Running Afoul of “Big Eva”

Grayson Gilbert comments
| Faith

There has been a particular amount of mischief afoot in Western Evangelicalism as of late that seems altogether troubling for many reasons. Perhaps it is simply due to the fact that this behavior has no place in the Christian’s arsenal by way of scriptural command; even the heathen knows it is contradictory to logical discourse to silence their opponent. If one has not kept abreast of the full situation, there has been a rather large debate over the nature of intra-Trinitarian relations even though the debate is not all that new. The issues of this whole debacle being twofold: as some have commented, there is an industrialization inherent to “Big Evangelicalism,” showing that the protection of the celebrity flock is of more importance than protection of the fame and glory of God in preserving correct, creedal doctrine. The emphasis of this primary issue is in drawing the hard line in order to say that our concept of God is of utmost importance, and we ought tread the theological waters quite carefully when we step outside the bounds of what has been historical taught. Yet, I suppose this all depends on whose version of history to which one subscribes...

The second, yet related issue, is that this is not a new pattern and has been evidenced in the past few years with many prominent leaders of the New-Calvinism movement. What seems to be happening is not only the concealment of personal sin, but the concealment of sins and propagation of doctrinal errors of constituent leaders. This is more than a little unseemly for one taking cues from the Doctrines of Grace, and more than a little unsettling for a generation of young men and women who were brought to see the loveliness of those doctrines by these same leaders. The predicament seemingly being that running afoul of Big-Eva brings the heavy-handed Mafiosi type down upon the one they deem a “wise-guy.” Instead of actually allowing the debate to continue by merit of the argument and virtue of the truth, it is silenced. If this is not true then some are simply gossips, slanderers, and flat out liars.

However, given a general pattern we’ve all had the displeasure to witness with Big Evangelicalism, I am hard-pressed to believe the former is actually true. Rather, what seems to happen over and again is that the “image” is protected to the detriment of the flock. Yet what this means in layman’s terms is that a concealment of sin keeps on happening. It happened with Driscoll. It happened with Tullian. It happened with Darrin. I’m waiting for others who have similar "fortune" cast upon them to have the same thing happen, only for the Evangelical crowd buying their books and teaching series' to find out about the predicament months after the fact.

The point being: I personally don’t care to hear of what is happening with the individual’s sin, as if I truly need to know the depths of a sinner's sin, but it would be incredibly nice to hear that proper church discipline is taking place and poor conduct is not rewarded or hidden. Now, this is coming from a Reformed(ish) Southern Baptist who is wishing for a Presbyterian style ecclesial structure (though I do fancy much about your church governance and want to steal it for my own, I don’t fancy your views on baptism). The interesting thing about Big Eva is that they are for all intents and purposes, acting on the surface, as if there are no issues present. For a lack of better terminology (I’m sorry for the loose comparison here Presbys—please see the qualifiers that set them at stark contrast), they are creating their own mock-assembly, though it is not subject to the same biblical and healthy regulations as an actual assembly.

They maintain a structure of hierarchy rather than a covenanted ruling eldership that is bound by historical precedent and creed, and this is precisely how it continues to evade structural accountability. And then they are shocked and dismayed when one of their own gets caught in the public eye with flagrant sin. Truth be told, I don’t think that most of them were unaware of these things going on; no one understands the pressure and temptation quite like another in the same proverbial boat of the public eye, whose mounting, unrealistic pressure, casts them into a false light. What I mean by this, very simply, is that these men are just that: men. Lumps of clay were never fashioned with the purpose of receiving such things. And yet, even this is nothing new within the church.

I’m weary of certain church leaders getting a pass by other leaders because the brand continues to sell. I'm weary of the fact that Evangelicalism has a brand. I'm weary of the fact that men are cast into such a large role when it seems counterintuitive to Christendom to begin with; I've written elsewhere on just how strange the Christian celebrity culture is to me. It certainly did no benefit to Tullian, who in the ultimate example of irony, half-heartedly submitted himself to Paul Tripp instead of the Presbytery he is part of. Now the man has a book deal. It certainly did no benefit to Driscoll, who belabored his ministry to the church with sickle and hammer style retribution. Now the man has another church to flog and speaking engagements to attend. It certainly does no benefit to many of these men simply in that it leaves ecclesial discipline out of the picture, yet wants to keep ecclesial restoration in. Folks, you can’t have restoration without proper administration of discipline. It really is that simple. But the point is that these men, though culpable for their own deeds, were taught this by their mentors in Big Eva’s conglomerate. Intimidation factors, hidden sins, and avoiding church discipline seem to be part and parcel to making it big.

If this weren’t the case, why are critics being labeled discernment bloggers or receiving the blunt end of the cudgel behind closed doors? In the spirit of shamelessly plugging another movie reference, there seems to be Big Trouble in Little China...


Grayson Gilbert

Grayson Gilbert is currently in pursuit of his Masters of Divinity at Moody Bible Institute. He enjoys reading, writing, designing and producing graphic art, music, poetry, and a good Islay scotch. He blogs regularly at The Chorus and the Chaos as well.

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