The Gospel Coalition’s Thin-Skinned Long Arm

I did not see Kevin DeYoung’s post at his Gospel Coalition blog about confessionalism and pietism — and for good reason. Between the time you opened the page and blinked it was gone. (And it promised to be the first of a three-part series.)

(UPDATE: For those old enough to remember the Tonight Show when Johnny Carson was the host, and Doc Severinson was the band leader, Doc was not always present, often playing other gigs. Johnny regularly said to Ed McMahon, “Doc is here? Doc is not here.” In that same vein, Kevin’s post was not here. It is now here.)

Why it vanished from the Gospel Coalition website is a mystery. At the risk of shameless self-promotion, the reason may have to do with DeYoung’s decision to interact with The Lost Soul of American Protestantism, a book written by this blogger. Seemingly, any attention given to the Old Life case for confessionalism is improper at the Gospel Coalition because that case has uncomfortable implications for the gospel Allies.

And at the risk of seeing the Gospel Coalition administrators purge DeYoung’s thoughtful comments altogether from the Internet (they are currently available at his Facebook page), I am preserving his piece here below. Unlike the Gospel Coalition, where disagreements about polity, the sacraments, and even the eternal decrees, are not permitted to surface for the sake of fighting the Axis powers of inauthentic Christianity, I regard a blog as simply a place to discuss and kvetch. (I imagine that several days worth of Prozac and Prilosec comes with the registration packet at the Gospel Coalition conference to keep the conferees in good humor and free from indigestion.)

Here is DeYoung’s post (reaction to follow):

Can Pietism and Confessionalism Be Friends? (Part 1 of 3)

by Kevin DeYoung on Friday, April 8, 2011 at 12:27pm

Those outside Presbyterian circles may not be aware (and may not care), but there has been a lot of discussion over the past few years about the dangers of pietism and how it differs radically from the older (read: better) model of confessionalism. Pietism, it is said, emphasizes dramatic conversions, tends toward individualism, pushes for unity based on shared experience, and pays little attention to careful doctrinal formulation. Confessionalism, on the other hand, is a more churchly tradition, with creeds and catechisms and liturgy. It emphasizes the ordinary means of word and sacrament and prizes church order and the offices. It is pro-ritual, pro-clergy, and pro-doctrine, where pietism, it is said, stands against all these things.

I am sympathetic with much of this critique of evangelical pietism. I agree with Darryl Hart’s contention in The Lost Soul of American Protestantism that American evangelicalism has tried too hard to be relevant, has largely ignored organic church growth by catechesis, has too often elevated experience at the expense of doctrine, has minimized the role of the institutional church, and has worn out a good number of Christians by assuming that every churchgoer is an activist and crusader more than a pilgrim. Confessionalism would be good tonic for much of what ails the evangelical world.

Concern for Confessionalism

And yet, I worry that confessionalism without a strong infusion of the pietism it means to correct, can be a cure just as bad as the disease. Is there a way to reject revivalism without discounting genuine revival in the Great Awakening? Can I like Machen and Whitefield? Is there a way to say, “Yes, the church has tried too hard to Christianize every area of life” while still believing that our private faith should translate into public action? Hart argues that after revivalism Christian devotion was no longer limited to “formal church activities on Sunday or other holy days,” but “being a believer now became a full-time duty, with faith making demands in all areas of life” (13). Given the thrust of the book, I think it’s safe to say Hart finds this troubling.

Further, Hart clearly sides with the Old Side in New England that opposed the Great Awakening, its emphasis on inner experience, and the insistence that ministers be able to give an account of God’s work in their hearts (32-42). While I agree wholeheartedly that experience does not a Christian make, I wish the strong confessional advocates would do more to warn against the real danger of dead orthodoxy. It is possible to grow up in a Christian home, get baptized as an infant, get catechized, join the church, take the Lord’s Supper, be a part of a church your whole life and not be a Christian. It is possible to grow up in an Old World model where you inherit a church tradition (often along ethnic lines), and stay in that church tradition, but be spiritually dead. There are plenty of students at Hope College and Calvin College (just to name two schools from my tradition) who are thoroughly confessional as a matter of form, but not converted.

I have no hesitation in commending confessionalism. My concern is that pietism–with its private Bible study, small group prayer, insistence on conversion, and the cultivation of “heart” religion–is frequently set against confessionalism. For example, Hart agues, “Confessional Protestantism invites another way of evaluating the making of believers. Its history demonstrates the importance of inheritance and the way that believers appropriate faith over a lifetime through the sustained ministry and counsel of pastors as opposed to the momentary crisis induced by the itinerant evangelist or the pressures of sitting around a fire at summer camp” (184). I like the first sentence, but why so negatively caricature the work of itinerant evangelists and the real conversions that may come at summer camp? I could be misreading Hart. Maybe he has no problem with any of these things. But when he says, “the central struggle throughout Protestantism’s history has been between confessionalism and pietism, not evangelicalism and liberalism” (183), I worry that committed Presbyterians will steer clear of anything that gets painted with a broad brush as “pietism.”

A Confessionalism with Deep Piety

We all feel and respond to different dangers (for example, see Ligon Duncan’s post and William Evans’ post, both of which I like). No doubt, revivalistic, hyper-experiential, adoctrinal, deeds-not-creeds, tell-me-the-exact-moment-you-were-born-again, go-conquer-the-world-for-Christ Christianity has a load of problems. If that’s pietism, then I want no part of it.

But I want a certain kind of confessionalism. I want a confessionalism that believes in Spirit-given revival, welcomes deep affections, affirms truth-driven experience, and understands that the best creeds should result in the best deeds. I want a confessionalism that believes in the institutional church and expects our Christian faith to impact what we do in the world and how we do it. I want a confessionalism that is not ashamed to speak of conversion—dramatic conversion for some, unnoticed conversion for many.

I want a confessionalism that preaches and practices deep piety. Whether this is labeled “pietism” or just part of our rich confessional tradition doesn’t matter to me. What matters is that we have ministers and parishioners who realize there is an external and internal dimension to the faith. I want Christians to know that going to church, hearing the word, reciting the creeds, singing the hymns, and partaking of the sacraments is not peripheral to the Christian life; it our lifeblood. And I also want Christians who do all those things every week to pray in “their closets,” look for opportunities to share the gospel with the lost, submit to Christ’s lordship in every area of life, and understand that true faith is not only a knowledge and conviction that everything God reveals in his Word is true; it is also a deep-rooted assurance” that not only others, but they too “have been made forever right with God, and have been granted salvation” (Heidelberg Catechism Q/A 21).

Okay, I can’t resist one quick comment. Why does piety have to be “deep”? I understand that deep piety is good, and better than shallow piety. But what company makes the piety meter to detect whether it is deep or shallow? And what about those days when my piety is shallow? Am I less elect or justified? In other words, the word “deep” encourages an interest in me, not the gospel or God’s saving work.

This is not a reason to say, let’s have more shallow piety. But it may be a reason to be careful about the words we use lest we fall prey to the pride of thinking our own piety is deep. You’d think that folks who desire God and his glory might see how their piety standards nurture desires less theocentric and glorious.

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138 Comments

  1. Posted April 11, 2011 at 5:12 am | Permalink

    And I also want Christians who do all those things every week to…look for opportunities to share the gospel with look for opportunities to share the gospel with the lost, submit to Christ’s lordship in every area of life…

    Shouldn’t DeYoung’s submission to Christ’s lordship in every area of life result in him not guilting his flock to share the gospel? Isn’t there a church office called “evangelist?”

  2. Ryan Davidson
    Posted April 11, 2011 at 5:30 am | Permalink

    I’m increasingly bothered by the urge evangelicals seem to have to introduce new activities and rituals in an attempt to make sure that we are not simply going through the motions in our old activities and rituals. If the problem they are worried about is heart obedience and piety, and the worry is that it’s hard to tell whether someone is possessed of the requisite “passionate inwardness,” to borrow from Kierkegaard, how exactly is replacing one set of rituals with another supposed to fix that problem?

    Because that’s really all that’s happening. Instead of Word and Sacrament, we have Revival and Bible Study. Why this is supposed to be a step in the right direction is never something that’s been clear to me.

  3. Posted April 11, 2011 at 6:46 am | Permalink

    Ryan, Spot on. It seems to be ‘a priori’ that without pietism, simple orthodoxy is ‘dead’, when orthodoxy is alive by its definition (i.e. the resurrection to life). And as Darryl points out, without a piety meter how are we to evaluate this piety? And by whose standards – Edwards….Piper…my own? It seems to spark more questions than provide answers. Also, there seems to be an aversion to the “either/or” decision making universally. In other words, choosing confessionalism to pietism (or even vice versa) is extreme. The middle must be right, or I’m extreme. While that may be true at times, it is not a required axiom. But the GC seems to knee-jerk to that middle position to avoid deciding between two positions in Reformed history that have been at odds since at least the 1st Great Awakening and arguably, since the 16th century polemic against the Anabaptists (read: radical reformation).

  4. Brad
    Posted April 11, 2011 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    The greatest service confessionalism can render to the larger church is to be true to itself. Presbyterians have always provided the theological ballast — go to any Christian “bookstore” and 80% of the theology works (even if there are only ten of them) will be Calvinist. But Calvinist soteriology isn’t enough. Confessionalists guard the only resources for the church to turn to if ecclesiology ever again becomes a concern. Old schoolers must be more than archivists and museum keepers – but we must serve those functions too.

  5. Posted April 11, 2011 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    Confessionalists need to get comfortable in the outhouse- it is the destiny of those who shun pietism; or, they could make a coalition themselves. Having experienced the wrath of a pietist myself (my own brother) and tending to blame myself more than him (they have that effect on you), I still am miffed as to why I let him get away with his nonsense, condescension and supposed moral superiority. He is just as much lacking as I am (both sinner and saint) but does not see it that way and stands in a position of power over me. It is a dangerous thing for a pietist to have power- especially when they do not like you that much.

    I am also miffed as to why Danny Hyde wants to make amends with pietists. The Lutherans at least know better. It seems like more of a power struggle than a seeking after the truth. Pietists possess a whole lot of moral indignation, ie., anger, fear and control, that fuels and motivates them. But I guess I am making the error of trying to look into their hearts. I am just talking out of my experience. I have delusions of making amends with my brother one day too- he has even brought my oldest son into his camp. Its gets pretty low down and dirty. Who knows how it will all turn out.

  6. Posted April 11, 2011 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    Looks like I botched the quote above. It should have read: And I also want Christians who do all those things every week to…look for opportunities to share the gospel with the lost, submit to Christ’s lordship in every area of life…

  7. Posted April 11, 2011 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    “Confessionalism, on the other hand, is a more churchly tradition, with creeds and catechisms and liturgy. It emphasizes the ordinary means of word and sacrament and prizes church order and the offices. It is pro-ritual, pro-clergy, and pro-doctrine, where pietism, it is said, stands against all these things.”

    Where can I sign up for this kind of Confessionalism?

