Why I won’t give up on Mark Driscoll

Last year one of my favorite authors (who has a lot of influence in my life and theology), Rob Bell published Love Wins, a book about hell and heaven and where we are all going. It got all sorts of press and I got a silly blog traffic boost by blogging about the book. At the same time, I read a post on TSK’s blog (link in the sidebar) about how and why emergers won’t easily give up on Bell, which I resonated with. There’s no way I would just give up on Rob Bell, or tweet a farewell like Piper did. I totally disagree with his conclusions on hell, but why would that be enough of a reason to be, quoting Dan in Real life (one of the top 14 movies of all time), a murderer of love?

This year, one of my favorite authors (who has a lot of influence in my life and theology), Mark Driscoll published Real Marriage, a book about marriage relationships. He wrote the book with his wife and got raked over the coals for some of their views on marriage. There’s even stuff in the book that I don’t think I agree with, but I don’t feel like Driscoll is sitting at his computer, waiting to see if I like him or not.  Why would a guy’s wonky views on marriage be enough of a reason to be (again) a murderer of love?

I think I’m getting fed up with Christians whose greatest contribution is letting the whole world know who the bad guys are (I’m sure I’ve been guilty of this in the past, and it just isn’t helpful – to me or to the whole world). At the end of this ride, I’m going to have to hang out with Jesus for all eternity and I want to have a better conversation opener than, “Hey Jesus, aren’t you glad I warned all those people about the holes in pastors’ theologies? I pretty much blogged the church into awesomeness. No need to thank me Jesus, just the look on your face is thanks enough.”

I haven’t spouted off a good rant lately, so there you have it. I’m stopping now because I’m getting borderline self-righteous, which would cause me to write a blog slamming myself.

Driscoll, Real Marriage

I picked up this book for three reasons, primarily because, as a pastor I am always trying my best to help men and women to have great marriages and great families. Secondarily, I read on the internet some pretty outstandingly crass stuff that was allegedly inside. Finally, and possibly most importantly, I read this book because I believe in marriage in general and my marriage specifically. The second most important relationship in my life is with my wife (the first is with Jesus, basketball is a close third :).

Mark Driscoll, who is always prime for internet controversy, wrote Real Marriage: The truth about sex, friendship and life together with his wife Grace. In it they are amazingly vulnerable and open about their own struggles early in marriage. They speak from their own experience and don’t pretend to have it all together. The publishing house connected with their church, Re:Lit, has also put together an entire church wide program to help churches. we are considering using them at The Grove.

To answer the criticism that the book has received from people who haven’t read it – yeah, there’s a couple sentences that could have been left out of the book. It’s like everything is going along great and then we catch a line that the editor forgot. It’s easy to see how people would be offended by these lines. For me, it wasn’t offensive. It wasn’t agreeable, but I think the book was written from the Driscolls’ perspective and experience. So, if your marriage isn’t exactly like theirs, it’s fine – they just want to help. I don’t think they expect everyone to have a marriage just like theirs, but you could – and maybe it will be great for you.

Not everything in the book is going to be helpful in every marriage. I am pretty sure Heather would punch me in the throat if I came home, opened the book and told her how it was going to be in our home. Of course, it would be a perfectly submissive punch in the throat.

It was a fast read for me, but here’s some interesting quotes to give you a feel for the book:

  • p.13, “Some people will use this story against Mark and me, but we want to share it to help those of you who also are hurting and want to work through deep areas of sin in your marriage.”
  • p.14, “I grew more chauvinistic… I began to distrust women in general, including Grace. This affected my tone in preaching for a season, something I will always regret.”
  • p.20, “the ex-monk Martin [Luther] married the ex-nun Katherine in the backwoods of rural Germany on June 13, 1525. One of the reasons Martin gave for his marriage was to spite the devil, which is perhaps the least romantic statement ever uttered.”
  • p.23, quoting Luther, “The greatest gift of grace a man can have is a pious, God-fearing, home-loving wife, whom he can trust with all his goods, body, and life itself, as well as having her as the mother of his children.”
  • p.24, “The determining factor in whether wives feel satisfied with the sex, romance, and passion in their marriage is, by 70 percent, the quality of the couple’s friendship. For men, the determining factor is, by 70 percent, the quality of the couple’s friendship. So men and women come from the same planet after all.”
  • p.25, “It is easier for a woman to think of doing life with a friend than with a dictator or unemotional ruler. The husband is still the head, but a ‘loving her as Christ loves the church’ head – a considerate friend.”
  • p.40, “We truly do not know how selfish and sinful we are until we live with someone in marriage.”
  • p.43, “Men are supposed to be producers, not just consumers.”
  • p.44, “Men are to be creators and cultivators.”
  • p.48, “Men are like trucks – they drive smoother and straighter with a load. Adolescence delays this load carrying indefinitely. Wise men know this and load themselves up early in life to get their education, careers, families, and ministries started as soon as possible because it gives them a good head start on the fools. So load yourself up. Take responsibility for yourself. Take responsibility for your wife (and children if or when you have them). take responsibility for your church. Take responsibility for your company. Take responsibility for your city. Real men don’t look for other men, organizations, and governments to carry their load. Real men carry their own load.”
  • p.71, “It is important to note that the word helper does not denigrate the wife; in fact, God is also referred to as our helper.”
  • p.83, quoting Raymond Ortlund Jr., ” ‘The ‘natural outcome’ of godly male headship is female fulfillment, not a denial of female rights.’ A wife flourishes with a loving husband and a husband becomes courageous with a respectful wife.”

