This Week in California and the Danger of Unconverted Ministers

I am glad to see that discussions continue at Oldlife without input or posts from (all about me). Apologies for not spending more time on-line, but I am in the midst of a week-long course on American Presbyterianism at Westminster (California).

I do not know how many times I have taught this material but I continue to be amazed by the consequences of the piety and concerns that prevailed in the First Great Pretty Good Awakening. The different understanding of conversion that the awakenings introduced — an immediate encounter with God versus the life long mortification and vivification taught in the Heidelberg Catechism (88-90) — as well as a different conception of qualifications for ministry, were huge for the future of Presbyterianism in the United States and beyond.

At the heart (no pun intended) of these differences is a piety geared more to subjective experiences as the ground for authenticity as opposed to objective promises and means. Arguably one of the best examples of this is to contrast Gilbert Tennent’s sermon, “The Danger of an Unconverted Minister,” in which he argues that critics of revivals are unconverted, to the Second Helvetic Confession on preaching done by wicked or evil ministers:

Even Evil Ministers Are To Be Heard. Moreover, we strongly detest the error of the Donatists who esteem the doctrine and administration of the sacraments to be either effectual or not effectual, according to the good or evil life of the ministers. For we know that the voice of Christ is to be heard, though it be out of the mouths of evil ministers; because the Lord himself said: “Practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do” (Matt. 23:3). We know that the sacraments are sanctified by the institution and the word of Christ, and that they are effectual to the godly, although they be administered by unworthy ministers. Concerning this matter, Augustine, the blessed servant of God, many times argued from the Scriptures against the Donatists. (ch. 18)

That also explains why ministers have power by virtue of the office as opposed to their character:

The Keys. For a lord gives up his power to the steward in his house, and for that cause gives him the keys, that he may admit into or exclude from the house those whom his lord will have admitted or excluded. In virtue of this power the minister, because of his office, does that which the Lord has commanded him to do; and the Lord confirms what he does, and wills that what his servant has done will be so regarded and acknowledged, as if he himself had done it. Undoubtedly, it is to this that these evangelical sentences refer: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matt. 16:19). Again, “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (John 20:23). But if the minister does not carry out everything as the Lord has commanded him, but transgresses the bounds of faith, then the Lord certainly makes void what he has done. Wherefore the ecclesiastical power of the ministers of the Church is that function whereby they indeed govern the Church of God, but yet so do all things in the Church as the Lord has prescribed in his Word. When those things are done, the faithful esteem them as done by the Lord himself. But mention has already been made of the keys above. (ch. 18)


58 thoughts on “This Week in California and the Danger of Unconverted Ministers

  1. I wish I was there for that course.

    Zrim – I wonder if Doug Sowers was in the audience for that talk. He’s keeping the torch burning.

    Good to see Rev. McAtee’s mellowed out. I always wonder how his schtick plays with the ladies on his Consistory or at Synod.


  2. In-n-Out Burger, Rubio’s fish tacos, Old Town Mexican Cafe. I don’t really want to hear about it, just go and I’ll imagine.


  3. Darryl:

    This is all about me. Indulge me, if you would,.

    My son is going to law school in fall. Three years,. But, he wants to attend seminary.

    What counsel would you offer him? Or, to rightly shift the focus, what would one counsel a youngster, a covenant lad, schooled in the WSC but also raised on the old BCP.

    I (it’s all about me) will think about this for the next three years, including, perhaps some road trips.

    Where and why?



  4. Todd,

    Dude, you have to be careful with J-bertos, I literally almost died from bad guacamole from there a decade ago. I got e-coli, and did a 3 day stint at Palomar hospital. That isnt to say I havent been back for their delicious tacos al pastor.


  5. I’ve wondered how long the conversations would go on if DGH just stopped posting. The comments here might be the long-sought-after perpetual motion machine.


