You inherit odd habits when you grow up in a fundamentalist Baptist home (the advantages should not be minimized either). In my case, my parents were devoted listeners to Christian radio, a practice that I keep alive as part of my Sabbath routine. Instead of listening about balls and babes on sports-talk radio while brewing coffee, on Sundays I turn on the local Christian station (and actually hear, depending on the hour, Hugh Hewitt summarize the weeks headlines, which is not what I want to hear when Iâ€™m preparing to enter the heavenlies).
Yesterday, I heard Cliff Barrows and his sidekick on the Hour of Decision make available Charles Sheldonâ€™s In His Steps, the original source for the â€œWhat-Would-Jesus-Doâ€ craze of fifteen years or so ago. For donations of â€“ I canâ€™t remember the level â€“ contributors would receive a copy of Sheldonâ€™s novel. What the folks at the BGEA failed to mention was that Sheldon was a Social Gospeler and a proto-liberal Congregationalist minister. I guess it would take too much time away from soul-winning to acquire the discernment necessary for refusing to promote Sheldonâ€™s novel. But then again, if you are committed to spreading the good news of Jesus Christ you might want to warn people away from proclamations, no matter how much cloaked in the aura of Jesus, that were very influential in turning the mainline Protestant churches in the United States away from the very good news of Jesus Christ.
While I was listening to the radio promo, I couldnâ€™t help but think of a book that the OPC is featuring as part of its effort to educate its members. Stuart Robinson is not nearly as popular as Sheldon, though without the WWJD bracelets Sheldon may not be much of a celebrity either. But the Louisville Presbyterian pastor wrote one of the best books on Presbyterian ecclesiology and he did so from a redemptive historical perspective even before Geerhardus Vos was a glint in his fatherâ€™s eye. In 1858, four years before Vosâ€™ birth, Robinson wrote The Church of God As An Essential Element of the Gospel, a book that combines two-kingdom, spirituality of the church, and jure divino Presbyterianism in a suprisingly compact and potent combination. To the OPCâ€™s credit, its Committee on Christian Education has reprinted the book with a helpful introduction by pastor, A. Craig Troxel, and is selling it in hard cover for modest price.
I know many evangelicals think that conservative Reformed Protestant are mean, critical, and belong to denominations that do a lot of things wrong. But do these not so winsome and complaining evangelicals ever factor in the bad things that parachurch organizations do in the name of the gospel? This is not a rhetorical question.