I’ve been extremely busy here of late, and tired. So my pace of blogging has fallen on hard times. I have written one post in the last three weeks, and one draft.
Several things caught my eye that are worth mentioning. The first is that I was listening to the Mortification of Spin podcast the other day and finally heard a great rebuttal of transformationalism. Transformationalism is the idea that the church is going to take the culture by storm and transform it for Christ. The idea comes from Abraham Kuyper, who had the means to be very transformative in that he was the prime minister of the Netherlands, owned a large newspaper, and was the head of a college. The idea is that through the gospel, and enough Christians in the culture, we can transform culture.
You see this kind of thinking in many churches’ mission statements, like the following one from a local church:
That we exist to extend the transforming presence of the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ in Dallas and to the world.
The problem with this kind of thinking from my point of view is that it is not the role of the church to transform culture, redeem culture, or make culture more Christian. Only God can do that. It is the role of the church to worship the LORD. We do that by faithfully preaching His word and working through the means of grace He has given to us. This is the area in which we must be faithful. Trying to change the culture is beyond our means and ability. If culture is going to be changed, God will do it through the church being faithful to our first calling. While reaching the culture with the gospel is a part of that calling, we are not to be about redeeming culture for the gospel. In fact, when the gospel goes forth, it redeems those who are saved from the culture. The elect are plucked out of culture to be holy and blameless before Him, to be His prized possession, to be His trophy of grace.
We may or may not have an effect on those around us. That is not our goal. Our goal is to be faithful in our calling, waiting on the LORD to bring about the results.
As for the podcast above, transformationalism is declared as a complete failure. Abraham Kuyper had no lasting effect on his countrymen. Just spend some time in Holland today and you can see the legacy. Yet even with that, holding up Kuyper as a model of what Christianity should be is quite myopic. R. Scott Clark writes:
The Netherlands was (and remains) a very small place. The Netherlands are 16,000 square miles. Nebraska is 77,000 square miles. It is one thing to talk about a a pervasive, transforming Christian influence in a small country like the Netherlands. It is quite another to talk about transforming the United States (3.7 million square miles), in which one could fit the Netherlands about 250 times, the West, or even the world.
Yet many hold Kuyper up as the model to follow. If Kuyper had any real impact in his day, it was God’s doing, not Kuyper’s doing. The mistake is thinking because God worked one way through a certain person in history, that if we follow that one person in their thinking and actions, then we can duplicate or go beyond what they did in their day. I’m quite certain that Jesus never said, “Follow Kuyper.”
This movement has been afoot in earnest now for at least 20 years, maybe longer, and our culture is no better now than it was when the movement began. We have lost the culture wars. We have lost our way. We have been so busy trying to change the culture, that the culture has changed us. We are not holy. We are not above reproach. We do not stand for God’s Law, or His gospel. We are too busy trying to be like the culture to have any real impact.
Given that, the church needs to return to the old paths of our calling and let God worry about the culture. If we think we are going to be about the business of changing the culture, then we really have an issue of pride and we need to repent of such thinking. Just as we are at God’s mercy concerning our own salvation, so too are we at God’s mercy at changing the culture in which we live. It is HIS doing, not ours.
The other thing that caught my eye over the past week was the pronouncement by Andy Stanley that if you go to a church of 200 or less, you are being selfish. Andy did apologize on Twitter once he stuck his finger in the wind to find it was not blowing in his direction. I think Todd Pruitt does an excellent job on laying out the deeper problem with his post Andy Did it Again. You can also read my post Andy Stanley Proves His “False Teacher” Status Again.