My Discussion with Phil Johnson regarding MacArthur's Post on the Necessity of Social Justice

John MacArthur wrote a post on asking the question, "Is the Controversy over Social Justice Really Necessary?" I think, from my reading his answer is no, it is not necessary. You can read the whole article here.

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I responded to it and got a lot of push back from many Christians seeking to be faithful. Two of whom are Phil Johnson and Hohn Cho, elders at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, CA. Phil Johnson is also the executive director of Grace To You. Here is the discussion for those who want to follow along:

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#3 P. J. Tibayan Monday, August 27, 2018 at 6:18 PM

Brother John seems to assume a definition of "racism" that others might not share. Personally, I hate the term because it is so confusing. But from what I can tell, he seems to be defining racism as self-conscious, "purposeful, willful, or ideological" "animosity against ethnicities other than their own."

MacArthur is right to say that many are too quick to call someone "racist." That is unfortunate and ought not to be the case among Christians. At the same time, there may be different definitions of "racism" at work here and the two sides are missing each other. Some define it as something to the effect of "personal prejudice and self-conscious superiority of one's own ethnicity" while others define it as "systemic or structural oppression based on ethnicity that may or may not be intentional or self-conscious." That distinction that I've seen makes all the difference in these necessary yet difficult discussions.

MacArthur writes: "As Christians we are reconciled with God and united with Christ. To understand that doctrine is to be reconciled with one another. This is a major emphasis in all the Bible’s teaching about forgiving one another as God has forgiven us. Christians should not be the ones dividing over race in a racially charged environment. We are the peacemakers and the lovers of all men. We don’t seek vengeance. We forgive seventy times seven."

Christians should divide over sin out of faithfulness to Jesus, right? Key question: Is there sin in the Christian context in regard to the issue of race that is forcing a division? Peacemaking means acknowledging and working through the hostility to come to peace. Loving all men as yourself means understanding not only them personally, but the life-altering factors of their situation. Forgiving "seventy times seven" means the one forgiven acknowledged his sins and asks for forgiveness from the one he sinned against "seventy time seven times."

I'm not quite sure MacArthur gets what theologically-driven, expository-preaching pastors and Christians are saying the problem is. I really hope I'm wrong. The problem, from my reading of the discussion among theologically-driven evangelicals is, "Is there ethnocentric oppression (structural racism) in America today? Then, secondarily: If it exists, is it right or wrong to preach/disciple/pastor against it? If id doesn't exist, is it right or wrong for others to preach/disciple/pastor against it as if it did exist?"

The issue at the end of the day is an issue that is dear to MacArthur's heart: faithfulness.

We all want to be faithful to Christ and Scripture in our day.

I hope he gets to that point since the series will continue. I pray that our Father in heaven gives our brother wisdom in this discussion and teaching for the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ and his Bride.

In Christ,

P. J. Tibayan

Pastor, Bethany Baptist Church, Bellflower, CA

Alumnus of The Master's Seminary, 2006


#12 Phil Johnsonin reply to 3 Monday, August 27, 2018 at 9:11 PM

PJ:

From the Oxford English Dictionary:

racism /rās izm/ n. M20. [f. RACE n.3 + -ISM.] (Belief in, adherence to, or advocacy of) the theory that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, qualities, etc., specific to that race, esp. distinguishing it as inferior or superior to another race or races; prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism based on this.

The "may or may not be intentional or self-conscious" part of your definition is a nuance you won't find in ANY dictionary published any time before the word "woke" also got added to the dictionary. It's also one of the main points we have contested from the beginning.

This is very close to the pith of the debate, PJ, and I'm surprised you seem to treat it as something you are just now noticing. This notion that Christians with lighter skin are collectively guilty of a sin they neither intended nor knew anything about--and now they are obliged to repent publicly for it--is perhaps the main tenet of today's evangelical notion of "social justice" that I find both grossly unbiblical and deeply offensive. I'm glad you finally picked up on that point.

But instead of portraying Dr. MacArthur as someone who perhaps never considered your point of view (and what he really needs is for you to explain it to him in terms you hope he can understand), I think you need to face honestly the fact that he does understand your point of view--and he disagrees with it. I think that realization would make it much easier for you to process in your own mind what he is saying.


#74 P. J. Tibayanin reply to 12 Wednesday, August 29, 2018 at 5:20 PM

Thanks for the reply, Brother Phil Johnson.

