How do you let a ridiculous situation just die? Every time Jimmy Akin and I trade blog articles I throw my hands up in frustration before long realizing that there is nothing that can be said that cannot be parsed into oblivion if someone is willing to go to such lengths. Surely this is not the first time I’ve encountered someone who will constantly accuse you of doing what their own writings demonstrate they are intent on practicing with regularity and evidently impugnity. The “double standard meter” I installed a while back on my system exploded as I read the next installment on Akin’s blog. But I’m finally getting old enough to realize there is simply nothing you can do about such things. Speak the truth, realize lots of folks are not listening to what you are saying and are so biased and prejudiced against you they will believe whatever they want to believe, and trust the rest to the Lord. I would love to simply drop all of this, but there is one thing that needs to be addressed, aside from the “You are so mean and that’s why nobody will debate you, you obnoxious, mean-spirited dolt” kind of stuff. And that is the issue of ad-hominem.
Words have meanings. In debate (which is what apologists do, at least once in a while—Akin has done so as well, though not very often), the term has a fixed meaning. Here is that accepted, fixed meaning:
An Ad Hominem is a general category of fallacies in which a claim or argument is rejected on the basis of some irrelevant fact about the author of or the person presenting the claim or argument. Typically, this fallacy involves two steps. First, an attack against the character of person making the claim, her circumstances, or her actions is made (or the character, circumstances, or actions of the person reporting the claim). Second, this attack is taken to be evidence against the claim or argument the person in question is making (or presenting). This type of “argument” has the following form:
1. Person A makes claim X.
2. Person B makes an attack on person A.
3. Therefore A’s claim is false.
The reason why an Ad Hominem (of any kind) is a fallacy is that the character, circumstances, or actions of a person do not (in most cases) have a bearing on the truth or falsity of the claim being made (or the quality of the argument being made).(source)
Look again at the alleged ad-hominems Akin noted in my own blog. Obviously, if I were to take his writings and mark off everything I could possibly take as merely offensive, or, even more, every term that disagrees with my own conclusions, I could accuse him of being a mean-spirited, ad-hominem using, insulting Catholic apologist. But that accomplishes nothing relevant to the truth. And this insistence upon expanding this phraseology out to where it can cover basically anything at all considered “offensive” is just another illustration of how empty this kind of thing is. Rather than focusing upon the real issue (“is the Corban rule, as viewed by the Jews in the days of Jesus, relevant to how we should test Rome’s claims today?”), 90% of the rhetoric that has been posted has in fact been ad-hominem itself: “White’s arguments are to be dismissed because he has a character flaw—he’s mean!” The irony is thick on this one.
Oh, one other thing: listeners to the DL will note that in admitting his error relating to Greek that I had never “contacted” him about it Akin has once again proven the thesis that the folks at CA just don’t think there is anything worth knowing about what folks “out here” are saying. Remember when I played the phone call from the Roman Catholic to Akin who challenged him on this very point and raised my own refutations of his statements? See, if the Catholics put out a claim or argument, it is our job to obtain their materials and respond thereto. If we refute their claims, we are supposed to call them at home to do their research for them. Just amazing. He then complains that I have never admitted an error regarding Greek or anything else. First, that’s false. Second, Jimmy Akin hasn’t been busy proving me wrong. And given this kind of rhetoric, and the hit pieces he’s posted in the past, he’s not overly intent upon getting in that kind of apologetics business any time soon, either.
But that is it for me. I need to get back to Pulpit Crimes. I am preaching for four weeks at PRBC soon; teaching at the School of Theology in London soon; have a little debate on baptism to be preparing for with Bill Shishko, and another with John Shelby Spong a few weeks after that. I will let what I’m writing and the presentations I’m doing give testimony as to who is doing serious, biblically based, full-orbed apologetics work.