Confessions of a Recovering Evanjellyfish
Hello, my name is Brian and I am an Evanjellyfish. Yes, that's right, though I have been Reformed now for 15 years, I still have to live life one day at a time lest I fall back into my gutless, spineless and amorphous old ways. My story is not all that unusual; like most new Christians I started out on the simple stuff, Chick tracts, Moody Press, the Four Spiritual Laws, you know the sort of thing. After a while, I wasn't getting the same buzz, so I started doing Scofield's notes on a regular basis. Then, before I knew it, I was mainlining Hal Lindsey. I finally realized I had hit rock bottom when I OD'd one weekend in an orgy of Salem Kirban 666 novels. At that point, I knew I had to get clean and thus began my recovery. But even today I have to make sure that I keep the newspaper far away from the book of Revelation.
My recovery was actually helped in an odd sort of way by attending an accredited Evanjellyfish college. Oh sure, they hated fundamentalists and they laughed at my prophecy charts, but for all their academic respectability, they were still Evanjellyfish, just a different sort. Where the Fundies tried to escape from the world, the broad Evanjellyfish I met in college wanted to accommodate themselves to it. No humanist idea was too outrageous to be accepted as long as the professor opened the class in prayer and baptized his heresies with an occasional Bible verse. Like all Evanjellyfish, no one, professor or student alike, had the guts to stand up and defend a Biblical view of history, art, science, etc. Instead, we were treated to the warmed-over dregs of humanist nonsense from the past decade, touted as the cutting edge in Christian scholarship. But this, in God's grace, proved to be the means of my recovery. As I looked at the gutless wonders that Christians had become, their flirtation with apostasy, their irrelevance to anyone and anything outside their own personal peace and prosperity, I longed for something different.
For example: Ron Sider was the most popular author on campus, avidly read and embraced as the definition of true Christian discipleship. But it was obvious to me that this turkey was just another socialist wolf from the Sixties, tempering his liberation theology with a thin veneer of Evanjellyfish respectability. I knew he was wrong but at the time didn't have the Scriptures to refute him. Thus, in God's providence, I was set up perfectly for David Chilton's book Productive Christians in an Age of Guilt Manipulators when it finally found its way into my hands. Oh, I rejected the predestination and postmillennialism at first, but I was hooked now on something much more powerful than the retreatist rapture nonsense I had once been addicted to. Here was a book that had BIBLICAL answers. And here, finally, was a form of Christianity that had some backbone!
But that was later. In the meantime, God used the Evanjellyfish college I attended to make me grow a spine despite myself. It was either fight for the Faith, or succumb to religious irrelevance. One of my first classes was in speech communication in which the professor ridiculed my statement in class that the Bible is the final authority in matters of faith and practice. Being 24 years old, married and paying for my own college education out of money I had earned and saved during six years of active duty military service, I was not about to be cowed by some hippie reject who was not all that older than me, simply because he had a degree from a liberal seminary (needing a haircut was the least of his problems). I was PAYING for this expensive education; and instead of backing down as my ALL classmates did, I stood toe to toe with him and asked, "Look, if you don't accept this school's doctrinal position on the inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture, what are you doing teaching here?" He couldn't answer, of course. But he could give me a "C+" in speech, a heavy blow for a man destined to make his living preaching the Word. Of course, it didn't help that I once snorted with disgust and walked out of his class when he required his students to give each other sensual "back" rubs to foster intimacy through tactile "communication." But I will give him credit for this: he taught me not to suffer fools gladly. And I began with him.
When my fellow students laughed at me in psychology classes for daring to even mention the name "Jay Adams," I searched the Scriptures and asked pointed questions about how God's view of the human condition matched up with the humanist nonsense of Freud, Skinner and Rogers. When my theology professors waxed eloquent on the great contributions of Karl Barth, I asked why we should adopt his existential nonsense in place of historic Biblical orthodoxy. When my church history class required textbooks that called those who retain orthodox theology an intellectual rearguard action that could not possibly hold the allegiance of modern men, I demanded to know why we were forced to read such tripe (causing one older professor to literally have an apoplectic fit in class).
My recovery began, you see, not just when I went cold-turkey off dispensationalism, but also as I became aware that the broad Evanjellyfish world view was nothing more than humanist offal. Broad Evanjellyfish Christianity forced me back to the Scriptures; and my real education came at night, when I compared the puerile mush I was fed in class every day to the real red meat of the word of God. And because the school depended on the donations of parents who really did believe the historic Christian Faith, the professors had to put up with my daily barrage of questions concerning how what we were being taught squared with the Bible. They didn't like it, but they were backed into a corner.
But it was seminary where my recovery was finally completed. The Broad Evanjellyfish institution I first attended, though it still retained an orthodox confession, was well down the road to apostasy. Again, the battle began with my very first class. The syllabus for the introductory course on the New Testament stated that our goal was to learn how to use redaction and form criticism so that we would be able to discern the authentic words of Christ from the inauthentic ones. I raised my hand and asked if I could get advanced standing because I had a red-letter edition of the Bible. The professor said that I didn't have the right attitude. I replied that he didn't have the right theology. He said I should take another class because I was destined not to succeed in this one. I agreed, clapping my shoes together as I walked out the door to shake the dust off my feet. You see, though not yet Reformed, I had started developing a little backbone. I didn't yet know what God wanted me to be, but I did know that it wasn't supposed to look like those wimpy, acculturated, accommodated, girly-men who were my professors.
