Editors Note: This is the third in my series on mini evangelical elites. I decided to ditch the SBC stuff. For good commentary check out Aaron Renn. The two previous articles can be found here and here.
On the front end let me just admit my struggle. I don’t understand how pastors keep missing this, and it is starting to feel like I am on a merry-go-round. Maybe it is the over reliance on empathy, maybe the influence of the left and elites are just that pervasive. Either way, the common evangelical pastors inability to see the obvious contradictions he sets out, that the conservatives in his church plainly see, and then his bafflement as to why they think he is going left, has me stymied.
Another stab at it would be to just fall back on Screwtape:
“Your man has been accustomed, ever since he was a boy, to have a dozen incompatible philosophies dancing about together inside his head. He doesn’t think of doctrines as primarily “true” or “false”, but as “academic” or “practical”, “outworn” or “contemporary”, “conventional” or “ruthless”. Jargon, not argument, is your best ally.” – Screwtape Letter I
I think this is more in the right direction because it encompasses both of the previous suggestions. Both contain jargon, cloudy language, designed to sound one way, but mean something very different. And jargon is attractive, it uses words and phrases of which the common pew sitter is uninitiated into, but to the initiates it is a little wink, a nod, that one is in the know, in the inner ring. Such is the draw of the elite. And as I have previously suggested, evangelical pastors have desire to be mini elites. Again Screwtape:
“My dear Wormwood,
I was delighted to hear from Triptweeze that your patient has made some very desirable new acquaintances and that you seem to have used this event in a really promising manner. I gather that the middle-aged married couple who called at his office are just the sort of people we want him to know—rich, smart, superficially intellectual, and brightly skeptical about everything in the world. I gather they are even vaguely pacifist, not on moral grounds but from an ingrained habit of belittling anything that concerns the great mass of their fellow men and from a dash of purely fashionable and literary communism. This is excellent. And you seem to have made good use of all his social, sexual, and intellectual vanity. Tell me more. Did he commit himself deeply? I don’t mean in words. There is a subtle play of looks and tones and laughs by which a mortal can imply that he is of the same party as those to whom he is speaking. That is the kind of betrayal you should specially encourage, because the man does not fully realize it himself; and by the time he does you will have made withdrawal difficult.” – Screwtape Letter X
Lewis was a prophet who was not honored in his own home. It is hard to extract yourself from the approving, accepting glances of that inner ring, especially now that the other side has been thoroughly painted as backwards, provincial, racist, and orange.
Fortunately, in the providence of God an obvious opportunity has arisen to which many are already half way there to achieving true freedom and after the extraction could rightly claim the mantle of pastor once again. As of last Sunday the new federal holiday of Juneteenth has been celebrated in many of our churches. That was done across the spectrum of an acknowledgement up to and including a poorly theologically justified sermon on the subject. Now, while I am keeping my Puritan cards intact by stating here and now that holidays have no place in the worship service. Nevertheless, that view is not held by many who call themselves reformed, and thus Juneteenth was thrust upon us. The toothpaste now being out of the ecclesiastical tube let us consider how we might use it for a thorough cleaning. It would appear that by this Thursday, Row Vs. Wade will be overturned. This is not just news. If it happens it will be glorious news. It will be joyous news. Frankly the kind of news that if you find yourself unable to celebrate it I think I can make a damned good case that you might not be a Christian in the first place. The obvious conclusion being: If a church plans to celebrate the overturning of the vile practice of chattel slavery. Then they damned well better throw a party for the overturning of legal baby murder. Most of whom are the same race as the afore mentioned slaves.
I know the objection pastors will raise, “There might/are women in this church who have had abortions. And for us to celebrate it would cause them to feel shame.” Let me torch this straw man. 1. Shame is not always a bad thing. I can say this because I have been told by many reformed pastors I should feel shame for voting not only for the bad orange man but also for Bush. Therefore, on the topic of same I quote Inigo Montoya, “You keep saying that word, I don’t think it means what you think it means.” Again jargon is the best ally of the left and the demons. 2. There is a consequence of sin. If you participate in a murder, then you will have the shame of committing a murder. And that is not a bad thing. It is an opportunity for the gospel. Though your sins be as scarlet they have been washed white as snow. If you have women in your church that do not revel in the penal substitutionary atonement and imputed righteousness of Christ then you have committed pastoral malpractice. The consequence of sin is that you remember it and there are practical outcomes from it. The gospel is the grace of God over that sin. 3. A minority does not get to dictate the actions of a majority, esp. out of something so subjective as feelings. This would be a fun place to discuss congregational polity. But it would be better to point out that Scripture, as the breathed out Word of God is more interested in the rule over the exception. God himself does not shy away from reveling when sin is defeated even when it makes some people upset.
I fear pastors are very deep in. But here is the chance. If they don’t take it some decisions to leave might be in order. I plan to bring this up to my own pastor following the court decision Thursday, We are not imagining it, reformed pastors are leaning left, like Max Bialystock they are in too deep. Compassion is in order, Screwtape lays out their predicament well:
“Sooner or later, however, the real nature of his new friends must become clear to him, and then your tactics must depend on the patient’s intelligence. If he is a big enough fool you can get him to realize the character of the friends only while they are absent; their presence can be made to sweep away all criticism. If this succeeds, he can be induced to live, as I have known many humans live, for quite long periods, two parallel lives; he will not only appear to be, but actually be, a different man in each of the circles he frequents. Failing this, there is a subtler and more entertaining method. He can be made to take a positive pleasure in the perception that the two sides of his life are inconsistent. This is done by exploiting his vanity. He can be taught to enjoy kneeling beside the grocer on Sunday just because he remembers that the grocer could not possibly understand the urbane and mocking world which he inhabited on Saturday evening; and contrariwise, to enjoy the bawdy and blasphemy over the coffee with these admirable friends all the more because he is aware of a “deeper”, “spiritual” world within him which they cannot understand. You see the idea—the worldly friends touch him on one side and the grocer on the other, and he is the complete, balanced, complex man who sees round them all. Thus, while being permanently treacherous to at least two sets of people, he will feel, instead of shame, a continual undercurrent of self-satisfaction. Finally, if all else fails, you can persuade him, in defiance of conscience, to continue the new acquaintance on the ground that he is, in some unspecified way, doing these people “good” by the mere fact of drinking their cocktails and laughing at their jokes, and that to cease to do so would be “priggish”, “intolerant”, and (of course) “Puritanical”.” – Screwtape Letter X
The iron is hot to shatter this illusion, don’t fail to strike now.