Resolved tries to set itself apart as different with the preaching. They don't bring in "youth speakers" per se. They bring in what most would consider to be mainstream adult leaders in conservative evangelicalism, not straying much, if at all, from their normal content and presentation style, with the exception of the leisure clothes and open collars. Those alone do say "youth culture," but they are very minimal bows to the culture of leisure that so characterizes the modern generation (see any of David Wells' books to read about this as an expression of modernism). So if you listen to the preaching, you will get sermons from GCC's reformed friends. I emphasize "reformed," because cessationist doctrine is not one of the resolutions here with the inclusion of Charismatic C. J. Mahaney.
Either GCC and Resolved already are, have been, or have become Mahaney-like, or Mahaney has influenced GCC and Resolved in the bow to a Charismatic style of "worship." The stage of Resolved with its grungy, post-modern look, rock band with electric guitars and trap set, and showtime lighting does send a giant statement to the attendees about the emphasis of Resolved. The scene is very urban, gritty, loose, edgy, and "authentic"---actually quite contextual, a concept commonly sneered at by GCC but perfectly acceptable to them on their own terms. This is the setting the leadership chooses for depicting the themes of Scripture and for portraying Jonathan Edwards-like resolution. The people in charge are letting this youth crowd know that they "get it," that they know "what's happenin'," that they for sure didn't fall of the back of the turnip truck. They "get it" and so, by the way, it's OK for you to be a Christian and " get it" too. It's very fine to be right there with all the worldly lingo and fads. And this is the great irony for anyone who reads Jonathan Edwards.
It's as if the GCC and Resolved people think that by pasting on the Jonathan Edwards label that it automatically becomes Jonathan Edwards. Edwards is who he is. He's been dead for awhile, so he can't really offer his say on what he thinks of the association of him with this, but I can tell you for sure, with complete assurance, with airtight confidence, that Edwards would hate Resolved. Hate it. "Resolved, I hate Resolved," he would most assuredly write. But, of course, what does it matter what Jonathan Edwards thinks, because what really matters is what God knows. I think that was Edwards' concern too, so I believe that God also hates it. And I'll give you a hint. He hates the syncretism.
I give as my major exhibit the inclusion of the "worship" of their chosen rock group, Enfield, and then Bob Kauflin, the leader of the Sovereign Grace music group. I include a sample of "the worship" (click on link to get to video of conference "worship"), so you will have a basis for knowing what I'm talking about. I would have embedded the video into this post, but I don't want someone to be able to watch and listen to that here.
This is where I want us to consider what Jonathan Edwards, the original author of "Resolved," said about the "religious affections." Edwards wrote his Treatise on the Religious Affections in order to differentiate false spiritual happenings from true ones during the first great awakening. The greatest differentiation that Edwards pointed out was between the passions, which originated with the flesh, and the affections, which started in the mind. Edwards taught that God wanted our religious affections, certainly our affections should arise above a level of indifference, but not to be confused with passions.
Some of what was being produced by religious folk during the first great awakening was nothing more than passions. These passions, Edwards contends, were not good. The passions is what Resolved attempts to produce. Succeeds, I believe, at that. And, of course, the participants are fooled into thinking that these are legitimate expressions of spirituality. They think that God has been honored, when He has not. Edwards was very serious about this. And I know that what Edwards was concerned about, and pointing out as unorthodox, was not as pernicious as what is done at Resolved and in the name of Edwards.
There's a lot I could write about what I see in the Kauflin, Resolved, video that I linked to, about the worldliness of the music, the actions, the look, and the participants. Some might think that what they see is a lot of earnestness. What you see as supposedly so authentic, so real, is produced by the fleshly nature of the music. The words, some of which are good, other kitsch and trite, get dragged through the profanity that is the medium. The whole show reeks of it.
You should just go ahead and read Edwards' Religious Affections, but the following are a few excerpts that apply.
The affections and passions are frequently spoken of as the same; and yet in the more common use of speech, there is in some respect a difference; and affection is a word that in its ordinary signification, seems to be something more extensive than passion, being used for all vigorous lively actings of the will or inclination; but passion for those that are more sudden, and whose effects on the animal spirits are more violent, and the mind more overpowered, and less in its own command.
If it be so, that true religion lies much in the affections, hence we may infer, that such means are to be desired, as have much of a tendency to move the affections. Such books, and such a way of preaching the word, and administration of ordinances, and such a way of worshipping God in prayer, and singing praises, is much to be desired, as has a tendency deeply to affect the hearts of those who attend these means.
Such a kind of means would formerly have been highly approved of, and applauded by the generality of the people of the land, as the most excellent and profitable, and having the greatest tendency to promote the ends of the means of grace. But the prevailing taste seems of late strangely to be altered: that pathetical manner of praying and preaching, which would formerly have been admired and extolled, and that for this reason, because it had such a tendency to move the affections, now, in great multitudes, immediately excites disgust, and moves no other affections, that those of displeasure and contempt.
Indeed there may be such means, as may have a great tendency to stir up the passions of weak and ignorant persons, and yet have no great tendency to benefit their souls: for though they may have a tendency to excite affections, they may have little or none to excite gracious affections, or any affections tending to grace. But undoubtedly, if the things of religion, in the means used, are treated according to their nature, and exhibited truly, so as tends to convey just apprehensions, and a right judgment of them; the more they have a tendency to move the affections the better.
