There's a New Kid On the Block, Thom Stark, So Watch Out Now

Look at the advanced praise for Thom Stark's book, The Human Faces of God: What Scripture Reveals When It Gets God Wrong (forthcoming with Wipf & Stock Publishers). This is some very good stuff, reminiscient of James Barr's book Beyond Fundamentalism. The only reason evangelicals still exist is because most of them simply do not read. Those who do read don't read works like his. The few who do read works like his don't do so to learn anything. They already have their blinders on from a few years of indoctrination in an evangelical college of their choice. In my opinion when it comes to understanding biblical scholarship the phrase "educated evangelical" is an oxymoron.

42 comments:

trae norsworthy said...

i must say i'm surprised to read this from you especially considering that i have dedicated an entire blog to wiba to meet the debunking christianity challenge and you, by your own admission, don't read it.

Thom Stark said...

Get your criticisms of Loftus published by a reputable publisher and get known academic apologists to endorse it, and I guarantee you Loftus will read your book.

John W. Loftus said...

Thom, thanks. I do look at his blog sometimes, but the funny thing is that he thinks he's refuted my arguments such that unless I deal with them I'm evading him.

Funny, eh? I get that a lot though.

Thom Stark said...

That's the way it goes. They try to use your silence as evidence against you. It's a common tactic used by those without good arguments.

Brad Haggard said...

"Educated evangelical and oxymoron"? John, do you really think that I don't read Spong or Collins or Barr? I've read lots of Thom's work, and think some of it is pretty good and a corrective (though I still disagree with his NT Christology).

Rhetoric like this doesn't help anything, unless you are solely committed to polemic and not some sort of irenic, scholarly discussion.

trae norsworthy said...

Get your criticisms of Loftus published by a reputable publisher and get known academic apologists to endorse it, and I guarantee you Loftus will read your book.
a veiled ad hominem. at least you're more creative about it than the usual fare.

besides, why should it take all that?

moreover, it's not like i'm making up something from left field. my responses have been pretty standard so far.

trae norsworthy said...

the funny thing is that he thinks he's refuted my arguments such that unless I deal with them I'm evading him.
mr. loftus, i have not accused you of evading. however, it is a fact that i have tried to strike up conversation and you haven't been available. call it whatever you like. my main point is that you issued the challenge and accused christians of not taking you up on it implying they are either scared or inept. that's clearly not the case.

as far as a refutation, my responses are out there for anyone to read. they can make up their own minds about my posts.

trae norsworthy said...

They try to use your silence as evidence against you.
not exactly. loftus is the one that issued the challenge. when someone devotes an entire website to addressing his book in detail, you would think that would get his attention but that hasn't happened. it seems to me that he should either smack my pathetic arguments down or retract the challenge.

It's a common tactic used by those without good arguments.
well, i stand to learn alot from you then. i look forward to your comments.

Thom Stark said...

"a veiled ad hominem. at least you're more creative about it than the usual fare."

Did I say that your arguments were deficient because they weren't published? No.

I said Loftus will be ethically obliged to respond to you if you engage him on the same level as he has engaged us. Loftus will be obliged to take notice when you have done the work necessary to prove that you have something substantive to say.

If all you are saying is "pretty standard," as you put it, then why should Loftus respond to you? If it's standard, then he'd be better off responding to the same standard arguments coming from somebody more reputable.

That's just the way it works.

Maybe the system is "ad hominem," but we've all adjusted to it. If your arguments are substantial, submit a review of Loftus's book to a peer-reviewed journal and Loftus will respond.

Thom Stark said...

I said: "It's a common tactic used by those without good arguments."

You said: "well, i stand to learn alot from you then. i look forward to your comments."

I don't know what this means.

Thom Stark said...

@ Brad Haggard,

Thanks for taking the time to read my work and I appreciate your compliment. A lot of people disagree with the NT Christology, but I'm still waiting for substantive rejoinders to the arguments I've laid out.

I do agree with you, however, that irenic scholarly discussion is generally preferable to polemics, but Loftus is entitled to his opinions and to the expression of them, of course, as I'm sure you agree.

Brad Haggard said...

Thom, I'm also a Restorationist, so I read you work with particular interest. That's also probably the reason why I still poke in on John's blog from time to time. If I ever have time between family, school, and ministry, I'll delve into some discussion with your hermeneutic. I'm sure you know how time flies when you're having fun (doing scholarship).

The one thing that bothers me, though, is bullying others by claiming to have "scholarship" or "science" on your side when both of those ideals depend more on substantive discussion than rhetoric. That's why I commented (and I'm not accusing you of that).

Thom Stark said...

I can see that you're a Restorationist, Barton! :)

I'm in agreement with you. Substantive discussions are better than rhetorical victories. But a good rhetorical jab is surely a bit of fun every now and then, no?

Brad Haggard said...

My avatar isn't lost on everyone!!!!

