Kevin DeYoung and the Withering Church

From American Vision:

Kevin DeYoung’s brave piece “Stop the Revolution. Join the Plodders” gained considerable attention last week, but not nearly as much discerning pushback from Reformed folk as it should have. I need to say a few words about it, especially because it concerns a very hackneyed fallacy that destroys the true meaning and mission of this thing called “the church.”

Bojidar Marinov has already eviscerated the propaganda pitch in DeYoung’s piece. He is right. I don’t need to build on that. I want to draw your attention to a particular fallacy that surfaces multiple times in the piece. There are multiple fallacies that more discerning Reformed folk should be howling about across social media—straw men, epithets, equivocations, poisoning the well—but worst of all are the repeated examples of false dichotomy. These are worst not only for their content, but also for their presupposition. They arise from the entrenched two-kingdoms dichotomy that men like DeYoung depend upon to keep the evangelical industrial complex going.

Remember, it was not so long ago that DeYoung got candid as to why he likes “two kingdoms” theology: it provides, in his words, “a bulwark against theonomy and reconstructionism.” And how does it do this? DeYoung doesn’t tell us so much as show us in this latest piece. Just witness the fallacies:

It’s sexy among young people—my generation—to talk about ditching institutional religion and starting a revolution of real Christ-followers living in real community without the confines of church.

Notice how the two choices are structured here: either “real Christ-followers living in real community” or “the confines of the church.”

Problem: A group of “real Christ followers living in community” IS the church.

And, we definitely need more actually-existing Christian communities in this world: not just in a church building, but Christian community in the homes, the workplaces, the streets, the city halls, and the courtrooms of the nations — ALL nations.

And not just on Sunday, either. God demand all that we have, and all that we do: this is what we should give Him.

Now, let us focus on Bojidar Marinov’s response to Mr. DeYoung:

[DeYoung] blasts the “revolutionaries,” that is, those who want to ditch institutional religion. By “institutional religion” he means something which he calls “the church.” He doesn’t give his definition of “the church,” but the context makes it clear he is talking about the current prevailing institutional system which calls itself “church.” You know, the same system of which DeYoung is part of, and which provides for his regular paychecks and royalties. The system that I talked about in my previously mentioned podcast: a conglomerate of denominations, publishing houses, mission boards, local churches, seminaries, ministries, lobbyist and lawyers’ guilds, all devoted to the task of taking advantage of the market of donations, that is, the market of millions of Christians who want to see some godly leadership and teaching, and are willing to donate money to see it happen. This conglomerate I called by the name “ministry-industrial complex,” and one thing that can be said about it is that it has harmed the church – the real church – much more than it has helped, and it has appropriated money for a job it has never really done, nor ever had the intention to do. Instead, billions of dollars down the road, the church under the influence of that ministry-industrial complex is much weaker than before, and the culture is much less Christian than before, and Christians lose one battle after another in our culture, while spending money on “ministers” who can’t seem to be able – or willing – to train them to be victorious.

Billions and billions of dollars thrown at the ministry-industrial complex, the official spokesmen of the church, wasted.

Wasted on losers… on men comfortable to be losers.

“This did not Abraham.”

He doesn’t allow for the thought that perhaps his institution is not properly the Church of Jesus Christ. He doesn’t allow for the existence of the thousands of people who are leaving his institutional system and are taking the church with them, to start it anew, because false shepherds like DeYoung have corrupted it. He calls their exodus “immaturity,” and he doesn’t allow for the possibility that it is exactly the immaturity created by himself and his own class of “ministry” swindlers that is driving these people out.

The church is on the move, as men chose to follow the Spirit, instead of the various dead-enders out there.

The truth is opposite to what DeYoung says. These people who are leaving his “institutional religion” are not leaving the church. DeYoung and his “ministerial” buddies are not the church and have never been the church, and have no more authority to speak for the church than Johann Eck had in 1521. DeYoung’s “revolutionaries” are not leaving the church, they are taking it with them. They are the Shekinah-Glory cloud leaving the Temple in AD 60 and going to the Mount of Olives where there was no building nor structure, but where the last prayer of the true Lord of the Church was pronounced in His earthly body. Their leaving leaves DeYoung churchless, left alone with a mass of people he prefers to have around him: faceless, passive, apathetic, willing to hear the same empty useless “sermons” every week, willing to go through the same senseless ceremonial motions every week, people perfectly content to leave the world exactly the way they found it, in the same darkness, injustice, ignorance, and abortion rate as it was when they joined the “church.”

(…)

Such people who are willing to leave the things as they are do not have the Holy Spirit. A person baptized in the Holy Spirit is not a person who yearns for the same thing over and over again every day, the same useless rituals, the same useless sermons, the same useless church programs, the same useless session meetings, the same useless lobbyist rallies. A man baptized in the Holy Spirit is a man baptized in fire. Fire can mean many things, but whatever it symbolizes, it certainly doesn’t symbolize DeYoung’s boring, static, passive, complacent state of vegetating. If these people are the “authentic community” DeYoung wants, then he doesn’t want a community powered by the Holy Spirit. Thus, he doesn’t want a church.

The people DeYoung inveighs against are not starting a revolution. They are stopping it. They are acting as a counter-revolutionary force. The revolution has already happened, in the last one century. It was the revolution that killed the real church – the church that was a covenant community, and was taking the world by storm.

The Revolution Was“.

And not just in politics, either!

