bold and italics were generously used – I’ve omitted them):

Third, as if it even needed to be said, Steve’s entire argument made thus far (if there is one to be identified) is by and large, fallacious. Gary Burge could be the most evil person on the planet, a racist sexist homophobic Marxist Mormon murderer, and none of that would change the facts, or change the legitimacy of the facts if they are spoken by such a person. Steve knows that it doesn’t matter who is making an argument, what matters is what is being said.

This response confuses categories. First, there is a difference between the validity of Burge’s arguments and the truthfulness of Burge’s factual claims. The validity of Burge’s arguments doesn’t hinge on Burge being a good person. However, second, if Burge hates Jews (assume he does for the sake of the argument), then one should be naturally suspicious of him as a source of anti-Jewish facts. That doesn’t automatically invalidate his factual claims, of course. Nevertheless, it means one might be better advised to quote as a fact witness, someone without the presuppositions that Hays has alleged that Burge has.

Hubner continues the category confusion with this:

But, how does this even matter if Steve is incapable and/or willing to demonstrate how those presuppositions render Burge’s argument in his book that I cited from (which is how all of this got started) wrong or invalid?

But Hays didn’t interact with any of Burge’s arguments and (until this post) Hubner had cited Burge for facts, not arguments. Hubner didn’t say, “As Burge argued Israelis need to be consistent.” No, Hubner had accused Jews of war crimes and atrocities and had suggested a connection between dispensationalism and a pro-Israel foreign policy citing Burge for those alleged facts.

Hubner then complains about his attempts to make this about himself being largely ignored by Hays.

Hubner then provided additional complaints, alleging his misreading of Hays was reasonable and complaining about the tone of Hays’ response to his error.

Hubner then provided some responses to Hays’ questions regarding Hubner’s factual assertions for which Hubner had cited Burge.

Finally, Hubner posed several additional question to Hays, namely:

  1. Is it even possible for the modern-day nation of Israel to do anything worthy of condemnation?
  2. And have they done anything that is worthy of condemnation in the past?
  3. If they have, would it not be helpful to acknowledge and understand those events before blindly conceding to every effort to “support Israel”? (Because, if my neighbor commits sin, I don’t want to be responsible for having helped that sin to occur. Wouldn’t you agree? Or is present-day Israel incapable of doing something wrong as a national entity?)

These questions, of course, don’t address any of Hays’ arguments. They might move forward a general discussion about the merits of Israel as a nation, or the Israel-Palestine debate, but that wasn’t the debate that Hays had offered or one for which Hays had provided arguments, beyond questioning Hubner’s factual allegations.

Hays responded with:

8. Dupes for Hamas

In the post, Hays noted Hubner’s attempts to make the discussion about himself and about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict rather than about what Hays actually wrote in his original post.

Hays commented that Hubner’s first comment about “public ignorance” is ironic, because it implies that one cannot take Hubner’s word that Burge states what Hubner cited him for.

Hays then pointed out that Hubner has again not followed Hays’ argument, identifying a new instance of what Hays referred to as “bait-n-switch.”

Hays then addressed Hubner’s claim to ignorance of what Burge has written by pointing out that Hays has not only provided reviews of Burge’s book but also a link to an article where Burge “tips his hand,” according to Hays.

Using some colorful analogies, Hays explains (as I did above) that actually person’s presuppositions (and who they are in general) do matter when the person is being treated as a fact source:

Actually, it does matter. It goes to the credibility of the witness. Whether a reported “fact” is, indeed, a fact, involves a consideration of what motivated the witness. That’s pretty standard stuff in sifting testimonial evidence. Take C. A. J. Coady’s Testimony: A Philosophical Study.

If a guy with a clinical history of psychosis assures me that he saw bear-sized rats in the basement, who is making the claim factors into my evaluation of the claim.

Hays then accuses of Hubner of dishonesty:

[quoting Hubner]

That’s why I am so amazed that Steve is willing to pass by the substance of arguments themselves (apologetics -argument-truth) in order to attack people via their associations (politics-ad hominem-people).

Notice that Jamin isn’t making the slightest effort to be honest. For I specifically distinguished between culpable and inculpable association. Does Jamin interact with that distinction? No. Rather, he ignores it, then acts as if I’m the one who fails to draw distinctions. Go figure.

Hays then goes on to provide a detailed refutation of the remaining points related to Hubner’s previous questions about whether Hays accepts Burge’s factual assertions. Hays explains how Hubner is not addressing the issues and not properly characterizing Hays’ responses.

