Ugh. This sort of thing irritates me.
I’m not saying Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill as a whole haven’t blown it. Frankly, I haven’t been at a church yet where the leadership, in some sense, hasn’t blown it. I have personally been a member at a church with an international name for itself, and gotten squashed – squashed no less by people who were trying very hard to do the right thing. Ultimately, I got to the point where I concluded I couldn’t make the changes I thought should be made, and I couldn’t get any benefit to anybody by my staying there, unhappy. So I left.
But here’s the thing. I left in part because I determined that there was nothing I could do to make a difference in what I thought was a bad set-up. Now that I’ve been gone for a number of years, how much less can I make that change? I can’t. I can take a few notes and share them for people’s future reference. I can say, “this kind of behavior has this kind of effect. We should build churches this way and not that way.”
But there is no benefit to anybody in my saying, “thus and so church is a nasty place. It was nasty when I was there, and from what I hear it hasn’t gotten any better.” Who would be my audience? Current members of the church, who know more than I do? Potential fans? The governing body of the church? What am I, the Protestant police?
I get the irony of my criticizing somebody for talking about the root of bitterness. She’s obviously much closer to the situation she’s talking about than I am. But it isn’t working for me. There obviously ought to be people outside of a situation, who have the capital to address that situation without capitalizing on it. I just think that, if your biggest source of fame or notoriety is your negative opinion of somebody else, you might do well to find something else to talk about for a while.
I just came across this post by Chris Goforth, about how he’s “pushed away” by a certain kind of Christianity, “mostly people who practice religion and call it Christianity.” It was a little bit surreal for me, because he sounds like he’s mad at me. He lashes out at some things that are wrong, kind of obviously wrong, but also quite a bit like the things that I actually believe, like a bad caricature. Except that bit about trying to get people to say the sinner’s prayer. That’s just dumb.
- I believe that if someone isn’t saved, they are wicked, and going to hell. I don’t believe that every unsaved person is necessarily grossly immoral, in a noticeably public way, but I also doubt that they are living up to their own standards, let alone God’s. I believe they think they can justify themselves. I believe that if a person is saved, they are probably still wicked, but that their disposition toward God has changed, and that He doesn’t count their sins against them. They probably aren’t living up to even their own standards, but by the grace of God, their standards are being corrected, and they are seeing long-term improvement.
- I believe that men have a responsibility to lead in a way that women don’t have, particularly in regards to marriage and church government. I believe that churches should have government. I don’t understand 1 Timothy 2:12 very well, but it’s in my Bible and I want to obey God’s word.
- I believe that homeschooling is a pretty good idea, and that every parent should take responsibility for their child’s education, no matter where they go to school. I think that public schools are a good option for people who can’t afford other options, but that there’s a danger that the school will waste their child’s time, and teach values that might undermine Christian faith.
- I believe that girls should dress modestly, but that no level of modesty can constrain another person’s heart, particularly in a world as saturated as we are with pornography. I can’t imagine boys today being “comfortable in their bodies” enough to wear some of the things that they sell to 10 year old girls.
- I believe that it’s important to watch what media comes into your home for a myriad of reasons. There are some pretty insulting songs and TV shows out there, and we have a responsibility to think on things that are worthy, true, etc.
- I believe that I can’t save anyone, not even my children. I don’t think that people are my personal salvation projects, but I do believe that God has selected a number from every people group in the world to be drawn to him, and that they only means he’s established to do that is other people who believe the good news of Jesus Christ.
- I believe that, in regards to my children, I have two distinct,but related duties: to civilize them and to evangelize them. Sometimes people want to keep one and drop the other, but really, nobody wants their children to run around dirty, hunting their food with their bare hands, and nobody wants their children to go to hell. The gospel gradually results civilization, but civilization doesn’t result in evangelism. Making up new rules is the stuff of civilization. Honestly, those rules can be helpful, unless they aren’t.
- I believe that clip at the end of his post is pretty darn funny.
Like I said – these are not the convictions that Chris Goforth has a problem with. At least, I don’t think they are. But they’re pretty close. And that makes me want to ask a lot of questions.
- Which is more common, my convictions, or the caricature?
- Can anyone tell the difference?
- Was he taught the caricature from the pulpit, or was it just something he picked up off the street?
- If he hears someone spouting a foolish bit of pharisaism, does he rebuff them, or cringe and turn away?
- Is Mr. Goforth a member of a church? What does his church leadership teach about these issues?
- Would his church leadership be quick to correct the caricatures from the pulpit?
- Do they set themselves up as something new and fresh and different, compared to people with my convictions?
- Does anybody dialogue in the church anymore? Or do we just should past each other while making church signs?