Archives For Mark Driscoll

I grew up playing and watching a lot of baseball. It was almost a religion for me and Fenway Park in Boston was my church (so to speak). To further the illustration, the elders and leaders were players on the Red Sox. I think of Roger Clemens, Dwight Evans, Jim Rice, and Carl Yastrzemski. When I would arrive at Fenway I can remember walking out of the tunnel and being overcome by all of the images and sounds. There was the fresh cut grass, the 37′ wall in left field, the Prudential Building, and the sight of the players warming up. I was absolutely invested–I might have even secretly felt like was on the team.

Several years ago one of these players, Roger Clemens, was investigated for cheating. He was found to have used performance enhancing drugs, or banned substances. Clemens, along with a bevy of other players, have received something of an asterisk on their career because they have dishonored the sacred tradition and integrity of the game.

As a baseball fan I can appreciate the way the league, players, and fans have renounced the way these guys tried to take a short-cut. Some players cared more about themselves than the game. This, according to baseball is unacceptable.

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Pastoral ministry is hard and there are a lot of ways that someone can go awry. This is brought to the fore in an article in Christianity Today noting that Mark Driscoll is retracting his best-seller status and “resetting his life.” This due to the fact that controversy seems to be as much a characteristic as blessing in his ministry.

As a pastor you can become inflated with pride and bang your head on the door frame, because you believe the lie that all of the good things that are happening in your ministry are because you are awesome. On the other hand, you can be thrown into the depths of despair because things are not progressing as well as the other guy or whatever your expectations might have been.

The danger on both sides is that our identity, standing, security, approval, etc are based upon us. Attendance is up? I feel good. Attendance down? I feel like a failure. Excitement over ministry? I’m excited. Issues of discontentment or discouragement? Suddenly I’m sullen. You see, pastoral ministry is hard because I am selfish.

I can relate to Driscoll. I don’t agree with everything he says and does but I see how he got where he is right now. And, if you’re a pastor, you should see it too. The idol self-approval is deadly. Whether you have 30 people or 30,000 people in your church, you are prone to this and so am I.

I don’t pretend that all of Driscoll’s issues should be swept under the rug now that he has owned up to some of what has happened. However, I am saying that of all people, pastors should be able to identify with him and be rooting for him to bear fruit in keeping with repentance. This we do while looking to ourselves lest we too be tempted–because we know we already can.

All the talk and controversy about plagiarism has made me somewhat uncomfortable. When I listened to the infamous interview between radio host Janet Mefford and Pastor / Author Mark Driscoll I was haunted by a phrase. I don’t know if it is an exact quote or not but it went like this, “You are stealing his ideas.”

I am a pastor. My whole life and ministry is about regurgitating someone else’s ideas. I believe it was Charles Hodge who said that he never had an original thought or idea. We read, listen, talk, think, integrate, pray, and listen. This is what we do. In one very real sense pastors don’t know what is original and what is not. Even our sermon outlines have a family tree.

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If you are a Christian then you have convictions. If you are a Christian who knows other Christians then you probably have realized that we don’t all agree on everything. As a result, it is incumbent upon those who name Christ to consider how we engage with those who have different doctrinal foundations and ministry expressions. The two loudest arguments we hear are those who tend to be overly critical and those who tend to be overly accepting. On the one side folks want to limit their full affirmation and support of a teacher and ministry to those within their “tribe” (referring to people just like them). Others, resisting this, build a big tent and welcome as many people in there as they can.

As I have thought about this more and more I find it ironic that both sides are after the same thing: influence. One side wants to protect people by minimizing it and others want to influence people by expanding it. It is truly fascinating to watch and observe.

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It’s Monday AM and I need some comic relief…

I was recently watching David Platt’s T4G sermon (highly recommended) and was struck by how much he looked like Tom Brady. Occasionally I’d have to untangle my mind as I thought Brady was telling me that I needed to be willing to go and die for world missions. That got me thinking about some other evangelicals who look like other notable figures. Here is a short-list. Add more in the comments if you got ‘em.

David Platt and Tom Brady.

David Platt
tom brady
Mark Driscoll from and Joba Chamberlin from University of Nebraska (& that pro team in NY)
mark-driscoll joba

Then you have this remarkable pairing:

Peter Sellers (from The Pink Panther)

peter-sellers.gif

Ray Comfort (from Way of the Master)

ray-comfort.gif

Who else do you have? (And it is not valid to do the whole “Tim Keller & Yoda” comparison).

This is a good 4 minutes. He hits the nail on the head in terms of the cultural preoccupation with what is fake.

