Blacketer Gets It Right: You Say Goodbye And I Say Hello

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.

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7 Responses to Blacketer Gets It Right: You Say Goodbye And I Say Hello

  1. Bret McAtee says:

    So, will anybody who holds to a Blacketer normative confessionalism, as expressed in his opposition to the proposed FOS change, be considered worthy to be a potential candidate by your ministerial search committee?

  2. Zrim says:

    Bret,

    Evidently, the unspoken answer is no. One candidate surprised us all in the interview. He was all things evangellyfish and I could hear the swooning in the room…then he piped up Blacketer-style when the FOS question came up. I could hear the drooling stop on the part of those who think this revision is “wonderful.” My fellow pro-Blacketers were pleased, but I wasn’t because it made no sense given the rest of his views–where did that come from? Anyway, my guess is that particular view was enough to delete him from the short list. It appears Calvin would be more comfortable in Pentecostal environs, since perfection seems to be what everyone is after.

    Let me add another zig from his zag: Blacketer also seemed way too parochial about the CRC (“My denomination, right or wrong!”). I wasn’t around for the CRC/URC split, but it sure seemed to make for some fairly bitter entrenchment on the parts of some.

  3. Bret McAtee says:

    I don’t understand that kind of brand loyalty either (my denomination, right or wrong) and I used to be more than a bit put off by it, but recently I have begun to re-think that.

    I still think they are wrong, but I can at least admire somebody for their loyalty even if it is misplaced.

    In the end it is unrealistic to expect the cradle types to abandon the denomination any more then we would expect them to abandon their parents.

    Perhaps for the desire to look after these loyalists who are like sheep without a shepherd is one reason for resolving to stay and fight?

    But then again….

    Maybe not

  4. Zrim says:

    Bret,

    True enough. I certainly understand loyalty. I am nothing if not my father’s son in that regard. But it sure seems to me that if nothing else the Reformation tradition does teach us to be able to discern right from wrong.

    Re the cradle types, this is one of the problems inherent in a tradition that has a cultural identity running through it. There is the covenantal notion of family, etc., then there is conflating cult and culture.

    Re staying and fighting, I believe that wisdom teaches there is a time to know when to bow out and not over-realize your contribution. Especially when you have little to no support, you end up being more an activist than a Presbyterian. And I eschew activism in both cult and culture. Of course, you’re damned if you do or don’t. If you leave, the Blacketers call you “schismatic,” if you stay and fight the good fight others accuse you of…other stuff. At this point, for my part, I hope to be able to leave quietly, with a mixed bag of remorse and thanks for what my family and I did receive.

  5. Bret McAtee says:

    I’m sorry Zrim.

    The CRC will be losing a good man and a good family when you walk away.

    I hope you can find a denomination where you won’t run the danger of over-realizing your contribution.

    There seems to be fewer and fewer of those around.

  6. I wonder how the Apostle Paul would have fared in front of the committee?
    http://jimost.wordpress.com/2007/06/25/apostle-paul-rejection-letter/

  7. Randy Blacketer says:

    This information about me is inappropriate and a breach of privacy. Please remove it immediately.

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