On the Passing of RHE
They tell us that you’re nothing but bluster and bigotry, but this is as biblical, sensitive and nuanced as anything published on the corporate websites . . .
Ed, thank you. It was a difficult thing to address.
“My prayer is that RHE, perhaps somewhere in the course of the medically-induced coma she was in, will have been found by Christ, and as a result will be found in Christ at the last day, and that the ground of her acceptance will be the absolute perfections of the Lord Jesus, plus nothing else.” I agree with this, but disagree that RHE needed to be in a coma in order to be rescued by the grace of Jesus. The fact is that RHE, in spite of her severe theological problems pointed to Jesus as savior. She loved the outcasts and pointed to Christ as the answer to their very real problems inherited from Adam. Thankfully there will be no theological litmus test upon meeting of our Savior. If it were Christ + perfect theology none of us will be in heaven. May God have mercy on us all in the last day, and may he rescue us pathetic sinners from our own deserved doom.
David, it is true that we are not saved by our works, including our doctrinal works. And I mentioned a work of God in the coma as an instance of how God could have done something, not intending to limit Him to that. At the same time, there is a point where false teachers become false brothers, and we don’t want to issue an automatic pass to anyone who uses the name of Christ. I don’t think we have any business speculating on what was the case, and should just limit ourselves to what we hope was the case.
She just died two days ago but please go with your righteous puking. The rest of us are raising money for her family. Have you bothered to donate to her Go Fund account yet? Perhaps you are too busy demonstrating your black heart.
Anne, if it were the black heart effect I was after, I could have done a lot better than that.
Is it nice to have everything figured out?
Susan, I am afraid we are all the victims of an optical illusion here. This is created by the fact that I try to limit the topics I write about to those things that I do have figured out. But behind the scenes, mostly unpublished, is a vast ocean of ignorance, the size of which is scarcely to be believed.
Well said. This sudden end to life has forced me to think about what I want to be found doing, and saying at that moment; more importantly, what I want to not be found saying and doing. By good health and safety we can be lulled into a false sense of security where trivia and silliness can prevail. When I think of my Social Media comments, I must now ask, “Are these the last words I wish to leave to the world?”
Scott, yes, and thank you.
Beautiful and gracious post about the death of Rachel Held Evans! I have always been surprised that you use the RIP on things that you have written about the recently deceased—it seems like a type of a prayer for the dead. Having recently lost my brother in a tragedy, I have found comfort in asking God to have mercy on his soul, which causes my very-Reformed mother to bristle. Any thoughts?
Amanda, the Reformers rejected prayers for the dead because they were opposing (rightly) the practice of using prayers to whittle down time served in Purgatory. But offering up a prayer that someone, now deceased, will be found in Christ is a very different thing.
Back to Presidential Politics
In an interview, Saturday with MSNBC’s Donny Deutsch, Democratic presidential candidate and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg discussed his philosophy of campaigning and previewed some of the lines of attack he might take against President Trump. “The fact that I was packing my bags for Afghanistan when he was filming season seven of ‘Celebrity Apprentice,’ we could have that fight,” he said. “And if somebody wants to raise the question of which one of us has a more traditional attitude on marriage, we can have that fight.”
So, here we go. Mr 3rd husband and two Corinthians vs a sodomite, faith professing, Midwestern Joe 2 pack Mayor. Is there #Winning in this? This is what judgement on a nation looks like. Enough of the pity party. How can we as believers rally our friends to not vote for the lesser of two Judgments? How do we build a true community and culture that will bear healthy fruit in our zip code? How do we take back masculinity and uphold complementary gender roles? I assume it begins with education regarding the disease, introduction of a cure. Finding a true salvation in the Savior. What does history teach us about the other side of this dark tunnel? Revolution is upon us, but how does renewal stunt and beat back the sexual revolution? #SpleenVenting
Ron, well, the first thing we have to do is leave room for spleen venting.
