Dispatches from the Creation Wars

John Lofton Debates over Debating

I’ve been having an amusing exchange with John Lofton, the theocrat who owns The American View. You’ll recall that he left a comment at Positive Liberty with his phone number and asked me to call him. I politely said no, but that he is welcome to leave a comment objecting to anything I’ve said that he disagrees with, but in public where everyone can see it. So this afternoon, he emails me again with the same message in his comment, his phone number and a request that I call him. I’ll paste the exchange in here so you can all can have a good laugh. Each line is from a separate email.

Ed: No thank you. If you object to something I wrote, you are free to leave a comment and dispute it and we can discuss it that way. You’re also free to respond on your webpage and let me know it’s there and we can discuss it that way. But there is nothing that can be discussed over the phone that can’t be discussed publicly, in writing.

Lofton: Just as I thought — you’re afraid to speak in-person, on-the-record, on tape, in defense of what you’ve written about me. But, no hard feelings. If I were you, I wouldn’t want to face me either.

Ed: A snarky person might say, “Just as I thought — you’re afraid to speak on the record, in text, on the web where everyone can see it, in defense of what you’ve written. But, no hard feelings. If I were you, I wouldn’t want to face me either.” What exactly is the difference other than you want to avoid having others see the exchange, while I want others to see it?

Lofton: Fine, so let’s talk; I’ll tape it and run the entire unedited transcript on our Web site. OK?

Ed: What’s the difference between that and doing it in writing? The only difference I can see is that doing it in writing rather than over the phone allows each of us to speak more thoughtfully and provide citations and references to support our positions rather than making comments off the cuff. Surely you would agree that such a format is more conducive to a thoughtful exchange than a one-time phone conversation? That is exactly why I prefer it to be in writing. I’ve learned from a long history of debating with creationists that they prefer oral debates to written debates precisely because it allows them to do what we have long called the “Gish Gallop” – bounce from one issue to another by continually throwing out new claims without bothering to answer previous objections. I really would be more than happy to debate any number of issues with you, but I want that exchange to be as thorough and as thoughtful as possible, on both our parts. By any measure, a written exchange that allows each of us the time to consider what the other has said and compose a well-reasoned response rather than an off-the-cuff, instantaneous response is more conducive to such an exchange. If you’re willing to do so, let me know and we can discuss the format.

Lofton: I want to talk to you, on tape, for-the-record, for our web site and for our radio show, only about what you have written about me. Presumably, you already know wht you’ve written about me and you already have the citations and references to back up what you wrote. So, any discussion abt this will not be “off-the-cuff” since you know what you wrote. I ask again: will you agree to discuss in a taped phone interview what you wrote about me, the unedited text of which will be used on our web site?

Ed: As I’ve indicated, I will happily agree to debate you in writing, about that or any other subject. If you’re willing to do that, then let’s do it. If not, then I think that’s the end of the discussion.

Lofton: The debate WOULD be in writing! I’ve agreed to run the transcript unedited. You are a coward.

Ed: And I think you are the coward for being afraid of a well thought out, informed debate that allows the world to see a thoughtful exchange rather than a one-time conversation. You see, I’ve dealt with many people like you before. It’s the same thing that Kent Hovind does. He loves to talk on the phone but refuses any sort of written exchange where one has to provide actual detail and provide citations that support one’s arguments. What I’ve written about you involves fairly complex issues of religion and government. I’ve written about your specious claim that if the Bible says something that this should settle questions of American law. I’ve written about your claim that the Constitution requires the enforcement of Biblical law and countered it with the historical reality that the Constitution was actually quite a radical break with the tradition of basing governments on religious law. I’ve written much more, of course, all using your claims as a jumping off point. These are serious questions that require a good deal of factual background to debate about in any detail worthy of the seriousness of them. I do not even consider what I’ve written in blog entries to be thorough and well thought out critiques of those ideas. To do those issues the justice they deserve would require an examination of many areas of evidence, from the historical process that led to the passage of the Constitution to comparisons between the Constitution and previous governmental charters. It would also involve the examination of a range of scholarly views, including at least Joseph Story, Gary North, Akhil Amar, Montesquieu, Locke and many others. A phone conversation simply can’t cover all that should be covered in a serious exchange on the subject. A written debate, allowing time for thoughtful response, would. Thus, only one of us is avoiding a serious exchange and that is you. So that’s my last offer. We can debate those issues in a serious manner, in full view of the public, in writing, or not. The answer to your offer is no; the counteroffer is the only one on the table at this point and the ball is in your court.

