Tuesday, August 11, 2015

HT Phoenix PReacher, Carl Trueman not positively impressed with recent podcast by Tchividjian--WtH on his growing appreciation of the Book of Judges as a canonized confession of atrocities

Tchividjian and Driscoll are both products of the way American showbiz aesthetics and values drive so much of the evangelical subculture. Style and swagger and soundbites -- and little else. And they both benefited from the fact that nothing immunizes one to accountability in America like success.  As long as you are successful, no-one calls you on your behaviour, no-one makes you answer the hard questions, and plenty of people are happy to use your name to sell tickets to their gig.  The tragedy is that good men are then allowed to go bad, and outright charlatans are allowed to continue with influence, with groups like TGC backing them until the public relations problems, not the obvious theological and accountability issues, render them too hot to handle -- long after others have been pointing out the obvious ...

there's more beyond the link but that's the most memorable excerpt for WtH. At the risk of linking back to an earlier post here ...

a general observation, let's put the "no true scotsman" defense away, especially if it's for "our" team

Whether we're talking about a Mark Driscoll or a Tony Jones or a John Howard Yoder or more recently a Tullian Tchividjian.

Pick your team, there's not only going to be rampant moral failure, there's probably also going to be at least one atrocity.

It's just a matter of whether you've looked at your team's history long enough and honestly enough. 

In the last few years I've immersed myself in the book of Judges.  It's one of those books in the Bible people don't rush to read but it's a fascinating book.  It's too easy for lazy people to read it as either "it's in the Bible so God must have approved of it all" or to read it as "here's what all those sinners in days of yore did that we wouldn't do."

That's not necessarily why the book of Judges is in the canon.  Whatever your team, your team has atrocities to its name.  Think of Judges as a confession of God's people, "We did this and it was horrid."  You can't read the book of Judges as a believer and not remind yourself that this book is about your team and my time, whichever teams we're thinking we're on. Levites, the ones who should have been pioneers of faith, were pioneers in wickedness, whether in mercenary promotion of idolatrous cults or throwing a concubine out to be gang-raped and then, when she was not necessarily even dead yet, slicing her up into pieces and mailing her remains to the tribes to instigate a civil war that nearly led to an intra-Israelite genocide of a tribe of Israel.

If you think we couldn't and wouldn't do that today then remember what internet outrage is. :) We're tempted to do this with reputations rather than physical bodies.  Crimes and atrocities get done ... but if we don't read and appreciate the book of Judges and its place in the canon the great illusion we'll sell to ourselves, and that every day, is that whatever atrocities we see in that book we'll assure ourselves that WE would never do that.  But we certainly would ...

Matthew 23
29 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. 30 And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Go ahead, then, and complete what your ancestors started!

To those who comforted themselves with the idea that they wouldn't have harmed prophets Jesus had a rebuke that they were going to keep harming the prophets and finish the job. If you think your team isn't answerable for any destruction of lives, just wait, your turn may soon come if it hasn't already.

The older I get the less I believe the old evangelical saw that "ideas have consequences". It could be true but to go by the consequences going on in a lot of places in the Christian scene in the last forty years (or even among some non-Christians) if ideas have consequences a whole lot of people seem to be having the same ideas when they have made careers out of thinking, and telling others, that this isn't the case.


The Blog bites better than the Bullet. said...

This is spot-on. I also think it's fascinating in light of the fact that "Pirate Christian" and Phil Johnson and others at Grace To You have tacitly supported JD Hall (Reformation Montana, anyone?) even when his bullying has become more than apparent.

JD even went after Janet Mefferd, accusing her and her husband of self-righteousness, and Pirate Christian retweets this, showing his discernment skills in the field of abuse dynamics...(!)

There are people in this same crowd who also have a relationship with Tony Miano who vocally supports Chuck O'Neal who sued people for defamation over an intelligently worded though negative google review of his church.

This is the thing: ideas really do have consequences. If one of the ideas is that women are inferior to men, despite protestations to the contrary, it will show. Another of the ideas seems to be that if people have the "correct" (agreed-upon) doctrines we can overlook pretty much any kind of abuse. Ad hominem attacks are fine if we are standing up for truth. But whose truth is that then? Certainly not God's! As for the Matthew 18 thing, the majority in evangelical and fundamentalist circles do not read the whole chapter in context and understand the childlikeness of believers and who has all authority. The bad and worldly ideas they have instead of the truth of that chapter have serious consequences.