I've had a few jabs at Loftus that inspired a series of posts. They are kind of fun, but on the internet I think the verbal irony is lost. I've seen it usually cause people around here to cry "persecution" or call me brainwashed. Rhetorical jabs beget more rhetoric.

But with that said, I do realize just how prudish that makes me sound.

Thom Stark said...

Fine line between prudish and prudent.

Hendy said...

@trae:

Crikies. Give John a break. If you've followed this blog for a while you've seen at least a few times he's taken a break to "decompress." In other words, maintaining this blog in addition to the rest of life is quite enough.

You can't think that he should be obligated to personally respond and rebut every person who comes here and says, "Hey John, I just posted a detailed response to every one of your arguments."

If you want him to answer something in particular, email it to him and maybe he'll make a post out of it if it will serve a broader purpose of educating his reader base. That's up to him, but I'm just trying to think outside the box for you in order to suggest a better alternative than essentially whining on his own blog...

Thom Stark said...

I've noticed a few blog posts around the place that are responding to Loftus's post here about me, my book, and evangelicals' reading habits.

To clarify how I see the issues and what my motivations are, I've written a blog post here: http://thomstark.net/?p=1580.

C said...

Look, its clear that this is just another book by the neo-liberal blogger-come-author rehashing century old ideas and selling them to angry undergraduates. You don't have to look far for the source of his ideas. His arguments go back to his days at the old school liberal bastion Ozark Christian College and continue though his current graduate stint at Yale Divinity. We have heard from both of these schools in print before and we know what to expect. Nothing to get worked up about. It will go the way of old school liberalism soon enough.

C said...

Thom,
Which one of these books is yours?
http://wipfandstock.com/forthcoming_titles

trae norsworthy said...

Did I say that your arguments were deficient because they weren't published? No.
i'm pretty sure you're perceptive enough to know that you implied it.

If all you are saying is "pretty standard," as you put it, then why should Loftus respond to you?
because he's the one who issued the challenge. if what i'm saying is pretty standard, then he should have no trouble dispatching my posts.

If it's standard, then he'd be better off responding to the same standard arguments coming from somebody more reputable.
it's highly unlikely that you don't realize this is a blatant ad hominem. besides, my blog has been around for over 2 weeks. he's had plenty of time.

trae norsworthy said...

If you want him to answer something in particular, email it to him
i have. i reminded him that 2 peter 1:5 is clear that christians are not justified in being anti intellectual. no response from him on this point.

maybe he'll make a post out of it
that email went to him on 8/4

Thom Stark said...

Somebody please explain to Trae what an ad hominem is.

Dear C,

Ozark is a fundamentalist school and I am not nor have I ever been a student at Yale Divinity School.

My book is not yet listed on the W&S website because it does not yet have a publication date set. It should be within four months or so, I estimate.

C said...

Let's be clear about this. You are denying that you are a graduate student, and that you are currently researching at YDS? Because false humility about your education doesn't suit.
Look, we can nitpick about fine points if it is really productive. But it strikes me as disingenuous that you would retrospectively claim to be trained as a 'fundamentalist', as if you were entirely self made and your ideas had no origins. We know what to expect from died in the wool liberal institutions like this. And even if we didn't, your book stands as demonstrable fruit of your four years there.
All of this is of course fine, as long as one is honest about it.

Brad Haggard said...

Hey, C, I'm familiar with Ozark and Emmanuel School of Religion and neither are "liberal" institutions. In fact, they were formed out of a reaction in the Disciples of Christ movement to liberalism. You must be confusing them with some other institution. I studied at a sister college to Ozark and I can say with confidence that they do not push theological liberalism. I just think Thom didn't pay attention in class ;-)

Thom Stark said...

Dear C,

Brad is (partially) correct. Ozark is fundamentalist and Emmanuel School of Religion (where I do take my graduate studies) is a moderate to conservative school). However, I do pay attention in class. :) I just also pay attention beyond class.

Now C, when I denied being a student at Yale Divinity School, that's because I am not (nor have I ever been) a student at Yale Divinity School. You seem to have your facts pretty distorted. I never claimed to be at Yale, and I don't know how you got the notion.

In fact, when I first read your first comment, about Ozark Christian being a bastion of liberalism and my attending Yale, I thought you must be some friend of mine playing a prank.

Turns out, you're just misinformed and belligerent. Who knew?

C said...

Many people know, Thom, many people.
Well again we can nitpick about the hierarchy of institutional liberalism. Personally I find it a bit trite. If it is important to you to appear to be rebelling against your upbringing, then that can be part of your narrative. You have admitted that your book doesn't advance new ideas, and in the end, I suppose that is sufficient for me. The additional need to appear to have deposed your mother institution appears to be just baggage in need analysis.

Thom Stark said...

Dear C,

You said: "Many people know, Thom, many people."

Many people know what?