  6. Jed,

    Wow – too bad – some of my favorite memories of WTC, besides some of the classes of course, was lunch at J-bertos. I have lived in Texas and New Mexico and no one makes burritos like that.


  7. Dr. Hart,

    I remember after reading Tenent’s sermon for Senior Sem (by the way the class was one of my favorites at WSC) I noted in my reflection paper that his position seemed worse than the Donantist’s. At least they had an objective standard by which they were measuring. Tenant seemed to leave it open for people to reject their pastor for almost anything.


  8. Todd, just proves what a sinner I am. There was also some hole in the wall pizza/italian place down by Hoover High School that had the best Calzone I’ve ever had. Now I’m depressed. However, I don’t miss living in an Town house with 4 other guys during the week and more people crashing on the weekends. Typical Calvary Chapel Commune.


  9. MM – If D.G. stopped posting Old Life would quickly resemble the online version of a crack house or heroin house. Doug and Richard would be the only two posting here, getting their daily fixes of Theonomy and Revivalist blasts.


  10. You guys are sounding like my Pastor. Trained at Westminster and Pepperdine and grew up in Anaheim. Rumor has it he is learning with each passing day that SoCal can’t hold a candle to Des Moines, though.


  11. Erik, I’m already impressed with your pastor. He seems to have been one of the few to forsake planting or accepting a call to a church not along the PCH, for the desperate need for more West. West guys in fly-over country.


  12. He came to Des Moines to plant a church. Covenant Reformed Church in Pella was the planting church. He was immediately faced with two couples on the brink of divorce plus all of the other challenges that come with planting a church. For several years he and our one elder had to drive back and forth to Pella for Consistory/Council meetings. It’s by the grace of God that the church was organized and is doing well today. We now have several families that are his age and younger along with many of the original members plus some older families that have joined us. He has done a great job. I know they appreciate the lower cost of living here vs. California. His wife is able to stay home to homeschool their three kids.

    It looks like the OPC in Des Moines might be getting a Westminster guy shortly as well. I think the vote is this week. My parents are joining that church.


  13. Any time you plant a Reformed Church it’s going to be difficult because (1) Reformed churches outside of Dutch enclaves are almost always small which makes money an issue, (2) You are going to attract people who have been through the other Reformed Churches in the area who have their own opinions and will want to put their stamp on the new church. It’s amazing any of them survive. The best case scenario is you have some solid Reformed people in the community without a church and you have some people who are becoming Reformed (maybe by listening to the White Horse Inn or reading Reformed stuff) who want to join a Reformed church. If you get a sharp pastor it can be a great experience.


  14. A Poster: Tennent did recant of that virulent (the word used in Hart’s P&R Dictionary) sermon, however. This was one of the factors that led to the Old Side & New Side reuniting. The New Side held more of the power at that point, however, so it was easier for him to back off.

    RS: But so far no one has stated where and how he recanted. Again, I am not arguing that he didn’t, but simply have not found out where he did precisely that.

    AP: We can perhaps blame a Dutch guy, Theodorus Jacobus Frelinghuysen, for some of Tennent’s excesses:

    RS: A man (Frelinghuysen) that was once considered a very powerful preacher is now thought of as being to blame for excesses. Perhaps people should consider reading more of his sermons. As for Tennent’s excesses, is there a lot of difference between those who mocked the apostles and others for having been drinking sweet wine when the Spirit came in power than those who mocked those in Tennent’s day and ridiculed them when the Spirit came in power convicting souls and converting people? Perhaps the status quo of that day should not be thought of as blameless in what they did either. They made some rather rash and false accusations against those on the revival side.


  15. Erik, I’m sure he doesn’t have female elders. But I’d like to put McAtee and the officer-ladies from my former CRC in the same room. It’s fun watching neo-Cals fight. I’d give it about ten minutes before the unregenerate card got played. But by which side first?


  16. My pastor is an exception, he wasn’t trained at West. West, but has an affinity for their doctrinal emphasis, particularly on soteriology.


