Archive for the ‘Mark Driscoll’ Category

On Nightline, there was a Face Off regarding the reality of Satan.  Mark Driscoll was one of the participants.  Mark did a great job integrating the reality of the Evil One with a presentation of the gospel.  He offered hope in the midst of our personal and societal struggles.

And then there was Deepok Chopra gave a bunch of ying & yang psycho-babble (quoting Freud, but in line with Jung’s work) about how “healthy people don’t need the devil.”   Bishop Pearson forsakes his calling based on a false stereo-type.  Nice.  Another “bishop” denying the teaching of Scripture.  I guess we solve the problem of evil by just not thinking about it.

Both of argue against the belief in the devil on the basis of wars- religious wars.  just because some nuts believe you can drop the bomb on the devil to destroy him does not make this a reason to deny personal evil.  It is a Straw Man argument, fallacious to the core.  The devil is not material, can’t be bombed, shot or drugged out of existence.  Only Jesus destroys the work of the devil (Hebrews 2, I think), which Pearson forgot to mention when saying Jesus would not be pleased by all that bomb dropping.  I’m pretty sure Jesus isn’t pleased with those who think dropping bombs (or flying planes into sky scrappers) is the way to defeat The Great Satan.  Now, legitimate governments bearing the sword against those who pose a threat against those they are charged to protect (Romans 13) is another story.  But the ultimate solution is only Christ and Him crucified to destroy, among other things, the hate in our hearts and the evils that flow from that.

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Bible Study Magazine and Mars Hill are giving away 20 copies of Mark Driscoll’s new book, Vintage Church. Not only that, but they are also giving away five subscriptions to Bible Study Magazine and a copy of their Bible Study Library software! Enter to win on the Bible Study Magazine Mark Driscoll page, then take a look at all the cool tools they have to take your Bible study to the next level!

PS- the Cavman uses Logos Bible Study Software, but could use an upgrade.

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Back to working my way through Steve McCoy’s Big 5 Books, today the Cross.  As Spurgeon once said:

“Endeavor to know more and more of Christ Jesus. Endeavor especially to know the doctrine of the sacrifice of Christ.” C.H. Spurgeon

Here are the best books I’ve read:

The books I have yet to read, and hope to:

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As I slog my way through Nehemiah- which has been every encouraging and convicting- here are the resources I’m using.

  • Ezrz and Nehemiah (NICOT) by Fensham.  It’s been very helpful from an academic standpoint.  Not overwhelming at all.  Sometimes authors in this series have been influenced by the higher critical schools, but this seems to be a solid, conservative volume.
  • The Messaage of Nehemiah (BST) by Raymond Brown.  Very good commentary with some use of the original language and some application.  I really enjoy using this whole series.  It is very useful for preaching and teaching.
  • Nehemiah: Building a City Within the City sermon series by Mark Driscoll at Mars Hill.  His sermons are typically about an hour.  At times he can belabor his point, but I learn alot about leadership from Mark.  Sometimes his jokes are funny.
  • The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 4 (edited by Frank Gaebelein) including Ezra & Nehemiah by Edwin Yamauchi.

Here are some good resources other guys in the study group are using:

  • Ezra-Nehemiah (WBC) by Williamson.  It comes highly recommended by Tremper Longman.  The Word Biblical Commentary series can seem overwhelming at times.  It works thru each passage in terms of Form/Structure/Setting and then Comment.  It includes lots of work in the original languages.  Some authors have been influenced by the higher critical school.
  • A Passion for Faithfulness: Wisdom from the Book of Nehemiah by Packer.  It is thematic rather than exegetical.  That has its place, obviously, but makes it more difficult to use when you’re approaching the text exegetically.  But … it is J.I. Packer so it’s got to be good!

Nehemiah is a helpful book to develop a heart for the city (please, don’t use it during a building program or to demonize those who oppose your ministry- 2 common errors pastors make).  There are lessons about handling conflict both from outside and within the church.  But the main theme is God’s glory- how our great and awesome God works for us, in us and thru us to accomplish the restoration of the city thru the gospel.  It should humble and encourage us seen that way instead of “be like Nehemiah.”  See instead what God has done in Christ.  Okay, off my soapbox……….

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I recently had a dialogue with another pastor about the office of prophet, priest and king in church leadership.  He had been re-reading Dan Allender’s Leading with a Limp, chapter 14: Three Leaders You Can’t Do Without (wow, how did I not blog on that chapter?!).  He wondered what my primary & secondary gifting were (prophet-priest if you’re interested).  One of these days I may try to put my more theologically oriented material into a leadership oriented book working through these issues.