  8. DJ
    Posted April 11, 2011 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    I just don’t get it guys. Maybe someone can help me? Should Christians study their bible? Shouldn’t we seek to share the gospel with the lost around us? Is that really ONLY for the “evangelist”? What are you seeing in all of this that I’m missing?

  9. Posted April 11, 2011 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    DJ, when you ask “shouldn’t we?,” your question seems to leave open only two possible responses, either “yes we should” or “no we shouldn’t.” Both are wrong in some sense. Yes, we should evangelize if we are the Church. The Church would be falling short of its duties if it failed to evangelize. That is a far cry from telling each and every Church member that they “should evangelize.” The great commission does not appear to be a mandate for individual Christians. Yet, despite there being an office of evangelist, I wouldn’t say it’s wrong for a believer to share her faith. And that shuts down the “no we shouldn’t” possibility. We may share our faith (Christian liberty); however, we must be ready to give an answer for the hope that we have (Christian duty).

  10. Ryan Davidson
    Posted April 11, 2011 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    What are you seeing in all of this that I’m missing?

    What we’re seeing is the trend to replace the ancient marks of the church with new ones that have no foundation in either Scripture or tradition. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with Bible study. It’s downright encouraged. But not as a replacement for the preached Word, and not as a mark of true spirituality. Similarly, there’s nothing wrong with evangelism or sharing the Gospel with one’s friends and neighbors. But not at the cost of eradicating the importance of the church’s institutional role in evangelism, and again, not as a mark of true spirituality.

  11. David
    Posted April 11, 2011 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    DeYoung finishes his piece with a series of “I want, I want, I want” statements. I think that’s very telling about where DeYoung’s focus is and why he finds “deep piety” so attractive.

  12. DJ
    Posted April 11, 2011 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    @Joseph – Thanks for the reply. It was helpful.
    @Ryan – You’re too. Thanks. But what would you say the marks of “true spirituality” are?

  13. George
    Posted April 11, 2011 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    If we accept the premise that pietists view their version of “grace” as that which God does IN us, whereas confessionalists see the redemptive work of the Messiah as what God has done FOR us, how can a confessional Christian develop a “deep piety,” whatever that means? Isn’t one synergistic and the other monergistic – polar opposites?

    Would it not seem to make more sense to ask the stone-cold person who “… grew up in a Christian home, got baptized as an infant, got catechized, joined the church, took the Lord’s Supper …” why he isn’t displaying the fruits of the Spirit (the marks of “true spirituality,” as one responder put it)? And I’m assuming here that these “fruits” do not mean showing up on Sunday mornings with a silly grin, walking around greeting everyone with faux enthusiasm, worshiping with hands in the air, only to return to the work place on Monday as a spiteful curmudgeon instead of a behavior reflective of a heartfelt gratitude for God’s true grace and mercy.

  14. DJ
    Posted April 11, 2011 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    the fruits of the Spirit (the marks of “true spirituality,” – got it now.

  15. Ryan Davidson
    Posted April 11, 2011 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    what would you say the marks of “true spirituality” are?

    I think George is on the right track here. Would not the fruits of the Spirit be in view? Or, as James puts it, visiting orphans and widows in their affliction? In short: good works and a changed heart.

  16. Posted April 11, 2011 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    DJ,

    Your constant victory mode is repugnant to most confessionalist’s. You do not seem to know how to deal with Romans 7, the publican and the sinner, the tax collector and the prostitute, the sinner and saint that we are made up of. Most of us are after the fruit of the spirit too but realize we may have some serious struggles along the way and have to experience eating some crow, dealing with our sin and dealing with the anfechtungen. Life in the spirit can throw us a few loops at times and our lives do not turn out the way we expected. That’s all were saying. At least that is my take on it.

  17. DJ
    Posted April 11, 2011 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    “Your constant victory mode is repugnant to most confessionalist’s. ” I didn’t know I was in a constant victory mode. I’m wrestling with things that guys like Hart, Horton, Clark, Stellman say that “connect” with me. but I’m someone with 30 years of revivalist/arminian/higher-life baggage, and 5 yrs of YRR thought. Please bear with me.

  18. Posted April 11, 2011 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    DJ,

    A first step might be to have the balls to reveal who you are instead of remaining anonymous. Most of us were in your shoes at one time too. I had 19 years of revivalist/arminian/higher life baggage that I still have a hangover with at times. And I gave it all up in the early 90’s.

  19. Ryan Davidson
    Posted April 11, 2011 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Yeazel: Chill. Seriously. This is the internet. People are anonymous. Goes with the territory.

    Also, I don’t really think that abuse is the appropriate response here. Again: Chill.

  20. Lily
    Posted April 11, 2011 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    Re: “the word “deep” encourages an interest in me, not the gospel or God’s saving work”

    Too funny! That’s what strikes me when I read this kind of stuff. But I hadn’t connected the adjective clues – how telling! Well heck – isn’t that what “experiential” always boil down to? Let’s all sing our praise song individually, “me, Me, ME!”

  21. DJ
    Posted April 11, 2011 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    John – in due time.

  22. Posted April 11, 2011 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    Ryan,

    I am a bit on the fiesty side today- I’ll tone it down. I still don’t like the anonymity thing. But you are right, it is the internet and you cannot expect any different. There are some good reason to remain anonymous. However, if you are going to bring what can be perceived (although maybe misunderstood) as fighting words I find it a bit cowardly to hide behind the anonymity.

    DJ- I hope sooner than later. You did not seem to take my comments like Ryan did. That’s allright, as I said, I am feeling a bit fiesty today.

  23. DJ
    Posted April 11, 2011 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    John – I’m wrestling with some things. This message board has served to challenge me and I am grateful. I’m studying covenant theology and infant baptism again. I will need to discuss this with my one of my pastors. I would rather have him learn of all this personally from me, and not reading it on a blog (I wouldn’t be surprised if at least one of my pastors read this blog). A local OPC pastor has offered to meet with me to answer some questions on paedobaptism. Hopefully we will in the near future.

    And BTW, DJ is what I go by. And I have already identified the fact in previous comments that I go to a SGM church. That’s all i’m comfortable with disclosing for now :)

  24. DJ
    Posted April 11, 2011 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    It’s a blog, not a message board. I’m sleepy.

  25. E. Burns
    Posted April 11, 2011 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    Well said Dr. Hart! I have no doubts that you and the majority of old schoolers are not at all for the “dead orthodoxy” that typical evangelicals and Neo-Calvinists hint at. Is it really any wonder that Neo-Calvinist can’t let go of this “deep” or subjective focus? They get so much positive affirmation from the populist’s who buy their books, conference tickets and fill their pews/stadiums/coffee house/whatever. It is working so they must be right. My question is what in the last 60 years of evangelicalism would indicate that the average evangelical would really even be qualified to properly determine what “deep” is?
    http://www.ligonier.org/store/evangelicalism-divided-hardcover/

    Same could be asked of the Neo-Calvinist of the last 10 years. And I believe same will be shown 50 years from now.

    I just had a visit to a Wesleyan church for a play. In the front of the stage was a wooden cross with hundreds of notes nailed to it. I was informed by a attender of this church and could see upon closer look that these were notes of ones deep commitment/new years resolution items (be nicer, more caring , pray 1 hour a day,etc.) How much different is this from the stuff we see in the Piper/Edwards or Neo-Calvinist camp.
    Have I really surrendered all? Am I desiring God enough? I sure hope so since the implication seems to be I better be more “deep” if I want to stay out of deep trouble let alone have a better life now. Ya know that higher life “level 10” Christianity stuff instead of that immature level 4 stuff. The hubris and close similarities to Arminianism is staggering. The worse part is it is coming from folks claiming “Reformed” and in effect re-defining the term or at least blurring the lines.

    When people’s decisions/will are big and God is small this is what it always comes down to, as Lily said………….ME ME ME.

  26. Jared
    Posted April 11, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    Long time listener, first-time caller (as it were). Anyway, perhaps these words from Dr. Horton (quoting Dorothy Sayers in the first paragraph) could prove beneficial to this discussion:

    (Sayers) “Official Christianity, of late years, has been having what is known as ‘a bad press.’ We are constantly assured that the churches are empty because preachers insist too much upon doctrine-‘dull dogma,’ as people call it. The fact is the precise opposite. It is the neglect of dogma that makes for dullness. The Christian faith is the most exciting drama that ever staggered the imagination of man-and the dogma is the drama….Now we may call that doctrine exhilarating or we may call it devastating; we may call it revelation or we may call it rubbish; but if we call it dull, then words have no meaning at all….”

    (Horton) “While it is certainly possible to have a church that is formally committed to Christian doctrine-even in the form of creeds, confessions, and catechisms, without exhibiting any interest in missions or the welfare even of those within their own body, I would argue that it is impossible to have a church that is actually committed to sound doctrine that lacks these corollary interests. With respect to individual Christians in their common vocations, the mercies of God in Christ propel a profound sense of obligation and stewardship. God has given us everything in Christ, by grace alone, so our only ‘reasonable service’ is to love and serve our neighbors out of gratitude for that inexhaustible gift. In other words, there is no such thing as ‘dead orthodoxy.'”

    (taken from “Creeds and Deeds: How Doctrine leads to Doxological Living” Modern Reformation Nov/ Dec. 2006)

    My point is that perhaps the “need” to spice up confessionalism with pietism is based on the false assumption that confessionalism is dead without the help of the later. I think Dr. Horton’s words (and those of Sayers) may help correct such an assumption.

  27. Posted April 11, 2011 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    Darryl, so who is the man behind the man over at GC?
    (I just realized who that guy is in the pic.)

  28. Posted April 11, 2011 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    Darryl

    The reason Kevin wants ‘deep piety’ is because this is what God wants. He wants not only sons know they are forgiven but sons who wish to live daily by the Spirit. He wants not only justified sons but increasingly sanctified sons. He wants sons who day by day are being more conformed to the image of Christ, his Son par exellence.

    Christ wants to look at his church and even now begin to see a bride of increasing moral beauty.

    Our impiety (our sowing to the flesh) should take us to God in ongoing repentance and longing that we will be more Christ-like and so be a Church that brings more pleasure to God and more glory to his name. Yes we all fail but let’s not make excuses for failure, let’s try to keep our bodies under so that we are not disqualified.

  29. Posted April 11, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    Jared, though I agree that “dead orthodoxy” is oxymoronic, I still can’t help but wonder if the appeal to exciting drama and staggered imaginations is in the same ballpark as appeals to depth. This isn’t to suggest antagonism toward exciting drama, staggered imaginations and depth. Rather it’s to wonder along with DGH what space there is given in such appeals for the larger balance of created life, even redeemed life, when it isn’t exciting drama, staggered imaginations or depth that is needed but simply to be right with God.

