I don’t remember how we got off track, but about a month ago one of my class discussions took a brief detour on the value of having a theological nemesis. Batman had the Joker, Superman had Lex Luthor, and Spiderman had the Green Goblin, and so we wondered if our pastoral skills might be sharpened by matching wits with someone on the opposite side of the theological spectrum.
I said that my nemeses would probably be Rick Warren for chapter 6 of The Purpose-Driven Life and Brian McLaren for just about everything. And yes, I realize that if Warren is my nemesis then I must also put John Piper and the Jonas Brothers on notice, and for the same reason (both are the shortcut to winning the Kevin Bacon game if you’re trying to get to Rick Warren).
To jog your thinking, here is a smattering of theologians with their nemesis.
Polycarp: Marcion (the “first-born of Satan”)
Cyril of Alexandria: Nestorius
Bernard of Clairvaux: Abelard
Abelard: Fulbert’s friends who neutered him in his sleep (he probably awoke)
Thomas Aquinas: slender Muslim Aristotelians
Young Luther: the &@* Pope
Old Luther: the Jews (and their lies)
John Calvin: Pighius (it’s a huge advantage when your nemesis has a name like this)
George Whitefield: John Wesley
Charles Wesley: George Whitefield
Kierkegaard: Hegel (a genius who was “merely comic”)
Karl Barth: Schleiermacher
Fundamentalists: Billy Graham
Bob Jones, Jr.: Jerry Falwell (“the most dangerous man in America,” a quaint comment which obviously predates the Unabomber)
Jerry Falwell: the purple purse-toting Teletubby (“the most dangerous cartoon on PBS,” and that’s saying something)
Wayne Grudem: William Webb
John MacArthur: Charismatics, Amillennialists, Egalitarians, Arminians, Charles Ryrie, et al.
Michael Horton: Charles Finney
Pete Rollins: Revelation
Joel Osteen: Jesus