When Reformed Theology is a Cloak for Debauchery

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

I’ve written and spoken much about the difference between being a Calvinist and being Reformed. To be a “Calvinist” in theological parlance means that one affirms the five points of Calvinism soteriologically. To be Reformed implies much more, including Covenant Theology, Confessionalism, the Regulative Principle of Worship, and most importantly, a quest for personal holiness.
Apologia Church and its leadership, including Jeff Durbin and Marcus Pittman are not Reformed, and I wish the press would stop calling them that. Like their compatriots at the “Reformed Pub,” which is the internet’s cesspool of Calvinist-flavored immaturity and ungodliness, these men are hardly men, but rather boys giggling about intestinal gas and body parts who cloak theology with lasciviousness. These are children who profess a right dividing of Law and Gospel, who season their behavior with latent antinomianism.
ChristianNews.Net has posted an articulate article on the problems festering in this movement, as demonstrated by an obnoxiously juvenile attempt at coolness via Apologia Church. Their church plant funding strategy is to sample beer and get tattoos. In a line that was both revealing and apropros, the article mentioned one man saddled up to get tatted up who sported Pirate Christian Radio ink. I would hardly think that polemicist and Pirate Christian founder, Chris Rosebrough, would approve of a church plant strategy founded so firmly on such triteness (although neither alcohol nor tattoos would be forbidden outright in his mind). The issue is not that alcohol and drawing on ones’ self are sins, per se, but that such a strategy be undertaken by Christian ministers who should be encouraging young men to gird up the loins of their mind and be mature (1 Peter 1:13). The article reads…

“This is actually a fundraiser for our Apologia Kauai church plant, so people of the church are donating to have another member of the church tattoo them so they can go to Kauai and we can plant a church there,” Pittman explains. “So, it’s pretty cool.”

As he reads the comments below the video, Pittman notes that a viewer characterized the activity as the “Marilyn Manson-ization of the church,” while another remarked that the fundraiser is “a lot cooler than a bake sale.”

“It’s definitely a lot cooler, for sure,” Pittman agrees.

Another supporter waiting his turn explains that he is going to be tattooed with a “dirty Trinity” design.

Knowing Pittman personally, I’m sure he revels at the opportunity – probably not something he enjoyed earlier in life – to be characterized as “cool.” Sadly, one man’s “cool” is another man’s immature. Reformed or not, this is no different than the church growth strategy of the Purpose Driven and Seeker Friendly models so despised by the classically Calvinist. Make no mistake about it – this is Seeker Friendly; it’s just seeker friendly for bearded hipsters rather than suburban soccer moms.
The article continues…

“It’s very disconcerting,” Sonny Hernandez, a military chaplain and adjunct professor of theology in Arizona, told Christian News Network. “There’s several ways to do a fundraiser for a local church, and there’s a way that you could ask for funding to distribute Bibles in the local community—you can even wash cars, but tattoos as a way to raise money for a local church?”
He said that he found the fundraiser as focusing “more on theatrics than theology, and gimmicks more than the gospel.”

Sadly, the man-children engaged in this gutterizing of Calvinist soteriology have been bolstered by the support and association of renowned apologist, James White. The article says that “White declined to speak about his appearance at [their conference].”
White should be given pause. The “Marilyn Manson-ization of the church” is not to be lauded.
Calvinists should lead by our example in our seriousness, sober-mindedness and earnestness, not in seeing how close we can get to sin and sensationalism for the sake of coolness.
Read their article here.
[Editor’s Note: The first edition of this article featured an image of James White. I removed it because this article is not about James White, and would rather that not be the impression. He’s a by-line. I could have mentioned Douglas Wilson – who I also (along with White) admire and frequently cite. However, this article is about what was written at ChristianNews.net and Wilson wasn’t mentioned]

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