There is a growing plague of Facebook groups whose self-identification as ‘Reformed’ is as dubious as Bruce’s Jenner’s identity as a woman. The only difference is that these groups are significantly more estrogen-fueled than Jenner himself.
FAUX-REFORMED FACEBOOK ‘FANTASY THEOLOGY’ GROUPS
These self-pronounced ‘Reformed’ groups are, on average, no more Reformed than – as Spurgeon would say – chalk is cheese. These men drink their lattes, barely able to hold up their Starbucks cups with delicately limp wrists, legs crossed as though devoid of any encumberment, treating theology as a hobby, like potluck-gutted middle-aged pastors play fantasy baseball.
These men pass around memes of “Who would you choose” from a montage of a dozen different historic preachers, as though theology were a sports league, all of whom would castigate those boys as being idlers and effeminates, and who – if truth be told- those boys would turn against as being insensitive brutes, should they be alive today.
Of these denizens of “Reformed” Facebook groups, Paul Washer speaks when he says, “You talk about Whitefield, and you quote Whitefield, but if he were alive today you would stone him to death.”
These men are the product of youth groups who catechized them by laser-tag, who found their way to a YWAM or Cru Bible study at college and discovered that being Calvinist was a way to rebel against their parents. As Calvinism became a fad, these soft-handed debutants and armchair theological quarterbacks assumed the title without an inkling of what it means for practical life application.
The profanity, drunkenness, worldliness, and effeminateness of the ‘men’ in the typical Reformed Facebook group rivals that of any group dedicated to College Democrats. The only difference is that the denizens of these groups post memes and gifs of the Reformers (because they are incapable of any original thought on their own, and are relegated to showing pictures photoshopped by others, as though dealing in doctrinal trading cards).
I first wrote about the phenomenon of fake Facebook “Reformed” imposters in the post, Jesus Did Not Call You to Be a Hipster in June of 2015. I preached a sermon by that theme at the Reformation Montana conference with Todd Friel entitled Jonathan Edwards and Hipster Christianity.
Groups that fit this description include the Reformed Pub, Reformed Family Life, the Reformed Baptist Forum, Reformed and Reloaded, and on-and-on it goes.
In these groups, which are largely filled by men who subscribe to a Reformed Confession with no more conviction than a fast-food consumer prefers Burger King over McDonald’s, who have 1689 tattoos but don’t even attend LBC1689 churches, they are largely theological RINOS (Reformed in Name Only).
William Farel persuaded Calvin to stay in Geneva with an imprecatory curse and was scolded by his contemporaries for breaking icons, snatching idols out of the hands of Catholics, snapping them over his knee, and throwing them in the river (and even worse). John Calvin infamously stood aside while the Genevan government torched Servetus at the stake, with little more than a smug warning. Martin Luther hurled insults at the Pope like cannonballs at a castle fortress. John Knox wrote his infamous The First Trumpet Blast Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women (can you imagine what these woke #churchtoo fairies would do with that?).
This modern generation of hashtag slacktivists and social media theologians in their Fantasy Apologetics Leagues would banhammer Farel, Calvin, Luther, and Knox for not melting into a puddle of dripping virtue every time The Gospel Coalition tried to inject evangelicalism with a theological estrogen shot, which is little more than what the typical TGC article – usually written by effeminate men and butch lesbians – is attempting to do.
These man-children post memes of Charles Spurgeon, but know little more than that he smoked cigars, which apparently gives them license to walk around vaping some artificially flavored e-cigarette that’s as fruity as they are. Little do they realize that Spurgeon died ostracized and shunned for his stance against the Baptist Union, which he was convinced was in the middle of Downgrade.
These ‘Reformed’ groups, filled with mostly non-Reformed people, in non-Reformed churches, who wouldn’t know ‘Reformed’ if it offered them Communion, are the very ones who would have personally voted to censure Spurgeon for not playing well with others.
Our own Facebook group, the Pulpit Bunker, is full of actual Reformed believers who stepped a cyber-foot into these other faux-Reformed groups, took a look around, and immediately left – generally because of the ungodliness of it or their flippantness toward theology.
