Okay, so here’s the situation. Stephen Young wrote an article on “Protective Strategies” in “Evangelical Inerrantist Scholarship” and Christopher Skinner predicted that responses would be forthcoming. Steve Hays then responded to the article. In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that I’m not familiar with either Young or Skinner. I’ve heard Skinner’s name in the blogosphere and on Twitter but I haven’t read any of his work or interacted with him personally. I’ve not heard of Young before this. Hays on the other hand I know (inasmuch as I can “know” someone whom I’ve never met in person). But we’ve interacted aplenty over the past few years.
I said all that to say this: I think that perhaps Skinner has overreacted to Hays’ response to Young. I haven’t read Young’s original article so I can’t comment on it. I have read Hays’ response and Skinner’s impressions of Hays’ response. I don’t know if Skinner has a personal or professional relationship with Young. He did call him a “very bright Ph.D. candidate” so at least he holds him in some regard. Hays on the other hand was unknown to Skinner before his response to Young’s article. But it becomes clear that he doesn’t hold Hays in nearly the same regard.
Skinner refers to Hays’ response as “rambling, mostly incoherent” as well as “ludicrous” and “disturbing.” He says that he “shudder[s] to point readers to [Hays’] site for fear that this poster will experience a rise in his daily stats and thereby believe that he is reaching the masses…” Again, I don’t know Skinner or his relationship to Young, but when I read this I wondered why he felt so incensed as to employ that kind of rhetoric. I assumed that he was simply taking up for a friend. Maybe. Maybe not. I don’t know.
But then I skimmed Skinner’s original post where he first mentions Young’s article and saw that he was “someone who once clung tightly to the trappings of the evangelical inerrantist subculture and ultimately found that narrative both deficient and oppressive…” He said that it was “empowering to have someone put a name to the ways in which this subculture continues to exercise its influence over the lives and beliefs of so many.” So Skinner has been affected, for the negative it seems, by Evangelical Inerrantist Scholarship. That helps to make sense of his rhetoric, which reads as someone lashing out against someone who has hurt them.
I didn’t discern anything incoherent, ludicrous, or even remotely disturbing in Hays’ response. It was all very well laid out and reasoned. That’s generally a mark of Hays’ writing. If I were to fault him on anything it would be the not too infrequent typographical errors that make their way into his posts. I’d also add that I was at once slightly amused and annoyed by Skinner’s comment that he didn’t want to spike Hays’ blog stats by linking to his post. Amused because Triablogue has been around for more than a decade and is one of the more popular blogs covering the subject matter it covers. Annoyed because it came off as hubristic.
In any event, read everyone involved and judge for yourselves.