Would You Know A Bad-Faith Argument If You Saw One?

These questions, however—important as they are—do not yet capture the essence of our disagreement. In our view, our disagreement lies not in the questions themselves, but in the starkly differing ways in which we respectively relate to them. Namely, while DeYoung appears to view the “unresolved ambiguities” around reparations as the grounds for dismissing reparations altogether, we believe these same ambiguities to be an exciting occasion for the ongoing creative work of theological reflection. Here we ask the reader to pause and to ask why this is. Why is it that when faced with the very same conceptual ambiguities DeYoung chooses to close the door on reparations while we seek to open it further? This is a critical question. Indeed, it is in our judgment the critical question. And it is so because it suggests that the essence of our disagreement with DeYoung is not about the technical questions raised by reparations—again, questions that we share—but about how we approach those questions, about our respective dispositions toward them. In other words, the essence of our disagreement is not formally substantive, as Reverend DeYoung seems to believe it to be, but fundamentally methodological. And it is, in this respect, much more serious.

Because of this, in what follows, our intent is not to answer specific technical questions about reparations per se, but to expose and critique the method with which Reverend DeYoung approaches them. As we do so, we understand that some of our critics may see this as a form of evasion, as an attempt to escape the force of probing examination. But this is false. To the contrary, we engage these questions—and are engaged by them—every day. The actual reason for our approach is this: We believe that the methodology Reverend DeYoung employs actually keeps him from taking these questions seriously as an occasion for true theological reflection. In fact, it guarantees that he cannot do so. And we believe that until this methodology—a methodology broadly employed in current evangelical conversations on race—is seen, understood, and renounced, the true answers to these important questions will never be found. Indeed, they will never be sought.

Put most simply, our view is this: While Reverend DeYoung’s subtitle indicates that he believes his review to be an expression of a theological project, we believe his review actually to be expressive of a cultural project that seeks perennially to justify itself on theological grounds. And that cultural project is, in one inelegant and highly disturbing phrase, white supremacy. Read more»

Gregory Thompson and Duke Kwon | “Sanctifying the Status Quo: A Response to Reverend Kevin DeYoung” | The Front Porch | July 19, 2021


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  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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  1. It’s a small thing but I notice that, in their response, Kevin is “Rev. DeYoung” but Thompson is “Dr.” Thompson earned a PhD at the University of Virginia. DeYoung earned a PhD in the University of Leicester, UK.

    Ps. Erick Erickson also notices that Thompson & Kwon are arguing in bad faith:

    • Is it plausible that Thompson has the Dr because he is no longer in a ministerial position? Kevin’s Twitter handle also begins with “RevKev”. Whether or not they’re arguing in bad faith I don’t know, but this small thing seems like no thing.

      • Daniel,

        If you’re saying that they had to call Thompson something, since his Presbytery has removed his ministerial credentials, perhaps. Why not recognize DeYoung’s earned PhD? It seems like an unnecessary slight.

        You are correct, however, that the major issue here is the bad-faith argument made by Thompson and Kwon. This is the very definition of bad-faith. They refuse to engage the substance of DeYoung’s argument and indict him on the basis that they know a prior that he is guilty of white supremacy. Their response is made in bad faith because they never intended to respond to him. Instead they resort to ad hominem attacks. This is a textbook example of bad-faith argumentation.

        If a student submitted this to me it receive an F after the first 3 paragraphs. It’s scandalous.

    • Thanks for the response, Dr Clark. I’m obviously not well-versed in this kind of protocol. I had assumed from my observations that people generally didn’t use the Reverend title even if they left the position they were called to on their own accord, so I didn’t find it odd, as someone who isn’t particularly sympathetic to the book or its arguments. Am I correct that protocol does not dictate the Dr title for DMin, and that’s why Erick Erickson called Tim Keller “Rev”? Sorry for this aside, my curiosity got the best of me.

      Responding to the authors’ rebuttal, Erickson makes a mistake of his own by equating “propping up white supremacy” with “being a white supremacist”, which the authors go out of their way to differentiate. Calling the apostles “white dudes” is an odd move, as well. That aside, like Erickson, I have noticed that it seems common (though not universal) for the “one side” to neglect any Scripture references on this subject. I wonder if that goes with their denial of the possibility that “one can talk meaningfully about theology apart from any substantive reflection on politics, economics, or culture.” I have no formal theological education; nevertheless, this seems like not only a large departure from tradition, but also the end result is at times doing theology exclusively through substantive reflection on politics, economics, or culture. I’d love to hear any thoughts about that, including if I’m terribly mistaken.

      • Daniel,

        Here’s a brief explanation of the different types of terminal degrees:

        A Persnickety Point About Doctorates

        DeYoung’s full title, in a formal setting, would be The Rev. Dr DeYoung. He holds an earned PhD and is ordained to pastoral ministry. Thompson’s full title would be Dr Gregory Thompson. Kwon’s title would be the Rev Mr Duke Kwon.

        Yes, there is a distinction to be made between the PhD, which is an earned doctorate and the various professional degrees, e.g., PsyD, BusD, and DMin. The typical usage is: Rev Mr So and so, DMin.

        If one is guilty of propping up white supremacy does that not make one a white supremacist? If one sets fires is not one an arsonist?

        I agree that CRT-influenced folk operate with a strong, I would say blinding, loyalty to a set of a priori commitments, which makes it near impossible to talk with them. They demand fealty to those commitments before any discussion can occur.