Also, “All the slots for hypocrite are taken. Do not quit!”

Good word. Forget the thumbs. Drop a fist bump and get to work doing something that matters.

(rss readers may need to click thru)

(ht: Challies)

I recently had a terrific conversation with a fellow pastor. We talked about how much we appreciate the accessibility of so many great bible teachers today. There seems to be a larger number of helpful books, blogs, podcasts, and videos available than ever before.

For this we remain thankful.

Well, sort of.

One of the things that has disturbed me in the last few years is the way in which the public debate so galvanizes us against one another. For example: Pastor so and so (let’s just call him John) who is highly successful with a substantial following takes a public shot at another pastor (let’s just call him Mark), who also is highly successful with a substantial following. (whether the first or second pastor were right is not the point at this point)

What is the result?

Well, a fairly awkward climate for discussion among the less visible pastors and lay people.

This is real life for me. I like John MacArthur. I have ever since I first laid eyes on The Gospel According to Jesus. In so many ways I want to emulate his pastoral & preaching ministry. At the same time I like Mark Driscoll. I have ever since I read Radical Reformission. I am thankful to God for Driscoll’s personal devotion to Christ, love for his flock and desire to reach those outside of Christ. You may recall that last year there were a series of blog posts that lit up the blogosphere, twittersphere and any other reformed sphere out there. This resulted in a lot of defending and accusing by a lot of different people (again, who is ‘right’ is beyond my scope here, it is the result that I’m after). The tension got so thick that I remember getting the stink eye from folks because I would speak favorably about either Driscoll or MacArthur. It got old. It is frustrating.

The weight of the issue/problem really came to light sometime last year for me. On a few occassions (either verbally or in writing) I would note that one of these guys made a great point or preached a particularly helpful sermon. The responses were often, “You know that guy is dangerous.” Or, “You know that guy is a…whatever.”

I would often attempt to defend the individual point and then have to give several qualifications letting people know that I am in fact aware of all the prevailing issues, while apologizing for all of their life shortcomings except their iPod playlists.

It gets exhausting.

The reason I am pointing to them is because they are exalting Christ. However, all of the little clones are running around trying to blow up the other guy all the time. And if you are taking ‘his’ side then maybe you are to be implicated in his shortcomings. (Believe me, I got the unpublished blog comments & emails to prove it)

Here is the issue: I was just wanting to point to Christ. That’s it. That was the point. However, all of the ground forces for the respective militia parties were grabbing their shoulder-launched missiles to take you out for suggesting something of value coming from such a source. And this is when it hit me: they can’t see the value of what is being said about the Savior because their Savior is in front of him. If you cannot find value in what one guy is saying when it truly exalts Jesus then you probably have an idolatry problem.  I think this is what Paul was getting at with those wing-nuts in Corinth:

For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. 12 What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? (1 Cor. 1.11-13)

Paul goes on to remind them that their idenity is bound up not in men but in the God-man:

And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Cor. 1.30-31)

This would be really helpful for us to remember today. In an age where we can get instant updates from all of our respective ‘heros’ we should remember that they are men. And their value is in their giftedness in leading us to love and serve Christ. We as idol-craving people can quickly make the jump from leader-to hero-to savior.

The issue goes beyond and deeper than John MacArthur and Mark Driscoll, it really does. It is with us. It is with the followers. We have issues. This is why I am now committed more than ever to not being all about defending everybody. And with that, I am not all about qualifying everyone. After all, not everyone can be D.A. Carson, right? (just kidding).

But seriously, it does cause us to step back, take another swig of the 1 Corinthians reality and labor to be more dutiful in prayer for the leaders God has blessed and our own hearts as well. We don’t have to get a Johnny Mac tat or wear a tie with Driscoll’s grill on it. Let our lives be about the gospel; the promotion and defense of Jesus.

The more that I try to live the Christian life the more I am confronted with my need for Christ. I am graciously shown the person and work of Christ and this thrills my soul. As a result I want to remove idols that undermine my satisfied delight in Christ.

In recent years we have been helped to this end by various teachers pointing out ‘functional saviors’. For example, Jerry Bridges defines functional saviors in the following way:

Sometimes we look to other things to satisfy and fulfill us—to ‘save’ us. These ‘functional saviors’ can be any object of dependence we embrace that isn’t God. They become the source of our identity, security, and significance because we hold an idolatrous affection for them in our hearts. They preoccupy our minds and consume our time and resources. They make us feel good and somehow even make us feel righteous. Whether we realize it or not, they control us, and we worship them. (Bridges & Bevington, The Bookends of the Christian Life), p. 72

Likewise Tim Keller has done a terrific job in his recent book Counterfeit Gods identifying and dismantling these idols. One thing that I like about Keller is that he shows that these idols oftentimes are not bad things but rather good things that we have sinfully made ultimate things.

