One More Smashmouth Round

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The conversation on incrementalism with the American Vision guys continues, albeit not very fruitfully. Joel McDurmon has responded to my thought experiment here.

What this amounts to, in my view, is not a breakdown in communication, but rather a breakdown of trust.

John Mark deserted Paul at Pamphylia (Acts 13:13). My supposition in this is that it happened because Paul had just presented the gospel to Sergius Paulus, and that John Mark had sympathies (at least) with the faction of the Judaizers. Shortly after this the Jerusalem Council settled the question, saying that Gentiles did not have to become Jews to become Christians. John Mark accepted the decision of the Council, and then wanted to accompany Paul and Barnabas on their next journey. My reconstruction of these events reads it as Barnabas believing John Mark’s change of heart and Paul not believing it. Barnabas trusted John Mark and Paul didn’t. The disagreement was so sharp that Paul and Barnabas had to work separately after that (Acts 15: 36-40). Paul was reconciled to John Mark later (2 Tim. 4:11), but we never are told who was right in the dispute.

The doctrine was settled, but what was in dispute is whether a particular man was to be trusted.

As I understand Joel’s position, he has no problem with a pro-life organization moving from city to city, or state to state, accomplishing their goals there, and then moving on to the next. This is his “not overnightism.” But if he were a congressmen, voting on a national level, Joel would refuse to vote for a bill that would restrict abortion in one locale, or that would allow local jurisdictions to restrict abortion.

In other words, he would regard that congressman’s vote as compromised, but it would not be compromise to take advantage of it. Joel would not vote for a repeal of Roe, but he would take full advantage of a repeal of Roe. And at the bottom of this conflicted stance would be a lack of trust. The “compromised” pro-lifers are simply not believed when they say that they share the same goal, the identical goal, the abolition of human abortion, period. And while some of them should not be believed, as I have granted throughout this discussion, I do take the Barnabas route on this one. I do not share the lack of trust over all. And because I know my own convictions on the matter, I certainly do not doubt my own commitment to the goal of abolition.

This falling out is certainly unfortunate, but it is not the end of the world. I wish all pro-lifers well, including those who do not reciprocate. And as long as babies are being butchered, I have better things to do than fight with fellow pro-lifers.

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Andrew Lohr
4 years ago

The Kingdom of Heaven is like leaven. Does leaven compromise as the dough rises?

Justin Parris
Justin Parris
4 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Lohr

A compromise isn’t what’s being discussed. A compromise is where we both give up our overarching goals to select something in between. What’s being suggested here is specifically not that. Nobody’s giving up the overarching goal.

Trey Mays
Trey Mays
4 years ago
Reply to  Justin Parris

Joel seemed to suggest Doug has given up the overarching goal.

Justin Parris
Justin Parris
4 years ago
Reply to  Trey Mays

Yes, he anti-Biblically assumes negative motivations without evidence. His position is “If you support X, you MUST believe Y”, and simply doesn’t engage with the counter explanation. You can use this method to oppose anything or defame anyone. It’s no different than what abortion advocates do to pro-lifers at large. example:

“If you oppose legal abortions, you MUST hate and want to control women”

It is exactly the same dishonest rhetorical trick. You’re pretending to be a mind reader so you can negatively state the intentions of your opponent.

Trey Mays
Trey Mays
4 years ago
Reply to  Justin Parris

This has been the problem I have had with American Vision since Joel took over as its president. And he wrote the book on “biblical logic,” which makes it more disheartening.

He engages his opponents (and presumably friends/allies) really in the same way that he complains about how dispensational premills dishonestly (and sometimes maliciously) mischaracterizes the postmill view.

Johnny Simmons
Johnny Simmons
4 years ago
Reply to  Trey Mays

I’m starting to feel that way too, Trey. It’s getting to be a drag.

Jane
Jane
4 years ago
Reply to  Justin Parris

I think that’s Andrew’s point. A gradual leavening is not “compromise” just because it isn’t instantaneous permeation.

Justin Parris
Justin Parris
4 years ago
Reply to  Jane

Fair enough. Clearly I need more coffee.

