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Evangelical World in Turmoil as Debate Rages as to How to Pronounce Richard Mouw’s Last Name

September 6, 2012

From the pages of the McCaskill County Register

Pasadena, California: There is a noticeable tension in the air at Fuller Theological Seminary as crowds gather to hear what is being heralded as the great Christian debate of our time. A thunderous throng comprised of pastors, seminary students, and a few confused Methodists has descended on the campus to hear the debate between Peter Pecksniff, M.div, and Larry van der Hoef, M.div on a subject that has rocked the evangelical community—the pronunciation of Richard Mouw’s last name.

Richard Mouw: Theologian, Philosopher, Author, and subject of current controversy.

This controversy has exploded within the evangelical world, leading prominent figures within the community to compare it to the Great Schism, the Federal Vision Debate, and the longlasting and undecided argument as to whether Dun Scotus or Thomas Aquinas was better at playing foosball. The controversy began several months ago when Robert Petrie of Tillich Theological Seminary referenced Mouw while presenting his thesis. One of his examiners, the right reverend Rosie McAlister-Bivens, corrected his pronunciation of of Mouw’s name. However, Petrie stood by his original pronunciation, and was defended by another one of the examiners, Rev. Francis Filbrick. The debate soon spread from the campus of Tillich Theological Seminary to the local churches, and then throughout the evangelical world.

Petrie, Filbrick, and Pecksniff have asserted that the correct pronunciation of Mouw’s name is “Moe.” This view has been supported by popular evangelicals such as Tim Keller, who says, “I think that’s pretty much the way it’s pronounced,” and Mark Driscoll, who says, “If you don’t pronounce it ‘Moe,’ you probably can’t read.” On the opposing side are those who pronounce the name as “Mao”–supporters include John Piper, Donald Miller, N.T. Wright, and, strangely enough, the late John Robbins. A smaller, splinter group contests that the name is actually properly pronounced “Moo”–these so-called “Bovinians” have been declared as heretical by several mainline Reformed denominations. An even smaller group has arisen that claims that the only way to prounounce Mouw is to imitate the noise that Gary the Snail makes in the Spongebob Squarepants animated television series. Some claim that Nathan Wilson is secretly leading this group, but Wilson himself has declined to comment.

The debate has led to a flurry of writings on the topic from prominent evangelical thinkers. Nancy Pearcey, noted apologist, has stated that the varying pronunciations of Mouw’s name are “fundamentally linked to postmodernism,” an idea she hopes to deal with in greater length in her upcoming book, How Now Shall We Now Then Will Live. Catholic Philosopher and writer Peter Kreeft, Author of Socrates Meets Jesus, Socrates Meets Sarte, Socrates Meets Abbot and Costello, and Socrates Gets Sick of Meeting All These People and Goes Home and Takes a Nap, among others, argues in a recent article that “The controversy is actually nothing new; it is simply a rehashing of the old Augustine/Augustine debate.” (Editor’s note: Kreeft is still in hiding due to the extreme reaction to his latest book, Socrates Meets John Robbins) Theologian and Westminster Theological Seminary Professor John Frame is currently preparing a 600 page systematic treatment of the pronunciation of Mouw’s name—inside sources tell us that the deluxe edition will come with a bonus CD featuring dubstep remixes of some of Frame’s favorite Bach fugues. Finally, Frankie Schaeffer is working on a “tell-all” memoir tentatively titled Sex, Drugs and Richard Mouw, in which Frankie tells how Mouw frowned at him, neglected to respond to his Farmville requests on Facebook, and gave him “what seemed like a friendly pat on the back, but was actually an attempt to start a fight.”

Richard Mouw himself was unavailible for comment.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 7, 2012 3:02 am

    Mouw is actually following a Reformed tradition of having unusual last names. Hence, we have Dooyeweerd, Vollenhoven, Van Reissen, Ridderbos, Rushdoony, Bavinck, Berkof, Kuyper and Kuiper, Van Til, Boettner, Machen, and Clark, as in Gordon Clark. Granted the last one named isn’t unusual, but the commonness of the name led to a credibility gap concerning how truly Reformed he was.

    • September 7, 2012 8:31 pm

      There is substantial evidence that the mundanity of Clark’s last name biased many people against him during the Clark/Van Til controversy.
      Also, I finished “Bringing Heaven Down To Earth” by Nathan Bierma today, to speak of another Reformed Fellow with an odd last name.

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