You wrote: The "may or may not be intentional or self-conscious" part of your definition is a nuance you won't find in ANY dictionary published any time before the word "woke" also got added to the dictionary. It's also one of the main points we have contested from the beginning.

My response: Fair enough. I won't fight over the term "racism." I've said and will say it again, the term is used by different people in different ways. This is causing unnecessary confusion and unnecessary argument. I am 100% happy to concede the term "racism" to your dictionary (and biblical?) definition. Fighting for a particular definition is not my point. That different definitions are confusing the conversation was.

You wrote: But instead of portraying Dr. MacArthur as someone who perhaps never considered your point of view (and what he really needs is for you to explain it to him in terms you hope he can understand), I think you need to face honestly the fact that he does understand your point of view--and he disagrees with it. I think that realization would make it much easier for you to process in your own mind what he is saying.

My response: My point of view is that on top of the reality and responsibility of personal sin in the African American community, there is ethnocentric oppression that still oppresses them in significant ways today. You say MacArthur understands and disagrees with that. Ok. So, l'm sorry, I'm a bit slow. Are you saying that Brother MacArthur disagrees with the sentiment that ethnocentric oppression exists in America and therefore it should not inform our discipleship/pastoring the way abortion in America does? If he disagrees that ethnocentric oppression is oppressing the African American community in some significant way today, then that is clarifying.

You say Brother MacArthur gets it. He said himself in this very article that he doesn't: "I don’t understand why Bible-believing Christians would take up that cause."

The problem, from my reading of the discussion among theologically-driven evangelicals is, "Is there ethnocentric oppression in America today? Then, secondarily: If it exists, is it right or wrong to preach/disciple/pastor against it? If id doesn't exist, is it right or wrong for others to preach/disciple/pastor against it as if it did exist?"

The issue at the end of the day is an issue that is dear to MacArthur's heart: faithfulness.

We all want to be faithful to Christ and Scripture in our day.

I hope he gets to that point since the series will continue. I pray that our Father in heaven gives our brother wisdom in this discussion and teaching for the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ and his Bride.

Your brother in Christ who's righteousness imputed to us makes us one,

P. J. Tibayan

Pastor, Bethany Baptist Church, Bellflower CA

2006 Alumnus, The Master's Seminary


#75Phil Johnsonin reply to 74 Wednesday, August 29, 2018 at 6:55 PM

PJ, this isn't really that complex:

1. We understand what your argument IS.

2. We don't understand why a Christian would a) take up such a cause and b) stubbornly try to portray it as "a gospel issue.

3. No one disputes that racism (ethnic animus) exists. MacArthur made that very point in his article. (He has probably made it in all four articles so far.)

4. What we dispute is that "white evangelicals" are universally and collectively guilty of the sin of "ethnocentric oppression" against people with high-melanin counts.

5. We also dispute the claim that it's the duty of every light-skinned Christian to make a virtue-signalling public expression of repentance for that sin on behalf of their "race" and their ancestors.

6. I think we would probably also disagree with your notion of what "faithfulness to Christ" looks like.


#80P. J. Tibayanin reply to 75 Wednesday, August 29, 2018 at 10:51 PM

Brother Phil,

I would join you in 4 & 5. I agree with 3 as well. I think your six-point summary helps.

I haven't argued for ethnocentric oppression here. It's a necessary question to pursue (I think the nub of the real debate among theologically-driven evangelicals), but my point is more fundamental and in my view far easier to agree on. I'm trying to help you understand why a Christian would "take up such a cause" as a "great commission issue" (I don't call it a "gospel issue" in the way the terms are being defined here, nor will I fight for this or that term here). He may be mistaken to take up the cause, but it should be understandable (and it still isn't based on your #2).

If ethnocentric oppression generally existed in America toward African Americans and a pastor did not disciple/pastor members against it then he would be "unfaithful to Christ and the great commission" of teaching the members to obey everything Christ commanded us. It would be similar to saying: If sinful abortion, murdering the unborn existed in our society and a pastor did not disciple/pastor members against it then he would be "unfaithful to Christ and the great commission" of teaching the members to obey everything Christ commanded us.

I don't know if we would disagree on faithfulness to Christ and Scripture IF there was ethnocentric oppression in our day.