One man wrote recently in the Pulpit Bunker his description of these groups…
“I’ve about had it with every Reformed Baptist Facebook group that I’m in. Snowflake man-children, the (overwhelming) lot of them. Most are barely Calvinist, don’t know the contents of “their confession,” not members of Reformed Baptist churches, and basically have the stench of the world, except they post Calvin, Luther, Spurgeon, and Sproul memes… but oh boy do they love to slam Pulpit & Pen! Because the extent of their reformedness is listening to James White and his sycophants, so all they really know is “DUURRR, SLANDER & KEYBOARD BAAAD.
They don’t know the nature of any of the disagreements over the last few years, they’re quick to believe anything negative (and to share actually slanderous accusations), and are far and away markedly more vile, hateful, hyperbolic, petty, and hypocritical than anything anyone at Pulpit & Pen could even believably be accused of.
The most jarring irony to me is that they hate P&P for, essentially, not bearing with the brethren to the degree that they subjectively think they should (and in such case, the “brethren” are either actual heretics that deserve to be exposed, or actual brethren that are receiving a well-earned rebuke for foolish behavior), yet they themselves refuse to bear with their “hyper-critical” brethren, and like good old [Turretin Fan, aka Peter Flanagan] above will, in some cases, imply or state outright (in the most passive aggressive way) that P&P writers/ JD Hall are lost reprobates, “obviously unregenerate,” disqualified from ministry, etc, etc.
I don’t know who to tag in this, but I want all of you P&P people to be encouraged. I’m glad to see readership is up. I’m glad that you’re willing to put up with a lot of hot garbage by so-called-brothers and immature believers. You do it for a love of the church of Jesus Christ. It’s why you hate heresy with the fury of a thousand suns. It’s why you’d rather show love to a brain-dead world by yelling harsh truths than whispering nothings. It’s why you’re willing to be contra mundum.
I don’t agree with all of you all of the time (and I’m sure none of you are in constant lock-step). I pray for you in this difficult work, and in your walks. I’m also not going to get butthurt when you say something about someone I like and throw an online hissy. That’s what children do. There are a few children in this group (it’s to be expected anywhere one goes), but the folks here are generally more respectful, thoughtful, and mature than in the “Reformed” man-child groups I’m sadly still in.
All that to say: you’re appreciated. I hope you know that. As my dad would tell me when I was in junior high, “don’t let the turkeys get you down.”
THE BURR IN MY SADDLE
I wrote a glowing piece about the forgiveness demonstrated by Brandt Jean toward his brother’s killer, Amber Guyger, and applauded him for displaying an important part of the Gospel. Reformation Charlotte, another polemics ministry run by Jeff Maples (the former editor of Pulpit & Pen) also wrote a glowing and complimentary article in the immediate aftermath, and it received more the 22 thousand shares.
Then, Pulpit & Pen followed up our article on that subject with 2 Important Facts About the Faith of Brandt Jean (the victim’s brother). One of those facts is that Jean is a Campbellite (Churches of Christ), which is a predominately white and conservative denomination, which is only pertinent because of race hustlers like Jemar Tisby and Kyle J. Howard, who both assumed that Jean was of “the black church tradition” and was politically liberal (using those assumptions to bash white people happy to see him forgiving a white woman).
Many people messaged me to ask why I had not pointed out that the Campbellites believe a false Gospel, which I have written about at Pulpit & Pen many times before. In fact, virtually all Baptists and 100% of Reformed believers would have called the Campbellites a cult. If you don’t believe that, check out this literature, entitled Campbellism Exposed, put out by the Southern Baptist Sunday School Board in 1900 (we posted it in 2014).
However, the point of any article I wrote about the subject of Botham or Brandt Jean was not to dissect their soteriology, but to demonstrate that not all black people fit the liberation theology mold that race-baiters like Tisby and Howard desire to put them. Jeff Maples, on the other, hand, did write about the Campbellites and posted the article, So Botham Jean Probably Believed a False Gospel.
In the post, Maples claimed that if Jean believed the doctrine of his denomination and that which was preached by his dad (a Campbellite pastor) and that which was taught by the college ministry for which he interned, he believed a false gospel.