In the meantime, I visited Drew Goodmanson’s blog and he had links to the Acts 29 regional conference in Raleigh.  He and David Fairchild had some seminars working through this triperspectival view of leadership.  I highly recommend them after listening to them today.  The first was on the foundations of triperspectival leadership, and the second was on the applications of triperspectival leadership.  David provided some background into their church plant, the struggles they had and how they have benefited from applying John Frame’s triperspectivalism to church leadership.

Here are some thoughts I jotted down in my notebook to keep track of them:

“When you plant (a church) you’re reacting to something you think you’ve seen wrong in the church, so you’re in this heavy, heavy deconstruction mode.”  David relating advice given by Mark Driscoll

There are differences between how Jesus exercised His office during the Incarnation and how He exercises it now in His exaltation (yes, still incarnated).  For instance, while on earth He preached directly to the people.  In his heavenly prophetic ministry, He worked through the Spirit to complete the giving of Scripture and works through the Spirit in the preaching of the same Scripture.  In His earthly priestly ministry He offered up His body as the perfect sacrifice for sin.  In His heavenly priestly ministry He lives forever to intercede for us (Heb. 7:25).


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I listened to a great Q&A from the Resurgence Conference: Text and Context with John Piper and Matt Chandler.  It was an interesting dynamic.  Mark Driscoll was the one asking the questions, with some commentary.  John Piper is in his 60’s and Matt Chandler is in his 30’s.  They are in very different places in pastoring “successful” faithful churches.

They talked about the dangers pastors face, false gospels, TV (Piper hasn’t owned one since he was 18), accountability and relevance.  Some fun comments, and some great wisdom. 

Some quick quotes:

“Relevance is ultimate reality lived out with passion in front of people in authentic ways.”  John Piper

“Doug Wilson is one of the most careful and bright Reformed and postmillenial, objectivist theologians around and he’s got people around him that are dumb.  … Wrong on numerous cases, but wrong in a way you’d expect a Presbyterian to be wrong.  … I don’t know if his trajectory will be as faithful as is the present case.”  John Piper

“We want other ethnic groups to join us as long as they like to worship to Coldplay.  … I want to preach the death of an ethno-centric idea.  I don’t know how we get past this thing (wanting ethnic diversity on OUR terms).”  Matt Chandler

“Without a diverse leadership it is unlikely you will have a diverse membership.  … I grew up in South Carolina and was racist to my toe nails for the first 20 years of my life.”  John Piper

Mark: You insulted my band.  John: You care about insulting people?  Mark: There is a comeback, but this is where I practice on-going sanctification.

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I forgot Iain Murray’s book at home so my post on Revivalism will have to wait.  But while checking a few blogs I ran across this recent interview with Mark Driscoll.  In this section he addresses the question of revival and the remarkable growth experienced by Mars Hill and some other Acts 29 churches.

JV: Do you have a theology of revival? I guess many would see the rapid growth at Mars Hill (and some of the Acts 29 work) as taking on revival proportions. Is this how you would see it, or are you looking for something further (or do you even see revival as a helpful category)?

MD: I do. I have read both Jonathan Edwards and Iain Murray on this, for example. I have also studied many church movements such as the Methodists and Jesus Movement. I do believe that revival is akin to Nehemiah stacking the old stones that had lain unused for many generations. My city (Seattle) is still pre-Christian so technically I would say that we are more of a missions movement than a revival movement. But, as we spread through our campuses and church plants around the nation and world, I guess that is possible.

By God’s grace, we are multi-denominational and having what seems to be a positive and helpful influence on many churches, denominations and networks for which we praise God. In the end, we’ll see what God does. We’re off to an encouraging start but the game is far from over and maybe one day when I’m dead someone can write the report of what happened and see if it qualifies as something akin to a revival. For now, I’m just trying to follow Jesus, love my wife, enjoy my kids, pastor my church, preach my Bible, confess my sins, write my books and have my fun.

JV: Given your vantage point, what would you predict for the development of evangelicalism in the West over the coming 20 years?

MD: I would hope to see a robust gospel, love of church planting, and call for dudes to act dudely.

I appreciate his humility.  Unlike a revivalist, he’s not claiming he’s got a revival going on.  He is waiting for the test of time to reveal if what is happening is genuine.  It may be this humility that has opened the door for even more growth.  Earlier this year Mark publicly repented of the pride he saw charactizing his ministry, and by extension that of the church.  After the Resurgence conference he shared how Piper & C.J. Mahaney had a heart to heart with him.  And the gospel seems to make progress in this “missions” setting.