Again, I haven't sought to prove ethnocentric oppression exists today but merely to go for the basic and obvious agreement that if it did exist toward African Americans today we would expect all biblically thoughtful, faithful, and courageous Christians to "take up the cause" against the oppression and seek to convince those unaware of the oppression to see it and join them in the cause.

You have helpfully clarified your point of view and for that I sincerely thank you, brother. I will pray now, before posting this reply, that the Lord would continue to bless your pastoral and preaching ministry at Grace Church and your work of spreading biblical truth faithfully applied through the ministry of Grace to You. In preaching Christ crucified and risen to be received by faith alone in Christ alone by grace alone for God's glory alone according to the inerrant Scriptures alone, we are brothers and on the same team. I care about all suffering, especially eternal suffering (to quote another faithful pastor-theologian). I dare not lose the bigger picture in this smaller yet important and necessary conversation. Your example, and John's example, of courage and faithfulness in the emergent "church" storm helped me pastor and disciple faithfully in that season.

I'm happy to give you the last word in rebutting or debunking my idea or premises (or biblical reproof/correction) if you want to. I will not respond to it on this thread (unless led to repentance) but continue to pray and wait and carefully read the next post. Thank you, brother!

Sincerely,

P. J. Tibayan, Bethany Baptist Church, Bellflower, CA


#87 Hohn Cin reply to 80 Thursday, August 30, 2018 at 9:06 AM

Hi PJ, read your own words back: "My response: My point of view is that on top of the reality and responsibility of personal sin in the African American community, THERE IS ethnocentric oppression that still oppresses them in significant ways today (emphasis added)." So you are ABSOLUTELY arguing that point, and not merely asking a question.

Practically speaking, you even go a step further in saying you "would expect all biblically thoughtful, faithful, and courageous Christians to "take up the cause" against the oppression and seek to convince those unaware of the oppression to see it and join them in the cause." So not only are you arguing the point, you are saying it is SO obvious and self-evident that Christian faithfulness REQUIRES people to "join the cause" and prioritize it just as you do.

In declaring this and discipling like this, you and many others in the Christian "social justice" movement like you are actually in grave danger of binding others' consciences to merely your own personal convictions and priorities, on what is ultimately a matter of Christian liberty, calling, and stewardship.

Out of earnest love for you and for the people under your care, please take this as a plain-spoken caution from Deut. 12:32, Matt. 23:4, Rom. 14:1-4, 1 Cor. 10:29-30, among other verses. There is also a whole body of work out of the Westminster Confession of Faith 20.2 that is helpful on this topic. Praying for you as you work through this.


#88 P. J. Tibayanin reply to 87 Thursday, August 30, 2018 at 9:40 AM

Brother Hohn Cho,

Thank you for your thoughts on the topic and prayers for my working through this. And thank you for being willing to engage. I'm sorry I haven't taken the time to reply to your comments above or those of others.

I was going to be done with discussion on the post for this thread, but I wanted to pursue a line of thought with you.

You're right I assume ethnocentric oppression exists. But I didn't "argue" for it. I assert it and assume it but I'm going for something deeper at this point.

¿Would you agree that a pastor who never (over, say a 10 year period) preaches against or disciples his people in America to be aware of the injustice of abortion and abhor it and love their American neighbors in light of this tragic and evil reality is unfaithful to teach all that Christ commanded (Matt 28.20)?

May the Lord Jesus bless your pastoral and discipleship ministry to the dear saints of Grace Community Church!

Sincerely,

P. J. Tibayan, Bethany Baptist Church, Bellflower, CA


#89Hohn Cin reply to 88 Thursday, August 30, 2018 at 10:46 AM

No problem, thanks for being willing to engage as well, and I certainly understand that not everyone will always have the time to respond to everything.

Thanks for your candor in admitting that you are indeed assuming and asserting one of the very matters under debate, rather than merely asking questions. This is, after all, precisely what I posited in my #76, below. And from my viewpoint, an assertion devoid of accompanying argument is indeed a form of (usually weak and unpersuasive) arguing.

Like all assertions (defined as "a confident and forceful statement of fact or belief"), however, they can come across as authoritative and convincing if they remain unchallenged, which is sadly the nature of this discussion often in the secular world, and increasingly in the church, apparently.

