Thursday, May 28, 2020

Frazer Responds to Hall's Comment on May 25 about John Fea

Gregg Frazer's response to Mark David Hall's comment on May 25 about John Fea is below:

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On a May 25 comment in response to my defense of John Fea, Mark says; “To my way of thinking, if one is interested in Calvin's view of resisting tyrants one should read Calvin, not rely on an unpublished dissertation no matter how good it is. But perhaps that is just me.”

I would point out to those who have not read Fea’s book or the specific part that Mark referenced: Fea quoted four statements of Calvin accurately (though indirectly) before summarizing with a quote from a secondary source (the dissertation in question).  That is four more quotes from Calvin in support of the point he is making than Mark can muster from Calvin calling for armed or violent rebellion/resistance or appealing to “lesser/inferior magistrates.”  As long as the quotes are accurate, why does it matter if they come via another source?

Fea concludes that part of his argument by quoting the author of the dissertation.  We all – Mark included – use secondary quotes that we find pithy to summarize points.  The 12th footnote in Mark’s most recent book is an “as quoted in.” Starting with footnote #25, he has numerous references to something quoted in secondary sources – most prominently and most often in his own The Sacred Rights of Conscience (which is a fine collection, by the way). Why doesn’t Mark cite the originals?  I don’t know any reason that Fea should be criticized for it – unless only Mark’s secondary work is to be trusted or deemed valuable.

5 comments:

Tom Van Dyke said...

Dr. Frazer: Apart from your dispute with Dr. Hall [which in fairness you are invited to continue to press], I'm obliged to speak for our blog American Creation here on a formal point of order---

Fea quoted four statements of Calvin accurately (though indirectly) before summarizing with a quote from a secondary source (the dissertation in question). That is four more quotes from Calvin in support of the point he is making than Mark can muster from Calvin calling for armed or violent rebellion/resistance or appealing to “lesser/inferior magistrates.” As long as the quotes are accurate, why does it matter if they come via another source?


It has been our custom for almost a decade now to eschew "indirect" quotes or summaries. Indeed, David Barton has shown us all the mischief possible...when one employs...ellipses, and secondly, we have always barred the "dueling scholars" approach to history.

I can always find a scholar who agrees with me to disagree with yours. [Even Our Founding Truth can manage to find one that agrees with him occasionally!*] This is a pointless exercise.

So-and-so says such-and-such is an invalid form of argument on this blog and has been for quite some time.

Make your case from scratch. We all play by the same rules here. We at American Creation are not "professional" writers or scholars, but that does not diminish our work in the slightest. Jon, Brad, and I work as hard and as diligently as you do. Just not as long, because we don't get paid.

____________________

As I’ve repeatedly reminded you, in my professional writing,

Bold face yours, Gregg. Don't press your luck with me, bro. I can read a CV like an x-ray, Dr. Frazer. I'm a professional, too.

When ranks are pulled, they are subject to evaluation. As a professional headhunter for lawyers for two decades I was paid highly by the largest law firms in the world for my ability to evaluate the highest of academic credentials and professional accomplishments in America. You don't want to go here.


To return to our topic, in the academic arena--and it is an arena--"professionalism" is often the enemy of truth. "Professionals" cannot afford to seek it, lest they find something that compromises their product, their "brand."

Philosophy As a Bloodsport, 1965

https://www.sfu.ca/~swartz/blood_sport.ht


You are an honest man who has never cheated me or our readers at AC. [David Barton cheats. IMO he cheats his own argument but that is another story.]

And so here we are. Peace, bro. To my recollection, you and I have never disputed a single fact. Ever. That is a great accomplishment in this crazy world.






Gregg Frazer said...

You misunderstand what I was saying. I was not using "my professional writing" as a status or to elevate myself above you. This was not an appeal to "rank." "Professional" here applies to the style and context of the writing, not to me. Notice that the adjective is attached to "writing."

I was clarifying that when I write in a professional context -- books and articles for publication -- I write in a professional voice. I do not express my opinion, but go where the evidence takes me.

On this blog -- not a professional context -- I sometimes express my opinion; for example, here I might give my own opinion of what constitutes Christianity -- but I do not do that in my professional writing (books & articles).

You take personal things that I say on this site and project them onto my professional/academic writing. But that is not fair or accurate. For example, you persist in saying that I impose my own theological views on my professional writing and that one cannot accept my arguments without buying into my own personal religious views. But in my professional writing (which has been peer reviewed by scholars who do NOT share my personal theological views), I provide and explain the historical standards that I employ: those of 18th-century American churches. I also provide evidence to back that up. Or, in the case of my book on Loyalist ministers, I proceed on the basis of what the Loyalists and Patriots respectively believed.

That was all I intended by the "professional" comment -- to distinguish how I might write on this blog from how I write in a professional setting and to encourage you not to conflate the two.

Gregg Frazer said...

As for eschewing indirect quotes on this site, neither Fea nor I submitted indirect quotes on this site.

I was merely pointing out that Fea did more than simply quote me (which is what Mark implied) -- and that he quoted Calvin himself accurately through a transmitter. We all do this if we don't quote Calvin from his original manuscripts in the original French (or Latin).

What is ultimately important is whether the quotation is accurate. Many of the quotes in Mark's book come not from original printings of Calvin's or others' works, but from a collection that he and Daniel Dreisbach compiled, so it seems unfair of him to criticize Fea for doing something similar. That's my point.

Tom Van Dyke said...

I was merely pointing out that Fea did more than simply quote me (which is what Mark implied) -- and that he quoted Calvin himself accurately through a transmitter.

Neither you nor Fea remotely proved--or even attempted to prove--the relevance of John Calvin's writings to the Founding. You still do not. It is stipulated that Romans 13 was taken at face value for at least 1600 years. 1159 years, anyway, but I don't expect you to get the joke :-)


That is the point of order here. This entire line of argument re John Calvin is out of order until either or John Fea you do. This is a history blog, after all.


Gregg--Dr. Frazer--Since I consider this a fine point of Protestant theology and one not of particular interest to anyone here gathered at American Creation except you and our friend James [aka "Our Founding Truth"] or particularly anyone anywhere--including John Fea, ;-)--may I recognize your objection vs Mark David Hall as valid grounds for debate, but one that should be litigated elsewhere--perhaps at a theological journal such as the Reformed ["Calvinist"] journal Unio cum Christo where this article originally appeared?

“Whose Rebellion? Reformed Resistance Theory in America, part 1.” Co-authored with Sarah A. Morgan Smith. Invited article for Unio cum Christo. 3 (October 2017): 169-184.

https://uniocc.com/archive/Whose-Rebellion-Reformed-Resistance-Theory-in-America-Part-I


I trust Dr. Hall's intellectual honesty well enough that I believe he'll even set you up with the proper authorities at Unio cum Christo to make sure your scholarly rebuttal to the matter in question is considered for publication.

And if he doesn't I'll petition him on your behalf.

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