Roughly ten years ago a prominent “fundie” pastor said to me in a conversation: “We need to stop asking where guys went to school, and who they read. We need to get back to asking what they believe.” While I wouldn’t espouse everything in this man’s belief system, he truly bore it out in his ministry-having guys on his staff from five different schools, all reading a breadth of books, and his own children went to a variety of schools.
Sadly, if I told you this man’s name, I would dare say the point he was making would be muted by some, and magnified by others because of their backgrounds and preferences in ministry. Here’s the point: last week I was preaching on James 2:1-13 and I became overwhelmed with the reality that Christianity is full of favoritism and being a respecter of persons. What this has done is create a very divided and terribly confusing world in which “who relates to who” and “who fellowships with who” that has caused a younger generation to say “forget it”. Depending who you are the names: John Piper, PCC, Paul Chappell, Mark Dever, Bob Jones, Kevin Bauder, FBFI, or Maranatha are all going to elicit a variety of responses, pre-judging, and sadly, the notion that someone outside of my “favoritism” circle can’t be of help or service in helping me think through my orthodoxy or orthopraxy.
If you find yourself unable to learn from guys and gals more conservative than you, or dismissing what they say because of the school they taught at or conference they preached at, may I warn you of falling to the sin of partiality? The converse is true also. I am thankful for guys to the “left” of where I am at and have benefitted from them deeply. They are writing and thinking in areas that most definitely need to be addressed-and aren’t being addressed by guys to the right. But sadly, some of the areas we could benefit most from are dismissed because they aren’t in our “stream”.
Sadly, this is just the tip of the ice-berg for our type of Cornith in many of our church fellowships-consumed with who is of Paul, or of Peter, or of Apollos, when ultimately what matters is what you do believe, preach, teach, and practice. Perhaps, we are so consumed over not being like the other guy, that we have no belief (orthodoxy) or practice (orthopraxy) ourselves, which then leads us to be stuck in a world of mindless carnality.