Opinions on faith and life

PnP: A Study in Pots and Kettles

2010-02-26

I know I said I wouldn’t blog as often anymore, but this is just too good to pass up. A male supremacist (MS) site lists Seven Common Fallacies of Biblical Interpretation, not realizing male supremacism commits every one of them in their arguments!

Let’s break it down…

1. Preunderstanding fallacy: Believing you can interpret with complete objectivity, not recognizing that you have preunderstandings that influence your interpretation.
Preunderstanding is the bedrock of MS theology. It presupposes that God must favor men and then looks for this under every scriptural and social rock. It was presupposed by the United Bible Societies such that they did a gender bender on the apostle Junia without proper documentary support (and then quietly changed it back about 50 years later), citing this alleged divine preference for male flesh as justification (see first paragraph under From a review of Epp’s book).
2. Incidental fallacy: Reading incidental historical texts as prescriptive rather than descriptive.
In the account of the Fall, MS presumes God’s statement to Eve about Adam ruling over her as prescriptive, yet no command is given there at all. Something isn’t necessarily prescriptive if it’s in scripture, even if God said it. Yet they do take scripture’s recording (not mandating) of patriarchy in culture as prescriptive, in spite of the fact that whenever God did intervene in the culture, He chose the young over the old, the weak over the strong, the few over the many, and the oppressed over the privileged. They used to do this also with the issue of slavery but eventually conceded that this was never prescriptive, yet on the topic of women they cling tenaciously to prescription, though as I blogged a while back, the arguments are identical.
3. Obscurity fallacy: Building theology from obscure material.
Passages clearly stating supremacy on the basis of the flesh in the NT are conspicuous by their absence and so must be inferred. Every prooftext is disputed, and while culture is cited as divine mandate for patriarchy, it is denied for those that dispute the prooftexts against women. Which also leads into the next point…
4. Etymological root fallacy: Looking to the root etymology of a word to discover its meaning.
Examples of MS practice of this one are obscure words like authentein and teknogonias, which in addition to their great obscurity are interpreted by MS by etymology every bit as much as that done by egalitarians. They also reverse engineer pronouns back onto ancient koine Greek (he and men for anthropos MUST be retained at all costs!), in ignorance of the difference between grammatical and biological gender, and insist that since Genesis says man and mankind (in English!) that it therefore places preeminence upon males. And if they would actually listen to egalitarian arguments, we always cite the contextual meaning (which must include time, culture, language, situation, etc.) over dictionary meanings which also are frequently guilty of this fallacy.
5. Illegitimate totality transfer: Bringing the full meaning of a word with all its nuances to the present usage.
The appeal to context here is exactly the egalitarian point, while MS in its prooftexts denies the context (of correcting false teaching, bad behavior, etc.) and forbids the entrance of any appeals to cultural situations that supply needed background information.
6. Selective use of meaning: Selecting the meaning you like best.
Remember those obscure Greek words?
7. Maverick fallacy: Believing that you don’t need anyone but the Holy Spirit to interpret the text.
This is exactly why we need scholars to supply information not available from the scriptures themselves, such as koine Greek, idioms and other figures of speech, political situations of the time, etc. It also extends to the error of appealing to church fathers or favored theologians as having the final word on how scripture is to be interpreted. By forbidding the voices of egalitarians in many cases, MS sets itself up as the infallible interpreter, but they cannot gag half of what the historic body of Christ has said without violating this point. And as for those who work alone, even they cite others and study their interpretations, so this is really a straw man.

My experience has been that MS will gladly commit these fallacies depending on which works best for them at a given time. Context is only permitted when and to the extent that it supports MS, and only MS theologians are considered competent theologians (just as only old earth scientists are considered scientists). So we must be diligent in any debate or conversation and hold MS to sound reasoning.

But be prepared for the backlash when you do! Numerous times I’ve been told that my detailed examination of my opponent’s logic is nitpicking, ripping to shreds, mean-spirited, or to be ignored completely just because I have inferior reproductive organs (i.e., they fear falling under my Jezebel spirit). The messenger is always shot when the message is too airtight. I have yet to see even the kindest, gentlest MS proponent fail to resort to ad hominem when their logic is exposed as fallacious or self-contradictory or inconsistent. And I didn’t enter this debate yesterday.

21 Comments

Mabel Yin

Bravo! Pleeeeeeease keep blogging :-)

Paula Fether

Yes ma’am! :-D

Lin

Exactly. You have nailed it!

