The real hypocrites

It’s Saint Patrick’s day. Where I come from, Michigan, it means corned beef and cabbage.  Thank goodness those days are over. Should you suffer a dearth of Irish today, you can watch this video. It will sustain you for a year.

Twitter brings us today’s topic–tu quoque. You can’t get enough of this stuff.

That’s Erick Erickson, a true Christian. Consider the second tweet. It could be one of two thoughts.

First, the (in this case non-Christian) people who allege hypocrisy are not qualified to determine whether Christians are hypocrites are not. They’re not Christians, so they don’t know anything about what Christian dogma entails.

This is clearly false. They could be ex-Christians. Or they could just know what Christian morality requires. You can get this from books nowadays, or even the internet.

A second is that people who are not Christians are so sin-filled that they are morally unqualified to criticize anyone. This also seems wrong, because I can be a sin-filled monster but still recognize inconsistencies.

I suppose in the end there is a confusion about the status of outsiders who criticize you. In one sense, their input isn’t directed at improving your overall view (which they think is generally false). This fact, however, does not disqualify them from having any view about your claims.

Since it’s St.Patrick’s day, let’s close with a tweet-quoque by an Irishman:


4 thoughts on “The real hypocrites”

  1. Did Erickson really premise his argument on the notion that Meals on Wheels is a “government program”? Meals on Wheels America is a private, charitable organization (501(C)(3)).

    I’m old enough to recall, back in the day, when the Republicans thought (or, at least, professed to think) that it was a good thing to partner with charities to provide services to the public. Compassionate conservatism, public-private partnership, and the like.

  2. I like this observation quite a bit, John. One of the most important argumentative moves is to run internal critique — to show that two commitments (that you, yourself may not be committed to) your interlocutor holds are inconsistent. The Erickson move, it seems, cuts off that kind of move. Without internal critique, it’s all external. And most external critique is just yellin’.
    Now, to perhaps help this line of reasoning — could Erickson’s line be nuanced, perhaps that what looks like hypocrisy from the non-Christian perspective misses an important detail that only the converted appreciate? I’ve run into this plenty of times when talking about the Bible with believers — their default is that I suck at reading their book because I’m not a believer. Augustinian epistemology there — one must believe in order to understand.

  3. Hey Scott–

    In writing this up I thought of that line, then rejected. My reasons: nah, that’s not a serious view. But then again, who am I to judge?

    I also considered, and rejected, a she-who-has-no sin view. That seemed slightly more plausible.

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