The future of TGC, T4G, Persecution and Homosexuality
I wrote this 2 years ago...
It hit me. I was just browsing through TGC’s website and I came across a post by Kevin DeYoung essentially defending his and Greg Gilbert’s position on their book about the mission of the church. A couple of other influential guys had some questions about it and posted some things that they “disagreed with.” I was writing my first book at the time and the deadline was on me because the book was coming out in January (http://www.cruciformpress.com/our-books/education-or-imitation/). Shameless plug. Blank Stare. I’m a gangsta. Where was I?
So I read Kevin’s post and then clicked on the links to read two other guys’ posts and then I thought,”Wow! Even if dudes are on the same team for the most part, guys will just go at your material (friendly fire but fire nonetheless) just like that. I’ve always known this to be true but since I was about to have my first book published I was more in tune to “book reviews.” Then I began to wonder why there is so much critique in our little reformed world about issues that are really just theological nuances.
Fast Forward a couple weeks and I began hearing all these different reports, perspectives, and critiques on The Elephant Room (T.D. Jakes rubbing elbows with the reformers huh?). I listened to all that was said. I agreed with some disagreed with others blah, blah, blah. While the concerns for that elephant were helpful on many levels, the whole idea and critique of it made me ask myself, “Is this what the church should be squabbling over?” Maybe that is not the right question. Maybe squabbling is not the right word, but why do some of these things matter to us? I feel like we, reformers, spend so much time focusing on our theological microcosm that we mostly forget that there is a whole world, an entire culture, that could care less about the differences on the mission of the church, or if the gospel is really justification or Jesus as the true Israel. I say that not to say those things aren’t important but I feel like our reformed world is turning into the Areopagus. An esoteric world of theologically nuanced ideas.
I began to think about the time I spent in India. I remembered thinking that the gospel was so real and so strong there, yet these people didn’t even have the categories of reform theology that I had. I watched God work supernaturally just because people trusted in the power of the gospel. They weren’t concerned with the intricacies of the Greek. They just loved Jesus so much that they were willing to die for him. Their relationship with the Lord was one that many of us wished that we had. I began to wonder what the differences were between believers here and believers there. A huge list of things that came to my mind, but the one thing that rose above them all was persecution. The countries where believers are being persecuted is where they seem to know and love God the best.
Then it hit me. Persecution was the primary way that the church was established. Persecution is a sure sign of the people of God in the NT. It is one of the mandates of Christianity. Persecution is one of the primary ways we share in Christ’s sufferings (Philippians 3:10). Persecution for righteousness’ sake, or better, for believing in Jesus is supposed to be the mark of the church. But where is the persecution that most of us face? Where is the world hating us because we believe in Jesus (John 15:18-27)? Persecution in scripture happened because people were believing in Jesus. But now, persecution will happen because we are trying to live like Jesus. Not just in resisting temptation but in standing up for righteousness sake.
Then it hit me. I was preparing for the first of four Sunday Night Conversations on the topic of homosexuality. These were meetings that I lead where we literally discussed the topic I presented. And it wasn't listening to a monologue but participating in a dialogue that made those times unique for us. Ever since my older brother died of Aids (he was gay) I have paid close attention to this issue. And I truly believe that gay marriage and the issue of gay identity is knocking at the church’s door and we have no choice but to answer it. I also believe that it is this issue that is going to be the real beginning of the western church being persecuted like our brothers in other countries. Our churches are so weak because we are not persecuted by the world. We are irritants at best. But the day is coming when Christians in America are going to be persecuted for disagreeing with homosexuality. I think it’s going to be brutal.
10 years from now, The Gospel Coalition and Together For the Gospel are not going to be dealing with theological nuances within the church. We are going to be at war for believing that being gay is a sin. When gay marriage laws are passed nationwide we are going to really look like idiots for still believing that it is wrong, and the animosity is going to move from homophobia to Christophobia (IN FACT, THIS IS ALREADY HAPPENING. Remember I wrote this post two years ago). Biblical manhood and womanhood will be such a foreign concept that the only people who will believe it will be a remnant of the church. The Gospel Coalition won’t be focusing on Modalism. T4G will become together for the gospel against the cultural backlash related to homosexuality. Christians are going to get worn out. Pastors will give in. We are going to wonder “what is going on?” Voice of the Martyrs is going to start featuring pastors in America real soon.
The church has always grown and spread through persecution. God purifies his people through bloodshed. When churches don’t have that persecution they get like Laodicea. Lukewarm. So get ready. What you believe will be tested real soon. And we will be shocked at who is actually together for the gospel then.
May the Lord keep us…
"It's the future of eye do it!"