Forgive this post ahead of time. I don’t want you to feel dizzy. I’m truly wrestling here, friend. I’m sifting, filtering, nuking thoughts as they enter my mind. Here’s where we’ll begin:
This is the question I keep asking myself as I watch our Evangelical “Leaders” (some who are near and dear to me) and organizations (I had abandoned most of these ships years ago) continue to descend into the cold cave of progressivism and give up the ground won by the Gospel all together. Because of this, social media feels so grey and lifeless. True, this was always the case, but even among those I would call my closest Calvinist allies, there is a palpable fog. I know you all feel it, too. I want to leave Twitter for good.
The (obvious) sense I get online and at various conferences is that we Reformed are in a state of unrest, maybe hopelessness—but certainly sadness as one faithful Christian after another gives in to the allure of Woke Christianity.
Charity for Spelunkers
I want to be charitable, first, because these are real people we’re dealing with, not Twitter avatars. Second, because I have this sneaking feeling that, for formerly faithful Christian leaders who have long track records of true Christian labor, this descent has been gradual. For these theological spelunkers, they’ve spelunked accidentally. They’ve watched their peers descend into the deep with their headlamps on, and, rather than digging in their heels, they’ve simply let gravity do its work. They’ve found, perhaps, a more welcoming audience willing to buy their books and listen to their podcasts if they simply…give in.
Observing carefully every stalactite and stalagmite, these descending Evangelicals are now re-thinking subjects like race, gender, homosexuality, and climate change. They’re unknowingly minimizing the impact of the cross and maximizing the importance of worldly, progressive values. They’re a little behind the times, sure, but they’re getting woker by the hour.
If Twitter is any indication, this deep, dark, cold world evangelicals are spelunking is getting increasingly deep, dark, and cold. Even colder than an Illinois April. Or a Javy Baez go-ahead home run.
I fear what those Thought Leaders—some my heroes—might discover next.
Watch it Burn?
So what about those who refuse strap on their helmets and go with? We’re a dying breed. What do we do? Perhaps this, instead, is the right question to lead this post. I think about this all the time. The solution cannot be blog posts and name-calling. Draw lines in the sand, yes, but burning and “owning” people, even potential Gospel-defectors, is ungodly. Which is why Big Discernment cannot defeat Big Evangelicalism. We simply cannot rely on Professional Discernment Bloggers to fix it. They need the fight too much. Controversy means clicks.
The obvious solution is to talk to them ourselves, right? but you and I will never meet these Evangelical Thought Leaders, let alone befriend, reason with, and gently rebuke them. I don’t believe the solution is doing *nothing* either, watching as the Titanic inches closer and closer to the iceberg. Some people like to watch things burn, but I don’t find that particularly Christ-like.
So what do we do? At least these two things:
1. Drink Deeply at the Fountain of Christ
Do this a lot and I promise you won’t become a panic-stricken, triggered, fearful Evangellyfish. Look at Him well in His Word and you’ll be way too satisfied in His glorious grace to lose heart and lose your temper. Adoring Christ more today will give you a backbone too. When everyone is entering that dark, cold, yet alluring cave of progressive relief, you’ll remember, “Let God be true, and all men liars (Romans 3:4).”
Yes, drink deeply. As Jonathan Edwards has written:
The creation of the world seems to have been especially for this end, that the eternal Son of God might obtain a spouse, toward whom he might fully exercise the infinite benevolence of his nature, and to whom he might, as it were, open and pour forth all that immense fountain of condescension, love and grace that was in his heart, and that in this way God might be glorified.
And Michael Reeves:
The cornerstone, the jewel in the crown of Christianity is not an idea, a system or a thing; it is not even ‘the gospel’ as such. It is Jesus Christ.
And Mark Cranenburgh:
It’s all Christ. It always was and always will be. Today. Tomorrow. Forever. Every doctrine, every molecule, everything in heaven and on earth and under the earth. It’s all Christ.
And Martin Lloyd-Jones:
My friend, turn your eyes away from yourself. Look to [Jesus], look at him, and stay there until you have seen him and know him and you are amazed and astonished. And you will find that you will be filled with life, life that is life eternal.
It is amazing how every injustice, bitter envy, jealousy, and strife fades away when we gaze at the infinite, immortal Word of God in Christ; if we (the stronger brothers) have failed to be gentle, meek, peace-making and kind towards those who are becoming worldly in their “theology”, it is because we ourselves have become worldly in our attitudes. What sort of examples are we?
Now, I am talking about hoping for those who are unwittingly making bad choices in the direction of Social Justice and progressivism—those who have served faithfully for years and have only recently taken a left turn. We can have hope for these.
Because the Holy Spirit is ever-working in those currently-spelunking believers (who were justified by faith alone, by the way) to conform them into the image of Christ, we are commanded as their brothers and sisters to have a confident expectation that they will be convicted for their sin, repent, and return to their first love.
It is God who works in them, to will and to work according to His good pleasure (Phil. 2:13). Just as He is working on me and you.
Love hopes (1 Cor. 13:7). It doesn’t give up. The church in Corinth had huge problems, but Paul never gave up the hope he had for them. He didn’t quit on them. He wrote to them, prayed for them, sent people to them, and he had strong confidence that they would respond well. “I have great pride in you; I am filled with comfort. In all our afflictions, I am overflowing with joy…I rejoice, because I have complete confidence in you (2 Cor. 7:4, 16).”
As Alexander Strauch wrote somewhere, “Love is confident that people can change and improve. It sees their worth, their potential, and future possibilities.”
Though we feel betrayed, we must run to Christ here. The love we are commanded to have for these defectors is beyond our ability or even desire. We are angry, hurt, and discouraged—but blessed be the God of all comfort who comforts us so we can comfort others with the comfort we’ve received (2 Cor. 1:4).
In other words, by the strength provided in Christ Jesus, commit to generously loving those spelunkers dabbling in progressivism.
The current state of the Reformed ethos is in chaos right now. It’s dizzying. But God’s Word brings such clarity to us: speak the truth tactfully and hope for the best. The Third Person of the Trinity is working in them, after all.