The Tumult Continues

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Sometimes ten-year-old boys will throw a baseball at a nest of Asian hornets, and they do this because they are curious. They want to see what would happen. The hornets are also curious, as it turns out, and they come out in order to inquire after the baseball. But other times, in other situations, the boys are not being foolhardy. Their dad asked them if they thought they could get the nest down, and they thought they could. It needed to come down, at any rate. But either way, whether the boys were being naughty or not, the running and yelling looks pretty much the same.

More on Pella

In my post on Monday, in reference to Church of the Redeemer in Pella, I made a distinction between people who say and do problematic things, and the pastors who minister to them, trying to work with them. It is a distinction that I keep in the forefront of my mind because I know for a dead certainty that our enemies won’t.

Using Moscow for just a hypothetical, let me put it to you this way. Out of the hundreds of people we have living here, do you think that it is possible that any of our young bucks have spent too much time on the beach during white boy summer? Without any lotion at all, as recommended by Andrew Tate? And then when they pop off on Twitter, acting all n-wordy-like, whose fault is it now? Why, mine of course. Never mind how much time I had spent holding their ankles, trying to keep them out of that wormhole.

Now I do not say that it is “mine of course” out of any sense of self-pity. This is the way it is supposed to be, and pastors need to budget for it. And precisely because pastors need to budget for this kind of thing, there have been CREC discussions for a few years now about how some CREC members and adjacent folks have been conducting themselves online, with some of that connected to Pella. So, if there have been discussions for some time about the oily rags in the garage, and if they eventually do catch fire, you can’t be shocked and astonished if some fire trucks show up.

Some people thought I was attacking Pastor Shover, which I wasn’t, while others thought I was disingenuously defending him. This latter take was because one of the tweets that Callens circulated was from Pastor Shover himself, and I was accused of just gliding right by that fact. I will get to the story behind that in a few paragraphs.

As a result of all these discussions and related issues, prior to Callens, two fruitful things had happened. One was that Church of the Redeemer did what Knox Presbytery did, and what the CREC as a whole is in the process of doing. They put out a doctrinal statement on the issue, and it is a very good statement. I agree with every word of it, and would happily sign it.

CTR Statement on Ethnic Balance
1. We believe that all men are created in the image and likeness of God and that their value and worth and dignity is rooted therein (Gen. 1:27).

2. We believe that God made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined the allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, in order that they should seek God. And that in a very general way under creation, we are all collectively the offspring of God (Acts 17:26-29).

3. We believe that the natural human tendency is to congregate around and have a shared affection for common families, tribes, people, language, customs, cultures, and place; and that all people should be grateful to God for those things.

4. We believe that Jesus’ command that we love our neighbors, as we love ourselves, assumes the right to love and be grateful for one’s ethnic heritage, and to preserve their heritage in any way consistent with the law of God, and is not the same thing as the sin of partiality (Matt. 22:39; Jam. 2:8-9).

5. We also believe that because of mankind’s fall into sin, our God given natural affections have become disordered, and disordered affections can create conflict between families, tribes, races, ethnicities, cultures, nations, and churches.

6. We believe the grace of God revealed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ runs along both familial and covenantal lines, restoring natural affections, and therefore brings true healing and reconciliation between families, tribes, peoples, Jews and Gentiles, nations, cultures, ethnicities, races, and churches that are in conflict (Rev. 5:9-10; 14:5-7; 22:2).

7. We therefore labor and long for the day when the Great Commission will be fulfilled, and all nations will be discipled into the faith of Jesus Christ – baptized and catechized – and their kings will bring the glory and honor of their nations into the New and Heavenly Jerusalem (Matt. 29:18-20; Rev. 21:26).

8. Therefore, we oppose all racial enmity, hatred, bigotry, strife, and vainglory (Phil. 2:3). We oppose the unjust mistreatment of people based upon their ethnicity or race. Furthermore, we reject Kinism, which teaches that it is consistently unwise or a sin for people of different ethnicities or races to intermarry, and that civil societies ought to take steps to remain ethnically or racially segregated.

9.  We further resolve to teach God’s people the biblical importance of loving their fathers and mothers, their families, and their people and place, as well as the stranger and the sojourner, without turning either into an idol, and without destroying the one for the sake of the other (Deut. 5:16; Lev. 19:34; Luke 10:25-37).

