Yesterday we kicked off a series on Five Scary Trends that have the potential to shipwreck the American church. As I said yesterday I am excited about much of what I see in the church, but if we are going to actually impact the growing percentage of people who don’t care about God or church we have to sharpen our game. Yesterday we looked at Multisite Mania, today let’s dive into trend two:
I never thought that theology could be trendy, but now if you are young and cool you are Reformed. Since I am neither young nor cool I may miss this wave. My problem with the Reformeds, however, is not theology (I'm too much of a light-weight to argue there), but with attitude. I'll call it PLA (Pharisee-ic Legalistic Arrogance)
First is the arrogance I see among some young Reformed protégées. I recently shared Thanksgiving dinner with a young man invited by another family member. When he discovered I might have a non-Piper bent he decided somewhere between the stuffing and the cranberry sauce this would be the perfect setting to argue the finer points of Calvinism. Instead of expressing gratitude for grace and provision we spent the latter part of the meal sparring over limited versus unlimited atonement. I am sure he walked away feeling vindicated; I just wanted more apple pie. I have run into this combative theological mindset among many in the TULIP field. This type of theological gunfighting does not draw people to Christ nor does it promote unity in the body. There are some things we need to agree to disagree about and get on about the business of pointing people to eternal Kingdom citizenship.
The second challenge in the Reformed Revolution is a leaning toward legalism. There seem to be certain theological litmus tests that have to be passed before you can be accepted in fellowship in some Reform circles. I have stumbled into one of these tests on more than one occasion when my egalitarian slip begins to show. The relational temperature int he room drops suddenly as I explain that my family first came to know Christ when my grandmother responded to a salvation appeal from a lady evangelist traveling through Oklahoma in the 1940s. Eventually my grandfather became a Christ-follower and then a pastor. All of his children and grandchildren became pastors. Thousands of lives around the world have been impacted by the sermon of that faithful Pentecostal preacher who happened to wear a skirt. Can we at least have a conversation about the role of women in the church? Or should I be shunned? Shunned I say, shunned.
Pharisee-ic Legalistic Arrogance is not the sole property of the Reformeds; every tribe has its ego. But the current popularity of this stream among young evangelicals brings PLA into bright focus. If not checked it will slow down or even strangle our joint mission to see our communities turn back to God. Let’s stack hands on the essentials, agree to disagree on the non-essentials and focus on the work at hand.
Tomorrow we’ll take a look at Scary Trend Three: Worship Worship