The Gospel Allies are always peppering readers with guidance on contemporary culture without ever acknowledging that many Christians would be better served by reading secular publications (like The New Yorker, The American Conservative, Times Literary Supplement).
As the allies make their way through the haze of relevance, some may wonder what their criteria for evaluating writers, ideas, and cultural expressions are.
Take for instance Joe Carter’s estimate of Jordan Peterson (wherein comes a heavy dose of anti-thetical analysis thanks to a quote from Joel McDurmon):
For all of his toppling of great idols of humanism in our day, Dr. Peterson’s thought, from their presuppositions right through many of his conclusions, is as thoroughly humanist, autonomous, and thus ultimately dangerous, as anything any leftist every said. Christians need to be aware of the depths of this problem in Peterson’s thought, and the implications it has for their discernment of his teachings.
But when it comes to Wendell Berry, a writer much admired here but no font of Christian orthodoxy, the Allies print a positive estimate of the farmer-poet:
Reading Wendell Berry reminds us that one result of rooting ourselves in God’s Word should be that we root ourselves in our neighborhoods. These places are likely to be dark and polluted, but in belonging here while stretching toward the light of God’s love, we bear witness to John’s proclamation: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5). Berry’s fictional characters help us imagine what it might look like to be members of God’s household who live with faith, hope, and love—and so bless their neighbors.
Dare I observe that if TGC had given an assignment to a Van Tillian to write about Berry, the article would not be so charitable.
And then to round out the confusion comes a piece that recommends the film of P. T. Anderson (including one — don’t tell John Piper — that has nudity):
Phantom Thread feels like an especially instructive model of a film that I fully expect will be talked about and enjoyed by future generations, long after most 2017 films are forgotten. Director Paul Thomas Anderson is known for making movies (e.g., Magnolia, There Will Be Blood) that aren’t particularly “relevant” but are inarguably good. He is a master of the cinematic form, an auteur who has true, loving interest in the characters and settings he depicts, beyond their utilitarian value as fodder for the zeitgeist. Like Terrence Malick, Anderson makes the films he wants to make, pointing the camera on the things he finds beautiful and interesting, paying little heed to headlines or formulas or convention. Ironically this is often the formula for lasting influence. It certainly has been for Malick and Anderson.
At some point, don’t you wonder that the editors at TGC have less a coherent w-w than they do a desire to pose as up-to-date? And oh, by the way, what does any of this have to do with the gospel?