Through a series of private and public exchanges during the recent and somewhat embattled, certainly frustrating and ultimately failed candidacy of Randy Blacketer at Calvin Christian Reformed Church, there was plenty with which to disagree. He is not a subordinatonist. He seems to deny the “well-meant offer” in the gospel. Of course it comes with the territory in certain Dutch Reformed enclaves, but he is an unapologetic transormationalist, even as he publicly chastises the likes of James Dobson and Tony Campolo for merely putting into practice the very same principles as any transformationalism. (While we agree in our shared disparagement of the religious right and left, it seems it is for different reasons.) His transformationalism necessarily means he is an unblinking champion of Christian day schools. He finds nothing to scrutinize in Stan Mast for his adoption of Willow Creek models to patronize and “meet the felt needs of high-culturalists.” And he is way too distracted by the content of the cup over against its frequency; true enough, we ought to be drinking wine, but grape juice every week beats wine every month any day of the week, as it were. (I’d link where he has made such views public on his blog, but that is part of what I mean about his candidacy being embattled. Suffice to say that making potentially controversial views accessible to every Tom, Dick and Harry, including those on a search committee or Council, may not be the best idea for someone seeking a pulpit. He appears to have learned as much the hard way, making his blog quite secure and discreet.)
Even so, this he gets right and always has. It may have something to do with our shared experience of coming to the Reformed tradition more deliberately than most others around us in the CRC that he can easily recognize the blatant under-confessionalism in the effort to revise the Form of Subscription. When he says that “we in the Christan Reformed Church seem to be increasingly lukewarm toward our own confessional heritage,” even as outsiders with backgrounds like Randy and me are clamoring for more, he is getting after that which I have suspected for some years now: in the CRC there is a move away from narrow Reformed confessionalism and toward a broad evangelicalism. It actually makes a good measure of sense, since body and soul ought to be conjoined. The letter of broad evangelicalism should link up with the spirit. And the spirit has been quite victorious in the CRC for a while now.
Sure, Blacketer’s notion that there is room for diversity between those who “put more stress on piety, others on social action” does give chunks of his broader argument away. Allowing for these things to exist on their own and apart from a tighter Reformed theology, piety and practice opens the way for hapless doctrinalism, pietism and activism. And his transformationlism coupled with elitist sympathies for the new measures of high-culturalist Revivalism in the absurd and hugely irrelevant “worship wars” sure don’t help matters. But I have learned to take what I can get anymore. And Randy nails it about as well as anyone can in the CRC.