Take a look at this ad from Crossway for their new book by Pastor Dane Ortlund. Like a gurgling brook, it soothes us. Like a white noise machine, it calms us. Like an infant at his mother’s breast, we are quieted and satisfied. So meek and humble. So soft and tender. So peaceful.
The book doesn’t teach. It “reflects on.” We don’t study. We’re not irritated by anything dogmatic or didactic. No authority. No preachiness for Heaven’s sake! Just mutual thoughtfulness.
Don Carson assures prospective buyers of Pastor Ortlund’s book that Pastor Ortlund writes with “pastoral gentleness and quiet beauty…” Carson says Ortlund “teases out” Scriptural truths that open up the “heart of Christ.” Carson promises Ortlund’s reflections will bring “comfort, strength, and rest to believers.”
Russ Moore assures prospective buyers that Pastor Ortlund writes of “rest and comfort,” accurately communicating the “Bible’s vision of Jesus [which is] a kind and gracious King.”
Nancy Leigh DeMoss Wolgemuth?
Admittedly, this is a real woman writing, so Nancy Leigh DeMoss Wolgemuth’s take on Pastor Ortlund’s reflections are not as depressing as the men she is agreeing with: ““The title of this book immediately evoked within me a sense of longing, hope, and gratitude.” The book is a “balm for every heart that feels pierced.” The book is “an invitation to experience the sweet consolations of a Savior who moves toward us with tenderness and grace.”
Well Paul is the uncontested master of tripe passed around the Reformed Evangelical ghetto, so we’d expect him to be more over-the-top than anyone else selling Pastor Ortlund’s book.
Paul doesn’t disappoint. Here are just a few of the words he employs:
rough, rocky, dark, your weary heart, beauty, heart, beauty, overwhelm, tenderly, heart, great, moved, feeling, hugely, heart, greatly, heart…
I won’t bother repeating the same stuff from all the usual suspects who are adored for their gifts of emotive profligacy and verbal superlatives including Ed Welch, Rosaria Butterfield, Sam Allberry, and Bryan Chapell.
Pastor Ortlund and Crossway are convinced weakness and fear are what ails the souls of Evangelical and Reformed Christians, today. Comfort and rest are the focus of Pastor Ortlund’s pastoral care.
But stop and think for a moment: Scripture condemns those “at ease in Zion” whose nature is to be presumptuously secure. How can Pastor Ortlund be so certain of his prescription for those Reformed Evangelical souls who are his and Crossway’s market niche? Do they have a lot of experience with Reformed Evangelicals and are they certain of what ails them?
Opposing much of what passes as Reformed preaching in our time, the Holy Spirit commands us:
Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12-13)
The proper response to God working in us is obedience motivated by our cultivation of fear and trembling—this in the presence of God’s determined pursuit of His Own will. Pastor Ortlund, though, is engorged by a spirit of reassurance, gentleness, lowliness, humility, meekness, and grace. He can’t help himself: he must heal all the people of God burdened with fear and trembling. He appeals to them that this is not God’s will for them.
What all the victims of the Reformed church today oppressing their brothers and sisters in Christ with their bitter complaints about all those who “done them wrong” need to see is how Jesus is “longing for his people to find rest in him.”
Pastor Ortlund is quite certain all the weak men and women of the church are ripe for his product.
If they buy it, they will experience the cheap grace purveyed by every graduate of Wheaton and Covenant Theological Seminary. They can do nothing else. They had no other curriculum during their years of study at Wheaton and Covenant.
Why mention Wheaton and Covenant?
Because that’s what Pastor Ortlund himself wants you to know about him. This from the bio he wrote:
Dane is a graduate of Wheaton College (BA), Covenant Theological Seminary (MDiv, ThM), and Wheaton College Graduate School (PhD in New Testament). Prior to coming on staff he worked for ten years in Christian publishing at Crossway in Wheaton. He is the author of several books such as Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers, Edwards on the Christian Life: Alive to the Beauty of God, and Defiant Grace: The Surprising Message and Mission of Jesus. Dane’s life purpose is to glory in the endless grace of God and to call others to join him there. It’s all about Jesus—and his unspeakable heart for sinners.
From glory to glory, eh? Not a cloud on the horizon. No fear. Perfect sailing on the way to perfect Heaven.
This schlock consuming Evangelicalism and the Reformed church today reminds me of a New Yorker cartoon decades ago picturing a middle-aged pudgy bald man sitting at the bar with a drink, saying to the bartender patiently listening:
I had a happy childhood. My teenage years were happy. I have a happy marriage, happy children, and a happy job. I’m having a happy middle age and my old age will be happy, too. Then I’ll have a happy death and I’ll go to happy heaven.
It’s funny to the pagans subscribing to the New Yorker, but to the Christian it’s terribly tragic—especially the Christian shepherd of God’s sheep.
For from the least of them even to the greatest of them, everyone is greedy for gain, and from the prophet even to the priest everyone deals falsely. They have healed the brokenness of My people superficially, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ but there is no peace. (Jeremiah 6:13-14)
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NOTE: My wife says this will annoy people. I ask why and she responds, “Because they think you’re judging.”
True. This is the calling of pastors. We are to warn God’s sheep day and night, with tears.
Dear sisters and brothers, this crud is very appealing, but avoid it like the plague. Avoid too all those who produce and sell it. Stay far away from them. Their peace is no peace.