A dear friend of mine, the great thinker – and a few short weeks away from Ph.D. in Theology (from DUKE People!!!!) – Michael Raburn (Read his AWESOME Blog posts HERE) and I were having a conversation last night on Twitter. The subject: Tim Challies‘ review of Rob Bell‘s new book ;” target=”_blank”>Love Wins.” (STOP! This isn’t a post about Rob Bell!!!!! Please continue reading!)
I liked the review, but my friend Michael did not. He said “[Challies] Review begins [by] comparing Bell to the serpent in Gen.3. … Ad hominem has no place in serious theology.”
Now, the fact of the matter is, I have, for years, deferred to Michael on almost all things theological. He is, as far as I am concerned, one of the greats. He is a staunch adherent of truth, a sincere searcher for understanding and absolutely full of love for not just his brothers and sisters in Christ but for all people.
So, is this all about singing Raburn’s praises? No. His stament re: “Ad Hominem” got me thinking.
According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary “Ad Hominem” is defined as follows:
1: appealing to feelings or prejudices rather than intellect2: marked by or being an attack on an opponent’s character rather than by an answer to the contentions made
So, what my brother is saying is that when someone makes a theological argument, taking an “ad hominem” approach in response is unacceptable.
I want to believe what he says, but, at the same time, I can’t dismiss a person’s character from their affirmations. Ad Hominem may be a “classic logical fallacy” but that doesn’t make it fallacious in every instance. Character matters. Truth is truth regardless of who says it. And these are the murky waters we find ourselves in EVERY DAY in the body of Christ.
Jesus said, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35) This must be the highest rule of conduct in the Body of Christ. Period. You might disagree with Rob Bell (Or Joel Osteen, or Billy Graham, or Joyce Meyer, et al.) or you might disagree with those who disagree with them, but if you have affirmed a faith in Jesus Christ then your love for your brothers and sisters in Christ must be evident before ANYTHING else (And, yes, I’m preaching to myself here).
He didn’t ask me to do this, but Michael has started a fund-raising project to help fund his dissertation year. GREAT benefits for investors and this will, I truly believe, be of great benefit to the Church. Check it out at: Between Love and Doctrine