Hubner responded with:

9. And That Answers That

Hubner starts off his post with this remarkable string of assertions:

I’d love to continue to respond to his questions (e.g. discussing such events as Deir Yassin massacre and the history of the secular state of Israel, etc.) and correct his argumentative errors and double-standards, but, as I indicated in the conclusion to my last post on this subject, answering a whole set of questions from a person who refuses to do the same (only with Steve’s case, he is refusing to answer the most basic questions) is fruitless. It’s like debating the doctrine of atonement with someone who you don’t even know believes the Bible is the Word of God, or discussing inerrancy with an atheist who won’t tell you if he’s an atheist, or what have you. It’s 100% pointless. Until we know where each other is coming from, there can be no progress. And it is by all means clear that Steve does not want to (and perhaps, because he cannot) provide a positive case for his own position, let alone summarize it. He simply wants to criticize without following through and without providing anything more. I refuse to take part in that, as should everyone else.

First, Hays never offered to carry on a debate or discussion about those things. Instead, Hays had been attempting to make the point that he started with, namely his challenge to citing Burge as a fact source with respect to the Isreal/Palestine discussion, given Burge’s presuppositions. Moreover, while Hubner may not like all the answers that he has been given, there is documentation above showing Hays answering Hubner’s questions, even questions that are not actually germane to Hays’ points.

Hays’ position was that Burge isn’t someone who should be a trusted source, and Hays documented that position. Hays didn’t offer a position on a number of other topics, but why should he?

Hubner continues by stating: “in this part we realize that Steve has no interest in talking about the fundamental issues of present-day Israel and Christian theology.” I’m not sure why this comes as a surprise to Hubner. Hays’ objection wasn’t couched in terms of the fundamental issues of present-day Israel and Christian theology. Why on earth should Hays care about such a thing? Simply because Hubner has irrelevantly dragged it into the discussion?

Hubner then goes on to impugn Hays’ motives for not quoting a larger segment of Hubner’s post (at the second portion).

Hubner goes on to argue:

“Doesn’t subject his sources to rudimentary scrutiny?” Uhhh, what? Steve hasn’t even read the source that I have cited from and that he criticizes. Why would I think that providing more sources would be adequate? I wonder, if Burge wasn’t a PCUSA minister and didn’t write for Sojourners, would his book magically become a credible source – credible enough that Steve would bother to read and understand its argument? (And I wonder, if I switched around and asserted that the Palestinians have done bad things in the past instead of Israel, would Steve criticize these factual claims just the same? Would he have even looked up the bio of the author of the source I was citing, like he did for Burge? Given what he has written, I doubt it.)

In point of fact, though, Hays didn’t criticize the factual claims until Hubner insisted on Hays commenting on them. Hays’ initial point was the untrustworthiness of Burge as a source. As Hays explained already, one does not have to read Burge’s book to know that. One can read reviews and one can read other things that Burge has written.

Moreover, Hays’ comment about Hubner’s lack of discernment in citing an alleged “shill” of Hamas as a fact source regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict stands on its own two feet. That comment is not undermined even if Hays himself is someone who doesn’t exercise proper discernment or doesn’t properly do his homework (not that such accusations are true). Thus, Hubner’s argument that appears to be an attempted tu quoque falls flat.

Hubner states:

We already know Steve is convinced Burge’s works are generally bunk – not because what Burge says is actually wrong, but because Burge was ordained in the PCUSA and has contributed to a Christian-leftist publication.

Again, this is not an accurate characterization of what Hays said. Hays said Burge is not trustworthy on this topic as a source of facts. That doesn’t mean that everything Burge says is wrong, or that any given argument from Burge is wrong.

It’s absolutely astounding to me that Hubner still doesn’t get Hays’ point. I assume that Hays will leave it at this, because I can’t imagine that Hays could be any more clear than he has been.

UPDATE *** Hays provided one further round of comments in the following (which it appears he wrote before seeing my summary above, though I don’t know that for sure):

10. Instant-expert syndrome

In this response, Hays points out that the “Deir Yassin massacre” is not particularly cut and dried, and that it would be prudent to suspend judgment about it.

Hays also addressed comments (quoted at the top of 9 above) in this way:

I realize that it’s in Jamin’s self-interest to change the subject, but the thesis of my initial post was very modest and narrowly-targeted. So, no, I don’t have to chase Jamin down diversionary rabbit trails.

which, of course, is the case. There’s no requirement for Hays to discuss other topics.


Genesis and Theistic Evolution

May 17, 2010

I recently appeared as a guest on Jamin Hubner’s Provocative Microphone discussing Genesis and Theistic Evolution (link to mp3). The first portion of the podcast is a discussion between the host and me and the second half is the host’s thoughts on the topic.


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