The great pastor Joe Morecraft the III, whom I recently saw at the Bahnsen Conference, has released a letter of warning to his congregation and the community at large, warning us to stay away from certain books, as they’re filled with error and might lead us astray. Those selected are “especially poisonous and flawed” apparently.
Notice the language, “poisonous” and “flawed” (said with precious few supporting examples).
His letter is written, not to thinking, educated adults, but to children. And the Reformed community laps it up like so much milk from the tit of a prophet (err, I mean: if prophets gave milk…from their holy teets, I guess? … look, don’t focus on my illustrations)! No wonder men are leaving Christianity. When an overweight, elderly “pastor” with no real stake in the functioning productivity or survival of the community, lectures them about what reading material they should and shouldn’t peruse, and even suggests they run from dangerous ideals faster than blacks from a “help wanted” sign, it’s to be expected that men will lose interest (or even laugh in derision – as I’m doing with this blog).
Add to all this, the phony, pseudo-emotional, “pastor voice”, offered to congregants while seemingly on the verge of uncontrollable sobbing, is there any wonder American protestantism is in dire straights? (To be fair, Morecraft seldom uses soft, pseudo-holy tones, but he does have them in his back pocket for occasional use. And despite his moderation, the tears are a’flowin’ from Reformed pulpits across America).
This feminized, baby-talk Christianity is so parochial (or, should I say “provincial”?) …so, “stand-offish” or “ghettoish” in its presentation, that one wonders at the irony of how, especially in Pastor Morecraft’s case, he can preach a “postmillennialist” eschatology (which encourages interaction with the toughest worldly problems) while speaking to his congregants like they’re children, with delicate little pallets, who can’t take the rhetorical pressure from outsiders.
Dear Pastor Morecraft, why not set loose your dogs of war on Michael Horton? God knows Horton deserves it. Let at him! Sic em! And if your dogs can’t take the heat, then, as we say in the South, they need to stay on the porch.
And speaking of dogs … (I know, I know, the title of this blog is cat-friendly – we’ll get to the felines in a moment) … I’ve thought of a perfect, Southern-esque analogy for the entire Morecraft fiasco:
When I was young, my neighborhood was considered rural. Everyone let their dogs roam free. True, this required us to step lightly when walking through our yard, especially if barefoot; still, it lead to far less barking, and far happier k-9s. We didn’t need to pen up or leash our animals; they knew their dominion, and perhaps, not surprisingly, the boundaries of their respected territory reflected, almost to the inch, the property lines on the map in the county court house. The dogs knew what property was theirs, almost as well as us humans!
But this changed in the last ten years. I came home from the military to discover a grown up neighborhood, shifting city limits, and new leash laws. Now, penned up dogs are so humiliated, they bark the night away, have no idea what property is theirs, and run far and wild if they ever manage to escape.
I mention all this because I think the exact same is true of a church congregation. If pastors would treat their flock with respect, like we used to treat our dogs, then the flock would naturally gravitate towards home, be reluctant to leave it, and defend it passionately.
When pastors (like Morecraft), keep a short leash, it’s because they don’t trust their flock to know where home is. They think the flock will go running off into the wilds, and never return. But, as with the poor dogs, the leashing and confinement (in this case: the provincialism and “stand-offishness” of the church community) is far more likely to springboard any thinking member out of the “pale” and into the dark wilds of free thought.
I don’t want to make it seem like this is solely a problem with pastor Morecraft either.
Just this week, I’ve been damned to Hell (twice in one day!) by these pseudo-pious, soft-toned, Reformed Christians, who see any break in their pale as a vicious attack on their presumed authority.
The first condemnation came because I publicly defended C.S. Lewis from a particularly nasty puritan who damned poor Clive Staples to hell based on nothing more than a few cherry-picked citations, taken out of context, and applied disingenuously.
“I want to burn in whatever Hell Lewis and Tolkien are in”, I proclaimed, and received my one-way ticket immediately after.
“Aslan”, it seems, is a pagan image of Christ; one to be rejected in favor of the provincial, frightened little mouser of-a-Christ, who mews and rawrs along with his zealous, puritanical, worshipers.
Well, I’m sorry … I’ll take the roar of Aslan over the howls of the purtans any day.