"Unity without verity is no better than conspiracy." - John Trapp

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

More PCRT 2007

One of the more interesting sessions at the PCRT-Grand Rapids was Dr. Carson's seminar on Recent Undermining of the Doctrine of Scripture. I think a number of people had ideas about what Dr. Carson was going to address in this session. In fact, when some questions about "emerging" churches were read and discussed during the morning Q&A session, one of the other speakers (Dr. Dever?) mentioned that Dr. Carson was probably covering material from his seminar. Dr. Carson's response was that he had not even touched on the seminar material.

Sure enough, he really had not. In the seminar, he noted four trends that are undermining Scripture and its authority.

1) An alarming rise in Biblical illiteracy
2) A cultural plasticity
3) A theological plasticity
4) A growing cultural and philosophical antagonism to Christianity in general and "evangelicals" in particular

Of these, I would say that he emphasized the first, in no small part by putting it first. This puts a significant portion of the blame for what is happening relating to the Scriptures on the shoulders of the church. The more I have thought about it, the more I believe this is a very important point. Many have lamented the fact that Biblical exegesis is a rare jewel in our churches. We are instead ministering moral lessons, sometimes based on a Bible verse or passage. But, Dr. Carson noted, people are not being taught the Scriptures. He gave some rather startling examples of this increase in Biblical illiteracy. If the church does not take the Bible seriously, how can we expect that those outside the church will?

Of course, they will not. This is compounded by the cultural plasticity that makes it difficult to speak out on issues on which the Bible speaks. The old tolerance said, "I may detest what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." The new tolerance says, "You don't have the right to say anyone is wrong." Therefore, for Christians to say certain behaviors are sin is no longer accepted. As a personal sidenote here (which Dr. Carson may or may not agree with; I simply do not remember him addressing this), in the past we have tended to go to far as Christians and shunned the lost who did not live as we live. The Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 that we cannot escape associating with those outside. Jesus' model is that we should associate with them, but without participating in their sin. But I digress.

Add to these a theological plasticity, which is stressing the boundaries of what it means to be an evangelical. One key example Dr. Carson gave here was the New Perspective school (I think he also mentioned the "Open" view of God's foreknowledge). He noted that the New Perspective paints a compelling picture of the Bible's main story, but it does so leaving out some critical elements, primarily God's just wrath against sin.

During the final point about the growing antagonism, Dr. Carson stated that in many cases the dislike of self-professed evangelicals was deeper than the old dislike of "fundamentalists."

I would highly recommend this session for those who are able to purchase either the MP3 or other version from the Alliance website (once it is available). I would also recommend the others, but if you can only get one, this is it. If you could get just one more, while Dr. Carson's other sessions were good, as were Dr. Duncan's and Dr. Ryken's, I would recommend Dr. Dever's session on "The Mighty Word."

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.


Blogger Chris said...

Dr. Carson is a phenomenal speaker, to be sure. And I would tend to agree wholeheartedly with what you said regarding our tendency to shun the world for not living as though they were Christians.

I would add to this that a tolerance of unrepentant sin in our churches is another alarming trend. It sort of flows out of the points that Dr. Carson mentioned, in that pastors are often as biblically illiterate as their members are, which is intolerable, in my opinion.

Good post. I'm looking forward to getting a copy of the PCRT CD set. :)

11:41 AM EDT  
Blogger Even So... said...

all I can say is I agree...

1:31 PM EDT  
Blogger Shiloh Guy said...

I found you over at Craver's blog and read your comment and so came to Unity without Verity.

So you came up to my neighborhood last weekend? The PCRT is held right down the road from my house. I'm sorry I missed this year but I was there last year and almost every year when it was in Chicago and Wheaton.

I also see you have Desiring God linked in your sidebar. Did you by any chance see John's article on Monday entitled, "The Morning I Heard the Voice of God?" It is an excellent comment on the power of the word of God.

In case you didn't see it, here's the link: http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/TasteAndSee/ByDate/2007/2021_The_Morning_I_Heard_the_Voice_of_God

Sorry. I don't know how to make real links, just cut and paste links!

Thanks for your comments on PCRT. I wish I could have met you there!

Dave Moorhead

10:09 AM EDT  
Blogger Craver Vii said...

Illiteracy) I encourage my family to each read something from the Bible every day. This morning, as I walked out the door, my eight year old smacked his forehead, saying “I didn’t read the Bible yesterday.” I told him not to dwell on it. Yesterday’s gone and he can’t do anything about the past, but I’ll bet the devil would be happy if he didn’t read anything again today.

Plasticity) Where I go, I feel like I am seeing more offenses committed in the name of authenticity. Whether it’s an issue of self-control (conservatives) or the compromising of Truth (liberals). (Generally speaking, of course.)

Antagonism) The world hates our Lord, and when conflict arises (not due to our sinfulness, but) worldview polarization, we can find hope on that side of the coin. At least when we live out authentic, Biblical Christianity, we will be persecuted for the right reasons, and that, according to Peter, is a cause for rejoicing.

10:24 AM EDT  
Blogger Taliesin said...


Thanks for stopping by. This was only the second time I've been in Grand Rapids. The first was several years ago for a Ligonier conference with RC and John Piper. This years PRCT was edifying (for me at least); sorry you didn't make it.

I listened to the audio for Piper's message. I like the way he can hook you with a title or an introduction, then redirect you to something you weren't expecting. It helps (again, me at least) to see things fresh.

Chris, I agree on Carson. The more I hear him speak, the more I want to hear (as with Piper, etc.). One other comment at the conference I whole heartedly agree with is how blessed we are to be able to listen to so many good expositors and preachers without having to travel great distances. FYI: The Alliance is apparently planning to expand their MP3 offerings.

Craver, Amen.

12:37 PM EDT  
Blogger Chris said...

HOODY HOO for MP3's and Internet Radio broadcasts. :)

The Alliance rocks. :)

1:02 PM EDT  

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