Hypocritically, these same fundamentalists (who if I am not mistaken actually claim to be evangelicals) called out Mark Driscoll for his swearing and bad sex teaching. Probably because he is not in their circle and they seem to like feeling like it's them against the world.

This article is spot-on. We all have friends that sin, and we are all sinners ourselves! But when people allow their friends to harmfully and consistently sin against others publicly without public rebuke, well, that is cowardice.

Frankly, it is no surprise to me that many Christians who love Jesus are Done these days; it's because many of us Christians are not practicing what we preach, and then- on top of it- abusing those who protest, especially if they happen to be female. No wonder we have a problem of child abuse in churches: Satan hates childlikeness because that, not all our bluster and bluffing, is the characteristic of the Christian.

chris e said...

Presumably that's the Carl Trueman who gave CJ Mahaney a clean bill of health .. at best he can be qualified as being amazingly naive to believe he could judge the content of language within a completely foreign context.

At worst .. well, one could argue that the less than forthcoming way in which SGM dealt with its past prefigured the way in which denial became the tool of choice elsewhere.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

it sure looks to be the same Carl Trueman but the irony of that was something WtH thought best to leave for others to point out in due time. :)

The Blog bites better than the Bullet. said...

WtH and Chris- totally! I think that's precisely the problem- we Christians tend to be talking about people outside our friendship circle rather than dealing honestly in the relationships that we have.

Also, everyone is polarized into little groups over their preferred doctrines rather than united in Christ and willing to accept each other, as well as willing to honestly deal with hypocrisy or moral failure among ourselves and our friends.

We too often forget that doctrine can be believed and articulated by demons, but cowardice is involved in covering up sin. We are not talking about a small personal offense that needs to be covered when we refer to the crime of child sex abuse or a pattern of bullying people, who talk about problems, whether through lawsuit or twitter account.

It seems to me the same guys who love to flaunt their discernment about doctrine and bad ideas often do not have much discernment about character and fruit of the Spirit.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

Bullet, I've grown cautious about what I'd call the evangelical apologetics canard version of "ideas have consequences". Dismissive views toward women can get dicey because an atheist like Christopher Hitchens can declare women just can't be funny. With the reams of funny material I've read from Jane Austen and Rumiko Takahashi I'd disagree, and for a few years Tina Fey and Amy Poehler were the only reasons I'd even THINK of sitting through an episode of Saturday Night Live because those two would be funny. Even with her gloriously elitist icy reserve Joan Didion has been funnier than the moralizing scold Hitch so often was (not that he couldn't be a very interesting read, of course).

It's true that sexist ideas have consequences, it's just that it's tough to bracket that in the same way I would the apologetics bromide that which particular ideas we have about theology automatically entail X behaviors. I could have been clearer about that than I was.

The Blog bites better than the Bullet. said...

I take your point WtH- it's true that the issue of sexism we just mentioned is not just a problem in Christian circles. Something to think about, and I may have to re-read what you said again to digest it all. ;) Thanks.

The Blog bites better than the Bullet. said...

Re-read you and I totally misread you on some points, though I still think you make a lot of sense here. Apologies for preaching in response. ;)

terriergal said...

"- we Christians tend to be talking about people outside our friendship circle rather than dealing honestly in the relationships that we have. "

That is absolutely the problem. We makes friends hoping to have influence, then squander that influence being cowardly and mealymouthed working "behind the scenes" when our friends behave badly. We were all for publicly promoting so and so and using him/her for publicity, but then when troubles came we just kind of sidle away and pretend we weren't involved.

If these guys can promote each other, they must also demote each other. It goes both ways.

Mike said...

"If these guys can promote each other, they must also demote each other. It goes both ways."

Exactly, that would be the biblical approach. I Tim 5 could scarcely be more clear: If someone claims to be one whom people ought to follow, if they're in sin, slam them in front of everyone. But of course, therein lies the rub, it is the biblical approach, and if ever I saw a group that laid claims to true faith while simultaneously doing everything they could to undermine it, it would be the contemporary celebrity Christian culture. As a rule, they seem to hate the biblical approach, at least as applied to themselves.

chris e said...

I cannot determine motives, so I won't try. However from what CT has written, the actual end of the ministry features largely in the problems he diagnoses, the collateral damage of thousands of congregants being pastored badly - for decades in the case of MD - feature less visibly.

So he can take the high ground - after all, the OPC hasn't seen any blow ups recently - so the attitudes of its pastors can be swept aside, plus 'we' have a session, so that's all right then.