Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

John MacArthur's Critique of Mark Driscoll (Part 1)

Though I appreciate many statements made by Mark Driscoll (as seen, for example in my recent post concerning his critique of prayer labyrinths), I do think that there are some legitimate areas of concern in regards to how he practices ministry. In this post and (hopefully) in a post at the beginning of next week, I will recount John MacArthur's most important critiques of Driscoll's ministry.

MacArthur wrote the following in the December 11, 2006 edition of Pulpit Magazine:

[Driscoll's] defense of substitutionary atonement might help his disciples gain a good grasp of the doctrine of justification by faith; but the lifestyle he models- especially his easygoing familiarity with all this world's filthy fads- practically guarantees that they will make little progress toward authentic sanctification.

What I appreciate about the above critique is that MacArthur does not overlook the major legitimate positive aspect of Driscoll's ministry. Driscoll does consistently defend substitutionary atonement. I would strengthen MacArthur's statement by saying that Driscoll's defense of substitutionary atonement and other aspects of his gospel teaching will help his disciples gain a good grasp of the doctrine of justification by faith; in several audio files and YouTube clips, I've been very much impressed with how Driscoll gives clear summaries of core gospel truths.

However, if MacArthur is correct, then there is a serious reform that needs to take place in Driscoll's ministry. First Thessalonians 4:3 tells us that God's will for His people is our sanctification: our being made holy as He is holy, set apart from this sinful world. If Driscoll is not leading his congregation to increase in sanctification, then he is not truly leading them into God's will for their lives.

Driscoll responds to MacArthur's critique in the book Young, Restless, Reformed, in which he tells author Collin Hansen, "If John MacArthur would have called me or e-mailed me, I would have got on an airplane, flown to Los Angeles, and welcomed his counsel, because I want to do a good job serving Jesus honestly" (145). This is a humble response from Driscoll; though I do not believe that MacArthur was under obligation to contact Driscoll privately concerning public aspects of ministry, and I think that if MacArthur were to personally meet with Driscoll, it could appear that he was less concerned with the objections he has raised. I do hope that Driscoll will have the further humility to receive any correction that may be needed from MacArthur, with or without a personal meeting.



Blogger blbartlett said...

I hear what you're saying, but don't you think Macarthur may have gone a little overboard, too?

If mere "familiarity with fads" is a clear sign of problems in a person's journey toward sanctification, we're in a lot of trouble. After all, most of us own laptops and ipods, have e-mail and listen to secular music, watch the news and TV and movies. What more is Macarthur accusing Driscoll of?

Anyways, something to chew on. Thanks for the post!

4:56 PM  
Blogger Stephen Newell said...

Hey brother!

I'd like to add also that this is very old news, and much has taken place since that article by MacArthur. Driscoll has since publicly proclaimed his failure to be humble and teach his church humility. He's also talked about correction received from his own elders about his language and attitude.

I like MacArthur (I've used his stuff for years), but he tends to go way over the top on a regular basis with those whom he disagrees. This is a good example, as well as the whole controversy over dispensationalism at the Shepherd's Conference last year.

I also think that it rings hollow to say that MacArthur had no obligation to talk with Driscoll privately, especially in light of the fact that others such as John Piper and CJ Mahaney did so before making public remarks about him. It speaks louder that these men took the time to talk with him rather than castigating him publicly as MacArthur did. Driscoll's own words that you quoted implied as such -- he'd much rather that MacArthur had talked to him instead of shooting from far away.

5:14 PM  
Blogger ajlin said...

Two thoughts, stephen:

1. I don't think that MacArthur's critique of Driscoll was in regards to a lack of humility, though the last sentence of your first paragraph was certainly on point.

2. I do think that Piper and Mahaney's interaction has tended to cause people to assume that they have given a blanket endorsement of Driscoll's ministry, and I think that this is what MacArthur is trying to avoid while he still has serious concerns.

-Overall, though, I think that this is a good conversation to have. We all tend to either idolize or vilify Christian leaders, rather than practicing more careful discernment.

10:15 AM  

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