I’m always wary of doing biographical posts, but this one is sufficiently vague and helps me see from whence I came. I stole the title from the book Confessions of an Economic Hit-Man. I haven’t read the book, but that is probably the best title of any book, ever.
In the early 2000s I went from a Baptist mindset to a Reformed Baptist mindset. From then, as was natural with 95% of Reformed Baptists, I went full Reformed paedobaptist. As a Presbyterian, I was a student of Van Til and Bahnsen. Because I majored in American history in college, and had an interest in cultural apologetics, I became a student of Rushdoony (circa 2004 to 2007).
While Rushdoony had problems, he wrote well, exposed Reformed pietism for what it was, and sought to think Christianly about every arena in which he could live his life. As long as one understands the Christological problems he got into because of his Calvinism, I think one can certainly read Rushdoony with profit.
Between him and Bahnsen I must have listened to over 1,000 lectures on philosophy, law, theology, and apologetics. I do not boast. I speak as a fool.
I knew, though, in order to be fully competent in apologetics, I needed to have a good handle on philosophy. While Van Til specialized in rebutting Hegelian Idealism, and Bahnsen looket at Wittgenstein, and Rushdoony at Berkeley, I thought, whether rightly or wrongly, that my reading would go with the European Continental philosophers. In order to read them, I started reading Dooyeweerd. However, since Mellen Press was then selling Dooyeweerd for the cheap price of $400, and that after volume 1 Dooyeweerd was basically incomprehensible, I decided to settle for reading some of his leading interpreters, namely James K. A. Smith.
Smith is an engaging thinker. He took many of Dooyeweerd’s thoughts, placed them into the Radical Orthodoxy matrix, and mix it with a heavy dose of postmodern liturgical theology. Much of Smith’s project, while superior to the rest of Calvinism, suffers from most of the bizarre inanity in the Emergent Church movement. It is one thing to critique George W. Bush and pretend you are the Prophet Jeremiah in doing so, it is another to offer a hermeneutics and ethics that doesn’t deconstruct (pun intended) into literary and ethical relativism.
Fortunately, though, Smith got me reading Robert Webber. Webber introduced me to the idea of Christus Victor. Around the same time I started reading more of the Fathers and Orthodox guys, though I must admit I didn’t know much of what I was talking about and reading back then.