No Longer A Center To Hold

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

Wm. Butler Yeats

Over at the Bayly Brothers blog they are arguing against egalitarianism. In the recent past they have argued, along with J. P. Moreland, that the Church is over-committed to the Bible. At Greenbaggins it is always Federal Vision and its errors that have the Church in grave peril. At Heidleblog people who hold to post-millenialism are said to have the same eschatological doctrine of the Pharisees. Post-millenialists talk about the lack of testosterone in the diet of a-millenialists. At Mablog Wilson repeatedly has his spin-cycle in full gear against the ‘TR’s’. Federo Schism is always happy to tell us the evil machinations of Christ Church in Moscow Idaho while many people root him on. Westminster East is in danger of going ‘fundamentalistic’ according to the ‘Save Our Seminary’ website, while those who like Westminster East just the way it is insists that those who oppose it are closet liberals. Natural theology tries to make a comeback while MARS Seminary seeks to shoot it out of the air before it can take wing.

Wilkins has fled the PCA. Horne calls his enemies everything but ‘white men.’ In the Pacific Northwest Presbytery of the PCA it sounds like they are beginning to investigate Peter Leithart for doctrinal inaccuracies (Can Robert Rayburn be far behind?). James Jordan’s vitriol is so acidic that Terrorists are trying to figure out how to bottle it so they can wipe out a few cities. Westminster West hates Theonomy and Theonomists don’t think to highly of Westminster West. Reformed people are now beginning earnest arguments over whether union with Christ is logically prior to justification or justification is prior to union with Christ (yes, there are real implications). The Enlightenment Theologians (Rationalists) in Reformedom can’t live with the Romantic Theologians (Romanticists) and the Romanticists swear that Ichabod is written over the Rationalist denominations.

Examples could be repeated ad nauseam reciting the conflict that is currently taking place in the Reformed World. Maybe it has always been this way, but my instincts tell me that this seems to be time where the center cannot hold. Maybe all of this is the legacy of the Postmodern virus which has the capability of eating away at meta-narratives, leaving in its wake division among people who used to be able to live with their differences. People don’t typically know this but it used to be the case that if you were attached to a Reformed denomination you could walk into one of those congregations anywhere in these United States and you would find little difference in the liturgy and service of that worship. Post-modernism has made it so every Church’s liturgy and service are as different as the different warring parties in every denomination. Maybe it is more benign then that. Maybe it is as simply a case where we are living in a time that is calling for the Reformed faith to be re-interpreted, and re-applied. There are always people who prefer the status quo to any perceived innovation. Maybe it is as simple as our ability to instantly communicate has caused us to realize just how many differences we have — differences we otherwise wouldn’t have known that we had if it weren’t for the ability to instantly communicate.

People often don’t realize the kinds of times they are living in until they are already on the other side of those times. I would have to say, like it or not, that our times are times for fighting. It is quickly getting to the point where there is no broad consensus that can be appealed to in order to find compromise on a host of different issues. This is a time where a new consensus must be created and not when consensus is returned to. Inevitably that means conflict.

I have to believe that once all this washes out the Reformed World in America is going to look very differently than it currently does.

By way of postscript, I can’t help but note that in the 19th century the warfare and division of denominations in America served as harbinger for the coming warfare and division in the Nation as a whole. Sometimes I wonder if we are on the edge of that kind of cultural division.

Not a prediction… just an observation.

Author: jetbrane

I am a Pastor of a small Church in Mid-Michigan who delights in my family, my congregation and my calling. I am postmillennial in my eschatology. Paedo-Calvinist Covenantal in my Christianity Reformed in my Soteriology Presuppositional in my apologetics Familialist in my family theology Agrarian in my regional community social order belief Christianity creates culture and so Christendom in my national social order belief Mythic-Poetic / Grammatical Historical in my Hermeneutic Pre-modern, Medieval, & Feudal before Enlightenment, modernity, & postmodern Reconstructionist / Theonomic in my Worldview One part paleo-conservative / one part micro Libertarian in my politics Systematic and Biblical theology need one another but Systematics has pride of place Some of my favorite authors, Augustine, Turretin, Calvin, Tolkien, Chesterton, Nock, Tozer, Dabney, Bavinck, Wodehouse, Rushdoony, Bahnsen, Schaeffer, C. Van Til, H. Van Til, G. H. Clark, C. Dawson, H. Berman, R. Nash, C. G. Singer, R. Kipling, G. North, J. Edwards, S. Foote, F. Hayek, O. Guiness, J. Witte, M. Rothbard, Clyde Wilson, Mencken, Lasch, Postman, Gatto, T. Boston, Thomas Brooks, Terry Brooks, C. Hodge, J. Calhoun, Llyod-Jones, T. Sowell, A. McClaren, M. Muggeridge, C. F. H. Henry, F. Swarz, M. Henry, G. Marten, P. Schaff, T. S. Elliott, K. Van Hoozer, K. Gentry, etc. My passion is to write in such a way that the Lord Christ might be pleased. It is my hope that people will be challenged to reconsider what are considered the givens of the current culture. Your biggest help to me dear reader will be to often remind me that God is Sovereign and that all that is, is because it pleases him.

