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burnt toast

A good word from Kevin DeYoung’s The Good News We Almost Forgot: Rediscovering the Gospel in a 16th Century Catechism (Moody, 2010):

What makes a Christian crusty?

A number of things.

For starters, it’s an attitude. It’s a demeanor where being Calvinist or paedobaptist or inerrantist (three things I am gladly) are put on like armor or wielded like weapons, when they are meant to be the warm glow of a Christian whose core radiates with love for Christ and the gospel.

I believe in theological distinctives—I believe in them and I believe it is good to have them—but if the distinctives are not manifestly the flower of gospel root, the buds aren’t worth the blooming.

A second mark of crusty Christians is approachability, as in, not having any. There is a sizing up-ness that makes some theological types unnecessarily prickly.

They are bright and opinionated and quickly analytical. . . .

Crusty Christians are hard to be around.

They are intimidating instead of engaging and growling instead of gracious.

They are too willing to share their opinions on everything and unable to put any doctrine in any category not marked “absolutely essential.”

When theology is more crust than core, it’s not so much that we care about good theology too much, we just don’t care about some other hugely important things in the same proportion. . . . Striking the balance is not easy.

But let’s try hard to be discerning and grounded without always looking for the next theological misstep in our friends, our family, or the songs we sing.

And let’s be able to tell the difference between wandering sheep and false teachers. We must delineate between a slightly ill-informed wording of a phrase and a purposeful rejection of truth.

We must pursue a passion for fidelity to Scripture and a winsomeness that sweetens the already honey-like drippings of the word of God.

Let us be more like a chocolate covered raisin, likeable on the outside and surprisingly good for you on the inside, and less like a tootsie roll pop with its brittle, crunchy exterior that must be broken through before anyone can get to the good stuff. Our theological heart, if it is worth anything, will pulse throughout our spiritual bodies, making us into someone more prayerful, more godly, and more passionate about the Bible, the lost, and the world around us. We will be theologically solid to the core, without the unnecessary crust.


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Justin Taylor, PhD


Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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