New Calvinism is not only dangerous to one’s soul, it is very subtle, and its proponents are deliberately covert. A post on what to look for is overdue, and my thanks to the reader who wrote and reminded me of this need. First, know this: in our day, New Calvinist churches will be the rule and not the exception. When you visit a church, assume that it is in the process of being taken over by New Calvinists, or has been in that camp completely for a period of time. Churches that have been solidly New Calvinist for a number of years will have cult-like characteristics.
Now, let me first begin my list by specifically answering the readers question and then I will expand from there: “….and would like to have a few questions to ask a Pastor to be able to know for sure if he is or is not in the NC camp by how the questions are answered. At the top of your head what questions would you recommend be asked that would be very telling?”
1) The biggie: “What hermeneutic do you use when you are preaching? Do you use the grammatical historical hermeneutic, or the redemptive historical hermeneutic?” Whether the pastor is NC or not, a deer in the headlight look will follow because most parishioners of our day do not know any theology. Think about it for a moment. These are two very different ways of approaching the Bible with the results being radically different; but yet, 99% of the parishioners out there have no idea which one their pastor uses.
GHH seeks to be exegetic; all ideas about everything are drawn from the text. RHH has an eisegetic approach; the sole purpose of the Bible is to gain a deeper understanding of Christ. It is sometimes called the “Chrstocentric” hermeneutic.
If the pastor admits that he is RHH, he is a NC. If he becomes aloof, for example; “Well, why don’t you come and see what we are about at one of our services, and then if you still want to talk about theology, we can do that” (by the way, that’s an actual quote from a pastor in response to my question concerning his hermeneutics), he is suspect. If he claims to be both, he is also suspect. If he is NC, he will know the very second you asked that question that he does not want you in his church.
2) Ask him who his favorite teachers are (you may want to word the question in a different way). If aloofness follows, he is suspect. If his favorite teachers are the likes of John Piper et al, he is either undiscerning or NC. In other words, he’s suspect.
3) You can ask him about his view on obedience, but you have to ask it this way in order not to be roper-doped: “Does all legitimate obedience and duty come out of a deeper understanding of our salvation? And when it does, is it a ‘mere natural flow?’”
4) “Do you believe that we are sanctified (set apart) by contemplating the gospel that saved us, or colaboring with the Holy Spirit in applying the word to our life.”
Bottom line: a skilled NC pastor can get around all of these questions except question number one. Even then, he can claim that he uses both hermeneutics.
Things to Look For
5) Is everything going on in the church about the gospel and Jesus? Is all of the music about redemption? Are all the messages about salvation, even though it’s a Christian setting? Is God the Father and the Holy Spirit rarely mentioned?
6) Another biggie: The missing transition communication technique in teaching and conversation. Like number one, this is huge. A message will begin with the subject of our Christian walk, but then will move into the subject of salvation without a transition in subject, as if the two are the same thing. Really, number one and number six are the most significant answers to the reader’s question.
7) The either/or communication technique, or the missing option C communication technique. The classic example is this prayer I heard spoken by a New Calvinist elder: “Lord, forgive us for obeying you in our own efforts.” The prayer insinuates that it’s either all of our effort, or all of something else that we don’t need forgiveness for. New Calvinists use this communication technique over a wide spectrum of teachings.
The Danger Zone
8.) Don’t forget, New Calvinist elders believe they have authority over you if you are a professing Christian and you are in their neck of the woods. Never, never, never, never meet with an elder or a group of elders ALONE. Never. And document everything. If you find yourself trying to ascertain where a church is doctrinally, and things are getting uncomfortable—that’s a New Calvinist church, or a cult, one or the other. Also, in this type of situation in a NC church, they consider these meetings to be steps of Matthew 18. They also consider any type of formal or informal counseling to be part of the discipline process. Regardless of whether you are a member or not, they will formally excommunicate you from the church universal in a Sunday morning service. And by the way, you have no legal grounds for a lawsuit in any state. Please, please, avoid these situations.