    I know it sounds stick-in-the-muddish, but often times I can’t help but think that these sorts of arguments are simply confessionalist ways of doing pietism by promising that there is a load of subjective satisfaction awaiting those who would come to Christ. I get that doctrine is the lifeblood of the church and I agree that the Christian life is gratitude, but is it really always profound and propelling? Sometimes it is, but I think if we’re being honest it’s also at least as much somewhere between that and downright boring. Maybe what an older confessionalism is trying to say is that at least one take away from the Creator-creature distinction is that to be human is to be complicated, and all the appeals to what thrills seems to give that some short shrift.

  30. Paul (UK)
    Posted April 11, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    DJ,

    It seems you have been having some flack in this post. Please don’t think those of us who have come to the clear conviction of the historic Reformed position don’t want you and many of your friends learning what the Reformed and therefore Biblically Christian faith is in contrast to the modern hybrids, coalitions and groups which ironically dilute, weaken, and compromise much of what the Reformers stood for. It is very encouraging to see you think through fundamental issues, and I and hopefully all readers stand with you, so to speak, in what will hopefully be a fruitful journey.

    Regarding the issue of family and covenantal baptism, one question for you is why were the Reformers so clear and proactive on this issue? When we see the Reformed and Presbyterian conviction on this and many other matters of the faith and equally on ecclesiology, then there is a world of difference between what they stood for and the evangelical world of today.

    Back to the Kevin DeYoung comments. I haven’t thought through all Kevin has written in his first post, but my initiaI response is I struggle with the simple fact that his practise and peers he works with and affirm so often have little relation to the Presbyterian confessions and polity he professes to adhere to. For example, if he really was a confessional and Reformed man he would challenge with vigour his close friends and collegues like CJ Mahaney, Don Carson, John Piper, and Mark Driscoll to put aside their appealing mix of ‘Reformed calvinism’ which caters to a large audience, and to work out a thoroughly Reformed ecclesiology from top to bottom. But this would lose them many followers, for a want of a better way of putting it. Like these guys, I wonder if Kevin wants to pull together professing believers with a smorgasboard diet which will appeal to many. But in the process there are profound contradictions of doctrine which simply cannot be overlooked in terms of discipleship and essential church government.

    Just one final thought. However much I may deeply disagree with these well known guys I have mentioned, let those of us who stand by the Old School not fall into the very immediate and tempting trap of making snarky comments about them. The unique strength and beauty of the Biblical faith in it’s naturall Reformed, Presbyterian setting has been it’s well thought out, debated, and carefully explained thinking and practise, with the ultimate aim being the glory of God.

  31. Posted April 11, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    PS

    There is an impiety that may place us in the camp of the unconverted.

    1Cor 6:9-11 (ESV)
    Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

  32. Jared
    Posted April 11, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    Zrim,

    Touche!

  33. Posted April 11, 2011 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    John, I get what you mean. But I have to say that I believe you’re confusing categories – gross sinning vs. impiety. Impious defined: 1. Lacking reverence; not pious. 2. Lacking due respect or dutifulness. The 1 Cor 9 passage refers to abject sinning – it is a description of an unsaved individual, and their general characteristics. Equivocating that against impiety; therefore, making pietism the opposite and therefore required, is a non sequitur. Scripture defines piety, and it’s not always the kind that North American Christianity says it is.

  34. E. Burns
    Posted April 11, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    John,

    I too can understand and agree with any concern to have the fruit of the Spirit. All true Christians must indeed have lives that bear fruit. That said I have to agree with Scott’s point……..”Scripture defines piety, and it’s not always the kind that North American Christianity says it is.”

    I would also add that most of the time it is this idea of “deep” piety or this “doing the gospel” stuff that is ever the cause celeb in the vast majority of “conservative” evangelical circles. Whether they be Lutheran, Emergent, Presbyterian, Baptist, etc. I guess it should not surprise us it is the casue celeb in the non-believing world as well. From Oprah’s example of how we should live to the corporation you work for making you log your community volunteer hours so they can advertise how much they care. This (what we do, not that it’s not important) is most consistently the tie that binds evangelicals and all sinners (myself included) together. No wonder things like FV crop up in even NAPARC. No wonder small groups “living the gospel” has become a new form of sacerdotalism. It is not that old schoolers don’t want to see vibrant piety and fruit lived out in community, it would just be nice if top billing was the tie that really binds, namely Christ, what He has done and is doing, His Gospel, His faithfulness. Our sinful natures likes it better when the spotlight is on what we do. I know I love it when I can work “my faithfulness” into a story somehow. I like “My Story”, but it’s not the one that will save my neighbor, try as I might to be incarnational, I am just not that good.

  35. Posted April 11, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    Zrim: Jared, though I agree that “dead orthodoxy” is oxymoronic, I still can’t help but wonder if the appeal to exciting drama and staggered imaginations is in the same ballpark as appeals to depth.

    But perhaps we could agree that there’s a pseudo-orthodoxy out there?

    Seems to me that if we define X as the “true marks of the faith”, the sin nature will find a way to make a fake X.

    Which isn’t to say that we shouldn’t have correctly biblically defined marks, but rather that we have to live with the fact that the marks can be abused.

  36. Greg
    Posted April 11, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    Kevin DeYoung: “While I agree wholeheartedly that experience does not a Christian make, I wish the strong confessional advocates would do more to warn against the real danger of dead orthodoxy. It is possible to grow up in a Christian home, get baptized as an infant, get catechized, join the church, take the Lord’s Supper, be a part of a church your whole life and not be a Christian. It is possible to grow up in an Old World model where you inherit a church tradition (often along ethnic lines), and stay in that church tradition, but be spiritually dead.”

    Now I don’t want to make KD say something that he doesn’t intend, but where do we confessionalists ever claim to make someone spiritually alive through the means he’s listed? (John 3:1 — The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”) Furthermore, does “private Bible study, small group prayer, insistence on conversion, and the cultivation of “heart” religion” make one spiritually alive?

    In my limited experience (5 years) in Reformed churches the issue is not a lack of pietism or piety. Rather, it’s a lack of faithfulness to the proclaiming of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the churches and a lack of catechesis in the home. But even these do not ensure that a given person who receives these benefits will respond with faith. Why is it that we are not content with simple obedience in the church, i.e., faithful proclamation of law and gospel in season and out of season, faithful and proper administration of sacraments, church discipline; and within the home faithfulness in training our children? Is it really all that complicated? Do we really think that we can cure “dead orthodoxy” (make alive one who is spiritually dead)? In belief I would expect that KD does not believe that we can; but in practice what else can he be saying (per the quote)?

  37. Lily
    Posted April 11, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    Greg,

    Re: DeYoung’s dead orthodoxy description of someone he is concerned might not be a Christian.

    You have to accept his premise to give it validity. I think it’s bogus. A quiet, mundane, ordinary Christian life in an orthodox church is not proof of unbelief anymore than a experiential, pedal-to-the-metal Christian life is proof of belief. IMO, the wrong things are being judged here. The problem I see with DeYoung’s argument is that a confession of faith is not seen as enough and he uses it as an excuse to justify the experiential. Nope, show me your dogma if you want to justify your practices not bogus descriptives that mean zilch.

    Anywho, how does he know is this nondescript Christian doesn’t have Rick Warren’s better spot in heaven than the experiential activist Christian? Christ will judge not us.

  38. Posted April 11, 2011 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    George, can’t a “deep” piety for confessionalists be Heidelberg 1.A? You know, my only comfort. The problem with Heidelberg for Edwardsians is that it starts with my comfort not God’s glory.

  39. Posted April 11, 2011 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    John Y., did you watch Big Lebowski over the weekend? (I did.) You’re sounding a little like Walter. At least you didn’t mention the boys dying face down in the muck of ‘Nam. (I’m having a wee bit of fun.)

  40. Posted April 11, 2011 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    Joseph, I don’t know who big brother is. Maybe you can do some poking around at Redeemer.

  41. Posted April 11, 2011 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    John, As I said, it’s not that shallow piety is best. But is it good, or at least better than unbelief? Think about the small faith that moves mountains.

  42. Posted April 11, 2011 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    Paul, agreed. I did not post this for people to take swipes a DeYoung. I plan to have a inning or so at the substance of his post. And I wish he would step up and challenge his gospel allies. But I give him credit for at least trying to engage confessionalism. He’s aware and trying to do something about it. It seems his Allies look at confessionalism as the Axis.

  43. Posted April 11, 2011 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

    Jeff, yes quite agreed. It’s a point I’ve made somewhere around here recently myself (and Greg also hints at it): orthodoxy can be feigned. I think what pietism tries to do is change the form of orthodoxy from creed to testimony thinking that testimony can circumvent the reality of abiding sin and bridge the alleged gap between heart and mouth. But testimony can be just as feigned as creed. The question that remains is not how to circumvent abiding sin but which form is biblical to embody orthodoxy, creed or testimony? And Reformed confessionalism comes down unequivocally for the former. Evangelicalism says the latter, of course, and Reformed evangelicalism says both.

    But P.S., it occurs to me that this point about reaching for the wrong form in order to circumvent abiding sin is at play in the GR/SR discussion. Those who reject the sufficiency of GR for common life seem particularly bothered by the fact that sinners sin and so need SR to keep it at relative bay. But as it has been pointed out, reaching for SR for civil life won’t circumvent abiding sin, anymore than it does in ecclesial life (anymore than reaching for testimony does to structure orthodoxy). The question that remains is not how to keep sinners from sinning but which book corresponds with which sphere? Reformed confessionalism says GR for common life and SR for ecclesial. Evangelicalism, broad and Reformed, says it’s a mix and match.

  44. Paul (U.S. of A)
    Posted April 11, 2011 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

    I love how the one guy defending the New Side piety of the Great Awakening in this discussion is named John Thomson. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Thomson_(Presbyterian_minister)

    On the other hand, maybe the irony is that the confessionalist Old Sider John Thomson wrote a book to his children in 1734 in which he urged them to “make serious practical religion your main and principal work and business while you are in the world.” (I found that quote in the Dictionary of the Presbyterian & Reformed Tradition in America, general editor D.G. Hart.)

  45. Lily
    Posted April 11, 2011 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

    Jeff and Zrim,

    I honestly do not understand all of the fascination with marks that will show us who is and who isn’t saved. Would you please explain this? These kinds of speculations can cause great harm to the flickering wicks and bruised reeds and cause others to doubt their salvation. It’s no wonder that there is an anxious bench in your church history if this is typical of Reformed thinking. I honestly do not understand why everyone wants to be fruit inspectors. There is no difference between the Gospel Coalition and the Old School if this is true and if it is true, then the argument between the camps seems to boil down to how to grow and inspect fruit not doctrine. Last time I checked, it was the Holy Spirit’s work to give us growth and fruit – not ours and the fruit we were to inspect was doctrine.

    I’m all for concerns about providing good orthodoxy and orthopraxy for the church, but I draw the line at speculations about who is and isn’t feigning. A confession of faith can be accepted and good works will follow. God’s promises are true. It is God who has created us and works in us to suit his tastes not ours. Last time I checked, he wasn’t into cookie-cutter Christians or into trying to separate the tares from the wheat. Appearances can be deceiving and I’d like to splutter on and start a royal rant about God’s hidden work in the lives of others and that a lot of things are none of our business. I’d really appreciate some explanations – it makes no sense.

