This has been one of my fears for Pastor Driscoll through the years. I think he has tended to write “too close to the lesson.” Even this latest book, if I read the chronology right, seems to say that all the good things he is directing us to do are things he has really only applied in his marriage in the last 3-4 years.
A very legitimate fear indeed! What can happen when a guy like Mark Driscoll preaches something "too close to the lesson" is that he'll preach it and then, one and two years later, actual scholars will demonstrate that he learned the wrong lesson at best or that he made up something to make himself look cool and knowledgeable at worst. Or did lazy second-hand speculation because the week before his sermon somebody sent him something he didn't bother researching more detail.
This is, it turns out, exactly what Mark Driscoll did with what he supposedly learned about the Targum Neofiti The infamous excerpt begins at minute 23 into the sermon where Driscoll credits his exciting discovery to something Gerry Breshears sent him that week.
This from the Doctrine series sermon Driscoll preached on Mar 30, 2008. I happened to be there, actually, so I can verify this one firsthand even if the video clip and audio weren't conveniently available to link to. Driscoll said, "I learned something this week that I did not know."
... or maybe he learned something that week that wasn't actualy true. See below for commentary from Scott Bailey and Robert Cargill.
... Second, targum Neofiti is commonly dated in the second century CE! That’s significantly later than Driscoll argues. In fact, undercuts most of his argument. ...
His opening salvo that there was some Jews who believed in the trinity because “they read the Bible and took it at face value” is so wrong, on so many levels, before he goes into his mistake laden sermon, that it’s quite surprising to me this has not been taken off of the internet.
So what then is Targum Neofiti doing here by adding this word בחכמה “b’hakmah” (“in/with wisdom”)? Answer: it is attempting to harmonize the claim in Genesis 1:1 that says בראשית ברא אלהים את השמים ואת הארץ (“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth”) with Proverbs 8:22, where in a tribute to wisdom, the Bible claims that God created wisdom first, before the rest of creation (“The LORD created me [wisdom, cf. Prov. 8:12] at the beginning of His course, as the first of His works of old”). Targum Neofiti is attempting to reconcile the natural question of precisely what was actually created first: wisdom (Prov. 8), or the heavens and the earth (Gen. 1)? The answer offered by the authors of Neofiti was quite clever: God created the heavens and the earth in/with wisdom.
Ooops. Looks like what Driscoll learned about the Targum Neofiti turned out to be wildly inaccurate. If anyone imagines that Scott Bailey and Robert Cargill are just liberal scholars I have a friend or two at Covenant Theological Seminary and one of them told me that Driscoll's handling of the Targum was a gross misappropriation of the Targum. Now I would get OPC folks saying a PCA seminary is a bit too liberal but as I've been saying here for years, not everyone who disputes something Driscoll has said in a sermon is 1) theologically liberal or 2) necessarily opposed to every last thing that comes out of the man's mouth.
Still, Paul Martin's comment about a pastor teaching "too close to the lesson" is apt. So apt that I wanted to quote his blog entry and take a stroll down memory lane to help illustrate why Paul Martin's fear about Mark Driscoll writing "too close to the lesson" is so well-founded.