Monday, July 11, 2011

Things You May Have Missed, and Opinions You Might Not Share

Just a little collection of comments that intrigued me over the past few days:

1. Kudos to the GARBC for addressing openly the need to protect children from sexual abuse in the church.

2. Should you be considering showing your church a movie produced to propagate the gospel because the "older forms of Christian expression aren't as effective anymore," consider these words of caution from Dave Doran [MP3]:
Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism have both been guilty of an inordinate desire to keep up with the latest things. Okay, the latest technological advances, the latest deals to do it, so let's go back—gospel and films. I mean, it looks like the way to reach people, so all of a sudden people say, "Let's start doing that," without necessarily thinking about, "Does something happen that undermines the power of the spoken word when we move to drama?"—not even necessarily thinking about that. So I'm just saying we shouldn't chase any fad because it doesn't give us enough time to decide, and it's usually a misguided quest for relevance.
3. Some more Doran . . . I have to admit, I've barely skimmed the linked CT article, but I have no doubt he's right: "[P]rofessing evangelicals keep getting hoodwinked into publishing documents that never accomplish their purpose, but do in fact erode the boundaries of the faith." My take: The term "classic Christians" is code for "ecumenical unity is more precious to us than gospel clarity."

4. You've probably read a pastoral statement of repentance. The one you may not have heard is from Josh Harris. Give it a listen and see if any of the concerns people have voiced to CLC leadership sound familiar.

5. I'm a bit surprised that Master's Seminary alum Francis Chan is squishy on annihilationism. And it strikes me a bit odd that those comments aren't part of the story in a post that refers to arrogance in trying to attract people to Jesus by hiding things about him.

6. Though I'm not as optimistic about the future of the SBC as this author, I think he's dead right about the generation gap in its leadership:
We are merely experience the ramifications of twenty years of moderate/liberal theology in our seminaries. When it comes to strong theological training, which produces strong leadership, the SBC has a generational gap. The students in our seminaries when our schools were in such bad shape the Conservative Resugence began, are now in their 50s and early 60s. That is the age group that usually gives leadership to our convention. Many, but definitely not all, of this group tend to be atheological. Men of God who love Him and are deeply committed, but didn't have the theological training from a mentor like an Adrian Rogers or a school like our seminaries of the last 15 years. The theological void was filled by methodology and programs which has led to the rise of pragmatism over theology, which in turn produced the slippery slope down which we are currently sliding.

The last theologically driven generation is in their very late 60s, 70s, and 80s and sidelined by the convention. The next theologically driven generation is still under 45, which means lots of biblical grounding, but still very inexperienced when it comes to the ability to lead at a national level.


Hannah said...

#6. What happened to that generation?! IMHO, this is exactly the same scenario playing out in fundamentalism. Post-WWII men are solid, biblical, loving men; the next generation by in large seem committed to "the network" and programs. So curious to understand what would have shaped this dynamic in both camps.

Hannah said...

*by and large*

Ben said...

Hannah, I've thought about that a bit. Not sure I have a great answer. Clearly, independent Baptist fundamentalism doesn't have the same set of factors in play. SBC seminaries hit their nadir from roughly 1960-1990 because they were infested with theological liberalism. That means most SBC pastors who are roughly 40-75 either didn't get a seminary education, or got one but would have been better off without it. And the ones who didn't go to seminary were probably steeped in authoritarian, pragmatic, semi-Pelagian revivalism. Hence, a generation of missing or atheological leadership, with a few anomalies, by the grace of God.

Fundamentalism obviously didn't have to contend with the liberalism. Authoritarian, pragmatic semi-Pelagian revivalism? Surely in some tributaries of the stream. Perhaps less so in others. And I assume that another major factor that affected both groups must have been the anti-intellectualism that infected both the SBC and the IFB in the mid-20th century. I assume my bookshelves must be like many pastors, in that there's a big black hole from about 1920 to 1980-ish, in which very little of lasting value was published—particularly among American authors.

Whom in particular do you have in mind when you refer to post-WWII men?

JNj. said...

# 3 - as seen in the new published paper about "the ethics of mission" by the worldwide evangelical alliance in cooperation with the vatican an the world council of churches (

Who would have thought that this would be possible 20 years ago?

Hannah said...

Sorry for being unclear - I was thinking of the generation who would have been in seminary immediately after WWII in the late 1940s and 1950s. My grandfather was one who fought in WWII and then went to seminary on the GI Bill. So they would have been the WWII generation but have been in school post-WWII. These men would now be in their 80s.

My husband and I were hashing through this last night. One factor that both the SBC and fundamentalists might share was an attachment to 1950s moralism and a fierce opposition to the Social Revolution of the 1960s and 70s. I wonder if leaders in both camps began preaching what they were "against" instead of what they held to. This emphasis would have left a vacuum of solid theology and led to the next generation being defined by application and political allegiances against social ills.

Essentially it would be the error that what you spend your time talking about is what you teach your listeners is most important.