It is ultimately rare from someone in Big Eva to debate someone in the grassroots on things like discernment and Critical Theory. Though perhaps Neil Shenvi is not Big Eva but is often the mouthpiece to oppose Critical Theory in the church from within the church in higher circles than say Tom Ascol or Jordan Hall. Paired with odd writings where he has defended Resolution 9 and written about the nuance of Intersectionality, and this has raised my suspicions that Neil Shenvi is used as a controlled opposition to these ideas. Neil Shenvi sat down to discuss the disagreements with Jon Harris on Conversations that Matter for over two hours.
So if you do not have time to watch the video here are my lasting takeaways:
Neil Shenvi is incidentally on the wrong side
Perhaps Neil Shenvi is not part of Big Eva, but he remains the mouthpiece to oppose Critical Theory in the church from within the church in higher circles than say Tom Ascol or Jordan Hall can reach. Paired with odd writings where he has defended Resolution 9 and written about the nuance of Intersectionality, and this has raised my suspicions that Neil Shenvi is used as a controlled opposition to these ideas. However, I am most convinced this is incidental rather than intentional. He is not intentionally trying to undermine orthodoxy, but he is unwilling to destroy Critical Theory which ultimately impedes our movement to anathematize this ideology. After listening to Neil Shenvi disagree with my positions for two hours, I did not come away thinking he was in any way a snake or a wolf, rather more weasel. I just do not think he is the right man to be opposing Critical Theory in the church because his stance is too moderate accommodating to heresy.
Where the line of heretic is drawn
Much of the conversation hovered around Walter Strickland of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Walter Strickland has held James Cone in a rather positive light despite that fact that he is an obvious heretic and granddaddy to the Social Justice Gospel as we know it. On this issue Neil Shenvi was rather incoherent because his arguments suggested you should endorse a heretical book because you can learn about the gospel from it. It’s confusing unless you watch. But Neil Shenvi was laser focused on Enemies Within The Church, a project that I endorse to expose false teachings. Shenvi was perturbed by the poster image of the film because it implied people like Walter Strickland were enemies within the church.
And this is where I would critique Jon’s reticence to follow his own logical conclusion. If someone, according to Jon, is teaching heresy and has refused correction, they, as Jon said, would be a false teacher. But Jon seemed reluctant to label false teachers enemies, which I found odd, instead differing to Judd Saul and Trevor Loudon’s Enemies Within film series.
It is because of my willingness to follow logic that I am more willing to use labels such as false teachers when it comes to the Social Justice Gospel and those who defiantly advocate its spread. Because this false gospel needs to be anathematized.
Neil Shenvi is less willing to follow the logical trail, afraid of being wrong which is wise. But if Jarvis Williams and Walter Strickland do not surpass the threshold with regards to the aforementioned false gospel, who alive does?
Valid tools for discovering truth
Neil Shenvi approved of Resolution 9 stating that there were enough safeguards to prevent abuse and that Christians should be caution rather than dissuaded from using it as an analytical tool for finding truth (my summary). Jon Harris asked if Christians could use phrenology as an analytical tool. Shenvi said of course not. Phrenology believes that the shape of human skulls gives insight to their character and capabilities (ie Leonardo DiCaprio playing with the skull in Django Unchained.) It was agreed that phrenology could not be used as an analytical tool because phrenology has underlying flaws in its foundation. But could the same not be said about Marxism which is an atheist ideology? Neil Shenvi would not agree despite saying Joseph Smith would not be valid source of truth. I don’t really see a functional difference between Joseph Smith and James Cone as sources of truth. But Neil Shenvi ultimately does.
Neil Shenvi believes that Critical Race Theory can gather insights. He sighted an example whereby Al Mohler concluded Marxism could be used as a tool for discovering the drive to turn children into consumers. I would argue a discovery does not equal a problem, in the case of the Al Mohler example or most others. For instance Critical Race Theorists can discover disparities in our society but these theories assume their discoveries are problem. People assume income equality is a problem but is it. The parable of the talents is an affirmation of income inequality. Yet our society is constantly bombarded with the notion that disparities equal racism or other isms and phobes. But this is a non sequitur to assume that the discoveries of these ideologies are necessarily problems. Like with phrenology we can somewhat trusts its discoveries but we cannot rely on its conclusions of those discoveries (analysis). Therefore these flawed ideologies cannot be used as analytical tools for understanding the world or culture.