They Cannot Deliver
To our shame and disappointment, these functional saviors may promise a lot, and we may hope for big returns, but at the end of the day, they are flat out unable to deliver the ultimate need. The reality of this is that this ultimate need is really is an intensely spiritual need anchored in approval before God and characterized by delight in him.

So we find ourselves walking around with broken pots that we have made. These leaking pots testify that we have forgotten God and sought to replace him with things of our own creation:

Has a nation changed its gods, even though they are no gods? But my people have changed their glory for that which does not profit. Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the LORD, for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water. (Jer 2.11-13)

Hi, My Name is ‘Erik’ and I have a Problem
The first step, (as our AA & NA friends would tell us) is to admit we have a problem. If we are living and breathing then we are creating idols and ascribing them with glory, ability, and strength. We are regularly and shamefully finding ourselves slouching back into the default position of our fallenness, which is to lean upon, to trust in, pursue approval in and seek deliverance in things that cannot do the job.

Once Again, Google’s Got You Covered
I know this is the case for me and I’m on the hunt. This is why I enjoy the writings from guys like Keller & Bridges as well as the older guys like John Owen & Jonathan Edwards. However, I would like to bring in a further aid which you may have not considered. I’d like to appeal to Google for help in identifying your functional saviors. Or at least helping you to train your eye to see what they look like.

For most of us Google is in our in box, maybe even our documents, and most certainly on our web pages. They know us. They know what we like, what we talk about, what we search for, what we repeatedly go after, and how we answer questions in life.

In reality, Google may know you better than you know yourself.

In trying to see patterns in my life and the various saviors that are being promoted, I have started paying attention to the ads on the various pages. I noticed recently that fitness, finances, book publishing, good eating, church growth, speed reading, blog promotion, parenting, and life insurance were all promoted to me and for me. There was a need and they were to be my functional savior. All I have to do is pay attention and I could learn something about the idols in my own life and those in my culture. At a minimum I learn more about the advertisements and characteristics of these saviors.

So as you find yourself more convicted over sin and idolatry let Google instruct you a bit, even to train you to more readily spot these counterfeit gods so that you might cling more fervently and joyfully to the real one.

Can you ‘P.S.’ a blog post?
ps: As an additional help. In Mark Driscoll & Gerry Breshear’s book Vintage Jesus they provide the following list to help identify these functional saviors:

1. What am I most afraid of?

2. What do I long for most passionately?

3. Where do I run for comfort?

4. What do I complain about the most?

5. What angers me most?

6. What makes me happiest?

7. How do I explain myself to other people?

8. What has caused me to be angry with God?

9. What do I brag about?

10. What do I want to have more than anything else?

11. What do I sacrifice the most for in my life?

12. If I could change one thing in my life what would that be?

13. Whose approval am I seeking?

14. What do I want to control/master?

15. What comfort do I treasure the most?

Joba Driscoll?

Erik Raymond —  October 23, 2009

As a Red Sox fan I was reluctantly watching the ALCS last night because for some reason baseball calms down our crying infant like nothing else.  Perhaps it’s the rapid pace of the game.  Anyway, the Yankees brought in Joba Chamberlain to try to hold on to the lead and go to their first World Series in 6 years.  Then it hit me…this guy is Mark Driscoll’s twin.  Pretty amazing actually.  And what’s more, both guys get heat for too much passion.  As a Sox fan who loves Christ, I’m hoping Driscoll has a longer, more effective career.

mark-driscoll joba

Book Review- Vintage Church

Erik Raymond —  February 18, 2009

It is very appropriate and timely for Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears to release a book on church ministry.  Driscoll has become a bit of a model for young church planters through his Acts 29 network and various conference appearances.  Therefore, a consolidated ‘volume’ if you will is welcomed.

As with previous books from the authors’ pens Vintage Church is intensely practical.  Mars Hill Church in Seattle is the reoccurring lab of reference for church ministry.  This is extremely helpful in a book like this seeing that it gives a lot of flesh and bones to the biblical priorities outlined.

