Thursday, March 10, 2011

An Unbridgeable Chasm

I watch in amazement at the flurry of activity that has followed the (now vanished) blog post about Michael Horton and Rick Warren. The poster of that has now as good as said that people should be warned about Michael Horton because he has been at Saddleback and was photographed with Rick Warren. The substance of what Horton said has, to be best of my knowledge, never been addressed by this person, or any of her partisans.

Now, first of all we need to separate any response to the post made by others to the content of the post itself, and the defences that have been mounted. I have no part in actions others may have taken, this is what I have said, in public, responding to vague accusations made in public. The accusation seems to amount to this: Michael Horton spoke at an event held at Saddleback, and was photographed with Rick Warren afterwards. This means that he is acting as a 'Bridger' between the Reformed world and Rick Warren.

Now, when the term was used of Dan Kimball, I thought I understood what was meant - that Kimball had a foot in each camp, a foot in the Emerging camp, and another in the broader Evangelical camp. Fair enough, I suppose you could argue that he is a bridger in that sense. But if speaking at a conference that is part of a parachurch organisation (not, as some have said, "shared the pulpit with Warren", which implies a Saddleback service), and being photgraphed with a man makes one a 'bridger' whom the Church must be "warned about", then we are being amazingly narrow.

Others have tried to take the focus off Horton by bringing in John Piper - but Horton and Piper are not in the same circles, Horton teaches at Westminster Seminary California, and is a confessional Reformed man. Piper has said Rick Warren is basically sound, Horton has said he isn't. I understand that people are worried, disappointment with Piper led to fears about Horton. But those fears are being expressed irrationally. It seems that some of Horton's critics will not be satisfied with anything short of Horton expressing a sort of second-degree separation, and simply cannot conceive of anyone going to anything like the Lausanne conversation unless they approve of everything that goes on there. The idea of a man going to such a thing therefore alarms them.

And how is this defended? By saying "well, people will assume he approves." My friends, do we really think that Reformed Christians are that shallow and foolish? That they base their opinions on pictures and reported facts? Or are not Reformed people readers, people who listen to multiple podcasts? Are they not in fact the least likely Christians to be led astray by a picture taken out of context?

And what is the alternative? Let me tell you what it is. It's giving up talking to people outside of our own little bubble. It's making absolutely sure that our message never troubles people in the Warren camp. And the result of "warning people about" Horton will be awful. After all, What are we warning them about? What is the content of that warning? That's what I can't see. Really, I cannot see the content of the warning about Michael Horton! And that worries me.

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