Friday, January 06, 2012

HT Internet Monk: Christian sex toys

Christian movies, Christian rock, Christian fiction ... Christian sex toys.

If American Christians market "Christian birth control" then the only thing the condoms could be branded as would be "Hedge of Protection".  That would cover birth control AND the spiritual warfare fad, too.

HT Jim West: German Hercules--Martin Luther's scatology and the controversy over cussing pastors

Danielle Mead Skjelver wrote the following in 2008 about Martin Luther's use of scatological language and vulgarity.  Since everything old is new again, especially in neo-Calvinist land I figured I'd link to this article.  Not that there's some kind of contemporary public figure within Christian circles by whom the use of scatological humor is a way of establishing masculinity and virility in public settings ... .

HT to commentary on Internet Monk: Books & Culture reviews Real Marriage

What Real Marriage has going for it, in the end, is the only thing it doesn't share with scores of other marriage books: Mark Driscoll. Driscoll has preached the book's content, he tells us, in "England, Ireland, Scotland, South Africa, Australia, India, and Turkey" and has talked personally to "hundreds of thousands of couples." The author's bio reminds us that he is "one of the world's most downloaded and quoted pastors." He pastors the "2nd most-innovative church in America." The hype in the press release isn't, ultimately, about Real Marriage; it's about Mark Driscoll.

Happy to report that Cinamagogue actually has some new content lately

After what seemed like roughly a year of almost no activity writing about film (for them, at least) my friend(s) over at Cinamagogue are actually writing stuff again. 

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Did you think I WOULDN'T link to this xkcd?

You probably didn't, which is good, because here I've just linked to it.  This is totally a variation on the Calvin's dad pattern from Calvin & Hobbes, which is just "one" reason it's funny.

Guitarist Nick Cutroneo has launched his new site

Nick has launched a new site in 2012.  I know I haven't mentioned him on this blog before but Delcampers will know we've both spent some time over there.  I know I've written a few things about a preacher up in these parts but I still like to write about classical guitar and classical guitarists and I want to steer you to Nick's new site.

Mark Driscoll and his fanboys

So Real Marriage comes out this month and wagons are already being circled.  The folks who find him repulsive find him repulsive.  The people who find him a hero still find him a hero.  I'm still frequently ambivalent and critical but remembering the things I have, yes, admired about the man.

Something that has stuck with me in the last few days is this--Mark has repeatedly said God told him to do X, Y and Z.  I can run with that, actually, but just because God told Rebekah Jacob would become greater than Esau did not justify Rebekah's deceit or Jacob's trickery.  I don't have to constantly doubt whether God actually told Mark Driscoll to be a pastor to point out that even within the Bible we get narratives in which how person X decided to personally fulfill what God said was going to come about turned out to be the most sinful means of getting from point A to point B possible. 

By extension, Driscoll fanboys conflate Driscoll's results with the assumption that how he got those results reflect a godly character.  They don't, results are just indicative of unmerited favor at best and at worst a mixture of dumb luck and a communications major knowing how to play people. 
Some of the troubling stuff about the confessions from the Driscolls aren't the marital problems themselves.  Those things seem fairly mundane compared to marital strife stories I've heard.  No, the trouble is that if Mark Driscoll was preaching wifely stripteases and holy blowjobs WHILE he was resenting his wife for not giving these things to him in the marriage it's a hypocrisy issue.  First of all it's not even remotely clear on exegetical grounds Song of Songs extolls wifely stripteases or holy blow jobs.  Second of all, it would be true especially if those things WERE in the text but even more so if they weren't, that Driscoll did not implicitly set himself as the master of the biblical text who knows this stuff because he's learned by doing, nudge, nudge, wink, wink, which is what he actually did in essence over a six to eight year period. 

Then there's the Driscolls' famous bit about stay-at-home dads having denied the faith and being worse than an unbeliever.  The hypocrisy here is even more troubling.  If Mark Driscoll was personally convicted of a sin against his wife by that famous passage, okay.  But how he has handled the text in the last decade and how Grace has blithely co-opted that suggests that no exegetical work or thought about literary/historical context of ANY KIND got done.  If a pastor has denied the faith and become worse than an unbeliever by having a wife who out-earns him and is carrying the financial burden of the family then Mark Driscoll should have been ousted as an apostate somewhere around the year 2000!  He's not a hypocrite because of normal marital problems that, frankly, would not have in themselves disqualified him from ministry.  He's become a hypocrite because he does what Paul Martin has described as preaching "too close to the lesson" without conceding in public that some of his most famous public moments of teaching a "lesson" turn out to have been lessons that were wildly inaccurate and not based on exegetically defensible claims. 

The Targum Neofiti teaching fiasco should be proof enough to Driscoll that if he's excited about something on a given week the LAST thing he should do is immediately translate that personal enthusiasm into a sermon.  It is this propensity that I find troubling and that Driscoll apologists seem least interested in.  As long as Driscoll preaches a view of masculinity they like within a sufficiently Trinitarian format they will overlook how weak his handling of actual texts can be.  Not NT texts most of the time, but OT texts. 

That's a long way of saying the confessions of the Driscolls make them come off as hypocrites not because they necessarily did stuff the Bible says would have actually disqualified Mark Driscoll from ministry, but because Mark Driscoll's own knee-jerk interpretations and applications mega-phoned from the pulpit make his confessions turn him into a hypocrite.  A pastor who doesn't have sex with his wife as much as he'd like isn't a hypocrite if he just privately works on those issues. He becomes a hypocrite if he preaches from Song of Songs multiple times with a Monty Python style nudge, nudge and wink, wink talking about oral sex and different positions as though he knows the score when in reality he resents his wife for being frigid.  THAT is where the hypocrisy comes from and what makes it sad is that if Driscoll hadn't had a history of preaching "too close to the lesson" he could have avoided ALL of this backlash. 

