Fallacies, questions and discoveries … Watch Out for the Slide! …

Nearly one year ago La Conchita experienced a mudslide. The creator of the website who took the picture posted here noted,

It just came to my attention that many people are
viewing this website. The first 12 photos are from the morning of Jan.
10 and show the mudslide that occurred just northwest of the town of La
Conchita. Cars were damaged but no one was injured. Just 45 minutes
after I posted the original website, a mudslide occurred in the town
itself, knocking down 15 houses, burying as many as 12 people, and
killing at least 2 of our beloved neighbors, friends, and family
members. I wish everyone safety and strength to get through this.

The consequences of torrential rains caused the slide. Standing in the wrong place when the slide occurred surely meant injury if not death.

Years ago I took a group of youth to the Plaza of the Americas in Dallas, TX. It did not take me long to figure out I was not an ice skater. My wife told me I looked like Bambi on ice. Several times I found myself sliding on my backslide. I recall being terribly tired after the outing. I provided a good laugh for our youth. I cannot imagine the consequences of sliding down the slope of ice in the picture to the left. My wonder is just where is the point of the slope on which one must step to reach the bottom. And, is it necessarily the consequence, reaching the bottom that is. Whether it is slipping on mud, ice or water, you can be sure the result is always a fall of sorts.

Last week Al Mohler wrote a blog post, also released at The Christian Post, offering something like a review of Wayne Grudem‘s, Evangelical Feminism: A New Path to Liberalism? Mohler asserts,

This new book is one of the most urgently needed resources for
evangelical Christianity, and it represents one of the most insightful
and courageous theological works of our times.

Mohler goes on to write,

In Evangelical Feminism, published by Crossway Books, Grudem argues
that evangelical feminism now represents one of the greatest dangers to
the continued orthodoxy of the evangelical movement. "I am concerned
that evangelical feminism (also known as "egalitarianism") has become a
new path by which evangelicals are being drawn into theological
liberalism," he explains.

I have not read Grudem’s new book. My concern is the immediate conclusion that a differing opinion than the one espoused from those in power immediately sends one into a tailspin garnering for themselves the lablel, "theological liberal." It might be good to note here that I find myself in something of the liminal space lying between what is termed "complementarianism" and its nemesis, "egalitarianism." Scripture seems to support both positions. (While this post is not about gender issues per se, I am always intrigued by who gets to decide just what was cultural in the first century and what has to be absolutized for all time – hats, hair length and jewelry anyone?)

It seems everything leads to something. During college and seminary I was told by the more conservative influences of my life to stay away from Karl Barth or you might come under the influences of neo-orthodoxy. Having read John Frank’es, Barth for Armchair Theologians, and reading, Eberhard Busch’s, The Great Passion, I am certain many have not read Barth, but read someone who read someone who read someone who drew a conclusion without reading the whole. There is enough scholarship available today one cannot make such daring claims of another without sounding obtuse – arguments abound.

Growing up we learned playing cards would lead to a life of gambling (And there is no gamble for your family and future when you follow the call to pastor?). One drink would lead you to be an alcoholic. (While in some cases this may well be true – and this post is not about when and why that happens – there are as many cases against such an argument.) Viewing an "R" rated movie would lower your sensitivities to such a degree you would become morally reprehensible. Everything leads to something. But just how far or what something. I  am often told to err on the side of what is safe. My conclusion is this does not require self-control. Forget that fruit of the Spirit. (Believe it or not, I am exercising self-control in this post.)

Just what does it take to plunge a person into the black cauldron that is "theological liberalism"? Who gets to decide? When I read the quote from Grudem I immediately recalled my college days and exposure to logical fallacies. I learned of the "slippery slope."  One illustration offered this, "You can never give anyone a break. If you do they will walk all over you." So, to engage in theological inquiry and differ from the dominant interpretation results in this headlong plunge into theological liberalism.

Shortly after reading the quote Al Mohler offered I wandered over to Wade’s blog and read the following,

I was asked via a comment on my blog "If you had the power..would
you place an individual into a position of influence in the SBC…who
believed and lived the Bible to be inspired, infallible, authoritative,
sufficient…but truly believed that the Bible is not inerrant?

I responded: Short answer: No.

Now here is my concern. Naming someone outside the pale by virtue of disagreement over interpretation has been vigorously challenged; whether it is PPL or the issue of baptism. The question of ethics runs rampant in both camps. Charges of ethical impropriety against Wade have yet to be substantiated – at least in any public forum that I know of. Charges have been leveled "caucus groups" exist among at least one entity Trustee Board. One cannot read Ben Coles (read any post related to SWBTS, Paige Patterson or currently Dwight McKissic) without the question of ethics permeating the air, or rather computer screen.

It seems a person can live following Jesus trusting in the authority, infallibility and trustworthiness of Scripture and they are ruled out on a matter of doctrinal precision if they refuse "innerancy." Can we have it both ways? Jesus really did seem to challenge the Pharisaical notion doctrinal precision rose to a level above His ethics – loving God and loving people, healing the hurting, repairing the broken, freeing the captive following (trusting, giving complete confidence to, having faith in) Jesus.

So just where is it we step onto the slope that sends us to the abyss that marks us out of bounds. It seems to me we are not really looking for reform if we are giving into the current norm where agreement on doctrinal distinctives is favored above the ethic of Jesus. Healthy conversations cannot take place because one is summarily dismissed, told they should find another convention, or just plain get out, "You Moderate!" (After all Les Puryear is concerned all Okies are moderate. Thanks to Wes Kenny for helping Les find someone with whom he can agree.) Lines are quickly drawn.