  46. Posted April 11, 2011 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    Darryl, any pietist worth his or her salt would recognize you as deeply pious. The seriousness of your faith, your profound trust in Christ, your attention to the means of grace, your belief in the Holy Spirit working through the instruments of the Church, your zeal for orthodoxy and orthopraxy all speak for themselves. Why I’d bet that you read your Bible, pray, have family devotions, and observe the Sabbath. You probably strive to live a holy life.

  47. Posted April 11, 2011 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

    DeYoung’s book on the Heidelberg Catechism, The Good News We Almost Forgot, is a gem. It will strangely warm the heart of any Confessionalist. For what it’s worth he does take on his Gospel Coalition buddies on infant baptism.

  48. Posted April 11, 2011 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    Darryl, I am glad you can laugh at me and not scold me like Ryan did. I do need to watch the Big Lebowski again. Walter was the John Goodman character if I recall correctly. He was a bit insane which is how I have been feeling and acting lately. You made me laugh so I appreciate it.

  49. Posted April 11, 2011 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

    And, looking forward to your response to the Danny Hyde blog.

  50. Posted April 11, 2011 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

    Forgive me, not Danny Hyde- Kevin DeYoung. I always get those two mixed up for some reason.

  51. Posted April 11, 2011 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

    You’re my hero Lily- I agree wholeheartedly and I think most confessionalists would too. It seems they are just letting the pietists make their voices heard. I guess there is a piety that goes along with confessionalism but which is not like the pietism you have been posting about. BTW, do you know the Lutheran theologian who wrote the classic work on pietism. I think it was Franz Peiper- do you know what I am talking about? I think they were part of a lecture series or something like that. I would love to know how I can order that book or article. Any other suggestions on good pietism sources? You are well versed on the subject.

  52. Posted April 11, 2011 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

    Come to think of it, I did watch a good movie this weekend with Jeff Bridges (the Dude himself) his brother Beau, and Michelle Pfeifer- The Fabulous Baker Boys. Just a passing thought.

  53. Posted April 12, 2011 at 3:52 am | Permalink

    Terry, that’s only for my pastor and session to know. Plus, the point is that is is not about ME.

  54. Posted April 12, 2011 at 3:53 am | Permalink

    John, but you do need to watch the Big Lebowski again. It will make you laugh a lot more.

  55. Posted April 12, 2011 at 4:33 am | Permalink

    Scott and E

    It is a semantic issue not worth too much discussion, however, ungodliness in modern versions of Scripture is often translated as impiety in older translations and godliness as piety. Impiety/ungodliness being uniformly and exclusively used as descriptions of the unconverted. Believers, Scripture assumes, will not be impious or ungodly.

  56. Posted April 12, 2011 at 5:06 am | Permalink

    Darryl

    Any piety (godliness/fruit of Spirit/Christ-likeness/holiness) is good. But we want this piety to be in us and abound (2 Pet 1). By such piety we demonstrate our faith is no mere dead orthodoxy and make our calling and election sure. By such piety seen in our lives (unselfconsciously) men glorify our Father in heaven. It is the hallmark of any man of God (1 Tim 6:11). It is something we are to train ourselves in (1 Tim 3:16). Godliness (piety) with contentment is great gain (1 Tim 6:6). Piety deepens as we reflect on the humbled and exalted Christ (1 Tim 2:16). Indeed ‘truth’ that does not produce piety is not truth at all (1 Tim 6:3; Tit 1:1).

    Lily

    There surely is ‘dead orthodoxy’. Belief without works is dead orthodoxy (Jas 2) as I am sure you are well aware. Few would claim a quiet mundane life is in itself pious or impious. Piety is ‘my meat is to do the will of him that sent me…’ It is the desire ‘that I may know him…’. Normally this will involve making use of the given means of grace at our disposal that we may to grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Life experiences will be different for us all, and we all have different gifts, capacities, personalities etc but we are all called according to the power of God which is within us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling; this is piety.

  57. Posted April 12, 2011 at 6:05 am | Permalink

    Greg’s post yesterday afternoon was spot on… the affliction that most “confessional” (in name) churches are struggling with is not dead orthodoxy. It is rather weak or unfocused dependence on the means of grace, and this in turn is driven by precisely the desire for “depth” that DeYoung expresses. What I have often found is a pietistic confessionalism, where the means of grace aren’t ultimately trusted.

    So, confessional preachers rarely content themselves in directing the sinner outside himself, pointing to Christ, applying law and gospel to sinful souls. In our very fear of dead orthodoxy, we don’t let orthodoxy thrive. We may celebrate the Lord’s Supper (however rarely), but we turn it into a moment of Zwinglian piety.

    This is the problem with buying into the “dead orthodoxy” label… orthodoxy doesn’t flourish as a result of our fleeing its death, but embracing its very life.

  58. Lily
    Posted April 12, 2011 at 6:31 am | Permalink

    Hi John,

    I’m glad we’re seeing the same kinds of things – trying to deal with pietism on it’s terms seems to always turn into the murky mess of getting sucked down the road of subjectivity, speculations, or relativism. The only way I know how to deal with it is with sound doctrine. I wish I could offer some good resources. Mostly, I learned in the school of hard knocks and rely on notes I have from some good teachers. I would guess that googling ‘Lutheran and pietism’ would turn up some good things? I’ve wanted to read Franz Peiper for a long time, but never seem to be able to get it in my que. Hermann Sasse’s work, The Lonely Way, is really good – I’m a sucker for anything with Sasse’s name on it.

  59. Lily
    Posted April 12, 2011 at 6:32 am | Permalink

    John T,

    There is also dead pietism. The true marks of the church by which its presence is known are the pure preaching of God’s Word and the unadulterated administration of the holy Sacraments. That is the criteria that marks a church not how many or how few it’s programs it has (fruit).

    The true mark of a Christian is a confession of Christ crucified for them. That is the criteria that marks him not much or how little fruit he has. When people start getting into fruit inspection they are forgetting the doctrine of fellowship.

  60. Nate Ostby
    Posted April 12, 2011 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    John Y.,

    I believe you can get some material on pietism here:

    http://www.ctsbookstore.com/p-3794-pietism-and-lutheranism-1998-pieper-lectures.aspx?SearchTerm=pietism

    I haven’t ordered it, so don’t hold me to this too strenuously. Rod Rosenbladt recommended these, so I imagine they are good.

  61. Posted April 12, 2011 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    No problem with your response there. Even to say it’s not about you is such a pious thing to say, especially in this crowd. I’d also guess that you think that “the ministry” ought to be converted too. That seems to be one of the hallmarks of PGFGA (or whatever we’re calling). I’ve never been to an OPC ordination exam that didn’t inquiry about whether or not the man was converted.

  62. Posted April 12, 2011 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    Thanks Nate-nice!!!

  63. Posted April 12, 2011 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    Lily

    You’re right there is a dead pietism. Works without faith is equally dead. Yet faith works. And the works of faith aree important. It is works of faith and labours of love that Paul sees in the Thessalonians that encourages Paul to believe that a real work of the Spirit has happened. They have turned to God form idols and are serving the living and true God.

    And Lily, it won’t do to say that fruit is unimportant. John 15 gives the lie to that. Branches that do not bear fruit are cut off and thrown into the fire to be burned. It is the fruits(kingdom living or its absence) that true and false teachers are distinguished (Matt 7). Fruit is nothing to do with church programmes.

    It is a mistake to put creed and deed in competition or to separate them. If the truth we believe does not produce obedience and love then we are not believing the truth however orthodox may be the creed we confess. John’s epistles could not be clearer on this.

    ‘The true marks of the church by which its presence is known are the pure preaching of God’s Word and the unadulterated administration of the holy Sacraments. ‘

    I think both preaching and sacraments are important, however, it is possible to have both – even pure and unadulterated – and to have a congregation of unconverted people. Such a congregation is not a church in any NT sense of the word. I know I am spitting into the wind making such a comment here. The marks of a true church include discipline and that means creeds and deeds.

  64. Posted April 12, 2011 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    I honestly do not understand all of the fascination with marks that will show us who is and who isn’t saved. Would you please explain this? These kinds of speculations can cause great harm to the flickering wicks and bruised reeds and cause others to doubt their salvation. It’s no wonder that there is an anxious bench in your church history if this is typical of Reformed thinking. I honestly do not understand why everyone wants to be fruit inspectors. There is no difference between the Gospel Coalition and the Old School if this is true and if it is true, then the argument between the camps seems to boil down to how to grow and inspect fruit not doctrine. Last time I checked, it was the Holy Spirit’s work to give us growth and fruit – not ours and the fruit we were to inspect was doctrine.

    Lily, my point isn’t about inspecting fruit. I am with you on the futility of that project. My point is that there necessarily has to be a way to express and embody internal faith. And confessionalism says it’s a creedal expression. Pietism says it’s testimonial. The former looks outside the self, the latter within the self. Both agree that a disconnect between heart and mouth is bad, but pietism thinks it’s got that problem beat by making the form of expression experiential instead of historical; it mistakenly assumes that there is something inherently able in a testimonial expression that can circumvent any disconnect between heart and mouth. Confessionalism always runs the danger of thinking it can beat the disconnect by the creedal system. But memorizing and reciting the Creed isn’t any more magical than hearing and parroting a testimony. But the former is the way confessionalism defines the embodiment of orthodoxy and it loathes the testimonial system as much as pietism loathes the creedal system.

  65. Posted April 12, 2011 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    Yet faith works.

    John T., why do I get the sense that you also say things like, “Live the gospel”? But, look, nobody is pitting faith against works. Works are inevitable to faith. The problem arises when it is said that faith does something when all it really does is receive. So what you give with one hand about the marks of the church seems taken away with the other when you suggest that faith is active. No it isn’t.

  66. Posted April 12, 2011 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    Lily

    A further thought… fellowship (both with God and each other) involves walking in the light (1 John 1). God is light and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him and walk in darkness we lie and the truth is not in us.

    What does it mean to walk in light? It means to walk in truth. It means to walk in love. It means to be obedient. It means when we sin to confess and forsake it. Our fellowship is a fellowship of life – the life of God in the soul of man – and that means truth, love and obedience in a rich and integrated tapestry.

    1John 2:9-11 (ESV)
    Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

    (And John includes here non-confessional, evangelical and pietistic brothers).

    1John 2:3-6 (ESV)
    And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

    A confession without obedience to commandments is dead orthodoxy.

  67. Posted April 12, 2011 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    A confession without obedience to commandments is dead orthodoxy.

    What’s wrong with just calling it unbelief or even hypocrisy? Why confuse matters by invoking the oxymoronic phrase that seems to suggest that it is possible for truth to be dead? Huh? I mean, I get what unbelief and hypocrisy are. But what in thee heck is dead truth?

