reverse disclaimers

I was listening again this week to a presentation on the state of evangelicalism by a very prominent evangelical. I think this was delivered a year or two ago, I don’t remember exactly, just have the mp3 sitting on my hard drive.

The individual and the content of the address aren’t all that important for the purpose of this post. I was interested in how the speaker was describing various movements, in distinction with the evangelical movement.

My regular readers may remember how we have had some tussles over ‘disclaimers’ in the past few months. (Not that it is disclaimers I am after!!! I still protest that I am misunderstood.) But when fundamentalists talk about the need for disclaimers, it works this way:

The fundamentalist says something positive about some teacher/preacher outside “the camp”. The fundamentalist at the same time feels obligated to issue a disclaimer, making sure everyone knows that he knows that the guy he just said something nice about is bad in some way.

In evangelicalism, the opposite seems to be true. They use reverse disclaimers.

What are reverse disclaimers?

I’m glad you asked. Here is how it works.

The evangelical says something negative about some teacher/preacher outside evangelicalism. The evangelical at the same time feels obligated to issue a reverse disclaimer, making sure everyone knows that he thinks the guy he just said something bad about is good in some way (or is at least nice).

Have you observed the same thing?

The speaker I was listening to was saying some critical things about liberals, but he had to mention that, well, we are all liberal in some ways, and the liberals do have some good points, and we don’t want anyone to think that we aren’t nice, after all.

In the presentation, the fellow even had some nice things to say about fundamentalists.

Am I right in this observation? Isn’t that difference an ongoing marker of the radical difference between the fundamental and evangelical world-view? Is it likely that our divergent world-views will ever be bridged without radical change on one side or the other?

don_sig2

Comments

  1. Len Peeler says:

    Hi Don,
    You said, “Is it likely that our divergent world-views will ever be bridged without radical change on one side or the other?”
    Three questions:
    What “radical change” would you like to see happen in fundamentalism in order to bridge the gap so that we could have a “divergent world-view” with evangelicals?
    What in your opinion is a “divergent world view” and
    Why use the word “disclaimer?”
    Are we not “warning” those under our spiritual care about issues and posistions that we feel would be harmful? (Ok…four questions!)

    • Hi Len and Christian

      Well, I wouldn’t like to see any radical change in fundamentalism. (There’s an old joke lying in the background there… the punchline is “Change????”) I would welcome radical change on the part of the evangelicals. So far none of them are willing to really do it – it would involve repudiation of a life time of ministry in some cases and radical amputation of long standing existing fellowships.

      By ‘divergent world-view’, I mean we just look at things differently. ‘World-view’ is a kind of trendy modern speak term for ‘perspective’. I could have used ‘perspective’ instead, but I wanted to show that I’m hip and trendy and know the cool modern terms.

      ‘Disclaimer’, by the way, isn’t cool, but it is what everyone who argues with me seems to think I am demanding when it comes to our use of people we disagree with. So they use the term disclaimer to describe what they think I am after. I agree with you, Len, that warning is appropriate and exactly what we should be doing.

      Christian, I hadn’t thought of any biblical parallels. I’ll give it some thought through the day and maybe come back to it. Perhaps you can think of some for me!

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  2. Christian Markle says:

    Interesting observation. . . Are there any biblical parallels?

  3. Arlyn Ubben says:

    Don,
    Paul quoted from some interesting folks and never used disclaimers. Titus 1:12 merely mentions the words of Epimenides without mentioning his name, simply that he is a “prophet of their own.” In Acts 17 he again refers to Epimenides with the unknown god reference, but no comment as to its origin.

    I think Paul made his references in such a way that it was fairly obvious to all that the worldview in question was in great opposition to God’s worldview. We would do well so be so in command of our presentation that it would be obvious to all.

    I am glad to see that you are hip and trendy and know all of the cool modern terms. However, according to the students I teach, “hip” and “trendy” and “cool” are very 90’s. . . . but keep trying. : )

    • Hey Arlyn,

      I thought ‘hip’ was a 60s term.

      But please note, I am not after “disclaimers”. I am after those who endorse false or errant teachers.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  4. Len Peeler says:

    Hi Don,
    You said, “I would welcome radical change on the part of the evangelicals. So far none of them are willing to really do it – it would involve repudiation of a life time of ministry in some cases and radical amputation of long standing existing fellowships.”
    Isn’t that the reason why we have separation? If you are using statements such as “none of them are willing really to do it” and some would need to repudiate a “life-time of ministry” and others would need a “RADICAL AMPUTATION of LONG STANDING FELLOWSHIPS” what more convincing arguments would you need other then just to separate and be done with it?
    I thank you for allowing me to comment on your blog and I want to be very respectful and kind to you when I say this. I started practicing personal separation when it comes to the blog sites that I will read and comment on. Are their links, on your blog site, that you provide that may or may not fit into your perspective of ministry or “world-view?” If you would remove those links it may mean that others may not think you are “hip” or “trendy” or “cool” but do we really want or need their approval anyway?

  5. Len Peeler says:

    One more thought. Don’t you think that when Pastor Doran (aka…..”the Lurker”) told others to “…not read Don” that he was warning those of his ilk to be wary of you? Sort of a “disclaimer” if you will?

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