Rev. Kev, Bring 'Em Home

Kevin DeYoung, on the threshold of becoming Presbyterian, lists 10 reasons he is thankful for the PCA. The last one goes like this:

10. Opportunity. The PCA is a young denomination. I’ve moved from the oldest Protestant denomination in the country to one of the newest. There are always challenges that come with youth (who am I? what will I be when I grown up? how do I relate to those who have gone before me?). But there are also great opportunities too.

Like pursuing a gospel-driven diversity that listens and learns without patronizing and pigeon-holing.

Like engaging a wayward world with more theology, more conviction, more worship, and more of God.

Like showing the world that real unity can only be found in truth, that the richest doctrine leads to the fullest doxology, that the highest Christology produces the best missiology, and that staunchest Calvinists can be the most loving people you’ve ever met.

So, why doesn’t the Gospel Coalition join the PCA? Why don’t the allies follow Kevin and realign with a Reformed church? I understand that would mean the end of the Gospel Coalition. But if we have churches like the PCA, why do we need the Gospel Coalition


103 thoughts on “Rev. Kev, Bring 'Em Home

  1. Walton, good catch:

    Therefore, it leaves me feeling rather sad that TGC would so aggressively seek donations from men and women whose churches do not have wealthy people to issue impressive matching challenges. Pastors of local churches must constantly walk a fine line between calling church members to give faithfully and turning them off for “talking too much about money.” These local churches do not have a Director of Development on their payroll. They don’t have individuals committed to multi-year endowments. But it is nevertheless to these churches that our Lord has entrusted his great commission. It is true that the vast majority of churches cannot afford dope websites and world-class conferences with tens of thousands of dollars worth of stagecraft. But the local church is still the pillar and ground of the truth, the steward of the oracles of God, and the means God has appointed to reach the world.

    As far as I know my own heart I am not disgruntled about anything. But I am troubled. I am troubled by the fact that TGC is calling for the church to join them as they do what God has commissioned the church to do. I am troubled by what I see as a lack of transparency. I am troubled by what looks like runaway ambition. I am troubled by the fact that there has yet to be any explanation or apology from TGC for the several major blunders that, at best, sowed confusion among churches. I know I probably appear to some as being an annoying fly in the ointment. Who am I to question an organization that is doing so much good? Who am I to question such well known godly men? Good questions for sure. I’m small potatoes after all (I mean that). But given the size and ambitions of TGC; given their rather cloudy accountability I believe it is vital that there be pastors who are willing to ask some questions and offer pushback at times. So there will probably be more to come.

    But TGC and the Alliance even have the charism of celebrity. That charism doesn’t work with Presbyterian polity, as we now know.


  2. These parachurch organizations clearly usurp the place and role of the Church. They implicitly say that “unity” trumps ecclesiology, unity being their stated raison d’etre. But does it? I don’t see it. To the contrary unity has become an idol – and one of these supposed trump cards that people pull out in order to stop discussion and debate that questions their agenda. It’s a bit like, “we’re doing it for the children.” If you question the goal, you are de facto against children.

    The fact the organizations like TGC are totally unaccountable to the Church should at the very least give people pause and the more prudent among them should run. That said, I can see why the independents (the congregationalist Bible churches) would be attracted as they are basically seeking some of the benefits of a confessional denomination without the responsibilities. But why would Presbyterians or even Reformed Baptists want to participate in and support organizations that seek to displace the Church?


  3. Pvblivs: “To the contrary unity has become an idol – and one of these supposed trump cards that people pull out in order to stop discussion and debate that questions their agenda.”

    Well said.


  4. Would an overture to more formally align with the aims and purposes of TGC to the point of institutional cooperation pass at a PCA general assembly? I’m inclined to think that it would. With a half dozen or so PCA bigs on the Imperial, TGC council, how could they refuse? Don’t forget that the idea to leave those square midgets in NAPARC was floated several years ago.


  5. I read the solicitation article and was immediately struck by the high numbers being thrown around.

    Then again, Creflo Dollar is getting his $65m jet, so it looks like small change.

    “Yeah it’s a lot for TGC to ask for, but at least they’re not (blatantly) taking money from people.” – the Calvinishiangelical says to self

    But a .22 can kill you just as easily as a cannonball.


  6. It is not uncommon for a PCA church to portray itself thusly:

    Our Affiliations

    – We are a member congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA)
    – We are a part of the Gospel Coalition Network

    Sometimes you can learn the latter more easier than the former.


  7. There are always challenges that come with youth (who am I? what will I be when I grown up? how do I relate to those who have gone before me?).

    One of the most recognizable TGCers struggling with identity in a room where everyone knows who he is.