Driscoll fanboys don't realize that Mark basically deserves this kind of backlash.  If you're blind and groping forward and people see this they don't hold it against you if you know you're blind.  If you claim to see and they can see that you don't see clearly then you stop being an object of sympathy and start being annoying.  That the Driscolls have been able to publish Real Marriage by now is because despite Mark claiming he was convicted by 1 Timothy 5 of having denied the faith and become worse than an unbeliever when the chips were down he deciced the most practical pastoral application of this idiosyncratic interpretation of Scripture was to ... keep his job and wait until he got a salary. 

Yet some Driscoll fans can wonder why some critics find the confessions of the Driscolls' problematic.  IF the Driscolls had just kept their heads down and their mouths shut from the pulpit and the public sphere between roughly 1998-2006 on sex in marriage or financial burdens then their confessions via bookdeal would not come off as quite so mercenary to critics and would not reveal them to have been hypocrites during the times when Mark was preaching oral sex while resenting that his wife wasn't giving him any. 

My hope is that the Driscolls will chill out on some patently legalistic ideas they have on marriage and gender that, once they drop them, will make them seem much less hypocritical for having spent a decade extolling what they didn't live up to that is not actually in the Bible. If they hadn't been stumping for X for so many years they wouldn't be coming off as hypocrites for having failed at X for much of their marriage when X isn't even that clearly spelled out as "biblical" teaching. 

Try to imagine how differently Mark Driscoll's ministry might have looked if instead of hearring a voice and going out to start doing all that stuff as fast as possible he actually waited several years, worked on learning things, and slowly started building his marriage and understanding BEFORE jumping into pastoral stuff.  Driscoll fanboys have seemed to reach a conclusion that because it WORKED that basically how Mark Driscoll jumped into things must have been a godly way to do it. I was there long enough to have come to a different conclusion.  If I hadn't come to a different conclusion I wouldn't have ended up being Presbyterian is one way of putting it.  But I can also say, fortunately, that the Christians at Mars Hill are vastly more than the sum of the weirdness of the Driscolls.

Dostoevsky wrote once that the easiest thing for a guy in his twenties to do is to die for a cause. He can lay down his body and life in a flash and think nothing of it.  It comes easily to him.  But if you ask that man to spend five years of his life reading books, studying, learning from old men, and doing this instead of going out and being a man of action .... well, then you'll find that young man often considers that a fate WORSE than death!  Perhaps Mark Driscoll was, per Dostoevsky's observation, simply the archetypal young man more willing to go do than to learn.  Yeah, he's told us how he'd read at least a book every day but by now I want to suggest that reading volume isn't the same as reading comprehension.  Thanks to Paul Martin's carefully thought-through blog entry I would say the thing the Driscoll camp needs to do more and more is to not preach so close to the lesson, to get time to figure out if the lesson has been learned and if the lesson is even true. 

I probably need to keep saying this, I hope to provide a constructively critical approach to Driscoll rather than the fawning praise of fans or the vitriol of adversaries. I'm not going to complain about Mark's approach to the Trinity even if I think Scott Bailey and Robert Cargill were absolutely right to show that Driscoll just made up a trinitarian gloss on the Targum Neofiti.  If it seems this blog has often specialized in stuff where I differ with Driscoll that's because the stuff where I don't differ with Driscoll is so utterly pedestrian I haven't seen fit to note that we agree on the Nicene Creed, we agree on the essential problem of the cessationist position on exegetical grounds, we agree on the value of Christians having an agreement that primary and secondary doctrinal concerns need to be kept that way. 

I would say that where I've come to differ is in my belief that the gospel of Markulinity has, over the last decade, been shown to be more primary than it should be in Driscoll's public discourse.  Masculinity I'm fine with, Markulinity needs an overhaul and the confessions in Real Marriage not only do nothing to dissuade me of that, they offer yet more proof that my reservations about Markulinity were even more well-founded than I imagined.

But congratulations to Mark and Grace Driscoll for going the distance for decades and raising five kids. Whether or not I ever have reason to take any Driscoll teaching on marriage seriously ever again I am glad they have gotten their marriage to survive. It will be interesting to see how my unmarried associates at Mars Hill end up feeling about the Real Marriage series. It sounds like the Driscolls are ever so slightly less prone to thinking of single people as sub-human and second class now. Maybe. 

a personalized meditation on multiculturalism in food

Sometimes multiculturalism is putting srirachi sauce on a Polish sausage with Swiss cheese.  I know there's more high-flown conceptions and executions of multiculturalism, and I know some people think multiculturalism represents everything destroying America.  But you know what?  This polish sausage tastes pretty good.

A composer interested in writing a work for violin and piano? Hilary Hahn is looking for some submissions
My favorite violinist happens to have a contest going.  If you're feeling ambitious and support what Ms. Hahn does give this a shot.  I am VERY interested to find out what Penderecki has come up with for her!  That's my little plug for this. 

HT Phoenix Preacher: Driscoll comes up with 9 reasons Real Marriage is for Singles

1. Real Marriage Is about Biblical Relationships in General
I'm going to pass anyway.  Last I checked I have this awesome book about biblical relationships in general called the Bible.

2. The Study Guide Includes Material for Singles
Oooh!  I should not only buy the book but the study guide, too?  That's a reason to buy the book?

3. You’ll Probably Be Married One Day
My mom keeps hoping on this one but even she would tell me this does not constitute a reason to buy your book.  That haircut story was instructive, though.  Now I know that if a wife gets a haircut that favors her being a mother instead of a wife that's some kind of marital treason. 

4. Real Marriage Will Help You to Counsel Others
Some of your friends are probably dating, thinking of getting married, engaged, and/or married. Just because you’re single, doesn’t mean you don’t have wisdom to share with those friends regarding relationships. Paul and Jesus were single, but they still talked and taught on marriage. Real Marriage will help equip you to give good counsel to friends regarding their relationships.
Just because I'm single doesn't mean I don't have wisdom to share with couples about relationships?  If you've ever actually set foot in a Mars Hill service or a Mars Hill community group there may not be an LOL large enough for this one.  It would appear that the sales pitch is that if I buy this book THEN I will have wisdom to share with people.  Why earlier this week I shared Paul's review of real marriage and it was kinda short. 

