Saturday, April 20, 2019

Yech. What's wrong with us?

So I stumbled upon this tweet: (UPDATE: It appears that the tweet was deleted.)

This suggests that two celebrity teachers were dismissed as teaching fellows from another celebrity fueled parachurch organization 1 because they are soft on Social Justice (SJ). Exactly how far Mohler and Duncan had to deviate from the conservative standard in order to be labelled as "compromising" is unclear, but I suspect it is of the order of a Planck Length.

I don’t know if this tweet is true. I never heard of Jon Harris (he may be a rising star for all I know) so I don’t know how reliable he is, and he didn’t provide any conformation. From his twitter feed he seems to be greatly concerned about any change in evangelism in regards to social justice, as if American Christianity has already found the sweet spot thank you very much, and any leftward step amounts to gospel capitulation. 2

I'm not sure I can ever avoid wincing at the self-promoting bromide "Let us remember how to speak the truth in love [this summer] as this debate intensifies."

The whole story (not the tweet, that's just a tweet) makes me want to vomit in my mouth.  It somehow encapsulates what is, in my opinion, many of the problems in modern American Christianity:
  • Tribalism (I'm right and you're a heretic hysteria) fueled by social media 
  • Celebrity pastors
  • Powerful seminaries 
  • Powerful parachurch organizations 
  • Money-making conferences paying enormous speaking fees for headliners
  • Chicken Little/slippery-slope pronouncements of the impending demise of the church
  • The American evangelical bromance with conservative American politics 3
Eisenhower was prescient when he warned the country about the military industrial complex. Someone should have warned us (maybe someone did) about the evangelical industrial complex, where giant, allegedly Christian institutions wield enormous influence on the dialog and direction of American evangelicalism.

What to do? I don't know. I don't have a blasted clue.

I don’t think having no seminaries is the correct answer, but if I had to choose between the current mode, in which seminaries are like major private universities with politician-schmoozing presidents, influence-peddling with major donors, and tenured faculty who are academics first and pastors, if at all, second, I’d seriously opt for no seminaries. There has to be a better model.

I think all associations are problematic. I really can't think of an exception, even those I have supported. Coalitions, conventions, associations, councils, statements, institutes—they will all devolve into cliques, status-quo preserving cover-up machines, power-strugglers, "greater-good" rationalizers, insider v. outsider mentalities, and theological bullies.

One good thought to end with a joyous smile:

He is risen. He is risen indeed.

1 I didn't know Ligonier had teaching fellows. But of course they do.

2 I suspect the founders of the SBC felt much the same way about abolitionist Christians.

3 I am not a socialist, not by a long shot. But the bible does not endorse capitalism. I don't think the bible endorses any economic system, especially for all people and for all time. However if you do foolishly want to argue comparative economic systems based on scripture, I think socialism will have the upper hand.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, dear. God help us. No doubt He is, if we would pay attention.