Monday, September 8, 2014

Tim Challies Explains My Own Thoughts on Mark Driscoll To Me

I had the fortune of finding this in one of those "people who read this also read..." links in Facebook, and I'm pleased to say it's nearly identical to what I was thinking to myself, and am glad that someone with more wisdom and know-how could validate the reasonableness of my view.

When I exited Phase I of my Christian re-education (apologetics and logical proofs), and got into learning theology, the most practically helpful resources were short articles (a la GotQuestions) and short video clips (a la Mark Driscoll's, John Piper's, etc) on Youtube, which made it easier to learn individual concepts quickly and to pick up and leave off whenever it suited, considering that I was struggling to make personal gains in time management at college (both with respect to classes and when to eat/sleep) at the same time.

A big part of my education in Reformed Theology consisted of very theologically accurate snippets of sermons from Mars Hill Church in Seattle that existed on Youtube. I could find nothing in any of the videos I watched that turned out to be wrong from a theological point of view. Perhaps confrontational in the language chosen, but as a young single man with a baptism of public education, I strongly appreciated the rawness of the messages. They weren't "uncensored," what I could find--he made reference to swearing in the past, but from the lack thereof in recent video clips, it seemed that he had grown and matured past that. What I liked about them was that "he didn't mince words" -- he didn't walk back the severity of the message lest arrogant 20something boys miss its seriousness. Testimony from others in the comments confirmed that most young men and many women saw those videos as a "wake-up call" to immature men, and greatly appreciated it for that.

Then, the fact that I found comments from John Macarthur, Albert Mohler and Todd Friel, one by one, as I began to become acquainted with their ministries, which were unanimously critical of Mark, made me somewhat uncomfortable. They didn't call him a heretic, but they made seemingly vague references to immaturity and inappropriate behavior that I couldn't actually find the evidence of, at least in the short videos posted online (and I didn't want to put in the effort to watch every single archived sermon to investigate).

Having learned well enough, and especially when I moved back from college (greatly diminishing my activity on Youtube), I determined that I didn't need to draw from the theology of Mark Driscoll--which as far as I could tell, was never the issue in the public opinions of these other learned men in the Faith. So I devoted more time to listening to downloads of Wretched's free broadcasts, which coincided very well with the fact that I'd now moved on from learning the heavy reformed theological doctrines, and was able to take instruction in applying that theology, which Wretched focuses much air time on. Phase III.

I had the luxury to wait and see if anything would come out to make this subject clearer for me. And it appears now that it has. I know very few details, but Mark has acknowledged some recent wrongdoing and because of the attention, has taken a leave of absence. Pursuant to that, Tim Challies wrote a very helpful article.

Read "Character is King" on Tim Challies' website here.

I'll quote a few lines and make my way to the exit.
"As I read his book in 2005, and followed it with Confessions of a Reformission Rev in 2006, I felt both admiration for what Driscoll taught and concern for how he taught it. I loved most of his theology, but was concerned about his coarseness."
"Many of us felt the same way. We didn’t quite know what to think about the man, but we loved his theology. "
"We had concerns, but the Lord seemed to be using him. So we recommended his podcasts, or bought his books, even if we had to provide a small caveat each time."
" A young movement responds eagerly to things a mature movement does not. I doubt we will see another Mark Driscoll anytime soon—someone known equally for crudeness and for gospel preaching. "
He concludes that this should be an opportunity for reassessment of how "The New Calvinism," the movement he mentioned, should approach new teachers it discovers.
"Let’s allow this tragic situation to cause us to look with fresh eyes at the biblical qualifications for a man who would be a leader within the church. "
Those qualifications, mentioned in Titus 1:6, "a man above reproach," and 1 Timothy 3:7, "having a good reputation with those outside," would seem to my older, wiser, more Biblically centered self to disqualify Mark from pastorship. Not from being affirmed as a Brother or from being accepted after it has become clear he has repented and been healed from his past sinfulness. But because of this circumstance, the Bible is clear, and there are many possible reasons why that come to mind...he should not return to hold the office of pastor or elder in any church. But that is because of the sanctity of the position. It is not a condemnation of him, it is because what his further association therewith will do to harm "those outside," and put a stumbling block in the path of those who are weak believers or unbelievers.

Despite this, I have a settled conscience with regard to what I had watched and learned from him before, and the times when I've passed along a good video to others (two instances of this are on this blog). But the takeaway is that yes, the theology is solid. BUT, we do not need Mark Driscoll to learn it. So I have moved on, but have no regrets over my crash course in Calvinism that I got from his videos on Youtube. I may even post some of these videos on the blog, but I'll make sure to link back here.

It is, after all, God's Holy Spirit who illuminates the Biblical truth to us when we read it or hear it, whatever the context. As I explained in my short treatise on Sanctification, I believe that whether a source is good or not, if we learn something from it, it is always to God's credit, not the path or instrument through which He teaches us. Whether I learned theology from the embattled Mark Driscoll or the esteemed John MacArthur, it was really God who was my true tutor, and so we should be very resistant to make too much of the men who preach the truth. Should they falter, we know not to be surprised, because they are sinners as well. So let's be cautious of developing cults of personality in our Reformed Christian circles. Let our focus always be on God, and let us minimize our adulation of men as much as possible.

~ Rak Chazak

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