Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Review of Carson's and Keller's response to ER2

Carson and Keller, the representatives as it were of the Gospel Coalition (TGC), have published a response to the Elephant Room 2 fiasco. I would like to look at the response in this post.

As a response in general, it attempts to be irenic yet firm in its doctrinal stand. Point 1 addresses the issue of the Trinity, and here they did an excellent job in giving a brief summary of the doctrine of the Trinity. Point 2 deals with what they call "Biblicism One" and "Biblicism Two." It is an interesting point except the fact that the term "biblicism" normally refers to some form of "Biblicism One." Furthermore, Carson and Keller were too kind to Jakes, who as a public teacher is not to be engaged in the same way as a private Christian (c.f. Jas. 3:1; Titus 1:10, 11, 13).

Carson and Keller did a reasonable job in dealing with the aspect of race, though it must be said that the unhappiness of the African-American council members is their own fault - the fault of TGC, which selectively deals with error when it comes to someone from their own camp (i.e. MacDonald). If they have instead deal with error regardless of who promotes it, then they would have exposed Jakes in the same way as they have exposed [Rob] Bell, and not be quiet about the former because the person involved was James MacDonald, a former council member.

Issue 6 on private and public is reasonable, except that Carson and Keller has missed the boat altogether in dealing with the issue. No doubt if MacDonald thought that Jakes was orthodox he should have dealt with it in a private setting, which I concur with Carson and Keller. It is however Carson's and Keller's extrapolation to the blogsphere which is extremely questionable.

It can be seen so far that items 1, 2, 3, 5 and parts of 4 and 6 are generally commendable. I would now focus on the errors of this response to the ER2 fiasco.

Item number 4 deals with the issue of love and truth. Certainly both are needed, and it is to their credit that Carson and Keller admitted they may have erred in either or both of these aspects. The problem however is that they seem not to see the forest but the trees. The issue is not so much that TGC is silent and not speaking the truth, but that they did not rebuke MacDonald for his compromise. This article of theirs for example generally speaks the truth, but they did not admonish MacDonald, who as a public teacher ought to be rebuked publicly! Even in this piece, they did not criticize MacDonald's compromise of the Gospel but only imply that he was not right. Does the TGC thinks that Titus 1:13 is applicable in the Church? Or perhaps do they think Titus 1:13 is only applicable within the local church body?

It is one thing to say that we must be loving and kind. But kindness to wolves is cruelty to the sheep. "Loving and kind" should not be the default setting in dealing with those who are teaching wrong doctrine, at least not the type of "love" that is present in New Evangelicalism. The love for false teachers is the tough love that desires their repentance, not a "love" that allows them access to the sheep.

This ties in with point 6. By invoking John Calvin's practice of the Ordinary Censure which meets behind closed doors, Carson and Keller insinuates that charges of compromise etc should remain private and behind closed doors. This is however a false analogy. The Ordinary Censure does not deal with known heretics and false teachers. It most certainly was not invoked in the [open door] trial of the anti-Trinitarian heretic Michael Servetus! Public sins require public examination even trials and judgment! The analogy is terrible to say the least. It shows one of the major errors in New Evangelicalism with its disdain for being seen as polemical even if the situation demands it.

Carson and Keller therefore has written an interesting and generally orthodox response to ER2. They remain firm in their doctrinal stand on essential doctrines like the Trinity. Yet at the same time, they perpetuate the exact same blind spots as the New Evangelicalism that preceded them, unable to see that they have failed to obey the biblical injunctive to rebuke public errors and compromise publicly.

6 comments:

Larry said...

Would Ezek 14:9 be any indication for this problem or am I reaching. Should read it in context.

mwhenry said...

I'm not as eloquent as you, so I'll just say it. Keller and Carson's piece was wimpy, fluffball, and timid.
It did not rebuke the many who needed it, the Driscoll, the Furtick, the Loritts, and of course MacDonald. The underlying issues that cause the ER2 type "events" were not touched.
Can you really have a brother call brothers Nazis and not call him out? Can you threaten brothers with arrest and not be called out? Can you be a "pastor" who has porn visions and not be called out?
Apparently so if your the GC. The timidity and callousness towards the havoc, divisiveness, rancor and disrespect to so many parties and the gospel by so many, caused by the entirety of ER2 is untouched by Carson and Keller.

PuritanReformed said...

@Larry:

I don't see what you are driving at

PuritanReformed said...

@mwhenry:

indeed it is.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Thanks for posting the link to D.A. Carson's critique of T.D. Jakes. I skimmed it but will need to read it more carefully tomorrow. One point he made was interesting. Augustine of Hippo was a North African and most likely a black man. Augustine was the church father who stood against the Pelagian heresy of his day. Without Augustine the Protestant Reformation might have never happened. The majority of the Reformers were Augustinians.

In Christ,

Charlie

PuritanReformed said...

@Charlies:

indeed.