Mike Devries made a very good comment on my last blog posting and reminded me of something very important. He said, (speaking of these men who just recently signed this Confession and Articles at the Together for the Gospel Conference: J. Ligon Duncan III, Mark E. Dever, C.J. Mahaney, R. Albert Mohler, Jr., John MacArthur, John Piper, R.C. Sproul):
Obviously these gentlemen are great scholars and thinkers, yet we must admit that there are great scholars and thinkers who foundationally disagree with them. Both love Jesus dearly. The part that seems to hurt is the divisive language of exclusion [i.e. “we have the right perspective and everything else is destructive to the true interpretation of the gospel, which we have.”] that permeates the articles. [But perhaps that is my own take on them.]
When I was in college I used to listen to John MacArthur on the radio every night, and one of my favorite books was Reason To Believe by R. C. Sproul. These guys and some others helped me foster my early faith, but as I have gotten older I have moved away from their perspectives and been fostered by others.
I don’t know what it should look like, but there must be a place where we acknowledge and thank those who played a role in our faith journey even though we may now disagree with them partially or completely. We all learn something from the various church communities, denominations, etc. that we are a part of, and though we may drift from them they are still a part of our history. And though we may disagree, all of us as Christians still must find a way to work together.
So at the same time, I believe that I can both be thankful for the roles that Sproul, MacArthur and others played in the development of my early faith, but I can also disagree with them and the stances they take.
I believe that as Christians we often use very exclusionary language the helps us determine whether or not someone is in the same “camp” or “circle” as us. If they are not, then they become “those” people over there, or those “pagan” or “non-Christians” over there. And most often we use our fine pointed theological doctrine to exclude multitudes of people that I believe Christ wants us to embrace. There are many excluded and marginalized people in our church communities, such as women, the poor, handicapped, minority groups, etc., etc.
I reject exclusion because the prophets, evangelists, and apostles tell me that this is a wrong way to treat human beings, any human being, anywhere, and I am persuaded to have good reasons to believe them.
Miroslav Volf in Exclusion and Embrace