[O]ur sense is that this whole issue of mission (along with related issues like kingdom, social justice, shalom, cultural mandate, and caring for the poor) is the most confusing, most discussed, most energizing, and most potentially divisive issue in the evangelical church today. (25)And last week Carl Trueman made a similar point:
The gospel-centred world seems divided over whether the gospel is primarily about transforming culture or individual forgiveness for sins. Of course, there is a spectrum of opinion on this matter and not everyone is at one end of it or the other. Yet the passions generated by DeYoung and Gilbert highlight the problem and indicate that it cannot be ignored. Indeed, it seems likely that the gospel-centred world is set to become more, not less, polarized on this issue. After all, how one answers the question of the mission of the church reflects how one understands the gospel and shapes everything that the church does.In that same article Trueman alludes to some of his concerns about both the nature and role of The Gospel Coalition in reformed-ish, conservative-ish evangelicalism. But he's much more punchy in this interview. There, he relates an anecdote that might be a bit repugnant to those who share his sensibilities:
I received from an employee of The Gospel Coalition just last week an e-mail basically telling me to shut up about James MacDonald because I was effectively opposing the work of the church in the current time, and I'm sitting in my office thinking, "Since when did James MacDonald get appointed as my spokesman? I'm ordained in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. He's not an officer in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Who has decided that the agenda of my denomination and my congregation is suddenly to be set by people that I hadn't heard of until six months ago?"
So I think the overweening ambition of the parachurch becomes critical at this point as well. To me, churches should set the Church's agenda. Parachurch is helpful in supporting the church in that, but when you get an organization that is effectively starting to creep into church areas and trying to silence churchmen on these key points, that is very, very problematic to me.