9) Watch for signs of exclusiveness; such as, “We preach the scandalous gospel,” ect. Or, “We teach this, as opposed to the ‘vast majority’ of other Christian churches.” “This is what makes us unique.” If you hear verbiage like this, gather your family and run for the nearest exit door. And don’t look back.
10) Watch out for love bombing. An overemphasis on love usually replaces things that are missing—like TRUTH! True loving relationships, even among Christians, are developed over time.
Also, in a NC church, if you are thought to be discerning, you may be approached by an elder with an unsolicited offer to “disciple” you on a weekly basis. This is more than likely for the purpose of neutralizing you as a threat. In many NC churches, this is considered counseling/discipline whether you are aware of it or not. It is known as “redemptive church discipline.” The goal is to bring you to a “redemptive” view of sanctification.
“The Protestant teachers proudly proclaim themselves as bad people and even laugh about it, but yet the simplicity of cause and effect somehow escapes us.”
“In all cases, orthodoxy is the knowledge handed down to the spiritual peasants to inform them on how to be progressively saved by the institution.”
“…in the final judgment followers will stand alone before God.”
Recently, the host and domain address for eldersresolution.org came up for renewal. With everything I have going on with TANC Ministries the due date slipped between the cracks and the site is temporarily down although there are other extensions of the site online (clearcreekchapel.com).
Looking through the information that the site documents was a defining moment and one of deep reflection. I decided to renew the domain address and move it to another site that I will develop sometime in the near future. Perhaps this very post will be the centerpiece.
Before I move on to the primary ideas of this post, let me say that eldersresolution.org, which can now be found in pdf format at http://clearcreekchapeleldersresolution.weebly.com/ was the work of my son-in-law, Pastor David Ingram, and pioneered the concept of using websites to hold the institutional church accountable in a public way. He came up with the idea as a way to take a stand in my situation (circa 2008), and to my knowledge there were no such sites on the internet at that time. It would seem that the Bangladesh missionary kids (https://bangladeshmksspeak.wordpress.com/) were also innovators in regard to the concept early on. In 2009, the concept went viral in response to the heavy-handed leadership mode of the New Calvinist movement which had finally come of age after 39 years of covert growth; what many called the “Quite Revolution” (http://founders.org/library/quiet/).
Reviewing the information made me cringe as it revisited what a weak and confused person I was at the time. With that said, it was also a major turning point in my life that I find impossible to regret. How many times did I dismiss the numerous and serious problems I saw in the church with, “What else is there?” For 27 years I struggled to find relevance in the church.
The turning point was the New Calvinist movement, and specifically the New Calvinists that covertly obtained control of Clearcreek Chapel (Springboro, Ohio). I had been a member there for 20-years-plus and a former elder. As these leaders began transforming Clearcreek from Reformation Light to Reformation Lager, I wondered if I had finally stumbled upon the answers to why Protestant sanctification is so anemic, illogical, and irrelevant.
Like the Protestant leaders I had rubbed shoulders with in the past, they couldn’t answer the hard questions, but this time I really pressed the issue because they were just adding more confusion to the confusion I had found a way to live with. That was troubling to me. Then, when they started responding to my persistence with passive forms of aggression, and later not so passive, I figured I was on to something.
Funny, one question I kept asking publically in Sunday school seemed to be the lightning rod: “How do we know when we are trying to please God ‘in our own efforts’ and what exactly does that mean to begin with? How should we do effort?” It was very obvious to the congregation that they didn’t want to answer the question, but I kept pushing the issue and that’s when all of the trouble started. It would seem that in my search for Protestant relevance, I had finally found the right question. If Christians are to rightly partake in a right effort versus a wrong effort, how is that determined?*
And of course, now I know why they didn’t want to answer the question. Protestantism teaches that sanctification is a “Sabbath rest” in which we “rest in what Jesus has done—not anything we do.” This is what Protestant Light formally criticized as let go and let God theology. But of course in the scheme of things, the folly of this construct is fully realized: not doing things is a metaphysical impossibility; so, what we are talking about is two different types of works. That would be, not working work and working work. Or if you may, faith alone works and work work.