  17. Viking, the: aside from the Mexican food, I still recommend Westminster California. It is still solidly confessional, its faculty are committed churchmen, and students become acquainted with a broader band of Reformed Protestantism than at other places.


  18. Darryl:

    Thanks. I (it’s all about me) share your sentiments about WTS-CA. Although there would be no interest in liturgical or Prayer Book Churchmanship, that could be learned afterwards and elsewhere. The scholarship and Confessionalism would be and are the governing factors.

    Again, thanks.


  19. In reply to RS regarding when Gilbert Tennent’s recantation occurred. He wrote a letter to Jonathan Dickinson, Pastor at Elizabethtown, on 12 February 1742 in which he made the following comment: “As for my own part, wherein I have mismanaged in doing what I did, I do look upon it to be my duty, and should be to acknowledge it in the openest manner. I cannot justify the excessive heat of temper which has sometimes appeared in my conduct…” In a postscript, Tennent bewailed the conduct of James Davenport, the threat of the Moravians, the intrusion into the parishes of other ministers, and the accusations against fellow ministers being unregenerate. Tennent himself provided the model for Davenport’s conduct, wrote against the Moravians, intruded into Nottingham, and had charged that many ministers were unconverted. His conduct also contributed to the division of the Synod in 1741.
    Dickinson shared the letter with Thomas Clap, the President of Yale College, who had it published in a Boston newspaper and later republished in the Pennsylvania Gazette. I am not exactly sure of the date when it was republished in the Gazette on 12 August 1742.


  20. Herbert L. Samworth: In reply to RS regarding when Gilbert Tennent’s recantation occurred. He wrote a letter to Jonathan Dickinson, Pastor at Elizabethtown, on 12 February 1742 in which he made the following comment: “As for my own part, wherein I have mismanaged in doing what I did, I do look upon it to be my duty, and should be to acknowledge it in the openest manner. I cannot justify the excessive heat of temper which has sometimes appeared in my conduct…” In a postscript, Tennent bewailed the conduct of James Davenport, the threat of the Moravians, the intrusion into the parishes of other ministers, and the accusations against fellow ministers being unregenerate. Tennent himself provided the model for Davenport’s conduct, wrote against the Moravians, intruded into Nottingham, and had charged that many ministers were unconverted. His conduct also contributed to the division of the Synod in 1741.

    RS: Thanks for the helpful and interesting information, but I guess I still don’t see a direct recantation of that particular sermon in that letter.


  21. Tonight I sat through 90 minutes of high school mimes. Job never had to sit through 90 minutes of high school mimes.


  22. Hehehe. Mimes. I ‘dialogued’ with a theonomist in a combox. Job never had to do that, he could just reach out and slap em when it was time.


  23. Zrim/Erik,

    The link (and the Bahnsen quotes recited therein) seem to cut to the heart of the matter. The anti-2k folk (namely, revivalists and theonomists) seem to think that the church has some vital duty to serve in the ephemeral political battles that spatter across the headlines.

    Moreover, I fear that such calls for church participation are often made only after it has become clear that the natural reasoning cannot support the arguments social conservatives want to make in the public square.

    Take gay rights as an example. Once it became widely recognized that homosexuality was not some kind of mental illness along the lines of schizophrenia, it was inevitable that many of the legal disabilities faced by gay people were bound to vanish. The natural-law basis for enacting and enforcing such laws had simply ceased to exist. But instead of accepting that fact, many Christians looked to the church to engage itself in a misguided effort to help preserve a legal regime that rested on a completely debunked understanding of homosexuality. By in large, American evangelical churches took the bait, and the results have been disastrous.

