Thursday, April 14, 2005

Another Brick in the Wall

Watching this war over theology and life brought to my remembrance some words spoken by Os Guinness at the first Annapolis conference of the Jonathan Edwards Insitute. I noted them with some interest at the time, but since then they have echoed truer and truer - especially now with this IMonk kerfuffle raging on. Of course, most of the Fighting Calvinist Brigade would say that Os Guinness is also theologically suspect, but as we Calvinists are so fond of saying we believe... the truth is the truth.

Remarks made by Dr. Os Guinness at a plenary address delivered to “A Passion for Truth”, the first annual conference of the Jonathan Edwards Institute, in Annapolis, Maryland, in July 1997:

“...We’ve got to clearly call for a revival of revival. But isn’t the same true of reformation? I’m Reformed. Most of you, I imagine, are Reformed. But I would say to you, gently, (that) the Reformed movement is not the best witness for reformation. Start by thinking, the Reformation has come full circle. Always in the past, the evangelicals, who were passionate for reform, were over against the corrupt, or the compromised, or the nominal, or the formal, or the dead, or whatever it was; and they represented life and return - reformation, revival. We’re the ones who need reforming today. And you do often hear Catholics and chastened liberals who look at dismay at... evangelicals, who are twice as worldly as them - and they are repenting of some of their worldliness, and they see worse in us. (The Reformed movement) is spiritually dry. Much of it is antiquarian! This is not the 16th century - we’re in the 20th, almost the 21st! Much of it is incredibly fractious. You can think of the obvious examples of Reformed brothers who talk about “intellectual kneecapping”, and do it to each other! But you can see a spirit of uptight phariseeism about truth, which has nothing to do with Jesus, or the Gospels. There’s an ugliness and a phariseeism in the Reformed movement that surely needs reforming. Revival needs reviving, but let’s be honest - the Reformed movement needs reforming. Even take one of its’ favorite notions, transformation. The Reformed movement, if you look at it closely, isn’t much of a transforming community. (It) loves its subcultures, comes out of them to its conferences, and beetles back to them - but do you have an engagement with a culture that’s actually from other parts of evangelicalism? The Reformed movement talks transformation a storm, and does anything but transformation in reality. We are not nearly as reformed as we think we are. And maybe one of the worst things of all is the lack of grace-giving. Our theology’s all that - isn’t the most startling thing about our Lord His grace? The categories He shattered, the unwelcomables that He embraced; and much of the Reformed movement is drawing its lines and putting people on the wrong side of the lines, and telling certain people (that) they’re no longer Christian! Their theology may be sub-par, but is all of this close to our Lord Himself? I suggest to you that revival needs reviving, and the Reformed movement needs reforming.”


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