The Most Disturbing Quote Coming From L’Affaire Driscoll

keller

It’s nothing that Driscoll himself has said, it’s nothing that any of his accusers have said, for me, it’s this:

“But the brashness and the arrogance and the rudeness in personal relationships — which he himself has confessed repeatedly — was obvious to many from the earliest days, and he has definitely now disillusioned quite a lot of people.”

This is a quote that the New York Times collected from none other than Tim Keller. I’m not sure if Keller will expand on this at all, but what he says here is pretty damning for both Mark and for the larger movement of American Calvinism. Arrogance, rudeness - and that it was obvious even from the “earliest days.” I don’t know what Keller means by “earliest days” – I assume that when Mars Hill was nothing but a bible study on the other coast that Keller had no idea about it, but certainly by the mid-2000s, Keller had to have had Driscoll on his radar. Ten years. Given how seriously most in the Reformed community take the pastoral epistles, I want to know how Keller et al squared a brash, arrogant, rude man whose traits were “obvious” with the requirements for church eldership.

This disturbs me because Keller, of all the leaders of the conservative, evangelical Reformed church in the US, is the one for whom I have the greatest respect. He has been successful as a church planter and pastor without seeming to get enmeshed in the scandals of spiritual abuse, sexual abuse, or any kind of financial wrongdoing. It disappoints me though that he is now appearing to admit that those around Driscoll who had the most power to rebuke or blunt him kept their mouths shut because they thought that Driscoll was effective as a communicator.

Gavin McInnes and Free Speech

For those who have been following the debate about VICE co-founder Gavin McInnes and his article on transphobia, this piece, “In Defense of Gavin McInnes,” written by Justine Tunney, is a good statement about the importance of free speech:

I just want to say that as a trans woman, I feel very triggered by this whole incident. Not because I found what he wrote to be offensive; I honestly don’t care what he thinks about trans women. The reason why I’m triggered, is because Mister McInnes’ crucifixion at the hands of the bloodthirsty progressive mob, brings back traumatic memories of the times when I received the same treatment. I’m also triggered by the loss of freedom in our society, as the list of people persecuted for thoughtcrime in our society grows longer and longer.

Mark Noll’s Report on American Bible Reading

Historian Mark Noll reports on the findings of the Bible in American Life Report:

1. Catholics are reading the Bible outside of worship services more.

2. The KJV continues to be overwhelmingly popular.

3. African Americans read the Bible much more than other communities.

4. The real story of the Bible in America is more interesting than we thought it was.

Samuel Davies and Emotional Outbursts

When thinking about Great Awakening preaching we often think of the emotional outbursts that accompanied it. Consider the response to Edwards’ famous “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” sermon, how people openly wailed at Whitefield’s itinerant ministry, or how people fell as if struck under Wesley’s. In light of this, I was interested to read this comment by Hughes Oliphant Old about Samuel Davies, a revival preacher of the same period, who was known as one of America’s greatest orators:

His sermons are theologically sound, but even more importantly, they are theologically perceptive. Davies drew large crowds and was a popular preacher, as were George Whitefield and Gilbert Tennent, and yet we never hear of emotional outbursts attending his preaching. He was a consummate orator, yet never a rabble-rouser. He was prophetic and preached about sensitive problems of the day without any trace of the contentiousness we find in some of the New Lights of lesser magnitude. He seemed to be equally at home preaching to black slaves and to Virginia planters. His preaching was both fervent and gentlemanly.

Hughes Oliphant Old, The Reading and Preaching of the Scriptures in the Worship of the Christian Church, Volume 5: Moderatism, Pietism, and Awakening (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004), 154.

Doddridge was Essentially Orthodox

Philip Doddridge (1702-1751) was an influential nonconformist minister and educator who ran the dissenting academy in Northampton. He wrote a number of books, including the now class Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul (1745). Though a Calvinist, he was open to other theological perspectives, including Arianism. Though his language was at times confused, he was ultimately orthodox. See the words of Van Den Berg and Nuttall:

But essentially, Doddridge was orthodox. Over against the accusation of Arianism, brought against Doddridge as well as against Watts, Goodricke pointed out that Doddridge maintained the full divinity of Christ. Nor was he a Socinian: in his doctrine of redemption Christ’s sacrifice as an atonement for our sins took a central place. Neither was he a Pelagian: man’s salvation depended from start to finish on God’s saving grace. The accusation of Remonstrantism was also far from the truth, for Doddridge unequivocally maintained the doctrine of predestination. Finally, on many occasions Doddrige had defended the idea of “plenary inspiration,” so that on this important point also the accusation fell flat.

J. Van Den Berg and G. F. Nuttall, Philip Doddridge and the Netherlands: 1702-1751 (Leiden: Brill, 1987), 63.

From The Vault: Mark Driscoll Vs. Mark Driscoll

 

mark-driscoll-qwest

This was four years ago:

In recent years we’ve found that Mark Driscoll does like to have his authoritah respected by his church. From a NY Times article on 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. “Hisanswer 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.”

Hmm. I wonder how an earlier incarnation of Driscoll, as depicted by the Tall Skinny Kiwi would have seen this? Once there was a Mark Driscoll who was less than impressed by pastors with big egos:

“This one guy, who’s ministry was named after himself, gets up to the stage which had his name plastered on 3 different banners around the stage. Mark Driscoll was next up to speak after this braggart and instead of trying to do one better, he simply bows his head and prays for the entire time a prayer of repentance for our arrogance. Then he walks back to our table and sits down. Sweet! Soooo timely and prophetic. I’ll never forget that one.”

