Worth Reading - 5/5

I know how to hold any view in Evangelical churches and remain in good standing.
This process of passive aggressive dissent is so effective that in the hands of a winsome person it can be used to allow “good standing” while doing almost anything and believing almost anything. The exceptions will be actions or beliefs that are viewed as vile by both the Evangelical culture and the Democratic Party. These beliefs or actions will be condemned and you will be unable to get any traction trying to change Evangelical minds. If you want to dissent and have a career, with very little work, you need a belief that Evangelicals reject, but American secular elites accept.

For example, if you wish to dissent the American consensus on monarchy or a church state give it up. Mainstream Evangelicalism will never accept you and there is no process that will help achieve that goal.
Over the course of our ministry, the most common pastoral issue that Tim and I have confronted is probably marriages—either actual or proposed—between Christians and non-Christians. I have often thought how much simpler it would be if I could remove myself from the conversation and invite those already married to unbelievers do the talking to singles who are desperately trying to find a loophole that would allow them to marry someone who does not share their faith. That way, I could skip all the Bible passages that urge singles only to “marry in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:39) and not “be unequally yoked” (2 Corinthians 6:14) and the Old Testament proscriptions against marrying the foreigner, a worshiper of a god other than the God of Israel (see Numbers 12 where Moses marries a woman of another race but the same faith). You can find those passages in abundance, but when someone has already allowed his or her heart to become engaged with a person outside the faith, I find that the Bible has already been devalued as the non-negotiable rule of faith and practice. Instead, variants of the serpent’s question to Eve—“Did God really say?” are floated, as if somehow this case might be eligible for an exemption, considering how much they love each other, how the unbeliever supports and understands the Christian’s faith, how they are soul-mates despite the absence of a shared soul-faith. Having grown weary and impatient, I want to snap and say, “It won’t work, not in the long run. Marriage is hard enough when you have two believers who are completely in harmony spiritually. Just spare yourself the heartache and get over it.” Yet such harshness is neither in line with the gentleness of Christ, nor convincing.
There’s little doubt the evangelical mind is in peril and the object of rightful concern on many levels. This problem was clearly brought to our attention some years ago when Mark Noll penned The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind (Eerdmans, 1995). Noll’s concern was the absence, or at least the malformation, of the evangelical mind as a whole. Given the absence of careful theological thinking in many of our churches, and with what often passes as worship and preaching in evangelical communities of faith, one could hardly disagree with his assessment. Of course, he also had in his sights certain other evangelicals, including dispensationalists and young earth creationists.

Mouw shares these concerns, though he mentions them only in passing. While I have my own concerns regarding elements within these particular camps, I find the quick dismissiveness of these brothers and sisters, whose numbers are large and passion for the gospel strong, rather uncharitable in too may instances. Still, though many in the evangelical word exuberantly love God with their heart (think primarily emotions), they fall way short in loving him well with their mind. Failing to be transformed by the renewing of their mind, they get squeezed, molded, and conformed to the fallen ways of this present evil age (Rom. 12:2). Bottom line: too many people who claim the name Christian do not think Christianly.
Last week I was asked a question I’ve been asked before, probably over a thousand times before. This time the question came from a young man in ministry in Central America. He’d grown up in the foster care system, without many male role models in his life. He wanted to know how he could find someone to mentor and disciple him. Maybe you’re in a similar situation. If so, here’s what I’d say.

Don’t ask someone to mentor you. Don’t misread me to be suggesting that you shouldn’t seek out a mentor. I’m not saying that. What I’m saying is, don’t use that language when you seek someone out.

First of all, it’s kind of awkward. I remember once having someone say to me, “Do you think you and I could be friends?” It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be friends with this person; it’s just that that’s not really how friendships form. They form naturally, and then at some point one realizes, “This is my friend.” Mentoring is most often kind of like that.

More importantly, the person you’re asking is going to be, more than likely, intimidated by the request. Partly that’s because mentoring means different things to different people. He might be blessed with the sort of humility that leads him to feel unqualified to be chief disciplemaker in every area of your life. Or, he might not be sure that the two of you will “click” relationally in such a way that the mentoring won’t end up being a burden to you both. But there’s a way to get around that.