That was the last I heard from him.

Update: Oops, turns out he wasn’t done. Here’s the latest:

Lofton: You’ve done many talk shows. You’re just afraid to do one with me. But, again, no hard feelings. If I was you,I’d be afraid to engage in a verbal debate, too.

Ed: You want to know what makes that really funny? I’ve coached nationally recognized debate teams and was a champion debater myself. I’ve debated Herb Titus, I’ve debated Larry Klayman, and I’ve been on the radio many times. If you really think that I’m afraid to engage in verbal debate, with you or with anyone else, then you’re even more loony than I thought. Why are you so afraid to engage in written debate, John? Why are you so afraid of debating in a format that allows for more depth of analysis and more thoughtful argumentation? In the time you’ve taken to write all of these emails full of juvenile and silly debate about debate, you could have written a detailed response to what I’ve written for everyone to see and posted it as a comment on my blog or as a new entry on yours. Then I could take a day or two and formulate a reasoned and thought out response, and so forth. Any reasonable person can recognize that such a format is far more conducive to a thoughtful and thorough examination of the issues than a half hour phone conversation. And I think that’s precisely why you refuse to do it. Your feelings, hard or otherwise, are quite irrelevant.

Update #2: And there’s more…

Lofton: So, with all this experience, why are you afraid to verbally face ME? “Funny?” No, cowardly — because you cannot verbally defend what you’ve written about me.

Ed: It has nothing at all to do with fear, as I’ve made clear many times. Had you begun things by asking me if I’d like to be on your radio show, I would have gladly accepted. But you didn’t. You just said “call me”, and then later informed me that your intent was to record the conversation and play it on your radio show. That causes me, quite reasonably, to question your sincerity. I’ve given you multiple reasons why a written debate is superior to a verbal debate; you’ve given not a single reason to the contrary. And that makes me wonder why you are so insistent on a clearly inferior format for exploring the issues, particularly since the format you’re insisting on is one you control completely. That causes me, quite reasonably, to question your sincerity. I can only see two reasons why you would be so insistent on a less rigorous format for debate – either you are concerned that your arguments won’t hold up under the more thoughtful and careful scrutiny that comes with a written exchange, or you have something up your sleeve for your show that you can’t get away with in a written format. Since you’ve not offered even one reason why your format would be a better one, nor have you even attempted to refute any of the arguments I’ve made for why a written format is more conducive to a thorough analysis of the issues, it should be obvious to everyone by now (I am pasting this entire exchange to my blog for the world to see) that you have no rational reason for that insistence. And by the way, this isn’t a junior high school playground where lines like “what are you, chicken?” have any effect. I’m an intelligent, secure, grown up human being and I’m not the least bit swayed by pseudo-macho challenges to my manhood. If you cannot provide any rational reason why your format would be better than mine – and so far you haven’t even attempted to so so, preferring instead the childish taunting approach – then there is no reason to take you seriously in this or any other debate.

Comments

  1. #1 llDayo
    June 29, 2006

    When you have nothing to back up your claims, written debates are a no no. Kudos to you Ed for sticking to your guns instead of just giving in to what would turn out to be a big headache! Lets see if he has the balls to agree. Doubtful.

  2. #2 Left_Wing_Fox
    June 29, 2006

    Delightful! Well done. :)

  3. #3 Raging Bee
    June 29, 2006

    Either way, Lofton “wins,” by whatever definition of that word he chooses to make up. The sound bite on his radio show will now be “Ed Brayton is a coward who refuses to debate me! This proves I’m right and my dick is bigger than his! (In a good Christian way of course, not that we’re talking about religion or anything, this is all SCIENCE…)”

  4. #4 plunge
    June 29, 2006

    Very nice. Lofton sounds just like a right-wing talk show host: he wants to get a couple of clips for a broadcast, and the “debate” is just a ruse for obtaining those.

    I feel the same way about a lot of conservative pundits and activists from O’Reily to Goldberg to Hannity to Hewitt. They can rail and rule in their own carefully controlled formats, but they avoid written debate (for instance: not even debate in blog comments) like the plauge. They sound authoritative in Gish-friendly formats, but if ever faced with in-depth discussion in writing, they crumble. And they know it too.

  5. #5 plunge
    June 29, 2006

    In fact, let me rant about that even more. That really seems to be EXACTLY what Lofton wants: audio clips. Except he isn’t honest enough to just ask for some.