5. You Will Understand Your Family Better
As in, "This book will let members at Mars Hill or Driscoll fans figure out how their parents sinned against them by being bad parents and how the Driscolls are the better alternative"? That's how it's worked out in people I've known at Mars Hill over the last decade.  I don't know if I'd endorse this.

6. You Can Investigate Your Idols of Independence and Dependence
So if you DON'T want to be married that's an idol of independence and if you DO want to be married that's an idol of dependence.  The solution prescribed in both cases has implicitly been, "You should grow up, shake off adultescence, and get married."  I think I worked that out from Driscoll sermons at some point over the last ten years.  It's like equestrian medicine where everything gets worked out with a handy shotgun.

7. Real Marriage Will Help You Deal with Sexual Sin
Maybe, but it could put ideas into my head about sexual techniques and positions I've never heard of before that I don't want to know about and could cause even more avenues for temptation for me. Has Mark gotten over the need to say stuff on the level of, "Hhaving sex with a condom is like asking a guy to eat a steak with a latex glove on his tongue?"  I don't need to find out.

8. Learn How to Live a Full Life As a Single Person
Because nothing will help me live a full life as a single person like buying a book on marriage from the Driscolls?  And if I decide that maybe a lifetime without marriage or sex is the better option for me will you stop saying that guys like me are boys who can shave who are stuck in adultescence and aren't real men?  Couldn't I just live a full life as a single person without reading this book?

9. You May Find a Spouse
Oh, of course this makes sense!  Because 3x3=9!  I ... I ... just can't possibly argue against THAT reason!

Now I must buy it!  Oh, wait, I've got no job and no money.  Oh well, c'est la vie.

Too bad, the buttons for quick purchases of the book at and Barnes & Noble were ... just ... right ... there ... at the bottom of the article.

time for this month's semi-scheduled monthly HT to Orthocuban

Hey, I may be Presbyterian and all but I've enjoyed reading Orthocuban and I've got Eastern Orthodox relatives.  Orthoduck is always worth reading for me even if I happen to be Presbyterian.

If the new favored theory is that syphillis developed in the New World and made it back to Europe then if Europeans were busy screwing and screwing over Indians in the Western hemisphere ... well, you can work that out for yourself.  No need for me to finish the joke with the actual punchline, eh? If this turns out to be true then, well, American Indians can joke that the white folks from Europe may have screwed them over but BOY did it cost them!

HT: Kerux Noemata

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.

HT Scotteriology: Todd Bentley update

Preachers who say they heard God speak in an audible voice to marry so-and-so don't always stay with their spouses.  Just ask Todd Bentley

HT Mockingbird: Marilynne Robinson on the Bible

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

a review of real marriage, the truth about sex, friendship, and life together by an important Christian author

I stumbled upon a survey of married life written by an important Christian teacher.  This man has revolutionized Christian ethics and helped us all come to a more fully-orbed understanding of gospel wakefulness.  He has been widely misunderstood and mocked by critics, by haters who hate, and his work continues to exert influence on every sort of Christian who takes Jesus and the Bible seriously.  He has made some scandalous statements that have vexed liberals and fundamentalists alike.  He has been important among the emergent, missional camp.  He always keeps it real and just focuses as much as he can on Jesus and how understanding Jesus radically alters a person's understanding of life.  Some people say he's arrogant but he's really pretty humble and if you just knew his heart for Jesus you'd understand that we should give him the benefit of a doubt.

This year there's a book on sale in which this teacher talks in the plainest possible terms about the realities of married life that all Christians should consider.  This book will challenge you and speak some hard truths into your life about the way marriage is.  Not everyone will agree with what he says.  In fact most evanjellyfish will completely disagree with what this radical teacher of Christian freedom has to say about sex and marriage.  On the subject of real marriage, the truth about sex, friendship, and life together, this teacher wrote the following:

But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.


Bam!  There you go.  You're welcome.  If you would stop taking what he says out of context and just accept that what he's saying is straight from the Bible you would learn so much Gospel truth from him!

Monday, January 02, 2012

Bill MacKinnon riffs on Christianese and pop culture at the BHT

Instead we go straight to the gospel and ask, “Is this a reflection of Christ and his church? Does this come from a heart that has been radically altered by the gospel?

I see this, or things like this a lot, as advice when faced with a dilemma of some sort. Is it ok to do …….. (not just sex, but you can see this same advice for virtually anything).

Here’s the thing, and maybe this is just me: Do normal people really think like this?

Self: I wonder if I should go see the new Sherlock Holmes movie?

Self: Hold on buster, is watching Sherlock Holmes the kind of thing someone should do whose life has been radically altered by the Gospel?

Self: I’m not sure. I don’t really know what that means.

Self: Which means your (my) life probably hasn’t been radically altered by the Gospel.

Self: Does that mean I can watch the movie?

Bad art and evangelicals revisited

It will occasionally come up for discussion, generally amongst trendier evangelicals, but also evangelicals who are genuinely passionate about the arts, that evangelicals are really bad at the arts in America.  As a comic book nerd I merely repeat an observation I used in my earlier blog post today--to say that American evangelicals do not have a history of making great art of any kind is an observation on the level of saying that Batman uses batarangs, or that Spiderman has web shooters that come in handy in his battles with Doctor Octopus.  Thank you Captain Obvious and General Observation.