The pulpits must be purged of this illegal brood of vipers which has kept the church on milk and hot air – mostly hot air – for over 50 years. The fruit of that ministry-industrial complex is obvious in America in the last several decades: there’s barely an aspect of the American society that hasn’t been affected by the victorious march of neo-paganism. And that’s not because paganism is powerful. It is because the church members have been passive and incompetent and pessimistic and immature. And why are they so? Because of DeYoung’s institutional system. The fruit clearly reveals the root. There is no way that a true church would turn a previously Christian culture into a pagan culture. The true church does the other way around. When a system – like the one DeYoung defends – has absorbed billions of dollars only to produce defeat, then this system is a counterfeit church. It’s time for it to go. The people leaving it are only trying to stop the breakdown, not to cause one.

OK, let’s go over that key sentence again:

“The fruit clearly reveals the root. There is no way that a true church would turn a previously Christian culture into a pagan culture.”

The proof is in the pudding: the current church is simply apostate. An abject failure.

Obviously, she has chosen to defy the explicit commandment of God to redeem the world, and bring live to all men, in and out of the church, in and out of the corporations, in and out of the courts… all kneeling, recognizing, obeying the will of Christ.

This expansion of Christendom is hard work, a heavy responsibility: work and responsibility the leaders of the church secretly hated, as surely as the public atheists are motivated by hostility to God, period. You can know this by watching the results of the billions of dollars that the Official Church has received.

(And you know that the laity approved of all this, by their refusal to dump the corrupt leadership.)


“How many believing Protestants are in the Supreme Court, by the way? None, you say? I see… now, go on and cry out on how evil the nations’s laws are.

Tell me when every pulpit in American demands that Christians get serious about expanding Christ’s rule to the core concept of Public Justice — an explicit command of God Himself, spelt out again and again — and then perhaps we can talk about it.”

“But… but… we’ll be asked by what standard we should measure God’s Justice. And we can’t dare point to the Mosiac Code: the Laughing Masters would – GASPmock and insult us!”

“When you are more interested in pleasing God and less worried about the fear of man — however powerful, wealthy, and connected — then you will get the victory you long for. Assuming you actually want victory, that is, which I seriously doubt.

Failure is so much more easy, so much more comfortable, so much less risky, than victory. Cry about your endless string of abject defeats long enough, and you might even get a dog treat from the highly entertained Laughing Masters!

There is a better Master out there. One who plans to disciple the nations, and teach them to obey the real Master of heaven and earth.

Once more, for effect – the bold is mine:

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. — Matthew 28:18-20

Obey Christ, and gain the victory!

Disobey Christ, and expect punishment and failure and defeat.

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. — Matthew 5:13

Tired of being spat on, and having your face ground into the dust by worthless, corrupt, and evil men?

Time to believe what Christ said, explicitly and clearly.

Time to repent before Christ.

Time to do what Christ told you to do.”


Let us continue with Marinov:

DeYoung’s system has only preached milk for decades. Yes, the same milk that the author of Hebrews tells us to leave behind and move on (Heb. 5:11-6:2). And what is DeYoung’s solution to the problems with people leaving his so-called “church”? More appreciation of the same milk.

It’s possible we no longer find joy in so great a salvation. It’s possible that our boredom has less to do with the church, its doctrines, or its poor leadership and more to do with our unwillingness to tolerate imperfection in others and our own coldness to the same old message about Christ’s death and resurrection.

In other words, people are leaving because they do not appreciate their milk anymore. No wonder. Those who have the Holy Spirit want to move on from being permanently excited about childish things to working as mature men. May be they want to dosomething about that message, not just hear about it from the pulpit and experience sweet meltdowns over it. When an institution continues offering only milk – in opposition to Hebrews 6:1-2 – it is clear that institution is not a church.

The enemies of God cry out for milk, milk, milk… and never moves on to the meat.

To actually applying the Word of God to the world around us.

To stay a helpless infant, no matter how many times you have been told the same thing, over and over and over again. “Always learning, never obeying, never growing.”

There’s more than one way to show your contempt of the Divine Commandments, one way to be rebellious and lawless!

The exodus from the institutional system DeYoung defends was not caused by not enough Soviet-style propaganda, and can not be fixed by more Soviet-style propaganda. The reason for it is covenant realities, not psychological perceptions. It has nothing to do with “boredom,” or “globe-trotting rock stars,” or Che Guevara t-shirts. It has everything to do with the fact that the institutional system DeYoung defends is a fake, and it has been designed as a fake from the very beginning when it replaced the church. It was designed to destroy the real church, and it was designed to destroy the victories of the church in the West in the last several centuries.

The Soviet system looked eternal and imposing and immovable until the very last minute when it fell. When it fell, many were deeply shocked and surprised. Only a few had seen the signs of its collapse years before that. The signs were not many and not spectacular, but they spoke enough to those who could discern the times.

In the same way, the institutional system of the ministry-industrial complex in the US may look quite stable right now, and quite established in its claim to be the “church.” But the exodus of young people from it – similar to the exodus of people from the former Soviet bloc – is one of the many small signs that the system is losing credibility. It may continue lingering for a while, but its days are numbered. And its shepherds will receive a greater judgment.

Withering away in failure and powerlessness, drowning in the contempt of what was a strongly Christian society (before the impostor church really got its claws and fangs in): this may be the Safe Place of the leadership of the Western Church, but it isn’t good enough for me.

It shouldn’t be good enough for you, either.

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