R.C. Sproul Jr. and the “democratic spirit in the church”

R.C. Sproul Jr. makes a great point near the beginning of Basement Tape #4 (Living Life Deliberately) that is worth some thought.

“It is the democratic spirit in the church, that anybody who aspires to anything other than the norm is guilty of arrogance.”

He is right about this of course.

Now read this from Chesterton’s Orthodoxy (chapter four, The Ethics of Elfland) regarding the relationship between tradition and democracy.

“Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about.

It strikes me that even if I ascribe to the norms of my spiritual ancestors (and give them a vote) I would still be labeled arrogant according to the prevalent “democratic spirit of the church”. Now one might say that our ancestors did not have to deal with bikinis, public schools, the pill and modern media but isn’t it fair to deduce what they would have done had they faced these same challenges and live accordingly? I argue that most of the folks I know who are not following the norms of the modern church are in fact simply doing their best to follow the norms of their ancestors. In thinking them arrogant are we not also applying the same label to our spiritual ancestors?


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