    He doesn’t want a debate at all. He doesn’t care about debating, because in his universe, there is no point in debating, even in theory, because he’s got the absolute truth in his pocket and you don’t. The only important thing is amassing ammunition to convince bystanders.

    How dishonest is that though? To present yourself as willing to debate: to in fact try to lay a GUILT TRIP on the other person for not debating, when in fact all of that is just a sham to obtain audio for a radio broadcast? That is just about the lowest of the low.

  6. #6 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    June 29, 2006

    Good job Ed. I think plunge nailed it, the quote mining and “sound bitting” posibilities are beyond what should be considered as thoughtful debate. It will be chopped up and used as ammo just like Hovind does every single time he opens his mouth.

    It’s purely a chance for Lofton to use the canard filibuster technique so loved by the creationist lecture circuit.

  7. #7 sdanielmorgan
    June 29, 2006

    It was once well-said that:
    …writing makes a precise man.

    With views as nebulous as “theonomy”, it’s pretty clear he doesn’t want to be nailed down to providing logical support for his premises.

    A pussy isn’t one who’s afraid to go on record in any specific medium, a pussy is one who is afraid to be precise in his claims and support them, regardless of the medium. Lofton is the pussy.

  8. #8 Gretchen
    June 29, 2006

    Err, is this guy off his nut? How exactly is he comparing a phone conversation (private, no audience, questionable transcription) to a talk show (public, probably large audience, immediate reception)? And how on earth can a suggestion to have a public exchange in writing be described as being “afraid to speak on the record”?

    How juvenile. And how ridiculous. I can’t believe a grown man would say such things.

  9. #9 sdanielmorgan
    June 29, 2006

    Of course, if he wasn’t a pussy, he’d do a written debate, THEN broadcast that on radio.

  10. #10 Webs
    June 29, 2006

    Of course, if he wasn’t a pussy, he’d do a written debate, THEN broadcast that on radio.

    Thats exactly what I was thinking. You should have sent that to him Ed. That would have shut him up a lot sooner, and you could have saved your fingers the strain.

    On a different note. What a loon.

  11. #11 mark
    June 29, 2006

    I didn’t count the words, but it appears the email exchange was starting to get as long as a debate, but with nothing of substance being exchanged. If Lofton had any ideas, he could have presented some using the effort he expended just talking about talking. But maybe he would like to have a face-to-face talk with you, where you tape the exchange and prepare the transcript.

  12. #12 Gretchen
    June 29, 2006

    Preparing the transcript seems like a lot of unnecessary work, when you could just be writing your responses to begin with.

  13. #13 Seraph
    June 29, 2006

    I don’t know if we should be calling Lofton a pussy – or a dick, for that matter. Genitals are useful and (in theory, at least) great sources of pleasure. If a body part must be slandered by comparison to this obnoxious, cowardly hypocrite, let it be that most famous of eliminatory orifices. The comparison is obvious – all either of them produce is crap.

    That said, I still think it would be cruel to associate a body part that performs such a necessary function with a person who performs none.

  14. #14 Leni
    June 29, 2006

    Of course, if he wasn’t a pussy, he’d do a written debate, THEN broadcast that on radio.

    Must we always denigrate the female parts by comparing them to cretins like Lofton? *sigh*

    But more to the point- he could just say where the big showdown is going to be and his listeners could get on their computers (assuming they aren’t all Ludites) and wacth it for themselves. Of course, that would imply Lofton is interested in debate… which he isn’t.

  15. #15 386sx
    June 29, 2006

    Of course, if he wasn’t a pussy, he’d do a written debate, THEN broadcast that on radio.

    That sounds to me like a very reasonable compromise. I would suggest that the lines of Mr. Lofton be read by Lofton himself, and the lines of Mr. Brayton be read by the great actor Mr. Sean Connery.

  16. #16 Raging Bee
    June 29, 2006

    Ed: You could turn the tables on Lofton (if you consider it worth your time, of course) by agreeing to his precious phone debate, but stipulating that you, too, will be recording the whole thing and transcribing it for publication here. Either he loses his enthusiasm, or you’ll have a recorded example of what passes for “debate” in Lofton’s circles.

  17. #17 kehrsam
    June 29, 2006

    For those curious about Mr. Lofton’s style of debate, check out this telephone “interview” with Lewis Lapham, the former editor of Harper’s.

    http://www.theamericanview.com/index.php?id=504&PHPSESSID=5ec4be9bf21efff7a14b7309d1efaee1

    He seems to be limited to about three techniques. 1) Frequently change the topic; 2) Pose rhetorical questions that are little more than his position stated as fact (and how dare you deny it!); and 3) overinterpret responses to put the worst possible interpretation upon them.

