Friday, August 15, 2014

Lessons Learned From the Driscoll Fallout (part 2)

As I have observed Mark Driscoll's very public ministry over the past many years here is a list of questions and concerns that immediately come to mind.  I hope and pray the people of God learn many valuable lessons from this very tragic fall.   I am also praying for Mark Driscoll and for Mars Hill.

Questions and Concerns: 2) Is the gift of New Testament "prophesy" still operative today?  If the gift of fallible prophesy does not exist then what does that say about some of Mark Driscoll's spiritual counsel?  If the gift does exist, is Mark Driscoll using this spiritual gift in a way consistent with the purposes of God as revealed in Holy Scripture (1 Peter 4:10-11)?  What does 1 Corinthians 12-14 teach us about abusing spiritual gifts?  How do these inspired Texts harmonize with Mark Driscoll's public ministry? 

3) When you describe things related to bedroom intimacy the way Mark often does, what sensual images might you be conjuring up in the minds of your hearers and/or readers?  Is this kind of 'salacious' speech appropriate; especially during a corporate worship service?  Where does prudence, self-control, wisdom, and understanding the "weaker brother" fit in?

"Shock and awe" seem to be a major reason why this pulpit allures so many young people.  Yet James chapter 3 provides a sober warning for all church leaders and Bible teachers. Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we shall incur a stricter judgment.

What does this pattern of speech suggest concerning Mark's heart?  In Luke 6:45 Jesus said that the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

Mark Driscoll not only has the stewardship of a being the lead pastor of a mega church he has also accepted the responsibility of being a "teacher of teachers."  This evangelical hipster pastors many young pastors.  Mark's influence travels far and wide.  Mark is a church planter, a best-selling Christian author, and an unofficial spokesperson of the young, restless, reformed movement. In light of his global influence, how much greater is his sacred stewardship?

The goal of every church leader should be to live and preach in such a way so as to say with Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:1, Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.   Or Philippines 3:17; Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us.

Mark's pastoral example must include modeling verses like Ephesians 5:3-4 (especially when standing behind the sacred desk). But do not let immorality or any impurity or greed even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.

....To be continued

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Lessons Learned from the Driscoll Fallout (part 1)

As I have observed Mark Driscoll's very public ministry over the past many years here is a list of questions and concerns that immediately come to mind.

Since the true Church belongs to King Jesus it is His sovereign prerogative to establish biblical qualifications for those serving as New Testament elders and deacons.  Popularity, pedigree, and giftedness do not trump the inspired qualifications of Holy Scripture. The last time I checked the phrase "must be" actually means a man "must be" X, Y, and Z.  When we neglect the safeguards of Holy Scripture the people of God always sufferNo safeguard better protects the flock than the biblical qualifications.

The non-negotiable qualifications for a local church elder/pastor-teacher are clearly preserved for us in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1.  It is obvious when reading through the Pastoral Epistles that character is more important than giftedness in the mind of God.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Mark Driscoll Is Not My "Homeboy" and Why I Am Praying For Him

For a long time I have watched the "Christian celebrity" phenomenon blast off before it eventually crash landed on top of the American evangelical church.  What this celebrity phenomenon illustrates, among many things, is that evangelicalism as a whole has very little spiritual discernment.  We want 'results' even when it means succumbing to worldliness, pragmatism, or you fill in the blank.  We desperately want to be viewed as relevant, hip, innovative, and successful.

In this vein, Phil Johnson wisely notes- Dr. Trueman is right to point out that it is a uniquely American evangelical phenomenon to foster these cults of celebrity and to encourage each wave of superstars to push the limits of sobriety and propriety further than the last superstar did. American evangelicalism has become a large jingoistic freak show. Sadly, some of today's evangelicals seem to think that's something to gloat about. The Evangelical church seems more than willing to justify questionable behavior and/or salacious speech if the person or church in question are popular enough.

Before I get into that issue let me first say this.  As in all areas of life it is very difficult not to fall into an "extremist ditch" when fleshing out the Christian faith.  For example, some envious "no name" pastors have been hypercritical of any "well known" pastor, any "best-selling" Christian author, and every local church larger than their own.  It comes as no surprise then that these same jealous critics have been skeptical of even the most orthodox of mega conferences such as Together for the Gospel, Ligonier Conference, or the Shepherds' Conference.

On the other hand, quite a few Christians believe popularity equals not only "success" but also ministry "fruitfulness."  People in this camp often assume that big buildings and large crowds validate someone's theology (note 1 Corinthians 1-2) as well as their ministry methodology (note 1 Corinthians 3-4).  Popularity and fame have provided certain choice "evangelical celebrities" and/or mega churches a free pass on valid critiques from within the larger body of Christ.  From the Elephant Room debacle to you fill in the blank.   After all, "God must be blessing so and so."  "Look at how fast his church has grown!"   "Look how many books they've sold."   "Look how many unchurched people attend there satellite services; etc, etc."  Pastor Jerry Wragg and Dr. Carl Trueman have voiced some of these same concerns here and here.  Dr. David Wells also addresses this problem in his classic work, The Courage To Be Protestant: Truth lovers, Marketers, and Emergents in the Postmodern World.