Paula Fether

Tanx Lin! :-)

It might be fun and educational sometime to reference the fallacy number whenever they commit one.

Kathleen

I agree; this is so true and my eyes have been opening to the difficulties of reading the Bible with presuppositions, which we all must sort through. I’m just thankful to read this and am encouraged to find people at least online who get this. Been praying to find them in my local area.

Your thoughts and words are a great encouragement to me right now. Thank you.

Paula Fether

Tanx Kathleen! :-)

It really is a tough skill to master, and there are often many layers to peel back. (If you’ve seen Shrek, then i guess presuppositions are like ogres!). But it can be unsettling, and many people are unwilling to go through the process. The fact that you are is a good sign!

Lin

It is almost impossible to do this because people are not really looking for truth. So, when their pet interpretation is questioned even on a secondary non salvic issue, they respond with name calling and labeling.

They do not want to be Bereans. It is too hard. Even if they would actually "interact" it would be a step in the right direction but the invective and hyperbole makes it impossible.

Paula Fether

And I think at least one cause for all this is the poor foundation of faith presented in most salvation messages. Our faith is in a Person, because of eyewitnesses to His resurrection. Fact and faith are two necessary sides of the same coin. And if people don’t have that, then whatever else their faith may rest upon can be easily damaged. That’s what I tried to emphasize in my podcasts.

Greg Anderson

You go girl! And keep on blogging!

Yours is one of the few blogs I can comment at and still get published.

there is one other blog where the owner will not print my comments because it would appear that I offend his conservative sensibilities. (grins)

Heck, one of the denizens at another blog even went after me like a U.S. predator drone in Afghanistan!

Keep up the good fight paula!

Paula Fether

Aw, Greg... ::sniff:: yer such a pal! :-D

And I can honestly say I feel your pain. First of this year I said I’d try to get out more, but I’m having to mainly hit and run because of the very intolerance you speak of. Neither liberals nor conservatives, neither comps nor egals, neither evangelicals nor... um... not evangelicals will have me.

But then, having nothing to lose can have its advantages too!

To borrow a line from "Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer", "We’ll be misfits together!"

Greg Anderson

An old Shoshone grandmother told me long ago:

"Never try to make camp near a village in which you don’t belong. The only thing you’ll succeed in doing is pissing off the villagers and vexing yourself in the process. Better to take a lesson from the bobcat and move silently by on velvet paws..."

Paula Fether

That’s sage advice for sure.

The trick is finding out what kind of village it is before they come at you with pitchforks and torches. Some of us bobcats have really noisy fingernails.

paul burleson

I agree with Mabel in #1.. with Lin in #3...with Kathleen in #5...with..well you get the picture. [I’m not very original but really appreciative for what you have to say. ;)

Paula Fether

Tanx Paul! :-D

Greg Anderson

As you’ve probably gathered by now, I am an equal opportunity offender.

When at one location I argued with verve that the Federal Courts had overstepped their bounds when they ordered the Ten Commandments removed from the Alabama Statehouse, I was nearly tarred, feathered, and run out on a rail by a decidely rabid liberal faction.

On the other side of the aisle, if I am not just ignored by conservatives, they will sometimes respond with helicopter gunships and napalm even though I’m not wearing black pajamas and a conical straw hat.

Oh well! c’est la vie!

Paula Fether

Howza about us forming the Offender Party?

truthseeker

Paula, another vote here for you staying in the ring!!!

Greg, you’re a hoot! I like the Shoshone wisdom though I agree-can be tough to ’tell by the smell’ (or stench) until one is too close for safety. Equal opportunity offender...:)

Kathleen-I understand...I, too, keep searching for locals who ’get it’. Meanwhile, online fellowship is very helpful. What I have noticed among the few churches who are egal and not pro-gay theology is that there is a growing tendency for these churches or individuals to be egal per church governance but comp per marriage and family relationships. Grievous!

truthseeker

One person put it this way, "I am ok with submitting to my husband because after all, he has to submit to God, so everybody is submitting, not just me." The time and place were not good for getting into deep water so I only made one comment, but that view is certainly out there.

Paula Fether

They err in ignoring the MUTUALITY of submission. Rule is not a type of submission, no matter how nicely it’s done. There is no permanent, flesh-based, one-way submission in the Body of Christ. Everybody is to submit, but TO EACH OTHER, not "some to others" as Grudem et al like to claim.

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