While I shuttered at Maples’ post, out of anticipation of the outrage by the soy-sippers to follow, I found no disagreement with it. Maples focused on the Reformed and Protestant doctrine of Sola Fide and asserted that justification by obedience was not salvific. In other words, his post was accurate and true.
Then, I got emails from the Reformed Family Facebook group in which Maples was being slandered and rhetorically maligned by supposed “Calvinists” who didn’t grasp why Sola Fide was such a big deal. Furthermore, they confused the 9th Commandment of “Thou Shalt Not Lie” with “I don’t want to hear this right now.” Their understanding of the abiding Moral Law in the Decalogue seemed as astute as a Dispensationalist’s.
A GAGGLE OF GIRLY MEN
McGowan claimed the “trash article” (which was comprised of stone-cold facts about what the Campbellites believe) was a violation of the 9th Commandment because it wasn’t “charitable” enough to professing believers. Of course, Mormons, Catholics, and Jehovah’s Witnesses are “professed believers” so one wonders (1) where McGowan draws the line if it’s not Justification by Faith Alone and (2) how being “uncharitable” is a violation of the Commandment.
Here are some screenshots of their vitriol. Notice how these “Reformed believers relentlessly attack discernment sites but treat the Campbellite denial of Sola Fide as a non-issue:
Kael Wallace apparently doesn’t understand – or doesn’t care – that the difference Christians have with Campbellites is not on the mode or subject of baptism, but on their belief that baptism justifies. The complaint towards Campbellites from Christians, as you’ll see in Campbellism Exposed, GotQuesitons.org, or the Apologetics Resource Center is that they deny Justification by Faith Alone. Or for mainstream non-Reformed Baptists, even the North American Mission Board (NAMB) website points out these very things written about by Jeff Maples.
Update: Having no idea who “Daniel Posthuma” was – and never having recalled Pulpit & Pen “bringing him on to write” for us, we scoured our inboxes to find any reference to him. Eventually, Maples found a request from Posthuma in 2017, begging us to let him contribute. You can see that below.
Like so many in these “Reformed” groups, they bear false witness – like Daniel Posthuma – against Pulpit & Pen at the drop of a hat. Thankfully, we save all communication so as to protect ourselves against the level of neurosis that exists in Young, Restless, and Reformed groups.
To be clear, what Joseph Elijah McGowan is arguing is that Botham Jean – who interned in the Churches of Christ college ministry, whose father is a Churches of Christ pastor, who was a member of a Churches of Christ Church, who went on Churches of Christ mission trips, doesn’t know what the Churches of Christ believe about Baptismal Justification (not Baptismal Regeneration, as Ethan Sowders suggests) and to even say he might believe what his church believes is “sinful slander.”
It is 100% fair to presume that someone believes what their church teaches. Perhaps the fact most of the “Reformed” folks in these Facebook groups don’t go to Reformed churches (or any church at all) has tainted their view on this issue, but it is certainly not a “Ninth Commandment Violation” to presume that a person believes what their church teaches.
The group above demonstrated in that thread what the commenter above called, “quick to believe anything negative (and to share actually slanderous accusations), and are far and away markedly more vile, hateful, hyperbolic, petty, and hypocritical than anything anyone at Pulpit & Pen could even believably be accused of.”
But for Joseph Elijah McGowan, it’s a “lie” to suggest that maybe Botham believed what his church taught, and any suggestion otherwise, is “speculation and titillation.”
Notice the quote of Maples’ article, which is reasonable, and the comment from McGowan below, which is not.
Or, this post from David Kirk West, explaining why he thinks Jeff’s post was a 9th Commandment Violation (on the flimsiest ground you’ve ever heard)…
According to Kirk, even though Maples was careful to say “if” and left room for the hypothetical possibility that he didn’t affirm his church’s doctrinal beliefs because Maples failed to include the equivalent of the word “alleged” on a single point, he is therefore guilty of “lying.”
I’d like to point out that David Kirk West, with his own impossible standard of judgment, accused Maples of lying without the charitably that he required of Maples toward Jean.