If you were critical of some of Driscoll’s previous books due to language or questionable references (as I was with Vintage Jesus) you will have little to complain about here.  From my perspective this is the type of product that really quiets and encourages sincere critics who want to see Driscoll’s work used greatly in the church.  If you are a Driscoll hater, well, he couldn’t do or say much that would ever satisfy you.  The writing style remains engaging, biblical, funny, and real; which are all virtues from Driscoll’s pen.

One of the main strengths of the book is the way in which the authors tackle weighty ecclesiastical issues without flinching.  Chapters like, Who is Supposed to Lead a Church?, Why is Preaching Important?, What is Church Discipline?, and What is a Missional Church? are not necessarily soft chapters.  The authors deal with the issues biblically and tactfully.  And this is where I find real encouragement in this book.  This book will be read by thousands of young church planters over the next decade.  Let’s face it, as helpful as Dever’s 9Marks or MacArthur’s Master’s Plan for the Church are, the book that young guys will be turning to, by virtue of Driscoll’s popularity and influence, is Vintage Church.  Chapters on the necessity of male eldership, church discipline and biblical ministry are so needed today.  So, I for one am thankful that the book is well done, devoid of statements that promote immaturity, and centered on biblical ministry.

I should also say that I felt that some of the previous works were not as theologically tight as one might prefer.  However, in this book the authors, on many occasions, find themselves saying a whole lot in a short space.  For example in the chapter What is a Christian Church? the authors spend a good page talking about the distinction between the Nation of Israel and the Church.  I really appreciated the theological care that was taken not only to include this but to speak clearly to it.  They are demonstrating that theological precision is necessary in Jesus’ church.

Further strengths include the sheer volume of footnotes (not end notes).  Driscoll fills the book with Bible verses.  This is so helpful and so refreshing when reading.  In addition an appendix of the Mars Hill Membership Covenant is included.  This was a helpful read.  Other chapters on multi-campus ministry and the use of technology in ministry proved helpful as well.

The only real issue that I feel strong enough about to mention is Driscoll’s definition of expository preaching.  In the chapter entitled Why is Preaching Important? we read the following: “Expository preaching is simply going through a book of the Bible verse-by-verse” (pp. 91-92).  Granted, the chapter goes on to give good reasons why one should do expository preaching (none of which I disagree with).  However, it is the definition itself that is inadequate.  I really like John Stott’s statement in his classic Between Two Worlds:

It is my contention that all true Christian preaching is expository preaching.  Of course if by an ‘expository’ sermon is meant a verse-by-verse explanation of a lengthy passage of Scripture, then indeed it is only one possible way of preaching, but this would be a misuse of the word.

Properly speaking, ‘exposition’ has a much broader meaning.  It refers to the content of the sermon (biblical truth) rather than its style (a running commentary).  To expound Scripture is to bring out the of the text what is there and expose it to view.  The expositor prizes open what appears to be closed, makes plain what is obscure, unravels what is knotted and unfolds what is tightly packed.” (pp. 125-126)

I bring this up only because too many people outside of the camp unfairly sully expository preaching as being a running verse by verse commentary.  But in reality it is much more, as Stott indicates.

Overall I like the book and think it (along with Death by Love) are Driscoll’s best yet.

Copies are available at the following sponsors of this site:

Amazon

Westminster

..

“Legalists love to act like God by making rules.   Legalists love rules about the rules.  Legalists love rules about who gets to make the rules about the rules.  Legalists love rules about who gets to enforce the rules made by the people whom the rules appointed to make the rules about the rules.  Legalists really love rules about who gets to interpret the rules that rule.  Legalists get perfectly euphoric when they get to enact the rules by punishing people who break the rules as interpreted by those appointed by the rules.  In the end, legalsts want to rule through rules and wield their rules like weapons to divide the church body into bloddied parts.” (Mark Driscoll, Vintage Church pp. 143-144)

Mark Driscoll on Silence

Erik Raymond —  December 11, 2008

Driscoll nails the issue of busy-ness and the need for silence.  I think this is a ‘must read’ for me and all of my friends.

Here is an excerpt following Driscoll recounting how he had surrounded himself with technology and noise:

In that moment, God deeply convicted me that I was addicted to the false trinity of our day, the gods known as Noise, Hurry, and Crowds. I remembered the words of missionary martyr Jim Elliot, who said, “I think the devil has made it his business to monopolize on three elements: noise, hurry, crowds . . . Satan is quite aware of the power of silence.”

I began to ponder what Jesus’ life might be like if He lived today. Would He be available to all of His followers twenty-four hours a day on His BlackBerry? Would He have left His phone on at the Last Supper and been continually interrupted by needless calls? Would He have failed to stop and speak to needy people because their weeping was not loud enough for Him to hear over His iPod as He hurried past them on His way to a meeting He was already late for?