    • Persnickety! I like it. I was relatively aware of the differences in degree and opinions on how to address DMins, but I wasn’t sure if there were settled conventions in some circles or others.

      Regarding the fire and arsonist analogy, the authors do go out of their way to say they aren’t trying to call him an arsonist. I guess they are saying that he walks like a duck, talks like a duck, but isn’t a duck, while others respond that if he looks and behaves like a duck, then the only logical conclusion is that he is a duck. It looks to some to be a distinction without a difference, but the authors probably disagree. Sometimes the move is made rather disingenuously, and maybe that’s the case here; I couldn’t say. I do however share the frustration at trying to talk to people who have vastly different presupposed commitments. It’s the same language but feels mutually unintelligible.

      Thanks for taking the time to respond to me. I greatly appreciate it.

    • Kevin DeYoung actively teaches at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte. And he is a resident faculty rather than adjunct faculty. His title is Associate Professor of Systematic Theology. His Twitter handle/account was started well before he started or finished his PhD. He does have a dual role, RTS and Christ Covenant Church. The Bio on the church website refers to him as Kevin, but the sermon page does list him as Dr Kevin DeYoung. Given that pretty literally everything I see about Thompson online has him listed as “Dr Thompson”, I’d say it is not unfair to assume the title is important to him. And if it is that important to him, he should extend that same courtesy to others as well. Etiquette would err on the side of caution. Perhaps Kevin DeYoung doesn’t personally care either way, but as a matter of etiquette and respect a person is more likely to be offended by their title not being used than it being used.

  2. WOW, that was exhausting. Instead of wasting all that time misrepresenting Rev. DeYoung, they could have just tweeted, “If you disagree with us, it can only be because you’re a white supremacist..even if you don’t mean to be.”

  3. Bryce,

    Because you use a phony email address, despite my request to use a real email address, I must leave this comment publicly rather than contacting you privately.

    I don’t time to babysit the combox. I can’t weigh every one of your comments as it whether it is over-the-top or whether it will create a headache or a lawsuit. You’re on moderated status until I’m confident that I can trust you.

  4. I’m currently reading a book entitled, “Fault Lines: The Social Justice Movement and Evangelicalism’s Looming Catastrophe,” by Voddie Baucham, Jr., just published this year. He has quite the opposite to say than these two gentlemen and he is black.

  5. Haven’t we seen what happened when the mainline Protestant churches forsook the Gospel for a social gospel which is not a gospel at all?

  6. Balderdash. A good old-fashioned word for bad-faith critiques of “Rev. DeYoung.”
    Also, prove to me, rationally, objectively, in good faith and with evidence, that “Rev. DeYoung” seeks to avoid real probing discussion.

  7. Departing a bit from the present discussion, but definitely a question relevant question: This sort of thing is becoming more and more commonplace – i.e., stacking the deck or rigging the game or whatever one wants to call it. Unfortunately, it is becoming commonplace in evangelical congregations now, too….

  8. The authors conveniently didn’t elaborate on the extent of their own personal guilt in this matter. They didn’t seem to put forth a figure for what *their* reparations tab is. As Margaret Thatcher said: “The problem with socialism is that sooner or later you run out of other peoples’ money”. In the biblical realm I don’t recall the Bible saying that I am responsible for my father’s sins.

    • It is somewhat strange that they expect everyone to sign on to their philosophy while they express casual disregard for where it might lead (the practical application), hand-waving it away with “it’ll all get worked out at the local level.” It doesn’t seem unreasonable for the someone (like DeYoung) to ask how this will all play out before expressing gushing enthusiasm for it, and they seem to unfairly pillory him for posing the question.

  9. It almost seems as if the only way to respond to such arguments is to turn them around to call CRT advocates white supremacists.

  10. Personal Note: Duke Kwon’s work at LDR in Saint Louis on White Normativity might have been the first time I understood that amending my parents’ mercy-based racial reconciliation in favor of a justice-based reconciliation was also redefining the nature and authority of the church.

    For regular Heidelblog readers: The movement from mercy to justice reframes the racial economic disparity that the older generation thought was “misery” as now “sin.” This is the converse of contemporary homosexual theologies where the older generation called something “sin” and now folks characterize it as “misery.”

    Overview: late-stage CRT postures as a corrective to racism, but actually relies on and teaches racism.

    Zoom in for an example: In section 2 Thompson & Kwon criticize DeYoung for minimizing “white supremacy” by reducing it to its ideas, but then immediately and in detail describes white supremacy as an idea: “White supremacy is a cultural order (Chapter 1) that, first, organizes itself primarily through invented racial categories of ‘white’ and ‘not-white.'” The post goes on to describe white supremacy as bestowing benefits that are based on those false racial categories.

    It’s not simply that Thompson/Kwon criticize DeYoung for reducing white supremacy to an idea, and then immediately also reduce it to an idea. The specific idea that Thompson/Kwon reduce white supremacy to is the SAME idea that they’re criticizing: White supremacy is organized around, based on, teaches, and bestows benefits through invented racial categories of “white” and “not white.” Thompson and Kwon rely on and teach that we should bestow benefits based on these same invented racial categories.

    Summary: This template plays out repeatedly. Thompson/Kwon speak against racialization, while actually racializing. Thompson/Kwon emphasize white guilt, which also teaches Black Fragility. Thompson/Kwon decry structural racism, while imposing racist structures.

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