Wallace is on the staff at fundamentalist Dallas Seminary and received his 'education' both there and at the equally dubious Biola.According to Ryan I'm implying here - and none too subtly it seems - "that Wallace is stupid". He has four objections to make.
- He doesn't like my description of Wallace as "on the staff" at Dallas (DTS). He'd rather I acknowledge his status as a professor.
- He objects to my describing DTS as fundamentalist. This, he feels, is a synonym for stupid.
- He doesn't like the "scare quotes" around 'education'. Again, I'm apparently implying that Wallace is stupid because of an inferior education.
- He makes the same point regarding the use of 'dubious' to describe Biola.
Ryan then goes on - quite correctly - to state that Wallace is a well known scholar. He feels my statement constitutes an ad hominem attack.
I don't mind criticism, and normally I wouldn't bother to respond. Ryan however has offered a thoughtful critique, so seeing he has detailed his objections in some detail I've decided to make an exception.
To respond to Ryan's points in order:
- I don't mean to imply in any way that Wallace is stupid. Clearly he's not. Institutional affiliation has little to do with either intelligence or stupidity. Wallace is an extremely lucid and articulate apologist. While I describe him as "on the staff" that isn't intended as a put-down. In writing the item I didn't check his exact credentials, after all the post was about the Newsweek article, not Wallace! (BTW I have a near relative who is a senior lecturer in economics at a leading New Zealand university, but when people in the wider community ask him what he does he usually just calls himself a teacher, which is refreshingly Quakerish.)
- Is DTS fundamentalist? Putting aside dispensationalist goofiness in general, I invite Ryan to read for himself the lengthy "Full Doctrinal Statement (for Seminary faculty and board)" published on the DTS website. This isn't fundamentalist?
- What the term 'education' means for Ryan when applied to a university-level institution I'm not sure. I'm of the view that it is about, among other things, open inquiry, intellectual freedom and the quest for knowledge having priority over received dogma. The 'scare quotes' aren't about Wallace's intelligence or stupidity (as Ryan would have it) but the improbability of attaining a real education in the above sense at a place that doesn't permit this.
- Biola? Same point. Biola was founded by one of the fathers of modern fundamentalism, Lyman Stewart - as I suspect Ryan already knows. Every faculty member must affirm their "complete agreement" to Biola's doctrinal statement. Again, you can read that statement online.
Is Wallace a legitimate scholar? I don't mean to imply that he isn't any more than I mean to imply that he's stupid. What I did mean to imply was that real scholarship is seriously constrained at fundamentalist institutions. Thinking outside those constraints brings down consequences, as many academics have unfortunately discovered for themselves, and to willingly comply with those constraints must have corrosive consequences in the area of personal integrity. I'm told DTS does some good work in fields where there is no clash with its fundamentalist ethos (as per the Doctrinal Statement), but those are of necessity heavily restricted areas.
So... no retraction.