Imagine that you become aware of a medicated shampoo which is being marketed to combat head lice. Given the ubiquity of head lice in the community you take a real interest in the shampoo. If it can deliver on its claims you definitely want to promote its virtues. So you run an investigation. And much to your chagrin you discover that far from eradicating head lice from itchy scalps, the shampoo actually feeds the nasty little creatures. You publish your results complete with all the evidence you’ve acquired.
Some time later there is a knock at your door. And there stands an angry salesman for the shampoo, nostrils flaring. Immediately he tears in to you:
“Wow! Quite the intellectual highbrow, you are. I have medicated my own head with this shampoo three times and am about to embark on my fourth. I have great respect for the folks who first made this shampoo. I’m betting you’re one of those granola crunching shampoo haters who would prefer to have bugs in your greasy hair. I’m also betting you’ve got bed bugs and cockroaches in your filthy home. Why don’t you start washing your dandruffy head and quit ripping on those of us who truly believe in this medicated shampoo.”
As he stands there prattling on you take carefuly note that he has shown no engagement with, or even awareness of, the actual content of your critique. Instead, he seems only set on mounting speculative ad hominem attacks on your character. Even worse, as he blathers you focus in on his hair. “Good gosh man,” you think to yourself, “are those … nits?” Sure enough. As he attacks your person you realize that his head is covered in the nasty little creatures. Here this fellow came to chastise you and in doing so he not only issued a vacuous, irrelevant attack on your character, but he even substantiated your very thesis! You’ve heard of sweet ironies? Well this is the equivalent of cotton candy dipped in honey.
I thought of that scenario this morning when I received an angry comment in reaction to a blog post I made on Focus on the Family’s curriculum “The Truth Project”. Not only did I provide an overview of my critique in that blog post but I also provided a link to my peer-reviewed journal article in “Christian Scholar’s Review” in which I document the litany of truly horrendous problems with the curriculum, including statements that are false and misleading and a pedagogy which manifests the telltale signs of indoctrination. In other words, the so-called “Truth” project seems to be concerned with anything-but.
With that as background here is the comment from “Trinityneo”:
“Wow! Quite the intellectual highbrow, you are. I have taught the TP class three times and about to embark on my fourth. I have great respect for Dr. Tackett and others like Ravi Zacharias. I’m betting you are one of the many liberals in the church who are just looking for something wrong with anyone who is conservative, ie Focus on the Family, and love to use the word INDOCTRINATION when referring to their teachings. I’m also betting that you are one who refuses to take the bible literally. Wrestle, like Jacob, with God and quit ripping on those who truly believe in truth.”
Notice how Trinityneo provides not a single engagement with any of the substance of my critique, instead choosing to rant about how I must fit into some category of liberal. This illustrates perfectly the problem with this kind of indoctrinational curriculum. Rather than engage thoughtfully with the views of others, folk like Trinityneo (who, s/he is anxious to tell us, has already taught the Truth Project curriculum three times!) place those with whom they disagree into pre-formed categories of marginalization. No need to engage this fellow since he’s a “liberal” who obviously doesn’t care about truth.
Imagine how pathetic it would be to have a medicated shampoo salesman with a head visibly infected by nits. As bad as that is, it ain’t nothing with an indoctrinated ideologue blathering about how much s/he cares about truth. Consider the contrast between folk like Trinityneo who ignore any criticism of their chosen master with the attitude of the Bereans when they first received Paul:
“As soon as it was night, the believers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” (Acts 17:10-11)
Why were the Bereans of “more noble character” than the Thessalonians? Not simply because they “received the message with great eagerness” but because they “examined the Scriptures … to see if what Paul said was true.” In other words, their passion for the gospel arose out of their prior passion to know the truth and evaluate the evidence, not to vindicate their misbegotten opinions.