Sunday, January 11, 2009

Mark Driscoll's Choice of "Real Man" John Calvin Over Jesus

Today's nytimes magazine has an article on Mark Driscoll. I knew NOTHING about him until I read this. Here are some excerpts, with some additional thoughts from me.

"His message seems radically unfashionable, even un-American: you are not captain of your soul or master of your fate but a depraved worm whose hard work and good deeds will get you nowhere, because God marked you for heaven or condemned you to hell before the beginning of time. Yet a significant number of young people in Seattle — and nationwide — say this is exactly what they want to hear. Calvinism has somehow become cool..."

Before Oklahoma City murderer Timothy McVeigh was put to death he quoted from a poem called "Invictus" - "I am the captain of my ship, the master of my fate." The idea that this is untrue is solid Christian theology. Calvinistic depraved-worm theology is, at its dark extremes, extrabiblical untruth.

"Driscoll is adamantly not the “weepy worship dude” he associates with liberal and mainstream evangelical churches, “singing prom songs to a Jesus who is presented as a wuss who took a beating and spent a lot of time putting product in his long hair.”"

Looks like Driscoll may not understand that: God loves Mark Driscoll and you and me. Intimately. Passionately.

"God called Driscoll to preach to men — particularly young men — to save them from an American Protestantism that has emasculated Christ and driven men from church pews with praise music that sounds more like boy-band ballads crooned to Jesus than “Onward Christian Soldiers.”"

Personally, I hope to never sing "Onward Christian Soldiers" ever again. If a steady diet of this song brings men back to church, I'll stand amazed.

"What really grates is the portrayal of Jesus as a wimp, or worse. Paintings depict a gentle man embracing children and cuddling lambs. Hymns celebrate his patience and tenderness. The mainstream church, Driscoll has written, has transformed Jesus into “a Richard Simmons, hippie, queer Christ,” a “neutered and limp-wristed popular Sky Fairy of pop culture that . . . would never talk about sin or send anyone to hell.”"

Do we have a false dichotomy emerging here? In our context we sing love songs to the real Jesus and preach out of the 4 gospels about Jesus.

Driscoll critiques the "seeker churches." Probably I'm in a lot of agreement with him here. I know I'm not personally interested in being a pastor of a "seeker church."

Uh-oh... here comes the Calvinism thing...

"Human beings are totally corrupted by original sin and predestined for heaven or hell, no matter their earthly conduct. [I don't have the time or right now the energy to comment on this... There's a billion books on the topic if you're interested.] We all deserve eternal damnation, but God, in his inscrutable mercy, has granted the grace of salvation to an elect few. While John Calvin’s 16th-century doctrines have deep roots in Christian tradition, they strike many modern evangelicals as nonsensical and even un-Christian. [I'd be one of those...] If predestination is true, they argue, then there is no point in missions to the unsaved or in leading a godly life. And some babies who die in infancy — if God placed them among the reprobate — go straight to hell with the rest of the damned, to “glorify his name by their own destruction,” as Calvin wrote. Since the early 19th century, most evangelicals have preferred a theology that stresses the believer’s free decision to accept God’s grace. To be born again is a choice God wants you to make; if you so choose, Jesus will be your personal friend."

Yes, that's correct, we have a choice. The gospels are replete with volitional situations.

Apparently, Driscoll believes that God gives people things like cancer. FYI - we'll now resist again entering into a monstrous biblical-theological discussion. Let me just express my opinion: God is not that kind of God.

"Calvinism is a theology predicated on paradox: God has predestined every human being’s actions, yet we are still to blame for our sins; we are totally depraved, yet held to the impossible standard of divine law."

Fortunately the actual Bible does not lead us in such a predicament. The basic error is made by: trying to understand the biblical texts without entering into the socio-cultural context of the Bible.

"Nowhere is the connection between Driscoll’s hypermasculinity and his Calvinist theology clearer than in his refusal to tolerate opposition at Mars Hill... In 2007, two elders protested a plan to reorganize the church that, according to critics, consolidated power in the hands of Driscoll and his closest aides. Driscoll told the congregation that he asked advice on how to handle stubborn subordinates from a “mixed martial artist and Ultimate Fighter, good guy” who attends Mars Hill. “His answer was brilliant,” Driscoll reported. “He said, ‘I break their nose.’ ” When one of the renegade elders refused to repent, the church leadership ordered members to shun him. One member complained on an online message board and instantly found his membership privileges suspended. “They are sinning through questioning,” Driscoll preached."

Yeah, right. Sure sounds like the real Jesus to me. In this regard I recommend: Choose Jesus over Calvin. And I hope he doesn't send some "real men" over to beat the crap out of me.