As for your question, the answer would be that it depends. If a pastor holds to expository preaching, there would be many opportunities to preach and teach on all manner of theology, and all manner of applications of that theology, to the extent the pastor goes deep into application (and there are different schools of thought on this, as I'm sure you know as a TMS grad).

I would pray that a pastor is faithful to preach the whole counsel of God, and I believe expository preaching is an ideal way to do that. All manner of sin and sanctification would be covered, whether it's sexual immorality, covetousness, laziness, pride, murder (e.g., abortion), theft, and yes, partiality. And if a pastor has a "hobby horse" topic, that would probably come out pretty quickly, and hopefully be corrected by the people in the pastor's life.

As you know from our prior discussions, my concern matches John's, which is that some are seemingly becoming "obsessed" with this issue and are accordingly seeing it everywhere, even in brothers and sisters of goodwill who perhaps do not share the exact same viewpoint or priorities.

Between that and things like the apparent nursing of grievances at times, and most of all the dangerous conflations with the Gospel that some prominent "social justice" advocates put forth (e.g., "Gospel issue", "fully-orbed Gospel", "truncated Gospel"), I believe it's important to speak out and not let many of the more concerning assertions and assumptions of the "social justice" advocates go without challenge and discussion.

Hope this helps clarify and advance the discussion, thanks.


s #93P. J. Tibayanin reply to 89 Thursday, August 30, 2018 at 11:15 AM

Brother Hohn,

Thank you for your response and kindness. Thank you for clearly communicating where you are at and where you see the need for the edification of all the saints. We share that desire. I admit I may not be as successful in accomplishing it as you or other brothers, though!

To my question, you wrote: "I would pray that a pastor is faithful to preach the whole counsel of God, and I believe expository preaching is an ideal way to do that. All manner of sin and sanctification would be covered, whether it's sexual immorality, covetousness, laziness, pride, murder (e.g., abortion), theft, and yes, partiality."

Am I right to understand you as saying if a pastor in preaching the whole counsel of God did not cover abortion as murder in America in this generation he would not be faithful (at that specific point, not in general)?

Your brother,

P. J. Tibayan, Bethany Baptist Church, Bellflower, CA


#94Hohn Cin reply to 93 Thursday, August 30, 2018 at 11:38 AM

Not to dodge, but again, I'd have to say it depends. How long has he been preaching at the congregation? What books and letters of the Bible has he been preaching through? Does he have a particular conviction about preaching on specific application?

In my opinion -- and note well that I am qualifying it as such -- the holocaust of abortion is the single most pressing "justice" issue facing the US. Accordingly, I'd like to think that it would come up at some point in a pastor's preaching.

Unlike the AHA zealots, however (who honestly bear some resemblances to some of the most extreme "social justice" advocates, in my view), I do not expect that the pastor would or should or must bring it up every week or month or whatever.

Referring back to the liberty of conscience concept (see, e.g., WCF 20.2), this is a matter ultimately subject to the stewardship and calling of the pastor, as constrained by the text of the book or letter he's marching through, for expositors. In that light, it should be exegetically- rather than eisegetically- based, obviously.

And again, if a specific application point comes up week-after-week as a hobby horse, hopefully the people in the pastor's life can correct that tendency, or if not, that the congregation would recognize this unbalanced focus and react accordingly.


#97 P. J. Tibayanin reply to 94 Thursday, August 30, 2018 at 1:00 PM

Brother Hohn,

(I'm not sure if my other reply went through so this may be a similar double)

You wrote: How long has he been preaching at the congregation? What books and letters of the Bible has he been preaching through? Does he have a particular conviction about preaching on specific application?

Response: Let's say he's been preaching for 10 years on Genesis, Exodus, Matthew, Romans, and James (or whatever other books you think are especially relevant to this horrific injustice). Let's say he doesn't have a particular conviction for abortion and doesn't preach or apply to the text to it because he does not think it is that important for their following of Jesus as a church or as individuals.

You say you'd "like to think that it would come up at some point in a pastor's preaching." I concur.

If preaching/discipling against abortion did not come up and was not covered in this 10 year pastoral ministry covering books of the Bible applying to abortion, would he, on this specific point (not in general), be unfaithful?

