WSC IT specialist Adam laments the development in the CRC of the office of “ministry associate” (which must be found in a n obscure textual variant of Eph 4!).
I couldn’t respond directly on his blog (I hate Xanga) so I reply here:
This seems to be an extension of the CRC office of “evangelist.” This is also the triumph of the Second Great Awakening in the CRC. Remember the CRC was founded, in distinction from the RCA, because the latter was perceived to be too broadly evangelical! Now the CRC seems to be hell-bent-for-leather in a hurry to catch up for lost time. Yes, the Methodists and Baptists beat us stuffy Reformed types to the Western frontier with untrained lay preachers and they set up mission stations while we were still in seminary at Princeton. But who had to try to clean up the theological mess made by the enthusiastic evangelicals? It was the Reformed (and other) guys with seminary training.
It’s the difference between field medicine and theater surgery. In combat medicine medics do what they can with what they have but one doesn’t turn than into a normal practice. This is what the CRC has done with this new office. They’ve turned field medicine into a routine and marginalized standard, trained medical practice. This another reason why the best analysis of what’s happening in the CRC is not “it’s going liberal” but rather to say “It’s going evangelical.” Thence it will likely go liberal and segments of it already have, but the main body of the CRC is just joining the American evangelical mainstream and the creation of a semi-trained office of “ministry associate” is just another step toward Charles Finney.