Michael F. Bird on the soft underbelly of those who call ourselves Reformed:
There is a group of the “reformed” out there who have basically decided to go and sit in their room, lock the door, and do nothing but than rant and moan about how everybody in the evangelical hallway is a theologically defficient turnip and only those in the room with them are among the doctrinally righteous elect. This group is typified by several traits: (1) They are more excited about all the things that they are against than anything that they are for; (2) They preach justification by faith, but in actuality practice justification by polemics; (3) They appear to believe in the inerrancy of a confession over the suffiency of the gospel; (4) They believe in the doctrines of grace, but do not treat others with grace; (5) They believe that unity is overrated; (6) They like doctrines about Jesus more than Jesus himself (and always defer to the Epistles over the Gospels); (7) mission means importing their debates and factions to other churches; and (8) The word “adiaphora” is considered an almost expletive…
A little harsh? Perhaps. Certainly not true of many of the Reformed people I know. Every group has its weaknesses, and Bird may be right in some of what he says. Reformed theology teaches us that we shouldn’t be surprised by our own shortcomings, and gives us the resources to deal with them through repentance and the gospel. Definitely worth thinking about.
Bird also warns North American evangelicals of their blind spots (although he seems to mean American more than North American):
There are also some things about North American evangelicals that Christians outside of North American cannot comprehend: 1. Only North American evangelicals oppose measures to stem global warming, 2. Only North American evangelicals oppose universal health care, and 3. Only North American evangelicals support the Iraq War. Now, to Christians in the rest of the world this is somewhere between strange, funny, and frightening. Why is it that only North American evangelicals support these things? Are the rest of us stupid? It makes many of us suspicious that our North American evangelical friends have merged their theology with GOP economic policy, raised patriotism to an almost idolatrous level, and have a naive belief in the divinely given right of American hegemony. North Americans would do well to take the North-Americanism out of their evangelicalism and try to see Jesus through the eyes of Christians in other lands.
This is a word that needs to be heard in every culture, which is why we can benefit from those from other cultures and other eras. It helps us see our cultural blind spots.