If the alleged solution to this malaise, however, is to focus on the tortured beauty of the cross that will get us nothing more than a series of Radiohead and emo-screamo worship bands that will merely prove that no matter how emergent, post-modern, contextualized, or relevant you think you're being your kicking worship band is merely going to prove Eric Cartman's axiom to be correct in principle.  You find a band that has been around between ten to twenty years and come up with a suitably "Christian" replica.  I mean, Radiohead, seriously, guys?  They've been around for decades.  This just proves the whole point! Nothing will be accomplished except to repeat the same old problem evangelicals have had in making "Christian" art.

When I was at Mars Hill there were occasional dust-ups about certain art installations.  One of the more memorable ones was a big painting of a severed goat head hanging at the Ballard campus.  There was some title somewhere near the painting but not a whole ton of explanation what the painting was supposed to mean.  I used to be into visual media (before my macular detachment!) and switched over to music and prose and while I can respect the visual media and artists in it I feel as though I must confess something, visual artists almost invariably labor under the delusion that what they do is 1) important and 2) should require no explanation of any kind about what a work in a visual medium is supposed to mean lest that concede a point to the phillistine concerns of non-artists. I mean, God forbid that a visual artist might have to use words to explain what a painting or sculpture is supposed to be "about"!

So what happens?  Well, at Mars Hill the severed goat head painting got complaints from people who said it was demonic.  Goats and devils, you know?  The leadership thought this was all silly and pedestrian and I thought they were silly and elitist for taking that approach.  Deciding that when few people sing the songs because the leader of the worship band has a vocal range like Evie and is playing Smashing Pumpkins lite that this means the fault is the congregation is just blaming the congregation for a lack of zeal when the problem is some bands have committed to music that is more "cool" than liturgically useful. 

I noticed over in the comments section a person named Nate said that talking about "good" art is a problem when its a bunch of pastors who don't do anything in the arts get to talking.  Actually it can be worse when the pastors in question DO get involved in the arts because whereas before they were ignorant of the devices and crafts of the arts and could at least focus on liturgical concerns and doing actually pastoral stuff.  If the pastor has some artistic achievement, however modest, he then figures he's got a platform from which to pontificate about what is and isn't great art as though that were a meaningful goal in the work of the church.  In other words we might as well just throw in the towel and submit to the Christianese version of Socialist Realism.  It happens to have been true that some great artists created despite draconian theological and music restrictions but it must be said that if you've heard five masses by Palestrina they do start to all kinda blur together and I say that as a man who genuinely appreciates Palestrina's music.

As I wrote last year the odds of evangelicals in America producing "great art" (whatever that may be) are low.  The reason this is so unlikely is that evangelials, and particularly the more "relevant" kind is ironically due to what some of the newer evangelicals and neo-Calvinists consider a strength.  To wit, the lack of denominational roots or tradition that the young, restless and Reformed imagine makes them competent to innovate in the arts is exactly the reason they won't do anything that matters in the arts in the long run. 

We should not forget some rudimentary observations about the glory days of Christian art.  The first thing is the most obvious and most necessary to reaffirm for evangelicals who haven't been paying attention to any church history.  Fantastic Christian art, music, and literature tended to flourish in places that had state established churches!  Don't believe me?  Well, think about this.  Consider all that marvelous choral music from the Renaissance.  Catholic or Anglican (as in Church of England, folks).  Consider all that awesome music by J. S. Bach and pretend for a second multiple generations of that musical dynasty didn't exist before or after him.  Paid jobs in church settings and paid by royal courts to do his thing.  Haydn?  The Esterhazy estate two centuries ago before one of the descendents decided to write the screenplay for Showgirls.  From Haydn's symphonies to Showgirls is a pretty steep decline as artistic achievements attached to or funded by the Esterhazy name go. Not that I've actually seen the movie, mind you, I just don't need to in order to reach my conclusion!

But the second thing to consider is that even in settings where there was no state church or the money of the state backing great Christian art something else was afoot.  Here I can return to the O'Connor bit from Thornberry in the Gospel Coalition video (whose resemblance in black and white footage to Andy Dick continues to confound me). O'Connor wrote as a Catholic with a Catholic understanding.  Dostoevsky, famously, wrote from within the Russian Orthodox tradition.  The Puritans emerged as part of a reform movement within Anglicanism. 

But we don't have to just look at the strictly "high" art to begin to appreciate this point.  Even in "low" art where church music goes Christian art flourished in settings in which there was some liturigcally compelling reason to excel in certain arts.  Black American gospel music anyone?  The great tradition of shape-note music in the American South?  Celtic meditative hymnody?  All these are traditions of wonderful folk art that flourished because while the level of technical and conceptual execution might not be at the same level as J. S. Bach, T. S. Eliot, or a Rembrandt one did not have to be within a Lutheran, Anglican, or Reformed context to contribute in some way to the tradition.  The tradition was already there as a scaffolding to not merely restrict but to inspire and guide new creativity. 

Skepticism about high liturgical practices as "dead tradition" have done a lot to discourage artistic innovation in identifiably "Christian" art.  That this problem within mainstream Christian church music reaches its apogee in the professional career of John Rutter is not something most of the new evangelicals, let alone the young, restless and Reformed could even talk about.  They probably don't even know who John Rutter is. 

So, no, I don't think the main problem is that evangelicals have some problem understanding the distinction between common grace and special grace.  I don't think the problem is wanting an instant emotional high or response and to the extent that Gospel Coalition partisans don't endorse Second Great Awakening era emotional manipulation tactics in evangelism this would be an irrelevant point in considering the problems of American evangelicals failing to produce great art.  It is not even entirely significant that American evangelicals either needless elevate or demonize the arts.  No, I think the problem is more prosaic, there's no need for "great Christian art" in liturgical settings and evangelicalism is too much of a doctrinal smorgasboard to provide a basis from which to even identify what is 'evangelical' and to then move beyond that to define something as "bad", "good", or "great" art, music or literature.  Could Gospel Coalition partisans concede that great art can come from an egalitarian feminist evangelical?  I'm thinking the answer would be "no". 

