As I said, maybe I'm just getting cranky in my old age. My thinking is that when someone decades younger with far less credentials and proven track record for ministry effectiveness utters the words, "I think that X is a Christian," it hits me as terribly offputting. Sortof like "I think that Calvin was an "adequate" exegete." Who am I to sit in judgment of any of these guys?
On the PB (in my opinion), Grudem, Piper, Sproul, MacArthur, et. al., frequently get treated with less than the adequate respect due them for their age, experience, and productivity. It always amazes me that some of us who have never penned a book in our lives, whose claim to fame consists of a bunch of postings on the PB or our own blog, deign to wax so omnicompetent in dismissing the work of people who have actually DONE something for the kingdom and done it faithfully with records over three, four, or more decades of service!
I will disagree with Grudem on a host of issues. But, man, how many hundreds of thousands of copies of his Sys Theo are there now anyway? Does any modern writer have numbers to compare with the impact he has had on college and seminary generations through his writing? And, while many of us on the PB can show our litany of doctrinal complaints with him, who has done as much for the cause of complementarianism and against egalitarianism on this kind of scale? Similarly, Piper holds to a 5pt. soteriology and has helped win young people to the cause in droves. Sproul has been cited by David Murray at PRTS as the one person, along with Pink, who caused more people to turn to Reformed theology than anyone else. Yet, he is often treated to dismissive postings on the PB.
Am I arguing for a "see no evil, hear no evil" approach? Not at all! My spiritual gift, it would seem, is criticism. There is nothing wrong with respectful analysis. However, when I read the umpteenth thread with a question, "Is X even a Christian," or "I think that so and so is a Christian," my meltdown begins.
Rob, part of it relates to my just finishing a course on historical theology and realizing the amazing breadth of convictions that have been characteristic of those who have named the name "Christian" over the last two millennia. In the larger picture, Piper, Grudem, Sproul, Keller, and even MacArthur are part of a very conservative Calvinistic camp that represent an exceedingly small slice of the Christian movement. To treat any of them as if we need to vouch for their salvation by our own judgment, strikes me as impertinent, arrogant, and bizarre in its ignoring of the larger picture of the Christian movement. To me, and in the broader context, ALL of them are the good guys, not the enemy.
If any of us were in the evangelistic "foxhole" up against a smart agnostic, Islamist, Hindu, or Buddhist, we would be blessed beyond measure to have any of these guys in the "foxhole" with us.
Rob, please don't take my rant too personally. My complaint is a generic one about how we treat those on our side when we register disagreements with them. And, it relates to the issue mentioned yesterday about the need to show some respect for those who are not only older than us, but who have actually forged impressive records of service (much of it sacrificial) for the cause of Christ.