    I’m not suggesting that there shouldn’t be some reasonable limitations on gay rights, especially where those rights may press against the rights of those who may object to certain homosexual conduct because of their religious convictions. But from where we stand today, it’s difficult for the church to to be heard on such issues–issues that lie at the heart of the church’s effort to conduct its internal affairs in a manner consistent with its convictions. This difficulty arises from the fact that the culture has come to distrust what the church has to say on this issue. And I don’t think we’ve arrived at this point simply because we’re living in a cultural cesspool. No. We’re at this point because a number of church leaders responded to the calls of Bahnsen and like-minded men who hoodwinked the church into a doomed (and often hamfisted) effort to preserve a legal framework that evolved out of our earlier misunderstanding of homosexuality as a form of mental illness.

    It would have been much better for the church to stick to the administration of word and sacrament, and to speak in the public square only when its ability to carry out its core mission is threatened.

    I still recall the beginning of some of the hamfisted anti-gay silliness in the mid-1980s. I was a swimmer, and spent a huge portion of the summers of my youth at the local swim club in a competition-sized swimsuit. Suddenly, some evangelical members of the club (I was a mainliner) succeeded in passing a rule that required us to don a pair of boardshorts if we were out of the water. The proponents of this rule suggested that it was common for gay people to wear competition swimwear for non-swimming purposes, and that the club should not be encouraging people to partake of elements of the gay lifestyle. Now that I’m in my 30s, I can appreciate that we probably looked a bit foolish in our overzealous efforts to avoid getting a tan line. But partaking of the gay lifestyle was probably the last thing on our minds. Yet I think this event captures some of the ridiculous, hamfisted efforts that evangelicals in the 80s and 90s undertook to fight the Culture Wars…from their pearly white upscale suburban haunts.


  24. Regarding homosexuality: I would settle for the church discussing the issue (inside and outside the church) in the same proportion it is mentioned in the Bible and in our Confessions. When it supposedly becomes the issue that defines our age something is out of balance.


  25. Bingo again, Bobby, on the ecclesiastical hinge. Do the anti-SOTC2ks ever realize how similar they sound to the 20thC. Protestant liberals?


  26. Erik, three cheers for the larger balance of NAPARC denoms for having eschewed making formal statements because they have determined that the Bible is clear enough on homosexuality (and other sexual sins) and thus needs no further emphasis.


  27. Zrim,

    That and when Evangelicals do one thing it is in our nature to look to do the opposite. Praise bands? Piano. Songs on the overhead? hymnals. Video in worship? A guy standing up front. LaHaye and Jenkins? Hart. Mini-Starbucks in the lobby? Pot of black coffee.


  28. Bobby: We’re at this point because a number of church leaders responded to the calls of Bahnsen and like-minded men who hoodwinked the church into a doomed (and often hamfisted) effort to preserve a legal framework that evolved out of our earlier misunderstanding of homosexuality as a form of mental illness.

    RS: I don’t think that Bahnsen and people like that thought of homosexuality as a form of mental illness. He wrote a book on homosexuality. He thought of it as sin, which it is.


  29. We have the Trinity Hymnal and the Psalter Hymnal.

    My intro to the Scottish Metrical Psalter was from a deposed Presbyterian minister who was on his third (soon to be failed) marriage who passed through our church for a time. Not saying this is the norm by any means.


  30. Bobby: It may have been a mistake for evangelicals to identify homosexuality as a mental illness. (Though I am no expert on the subject, I would question the legitimacy of identifying much of what gets classified today as “mental illness” as genuine mental illness, especially if it does not have any demonstrable physiological basis such as a chemical imbalance.) Scripture doesn’t identify homosexuality as mental illness, but as sin. God in Holy Scripture calls it perversion, abomination, and unnatural. If it were a genuine mental illness it would simply require medication and therapy. As sin it requires repentance. And that it is contrary to “natural law” is obvious to those not suppressing the truth in unrighteousness (as per Rom. 1:18ff), for obviously our bodies were not designed in such as way that men can naturally have sexual intercourse with men, nor women with women. (To be blunt, male and female genitalia were not designed for the disgusting practices of oral or anal sex, but for the natural sexual intercourse between man and woman.) That many suffer from an “orientation” (i.e., strong sexual desire) toward members of the same gender is not the result of “nature” or God’s will, but a result of living in a fallen world where we totally depraved sinners find ourselves strongly drawn toward various behaviors (including, for some, homosexual behavior) that our Creator has clearly forbidden.

