Audience: primarily Christians, especially those who are reformed.
Summary/why you should read this: the problem is a hermeneutic that allows for reinterpretation of New Testament passages (which leads to reinterpretation of OT). While error doesn’t look bad, or is unnoticeable on a case by case basis, over time it has a cumulative effect. This affects sanctification and justification. The modern hermeneutic confuses the two, and distorts the gospel).
Dalrock writes in his recent article:
Christianity teaches that marriage is what makes sex moral (marriage is sanctifying), and that marriage is the moral place for sex and romantic love. Courtly love twisted this and taught that romantic love is what sanctifies sex, and that adultery is the only right place for romantic love. Christianity teaches that a wife should submit to her husband with fear and reverence. Courtly love taught that a man should submit to another man’s wife with fear and reference. This is, in a word, evil, and the wreckage of this evil thinking is all around us.
It is worth noting that over the centuries the idea has been morphed, until the idea of courtly love was moved (to some extent) from adultery into marriage. If anything this only completed the corruption of Christian marriage. It also is the logical basis for no fault divorce, as a noted Puritan poet realized back in the 1600s. With this newly morphed version of the disease, where Christianity teaches that it is immoral for a husband or wife to deny the other sex, modern Christians now believe that it is immoral for a wife to have sex with her husband if she isn’t in the thrall of sexual desire (which is difficult to distinguish from romantic love).(emphasis added)
Dalrock’s post makes several assertions about the Christian position. These are true, and in accordance with Biblical Christianity. The bold portion is the modern evangelical position, which I will refer to as the Deviant Position.
Deviant Christianity perverts biblical marriage by reinterpreting new testament passages on matters such as:
- women working at home
- women raising children (and family planning)
- women respecting and submitting to their husbands
- the accountability of women for their own sin (modern teaching excuses their behavior and blame-shifts)
- spousal separation
- a father’s authority (and natural/spiritual coverings)
- sex within a marriage
- character and traits of a good spouse
More importantly, modern deviant christianity takes passages on sanctification out of context, placing all of the burden of a relationship on the husband. (I will have to discuss this in-depth in the future, but I encourage all to read into traditional beliefs on justification and sanctification). Passages such as Ephesians 5:25 are taken out of context: rather than read the entire paragraph, a reinterpretation of vs 25-28 puts the husband of a wife as the focus, not Christ’s relationship with the Church.
Dalrock is correct about the modern evangelical deviancy. He has been focusing on this point for quite some time (read all of his articles going after Wilson, Warhorn, and certain marriage-ministries). His posts have struck a deep nerve in some major neo-reformed circles, as he exposes false teaching on the institution of marriage. Dalrock is over the target, but he is not yet hitting the bulls-eye.
Modern American Christians do not have discernment. This is due to the fact we do not read our Bibles, and we rely on other books and pastors to entertaint us. Whatever happened to American Christianity, its effect is Deviant Christianity.
Discernment is not knowing the difference between right and wrong. It is knowing the difference between right and almost right.Charles Spurgeon.
While the quote above discusses pernicious false-teachings, there exists a myth that certain teachers who err only did so on one (or a few) subjects. For example, John Stott is an author who is recommended reading for beginning Christians, despite the fact he taught the false doctrine of annihiliationism (the souls of those in hell are extinguished, as opposed to eternal punishment). I am confident the reader can determine how this one doctrine alone would affect the rest of the Gospel.
My point is two-fold:
1) error, regardless of degree, has a deep-seated root; and
2) an error on one doctrine likely means there are errors elsewhere. As with a complex medical condition, the symptoms can guide you to the cause, but are not the sole problem.
Causal Relationship Between Error and Courtly Love in Protestantism
(This discussion should be limited to Protestantism as the Roman Catholic Church has always, and incorrectly, placed Mary on pedestal).
There are several basic rules of establishing cause-effect relationships:
- Temporal precedence: the cause has to occur before the effect. Is there a relationship between
- Covariation of cause and effect: is there a relationship between the independent variable and dependent variable?
- Non-spuriousness: alternative explanations for the observed relationship between two variables must be ruled out.
