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Archive for the ‘Mark Driscoll’ Category

Some of the most viewed posts in the history of this blog have concerned certain controversial teachings and actions of Mark Driscoll and especially the response (or lack thereof) from Calvinistic leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention and elsewhere who I thought should know better.  It was certainly the period in which I was most active in blogging, both here and elsewhere.  (Hopefully I will start posting more regularly in the near future.) To find these 2009 posts, you can click the “Mark Driscoll” category in the sidebar to the right, with the more important posts being here, here, and here.)

This evening while checking Twitter (a rare occurrence these days) I happened upon this review by Dr. Denny Burk of Mark and Grace Driscoll’s book Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, and Life Together.  While the book evidently includes a good bit of profitable material, (as is the case with Driscoll’s ministry as a whole) apparently the content in the book regarding sexual practices within the confines of marriage goes beyond what some of us took issue with in the blog battle royal in which I was engaged in 2009.

After reading Dr. Burk’s review, I posted the following comment on that post:

Thank you for this review. I found your discussion of 1 Cor. 6:12 to be particularly helpful in light of how it is often used today.

While there is much to admire in Mark Driscoll’s ministry, I am sorry that he has chosen to put into print some of the things that have previously been hinted at on his website with regard to what many would consider to be questionable and/or deviant sexual practices within the confines of marriage. This includes (or in the recent past included) a link on the Mars Hill website to the website of a Christian sex toy vendor where sodomy was also discussed. But I have to say when looking into this issue a few years ago that I don’t recall any mention there or elsewhere of female on male sodomy!

Well, one plus (if you can call it that) is that now this is very clearly out in the open and those raising concerns cannot be accused of just dredging up the old cussing accusations. When I blogged several times about this almost three years ago, that was often the response, along with accusations of being a prudish rube from the “Old South” who doesn’t understand what it takes to reach people today in what is largely a post-Christian (if only in a nominal sense) culture. Ironically, my past is very likely much more wicked than the vast majority of those who defended the approach you call into question in this post, with some of them being pastors who are sons of prominent SBC ministers and in general being men who were raised in conservative evangelical homes.

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I have been dealing with other priorities lately and haven’t been keeping up with the various blogs as I had been in the recent past.  But in case you haven’t seen them, here are some links to get you up to speed if so inclined:

Expository Thoughts links to several recent posts, including John MacArthur’s series “The Rape of Solomon’s Song.”  There were numerous comments on each of those posts that I haven’t begun to wade through yet.  For follow-up discussion on the Expository Thoughts site, see here.

For further discussion involving the TeamPyro bloggers, Tom Ascol and yours truly, see here.

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The controversy (generally speaking, one could hardly call it a conversation) continues.  For the latest update on the reaction to Phil Johnson’s Shepherd’s Conference message, see here.  He notes that by profane he doesn’t necessarily mean “cussing” and he provides a clear answer to those critics who charged him with hypocrisy given some of his parodies and wisecracks in previous years:

“I’m certainly not proud of every parody I have ever invented or every wisecrack I have made. The sudden rise of profaneness in the pulpit over the past 3 years is one of the things that has driven me to rethink how freely we ought to indulge in hard-edged humor.”

Phil sums up with the following:

“If I could ask just one question of them, it would be this: What, precisely, do you think Ephesians 5:4 forbids?”

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The Pyromaniac himself, Phil Johnson, lived up to his name yesterday at the Shepherd’s Conference in a message that  extracts the teeth from the Mark Driscoll apologists and others who defend vulgarity in the name of contextualization.  Click here for the message.   (The link to the message is in the last paragraph.  It will be available on the Shepherd’s Fellowship website as well to those who are registered members.)

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From reading some blogs, you’d think that the response in the blogosphere to the Baptist Press article on Mark Driscoll’s continued vulgarity was almost unanimously negative.  However, I ask you to please consider the following:

Expository Thoughts is a blog that has a number of young pastors as contributors.  Any objective observer would have to admit that they are not disposed to be “anti-Driscoll.”  (Indeed some of Driscoll’s most ardent defenders often express concerns, albeit usually failing to articulate just what it is that they are concerned about.)  Although they don’t specifically interact with the BP story, there are several recent posts that are pertinent.  See here (don’t miss Jerry Wragg’s comment,) here for a take on the NYT article and here where we see that Driscoll evidently missed an opportunity to preach the gospel on CNN.

Bart Barber compares Mark Driscoll with an exemplary pastor of his youth.  I find the juxtaposition intriguing given that we often hear that a major problem in the SBC is the preoccupation with numbers.

Here is a careful and comprehensive take on the issue.

Peter Lumpkins weighs in here, here, and here. In his last post, Bro. Lumpkins gets to the heart of the issue:

Alas, as it is, I suppose those of us who foolishly questioned the liaison with a ministry which strangely but fully and clearly endorses encouraging husbands and wives to prayerfully consider sodomy as a viable Christian option to enhance intimacy together will just have to face reality:  we are apparently woefully out of touch with what’s hip today in reaching the multitudes with the gospel.

