Southern Baptist Interlude

I was about to go off in the meta on something johnMark said there – with which I agree – and I realized that it belonged here, so thanks for following along.

Markie said this
I've had points of disconnect when I've talked to people who've grown up PK's or their whole lives in the church. They don't understand where I've come from through the RLDS and the lostness in college, etc.
And you know what? He’s exactly right. That "lostness in college" is the authentic thing. And I'm not saying you have to have experienced it to preach to it: I'm saying that you have to understand it's there to preach to it. Somehow, you have to know something about it.

You know, to get through the cracks of (for example) an LDS guy, you have to find out what he believes about his own so-called faith and church. Because if you come at him with the Way of the Master -- which is 100% a legit method of evangelism and a clear presentation of the Gospel -- he'll tell you that he agrees in principle, and amen. Man should obey God's law, and when he doesn't, Jesus will fill in the gaps. (the sharper readers, of course, see the problem immediately) There's a context for the Gospel which must be approached in talking to the Mormon, and it's different than when you approach an atheist or a run-of-the-mill secularist.

That is missiology. That is how you reach people. And that's not about how many arguments you can memorize: it's about what the Gospel says, and how it contrasts to what the false religion of something else says. It is about engaging what is there, on both sides of the coin.

You know: iMonk is very bent out of shape that I have called most of these so-called "missionals" "dumb" -- and the irony is that he's mad because I didn't name names and he wants me to say that Joe Thorn is dumb so I can fit into his stereotype of a TR blogger.

Joe Thorn is not dumb; Joe Thorn is not who I am talking about. I'm talking about people who got whatever paper credential they got, set up shop in a "missional" venue, and then criticize a guy like John Piper for having an "ahistorical" view of the Gospel. I'm talking about guys -- and they exist by the gaggle -- like the ones Voddy Bauchman has criticized for being very entertaining and informed on young adult fashion, but completely vacant in terms of the Gospel. I'm talking about youth pastors who never open a Bible up in front of teens. I'm talking about Campus Ministry guys who spend a lot of time on "spiritual disciplines" but never seem to get around to Acts 2 or 1Cor 15.

Those things are dumb, and guys who do them are dumb for doing them.

Now, here’s one of the real integrating points of this matter: the truth is that this is how the SBC practices youth ministry right now. It’s missional in this dumb, superficial, non-practical, non-theological, non-scriptural way. And the truth is that the SBC recognizes – in theory anyway, and in statistics – that this methodology has not only not worked, it has backfired. This alleged “meet people where they are” strategy has created thousands of youth pastors and tens of hundreds of youth centers and teen satellite churches – and has resulted in more lost kids coming out of SBC churches than ever.

So when the rest of the missionals get together to form an intervention for the SBC and say, “dude, you have a problem,” the SBC says, “’dude’, you are my problem – and I want something else which actually works and in which I can have some confessional trust.”

In saying that, it doesn’t mean Joe Thorn is a jerk. Joe Thorn is not a jerk. But Joe Thorn is not representative of the movement. Sorry! I wish he was. I wish Tim Keller was representative of the movement. But factually, it’s the guys who think the Message is a good Bible to use from the Pulpit who are representative of this movement. It’s the guys who characterize Baptists as people who reduce the book of Romans to four propositions who are characteristic of this movement. It’s guys who want to call what they are doing a “reformation” when in fact they are undoing the work of the actual reformation who are characteristic of this movement.

Ed Stetzer’s point – that if the SBC is to have any influence in the 21st century it has to stop being mono-cultural (the subtext is that it is also mono-racial) – is over-the-top good. It’s Turkey with all the fixin’s. But his other point – that in allowing a multi-cultural mix we must still contend for the essentials and be counter-cultural rather than culturally-submissive -- carries equal force, and cuts deeply into both sides of this debate.

And for emphasis, you should read this post from a while back in which I make this point in another way as clearly as I can.

Have a nice Wednesday.