  68. Lily
    Posted April 12, 2011 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    John T,

    I never said fruit is unimportant. I’m trying to point out that becoming fruit inspectors is one of the bad fruits of individualistic, moralistic, subjectivistic pietism. You are not qualified to judge my fruit nor am I qualified to judge yours. Doctrine is the fruit we judge and the church deals with amoral lives.

    Too many people major in James and minor in Christ. If Christ is the vine sinners are sent to, the branch will bear fruit and it is up to Christ to prune what, when, where, how, and why he chooses so a person may bear even more fruit. Faith is trusting that God’s promises are true and depending upon him to give us growth and fruit as his good pleasure sees fit.

    Creed and deed are not in competition. It is a matter of recognizing what is primary. Major is the majors and minor in the minors. Let’s not make the 2nd table of the law primary and the 1st table of the law secondary. What is growth in Christ but a steadfast confidence in him? If Christ is the vine, there will be fruit. ‘O ye of little faith.

    If a church bears the true marks of the church, God will give faith to whom he pleases and as he sees fit. If you are so worried about it – increase your prayers for God’s mercy upon all. True churches are filled with true believers with messy lives.

    Paul determined to see only Christ crucified in the Corinthians and dealt with actual problems in the church – he did not get into fruit inspection trying to separate the tares from the wheat.

    We are taught to devote ourselves to sound teaching, the reception of the Lord’s Supper, to pray for one another, to patiently bear one another, to help bear one another’s burdens, to ignore minor sin, to address major sin, to forgive one another, to mind our own business, to encourage on another, and so forth

    We are warned against meddling, gossiping, or causing another to stumble in their faith (remember millstones tied around our necks?), and to take care the weak brethren among us. I fear you are majoring in the minors. The answer to all sin is teaching sound doctrine not fruit inspectors sniffing around looking for someone who might not measure up to subjective standards or making speculations about who might be unconverted.

  69. Posted April 12, 2011 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    Zrim

    I want to affirm both. I want to affirm that faith receives and faith rests and faith trusts. But I want to affirm that faith works too. Hebrews 11 is all about faith working. The Thessalonians were marked by an ongoing work of faith.

    1Thess 1:3 (ESV)
    remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Faith is expressed in faithfulness. Faith and works are in symbiotic relationship. We are saved by faith alone but the faith that saves is never alone. And of course there is a sense in which we ‘live the gospel’. The gospel is a story of a dead and resurrected Christ and our participation in that death and resurrection. As we live as dead and resurrected people we ‘live the gospel’. I’m equally happy of course to say we produce in our lives the fruit of the gospel. Or that I live but not me but Christ lives in me.

    Yes of course the gospel is in a very important sense something accomplished outside of me. It is good news of salvation accomplished in Christ. But as a believer I participate in that salvation. I live in it. That is all that many mean by ‘living the gospel’. It is all I mean. Thus it expresses a biblical truth.

    Zrim, unless ‘live the gospel’ has come to mean something in your context that denies the objective truth of the gospel it seems to me quite wrongheaded to deny its validity as a means of expressing the subjective reality of the gospel message in the lives of God’s people. The language is simply a form of metonymy. It is a straining at gnats to sneer at it.

  70. Ryan Davidson
    Posted April 12, 2011 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    A confession without obedience to commandments is dead orthodoxy.

    No, it isn’t. It’s unorthodoxy.

  71. Posted April 12, 2011 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    Watch out Zrim, John T may be Pauly Walnuts in disguise- he wears a Panda suit in his spare time. He’s picking on Lily though. I do have to concur with him about 1John- that book always gives me the willies and puts the fear of God in me. There is something about his tone though that makes me wonder if he ever has had a serious struggle or fall into sin and how he handled it. Heck, even the most seemingly sanctified of saints in the scriptures had serious falls and warts in their characters and walk with God. Maybe he does not have a good grip on how to distinguish the Law and the Gospel. Come on John T set us straight. Are you going to beat me up for being a smart aleck? You remind me of some of the strong-armed charismatic pastors and shephards I ran into a lot during my 19 years of attending charismatic and non-denominational churches. I used to hob-knob with the Derek Prince, Bob Mumford, Charles Simpson, Ern Baxter and Don Basham crowd. Some turned out to be quite the tyrants. I guess that is what attracted me to the reconstructionists and Rushdoony crowd too. Thank God I am over that too.

  72. Kate
    Posted April 12, 2011 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    DeYoung’s post is back up on TGC as of 5:27 this morning.

  73. Posted April 12, 2011 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    John T., one man’s metonymy is another’s confusion. How can working and resting go together? They are as at odds as law and gospel. But if you want to hold onto “living the gospel” I’ll just as tenaciously hold onto “living in light of the gospel.” Maybe you think that’s strain-y and sneer-ish, but the Protestant Reformation was fought over prepositions and conjunctions. What always confounds me is how Trent understands Protestantism better than many of its modern adherents. And its anathemas feel more affirming.

  74. Jared
    Posted April 12, 2011 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    John Yeazel and Nate O:

    A few notable fathers of Pietism were Arndt and Spener.

    I have read (and re-read repeatedly) the 1998 Pieper lectures entitled “Pietism and Lutheranism.” Yeah, these are the ones recommended by Dr. Rosenbladt in the link you provided Nate. For what it’s worth, I would highly recommend them (who am I, I know!). But seriously, this book has been such an eye opener to the “roots and fruits” of pietism. It was (and continues to be) a real balm to my soul. Some of the lectures are quite “thick,” but that’s not a bad thing. I ordered the volume from the “Logia” website.

    Happy Reading!

    Jared.

  75. Lily
    Posted April 12, 2011 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    John T,

    Re: A further thought…

    There is the danger of straining gnats and swallowing camels here. Where is Christ? If you detach these verses from Christ and major in them, they cannot be understood properly. Major in Christ and understanding the law will follow. Christ is the Light. Learn of Christ – faith and good works will follow.

    Since you are so worried about dead orthodoxy – recognize one of it’s signs: fruit inspectors. Pax.

  76. Lily
    Posted April 12, 2011 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    Gracias, Zrim, for your gracious explanation and patience with me. My eyes were crossing with confusion last night. I am greatly appreciative of the clarification.

    Re: Confessionalism always runs the danger of thinking it can beat the disconnect by the creedal system.

    I would ask if this is a problem with seeing it as the source rather than the guardian of orthodoxy? The creeds and ordered worship keep us safely within a guarded sheep pen – which – protects us from false teaching. The only answer I have for pietism is to nail pietism to the cross with sound doctrine and ya’ll certainly have your hands full.

  77. Posted April 12, 2011 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    Have to go to work so I won’t be able to respond to any posts directed at me until after midnight tonight (central time).

  78. Nate Ostby
    Posted April 12, 2011 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    Thanks Jared!

  79. Posted April 12, 2011 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    Zrim: How can working and resting go together?

    Just out of curiosity, how do you read John 6: “This is the work God requires: to believe in the one he sent”? I know there are several different options; I just wondered which one you take.

  80. Steve
    Posted April 12, 2011 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    Thanks for this, Prof. Hart! I too have fallen victim (in the much smaller comment arena) of TGC’s vicious administrative editors, notably for a gently worded criticism of Samaritan’s Purse and Operation Christmas Child. Though I am not a strict confessionalist, I am decidedly concerned about where TGC seems to be going (not to mention how they are getting there).

  81. Posted April 12, 2011 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    In the meantime, it will do no good to throw your pearl’s amidst this swine John T (I am speaking in the singular and mean myself; so, I am not included the regular swine that frequent this site; they may think differently).

  82. Posted April 12, 2011 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    I meant including not included!!!

  83. Posted April 12, 2011 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    John Y

    I would love to simply be sanctimonious and say ‘I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness’. I guess here I am if I try to defend keeping the gospel and its obligations intact. Of course I have problems with disobedience and I thank God that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses from all sin. Yet I remember, and increasingly so, that the Bible has little tolerance for wilful disobedience. Wilful disobedience is in principle apostasy. In the OT there was no sacrifice for it. I remember that Paul kept his body under lest he be disqualified. That many run in a race but only one receives the prize. That out of all who left Egypt only two entered the Promised Land. That since we have such gospel promises we should cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God. That narrow is the gate and hard the road that leads to life…

    That ‘ if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.’ I learn that it is my responsibility to ‘keep myself in the love of God… hating even the garment stained by the flesh’. And so on.

    In other words while I find my assurance in the glorious certainty that he who began a good work in me will continue it until the day of Jesus Christ yet I will not be presumptuous and arrogant but keep myself from idols and heed Paul’s instruction to ‘ keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.

    Zrim

    I am of course happy with living in the light of the gospel but what makes this ‘living’ gospel and not ‘law’ is that it is Spirit-enabled; it is Christ living in me.

    Lily

    Of course its wrong to extract them from Christ. But that is precisely the problem – you are extracting them from Christ. The same gospel that tells me Christ died for me in justification tells me Christ lives in me in sanctification. You are dividing what God does not want pulled asunder. To ‘learn of Christ’ is to take his easy yoke upon us. To ‘learn of Christ’ is to live Christ and bear his image.

    Eph 4:17-24 (ESV)
    Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!- assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

    regards to all

  84. Posted April 12, 2011 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    Lily, re source and guardian, I think you’re right. More precisely, we might say that the source of orthodoxy is the Word and Spirit and the guardian is rightly ordered doctrine and worship. But I’d reiterate my point that sin still abides and must contend with all of it.

  85. Posted April 12, 2011 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    Whatever John 6 means I don’t think it means that faith works. People work, faith receives and rests. I think we can say that people with faith work, but I don’t see how we can say faith works, which is what John T. said: “I want to affirm that faith receives and faith rests and faith trusts. But I want to affirm that faith works too.”

  86. Lily
    Posted April 12, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    John T,

    Re: ‘I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness’

    Sorry, but it does not look like the shepherd entering by the door, but more like a thief or a bandit trying to climb into the sheep pen some other way.

    You are speaking out of both sides of your mouth and fail to discern law from gospel. What you give with the right hand you take away with the left hand. I stand my ground. Until you place Christ as primary and central in your theology, you will never properly understand scripture or the lived Christian life. You are majoring in the minors not Christ.

  87. Paul (UK)
    Posted April 12, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    Maybe I am missing or not appreciating the finer points of the exchanges between folks in this post, but could anyone please also look at the influential guy, Kevin DeYoung, and how his slant on confessions squares up with his practise and those he works so much with ie. the YRR movement? HIs commentary on the Heidelberg Confession was a good populist move, but when I hear him speak or check the website for the church he leads then I don’t see much Reformed practise.

    Kevin seems to want to hold the middle ground so much and this leads to a bundle of theological contradictions. For example, he works closely with charismatics and upholds their practise – just listen to the admiring comments about each other between Kevin and his pentecostal co-workers. And this flys in the face of what Reformed confessions like the Heidelberg stood for. I often wonder if Kevin wants to be a lead figure for the Reformed, but with subtle and not so subtle modifications to this term which lets most other groups he works with go unchecked on their way. Is this good practise? I don’t think so.