Adrian Warnock has Mark summing up Holy Week like this:

 “Something broke this weekend, spiritually. I’m not sure how to explain it, but God’s favor was evident everywhere. We had 8,070 people attend on Sunday, plus however many could not make it into the Eastside Campus or stand up outside the building to listen on speakers because there was no room in the parking lot or on the sidewalk. We had 3,648 for Good Friday services plus however many hundreds got turned away from the 7 p.m. service at Ballard. We had at least 11,718 people altogether this weekend, somewhere near 200 baptisms yesterday alone, and are still trying to figure out how many people got saved. . . .Yesterday, while singing with the congregation at each of the five services I preach live, I could not stop weeping. People were singing loudly with their hands in the air. They cheered all day as people came forward to give their lives to Jesus and be baptized. The pastors were up front laying hands on people, praying over them, and leading them to Christ by the dozens at every service. I stood off to the side during the singing to watch what God was doing, and multiple people walked up to me weeping and asked me to pray with them to become a Christian.”

Being a student of Edwards and Murray, I have a hard time thinking they are using the typical manipulative techniques advanced (but not invented) by Finney which fit in with his rejection of depravity, substitutionary atonement and other biblical teachings.  It will be interesting to follow this over time.  Hopefully Mark will remain humble, indeed increase in humility, as he watches God changes lives thru the gospel of His Son.

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Paul David Tripp’s latest book is A Quest for More: Living for Something Bigger than You.  As a blog partner of WTS Bookstore, I got a free copy.  It is one of their bestselling books right now, and for good reason.

This is an easy to understand, but spiritually challenging book.  I may have to go back and read it more slowly.  The book is essentially a meditation on Matthew 6:33:  “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”  Tripp explores the idea that our hearts, as Christians, are battle grounds between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of me.  He does this in a thorough, accessible way that brings conviction even if you are barely paying attention.  Each chapter begins with a Bottom Line and ends with a Final Question.  He wants to make you think about your life, rather than merely process abstract ideas.

He begins by tying this into the lie of Satan in the Garden.  He offered more, but we ended up with a lesser glory.  We end up becoming preoccupied with these lesser glories due to the influence of sin.

Chapters 3-7 explore life in the kingdom of me.  He talks about autonomy (a law unto ourselves), our need to control, our self-focus, wearing masks and how life shrinks instead of expands when we focus on the kingdom of me.

The rest of the book explores life in God’s kingdom focusing on the preeminence of Christ, sacrifice, our dissatisfaction with the way things are due to sin, living in harmony with God, forgiveness, loneliness, righteous anger and hope.  He in no way exhausts these subjects, but wants us to see how they fill Scripture and are important signposts letting us know if we are living for the right kingdom at any given moment.

This is a key.  Our hearts are like Europe during the Battle of the Bulge.  In any given day we will make numerous decisions, some to build God’s kingdom, and some to build our own.  Some may even have a mixture of motives.  This plays out in marriage, parenting, work.  As I parent, which kingdom am I building?  Whose kingdom and riches am I working for?  And these questions become important parts of ministry- whether formal or informal.  I’ll be preaching what is essentially a summary of these ideas on Sunday.  These ideas need to become a part of the counseling process, and ministry evaluation.  If we don’t ask ourselves, and one another, these types of questions we will plunge unhindered into the kingdom of me.  These are the ordinary means God will use to let us know we’ve gone rogue on Him.  And all of this is why I think this is an important book to read.  Tripp invites us into the mystery of our hearts to begin to reveal that mystery.  Great stuff.

The one thing that rubbed me the wrong way was the “romance” language.  In some ways this is an over-reaction to the over-popularization of John Eldredge (whose use of this language sounds an aweful lot like open theism).  Tripp doesn’t go into all the “God risk” blather.  He does not open a door for open theism in his discussion of romance.  But it all strikes me as odd to talk about my relationship with God that way.  He’s thinking about the passion and commitment, but I’m thinking of the unavoidable sexual overtones to the concept.  There has to be a better way.  Or maybe I’ve just been listening to too much Mark Driscoll who doesn’t want to sing love ballads to Jesus.

This is a very small part of the book.  The vast majority of the book is thought-provoking, challenging and draws upon Scripture consistently.  I was encouraged to read that he has watched Magnolia a number of times, captivated by its themes of brokenness and redemption.  Tripp wants to understand the human condition and how it plays out in ordinary lives- as well as how God interrupts our course with His grace.

