I have no idea if you people study change management or the cycle of grief, but grief and significant change are understood by counsellors and MBAs as having a clear process in the life of the person subjected to change, and it can be charted something like this:
|Fig 1: Specific Examples Noted.|
Generally speaking, people don't like change. It upsets them. It gives them a sense that their grounding has been ungrounded. It makes the future obviously unclear -- as opposed to its normal state of common opacity which is, as they say, what it is. So when they get sunk into change, they move from their normal state of performance or self-esteem to a state of diminishing returns. They go through denial, anger, and uncertainty -- everyone does.
But it is at this point that some people give up. They hit that bottom of uncertainty and crash right through. Rather than finding a place in the future for themselves, they see no place in the future for themselves. They think the change -- which is usually neutral at worst -- is a death sentence for everything they had hope in, and they simply crash and burn.
Some people get trapped in uncertainty and keep cycling through denial-anger-uncertainty. That's not really any better than those who crash through the bottom except that they can actually function for short periods in the world as it goes on. They usually need someone else to help them get over the change, but they can get through it.
For those who do not time out in uncertainty, there is hope at the end of the change curve. They accept that things are now different, and they take some ownership of their own future. They seek to put together the future in a way that gets them back to a place of stability or productivity.
For those of us who are Christians, we have a Helper who points us in this direction -- and if I can be frank enough to say it, his name is not Phil Johnson. Phil is my beloved friend who has also been my inestimable benefactor, but he is not the hope for my future, nor the one who defines it: Jesus is my Hope. The Holy Spirit is the one who is my encourager who will, in the words of Jesus, teach me all things and bring to my remembrance all that Jesus has said to me. They are also that for all of you reading this who say you are Christians, since I brought it up.
And I bring it up for a good reason: stop moping.
I have read more than one comment in the last two weeks which has said something along the lines of, "but what if the church will not have any more defenders? If Johnson, and then eventually Phillips, and to a much lesser degree Turk, all go on permanent vacation, then what?"
Really? It's really, really that bad? God will fail in his purpose of the Gospel if TeamPyro closes the doors? The church survived the death of Lloyd-Jones, and van Til, and the death of Spurgeon, and the death of Edwards, and the deaths of all the Puritans, and the deaths of Calvin and Luther, and of Bunyan, and backwards all the way to the death of Paul, and of course the death of Jesus. In fact, we sorta needed the death of Jesus -- and if I have to explain that, Phil Johnson's retirement from his hobby of blogging is not our worst problem.
Yes: Phil is unique in a superlative way, but I think if he writes books it is a better legacy than fighting with people who are unique and superlative in the opposite direction in every way on the internet. We ought to be pleased that he's going to implement his own change curve and put something out there which will affect more people than this blog does. And as he does that, not only must we wish him well, we must ourselves man up and face the future with Christ and lost people on our minds.
So here's the roadmap for the next three weeks on Wednesdays:
The Following Week I will publish the transcript of my talk in Tulsa at the "Call for Discernment" conference sponsored by Grace Family Bible Church. Only Tony Miano will not hate me for it.
Then in Three Weeks I am going to review a recent book by Cruciform Press in order to light up on one of my favorite topics -- Popular Calvinism. It deserves your attention and your conscience deserves its attention. Pack a lunch for that one.
After that, who knows? I am teaching on the goodness of God in Adult Sunday School at my church on 29 July 2012 -- you might get that transcript. But think about this: if the only hope we have in this world for our faith and the church is this blog, then let me say it clearly: we are part of the problem, and we have our own idols to deal with. We will do better to realize we are worshiping the wrong end of the log right now (cf. Isaiah 44:13-17) than we will to get caught up in the notion that God doesn't have a plan for his church past the last day of blogging for our favorite blogger.