If You Don't Go to Church, What Do You Do with A Coalition?

The Bar Jester, previously Calvinist now Eastern Orthodox, explains why going to church is not the way to think or even be (hence all that ontological language):

It’s not quite right because “go” and “going” are words wholly inadequate to the reality of membership. It may be that in “going” to a building you enact one aspect of your membership, but membership no more ceases to characterize your condition outside the building than in it. Unless you’re Prosthesis Man, you don’t just pull off an arm or leg and lay it by until it’s time to shovel snow. You are always a member, whether in or out of the building, whether coming or going. Your ontological status is what it is quite apart from what you may or may not want to think about it, just as surely as your ontological status is what it is quite apart from what you think about baptism. Baptism, a thing done to you by divine act, changes you whether you like it or not. Martin Thornton has lucidly laid this out in Christian Proficiency: if you are baptized and yet fail to participate in the membership into which you are baptized (and thereby fail to enact the requirements of baptism), if you are baptized but spend your time cursing and gaming and whoring, all you really are is a hypocrite. You’re simply failing to act in accordance with who you are by dint of an ontological change that took place during the sacrament. Or, as I like to say, the waters of baptism don’t give a damn what your think.

Say what you will about baptism and whether it changes you (not even spiritually or mystically, and what of the whammy that attends the baptized who don’t profess faith?), Jester’s point does raise considerations that lead to the recognition of how far removed endeavors like the Gospel Coalition are from the institution of the church. Could a website and bloggers be partly responsible for the Coalition’s undoing?

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16 thoughts on “If You Don't Go to Church, What Do You Do with A Coalition?

  1. Naming a theological document after Manhattan may be the pinnacle of cluelessness.

    Interesting to note how Manhattan, D.C., and Seattle (before the fall) have eclipsed Wheaton, Los Angeles, and Colorado Springs for the new generation of evangelicals.

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  2. TVD, but if you regularly read the Bar Jester you might know he’s not exactly the Manhattan Declaration type. Maybe some Calvinism still clings? But there’s still more to respect about a guy who doesn’t cheerlead other declarers in his church than one who does from the sidelines.

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  3. Erik, I did my homework and read the documents at the links from TVD and DGH.

    Zrim nailed it, as always, I’ve nothing to add, I have only to clutter.

    Adios.

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  4. I understand a concern over TGC and similar parachurch ministries, but usually the reason they exist is due to failure on the part of local congregations. I think DG Hart and most of you would rather people stay in a UMC church or a Joel Osteen church than pollute your fountain of youth waters (P.C.A., O.P.C., etc churches) with a new generation of ex-fundamentalists/liberal Christians who embrace sovereign grace apart from strict adherence to WSC (usually because they’ve never b een taught the importance of such things). If anything you leave people searching for an authority that isn’t mad at them for not being inherently Scott Clark in their theology, and I would think you would drive people towards Rome.

    If God used TGC to drive me toward better theology than liberal Protestantism, why so much anathematization when I know almost no Reformed/Presbyterian laypeople or clergy who reach out in the way the TGC does. If we were left with Oldlife everyone would just be pissed at people like me all the time for not knowing if we should read John Frame or Scott Clark. At least at TGC people wouldn’t be jerks to you just for buying Frame’s Systematic Theology.

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  5. Captain, if having a better theology than liberal Protestantism is the standard, then TGC is the Synod of Dort. I hope you’re that forgiving when you evaluate physicians of the body.

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  6. Captain,

    I think DG Hart and most of you would rather people stay in a UMC church or a Joel Osteen church than pollute your fountain of youth waters (P.C.A., O.P.C., etc churches) with a new generation of ex-fundamentalists/liberal Christians who embrace sovereign grace apart from strict adherence to WSC (usually because they’ve never b een taught the importance of such things).

    No.

    Welcome!

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