This boils down to Protestant orthodoxy classifying works according to the traditions of men. They determine what faith alone works are as opposed to works that are “self-justifying.” It boils down to the following: obedience to their definitions determine your salvation. Non-self-justifying works pertain to Protestant ritual that keeps you saved. And of course, the sacrament of tithing keeps the money pouring in for infrastructure that bolsters the aurora of authority. What will people pay for their eternal salvation? Observe the splendor of Protestant temples and institutions that pollute the landscape everywhere.
Eldersresolution.org is merely a documenting of the symptoms. The domain will always be there, but I am not really sure why it is a good idea. It was originally constructed to warn others about the Clearcreek Chapel elders who had supposedly distorted Protestant orthodoxy and done really bad things to other people. What I know now is that Protestantism itself is the bad thing. Bad things happen in church because church is bad. In fact, one of the premier leaders of the present-day Protestant church, Dr. John Piper, brags about being bad (https://youtu.be/6-GxkAJ1OBU). The Protestant teachers proudly proclaim themselves as bad people and even laugh about it, but yet the simplicity of cause and effect somehow escapes us.**
Other mediators other than Christ necessarily demand institutional salvation based on what is supposedly God’s authority by proxy. This is why the body of Christ is a literal family and NOT an institution in any way, shape, or form. It is a literal family that one is literally born into by the baptism of the Spirit otherwise known as being “born again.” It is the literal “household of God” and the family of God the Father—not an institution any more than any family is an institution. Christ’s mandate to His assemblies is to be carried out through a family format—the literal family of God. Any vestige of institutionalism will cripple the cause of Christ to the degree that it exists within the assemblies of Christ expressed where families dwell: in homes, not institutional purpose buildings.
ALL institutional churches and religions have these things in common: mediators other than Christ or mediators in addition to Christ. There is a claim of authority other than Christ or a shared authority with Christ, and finally, there is always a gnosis caste system; the haves and have-nots in regard to the ability to know truth owned by the institution. In all cases, orthodoxy is the knowledge handed down to the spiritual peasants to inform them on how to be progressively saved by the institution.
False religion is always a broken road, but unfortunately, the pain of that road will rarely lead people to other places. But when it does, the pain of that road becomes an irrelevant and distant concern. It is a pain that is finished and its purpose completed. It is swallowed up by the experience of where the road has taken you. The story of your broken road will rarely warn others of danger or save anyone; people will forgive or look the other way in many, many things in order to gain eternal life. In the minds of the “good Germans” during WWII Germany was not perfect, but what else was there? In their minds; nothing.
In the mind of a good Protestant or Catholic what else is there? Nothing. It may be a nasty bus, but it’s the only bus going to heaven because the authority of men says so. But in the final judgment followers will stand alone before God.
And so it is. The broken road has led me to a place that makes its potholes and highway robbers a distant and irrelevant memory. Their work is finished. When experience teaches you a new way, and you begin to live in that new way, that’s healing.
Staying on the broken road and revisiting its experiences will never heal. Never. When pain is a finished work…you are healed. It is little different than Christ’s obedience to the cross which He despised and bore for the joy that was set ahead.
It is finished.
*Chad Bresson, an elder at Clearcreek Chapel once prayed before the congregation: “Lord, we know that we have tried to please you in our own efforts this week, please forgive us.”
**The father of the Reformation, Martin Luther, stated in a letter to Philip Melanchthon: “If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but the true mercy. If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong, but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world. We will commit sins while we are here, for this life is not a place where justice resides.”
A close friend of mine shared something with me witnessed in a residential care facility that happened recently. My gig in the world of home health care (HHA) is not in the realm of mental health, but I enjoy hearing how our trade applies there.
