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This is my 17th year professionally writing/speaking/teaching etc. and since I pledge allegiance to the Truth, rather than an ideological tribe, I’ve been simultaneously called not black enough & too black focused, a conservative & a Marxist SJW, Reformed & not Reformed. Result:
(1) People commit themselves to proving that I’m not *really* in their tribe X, (2) cycles of follows/unfollows/follows on Twitter😂, (3) email inbox attacks from all sides, (4) assuming guilt by association w/the use of certain terms/phrases, (5) attacks instead of questions.
(6) People (esp. former classmates) hoping that I fail (I know this for a fact b/c people have apologized recently). (7) I get a lot of apology emails & notes years after being slandered & defamed (I have a stack).
I wasn’t prepared for it and did not understand it until I started reading social psychology. Having experienced being demonized by religious tribalism explains why I joined Jonathan Haidt’s Heterodox Academy. It’s the only space where academics like me can really be non-tribal.
Lots of scholars (& pastors) make their careers promoting tribal values, demonizing their tribe’s enemies, & hunting tribal “imposters.” Evangelicalism is highly ideological instead of Nicean so guys like me get passed over b/c we refuse to tow the party line versus the Truth.
One of my earlier books was critiqued b/c I didn’t use the phrase “The Gospel” enough although the phrase rarely appears in Patristics, the Protestant Reformers, the Reformed Scholastics, the WCF, etc. but in the TGC world, it’s tribal code language for being “in” & “biblical.”
In 2009, when I started raising issues about the racism in PCA cultural history, I was called a “traitor” because “[you don’t] love the PCA.” This is a fact. I was called on the phone & asked that by someone at MNA. Loving the Truth was obviously not what I was supposed to do.
Moral: if you want to be a scholar who views him/herself as a defender of tribal ideologies you’ll have a great career, tenure, a “Verified” twitter acct, devoted fans, but if you chose a career committed to the truth, you’ll need close friends b/c your career will be isolating.
I am, therefore, happy to be at King’s because I am free to be committed to the truth in ways that I likely couldn’t be at any other Christian college (with the exception of Wheaton & Covenant) or post-tenure at a non-religious school. It’s been an interesting 17 years...
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