    I for one would love to not talk about (or write about) homosexuality more than the Bible does. As a libertarian-leaning guy I am happy to tolerate many beliefs and behaviors that I find personally objectionable, as long as such does not put the physical safety of others or the outward peace of the civil order in danger. (I find the kinds of sexual acts engaged in by homosexuals to be repulsive even to think about.) The problem, however, is that many of our neighbors in the homosexual community want more than just equal legal rights (which they already have as fellow citizens) and tolerance of what they choose to do behind closed doors. They want affirmation. They want cultural influence. They want the normalization of homosexuality in society, and they want those who object to the homosexual lifestyle (like me and other biblical and confessional Christians) to be demonized, marginalized and branded as “haters” and “homophobes.” Their incessant, “in your face” propaganda and frequently bigoted, hate-filled slander of anyone and everyone who opposes their attainment of “uber rights” in society is that which forces guys like me to talk about the homosexual issue as much as we do. Most of us would be happy to leave them alone and let them practice their chosen “lifestyle” if they would be willing to return the favor and just leave us alone to live and believe as we choose without slandering us as bigots and hatemongers, and without seeking to implement laws that would have the effect of bringing legal sanctions against us (such as fines or imprisonment) if we were to engage in what they regard as “hate speech.”


  31. Erik, I wish the revivalist hymnbook (“The Great Hymns of the Faith”) would take a cue from that minister and pass through our church, leaving only the Psalter.


  32. D.G. – Erik, I take a little half-and-half in my Trader Joe’s coffee. No Coffee-mate or whitener (redundant I know)!

    Erik – We have progressed from the Folgers or generic coffee to some better brands of late. Reminds me of a story from when I was an elder. I was new and the other elder and I miscommunicated on who was to bring the bread for the Lord’s Supper. It’s 15 minutes before service and we’re miles from a grocery store. For some reason there was some white bread frozen in the freezer. We got it out and frantically microwaved it. That had to be a new low in Reformed aesthetic & gourmandic sensibilities.

    Many of us need to learn the art of “gezellig” (Dutch for “good food, good drink, good friends”).


  33. Richard/Geoff:

    Much of the legal framework for addressing homosexuality grew out of the belief that it was a mental illness, not because it was a sin. After all, the state doesn’t limit the rights of persons merely because they engage in sin. Otherwise, we’d have a lot of gluttons in America who should find many of their rights curtailed.

    I agree that Bahnsen’s motivation was propelled by his view that homosexuality was a sin. But because this was never the basis for limiting the rights of homosexuals, evangelical advocacy on this issue was something of a bait-and-switch. Many evangelicals didn’t like homosexuals, and chose to use their political influence to perpetuate a legal regime whose basis for existence had largely vanished.

    I’m not suggesting that every demand for rights by gay rights activists is necessarily reasonable. And indeed, some of those demands appear to encroach closely on the church’s ability to carry out its core mission. The culture doesn’t seem to care, though; evangelicals have long since burned through their cultural capital to speak persuasively on this issue. Evangelicals carried out a misguided decades-long campaign to perpetuate many of the legal disabilities that homosexuals faced–legal disabilities that made no rational sense once it was understood that homosexuality is not a mental illness. Evangelicals used their political influence to thwart the adoption of a more reasonable legal approach to handling issues associated with homosexuality. Therefore, gay rights activists had to turn to the courts to do what legislatures should have done. See Lawrence v. Texas.

