James Jordon, in a recent post at "Biblical Horizons," has thoughts on this thesis: "it has been my observation that in every group there are those with a healthy catholic attitude toward other Christians and also those with a proud and condescending attitude toward others who call themselves Christians."
James really ought to have capitalized that "c" in "catholic."
Look at James' examples:
- Lutherans ... supposedly have better music.
Jordan pompously insists that instruments in worship are a "must" and goes on to complain that Lutherans have the best congregational song. There's no accounting for taste, as the saying goes. I still love the sound of the voices of the congregation singing, unaccompanied, the Psalms of David.
- Baptists ... supposedly are better at evangelism.
Perhaps Reformed Baptists are (though, frankly, I have not seen evidence to back that claim up). Non-reformed Baptists claim many proselytes, but most present a gospel message that is wildly distorted! One cannot be a "good evangelist" unless one has the gospel. Besides all that, Jordan is distinguishing between Calvinists and Baptists, which presumes he has overlooked the Reformed Baptists in the process.
- Roman Catholics ... are supposedly better than "other Christians" at setting up hospitals and mercy missions.
Frankly, I have no way to evaluate the claim that he makes. I'm aware of plenty of non-Catholic medical (and the like) missions. Nevertheless, Catholics make up a large fraction of the population in some parts, so perhaps they have some edge in Jordan's perception. The bigger problem is with Jordan's blanket classification of Roman Catholics as Christians. While individual Roman Catholics (in the sense of adhering to an RC congregation) may be saved, just as anyone is saved, namely by repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, Roman Catholicism is apostate: it is outside the visible church, because of its rejection of salvation by grace alone, and its rejection of justification through faith alone, as well as other things. Anyone who seeks salvation the way that Rome invites, will be lost. Nevertheless, God's word is able to work even through corrupt means. Consequently, just because someone is affiliated with the Roman Catholic church does not mean he is lost.
- Methodists ... supposedly "outdid" us in America.
What does Jordan mean? Jordan means that Methodists gained more adherants. Jordan rails against an “educated clergy,” claiming that this "eliminated vast numbers of men with pastoral gifts in favor of a scholarly elite." Jordan's an anti-intellectualism is natural, for those with sound thinking will see through his position. Nevertheless, it's important to note why "Calvinists" insisted on trained preachers, rather than novices, in the pulpit. Not only does the Bible insist that elders not be novices (which would be cause enough), but practically this helps to stem the flow of heresy. It is easier for an uneducated man to be buffetted about from untenable position to untenable position, until his ego alights on a position that renders unassailable through force of dogmatism, without justification.
- Episcopalians ... supposedly have been able best to work with "the halls of secular power."
Presumably Jordan means "the civil magistrate," or "the national/state/local goverment." It seems to me that the Quakers outdid the Episcopaleans, but how does one measure such things. Jordan even goes further and asserts that, "Episcopal church government is closer to the Bible," a statement that goes so far beyond supportable, that one wonders what Bible Jordan has been reading!
- The Pentacostals ... are supposedly more enthusiastic.
Well, this is mostly true, but enthusiasm is only good when balanced. The Reformed tradition balances enthusiasm with order, discipline, and most crucially, with truth! Irrational exuberance is what leads to stock market crashes and disorder of every kind, including heresy.
Jordan's thesis is not completely wrong. There are ways in which other Christians "outdo" us. The verse in question, though speaks to us as individuals, not the Christian church as a whole. Jordan is misapplying the verse as a platform to speak against sound doctrine and practice, and to blur the lines between Christian and heretic. This truly is a grave error, and one hopes that Jordan will repent from it. For those interested to confirm my representation of what JBJ said: (link).
May God give us wisdom to remove the beams from our own eyes,
UPDATE: Meanwhile, his fellow Federal Visionist, Douglas Wilson has post similarly perpetuating negative stereotypes of Calvinists ("Some die-hard Calvinists may have glanced at the title of this message--friendship evangelism--and asked, "What's evangelism?" Or, if they are really die-hard Calvinists, perhaps they asked, "What's friendship?"") here (link).