Sam Emadi wrote an article at Crossway that was re-published at 9 Marks that is addressed to a brand new Christian. In response, while employing a slight degree of sarcasm I also write an open letter to a new Christian. The joy that is coming when it comes to evangelicalism. In that sense its time to prepare the youth and those coming onboard for the coming burn out tomorrow.
“A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.”
The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name.
Zachariah 14:9 NIV
Mark Dever of 9 Marks
This blog has written about Sam Eamdi before. Sam is involved in Third Avenue Baptist in Louisville, Kentucky as a member. He is also the senior editor of 9 Marks. If you would like to read a biography of Sam you can do so in the following post. “Sam Emadi’s Disturbing 9 Marks Article Helps Explain Why Neo-Calvinism Struggles with Spiritual Abuse and Why One Should Expect More Scandals.” In March of 2020 Sam Emadi published an article at 9 Marks that consist of advice for a new Christian. This post was a part of an open letter series at Crossway. You can see that series here. In this open letter Sam Emadi holds the Neo-Calvinist line. He advises the person to focus on the cross and be engaged in sanctification. Don’t expect an immediate victory or pursue spiritual highs. He also emphasizes how one should get involved in a local church not just to be a part of faith community but also to be accountable. And along the way be open to correction. You can read the original article in, “An Open Letter to a New Christian.” What this blog is going to do is to write a response to Sam Emadi’s letter. What would I say to a new Christian. (Aside from screaming RUN!! :D) But seriously what would one say to a new Christian? What advice would I impart based off my 15 years experience inside evangelicalism? That will be my focus of an open letter. There may be a slight amount of sarcasm below but consider yourself warned.
Dear New Christian,
What to say to you? I wish someone would have spoken to me after I got involved. Part of the reason why is that a good frank talk is sometimes necessary. You may find this open letter to be discouraging. It may shock you as well. In reality I am trying to be realistic. When you get involved in a church there can be the excitement, the glow, the new people you meet and so much more. In the process you are excited as everything is brand new. But let me give you some advice if you want to pursue a life inside the evangelical church. My advice is…be careful. Be wise and be on your guard.
Dear New Christian, when you get burned and harmed the scars last deep. They do not go away and in my view what the evangelical church is good at doing is harming people and destroying lives. Chances are you are young, in your 20’s or older. Wait until you are in your 50’s and you see people be harmed, burned out or fried. Wait when a devoted friend comes out and says they struggle with doubt. What when church goes in a direction you just never could comprehend.
One point I would like to make is that you should avoid churches that are 9 Marks, or Acts 29. They are authoritarian, controlling and cult like in many ways. You are going to be expected to live in a way that will not apply to the elders or church leadership. The pastor is hands off and immune. You know that verse in scripture about touch not the Lord’s anointed. The verse is in Psalm 105:15. But if you can’t avoid a 9 Marks church remember then when the topic of church discipline is raised you are to submit to what is to come. The glorious Puritans had a culture in Massachusetts that led to people being labeled witches and then being hung. In John Calvin’s Geneva heresy was dealt with by burning, consider the case of Michael Servetus. So remember young Christian when the time comes to pick your poison embrace it. You should submit to church discipline so that the authoritarianism of the pastor can be reinforced. One man needs to be made an example of to keep that congregation in line. And that person should be you. Embrace your discipline experience! If you are going to get involved in a New Calvinist church remember that this theology can be similar to Sunni Islam, you just don’t have to make a trip to Mecca. Just have blind obedience and submit. The less you ask the better.
Dear young Christian remember you will also play a role in propping up the Evangelical Industrial Complex. You will attend conferences because your pastor will tell you to go. Your job is to make your pastor look good. Buy the books that are pushed and PODCAST, PODCAST and PODCAST. The more they are friends of Mark Dever the better it should be. For the sake of the Gospel and for the sake of Jesus make sure you practice some “Gospel Centered” credit card swipes. Your wrist should have the motion down to a science.
In your journey you should become authorterian. Whereas Jesus said you will be known for your love. The true Gnostic meaning is that you will be known for compliance. In the process you should do the following. Turn your back on friends and family. Shun people who don’t think like you. Create your own echo chamber or let your pastor, “steward you” into the one of his making. Families should be torn apart, and friendships should be destroyed. The more hubris you posses the better. If you are creating people who are hammered and joining organizations like the Society for Evangelical Arminians the better. In order to accomplish this make sure you have a generous and faithful supply of Kool Aid. Make sure you can ingest it by mouth, and I.V.
If you do all this successfully you will set yourself up for a life of regrets. Lost friendships, being shunned at some point and wasting a good chunk of your life. It will be painful for you to realize but you will join a large number of people who wash out in the course of time. Whereas you have lived your life expecting one day to hear, “Well done my god and faithful servant” what you will encounter instead is being guilted that you did not give enough. Shame is toxic. Shame is devastating. Make sure you are ready to be shamed properly, no one can do it better than an evangelical church at times. Where as Jesus talked about the fruits of the spirit what he actually meant is how many times you have been put through the woodchipper.
The final aspect of the faith is that you need to submit to accountability. You need to cling to that cell phone and text your accountability partner every five minutes when you are tempted. However, consider the following, a Sovereign Grace Ministry pastor once said that its better to look at porn than to read a blog. So let loose on that Covenant Eyes filter and surf away. Go ahead buddy! And stay away from those pesky little blogs like this one and others. Those are a greater threat to your soul than Stormy Daniels.
So New Christian…are you ready for your journey into Neo-Calvinism? Buckle up and when you are ready to tell your story I will be here to willing and eager to give you a platform. We’ll talk one day. My email is email@example.com
I wish you well!
Your burned out Brother in Christ,