Response to The Truth War Part 1
Response to The Truth War Part 2
Generalization is a nasty, hasty habit for many of us. We all become captured in the over-simplification of making hasty generalizations at times. This is a classic fallacy in argumentation. For example: During my time as a Christian I have discovered that Christian leaders who believe reformed theology are overly dogmatic and judgmental toward those who do not hold their positions, because the ones I have met. or read have been that way. Of course, this is not true. It is not even true that all reformed theologians I have met are overly dogmatic. But even if it were true, it is an over-generalization to say that all reformed thinkers are overly dogmatic, and judgmental. That is a hasty generalization, and jumping to conclusions.
Hasty generalization is the formation of an opinion from an insufficiently small test sample group of a larger body. Insufficient evidence used as a basis for conclusions leads to hasty generalization, and logical fallacy.
Enter stage right The Truth War.
From a mere handful of leaders, from a narrow range of denominations, and miniscule number of writings, a series of accusations about the apostate nature of the Emergent Church is presented.
Rob & Kirsten Bell, Brian McLaren, Tony Campolo, and reformed theologian John Armstrong are among those listed and quoted in the book. A small smattering of their quotes are given.
John Armstrong most particularly is of interest. On three counts information provided about him is illogical. Armstrong's friend P. Andrew Sandlin has provided a solid defense against the accusations here in an excellent article. The accusations against Armstrong are provided as an example of the Emergent Church's slide into empty relativism. They are false on these counts: 1) John Armstong is a reformed theologian. He once taught side by side with John MacArthur, and still holds to the reformed traditions and theology with minor variations on his previously held beliefs. He does not typically fit the Emergent Church category. 2) As shown by P. Andrew Sandlin's article, MacArthur chooses statements from Armstrong from only two sources among his many writings - one blog, and one article. 3) His responses to citations from John Armstrong are inaccurate.
Two of three points illustrate hasty generalization perfectly. First, John Armstrong is quoted from a miniscule sampling of his greater works, and his beliefs are inaccurately assessed. Assumptions about John Armstrong are made with insufficient evidence. Secondly, these quotes from this single source become an example of postmodern relativism infiltrating the church at large. MacArthur also lists quotes from such authors as Brian McLaren, and Rob & Kirsten Bell, Donald Miller, and Stanley Grenz. The small sampling of quotes frm each are presented as authoritative comments from what is a complex and diverse movement. They are generalizations about the larger group from a small sampling of ill read quotes. Generalizations are made about John Armstrong, which in turn are used as a sampling of generalizations about the larger group called Emergent.
The premise of the book is based off hasty generalization. John MacArthur shows no complete understanding about the nature of the Emergent Conversation, and similarly no clear comprehension about the basic critiques which postmodernism holds toward its predecessor modernism.
Whether as a tool for creating the larger scope of the book, or in details of the book MacArthur shows himself to be a master generalizer. After quoting Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz with story about "Mark the cussing pastor," MacArthur goes on to say, "Obscenity is one of the major trademarks of the Emerging style. Most authors in the movement make extravagant use of filthy language, sexual innuendo, and uncritical references to the most lowbrow elements of postmodern culture...."
I don't know which books he's been reading, but my guess is that either they weren't Emergent books, or that he's become the General of Generalization. Logical fallacies are presented as sound doctrine in this book.