    Thus, now that gay rights activists are in a better position to secure legislation to their liking, I can understand their desire to give evangelicals a taste of their own medicine. And the culture seems largely willing to let it happen. Of course, such conduct is improper, and evangelicals will have to turn to the courts to secure rights that they may lose along the way. Evangelicals’ best hope is that their interests will be aligned with those of other conservative religious groups that did not spend the past 20 years embarrassing themselves in the public square on this issue (e.g., orthodox Jews, Mormons, Muslims, Sikhs, most Catholics, etc.). So, I suspect that evangelicals have little to fear.


  34. Bobby, so are you implying that gay activists really have no interest in marriage (aside from the obvious perks of health insurance and the like), but that they are saying, if evangelicals want family values we are going to give it to them good and hard?

    This is my sense, actually, and also that straights are willing to support gay marriage if only to push back on the religious right.

    But no one seems to be thinking through what gay marriage means for marriage or family.


  35. Bobby wrote: “Many evangelicals didn’t like homosexuals, and chose to use their political influence to perpetuate a legal regime whose basis for existence had largely vanished.”

    GW: You say that many evangelicals “didn’t like” homosexuals. Is this a personal opinion or belief, or do you have objective evidence (objective research, statistics, surveys, etc.) to back up this assertion? For example, in my broader family there is a homosexual gentleman who lives with his “partner” in what is, I believe, a legal civil union. He is personally a very friendly and likeable man, and thus I personally “like” him. But that does not mean that I “like” or approve of his chosen lifestyle. Yet I’m sure that many gay-friendly people who might happen to read my initial comment above would erroneously conclude from my comments that I “don’t like” gays. They might conclude from my comments above that we confessionalists “don’t like” gays. But that would be an invalid inference from such comments. I suspect that a similar type of reasoning informs your assertion about evangelicals not liking homosexuals.

    I suspect that many evangelicals, like myself as a confessionalist, often find homosexuals to be personally likable. It is their lifestyle that we find objectionable, and their aggressive push to normalize their chosen lifestyle in broader society. I think many of us traditionalist Christians are also concerned about the potential slippery slope that the normalization of homosexual practice might introduce into the realm public morality/civil righteousness and the integrity of God-ordained marriage. For example, last week I heard about a recent study in the UK that supposedly found pedophilia to be a natural “orientation,” and was thus making the case that pedophile love between adults and children should be normalized in society. I.E., we should stop demonizing pedophiles as monsters and instead realize that their attraction to underage children is simply a natural “orientation” that they did not choose and cannot help. If homosexuality is a natural “orientation” that one has no choice over, and if therefore legal civil unions and “marriage” is legitimate between those possessing the same “orientation,” then why cannot this same legal logic be applied to those with a pedophile “orientation” (thus permitting legal “marriage” between adults and consenting underage children; after all, Muhammed married one of his wives when she was six, and consummated that marriage when she was nine, so why should we not be able to do the same today?); or a polygamous “orientation” (hence polygamous marriages); or an “orientation” toward adultery (thus allowing for a legal redefinition of marriage that redefines “adultery” to not include legalized spouse swapping amongst consenting adults); or an orientation toward bestiality (thus it should be possible for one to “marry” his pet dog); and on and on the madness goes.

    I agree with you that it was probably not wise or helpful for evangelicals or the religious right to use the “mental illness” argument to try to curb the agenda of the radical gay rights movement. At the same time, once genuine creational marriage (that between a man and a woman) as revealed in natural and biblical law is abandoned as THE only legitimate definition of “marriage,” all kinds of confusion and madness and insanity follows. Just as only God our Creator (not the government) has the authority to define what a “right” is, so in the same way only God (not the government) has the right and authority to define marriage. His moral law (revealed clearly in both nature and Scripture) makes it clear what marriage is and who it is for. Whatever legal arrangements might be made in a secular society to accomodate the practice of “alternative” lifestyles, such arrangements should not be called “marriage.”


  36. Dr. Hart, intentional or unintentional, you do have a way with words. Maybe I have been affected too much by our morally depraved culture or its just my own depravity, but, “gay activists giving it to evangelicals good and hard,” really? Martin Luther lives at Old Life.


