Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Unbalanced hangers-on

Wherever there is strife, wherever there is controversy, there are partisans. There are people basking in reflected glory. This is a bad thing. Always. Visiting New York in the 1930s, Dietrich Bonhoeffer noticed that the students at Union Seminary, though they ridiculed stupid fundamentalists, were in fact much shallower than those they ridiculed. Of course many were - it is always much easier to climb on a bandwagon. But the same is true of Fundamentalism. And where the original parties in the controversy were thinkers, there are hangers-on who are not, and who become radically unbalanced.

Some of the imbalnce is due to youth, either in years or in experience. The young Calvinist goes through a 'cage stage', where he needs to be locked up as a danger to himself and others, and is in danger of becoming hyper! He becomes proud of the fact that he did nothing to save himself! Why? Because he hasn't thought through all the implications of what he believes! That, I think is the problem, people are attracted to Calvinism, to the Reformed Churches or even to Confessional Lutheranism, and as soon as they are in the door, everything else is wrong. So there is an imbalance. C.F.W. Walther had to deal with people who talked of "The only saving Lutheran Church", and said that outside the Lutheran Church there was no salvation - is it any wonder we have similar folk today?

Hangers-on, when they are unbalanced, go beyond those they hang on. For example, in a recent theological controversy on the internet, concerns were expressed over the fact that a certain apologist was associating with certain Emergent types. Along comes a hanger-on and says, "He's a full-blown emergent", or words to that effect. But that statement bore no relation at all to reality! We can't blame those who are hung on for the hangers-on. We can only say this: if all your reading is from one small publisher, from one perspective, from one man or circle of men - you really need to get out more. You really do need to know what you believe and why you believe it - not just listen to s show that talks about teaching you to know that!

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