Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Ravin' Kevin Johnson Kooky Kronikles #17: In Which Our Hero Won't Even Heed the Good Advice of Colleagues to Tone It Down

I've been following the sad descent of into quasi-anti-Catholicism and sectarian bickering, for a few years now. It seems that some of my longtime criticisms are now being echoed by at least two increasingly irregular or former co-participants on the blog.

Rev. Michael J.G. Pahls (words in blue below) is listed on the sidebar as having authored 77 posts on the forum (the 4th highest number). Dr. Paul Owen (words in green) has 131 to his name (2nd only to Ravin' Kevin). Both have become Anglicans in recent years, while Kevin has increasingly sounded more like a Reformed Baptist than a so-called "Reformed Catholic" (complete with kow-towing to James White). Ravin' Kevin Johnson's words will be in red.

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I think you are underplaying the degree to which Kevin seems to be saying that if you don’t accept HIS view of the way ordination and priesthood operate in the Church, you are not being faithful to the spirit of the Reformation. I am baffled (in light of his tolerance in other contexts) that he seems so intolerant of Calvin’s own views of the ministry, which are rooted in Catholic tradition, just not democratic Congregationalist principles. [ 11-30-07 ] [Kevin's reply]

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This is a really poorly presented piece. Not only do you appear unable to grasp the distinction between celebrating and distributing the Eucharist which has repeatedly been pointed out to you, but you are so desperate for a prooftext that you are taking a practice which is rebuked by the Nicene Council as demonstration of valid liturgical practices in the pre-Nicene period. If it was considered valid, why did the Council feel it necessary to rebuke it for goodness sakes? You might as well cite the instructions of Ignatius as evidence that the Eucharist can be celebrated outside the sphere of episcopal jurisdiction–oh wait, you have already done that! And your rush to make judgments about the conditions of men’s hearts, and where they are placing their faith and trust reminds me of the rhetoric I run into on other “Reformed” websites that used to be foreign to the theological climate here.
[ 12-3-07 ] [Kevin's reply]

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All I am saying is read your words. Obviously, some people here (myself included) are “having a hard time” swallowing what you have said. Those very people are the ones you accuse of putting their faith and trust in the Magisterium (presumably as opposed to Christ). How can I not take that as directed at myself (among others)? That’s just not the kind of discourse I am used to hearing from you, and I think I am well within my rights to complain about it.

Kevin, what has occasioned this change in tone? Why do you now insist on promoting a form of Reformed “Catholicity” which downplays the importance of the visible structures of the Catholic Church as the kingdom of God on earth? Why this polemic lately against things like priesthood and sacramentally mediated grace? I don’t get it. And it seems to coincide with your recent overtures of appreciation and affection for one of our most rabid critics. Am I the only one wondering what on earth is going on here? [Regular contributor Jonathan Bonomo agrees: "no, you are not."] Increasingly you seem to be coming down on the Reformed Baptist side of things, and criticizing those of us who will not join you as though you have suddenly discovered (like Luther said of Zwingli), that we have a “different spirit.” [ 12-3-07 ] [see Michael Pahls' comment]

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On a more personal note, I have become a bit troubled by the shrill and erratic tone of your posts of late. Clearly you are engaged in some kind of quest that entails your extending hands toward a side of the Reformed tradition that you once abandoned with nearly co-equal zeal. . . . You made quite a reputation here over the past several years throwing excrement at former friends and it has required a considerable amount of charity on my part to entertain that you have not now decided to befoul more recent friends in the same way. . . . 

Certainly it is no cause to wax belligerent and offensive as your most recent post has. I would never, for example, publicly question the value of your orders or the integrity of your pastoral function in your ecclesial context. Show a little class. As you have heard lately from many of your brightest and best contributors, this stuff is getting a bit old. 

Your Friend,

Michael+ [ 12-20-07 ] [Kevin's reply]

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Where pusilanimity is the tenor of the day, arrogance and vitriol are never a helpful remedy. Rather, it further poisons and oversimplifies things. As I wrote a couple of days ago, you have sounded less like Luther and more like Muntzer or Karlstadt and the reaction of your some better and more level-headed readers (Garver, Meyers, Owen, etc.) ought to serve as a check regarding how your enthusiasm for self-criticism plays. . . . 

Again, I think its unfortunate that you so often resort to bluster and personal jabs. Yours is a fine mind and you are capable of really constructive and thoughtful contributions. I don’t intend to say more than this as a belabored debate of your failings or lack of them seems contrary to this site’s purposes. I’ll simply finish here and invite your consideration of what I (and others) have written.

Michael+ [ 12-20-07 ]

Amazing. You have the gall to call my contributions arrogant and vitriolic while at the same time sanctimoniously determining for both of us how we ought to be responding to one another. I’m glad you are the arbiter of how conversation must take place on this website. Why is there no reason for discussing whether or not there may be another perspective? . . . As for whether my words reflect Muntzer or Karlstadt brother what can I say except that is one of the most incredulous things I’ve heard to date. [ 12-20-07 ]


On 22 December 2007, it was confirmed by Kevin Johnson that Fr. Pahls had departed from RefCath:
Fr. Michael Pahls has stopped contributing here at of his own accord. We had a disagreement over a number of things in the comment thread of this post and it is unfortunate that he’s decided to move on. I of course would welcome him back in a heartbeat regardless of our disagreements.


As for Fr. Pahl’s departure–only he can explain his reasons for leaving.


Paul Owen (per his many similar criticisms documented above), and Jonathan Bonomo (see his remark noted above) may also be upset. The last comment I can find from Bonomo was from 19 December, and his last post (out of 60 listed as his contribution on the sidebar) from 13 November.


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