    He’s like a preacher I once heard who quoted a proof-text at the end of almost every sentence in the sermon. The result was that even someone who knows the Bible quite well (like me) was left without any idea of what the actual logical chain of thought was supposed to be. I was just left with his conclusions and the vague notion that many of the quoted texts did not seem to have any particular relationship to those conclusions.

    So he doesn’t want a debate, he wants an ambush. Stick to your guns, Ed. Oh, and I guess I’ll have to stop impugning your masculinity, especially since that is gribbit’s job, anyway.

  18. #18 Mark Paris
    June 29, 2006

    Ed Brayton, meet Brick Wall. Brick Wall, Ed. Please, Ed, you can begin by bashing your head against Brick.

  19. #19 VisualFX
    June 29, 2006

    This guy sounds like a bully to me. To guys like him, “debating” is not about who has the best arguments and the best evidence to support those arguments, it’s about who can most bully their way through the “debate.” I’ve seen it time and time again where the the thoughtful and well defended side is completely overrun by a loud, bullying, rhetorical, windbag who “wins” the debate – through sheer volume and bluster, not by facts and reason. In those types of situations, emotion almost always trumps reason.

    You are asking to debate him based on one set of rules that he has no interest in abiding by while he is asking you (without saying as much – intentionally), to debate him in his forum with his very different set of rules – rules based on bluster and bullying tactics. Obviously, he will never admit to as much – he is just too dishonest and, dare I say it, too much of a pussy to do so.

  20. #20 Seraph
    June 29, 2006

    But seriously:

    How does a grown person justify behavior like this to himself? Does he honestly believe that winning an “in-person” argument is a surer sign of who’s “right” than having the facts and supporting them with evidence? Is he just a bully who’s always gotten his own way with badgering and shouting people down? If the latter, does he think he’s in some kind of battle against the Evil Atheist Conspiracy (I don’t know if you’re an atheist, Ed, but you know how fanatics are – if you’re not with them, you’re with the Forces of Darkness), and that he’s justified in using any means necessary to win (and use that victory to further rally his troops)? Or is he just out to humiliate you for writing mean things about him?

  21. #21 mfaerber
    June 29, 2006

    has anyone read his mission statement? it’s damn near frightening: http://www.theamericanview.com/index.php?id=2 and after reading it, you can hardly be suprised about any of this… it’s pretty much expected

  22. #22 Seraph
    June 29, 2006

    Okay, that answers my questions pretty handily. Hard to believe that real people think like that…if you want to call it thought.

  23. #23 sdanielmorgan
    June 29, 2006

    Seraphi, Leni et al:
    I do apologize for associating what is, perhaps, my favorite body part with the ilk of John Lofton. Please allow me to retract, and substitute the word “cup of weeks-old goat smegma” for “pussy” everywhere I used it.

    I sincerely apologize.

  24. #24 Raging Bee
    June 29, 2006

    “captivity to Christ?” Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?!! Since when did Christ WANT captives?

  25. #25 Chuck
    June 29, 2006

    Bravo, Ed. This guy is a huckster and a sophist, nothing more. He cannot engage in thoughtful, reasoned debate with evidence to support his positions, so he refuses to engage. Instead he tried to trap you into listening to him parrot his empty slogans for a radio audience. Excellent work in exposing this nutcase, by the way.

  26. #26 kehrsam
    June 29, 2006

    Raging Bee: The image of being “Captive” or “Bondservant” to Jesus (or God) is a running theme in Paul’s letters: This use is a perversion of the idea, however, as he combines it with the prophesies of Is. 60 et seq.

    Isaiah is discussing God’s actions under the Mosaic Covenant, whereby nations and peoples are blessed or cursed according to how well they follow His laws. This, he then claims is amplified by Matthew 28 (the Great Commission) to go into all the world, baptizing in the name of the trinity: It doesn’t work this way.

    The whole point of the NT is that salvation, no longer limited to Jews, would be personal rather than corporate, ie, salvation is based upon my belief, not that of other members of the community. This, actually, was not a new idea in Jewish thought, as the Covenant with Abraham is also essentially personal in nature.

    This is the reason the wingnuts make such a big deal out of whether the US is a Christian nation or not, or why they will argue til blue in the face that the Founding Fathers were strict trinitarians, even though this claim is laughably easy to refute.

