Chortles Weakly tweeted a link to an old (2014) article by Kevin DeYoung and Ryan Kelly about denominations and parachurch organizations. One paragraph stood out:

The ministries of T4G and TGC are distinct and prominent on the landscape of American evangelicalism, but they are not novel or unique. Other ministries share many of the same aims and inhabit the same theological universe of evangelical Calvinism. The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals (ACE), founded by the late James Montgomery Boice in 1994, is something of a forerunner to today’s most popular partnerships. This multi-dimensional networking and resourcing ministry is similar in many respects to TGC. Several church-planting networks also contribute to the scene, including Acts 29 (now led by Matt Chandler) and Redeemer City to City (under Tim Keller). While some such church-planting networks function as something closer to denominations, with pastoral training and a vetting process, they nevertheless together represent this growth of intentional collegiality that is not merely denominational.

Notice that one parachurch organization is insufficient for all the interested parties. TGC wants unity. Its members want to be the voice of broadly Reformed evangelicalism:

A part of the criticism of TGC has centered on its perceived desire to dominate the evangelical scene, to become “the voice” of Reformed evangelicalism, or to “set the church’s agenda.” Perhaps one reason for this concern is the sheer size of TGC’s footprint on the web and social media. The numbers involved, already mentioned, are quite remarkable. In as much as these pageviews represent people reading good, thoughtful material, we rejoice that Christ may use those efforts to strengthen his church. The same would go for the number of TGC conferences and their attendees. Many have come. Conferences have been added. Hopefully those labors have borne true fruit, by God’s grace. We believe that they have, along with many other good conferences of our day.

But it can’t satisfy the appetites of its own members who not only belong to other parachurch organizations and denominations, but also have embarked on other church planting efforts.

What we are witnessing is paraparachurch.

But imagine if all the members of TGC’s council devoted their energies to making TGC the one-stop shop for broadly Reformed teaching and encouragement about broadly Reformed ministry.

As it stands, one of the council’s members has his own congregation, perhaps a regional meeting of his communion, then an annual one, plus TGC, plus a church planting network, and then a book contract or two.

At some point, simple wisdom suggests something about the danger of spreading yourself too thin. I guess that explains what makes TGC broad.

And yet, we’re supposed to look to these gents for wisdom?

6 thoughts on “Bigly

  1. Did Paul spread himself too thin preaching the Gospel in Israel, Syria, Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Rome, and (probably) Spain, all while writing a huge section of the inspired Word of God? Someone should have told him to slow down. And Peter, Barnabas, Luke, and John Mark as well…


  2. I just resent the attempt to be pastored by people I don’t know, often disagree with and didn’t pledge any fealty to. If they were an intellectually impressive group or at least preeminently talented then that might lead to further consideration(like a proclivity for a particular author’s works) but on the whole they are not and as a result I don’t care what they think other than that their celebrity gives them a platform for influencing even my church, which as I noted, just leads me to resenting them for their presumption.


  3. Letmesplainsean, that reality was a major factor in my family leaving Protestantism for Orthodoxy. Staying Reformed meant that the only time my family’s spiritual life would cease being disproportionately influenced by John Piper’s writings and Doug Wilson’s tweets and John Frame’s taste in piano tunes would be after a critical mass of other people found them no longer interesting. The invisible hand of entrepreneurial spirituality forever defines the conversation, and with all due respect to confessionalists I don’t believe they’re anywhere in the queue.


  4. Mike,

    Staying Reformed meant that the only time my family’s spiritual life would cease being disproportionately influenced by John Piper’s writings and Doug Wilson’s tweets and John Frame’s taste in piano tunes would be after a critical mass of other people found them no longer interesting.

    How is that any different from Orthodoxy? Haven’t you just switched one critical mass of other people (friends? pastors?) for another (bishops?)?


  5. Robert,
    In theory, there is a pledged fealty to the bishops, per sean’s original language, so there isn’t the cognitive dissonance over why those who determine a congregation’s theology and worship have no ecclesiastical relationship to said congregation.

    In practice, the laypeople aren’t charged with being Bereans over disputes that during their lifetime will cover nearly every topic in the Christian life. You as a layman are not choosing between mutually exclusive confessional/evangelical/transformationalist/theonomist/mainline visions for the church, while the liturgies for jurisdictions that are out of communion with each other are closer than the orders of worship found in the OPC, let alone the PCA.


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