At any rate, a lot of God-happenings occur in both realms. As readers here at PPT know, one reason among many that I chose this career is to facilitate a greater knowledge of Christian living (sanctification) which is devalued in Protestantism by design. Protestant orthodoxy dismisses the idea that Christians have a separate life that is Christ-like-in-kind because we have the same Father, and propagates the idea that we have NO life apart from Christ’s life. In other words, Protestantism redefines biblical new birth and is therefore a false gospel.
As the children of God exit the church and begin fellowshipping in a home setting; i.e., family-of-God setting, viz, “household of God” setting, we will see people actually being saved not the reshuffling of sheep within the denominational/institutional church. It’s all about Christ’s mandate to make disciples.
This is where the event shared with me is apt in furthering this point. As the friend walked through a mental health facility, one resident said to another: “You aren’t going to come over here where I am because you know I will kick your ass.” It is not uncommon for some mentality disabled persons to be aggressive in nature. According to my friend who witnessed the event, the other resident responded, “No, no, I prayed to God this morning that He would help me be perfect today. So, I am not paying you any mind; I am not going to get sucked into your sin.”
This event is barely less than a perfect opportunity to illustrate the difference between the Protestant false gospel of progressive justification and the true biblical gospel. The Protestant would show this precious soul a “better way” as follows:
No, no, God is not going to HELP you be perfect because it is impossible for any person to be perfect—saved or unsaved. But, in fact, you must be perfect in order to be accepted by God. You must be perfect to be justified. This is why Christ came to die: to pay the penalty for our sin. ALSO, He lived a PERFECT life according to the law so that your imperfect life could be substituted for His.
Therefore, you must presently live life by faith alone in what “Jesus has done, not anything you do.” You must be faithful to church and its sacraments, and other faith-alone-works that fulfill the law through what Jesus has done, not anything you do…except faith alone works. Whatever works Christ wills to do through you will then be manifested according to His will…Not yours.
At this point, we may imagine for illustration purposes that a truly born again believer joins the conversation. It might go something like this:
Excuse me, but I must object to what the Protestant has just told you. First of all, he has redefined the word “perfect” as defined by the Bible. In the Bible, “perfection” is not defined by flawless law-keeping, but rather means, “maturity.” It also pertains to those who are already justified/righteous/saved. So, you were actually praying to be something that you already are; you are already perfect. This is why the Bible calls believers “holy” in many places…because we are.
Let me show you a better way to pray—pray that God would help you to love Him with all that is in you and love others the same way as well. We obtain reward in this life and the life to come for doing so. Unfortunately, we also reap consequences for failing to love because we are “weak,” but not “wicked.” We do not remain as “sinners” which is the biblical definition for the unregenerate. This is where the Protestant has also redefined “sin.” He interprets the word “sin” from a single perspective. Sin is the same for the saved or the unsaved: it condemns according to the law’s “righteous demands.” In contrast, the believer has a willing spirit to love, but the flesh is “WEAK” not inherently sinful. This is why the believer can use their bodies for holy purposes or what the Bible calls living sacrifices acceptable to God.
Because the believer has been literally born again, he/she has died with Christ and is no longer judged by the law. There is now no condemnation for the believer. A continual imputation of Christ’s payment for sin and good works are not needed for the believer because there is no law to judge him or her. Christ died to end the law and its condemnation for all those who believe.
The believer is also resurrected to new life with Christ, and this results in a different relationship to the law. Instead of being under its condemnation and therefore needing the continual imputation of Christ’s death and obedience to the law via “the means of grace” according to Protestant orthodoxy, the law is now something the believer is endeared to for purposes of wisdom in loving others. What was previously used by the Spirit to condemn is now used (in cooperation with the believer) to mature or perfect the believer in love.
