Monday, December 16, 2013

Warren Throckmorton keeps tabs the MHC scrub jobs & the historical error in Death by Love, let's revisit the egregious error in the 2008 doctrine series by Driscoll/Breshears scholars have already discussed

It's handy that Warren Throckmorton is keeping up with all the links and content that have been scrubbed by Mars Hill Church that have to do with Trial, the study guide for the 1 & 2 Peter series.
Wenatchee The Hatchet couldn't keep tabs on all that stuff all the time, obviously. 

Apparently even Driscoll's gushing letter to Mars Hill Church about Justin Holcomb and Docent group is gone these days.

Throckmorton also notes what R. Scott Clark has shared about the disastrously inaccurate claim Driscoll/Breshears made about Calvin and Arminius.  One of the most egregious errors in the Driscoll/Breshears team-up on a matter of scholarship would be the Targum Neofiti.  Yes, it's esoteric but scholars across the spectrum made a point of taking apart Driscoll's claims.  It's worth revisiting them before MH gets the idea to pull down that material, too.

Now, what I want to share with you now is super exciting to me ‘cause I’m a total – I’m kind of a geek. And I really like – I really like the Bible and I like learning things I did not know. And I learned something this week that I did not know. It comes from Dr. Gerry Breshears, who’s a dear friend of mine and my co-author on Vintage Jesus and some other books. He’s the head of theology at Western Seminary in Portland. And what he showed me was – he sent this to me, it’s called the Targum Neofiti. It’s from roughly 200 years before the birth of Jesus Christ.

Now, let me tell you what a targum is, okay? A targum was an accepted Jewish translation and reading of the Old Testament, okay? And the Jewish scholars would translate, read the Old Testament and they would write them down as accepted targums. Now this targum – again, think is through – is 200 years before the birth of Jesus, more than 200 years before the Christian church in its present form came into existence, 500 years before something we’ll get to call the Council of Nicea where the Christian theologians officially declared the doctrine of the Trinity as true orthodoxy. Hundreds of years prior, here is the Targum Neofiti.

Genesis 1:1-2, it declared, “In the beginning, by the Firstborn” – who’s that? That’s Jesus. That’s the same language we find in the New Testament. Paul says that Jesus is the image of the invisible God, and he is the firstborn – that’s preeminence. That’s prominence. That’s rulership over all creation. “In the beginning, by the Firstborn” – Jesus – “God” – that’s the Father – “created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” I can show that there were Jews who were waiting for the coming of Jesus Messiah who loved and studied the Bible – 200 years before the coming of Jesus interpreted Genesis 1, the opening line of the Bible, and Genesis 2 to be Trinitarian. That the Father through Jesus Christ, the preeminent firstborn Son, along with the Holy Spirit created everything. Trinitarian.

To all that the scholars Robert Cargill, Christian Brady, and Scott Bailey could be said to have replied "No", "No" and "Hell no" respective to their usual blogging tones. Brady, in particular, as an Aramaic targum scholar, has been in a good position to point out that Driscoll (and Breshears) claim the rabbinical commentary on Genesis was written in the second centure BCE when it is generally accepted as written in the second century CE.  I.e. 2 centuries BC is four centuries too early for something scholars agree was written in the 2nd century AD, for folks who are old school.  Driscoll opens out the gate misrepresenting (at best) or lying (at worst) when the commentary on Genesis was written. 

Brady closed his friendly post with:

Feel free to offer other comments on the video. For the first time I have actually left comments on a YouTube video because I think this is so egregious. And for those who don’t know me as well and to be open and clear, I do believe in the Trinity, I just abhor bad sermons and errors.  [emphasis mine]

Brady's blogged some fun stuff besides this, particularly on the targum of Ruth and the question of why two guys were thought to have died for marrying Moabite women while the third one didn't.  :) 

So while the plagiarism/ghostwriting/citation error/historical error news cycle unfolds it's worth revisiting that foundationally wrong assertions about rabbinical commentaries presented as informed and competent happened way back in 2008. 

The capstone for the egregious scholarly imcompetence was arguably not simply that it happened in 2008 and got cemented into Mars Hill Church's Doctrine series for new members.  It went further, when Mark Driscoll explained to Justin Taylor in an interview that the Doctrine series raised the bar on what was expected of members and that a lot of people weren't up to the task.—and-whether-or-not-the-new-calvinist-coalition-will-hold-together/

Like all of my writing, this project was born out of my work as one of the elders at Mars Hill. We have enjoyed an ocean of God’s grace at our church. As we expand to more campuses, states, and possibly even nations, I wanted to do all I could to ensure doctrinal fidelity and clarity for our church. As the tree grows and the fruit increases, the roots need to sink deep as well. So, when our attendance was at about six thousand people a few years ago, we did something unprecedented. We canceled out the membership of everyone in our church and I preached the Doctrine series for thirteen weeks. Each sermon was well over an hour and included me answering text-messaged questions from our people.

Those who made it through the entire series were interviewed, and those who evidenced true faith in Christ and signed our membership covenant were installed as new members. We had always had a high bar for membership, but I wanted to raise that bar higher as we pursued our goal of becoming, by God’s grace, a church of fifty thousand. [emphasis added] In so doing, we lost about a thousand people, dropped to five thousand total, and missed budget for the first time in our church’s history. We then rebounded over the next few years to ten thousand people a week and as many as thirteen thousand on our peak weekend. We had pruned, which hurt, but then we harvested, which was healing. It’s not all about the numbers, and we were willing to lose a lot of people, but God proved that there is power in the gospel and that a people united around core biblical doctrine can be used by God to bear much fruit by grace. We now use the book and its small group questions as our membership process for Mars Hill.


This book was by far the most work of any project I have done. I actually suffered an intestinal ulcer nearing the end. The book was originally 700 pages, and I whittled it down to the present 464. Dr. Breshears and I poured ourselves out on this one, and without Crystal Griffin, my copyeditor, there is no way we would have made it to the finish line, as the perhaps thousand footnotes alone would have done us in.

I wrote this book while fathering five kids, pastoring Mars Hill, pursuing my wife, leading Acts 29, growing The Resurgence, traveling, doing media, and so forth. So, it was written in large part late at night, at Little League games, and on airplanes. In many ways, I guess I did my writing much like the apostles did their epistles—on the run, doing ministry.

Nevertheless, it was an amazing help to force me to clarify exactly where I’m landing on doctrinal issues and how to articulate them. For me, the entire project is a worship act for which I praise God. It is an incredible honor to be able to serve others by writing this book and I am very, very, very pleased with it. Doctrine is easily my/our best work to date.

The devil, as the saying goes, is in the details. 


While we're at it, James Duncan has addressed several aspects of the Driscollian authorship, citation, and reputation  here and here.