  8. TGC gets the best of both worlds. They behave and promote themselves as a denomination would most of the time. They solicit donations like the Great Commission can’t be fulfilled without them. But then when one of their council members or affiliated ministries gets into trouble they can wash their hands of the matter and claim they can’t do anything about it, because they aren’t a denomination, after all.

    Why would TGC change anything it’s doing, when it gets all the perks of being a church without any of the drags (like discipline)?


  9. And who thinks meetings of the Imperial Sen…er, TGC Council are open to the public as denominational assemblies usually are? There’s a good reason for this category:


  10. Jesse,

    Nice to see YOUR name at oldlife.

    TGC still just reminds me of my youth spent in bill gothard’s basic youth conflicts, or promise keepers at oakland colliseum, or the billy graham crusade where i was leading them to Christ as a teenager.

    I’m much more pleased with the work of (all about) my church, the OPC, and am pleased to be applying myself in whatever small way I can through her ministry in my area. Makes life easier.


  11. People like the Gospel Coalition because it has the word Gospel. I mean, Gospel always means good right?

    Though let me tell you, I’m always “that guy” when I dissent against TGC. Especially in staff meetings.



  12. I guess I shouldn’t compare TKNY’s 206k followers with how many bill has, anyway, that’s my three.

    cw l’u, star wars is always apt, bro. keep up the good work 😉


  13. If TGC is the Imperial Senate, does that make Keller the honorable Senator Palpatine?

    “The [human flourishing] Force is strong.”

    Although Kell-dog wouldn’t dare be heard with such a Southern drawl.


  14. Jasitek,

    Now i feel less bad comparing TKNY to B. Gothard. 🙂

    In case anyone hasn’t seen, this translation of revenge of the sith from chinese translated the jedi council to presbyterian church (council of elders i guess?). Pretty old stuff, just for anyone not in the know..

    Best to all you PCAers this week:


    In years past they streamed it online, I wonder if they are this year…..


  15. Jasitek,

    My bad, typing too fast, I meant streaming live the PCA General Assembly, not star wars.

    I was watching some fraternal addresses last year while I did work calculations, I can’t find out if PCA GA 2015 is streaming live, no biggee.

    Grace and peace.


  16. cw l’u,

    Thanks! I saw the 2014 listed on that webpage when I googled, didn’t see the 2015 details below.

    Happy shopping.


  17. ??? Your arguing against this:

    “As a broadly reformed network of churches. TGC encourages and educates current and next-generation Christian leaders by advocating gospel-centered principles and practices that glorify the Savior and do good to those for whom he shed his life’s blood. A biblically grounded and united mission is the only enduring future for the church. We desire to champion the gospel of Jesus Christ with clarity, compassion, courage, and joy – gladly linking hearts with fellow believers across denominational, ethnic, and class lines. We invite all Christians to join us in an effort to renew the contemporary church in the ancient gospel of Christ so that we truly speak and live for him in a way that clearly communicates to our age.”

    We are a fellowship of evangelical churches in the Reformed tradition deeply committed to renewing our faith in the gospel of Christ and to reforming our ministry practices to conform fully to the Scriptures. We have become deeply concerned about some movements within traditional evangelicalism that seem to be diminishing the church’s life and leading us away from our historic beliefs and practices. On the one hand, we are troubled by the idolatry of personal consumerism and the politicization of faith; on the other hand, we are distressed by the unchallenged acceptance of theological and moral relativism. These movements have led to the easy abandonment of both biblical truth and the transformed living mandated by our historic faith. We not only hear of these influences, we see their effects. We have committed ourselves to invigorating churches with new hope and compelling joy based on the promises received by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.
    We believe that in many evangelical churches a deep and broad consensus exists regarding the truths of the gospel. Yet we often see the celebration of our union with Christ replaced by the age-old attractions of power and affluence, or by monastic retreats into ritual, liturgy, and sacrament. What replaces the gospel will never promote a mission-hearted faith anchored in enduring truth working itself out in unashamed discipleship eager to stand the tests of kingdom-calling and sacrifice. We desire to advance along the King’s highway, always aiming to provide gospel advocacy, encouragement, and education so that current- and next-generation church leaders are better equipped to fuel their ministries with principles and practices that glorify the Savior and do good to those for whom he shed his life’s blood.
    We want to generate a unified effort among all peoples—an effort that is zealous to honor Christ and multiply his disciples, joining in a true coalition for Jesus. Such a biblically grounded and united mission is the only endur- ing future for the church. This reality compels us to stand with others who are stirred by the conviction that the mercy of God in Jesus Christ is our only hope of eternal salvation. We desire to champion this gospel with clarity, compassion, courage, and joy—gladly linking hearts with fellow believers across denominational, ethnic, and class lines.
    Our desire is to serve the church we love by inviting all our brothers and sisters to join us in an effort to renew the contemporary church in the ancient gospel of Christ so that we truly speak and live for him in a way that clearly communicates to our age. As pastors, we intend to do this in our churches through the ordinary means of his grace: prayer, the ministry of the Word, baptism and the Lord’s Supper and the fellowship of the saints. We yearn to work with all who, in addition to embracing the confession and vision set out here, seek the lordship of Christ over the whole of life with unabashed hope in the power of the Holy Spirit to transform individuals, com munities, and cultures.