    Rather than shape and nourish a clear and distinctive Presbyterian outlook, Kevin gives the impression of wanting to push all the Reformed buttons, but keep his wide circle of friends and their non Reformed ways. This may be a simplistic viewpoint, but I think there is more than a grain of truth in it. Finally, I note with interest Kevin’s comments about DG on the GC website today – not helpful and provocative. Behind his comments on confessions and piety I suspect, as I have done in the past, that his main aim is primarily is trying to counter someone and an older, richer Presbyterian thinking and practise.

  88. Posted April 12, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    Lily

    Lots of soundbites I afraid but not a word of Scripture to back your contention. You are simply not facing the weight of evidence against you in God’s word, some of which I have quoted.

    Anyway, I hope we both come to increasing knowledge of the truth.

    John

  89. Lily
    Posted April 12, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    John T,

    Nope – no soundbites used. Truth was spoken pointing out what was being done. Failure to hear instruction reflects on the hearer not the speaker. The supposed evidence you were standing upon is without context and as such gives flimsy support to anything other than a pietistic mentality. Kyrie eleison.

  90. Lily
    Posted April 12, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    Hi Zrim,

    Re: More precisely, we might say that the source of orthodoxy is the Word and Spirit and the guardian is rightly ordered doctrine and worship.

    Yes. This is roughly our hierarchy: Scripture is the Judge of our Book of Concord, the Book of Concord judges the teaching (which includes Luther’s work). The Book of Concord rules the church’s orthodoxy and orthopraxy. Shepherds stay within the boundaries of orthodoxy and orthopraxy in their teaching and practices and thus guard the flock from wolves. Does that make sense?

    Re: I’d reiterate my point that sin still abides and must contend with all of it.

    May I answer yes to the former and no to the latter in order to give you a different angle to view it from?

    Yes – as I see it, Christians will agree with the fact that sin abides, but they still think they are pretty decent folk. We all have a need to begin to truly understand how dire our situation is and how deep our sin is even though we are regenerated (ya’ll think you put the T in total depravity – we defined it!) When we start understanding how completely bankrupt we are, how hopeless our situation is, we begin to realize how completely dependent we are upon Christ alone – it never negates contending with personal sin for that is the Christian life. This is the daily life of repentance. Part of being cured from pietism/moralism/experiential is beginning to see how desperately we need a Savior and that we don’t need to be improved but to die to self.

    No – do not let a pietist/pietistic thinking draw you into arguing the law. It’s obedience to all of the law or we flunked. Call a thing what it is. It’s not our works with Jesus making up the difference. The full force of the law is what kills the pietist in all of us. Christ alone and the full sweetness of the gospel needs to be heard. What pietists need is Christ alone. Contend for a clear gospel. Pietists are allergic to grace, Christian liberty, and want to wallpaper the gospel with the law. They have a tendency to sound like goats with but, But, BUT! As I see it, most people tend to think the gospel is too good to be true even though they are Christians. — when contending for the truth, the gospel is the power of salvation, so don’t let it get drowned out by the law. I hope this makes sense?

  91. Posted April 12, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    John, the gospel is Jesus Christ died for sins and was raised on the third day. How do I do that?

    And how do you distinguish “Christ living in you” from Roman Catholic understandings of cooperating with grace. I know it is biblical language. But we did have a Reformation to make distinctions about such matters.

  92. Posted April 12, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    Lily, it all makes sense to me. But I’m wondering what relation it has to my own point, which is simply that even the right mode of orthodoxy (creed over testimony) doesn’t guarantee anything. As in, sure, the right way to maintain good grades is to study as opposed to osmosis, but studying doesn’t guarantee intelligence because there is still a human being standing between the mode and the desired result. (Yes, I am suggesting that pietism is to religious devotion what osmosis is to learning.) I think you actually agree with this, so I’m not sure why you’re advising to “not let a pietist/pietistic thinking draw you into arguing the law.” I guess you sort of lose me there.

  93. Posted April 12, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    Paul UK,

    why don’t you go over Kevin’s site and ask?

  94. Lily
    Posted April 12, 2011 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

    Sorry, Zrim, I plead guilty to a mind that doesn’t stay on track as it should. I needed to go back to reread your previous comment and included some things from there. I’m not sure I’m quite understanding, so if you will bear with me and let me try to walk through it – will you correct me where I’m missing the point? Sorry to be so dense, but this is long. I’m head scratching.

    Re: My point is that there necessarily has to be a way to express and embody internal faith…. Both agree that a disconnect between heart and mouth is bad

    I really scratched my head on this and all I think is why? The more I think about it, the less I agree. Why do I have to agree that there is a disconnect between heart and mouth? Is there a disconnect when I tell my child I love them and don’t feel warm fuzzies? I would answer with a resounding no! Does an abiding love not count? The same may be said of many other things like delighting in my child. Do I lack delight in my child unless my emotions are revved up? Again, I would say no! I may just be a dumb Lutheran here, but the more I think about it the more I wonder about it. Are we aware of the abiding love for a child 24/7? Does an abiding love, joy, delight, reverence, and so forth matter or not meet the commands? All I know is that if I had a boyfriend displaying affections like the Hedonism cult towards me, I’d want a restraining order.

    Perhaps, the pietists need to be put in the hot seat. Connecting with emotional experiences may mean no more than I just feel good in a group of energized people. Isn’t it the same at a big party where everyone’s celebrating New Year’s and everyone arrives primed by expectations of enjoying themselves? For all these people know they are having fellowship with their own juiced-up feelings that are the result of careful orchestration by the worship team. Can they prove it’s really God and not the orchestrated atmosphere? Shouldn’t they defend their narcism?

    Re: even the right mode of orthodoxy (creed over testimony) doesn’t guarantee anything. (from earlier comment: But memorizing and reciting the Creed isn’t any more magical than hearing and parroting a testimony.)

    I look at it from this angle: when I memorized the multiplication tables, I ceased having to consciously think about them. The answer automatically came to me. Or think about how the U.S. Mint teaches employees to study real money in order to spot a counterfeit. Reciting the creeds works in a similar fashion. They equip us to spot errors almost automatically. Thus I see them as a guardian as well as teacher and bearer of the gospel. The more we interact with them, the more we cherish them for what they are – especially if we are taught their meaning, beauty, and purpose. I honestly think they serve us well against false teaching and unexpectedly bring fresh insights into other things at times. I guess I have an organic view of what happens – it becomes a part of us?

    Do I have to consciously enjoy them every time I repeat them? They are like old friends whom I’m comfortable with. Why should I expect to be twitter-pated by trustworthy old friends? Do I have to prove that God works through theologically sound creeds for our good? It seems self-evident…

    Re: As in, sure, the right way to maintain good grades is to study as opposed to osmosis, but studying doesn’t guarantee intelligence because there is still a human being standing between the mode and the desired result. (Yes, I am suggesting that pietism is to religious devotion what osmosis is to learning.)

    Not sure I’m following – Adults with Down’s Syndrome can be surprisingly sharp absorbing our creeds/practices and raise a fuss if they are changed and challenge things if they think something is not right, so in a similar way there is some osmosis in our practices? Is there a reason there shouldn’t be? Do we have to be intelligent for God to save us and teach us? One main difference between pietism and confessionalism is the teaching. I see confessional churches as being wells of life-giving water, whereas the pietists… well it’s tempting to use expletives to describe what they are being fed. Wouldn’t the problem be a food safety issue?

    Still lost – “there is still a human being standing between the mode and the desired result.” – would you please explain? Aren’t we supposed to do things God’s way and trust the results to God?

    I’m sorry for being so long-winded in this post, but I keep thinking the tables need to be turned on the pietists and have a sneaking suspicion that may possibly be valid – not that I know how mind you. What do you think?

    Re: I’m not sure why you’re advising to “not let a pietist/pietistic thinking draw you into arguing the law.” I guess you sort of lose me there.

    I apologize. For better or worse, I keep finding myself trying to offer tips to you – in this case, some lessons I learned the hard way. My best guess about why I keep trying to offer the little I know from my tradition is because I’d like to offer it to you in case it might be helpful in your tradition. Ya’ll have a thankless job trying to make people aware of pietism and I appreciate all of your efforts. May God richly bless you in all.

  95. Lily
    Posted April 12, 2011 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

    Dr. Hart,

    Hat tip back at’cha from the Lutherans branch of the family – may God increase your tribe!

  96. Posted April 12, 2011 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

    John T,

    The Gospel has no obligations, the Law has obligations. The Gospel is an indicative, the Law is an imperative. “Distinguishing law and gospel is sometimes as simple as determining the mood of the verb in the passage you are studying. Is the verb in the imperative or indicative mood? Is it commanding or making a request, such as “Do this and live”? Or is the passage stating a fact, as in “Christ has set you free”?

    The majority of 1John is the Apostle exhorting believers with the Law so that they may turn to the Gospel, be set free and live. Loving God with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength and loving our neighbor as ourselves is pure Law which none of us perform as we are obligated by God to do so. From the passages you quoted and from the tone you use it seems that you think you are really pulling it off and you want to exhort everyone else to “live the Gospel.” Sorry John T but you don’t come close. Your sanctimoniousness oozes from your comments. This is the main thing which evangelicals, emergents, Word/Faith and others, etc. etc., fail to see. It is much better news to keep the Law and the Gospel separate and distinct.

    In regards to wilful disobedience we all do it everyday when we do not love God with our whole heart, mind, soul and strength and love our neighbor as ourselves. We can get pretty good at convincing ourselves that we are pulling it off though. Or, we fall in despair knowing that we don’t and then let ourselves go and not struggle with our sin, ie., turn to the Gospel as our only remedy.

    To try to make the point fuller let me borrow some quotes from some pietists who focus on inward transformation rather than the Gospel as the means of justification and sanctification: Dallas Willard says this: “It is not so much through the Gospel that the Spirit transforms as it is through our own determination and effort: ‘What transforms us is the will to obey Jesus Christ from a life that is one with his resurrected reality day by day, learning obedience through inward transformation.’ ‘Jesus is actually looking for people he can trust with his power.’

    Richard Foster has complained that an emphasis on God’s grace has paralyzed the pursuit of inner transformation. “Where scripture teaches that the most important, most real, and most lasting work is Christ’s objective work in history for our salvation, Foster writes, “The most important, most real, most lasting work is accomplished in the depths of our heart. This work is solitary and interior….It is the work of heart purity, of soul conversion, of inward transformation, of life formation….Much intense formation work is necessary before we can stand the fires of heaven. Much training is necessary before we are the kind of person who can safely and easily reign with God.”

    I spent 19 years listening to nonsense like Willard and Foster in my attempts to try to do the Gospel. I separated justification and sanctification and thought I could sanctify myself through my attempts at obedience to the Law. I could never do it and the despair got worser and worser. The objective, indicative Gospel is good news indeed!!!

    If you want to go back to the Mosaic Covenant and live under its burdens of perfect obedience be my guest but you are not gonna drag me with you. Best regards to you too.

