1 Corinthians 14:20 “Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.”
Recently I’ve been following along with the ‘open letters’ that Dr. John MacArthur has been posting on his blog at www.gty.org/blog written to the Young, Restless, and Reformed crowd that is a growing movement in today’s Church. Specifically, these letters are aimed at the Young and Restless of the Reformed crowd as noted in the post Grow Up, Settle Down, and Keep Reforming and Grow up Advice for YRR’s Part 2 in which Dr. MacArthur exhorts members of this movement to “grow up” and “settle down”. If you know little of this movement or haven’t read any of MacArthur’s posts, I would encourage you to do so. For more on YRR, see Young, Restless, and Reformed from Christianity Today and TIME Magazine’s 10 Ideas Changing the World Right Now 2009 : New Calvinism
Because the “Reformed” label has been gaining much ground, it opens itself up to branding and anyone wishing to have a successful ministry is going to try and latch onto what’s “hot”, much like Simon the magician did in Acts 8:9-25. Likewise, those in the YRR movement generally look for any pastor/teacher/author who ascribes to Calvinism/Doctrines of Grace/TULIP/5-points and assumes that they are ok. As such, free passes are given to anyone who says their favorite flower is the TUILIP and here is where the crack in the foundation of this movement can be found.
Much of the content of MacArthur’s letters have been focused on the “hipster” pastors who, in an attempt to be relevant and cool, have adopted younger/hipper clothing, rhetoric, explicit sexual language, and lifestyle choices such as video games, music, mixed martial arts, movies, and in the latest post, beer drinking. Instead of bringing members of the YRR up to a mature Christian level, many of these pastor/leaders are stooping down to make theology more cool or relevant. And from a man-centered perspective it’s working, albeit through pragmatic methods. What will happen, and perhaps the thesis of MacArthur’s posts, is that the YRR movement will produce a lot of theologically “big-headed” Christians who have no idea what it means to live a godly Christian life, to lead their family in worship, men who lack biblical discernment and wisdom, and who are unable to think biblically without the assistance of the hip/cool mega-pastor.
In reality this movement will only grow and succeed if two courses of action are followed. First, as MacArthur rightly encourages, the YRR need to mature in Christ. This means discernment, wisdom, holiness, et.al. It does no good to have all the theological “t’s” crossed and “i’s” dotted if godly living is abandoned. Secondly, the leaders of this movement need start exhibiting their own maturity; much like Pastor MacArthur has done during his 40+ year long ministry. Rather than standing on stage in tennis shoes and an Affliction T-shirt expositing Song of Solomon like a steamy romance novel, some of these pastor’s need to start displaying holiness and godliness in their own lives and then begin modeling that for the YRR. It’s difficult to take a pastor seriously if they’ve spent more time on maintaining a cool image than on sermon preparation which is most likely filled with pop-culture references such as Scarface or Chuck Liddell instead of more conservative anecdotes.
Dr. MacArthur is shining the light where it needs to be shone most and is not limiting his scope to the leaders, but instead is a much needed call to maturity for everyone involved in the Young, Restless, and Reformed movement.
Mature, Godly, and Reformed is the bedrock on which the Reformation was laid in the 16th century. If the YRR has any hope of a modern day reformation, it needs to heed Dr. MacArthur’s words and begin to apply them immediately.