    where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty


  18. a. The short answer is yes. I know, I know, it all sounds good. And I am willing to accept that TGC was formed in good faith by true Christians, but that it is nonetheless an error. First and foremost, TGC and similar parachurch organizations represent a form of unaccountable, entrepreneurial ministry not found in Scripture. Such organizations usurp the proper role of the Church and do so without transparency or being answerable to the elders of the duly formed Church.

    This is all to say nothing of such NewSpeak phrases as, “…so that we truly speak and live for him in a way that clearly communicates to our age.” Really? Does the Gospel need an update to communicate to our age? Maybe a light show? Or maybe a plaid shirt, bow tie, and skinny jeans will make the Gospel more clear to our age. It’s ridiculous. Beware the Unifiers. Unity is important, but it does trump right doctrine. And more often not, it encourages bad doctrine or no doctrine at all. Love wins. (see what I did there?)


  19. Chortles,

    That shot was at Unifiers (plural!) because there can only be One – and that’s you man.


  20. a., something tells me you’d be no fan of the World Council of Churches–evangelicals still have a vague sense of liberal Protestantism’s foibles even if they can’t see how the same thing inspires and animates their own favorite parachurch movements.

    So try a thought experiment. Here’s what the WCC is all about. Are you seriously arguing against this?

    The World Council of Churches (WCC) is the broadest and most inclusive among the many organized expressions of the modern ecumenical movement, a movement whose goal is Christian unity.

    The WCC brings together churches, denominations and church fellowships in more than 110 countries and territories throughout the world, representing over 500 million Christians and including most of the world’s Orthodox churches, scores of Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist and Reformed churches, as well as many United and Independent churches. At the end of 2013, there were 345 member churches. While the bulk of the WCC’s founding churches were European and North American, today most member churches are in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America, the Middle East and the Pacific.

    For its member churches, the WCC is a unique space: one in which they can reflect, speak, act, worship and work together, challenge and support each other, share and debate with each other. As members of this fellowship, WCC member churches:

    are called to the goal of visible unity in one faith and one eucharistic fellowship;
    promote their common witness in work for mission and evangelism;
    engage in Christian service by serving human need, breaking down barriers between people, seeking justice and peace, and upholding the integrity of creation; and
    foster renewal in unity, worship, mission and service.

    Or maybe you’re not, in which case welcome to liberal Protestantism. But the alternative is confessional Protestantism, where the church Christ ordained doesn’t need extra help.


  21. All, okay, I get the heartburn over TGC. What dost thou think about the Alliance for Confessing Evangelicals? Their purpose is “…to call the Church, amidst a dying culture, to repent of its worldliness, to recover and confess the truth of God’s Word as did the reformers, and to see that truth embodied in doctrine, worship, and life.” Sure sounds to me like that elevates them above the church. They aren’t as big as TGC, but, from what I can tell, are in principle pretty much the same. They even describe themselves as “broad COALITION of evangelical pastors, scholars, and churchmen from various denominations”. Shouldn’t the ACE get the same love around here as the TGC?


  22. Pete, I think most here have the same problems with the relatively-insignificant (Not-So-Rebellious) Alliance and even WHI for all the reasons listed above, just smaller problems since the orgs are smaller. Heck, Carl Trueman even agonizes about his involvement in a parachurch org from time to time. My own pastor left an independent seminary in part because he (as a presbyterian’s presbyterian) could not be happy with the lack of denominational affiliation.


  23. @CW L, thanks. Of course, to read the ACE annual report, and being (for awhile) the recipient of invitations to WHI $ solicitations and conferences, both ACE and WHI certainly seem to aspire to be as big as TGC. I’m a big fan of Trueman, but must wonder at how he reconciles his jabs about the “top men” at TGC with his own active participation in ACE. Other than differences in sheer size of their relative budgets, in principle, they all seem virtually identical.

    Fwiw, as a non-confessional outsider, it would seem to me that those of you old-schoolers (which, btw, I have a healthy respect for) would have more opportunity to reform/influence ACE and WHI than the TGC, if you chose to direct your energy in those directions.


  24. At a high, macro level: sure, TGC works/sounds good in theory. Just like all the flourishy, world-redeeming-on-mission language.

    But at the nuts and bolts level it falls apart, and quickly.


  25. a.