I recommend the rest of the article here.

Book Review- Death by Love

Erik Raymond —  October 28, 2008

Pastoral ministry is messy.  It just is.  Pastors stand on the front lines of the battle on a daily basis.  Often times, based on confidentiality and complexity, there are few folks to talk to about the various scenarios that they are dealing with.

Therefore my ears perk up when I hear that a fellow pastor is writing a book that is going to deal with various counseling scenarios that he has encountered over the years and how he dealt with them from the foot of the cross.

Mark Driscoll has been taken to task for some of his comments in the past (and rightfully so).

However, even his harshest critics will have little to gripe over in his book Death by Love.  This is the book that I have been hoping that Driscoll would write for some time now.  He shelves the comedy act and gets down to business with a gospel-centered, pride-smashing, tour through various counseling situations (see video below for some specifics).

I am not going to mention the various theological positions that Driscoll holds that may differ from some.  This is due to two factors, 1) Driscoll tells us up front that the book is not intended to be a carefully worded defense of all of the various components of the atonement.  Instead it is intended to be pastoral (this is not to imply that pastoral ministry is not theological but rather that the scope of the book is not to be seen as simply a scholarly work), 2) Driscoll is so intensely cross-centered in this book.  I love who everything that he has to say in each chapter has its root in the cross.  It is extremely helpful for people on both sides of the counseling desk.

Often times I am asked by men about pastoral ministry.  Sometimes these questions come from guys who are considering full time ministry and other times it just from curious guys.  In either case I am going to recommend at least portions of this book to them to read.  The unvarnished, full-access peak into what the pastor deals with on a regular basis is extremely helpful.

On a personal level the book helped me as a pastor and a Christian in general.  I can see myself regularly reviewing some of Driscoll’s letters to his parishoners as I prayerfully consider ways to point folks to the cross in the midst of their struggles.  And as a Christian in general I have been aided by Driscoll in seeing the thoroughness of the atonement of Christ in a fresh way.  I can see how it covers my own sin but then I am reminded of its power in covering a whole host of other problems that may be out of my purview.

Death by Love is Mark Driscoll’s best book yet.  I truly believe it will have staying power and be helpful in promoting gospel-centered ministry for years to come.

The book is available at the following locations for a discounted price:

Westminster ($13.19)

Amazon ($13.59)

(prices as of the date of the post)

Driscoll Interviews John Piper

Erik Raymond —  September 13, 2008

This is not one of those anti-Rick Warren blogs, but I have got to post this because it is so clear and so indicative of the pragmatic shackles that so many pastors are in. Additionally, I am preaching on how God grows a church this weekend so I am a bit fired up (Eph. 4.11-16).

If there is any doubt that I am on a different planet theologically and methodologically than ‘America’s Pastor’ it has now been removed. (video link)

“The biggest mistake people make is that we think that sermons will produce spiritual maturity.” Rick Warren

My only question is why Tim Keller and Mark Drisoll are preaching at this guy’s Purpose Driven Conference? He is in the business of undermining what the Bible calls pastors to do (as this video and his books clearly show). So why are they there?

It is stuff like this that just motivates me to sit down, study hard, pray hard and reaffirm before God that my skill is useless in making people look like Jesus. But rather it is the loving grace of God that invades proud hearts and makes them to be like his Son; this he does by the Spirit and the Word (and yes this through preaching).

(h/t: Unashamed Workman)

vintage-jesus.jpgVintage Jesus is written by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears. Driscoll is the reformed/emergent lightening-rod pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA. Breshears is a Professor of Theology at Western Seminary in Portland, OR. Driscoll is the author of the majority of the content and Breshears comes alongside to write the conclusions of each chapter.

The book intends to answer a number of relevant questions about the person and work of Jesus Christ. To Driscoll’s credit he tackles some of the most common questions asked by unbelievers and endeavors to answer them biblically and within the realm of historic protestant orthodoxy. There are some really good sections of the book where we are given clear, biblical answers to common questions.

Some of the chapter titles include:

Is Jesus the Only God?

How Human was Jesus?

Why did Jesus’ Mom Need to be a Virgin?

Did Jesus Rise from Death?

Why Should We Worship Jesus?

I feel that it is necessary at the outset of this review to show my hand a bit. I have been a Driscoll supporter for a number of years now. I have read both of his previous books and enjoyed them. I have also been a subscriber to the Mars Hill podcast for over two years. I have benefited from the ministry of Mark Driscoll in a number of different ways. All of this to say, I am not the ‘anti-Driscoll guy’. However, I did not enjoy this book. In fact, I repeatedly found myself wincing and much like an argument amongst friends, just wishing it would end soon and without further damage.