Justin Parris
Justin Parris
4 years ago

The only way in which I can make sense of his response is to view it from the angle of someone who already has supreme authority to make the law in the land. If you could simply write the laws on abortion any way you wish, clearly you would be at fault for allowing them to exist under so many circumstances. In reality though, pro lifers have very close to zero ability to write those laws. Under this circumstance, refusing to take what you can get is the anti-life stance. He made it clear that he would let any number… Read more »

Trey Mays
Trey Mays
4 years ago
Reply to  Justin Parris

I agree. As I’ve understood Doug’s position on smashmouth incrementalism: If Christians were able to elect conservative/libertarian Christian men and women to every seat in the Idaho legislature and the Governor’s Mansion and the Idaho AG’s office and are able to write legislation however we want without opposition, smashmouth incrementalists would support a full abolition of abortion bill. But if say at the national level Christians are only able to elect a small minority with pro-aborts and compromisers making up a combined majority, and Christians are only able to convince their pro-abort and compromising colleagues to support a 20 week… Read more »

Andrew Lohr
4 years ago

In calculus, f(x) tells you the value of y for a value of x; f'(x) tells you the slope of the curve (is it going up or down, and how steeply?) at any point x; f”(x) tells you which way the curve is turning (is it getting steeper, or turning from down to up, or…) The repentant thug on the cross may’ve had a negative f(x), so to speak, from all his sins, but he was turning in the right direction (f”) and going up (f’). So along with asking whether some law gets us where we want to go,… Read more »

Trey Mays
Trey Mays
4 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Lohr

I’ll take your mathematical word for it. Math is not my strong suit.

Jill Smith
Jill Smith
4 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Lohr

Hi Andrew, that was almost clear to me! So f(x) would enable somebody to figure out the arc of a rocket as it ascended and descended?

bethyada
bethyada
4 years ago
Reply to  Jill Smith

An inverse parabola. f'(x) is a line (velocity). f”(x) is a constant (acceleration).

Trey Mays
Trey Mays
4 years ago
Reply to  bethyada

Ahhh! Y’all might as well be speaking Chinese. :-)

Trey Mays
Trey Mays
4 years ago

For a person who prides himself as being the expert in “biblical logic,” I find Joel’s somewhat ad hominiem attacks on Doug rather unfortunate. I have felt that Doug, and even John Reasnor, have tried to engage in this conversation in a way that tries to understand each position from the perspective that we all have the same desired end result of abolition of abortion. But insert Joel, and he never actually engaged with Doug’s “smashmouth incrementalist” position, as Doug has stated it. He defines “smashmouth incrementalism” or “incrementalism” with his own view of it (which is unfair and untrustworthy).… Read more »

MeMe
MeMe
4 years ago

Well, faint praise perhaps, but by far I trust Pastor Wilson much more than the absolutists who seem to be more about self-righteousness than strategy. It’s all good, ultimately Barnabas and Paul’s separation lead to the kingdom spreading twice as fast.

Trey Mays
Trey Mays
4 years ago
Reply to  MeMe

This may be the first time that I’ve agreed with MeMe. Although, I might not go as far as calling abolitionist pro-lifers self-righteous.

MeMe
MeMe
4 years ago
Reply to  Trey Mays

Well, it’s long been my contention that we have to love people more than we hate murder. When we can get that mindset right, we can accomplish great things.

Justin Parris
Justin Parris
4 years ago
Reply to  MeMe

I don’t think many disagree with this contention MeMe. They just don’t count “letting people murder” as a very loving way of doing things. It’s certainly not very loving to the baby.

Lance Roberts
Lance Roberts
4 years ago
Reply to  MeMe

Don’t you think that since both are commanded, they both have equal weight? Both Loving People AND Hating Sin.

MeMe
MeMe
4 years ago
Reply to  Lance Roberts

I think the problem is that we are deeply flawed, so once we begin hating on sin, our hatred consumes us and we tend to forget the part about loving people.

CHer
CHer
4 years ago
Reply to  MeMe

And we “love” people with comments like this?

“So says the bitter, divorced man, who hates women.”