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Poked in over at Out of Ur.  Angie Ward was asking for a Hero Boycott.  She had recently attended a conference and was very turned off by the groupies of one speaker.  Most of the commenters witnessed similar problems, a few didn’t.  A few things:

1. I used to work for Ligonier, and would work many of the conferences and seminars.  I witnessed the way some people go beyond appreciation to adoration.  They hang on nearly every word, seek autographs and as Steve Brown notes in A Scandalous Freedom, just want to touch them as if they would receive some sort of special blessing.

2. I recently talked with my sister-in-law about a problem in her church.  There are a number of guys whose appreciation of one pastor/author/theologian probably goes too far.  This particular pastor is one I have a great deal of admiration for, and whose books usually find their way on my shelf.  They recognize this man’s great contributions to the health of the Church.  But their admiration is causing some strife within the congregation.


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Out of Ur sort of enters the Rob Bell discussion with a summary of Rob’s Raleigh, NC stop on his “the gods aren’t angry” tour.  The summary is interesting, the comments are puzzling.  A quick comment about Mark Driscoll’s statements about Rob at the Convergent Conference sparked numerous attacks on Mark Driscoll.  He and his comments were called “irresponsible”, “quick to throw out the heretic label”, “dangerous- a rouge teacher with a serious lack of Christlikeness demonstrated in his conduct”, “needs to mind his own business” and so forth.  I’d been meaning to listen to it, so this drove me to listen to see if I was really missing something.  But first the summary of Rob Bell’s evening in Raleigh.

From the summary, it sounds like Rob, who loves to study and is quite bright, gave a basic study of anthropology and religion.  He interjects Scripture into this rather than using Scripture as the starting point.  Here is the crux of the matter:

“Bell said that big revelation number three came in Jesus. The sacrificial system outlined in Leviticus became corrupt and only led to more anxiety than it relieved. So at just the right time, God revealed that he never really needed our sacrifices anyway. Using quite a bit of humor, irony and pure wit, Bell painted a caricature god who is not complete without what people can provide or perform. Using various sayings from Psalms, Micah, Jesus, Paul’s letters and Hebrews, he drew an alternate picture of the divine: a God who is not dependent on what we do, but who freely loves and pours blessing on us.

“The problem, according to Bell, is not that God is angry with us, but that we think God is angry with us. Thus, Jesus’ purpose wasn’t to change God’s mind about us, but to change our mind about God: to notify us of God’s lack of anger and to free us from the prison of our misconceptions so that we can truly live well. The place of church and religious ritual is to remind us of our standing with God and freedom to live lives of sacrifice and service.”


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I went to a seminar on church renewal a little over a week ago.  My Presbytery worked with our denominational board covering church planting and renewal to put this together.  Ken Priddy, a pastor and church consultant, has taken a part-time position with our denomination to assist in the revitalization of many of our congregations through United Front Ministries.  Ken graduated from RTS the year before I did.  Unlike Dr. Nicole, he recognized me.

Why did I go?  Statistics indicate that 80% of churches in America are either in recline or decline.  As a result, 80% of the churches I talk to about a new position will be in one of those positions.  So, I’ve got an 80% of leading a congregation in either recline or decline.  I thought it prudent at this juncture to add some more tools to my toolkit so I can be more effective.

Why Do Churches Go Into Recline & Decline?

– Recline is the bull’s eye that most pastors and congregations aim for.  This is an extension of the empty nest and retirement mentality.  We long for the time when we don’t have to work in the fields very much.  We forget that the rest awaits us (Hebrews 4:9ff).  Right now Jesus is building His church, through us.

– Our default mode is inward, not outreach.  We don’t have to spend much time advocating nurture (though we do need to instruct on what gospel-oriented nurture is).  But we must continually advocate outreach & evangelism.  We must fight to keep evangelism a focus.


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WTS Bookstore now has The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World edited by John Piper and Justin Taylor available for $9.89 (34% off the list price).  This is the collection from the 2006 Desiring God Ministries National Conference.  As a reader who loves to mark up his books I’m looking forward to this one so I can better internalize messages like Tim Keller’s.  He’s given it in different forms over the years, but it will be great for me to have it in writing.  It also includes chapters by Mark Driscoll. D.A. Carson, David Wells and Voddie Baucham, Jr..

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Ironic that I again listened to Mark Driscoll from the Refocus Conference yesterday afternoon.  He talked about convictions we hold in an open hand (non-essentials) and those we hold in the closed hand (those necessary for either the existence or well-being of the church), those we die for.

