First there was the Rainbow Coalition, founded by Jesse Jackson in 1984. Then we had the Christian Coalition organized in 1991 by Pat Robertson. Now we have the Gospel Coalition established by Don Carson and Tim Keller in 2007. When the average person hears the word “coalition”, this will likely be their thought pattern…
As background for understanding the formation of The Gospel Coalition (TGC), we highly encourage you to read Colin Hansen’s article entitled: “Young, Restless, Reformed: Calvinism is making a comeback — and shaking up the church”, which was featured in the September 2006 issue of Christianity Today. Here’s the link:
Dee and I are faithful subscribers to Christianity Today (CT), and I will never forget the day Dee called and said that her CT magazine had just arrived in the mail and that I really needed to read Colin Hansen’s article. She and I didn’t know that much about Calvinism in 2006, and we had absolutely no idea that we would get sucked into learning about Reformed theology through a very bizarre set of circumstances. When I first read “Young, Restless, Reformed”, I’ll confess … I didn’t understand it. I recognized a few names mentioned in the article (John Piper, Al Mohler, and R.C. Sproul), but that was about it. Who were C.J. Mahaney and Mark Dever? Two years later, EVERYTHING changed! Dee and I began to do extensive research on trends within Christendom, and the light bulb came on, so to speak. Everything became VERY CLEAR! One of the reasons The Wartburg Watch exists is because we are terribly concerned that this Reformed crowd is causing deep division within the body of Christ. We cannot stress this enough.
Colin Hansen wrote another CT article entitled: “Tethered to the Center” which was published on October 17, 2007. We encourage you to read it at this link:
Hansen explains that The Gospel Coalition was launched in May 2007 with a conference headlining D.A. Carson, Tim Keller, and John Piper. It took place in the chapel at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS). According to the CT article, the 500+ attendees were invited by word-of-mouth because the organizers “wanted to test their ideas on a relatively small, friendly group.” According to the article, TEDS initially funded The Gospel Coalition, “but the stakeholders’ churches paid back the seminary. The coalition has also received a substantial grant from the Carl F. H. Henry Center for Theological Understanding at TEDS.”
Hansen writes: “This new group, spearheaded by 40 stake-holding theologians and pastors, has big goals. They want nothing less than a renewed evangelical commitment to core confessional beliefs. And they have the strategy to match their ambitions.” The Gospel Coalition is made up of a diverse group of theologians, including some familiar names (if you’ve been keeping up with our blog).
Some of the more notable individuals are: John Piper (Bethlehem Baptist Church), D.A. Carson (New Testament Professor at TEDS), Tim Keller, (PCA pastor in New York City), Mark Driscoll (Mars Hill Church and Acts 21 Network), C.J. Mahaney (Sovereign Grace Ministries and ¼ of Together for the Gospel – aka T4G), Al Mohler (President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and ¼ of T4G), Mark Dever (Pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Founder of IX Marks, and ¼ of T4G), Ligon Duncan (PCA pastor in Mississippi and ¼ of T4G), Joshua Harris (pastor of Covenant Life Church, flagship church of SGM), Erwin Lutzer, Alistair Begg, James MacDonald, and Kent Hughes. Ten more theologians have been added since The Gospel Coalition’s inception, and one of our former pastors is among them! Imagine that! Check out the entire group at this link: http://thegospelcoalition.org/about
It’s surprising to us that John MacArthur is not named among this group of theologians, and we wonder why…
The Gospel Coalition has foundational documents, which include:
• The Gospel for All of Life
• Confessional Statement
• Vision for Ministry
To read them, go to this link:
Don Carson penned the original draft of the “confessional statement”, while Tim Keller wrote the “theological call to ministry”. To do your own investigation of The Gospel Coalition, go to the following website: www.gospelcoalition.org
These Reformed leaders lament that the evangelical movement has fragmented as it has grown over the last 60 years. It seems no one does ministry correctly except this group! Apparently, it’s their responsibility to teach the rest of us morons how to “rightly divide the Word of God”.
One of the primary ways TGC is trying to influence Christendom is by holding conferences bi-annually. The first one, as previously described, was held at TEDS in 2007. The second one took place last April, and we drew attention to some of the attendees yesterday, including Tullian Tchividjian and Joshua Harris. Mark Driscoll was one of the keynote speakers, so he was rubbing elbows in Chicago with Tullian, Josh, and other Calvinistas who attended the conference. Deb mentioned this in an e-mail to someone who was very important in her life and received an extremely abrasive response; however, she stands by her position.
While anyone can attend The Gospel Coalition conference (so long as he pays the conference fee), in reality it’s geared toward pastors and theologian-types, particularly those of the “male” gender.
Here’s a link to a video of C.J. Mahaney explaining how TGC serves pastors:
Not coincidentally, Together for the Gospel (T4G) held its first conference in Louisville in 2006. These are planned bi-annually, with the last one occurring in 2008. Therefore, reformed theologians can attend a conference each and every year thanks to the concerted efforts of T4G and TGC. In case you’re interesting in attending, T4G has a two and a half day conference planned for 2010, so start saving your money now!!! Here are the registration deadlines, along with conference fees: Student Registration* – $99 (ends March 28, 2010), General Registration – $249 (ends March 28, 2010). Check it out at this link:
and remember: food, lodging, and transportation ARE NOT included! We assume that churches will be picking up the tab for their pastors…
How does Tullian Tchividjian fit into the Gospel Coalition? Well, we found his name listed with “The Band of Bloggers”
◦ Eric Johnson
◦ Justin Taylor
◦ Mikey Anderson
◦ Of First Importance
◦ Owen Strachan
◦ Steve McCoy
◦ Tim Challies
◦ Timmy Brister
◦ Tony Reinke
◦ Tullian Tchividjian
Tully’s recent book — Unfashionable: Making a Difference in the World by Being Different by Tullian Tchividjian (Multnomah) – is also being promoted on the above website which is in conjunction with The Gospel Coalition.
As Tully tries to break into the ranks of TGC, he provides a great illustration of why we believe the “stake-holding theologians” (as Colin Hansen called them) are so intent on promoting The Gospel Coalition. We believe it has less to do with the cause of Christ and more to do with the cause of cash! Sorry, folks – that’s just how we see it… Check out our previous post – “What’s the Beef about Christian Conferences” at this link:
There is so much more to say about The Gospel Coalition and the Calvinistas who support it. We have focused quite extensively on some of the ring leaders of TGC in previous posts. As previously stated, we believe the Calvinista movement (not to be confused with the real Calvinists who are tolerant of differing beliefs regarding God’s sovereignty verses free will) is causing great damage to the body of Christ by pitting Christian against Christian. It seems to be a tool Satan is using to bring about disharmony in God’s family, and we are very saddened by it all.