If you follow AD Robles, you may recall that he has predicted that Big Eva is preparing to retreat from social media. And it turns out he may be right. 9Marks is sounding the horn of what may be an organized withdrawal from social media on the part of Big Eva. But so far the sound of retreat seems feigned. Jonathan Leeman while not exiting social media has made it clear anyone who disagrees with him is not actually welcome to discuss disagreements. He made an announcement on his update to his Twitter bio.
But Greg Gilbert went full Big Eva with his “magnum opus” article (his actual words) The article titled “How to Hold Your Tongue About Politics And Thereby Not Split Your Church Over Things the Bible Doesn’t Talk About: AN ADDENDUM” calls for Christians, most specifically pastors, to steer clear of social media.
1. Stay off social media. Just stay off.
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, All of Them—are cesspools of bad-faith, angry, unedifying screaming when it comes to political exchanges.
This comes after Big Eva has been taking a beating on social media for very theologically unsound posts. To use a recent example, The Gospel Coalition’s recent announcement of their Critical Race Theory podcast got panned on social media. Jonathan Leeman regularly gets owned on social media by grassroots Evangelicals.
The rest of Gilbert’s paragraph on social media reads as a projection of his ineffectiveness in using these platforms. In contrast, Grassroots Evangelicals have been quite effective on social media educating the laity about the dangers of Critical Theory that Big Eva promotes. They know this and this is why they write articles like Greg Gilbert is writing. But Greg Gilbert is a massive hypocrite. Having written an article dissuading pastors from using social media, he is using social media to promote his article and has not yet deleted his account. So perhaps it’s a “suggestion for thee but not me” which is fraudulent. Gilbert’s continues to point to Scripture which I agree with his arguments there. But he follows it up with a very weak and unauthoritative view of Scripture.
The fact is, the Bible lays down a ton of clear, non-negotiable principles for which it’s not clear at all what specific policy would be the exact best way to pursue to uphold those principles.
So, for example, the Bible speaks clearly to the truth that unborn babies are made in God’s image. But what’s the best specific policy prescription to save unborn lives? Is it appointing justices to the Supreme Court, or changing laws, or creating certain economic incentives and safety nets? Or is it all that?
The Bible prescribes capital punishment for those who shed innocent blood (Genesis 9:6). We also see the principle of lex talliones applied to harming an unborn child in Exodus.
“When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman’s husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.Exodus 21:22-25 ESV
The Bible is very clear on how we should handle abortion. Greg Gilbert instead wants to obfuscate this issue as if things like free birth control is a legitimate solution to abortion for Christians to consider. Now there are different methods of going about the solution that the Bible prescribes, but Gilbert grants legitimacy to solutions with no intentions of striving for Biblical Justice. Gilbert continues:
Similarly, the Bible speaks clearly to the truths that God created and values ethnic and cultural diversity. It speaks clearly to the fact that he hates oppression. But what’s the best specific policy prescription to address racial tensions in America? Is it justice system reform, or the payment of reparations, or something else entirely?
I’m not going to assume that Gilbert is equating “racial tensions” with abortion, but he is giving a nod to legitimize the premises of Social Justice Gospel preachers. But the major problem here is that presupposes that the Bible speaks vaguely about how we should handle political issues and that is a reductive view of Scripture. But it gets worse.
So what the nation lacks right now—and what it desperately needs, this author said—are leaders who, instead of fleeing to the edges, will seek to “hold the center”—that is, who will say what is true regardless of whether it helps or hurts a particular political cause.
That author is exactly right, and part of the charge God gives to pastors is to “hold the center” in just that way. Again, that doesn’t mean always being silent, it doesn’t entail a hard-core “spirituality of the church” position, and it doesn’t mean simply picking the middle-of-the-road, milquetoast compromise position on every question. What it means is fighting the temptation to the run to the extremes, and learning to speak truth according to the Word wherever you see it and in every direction. Say what’s true on this side of the conversation, say what’s true on that side, and say what’s true that neither side is saying.
The author in reference, as well as Gilbert, have no grasp of the political situation. The Bible prescribes extreme positions such as lex talliones as a means of dealing with punishing abortion. Most pro-lifers treat mothers who murder their unborn as victims. How does one biblically “hold the center” on abortion? Moreover, the socialist left is running to extreme positions. California is passing laws to soften the penalty for homosexual pederasty. What does it mean to hold the center on this issue? Perhaps a reason why Gilbert is “lamenting” about the lack of political figures “holding the center” is because this is an impossible task. Jesus did not “hold the center” in his day. He stayed on mission. He talks about separating the sheep from the goats. Jesus does not necessarily model a third way between the Pharisees and the Sadducees. There is not a single Sadducee that receives salvation in the Bible. Jesus does not say “Well the Sadducees are right about some things and the Pharisees others.” He instead schools the Pharisees on the beliefs that they say they care about.
It is also worth asking Gilbert Pilate’s famous question, “What is truth?” Gilbert calls for someone to speak “truth” and presupposes that this would be a middle ground position between two sides. And he’s wrong.
Part of your charge as a pastor is to avoid the temptation to run to one extreme and lob rhetorical grenades at the other side. Rather, commit to standing in the center of the chaos—planting your feet on the Word of God—and speak truth wherever you see it.
Once again he presupposes that the standing firm on the Bible will land you in between two extremes on any major issue, and the truth is it will usually land you to the right of the Republican Party. For the Republican Party is not opposed to income tax (1 Samuel 8:15), nor is it opposed to welfare. Historically speaking, America existed for a hundred years or so without a political left wing in the same way that several countries presently exist without a right wing in politics like the France, Brazil, the UK and most if not all of its commonwealths. The idea that standing firm in Scripture will enable you to hold the center speaks of one who does not understand politics and has a reductive view on the authority to influence our views on politics.
Remember where your authority lies. Remember your charge. The fact is, you’re not a politician, you’re not a pundit, you’re not a get-out-the-vote lackey for a political party, you’re not a social media “influencer,” whatever that is. You’re a herald of the King of Heaven, and as such, you hold a special authority and charge to speak for him.
Gilbert concludes by reminding pastors of their calling, that they are called to preach the Word of God not shill for political parties. And that part is true. But pastors are not called to be neutral on politics. The calling of pastors is not some political “Night’s Watch” and should not entail soothing the conscience of people who vote for evil policies.
In conclusion, 9Marks is trying to neuter Christians politically as well as save face from all the scrutiny that Big Eva is receiving. This article is a scam, a scam to get Christians off of social media so they don’t see Jonathan Leeman get owned, a scam to sooth consciences of Joe Biden voters, a scam that points to Scripture in one paragraph while obfuscating it in the next.