We can’t die on every hill in theological and ecclesiological debate.  We have to focus on what is important, defending it.  But other issues of lesser importance we can allow differences of opinion.  Among those things he said are worth die for are: inerrancy of Scripture, deity of Jesus, penal substitionary atonement and … male headship/leadiership or complementarianism.  I agree with him, and didn’t think I’d have to die on that hill so soon.  But I did.

A church in our Presbytery wanted to call a man who used to be in the PC(USA) who held the following view concerning this issue:

“I believe that there are strong Scriptural arguments on both sides of this issue… I have not found the responses that each side uses to resolve this issue for them to be fully satisfying to me.  I am, without reservation, committed to the infallibility and inerrancy of Scripture.  It is precisely because of my commitment to the authority of Scripture that I have not been able to come to a dogmatic conclusion about this issue for myself yet.  At this point, to me, Scripture is not altogether clear on this issue and I am not able to simply dismiss what I see as strong Scriptural arguments on each side.  I am, therefore, comfortable in working within the framework of individual denominations or churches and following their practice.”

Some of us believed that this is a significant issue, and that the Scripture is clear.  Our denomination recently approved a position statement on this issue which affirms our convictions.  It is, confessionally, complementarian.

Today our Presbytery decided to “revisit” our previous decision to not sustain his ordination exam.  Suddenly life became like a Kafka novel- an exercise in absurdity.  Our Presbytery decided that merely “supporting” not believing and affirming this position is “good enough.”  I am saddened.  I fought, lost and died on that hill along with a third of our Presbytery.

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My post on Lovelace’s Dynamics of Spiritual Life concerning Continuous Renewal, there is a chart that includes the secondary elements of renewal: mission, prayer, community, disenculturation, and theological integration.  The 5th chapter concerning these elements is quite long (between sermon prep and the Red Sox games, it took awhile), but quite helpful.  He mentions how these are interactive elements: mission depends on prayer; prayer and mission take place in community; disenculturation greatly affects our prayers and mission, as does our theological integration or lack thereof.

I found his section on disenculturation quite helpful as he traces this concept biblically and through church history.  I am currently reading Leviticus, and his discussion is helpful in placing it in redemptive history.  He calls it a protective enculturation.

“Since the full benefits of union with Christ were not available under the Old Covenant, it was necessary for God to build around Israel a wall of protective enculturation formed by welding together the Jewish culture with its religious core. …

“This cultus served as a tutor to bring them into readiness for the coming Messiah (Gal. 3:24).  It was protective, but it was also restrictive of the flesh.  This restriction aroused sin and made it visible, producing guilt which drove the believer to the sacrificial system which pointed toward the coming Lamb of God.”

Things like the section on clean & unclean food in Leviticus (which I read yesterday) was preparative as well.  “The objects among which they discriminated were morally indifferent from a New Testament perspective, but the constant acts of choice they had to make between clean and unclean items was a kind of game preparation for the serious business of discriminating between the holy and unholy which is part of a walk in the Holy Spirit.”


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Argh!  Another nickname, title, movement or whatever.  I’m familiar with convergent worship (a term popularized by the late Robert Webber).  Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary hosted a conference on the Convergent Church- which if I get Denny Burk right, is the theologically conservative wing of the emerging church (basically Driscoll and Acts 29).  Anyway, Denny has the links to the MP3s by Driscoll, Ed Stetzer and others.

(HT: Between Two Worlds)

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I just finished the first chapter of Richard Lovelace’s Dynamics of Spiritual Life.  Lovelace has been influential on guys like Tim Keller and Jack Miller.  The rather lengthy and dense first chapter traces the history of revivals and renewal.  He is looking to see the common threads in history before moving into the biblical patterns.  He leans heavily on Jonathan Edwards’ works in this area during the First Great Awakening.  Here are some nuggets, and thoughts of mine in response.

From the preface:  (A.W. Boehm) “dismissed much activity in the church as a lifeless product of human conditioning.”  I never cease to be surprised at how complicated, and time-consuming, we have made church.  God intended it to be one of the threads in our lives.  It is the God-ordained community for evangelism, missions, spiritual development and worship.  But we have created churches that keep us (or distract us) from our mission in the world (vocation, family, and more) to maintain complex systems.  I think we are missing something here.


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I flew back today from a long, long weekend with family in NH.  Unlike Mark Driscoll, I like flying Southwest.  While flying, and sitting in the airport, I listened to some of his sermons on Galatians.  This time, however, my bags were sent to Islip, NY, not Manchester, NH.  But, have no fear- they arrived by 9 that night.

