by Martin Bobgan

At the end of a seminar promoting 12-Step programs for Christians, a person from the audience asked a question, “Have you read 12 Steps to Destruction by Martin and Deidre Bobgan?” Suddenly the speaker shifted from issues to a personal attack on us. That is what is known as ad hominem. The dictionary defines ad hominem as “appealing to one’s prejudices rather than to reason, as by attacking one’s opponent rather than debating the issue.”

Over the years Deidre and I have been the objects of prejudice and personal attack by a number of individuals. These people have either made up these remarks or distorted what others have said

We are open and willing to write and speak on the issues, but some individuals are unwilling to deal with them and resort to ad hominem. A recent incident will suffice to demonstrate this.

An associate pastor of a large California church was speaking in Australia. During the question and answer period he was asked the above question. In his response, he made a number of ad hominem remarks.

A pastor who was present was “stunned by these statements.” He wondered whether to continue using our books and therefore decided to investigate. After a phone call with the Australian pastor, I spoke with the associate pastor from California who had made the remarks.

In order to confront this issue, I had to call two other individuals who were supposed to be the source of the ad hominem remarks. They denied any involvement. Then, after correspondence and phone conversations with the California pastor, he sent a letter of apology to us, which we forwarded to Australia to be shared with those at the two conferences where our name came up.

One of my favorite examples of the difference between directing a remark at us or at what we have written occurred at a seminary where we were introduced. A professor at the seminary referred to one of our books and then said, “I would now like to introduce the couple who wrote that appalling book.” I had no problem with that introduction. He was referring to our book and not to us. However, if he had said, “I would now like to introduce the appalling couple who wrote the book,” then I would have objected. That would have been at least ad hominem, if not slander.

My reason for mentioning this is to let our readers know that ad hominem is often resorted to in order to avoid dealing with the issues. We direct our criticisms to what the psychologizers teach. Let’s start with the issues and stay with the issues. While we do not always wish to confront ad hominem comments made privately by individuals, we will confront such comments made publicly. If you hear of any, please let us know.

(From PAL, V1N3)