And here I was just discussing street cred today. There's more than one kind of cred to be invoked in public discourse and Mark Driscoll just played from another kind.
What we have here, folks, looks like a fantastic centrifuge full of centrifugal spin. Mark assures us he got a communications major from a top tier American university. So much for street cred when it's time to take down a journalist. We're going from the blue collar kid who falsfied id to get his first job and lived behind a strip club to the worldly-wise educated college grad who can see through the facade of a fellow communications/media wizard and get at the real issues. Now is the time to mention that both Mark and Grace Driscoll have communications degrees from one of the top programs in the United States and we saved the British from Hitler, by the way. ;-)
British journalists married to women pastors are going to have agendas. So far, so obvious. Driscoll's team has given us nine reasons why singles should buy his book on Real Marriage. That Mark Driscoll even has a website called PastorMark TV speaks of his having an agenda that is so obvious he's put his name on it. What Driscoll is providing here is simply counterspin to the first spin and in neither case am I inclined to take either seriously. So a liberal British egalitarian journalist married to a woman pastor shows up with spin when Mark and Grace thought this was going to be an interview about, oh yes, the book they're promoting.
Can't a megachurch pastor promote nine reasons single people should buy his book in peace without having some liberal egalitarian journalist grilling him about controversial statements he's kept making over the course of fifteen years? Mark spent a whole conference hanging out with Doug Wilson even though he doesn't agree with Wilson about the Confederacy and the Civil War or the subject of the continual availablity of spiritual super-powers to Christians. If Driscoll could do that for a few days surely he can withstand an hour with a liberal egalitarian journalist married to a woman preacher who is uncomfortable with substituionary atonement.
I'm not a liberal UK Christian and don't land where they land so I'm not going to land there. But I am also a communications major and do not take Driscoll's polemic seriously because I've discovered how he basically made things up about the Targum Neofiti and turned the book of Nehemiah into a typology about himself. I do not at this point trust him to be the straight shooter to set the record straight just because some liberals don't agree with him. Some liberals are, frankly, more responsible scholars than Driscoll is. I don't have to be a liberal to note this.
A blog post for the Brits is a rerun of the two things William Wallace II has been doing for a while now. First there's the ad hominem (the liberal British egalitarians who don't feel comfortable with penal substitutionary atonement basically aren't Christians anyway, so there) and a slightly less obvious reductio ad absurdum (if there aren't young men preaching in a red-blooded way then there might as well be NO men in the UK preaching the real Gospel right now because preachers who are actually Mark Driscoll's age in the present don't count). Okay, but your agenda is selling your book, Mark. Spin on top of spin is just more spin. Going to Australia and telling them they're pussies isn't that different from saying in an interview that the British are pussies for not having a new Spurgeon.
Exactly why there has to be a new Spurgeon 20-something rock star evangelical pastor is not explained, rather it is assumed. It's smarter to say people in the UK should pray for a new Spurgeon because that's a sounder prayer request than writing something like, "Pray that the UK gets its own Driscoll." But who says God wants there to be a new Spurgeon or Driscoll for the UK? Was the apostle Paul in his 20s when he began his preaching career? How would we know this? If by Driscoll's estimation an either widowed or divorced guy transformed the world with his preaching, teaching, and epistles that make up most of the New Testament why would it matter that the UK lacks a 20-something evangelical rerun of his favorite preacher? Answer, it doesn't actually matter but Driscoll wants us to believe it should matter. Maybe preachers who are functionally Calvinist Baptists but don't want the denominational label just have a tunnel vision in which Anglicans and Presbyterians don't count.
A guy who has spent fifteen years saying things like "I'm no pansy ass therapist" to media outlets shouldn't be shocked if reporters who have agendas dredge up past controversial statements. A communications major should know this already. So the interview was an hour long and adversarial. Who has included adversarial statements about Twilight and Avatar and egalitarians any given hour's sermon from the pulpit every Sunday and have for more than a decade? And we're supposed to feel for this guy and his wife after they've pontificated about the sinfulness of stay at home dads? Meh.
Something to consider now is that Mark Driscoll has not only played worldly wise school cred for himself by invoking his communications degree from a top tier American institution, he's done this for Grace Driscoll, too. The humble housewife with five kids card has been taken out of play for today's polemic. Now she's the media genius who is her husband's equal who knows how to see through the agendas of reporters. Problem is this is a double edged blade that means we are tipped off that Grace Driscoll is able to spin with Mark and promote books, too. If you're shrewd enough to see through spin and know when an agenda is being pushed it's because you know how the rules of the game work and have been playing it yourself. She is officially co-opted into a media juggernaut otherwise known as Mars Hill and Driscoll has made it clear she has the credentials for it. I'm going to assume Grace knew this meant, among other things, occasionally running into an adversarial journalist. If she's willing to say on record that stay-at-home dads have sin issues then welcome to the public sphere. You can't go back.
So a liberal reporter from the UK feels uncomfortable with penal substitutionary atonement. Back in 2005 Driscoll preached a whole series of sermons discussing all the other wonderful understandings of the atonement Christians can and should embrace and even mentioned a book by, of all people, a British theologian named John Stott. There are other understandings of the atonement around which Christians can meet and agree. Mark should know, seeing as he preached a christus exemplar sermon back in 2005. Suggest that christus exemplar takes on new, deeper, and more beautiful significance if you embrace with that the penal substitutionary view and emphasize that if you reject one and accept the other you are short-selling the significance of the Cross. He did that once, back in 2005. As smart as Driscoll is implicitly and explicitly telling us he is it apparently didn't cross his mind to make the simple move I just outlined. Thinking on your feet may just be tougher to do if your goal is to promote a book and somebody comes with "an agenda" that is actually different from promoting the book.
But for the sake of today's polemic make sure to emphasize the liberal reporter with an agenda is uncomfortable with penal substitutionary atonement and is egalitarian to ensure the ad hominem is complete. "Pussified Nation" rolls on and now we're invited to appreciate that it's the Brits who are pussies because they don't have a William Wallace II of their own.
Since Driscoll's a communications major who studied in one of the top tier programs in the United States he'll remember some tricky concepts like "on the record" and "public figure" and "public record" and "internet". This could let him remember that once something goes on the record you could get asked about it at any time even if you've pulled down the sermons; shut down the unmoderated Midrash; or dredged up intimate details about your marriage in a published book. It's out there now and if you don't want to get asked about it by adversarial journalists there was always the option to have not broadcast it in a mass media venue.
Just because I'm not a liberal Christian doesn't mean I can't identify spin in response to spin. Nine reasons singles should buy Real Marriage? Who is Driscoll kidding? If Mark Driscoll wants to sell himself as the evangelical Dan Savage he shouldn't be surprised when not all evangelicals jump on the bandwagon and he should be even less surprised when non-evangelicals are even less sold on this publicity campaign. I would have thought a communications major would have worked that out over the last two decades.