Your goal is not perfection according to the law; your goal is maturing in love. You are under grace NOT under law and a perpetual imputation of Christ’s love in substitution for your obedient love is not only unneeded—it is a FALSE gospel that denies the new birth. Protestants remain as “sinners” yet under law and therefore need to continually return to the cross for “double imputation.”
One does well in asking God for perfection according to mature love, but not a love that is substituted for the fulfilment of a law that is ended.
We are under grace, not law. You don’t fear the law; you love the law. That doesn’t mean there is no law in grace it means that it is a law for love NOT condemnation.
Originally published January 31, 2013
“Don’t misunderstand: the problem of ‘victim mentality’ is not even on the radar screen—they have removed the word “victim” from their metaphysical dictionary.”
“Justice necessarily implies victim. Victim necessarily implies worth. All three are conspirators with the glory story.”
Martin Luther had more on his mind than silly Popes when he nailed his 95 Theses to the front door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg, Germany. That protest launched the Reformation, but six months later Luther presented the systematic theology of the Reformation to the Augustinian Order in Heidelberg. Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation laid the foundation, and John Calvin later articulated and applied its basic principles to the full spectrum of life in his Institutes of the Christian Religion.
The Cross Story and the Glory Story
Luther’s cross story, or theology of the cross is the crux of the Heidelberg Disputation and introduced in the first sentence of the Calvin Institutes:
Our wisdom, insofar as it ought to be deemed true and solid wisdom, consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves.
That’s Luther’s theology of the cross: a deeper and deeper knowledge of our putrid humanity as set against God’s holiness. And NOTHING in-between. All of creation, all events, and all reality contribute to deeper knowledge of one of these two, and then both as a deeper knowledge of each gives more understanding to the other; knowledge of both, and the experience of both. Hence, every blessing, including our good works which are done by the Holy Spirit to begin with, lends more understanding of God’s glory. Every evil event, sin, and tragedy lends deeper understanding in regard to our total depravity and worthlessness. But of course your mother is dying of cancer; I am amazed that God would give anyone as many years as He has given her. Who are we to think we deserve even one year of life? And what a wonderful opportunity for her to suffer the way Jesus suffered for us!
This is the cross story. See the illustration below. This is a contemporary depiction from that camp—this is their assessment:
Anything else at all that gives any credit to humanity—Christian or non-Christian is the “glory story.” That would be our glory specifically, and not Christ’s. To the degree that humanity is considered, the glory of Christ is “ECLIPSED.” This is the theses of a book written by John MacArthur associate Rick Holland: Uneclipsing The Son. Everything is perceived as speaking through one of these two perspectives. ANYTHING coming from what is perceived as the “glory story” is summarily dismissed. Be sure of it: this is how Calvinists think. This is their worldview.
In one of the former Resolved Conferences sponsored by John MacArthur and Holland, in one of his messages, Holland extols a letter written to Puritan Christopher Love by his wife as he awaited execution. Holland forgot to mention to those listening that Love was executed for espionage against the English government while letting the audience assume he was executed for loftier spiritual-like reasons. The following is excerpts from the letter:
O that the Lord would keep thee from having one troubled thought for thy relations. I desire freely to give thee up into thy Father’s hands, and not only look upon it as a crown of glory for thee to die for Christ, but as an honor to me that I should have a husband to leave for Christ…. I dare not speak to thee, nor have a thought within my own heart of my own unspeakable loss, but wholly keep my eye fixed upon thy inexpressible and inconceivable gain. Thou leavest but a sinful, mortal wife to be everlastingly married to the Lord of glory…. Thou dost but leave earth for heaven and changest a prison for a palace. And if natural affections should begin to arise, I hope that the spirit of grace that is within thee will quell them, knowing that all things here below are but dung and dross in comparison of those things that are above. I know thou keepest thine eye fixed on the hope of glory, which makes thy feet trample on the loss of earth.