“Your desperate need for male approval is duly noted, Jilly.”

MeMe
MeMe
4 years ago
Reply to  CHer

I like how I come complete with my own trolls. It’s like being the Red Queen with an entourage of little red pills rolling around in my wake.

Justin Parris
Justin Parris
4 years ago
Reply to  MeMe

A troll is someone making a content for no purpose than to offend other people and bait them into rage induced comments. This was a specifically crafted point, which you then ignored. God requires you to love your neighbors and your enemies MeMe. You need to either account for how that behavior is justified or apologize. Now, that said, I’ll play devil’s advocate and make MeMe’s response for her. Within the frame of her worldview, those comments are defensible as the truth. One can note that someone is a bitter divorced man without hating that man for being bitter and… Read more »

MeMe
MeMe
4 years ago
Reply to  Justin Parris

“A troll is someone making a content for no purpose than to offend other people and bait them into rage induced comments.” Has CH ever addressed the content of a post rather than stopping by simply to attack me personally? Unless he’s going to engage with the subject matter and address other people, he’s a troll. Big difference between my speaking the truth personally about people and you calling me a misandrist. Misogyny, sexism, racism are all broad brushes designed to cast shadows on people character. There are a tactic used exclusively by Marxists and SJW’s. They are falsehoods in… Read more »

Trey Mays
Trey Mays
4 years ago
Reply to  MeMe

In previous threads I have read, I believe you have honestly been the troll. However, on this thread, I agree with you that CHer was the troll that baited you into responding with your Red Queen comment.

I would’ve just ignored CHer’s comment and kept the discussion on the “incrementalism vs. abolitionism” conversation.

Jill Smith
Jill Smith
4 years ago
Reply to  MeMe

I have often tried to engage with you, MeMe, and I have tried at different times to apologize for offending you, to try to understand our differences, and to try to explain my point of view both as clearly and as neutrally as I can. But nothing I can say or do is ever going to stop you from making the kind of mean girl remark that you did last night. I wasn’t a mean girl in my day, MeMe, so I was caught off guard by a comment that breathtakingly unkind. Even if you thought it was true–that I… Read more »

MeMe
MeMe
4 years ago
Reply to  Jill Smith

“I have often tried to engage with you, MeMe,”

No you have not. Regardless you and I are finished. Done. I have no desire to even try with you anymore. I’d actually appreciate it a great deal if you would restrain yourself, and address the topic at hand rather than attacking me.

Jill Smith
Jill Smith
4 years ago
Reply to  MeMe

Well, MeMe, since you ask me so nicely, I will refrain from addressing you directly. However, I cannot guarantee not to comment when you make interesting or provocative arguments. Only our good host has the authority to exercise prior restraint. But I will address my comments to the audience at large and not engage with you personally.

Silas
Silas
4 years ago
Reply to  Jill Smith

I wouldn’t worry about anything meme says Jill. Everyone here can see when she makes slanderous statements about others she is justified in her mind because she believes the slander as truth. Anytime someone rationally address her lack of consistency she plays the victim and accuses others of being mean and name calling.

To meme, before you comment here again you should apologize for your slander and failure to rationally engage with Doug’s and other people’s points. You should repent of your self delusion of being a victim.

Katecho
Katecho
4 years ago
Reply to  Jill Smith

Jill Smith wrote:

But I will address my comments to the audience at large and not engage with you personally.

I always suspected Jill would eventually come around to the value of third person responses.

Trey Mays
Trey Mays
4 years ago
Reply to  CHer

“And we ‘love’ people with comments like this? ‘So says the bitter, divorced man, who hates women.’ ‘Your desperate need for male approval is duly noted, Jilly’.”

How is the comment relevant to the “incrementalism vs. abolitionism” conversation?