What this statement shows is that if the Pella church is a hotbed of kinism, then they are very, very bad at it. The church there can be slandered on this point two different ways. They can be slandered by people like Blake Callens, who want to ignore the import of a statement like this. But they can also be slandered by ostensible friends of the church, who ignore the statement also, and who, through their malevolent and ignorant comments, create situations like this one.

Another good result of all the back and forth was that God showed real grace and kindness to Pastor Shover. The reason his tweets were deleted is because he had repented of them some time ago, and had said so publicly This was in part the result of men within his church confronting him about it. May God bless them richly.

In the meantime, some are talking as though I get embroiled in these things because I am concerned about our brand, as though I am laboring mightily to keep icky things from getting on us. Well, yes, but not as an exercise in public relations. This is all about the cure of souls, and has nothing to do with PR. If I were all that concerned about brand, do you think Steven Sitler or Jim Nance would still be in our church? But shepherds don’t throw mangled sheep to the wolves in order to keep the wolves at bay.

“For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.”

Galatians 1:10 (NKJV)

Siding With Callens?

One of the concerns raised by the based bros is that I made a big mistake in giving a platform to Blake Callens. But that is not what happened at all. What happened is that Blake Callens got hold of some gunk and made a big splash with it. He already had the platform. Some of the gunk was representative of the kind of stuff we already knew about, and had been seeking to address pastorally, and some of it was out of context (Pastor Shover’s tweet). Either way, it was the kind of thing that required a swift response, and so I wrote Monday’s post. I did this after checking to make sure that I wouldn’t be stepping on any other ongoing responses within the CREC.

I knew a couple years ago that something like this was bound to happen, and that is why I had begun work on the Knox Presbytery statements. Hus Presbytery submitted a good statement to Council also, which is the one that is in process of becoming a memorial for the entire CREC. None of them are CYA statements, but are rather cure-of-souls statements.

And does anybody remember the part of my post where I “sided with Callens” by telling him to pound sand? He had made a splash online that needed to be addressed, in its aspect of being a splash, but things like that must not be adjudicated online, and certainly not presided over by unhinged people like Callens. My argument was that we have these statements in place so that we can point to them as our settled position, and so that we can use them in our pastoral care as needed. So what I said did not rope Blake Callens into the process. He was already in. What I wrote excluded him.

Lo, a parable. Once there was a man who was hated by his neighbor across the street, and who was good friends with his neighbor next door. One day the two friends were chatting across the fence, and having a good time of it, when the neighbor across the street came out his front door, glanced up, and began laughing uproariously. “Don’t mind him,” the hated man said. “He has a screw loose. And he has hated me for years.” “I know that,” his friend began, but was interrupted by the man across the street. “Hey, idiot!” the man yelled. “Your roof is on fire! Storing kerosene in the attic again? What a maroon.” “Don’t pay any attention,” the man said again. “He is like this everywhere he goes.” “That’s as may be,” his friend said, glancing up. “But your roof really is on fire.”

“Why are you siding with him? I thought we were friends.””

“I will always be your friend. Really. And I agree with you completely about that guy over there, who needs to be looked at. But, on a completely different subject, one that is truly independent, you really need to turn around and look at something.”

Steered by Sensible Onlookers?

Another concern is that I am unwittingly allowing myself to be steered “by sensible people.” In the course of my ruminations, I had said this:

“I want to fight for the truth in such a way as to make people accuse me of being a bigot. I also want to fight in such a way as to make it manifestly clear to all the
sensible observers that I am not a bigot. The point is not to endear myself to the progressives. The point is to fight the progressives more effectively.”

As the Fighting Moderates Mount the Lone Bulwark

All the sensible observers, eh? Who might they be? And this leads to one of my very favoritest questions. By what standard? Sensible by what standard?

Whenever you refer to a panel of judges, it matters who empaneled them. You get different results with different juries. The apostle Paul taught us that elders should have a good reputation with outsiders (1 Tim. 3:7), and yet there were times when outsiders did not consider Paul himself to have been all that hot, and who therefore ordered him flogged (2 Cor. 11: 24), struck (Acts 23: 3 ), or jailed (Acts 16: 23).