You said: "Well again we can nitpick about the hierarchy of institutional liberalism. Personally I find it a bit trite."

I have no idea what this means or what you're talking about.

You said: "If it is important to you to appear to be rebelling against your upbringing, then that can be part of your narrative."

It is not important to me to appear to be rebelling, nor have I said that I'm rebelling. I was merely stating the fact that Ozark is a fundamentalist school, not a bastion of liberalism as you falsely claimed. I was correcting your misstatement, not spinning a personal narrative. I make no claims to being a rebel.

You said: "You have admitted that your book doesn't advance new ideas, and in the end, I suppose that is sufficient for me. The additional need to appear to have deposed your mother institution appears to be just baggage in need [of] analysis."

I never made such a claim. Perhaps your projections onto me are in need of analysis.

C said...

Thom said:
"The fact is, my objective was never to break new ground or to advance new hypotheses..."
it can be found here:
http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2010/08/theres-not-so-new-kid-on-block.html

Thom Stark said...

Dear C,

I did not deny making the claim that my book breaks no new ground. I denied the second part of the quoted paragraph, namely that I am trying to "depose my mother institution."

Nice try.

C said...

You have attended two of higher quality theological instituions in the eastern half of the US. They did not earn that distinction by teacing literature, scinece, or philosophy classes. Rather through teaching liberal theology and old school German textual analysis.

C said...

This is really a lesson for all of us about intellectual honesty and intellectual decency. If we gain from our educational institutions, even in disagreement, we cannot hide that, or fail to disclose that fact. To do so is simply dishonest.

Thom Stark said...

Dear C,

You are ignorant. Ozark Christian College (1) is not in the eastern half of the U.S. and (2) does not teach "liberal theology and old school German textual analysis." Ozark Christian College teaches against those things.

Why do you insist on exposing your ignorance?

Thom Stark said...

C said: "This is really a lesson for all of us about intellectual honesty and intellectual decency. If we gain from our educational institutions, even in disagreement, we cannot hide that, or fail to disclose that fact. To do so is simply dishonest."

I never denied gaining from my education. C just seems to want to catch me in some sin, but every accusation made has missed the mark. I've got plenty of sins. It's just that C doesn't have any clue what they actually are.

C said...

Illinois is east of the Mississippi.

Thom Stark said...

And Ozark Christian College is not in Illinois. God, C, you are incredibly ignorant.

C said...

Thom, Thom,
[sigh] calm down.

I never said YOU 'denied gaining from your education'.

And I never said Ozark Christian College was in Illinois.

nice try

Thom Stark said...

Then who the hell have you been talking to?

I'm unsubscribing from this thread. This is ridiculous.

C said...

Thom, this blog is not directed to you. Its someone elses blog and there are lots of people here to talk to.

trae norsworthy said...

thom, i know what an ad hominem is. you made no attempt to address the case i'm making instead focusing on my credentials. how in the world is that not an ad hominem?

Thom Stark said...

because i did not say that your case was invalid due to lack of credentials.

i merely stated that, if your case was standard, John would better serve himself addressing that standard case as presented by somebody better known. i was offering a reason why John is not responding to you.

Steve Hays over at Triablogue said the same thing to me about my book. He assumes I have made the standard case for liberalism and so he has no need to read my book, since I'm nobody special presenting nothing new.

That's fair enough. Neither Hays nor anyone else is obliged to respond to my critiques of fundamentalist Christianity. I hope they do, but they are not obliged.

John has said that he has looked at your material and deemed that it is not worth his time. That is his prerogative. So get over it.

No ad hominems involved. I'm sure you make a decent point here or there. That's not the issue. The issue is your insistence that John owes you something.

All I said was that if you do go to the trouble of putting the hard work in to prove that you are worth John's time to respond to, he will do it. That doesn't mean your arguments have changed in the slightest; it's just the way the world works.

Got it? No ad hominems implied.

charismanglican.com said...

Thom's just upset because the veterinary degree he got from Biola University doesn't qualify him to write a book about macro-economics. I dismiss him out of hand!

Gandolf said...

Id say C is likely to be someone like ole Winston Smith.An unhappy Christian publically displaying one of the very ugly faces of God.Or Truth be Told maybe he`s one of ole J.P Holdings "knickers in a twist" crew.

Aint it lovely.Who needs to bother much with debunking Christianity when these lovely fundy Christian folk cant wait to be debunking the usefulness of it themselves, hmmmm

They make a complete mockery of faith.Only seem keen of showing how very nasty it often does be.Seems like C has Thom Stark on trail here, ready for judgment day,or some witch burning party.

Even though im an atheist i still feel rather sorry for all the liberal Christians who must also feel the lashings these fundies dish out.Along with copious amounts of embarrasment that comes along with it.

Still, cant fault these fundys for putting on such a wonderful public show of their nastiness of faith on the line.To try and back up what we atheists have often been saying.

Bless them all.Bless their wee cotton church socks.