3 thoughts on “No Longer A Center To Hold”

  1. I find it odd that you blame the current mess in American Reformedom on “postmodernism,” particularly since so many of the parties you named in the disputes fight tooth and nail against all things postmodern. Besides, postmodernism rightly understood does not destroy all meta-narratives, only help us to deconstruct those that are not worthy of the name. I refer you to Leithart’s excellent Solomon Among the Postmoderns and Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism? by James K. A. Smith, both excellent treatments of what postmodernism really is, not the caricatures you’ve heard. Both are available at a great price at Westminster Bookstore (

    Also, for a sociological analysis of the current wars in Reformedom, see “Mapping Reformed Space: A Key to Interpreting Conflict” at

  2. Nice big-picture overview of the ongoing conflicts in the reformed Presbyterian world. I think maybe this is how it’s always been. But your postmodern insight has some weight. Perhaps we are more fragmented than ever. I think an overall (postmodern) rejection of rationalism and an acceptance of the romanist faith/reason dichotomy has also effected this. It’s to the point that if you give to clear and reasonable argument, or ask for explanations of undefined terms, you are accused of being overly rational.

    Anthony Coletti

    …snip… This for the author directly. Since you review the comments, you can clip this as it is intended for you directly. Who are you (or you all)? I can not find any link that identifies the authors or any bio on them. Am I looking in the wrong place, or do you intend to stay anonymous for some reason. Thanks. …/snip…

  3. Trapper Mark,

    Naturally those who are inclined towards Post-modernism (or perhaps better put — Hypermodernism) don’t see po-mo as something to be afraid of. There are those who have made the case that Leithart’s stuff is a kind of soft po-mo.

    Now as to the current fight in American Reformedom we must keep in mind that post-modernims (hyper-modernism) is a meta-narrative eating virus. Now in as much as people resist that virus naturally there are going to be fights. So those fighting tooth and nail against all things post-modern (hyper-modern) may be a result of fighting against it. But perhaps you are talking about some people like Wilson and Liethart who are, in your eyes, fighting post-modernism ‘tooth and nail.’ Maybe though it is a case here of soft post-modernism fighting tooth and nail against hard post-modernism?

    Now you have gone and made some big assumptions. You have assumed that I have only heard ‘caricatures’ of post-modernism and am ignorant of the enlightened definitions that can be found in the books that you recommend. Well, I could as easily suggest that it is you have learned caricatures from those books and IF YOU REALLY WANTED TO LEARN WHAT POST-MODERNISM IS, you should read the books I’ve read by Guiness, Wells, Phillips, Carson, Groothuis, Sire and others, but unlike you, I will resist the urge for an easy but ignorant slam.

    Now, you are quite correct that post-modernism does not deconstruct all meta-narratives. Just all of them except for the one that it offers. (The only true meta-narrative is that there are no true meta-narratives — which is itself a meta-narrative.) The idea that it only eats up those that are not worthy begs the question of who gets to decide which are or are not worthy.

    So …. what have we established.

    1.) Pastor Bret does know what he is talking about

    2.) It is a caricature for trapperMark to suggest that he doesn’t.

    3.) Post-modernism perhaps is only modernism on steroids (hence Hyper-modernism)

    4.) There are distinctions even among po-mo’s between softer varieties (Van Til, Polanyi) and harder varieties.

    5.) Not all po-mo thinking is evil in and of itself just as not all mo thinking is evil in and of itself.

    6.)You need to be more polite when you visit somebody’s blog.

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