Talking about an art and doing something in it are often non-overlapping spheres of activity in daily life but inevitably some bundle of people issue a manifesto.  It's just inevitable, Marxists and Christians will always be issuing edicts about what they think, why, and why everyone should see things that way.  When I see Gospel Coalition discussions about art this and that I keep thinking of Andrew Stanton, who gave us the wonderful films Finding Nemo and WALL-E and then mentioned "I also happen to be a Christian."  It's easy to jibber-jabber about what you're going to do but people do care whether or not you're doing that thing or have done it. 

In contrast to Gospel Coalition abstractions I would say the Cuban composer Leo Brouwer had something more substantial to say when he said some ten or fifteen years ago that in the realm of music the huge trend the academics have missed that is vital in understanding popular music is fusion.  In art music eclecticism is merely one of many subdivisions in concert music.  That rock and roll came to dominate popular music and is defined by a musical outworking of black and white cultural influences should be telling but in many cases the debates are about which kind of popular music should be used, the 20th century kind or the 18th century kind or what have you. 

Thinking through the implications of Colossians 1:15-20 and Galatians 3:28 would lead one to recognize that if Christ truly is reconciling all things to Himself and in Him there is no slave or free, Jew or Greek, male or female for you are all one in Christ then this means the Christian should not think in terms of high and low, art and pop, East and West, tonal or atonal but that Christ unites them all. While evangelicals in America in the early 21st century keep asking how and why evangelicals make bad art Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu was explaining in the 1990s that eventually he was confident a real fusion of Eastern and Western musical values could happen.  Now fundamentalists might say this would lead to a one world government in the future.  Well, there will be a one world government in the future when Christ reigns over all.  Not quite the one world government some of you might have been thinking about? 

One of the things you can easily observe if you look at the wide variety of musical styles Christians have used throughout the world is that unless you're lockstep fixed on your own musical/ethnic preferences Christ has been praised in just about every musical style possible.  While I grant that Christians should lean toward music that is liturgically useful and of service to regional congregational concerns one of the things musicians and to a much lesser degree pastors should be mindful of is that if we take seriously that Christ is reconciling all things to Himself there is no "devil music". C. S. Lewis' Screwtape famously put it that the preferred thing for the enemies of God would not be some kind of devil music but mere noise or no music at all. 

To the extent that the harmony of music can be construed across time and culture as creative work that reflects upon the foundational "harmony of the world" it becomes, in Christian settings, a kind of teleological argument by example and practice no matter what musical style is afoot.  J. S. Bach seems to have profoundly understood this while many people agreeing with each other across a table can agree to the idea but do not necessarily demonstrate through their own creative work how they can begin to implement such a realization. 

If all evangelicals try to do is merely keep up with what has been going on we're just going to keep getting lame Christian knock-offs of Radiohead and emo-scream bands twenty years after those bands were popular.  We'll get pious retreads of beatnik poetry and movies like Fireproof.  Evangelicals adn the neo-Calvinists are just busy catching up to whatever is current and not thinking through things beyond that.  I don't think the problem is that some Christians prize the arts too much and others not enough, I stand by the proposal that Americans have opted for so much low liturgy and in much of the newer "innovative" church settings an eagerness to pragmatically come up with a Christian knock-off of the Smiths or the Cure or Radiohead or whatever that "Christian" art will remain a decade or more behind secular pop trends. 

Meanwhile Arvo Part's music caught on despite his being Orthodox and not necessarily composing just to be relevant.  That his work derives from the minimalists adn the medieval composers is not hard to establish but what he did was something that made sense to him as a musician, composer, and believer.  He did not necessarily go out in the quest to be "relevant" or make deliberately "great" art but  And there's plenty of people who understandably can't stand his music but Part works within Christian traditions in which what he does will have some liturgical use and is encouraged.  Tradition, properly understood, is not shackling but liberating but American evangelicals seem culturally and intellectually incapable of grasping this. 

Perhaps the greatest irony at work is that the more pretenses they make to being intellectual the more unable they are to grasp this simple reality while folk and pop artists have actually gone and made lasting contributions to Christian work in the arts.  Blind Willie Johnson didn't think through his w----v--- when he recorded "Dark Was the Night ... "  Do you think William Billings was spending a bunch of time on complementarian theology when he contributed music that has ended up in the shape note tradition?  Did Mahalia Jackson stop and think about the theological foundations necessary for how she embellished the vocal line in "His Eye is on the Sparrow"?  The trouble with Gospel Coalition round tables on the arts is that I can't square them with what I know to be historically true not just about how Frank Martin "may" have approached composing his Mass; I also can't square those Gospel Coalition round tables with having anything meaningful to do with how the Fairfield Four may have approached "Lonesome Valley" when that song ended up in the soundtrack to the film O Brother Where Art Thou? 

When J. S. Bach began assimilating German, French and Italian influences into a cosmopolitan international Baroque style and revolutionzed contrapuntal art, all paradoxically without introducing a single conceptual or structural innovation into musical form or style at the time, he did think through the theological significance of what he was trying to do but the thing is he did something.  Historians and authors discussing Bach have marvelled out how relatively little Bach actually left discussing his philosophy about how to put together music.  Bach apparently thought the music he wrote would actually serve as a good indicator of what he thought about how to compose music.  For those interested in learning by doing Bach apparently thought it was enough to teach by example. 

