2008April14, Monday

When Ad Hominem Arguments Go Wild!

Posted in Current Events, My Life, Theology at 13:13 by Trey Austin

Fifth, i have been accused of engaging in ad hominem attacks upon James White. This i have yet to see substantiated. I criticized his actions as a person. Is that an ad hominem? I don’t believe so. If you want to see an ad hominem attack, take a look over here, where the anonymous “TurretinFan” opens another invective post by saying, “Tony Byrne (aka Ynottony) comrade-in-arms of Trey Austin and another of David Ponter’s band of Quasi-Amyraldians…” Talk about ad hominem! In fact, he not only attacks Tony, David, and myself as “Quasi-Amyraldians” (the ad hominem itself, since he’s trying to prejudice his audience against anything we say with regard to the sufficiency of Christ’s atonement by labeling us as “Quasi-Amyraldians”), he also is engaging in guilt-by-association fallacy, by saying that Tony’s views are less than reliable because he is friends and in agreement with David Ponter.

Yes, i called James White condescending, hateful, and uncharitable (Note: i am from South Carolina, and i fear that my use of the word “hateful” in a manner i am used to doing may be misleading to some; understand, i am not saying that James White actually hates anyone, and i can’t, since i can’t know his heart. What i am saying is what i have always understood the word “hateful” to mean, that James White is being just plain mean). But those weren’t attacks to prove that James White’s arguments about something are wrong (that’s what an ad hominem actually is); they were actual criticisms of his actions that displayed those tendencies. If criticizing and rebuking an action that someone engages in is an ad hominem, then every rebuke that i give as a pastor is an ad hominem attack. But that can’t be, and no reasonable person would see that as such.

The problem really is that James White is unwilling or unable to hear anyone who criticizes his actions or attitude. I have seen several people attempt to do it over the years—emails made public, posts on the AOmin forum, or even calls into the internet show—, and yet in every case, White brushes the comment asside dismissively. He is either unwilling or unable to hear criticism from others about his public actions. Now, on the one hand, i understand that he is a public figure, and if he took every one seriously, what he does would never get done; he could probably make a full-time job of answering critiques. But i’m not talking about crazy accusations that he is denying the Gospel, denying free will, or anything like it; i’m talking about hearing accusations from fellow Reformed believers that would help him better do what he does to God’s glory and to the help and edification of sinners and believers of all walks of life.

So, i don’t believe i’ve engaged in ad hominem attacks of James White. I believe all i have done is criticize him and his actions. I would like someone to show me how that fits into the definition of ad hominem without making any and every attempt to correct or rebuke someone an ad hominem.

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2 Comments »

  1. Al said,

    Wow… I forgot to put your new blog in my Google reader; I fail to check your blog for a week or so; the world comes crashing down on you and I am not here to stick up for my friend and man of God. I am pathetic.

    Your responses were outstanding Trey and as I was reading, from the bottom up, how all this started, I could not believe what I was reading.

    I know that Dr. White knows the definition of <ad hom so his initial point really confused me. Your critique of his style and demeanor did nothing to invalidated the truth of what he may have been saying. Odd I tell ya.

    Oh well, the Baptists may not like ya, but I love ya brother! Keep up the good work God has called you to.

    al sends

  2. Al said,

    I just listened to James White’s radio show… Postmodern? HeHe…

    al sends


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