  97. Paul (UK)
    Posted April 13, 2011 at 12:47 am | Permalink

    Dr. Hart,

    To go over to Kevin’s site and ask him questions about his close working with and affirming of many non Reformed groups, networks, influential characters, and para church set ups is a bit daunting, but it would hopefully get some straight answers and could be illuminating. I need to get some pluck and courage to do this, but it is an excellent idea. BTW, I mentioned some provocative comments on Kevin’s GC web page which I thought he had written about you; they had in fact being put by some anonymous person. Sorry for any confusion I may have caused.

  98. Posted April 13, 2011 at 2:23 am | Permalink

    John Y

    I get the gospel/law distinction though I disagree with it. Gospel obligations are just that, gospel obligations. They are not Law. Law is/was a covenant that demanded life by obedience (this do and live) gospel gives life and that life obeys. But that is another discussion one we are probably both familiar with.

    ‘The majority of 1John is the Apostle exhorting believers with the Law so that they may turn to the Gospel, be set free and live.’. John Y… this is just silly and shows where the law/gospel divide can end up leading you. John is speaking of the nature of the new life in Christ. He says so specifically in the opening chapter. The rest of the book is a description of this life: it is a life of believing the truth not lies, obedience not disobedience, loving not hating.

    Willard and Foster are reacting to confessionalism and confessionalism is reacting to an extreme pietism. Both use caricatures of the other. Truth lies in both confession and creed.

    Darryl

    There is a sense in which I agree with your definition of the gospel. I want to emphasize too the objective accomplishment of Christ. But the gospel existentially is my participation in this. It is my participation in this salvation otherwise it is not good news to me. It is sins forgiven and the law written on the heart. It is Romans 1-8 and not simply Roms 1-4.

    I understand the danger of an RC salvation by works emphasis creeping in. However, the answer is not to deny the importance of works/fruit/godliness/piety in the new life but to keep insisting that this is not the basis of the new life but its evidence and fruit. Yes we must encourage all God’s people to look (as Lily says) to Christ and Christ alone. Despite her criticisms I would be the first to stress this, and especially if I were among folks I thought veered in the direction of ‘trusting’ their works. I say that all growth in holiness flows from ‘beholding the glory of God in the face of jesus Christ’. But I also say ‘put off the old’ and ‘put on the new’. I say ‘make every effort to add to your faith’ I say ‘work out your own salvation with fear and trembling’, that is ‘will and do’ and I ‘put off’ and ‘put on’, I ‘make every effort’, I ‘will and do’ in the conscious faith and assurance that it is really God who is at work within me ‘putting off and on… making every effort… willing and doing’. This is the life of faith, the life of the gospel.

    Lily

    Given that you have not produced one text to prove your contention nor made any effort to refute a good number of texts would you like to tell me/us how you interpret the following ? How do you place the ‘action’ elements of these within your framework?

    Heb 12:14 (ESV)
    Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

    2Pet 1:3-11 (ESV)
    His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

    1Cor 9:24-27 (ESV)
    Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

  99. Posted April 13, 2011 at 2:28 am | Permalink

    Oops

    ‘Truth lies in both confession and creed’. I hear your amens. A (freudian!) slip. I meant to say truth lies in both confession and piety or better, belief and behaviour. Both define the life of faith.

  100. Posted April 13, 2011 at 5:09 am | Permalink

    John, the way we “participate” in Christ’s dying for sins is to believe that he died for my sins. That is the gospel and faith. Works are not the gospel. Why do you want to bring works so close to faith that you wind up blurring them. Have you not heard of Norman Shepherd?

  101. Posted April 13, 2011 at 6:46 am | Permalink

    John T,

    You may think you understand the distinction between the Law and the Gospel but I am not sure you do in the sams way as some Lutherans and some Calvinists do. You might want to try to read Luther’s commentary on Galatians if you are interested but your comments reveal that you are not. I know you are a committed evangelical- at least you are consistent with your beliefs. You seem to even have some leanings towards confessionalism but you are not convinced that it is biblically sound yet. If you knew how to distinguish the Law and Gospel properly you would not be quoting the scripture verses that you did and using them as proof texts to retain your position.

  102. Lily
    Posted April 13, 2011 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    Zrim, again, I apologize for the lengthy comment trying to understand things. There are issues in your tradition that are non-issues in ours (eg: the heart/mouth disconnect). I still can’t understand why it is such a big deal other than the experiential crowd are using it as a prop to justify what they are doing.

  103. Lily
    Posted April 13, 2011 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    Nice points, John.

  104. Posted April 13, 2011 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    UK Paul,

    I saw your questions over at DeYoung’s blog. Way to pony up.

  105. Posted April 13, 2011 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    Lily, in a word I am simply saying that there has to be made room for the work of the Spirit. I’m all for what you’re saying about routine, habit and familiarity, and I like your analogy to multiplication tables. If I might build on it, my point is that memorizing the tables doesn’t in and of itself guarantee mathematical ability. In the same way, learning the Creed doesn’t guarantee regeneration. Those are essential forms for nurturing and then expressing internal realities. But anyone who has taught can tell you that some just don’t get it and there is absolutely nothing one can do to make it so. That doesn’t mean one resorts to inappropriate modes or measures, as in sticking a book under the student’s pillow (osmosis). The tables still must be habituated and internalized. Likewise the Creed instead of the testimony or the anxious bench.

    Still lost – “there is still a human being standing between the mode and the desired result.” – would you please explain? Aren’t we supposed to do things God’s way and trust the results to God?

    That’s what I’m saying. God’s way is the way of the creed (not the testimony), but God alone does the mysterious work of internal application, which is to say bringing together heart and mouth.

  106. Kevin DeYoung
    Posted April 13, 2011 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    I’m at the Gospel Coalition conference presently and so have not been able to read through all the posts and comments. I did want to clarify why the first post disappeared over the weekend. That was a simple mistake on my part. I accidentally hit “publish” without first setting the date for Tuesday. I then pulled it down so the three part series could come out now. No one pulled it down and there was no other reason for doing so other than that the button was pushed prematurely.

  107. Lily
    Posted April 13, 2011 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    Hi Zrim,

    Re: I am simply saying that there has to be made room for the work of the Spirit… my point is that memorizing the tables doesn’t in and of itself guarantee mathematical ability…. learning the Creed doesn’t guarantee regeneration. Those are essential forms for nurturing and then expressing internal realities. But anyone who has taught can tell you that some just don’t get it and there is absolutely nothing one can do to make it so. God alone does the mysterious work of internal application, which is to say bringing together heart and mouth.

    My best guess is that I’m being dense because of a difference in Reformed and Lutheran theology. I believe that the Holy Spirit is at work in us regardless of what I see going on in me or others. I do not think about the Creeds guaranteeing regeneration for it is God who gives faith to whom he pleases (when, where, how, and all that jazz). As for teachers concerned about measurable results… it seems goofy. One plants, one waters, another reaps the harvest… we are all in the process of growing into our Head in the unity of the faith. These are the scriptures that come to my mind. It is God’s work and we cannot see him, we cannot hurry him, and we cannot use our standards as to what we should expect or when – all the teacher can do is be faithful to patiently teach the truth, pray, and trust that God has, is, and will yet work through his teaching for the benefit of those under his care.

    As far as I can tell, we are all in the process of the “mysterious work of internal application.” This is one of the places where Lutherans and the Reformed butt heads. We are not try to pull back the curtain to look at the hidden work of God – thus we don’t try to explain it. Whereas, your tradition has pulled back the curtain and have written reams about it – explaining it from all kinds of angles (eg: Edwards’ Affections). From our perspective, this plays a role in why your tradition’s defenses against pietism have low walls. The pietists have been given a playground in subjective speculations about the hidden things of God.

  108. Derek Simmons
    Posted April 13, 2011 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    Since the explanation for the “disappearance” has nothing to do with the “depth”of GOSPELCOALTION skin, I for one think it would be great if all of the comments dealt with the very real issues and welcome discussion raised by Kevin DeYoung in his posts–now including two of the three he apparently intends to publish.

  109. Posted April 13, 2011 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    Lily, and my best guess is that you have less pietism to anticipate and accusations being L-U-T-H-E-R-A-N (or worse, promoting unregeneracy, etc.) when making the case for right forms of orthodoxy, etc. So I think you’re quite right when you suggest that our tradition is way more guilty of succumbing to the impulses of curtain pulling. It’s also why I think DGH is right to suggest we could a learn a lot from our closest theological relatives the L-U-T-H-E-R-A-N-S.

  110. Posted April 13, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    Derek, that may explain why Kevin’s post disappeared but what accounts for comments not allowing links to Old Life posts yet Bayly blog posts pass the GC sensitivity meter. Is it because they are pro-Edwards (even though anti-Keller)?

  111. Lily
    Posted April 13, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    Zrim, sometimes the way you put things really cracks me up – I do find it amusing the way ya’ll are charged with being Lutheran when it’s so clear you are not! Lutheran history is plagued with pietism and we are still battling it – I meant to make an observation that might be helpful not make an accusation. As you well know, ya’ll are welcome to anything we might have that is of use to you in your defense of the confessional Reformed faith.

    If it is any consolation, the confessional Lutherans get their fair share of grief and negative labels from those in our denomination who have embraced evangelical la-la land. If I understand things, the roots of our problems in the LCMS with liberalism start back in the early 20th century.

    Confessionals were beat up for 10 years under the last Synod President – who not only brought in CGM, but allowed Emergent gurus to teach seminars at one of our seminaries and at various district conferences, and other various mongrel theologies didn’t creep in but came in through an open door. Roughly speaking, our denomination is fairly equally split into the confessionals, the moderates, and the liberals (those who have surrendered to the dark side – shooting for some humor here!). We have a new Synod President who is beyond all what confessionals could have hoped for to help our synod get back on track. At this point in time, the confessionals are behaving themselves and seeking to support him in turning the good ship Missouri around. It will not be easy for him to change our course and will take many decades going in the same direction. So… as you can see, we have great sympathy for your situation and have a lot in common.

  112. DJ
    Posted April 13, 2011 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    I am amazed that links to this blog are blocked over there…

  113. Lily
    Posted April 13, 2011 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    DJ,

    Re: I am amazed that links to this blog are blocked over there…

    Do you suppose Old Life might be viewed as pornographic? 😉

    Sorry, couldn’t resist the temptation for a smart-aleck quip, but in some ways the censorship is rather amusing – ya think?

  114. Posted April 13, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    DJ, you may try if you like, but I attempted to link to my response to DeYoung when his piece went back up and each time I hit the return key the comment space went blank and nothing showed up under comments. (Yet, when I sparred this morning with Tim Bayly my link to Bayly Blog went through.) Maybe not thin skin but a thick filter, Soviet style.

  115. Posted April 13, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    Lily, I crack me up too. Even more in common.

