Carl Trueman Is Not My Friend

Just to be clear. Though I like Carl Trueman’s writings, I have never met him, and he is not my friend. Moreover, if we ever were to meet, I’m sure he wouldn’t like me. Nevertheless, you should read his latest article on Reformation21. It’s devastating and good. And there’s not a one of us who doesn’t need to hear it.

The article lambastes Christians who use the web to puff-up their own egos. Here’s an excerpt:

“There is another phenomenon on webpages that seems closely akin to these direct puffs of one’s own greatness; and that is greatness by proxy.  Sufferers of this syndrome develop the uncontrollable habit of continually using the language of intimate friendship about everybody who is perceived to be anybody, thereby making themselves seem to be close to the movers and shakers of the theological world.  In such conversations and on such blogs, contacts of only recent and superficial vintage are referenced familiarly as ‘Dave’ or `Geoff’ or `my mate, Kev.’  With such people, every passing acquaintance is an intellectual intimate; and names casually picked up at lunch, by nightfall are intentionally dropped on personal blogsites, as every pushy arriviste and aspiring parvenu strains to project an image of inner-circle savvy to their needy blog followers.

“This is truly a land beyond satire…   As I said, book blurbs are one thing; but here we have a world where we have not just eliminated the middle man by producing the phenomenon of the self-blurber; we have then taken it one stage further – we have eliminated the need for the very book whose existence was, traditionally, the necessary precondition of such a blurb.  All that is left is the Onanistic self-aggrandisement of those who proclaim themselves `humble’ and `witty’ and `leading scholars.’  Sheer virtual Onanism.  No wonder their eyesight is so bad they seem blind to their problem.”

I would say that this essay is unusually good, but that’s not true. Trueman’s stuff is always good, and this is no exception. Read the rest here.

[HT: Justin Taylor]

20 Responses to Carl Trueman Is Not My Friend

  1. Scott December 15, 2009 at 6:02 pm #

    Trueman is amazingly condescending in nearly every post he publishes. Apparently, he’s the only one above criticism.

  2. Michael Bid December 15, 2009 at 6:05 pm #

    Denny, Don’t worry, he’s not my friend either. And coming from him this was like Obama complaining about liberals running Washington!

  3. Paul December 15, 2009 at 11:31 pm #

    why are you so certain he wouldn’t like you and that you guys couldn’t be friends?

  4. Darius T December 16, 2009 at 12:30 am #

    Clearly, some people missed the point of Trueman’s post.

  5. Scott December 16, 2009 at 1:40 am #

    Darius,

    Trueman is about as passive-aggressive as they come. If anyone else had written that article then I would completely agree with Denny. The truth is, however, that most of CT’s stuff is full of thinly veiled jabs and backhanded compliments. Additionally, the tone of his work is always holier than thou; as if he just descended from his lofty throne to grace us all with his sage counsel. It’s pompous.

  6. Darius T December 16, 2009 at 8:10 am #

    Scott, I don’t know if I’ve read much Trueman stuff, but taken on its own merit, this hardly seemed pompous. Your bias precedes you, it would seem. Exactly what in this piece is so bad, pray tell?

  7. Nathan December 16, 2009 at 9:19 am #

    Trueman writes, “Now, at the risk of protesting too much, I must stress that I don’t read blogs – I really don’t read blogs – unless, that is, they are sent to me by someone else. Sufficient to my own life is the tedium and banality contained therein; I really have no interest in compounding such with the tedium and banality contained in the lives of other people.”

    Perhaps I am missing something, but for a man who states that he doesn’t read blogs or care about blogs, he sure can lambast blogs. How you ask? By writing a Blog…

    That would be my critique Darius along with his presumption to critique others about their personal information, but display his own with degrees, books authored, etc. Seems somewhat duplicitous.

  8. Denny Burk December 16, 2009 at 9:23 am #

    Paul,

    I was trying to be ironic and funny in the first three sentences of my post.

    Denny

  9. Ryan K December 16, 2009 at 9:31 am #

    As a pastor who is hosting Carl Trueman to speak at our church this spring I can only vouch for his true humbleness and love of God and the Bible.

    I am disheartened to read comments like Scott’s in which you boldly make sweeping judgments about Carl and his intentions. I would hope you are not so quick to judge those who you engage with face to face and this is only something you feel inclined to do with those you have never met over the internet.

  10. Darius T December 16, 2009 at 10:52 am #

    Nathan, where do you see Trueman promoting himself? Point me to the page please.

    I would say that no one is saying that promoting one’s work is necessarily a prideful thing to do. If you write something, you should necessarily hope and expect people to read it. But there is a humble way to promote yourself and a proud way to do so. Trueman seems to hit on how not to do it.

  11. Darius T December 16, 2009 at 10:53 am #

    By the way, the person Trueman is talking about is an Emerging Church blogger. I’ve found the self-promotion on Emerging/ent blogs to be particularly nauseating, and I guess I’m not the only one.