I found Imitatio Christi to follow along the same lines. He concludes,

What is so striking about this is that just about anyone can accuse
just about anyone else of being "liberal" on this definition, since it
seems ultimately to be grounded in a commitment to a literalism (notice
how one letter makes such a difference) that does not allow for much
nuancing in biblical interpretation.  Since he does not get into much
detail about what parts of "egalitarianism" the two of them object to,
it is difficult to see what he is worried about.  Yet, I have many
colleagues who would affirm both the authority of Scripture and
egalitarianism, and they would argue that Mohler and Grudem are simply
misreading Scripture.
    The question all this raises for me is:
how do we actually begin to have serious dialog about issues such as
this?  Mohler’s piece is little more than an attempt to "circle the
wagons" by encouraging his followers to keep out the dangerous
evangelical feminists.  Do you suppose we might ever get to the point
where we actually tried to understand what the other side was saying,
and then engage each other in legitimate give and take–without appeal
to simplistic critiques rooted in ways of reading the bible that we
ourselves do not even adhere to unconditionally?

Watch where you step. There may be someone standing by to point out just how far your slide will be when you step out on that slippery slope. Let’s watch the comments here and see.

About the Author
Husband to Patty. Daddy to Kimberly and Tommie. Grandpa Doc to Cohen, Max, Fox, and Marlee. Pastor to Snow Hill Baptist Church. Graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Reading. Photography. Golf. Colorado. Jeeping. Friend. The views and opinions expressed here are my own and should not be construed as representing the corporate views of the church I pastor.

14 comments on “Fallacies, questions and discoveries … Watch Out for the Slide! …

  1. Pingback:
  2. says:

    I was told the same things–stay away from this guy or that, because he might influence you the wrong way.
    But the fact is that the people telling me that were often wrong about things they believed, and by exploring the beliefs of others outside our realm, it actually strengthened my faith. What are we afraid of?

  3. says:

    Thank God I am already a Liberal damned to Eternal Political Perdition so I no longer have to worry!! 🙂

  4. says:


    Hey, thanks for the mention. Nice post.

    Grace and peace to you.


  5. says:

    Jesus saw Matthew, a tax collector, called him to be his follower without demanding a doctrinal quid-pro-quo, and then went and invited himself to dinner with all of Matthew’s sinner friends. There were some people who observed this and expressed their concern to some of his other followers that Jesus might have stepped off the slippery slope as well…

  6. says:

    jasonk, what are we afraid of? some are at least afraid deference may be given elsewhere, counsel sought in other places and allegiance to the strucutres and systems in place marginalized in the same way they discard others. it is a terrible place to lead from, especially when the root of what we are about is learning the way of Jesus. but, since some have that so figured our any notice served to other thoughts gets in the way. after all if we had is so figured out don’t you suppose the world might be a bit different place to live? i think it might.

  7. says:

    rest assured the powers in any place take pleasure in marking those with whom they disagree out of bounds and on the same road you describe … you may well have company. 🙂

  8. says:

    Les, you actually agree with my post? didn’t you suggest anyone who does not uphold the 2000 BFM without reservation is a moderate and not fit for service in our convention? i must need to be more clear.

  9. says:

    Lee, great connection.

    Bo, glad to hear from you. thanks for the contribution.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Great thoughts, Todd.

    I’d rather live in a world of egalitarians than a world of ‘who is better than the others’ any day. But your point isn’t that, right Todd?

    You are arguing that such a position that Mohler is advocating prevents any discussion from even starting lest a person immediately fall down the slope, by simply hearing a different viewpoint.

    It makes mee wonder what anyone might be afraid of if their doctrinal positions are so fragile that a single conversation can crash their ‘house of theological cards’.

    To me, it sounds like the issue is more about control and fear rather than obedience and doctrinal purity- like a person hanging on for dear life lest their way of life will be forever lost.

    And, doesn’t history teach us that change is a part of life anyway? Heck, any conservative/evangelical today would be considered a liberal to the likes of the Apostle Paul or St. Augustine. We all change both our spiritual selves as well as our systems and structures of belief- and no amount of control is going to stop it from happening.

  11. says:


    I, for another, am in agreement with what you’ve written, even to the well-worded position between “complementarianism” and “egalitarianism”.

    I’m wondering what people do with the distinctive nature of the New Covenant where “your sons and daughters…” and “old men, young men”…will do things in the Power of the Spirit for the good of the Body, and then try to decide based on a questionable interpretation of one passage where Timothy, the pastor of a church made up of many women, coming out of a mystery religion that tried to set women above men, saying they were created first after all, and used sex to influence them [the men] to follow their [the women] lead. It would seem to me the advice of Paul was wise for that kind of situation then, and today. But given a different situation….I think other principles are in play. My thoughts only but I would have to have some legitimate answers for that passage before I could be on the side of totally “complementarianism.” My complements for helping me see with a greater clarity what I am. I am a “Liminaltarianists.”

    Paul B.

  12. says:

    Paul B,
    your illustration is the kind of thing I am want to consider. we do not have to give up and become “liberal” to investigate the cultural location of the text. when we come to understand what is at work, like you suggest, we may need to address the differences which may require different principles to consider.

    glad you stopped by.

  13. says:

    Question to Paul B./Todd… where is the information about the context of the letters to Timothy found? I’m also looking into this with a group of friends and am striking out on finding information on society contemporary to Paul/Timothy and the factors influencing their “posts” if you will 😉 If this doesn’t give my email Todd knows how to reach me…

  14. Bruce Robertson says:

    count me in as a liberal. whew! I feel much more free now.

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