Also, the last parts of the book have frank discussions on the sexual relationship within a marriage. It’s biblical and helpful, but not the kind of stuff I’m looking to post on my blog.

At the end of the day, if you are a human, are married, or want to someday have a good marriage, this is a helpful book. I would, like the Driscolls, highly recommend reading it with your spouse though. Don’t read it on your own and go to your spouse and be an idiot and say, ‘Mark Driscoll says you need to be this or do that’. If you do that and get punched in the throat, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Constriction and Creativity

The way that Jack White speaks about creating music and  songs is how I often feel about creating teachings and sermons.

Sometimes the heavens open up and things seem to just create themselves, but other times you put your head down and grind and hope that something good is going to come out of this.

When I think about preaching, I think about it as a performance art. When I proclaim the gospel of Jesus, I feel like I join a long line of (as the saying goes) poets, prophets and preachers who proclaimed with all sorts of creativity – yet all did so with constriction – from within, and from outside themselves.

Deadlines and structure are needed for creativity. If you give yourself all the time in the world, you’ll never build it, you’ll just keep designing it. If you have all the budget in the world you can buy cool, and fake it. When you don’t have all the resources in the world, we find out if you are authentic.

In authenticity, we find creativity. So, then, everyone is naturally creative. Especially preachers, but they must develop a box. Not a box for the presentation, but a box for the creation. Most seminaries teach pastors to prepare in the box and to present in the box, which does not develop creativity or authenticity. What needs to happen is structured development in creation in order to see growth of creativity in presentation.

I pray for many more preachers with revolutionary voices – who cry out with urgency and creativity. Who discipline themselves for the sake of others and honor the message by their commitment to authenticity and creativity.

 

 

Platt, Radical

I got this book, Radical: Taking Back your Faith from the American Dream,  long before I had heard of David Platt, through a subscription I have with Catalyst. I had seen a bunch of promotional material from it also, and it sat on my shelf for a long time before I opened it up. My friend Aaron has put together a more thorough review on his blog, you can check that out.

I liked the book, it had a lot of really inspirational stories, sometimes there were so many stories it got a little tedious, but you can’t blame Platt for being passionate! Also, the theology was a little Pauline, but that means it was biblical, so you can get over that pretty quick. A

The big question that I think it brought up was the way that missions will continue to work in the future. I believe there are a few very large questions and issues that will need to be addressed:

  • There are global shifts happening economically, how long will the western world continue to fund missions? At the very least, I imagine we will see funding markedly decrease.
  • The center of protestant Christianity will soon move out of Colorado Springs and into the southern hemisphere and in the process undoubtedly see a growing Roman Catholic influence.
  • Christians from other countries have begun sending missionaries to the United States. How will the American church deal with the possible shift from leaders to benefactors of the global Christian community.
  • At what point does a mission field start leading themselves? The western world has continually sent missionaries into developing countries for decades – when do we let the nationals run their church alone? Is the Bible enough for them to develop biblically structured churches and systems?
  • Global short term missions is a very expensive endeavor, travel costs are huge. At what point could the money just be useful for churches overseas? At some point, is global short term missions about the missionaries and not the mission (which I know is a weird dichotomy)

Here’s some neat-o quotes:

