On Sword-play

The Old Zorro: “Do you know how to use that thing?” The New Zorro: “Sure, the pointy end goes into the other man.” The Old Zorro: “This is going to take a lot of work.”
In dueling twelve people at the same time, it is difficult to retain one’s composure. It wastes time to be “polite” to other people in such circumstances. If a swordsman waits to ask, “And how is your family?”, certain deleterious results will happen, such as being reamed right in the middle of the question. Our culture has a pension for politeness. This is seen most often in the scholarly world. Instead of saying, “He’s wrong,” the scholar must say, “What he says is misleading.” This grows rather tiresome at times.
It is a breath of fresh air to read Carl Trueman’s critique of James Dunn, for instance (available at thepaulpage.com). Trueman lets Dunn have it, both fists flailing, and rightly so. Dunn is compromising the Gospel. When Paul was getting irritated at the Galatian heretics, the gloves came off: (5:12) “I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!” Earlier, of course, he pronounced an anathema (twice!) against those who preached another Gospel than Paul’s. But Paul’s comment here in 5:12 is especially barbed, because they were talking about circumcision. He wishes the knife would slip and cut off more than what was intended!
The New Perspective deserves such barbed comment, because they are changing the Gospel for a lie. They are changing justification for something else. They deny imputation. They deny Christ’s obedience to the law being credited to the believer’s account. They deny the idea of merit altogether (that is, the idea that the law could theoretically be kept; no one has except Christ). This is a false Gospel. Woe to us if we do not oppose this might and main! On guard!



  1. August 31, 2005 at 8:08 pm

    You sure you don’t want to read The Serrated Edge, by Douglas Wilson? You two seem to be on the same page on the issue of exaggerated politeness on the part of academics.

    One of my favorite quotes (paraphrased due to inadequate memory on my part):

    What would someone say if person A claimed group B was all from the Bad of Snakes Seminary? We would recoil in shock and say Person A’s behavior was very un-Christlike. Only then do we find out that it was actually Christ Himself who said, “You brood of vipers.”

    Sometimes the shock value is better than the gentle persuasive methods.

  2. August 31, 2005 at 11:33 pm

    I think that you might be misunderstanding the application that others have made concerning the ideas that you might be considering, Mr. Baggins. ::grin::

  3. September 1, 2005 at 8:38 am

    Hmmm… I was attempting to say “you are wrong” in a long drawn out “nicey nice” sort of way. The exact way you are speaking against.

    On reflection… I should have written “you are right” in that manner.

    Not that I changed my mind… you were right, I believe. Just realizing I wrote it the wrong way.

    Brain freeze from too much Ice Cream.

  4. Mr. Baggins said,

    September 1, 2005 at 9:20 am

    I have read Serrated Edge. My favorite quote was about the “axis of treacle” referring to general evangelicalism.

  5. brownie said,

    September 5, 2005 at 3:10 pm

    I disagree with the idea that attacking the views of others is persuasive. It may serve to confirm our beliefs to those who already agree with us, but I do not believe that it will convince our detractors.

    Personally, I most respect those who respect me (rather than those who belittle me) regardless of whether they agree with me or not.

  6. Mr. Baggins said,

    September 5, 2005 at 4:01 pm

    I agree with you when it comes to views that are within orthodoxy. And rudeness for the sake of rudeness is not appropriate. However, Paul did have some rather choice words for the heretics in Galatia. See Gal. 5:12. God Himself, when talking about false shepherds in Jeremiah and Ezekiel, also used some pretty heavy words, as did Jesus about the Pharisees. The trick is to know when to use such sword-play, and when it is inappropriate. But I think we cannot leave it out altogether. And there are some pretty bad heresies afflicting evangelicalism today.

  7. Mr. Baggins said,

    September 5, 2005 at 5:27 pm

    p.s. question to Brownie: Do you think it is possible to cross swords and still respect someone? Or to attack an idea without attacking the person? I believe it is possible. But I would like to know what you think philosophically about this, especially.

  8. lancelot said,

    February 22, 2007 at 12:29 am


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