I seriously considered taking a calm well balanced approach to this article:
Alas, the best I can muster is an Ed Byrne shrill Irish, “Are you high?!!” I don’t know wether to be more appalled by the authors ignorance of Edwards or of his on fall into a fresh pagan legalism. Either way it all adds up to something I have previously written about and can not abide. Namely the young arrogantly writing off the giants who’s shoulders they are standing on out of an attachment to some new fad or desire to be like fellows.
We’ll start with Edwards. Frankly it is pretty apparent that David Bumgardner has never really read Edwards. Perhaps there was some exposure due to being a student in the hands of a liberal professor but that kid of thing is just the tip of the iceberg. It is impossible to give Edwards a fair reading and not stand in awe at the depth of his theology and the power of his intellect. From the page he stirs your affections for Christ and brings into focus the mysteries of providence. And like all men he was a sinner. There is not a single person in redemptive history that does not have some sin in an area that was not resolved before they entered into glory. It is kind of the point, we benefit from great servants of Christ, but by their foibles they point to Christ. He is the only perfect man. The same savior of Edwards is the same savior of you and I. God so worked through Edwards by the power of the Spirit that the church was built up, but Edwards was not glorified until his passing. He should not be written off simply because our chronological snobbery thinks that we know better than the Holy Spirit on what sins should be sanctified out. It is sheer youthful hubris to think that Edwards should be discounted on the basis of his sins that currently are de rigueur for mans condemnation.*
Next, it should be painfully obvious that the author is blind to the fact that he has simply moved from one legalism to another. From one works salvation, to an even more fickle one. Say what you will about old School Independent Fundamental Baptists, at least with them you know where you stand, probably condemned, but you at least know. The religion of the day is ever shifting, a house built on sand if there ever was one. Sadly this is not the first time I have seen this happening. I roundly condemn legalists of all stripes because they create a pattern that is hard to break. They build a framework and worldview that is hard to tear apart. Some for a while appear to break free, but often you find that they have just been quietly renovating the old structure with new ideas. Say you introduce them to reformed theology, you just get a more Calvinistic look to the same old rules and regulations. Frequently these people end up left of Marx where the winds of opinion are constantly shifting and they get devoured by their own for not keeping up. There is no salvation in any of these camps, just the opposite “The justice of Hell is purely realistic, and concerned only with results. Bring us back food, or be food yourself.”**
All of this ties together in the real tragedy, and the offense. The offense is that youth is filled with arrogance. To paraphrase the old sinner Bill Marr the young think that nothing that happened before them counts simply because they weren’t there. It leads to a world of stupid. Lewis and Tolkien coined the phrase used above, Chronological Snobbery to describe this phenomenon. The pride involved in writing off current but older theologians and those greats who have passed simply because they are inconvenient to the prevailing cultural outlook is astounding.*** Granted watching this kind of sawing off the limb you are sitting on is darkly entertaining. But the tragedy is that these young whipper snappers have no concept of the future. As my good friend Smythe is fond of pointing out the pointlessness of pleasing the secular world gains neither that world nor the one that is being criticized. Praise from a lost and loud people is such a fleeting thing, and such a pathetic thing. It is the condescending praise given to a dog or something lesser. The person is not a leader among men but a joiner of pawns. And pawns are painlessly sacrificed. The day will come where the mob they contributed to, turns on them. Increasingly, in this internet age, while they are still around. Jesus didn’t lie when he warned that those who live by the sword will die by the sword. That you reap what you sow. They would do well to listen to the wisdom of Kevin DeYoung when he counseled that Loving your neighbor means loving your dead neighbors. If you want to be remembered well and honored by future generations for your accomplishments then you should do the same for those who came before you.
Frankly Piper was just a click-bait-able figure for Bumgardner to tag his article with. The piece is not about Piper but the author and his need to show declare his new allegiance to an new church. He what Steve Martin once called David Spade, “A sour sad little man who makes a career out of harassing people with real careers.” Piper, like Edwards before him, and like me currently, is a sinner. We are all in need of Christ the only one who can save. Assassinating the characters of men God has given as a way to earn salvation feels something like presenting a handful of seashells to the almighty as a reason for celestial entry.
*For a debate on the issue of Edwards and slavery I would point to the following from the Carl F. Henry Center: https://henrycenter.tiu.edu/resource/jonathan-edwards-and-american-racism-can-the-theology-of-a-slave-owner-be-trusted-by-descendants-of-slaves/
My only issue with it is that once again we have a young person who flatly refuses to listen to the older and wiser men. Which is really at the crux of the issue.
**Yes Screwtape had to weigh in here.
***As one holding to a postmil eschatology I really look forward to the day when someone wants to throw out N.T. Wright for his ordination of women. When really it should be his understanding of Paul.