Your brother in Christ,

P. J. Tibayan, Bethany Baptist Church, Bellflower, CA


#100 Hohn Cin reply to 97 Thursday, August 30, 2018 at 3:34 PM

I'm not sure faithful/unfaithful is the best way to look at it, honestly. It's perhaps more of a missed opportunity. But yes (emphasis added by PJ), I would normally expect that a pastor preaching through James would cover the sin of partiality, just as a pastor preaching through Exodus would cover the Ten Commandments and murder.

As our sister Susan S pointed out, however, I don't think one can credibly draw an analogy between preaching about a clear Scriptural imperative such as murder (or partiality for that matter), and a broad-brush guilt-by-association concept of ethnocentric oppression as you seem to be asserting.

I've now striven to answer your questions a few times now. Will you do our sister Susan the courtesy of answering her questions from, say, post #90?

(We've covered her post #92 and I believe from other comments you've made that you would agree that other ethnic groups are also capable of the sin of partiality vis-a-vis other ethnic groups -- and thus not just white folks are capable of being guilty of it -- from her post #17... but please do let me know if I'm mistaken.)


#90Susan Sin reply to 87 Thursday, August 30, 2018 at 10:49 AM

P. J., How would you feel if you were sitting under a white pastor and he publicly stated that the number of babies born to unwed mothers is significantly higher, per capita, among blacks, as is the slaughter of their unborn children. That the murder rate is higher among blacks. That crime rates are higher among blacks than other racial groups, per capita, and that blacks are more likely to be noncompliant and resistant when confronted by a police officer than people of other racial groups. That blacks constantly complain about racial profiling, while ignoring the fact that when most of the calls police are responding to involve suspects identified as black, they will be more likely to be looking for and questioning black people in search of said suspects. That most of the shootings of black suspects occur when the suspect is resisting arrest or appears to pose an eminent threat to a police officer or other person's life. That blacks are disproportionately incarcerated because of these facts?

Given that these things are true, and I believe they are, as have asked a 30 year veteran police officer about these things (and asked if black officers see this too, which he affirmed), do you think that 'discipling' one's congregation about these apparently 'systemic' problems of the black community and charging one's congregation to do what they can to eliminate these problems, might foster resentment toward blacks, among whites? Wouldn't it condone prejudice in the minds of congregants? How would the black brothers and sisters in the congregation feel about this? Would this encourage unity in the body and discourage evaluating people by the color of their skin? Might this approach be divisive in the body of Christ? Would the black Christians who have not been guilty of said crimes feel falsely accused by this 'systemic oppression' language? After all, many white citizens as well as police officers, have been victimized by black crime, which qualifies as 'oppression'.

Would giving public attention to these things advance the gospel in any way? Could it possibly hinder the gospel? Might you think that this pastor is racist in stating this systemic conduction among blacks?


#104 P. J. Tibayanin reply to 90 Thursday, August 30, 2018 at 6:15 PM

Hi Sister Susan! Thank you for your thoughtful questions! Here are all to brief but straightforward responses. I'm sorry for not responding to your comments, my schedule is packed and I confess I've only carefully read Brother Phil's comments and then the last few of Brother Hohn's.

How would you feel if you were sitting under a white pastor and he publicly stated that...blacks are disproportionately incarcerated because of these facts?

I would feel sadness, grief, and resolve to continue to help people see that part of the cause of these things is ethnocentric oppression and its continued effects. I would mourn since Jesus said, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."

You wrote: Given that these things are true, and I believe they are, as have asked a 30 year veteran police officer about these things (and asked if black officers see this too, which he affirmed), do you think that 'discipling' one's congregation about these apparently 'systemic' problems of the black community and charging one's congregation to do what they can to eliminate these problems, might foster resentment toward blacks, among whites?

It depends if they disciple them to love with discernment as to both the personal responsibility of the community and the ethnocentric oppression or simply choose one and not the other. If just personal responsibility and forgiveness is preached it might foster resentment toward African-Americans, among European-Americans. If a more biblically accurate assessment of both ethnocentric oppression and personal responsibility and forgiveness were preached I think it would not as likely foster the resentment.

You wrote: Wouldn't it condone prejudice in the minds of congregants?

If taught merely as personal responsibility and just forgive and in Christ all other problems go away, then yes. If a more biblical assessment, it still might cause them to pre-judge, but their judgment would be (1) more accurate and (2) more compassionate.

You wrote: How would the black brothers and sisters in the congregation feel about this?

You would have to ask African American brothers and sisters this question. It's a good one! I just am unable.