These men are women. They are effeminate daisies who would have thrown their doilies on the field as the Reformers spoke candidly about Rome for breaching some sense of naivety disguised as politeness. I’ve no use for these men, and Christianity would neither be better nor worse off without them.
Men like Kirk, Sowders, ‘Posthuma,’ and McGowan all act as though the Reformation Doctrines are Sola Tribuo (politeness), Sola Simplicitas (naivety) and Sola Virtus Signalling (that one is self-explanatory), as they treat Sola Fide like some kind of secondary or tertiary doctrine.
I had an admin respond to this dainty debutant dogpile on my friend, Jeff Maples, from my public figure page (I’m currently FB banned) for JD Hall this way…
The soy-boy dandies at the Reformed Family group instantly flagged my comment for “harassment and bullying.”
This is why our media manager, Cody Libolt, has a “block first” policy. It’s not because we’re afraid of debates. It’s because millennial snowflakes flag you to the politically-correct Facebook hall-monitors, who are more than happy to put a conservative in the time-out corner. We block them before they can flag us.
Then, I put up another post.
Joseph Elijah McGowan told me via messenger that he asked “Reformed” elders if he was out of line for accusing Maples of the 9th Commandment violation and they (supposedly) responded affirmatively.
According to McGowan, one elder told him…
“I don’t think it’s necessarily wrong to take issue with the beliefs of the denomination the Bothams belong/belonged to, but the ministers agreed that the article “probably did not follow all the duties of the Ninth Commandment”, as I stated.
I promptly asked for those ministers’ names and addresses, so that (first) they might be held accountable for thinking it wrong to defend Sola Fide and (secondly) so that if someone ever found their όρχεις, they could promptly be mailed back to them so they could reclaim their status as men.
These are ‘Reformed’ Christians who are not Reforming anything. These are Protestants who are no longer protesting. These are men who are no longer manning.
These men are doctrinal cuckolds, either oblivious to the reality that false teachers and false doctrines are whoring with the church around their backs, or perhaps they even get a kick from the excitement. They seem to have no pride and no jealousy for true religion and do not mind if it is deflowered right in front of their faces.
Furthermore, it’s one thing to be gutless cowards who don’t care about theology unless it’s giggling in irreverent Facebook groups. It’s another thing to accuse actual Reformers and real preachers of sin for stating what you, in your cowardice, would never say.
Prior to writing this post, I was reached out to by friends of Joseph Elijah Gowan and begged not to write this because he was a “nobody” and suffers from clinical depression (so he says). Their concern is that I might write something that could drive the impressionable, fragile millennial over the edge.
It does not surprise me that McGowan suffers from a 21st-century snowflake melancholy, and neither would it surprise me if he has a gluten allergy and asthma. It does not surprise me that his friends would describe him as “fragile” in an attempt to get me not to write this post.
If you’re “fragile,” stop doing theology. If you’re “fragile,” stop with the doctrinal debates. If you’re “fragile,” keep quiet in church and ask questions of your wife so that she can teach you peaceably at home.
The fragility of these lisping lilliputians is the problem I have with them to begin with.
When I unveiled “Calvinist Batman” as Matthew Manchester, his pastor pled with me compassion because Manchester suffered from various mental immaturity issues. At which point, I wondered why pastors allow men they would never allow to be teachers in the church manage doctrine-oriented Facebook groups, where just as much damage can be done by the ignorant and passive.
Truth be told, the admins of the Reformed Baptist Forum, Reformed and Reloaded, and the Reformed Pub (and countless other doctrinal hobby groups) are also “nobodies,” but together they add up to a sizable contingent of nobodies.
Whenever Pulpit & Pen writes a post they exclaim, “I would never write something like that!”
I would respond, “Of course you would not. Neither would you ever preach a sermon we deliver, walk into mobs we evangelize, or prisons where we preach.”
But they would “never do something like that” not because they are better men; they would never do something like that because, frankly, they never do anything at all.
In the meantime, Pulpit & Pen and, I presume Reformation Charlotte, will go back to actually contributing something to the Christian world besides administrating a Facebook group.
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