Much of the infighting in the church seems to center around the issue of applied theology. How then is a Christian supposed to live, rather than what does the Bible teach, not that these questions are mutually exclusive. And for a while social media has fueled a lot of naval gazing debates, debates I partake in because its fun. However, there comes a time where theological tribes must band together for a mission. Yet there are those, namely G3 Ministries, who wish to make question about Christian ethics a question of theology. Yes the two go hand in hand, but most people are not concerned with debating the merits of credobaptism or postmillennialism.
And much of what inhibits conversation on practical application is ecclessiocentric view on life. The laymen believers are faithful members of their local churches, but their local churches are not their entire lives. They have families to maintain, businesses to run, and duties as citizens of the United States.
The last few years have forced many believers to overlook secondary doctrinal differences in favor of pastors who wear watches because not everybody knows what time it is. The amount of church hopping since 2020 is evidence of this, and it is no easy task to find a faithful church in many parts of the country.
Moreover, the debate surrounding the Great Sort, the idea that Christians should move to red states, is one where faithful pastors condemn laity for seeking a better life. Living in Maryland, I know life is easier 40 minutes in any direction. However the biggest impediment to the Great Sort is not the merits of the arguments against it presented by Michael O’Fallon and co. Rather, the Federal Reserve’s reckless monetary policy has made moving far more expensive now than merely two years ago. The Great Sort is merely one practical application that has had a boatload of church history and biblical precedent to glean from in our situations.
Additionally there is the debate surrounding topical and expository preaching which might undergird this shift away from navel gazing. Some pastors use expository preaching as an excuse to not address modern issues, because it’s not in the text. In reality, each has its place. One could hardly call Peter’s sermon expository. However, expository preaching can touch on major issues. My pastor does this every week.
Pastors like Andy (and Jolly, Aniol, Strachan, etc) and are why families are leaving gospel-centric/TMS/G3 adjacent churches in favor of Kuyperian/postmil/expository & application preaching churches.— Lindsey: Hillbilly Homemaker (@ohmydepravity) September 9, 2023
ASK ME HOW I KNOW. https://t.co/1qLclcMXJt
I think there’s something to this, just as there is something driving the Mark Driscoll comeback. No one is going to Driscoll for theology. They go for practical application. In the reverse extreme, it is foolish to go to G3 Ministries for practical application because they are pietists. Men like Virgil Walker, Andy Woodard give the impression life revolves around the local church. And when that’s what you think, one rabbit hole in which it leads is a compulsion to use theology as a tool to slander, like conflating Christian Nationalism with postmillennial eschatology because you don’t understand politics.
I see the hour is too great to focus on hashing out infant baptism, however important, because the stakes are too high to make enemies on secondary issues. Thus, I believe the churches that will thrive the most are the churches that can bring practical application alongside robust theology, rather than merely robust theology. Robust theology didn’t cut it in 2020, and many saw through it and have since moved on to new churches.
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