Justice? That implies that humanity has some sort of value. That implies that life itself has some sort of value. That implies that humanity should be protected through threat of punishment. That’s the glory story. Therefore, Calvin stated the following:
Those who, as in the presence of God, inquire seriously into the true standard of righteousness, will certainly find that all the works of men, if estimated by their own worth, are nothing but vileness and pollution, that what is commonly deemed justice is with God mere iniquity; what is deemed integrity is pollution; what is deemed glory is ignominy (CI 3.12.4).
Death by Biblical Counseling
The church must face up to a sobering reality in our day. The vast majority of biblical counseling that goes on in our day is based on this construct—you will be counseled from the perspective of the cross story, and anything that smacks of the glory story will be snubbed. You are not a victim. There is no such thing as a victim. Christ was the only true victim in all of history. Don’t misunderstand: the problem of “victim mentality” is not even on the radar screen—they have removed the word “victim” from their metaphysical dictionary. “Victim” is part of the glory story; Christ as the only victim is the cross story. I am not a victim. That’s impossible because my sin nailed Christ to the cross. Thank you oh Lord that I was raped. Thank you for this opportunity to suffer for you. Thank you for the strength to forgive the one who raped me in the same way you forgave me. What a wonderful opportunity to show forth your gospel!
Hence, when the leaders of a Reformed church came to inform parents that a young man in that church had molested their toddler, this was the opening statement:
Today, we have before us an opportunity to forgive.
The parents were then counseled to not contact the authorities. Those who do are often brought up on church discipline. Justice necessarily implies victim. Victim necessarily implies worth. All three are conspirators with the glory story. And be not deceived: this is the logic that drives Reformed organizations that are supposed to be mediators in the church; specifically, Peacemaker Ministries and G.R.A.C.E. A major player in the Biblical Counseling Movement is Paul David Tripp. In 2006, he wrote a book that articulates the horizontal application of Luther’s theology of the cross: “How people Change.” Of course, the title is a lie; if he really believed people change, that would be the glory story. Notice also that it is, “How People Change” and not, “How Christians Change.” That’s because this bunch see no difference in the transforming power of the new birth and ordinary Christ-rejecting people.
In the book, Tripp, like all who propagate Luther’s theology of the cross, posits the Bible as a “big picture” narrative of our redemptive life. The Bible is a mere tool for one thing only: leading us more and more into the cross story and away from the glory story. This is accomplished by using the Bible to enter into the cross narrative and thereby seeing our preordained part in the “big picture” narrative of redemptive history. Though Tripp is not forthright about it in the book, this is known as the Redemptive Historical Hermeneutic. By seeing our life through the cross story, we are empowered to live life for God’s glory. This is done by seeing ALL circumstances in life (Heat) as preordained in order to show our sinfulness (Thorns) and God’s goodness (Fruit) for the purposes of having a deeper understanding of both resulting in spiritual wellbeing. In other words, all of life’s circumstances are designed to give us a deeper understanding of the cross story: God’s holiness, and our sinfulness. I have taken his primary visual illustration from the book and drawn lines to the cross story illustration to demonstrate the relationship (click on image to enlarge):
Understanding this lends insight to Tripp citations on the Peacekeepers Ministries website:
Paul Trip wrote a great post over at The Gospel Coalition blog all about the need for pastors to pursue a culture of forgiveness in their ministry. Pastors (and anyone serving Christ) have a choice:
“You can choose for disappointment to become distance, for affection to become dislike, and for a ministry partnership to morph into a search for an escape. You can taste the sad harvest of relational détente that so many church staffs live in, or you can plant better seeds and celebrate a much better harvest. The harvest of forgiveness, rooted in God’s forgiveness of you, is the kind of ministry relationship everyone wants.”
Then he describes three ways forgiveness can shape your ministry. I’ve listed them, but you can read how he explains them in detail.
“1. Forgiveness stimulates appreciation and affection.
