What’s Wrong with Kyle?

My guess is; not much. He’s a bright young man, married to “the most beautiful and talented girl in the world”, studying philosophy while being “trained up for ministry” in the Presbyterian church. He’s intelligent, educated and, I’m certain, extremely well-read in all matters which mean anything to him whatsoever, particularly Reformed Theology. You really ought to visit his blog. When you do, I think it’ll be obvious that between us, his opinion is better researched and informed than my own.  For his opinion about what I think is wrong with Calvinism, read this.

For my considered response to his comment, read on:

Kyle,

I took some time to read your comment slowly and check your biblical references. I seriously considered what you said and I also took some time to look at your blog to get an idea of who you present yourself to be. Honestly, I’ve come away from your comment feeling a bit like a fly being swatted with a Buick. I’m okay with that though. I can take it.

I’m also okay with much of what I said. There are some things that I would alter but mostly I don’t feel the need to recant my core beliefs (even if they are badly expressed). My point is/was that it is better to try to understand Scripture from the perspectives of the author and the audience than it is to try and understand Scripture from the perspective of another interpreter. When reading Paul (the Jew and the Pharisee), it is better to try to understand his writings from an Eastern/Jewish/Pharisee perspective as opposed to a Western/Gentile/Christian perspective of early church fathers (Origen, Augustine) and previous theologians (Calvin, Luther, et al.). This still makes sense to me.

My miserably expressed belief is that Calvin (but actually, I confess that in my mind I was thinking “present day Calvinists”) came to certain theological conclusions because he (they weren’t) wasn’t attempting to view Scripture in light of Paul’s Jewish worldview and Pharisaical education. Granted, if I presented myself as anything more than an “armchair theologian”, I would be remiss not to support this accusation through scholarship.  However, as I do not present myself to be anything greater than a blogger who likes to read think and write about theology, I don’t feel compelled to commit myself to the serious work of research and referencing at the same level of a student and future pastor like yourself. Again, you need to consider the author of this blog (“armchair theologian”) and his audience (realistically speaking, mostly himself…oh, and that nice guy Wonders for Oyarsa).

Of course, I realize that sounds like I’m advocating poor reasoning/scholarship but I’m not. I’m advocating that you and other readers of this blog use some discernment and adjust your expectations according to who I represent myself to be.

Nothing that you referenced in your comment indicates beyond question that Paul’s Jewishness and Pharisaical education was vaporized that day he met Jesus on his way to Damascus, nevermore to influence his writings. So, for now I’m content to believe that Paul, the Jew and former Pharisee, would not necessarily recognize his own beliefs regarding predestination in the theology of Calvin’s current disciples (and possibly even Calvin himself).

You were right to point out that I invite criticism by posting my (ill-conceived) opinions for all to read.  Additionally, you’re right to suggest some serious scholars for me to read and learn from. You have given me precisely those things which I had hoped would come from writing this blog. However Kyle, what you have not given me is “grace”. There is nothing gracious in the tone of your comment or the style of your prose. You did not attempt a gentle correction and so your invocation of “Grace” at the close of your comment rings hollow and leaves me cold.

I chose “What’s Wrong with Kyle?” as the title of this post because it neatly refers back to my previous post “What’s Wrong with Calvinism?” I didn’t choose it to be vindictive, although I certainly understand why someone might choose to read it that way. Yet, I’m sure that Kyle would tell you that there are plenty of things wrong about him which the blood of Jesus covers by the grace of God…and, like his observation that my post is “flawed in multiple ways”, he’d be absolutely right.

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9 Comments

Filed under Reflection

9 responses to “What’s Wrong with Kyle?

  1. Kyle is not being vindicitive, but you need to know him to know this, and I know him, therefore I know this. He pursues truth vigorously, and this vigorousness may sometimes be misleading, and come across as…what was the word?…oh yes, “snarky?” 🙂

    Anyways, although your original topic was justifiable (an honest inquiry), your presentation of the topic may not have been justifiable (lacking in research and not doing justice to major theological works). It may not have been you intention, but it’s how it came across…not trying to be nit-picky, just saying…

  2. amtog

    Thanks for coming by Joe.

    I learned the word “snarky” from some Canadian colleagues here in the Mid East. I really like it. For me, the sound of it captures the essence of the attitude. Just saying the word “snarky’ sounds snarky to me.

    You’re a good friend, coming to Kyle’s defense. It reminds me of a good friend of mine who has also had to come to my defense when I’ve been misunderstood.

    Again, because you brought it up, I feel the need to point out “the lack of research” and failure “to do justice to major theological works” on my part would be inexcusable if I presented myself as a scholar of some sort. However, since I’m just a blogger who aims to post once a week what’s on my mind, I don’t think that I’m required to publish to the same standard as pastors, professors or even seminary students.