You asked: Would this encourage unity in the body and discourage evaluating people by the color of their skin? Might this approach be divisive in the body of Christ?

It would encourage unity and not division if ethnocentric oppression were a main tenet of the teaching alongside personal responsibility and forgiveness, except among those who deny the reality or urgency of ethnocentric oppression. We would be obeying Rom 12.15-16: "Weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own estimation."

You asked: Would the black Christians who have not been guilty of said crimes feel falsely accused by this 'systemic oppression' language?

I don't think so from the African Americans I know and have talked to in this discussion but we should ask them.

You asked: Would giving public attention to these things advance the gospel in any way?

Yes. Jesus said, "Blessed are the reconcilers... let your light shine before men so they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven" (Matt 5.9, 16).

You asked: Could it possibly hinder the gospel? Might you think that this pastor is racist in stating this systemic conduction among blacks?

In the short run, it can because Christians who deny the reality of ethnocentric oppression today will want to argue about the implications of its existence as these threads prove. In the long run, the truth is resilient so God's people will eventually find their way and the gospel will go forward because Christ builds his church despite our sins and blind spots. Praise Jesus! I wouldn't think the pastor is racist unless he misdiagnosed the problem stating the existence of ethnocentric oppression if it did not exist.

Thanks for the questions, sister. My guess is that my answers create more questions and objections and is less helpful for you than remaining silent. I hope not. I will not respond to any more comments on this thread from anyone but if you want to contact me leave your contact info with Brother Hohn and I'll reach out to you personally as soon as possible.

May the Lord bless you and your church family as you seek to obey all that Christ has commanded us (Matt 28.20).

Your brother in Christ, P. J. Tibayan, Bethany Baptist Church, Bellflower, CA


Brother Hohn asked me to update this with the background conversation he had with Susan for the last two exchanges I posted, so I post them here for a fuller context:

#96 Susan S in reply to 89Thursday, August 30, 2018 at 12:17 PM

Hi Hohn, I've appreciated your responses in this discussion. You have rightly called P.J. to account for his actual statements of believe regarding ethnocentric oppression of whites against blacks, even if they are not conscious of it. It's pretty hard to escape the undeniable accusation there (and massive judgment of all white Christians).

And here it is---the implication that a "faithful" pastor would have to identify abortion as wrong, from the pulpit, ergo, a 'faithful' pastor must call all white Christians to repent of ethnocentric oppression and racism toward blacks:

"Am I right to understand you as saying if a pastor in preaching the whole counsel of God did not cover abortion as murder in America in this generation he would not be faithful (at that specific point, not in general)?"

Logical fallacy, P.J.

Hohn, Do you think that my questions of P. J. are valid and worthy of a response? Posts #17, #90 and #92? I see that he is responding to you and Phil, but not me. I'm beginning to wonder if this is because I'm a woman. Perhaps he assumes me to be theologically ignorant? Or maybe it is my gender plus the fact that I am not well-known (identified as a ministering associate of John MacArthur)? Maybe he has an unconscious partiality toward men when it comes to believing that their perceptions are worth his time to address. Oh, the oppression that women face!

I say these things because it is so easy to assume prejudices of others but not see oneself as capable of the same, thus pertinent to this discussion ;-)

Anyway, would you do me the favor of reading my three comments/questions and telling me if you think they are relevant, such that P.J.'s honest response to them might contribute to further understanding? My last two comments have posted in the middle of your discussion with him, and are responses to it, so the avoidance stands out.

Thanks for taking a look

#99Hohn Cin reply to 96 Thursday, August 30, 2018 at 2:55 PM

I think your questions are valid. I actually thought to myself before you posted this that the point you raise in #92 was a good one, specifically that the two situations that PJ appears to compare (that abortion is murder, vs. his assertion and assumption of "ethnocentric oppression") are not analogous.

I wasn't sure where you were going at first in #90, but when I saw you arguing against the (somewhat extreme and also disputable at various points) hypothetical situation you posed, and were merely using it to draw a powerful analogy I thought it was an especially apt point.

I will say that to be fair to PJ, he has received many responses, and I personally don't expect him to answer every single one. That he has chosen to answer only Phil and then me, I will leave to him to explain, should he feel so inclined. Thanks for your participation in this discussion, I have appreciated your viewpoint!