One criticism that has accompanied Driscoll for years is his language. Ever since his days of being labeled “Mark the cussing pastor” by Donald Miller in his book Blue Like Jazz we have heard folks decry the language used by Driscoll. To his credit, we have heard what appears to be humility in the pulpit and in writing that seems to indicate that this is behind him.

For those who are interested Driscoll did not drop ‘F-bombs’ in the book, neither did he employ any of the other socially relegated ‘cuss words’ that he has been criticized in the past for. However, in Vintage Jesus Driscoll repeatedly dips his pen into the sewer for illustrations. For example, I do not know why he feels it necessary to draw vivid pictures in his readers’ minds of groping women at frat parties (he went into some detail here). He also spoke of stumbling upon a naked woman in the frat house. (p.80-81) Is this the best illustration possible for whatever the point was that he was trying to make? As a pastor and a man I work hard at trying to keep men’s minds fixed on what is pure and good. The human heart does a fine job itself birthing temptations and lust in the heart without pastor Mark priming the pump.

I know that some folks will say that Driscoll is trying to ‘contextualize’ and reach out to those who are unreached; those who don’t know Jesus and don’t go to church. Who else is going to reach the urban, jacked-up, fornicating, pot-smoking, violent, ungodly deviants? Well, I was that guy. And speaking as a guy from that background it turns my stomach to see appeals to the third rail of culture in order to relate. Do you know how Jesus related to me? He showed me my sin. Like those that Paul referred to in 1 Cor. 14, the secrets of my heart were disclosed and so falling on my face, I worshipped God and declared that God is really among the church. (1 Cor. 14.24-25) It breaks my heart to see Driscoll attempting to ‘sanctify’ sin for the sake of illustration. This is really pointless when you think about it.

Driscoll states that it seems that “every generation is guilty of giving Jesus an extreme makeover.” (p.42) And of course we (guys like me) tend to like much of what Driscoll says about the need for men to act like men and the fact that Jesus is not weak and effeminate but rather strong and masculine.

However, is Driscoll not guilty of doing the same thing but with a little more spiritual testosterone?

For example, Driscoll, in his run through The Gospel According to Mark, describes Jesus as a guy who,

[tells] a leper to shut-up”

“does the equivalent of breaking into a church on a Sunday morning to make a sandwich with the communion bread..”

“needs Paxil”

“needs sensitivity training”

“has his guys take a donkey without asking like some kleptomaniac donkeylifter”

[Is] an obvious workaholic who needed to start drinking decaf and listening to taped sounds of running water while doing aromatherapy so he could learn to relax.”

We are talking about Jesus…right? The Son of God? He needed Paxil? This isn’t even funny. Look, I am guilty of laughing when we hear Driscoll going after the environmentalists, the charismatics, the fundamentalists, and the pastorettes, but…come on…we are talking about the Lord Jesus Christ. And I think this is what has me up in arms. Jesus did not need medication, a vacation, or sensitivity training, he is the perfect Son of God! The only thing he ‘needs’ is to be bowed down before and worshipped. Driscoll would do well to put away his sarcastic comedy routine and his sketchpad, for he, himself seems to be giving Jesus an extreme makeover. And the more I look at this Jesus that he is drawing the more it looks like Mark Driscoll.

Some of the unnecessary references in this book to Jesus’ incarnation are included below…

“Jesus’ mom was a poor, unwed teenage girl who was mocked for claiming she conceived via the Holy Spirit. Most people thought she concocted a crazy story to cover the ‘fact’ she was knocking boots with some guy in the backseat of a car at the prom.” (p.11)

“Jesus’ humor was often biting and harsh, particularly when directed at the Pharisees. For example, he called them a bag of snakes, said that their moms shagged the Devil, and mocked them for tithing out of their spice racks.” (pp. 40-41)

“Joining them later at the party at Matthew’s house was nothing short of a very bad hip-hop video, complete with women in clear heels, dudes with their pants around their ankles and handguns in their underwear strap, lots of gold teeth, bling, spinners on camels, cheap liquor, and grinding to really loud music with a lot of bass. When word got out to the religious folks, they were perplexed as to how Jesus could roll with such a jacked-up posse. Jesus’ answer was purely priestly. Jesus said that they were sick and needed mercy.” (p.77)

