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.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

John MacArthur's Critique of Mark Driscoll (Part 2)

One response from my last post on this subject was, "this is very old news," which is true. MacArthur's critique of Driscoll in the December 11, 2006 edition of Pulpit Magazine is ancient history (in terms of how time is reckoned in the blogosphere) and is very well known. Somewhat more recent and less well-known is the following from Dr. MacArthur, spoken during an interview by Todd Friel on the April 7, 2008 edition of Way of the Master Radio. [The entire interview can be heard HERE, the statements concerning Driscoll start about 3/4 of the way through.]

Well, I have a great concern about [Mark Driscoll]. The book that he wrote, Confessions of a Missional Pastor [sic]: there are statements in that book that are so sexually explicit and unnecessary and purely gratuitous humor at the basest kind of level: I saw a video from a service in the church in January in which comments were made from his pulpit, which were then put on the video- the DVD [sic]– on the website, which again, were sexually explicit in a gratuitous and unnecessary way in which he referred to a certain sin and actually twisted out-of-context a Bible verse as a kind of way to mock that sin. You know, Todd, look, I said this at the [Shepherds'] Conference, there was a time when we were worried about the church adjusting itself to accommodate the peoples' social expectations, and then their psychological expectations, and now the latest wave of this is let's identify with them at their sensual level. And I think that baser approach- that's something I've never heard of in my life- I've never, ever, in the name of ministry heard anyone who would speak at that level of explicit language with regard to things sexual, which the Bible always treats with euphemistic language. I just think it's a sad thing when we have to appeal to people at that basest level, which, of course, is at the level at which our culture exists, and if you want to "contextualize," you end up crawling down to that level.
Friel questioned MacArthur about reports that pastors John Piper and C.J. Mahaney have been mentoring Driscoll, to which MacArthur responded:

I hope that's the case. I just think that there's a dignity, there's a maturity, there's a holiness, a virtue, a fear of God that belongs with the pastorate, with spiritual ministry. That is a sine qua non- it's an absolute- it's not negotiable- no matter how funny, clever, glib you might be. There's a dignity, there's a refinement, that belongs in the ministry. The Bible talks about that: being "sober-minded"- the pursuit of godliness, holiness, virtue, the fear of God- all those things seem to me to be obvious. Speech that comes out of your mouth, no filthy communication, only that which ministers grace to the hearer: you just can't move people from the sensual to the spiritual; you can't put one thought in their mind and then try to transition them to something holy. So, yeah, it's a new kind of thing that I never, ever, imagined would happen, when you can use sensuality as a ploy to draw people into things holy. I think it's the opposite of the right approach.
For me, the most interesting statement from the above is: "there was a time when we were worried about the church adjusting itself to accommodate the people's social expectations, and then their psychological expectations, and now the latest wave of this is let's identify with them at their sensual level." I think that it is obvious that in post-Enlightenment times into the early 20th century (and even, to some extent, today) the church in America accommodated to social expectations in the sense of seeking to impress high culture and to become academically credible- something which led to compromise with higher criticism, leading to skepticism concerning the authority of Scripture and a loss of the message of who Jesus is and what He has done under liberal theology. In the late 20th century and now into the 21st, evangelicalism, which sought to recover the good news of Jesus from liberal theology, became prone to accommodating to people's psychological expectations in the sense of incorporating secular psychology into Christian counseling and utilizing psychological terms in defining biblical concepts, which led to skepticism concerning the sufficiency of Scripture, and then a loss of clarity regarding the message of who Jesus is (rather than being omniscient and sovereign, He became viewed as a "risk-taker") and what He has done (rather than redeeming sinners from God's wrath, He died to allow us to have a purpose in life). MacArthur's assertion is that as the 21st century progresses, the church is now in danger of identifying with people on their sensual level, and he seems to have a point. Where this is true, the holiness of Scripture is in danger of being lost. MacArthur is right to point out that, though the Bible does use common- and even, as C.S. Lewis said- "earthy" language- the Bible is not vulgar, and it does utilize euphemism in regard to sex in particular. Even the Song of Solomon treats sex in a poetic fashion and throughout the Bible sex retains a dignity that is unknown in popular American culture and, one fears, in churches that seek to accommodate culture. In all, we must retain an aversion to corrupt speech to glorify a holy God and to honor Christ as holy.

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4 Comments:

Blogger Michael D. Osterman said...

My concern about John MacArthur's criticism of Mark Driscoll is that MacArthur has not, at least as far as I have read or heard, gone to Driscoll as a brother in Christ and confronted him with his supposed sin of being vulgar from the pulpit. Matthew 18 requires this of him if he truly believes that Driscoll is sinning. If he doesn't believe that Driscoll is sinning, perhaps he should keep his opinions to himself.

6:49 PM  
Blogger The Armchair Theologian said...

MacArthur has privately corresponded with Driscoll. The private correspondence was not responded to for several months and was a "thanks for your concern" boiler plate letter.

MacArthur also isn't Driscoll's pastor. He doesn't have any obligation to Matthew 18 Driscoll because Driscoll is not part of MacArthur's chuch and MacArthur has no authority relationship with the man. I would say that Galatians 2:14 (one minister publicly opposing another sinning minster) would be a more relevant precedent on the matter.

11:01 AM  
Blogger 2centsworth said...

I thank God for John MacArthur who not only has the pulpit but the wisdom to comment on things controversial. He is not calling him a heretic. He is telling a young man that he is treading to close to the cliff's edge. I believe Driscoll should be more willing to take a word from a man that has been in the ministry longer than he has been alive. Many Christians have been edified by MacArthur's ministry. I like Driscoll, but sometimes he shocks me.

9:06 PM  
Blogger azaelia said...

Thank God for people like John MacArthur the late John Stott and all those wise and humble learned people like them.I think Mark Driscoll is just waiting at the edge of the cliff to be the next Ted Haggard or Todd Bentley. i saw an American pastor post his clip on bashing up of Twilight and read so many post by Christians on fb.all against harry potter , twilight etc unable to comprehend the fact that its contemporary literature-this guy is asking for trouble n puffed up with pride fighting for a lost cause and building his own platform when there are so much more worthy cause to fight for- Lord have

1:46 PM  

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