Thursday, June 21, 2012

"The Man" and Driscoll's insistence on the inward desire to be an elder as a qualification

From the Raleigh, NC sermon on 1 Timothy 3, "The Man" Driscoll remarked on how it was necessary for a man to sense an inward calling toward ministry.  The man needed to want to be an elder or he wouldn't be qualified.

Driscoll even went so far as to say that "we" will know men are called to be elders because they desire to be one. It's not just someone who is qualified and meets needs in a local church.  He has to be someone who wants to be an elder. However that desire comes forth that desire has to be there.  Within an Acts 29 or Mars Hill context this may mean that guys nominate themselves and if they don't nominate themselves they may not want to be elders and thus lack an important qualification for ministry as Driscoll interprets 1 Timothy 3.

However, there's no persuasive textual basis for reasoning that simply because it is good to desire the office of overseer/bishop/pastor/shepherd that one is thereby qualified for the role.  After all false teachers will want the role even though they are not fit for it.  A person might meet most of the qualifications for pastoral office in 1 Timothy 3 yet still be a Pelagian or an Arian, if you stop and think it through for a few seconds.

For instance, did Augustine of Hippo want to be a priest or a bishop?

A little summary here--

If Driscoll's exegesis and application have any validity at all (and I'm not suggesting they do) the Augustine of Hippo, one of the most legendary and celebrated Christian thinkers, pastors and theologians of the Western church, has to be called unqualified.  Almost everything about Augustine's ordination could be seen as a counterexample of what Driscoll proposed 1 Timothy 3 said.  A more careful reading of the text shows that on a few points Driscoll's reading of 1 Timothy 3 in "The Man" doesn't really hold up on textual grounds and there are counterexamples of important Christian leaders who ended up in jobs for which they did not nominate themselves.

If your sermon leads you to a conclusion that requires you to say Augustine shouldn't and couldn't have been a pastor if you consistently apply the principles you outline from your text that may suggest that the interpretation of the text itself is problematic and that it flies in the face of how the early Church understood the text.

It's one thing for Driscoll to approvingly cite Chuck Smith's axiom that it is better to train the called than to call the trained but it is no sure thing that these two things are necessarily in opposition.  It's strange if you think about it because if Driscoll applied his own explication of 1 Timothy 3 to one of his theological heroes he'd have to say Augustine wasn't qualified because he didn't nominate himself.  Of course that was five years ago that this sermon got preached.

Given the controversies that seem to have brewed up in Chuck Smith's neck of the woods in the last few years maybe there are flaws to the practice of "training the called", too.

If the Holy Spirit moves in ways we truly cannot perceive or identify then it's not a sure thing that just because a man nominates himself that he's fit for eldership.  Now if that were actually true, if it were true that the Holy Spirit calls and reveals who is fit for ministry, and they need to nominate themselves, then if the Spirit gifted pastors in this way (and Mars Hill only ever hired people who demonstrated they were called, correct?) then why have pastors been fired from Mars Hill at all?  If you believe the Holy Spirit calls and gifts men for ministry and that central to this is that the man must nominate himself or he's not qualfiied how can you justify firing anyone?  Obvious sin, obviously, but what constitutes obvious sin?  An implication in this ecclesiology is a problem, if you fire a pastor who is self-nominated (as he must be) and was only installed because he demonstrated the Spirit's calling and gifting then if you fire him for something that isn't an indisputable sin you're second-guessing the Holy Spirit, aren't you? Do you want to be in a position to declare that against previous demonstations of calling and gifting that the Holy Spirit was wrong?  And if that could be the case about one pastor at Mars Hill it could very easily be the case about all of them, couldn't it?

I'd propose hopefully that this sermon "The Man" was five years ago.  Maybe things have changed.  I'm not sure if a Q school is a change for the better or not but it is, at any rate, a change.


Anonymous said...

