Thursday, July 21, 2011

MacArthur on the Young, Restless, and Reformed

John MacArthur's first in a series of posts on the YRR movement:
I’m very glad for most of what this movement represents. It seems to be a more biblically-oriented, gospel-centered, theologically-grounded approach to Christian discipleship than this generation’s parents typically favored—and that is most certainly to be applauded.

YRRs have by and large eschewed the selfishness and shallowness (though not all the pragmatism) of seeker-sensitive religion. They are generally aware of the dangers posed by postmodernity, political correctness, and moral relativism (even if they don’t always approach such dangers with sufficient caution). And while they sometimes seem to struggle to show discernment, they do seem to understand that truth is different from falsehood; sound doctrine is opposed to heresy; and true faith distinct from mere religious pretense.

It is overall a positive development and a trend to be encouraged—but the YRR movement as it is shaping up also needs to face up to some fairly serious problems and potential pitfalls. So I have some words of encouragement and counsel for YRRs, and I want to take a few days here at the blog to write to them about their movement, its influences, some hazards that lie ahead, some tendencies to avoid, and some qualities to cultivate. (A few men on our staff will also join the discussion with a few thoughts of their own.)

Our chief concerns have to do with immaturity, instability, and inconsistency in the YRR movement. It is clear from Scripture, of course, that people who are young need to aim for maturity (2 Peter 3:18; Ephesians 4:13; Hebrews 5:12-14)—not perpetual adolescence. Scripture likewise makes clear that it’s better to be “like a tree planted by streams of water” (Psalm 1:3) than to be constantly restless. And one cannot be genuinely “Reformed” and deliberately worldly at the same time. The two things are inconsistent and incompatible. To embrace the world’s fashions and values—even under the guise of being “missional”—is to make oneself God’s enemy (James 4:4). Many supposed reformations have faltered on that rock.

No one is truly Reformed who is not constantly reforming.

In all candor, some of the ideas YRRs seem most obsessed with—starting with their standard methods for reaching the unchurched and “redeeming culture”—seem to be holdovers from the pragmatism that dominated their parents’ generation. If we profess theology that recognizes and honors the sovereignty, majesty, and holiness of God, our practice ought to be consistent with that.

It is a wonderful thing to come to grips with the doctrines of grace, and it is a liberating realization when we acknowledge the impotence of the human will. But embracing those truths is merely an initial step toward authentic reformation. We still have a lot of reforming to do.

And let’s face it: the besetting sin of young Calvinists is a brash failure to come to grips with that reality.

I’ll elaborate more on these points in the days to come.

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