USA Today Slams The Reformed Faith … A Slight Rebuttal

It is often difficult to determine when the Main Stream Media is malevolent, when it is incompetent, and when it is just clueless. More often then not it is all three at the same time. Recently the USA Today ran a column on the Bowe Bergdahl case, suggesting that Biblical Christianity (as opposed to Marxist Christianity) was the cause for the apparent strange behavior of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

Below I interact with some of the brilliance of the author of the column who apparently is,

1.) A Teacher of Religion
2.) The Director of the Religion program at Skidmore college.

Surely these are expert qualifications for getting everything wrong in an analysis on Orthodox Presbyterianism.

Begin Article,

“Can Bergdahl’s faith explain his actions?”

Mary Stange

Bret responds,

Already with the headline we are on shaky ground. After all, what else can explain Bergdahl’s actions except his faith? In other words, “Of course Bergdahl’s faith explains his actions.” All of our actions can only be understood in light of our faith. Even Mary Stange’s woeful analytical abilities are explained by her faith. There is nothing else that can explain our actions except our faith. You’d think a teacher of religion at the University level would realize that a person’s behavior is always driven by their faith commitments.

Mary plunges on,

Were it not for the political wrangling over whether he is a hero or a traitor, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who arrived in San Antonio early Friday, might well be held up as a classic example of the religious seeker: the deeply spiritual quester after truth, light and justice.


This would be true except Scripture teaches that there are none who seek after God. If Sgt. Bergdahl were seeking it is only because He was a Christian.

Mary continues,

Yet the news media have been curiously silent on the question of his religious background. Aside from vague references to his belonging to a Calvinist church, no one has taken a serious look at how that church might have played a role in his decision to join the Army, and subsequently to leave his unit behind.

Philip Proctor, the Bergdahls’ pastor at Sovereign Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Boise, told The Huffington Post that Bowe had “grown up in a conservative Christian home, and he was trying to figure out if this was his faith or his parents’ faith.”

Maybe. But in young Bergdahl’s case — unlike that of the more typical Catholic or Jewish or mainline Protestant adolescent — the devil had to have been in the details. His family’s faith, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, makes extraordinary demands on a sensitive young person’s conscience and conduct.

Bret responds,

We are left asking if Ms. Stange is telling us that her preferred religious beliefs are more simplistic than Biblical Presbyterianism so that there does not exist those devilish details that the typical Catholic or Jewish or mainline Protestant adolescent deals with.

And Ms. Stange asserts that the Calvinist faith makes extraordinary demands on a sensitive young person’s conscience and conduct but she offer absolutely no proof. Are we to conclude from this that the typical Catholic, or Jewish, or mainline Protestant only makes “ordinary demands” on their adolescents? And if that is what Ms. Stange is implying I’d like to know, “by what standard” Ms. Stange is determining what constitutes extraordinary vs. ordinary demands on the conscience and conduct of a sensitive young person. (And how does Ms. Stange know that Sgt. Bergdahl was sensitive?)

Mary Stange keeps it up,

A hyperconservative offshoot of the mainstream Presbyterian Church USA, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church sees the world in stark either/or terms. This is Calvinism on steroids. You are saved and bound for heaven. Or you are a sinner, treading a one-way path to the fiery pit of hell.

1.) Hyper-conservative by whose standards? I suspect, to hyper-liberals like Ms. Stange, anything more conservative than Ms. Stange’s religion classes is “hyper-conservative.”

2.) So, what Ms. Stange is saying is that we EITHER can see the world in “either/or terms OR we can see it not in either/or terms? That’s kind of a stark way of seeing things don’t you think?

3.) Ms. Stange laments the Orthodox Presbyterian Church being “Calvinism on steroids” since it teaches that one is either saved and bound for heaven, or is a sinner, treading a one-way path to the fiery pit of hell.

One is left wondering what other options exist? What exactly is behind Ms. Stange’s door number 3? Purgatory? Limbo? The Stay Puff Marshmallow heaven?

