I recently made a rare foray into FB land, unwittingly landing in disagreement. I guess FB is a bit like walking through a cow pasture -- poop is everywhere and a wary eye is needed. I've tried to avoid the controversial stuff because it is 'poop' to me these days. But I know these matters matter and so I enjoy 'going there' from time to time. It seemed right to comment here, though the whole things is a few days old and has no real consequence except for the friendships involved and the kindness of said friends to engage the matter. With that, here be!
As to the friendly discussion re. the article by Wolfe on Evangelical Discourse...
Thank you for the thoughtful replies. I've been off-grid and reticent. I unwittingly confronted two camps of strong belief, obtuse about both Moore and SBC difficulties. For-what-it's worth, to me Moore has seemed sincere and principled and the SBC stuff is largely off-radar, but that's all another subject.
On re-reading, I confess I just think the author is right and those who disagree do so because his conclusions differ from where they have landed on the implications. We all have to guard against that, which is what he is, in part, critiquing. That is, it is very difficult to set aside one's presuppositions about, say, the recent border issue and talk calmly about it.
The fact I did not call it “border atrocity” or some such like is case in point. Some would dismiss my comments for that indiscretion. But if I've already determined it is atrocity, what is left to talk about? No one is in favor of atrocity – and if they are no conversation can be had.
And this brings my point: “Randy is in favor of separating children from their parents.” As soon as I or anyone disagrees with that statement we become people of nuance, attempting to “make distinctions or qualifications or systematize or consider competing goods”, to use the author's language.
This is what grieves me on this whole matter and others like it: because someone believes there may be good policy or at least good will in spite of the apparently egregious fallout at the border; because someone dares to doubt the coverage and admits being embarrassed at the outrage; because of that some are bad, obviously in favor of separating children from their parents.
For me, this quote is the point of it all: “...social justice evangelicals employ certain socio-rhetorical devices, taken largely from the broader public discourse, that advantage them over their opponents. It is not just that these devices conceal a lack of reason; they are substitutes for reason; and they work best in civil public discourse.” [my emphasis]
This problem is contant and the whole discussion winds up meaning I [in this case] am considered in favor of separating children from their parents. Period. Distinction and nuance is disallowed because the decision is made going in.
I am a feeler, which makes this worse. I find myself placed in the camp of “those who are in favor of separating children from their parents”, and, dare I say it, that hurts the most. It is not fair because it precludes thoughtful reason.
I think that is the author's point.
He makes this point in synopsis at the end and it applies to me, if no one else:
“What evangelicals need most today is actual moral reasoning, one that recognizes complexity; clear distinctions; clarified principles; competing goods; the penultimate and ultimate ends of the civil, ecclesiastical, and domestic societies; a multiplicity of responsibilities and duties; and prudence. Evangelical leaders, especially social justice evangelicals, use the sort of rhetoric that precludes such moral reasoning, and instead they socialize their followers into a fallacious, cheap, and harmful moral rhetoric—one that is more effective in winning than in discovering and communicating moral truth.”
It seems to me that in a context separated from the painful political mess of our day Wolfe's comments would be non-controversial.
That's all. Thanks for 'listening'. :-)