Another class that same semester was taught by a professor who had authored a recent article in the Journal of Evangelical Theology defending the Deutero-Pauline hypothesis and pseudopigraphic authorship (that the Apostle Paul did not necessarily write all the letters ascribed to him). I read the article one day while killing some time in the library, waiting for my wife to get off work. At a meeting of the entire first-year class with the dean to discuss the seminary's approach to theological education (a number of people had been complaining in private about the apostasy of some of the professors and eventually the rumors of student discontent had reached the administration), we were asked if there were any questions. Nobody said a word. Finally, I raised my hand and said I was concerned about an apparent discrepancy between the school's official doctrinal stance and what was actually believed by the faculty and taught in the classroom. The dean, a personal friend, challenged me saying, "Brian, there is NO discrepancy. You have not been here long enough even to SEE such a discrepancy."
I then quoted from the article written by the professor denying essentially both the inerrancy and infallibility of the Scriptures. The entire meeting immediately broke up in howls of outrage that a first-year student had the audacity to attack the professional reputation of a respected professor with impeccable academic credentials from such prestigious institutions as Harvard Divinity School and Union Seminary.
Later on that week, another professor, one who had not been at the meeting and whom I had never before met, stopped me in the halls: "I just wanted to tell you, DON'T ever take one of my classes. You'll never pass." The seminary's registrar then verbally assaulted me when I went in to sign up for the next quarter's classes, insisting that someone had put me up to destroying this professor's reputation because, obviously, first-year students never read theological journals and therefore I must have a hidden agenda. I responded that simply by looking at where the man had received his graduate degrees should be enough to tell anyone with half a brain that he was a theological liberal. The female registrar literally squealed in outrage that I should darken a man's reputation simply because of the schools he attended. I responded, "If you lay down with dogs, don't be surprised if you get up with fleas." I left her purple faced and grasping for breath (I don't think I gave her a heart attack, but one can always hope).
Evanjellyfish may have no backbone, but they do have a sting. I went from graduating with a 3.8 GPA in college while doing a double major, completing my entire degree in two years, to a 2.0 GPA my first semester in seminary. It seems the hundred-yard walk from the college campus to the seminary buildings had a serious effect on basic academic skills. Or maybe there was another dynamic at work?
Oh, I could go on. I could talk about the marriage and family counseling course that required us to read lesbian pornography (so that we could understand "women's" issues). I could mention the Old Testament professor who left after being rebuked for requiring his classes to actually READ the Old Testament instead of just studying the documentary hypothesis (i.e., that the Torah was actually a series of myths and legends edited by at least four different scribes). I could talk about the preaching classes where we were forbidden ever to tell anyone to ever do anything in a sermon (such as not get an abortion), because if we spoke the commandments of God, it might make people feel guilty. I could discuss with some "enthusiasm" the Christian ethics class that taught each man to do whatever was right in his own eyes. I could mention the nasty notes from fellow students in my mailbox who demanded that I stop asking the professor such hard questions or the even nastier unsigned notes that warned me to leave seminary before my professional career was ended before it began.
This is Evanjellyfish education at both the undergraduate and graduate level. It is a form of godliness but denies the power thereof. These people are humanist slaves, intimidated by the dream of academic acceptability and willing to sell their Christian heritage for the crumbs that fall from the God-haters' table.
My Completed Recovery
But as a result, my recovery was complete. When first brought to faith in Christ, Jesus changed my life. His word purified my soul, awakened my conscience, illumined my mind, gave me hope in darkness and commanded that I submit every area of life to him. And if the Evanjellyfish I met were less than what Jesus said they were to be, at least I knew that there was a rock on which my Faith was built, a rock that could not be moved by the passing whims of foolish men. Because God gave me a love for the Scriptures, the apostasy of modern Evanjellyfish academics simply drove me back to try and understand God's own revelation of himself. I became Reformed, not because I read a good book here and there, or because I followed the teachings of a great preacher or sat under the ministry of a godly pastor. I became Reformed because I loved God's word and the Reformed Faith was the only system that was consistent with that word.
The Real Road to Recovery
The road to recovery from Broad Evanjellyfish Christianity does not begin by learning how to be nasty, critical, cynical or obnoxious. It simply requires loving the Scriptures, submitting to their authority and then standing up for them when they are under attack. I praise God for the tiny handful of professors who taught orthodoxy in these unorthodox institutions, even if the best of them did not have the guts to expose the corruption. I weep for the handful of godly students who stuck it out year after year, getting their degrees, managing to retain some semblance of their Faith, even though as a consequence their life and ministry were blunted. But I really have to wonder about the parents who sacrificed so much to send their children to such schools. What were they thinking? Didn't they know what was going on? Didn't they care?
Evanjellyfish Christianity is a disease, some think an incurable one. But my Lord raises the dead and heals the sick and breathes new life into even the most wicked hearts. What he did for me, he can and will one day do for our Evanjellyfish brothers and sisters hooked on pietism. However, before you can recover, you have got to admit you have a problem. Before you can grow a backbone, you have to admit that you don't have one. And it is the law of God that will give spineless Evanjellyfish Christians that backbone. It is my sincerest prayer that God will soon grant grace to all those brothers still caught in the sickness of modern, American, Evanjellyfish "Christianity."
Topics: Reformed Thought, Theology, Culture , Dispensationalism, Education