Monday, 8 February 2016

Dogmatic Apologetics

It is an abuse of one’s status as a public intellectual to write dogmatic apologetics for lay readers.
Neil Godfrey

Neil Godfrey at Vridar has the first plain-talking review of a recent apologetic text by Catholic scholar Brant Pitre. This thing has been tossed around on various blogs with patsy reviews. Or perhaps Pollyanna reviews describes them best. You don't have to agree with everything that Neil writes to recognise that he, at last, has cut through this particular Gordian Knot.
The experience reminded me of delving into books published by my old religious cult many years ago, proving decisively and with impeccable logic and thorough research that the Bible really was the word of God, genuine scholarship proved that fact, and all modern scholarship that cast doubts on this was under the sway of the stubborn minds who refused to read the evidence seriously and foolishly relegated the Gospels to folklore and fairy tales. Form criticism was likened to the folly of that favourite juvenile Telephone Game that only works because the players don’t take the message they are asked to relay seriously and make up any old thing as they pass it along.
The quote at the top of this post comes at the end of the review. It deserves repeating. Indeed, it should probably be carved in granite and placed in reception areas at every theological department at every university that has one. 

I'd even chip in for one at Otago!


  1. I think this is a bit too academic for the general readership here. It certainly goes over my head, do not understand the quote.

    1. My very loose paraphrase would be:

      Someone who is paid to be objective and provide an informed scholarly perspective shouldn't prostitute themselves in order to indulge in dumbed-down cheer-leading for traditionalists who have an ax to grind.

    2. Fair enough, but I would assume sincerity on his part - even if he perhaps errs here or there - as we must rely on academics to dispense truth down the chain to the lay person? And trust the checks & balances in the system that make it generally reliable?