  116. Lily
    Posted April 13, 2011 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    Zrim, there is one more thing I would like to see our two camps have in common – that we would be able to find more of the survivors of the scorched earth left behind by evangelical movements. IMO, there are too many wounded Christians who have given up and no longer go to church because of the pietists. All they know is American Evangelicalism and do not know there is an alternative simply because we are so outnumbered. It’s also not unusual to run into another type of person who, when church is mentioned, give a firm no with the body language to go along with it. In my experience, it’s not unusual to find out they have seen through the phoniness of the evangelical churches and cannot find a reverent church like they went to in their youth – they intuitively recognize it’s not God at work and they are not rejecting Christ, but the evangelical nonsense. This is the main reason I am so interested in seeing ya’ll make inroads and succeed.

  117. "Michael Mann"
    Posted April 13, 2011 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

    “I am amazed that links to this blog are blocked over there…”

    Maybe censorship logically coheres with their worldview.

    …although, to be fair, it may be a technical glitch at GC whereas censorship seems to be the intent of the Baylys.

  118. "Michael Mann"
    Posted April 13, 2011 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    Lilly, I think there are people such as you describe but their numbers are dwarfed by experience-seekers. I really wonder if there is something about the American psyche that tends towards democracy, independence, egalitarianism, experience, and change. These have their place, but they tend to run counter to what distinguishes confessionalism.

  119. Posted April 13, 2011 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    Lily, like Michael, I am quite confident there are folks like you describe. But I guess I’d want to be cautious about pinning too much on the dread pirate pietism–those staying quite away from the church do so for many complicated reasons, and I’d rather ascribe most of it to old-fashioned unbelief. Yeah, that’s a boring assessment, but that’s a confessionalist for you. Pietists, who like exciting assessments, like to think folks stay out because of the dread pirate creedalism and make all sorts of enthusiastic efforts to rescue poor burned over souls from the wounds of institutional religion blahblahblah. Yawn. I don’t want to fight pietsist fire with piestist fire.

    And if we’re going by experience, mine (as one who reluctantly converted but happily married into it) is that most American-made pietists remain ostensibly happy pietists and not many actually are aware enough to realize how exhausted they should be. It makes one wonder if they’re even paying attention to their own experiential system. Maybe they’re, ahem, faking it?

  120. Posted April 13, 2011 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

    They have to be blocking Old Life links and trailbacks, because I wrote a post on Sunday night about TGC pulling down DeYoung’s post and Tuesday when it re-appeared, I updated my post and put an new link to the post now on TGC. I have gotten hits from the trailbacks from TGC.

    I guess my site hasn’t made their Public Enemy list yet.

  121. Posted April 13, 2011 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

    Joe, mine neither. Censsorship really does distort reality: I’ve never had so many hits on my blog before today.

  122. Lily
    Posted April 13, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

    Michael and Zrim, you are both right about making complex issues much too simplistic. I am also biased. I live in the Bible belt and in a metroplex that is littered with numerous mega-churches that influence too many other churches including the LCMS churches around me. My view is also colored since I remember growing up in an era when churches were normally reverential and denominations had boundaries. It wasn’t the fusion we see today. I wish someone would buy me a time machine!

    Michael, you are right about our American psyche – I would add that the changes in technology, changes in industry, celebrity/entertainment mentality, and post-modernism seem to contribute much too. You are also right about the experience seekers, too. We have a lot of that here.

    Zrim, you are right about many pietist remaining pietists. Loved the: “Maybe they’re, ahem, faking it?”

    And right about unbelief. What I’ve noticed is the number of burn-out/pain or anger/pain people seems to be increasing in those who have left churches. It has bothered me for quite a while and it’s the burn-out/pain ones that trip my trigger. I want to push back against the tide and see good confessional churches, but there is little I can do.

    Re: blahblahblah

    Phhhhhhhhhlttt! I have sappy bleeding heart moments! 😛

    P.S. I was disappointed on no one bit on the comparison of GC treating Old life like a porn site, but heck – I’m from a clan that thinks it’s great fun to plaster bad photos of Walther on T-Shirts – what can I say? How many cases of German beer do ya’ll need to get silly? 😉

  123. Posted April 14, 2011 at 12:40 am | Permalink

    Lily,

    Really, How far away are we before the folks from XXX church or The Hookers for Jesus get a seat at the table at TGC?? Maybe one popular Crossway book away? After all, Mark Driscoll, the emerging church’s cussing pastor is one of their poster boys. The Mars Hills Folks post Driscoll messages that have a NC-17 ratings. I sure you can find links to the Mars Hiil and his Resurgence Blog there.

    God Bless
    Joe

  124. Lily
    Posted April 14, 2011 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    Hi Joe,

    I’m not making light of the seriousness of the situation but of the GC behavior. Lutheran polemics include humor to lighten things up and keep us sane. I’m a poor specimen when it comes to polemics, but Lutheran polemics are not for the faint of heart and can look quite un-Christian to outsiders. Humor not only gives us relief from the intensity of the situation, but can be part of making a point to the opposing side in disagreements (eg: GC is treating the truth like porn and acting like prima donnas?)

    What I see the GC doing fits the pietist pattern. Isn’t it all about good experiences and warm fuzzies to validate their Christianity? They are so legalistic about never experiencing anything negative that there is no room for polemics and even the milder variety of debates aren’t “nice.” Pietists need to keep up appearances and don’t care about their doctrine enough to defend it. Confessionals will fight to the death in defense of the gospel. Kinda telling difference between pietists and confessionals – ya think?

    And we NEED beer and silliness to lighten things up! Anywho, that’s the rough and tumble, rowdy Lutherans for ya. 😉

  125. Justin Taylor
    Posted April 14, 2011 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

    I have to confess that I find conspiracy theories like this strangely entertaining. Thanks for posting!

    JT

  126. Lily
    Posted April 15, 2011 at 5:15 am | Permalink

    Justin Taylor,

    When the emphasis in orthodoxy is shifted, a new theology is produced. As of yet, you have failed to recognize this. When you are able to recognize how liberation theology, feminism’s women pastors, the social gospel, pietism, and other such ilk changed the emphasis in orthodoxy and left the ancient path, perhaps then, you will be able to see the problem.

  127. RL Keener
    Posted April 15, 2011 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    Justin,

    Is it not true that links to Old Life are blocked at GC sites?

    rlk

  128. Posted April 15, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    Justin,

    These are facts

    1. The GC folks pulled the DeYoung post and to only re-posted four days later after people criticized them for it.

    2. The GC are blocking links and trailbacks to the Old Life Blog and not other sites. [including my own]

    Nothing Conspiratorial about this.

    When Confessional Folks have a problem with The Big Tent type Christianity that organizations like The Gospel Coalition promotes, we speak up. It’s too bad that more aren’t as outspoken as Dr. D. G. Hart.

  129. Posted April 15, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    Lily,

    I did realize you were using satire in that statement.

    I guess was trying to communicate that to GC Folks that D.G. Hart is worst than porn, because they already promote Driscoll [again who has NC-17 messages on his sites]. That the XXX church and the Hookers for Jesus are perhaps a Crossway best seller from having a seat at the table too.

    After all, isn’t the true agenda of The Gospel Coalition and the other Celebrity Driven Conferences is networking and selling books & merchandise?

  130. Lily
    Posted April 15, 2011 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    Hi Joe,

    Many thanks for the clarification and my apology for misunderstanding you. You really made me chuckle at the idea of Old Life being seen as worse than porn! After finally listening to the entire panel discussion at the conference – my best guess is that they want to avoid debating Old Life because their dogma is indefensible. But, on the other hand – isn’t pietism always a mask for doctrinal indifference?

    I cannot say that the agenda of GC and other conferences are about selling books/etc. since that is beyond anything I could know. The men I am semi-familiar with seem to believe what they teach. My complaint is their dogma and their influence to lead not only laity but other pastors astray. After listening to the panel discussion, my concerns have trebled.

  131. "Michael Mann"
    Posted April 16, 2011 at 6:27 am | Permalink

    “After all, isn’t the true agenda of The Gospel Coalition and the other Celebrity Driven Conferences is networking and selling books & merchandise?”

    Ouch! Tone down the truth a little, would ya?

    I sometimes forget to apply Proverbs 33:2, “Follow the money.” It’s pretty reliable.

  132. Justin Taylor
    Posted April 16, 2011 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Joe writes:

    1. The GC folks pulled the DeYoung post and to only re-posted four days later after people criticized them for it.

    2. The GC are blocking links and trailbacks to the Old Life Blog and not other sites. [including my own]

    Neither are true. As Kevin explains in a comment above, he was pre-scheduling the posts and accidentally hit send ahead of time. And the OldLife trackback got stuck by a spambot. It was released as soon as the TGC guys were informed of it. But conspiracy theories are always more entertaining than boring old simple explanations and reality!

  133. Posted April 16, 2011 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the explanation, Justin. I’m not sure you want to go too far with the boring argument since it seems that part of the Gospel Coalition’s appeal is that it is a lot more exciting than my ordinary pastor and my ordinary Lord’s Day.

  134. Posted April 16, 2011 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

    Justin,

    I missed earlier Kevin’s comments, even so. Let’s see, Kevin’s post also gets accidentally posted on his Facebook page in the notes section too? A post that addresses conversations that have been critical of the GC and on a blog, which the author is very critical of the GC. Oh yeah, the GC accidentally has the blog’s URL flagged as spam. Dang, last Friday Night I should have played the Mega Millions lotto, My quick pick cash option would have just as likely hit. Since, last Friday was the day of perfect storm circumstances.

  135. Justin Taylor
    Posted April 18, 2011 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    This is what I love about conspiracy theorists: no explanation of reality ever satisfies. There is always a Deeper Hidden Agenda. FYI: Kevin (like me) has it set up so that when the blog post is published it is simultaneously sent to Facebook.

  136. Posted April 18, 2011 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    Justin,

    I am fairly certain that there is no conspiracy going on over at the GC, but if and when Glen Beck starts parsing out the shadowy and little known black ops unit sponsored by GC’s hard line transformationalists who are intent on making Christianity more prominent in the arts scene with arrows and pictures of Picasso, Kuyper and Lenin on his chalkboard all bets are off! Especially if he starts crying, cause then we know Glen means business.

    All joking aside, at the very least DeYoung discussed the relevancy of confessionalism to the church today. It’s a discussion that the GC affiliates should take seriously. I think that the YRR crowd doesn’t understand the quiet power of churches who take the spirituality of the church and Word and sacrament seriously. When we start to see that the impetus for all Christian growth starts with what God has done for us, and how he feeds us with his own hand week in and week out, some of the chronic dilemmas of ‘how do we get our congregants to grow?’ are quieted. This is because God has made a way for his people to grow that doesn’t depend on novelty on part of the minister or self-started devotion of the congregant. At a minimum I am glad to see confessionalism discussed, and I hope to see more of it on the GC blog.

  137. Posted April 18, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Justin, but what is it about Gospel Coalition folks that disregards questions about excitement and boredom?

  138. Posted May 2, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    Whereabouts in are you from? http://iqihygocyr.de.tl teene model linda Ok so that was pretty hot. Until the VERY end. That dude was way too creepy when he came. Yikes!

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