Michael Horton, Darryl Hart on “Church Parents,” and the Death of Private Practice

Michael Horton, Darryl Hart on “Church Parents,” and the Death of Private Practice March 26, 2010

If you haven’t read recent texts by Westminster West professor Michael Horton, you should.  He’s a cultural critic of evangelicalism and has much good to say.  Here are some videos to check out.


While we’re on the subject of cultural critics of evangelicalism, we visit historian Darryl Hart’s blog for a provocative piece.  I heard Hart at the recent Wheaton conference on the early church, where he jokingly called the church fathers the “church parents” in light of gender inclusive language.  I found that hilarious, though it proved highly socially awkward, as no one else laughed.  He also went after the term “gathering”, noting that “we Presbyterians have conferences, not gatherings.” 

By the way, does anyone find it funny that Hart has a blog?  Seems so–I don’t know–modern.  He’s a must-read, wherever he writes.


From the NYT, we find that “More Doctors Taking Salaried Jobs” over private practice:

[A]n increasing share of young physicians, burdened by medical school debts and seeking regular hours, are deciding against opening private practices. Instead, they are accepting salaries at hospitals and health systems. And a growing number of older doctors — facing rising costs and fearing they will not be able to recruit junior partners — are selling their practices and moving into salaried jobs, too.

As recently as 2005, more than two-thirds of medical practices were physician-owned — a share that had been relatively constant for many years, the Medical Group Management Association says. But within three years, that share dropped below 50 percent, and analysts say the slide has continued.

For patients, the transformation in medicine is a mixed blessing. Ideally, bigger health care organizations can provide better, more coordinated care. But the intimacy of longstanding doctor-patient relationships may be going the way of the house call.

Of course, I’ve never had a house call.  But despite the paper’s assurance that these changes have “very little” to do with recent developments in health-care legislation, I’m calling bluff here…


I just saw the list of some of the books for the Band of Bloggers event at T4G, and it is a sweet collection.  Just saying.

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  • I love to read Hart. When he first started, it was a big joke that he was blogging, especially based on some of his views. But I am glad he did.

    You should check out some of the old issues of Nicotine Theological Journal. That is one of the reasons for starting the blog: to host the journal. I have been scanning some of them into pdf for him. Check it out here: http://oldlife.org/backissues/

  • owenstrachan

    Glad to hear from you, James. Thanks for the background. Makes sense. I’ve read a bit of the NTJ (he said some funny stuff about it as well at Wheaton) and liked it. Typical Hart–very thoughtful, provocative, controversial, edifying, and fun.

    Hope you’re doing well and that you’ll be at T4G.

  • Mark

    Hey Owen. I know of at least one other person who couldn’t stop laughing when Hart said “church parents.” The awkward silence was even more funny than the joke itself.


  • elnwood

    Yeah, Wheaton is not exactly the best venue for making fun of gender-neutral translations. Douglas Moo and Karen Jobes were on the TNIV translation committee.

  • Thank for the heads up on Hart’s blog.

  • owenstrachan

    Whether or not you agree with gender-neutral translations, it’s good to be able to make a joke that pokes fun at modern sensibilities. That’s a healthy thing.

    Glad you appreciate the link, Steve–thanks for the feedback.

    Mark, you’re exactly right. I didn’t want to implicate anyone else, but you’re right…

  • elnwood

    Right, Owen, it would have been a healthy thing if he were able to make that joke without offending anyone.

    My point is that because there is divisiveness on the issue, Hart was not able to make that joke without offending his audience. Hence, he shouldn’t have done it (cf. Romans 14).

  • owenstrachan

    I guess I’m seeing more room here for poking fun. It’s good to have a sense of humor. I’m not one for needlessly offending people, but I do think there’s a place for a joke every now and again, and it would help both sides of most divisions to be able to relax enough to laugh.

    Might actually help with the divisiveness. We’ve pretty much got the deadly serious thing down in evangelicalism, right?

    Paul Knitter of Union Seminary and Harold Netland did a debate at TEDS a couple of years ago. Knitter got a big laugh when he indicated, with language I can’t recall exactly, that he was simultaneously a non-absolutist and believed in some unbending spiritual truths. He then followed up by saying, “And I know those are absolute beliefs!” The audience, a thoroughly evangelical group, laughed. Did people like me agree with Knitter? No. Not at all. But could we find a bit of humor in there that took some of the tension out of the room? Yes.

    I guess that’s the kind of thing I’m thinking of.