Like Annie Oakley Doing Trick Shots

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The Bayly brothers have rendered us yet another service through this analysis of the contemporary politics of the PCA. I wanted to take a moment to register my agreement with the post generally, and to add a few riffs of my own. Here and there I might demur slightly, hopefully without simpering.

Out of all the verses I don’t understand at all, my favorite is this one: “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force” (Matt. 11:12). Like I said, I don’t know what it means, but I think it must figure in here somehow. How would I apply this? Not sure.

Since I am simply responding to this and that, as the whim seizes me, this post might have a grab-baggy feel to it. C’est la whatever.

So I want to begin by adding some demographic observations of my own. Whenever you are dealing with a new movement, identification of what that movement is all about is a lot trickier than, say, analyzing some fossilized denomination. With the latter, all you have to do is read the little inscription next to the glass case, and you know exactly what they stand for. But when something new is happening, it can take a bit of time for the whole thing to “set up.” For example, when the emergent thing was first happening, there were some good people involved. But after it began to set up, and it became clear that missional was going to be mushional, people like Driscoll bailed.

Second, when something starts to happen, all kinds of people are attracted to it, for various reasons. Not surprisingly, they want to help steer the movement in a direction consistent with why they showed up in the first place. But people are coming from all directions, including from some good directions, and this is why it takes some time for the whole thing to sort out and set up. Complicating the set-up period is the arrival of pistol-fanning heresy hunters, acting like they were Annie Oakley doing trick shots. Unfortunately, buying a gun is not the same thing as learning how to aim it, and waving the Westminster Confession overhead is not the same thing as reading it.

Third, the point the Baylys were making is not that every last TR has the responsibility to attack every error on the continent, all the time. The point was that a sense of proportion would dictate that you would have the greater portion of your troops where the greatest threat was. The fact that the TRs don’t, in fact, deploy their troops in this fashion tells us that they don’t know what the greatest threat is, or they are afraid of the greatest threat. In either case, they are failing in their self-assigned duty as watchmen.

And by the way, the Baylys are not just making an easy critique from the balcony of their blog — they are TRs who practice what they preach. They have a true sense of proportion, and they do far more than just “blog about it.” They have also labored behind the scenes in some remarkable and effective ways. What it boils down to is that Green Baggins doesn’t know what Strider could possibly be doing out there in the woods so much.

When it comes to the claim that FV is “fracturing” into two camps, “good” and “bad” respectively, I would want to put it a bit differently. It is quite true that different emphases and strategies are developing as the FV thing “sets up.” One group wants to emphasize full continuity with Reformed and evangelical tradition and the other doesn’t care about that so much. I think that is fair to say.

Not surprisingly, I differ with the idea that FV is declining in influence, but I do agree that the form this influence takes could be unpredictable. For example, when the reconstructionist reactor melted down, that was that, or so some people thought. But since that time, the whole Reformed world (R2K excepted) has been exuding a noticeable radioactive glow. From worldview seminars to every form of cultural engagement, the Reformed have been greatly affected by something they pretend has had no influence to speak of at all. This has happened despite the fact that, except for some mutants living in the crater, there are hardly any people today calling themselves reconstructionists.

When I say this influence of ours could be “unpredictable,” I should add that I am aware of some things in development now that will probably make the Reformed establishment get all wee-weed up, as the expression has it. In other words, I am in a position to predict some of this unpredictable stuff, but I am not going to. A good half of the fun is in the surprise.

One last thing, an important quibble: the CREC is not formally FV. Rather, the CREC is formally on record that the differences surrounding FV (thus far) need not be a barrier to fellowship within the CREC. Thus, a church need not be FV to be in the CREC, but FV churches are welcome. So are non-FV churches, and so are different kinds of FV churches. How’s that?

Enough for now.

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