9.25.2012

The PROBLEM OF THEOLOGICAL NARCISSISM--STOP GIVING JASON STELLMAN ATTENTION, PLEASE!



I realize that writing this post probably does the very thing that I am condemning, but I don't know how else to address the issue.  This past Sunday, Jason Stellman, a former PCA Reformed minister, was received into the Roman Catholic communion.  He has posted his story of journey to Rome on the Called to Communion website. Painful, but not surprising. 

Many responses have been provided suggesting a variety of different motives for Jason's departure--some even suggesting he doesn't understand the gospel.  I did a write-up a few months back attempting to address what I believe is the crucial consequence of his departure. 

Since that time, I have followed Jason on Facebook and his blog.  When it first broke open, Jason demonstrated some kind of remorse. He apologized to people, expressed grief to those whom he has hurt in his church, home, community, etc., and he seemed generally humble by what he knew was a radical shift in his theology. 
 
But that day of remorse was short lived.  At first Jason claimed that he would remain silent in light of the plethora of degrading responses he was receiving.  Reason?  Jason responded that his sanctification was being tested (mortal sins, purgatory, etc., obviously have serious consequences to an unsanctified life). But this too didn't last very long. 

Now Jason is back and bolder than ever.  From the Calvary Road (Calvary Chapel that is), to debating the fine points of election and covenant theology, to fighting the Federal Visionists, to now swimming the Tiber, Jason is now ready to take on all his former Protestant friends and debate them on how they have all read Paul wrongly on justifying faith, and assumed too much in adopting Scripture as an alone authority.  Jason is ready to dissect, debate, and dissemble, in public, his former views he once held, and with robust passion.  The Roman door is now open, Luther is now the door-stop, and Called to Communion has a new poster boy, as Jason summons us all to consider his insurmountable conclusion that has lead him home. 

His old, loyal friends are standing back in shock. We remember reading his public testimony of why he left Calvary Chapel.  Powerful reading. Jason became the poster boy for the anti-Calvary Chapel movement. We were convinced, but now we are confused. Can you really begin with Hawaiian shirts, guitars, and Pope Smith (as Jason used to call him), and end up satisfied with collars, beads, and Pope Benedict XVI?  What is left except to become a poster boy for yourself? We would surely call that agnosticism.
 
I write this to make a plea with those who are still engaging Jason, listening to him, or considering following his path.  Look at the real problem here.  The radical nature of the paradigm shifts that have taken place in Jason's short life should say something.  And the question of why Jason has to make every shift a public event with public attention should say even more.  How much attention does Jason really need?

How Jason broke so quickly out of remorse for hurting an entire congregation and now has so boldly engaged his interlocuters on Called to Communion, Green Baggins, and his blog should earn some discernment from those who are reading. This all exposes a need for attention. It seems disingenuous for Jason to make the case that he as relinquished all autonomy in joining Rome when the result is this kind of theological narcissism.
 
Jason did understand the gospel and decided it was not the answer for him. I repeat, it was not that he misunderstood it, and has departed in ignorance. Jason grasped it, confessed it, was ordained to it, promised to defend it, and then defected consciously from the system of doctrine he promised to uphold.

We've considered the Roman claims, tested them by the Word, and rejected them. Our confession stands because the Word stands. This doesn't mean that the issues are not worth engaging. They are. This doesn't mean that the Romanist claims aren't worth refuting. They are. It's that Jason isn't the fellow with whom we should be having this debate, if only for his sake. There is a bigger problem that the bigger picture exposes. We should be conscious of those who are carried about by every wind of doctrine. The most loving thing we could do for Jason right now is to stop engaging him.

13 comments:

  1. Pastor Gordon,

    I thought I was maxed out on how much I respect you, but somehow it can still grow. Thanks for your boldness brother.

    Blessings,
    chris stevens

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  2. "The radical nature of the paradigm shifts that have taken place in Jason's short life should say something." Yes, it does. This is a man who was in search for truth and was willing to renounce all for the Truth, which is a person named Jesus Christ. If he didn't debate his former co-religionists as he is doing, wouldn't you wonder if he is really committed to the faith? Truth isn't worth anything if you are not willing to proclaim it and shout it from the housetops. Your comments regarding Jason are baseless.

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  3. You are going to delete this anyway, but do give it a listen first.
    Looks like Jason is not only a "poster boy" but now has fanboys writing songs about him! http://archive.org/details/IFoughtTheChurchAndTheChurchWon

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  4. I guess Augustine was a theological narcissist as well by your definition. He went from one cult to the next until he found Catholicism and his writings and defense of the faith continue to be studied 1600 years later.

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    Replies
    1. Nice article and good photos..............a great blog

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  5. Thanks, Chris. Good to hear from you!

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  6. Dear Anon, the article speaks for itself. You seem to conveniently miss the bigger issue addressed here. You feel comfortable to remain "anonymous" against my expressed rules for commenting. I'm suggesting that Jason should do something similar to be consistent with his own claim of relinquishing all autonomy. He has not demonstrated the stability to become a public point man in this discussion.

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  7. Thanks so much for this, brother!Agree with theologyformom, spot on! Makes me wonder: Calvary Chapel, the PCA, now Rome...where does he go from here? Because, it's not likely this is the last stop...

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  8. Thanks! I know it's probably not fair to speculate, but in light of Jason's expressed insurmountable conclusion, if Rome doesn't satisfy, there is only agnosticism left.

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  9. If there is one thing that I have learned about grace, it is an absolute assault on our pride. We all struggle with this in different degrees over our lives, but when one walks away from the truth to follow a man centered salvation, it isn't hard to see what the underlying problem is. At some point we need to stop trying to climb Jacob's ladder and realize that Christ came down to us. Unfortunately you don't have to go all the way to Roman Catholicism to fall into this trap. Much too common in all of our churches...
    Great post, keep writing.
    Jason

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  10. Very well said, brother!

    This is probably the most helpful post that I have seen regarding JS's departure.

    - Andy

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  11. Jason really didn't go all that far (as he thinks).

    In Catholicism he has the same tired old semi-Pelagianism that he had at Calvary Chapel.

    It's a lot of God, and a little bit of me.

    He just traded in the Hawaiian shirts and a paper pope for vestments and a real Pope.

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