  12. Nathan December 16, 2009 at 11:25 am #

    Darius,

    My response was based on his quote about not reading blogs, etc. I found it somewhat hypocritical to say that you don’t read blogs, yet you write one. As for the part about promoting oneself, I understand that he is proably referring to those who gush on and on. However, for one that seemingly abhors blogs, he writes his own and has his own accolades on display. So, in that respect, his credentials are a self-promotion as well.

    Personally, I don’t have a problem with his listing his credentials. But if you are going to throw stones, well…

    Here is the link:
    http://www.reformation21.org/carl-trueman.php

  13. Matt Svoboda December 16, 2009 at 11:39 am #

    Hey everyone, just so you know what league I am in…

    Russell Moore, Mark Marshall, Joshua Harris, Jon Elliff, Matthew Paul Turner, Ed Stetzer, Ergun Caner(not that Im proud), Dan Kimball, Rick Warren, Pete Wilson, and I am hoping to one day at Denny to that list…

    So, please show some respect when you talk to me on this blog.. Or I’ll send one of my very dear friends mentioned above after you. Thank you.

    For more information on why I am followed by these gentlemen(that I am very close with) check out my twitter account @matthewsvoboda

    🙂

  14. Matt Svoboda December 16, 2009 at 11:40 am #

    lol… At the end of that list I was supposed to say, “all follow me on Twitter.”

  15. Darius T December 16, 2009 at 11:52 am #

    Nathan, don’t you recognize the difference between matter-of-factly listing one’s credentials and gushing about yourself like the example Trueman gave? There are no “accolades” on that link you gave, just a quick synopsis of what Trueman does for a living and where he’s received his training and a quick note about his family. That’s it.

  16. Nathan December 16, 2009 at 12:02 pm #

    Darius,

    I do and that is why I said that I didn’t have a problem with his listing his accolades, although do I really care how many books he wrote and what his degrees are in? He seems to have problems with others listing credentials. I guess they went further than he did. Big deal. I couldn’t care less either way.

    But my problem goes back to the quote I referred to in my first post, “Now, at the risk of protesting too much, I must stress that I don’t read blogs – I really don’t read blogs – unless, that is, they are sent to me by someone else. Sufficient to my own life is the tedium and banality contained therein; I really have no interest in compounding such with the tedium and banality contained in the lives of other people.”

    In my opinion, it is pompous to make that statement (along with the rest of the post) about blogs, only to be writing his own blog. That is my point. It would be like saying, “I write editorials for the newspaper, but I don’t read any newspapers because most of the people who write for newspapers are too full of themselves.”

  17. Tim B December 16, 2009 at 2:55 pm #

    Nathan, isn’t there a difference between an online magazine and a self-produced and self-promoted blog? Do you really see Trueman linking obsessively to his own lecturing, writing and conferences?

    I don’t think Trueman has ever reflected on the ways the new media frontier can actually challenge old models, but that’s not his point.

    Most of us, even who write and read blogs, recognize his criticism. We live in a very me-centered culture.

    Attacking and defending Trueman’s character in these comments exemplifies the very banality and triviality Trueman consistently attacks. Reasoned discourse is one thing, and I would argue the internet can be a tool to this end. By why does the internet and blog comboxes too often become a shouting match?

  18. Nathan December 16, 2009 at 3:43 pm #

    Maybe I’ve totally missed the point. My posts were in response to a question Darius posed as to how one could have read Trueman’s blog and found him somewhat fradulent. My only critique has been from the start that he seems disgenuous to blog when he states that he doesn’t read blogs. That seems to convey (at least to me) that his blog is good while everybody else’s is rubbish. I don’t know him, but that is what his posting left me with. I am not saying that I don’t disagree with his premise, but he comes off as the only “true” voice, and has the appearance of being pompus.

  19. Brian Krieger December 16, 2009 at 4:05 pm #

    Nathan,

    I understand what you are saying. It does seem odd. I wouldn’t say he’s fraudulent, though. He very well could read no blogs sans those sent him. Maybe you meant his justification of not reading blogs is fraudulent (well, maybe paradoxical). But his “application” paragraph at the end is an acknowledgment of that (of sorts).


    I am not humble, so I should not pretend to be so but rather confess it in private, seeking forgiveness and sanctification. And, negatively, I must avoid doing certain things. I must not proudly announce my humility on the internet so that all can gasp in wonder at my self-effacement. I must make sure I never refer to myself as a scholar. I must not tell people how wonderful I am. I must resist the temptation to laugh at my own jokes. I must not applaud my own speeches. I must deny myself the pleasure of posting other people’s overblown flattery of me on my own website, let alone writing such about myself. I must never make myself big by clinging to the coat-tails of another. In short, I must never take myself too seriously.

  20. Darius T December 16, 2009 at 9:05 pm #

    Nathan, some bloggers don’t have time to read other people’s blogs. He’s merely saying that for HIM, blogs aren’t worth his time. It doesn’t follow that they aren’t worth other people’s time (though obviously he implies there are limits).

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