Ah, Yes, the Jews
Thank you for saying more about how Christians should engage with Judaism. I agree with Paul’s strategy and your disagreement with Zionism. Do you think “lame sauce” conservatives often breed resentment against Jews? For instance, if I say, “Islam is not a religion of peace” this will receive applause and a medal for bravery from conservatives. But, if I say, “Judaism is a religion of subversion” the same conservatives will start sounding a lot like cultural Marxists. Why aren’t more conservatives out-raged about things like this? Link I can sympathize with people who feel that establishment conservatives have long played warhawk for Israel and the relationship has been parasitic. From a layman’s perspective, the result has been war every five years with little benefit. I also understand the frustration from people who wonder why there funding for Israel’s wall, but not ours. I don’t think noticing this inconsistency necessarily comes out of sinful envy.
Joshua, I agree that disagreement with various policies re: Israel need not be anti-Semitic. But it frequently is, and so it is necessary to be careful. With Islam, the radicals really are applying the teaching of the Koran. The Jews are a high achieving people, more likely than the average to wind up winning a Nobel Prize in chemistry, or becoming the first violin for a major symphony orchestra. When people from this group become atheists, the results can be really destructive. But I would fault the atheism, not the ethnicity.
Classic Kuyperian Rock
This is a set of follow-up questions to a question which I asked you after your talk “The Two Kingdoms That Weren’t” at the Ezra Institute last Saturday. It was a pleasure to attend and to meet you. In the Grace Agenda Dad’s Band concert kick-off promo video you quoted Abraham Kuyper that “there is not one square inch in all Creation over which the Lord Jesus has not declared ‘mine!’ and if we are interested in recovering a full-orbed Kuyperian Christianity, then how could that not include covers of classic rock?” I got a chance to ask you why you quoted Kuyper in the video (forgetting that you’d explained further in the video), but I wasn’t able to ask you more about it because the doors were closing and we had to leave. My questions arise from the fact that just because Jesus is Lord of something does not imply that his people may participate in that thing. Some of the things of which Jesus is Lord are being kept for destruction. He is Lord of all things in heaven and on earth, but some things will perish in the eternal fire. Also, the principle in Philippians 4:8 must be followed when we decide what we think about and do. I do like Classic Rock, but have a hard time justifying listening to most of the music in the genre, both because of the lyrics of some songs, and because of the context of open rebellion against God in which many are/were written and performed. How do you know that it is good and pleasing to God to play classic rock covers? You didn’t say “all covers,” so besides personal taste, how do you decide which ones you will play and which ones you will not play? Perhaps we can rate music on a depravity scale. We can place various renditions of the Psalms at the top, music by John Rutter of which your saintly great-aunt Milly was very fond near the top end, and closer to the bottom end we can place music like “Running with the Devil” by van Halen. (And then we could do statistical analysis to determine the depravity coefficient of a culture!) But seriously though, how do we decide where to strike the line between what we may and may not listen to or play? I’m interested in what you have to say. Maybe this subject would make a good blog post sometime. Thanks,
Sean, good question. The answer is that we obviously cherry pick what songs we are willing to do. But then the question would be “by what standard?” Any songs that glorify sin and rebellion would be out, or which demonstrate in some other way a basic allegiance to the other team. And sometimes, we change the song—as when we did Spirit in the Sky, and changed never been a sinner to always been a sinner.
TGC and Leftward Ho!
Since the initial reading of your rebut of Joe Carter, I’ve wondered how I may pray on Joe’s behalf (and the leadership of TGC) for his receptiveness to correction. Today, after reading this article I was even more concerned about how best to approach the Lord on his behalf. For my sense is that it is even more needful due to the growing pile of evidence, as you’ve accumulated here. In the face of increased verification of the leftward slouch, only two responses seem available: Humility or Entrenchment. Thankfully, just now, clarity came to me. I will pray Ecclesiastes 7:5. May Joe (and for that matter, all of us who claim the name of Christ) and the leadership of TGC embrace the truth that “It is better for a man to hear the rebuke of the wise than to hear the song of fools.” The song of fools is much easier to tap one’s foot to in its upbeat, catchy melody. While the song of the wise is heavy laden with the weight of considered words, somber tones, and numerous verses, each stating and restating their dependence on the only rule for all of life lived under the sun—God’s word. With gratitude for your constant, unwavering commitment to live and preach all of life under our Savior’s redemptive authority,
Dan, thank you.