Justin Parris
Justin Parris
4 years ago
Reply to  Trey Mays

Trey Mays “How is the comment relevant to the “incrementalism vs. abolitionism” conversation?” It was directly related to her very consistent emphasis on loving others, which she had just reiterated in this conversation. He was pointing out that, in spite of the central focus in virtually every single topic on showing love for others being paramount, she does not behave that way. A contention that she doesn’t truly believe what she’s saying is directly relevant to the validity of her argument. That’s not to say it’s true, merely that it is a valid means of rebuttal. MeMe “Misogyny, sexism, racism… Read more »

MeMe
MeMe
4 years ago
Reply to  Justin Parris

“Calling you a misandrist does not require that you hate all men, it requires you hate some measure of people simply for being men.”

Indeed it does. But I hate “no measure of people” simply for “being men.” In fact, I don’t hate anyone at all. So your accusation is totally false. More importantly, your accusation is inappropriate, as in my comment was addressing Pastor Wilson’s post and not you. In truth, I have absolutely no desire to interact with you at all.

Justin Parris
Justin Parris
4 years ago
Reply to  MeMe

“But I hate “no measure of people” simply for “being men.” In fact, I don’t hate anyone at all. ” There was never any doubt that you disagreed with the claim. I mention it here not to try and force you to defend yourself. You’ve made it clear you won’t do that under any conditions, no matter how poorly you treat others. No, I bring it up to point to the blatant and obvious hypocrisy. That claim of hypocrisy you conveniently ignore in favor of deflecting to my original criticism. ” More importantly, your accusation is inappropriate, as in my… Read more »

MeMe
MeMe
4 years ago
Reply to  Justin Parris

” If that’s your intent then, I fully expect you to stop trying to do so.”

Try to focus on the fact that you are responding for the umpteenth time to my comment, in a thread tier under my comment to Pastor Wilson. I did not initiate this conversation, you did.

I just pray you don’t speak to your wife the way you speak to me. That would truly be sad.

Justin Parris
Justin Parris
4 years ago
Reply to  MeMe

“Try to focus on the fact that you are responding for the umpteenth time to my comment, in a thread tier under my comment to Pastor Wilson. I did not initiate this conversation, you did.” Do you bother to read the comments of others? I spelled out quote clearly that I was referring to a broader time frame in which this has happened both ways. “I just pray you don’t speak to your wife the way you speak to me. That would truly be sad.” I have no need. My wife is substantially more honest and loving. She doesn’t twist… Read more »

Trey Mays
Trey Mays
4 years ago
Reply to  Justin Parris

Justin,

Thank you.

Justin Parris
Justin Parris
4 years ago
Reply to  Trey Mays

Any time. Whole family’s home sick. Not much else to be doing.

Jill Smith
Jill Smith
4 years ago
Reply to  Lance Roberts

I think that they can’t easily be separated. If you love someone, you must hate seeing him or her fall into sin. You must hate what the sin is doing to him or her, and you must hate anything that has the power to destroy him. When I am indifferent to it, either I don’t think that the sin is all that sinful, or I don’t really love the sinner.

Chadd
Chadd
4 years ago

As a first time reader of Mr. McDurmon, I concur with what many have already said. He came off very defensive and was not accurately representing Pastor Wilson’s views. I appreciate Pastor Wilson’s decision to not spend his time untangling all of the weeds in Mr. McDurmon’s last response. Although an in person Friday evening debate sure would be fun.

Trey Mays
Trey Mays
4 years ago
Reply to  Chadd

I absolutely agree with this.

Bike Bubba
4 years ago

Somehow, the all or nothing strategy for pro-life work reminds me of football fans who get frustrated every time the ball is handed to a running back instead of thrown to a wide receiver streaking for the goal line. It would be fun if every offensive play were a TD and every defensive play a sack, but the fact of the matter is that the game is often the difference between “three yards and a cloud of dust” and “two yards and a cloud of dust”. Politically and morally speaking, those little, time consuming gains really matter. Taking, and holding,… Read more »

Nathan James
Nathan James
4 years ago

OK, I think I have one take away from this extended discussion: a pro-life law should not be written so as to permit abortions. It should only restrict them. A new law should be entirely silent on any abortion that it does not prohibit, since prohibition is the only statement a law can rightfully make on abortion. The law should be written so as to never provide legal justification of abortion. I would approve of a law that said “Anyone aborting a pregnancy beyond the 20th week shall be guilty of murder.” I would not approve of a law that… Read more »

