I just got a chance to listen to an interview I did for the White Horse Inn with Michael Horton, along with their follow-up comments to that interview. For those who are interested, they can find it here — although it costs a few bucks to download.
As far as the interview went, it was pretty much how I remember it. But the follow-up comments were new, and so I thought I should give just a few responses here.
Before responding to particulars, I was reminded yet again how grateful I was for the opportunity to have the discussion in the first place. Despite the disagreements that remain, there was at least the recognition that this was an in-house Reformed discussion, and that the issues we were talking about were not matters of heresy. Compared to much of the debate thus far, this was a distinct improvement, and I’ll take it. For that, my continued thanks go out to Michael Horton, and his discussion partners.
That said, there are three issues that were raised in the discussion after the interview that call for a response. First, while the movement of generic evangelicals toward the historic Reformed faith was applauded (and it really was), the downside of this trek to Geneva was described as the tendency of some newly-arrived Reformed folk to start rearranging the furniture as soon as they move in. For those who have lived in these Reformed habitations for some time, this can be more than a little unsettling. Of course, I am sympathetic with this concern in principle, and I am sure there have been refugees from goo-evangelicalism who have tracked all kinds of things in, which can be distressing to the curators of that great Persian carpet of Calvinist soteriology. But other interesting things can happen as well. For example, to change the image we are using, the new guy who starts to hang around the great and vast library of Reformed thought might find himself taking dusty books off the shelf and reading through them. He then says something like, “Hey, did you know that Calvin said thus n’ such?” To which he hears a great deal of harumphing, and is told in solemn tones that the only authoritative thing Calvin actually said can be found in the glass display case in the hall outside. In other words, sometimes the new guys comes in because he is attracted to some feature of historic Reformed thought, and he then discovers to his dismay that there are many contemporary Reformed folks who are not aware that “Calvin said that.” Not to put too fine a point on it, a man might be rejected by the current folks at Banner of Truth because he teaches things that he learned from a Banner of Truth book.
Secondly, I don’t know how one of the commentators came away with the idea that we have some kind of “nervousness about affirming the confessions.” I explained in the interview that Christ Church was in the process of adopting a book of confessions, the doctrinal screen of which was the Westminster Confession. The vast majority of CREC churches have a historic Reformed confession of faith. I think this was an instance of us talking past each other.
And last, I think we were criticised in the discussion for two opposite and inconsistent faults. In the first place, we were dinged for what seemed to them to be convoluted and Byzantine explanations of doctrine, e.g. lack of clarity, and then, just moments later it was asserted that we should not be trying to do “theology by blog,” meaning that detailed study, seminary, graduate studies was necessary. Now I am quite prepared to believe that my teaching is opaque, murky,. And I am quite prepared to believe that my teaching is pithy, cogent, memorable, and succinct. Being a sinner, I would like to flatter myself on which it is. But I also have certain limitations, and Aristotle’s observation that a toaster oven cannot simultaneously be not a toaster oven in the same way and in the same respect is one of them.
Anyhow, there it is.