“Some Catholic theologians taught that Jesus was not born in the normal fashion through Mary’s birth canal. Rather, they say he was born via something much like a miraculous C-section, as if Mary were some Messiah-in-the-box, and Joseph cranked her arm until the Messiah popped out of her gut.” (p. 93)

From a theological perspective I found the book to be pretty tight. It was your basic Protestant defense of biblical faith. However, I was shocked to find this quote in the middle of the book (I quote the context):

On the cross as our substitute, Jesus was made to be the worst of what we are. This does not mean that Jesus ever sinned. Rather, it means that he was made sin. As a result, in that moment when Jesus cried out that he had been forsaken by God the Father, Jesus became the most ugly, wicked, defiled, evil, corrupt, rebellious, and hideous thing in all creation. In that moment, Jesus became a homosexual, alcoholic, thief, glutton, addict, pervert, adulterer, coveter, idol worshiper, whore, pedophile, self-righteous religious prig—and whatever else we are.” (p. 114—emphasis mine).

Jesus became a whore? Jesus became an idol worshipper? Really? So now we have Jesus with a new nature? He is sinless human, perfect God and a pervert? This is not what the Scripture teaches. He became sin (that is he was imputed or charged with our sin) on the cross he did not become the sinner (2 Cor. 5.21). I realize that he says, “This does not mean that Jesus ever sinned.” But that is exactly what he says. He could have said Jesus was judged in our place, being charged with our sins. He was treated like the homosexual, alcoholic, thief, etc..should have been treated (though he was sinless). I do not believe this is theological semantics, but rather the heart of the gospel. The numerous endorsers and his co-author should have caught this error. It seems to me that Driscoll’s penchant for dramatic hyperbole got the best of him and unraveled his explanation of the gospel. Regrettably, this really becomes a good picture of what you have in this book; Driscoll’s drama getting in the way and ruining a clear explanation of Jesus.

Along with many people, I have been praying for Driscoll that things would get better and that he would not crash and burn. This book, in my view, goes backward rather than forward. As I read the book I found myself thinking of the NFL running back who gets up and draws attention to himself after every first down. I find myself saying, “Just go back to the huddle and run another play.” In this book I find myself saying, “Just go back to the Bible and give us some more Jesus. Enough with the ‘extra & unnecessary stuff’ it just gets in the way.”

 

Book Review- The Truth War

Erik Raymond —  February 26, 2008

I received a copy of The Truth War last March while attending The Shepherds’ Conference. I had heard some of MacArthur’s sermons on Jude and really enjoyed them. However, I did not get to the book right away, and before I knew it I was hearing all kinds of rumblings about how imbalanced the book was and how MacArthur is overreacting. And I must confess, I am a big John MacArthur guy, I am solidly in his corner. So, as a result of the chatter and my loyalty, I shelved the book with the intention of reading it at a later date. Honestly, part of my motivation was that I did not want to read a book by John that could have been out of balance.

Well last week I was to preach on a passage in the book of Jude. So I picked up the book and jammed through it to help encourage my thinking as I interact with the passage. My overall appraisal is that it is a good book. I enjoyed reading it. MacArthur interacts with both the contemporary challenges (of doctrine) facing the church as well as the historical. In both cases he is faithful to name names and quote primary sources. Some folks have balked at MacArthur’s quotes from Brian McLaren or Rob Bell, but at the end of the day, they did say (or write) these things. So while these statements may be ‘red meat’ for fundamentalist Calvinists they are none the less the sentiment and practice that MacArthur is going after in his book.

In this vein, I was disappointed that he went after Mark Driscoll in his chapter on apostasy. MacArthur quotes from Blue Like Jazz where the author references “Mark the cussing pastor.” MacArthur rails against this type of conduct in the life of a Christian in general and a pastor in particular. The only issue is that Mark Driscoll would seem to agree. He has said publicly that foul language is inappropriate. Furthermore, it would seem that in the past few years Driscoll has demonstrated that he is sensitive towards pursuing humility and doctrinal faithfulness. In my view, these two items at least should have warranted his exclusion from a chapter dealing with apostates.

The books strong points are MacArthur’s interaction with the book of Jude and his discussion of heresy’s in the early church. What we have come to appreciate about MacArthur is his steady, faithful interaction with the text; he makes the Scriptures clear to us. He does this repeatedly in The Truth War. Furthermore, in reading the book you find yourself convicted and compelled. You are convicted because of apathy in contending for the faith and compelled to do so more fervently.

I recommend the book as required reading for pastors and elders (or would be pastors and elders), but also would encourage it for others as well.

