Every once in a while a truly and thoroughly evil villain appears, such as a Hitler or Stalin, an Ivan the Terrible or Vlad the Impaler. Folks such as these are easy to oppose. But, when opposing someone who does not exhibit pure evil, building a caricature helps. The first step in any confrontation, be it political, military, or otherwise is to portray your adversary in as poor a light as possible… and the weaker your position/argument the more sever (and important) the caricature becomes.
We have seen this time and time again with various amateur discerners and their blogs. Arguing from a position of weakness, often employing logic based on faulty information, hyperbole, or mere preferences – they must create a caricature of their opponent. Addressing real issues, taking people at face value, using complete statements, bothering to understand the nuances of a thought or comment are either lost or ignored.
The process is exacerbated when the ADM echo chamber kicks in and they start cross-linking and reposting – each time hardening the categories and expanding the caricature.
For example; here is a recent post (in its entirty) by Ingrid on SoL:
Here is an excellent post by Chris Rosebrough at Extreme Theology on the emergent whine that anyone who states anything authoritatively about God is “putting God in a box.” That line is a favorite of those who simply like to make their god up as they go. God has revealed Himself to us in His Word. But emergents, kicking that Word to the curb, would prefer to have a god who changes with them. It is much, much more convenient.
Notice the definitive statements of supposed fact: anyone who states anything authoritatively about God, [they] make their god up as they go, God has revealed Himself to us in His Word. But emergents…
I challenge this ADM to show an example where anyone whom she regularly names says “Any definitive and authoritative statement about God is placing him in a box.” Her hyperbole in caricature creation renders her objections shrill, comical, and useless. She may have had a point, but her method of re-creating her foe into an unrecognizable caricature renders her argument meaningless.
But this is just the echo chamber exacerbating the ridiculous. If you read the original by Chris R., you will see it is somewhat more tempered – but still guilty of caricature creation and assassination – or straw man – and therefore it is to be rejected.
The very title of the post betrays the false dichotomy upon which it is built – “God in a Box” or God As He Has Revealed Himself? This is not a dichotomy. These are not mutually exclusive choices. God has indeed revealed himself, and we finite humans routinely place him in a box.
The thesis of the post is this:
Today, if you happen to be conversing with a group of CHRISTIANS and you boldly, confidently, and succinctly talk about God and His characteristics, attributes and what He has done you are very likely to be accused of “putting God in a box”?
To a point I agree, though I would say “You may be accused…” But instead of exploring this thesis, instead of advancing when God is boxed and when he is not -the ADM jumps immediately to a caricature of his own creation.
One of these Christians might even throw a Rob Bell quote or two in your face and tell you that you need to not be so arrogant and should adopt a more humble hermeneutic. According to Bell, “The moment God is figured out with nice neat lines and definitions, we are no longer dealing with God. We are dealing with somebody we made up.” (Velvet Elvis, Page 25)
Humility is poppycock?
It’s supposedly poppycock because
In the scriptures we have God’s revelation of himself and that divine self-revelation gives us some very hard neat lines and definitions about who God is, what He is like, what He has done and what true worship of Him entails. … But, we must always be careful to not allow our imaginations to go beyond what God has revealed about Himself in his word. That which God has not revealed about himself is still mystery.
At this point I would again agree… and so would Bell if he were allowed to speak for himself. After quoting a few of the giants of the faith the ADM points out “…that Paul didn’t say that we ‘can’t know’ but that we only KNOW IN PART.” Here he is denying a statement Bell never made. He’s arguing with a caricature of his own creating not any actual statements made by Rob Bell.
In context, Bell was simply affirming what the ADM himself said; “That which God has not revealed about himself is still mystery.” To deny and subvert this context the ADM must ignore statements that affirm the existence of truth and that Bell affirms the historic Christian faith. Which, by the way, he in no ways denies.
Basically, the ADM and the echo chamber have taken a simple and true statement – If your goal is to figure [God] out and totally understand [Him], it’s not going to happen. and twisted it into “You cannot say anything definitive or authoritative about God.” Then they attack.
This is sloppy at best; it is dishonest as worst… I don’t think they are that sloppy.