TGC’s Blocking Brigade?

Jonathan Merritt, at RNS, writes about TGC’s habit of blocking its critics, and I have no idea if I’m blocked or not. Blocking is needed in the blog world, but in 12+ years of blogging here at Jesus Creed I’ve had to block less than 15 people (I would estimate). Used with permission by Jonathan. Evidently, TGC’s quite aggressive on this front:

In the world of Christian ministry, The Gospel Coalition (TGC) is a towering, thundering goliath. Cofounded by popular New York City pastor Tim Keller, they host a slate of blogs by conservative Christians and have produced more than 50 live events. Their website generates an estimated 65 million annual page views and includes thousands of posts on a range of topics. Their church network boasts nearly 8,000 congregations nationwide.

TGC’s brand of Christianity is both conservative and Calvinist, but according to their tagline, they feel called to promote “cultural transformation.” Numerous articlesaddress how and why Christians should engage culture. The “About” page on their website says they desire to help Christians “truly speak and live for [Christ] in a way that clearly communicates to our age.”

Given all this, one might assume that TGC is an authoritative resource on cultural engagement. But pop the hood, and you’ll find that their modus operandi combines harsh critiques of those outside their tribe with a bunker mentality that silences any who dare to question their thinking. While it presents itself as a resource for believers seeking to live their faith in a post-modern context, TGC is more like a case study in how not to engage culture….

People often ask me what I think is a good strategy for Christian cultural engagement. I often refer them to books written by those who have articulated comprehensive answers. Books like James Davison Hunter’s “To Change the World,” Gabe Lyon’s “The Next Christians,” Andy Crouch’s “Culture Making,” and Tyler Wigg-Stevenson’s “The World is Not Ours to Save.

But sometimes we can learn about something by providing negative answers, rather than positive ones. We can get at how one might do something by describing how notto do it. Here’s a start:

  • Constantly criticizing outsiders while only listening to insiders … is how not to engage culture.
  • Shutting out dissenters who challenge your beliefs, content, or ideas … is how not to engage culture.
  • Operating in a pattern of isolationism, tribalism, and egotism … is how not to engage culture.
  • Refusing to answer difficult questions about your organization’s practices … is how not to engage culture.

TGC blogger Kevin DeYoung writes that there are two kinds of Christians: “those who like to rebuke and do it often and those who are scared to rebuke and never do it.” Considering TGC’s behavior, perhaps DeYoung should add a third: Christians who love rebuking others but can’t handle it themselves. And in a world where society is watching Christians carefully, the last one may be the most damaging of all.

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