  37. Bobby: Much of the legal framework for addressing homosexuality grew out of the belief that it was a mental illness, not because it was a sin.

    RS: The idea that homosexuality is a mental illness was taught by Fraud (Freud). Evangelicals, however, have seen it as sin. Homosexuality as a mental illness was taken off the books in 1974, so that does not appear to be something that the Evangelicals would have used since that time. On the other hand, Theonomists (some) would see homosexuality as a sin worthy of being put to death. I guess I have not really heard on Evangelicals making a big deal in the courts about homosexuality being a mental illness. The article given below might be of interest to you. It says that Freud thought paranoia and homosexuality were inseparable. That might give us some insight into what homophobia really is.

    “According to the American Psychiatric Association, until 1974 homosexuality was a mental illness. Freud had alluded to homosexuality numerous times in his writings, and had concluded that paranoia and homosexuality were inseparable. Other psychiatrists wrote copiously on the subject, and homosexuality was “treated” on a wide basis. There was little or no suggestion within the psychiatric community that homosexuality might be conceptualized as anything other than a mental illness that needed to be treated. And, of course, homosexuality was listed as a mental illness in DSM-II.

    “Then in 1970 gay activists protested against the APA convention in San Francisco. These scenes were repeated in 1971, and as people came out of the “closet” and felt empowered politically and socially, the APA directorate became increasingly uncomfortable with their stance. In 1973 the APA’s nomenclature task force recommended that homosexuality be declared normal. The trustees were not prepared to go that far, but they did vote to remove homosexuality from the list of mental illnesses by a vote of 13 to 0, with 2 abstentions. This decision was confirmed by a vote of the APA membership, and homosexuality was no longer listed in the seventh edition of DSM-II, which was issued in 1974.”


  38. DGH:

    I’d agree that there’s a symbolic value attached to same-sex civil marriage that far outweighs the legal ramifications. In short, same-sex marriage becomes viewed as a mainstream option, and not something out of the ordinary. The culture will come to expect opposition to same-sex marriage to be relegated to the private sphere, i.e., as something not to be mentioned in polite company.

    I can see why this will have a greater impact on evangelicals than others. Evangelicalism has always been something of a populist movement, where the lines between one’s public life and one’s private life are somewhat unclear. But for those of us who draw a pretty sharp boundary between public life and private life, it’s less of an issue. We’re accustomed to (if not more comfortable) moving in a closed private sphere, where outsiders are undesired, and where the views of fellow insiders are so well known that their views need not be stated expressly. Evangelicals are used to wearing their opinions on their sleeves; they’re not used to thinking of themselves as a minority.

    Also, I’d agree that the culture is tired of evangelicals. The outcome of the Culture War is clear. Neither side won or lost, and they’ve now reached a stalemate that’s not going to change anytime soon. Everyone is ready for the truce.


  39. My daughter’s mime team won at the district level. They now go on to “the states.” Yay, I get to watch more mimes.
    I would be kind of cute if the state trophy was a plexiglass cube.


  40. Whatever the state prize is worth, I would have offered her double to throw the district. She could have pretended her mime-mate stepped on her toe and shouted something out. Immediate disqualification.


  41. I’ll try to remember Maude’s.

    One thing I do remember from the mimes is one girl who was hung. With her head off to one side and her body lightly swaying, she did it quite well.

    I’m not a “get down and party” kind of guy, but I would go to a party of tipsy mimes. At least I wouldn’t have to engage in small talk.


  42. Speaking of the separation between private and public spheres…

    I once was a member of an OPC church. I’d still be a member of the church in the Midwest, but I moved away for professional reasons. In general, folks at the church wouldn’t make much effort to get to know someone unless that person attended the church consistently for about a year. Such conduct would be viewed as unthinkable in an evangelical context, where folks are pretty zealous to reach out to newcomers.


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