Before I begin answering some of the posts on my blog, I want to be very clear about the tone of my responses. I am sincerely trying to avoid sarcasm and insults, as I hope my conversation with Greg Johnson demonstrates. Everything I’m saying here is said without anger, and only with the intention of offering a respectful reply.
As weary as I am of this topic, Kevin and I feel it is important to answer some points. He is my advisor, and I am also being counseled by a pastor in my responses to the entire Hazen situation.
I chose to answer Dr. Francis Beckwith’s negative comments first, before discussing the Hazen issue. This was done to illustrate a spirit that prevails in the defenders of Craig Hazen and in many cultural apologists. They offer warmth and kindness to Mormons—and sarcasm and condescension to fellow Christians. I applaud kindness and friendship in any evangelistic effort—as long as it does not lead to compromise.
Finally, I tried to accurately and fairly represent the context of Dr. Beckwith’s statements. He was quite kind to me a few years ago via email--it is unfortunate that my disagreement with Craig Hazen provoked a response that was not so kind.
With that said, I will begin my response to the Craig Hazen supporters:
Frank: It is evident that you exhibit all the qualities of someone who fervently believes you are saved by faith alone. For you show no charity, no kindness, and no joy.
Jill: Frank, you have not exactly been the essence of charity, kindness and joy the last few days. Are you saying that if Christians attempt to hold another Christian accountable, they are not kind or loving?
Frank: . . . where is it written that you are the gatekeeper of orthodoxy in the world of Christendom? Dr. Hazen, I believe, attends a conservative Friends church in Placentia, California. Why should he listen to the opinions of a mom-and-pop apologetics outfit that has a blog?
Jill: Let me respectfully remind you of one important thing . . . we are all of equal value in the eyes of God. When you take a shot at me as a “mom-and-pop apologetic outfit” you insult 95% of Christian ministries. Lots of us are little guys. It’s not money or degrees that matter in the eyes of God . . . . The work of a missionary serving God on the streets of New York is as valuable as your work in academia.
As to the “gatekeeper of orthodoxy” remark: Are you suggesting here that there is an academic hierarchy that permits one to be a gatekeeper of orthodoxy—and if you have no place in the hierarchy—you have no voice?
Biblically, it is the responsibility of every Christian to question Christian leaders (James 3:1). Biblically, any Christian can point to sin and seek accountability. I don’t need permission to analyze and comment on compromise in the Church. (If Martin Luther had lived by your precept, where would we be?)
Frank: Walter Martin was a good man. But unless he was an apostle, and the apostolic office is inherited, why should anyone listen to you?
Jill: Apostolic office aside . . . Dr. Craig Hazen, Biola University, listened to me and tried to silence me. Dr. Daniel Peterson, Brigham Young University, listened. Greg Johnson, Standing Together Ministries, listened. Dr. Francis J. Beckwith, Baylor University, listened. You don’t agree with me, but you’re all listening . . . so what is your point?
If you’re saying I’m unimportant again, Frank, you won’t hear any argument from me. I’m just trying to be a good servant of God; I’ll let Him decide my worth.
Frank: What I did was suggest that Jill interpret the public comments of her brothers charitably. I understand that this can be difficult, for I am as guilty as anyone of not abiding by this principle on many occasions.
Jill: Yes, you mentioned my being “charitable”—in a context of condescension—so how was it a positive comment? I have to commend you, though, for being willing to admit you make mistakes. There are some in academia who will never admit to that.
Frank: But if one believes in sola scriptura, the priesthood of all believers, the autonomy of the local church, and private interpretation of Scripture then there really is no reason why anyone, let alone Craig Hazen, Richard Mouw, or Francis Beckwith should pay attention to a woman in Minneapolis with a keyboard, a monitor, a website, and a server.
Jill: I suddenly feel a great deal of sympathy for your female students.
What does the “let alone” part of this mean, Frank? Are Hazen, Mouw and Beckwith on a higher plain?
Every Christian leader is accountable to the Church.
Jesus gives us a lesson in humility. “But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Matthew 23:11-12
Frank: If Scripture is incapable of giving us direction here--as you seem to admit--then Jill is in precisely the same position as Craig, which means that she is no better than him and thus is not in a position to issue public pronouncements about him.
Jill: These comments to Dwayna Litz are disturbing. She would never say that Scripture is incapable of giving us direction.
2 Corinthians 6:14-17 is ironclad in context: theologically, historically, and culturally.
Frank: It is, of course, possible that Jill's employment of the passages she quotes may be applicable in this case. But if it were that simple, so obvious that anyone with a Bible and the ability to read could see it without assistance or direction, there would be no for Jill to conscript the services of Matthew Henry, a Puritan with an understanding of civil society and the church that goes no deeper than the 16th century.
Jill: If you're implying that Matthew Henry’s Commentary is sixteenth century Puritan and therefore easily dismissed, many theologians and historians would disagree with you. Are you saying we should discount all pre-twentieth century writers as shallow?
As to my being no better than Craig and therefore not in a position to judge him: you disregard biblical precedent for accountability.
Frank: Dr. Hazen is a Christian leader too. And so is Greg Johnson. And so is Ravi Zacharias. And so is Richard Mouw. And so am I. Why should I believe you and the unnamed other leaders you did not list? Why should any of us consider them more authoritative on the subject of Mormon/Christian relations than the ones I listed above? Is there a Protestant magisterium the rest of us don't know about?
Jill: No, there is no infallible Protestant council, Frank, as you well know--so I can only attribute this comment to sarcasm.
Are you saying that only Hazen, Johnson, Zacharias, Mouw, and Beckwith are authorities on Mormon/Christian relations? Are you the only ones qualified to judge this situation? You dismiss thousands of Christian leaders out on the front lines of apologetics and evangelism.
Many went to Craig Hazen and told him they were concerned about his prayer and his endorsement. He ignored them.
To be continued . . .