I spent a chunk of Wednesday afternoon drinking coffee with two of my favourite pastor friends. Both guys come from a reformed theological perspective. They are also two of the more gracious/irenic people I know.
One of my friends is a well-known blogger who effectively straddles the reformed and emerging church worlds. Our conversation lead to the inevitable discussion of McLaren, Driscoll, Little Boys with a Big Box O’ Matches™, Tim Challies, the iMonk, Tim Keller et al. We agreed that Keller was probably the most influential leader (in the Reformed stream) on the three of us. (Even if I do live in a more theologically Arminian place in the Kingdom…or outside the Kingdom in the opinion of some.) His call to engage in effective conversation with those on the other side of real or perceived boundaries impacted all of us.
After said blogger had to leave early to pick up his daughter from school, my other friend took me to task for his perception that I led the charge against John Piper and his Sovereignty of God & the I35 Bridge post. Especially in light of my recent comments regarding McLaren, and Driscoll’s heretic charge. Point taken. Though in my small corner of blogdom, I doubt I have the influence to lead any charge anywhere – other than possible leading a battery into its charging station – and even that I manage to forget to do at the least appropriate times.
This morning, as my home reverberated with silence and I scanned Google Reader, I came across Alan @ The Thinklings pointing to a Reggie Kidd post I’d read in early September as we began our move and meant to comment on then, but simply forgot, Mutual Defenestration means Self Annihilation. (In life’s wonderfully odd symmetry, Kidd is an RTS prof & PCA pastor and my friend above, an RTS grad & PCA pastor.)
Kidd begins with a quote from Herodotus that includes, “for the evil of internal strife is worse than united war in the same proportion as war itself is worse than peace.” And he likens it to the battles that rage within the Reformed and wider church world. (The 120 comments on Reggie’s post well represent a few of those battles. And in fairness, it’s important to read this post of Kidd’s as well, along with the comments there).
…evangelicals headbutt each other … and do everything we can to our nearest neighbors to let them know we’re more against them than against what should be our common enemies.
Sisters raise voices of orthodoxy in pulpits long abandoned by theologically conservative men — and we have the temerity to tell them they have no business battling battles we’ve walked away from.
Battle as relentlessly and courageously as the Church of England’s N.T. Wright does to champion the view that Paul’s theology is animated by a comprehensive and integrated story of promise and fulfillment — scoring points against both the postmodern deconstruction of the biblical meta-narrative and the dispensational fracturing of the singular story of “the Israel of God” into dichotomous stories of “Israel” versus the “church” — and what do you get from your potential allies in the conservative reformed world? How about getting dismissed as importing an alien biblical theology into the established categories of systematic theology, as being vague about the atonement, and as compromising biblical authority? While we build careers at our potential friends’ expense, the hostile armies and navies amass. Nice work.
As the Scoutmaster once said to his troop of Boy Scouts who couldn’t do anything but bicker: “Boys, it’s time to start whizzing out of the campsite instead of into it.”
Is it possible that Sparta and Athens understood better what was at stake in their time than we do in ours? Can we stop devouring our own? Can we make common cause against common enemies instead of against one another?
We’re better than this. We’re wiser than this. And the gospel deserves better than this, because more is at stake than when the beneficiaries of the sacrifice of King Leonidas and “his brave three hundred” took stock of the price that had been paid for them.
Would that we all listen to the voices of the Kidds and the Kellers. (And my finger pointing is primarily at myself, friends.)
Matchbox Twenty’s How Far We’ve Come blasts out of iTunes as I finish this post. And now I’m off to get the kids up and off to the Lake we go. Truly back on Monday. UPDATE: Or perhaps later today. T-storms are delaying our trip to the island by 24 hours. Instead, the Captain of the Loft Move, Imbi, has us heading off to the storage unit to sort what’s left to come. I hate T-storms.