The Gospel Coalition has revamped their cringe to end the year strong. The massive behemoth Evangelical website published its version of a top ten theology stories list, written by Collin Hansen, their Editor-In-Chief. This top ten was an amalgamation of global events with either ill or poorly defined implications for the church.
10. What’s next after liberalism?
Trans momentum seemed to slow this year as the moral foundations shifted on fairness (with women’s sports threatened) and harm (with women endangered by biological men in prisons and domestic violence shelters). Even so, given how trans arguments threaten the building blocks of life, it’s no coincidence that political debates now challenge the assumption that liberalism preserves social stability.
The issue of transgenderism should be much higher on this list than 10, in some capacity.
9. No slack seen in onslaught of mass shootings.
So far Christians haven’t mustered any unified response to the epidemic of violence. Debates over gun control may help, but the spiritual problems seem to run deeper than the American political system can reach.
America is seeing an spike in crime but The Gospel Coalition focused solely on mass shootings. I think this is a mistake on their part when a convincing argument could have been made for increasing violent crime. As written, this is not higher on the list than transgenderism which is being shoved in people’s faces daily. This looks like an attempt to encourage Christians to compromise on gun rights or a lament that they have not.
8. SBC report reveals top-level abuse cover-up.
It’s bad news when top church leaders spent nearly two decades covering up reports of child molesters and other abusers.
Collin Hansen lies here about the contents of the Sex Abuse Task Force Report which focuses on Jennifer Lyell and not child molesters. In fact there were no previously unknown child molesters uncovered in this report. Only Johnny Hunt, who was accused of sexual assault in the report, not sex abuse. Guidepost Solutions, the publisher of the report is currently being sued for defamation.
7. Queen Elizabeth II dies.
The absence of her leadership reminds us of the weakening of Christianity in the United Kingdom and affiliated nations in the last 70 years. Her pious example didn’t arrest that decline, of course. We’ve yet to discover the breakthrough for reaching the post-Christian world that emerged during her lifetime.
Aside from being pious and proper, she was not a defender of the faith. And female headship in the church is not a good thing either. This is not a top ten issue.
6. Pastors blamed in the ongoing reckoning for 2020.
Two years later we’re still sifting through the political, racial, and scientific wreckage of 2020. Among Christians, pastors are taking more than their fair share of the blame from politically motivated pundits. It doesn’t help that too many high-profile pastors earned that disrepute with their spiritual abuse. We know how to train pastors in exegesis and systematic theology. We need to ensure they know how to lead with conviction amid opposition and shepherd their flocks without domineering.
The Gospel Coalition is trying to save face from the tyranny they supported the last two and a half years. Collin Hansen, specifically, authored a book with Jonathan Leeman on the importance of church gathering in 2021, when it was safe to do so. When it wasn’t safe, they were peddling Branch Covidian lies. They are the baddies, and they deserve worse than what blowback they’ve received.
5. Two Christian colleges abandon biblical ethics.
The story at Calvin, at least, might not be finished, as younger leaders in the Christian Reformed Church reaffirmed biblical ethics this summer.
Already liberal colleges getting even more liberal. Not a shock. Not a top ten story. Collin Hansen lies about the Christian Reformed Church as well.
4. Dobbs decision allows abortion bans for first time in nearly 50 years.
How is this issue only 4. This is a top two issue, minimum.
3. Iran erupts in revolution.
But today’s Iran has changed in one significant way: no evangelical movement has been growing faster in recent years. Even though these Christians don’t know whether they should join the protests, they pray for justice and better government. We probably won’t know until 2023 or beyond whether the church in Iran will enjoy greater religious freedom. Regardless, God hasn’t been hindered thus far by even this repressive regime.
If Iranian Christians have no clear response or position on the protests, then it is not a top ten issue. How is this bigger than Dobbs?
2. China reverts to authoritarianism on brink of war with Taiwan.
Regardless, China’s Zero-COVID policy has already strengthened an authoritarian government determined to rule every aspect of life. Recent protests indicate, however, that the government may have finally overreached. While the Chinese church has grown and matured, Xi’s regime has taken a heavy toll. Xi’s further consolidation of power, on display at October’s Communist Party Congress, suggests we’ll continue to learn from Chinese pastors and their theology of suffering.
China did not come close to invading Taiwan. Perhaps this is because of internal issues. But it appears the Chinese have gone full Branch Covidian, and this is more than just a power play.
1. Russia invades Ukraine in first major land war in Europe since World War II.
Theological implications emerged immediately when Russia invaded neighboring Ukraine on February 24. Seminary presidents in other post-Soviet states joined their Ukrainian brothers in denouncing the Russian attack. Some church leaders who stayed to serve paid the highest price. Russian President Vladimir Putin justified the invasion in part by appealing to the supposed destruction of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. But that church body has since disaffiliated from Moscow after Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill blessed the war. Western support for Ukraine so far has been strong, wavering only somewhat as energy-driven inflation imperils the global economy. As is so often the case in Eastern Europe, winter will be a war of wills.
The number one theology story of the year is a struggle between two Eastern Orthodox denominations. This is an unconvincing attempt to turn a major historical event into an equally major theological event. He makes no mention of Zelensky targeting Ukrainian churches, either. If anything, the theological issue here is we are seeing Big Eva sabre rattling akin to World War 1.
Overall this is an out of touch list put together by The Gospel Coalition. I’d expect nothing more.