You sure burned down that straw man. He did not say an elder must nominate himself. He did not say that if someone does nominate themselves that is exclusively sufficient qualification for eldership. He only said that a man's will must be to be an elder to be qualified as an elder, amongst other qualifying requirements. This says nothing of the nomination order. Your example of Augustine's ordination doesn't help your point. Just because Augustine did not set out to become a priest or bishop until he was encouraged to do so by other church leaders in Hippo, does not mean that he never wanted to do so. In fact, his years as a faithful bishop and leader in the church (elder) following his ordination indicates that it very much was his will because as Jonathan Edwards says a man's will can not be contrary to his desires. That is, his actions are true indicators of his actual will. Augustine believed he was called by God into his position through the encouragement of other men and he wanted to follow that calling. Is this always how the calling to eldership must work? No. If someone wants to be an elder but that calling is not affirmed by other Christians, they should not be an elder. If someone is prompted by other people to become an elder and upon prayerful reflection, they disagree that they are being called by God to that position, they should not be an elder.

I am glad to read your above post about focusing your writing on other topics, because when it comes to MH you are obviously so biased that the gift you have for critical thinking is damaged to the point where you become sloppy, desperate and illogical. Perhaps you identify yourself as a body behind the Mars Hill bus, to use an insensitive analogy no matter who came up with it. If that is the case, I hope you can experience the peace of forgiveness if not reconciliation with those who harmed you. I've enjoyed some of your other posts and I encourage you to pursue those topics and most especially Jesus Christ without what has obviously become a debilitating albatross for you. Blessings.

Anonymous said...

As one of the bodies left dying under the bus, I find Wenatchee the Hatchett anything but sloppy, desperate or illogical. He or she is perhaps the most interesting and thorough forensic thinker that has left Mars Hill.

With regard to this particular subject I find the observations made most valid.

One of my earliest challenging discussions at MH was on this subject. I was told that in order to become a MH elder, one had to nominate oneself. I warned that this would mean that a bunch of non-qualified men would then step forward, and those genuinely qualified (if such a man exists) would never become elders. What man worth his salt as an elder would say "I am qualified".

What arrogance!

Having a desire to be an elder and stepping forward and nominating yourself are two different things.

At MH we were told that the process began with self nomination. However, like we discovered about much of MH, the reality was that Driscoll in fact pursued and encouraged particular men to become elders. Not all but many. The principle was very loosely held although firmly taught.

Of course the Petry trials demonstrated that MH did not have qualified men as elders. The "self nomination" process had given Mars Hill a bunch of weak men who were not able to lead the church. They did not have the back bone to simply follow their own conscience. In time, the true elders at that trial will confess their sin, speak the truth about their cowardice and and seek Paul Petry's forgiveness.

Thanks once again WtheH for continuing to unpack facts that show the truth. You are breathing a little life and a lot of truth and understanding into the massive pile of bodies that the bus has harmed.

Anonymous said...

Of course, as Dricoll articulated in his discourse that included the comments about the pile off bodies under the bus, you are summarily disqualified to be a MH elder of you are not 100% behind his vision.

So in fact you are not qualified by character, you are qualified by your willingness to support the vision.

You are neither disqualified by character.

Sadly for Petry, at the time of his firing and trial, it took a sin to get booted off the elder team. Therefore the only way that Driscoll could get rid of Petry was to trump up "sins" and then go through a trial to find Petry guilty.

So much easier nowadays under the new by-laws where elder-ship means nothing and executive elder-ship (yes the top three men... or the king Driscoll plus his 2 cohorts) can simply add and remove elders at will.

At least the future "elders" who need to be thrown under the bus can be done so without public humiliation and devastating trails and shunnings.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous wrote: "I am glad to read your above post about focusing your writing on other topics..."

Yes, yes. Please stop bringing the truth to our attention. Stop pricking our consciences. After all - peaople are getting saved, aren't they? Why can't you just let us remain asleep in the light?