Sadly, the counsel of these men is rejected by many of the young Southern Baptists in the blogosphere due to the misguided perception that they are too old, too traditional, that they belong to the wrong political faction or whatever, and that the old paths just aren’t going to cut it today.

Harry Emerson Fosdick said that the soldiers returning home from the horrors of World War I simply wouldn’t believe the fantastic tales revealed in the Bible about the Virgin Birth and the bodily Resurrection, so we have to give them something else lest the church become irrelevant in the 20th Century in the wake of Darwin and the destruction of war.  The church growth gurus of the past few decades used similar reasoning to justify their practice of preaching to felt needs and proclaiming a message of positive thinking, rarely if ever getting around to clearly proclaiming the law and the gospel.

Mark Driscoll is certainly more sound doctrinally than the above examples, but the rationale behind his appropriation of the coarser aspects of our culture is the same.  (And can doctrine ultimately be divorced from practice?)  I simply ask those who think this continued parade of vulgarity is what is necessary to reach lost people today to consider the following comment from Scott Shaffer:

“I’d wager that if you went back through church history, you’d be hard pressed to find orthodox ministers of the gospel discussing sex in the same manner Driscoll does. Yet, the topic has always been relevant to mankind. So, are we to believe that MD is the first gospel minister to get it right?”

The Sixties radicals refused to listen to anyone over 30.  It appears that some young (and some not so young) Southern Baptist radicals refuse to listen to anyone over 40 or anyone who they perceive to be too “traditional” in their methodology.  When “young leaders” are more alienated by editorial judgment and journalistic practices than they are by Driscoll’s actions, then I submit that it isn’t Baptist Press who has the problem.  If the blog responses to this controversy are indicative of the views of “younger leaders” as a whole, this 35 year old Southern Baptist layman has no small degree of trepidation about seeing the baton handed over to them, as some say needs to be done.  Why should older leaders have to get out of the way to begin with, assuming they are still faithful to their calling?

One searches in vain to find the concept of retirement in the Bible.  Did Moses get out of the way when he reached “retirement age?”  How about the apostle John?  The ministry is a calling, not a profession.  On the subject of retirement, I once heard John MacArthur say something like “What am I going to retire from?  Preaching the Gospel?” If a young leader who is truly gifted to teach is being stifled in his current context, then why wait to be “promoted” at “his church?”  Instead, why not seek out some other avenue of ministry in which he may be useful, even if it means changing churches or locales?  Did William Carey let the naysayers hold him back?  No doubt there are many small churches in rural as well as urban areas would be happy to have some gifted young people come and serve.  I can think of once such church now that may well have had to close the doors by this point were it not for a friend of mine going there and taking up the preaching and teaching ministry.

Earlier I charged that the problem isn’t so much a Generation Gap as it is a Discernment Gap.  Although it pains me greatly to say so, I don’t hesitate to say that I’d rather see the Southern Baptist Convention fade away rather than see it given it over to those who who evidently fail to see (or even consider) the issue when a prominent evangelical pastor  places a link to (at best) a borderline porn site on his church website.  I wonder how many people will visit a site like the one Mars Hill has linked right now, and once they’ve had their fill of that and find that it doesn’t satisfy them, will eventually move on to harder core sites? Depravity being what it is and the fact that we are never free from sin in this life, it’s not much of a leap for a man to go from a site like the one to which Driscoll links to one that allows him to gratify his lusts to the full.

The standard reply of his defenders is “This is what has to be done to reach people today,” especially those who are considered “unreachable.”  Haven’t we heard that before?  My friends, no one is beyond the reach of God’s grace!  Many such “unreachables” have been reached by very “traditional” ministries.  The church certainly has failed in many cases in reaching out to the prostitute, the stoner, the gangbanger, the frightened unwed mother to be, and others who would make many church folks who don’t understand the mission of the church uncomfortable.  But we don’t have to get down into the gutter ourselves to reach the “unreachable.”  I may not literally be the chief of sinners, but neither am I a prude who has lived a sheltered lifestyle far removed from the realities of today’s secular culture.

I live in the Greater New Orleans area.  Technically it may be somewhat more churched than Seattle, but who would disagree that New Orleans is practically unrivaled when it comes to open wickedness and depravity?  As a man who has during the course of his life wasted many years in indulging in nearly all of what this world has to offer, has stared into the abyss and has now been granted repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, I can assure you that there are few things that I find shocking, including the material to which Driscoll links.  However, it is disappointing to say the least when the church embraces the more vulgar aspects of our culture out of an apparent conviction that it is what has to be done to reach the lost in this postmodern age.

A preacher once told me, “What you win them with is what you will have to keep them with.”  That’s true whether it is clown shows, promoting the power of positive thinking or demonstrating how cool and liberated one is when it comes to modern sexual practices.

