Who knew vindicating your critics was this easy?

2015/06/22

There goes Tullian Tchividjian under the bus! I can certainly wish that Greenbaggins would be one blog above cheapshots about some sort of, maybe, kind of connection between Tullian’s fall and his doctrine of sanctification. Lane Keister, after all, knows well what it’s like to go into the lion’s den and get utterly smeared by the PCA’s liberals. I hate to say it, but I think Lane has taken the line of poor taste and used Tullian’s personal flop as a chance to write off his views on sanctification. We get all we need from Lane’s piece– which is nothing. He doesn’t try to demonstrate a causal link between Tullian’s views and his affair because there isn’t one. It’s all very confusing and sad when a minister (especially a prominent one) falls into sin. But at another level it’s rather simple. Tullian certainly knows just as much as his critics that having an affair is wrong. He blew it. Do we really want to go this way? I mean, is every ministerial scandal an occasion for the poor chump’s ideological opponents to say “See, I told you so!”? Well somebody could bring up Mark Driscoll but the Mars Hill debacle is really about a long string of unforced errors.

Lane ought to remember that this same thing played out after Jason Stellman shocked his supporters and gratified his enemies by joining the false church of Rome. Failures like those of Tullian and Stellman just confirm that they were flawed men fighting for a good cause. It’s sad that their theology has to get the blame for their personal failures. We are witnessing that popular fallacy– the circumstantial ad hominem– in all it’s glory. Those of us who want to challenge burgeoning legalism in Reformed circles can’t give up before one of the classic cheapshots. We certainly have a lesson to learn here. Not the platitudes like “But for the grace of God go I” but rather “Vain is the help of man.” We feel the blow of Stellman’s sell-out and Tullian’s scandal just so far as we’ve bought into the folly that the justness of our cause depends on the spotless reputation of our point men. We might as well give in and join the legalists if outward appearance matters so much to us. After all, those who think they can stand before God in their own works are the masters of hypocrisy, the gurus of appearance. But that’s not what we stand for. We know man looks at the appearance but God looks at the heart and in that way we know we have to stand in Christ or fall in our works.

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2 Responses to “Who knew vindicating your critics was this easy?”

  1. greenbaggins Says:

    I can understand why you would say these things, and you’re not the only one to raise concerns about my post along these lines. They are fair questions to ask.

    The concern that your post raises in my mind is this: does our theology have practical consequences, or is it divorced from our lives? More importantly, isn’t all sin a theological failure of some sort or other? As a man thinks in heart, so he is. Is it possible that Tullian just forgot doctrines of importance, or that he was temporarily setting aside his doctrine in order to sin? I suppose so. But isn’t it more likely that if a person says that we are free to fail, that he will not be as careful in setting up proper boundaries in his relationships with the other sex than the person who says that we are now free to obey?

    I’m a bit confused by your reference to the Stellman case. You do know, I hope, that Stellman still thinks that Leithart should leave? There might have been a few who said that Stellman failed because he was going in a Romanist direction, but I and most others I know agree that Stellman did a fine job. A Romanist can still agree that Leithart’s views are not Reformed. That was and is the material point, not whether Stellman agreed with Leithart or not.

  2. locirari Says:

    I still think that it’s really hard to demonstrate a causal connection between Tullian’s theology and his recent scandalous fall. No one is demonstrating it. They’re just asserting that it must be the case for polemical reasons. I also doubt that Tullian really meant “let us sin that grace may abound” by “free to fail.”
    I agree with you about Stellman. In fact, my point is that Leithart and his acolytes similarly said that his conversion to Rome is the fruit of Westminster confessionalism. IOW, they’re saying Stellman’s conversion to Rome is the natural outcome of challenging such “sophisticated” post-Westminster guys as Leithart and Rayburn. Please explore more on my blog. It’s not the first time I’ve written about Leithart and Stellman.


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