In thirty or forty years' time will anyone at the Gospel Coalition be remembered?  Meh, I'm not betting on it.  Will parents still be showing their kids Finding Nemo and WALL-E?   Will people still tear up when they hear a recording of Mahalia Jackson singing "Take My Hand, Precious Lord"? As a friend of mine once put it, you could be the most stony-hearted atheist on the planet but Mahalia could still sing a song that would make you cry.  As a certain line from a film put it, a man ain't no man if he don't cry when Mahalia sings.  If you want to make "great art" and happen to be a Christian the first thing you should do is love God and the immediate outworking of that should be to love your neighbor as yourself.  Perhaps many of the problems in evangelicals in America failing to make great art, however we define it, is that they grasp that loving God part, and they may get that we should love our neighbor as ourselves ...

but when it comes to loving the neighbor, well, we love ourselves so much we don't have to worry that there might be a difference between loving ourselves and loving our neighbor as ourselves in a way that involves getting to know who that neighbor is.  We're too busy hypothesizing and pontificating about what we think our legacy should be to do any of the work of making one, let alone trusting that since our legacy is in Christ we have the freedom to work as though our legacy, if it even exists, simply doesn't matter. If Christ is reconciling all things to Himself then this means that both "good" and "bad" art are being reconciled to Him, too. Jesus warned that the last shall be first and the first shall be last.  The workers in the vineyard who came at the end were paid the same as those who worked all day.  People can praise the Lord in a style that is merely decades old as well as in chants and songs that predate the birth of the United States. 

If Christ is our legacy and we truly understand this then we are able to work within the arts that comes from the freedom of knowing we don't have to worry whether or not we're making something "great".  As the makers of Batman: the animated series joked in an episode commentary, you never actually win the Emmy by going for the Emmy, you get nominated for the stuff you just decided you wanted to do because it's what you liked.  Evangelicals in America may always stink at the arts because they're always going for the Emmy.  They're even telling us they're going for the Emmy.  They have round table discussions with a camera aimed at them and the videos get posted on the Gospel Coalition where they talk about why so few evangelicals win Emmys or go for Emmys.  And then they wonder why so few evangelicals manage to win those Emmys.

HT to Matthew Johnson at the BHT: Tim Challies doesn't think much of Real Marriage

Tim Challies doesn't think much of the Driscolls' book Real Marriage.  The only question I could think of, given what I know of Driscoll's preaching on Song of Songs is, "Why should he think much of it?"  So much of Driscoll's preaching and teaching on marriage seems to have been anchored (or tethered) to Driscoll's sex fantasy take on Song of Songs it's no surprise that Challies can't figure out how the Driscolls ground their ideas on exegesis or an adequate comprehension of the Gospel. 

Challies' mainly negative assessment of the book overall is interesting more for Challies' connection to the Reformed and neo-Reformed circles than some other reviews.  The reviews that have come down the pike so far have tended to be fawning or scathing and for the least surprising of all reasons.  People are either already on the Driscoll train as a purveyor of Jesus or they loathe him because they think of him as an idiot, a homophobe, a misogynist, and other things. 

I've written at some length on the problems inherent in the John MacArthur critique of Driscoll here. MacArthur ultimately holds to the same sexual-love-only way of reading the text that Driscoll does.  It's sort of like the old joke attributed to a comedian where the punch line is "We've already established what you are and now we're just negotiating a price." That Puritans cheerfully affirmed an allegorical/typological reading of the eroticism in Song of Songs is by now so easily established people like Driscoll and MacArthur who blanche at the application of erotic imagery to Christian reflection on God's love have tipped off that they are not, to borrow some phrases I picked up from Michael Spenser, "truly Reformed". 

Carl Trueman has only recently set his sights on the gimmicky ways in which pastors like Ed Young Jr. and Mark Driscoll have employed sex as a preaching topic.  Trueman is late to the party and it remains to be seen whether his contribution will constitute a corrective on the exegetical problems of Driscoll transforming Song of Songs into a book about wifely strip teases and holy blow jobs. 

I only had occasion to read the foreward and chapter of it myself.  I don't anticipate myself being on the fast track to marriage and if I were going to marry I don't now see a reason to take the Driscolls very seriously on that subject.  I already knew Mark and Grace had fornicated with each other prior to marriage.  The revelation that Mark Driscoll made sex and marriage gods was about as shocking a discovery to me as that Batman uses batarangs or that Spiderman has web-shooters and that one of his enemies is Doctor Octopus. 

But the stuff about how Grace was sexually abused and that she didn't trust Mark enough to tell him this years into the marriage or that she'd cheated on him back when they were dating in the early years and in high school was, I admit, a surprise.  The surprise is how these two people could have pontificated about how Christian marriage ought to look betweeen 1997-2007 while the kinds of problems that they recount in Real Marriage were such significant issues for them. I had my suspicions that there was a lot of "Do as I say the Bible says, not as we've actually done in our marriage." coming from Mark and Grace Driscoll but the opening material of their new book shows that the nature of this gap was more epic than even I thought possible.

The level of mistrust and resentment described by Mark and Grace about their marriage left me thinking something besides, "Wow, what great advice from godly people this book will have." What I ended up thinking was, "Maybe lifelong celibacy isn't really that bad a deal."  All these years Mark Driscoll has been screaming at guys to grow up, get jobs, get married, and make babies he was resenting his wife for not putting out enough in the bedroom while being unaware of her history with sexual abuse because she didn't trust him enough to tell her?  If she'd mentioned she wasn't completely faithful in the early dating years he wouldn't have married her?  He had sex with other women before he married Grace, right?  By the measure of Christian sexual conduct doesn't this mean Driscoll didn't quite have a leg to stand on there?  Cheating being a deal breaker I can get but Driscoll by his own account shares that neither her nor Grace were living up to the Christian ethical teaching on sex.  As Fearsome put it, there are Christians who say all sin equally separates us from God until adultery comes up and then all bets are off. 

I've seen unbelievers review the new book and they have remarked that from where they stand it sounds like Mark and Grace had a great sex life until they took their Christian faith seriously, began to abstain, and then began to dread and resent each other. The unbeliever reasons from this that the problem in their marriage wasn't that they had unresolved tension over stuff Grace neglected to mention after years of marriage so much as that their attempt to retroactively shoehorn their practice into a Christian mold made the miserable.