Trey Mays
Trey Mays
4 years ago

This article by Daniel Horowtiz at Conservative Review is a good explanation why any “smashmouth incrementalism” must include fundamental, comprehensive judicial reform beyond merely “appointing better judges”: https://www.conservativereview.com/articles/why-appointing-better-judges-will-not-fix-our-rogue-courts God’s Law isn’t just about how moral, righteous, and biblical the content of the law. It is also about the structure of the civil rule, so that injustice can’t happen again when power changes hands to someone less than morally fit for the office. And structurally, judges on the right and the left have an overblown view of their jurisdiction. This is where I think Doug’s defense of “smashmouth incrementalism” starts to… Read more »

Jane
Jane
4 years ago
Reply to  Douglas Wilson

Myth in the sense of religious myth — a belief that we buy into, that we ought to reject. Not necessarily the same as an inaccurate statement of the status quo that has arisen from practicing the mythology, though.

Trey Mays
Trey Mays
4 years ago
Reply to  Douglas Wilson

Oh okay. The wording of “myth of judicial supremacy,” in that order of wording, sounded like you were saying it was a myth. Thank you for the clarification, Doug.

Jarryd Bowers
Jarryd Bowers
4 years ago

i had not encountered Joel McDurmon prior to this post. after reading some of his articles on other topics, his confusion regarding the arguments made here are the tip of a particularly dangerous intellectual iceberg at American Vision.

Trey Mays
Trey Mays
4 years ago
Reply to  Jarryd Bowers

This has been my unfortunate observation of Joel and American Vision, as well.

Jarryd Bowers
Jarryd Bowers
4 years ago
Reply to  Trey Mays

you are working overtime on this thread, good sir.

Trey Mays
Trey Mays
4 years ago
Reply to  Jarryd Bowers

This topic intrigues me. And I’m really kinda PO’d that Joel McDurmon kinda nuked the conversation with his response.

bethyada
bethyada
4 years ago

There is a lot that could be said in response to McDurmon’s article, partly because he covers a lot of ground, partly because the topics change through the piece. So to address in part… Opposing Obamacare wholesale and signing in a restrictive abortion bill differ in this: One is not the current situation but is an attempt to change it, so opposing it wholesale is something is to try and restrict something from coming into being. Abortion is the current situation so a partial measure is an attempt to restrict it while awaiting attempts to restrict it further. There is… Read more »

Trey Mays
Trey Mays
4 years ago
Reply to  bethyada

Well said, bethyada.

Doane
Doane
4 years ago

It’s a bout time someone called out Doug’s incrementalism. Doug’s slow and compromised approach has lead to nothing but the start of Classical Christian Eduction around the world, a publishing company, a College, faithful children building their own businesses, national criticism and attacks(which means people are actually threatened and listening) feature films, top blog, online school, and thats just off the top of my head. Postmill, Reformed, Theonomists are usually doing zero to change culture. All talk no action. From Rushdooney to Tyler Texas to Bahnsen, it took an evangelical lumberjack 36 years to actually make a dent with a… Read more »

UriahWhitestone
4 years ago

I might be jumping into a dispute here about which I know little, but it’s always seemed to me that Paul was too hard on Mark and ended up with egg on his face for it later – and sacrificing Barnabas over it was a bad move. Let’s not forget: Barnabas is the guy who introduced Paul to the church and got him the trust and respect he deserved. Without Barney, Paul would have just been “that guy who used to kill us” and we would be missing half of the NT. So maybe we should try to value our… Read more »

Christian Lewis
Christian Lewis
4 years ago

I would add that our political toolbox also includes the impeachment of judges. I am convinced that no Justice can deprive any group of persons, including the unborn, the right to life without due process and be found to be serving in “good behavior” (Article III) and not be subject to impeachment under Article II, Section 4. Judges have been impeached for corruption. Sanctioning and upholding the right to kill children is a far worse crime and is blatantly unconstitutional. Impeachment is the most, if not only, viable constitutional tool Congress possesses that can have an immediate impact in stopping… Read more »