  3. Dear Sir,
    I am surprised by your open feelings of offense. You say that I did not offer “grace” to you in my previous post. But doesn’t this depend on how one defines “grace?” For starters, to judge one’s “tone” from a blog response is a poor fulcrum from which to base feelings. After all written words can be quite deceiving and be received not in the same humility and grace in which they were written. You had referred to some of my comments as “snarky” (good word by the way) and I assured you that they were meant in no such way. So I find it interesting that even now, despite my explicit statement that they were not “snarky” you persist in saying that I did not “offer you grace.” Because I have failed to meet your criteria on what offering grace is, would you please define for me how I might offer you grace in my comments? As I made it was my intention and hope for my comments not to cause offense or “leave you cold” (which I have clearly failed at achieving) would you please define for me how one offers grace in his/her words. I would definitely benefit from that. To not offer grace to someone seems to be sin (Ephesians 4:29), so would I be right in assuming that you feel I have sinned against you? Please make this known to me that I might be reconciled where reconciliation is needed.
    Secondly, I have a further thought. You seem to defend yourself by the fact that you are an “armchair” theologian. I’m not sure what that means, considering the fact that every Christian is a theologian whether he/she likes it or not. You say that your posts may very well be flawed. You also make mention that your posts don’t need to meet the standards of a pastor, professor, or student. Well, if you are content in comparing yourself with other people than I suppose you may be right. But if you realize that we are not judged in relation to anyone else, you may want to rethink that statement. Perhaps this is a good warning, to all of us bloggers, that to undertake a blog should, as with all other things, be done in fear and trembling. After all, if we are judged according to our words, should that judgment pass over the false and uncharitable things we write on a blog? On judgment day shall the Judge excuse our sins because we were not a pastor or professor? I hardly think so. This is the reason I commented in the first place. I perceived your thoughts to be erroneous and as such thought I would offer up some thoughts to correct your views (i.e. that idea that Reformed theology reads too much of “Western” thought into their theology; again, read Geerhardus Vos). I did this with the full intention that if you perceived me to be wrong you would correct me with Scripture. I only gave you the very thing I would expect and hope others to give to me. Where is grace lacking in that?
    Well, those are just my thoughts. Again, I invite you to show me my sin that I might seek forgiveness. But in accordance with Scripture, perhaps that would be better settled in a private message, I do believe you have my email address.
    Grace.

  4. By the way, that’s a nice blog post title!

  5. amtog

    Kyle,

    In order to respond to your recent comments “in accordance with Scripture”, I’m declining your invitation to correspond privately via e-mail. It is my opinion that the appropriate Biblical precedent for our discourse is found in Galatians 2:11-21. Since our disagreement has been public up to this point, I believe that it should reach its conclusion publicly as well.

    I’m also declining your invitation to show you your sin because I’m not convinced that it is appropriate for me to do so. I expressed two opinions about the nature of your first comment. My first opinion is that some of what you said was snarky. (See the definition from the American Heritage Dictionary.)You disagree. My second opinion is that your prose failed to offer/give grace or to put it another way, to be gracious. Again, you disagree. We have a difference of opinion. I think it is not a sin to have a difference of opinion. Furthermore, I do not feel the need to convince you of my opinion. Obviously, your conscience is clear. Either the Holy Spirit will convict you of being disrespectful and ungracious in your comments or he won’t. I don’t think that it’s my place to try.

    As for your request to define how to offer grace with one’s words; I will try…but not now. I’ve been thinking/praying about it and would like to think about it a bit longer. Eventually, I’ll post my thoughts. You’re welcomed to check back and read them when I do.

  6. Anonymous

    WOW! You’re likening this blog thingy to Paul opposing Peter cause Peter’s view of justification by faith alone was under attack and the gospel was at stake? Is the gospel actually at stake here, or just someone’s inflated pride?

  7. Anonymous

    BTW, when I say “inflated pride” I mean Kyle’s argument was sound and the only way you really responded to him was by saying “your snarky.” Let it go man.

  8. Anonymous,
    Hmmm…that seems just a little uncalled for. Perhaps before you make such comments you will want to think them through. Adding stuff like the above post does nothing and adds nothing to the discussion.
    Grace.

  9. my point simply was that their disagreement, like mine and kyle’s was public and it was dealt with publicly (Paul’s letter was for public reading in the church as far as I know) and therefore it is Scriptural to deal with this publicly.

    …and yes, I would very much like to “let it go”.

    thanks for coming by Annonymous

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