2. Forgiveness produces patience.
3. Forgiveness is the fertile soil in which unity in relationships grows.”
He closes with this exhortation:
“So we learn to make war, but no longer with one another. Together we battle the one Enemy who is after us and our ministries. As we do this, we all become thankful that grace has freed us from the war with one another that we used to be so good at making.”
And concerning another author, they also stated:
Last week, Steve Cornell at The Gospel Coalition blog posted some really great insight into the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation. They also offered up some excellent and biblically sound steps in dealing with a situation where an offending party is hesitant to reconcile.
Here he summarizes a key distinction:
“It’s possible to forgive someone without offering immediate reconciliation. It’s possible for forgiveness to occur in the context of one’s relationship with God apart from contact with her offender. But reconciliation is focused on restoring broken relationships. And where trust is deeply broken, restoration is a process—sometimes, a lengthy one”…. His ten guidelines for those hesitant to reconcile are rooted in scripture and, I think, incredibly helpful.
1. Be honest about your motives.
2. Be humble in your attitude.
3. Be prayerful about the one who hurt you.
4. Be willing to admit ways you might have contributed to the problem.
5. Be honest with the offender.
6. Be objective about your hesitancy.
7. Be clear about the guidelines for restoration.
8. Be alert to Satan’s schemes.
9. Be mindful of God’s control.
10. Be realistic about the process.
Notice the overall blurring of distinction between the offended and offender with the subject of forgiveness.
The Cross-centered Anti-justice Pandemic is No longer Exclusively a Reformed Thing
Apart from Calvinism, the redemptive historical cross-centered approach is crossing denominational lines en masse. We at TANC see doctrines that were born of Luther’s theology of the cross in non-Reformed circles constantly; specifically, heart theology (deep repentance), exclusive interpretation of the Scriptures through a redemptive prism, Gospel Sanctification, and John Piper’s Christian hedonism. And we also see the same results. It is not beyond the pale for a pastor who has raped a parishioner to be the one counseling the victim sinner. You know, the “sinner saved by grace.”
God is a God of justice, and throughout the Scriptures He demands that we be people of justice. He demands that we come to the defense of the victim. I close with fitting words from church historian John Immel:
And this is the challenge. This is the challenge that I have as a man who is passionate about thinking: to inspire people to engage in complex ideas that drive tyranny. So here’s my challenge to those who are listening.
Do not be seduced into believing that righteousness is retreat from the world.
Do not be seduced into believing that spirituality is defined by weakness and that timid caution for fear of committing potential error is a reason to be quiet.
Do not be intimidated by vague, hazy threats of failure.
Do not let yourself believe that faith is a license to irrationality. I’m going to say that again to you. This is good. Do not let yourself believe that faith is a license to irrationality.
Do not mistake the simple nature of God’s love for a justification for simple-mindedness.
Do not deceive yourself with the polite notion that you are above the fray, that your right to believe is sufficient to the cause of righteousness. There is no more stunning conceit.
Do not pretend that your unwillingness to argue is the validation of truth.
Know this: Virtue in a vacuum is like the proverbial sound in the forest–irrelevant without a witness. Character is no private deed. To retreat is nothing more than a man closing his eyes and shutting his mouth to injustice.
Virtues are not estimates to be lofted gently against evil.
Virtues are not to be withheld from view in the name of grace.
Virtues are not to be politely swallowed in humble realization that we are all just sinners anyway.
Love is not a moral blank check against the endless tide of indulgent action.
Love is not blind to the cause and effect of reality.
Love is not indifference to plunder and injustice and servitude.
The time is now, you men of private virtue, to emerge from your fortress of solitude and demonstrate that you are worthy of a life that bears your name. The time is now, you men of private virtue, to answer Mick Jagger and all the nihilists that insist we are living on the edge and we cannot help but fall. It is time for you men of private virtue to take up the cause of human existence and think.
~TANC 2012 Conference on Gospel Discernment and Spiritual Tyranny: John Immel; session 1, “Assumptions + Logic = Action.”