Thanks for your interaction with Pastor Joe Carter’s post. I read his article on the Gospel Coalition website, and it seems that he is challenging a mentality within conservative Reformed & Presbyterian churches that concerns me as well. I prefer the term ethnocentrism to racism, but there does seem to be a deep sense among some of our brothers that the preservation of the West means pushing away foreigners. It doesn’t seem to me that Joe Carter is defending “cultural Marxism” but is simply challenging those who use the terminology as a club against any dissenters to buttress their own pride and sense of superiority. Christian leaders should join with him in challenging the fear of other ethnicities and encouraging the spread of the gospel among all ethnicities and not just holding it within our own clan. Whether or not the Gospel Coalition is going left, I would argue that his article is not proof of that fact. Instead is a challenge to our churches to be a salt and a light for biblical justice in the middle of all the tensions. Thanks!
Nathan, it seems to me that if it were a problem with ethnocentrism, the “conservatives” would have as much of a problem with legal immigration as with illegal. But that does not seem to me to be the case, at least not in the circles I am familiar with.
It seems that Joe Carter has been looking for an excuse to write an article on kinism (which, apparently, nobody has ever heard of) and lacking any good reason, has decided use this sinful tragedy to get his headline. “What distinguishes Earnest from the other white nationalist murderers is that he seems to have been influenced by the racialist heresy known as kinism.” Earnest never references ‘kinism’ in his manifesto and Carter is obliged to try to define it, calling it heresy that many Christians are unwittingly guilty of. What is his point? Since he represents The “Gospel” Coalition, what exactly, is the “Good News” he brings?
Melody, thank you.
“Now this is a debate I am willing to have, but I think it would be more fitting to have such a debate after the shooter has been given a fair trial, is sentenced for the murder, and is hanged by the neck until dead. When we assign blame for such things, we ought to start with the culprit.” Two things come to mind immediately: 1. This is a motto TGC ought to memorize and implement immediately, starting with its own membership. (In most cases, the hanging being figurative and not literal.)(In most cases.) Think of the trouble it would have avoided or cut off if they had been doing this since the start. 2. In a Gospel-centered worldview, we have to live in that tension between being guilty by headship (Adam) and guilty by example (I am the chief of sinners). But guilt by headship has the terrible problem that it doesn’t create victimized subclasses and an ever-expanding list of intersectional enemies to blame. If “all have sinned” (as some benighted pre-enlightened rube once wrote) then in fact all at to blame, and we discover that the enemy is not the culture. The enemy is not race. The enemy is not government. The enemy is not history. The enemy is me—in every instance. Everyone who calls himself or herself “me” is to blame. And until TGC specifically can figure this part out, calling every man and woman (there is no third option) out to repent, the rest of their stupid, high-brow noblesse oblige to those who have not written a lot of books and are not paid by the hour to paint lifelike makeup on the dead face of evangelicalism needs to take a day off.
Frank, yes. Complicity is located in our federal head, and not where the devils of fashion would place it.
Shouldn’t we be examining mental illness as the root cause of this tragedy? I hope his church encouraged the young man involved to seek medical psychiatric help. It is likely many knew that the young man was troubled. Too often conservative churches treat mental illness as a problem with sin or failure to submit to authority. Sometimes elders employ church discipline (shunning) as a way to correct the sinner when what is most needed is psychiatric care.
Cathy, I don’t have any details on the pastoral care this young man was getting. My concern is that because he was there in Escondido, he may have been influenced by R2K theology, which would leave him without any antibodies to resist a very definite and defined ideology. We don’t know, but if we were pursuing it, that is where I would start my questions.