As noted before, there is Biblical Christianity, and then there is the false version that has invaded our churches (Deviant Christianity). We know that at some point in time something/s happened, which led us to where we are today. Our search is for what happened, when, and by whom.
In my post on John Robbin’s essay The Church Effeminate, I discussed three of his accusations about when the feminization of the church began. In the mid 1800’s, three movements emerged:
- Sunday school movement
- deaconess movement
- female missionary movement.
That still is not sufficient to explain more recent shifts in church practice (as in since the 1950’s). The common trope is that feminism in the 50’s and 60’s is at fault. Even then, you would have to view feminism in the church as the effect.
Who Is the Cause?
When it comes to the personalities behind the effect, individuals are both the cause and effect (some of these false teachers acted on their own initiative, others followed down the path of earlier heretics).
Lets examine the characters. In modern evangelicalism/Protestantism, the big names are Focus on the Family, Family Life, Tim Keller, Matt Chandler, John Piper, everyone else at The Gospel Coalition, T4G, John Macarthur, CJ Mahaney, Ligon Duncan, Phil Johnson, Douglas Wilson, the Bayly family, Warhorn, Al Mohler, RC Sproul, Russell Moore, Paul Washer, Rick Warren, etc.
Literally everyone on this list knows each other, and is connected formally with each other (If you take out Warhorn and Focus, everyone has pretty much shared the stage with everyone else on the list at some point in time). Oh and they all make a ton of money, and some of the bigger names on this list made their ministries family enterprises.
These are the people that are either closeted egalitarians, or die-hard Complementarian compromisers (complementarianism cedes biblical grounds). With the exception of Wilson and Bayly, who are quasi-presbyterians, these are people in the Baptist tradition, although their theologies differ greatly.
Some may see this list of men and think “dont they all disagree on major points of doctrine?” Yes, they do. Some have even written statements declaring the theology of others as in error. Yet they still share the stage with each other. That should be a massive red flag, and warrants more investigation by Christians.
What Is the Cause
The Who and What can be grouped together. By “what” I mean the theological path taken to arrive at deviant christianity.
All of the men listed above can be classified as in alignment with one or more of the following positions:
- New Calvinism/Young Reformed Restless/ Lordship Salvationists. They follow Abraham Kuyper
- New Perspectives on Paul (See NT Wright)
- Federal Vision Theology (Wilson & Friends, CREC)
They all consider themselves as some shade of “calvinist,” and through their para-ministries, they form Big Calvinism, Inc. Some of the positions/teachers overlap on a case-by-case basis (NT Wright is a go-to for federal visionists). They all redefine and confuse the doctrines of Justification and Sanctification. That never ends well.
At some point in the future, I want to address each position in-depth. The men and groups behind these doctrines are a cancer on the reformed world. It is important to note that all three positions share a theological root through the hermeneutic and doctrines of Abraham Kuyper and Cornelius Van Til (who is taught at Masters, various presbyterian seminaries, in the CREC, etc.).
The fight against Van Til was waged for decades in presbyterian denominations. Those who were in error were never disciplined (the PCA and OPC pretty much never prosecute heretics in their ranks). Over time, the deviant positions took over seminaries and general assemblies/synods.
Alternative Explanations to Explain the Effect of Deviant Christianity
Are there any alternative explanations as to why all of these institutions and men share beliefs that deviate from Biblical Christianity? It is possible.
- Perhaps all came out of varying backgrounds, acting independently, and through a false hermeneutic arrived at the same conclusions.
- Perhaps they all caved to the culture, in order to remain relevant and wealthy?
- Maybe they all actually believe in traditional Biblical Christianity, but are just confused about definitions, and are ambiguous out of misfortune.
- I am wrong when I take relevant biblical passages at face value.
I dont think the alternative explanations listed are plausible. Granted, there could be more out there – I will leave it to the comments section).
These men all teach doctrines that contradict each other to the point they are required to confront, rebuke, and separate from the other. Still, they do not. Instead, these men are all deeply tied to one another, and cooperate with each other on a regular basis. This basic act of disobedience regarding their basic duty as teachers/elders in the church at large should be a warning equivalent to an air raid siren.