Darryl Hart on a Westminster Blog-Row

Hart writes, “Apparently what we have here are rival ways of being open to evangelicals, of not being narrowly or parochially Reformed. In effect, WTS is now torn between Scott McKnight, Tim Keller and Richard Mouw’s sort of broad evangelicalism and Al Mohler, D. A. Carson and John Piper’s sort of Reformed evangelicalism.”

Maybe it takes having had personal experience in both mainline Protestantism and broad Evangelicalism to appreciate Hart’s point about the dueling taxonomies. But it is exactly this sort of acumen that allows one to be able to write something like “The Lost Soul of American Protestantism” and pin the point about how the correct taxonomies in American religion are not “conservative” or “liberal” but “confessional” and “Evangelical.” This is what allows ex-Liberal Thomas Oden to grasp just how Fundamentalists and Liberals have more in common than either would want to admit. Indeed, this goes to the very title of this blog: the wider household, made up of all sorts of traditions in American religion, is broadly Evangelical. It is those who are confessional that should feel quite in the Outhouse.

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16 Responses to Darryl Hart on a Westminster Blog-Row

  1. Rick says:

    True. I agree with Hart’s categories. It is lonely out here.

    It strikes me that the latter 3 fellas are part of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals (along with a few Reformed confessionalists)

    I don’t mind that they have a group and get Together for the Gospel and all, but what are they Confessing exacly?

  2. Zrim says:

    I don’t know. I understand the whole “village green” thing, but I really have about as little interest in “societies” as a churchly confessionalist can. To be honest, I have a hard time not seeing things like ACE as more evangelicalism combatting evangelicalism, no matter how many Reformed confessionalists comprise it. It is more movement-oriented and not church-oriented, something just much too Evangelical for me. It also reminds me of the whole politics (and education?) discussion where movement seeks to do what an already ordained institution is meant for: exact justice versus proximate justice. I’ll take the church over conferences.

  3. Rick says:

    I like a good WSCAL (into the Word) conference but they haven’t been back to GR in a couple of years. I had the pleasure of sticking microphones on the likes of DVD, Bob Godfrey, and Hywel Jones in those days. Good times. I recently stuck a mic on Bob Godfrey. Zrim, you were there.

    Anyway, ACE makes a point of saying they are “confessing” but the only thing they confess in common is their own drafted ‘Declaration’ which is just an affirmation of the 5 solas.

  4. Mike Brown says:

    There is another taxonomy within the URCNA: confessionally Reformed and culturally Reformed.

  5. Zrim says:


    Yes, I was there. My “church over conference” was one of those tricky making-a-point statements. It’s sort of like “I love NYC and wouldn’t change a thing; public schools should be thoroughly secularized and Xian kids ought to be in them.” I have nothing against conferences, or efforts to improve a great city, or parochial education…just some of the assumptions behind various effrots.


    Bada-bing…with a Pauly Walnuts labial fricative.

  6. adam says:

    Hi Steve,

    I’m wondering if the concept of proximate justice might not have an application here?

  7. Zrim says:


    Please, elaborate…

  8. Andrew Webb says:

    Hi Zrim,

    My .02 on the controversy is online Here

    – Andy Webb

  9. Echo_ohcE says:

    Mr. Webb’s letter is disturbing, but not at all surprising. I visited WTS Philly briefly; making the decision to go to WSCAL was a no-brainer after that.

    Too bad he lumped in the Framework view with liberalism though.


  10. GLW Johnson says:

    I agree with Hart’s take and share some of Andy Webb’s concerns about WTS, but having had M.Kline as one of my professors I too wish he hadn’t throw in that remark about FH and liberalism. Kline would have been appalled.

  11. Zrim says:

    So, Andy, per Darryl’s taxonomy here, would you say you are in the camp favoring Mohler-Carson-Piper Reformed evangelicalism?

    Your letter seems particularly concerned for the sub/ordination issue, one which, as you know, is the bane of my own CRC. But I must say, from what I observe in this Dutch denomination, the so-called “conservatives” here seem to be relatively unmoved by the general trajectory toward broad Evangelicalism and simply caught in the horns of who gets to be ordained.

    I wrote a note to RSC a few months back as he was posting a bit on CRC issues, and he posted it in apparent agreement (I’d link it but it’s on his old site which is now defunct). One of my points to him was that the “conservatives” here seem to be content with making the trajectory toward broad Evangelicalism a male one and relatively unconcerned about the broad trajectory. One gets the sense that if we just revert back to men at the front all will be well. I, for one, am quite unsatisfied with this myopic fixation on sub/ordination (even though I am a subordinationist myself). The topic seems to be one more cultural than confessional when it comes up in common circles. One un-confessional Evangelical wants men to know the world is flat and the other wants the good old days back and they use a theological camoflauge to fight it out. As a confessionalist, I have no seat at those conversations.

    The conservatives and progressives are both Evangelicals, and that, it seems to me, is at the heart of the Hartian point.

    (BTW, RSC has written that he would be in favor of deaconesses, per Godfrey’s minority report to the OPC.)

  12. adam says:

    Hi Steve,

    Here’s a very rough shot at what I thinking about re: proximate justice in this situation. It seems to me that us folks on the confessional side of things in these sorts of conflicts often hold out for a perfectionist ideal that simply won’t happen this side of Rev 21. The result is that frequently people moving in our direction or strategic allies end up getting greeted with a slammed door. In other words, in this situation I question the wisdom of leading with a pox on both houses approach when I think the concept of proximate justice gives us the ability to support a side that (certainly imperfectly) more serves our long term cause.

  13. Zrim says:


    Thanks for coming back and elaborating. Interesting point.

    Fir my part, I guess I hold to the wisdom of “a radical, Presbyterian intolerance for things cultic, a radical tolerance for those cultural.” In other words, exact justice seems more in order when it comes to specially revealed truth (the visible and militant church, etc.), whereas proximate justice is more in keeping with that which is commonly revealed. I am not so sure that such an effort can be deemed “perfectionistic.” I’d have a hard time coming up to Paul after Galatians was read and suggesting he was being perfectionistic. Or when he got hot and bothered about seating arrangements with Peter. Or suggesting Jesus was going too far to call (poor) Peter the S-word.

    And if that doesn’t help, I simply cannot bring myself to take the cues of any figures in the camps Hart draws out. I’d rather think Nevin was far beyond the likes of Mohler, Keller and Piper.

  14. adam says:

    Steve, thanks for the interaction.

    I’m not sure what in RH would have us expecting to find anything close to strict justice in the church? A book by R.R. Reno called The Church in Ruins really helped me see that tendency of those on the left and right toward perfectionism in church life is really springs from the same modernist well. The result is that in pursuit of perfectionist ideal (i.e. strict justice) folks on the left and right disengage from the church that is. I see our calling in the these situations to use Reno’s analogy is to do church in the rubble, thinking and acting strategically, often settling for getting some of what we hoped for, because in a fallen world that’s all that you can get most times.

    Here’s my own silly analogy to toss out; we’re often tempted to look at these situations as digital on/off when in reality they’re more analog.

  15. Zrim says:

    “…tendency of those on the left and right toward perfectionism in church life is really springs from the same modernist well.”

    That is why Oden was spot on about Fundies and Liberals having more in common than either would want to admit: they are both children of modernity, or Evangelicals. I think there is the sort of perfectionism the left and right want, and there is the concept of clay jars. Paul in Peter’s face goes to show that balance between getting it right and getting it right in less-than perfect ways. But getting it right still matters, just not in a worldly way. I think the theology of the Cross versus glory is another helpful metaphor.

  16. Seymourks says:

    nice work, brother

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