As from true divine love flow all Christian affections, so from a counterfeit love in like manner naturally flow other false affections. In both cases, love is the fountain, and the other affections are the streams. The various faculties, principles, and affections of the human nature, are as it were many channels from one fountain: if there be sweet water in the fountain, sweet water will from thence flow out into those various channels; but if the water in the fountain be poisonous, then poisonous streams will also flow out into all those channels. So that the channels and streams will be alike, corresponding one with another; but the great difference will lie in the nature of the water.
Lest their religion might too grossly discover itself to be nothing else but a piece of art, there may be sometimes such extraordinary motions stirred up within them, which may prevent all their own thoughts, that they may seem to be a true operation of the divine life; when yet all this is nothing else but the energy of their own self-love touched with some fleshly apprehensions of divine things, and excited by them.
And as the motions of our sense, and fancy, and passions, while our souls are in this mortal condition, sunk down deeply into the body, are many times more vigorous, and make stronger impressions upon us, than those of the higher powers of the soul, which are more subtle, and remote from these mixed animal perceptions: that devotion which is there seated, may seem to have more energy and life in it, than that which gently and with a more delicate kind of touch spreads itself upon the understanding, and from thence mildly derives itself through our wills and affections. But however the former may be more boisterous for a time, yet this is of a more consistent, spermatical and thriving nature. For that proceeding indeed from nothing but a sensual and fleshly apprehension of God and true happiness, is but of a flitting and fading nature, and as the sensible powers and faculties grow more languid, or the sun of divine light shines more brightly upon us, these earthly devotions, like our culinary fires, will abate their heat and fervor. But a true celestial warmth will never be extinguished, because it is of an immortal nature; and being once seated vitally in the souls of men, it will regulate and order all the motions of it in a due manner the natural heat, radicated in the hearts of living creatures, hath the dominion and economy of the whole body under it. True religion is no piece of artifice, it is no boiling up of our imaginative powers, nor the glowing heats of passion, though these are too often mistaken for it, when in our jugglings in religion we cast a mist before our own eyes: but it is a new nature, informing the souls of men; it is a Godlike frame of spirit, discovering itself most of all in serene and clear minds, in deep humility, meekness, self-denial, universal love to God and all true goodness, without partiality, and without hypocrisy, whereby we are taught to know God, and knowing him to love him, and conform ourselves as much as may be to all that perfection which shines in him.
The feelings produced by Kauflin and Enfield bypass the mind and go straight for the flesh, for the feelings, for the passions. The music is sensual, like the wisdom of this world is (James 3:15). The listeners and participants are convinced that this is something spiritual. It isn't. It is not a religious affection. Some may even feel sincere. What makes the deceit of it difficult to discern is much like that of the Charismatic experiences. People feel something and it seems genuine. However, if it was something in line with God, pure and sacred, not targeting the emotions or the body, true affections for God could be manifested. It is not that emotions are wrong, but that the emotions should be a byproduct of the right intellect and volition. All the squinting and swaying and waving and the throbbing, pulsating beat fool people into thinking that they are having some genuine experience of worship, getting in touch with and pleasing God to some greater extent. That's all manufactured by the music. It's deceiving. God isn't pleased by the passion or the worldliness that it is.
I'm sure that the Resolved and GCC leaders would find it interesting to see what would happen to their conference if they made the platform plain, orderly, and beautiful, and then played and sang hymns with only a piano and strictly by the book. Just the music without all of the passion involved. And then see what kind of response their conference would get from the youth. I'm guessing that every year Resolved would get a little bit smaller, more streamlined. And how could that be a success?
I would be one in opposition to the whole Falwell and Liberty University scene. Recently a lot of folks in the GCC and Resolved circles have savaged Liberty for the whole Ergun Caner fiasco, his lying about his biography for pragmatic purposes. Pragmatic purposes. Like if you associated your conference with Jonathan Edwards and Resolved, but yet you were the furthest thing from what what was important to Edwards. The Caner thing was bad, but which is worse? I'm at least as repulsed by the Edwards corruption.
All of this does a very damaging thing. It damages the discernment of thousands of professing Christians. That's what the Charismatic movement is very much known for with its confusion on the true nature of spirituality. A discussion about the content of this post would take on the nature of one had with a Charismatic---offended or peeved over criticism of the experience. "I know what I felt and I know it was genuine." I believe that Resolved also confuses these young people on the true nature of spirituality. This is what Edwards wrote and warned about.
Side Notes: A few asides. In the video, what's the point of the urban windmills on the back wall? I get the decaying bricks---very hip, very inner city, so authentic, right where people live. The hood. The noble savage. Next, Bob Kauflin sings effeminate (besides not singing very well). What's with men with this contemporary music singing like women? I think I understand. Men becoming like women is popular in this culture. It's hip too. "Get in touch with your feminine side." Do we think that is what male youths need to have in front of them, to be listening to? And you know, by the way, that it's contrived, because when he shouts out phrases and talks, his voice is much different than his singing voice. He does all the throaty improvisation to sound Hollywood. I could say much more, but I'll stop there.