Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memo to self

Stop preaching 'mini-series' based on topics not texts; you're not good at it. Pack it in.

PS: note new blog title and fuzzy picture!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Time to clean up, Mark

I’m going to talk about Driscoll now, OK? And some of it is criticism. So let’s remind ourselves: there’s every reason to believe he’s a brother in Christ, that his ministry in Seattle is remarkably blessed by God and that he is, in the end, answerable to his own Master who is able to make sure he stands (Rom. 14:4.) OK?

That said: I’ve always had a sneaking respect for Mark Driscoll. I recognise that he’s reaching people others are not reaching – tattooed punks do need Christ, after all. It’s plain from his heroes and his teaching that he shares a lot – I mean a lot – of my doctrine (though he needs to get sorted out on cessationism and stop attacking a straw man). And I do believe that the Bible has a lot of straight talking about intimate marital matters which ought to be preached on. All of that has made me sit a bit light to the criticisms of his ‘cussing’; in fact, his smugness has bothered me more. (‘Hey, you like that joke? Good one, eh? I’ll use that one in the next service too.’ Yuk.) And I’ve been impressed by the respect Piper and others have shown him.

But I confess, I’m running out of patience. It began when I was watching a video of a conference session and Mark gave John Piper a jacket. Nice thought, eh? But ruined when Mark embarrassed John in public with a salacious remark about John and his wife Noel. Unnecessary, boy; unhelpful. Unedifying. And he can’t keep saying ‘I’m young – make allowances.’ M’Cheyne was long dead at his age! Anyway, he either is mature enough to be leader of a vast church and the organisations around it, or he’s not. Which is it?

Dan Phillips (here and here) commented helpfully on Driscoll and linked to a Macarthur article. Macarthur is no great fan of Driscoll, it’s safe to say. He’s concerned by – well, things that would have concerned every Christian a decade ago and most non-Christians not so long before that.

Macarthur refers to a sermon preached in Edinburgh, and repeated in Glasgow – yes, that’s right: Scotland. Driscoll began by offering his congregation a choice of three sermons, like this.
I’ll tell you what I’m going to go ahead and do. I’m going to give you three options. I’ve prepared three sermons. You get to choose what I talk about. Okay. The three options are these: The first is we can go through God’s heart for your city and God’s future plan in the upcoming season for your church from Jeremiah 29, which is what the first service chose. Secondly, I can talk about Jesus as God, give you ten reasons why as Christians we believe and know that Jesus Christ is the only God. Or third, I can talk about sexuality and cover the most exciting parts of the book of the Song of Solomon. Okay. So those are your three options. Your dear pastor is a great man, and I love him and appreciate him, and depending upon what you choose, don’t blame him. So everyone gets to vote, and then I’ll teach on whatever it is you want. So those of you who would like Jeremiah 29 and God’s plan for your city, raise your hand. Okay, both of you are really excited about that. [Laughter from audience] Ten reasons on Jesus Christ being God? Okay, many of you. Alright, sex in the Song of Solomon? [Cheers and laughter from the audience] Alright. Alright. Okay. I brought along some PowerPoint slides to illustrate. I’m just kidding. Alright, well I should probably pray then before we get to work in what is my favorite part of the Bible. If you are single, I apologize in advance. This will be a very unpleasant sermon for you, because the Bible says to not merely listen to the Word but do what it says. And you can’t.

Now, you've read it. Tell me – is he really offering them a choice? Or is he planning to preach on sex, but wanting to blame somebody else for it? It reads to me as if he’s beginning to revel in his bad boy reputation, as if he’s saying: ‘Hey, I’m the guy who dares talk dirty in the pulpit.’

You may not agree with that assessment. OK. But he does then talk dirty, and Macarthur (elsewhere) links to the transcript. (Dirt alert – it may not be good for you to read this!).

Some things need to be said. Very little of that sermon needed to be said. (Very little of that sermon is a sermon…)

Driscoll says he listens to Piper because Piper is encouraging rather than condemnatory. Good; I’m glad. John Piper is a great guy. And now, it’s time for him to say ‘Mark – enough is enough. It’s time to stop. And until you give evidence that you have stopped – well, I can’t help you any more.’