    An example of this is the fact that TKNY “appoints” (do they ordain too?) deaconesses, which is contrary to the PCA BCO. DeYoung looks at this with rose-colored glasses and says PCA hasn’t budged on “complimentarianism”, which is a curious statement given the fact that Keller founded TGC. Does DeYoung not even know the very pastors his on the TGC board with? I can be somewhat understanding that DeYoung could say such a thing and be unaware that there are some churches that have deaconesses in the PCA, but when Keller, of all people, who DeYoung has personal contact with, can say confidently about this issue that the PCA hasn’t budged, I find it disingenuous at best.

    But as relates to TGC, who is champion par-excellence of “complimentarianism”, how can one of the founders fudge on an issue like ordaining deaconesses and promote his ministry without being questioned on this issue? I’m not downplaying that there is good content on TGC or that I have benefited from them, but it’s a smoke-and-mirrors/closed-door operation when it comes to accountability, which is not how Christ’s church operates with leaders. If leaders fall, they need to be held accountable. If leaders part from their standards, they need to be held accountable, even if they’re the most influential evangelical in the world.


  26. One thing that might work is if these organizations shifted their mission to highlight the work being done by churches as opposed to carrying on their own work. Instead of a Gospel Coalition Conference, how about a PCA Conference that the Gospel Coalition helps promote? Instead of a White Horse Inn Cruise how about no cruise.

    The answer is we kind of all like doing our own thing and don’t want to be constrained. I get that, but the closer parachurches get to upstaging churches, the bigger a problem it becomes.

    And why does Tim Keller need the Gospel Coalition? Why not just do work through Redeemer with the blessing of his Presbytery? We may balk at the result, but there are at least channels to challenge it through.


  27. Chortles – My own pastor left an independent seminary in part because he (as a presbyterian’s presbyterian) could not be happy with the lack of denominational affiliation.

    Erik – You bump up against the OPC on that one. Westminster was not a denominational seminary by choice because education was seen to fall under the authority of the family, not the church.


  28. One thing I’ll say for WHI – I think their work does feed into Confessional churches. People who listen may seek out a Reformed, LCMS, or biblically solid Baptist (although perhaps not Confessional) church in their area. I think they are the strongest of the parachurch ministries who have been mentioned here.

    I think the Gospel Coalition is feeding into broadly evangelical churches with not much concern for Confessionalism. We have “Focus on the Family” for that.


  29. Erik, right on WHI and right on OPC-Westminster. Ironically, the worst (IMO) Reformed seminary from a fidelity standpoint is Covenant — the PCA’s denominational seminary.


  30. The capture of a seminary is a real danger – If it’s denominational you’re up a creek. If it’s independent, you can steer your ministerial candidates elsewhere.

    The question is, who drops the ball first – the denominational seminary or the officers of the denomination? Maybe each are to blame.


  31. I think a lot of the criticisms of TGC are equally applicable to WHI. The WHI cruises and retreats seem a bit over the top. But in WHI’s defense, I’ve never heard Horton et al promote a WHI network of churches. And certainly they have core convictions, but I’ve never heard WHI promulgate a statement of faith that fudges on anything related to the sacraments or ecclesiology. WHI does a better job than most of creating a forum for inter-denominational discussions.


  32. “Unity is important, but it doesn’t trump right doctrine. “
    Agreed, and TGC says it does?

    “If leaders fall, they need to be held accountable. If leaders part from their standards, they need to be held accountable”
    Agreed, this lack has been sorrowful, hasn’t it , so looking forward to seeing more of it in times ahead as we continue to trust the Lord for it

    “And why does Tim Keller need the Gospel Coalition?”
    Need it? thought it was about being a servant to all

    anyway, credibility, here, might be greater if one could better see that, you, too: desire to champion the gospel of Jesus Christ with clarity, compassion, courage, and joy – gladly linking hearts with fellow believers across denominational, ethnic, and class lines -to generate a unified effort among all peoples zealous to honor Christ and multiply his disciples……
    joining in a true coalition for Jesus

    JESUS: “Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are. I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.


  33. btw, guessing that (John 17) is partly what is meant by ‘in a way that clearly communicates to our age’


  34. Like showing the world that real unity can only be found in truth, that the richest doctrine leads to the fullest doxology, that the highest Christology produces the best missiology, and that staunchest Calvinists can be the most loving people you’ve ever met.

    Or not.


  35. TVD:real unity can only be found in truth

    amen … Jesus:I have given them Your word ….
    only the words which the Father has given Jesus, has Jesus given to us, which we are the only ones we receive, to the glory of God.


  36. a.,

    Unity without proper doctrine is impossible.

    Let me tell you a story. As mentioned before, I was part of Cru. Somebody who joined Cru was a rape victim. A boy also joined. This boy acted inappropriately towards this girl. And to other girls.

    The staff leader’s response? Nothing, really. Even after multiple complaints. He didn’t wanna be mean, after all.

