Kevin Bauder does not need me to defend him. In fact, he would be justifiably embarrassed that I come yipping and yapping out of my little kennel to fight off the verbal thuggery that is part of his routine experience since he’s decided to make mincemeat out of some sacred cows. In fact, I will go so far as to say that this is a formal statement on my part as a non-defense of Kevin Bauder, nor are the following statements to be read as an endorsement of him in anyway. I have not read all of his 23 “self-conflicting and Bible-deficient tomes” as Dwight Smith has officially labeled them. In fact, I have thus far only read three: #1, #23, and because of Dwight Smith’s blazing denunciation, #22. I am therefore completely unqualified to speak in defense of Kevin Bauder.
I should like to offer my services, however, as a defender of the “Say What Again!?!” readers who lurk in the shadows of these public blog battles. The “Say What Again!?!” people are an interesting breed. We are not very well educated, but we have this silly little quirk of reflexively and impulsively scratching our heads when we hear something that sounds like a bad argument. “Say what again!?” We are people who try to think even though it makes our heads hurt and we’re not cowed into unthinking dullery just because some “man of God” pontificated on something. Nor are we partisan. We’re the Say What Again!?! majority.
Now, like most Say What Again!?! readers, I have limited contact with well-known leaders, and it is true for me with this case as well. I have met both men. Kevin Bauder is the president of a fundamental Baptist seminary and my interaction with him has always been stimulating and enlightening, even when we disagreed. Dwight Smith is a fundamental Baptist evangelist. I’ve had limited contact with him, but it was mostly positive. I personally introduced and promoted him to the leadership of my home church many years ago and they subsequently invited him to come as an evangelist. I would not have him now because I believe that we are theologically and philosophically on different pages, but I have no axe to grind with the brother. But Smith’s 2,739 word response to Bauder’s 2,478 word article is loaded with fodder for the head-scratching “Say What Again!?!” fellowship.
There are a number of you who read my blog who have begun to question the credibility of the King James Only position. However, you have no clue how to discuss the Textus Receptus, the Masoretic Text, Wescott-Hort, manuscripts, double inspiration, and so forth. It’s all greek to you. Now you hear a preacher — an evangelist no less — whipping out all those terms and insisting that he is standing by the Book, the Holy Word of God and he is declaring a seminary president of being dangerously astray on a fundamental of our faith. Besides the fact that you know full well that an evangelist is sacrosanct in most fundamentalist circles he lays out a whole string of arguments that have obviously persuaded him and many others. But you are beginning to doubt.
Now, most people just kind of hang with whatever teacher they happen to be under without asking questions, but Say What Again!?! people are everywhere and they can’t help but reading things in the debate that make them say, “Say what again!?!
Now, I would like to guide you people with the Say What Again!?! tic because it is very important that you use your tic as a gift from God to find a place of truth. So, let me lay out some laws for Say What Again!?! disciples.
Law #1: The Law of Needing Smarter People
Here’s a fact. We all need smarter people in our lives. As a Christian I have to choose carefully the smarter people I’m going to listen to. It’s risky because smarter doesn’t necessarily mean wiser or more biblical. But we would all agree that being wiser and biblical includes always trying to be smarter. And it certainly included a conscientious effort to be intellectually honest. In the current case study we have a seminary president who might be a heretic and an evangelist who might be a heretic and they are both pointing at each other and telling us that the other is wrong. Now, assuming both people are smarter than me (not a difficult proposition), I am forced to analyze which smart person builds my confidence most. I need smarter people in my life and I’ll never be able to get away from my need to figure out which smarter person I’m going to listen to.
Sadly, most people decide what is right and then choose the smart person they are going to listen to. When I read Dwight Smith’s missive I was reminded why many smart Say What Again!?! young people are leaving fundamentalism. If Kevin Bauder is a heretic it needs a better rebuttal than what the evangelist delivered.
Law #2. A commitment to good argumentation is a character choice that is unwilling to sacrifice the ethic of honesty because it believes that holy truth can stand without artificial props.