Cessationists will have a field day with all these dreams Mark says he has had revealing secret things to him.  They will camp out on pornographic divination again, I guess.  Unbelievers will suggest this is a form of emotional and relational manipulation.  Cessationists, unbelievers, and egalitarians will look at Mark's casual reference to divinely given dreams and visions of sexual sin and suggest the man is completely insane.  They will likely also suggest that Grace is as bad as Mark.  One reviewer had an on-line conversation that charitably said that the practical advice the Driscolls offer is actually pretty good so long as you ignore all the things they say you have to believe to implement that advice. 

And here's the thing, I do appreciate the Driscolls have stayed together through thick and thin and have made their marriage work despite Driscoll's possible sex addict/marriage worship issues and Grace's experience with sexual abuse.  It can't be easy to have been a victim of sexual abuse and then end up getting married to a bullying sex worshipper of the sort Mark Driscoll says he was.  The anecdote where Grace got a short haircut Mark didn't approve of seems sad to me.  I'm an unmarried man, I've never even been on what I would call a date but it seems to me that if a man loves and is physically attracted to a woman it won't be contingent on something as pedantic as how long her hair is. If a woman is altogether beautiful to a man she'll potentially be altogether beautiful whether she has hair or not.  Physical beauty fades, time and gravity inevitably defeat us all. 

Years ago when I was still at Mars Hill I pointed out in a provocative episode that there is actually nowhere in the Bible where mutual sexual attraction is prescribed or given as a precondition to be met in order to make a marriage work.  Driscoll disagreed.  He said it was a necessary thing.  Okay, fine, so I'm the never married guy who's never been on a date but didn't C. S. Lewis point out in The Four Loves that all kinds of people were brokered into arranged marriages who didn't have sparks flying on the wedding night who, despite all that, still had sex and children? Lewis' point was to contrast the modern era's obsession with eros with the practice of previous cultures in which if you had the mutual twitterpation thing that was fine but that no relationship would last solely on that. 

The part that Challies says is the strongest point for the Driscolls' book on marriage is the discussion of friendship.  It is here that I would suggest a potential problem lurking under the alleged strong point of the book.  If you actually pay attention to Driscoll's discussion of friendship over the last decade what would lead you to believe he actually understands what friendship is?  Driscoll used to say that he and Grace had sex before marriage and that caused problems later on.  Well, by now it's become clear that there were huge problems that were not necessarily "caused" by fornication but for which fornication could be seen as a symptom.  Mark and Grace, to go by what they share in the first chapter, took the physical/sexual shortcut to compensate for a lack of emotional and spiritual and intellectual intimacy in their relationship.  This would explain why over the last fourteen years they have had no advice to the unmarried other than "Don't have sex" without providing much by way practical observations. 

Pertinent to friendship, how would Mark or Grace Driscoll know from friendship?  How many friends does Mark Driscoll have?  I don't mean "good friend" in the sense that Mark Driscoll normally uses that phrase in public, someone who wrote a book he is promoting or who has endorsed something he has published or who has invested in some project he's getting behind.  I'm not married (which in Mars Hillian parlance might mean I don't know "anything" about "relationships") but it would appear that if the foundation of a marriage is friendship in marriage then friendship becomes a paramount consideration.  How many friends does Mark have?  Last year he discussed the numbered rankings of 0 through +10 friendship with his wife as +10.  Anyone wonder if that doesn't telegraph a problem?  If Mark Driscoll is going to tell us now in 2012 that he used to make a god of sex and marriage with the implicit claim that he's over that what's with the spouse having +10 friendship and no one else? 

Let me put it another way, there are people Mark Driscoll has publicly described as "a good friend" over the years.  Has Mark Driscoll said even ten words to Lief Moi in the last four years?  Has Mark Driscoll spent time with Mike Gunn, the other co-founding pastor of Mars Hill, in a setting that was social and not in any way connected to the business of running churches?  Well, maybe but I don't know whether Mark has said five words to either of the co-founding pastors he used to refer to as friends.  Mark once said of Wendy over at Practical Theology for Women that she was "a good friend". Wendy is a wonderful sister in Christ and is pretty cool. In fact we're both members of the same Presbyterian church so I'm not just blowing smoke here.  I wouldn't say we're friends but we're fond acquaintences.

Yet this gets at my concern about Mark and "good friend". He could describe Mahaney as "good friend" and that would just mean he's promoted Mahaney's book on humility or had the man speak at Mars Hill.  It's not entirely clear to me now that C. J. Mahaney is the kind of person who could meaningfully instruct Mark Driscoll on humility. If Driscoll has seemed unconvincing on humility he can seem even less convincing about friendship.

The cessationist/continuationist debate where Driscoll is concerned is not going to go away.  Mark Driscoll keeps saying things that will force the subject back to the surface even if reviewers like Tim Challies deliberately skip that subject.  Unlike cessationists (whose exegesis I find wanting) I think that there are more prosaic explanations of Mark Driscoll's "I see things" claim than spiritual super-powers or "pornographic divination".  Driscoll's obsession with sex and marriage as some kind of divinely mandated sacrament (he has continually told us how God told him to marry Grace, after all) bleeds out into his assessment of all other subjects.  It's not difficult to dig up the problems of the recovered memory therapy trend from the 1980s and see that when Mark Driscoll "sees things" he's seeing things which can be understood in terms of a script, the script being past sexual sin or trauma explains everything that is going wrong in a Christian's life today.  It's not surprising this script has an emotional arc Mark Driscoll finds compelling because it is the script of how he and Grace slogged through years of unhappiness about sex in their marriage. 

The thing is that not all problematic relationships and family dynamics or church member situations spring from some sexual problem.  Sometimes problems emerge because some people want control and feel that the autonomy of others infringes on the feeling of security that comes from feeling in control.  I used to suggest the problem with the courtship fad at Mars Hill was that this could only appeal to control freak dads who wanted pre-emptive or retroactive veto power on the boys their daughters were already taking a liking to.  It's not just in marriage in which most conflicts come down to trust in a relationship.  Parent/child relationships break down if the parent and child default to mistrust and a need for self-defense and self-justification.  Weakness can't be tolerated if weakness means, well, that one is seen to be weak in some way. 

