Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Mark Driscoll 10-1-2007 audio, commending reductio ad absurdum to argue against others and using male headship as a case study

Now no doubt Chris Rosebrough has the rest of this audio if he's recently discussing Mark Driscoll's 2007 views on T. D. Jakes.  But we're discussing it here at Wenatchee The Hatchet because, hey, if you have it you can discuss it even if you can't post the audio online in a convenient way just yet. 

And another reason to discuss it is this, Wenatchee The Hatchet has already pointed out that Driscoll has a history of trying to make a case for an idea and then when he finds he can't convince someone he can tend toward reduction ad absurdum or ad hominem.  As writing teachers nationwide are so apt to teach, you need to show rather than tell.  Having finally gotten ahold of some of the writings of William Wallace II it seemed useful to show rather than tell of examples in which Mark Driscoll, even if operating via persona, opted to go straight for ad hominem when knowah pushed back on how he expressed some of his ideas.  But for reduction ad absurdum the 2007 audio Rosebrough has features Mark Driscoll explicitly extolling the value of reduction ad absurdum (as "reduction ad absurdium"  While the audio session is more notorious (by far) for Mark Driscoll's comment about the pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus his comments on Jakes and his comments commending reduction ad absurdum and using male headship in marriage as a case study may be instructive. 

From the October 1, 2007 audio (maybe Rosebrough can tackle this and air this, too, since WtH is far more dedicated to print)
We need to do both communal apologetics (where we show the loving power of the gospel) AND we need to do propositional apologetics where we answer peoples' questions AND refute their objections. You have to. I don't care what anybody else says it's just the way it is.


What big issues today, when you look into the text, do you have to do the apologetical work of taking away the resistance? What are the big issues you guys know, 'when I hit that I gotta slow down and I gotta answer the objections."

... Gender?  Yep.  Men, women, marriage, sexuality, headship, submission.  You can't just say, "Uh, men, you're in charge. Women, shut up. Next verse." and then expect everyone to heed your counsel [chuckles]. It's going to take a little more work than that.  ...

You will need to regularly work into your sermon some apologetical defense of the authority of scripture.  That may even be, you know,  here in scripture we are told we are sinners and that God's wrath is upon us. One of the reasons we know this is true is no one would make this up. No one would paint humanity in this dark of terms and this bleak of condition. I mean, that is a simple, basic, quick apologetic for the authority of scripture from God. You're gonna need to work it in all the time. Here we learn that God is talking about specific people, specific times, specific places. Scripture is very big on details. I mean, you you're going to need to work those kinds of  apologetical arguments in--other issues that come up, you'll have to do this apologetical work.

One way you do it is through reductio ad absurdium. It's a mode of argument where you assume the other position is true and you work it out to its logical conclusion to show that it's ridiculous. It's a reductio ad absurdium. ...

I did ths at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (I'm just sort of free-flowing) but I did it out of Rob Bell's book The Velvet Elvis where he talks about doing post-foundational theology and he says that theology is like a trampoline and it's very flexible and if we take certain doctrines out of Christianity we don't really lose anything, like the Virgin Birth.  All right? So he says we can take out doctrines like the Virgin Birth. And so I said, "Okay, so let's assume theology is like a trampoline." Reductio ad absurdium.  What holds a trampoline up? A frame. What's the frame sit on?  A foundation of the earth. It's a stupid analogy for post-foundational theology. You don't HAVE a trampoline unless you have the earth and a frame to hold it up. This whole issue "we don't need rigid foundations, we need flexibility", you can't HAVE flexibility without rigid foundations.  Reductio ad absurdium.

Let's assume it's true.  Okay, fine, trampoline with no foundation. You can't. You also can't have flexible Christianity without foundation. Reductio ad absurdium.

We could do it this way, let's assume a husband has no responsibility to his wife, that he's NOT the head. Let's assume that they're complete individuals. Let's assume he has no obligation to care for her to defend her, to protect her, to provide for her. Let's assume and just walk down the road and then ask yourself, "Does he love her?" Does he love her? Because there is sentimental love which we feel and there is efficacious love which we do, and our culture only knows of sentimental love it knows nothing of efficacious love. And a man's love for his wife is efficacious. And if he is NOT the head then he has no obligation to efficacious love and that means that women will never be loved.  [chuckles slightly] I mean, just walk down the road and at the end you're saying, "I'm for love." That's an easier sell than "I'm for headship." ...

Now it would seem that in a logic or philosophy class you'd be advised to avoid the reduction ad absurdum because though it may be popular it's a common fallacy.  Maybe it's better known these days as the "straw man" and it's not difficult to observe that Mark Driscoll's reduction ad absurdum in defense of his particular understanding of male headship makes a straw man out of any egalitarian approach to marriage.

Now Wenatchee The Hatchet would close with an observation that this was late 2007.  That Driscoll could even joke that you can't say such and such a verse means men are in charge and women are to shut up and expect the conversation to be over.  Perhaps by then he'd gotten used to the idea that that practical, working definition of his idea of headship was apt to be met with resistance that characterized his view as making that claim.