I stayed with my parents, which meant limited internet access since they still have dial-up (pray for them).  I was able to enjoy watching some extra Red Sox games, lots of seafood (whole fried clams!!!) and some Indian Summer.

I was able to (finally) finish reading What Jesus Demands From the World by John Piper, and began Thomas Boston’s book Repentance.  For fun, I finished Ted Bell’s Spy, and began Dennis Lehane’s book Gone, Baby, Gone.  My hometown gets a not so nice mention in this book that is about to be released as a movie directed by Ben Affleck.  The movie is listed as having pervasive language.  I really enjoy Lehane’s stories, even though they focus on the darkest parts of humanity.  He’s got a quirky sense of humor I connect with, and the stories are based in Boston.  I’m still not sure how they are going to adapt this one to the screen without it lasting far too long, and still making sense.  But it was nice to sit on the porch, read a novel and enjoy a cigar.


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Actually, we’ll be considering the CT Article on Mark Driscoll.  I read my copy a few weeks ago, and have meant to get to this.  But… I’ve been busy.  The author, Collin Hansen, tries to paint a picture of Driscoll that is honest, balancing his strengths and the criticisms laid against him.  I found the balance a bit off.  It seemed more negative than positive- typified by the reference to Driscoll’s appearance at the 2006 Desiring God Conference, placed under the heading Throwing Rocks: “John Piper says no other speaker at his Desiring God conference has caused such a stir.”  This, in my opinion, sets Mark in an unnecessarily negative light.  His message there was powerful and truthful.  I suspect Piper will have him back again- because John Piper loves the truth and Mark Driscoll does too.  Piper often speaks at Acts 29 and Resurgence conferences.  But this statement can be read to imply that Piper regrets inviting Driscoll.

All of us have blind spots.  Unfortunately for Mark, the whole evangelical world seems to know some of his need for growth.  Mark recognizes many of these sins and weaknesses in his character.  A pastor receives few commendations greater than this: “He asks forgiveness more than any pastor I have ever seen,” she said. “He publicly confesses sin. He’s such a great example to young, idealistic, confident, inexperienced, immature pastors that you have to say you’re wrong when you’re wrong. And he does it to women. I know. He has apologized in times when he has gotten things wrong, and I’m thankful he doesn’t apologize for the things he hasn’t said wrong.”


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I read Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith’s sixth chapter, New, last night.  I nearly choked.  Rob Bell seems to have painted himself into a corner.  Any issues that popped up before are miniscule compared to what I read last night.  Any thoughts I might have that maybe I was being tough on Rob, well….. vanished.

It starts out okay.  He was weary of counseling a guy who got total depravity real well, but didn’t get the sanctifying grace part at all.  You know… worm theology- a corruption of Calvinism.

But Rob, like Robert Schuller, seems very concerned about what people think about themselves.  So he makes an over-correction to ‘worm theology’.

“Have you ever heard a Christian say, ‘I’m just a sinner’?  I can’t find one place in the teachings of Jesus, or the Bible for that matter, where we are to identify ourselves first and foremost as sinners.  Now this doesn’t mean we don’t sin; that’s obvious.”

A Christian, by definition, is not ‘just a sinner’ because of what Rob talks about next- we have been regenerated and given a new identity.  But, Paul still called himself a sinner, the foremost sinner, in 1 Timothy 1:15.  He did it in a way that he expected all of us to affirm that we are the biggest sinners we know.  BUT, that Jesus came to save sinners like us.  James 4 address Christians as sinners too.  So, while we needn’t beat ourselves up for our sin, since it accomplishes nothing, we shouldn’t avoid the fact we are sinners- not just that we sin.

“Beating others up about who they are and what they are doing is going in the wrong direction.  It is working against the purposes of God.  God is not interested in shaming people; God wants people to see who they really are.”

Now Rob starts to go down the wrong road.  He thinks that ministry is primarily telling people who they are now, not telling them to stop being who they were.  I have a hard time with this sentiment of his since much of the New Testament is filled with rebuke and admonishment.  Thankfully, the power to change comes to us from the crucified, resurrected and ascended Jesus through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.  We have power to live differently, and a new identity as God’s adopted children.  These go together, always together.  But sometimes we need to be rebuked so we’ll repent.  God certainly shamed Israel to try and produce repentance (read those prophets like Ezekiel, Hosea and Jeremiah- that’s some serious shaming going on).


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