Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Armstrong’s Escape from Reason and Responsibility

If you have ever wondered what the logical fallacy of a Hasty Generalization looks like, John Armstrong’s recent post is a perfect example. In it Armstrong paints a picture of the problems members of small Reformed churches face, in his opinion. His complaints include a tyrannical elder rule that disdains women and their spirituality, a rigid confessionalism that necessitates a neglect of Christ, academic preaching that equates to lifeless piety, and a gaining of members by stealing sheep from other denominations. When reading this post, one gets the feeling that Rev. Armstrong has a church or two specifically in mind that he is reluctant to mention by name. Otherwise, it would seem that he has assembled every baseless attack he has ever heard about the Reformed faith into a make-believe church and then posted about this horrible rampant problem.
Now I live on the border of two of the lesser populated states in the union, and I live an hour and half’s drive from any city of over 2,000 people, so I get to see a lot of small churches, including Reformed churches, in small towns up close. I have never seen the situation described by Rev. Armstrong. Never. I also don’t agree that academic theology equates to a lifeless theology. And rigid confessionalism never leads to a lowering of Christ. Most confessions spend a majority of their time on the person and work of Christ, so a rigid-confessionalism actually promotes a healthy view of Christ. But what annoys me the most about Rev. Armstrong’s plunge off the deep end is his conclusion. He calls for people who are members of such churches, or who might have friends in such churches, to pray for God to get them out of that church. He actually encourages leaving churches. He doesn’t suggest praying for revival or engaging in persuasive conversations with the wayward elders/pastors or making any attempt whatsoever to work for change. Nope, he just wants you to get out. This is a sin most foul. It is the Gilbert Tennent model of discrediting churches via hasty, made up, generalizations about the pastors and elders and encouraging people to desert their church membership vows all in the guise of spirituality. I hope Armstrong’s post will not become a reckless license for people to desert their churches if they happen to be small and Reformed. I also pray that Rev. Armstrong will retract this statement and, instead of cultivating division and a mass exodus, that he will rather pray for revival for the individual church or churches that he had in mind when making his Hasty Generalization.


Anonymous said...

There actually was a pretty good report on human life that came out from the GA in 1988. We just thought that with technology having advanced, and society having declined, it was time for a new report. Hope that is helpful.

Rick Phillips