  27. #27 Jon Rowe
    June 29, 2006

    I’ve seen him debate. He comes off as an obnoxious, arrogant, creepy, bully, crackpot, lunatic.

    There’s a great clip on YouTube or GoogleVideo which I might dredge up, from the 1980s where he debates Frank Zappa on CNN’s Crossfire. Zappa makes an utter fool of him. It might be good idea if, Ed, not on the phone, but in a say, live call-in radio show, hosted by a neutral arbiter, debated Lofton, and gets ready to fire up his comedic wit.

    Based on what I’ve seen from Lofton, you will not get a serious debate out of him, like you did with say Herb Titus. A crackpot that extreme and arrogant merits the harshest mocking.

    He’s one step away from Fred Phelps.

  28. #28 386sx
    June 29, 2006

    There’s a great clip on YouTube or GoogleVideo which I might dredge up, from the 1980s where he debates Frank Zappa on CNN’s Crossfire.

    Here’s the video. Lol, I thought that name “John Lofton” sounded familiar.

  29. #29 Chance
    June 30, 2006

    I just watched that video.

    I realize I’m a mildly right tilting centrist but that man is insufferable.

    He also referenced ‘Godwins fallacy’ and compared rock lyrics to Nazi speech.

    He is quite amusing but really, really an ass.

  30. #30 Chance
    June 30, 2006

    Oh and I should add, and I don’t know if this term is ever used anymore, but this Lofton fellow is the very definition of a square.

    I just don’t understand how folks come to take themselves so seriously.

  31. #31 Squiddhartha
    June 30, 2006

    I was amazed by the Crossfire video. And really, it demonstrates the moral bankruptcy of Lofton’s viewpoint. Zappa obviously recognizes that the cure for offensive speech isn’t banning the speech, but speaking out against it, and that it’s precisely the speech with the least appeal that needs the most protection. I wish he’d pointed out that if Lofton had his way, Zappa could call for the prohibition of advocacy of censorship on the grounds that he finds censorship abhorrent!

    “Do you really think that the founding fathers had this sort of filth in mind?” Hell, yes! And if they didn’t, they should have.

    If Frank was afraid we were heading toward a fascist theocracy in 1986, he must be spinning now…

  32. #32 Leni
    June 30, 2006

    sdanielmorgan wrote:

    I do apologize for associating what is, perhaps, my favorite body part with the ilk of John Lofton. Please allow me to retract, and substitute the word “cup of weeks-old goat smegma” for “pussy” everywhere I used it.

    LOL- Much improved. Apology accepted ;D

  33. #33 Dave M.
    June 30, 2006

    I followed the link to Lofton’s site (thanks kehrsam!), and boy was that Lapham interview a train wreck (title: “”Harper’s” Editor Lewis Lapham Rejects God, Hates Christianity Upon Which America Was Founded”). Hey, did you know that if there were no God, then murder would be okay? How about that.

    While I was over there I also saw this paean (not by Lofton) to Henry Morris, which you *must* check out: http://www.theamericanview.com/index.php?id=572

  34. #34 Smallfry
    August 6, 2006

    This post and its subsequent comments are chock full of unjustified assumptions about judgements about John Lofton’s character. You have associated him with Republican fascists like Bill O’Reilly: “I feel the same way about a lot of conservative pundits and activists from O’Reily to Goldberg to Hannity to Hewitt” (plunge).

    Having listened to the show, I can tell you that he’s not one of those dishonest right-wing pundits who take little sound clips out of debates and then claim to have won them: In _all_ interviews Mr. Lofton has done, he has played the whole thing. The only soundbites come from places like C-SPAN or similar sources where you obviously can’t play the whole thing. You have no proof that John Lofton would be one of the soundbite pundits, and thus by making fun of him for it, you are only making fun of your own fantasized version of him.

    This fantasized version of John Lofton again appears here: “How dishonest is that though? To present yourself as willing to debate: to in fact try to lay a GUILT TRIP on the other person for not debating, when in fact all of that is just a sham to obtain audio for a radio broadcast? That is just about the lowest of the low” (plunge). Have you proof that it is just a sham to obtain little aduio clips? I certainly see none, other than from the man whom you imagined from your own ranting.

    Now, I don’t want any immature kids coming on here and just making fun of me too just because I’m the only one here defending him. I suspect someone will just ignore my arguments and start the name-calling game.