    But “nice doesn’t mean love” after all.

    And how could you provide oversight or disciple in a parachurch organization? Especially in a parachurch organization so worried about OFFENDING other Christian’s sensibilities. Best part is, it’s not the only story.

    And frankly, I don’t understand how anybody can take TGC seriously after the CJ Mahaney and Mark Driscoll brooha has. Oh and TD Jakes, of course.

    I guess rape is okay as long as it’s for the kingdom. @_@

    Have some Japanese disco


    On a positive note, these things can happen in confessional churches, but at least there are public structures in place to turn the tide and provide oversight. TGC can’t say that about itself.


  37. SJG – Yep. The incidents/individuals you reference are Exhibits 1, 2, and 3, evidencing the problems with unaccountable, minimalist ecumenism. When there are no standards, well, there are no standards and it shows. 2 Cor 11:4 comes to mind.

    For the TGC I have to ask, What Gospel do they coalesce around? Gospel minimalism serves no one and is bound to breed error and do violence to the faith.

    Small a. – And yes, I think TGCs actions demonstrate a desire for unity above right doctrine. SJG’s examples are only the most striking ones. What I think they miss is that we can have unity with our Christian brothers in other denominations without a conference or a book series. In fact, little Christians out here in the hinterland have been doing it for a long time. I have friends in other denominations and I recognize them as Believers and we have normal, friendly relationships. But there is no need to play institutional footsie with denominations that do not share the same standards. It belittles the centrality and importance of Scripture and of the very real differences that exist between confessional denominations and between those denominations and the evangelical congregationalists.


  38. so everyone look at your first comment on this thread, see who posted directly after you, and on tomorrow’s olts post, let’s all plan to start posting as that person (if the person after you is already taken, take the next person). It’ll be a blog chinese fire drill. Go back to comment one, for example, Walton becomes Darrryl, Darryl becomes Publius, Publius becomes David, David becomes cw l’u, cw l’u becomes Jasitek, and on down the line.


  39. is it Deyoung or the congregation he leads which will be also joining the Gospel Reformation Network? Do you have to join the PCA first in order to join the GRN? Do you have to ask them to ask you in, or do they sometimes ask you in without your asking?

    Article IV – Union with Christ and Sanctification
    • We affirm that both justification and sanctification are distinct, necessary, inseparable and simultaneous graces of union with Christ though faith.
    • We deny that the that sanctification flows from justification, or that transformative elements of salvation are MERE consequences of the forensic elements.

    my questions

    1. Who is the Gospel Reformation Network? Is it a conference of friends who think alike, and does it have any ecclesiastical and sacramental authority?

    2. Why is it a problem to deny that “sanctification” flows from justification, as long as “sanctification” results (flows)?

    3. Is the problem that “justification” is defined, but that “sanctification” and “union” are not?

    4. What does “sanctification” mean in Hebrews 10:10-14?

    5. What does “union” mean? Is “union” non-forensic? Is “union” both forensic and non-forensic?

    6. Once you have defined “union”, will you consistently use the word “union” in the way you defined it? Will you be thinking of “union” only as a result “flowing from” faith?

    7. If “faith-union” is a result of faith, and if faith is a result of regeneration, where do faith and regeneration come from?

    8. Is the problem with saying that “sanctification” results from “justification” the fact that we are either justified or we are not? Are we not also either “united to Christ” or not?

    (Please define “union”. Do you mean “in Christ”? Or do you mean “Christ in us”? Is there a difference in those two phrases? Why do you say “union” when you could be saying “in Christ” and “Christ in us”?)

    9.When you deny that “sanctification” is a “mere consequence” of the forensic, what is that you have against “merely” or any “sola” which points to the priority of Christ’s earned outside of us righteousness imputed to the elect?

    10. Is the point of the Gospel Reformation Network denial that “union” is not forensic or is the point that it is not “merely forensic”? Is this a question-begging point?

    11. If “sanctification” is “more than” than a “mere consequence”, does that mean that “sanctification” is also more than a result of “union”, so that “sanctification” is in someway identical to “union”, or at least a necessary “condition” for “union”?

    12. Does “union” flow from mere transformation? If union is transformation, and union must come before justification, how is it that God is still justifying the ungodly?

    13. If becoming children of God only means being born again so that we are freed from the power of corruption, what is the need for those who are no longer ungodly to be justified or adopted?

    14. Is “union” a cause or a result of sacramental efficacy? It’s too late now to tell us that the order of application does not matter so much, since you insisted on denying that “justification” was a result of “sanctification”.


  40. DGH , could you expand on your remark about being scared of Trueman? I seldom pay any attention to the ACE or GC except when linked here or some idea gets traction in our local church that traces back to them and needs a little pushback. I did read his book on Luther and I guess I wish he’d spend more time writing things like that instead of being active in a para church organization, but “scared?”


