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On the PCA’s ‘Tim Keller Problem’ - Jack Meador (Mere Orthodoxy)
What this means is that young Presbyterian pastors, many of whom are on
university campuses with RUF or working in gentrifying urban neighborhoods,
face enormous class-based pressure to conform to certain progressive
cultural norms. These pressures make themselves felt in a variety of ways.
First, there is a strong and classic American pull toward being dismissive
of the past, toward what is established, and to embrace what is new. This
temptation exerts an even stronger pull than normal on many young PCA
pastors because many younger pastors and RUF guys have strong
entrepreneurial tendencies. While this is often a very good thing—indeed,
it’s what makes it possible for them to succeed as church planters and RUF
pastors—this same trait can make them naturally inclined to be dismissive
toward established norms, policies, and beliefs, especially when they are
surrounded by other young people with the same entrepreneurial
sensibilities. It is probably not a coincidence, in other words, that the
most famous “Kellerite” to go progressive is pastoring in San Francisco,
the capital of Silicon Valley.
In addition to the disregard for things that are older, established, etc.
there is also strong cultural pressure to embrace a kind of bourgeois
bohemian lifestyle—buy a cute house in the gentrifying neighborhood,
embrace the careerism, food and exercise regimen, lifestyle trends, and
broadly progressive ethos of your neighbors. You can even say you’re just
being outreach-focused as you do it. While none of these things are bad in
isolation, taken together they’re all steps that involve embracing the
norms of a younger bobo sub-culture
<https://www.theguardian.com/theobserver/2000/may/28/focus.news1>. And if
you’re embracing those norms out of a desire to be liked rather than a pure
desire to make the Gospel sensible, it will be disastrous.
But, of course, it is all very complicated: Essentially, these are young
pastors being handed different cultural scripts and asked to choose which
ones to follow. But these clashing scripts cannot be simplistically labeled
“good” and “bad” such that we can tell young pastors to follow the “good”
script and avoid the “bad.” It is more complicated than that.
This is similar to the point that Ron Belgau made
<http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/lgbt-nashville-spiritual-friendship-ron-belgau/>
in his response to Rod Dreher earlier this week: It’s not that we have a
legacy PCA script that is unambiguously good that we need to cling to. That
script has problems—it’s awful on race issues, for starters. So figuring
out the cultural scripts question in the PCA is challenging: The young
white bobo script you’re pushed toward culturally and according to class is
bad, but then you don’t necessarily have a good alternative script,
particularly if you’re trying to plant a church or RUF in a more hostile
environment. There simply aren’t good evangelical templates for how to do
that because we have for the most part been really bad at it.
In such a situation, the draw toward Keller and the ham-handed attempts to
mimic him are quite understandable. What other models do these pastors
have? Driscollism? Straight-up progressive Episcopalianism?....It isn’t
unreasonable that these pastors would look to Keller and, being young and
failing to understand their context, fail to mimic him well. But that isn’t
Keller’s fault and it isn’t entirely the young pastor’s fault either. It’s
a predictable outcome given all the factors I have mentioned already.
This brings us to a second point worth considering: Many of the pastors
Erickson has in mind are young and inexperienced. They often have first
jobs on university campuses which are particularly difficult places to
minister due to the current cultural atmosphere on many campuses. In such a
context, it will be *extremely* easy to be quiet on certain points because
you are genuinely (and reasonably!) concerned about losing recognized
student organization status, which could in some cases make doing ministry
on the campus much more difficult.
Moreover, as an RUF pastor you are often going to be working fairly
autonomously. You may or may not office in a church and even if you do
office in a church, you may not be in your office that often depending on
how far the church is from the campus. You also are not technically part of
a session (“session” is the Presbyterian word for “board of elders”), which
means you are not part of regular session meetings which draw you into the
life of a local church and into closer relationship with other more
experienced teaching elders as well as wise, seasoned ruling elders.
Being a young pastor is extremely difficult work. It’s new, it requires a
wide skill set, and you’ll feel yourself under a microscope quite often
precisely because you are uncertain about how to do all the parts of your
job and because you are working so closely with so many people. And, of
course, there is the good and right fear that any pastor, old or young,
should have given the weight of their calling: Scripture tells us that
teachers will be judged more harshly. Being a pastor is a heavy thing.
Third, one of the particular difficulties I have seen in young pastors is a
pull toward people-pleasing. I suspect I’ve seen it so much because it’s
the natural consequence of these first two points: You’re in this weird
denomination that aspires to being the church that can reach secular
bobo-types in upwardly mobile neighborhoods but that also aspires to be
faithful to theological orthodoxy and even to be theologically evangelical,
all the way down to not ordaining women. That is an awkward position to be
in from the beginning. And, by the way, we’re going to isolate you such
that you won’t have a lot of contact with older ministers. Add to all this
the normal pressures of being a young pastor and the pressures of pastoral
ministry in general and, well, you end up with pastors who are deeply
fearful of offending people. It’s bad, obviously. It does real harm. But
it’s not hard to understand how it happens.
In an ideal situation, this pastor would have older mentors helping them to
work through that issue. But in the first place many young pastors *don’t*
have that because of either being an RUF pastor or being a solo pastor in a
small church. (The average PCA congregation is, if I recall correctly,
around 175 people, so in many cases the congregation can only support a
single pastor.) Second, quite often older pastors are not eager to provide
such mentoring due to how busy they already are or because they simply
don’t wish to be involved in such work, which only makes the problem worse
as this can lead to younger pastors becoming resentful and even more
distrustful toward their elders who they perceive as abandoning them early
in the start of a very difficult vocation. Finally, even when you do have
older mentors doing that for you, there is no guarantee that they will
succeed.
RH  Pastors  Keller 
8 weeks ago by mgubbins
Tim Keller Wisdom on Twitter: "“The resurrection of Christ means everything sad is going to come untrue & it will somehow be greater for having once been broken & lost.”"
“The resurrection of Christ means everything sad is going to come untrue & it will somehow be greater for having once been broken & lost.”
tim  keller  timkeller 
may 2017 by bryanzug
Twitter
"Habe eine starke Stuttgarter Mannschaft gesehen. Spiel abhaken & Freitag wieder Leistung zeigen"
fcunion  keller  from twitter_favs
april 2017 by bjoerngrau
Tim Keller Wisdom on Twitter: "“The resurrection of Christ means everything sad is going to come untrue &amp; it will somehow be greater for having once been broken &amp; lost.”"
I am mesmerized by this ridiculous vision of Christ — that everything sad is going to come untrue — and that it will somehow be greater for having once been broken & lost
tim  keller  theodicy  made  for  another  world 
april 2017 by bryanzug
Twitter
: "Wer nach einem 2:0 & dass bei 48 Minuten in Unterzahl nicht zufrieden ist, muss verrückt sein!"
fcunion  Keller  from twitter_favs
march 2017 by bjoerngrau
Twitter
Jens : "Wir haben das Spiel klar beherrscht. Ganz, ganz großer Respekt an die Jungs"
fcunion  fcum60  Keller  from twitter_favs
february 2017 by bjoerngrau

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