    John Lofton is not perfect, and so I admit that he’s the first on this webpage to start any name-calling. But Ed Brayton only proves his fallibility when he gives in as well: “And I think you are the coward for being afraid of [...]“; “then you’re even more loony than I thought” (Brayton). If Brayton had never resorted to what Lofton was doing, I would be defending the indefensible.

    On the subject of verbal versus written debate: Ed Brayton only pointed out the advantages of written debate while ignoring those of verbal. John Lofton points out why he wants it verbal: “I want to talk to you, on tape, for-the-record, for our web site and for our radio show, only about what you have written about me.” The only way you can play a written debate on the show is by reading it out loud. But this would be ridiculus, as I hope you’ll agree. A verbal debate is compatible with radio, and thus more desirable for this situation, despite the advantages of written debate pointed out by Ed Brayton. And if Mr. Brayton’s worried about Lofton doing sneaky editing, why didn’t he just accept Lofton’s offer and record the debate as well, posting it on the Internet so that we, both the Left and the Ultra-Right, can compare for discrepancies.

    Plus, oral debate is a whole lot more fun. If Ed’s so good at debate, and I know that Lofton can certainly make it interesting, why couldn’t we all just have the pleasure of _hearing_ the two duke it out? Talking is so much more natural, while when it’s through the Internet, a debate loses its energy and its humanity and turns into a citation-whoring-fest (not that I’m against fact-checking).

    And now I want to talk about some of the comments here: “‘Do you really think that the founding fathers had this sort of filth in mind?’ Hell, yes! And if they didn’t, they should have” (Squiddhartha). I think this is a truly disgusting comment. John Lofton asked Zappa if he believes the Founding Fathers had Satanism in mind when they drafted the first amendment, and Zappa “demonstrate[d] the moral bankruptcy of” his own viewpoint by saying YES! And you AGREE with that man?

    “If Frank was afraid we were heading toward a fascist theocracy in 1986, he must be spinning now…” (Squiddhartha). Theocracy, by Webster’s 1828 definition, is not in any sense of the word fascist. We are certainly heading towards (and already living in) a fascist state, but it is going the complete opposite direction of theocracy.

    I remember seeing a debate where John Lofton argued with James Winkler, who performed quite sadly. It was on C-SPAN, but now the video costs money (unfortunately — it’s quite entertaining). James Winkler is the type of person you don’t like: A United Methodist, like Bush, who, like Bush, supports socialist economic policies, and who, like many “right”-wing pundits, ignores everything Lofton says. Then you have the REAL Christian Constitutionalist giving him the real deal about the founding of America, economically-speaking. You can read the transcript here: http://www.theamericanview.com/index.php?id=510

    “The whole point of the NT is that salvation, no longer limited to Jews, would be personal rather than corporate, ie, salvation is based upon my belief, not that of other members of the community. This, actually, was not a new idea in Jewish thought, as the Covenant with Abraham is also essentially personal in nature” (kehrsam). I’m no Biblical scholar, but you, like many others, are trying to refute parts of the Bible with your own personal interpretation of other parts of it.

    “Does he honestly believe that winning an ‘in-person’ argument is a surer sign of who’s ‘right’ than having the facts and supporting them with evidence? (Seraph). Where did you get that idea? Can you prove that that’s his belief? Because that never came across to me as I read the email debate about debating.

    With my chin up, I will now do what a lot of conservatives like to do and ask you to take note of my moral high-ground. Notice who’s using profanity and who’s not. I’m not sitting here just name-calling; I’m here provifing reasonable arguments in defense of the Christian man John Lofton. Listening to The American View radio show, it wasn’t their morality that converted me from extreme liberalism to old-fashioned conservatism, but it was their practice of logic, reasoning, and well-researched arguments that simply refuted all the supposedly “conservative” pundits who were actually just using smoke and mirrors to cover up their own fascism.

  35. #35 386sx
    August 6, 2006

    John Lofton asked Zappa if he believes the Founding Fathers had Satanism in mind when they drafted the first amendment, and Zappa “demonstrate[d] the moral bankruptcy of” his own viewpoint by saying YES! And you AGREE with that man?

    That reminded me of this Jefferson quote: “I concur with you strictly in your opinion of the comparative merits of atheism and demonism, and really see nothing but the latter in the being worshipped by many who think themselves Christians.”

    That “being worshipped by many who think themselves Christians” is this:

    All governments have a “compelling interest” in, first, obeying God’s Law. Such obedience is an example of the righteousness God says that exalts a nation (Proverbs 14:34). To ignore God’s Law — well, I think there’s a lesson in what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah.

