As we look around at the resurgence of reformed theology and see where the movement is being taken, we need to decide what we are going to do. We can go with the flow. We can allow the segment of our camp engaging in what I would call reckless contextualization to set the pace for reformed theology. That would be pretty easy to do. These guys hold to a reformed soteriology (doctrine of salvation), and they preach true Gospel. It would be easy to bite our tongues (no pun intended) and just let some things slide since we are all in the same camp. We could do that, but we shouldn’t. If we are going to call ourselves reformed then we need to make sure that we never stop reforming. If there are segments of our camp that are practicing a philosophy of ministry inconsistent with the doctrines we hold, then we need to speak up.
But be forewarned. If you “rock the boat” of the reformed resurgence then you will be labeled. You with either be a “watch-blogger” or a “angry fundamentalist.” Basically, a “watch-blogger” is someone who is young and questions prominent reformed pastors. An “angry fundamentalist” is someone who is older and criticizes prominent reformed pastors. The perfect example was the reaction to John MacArthur’s recent words to our group. Rather than deal with the substance of MacArthur’s words what happened? Most people simply shouted him down as an angry fundamentalist who was finally showing his true colors. That is such a same, not because we had to agree with everything he said, but because we should’ve listened. (Plus, if you go back in history a little bit you’ll find out that some of the most vocal opponents MacArthur has ever had were fundamentalist.)
Carl Trueman recently made a similar point when he made several observations about how prominent leaders deal with criticism:
the practice of attack being the best form of defence. By characterising criticism in advance as driven by hate or sectarianism, they effectively make it impossible, or at least very difficult, for anyone to raise any concerns. They also engage in remarkable feats of clairvoyance concerning the future motivation of anyone not convinced by their arguments or actions.
This is true, and it is what we will face. But we shouldn’t care. I don’t like either of those terms and would prefer to have neither attached to me or my ministry. But guess what, it shouldn’t matter what people call us. We can’t let others dictate our actions by re-defining our concerns as illegitimate angry rants. We need to have the same mentality that Machen had. He was fighting the Liberals with their Social Gospel (which is going to make a come back very soon) and devaluing of the Word (which is coming back under the guise of charismatic theology). He didn’t have time to worry about labels. In fact, here is what he said
Do you suppose that I do regret my being called by a term that I greatly dislike, a “Fundamentalist”? Most certainly I do. But in the presence of a great common foe, I have little time to be attacking my brethren who stand with me in defense of the Word of God.
We can’t let a fear of man or a fear of being a fundamentalist prevent us from holding fast not only to the doctrines of reformed theology, but the practices of reformed theology as well.
We have to speak the truth in love. If we do this then we will not have to concern ourselves will the labels that are attached to our criticism.