27 June 2012

The End of the End

by Frank Turk

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:

Next Week, I am going to savage a book written by a young man I greatly admire expressly for the purpose of getting you to read it and either love it or hate it.  A year ago I received this book from his publisher and did nothing with it because I didn't want to hurt his feelings, but after having dinner with him I realized that I snubbed him by not treating him like a man.  Before he himself experiences a massive change curve in the near future, I want him to remember what the little people think of him -- and by "little," I mean the short fat bald guy with the hot wife and the exceptional children.

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.








35 comments:

briann said...

I often just pray for mercy and hope that some day I can find the peace many of you speak of.

Sir Brass said...

For everyone else, we'll just keep reading James White's blog ;) :P

Frank Turk said...

Briann - my suggestion is that you find real people to connect to, specifically in a local church.

Frank Turk said...

Brass - indeed.

Carl C. said...

All it took me was a side-splitting dose of Stop it! to realize you weren't quoting from Who Moved My Cheese?

Seriously though, good reality check for the church, for me. I appreciate what the Pyros do in this blog, but it doesn't negate my responsibility to do the same with my neighbors. The ever-changing church must continue to proclaim the Gospel of the never-changing God.

Merrilee Stevenson said...

Seeing's how this is just about the only serious blog I regularly read, I'm glad to see that the Junior and Sophomore don't plan to drop out just because the Senior (the one with all the class) graduated. Even though y'all have real critics and then those of us who like to imply that you don't have any class, you and DJP have earned my respect, which is all that matters anyway.

:o)

Thanks for the much-needed reminder to be operating "with Christ and lost people on our minds," and in general to be making actual eye-contact with actual real people. Then and only then can we do that thing with our eye brow.

Merrilee Stevenson said...

Oh, and I forgot to say, "Nice post." I always say "Nice post."

Merrilee Stevenson said...

Aaaaand now that I've watched the video, I'm going to write those those two words down and use them throughout my day. Repeatedly. Thank you! (I totally needed that.)

Kerry James Allen said...

Frank, do you mean I really can get over the fact that as a child I owned copies of Spider Man #1, Fantastic Four #1, and all the other Marvel number ones that are now worth tens of thousands of dollars, were thrown away, and that my children remind me of all the time? Whew! Glad to know that! I guess the sun comes up tomorrow for all of us.

Tom Chantry said...

Best. Graphic. Ever.

"Mars Hill Elders..." *snort*

The Squirrel said...

Bloggers? Pheh.

Old Mom said...

But I have this fear of being trapped in the Interwebs forced to read antinomian, socially relevant, culture pleasing, tolerant above all else bologna! CAN.NOT.STOP.IT.

In all seriousness, though, Phil’s departing post and the reasoning behind it may have been one of his greatest gifts to us: the admonition, by example, to be very careful of how we spend our time.

Looking forward to more opportunities for growing in Christ; learning to trust the Lord concerning where He sees fit to provide them. Painful, but it seems to have a proven track record.

Johnny Dialectic said...

As Jack Benny used to say, Well! As much as I admire Phil Johnson I was never in danger of mistaking him for Spurgeon or Edwards or even Martyn Lloyd-Jones (and I think he’d agree). Nor am I quite ready to start drafting that lengthy chapter called “TeamPyro Contra Mundum” for a new five-volume history of the church.

I do miss Phil. He always wrote with passion but never at the expense of clarity or the cheap shot. And while I know that offering a bone to a Calvinist bulldog can end up with your hand getting chewed off, I toss this one out: I rather enjoy Turkian Wednesdays. There’s usually a couple of nice turns of phrase, though sometimes one has to hack through a field of prolixity with a machete to get to them.

No, this place is not the same without Phil. Nor do the subjects of the next three Wednesdays light my fire. In-house Calvinist dust ups are not my bag. But I’ll pop over from Roger Olson's blog and give you a scan. My machete is always nearby.

Nash Equilibrium said...

Who's this Phil Johnson guy you mentioned?

Some of us work through the stages more quickly than others!

Frank Turk said...

Johnny: that was actually my point. If the church survived the actual deaths of actual giants, Phil retiring from blogging is prolly not going to signal a new religious dark age where the church is at bey.

Johnny Dialectic said...

Got it. And good point.

lee n. field said...

That graph -- label the axes. Put numbers to the scales.

It looks like something from a pop management book, a deceptive faux-technical thing, intended for persuasion.

