Monday, January 16, 2012

DeYoung's follow up, and the topsy-turvy world of New Evangelicalism

Pastor Kevin DeYoung has written a follow up post to the Jeff Bethke video saga. In this post, Bethke has contacted him and the two of them had a cordial conversation via email. Such is being held out as the way Christians should resolve conflicts, but is that really the case?

First of all, we note that the entire issue of Bethke's attack on the Institutional Church, which as we have seen was not mentioned by DeYoung in this earlier response, was not even addressed. Bethke did not see his error in his attack on the Church. Sure, the Church was mentioned, but it was a minimalist idea of the Church. Remember, Bethke was against the forms associated with the institutional church, and sneered at those who followed these forms as mere religiosity without true love for Christ. One of course wonders how he knows the hearts of these church-goers. How does he know that those who follow the forms but do not have his "burning in the bosom" are hypocrites who are like those who act "like a church kid, while addicted to pornography"? Is he given the nefarious gift of "discernment" a la Mark Driscoll to see the secret sins of these "religious but unconverted" people?

Hypocritical judgmentalism stinks, and nowhere does it stink more from those who attack the institutional Church and her forms, while boasting in his "weaknesses." Let's say it bluntly: Bethke is judgmental. He has not repented of his attacks on the institutional church and her forms, and DeYoung did not call him to repent of that. What's the point of being loving if the core sin is not addressed? To those who extol DeYoung's approach of resolving conflict, what's the point of such "conflict resolution" if in the end Bethke has not repented of his sin?

Some may of course find my tone objectionable, and I make no apologies for that. Realize however that this is a blog post, not a counseling session! This is about principles, not people. People are not blog posts neither are they comments. Don't expect me to give a counseling session online, as if that is even possible.

Secondly, while we are on the issue of "tone," note that in the New [Evangelical] Calvinism, the topsy-turvy nature of how they speak can be seen when we contrast two posts by DeYoung. The first example is the post attacking single men in their late 20s for not having a wife. The second one is the follow-up piece DeYoung wrote regarding the saga which we have seen. Note the difference in tone. In the first, DeYoung literally hammered single guys in their late 20s for not having a wife, accusing them of being immature brats who are more interested in playing video games and fooling around. In the second, we see DeYoung pastorally interacting with the errors of the viral video and lovingly called Bethke to be more biblical. The first regards practice and the personal lives of young men. The second regard doctrine. True to the New Evangelical spirit, errors in practice (real or perceived) are regarded as serious offences, whereas errors of doctrine is treated with kids' gloves. It cannot be more topsy-turvy than this. And then one wonders why despite having the Gospel preached, the churches are full of moralism. Why not? It would be a miracle if it wasn't! What one truly believes does translate to practice. If one esteems errors in practice as more serious than errors in doctrine, then of course one will treat errors in practice as more serious than errors in doctrine! The flock will follow the example of their shepherds and do the same, and then one wonders why the preaching of the Gospel translate to the message of "live godly lives and do good works." They are just learning that from their shepherds who do the very same thing.

If a pastor is more grieved by pornography than grieved by the promoting of false doctrine, then they shouldn't be too surprised when their flock think that doctrine is less important than practice. If the church winks at one of the flock embracing for example evolution, while not being willing to fully forgive an ex-homosexual, the church has embraced moralism. Don't bother telling me that you are "Gospel-centered" or whatever slogans you come up with. Your practice reveal what you truly believe.

4 comments:

Steve Lumbley said...

Do you really think Bethke has committed a sin by doing this video? He may be guilty of perpetuating some untrue stereotypes but is that really sin or just a lack of maturity and perspective?

I think DeYoung was correct when he said it all depends on how you hear the word religion. For many of us the word has many negative connotations. When I hear the word religion I automatically separate it from the true church or ekklesia of God. From that standpoint I did not see this as an attack on the church at all

mwhenry said...

As I said on DeYoung's blog, yes there was contrition and seeming humility, at least towards DeYoung and perhaps the outrage the video engendered.
It is astounding that folks make videos or blogs which they well know have the potential to reach millions yet are surprised when those millions don't hit the "like" button so fast.
There was so little right about the video it is easy just to bash it. Its the age old trick, intended or not, of setting up a straw man everyone can identify with and let the guns fire.
I refuse to bend to the "R" word being in the same category as the "N" word, or some other hot button word.
Yeah, I'm religious, and I am not ashamed of it. And I'm old too, so that's probably a bad thing. All videos like that do are to divide the body, and in no way builds it up.

PuritanReformed said...

@Steve:

he did not commit a sin by merely doing a video. The video only makes his sin visible to anyone who watches it.

Lack of maturity and perspective is sin. It is a lesser sin because it is (hopefully) done out of ignorance, but sin is sin regardless of whether one knows it or not. For example, ignorance does not make software piracy right. Ignorance merely mitigates the crime. That is one reason why Christians ought to be earnest in knowing God's laws, because God is not going to judge people based upon their knowledge of His laws but by them as the objective standards.

It is true that Bethke is defining "religion" in a negative way. My beef with him however has less to do with his re-definition of religion, but with his attack on religious forms. He is not merely saying that "religion" as defined as "a set of rules and rituals absent of a personal relationship with God" is bad, but he is denigrating "religion" in those who seem to go through the motions of rituals and forms. The problem is, how does one know whether those whose lives seem fine, who follow rituals and forms, are merely play-acting (like the poem said) and being hypocritical?

This is the part that Bethke is in error. It is a sin to cast doubts on the salvation of church-goers who do not seem to have his "damascus-road experience" and accuse them of play-acting.

PuritanReformed said...

@mwhenry:

indeed, it divides Christians and does not build them up.