I think the ethos of much of fundamentalism is suspect because of its careless willingness to sacrifice intellectual honesty and truthfulness for the sake of their predetermined theses. It is suspect, I say. It may not be wrong, but thoughtful people everywhere need to ask themselves why it is that a theory is so dependent on bad argumentation and flagrant abuses of fact.
Law #3. Therefore, a Say What Again!?! thinker assumes that any conclusion that is inadequately propped by sloppy argumentation demands review.
Law #4. However, a conclusion is not necessarily invalidated because of bad arguments. There are many good conclusions that are argued for poorly.
Law #5. A Say What Again!?! thinker will not be able to follow a man long term who repeatedly uses bad argumentation even if his conclusions are correct. He will rightly begin to wonder about the intellectual honesty and moral character of the leader.
Law #6. When a man egregiously misrepresents his opponent in such a way that defies a common sense reading of the man then his conclusion must come under intense scrutiny.
Dwight Smith said that
In part 22 of his [Bauder’s] series he dismissed the need to expound on 2 Thess. 3. This is a sad display of what happens when a man or institution turns to human reason instead of the Bible for their moorings.
Say what again!?! I had actually heard Kevin speak to this verse in person. And the accusation that Kevin was turning from the Bible to human reason seemed, well, extremely bold to say. But being not well educated I have to either choose to just take Smith’s word for it or read the source myself.
This is what Kevin Bauder actually said:
These observations are of special relevance for a certain species of fundamentalist. Some fundamentalists insist that Christians are obligated to separate, not merely from apostates (professing Christians who deny the gospel), but also from all “disobedient brethren.” These fundamentalists correctly insist that certain Scriptures do require the limitation of fellowship with professing brothers who sin (1 Cor. 5:11; 2 Thess. 3:6, 14; et al.—my present purpose is not to expound these texts). These passages must not be dismissed, nor may they be limited to the disciplinary process of the local congregation. It makes little sense to suggest that a notorious adulterer should be expelled from the pulpit of his church but invited to preach at the local Bible college. Separation among believers must extend further than simple congregational discipline. The problem for these fundamentalists consists in finding any brethren who are not disobedient. (emphasis mine)
King James Only fundamentalists who are becoming Say What Again!?!: take note:
Smith said Bauder dismissed the need to expound 2 Thessalonians 3 clearly implying that Bauder was dismissing 2 Thessalonians 3 as relevant to the fundamentalist argument when, in fact, Bauder credits fundamentalists as being right about the text. Smith also suggests that Bauder is abandoning the Bible on the basis of this misrepresentation and therefore poisoning the well for hundreds of unthinking fundamentalists that are not thoughtful Say What Again!?! types. However, Bauder said about that particular text:
1. “fundamentalists correctly insist that certain Scriptures do require the limitation of fellowship with professing”brothers who sin” and in parenthesis he inserted which verses he had in mind. This in itself expounds what he thinks the verse teaches.
2. This passage cannot be limited to church discipline. This is another way of expounding what he thinks the passage teaches.
3. He said that his present purpose was not to expound the text. Yet, while explaining that his present purpose was not to expound the text he did more expounding of texts than anything Smith did in his accusation.
Smith basically lied. But, being charitable, I don’t want to say he lied. I’d rather say that he was being sloppy. But how is sloppy thinking any reassurance to thinkers who are trying to figure out which smart brother to listen to? How is Smith allowed to give all kinds of references to Scripture without exposition but when Bauder essentially excuses himself from taking the time to go deep into an exposition of a text in which he concedes the main tenets of fundamentalism anyway he gets accused of slipping from the Bible to human reasoning.
Smith used many references, including one very disputable proof text (to be discussed later) that he simply pontificated about without bothering at all to excuse himself from expounding the text because it didn’t fit his present purpose.
You don’t have to know anything about Greek, Hebrew, Masoretic Text, the textus receptus, double inspiration, or even much about the fundamentals to have a legitimate, God-given basis for doubting, if not the conclusion, at least the man and the culture that think that is good preachin’.
Filed under: Fundamentalism |