  41. DGHart: a. many !!!

    have to admit I do chuckle at some of the replies here like this one, it’s just that the mockery is partial.


  42. A.,

    Has your church made a Facebook page yet? It really helps in planting seeds for the harvest. Let me know how I can help you non denom indep Church.


  43. DGH, why not bring all your own celebrity status/popularity to bear on publicly calling for the dissolution of WHI and ACE? If you did, maybe Mike Horton and Carl might see the error of their ways? They need to feel as loved by you as TKNY and TGC do.


  44. Dr. Hart,

    From an Old School perspective, when does an ordained pastor’s side gig (a blog, a podcast, etc.) turn into a rival parachurch organization? Applying for 501(c)(3) status? When it’s not subject to the session’s oversight?


  45. Petros, have you considered that all your pushing to public calls and reforms assumes that others have a need to be transformers? But the criticisms have been published, etc.Some people may not share the eeeevangelical impulse to be the loudest guy in the room.


  46. mboss – I think that’s a good question and I’d be interested in hearing responses from Darryl and others. Off the cuff, here are a few thoughts:

    1. Ordained ministers with a call retain their liberty to pursue their own interests on their own time but remain responsible both to their session and to their presbytery albeit in different capacities. A blog or a podcast should not pose any problem per se.

    2. The stated goals and ambitions of the “side gig” would seem to be very much at issue.

    3. In addition to the goals, the affiliations might be even more of an issue. In particular, what actions are being taken and with what goals with collaborators that are not of like faith and practice?

    4. I’d also look to make sure that the activities of the side gig don’t encroach on the work of the Church.

    Of course it goes without saying that transparency is key. Even as a non-ordained member of an OPC congregation I would notify my session if I were planning to launch a blog or podcast with Christian and/or Reformed themes. I may or may not be required to do so, but I would rather over-disclose. The worst thing that would happen is might get some good feedback and a few more readers/listeners.


  47. Zrim, was just curious why it was that ACE and WHI don’t get some of that same loud love here at OL that TKNY and TGC get. Alas, apparently ACE and WHI aren’t “big” enough (yet) to merit such attention. Either that, or Horton and Trueman are untouchable?


  48. Publius, your criteria are reasonable. But, as to your #4, the consensus OL argument about side gigs is generally that they de facto DO encroach on the work of the Church.

    It’s an interesting dilemma: one guy thinks TGC/ACE/WHI support/supplement/serve the ministry of the church, and another guy thinks they all supplant/supersede/detract. How best to resolve and decide?


  49. Petros,

    I just pay attention to none of what TGC/ACE/WHI does, and instead, focus on sports, read my Bible in the morning to keep little a happy (I kid), and attend to the means of grace.

    If you really want to study further, read Darryl’s piece in Engaging with Keller, he pretty much lays down the gauntlet on everything being discussed here.

    It seriously would answer all your questions.

    Grace and peace.


  50. Pubs and MB, two PCA ministers with parachurch affiliations come to mind: TKNY with his church planting network which sometimes plants BAPTIST churches, and Toolian with his Liberate org, which “network” includes Lutheran and Episcopal churches. These things seem more problematic than even TGC or WHI to me. Are are presbyterian poster boys presbyterian?


  51. cw – I am in complete agreement with you on those 2 examples. In fact I had TKNY’s church planting in mind (though not Tullian’s but you’re right about that too) which would conflict with my criteria #3 & #4. Those seem completely out of line. What Gospel are they promoting there? How does that comport with their vows and obligations?

    But a blog or a podcast? I don’t there is a problem there per se. Mileage may vary of course. I can’t be the only one thinking about Reformed Forum (which Darryl links at the bottom right). And I think what Camden is doing there is totally inbounds. The various podcasts are basically OPC ministers recording their discussions and making them available for the public. His goals, means, and affiliations are totally different than those of TGC, Liberate, etc.


  52. And let’s come out and say it, Toolian and friends (some of whom are TKNY’s friends) have inspired a mostly-intra PCA “Network” to oppose them: the GRN. No doubt what they call “The Contemporary Grace Movement” has some weaknesses, but the PCA has bigger problems in worship, practice, and ecclesiology than Toolian and friends (who I truly can’t stand). But those bigger problems would be much harder to tackle.


  53. Concerning side gigs, could a blog/podcast be comparable to having an active and opinionated twitter (or dare I say Facebook) page? I’m thinking there is room for comparison to book/article writing as side gigs as well. How do confessional publishing houses/journals keep their parachurch-ness in line? Because pastors write books and articles, which can potentially be very similar to podcasts and blog posts.