(Sorry, hitting a hot button. Phil Johnson's unpluging. Good for him.)

mike said...

Yeah, as much as I appreciated Phil's posts he exercised his free (though not libertarian)will and is doing what he wants to do. It was predestined--wait, I mean it was his decision, wait uh...(Cue the Newhart clip)...

Chris H said...

One small typo: you said and if I can be frank enough to say it, his name is not Phil Johnson. I am almost sure you meant to capitalise "Frank," yes?

:)

Citation Squirrel said...

Love the graphic (with specific examples noted)!

*double snort*

Brendt said...

Frank, an excellent post. Some very useful thoughts even beyond people's reactions to specific current circumstances. Puts me in mind of 1 Cor 3:5-8.

Brendt said...

That said, regarding the "specific examples noted" in your graph, I thought that Dan had the copyright on writing an excellent Pyro article and then polluting it with non sequitur smart-aleck examples. Did you get his permission before you did that?

Jamie said...

Thank you Frank for this reminder. I remember many years ago as a new Believer, the pastor who mentored me and open up the Scriptures to me abruptly announced one Sunday that he was leaving to accept another pastorate. Oh the sense of grief and loss even leading to tears; the rug had just been pulled out from under me and I had a significant sense of despair. Then God ministered to me and enabled me to see that I was redeemed to worship Him not my mentor; no matter how much I loved him or how much of God he revealed to me, he was another slave much like me and not the Master.

Granted I could not have articulated this during the events itself but I have never forgotten that lesson which has guided me thorough these many years of ministry. The J Mac’s, RC’s, and the Johnson’s come and go at the direction and sovereign will of our Master. So we must remember the chess board is God’s and all of the pieces move at His bidding. For it is the prerogative of the Master to use His slaves in His field as HE sees fit.

As for me, I thank God for the years Phil contributed to the discussion and for always taking us to the Scriptures to see what is the mind of God. I am also very thankful that He has left us you and Dan (hence forth never to be confused with Phil) who do the exact same thing just in a different way and style.

You guys are greatly appreciated.

Jamie

LanternBright said...

Frank Turk is a menace...but at least he's a healthily inconsequential one. :)

Sir Aaron said...

Phil's leaving wasn't all that surprising if you were paying attention. I don't know that I expected such an abrupt departure, but I can't say it shocked me.

It is amusing to see, now that Phil's gone, the Frank and Dan critics come out in full force.

Pam said...

That is the funniest "Stop it" I have evern seen. Made my day.
thanks.

donsands said...

Good word Cent. The TeamPyro 3 amigos have been, and will be a blessing to God's people.

Thanks for all the hard work in the Word here. And Lord's grandest grace to you as you Keep On.

The Word is what this world needs, and our Lord is sovereign in getting His truth out to His elect; His sheep.

Have a peaceful rest of the week in our Great Shepherd's care.

APM said...

OK- I'll stop moping about Phil's departure IF the other two Pyros will start adding nifty, humorous tags to their photos/graphics when I move over them with my mouse.

cb said...

Well said, Frank. We're all just like the nation of Israel far too quick to panic and far too slow to trust our God.

Frank Turk said...

APM -

Deal.

Carl C. said...

OK- I'll stop moping about Phil's departure IF the other two Pyros will start adding nifty, humorous tags to their photos/graphics when I move over them with my mouse.
So that's what drove traffic to Pyro all these years! Now I can revive my niche blog with a bit of graphic wizardry, and not worry about substance - whew! ;o)

Robert said...

Shouldn't we all be taking up the charge to defend the truth, too, instead of moping? Surely the time and effort that y'all have put into this blog should have taught us to be discerning and to warn others about what is out there?

I am appreciative of Phil's work and have grown from reading posts from each of you. I'm not saying that we are at the level where we'll have a blog that attracts a great amount of viewers, but we can communicate with those around us and help defend against bad trends in the popular church movements and false teaching and be effective. In fact, that is one of the things that I have done as I have read this blog (and others). I hope that many people are taking time to address the comments from Roger Olson, Ed Young, Jr., Mark Driscoll, etc., so as to defend and protect the truth.

Tom Chantry said...

I'm expecting today's (Thursday's) post to be entitled "The Beginning of the Beginning."

donsands said...

"The Beginning of the Beginning."

Made me think of this song. (For those who have a bit of Adrian Warnock's spirit in them.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c90aS1RyYB8

Sir Aaron said...
This comment has been removed by the author.