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February 04, 2014

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God is using apologetics more than ever in 2014. To herald the end of apologetics is to refute the truth and cede to pharisaism. Jesus and Paul and the apostles debated and challenged the comforted (pharisees and sophists) and comforted the afflicted (widows, orphans, prostitutes, the poor/needy). Most Americans are not widows/orphans/needy but spoiled, wealthy, self-assured pharisees and sophists that need to be challenged. It's actually time to push apologetics more than ever.

From a different point of view, but with a very similar conclusion: http://apolojet.wordpress.com/2013/10/03/book-review-the-end-of-apologetics/

I get the impression that the author of this article has not actually read the book herself. Reading a review of a book may be helpful to oneself, but it strikes me as a bit reactionary to criticize a book one has not read and then warn others about it.

What is more troubling about the article is that despite not reading the book Hall passes judgment on Myron Penner. Amy Hall writes "Again, all of this sounds more to me like theoretical ideas Penner has learned in a classroom, rather than what he’s experienced in conversations with real human beings who don’t know Christ". But the book does contain an account of a very meaningful conversation between Penner and a young man who is wrestling with faith and the damage that was done to him by overzealous apologists. Furthermore Penner has been an Anglican minister in Alberta, Canada for a number of years and today is a pastor serving in Bolivia.

Please do not take my comments as an endorsement of Penner's work. I just think that if an organization like STR is going to publicly comment on a book, warning others and offering criticism the author should have read it, not relied on a review by a third party. That would have been the charitable thing to do.

I hate to pile on, but after reading the review by Rochford I need to say that I think he has done a terrible (or good) job of quote mining Penner's work. Again, I am not saying I agree with Penner's argument or that all of Rochford's criticism are off the mark but I think that Rochford's fourth criticism of Penner is just blatantly false. He claims that Penner denies that reason and truth are important. Not only do his selected quotes not show this but Rochford's criticism amounts to "Penner's view is not my view so it is wrong." There is no engagement with his view of reason and truth, just quotes that are supposed to show Penner denies that reason and truth are important. To the contrary, he just thinks that reason is different form what Rochford does and that truth is more complex than simple representationalism but not that they are unimportant.

What is even more disappointing is that STR would warn constituents about a book based on a review that is so philosophically inept. Rochford continually says that Penner denies the "Correspondent" view of truth. The Correspondent view? It's the Correspondence view of truth not the Correspondent view. That is an embarrassing mistake and seriously detracts from the credibility of Rochford. If someone is going to criticize an author's view of truth and say that it is a bad/false view, the critic should at least know the correct name of the view he himself is advocating for!!!

John, I appreciate your thoughts, but I think it's legitimate to point people to a lengthy review of a book, as I think reviews can be quite helpful and insightful, particularly when they point to numerous excerpts from the book. I also think we can truly learn from them, which is why I did not have a problem with commenting on the review. I have indeed heard postmodernists talk about the uselessness and/or danger of apologetics many times, and yet what they describe bears no resemblance to my real-life experience.

As I point out at the end, I wanted people to read the review so they could hear and understand Penner's arguments. That's not quite the same as "warning people," as that gives the impression I'm asking people to hide from it in an attempt to protect themselves. Do I think he's wrong? Yes, I do. But I still think they should look into his views in order to understand what he thinks and why he thinks it. They might not ever have a chance to read the book, but they might take the time to read the review.

John, it looks like I posted my comment at the same time you posted yours.

In response to your second comment, Rochford does spend time giving us an idea of what Penner's understanding of truth is – the understanding that he's advocating. The title of that section does communicate to Rochford's audience (and ours) what Rochford means to say – i.e., that truth and reason in the way his audience understands it (as those are the people he's communicating to) are not important to Penner. This is correct. Anyone who reads the review will hear about the definition of truth and reason that he's advocating.

And I think you have to consider the genre, here. Perhaps elsewhere on his site (as on ours) you'll find arguments against postmodern views of truth, but in his review post, he chose to spend time revealing Penner's views rather than refuting each one of them (something many people, probably including himself, have done elsewhere). A review is meant more to reveal a book than to refute it, so I think your comment that Rochford's approach was "Penner's view is not my view so it is wrong" is unfair.

Hi,

Just curious, did I make a mistake when I uploaded my last comments? I don't see them.

Thanks,

John...

I only see the two comments you posted earlier, and there's nothing trapped in spam. Sorry!

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