The Brilliant Dr. Ed Welch and Gospel-Driven Failure
As the resurgence of the Authentic Calvinism pandemic spreads across this country, the absurdity becomes easier to write about every day. In the name of faith, the way Christians are being led into turning off their minds is astounding. But it is a rheostat modus operandi, so those who are being gradually assimilated into this philosophy don’t see it happening. Unfortunately, the lost world and Christian producers are perplexed by all of this.
CCEF is the counseling education wing of Westminster Seminary. Dr. David Powlison, Paul David Tripp, and Dr. Ed Welch, among others, have effectively spread this philosophy throughout the rest of the biblical counseling world. An indifferent attitude toward humanity in general is the result. Different world philosophies will perceive humanity differently. But more and more, Christianity is in league with nihilism which is a kissing cousin to authentic Reformed theology.
It has its roots in Gnosticism which has always been an elitist philosophy among the upper class. Philip J. Lee classifies Gnosticism as an upper socioeconomic phenomenon in his book, Against the Protestant Gnostics. It is no accident that New Calvinism is primarily an upper class phenomenon. Those who have to live in the real world to survive are perplexed by the logic; i.e., those who have to maintain a real job (or three jobs) in a horrible economy to survive. They have to trust Christian academia to deliver up the deeper things of God’s truth that they don’t have time to study, and pay good hard-earned money for it. Perhaps in all of church history, this sacred trust has never been violated in a greater way than in our day. Lee also classifies it as driven by hopelessness with the solution being an escape from realty. At the crux of Reformed theology is the idea that all reality is perceived from understanding how worthless we are as the way to understand God’s holiness. This enables us to abandon the pain and reality of the present world. Happiness is replaced by resurrection experiences that bring joy in understanding our utter worthlessness because we are completely free from the consequences. Hence, as one New Calvinist stated it:
What, then, is the subjective power of this message? Firstly, we find that there is real, objective freedom, the kind that, yes, can be experienced subjectively. We are freed from having to worry about the legitimacy of experiences; our claims of self-improvement are no longer seen as a basis of our witness or faith. In other words, we are freed from ourselves, from the tumultuous ebb and flow of our inner lives and the outward circumstances; anyone in Christ will be saved despite those things. We can observe our own turmoil without identifying with it.
This is really the primarily appeal of Reformed theology: sanctified escapism through worm theology. Dr. Welch recently posted Being a Loser and the Freedom to Fail on CCEF’s blog. It begins this way:
After accepting a CEO position at a non-profit, in which he could make or break the organization’s future, he said, “I believe that one of the great comforts of the gospel is the freedom to fail.” I heard this echoed recently by a friend when he made a somewhat risky vocational decision. Though he struggles with the opinions of others, he was able to say: “the worst I can do is fail.” He smiled as he said it, and I rejoiced in his spiritual maturity, which clearly surpasses my own.
There are so many benefits available in the death and resurrection of Jesus. The freedom to fail is a fine one, given how most of us feel like a failure.
The metaphysical stupidity of this is revealed in the following rhetorical question: Who would like to have a gospel-centered heart surgeon scheduled to perform your quadruple bypass? As you’re being wheeled into the operating room, he looks at you with a smile on his face as says: “I believe that one of the great comforts of the gospel is the freedom to fail.”
This philosophy is wreaking havoc on the church en masse, and then Christians are going to these guys to fix the problem! It’s like going to Dr. Kevorkian for the following presentation problem: “I’m suicidal.” The brilliant Dr. Welch continues:
Then listen to Scripture. You’ll find a number of divine responses. Here are just two.
The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. (James 1:9-10)
Consider how you, as a brother in humble circumstances, have been singled out from the beginning of time to belong to God and, as you throw your lot in with Jesus, you have all of Christ’s inheritance. Your stature, indeed, is quite high.
I appreciate those words, and sometimes they are helpful, but I find more comfort— and some humor—in these:
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. (1 Cor.1:26-29)
In context, the apostle Paul is actually speaking to the problem of false teachers like Ed Welch that intimidate Christians of the lower uneducated socioeconomic class with vain philosophy. Paul’s point is that God uses those of the lower class to refute puffed-up intellectuals with His wisdom. Welch uses these same verses to make the case that we should glory in our ineptness. Not so. The opposite is true.
I am presently in a deep study concerning God’s wilderness Tabernacle. He had specific plans concerning the Tabernacles construction, but also left much of the project to the creativity of the Israelites. He also demanded a skillful performance. All that was instructed was to be performed, “skillfully.” And our sanctification is no different. We are to make the best of the talents we have been given. Christ had no comforting words for those who do not approach our duties in sanctification with all zeal. The Tabernacle wasn’t built by spiritual slackers. Drawing from Welch’s last paragraph, these are NOT the words that I will be speaking to Susan as they are wheeling her in for surgery next month:
(Speaking softly, while stroking her hair softly): now Susan, I have chosen a gospel-centered surgeon for you. He has freedom in Christ, so he is not judged by the world’s standards—he has the freedom to fail. And you know sweety, we all fail every day. He also told me that like most of us, he feels like a failure. So my dear, let’s give this man the freedom to be human—after all, it’s not about what we do, but what Jesus has done. There are more important things in life than boasting about a successful surgery.
Though we may find humor in what is ridiculous, these are the chief surgeons of the biblical counseling movement in our day. And that’s not funny—it’s terrifying.