    And that being is John Lofton’s god. Oh the irony. By the way, I do think that at least one of the “Founding Fathers” did have Mr. Lofton’s god in mind.

  36. #36 386sx
    August 6, 2006

    P.S., that statement up there in blockquotes is a quote from John Lofton. Hence: “John Lofton’s god”. Sorry!

  37. #37 kehrsam
    August 6, 2006

    Smallfry:

    I’m not a theologian either, but was merely pointing out that Lofton’s Bible interpretation is way out of the mainstream (although becoming much more common). See, for instance, the NIV Bible Commentary 9p. 760 in the current edition), which discusses Is 60 in a purely corporate context for the Jews of the early exilic period, but has no mention of corporate salvation for modern nations.

    I’m sorry if I was not clear in my former statement. I was trying to answer a prior commenter’s question regarding Lofton’s use of the term “bondservant.” I stand by my contention that Lofton’s usage of that term in a corporate, rather than personal, sense is distinctly outside the Christian mainstream.

  38. #38 Smallfry
    August 6, 2006

    386sx:

    I’m not quite sure what point you’re trying to make. You quoted me, then just started quoting Jefferson because what I said reminded you of it. But can you respond to what I actually said?

    Also, I do not think you effectively demonstrated that Lofton practices demonism, which he, as far as I know, does not. Lofton is actually one of the only Christians who don’t practice demonism. However people like George Bush, Bill Clinton, and Ronald Reagan all were devil-worshippers. The Jefferson quote bears no connection to my quote, and the Lofton quote bears no connection to the Jefferson quote. I’m quite confused.

    kehrsam:

    I’m well aware that Lofton’s Christian beliefs are not in the mainstream. :) If your Christian beliefs are in the mainstream, you ought to watch out: “Enter ye in by the narrow gate, because wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many are they who enter through it.” Matthew 7:13.

  39. #39 Ed Brayton
    August 6, 2006

    I have to confess to finding this all quite amusing, especially when it comes to Smallfry’s argument for why I should go on Lofton’s radio show:

    On the subject of verbal versus written debate: Ed Brayton only pointed out the advantages of written debate while ignoring those of verbal. John Lofton points out why he wants it verbal: “I want to talk to you, on tape, for-the-record, for our web site and for our radio show, only about what you have written about me.” The only way you can play a written debate on the show is by reading it out loud. But this would be ridiculus, as I hope you’ll agree. A verbal debate is compatible with radio, and thus more desirable for this situation, despite the advantages of written debate pointed out by Ed Brayton. And if Mr. Brayton’s worried about Lofton doing sneaky editing, why didn’t he just accept Lofton’s offer and record the debate as well, posting it on the Internet so that we, both the Left and the Ultra-Right, can compare for discrepancies.

    Plus, oral debate is a whole lot more fun. If Ed’s so good at debate, and I know that Lofton can certainly make it interesting, why couldn’t we all just have the pleasure of _hearing_ the two duke it out? Talking is so much more natural, while when it’s through the Internet, a debate loses its energy and its humanity and turns into a citation-whoring-fest (not that I’m against fact-checking).

    Which essentially boils down to “Well sure, he gave logical reasons why written debates allow a much more thorough discussion of the issues, but he should do what Lofton wants him to do because…well, because Lofton wants him to. And because it’s fun.” And all of this assumes that I somehow have to justify my rejection of his proposal (while, of course, he doesn’t have to justify his rejection of mine). It’s all quite silly. Smallfry, I strongly suggest that you get a life.

  40. #40 386sx
    August 6, 2006

    I’m not quite sure what point you’re trying to make. You quoted me, then just started quoting Jefferson because what I said reminded you of it. But can you respond to what I actually said?

    Basically I guess I just wanted to get that Jefferson quote in there. :-) As far as who is a devil-worshiper and who isn’t: I probably should have left that one up to the theologians. After all, they are the experts.

  41. #41 JimC
    August 6, 2006

    James Winkler is the type of person you don’t like: A United Methodist, like Bush, who, like Bush, supports socialist economic policies, and who, like many “right”-wing pundits,

    Why wouldn’t you like this person? I may disagree with their policies but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like them.

    But nothing is more funny than watching folks argue about what view of theology is mainstream or not. As if it matters anyway you believe what you will believe. No way to prove any of it.