(note: the book is not a verse by verse study of Jude, though he does set his anchor down there. He has written a helpful commentary on Jude, which is available separately)

Mars Hill Music Podcast

Erik Raymond —  January 27, 2008

I have been tremendously blessed and encouraged by the music ministry of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA. God is rescuing people with the gospel who have significant musical talent and these folks are composing, playing and singing a new song unto Christ. In some cases they sing old hymns that are revised and amplified in other cases they sing Scripture or they write new music. At any rate, I am blessed by God to have quality lyrical content paired together with a sound that I enjoy.

The podcast has been one of my favorites for some time now and I highly recommend it to you for your edification and enjoyment.

Here is the URL for the podcast and here are some sample songs (click the + below to listen)

Psalm 25

Here is Love

Come Ye Sinners

Redemption

Gloria

confessions-of-a-reformissional-rev.jpgMatt Fudge wrote a helpful review of Confessions of a Reformissional Rev. What I enjoyed about Matt’s review was his transparent thoughtfulness while interacting with Driscoll’s book. Here are some samples:

(Negatives)

-Mark asks us to be more considerate of the cultures of the unsaved (in his case, the unchurched, ultra-liberal, punk rock culture of Seattle) while he mocks other subcultures. He picks on the ultra-conservative a lot. He unintentionally implies that the legalists are less deserving of patience than the heavily tattooed, pot-smoking crowd.

-Mark has a different idea of the church’s purpose than I do. He rejects the attraction-heavy, market-driven approach of Willow Creek, but he does believe that the church must market itself to unbelievers to a lesser degree. He remarks that his church is more for those unsaved people they are trying to reach than for the ones already there. He calls this being “missional.” Many people have now hijacked this term to justify becoming worldly in the name of evangelism. For Mark, being “missional” means having a singular drive to go into culture and see people saved. This is a right pursuit, but I believe that the first purpose is for the equipping of Christians for the work of service (Eph 4:11-13), under which evangelism falls.

(Positives)

-Mark convinced me that I do not truly love the unsaved like I should. He commended me for loving the people in my church but criticized me for not caring about my neighbor. I would classify this as a life-changing conclusion.

-Mark helped me rethink my ideas about how to contextualize the gospel to different subcultures. I would say that I have understood that context is important to the gospel (see all of Acts 17) but that I may have been too legalistic in what I expected of converts. In other words, I have expected that they should become like me. Christians and churches can exist inside subcultures rather than having to conform to mine.

The guy who title a chapter “Jesus, Our Offering Was $137 and I Want To Use it to Buy Bullets” is definitely worth a read. Love him or hate him, he’ll make you think.

(read the rest of the review here…)

[Confessions of a Reformissional Rev is available at Westminster Books]

related:: my review of Confessions

mark-driscoll.pngLast week Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest welcomed Mars Hill pastor Mark Driscoll to come and speak at an on campus conference. Over the past few years Driscoll has come under heavy fire from everyone from Phil Johnson to Doug Pagitt to NOW-type organizations. He has also been embraced by men like John Piper, Tim Keller, and D.A. Carson.

With the level of quick publicity he received over the last few years there resulted a bit of an uninformed cloud of polarity around Mark Driscoll. One redundant criticism of Driscoll has been his ‘associations’ with those in the emergent church. The audio that I am linking to below should go a long way in helping people understand who this guy is and why, from an orthodox biblical perspective, he is not on the other team and in fact he is an ally. Sure you may not like the fact that he watches ultimate fighting and says ‘dude’ while wearing jeans during a sermon, but maybe he is troubled by your stamp collection and pleated pants. Hopefully the sermon goes a long way to dispel untenable myths about the guy.

In addition, the message is a great aid in explaining the development of the emergent church. Specifically, Driscoll exposes the theological insurgency of leaders such as Doug Pagitt, Brian McLaren, Rob Bell and others. There is scarcely a sacred doctrine that they are not endeavoring to blow up. I think the only thing they want to keep about Christianity is the name. This doesn’t work real well since we are not a club ruled by sovereign members but a church ruled by a Sovereign King who does not tolerate revision of his Scriptures, even if it is in the name of tolerance; for this tolerance is really intolerant of Christ’s supremacy.

So give it a listen (blue play button) and pass it on (Driscoll is session 3)

Convergent Conference

Session 1 – J. D. Greear

Session 2 – Ed Stetzer

Session 3 – Mark Driscoll

Session 4 – Danny Akin

Session 5 – Alvin Reid

Q&A – Panel Discussion