So when I refer to sensible people, I am talking about the judicious man in Proverbs, the one who comes to events with Lady Wisdom on his arm. I am not referring the HR ladies of corporate America. I am not referring to David French. I am not talking about the trolls of Twitter. I am not referring to KDY’s Cat 3 people.

And speaking of which . . .

The Conditions Under Which I Would be Willing to be a 3

One of the charges being leveled against me is that, using the taxonomy hammered out by KDY, I have moved from being a stalwart 4 and have been backed into the unfortunate position of being on the squishy end of 3.

It causes no little distress for me to have my extremist bona fides challenged like this, and in the teeth of the evidence too. I still retain this identifying and damning remark in my profile. “In politics, I am slightly to the right of Jeb Stuart. ” I also believe everything the apostle Paul wrote about headship and submission in marriage, and consequently believe that the offensive word obey must be included in the bride’s vows—not really optional. Canon Press still has Black & Tan in print, including a chapter entitled “Regenerate But Unreconstructed.” I commend it to you. I remain a yellow-cake Calvinist. I believe the Apostles Creed needs to be in the Constitution somewhere. I am settled in my VanTilian conviction that every pretense of neutrality, in every realm of life, needs to have its thumbs and big toes cut off, just like what happened to Adoni-bezek.

So all I can say is that being a 3 doesn’t seem to be anything at all like it used to be, back when Russell Moore was King of the 3’s.

So here is a solution to this problem as it presents itself. Suppose we were all of us sitting in a row, pleasantly arranged according to Kevin’s taxonomy, but with the Overton Window right behind us. The last five years have moved the window significantly to the right, such that the former evangelical 1’s are now lesbian atheists, including the guys. As one commenter online put it, we no longer have 1-4, but something closer to 2-5. And it appears that I can’t be a 5 because I don’t have a thing about the Jews. But then, I never did have a thing about them, not even when I was a card-carrying 4, accepted and beloved by all the other 4’s.

Incidentally, one of the reasons I don’t have a thing about Jews—not the only reason, but one of them—is because of #3 and #4 in the Pella statement above. A not insignificant number of my kin are Samaritans and Jews, and I am intent on cultivating all my natural connections and affections, within the boundaries of God’s law.

And there’s another thing too. One of my personality quirks is that I am dispositionally a conservative, reluctant to change things around unnecessarily. As Lord Falklands once put it, when it is not necessary to change, it is necessary not to change. If pressed, I do know how to change, but the last significant paradigm shift I went through was over thirty years ago when I became a paedobaptist. And when I do change, it is the result of weighing and studying arguments. I will not change simply because the world has. The views I now have of kinism and antisemitism are views I have held for decades, my entire adult life. The fact that the world, the evangelical world included, is suddenly much more inflamed over ethnic issues is not by itself an argument. I am not going to shift anything just because I am getting yelled at by trolls, misfits, miscreants, and retired soldiers from the Army of Northern Virginia.

Unanswered Questions

First, I often tell people that I write for the same reason that dogs bark. Not much can be done about that part of it. But at the same time, I also write in order to communicate ideas that I believe to be important. I write things out for a reason. And I consider American Milk & Honey to be more important than many of my other books. If asked to make a list of my top ten, AM&H would be one of them. So as Stephen is fond of reminding his critics, “please do the reading.” A lot of people respond to things I say as though I were a neo-con boomer, which is not the case. I am a paleo-con boomer. Distinctions matter.

Second, I was serious about a revised version of the Eleven Words. I really would invite Stephen to tweet my revision of those words, and I will happily retweet it.

And last, let me pick up an important unanswered question, one that I am responsible to answer. In my interactions with various people connected with Pella, I discovered that a number of them thought I was aiming at them (e.g. “The edgy brethren, let us call them, think that they are the real threat to the regime. They believe that they are the lone bulwark. They have seen through all of the lies. They took one of the red pills, and then six of them, and then they emptied the bottle.”). But that was not directed at the Pella congregation at all. I was not guessing at the spiritual demeanor of various parishioners at Church of the Redeemer, and am very sorry for having given that impression. I was not attacking the congregation there—I was throwing them a rope.

Who was I talking about then? I was referring to the steady stream of vitriol that shows up in my Twitter feed every time I write on this subject at all. I was not trying to chase down any edgy brethren in Pella. The edgy brethren are elsewhere online, and they chase me. They call me a 3, and other hurtful names.