  54. Chortles,

    Honest question:

    What would it take for DGH and TKNY to bury the hatchet? I proposed a meet and greet between Ann, Kathy, Darryl, and Tim, for the four of them to have sweetbreads at the best place money can buy, and we’ll all await back here at Oldlife to find out whether Kathy can handle her liquor.

    My sense: TKNY has to just stop all these extra marital extra-confessional presbyterian moves, and try to wind down TGC in best way he knows how, to make it much much smaller than it is, maybe split it up like AT&T and their monopoly, and break it up into 10 different competing parachurch organizations or something.

    My question more bascially is – what is the strategy here, action steps. Or do we just hope that enough floating orange calvin avatars on twitter feeds will eventually move the hearts and minds of the 208k followers of TKNY? Because that just sounds sad and a recipe for more frustration.

    We need to figure out how to move the ball forward. You know, LBJ style. Let’s not look like Curry did last night in the came. Anyone want to chime in, what’s the way forward to fix the TKNY/TGC mess? So far, we have Engaging with Keller but we have a system in Presbyterianism to actually make a difference. Overtures, Complaints, general assemblies, courts.

    I hate to have our courts be consumed with muck and things that don’t matter. Let’s get cracking everyone.

    Or do we secretly love our little olts comment wars and twitter games, that, like if moriarity was killed, we would secretly be sad seeing as we no longer have a nemesis, kind of like maggie’s nemesis, the unibrow baby?

    I could go on?


  55. It strikes me that the underlying problem with a Liberate network or TKNY or TGC or Ligonier is that not only do they have no denominational oversight, but they’re implicitly refusing to be subject to their denominational structures by creating their own brand. And they inspire their opponents or their followers to create their own networks. All of this weakens the Presbyterian form of church government that most of them have vowed to uphold and protect. But I don’t think the same thing can be said about Reformed Forum or Old Life or Scott Clark’s blog, for example.


  56. Andrew, thank you for the link. I think I read it back when it originally went up, but I forgot the reference to Trueman. The update DGH added is new to me (I had some health issues last year and wasn’t able to follow OL with any regularity) and is very good. That blog is also very interesting. The properitor writes from an Anabaptist/Pietist perspective, but he is also, like DGH, licensed to do history.

    Thanks again. I can’t follow up on everything I read here, but you have posted several links that I have found worthwhile.

    BTW, I seem to remember that you were reading Trueman’s Luther book. What did you think of it? I ran into an ECLA pastor at the grocery store right after I finished with it and told him how much I enjoyed it. I couldn’t tell whether he was more appaled that someone would still find Luther appealing or that a reformed author would presume to write a book about him.


  57. Walton – I agree. TGC and TKNY are easy targets because their aims and actions are so far over the line. They call it unity. I call it Gospel minimalism and my concern is that Gospel minimalism turns into no Gospel at all. I can respect a Baptist as a brother in Christ without having to plant a Baptist church to prove it.


  58. AdD,

    Yes, and thank you for asking about Trueman’s book on Luther.

    Truth be told, I have been a fan of Trueman since I read Republocrat. New Horizons had a book review back in Oct 2010, my wife bought me that book for Xmas, and I think I read it in one sitting. I’ve been hooked on Trueman ever since. I have a lot more I could say.

    The Luther book is worth it’s weight in gold, the 80 pages I have read so far. I need to finish it, but keep getting side tracked. If you aren’t familiar, look up Luther’s Theology of the Cross, you probably are familiar, but I wasn’t, and that topic is particularly worthy of anyone’s, Lutheran, Reformed, Calvinist, Baptist, etc time. Trueman in his usual lucid and terse form lays it out brilliantly. You or anyone really should buy Luther on the Christian Life by Dr. Trueman.

    Now, I have way too many comments. I need to stop for a week, at least. I look forward to reading yours and others. I hear you about your health concerns. Prayers for you, truly, Dan.

    Grace and peace.


  59. Walton, exactly. If you want pastors to give up podcasts, do you want them to stop writing? But if books begin to take up more time than preaching, or if preaching becomes a vehicle for framing a book, then we have a problem. Call Houston.


  60. AdD,

    Oh, you already read it. So yeah, you are ahead of me. Clearly I spend wayyyy to much time commenting on blogs and not reading my Trueman books (emoticon).

    Take care.


  61. Darryl – I’m more afraid of Aimee. Her MMA skills are legendary. Carl’s facility with the language exposes ill-conceived rhetoric, but when the pen fails Aimee will give you a good old fashioned beat down.


  62. Publius and Walton,

    Post more comments at Oldlife, please.

    We need more of what you’re saying.