Now I suppose the legion of Driscoll apologists will rush to point out that Driscoll has not ever called anything Mark Driscoll Ministries or something of that sort. Whatever. Arrogance can manifest in all manner of forms. Driscoll used to be the sort of guy who could pick out the sort guy he is now.

Eric Margolis on Margaret MacMillan

I thought this quote was relevant in light of Dan’s last post. Eric Margolis, reflecting on the centenary of the Great War, wrote:

This mournful anniversary has reopened fierce debate over who was responsible for the Great War.

On one side of the debate is historian Margaret MacMillan, whose new book “The War That Ended Peace,” lays primary blame on Germany’s military and commercial ambitions. MacMillan is a nice lady – I’ve debated her on TV – but her tedious new book is so steeped in traditional British/Anglo-Saxon bias against Germany as to be of limited value.

On the other is “The Sleepwalkers – How Europe Went to War in 1914” by Cambridge professor Christopher Clark. This brilliant book is the finest, most instructive, best balanced book ever written on the origins of the Great War.

Two Kingdoms and the Great War

Philip Jenkins makes an insightful point about Lutheran two-kingdom theology and the Great War in his book The Great and Holy War:

German Protestants of this generation, though, had remarkably few qualms about presenting violence and warfare as legitimate tactics for a Christian state. Through its Zwei-Reiche-Lehre (two-kingdoms doctrine), Lutheran theology taught that the two kingdoms, earthly and heavenly, each had its own moral codes and ways of being. Although Christians lived in both simultaneously, it was impossible to apply the absolute demands of New Testament ethics to each: the state simply could not be expected to operate according to such standards. A state that turned the other cheek in the face of aggression or invasion would soon cease to exist. Even a nation made up almost entirely of devout Christians could never act politically according to strict Christian moral teachings. Potentially, this approach justified cynical state actions that seemed to violate Christian teachings or commonly accepted moral standards. In 1914, the doctrine overrode objections to the treatment of Belgium.

Philip Jenkins, The Great and Holy War: How World War I Became a Religious Crusade (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2014), 84-85.

On This Day…

…if you get what that title means, then you know what this post is about. Today marks one hundred years since the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, the event that triggered World War I. Apropos this anniversary I want to direct you to the CBC Ideas episode (also available as a podcast) in which they interview Margaret MacMillan on the matter. The most striking assertion she makes is that World War I was not, as conventional wisdom often puts it, inevitable.

Lessons From The 9/11 Gift Shop

The 9/11 Cheese Plate: Yes, this was a thing.

The 9/11 Cheese Plate: Yes, this was a thing.

There is a tendency to point to this or that stadium or edifice in modern cities around the world and hold it up as a sort of secular church or a temple to some kind of civic religion. There is probably no greater example of this kind of building in North America though than the newly opened 9/11 museum in Lower Manhattan. This is no small part of the reason why there has been such a negative reaction to the 9/11 Museum Gift Shop. This is a place where one can purchase 9/11 mugs, t-shirts, keychains, and, until it was pulled from the shelves, the 9/11 cheese plate pictured above.

Once the tales of the 9/11 cheese plate when viral, all manner of people expressed the level of outrage one might expect for a 9/11 cheese plate. Out of everything written about this, the most cogent observations was this one from psychologist Philip Tetlock:

“[Tetlock] distinguishes between three kinds of exchanges. First are routine trade-offs, in which one swaps one “secular” value or entity for another — by, say, paying money (the most secular good we have) for an iPad or some other commodity. Second are tragic trade-offs, in which “sacred” or irreplaceable entities are weighed against each other — national security or citizen privacy? Sophie’s older child or her younger one? Then you have taboo trade-offs, in which a secular value is paired with a sacred one. People tend to throw prostitution into this category, which is why it incites such fierce debate.”

The 9/11 gift shop, in the eyes of many, is trafficking in taboo trade-offs. It doesn’t matter if the money that the gift shop raises helps to fund the museum (which means that this isn’t technically a taboo trade-off – as the article linked above makes clear), the perception is that this is profiteering from tragedy. The 9/11 museum is an easy target for this outrage as the nature of its mission is one that approaches the sacred. You should probably get the sense that there is a message here that relates to churches, you’re right, elsewhere in the same article:

Organizations that are expected to honor the sacred can get into trouble when they rely on commercial practices. In a recent study, Peter McGraw of the University of Colorado, Janet Schwartz of Tulane University, and Tetlock found that people were less likely to attend a church that used marketing tactics such as advertising and hiring a celebrity endorser than one that marketed by offering workshops or creating an online forum.”

These are, of course, really obvious examples of commercialization, but I wonder if the same phenomenon might explain why so many people are wary of, say, churches that look like shopping malls or warehouses, or perhaps church music that’s a little too contemporary (says the guy who plays electric bass in worship services), or pastors in Hawaiian shirts. If taboo trade-offs make many of us uncomfortable even to the point of not liking the mere appearance of them, maybe we need to rethink contemporary services in contemporary buildings with casual-Fridays-looking pastors?