In closing, let’s consider the following:

The glory of the gospel is that when the Church is absolutely different from the world, she invariably attracts it. It is then that the world is made to listen to her message, though it may hate it at first. That is how revival comes. That must also be true of us as individuals. It should not be our ambition to be as much like everybody else as we can, though we happen to be Christian, but rather to be as different from everybody who is not a Christian as we can possibly be. Our ambition should be to be like Christ, the more like Him the better, and the more like Him we become, the more we shall be unlike everybody who is not a Christian.

D.Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount

The subject [The World] is one which demands the best attention of all who profess and call themselves Christians.  In every age of the Church separation from the world has always been one of the grand evidences of a work of grace in the heart.  He that has been really born of the Spirit, and made a new creature in Christ Jesus, has always endeavoured to “come out from the world,” and live a separate life.  They who have only had the name of Christian, without the reality, have always refused to “come out and be separate” from the world.

He that desires to “come out from the world, and be separate,” must steadily and habitually refuse to be guided by the world’s standard of right and wrong.

In all doubtful cases let us often try ourselves by recollecting the eye of God.  Should I go to such and such a place, or do such and such a thing, if I really thought God was looking at me?

J.C. Ryle, Practical Religion

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Quite a few of the responses to the Baptist Press article on Mark Driscoll have referenced a generation gap.  See here, here, here, here and here (and don’t miss the comments) for starters.

It seems that those of us who question Driscoll’s tendency to go over the line in an apparent attempt to be cool, edgy and to titillate just don’t understand what it takes to reach people in this day and age.  Now doesn’t that sound familiar?  Isn’t that the kind of argument that we heard from the defenders of Willow Creek and Saddleback not so long ago?

The iMonk (no fundy by any stretch of the imagination) sees the problem in this case, (calling it “a serious piece of stupid” for Driscoll to link to “that borderline porn site link”) but sadly too many in the SBC are blind to this,  failing to recognize that criticism of Driscoll is not necessarily a witch hunt against Calvinism or against different ways of doing ministry.  In many cases the response has simply been a simplistic knee jerk reaction, falsely accusing BP of inaccurate reporting (the link in question is still linked on the Mars Hill site) and seeking to lay blame on the messenger.  (An embryonic title for this post was “Adventures in missing the point.”)

I do find it ironic that Calvinists of all people continue to excuse a man essentially because he has most of his doctrinal ducks in a row and is getting visible results.  There’s more to the ministry than that.

I submit that the real issue is less of a Generation Gap than it is a Discernment Gap.  Lord willing, I may soon begin a series of blog posts related to that theme, with particular reference to the Southern Baptist Convention.

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Earlier today, I left the following comment on Timmy Brister’s blog.  I thought I’d post it here as well.  Brister was responding to this Baptist Press article.

I am thankful that Driscoll is sounder in doctrine than most, but I cannot endorse his continued flirtation with the more vulgar aspects of our culture.  I much prefer the MacArthur model and think MacArthur got it right in stating that this emergent approach to culture (if not doctrine) will stifle progress toward authentic sanctification.  As for the talk of “younger leaders,” I’m 35 and would probably fall into that category, [of being young, not necessarily a leader] but I couldn’t disagree more with the “young leader” SBC defenders of Driscoll on this issue.

If this stance makes me a “fundy” from the perspective of some of the “Calvinists” and others in the SBC, so be it.  If Tim Brister’s embrace of such (as well apparently to some extent the PCA’s MNA, which has been the left wing of the PCA since at least the early 80’s) is indicative of the future direction of Founders, then I’m saddened and simply not interested in going down that path.  (Many of the more hard core Reformed men would look askance at me anyway due to my premillenialism, because it’s “unreformed.”)  We hear the talk of “younger leaders” being forced out, but the path of many of these “younger leaders” is going to be rejected by more younger people than they know.  Paul Washer is also held in very high esteem by many younger people, and his approach on these types of issues couldn’t be more different than Driscoll’s.

Just because somebody’s a “Calvinist” (and Driscoll describes himself as a 4 1/2 pointer) doesn’t mean he is therefore sound.  I learned that well during my time in conservative Presbyterianism when I saw some embracing heretical views on justification.  (Unfortunately, it seems some current or recent students in Southern Baptist seminaries have to at least some degree embraced the New Perspective on Paul mediated through N.T. Wright as well.)  We also can’t just excuse what a man does just because he is close to some leader that we respect.  Too often in our circles, I think there’s a knee jerk reaction to defend a fellow Calvinist when he’s criticized by a non-Calvinist, no matter what the issue is.  That’s part of the mentality that drives Wade Burleson’s followers, and who knows how many have moved left on gender issues, etc. with him as a result.

Note (2/17/09):  I have edited this post to remove a few extraneous references that might have served to distract from the issue at hand.

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