  42. #42 Smallfry
    August 6, 2006

    Which essentially boils down to “Well sure, he gave logical reasons why written debates allow a much more thorough discussion of the issues, but he should do what Lofton wants him to do because…well, because Lofton wants him to. And because it’s fun.” And all of this assumes that I somehow have to justify my rejection of his proposal (while, of course, he doesn’t have to justify his rejection of mine). It’s all quite silly. Smallfry, I strongly suggest that you get a life.

    (Brayton)

    Instead of refuting what I said, you chose just to tell your friends that I said something I didn’t. This is a cop-out. I don’t think you should do it just because Lofton said so; I think Lofton’s reason for wanting it oral is perfectly clear (and I said most of this before): The American View, aside from being a political blog, is primarily a radio show, and Lofton would like to play it on the radio. The genre of radio demands actual talking, not just reading from a sheet of paper, which would be what you’d have to do to play a written debate on it. If compromise must be made, I would like to see you and Lofton do both: a written debate to talk about certain issues that demand such intricate citations, and a separate oral debate to be played on the radio.

    And then you did what I expected you and others to do much sooner: “Smallfry, I strongly suggest that you get a life” (Brayton). What is the point of this? Why give in to the temptation to take jabs at me when it’s that very quality you so dislike of Lofton? Are you familiar with civilized discussion?

    But nothing is more funny than watching folks argue about what view of theology is mainstream or not. As if it matters anyway you believe what you will believe. No way to prove any of it.

    (JimC)

    While you can’t prove theology, you can prove which views of it are mainstream….

  43. #43 Ed Brayton
    August 6, 2006

    Smallfry-

    What I dislike about Lofton is that he is a theocrat who would destroy our liberty if he had a chance to do so (thank goodness he doesn’t because he’s just a lone nut crying in the wilderness with no political power, and that is all he will ever be). What I dislike about you is that you presume to come here and tell me what I should and should not do. I will decide what forums and formats I participate in, not you and not Lofton. I haven’t the slightest desire to help him publicize his radio show or fill his airtime. If he wants to debate me, he can do it in writing or not at all. And if either he or you has a problem with that, you are both cordially invited to kiss my ass.

  44. #44 dogmeatIB
    August 6, 2006

    Ed:

  45. #45 JimC
    August 6, 2006

    While you can’t prove theology, you can prove which views of it are mainstream….

    Perhaps, but given the diversity of opinion within just a single church I don’t think just talking to the ‘talking heads’ who think there view is THE view has much validity towards determining it either.

  46. #46 kehrsam
    August 6, 2006

    Yes JimC, but there are distinctions which can be made, even so. The fact that Smallfry and I agree on the point that Lofton’s theology is outside the mainstream is revealing. The views of Paul on salvation were pretty generally accepted by 200 CE or earlier. If you are going to take issue with Paul’s (re)interpretation, you are sailing against 1800 years of tradition.

    Not that heterodoxy is to be condemned per se. Much of modern “scientific” analysis of the Bible has faced unreasonable opposition on the grounds of tradition. But you need a convincing case. Peace.

  47. #47 JimC
    August 6, 2006

    My point is that on any given issue within any given church you will find a wide diversity of opinion.Saying a thought is ‘mainstream’ has little validity simply because the variance within each and every church is so wide. The views people hear though are the ‘talking heads’ who trumpet whatever view they embrace.

    If you want to use Paul on salvation as the example I would think since it is more or less the primary bedrock you would find less variance but it still would exist. In this particular case I would likely agree with you.

    And frankly 1800 years of tradition should matter little, it’s simply an argument from authority and should be weighed for what it is worth, not much.

  48. #48 386sx
    August 7, 2006

    The whole point of the NT is that salvation, no longer limited to Jews, would be personal rather than corporate, ie, salvation is based upon my belief, not that of other members of the community.

    Maybe if we ignore (at least) this verse:

    Matthew 10:14-15: If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.

  49. #49 Caledonian
    August 7, 2006

    That’s personal salvation. If even one person will listen, the advice is moot.

  50. #50 386sx
    August 7, 2006

    Well, they would have to cover every person in the town, plus all their descendants, plus anybody who might decide to move into town, until the proverbial cows come home — but okay, I’ll buy that. Thanks!

  51. #51 Scott Chwaliszewski
    December 5, 2006

    Ed, have you no feelings? Did it ever occur to you that perhaps the reason John Lofton won’t debate you via a written format is because he can’t read & write and doesn’t want the world to know? For shame, Sir!

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