Ms. Stange continues with her blinding brilliance,

The church, founded in the 1930s, has obviously been a genuine source of support for families such as the Bergdahls, who might have little in the way of material or spiritual comforts in this life but can feel confident of reward in the life to come. It is all about the counterpoise of heaven and hell, and it appears that for Bergdahl, this cosmic tension laid the groundwork for his subsequent actions and attitudes.

The Orthodox Presbyterian Church compels followers to feel the inner spark of absolute certainty of one’s own God-given righteousness. It is a more than plausible explanation that, failing such certainty, Bergdahl embarked on a series of life transformations — Buddhism, Tarot, French Foreign Legion and all the rest, culminating in the transformation from gung-ho warrior to pacifistic deserter — that looks like chaotic mood swings without the religious explanation.

1.) So, according to Stange, Bergdahl completely abandons his Calvinist faith, but his Calvinist faith is the reason for his alleged improprieties.

2.) Is Ms. Stange implying that Calvinism is only for the down and outers and the lower class fauna in life? If so she might want to read about the life of Millionaire William Borden of Yale. Maybe she should pick up a biography on the life of Henry Martyn. Stange should also consider conservative Presbyterian Cyrus McCormick. Even the founder of the denomination that Stange takes exception too, J. Gresham Machen, was a man of means.

3.) Stange asserts that “it appears that for Bergdahl, this cosmic tension laid the groundwork for his subsequent actions and attitudes” and then gives no proof whatsoever for this “left dangling in the air” claim. Wouldn’t it have been easier for Stange just to write an article for the USA Today entitled, “Why I Don’t Like Calvinism?”

4.) Stanger next reveals her utter torpidity by combining a comment about feeling the inner spark that yields certainty of God given righteousness. In doing so she combines a Quaker concept (inner light) with a gnostic concept (divine spark) with Presbyterianism. This is so jumbled and confusing that anybody who knows anything but comparative religions is left with having a fine belly laugh at such confusion.

5.) Presbyterianism of the sort that Stange inveighs against finds the chasing of feelings of any sort to be an anathema. Has Stange ever met a Calvinist? We’re not called “Frozen Chosen” for no reason. We don’t do feelings.

6.) Presbyterians do think it is important to understand that we are imputed God given righteousness but the reality of that is not based on our feelings or our certainty but on God’s promises.

7.) Stange insists that her explanation is more than plausible that Bergdahl slipped his nut because he couldn’t find the certainty for which Stange asserts he was looking. This is the worst psychologizing with no facts that one could possibly imagine. This analysis of Stange ranks right up there with the proto Psychologists probing for personality traits by feeling the bumps on a person’s head. Stange is telling us, quite without knowing Bergdhal, or any other pertinent facts, that it is the fault of Calvinism that Bergdahl was unstable.

Is this a case of the transference of one unstable person upon another unstable person?

Stanger wraps up,

Religious motives might or might not justify whatever Bergdahl might or might not have done. But those same motives can go a long way toward helping to comprehend his actions. We as a society have too frequently failed to take religion seriously as a source of evil as well as good. And, as Bergdahl might himself observe, all too frequently there has, as a result, been hell to pay.

1.) Religious motives might or might not justify what Bergdahl might or might not have done?

Translated –“We don’t have any idea of any of the facts but all this we don’t know anything about is certainly the fault of that dastardly hyper-conservative Calvinism.”

2.) We just admitted that we don’t know for sure what he might have or have not done but whatever he did or did not do hyper conservative Calvinism is surely to blame.

3.) Given this analysis I’m going to pray tonight that Stange does us all the favor of never trying to take religion seriously again.

After reading this I’m convinced that given all the hard evidence that exists right now that if I had to choose either Stange or Bergdahl to babysit by 4 children under 10, I’d choose Bergdahl.

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.

2 thoughts on “USA Today Slams The Reformed Faith … A Slight Rebuttal”

  1. Grammar: Twice you add an ‘r’ to Stange’s name.
    “Stanger next reveals her utter torpidity…”
    “Stanger wraps up…”

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