Young, Restless, and Reformed (and those who are lumped into that group but hate the now cannonized moniker) we have been duped. It’s hard to believe it, and for some it will be even harder to admit it. But it is true.
It wasn’t all that long ago that we were first coming to faith and even more recently when we started realizing the truths of reformed doctrine. It’s been an amazing ride. We can call ourselves Calvinist and we don’t have to be angry about it (sometimes we forget this). Somebody made a lot of money from the Calvin is my Homeboy t-shirts. And limited atonement is not only acceptable, it’s now one of the fruits of the Spirit! It’s awesome. But you can bet it won’t last much longer. In fact, the sun already seems to be setting on our run.
~This is where it’s going to get difficult, but together I think we can make it through.~
The fact of the matter is that we have been duped, or maybe we duped ourselves. The guys who taught us reformed theology–MacArthur, Piper, Sproul–have been set aside and a new (and much cooler) group of leaders have stepped up to the plate. At first we didn’t notice too much. In fact, it was liberating to be able to wear jeans and podcast our theology. We didn’t even have to ask our pastors questions anymore. Every ministry had a FAQ section on its website and Challies or Justin Taylor would let us know if there was any danger out there. But along the way something happened. Somebody realized that it wouldn’t be hard to capitalize on this group of young people hungry for reformed theology and that is exactly what happened.
You don’t believe me? Start going to publisher’s websites and look at how many reformed books are coming out now. Look at the new reformed publishers that have arisen. Look at the “coalitions” and “networks” that have popped up. There is nothing inherently wrong with any of this. However, let’s not be the Naive, Restless, and Reformed. The fact of the matter is that a lot of people are now making a lot of money from our movement. Again that is not necessarily bad. However, it is high time that we realized that in the eyes of many we have become a demographic not a movement.
What does this mean? It means that we better be discerning about how we allow ourselves to be influenced. For instance, think about the blogs that you read. How many of those blogs have advertisers? How many of those blogs are now associated with large ministries or networks? Think about it. Is someone who runs a blog for the Gospel Coalition going to publicly criticize one of it’s own leaders? Probably not.
You scoff. Ok, here is an example. Recently a Mark Driscoll a video came out where he claims to receive visions while he preaches. He calls this the gift of discernment. This is just the kind of thing that the reformed camp has been battling for years now. But did we hear about it on the “reformed blogs?” No. Had Pat Robertson and Joel Olsteen been the culprit my guess is that everyone would have been all over it. However, when it was a guy at the top of the Gospel Coalition… Nothing… Not one word. Why is that? I can’t tell you for sure, but what do you think?
Here’s another example of what I’m talking about. Doug Wilson has a been a long-time and ardent defender of cessationism. His response to the Driscoll video…. “Phil Johnson and Mark Driscoll remind me of the civil war.”
Where is the hilarious satire that not so subtly destroys the viewpoint of his opponent? Instead we get “I’m still a cessationist, but that video wasn’t that bad… and don’t forget to sign up for the conference I am doing with Mark Driscoll.” Oh! Now I get it… too late to cancel the conference.
How about the fact that the topic of the video never came up on the two most significant “reformed blogs” on the internet. What is my point? We shouldn’t look to the “reformed blogs” to provide us with discernment or to protect us. They are fun. Enjoy them. Benefit from them. But don’t forget that most of them have become money-making ventures, which means we have become a demographic. We need to be aware of this if we want this resurgence of reformed theology to continue. If we are not careful our reformed theology is going to turn into nothing more than a fad.
There are two other subtle dangers that I think we need to be careful of if we are going to preserve this resurgence of reformed theology:
1) The Danger of Trading Gospel Clarity for Influence
2) The Fear of Man (and sounding like angry fundamentalist).
Additionally, I think that there are two theological issues coming down the pike that we need to be ready for:
1) Charismatic Theology
2) Liberal Theology
I hope to expound upon these warnings in the coming days, but suffice it to say that these are not new problems. Our fathers dealt with these dangers when they were combating the ecumenical movement and liberal theology. Let’s not fall prey to the same dangers!