  63. DGH, OK, I guess. Must be a heck of a back story.

    Andrew, yes, I did read the Trueman book- have it on my Kindle. It inspired me to get McGrath’s “Luther’s Theology of the Cross” via interlibrary loan (it is inordinately expensive even for the Kindle version) which I had been meaning to do for a while. Pretty academic for a nonspecialist, but still readable and worthwhile. Decades ago, a friend insisted that I read Gerhard Forde’s On Being a Theologian of the Cross when I was having a hard time. It was a life-changng book, though Forde is not in good standing with the more visible Lutheran gate keepers, as far as I can tell. I think there is a Kindle version.

    Too much about me. These para-church operations are a real problem that those of us in the non- confessional Baptist world have been dealing with for a long time. I can understand how frustrating it must be to those who have subscribed to confessions that purport to address Church polity to have to deal with.


  64. AdD, never too much. Along with Walton and PUblius, it’s good hearing what you’re thinking!

    Grace and peace.


  65. Mboss,

    Great point –> they’re implicitly refusing to be subject to their denominational structures by creating their own brand. And they inspire their opponents or their followers to create their own networks. All of this weakens the Presbyterian form of church government that most of them have vowed to uphold and protect.

    I would add as well that there is an implicit disbelief that Presbyterianism is actually the biblical understanding of the church – a kind of “least common denominator” view of the church – or “this is the best interpretation but there are other equally valid interpretations”.

    By partnering with Baptists in ecclesial endeavors you’re implying that there are certain practices that are subjective. The broader the circle extends of partnerships, the broader the subjectivity extends. I think this is why some of the Reformed Baptist crowd are at odds with TGC as well – it casts subjectivity on the means.


  66. With WHI and ACE, I think part of the difference is that (as far as I know) they aren’t directly linking themselves with churches and asking churches to identify themselves with them. TGC, GRN, etc. are actually trying to link themselves directly with churches, which puts you in muddy waters.

    WHI and ACE are more like conversation pieces – it’s the difference between a discussion (WHI / ACE) and laying out confessions/confessional type statements (TGC, GRN). Both want to change peoples’ understandings of Christianity/Church and since Presbyterians share things in common with Baptists we can include them in discussions about those areas of commonality, but when it comes to concrete formulas on how the church facilitates itself and then actually prescribing those formulas then the different sides should part ways.

    When you actually start asking/allowing churches to directly associate themselves with your para-church activity you are in direct competition to any more fundamental commitments. It’s like being married and having a girlfriend on the side who you really spend time with.


  67. mcmark—not unlike the fundy slippery slope that says no head covering leads to same-sex marriage, sacramentalists accuse all who disagree with them of being “liberals”. Sola fide is not enough because you need sola ecclesia if you want Christ indwelling. And if you dare say there is a “baptism” which is not water, the guardians of Christendom will call you “gnostic”.

    SOLA ECCLESIA: The Lost Reformation Doctrine
    by Michael J. Glodo

    “There is no invisible baptism,. The person who says, “I’m a member of the Kingdom of God, not organized religion” is inherently contradictory. How do we know that such a person is truly converted? For that matter, how does he or she know? They have refused Christ’s appointed administration of his Kingdom and, thus, stand apart from his kingship. For this reason, one cannot possess assurance of salvation indefinitely if he remains outside of the Church .

    He may have saving faith, but have none of Christ’s means of assuring him of it. Paul wrote, “But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother” (Galatians 4:26, NASV). Hence, Cyprian wrote, “No one has God as his father without the Church as his mother.” Ridderbos described that view, “liberal theology asserted that, as a visible gathering of believers with a certain amount of organization, the Church lay entirely outside Jesus’ vision.”

    mcmark—which church? How can Luther have assurance if he leaves the pope’s church on his own? And why did you leave that baptist for a pca and that pca for an op? Did you take your assurance with you, or did you find it (again) when you got to the next one?


  68. Marc,
    Interesting points… I answer a couple of your points
    “Article IV – Union with Christ and Sanctification
    • We affirm that both justification and sanctification are distinct, necessary, inseparable and simultaneous graces of union with Christ though faith.
    • We deny that the that sanctification flows from justification, or that transformative elements of salvation are MERE consequences of the forensic elements.”
    That’s a shot at Horton because of a conversation between Tipton and Horton on “Christ the Center”.
    those guys don’t like forensic shows like I do I guess.
    1. Who is the Gospel Reformation Network? Is it a conference of friends who think alike, and does it have any ecclesiastical and sacramental authority? Not sure… It may be an anti-Escondido conference of friends who really dislike Horton or something else not sure.

    2. Why is it a problem to deny that “sanctification” flows from justification, as long as “sanctification” results (flows)? I think it’s just that they really dislike Horton.

    Now back to watching my eggs made by Benedict, all things Mark Jones and eagerly awaiting how any of this relates to “republication”…


  69. By the way, Kevin DeYoung is not on the threshold of becoming Presbyterian – his credentials were approved by the Great Lakes Presbytery on May 5, and he was received into the Presbytery as a TE.


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