“We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.”
– Dietrich Bohoeffer
My wife and I have been part of a church associated with the Gospel Coalition, and by extension the Neo Reformed movement, for a long time. We can’t do it anymore. What follows is largely commentary on these references.
If you only have time for one, start with Nate Sparks.
Our former church is brimming with kind, wonderful friends who love Jesus and one another. But the influence of the Neo Reformed movement has become unacceptable. Over years, in times of suffering and hardship, this ideology’s influence harms the vulnerable and protects the powerful. We find it
- Arrogant: The conviction that the new Calvinism is a flawless, perfected theology drives a sense of entitlement, and a disregard for human frailty, suffering, difference, and alternative points of view. The movement strains the gnat of knowledge and swallows the camel of human suffering. It knows God’s mind better than God and steals his glory for a book deal.
- Authoritarian: A perverse emphasis on authority cultivates leadership styles that usurp God’s authority – and glory. The Incarnation’s ideal of humility and self sacrifice is replaced by a power obsessed leadership cult.
- Hateful: Its conservatism is ideological, misogynist, and hateful. Women and children are sent home to the authority of their leaders. That authority is based on the leader’s maleness rather than their character. In the face of readily available statistics, this is a stupid idea. It is an obvious engine of abuse. Victims are hurt, blamed, and silenced.
We are keenly aware that all churches have problems and are full of people. And that they sin. There are also a great many loving, faithful, caring people in our church and in the movement at large, many of them for reasons similar to the ones that brought us to it – especially a concern for doctrine. We are also aware that leaders face special challenges and that it’s hard.
It also bears mentioning that I quote a number of people on the blog. In most cases, they have responded to clarify their statements in one form or another. The links in the reference section or Google can get you further information on their evolving positions. It’s not my intent (or possible, I think) to present a perfectly up to date view of all of these people’s positions. This blog is about the fruit of the movement and my family’s reaction to it. I think people like Sparks do a far better job of fisking and fact wrangling than I ever aspire to. But you should be aware that these folks are constantly responding.
All of that notwithstanding, there comes a point where each of us has to figure out what our name may and may not be associated with. For us, that time has come and gone. We don’t belong in the Neo-Reformed movement because it eats the sheep.