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Monday night, Russell Moore hosted a panel discussion featuring JD Greear, Carl Trueman, Josh Harris, Jefferson Bethke, and Matt Pinson to discussion Christ-centered theology and ministry. One of the most helpful portions for me was listening to their hopes and concerns about the YRR/gospel-centered movement. Below are my notes from each speaker on this subject (paraphrased, of course):
What’s hopeful to me is an interest in the Bible for starters. A real interest in the authority of Scripture for the life of the church. A real interest in the community of saints over time and space . . . and a lack of patience for a consumerist religion that is found in much of evangelical Christianity. That’s what’s most hopeful to me. That depth and substance and reading books of substance…
When I first learned about Al Mohler, Lig Duncan and these guys, there was something that resonated with me, but sometimes I wonder if the more success the YRR experiences if there’s not more of a drive to be more accepted by the culture. That would be a concern I’d have.
The return to the centrality of the gospel . . . It’s led to some unity across denominations that’s really encouraging. The things that are concerning: The human heart’s tendency to create barriers and structures. Our ability to be legalistic about gospel centrality is astounding. Sometimes there’s greater vigor in defending gospel-centeredness than reaching people for Christ. And these ought to be the same thing, but you see the energy that goes into these critiques of certain things—which certainly has its place—but we’re called to seek and save the lost.
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I remember some of the first people I encountered who were talking about the doctrines of grace seemed to completely lack grace. It wasn’t until I heard preachers like Piper who had such a zeal for the glory of God. And this is something that seems to happen in every generation. The leaders have the heart for the gospel, but their followers are lacking it, they’re just trying to fall in line.
The older generation needs to stop shooting the younger generation; take them under your wing, disciple them, but don’t shoot them.
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I’d affirm the positives that have been said, but there are two big negatives that could damage the movement: The first is shifting identities from denominations to para-church organizations and personalities. What happens when they die out? The second is that the gospel-centered movement is very procural but ultimately baptism is relativized. The gospel-centered movement seems to be very hard on the complementarian issue, but we can agree to disagree on baptism. But baptism isn’t something we can afford to not have a position on.