Words of a Fether

Opinions on Faith and Life

PnP: A Study in Pots and Kettles

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.

Posted 2010-02-26 under assembly, Christian Living, women, debate, egalitarian, male supremacism