  • p.29, “You might ask, ‘What happened to ‘God hates the sin and loves the sinner’?’ Well, the Bible happened to it. One psalmist said to God, ‘The arrogant cannot stand in your presence; you hate all who do wrong.’ “
  • p. 71, “God centers on himself, even in our salvation. Remember his words in Ezekiel: he saves us, not for our sake, but for the sake of his holy name.”
  • p.72,73, speaking of the Great Commission, “We have taken this command, though, and reduced it to a calling – something that only a few people receive. I find it interesting that we don’t do this with other words from Jesus. We take Jesus’ command in Matthew 28 to make disciples of all nations, and we say, ‘That means other people.’ But we look at Jesus’ command in Matthew 11:28, ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,’ and we say, ‘Now, that means me.’ We take Jesus’ promise in Acts 1:8 that the Spirit will lead us to the ends of the earth, and we say, ‘That means some people.’ But we take Jesus’ promise in John 10:10 that we will have abundant life, and we say,”That means me.’ In the process we have unnecessarily (and unbiblically) drawn a line of distinction, assigning the obligations of Christianity to a few while keeping the  privileges of Christianity for us all. In this way we choose to send off other people to carry out the global purpose of Christianity while the rest of us sit back because we’re ‘just not called to that.’ “
  • p.86 “Bulllen lowered the cup of hot tea from his lips, looked me in the eyes, and said, ‘David, I am going to impact the world. An interesting statement. Here was a guy in the African bush wiht almost no resources. A guy who hadn’t seen much of the world beyond the villages that surrounded him. A guy who by all outward appearances did not have much hope of changing his lot in life. ‘Bullen, how are you going to impact the world?’ I asked. ‘I’m going to make disciples of all nations,’ he said.”
  • p. 108, “Good intentions, regular worship, and even study of the Bible do not prevent blindness in us.”
  • p.130, “What would happen…if we stopped asking how much we could spare and started asking how much it was going to take?”
  • p.141, “Subtly, however, this equality of persons shifts into an equality of ideas. Just as every person is equally valued, so every idea is equally valid. Applied to faith, this means that in a world where different people have different religious views, all such views should be treated as fundamentally equal. In this system of thinking, faith is a matter of taste, not of truth.”

12 for 12: give more

I think that if you just live life randomly, then what happens to you becomes your life. I only have like 75 years or so on this planet and I’ve already spent almost half of them. So I live to make them count. As Khobi and I always say in the mornings, ‘Let’s attack the day!’ I want to destroy every single day and let it know that I own it. I’m that disturbed.

Several years ago Heather and I actually started living with purpose when we thought about money. We studied the Scripture, read the relevant teachings, listened to wise people, attended great seminars and workshops.

At that time we took stock of where we were and where we’d love to be. We set up what we’d love to be able to do, and how we would pray to be able to get there.

I totally see anything we have as a gift from God, and a gift that we are to steward with the intention of sharing the gospel with the whole world. So, to that end, we pray every year to be able to give away more than we did before.

That’s the last one, and usually the most fun one. To be blessed is boss, to push that blessing forward is even more boss.

12 for 12: run

I think that if you just live life randomly, then what happens to you becomes your life. I only have like 75 years or so on this planet and I’ve already spent almost half of them. So I live to make them count. As Khobi and I always say in the mornings, ‘Let’s attack the day!’ I want to destroy every single day and let it know that I own it. I’m that disturbed.

For me, running is therapeutic and relaxing. More than once I’ve lost track of where I was going and ended up very far from home and had to run way further than I hoped in order to get back. It’s quite funny, until I have to tell my legs we’re an hour from home.

I’ve even done a few running races, which are quite comical because small children consistently beat me. I figure if we were allowed to tackle in these races I might fare better.

Since running is so relaxing to me, I have always thought it would be fun to run ultra marathons. How relaxing it must be to just run for 100 miles, right? It might be a fancy vacation to run the pacific crest trail as well, except for the part where a cougar would eat me.

So this year, I’m going to try and run a race further than 5K, which is what I’ve done in the past. I haven’t registered or anything, but it’s only the beginning of the year. Maybe I’ll even get one of those stickers for the back of my car that let people know that even though I’m driving right now, if this rig ran out of gas I can run so far that I wouldn’t buy the expensive gas nearby, I’d run all the way to Costco and save my wallet the 6 cents a gallon.

12 for 12: string theory and prayer

I think that if you just live life randomly, then what happens to you becomes your life. I only have like 75 years or so on this planet and I’ve already spent almost half of them. So I live to make them count. As Khobi and I always say in the mornings, ‘Let’s attack the day!’ I want to destroy every single day and let it know that I own it. I’m that disturbed.

I have the kind of brain that makes interesting connections between seemingly unrelated pieces of information. For instance, I think the Trinity is a perfectly normal and understandable theology when examined in a Cartesian system. It just makes sense.

Recently I have been learning about quantum mechanics and string theory and I think it has massive implications for our understanding of prayer. One of the pieces I find most interesting is the theory that moments in time exist at the same time, even though our experience of them is sequential.

This would have (at least) two immediate impacts on my understanding of the Bible. First, the existence of God for all eternity, and our living with him for the rest of eternity, becomes perfectly natural. Secondly, and more immediately and personally consequential, if prayer is momentary and sequential for us, yet simultaneous for God, who is able to exist independent of created order – then could our prayers not exist both forwards and backwards according to our experience of time and space?

That is to say, we could pray for things in the past and that prayer could affect change. Yet, our prayers and the past moments exist, according to my meek understanding of quantum theories, at the same time. So, our experience of the past would not change because it exists at this moment at the same time (so the ink in your history book wouldn’t magically change).

As you can see, this is exciting and troubling at the same time.

So, one of my twelve plans for this year is to gain a deeper understanding of quantum physics so that my understanding of God and creation will grow.