I’ll have you know that in a rare quiet moment of my Wednesday, I sat down to enjoy a big bowl of ice cream and read your latest article, The Leftward Drift of The Gospel Coalition. I got to the sixth paragraph and looked down. Chocolate (phew!). But I did eat it out of a white bowl, so there’s that.
Adam, eating the ice cream was not a micro-aggression. But I am afraid that telling us about it is.
I think it would be useful to define kinism before we condemn it, as there is a fairly wide range of people who call themselves kinists. The more moderate ones often simply teach that it is right to have special concern for your family, ethnic group, and race, that it is wise to consider ethnicity concerning immigration, that one should not forgo having biological children in order to adopt, that a nation should be ruled by a man of its own ethnicity, and that interracial marriage is unwise or sinful in most cases, but should be honored like other marriages once officiated. None of these ideas should be cause to lose fellowship, and some of them are clearly supported by Scripture, and held by many mainstream Christians. The more radical ones, which I believe were those you meant to condemn in this piece, often do believe that interracial marriages should be annulled, that blacks and Hispanics should all be sent out of America, that the Holocaust is mostly made up, and that forced church segregation is desirable or even mandatory—all ideas which should either be condemned or only considered with extreme caution. It is wise to consider the true or potentially true in a movement while rooting out the false.
James, I am happy to consider that there may be “moderate” kinists out there, but I would urge them to have a word with the boys down in marketing.
Re: Those TGC Right-Wingers: First, a historical quibble. You have written in the past, and again in your latest piece, that the right vs. left nomenclature came from the post French Revolution legislative assembly, thus it distinguishes those who want to burn the social order to the ground slowly from those in a hurry. I don’t think this is quite right. The seating arrangement arose among the Third Estate during the Estates General, which was a lawfully assembled body. Those to the right supported the Ancien Regime. According to Wikipedia a participant claimed this was due to the foul manners of the revolutionaries, more than to define voting blocks: “We began to recognize each other: those who were loyal to religion and the king took up positions to the right of the chair so as to avoid the shouts, oaths, and indecencies that enjoyed free rein in the opposing camp.” The seating arrangement continued in one form or another throughout the revolution and the “center” moved ever leftward prior to Thermidor, but I think you can rest easy knowing that the original right-wingers were indeed to your right. Second note/question: you quote, favorably, Tim Dukeman, who recently tweeted: “Matthew Lee Anderson is an apostate who was a speaker at the antichrist Revoice Conference. @TGC still published him, and @ERLC is still willing to co-author with him. This is the essence of being a hireling, not a shepherd.” Do you agree that Anderson is “apostate?” Doesn’t this seem a little out of hand?
CW, to your first point, I am happy to acknowledge that some of the original right-wingers were not moderate revolutionaries. I don’t think we have any disagreement there. To your second, I would not use the language of apostasy with regard to Anderson, but before condemning Dukeman, I would want to know how he is using the term.
Salvation by Works?
How can a person not view your writings and come to the conclusion that you are advocating for a works-based faith? Is Jesus not enough? Your writing and arguments remind me more than anything about Edgar Allen Poe and his disdain towards the Transcendentalists.
Jim, I am honestly unsure about how to approach this one.
Law, Not Life
One pro-abortion argument that I see often from the misguided masses is “if you’re pro life, why do you support the death penalty?” Or my personal favorite, “You’re pro-life but pro-gun. What a hypocrite.” Obviously there’s a pretty fundamental blurring going on here, but can you help me pin it down? While these arguments don’t have much weight in a formal debate, out in the real world they can be formidable in an environment where we’re a jaded people, ready to see hypocrisy in anyone. I’d appreciate your thoughts.
The problem arises from the assumption that human life provides the standard, instead of assuming that the standard is God’s law. If human life is sacrosanct, then war or capital punishment is inconsistent. But if God’s law is the standard, there is not inconsistency. As for the justice of that standard, it is not a problem to support executing evil people who have had a fair trial while opposing the execution of innocents who have had no trial at all.