Friendships founder if one person feels like he or she is being used by someone they considered a friend.  I remember a friend of mine being upset the day he figured out that another friend of mine invited him to stuff and socialized with him until things didn't work out with a woman.  He was upset because he felt like this friend of mine was only hanging out with him because he might have been a useful chess piece in getting in better with the woman.  People don't mind mutually beneficial relationships and people tend to mind being used. 

Sometimes I wonder if the reason Mark Driscoll took so many years to figure out how to get friendship in marriage with Grace to work could be because he does not get friendship very well and had a steeper learning curve figuring out what friendship is.  Friendship is not always about you getting to decide who you spend time with but who you sacrifice your time, attention and money for.  That Mark can frame his wife/the wife as the +10 friendship seems sad to me because it defaults to an understanding of friendship in which a man doesn't have a +10 friendship unless he meets a woman who will let him put his penis in her on a regular basis.  That's +10 friendship?  Nothing else qualifies?

If it be said by Driscoll fans at this point that I need to pay attention to what Driscoll is really saying and getting at I reply that I have heard about a decade of Mark Driscoll sermons and used to be a member at that church and have heard him on many subjects.  I have been paying attention to what Mark Driscoll has been really saying over the last decade.  It's become my turn to say that if you pay attention to what he's really saying you'll notice that what he's really saying about friendship sounds ... kind of weird. What about pastoral homilies on how friendship was elevated by ancient cultures as a relationship that is not bounded by some social or biological imperative?  You can't choose your family and your hormones were your hormones but who you chose to spend time with was still in your power. 

I submit to Driscoll fans that friendship has actually been one of his weakest points as a pastor (besides his habitual ability to completely butcher Hebrew poetry when he's not ignoring it altogether (seriously, 15 years of preaching and no Psalms?)) and that if the strong point in a Driscoll book about marriage is its emphasis on friendship it's not entirely shocking to me that Tim Challies would say that at the end of the book being read twice he can't really commend it strongly to anyone.  If the strongest part of the book is about friendship and friendship turns out to be something Mark Driscoll doesn't understand that well then even the strong point may simply reveal a weakness. 

Survey Mark Driscoll's sermons over the last fifteen years and ask yourself how many sermons on friendship he has preached compared to how many sermons he has preached about sex and marriage.  Don't count the sermons in which friendship in marriage is discussed because there's the old axiom that men and women can't really be friends because there's always sex involved at some point.  That means "friendship" in marriage can't be considered a discussion of other kinds of friendship.  ;-)  +10 friendship that involves producing orgasms and children must be off the table.  Now, consider how many sermons Mark has preached on +1 through +9 friendship in contrast to +10 friendship.  The pattern doesn't take long to observe. 

To go by comments made to Challies by Driscoll fans it looks like the fanboys are circling the wagons in the usual way.  It's another case of Driscoll apologism bingo per "Are Women Human?".  Even after Mark Driscoll has admitted he made a god of sex he has to be defend as speaking up against problems in heathen Seattle.  The mere thought that Driscoll's attempts to correct a problem paradoxically reveal it to be a problem he shares with the culture around him can't be on the table because if it were Driscoll fans might be forced to concede the possibility that at some level Mark has been a hypocrite for roughly seven to ten years of his ministry.  Newsflash, Mark has been saying he was a hypocrite on those issues for years, in case you weren't paying attention.  I paid attention long enough to realize that if I wanted advice on marriage and dating I'd have to look elsewhere.  I'm happy they're still married but it has become somewhat clearer how and why Mark and Grace don't have any practical advice for Christians who have exercised a modicum of self-restraint in dating or who may be in a path where dating is not even a serious consideration.

What I find curious is that Mark writes in Real Marriage as though there were no one who could speak into his life about anything.  Really?  No one? The counselors were all in marriages as messed up as Mark's, we're told, or they were in sin.  Did Mark ever stop to consider that God uses sinners despite theri sin?  If Mark can only get advice from someone perfect what would happen if he asked Mars Hill members to use the same criteria in receiving counsel from him that he took toward others?  If Mark had made a god of sex couldn't that vitiate all his preaching about Song of Songs?  How could he scream at single guys for fornicating if he'd made a god of sex himself?  What difference does it make if one happens to be married if one's pressuring the wife for sex the way an unmarried man pressures his girlfriend to put out?  Would Mark have been morally superior on the subject of sex merely by virtue of being married? 

Even if I set aside the exasperating 2002-2007 courtship fad Mark Driscoll got behind the recent confessions of the Driscolls in Real Marriage should be troubling to anyone who has paid close attention.  I remember the shock single people at Mars Hill had around 2004 when Mark admitted he and Grace fornicated a lot.  How does a pastor give advice to singles on sexual purity if he was, in Driscollian parlance, banging his girl like a screen door in a stiff breeze? While Mark was regaling people in 1999 and 2002 with sermons about how sexually available the good Christian wife was supposed to be he may have been resenting his own wife for not being more sexually free.  While Driscoll was reading wifely stripteases and holy blow jobs into Song of Songs and telling men they needed to have a lot of money and a real job he got to this point by letting his wife be a financial beast of burden as he consolidated his ministry.  Driscoll fans seem unable to fully appreciate the retroactive significance of these confessions in light of Driscoll's public image. So let me quote Jesus to provide some potential points for thought.

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.  So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.  They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.

Very long P.S. 

Don't take the Gospel Coalition review seriously. The most controversial chapter has not been the chapter on wifely submission. The controversy has been mainly over "Can We ____?" so far.  The second controversy has been about the level of over-sharing in the book and things related to that and the contention by egalitarians and unbelievers that the Driscolls are insane.  If you only read within the YRR echo chamber you might be led to believe that the "real controversy" is about wifely submission but if you put down the crack pipe and read what people are saying outside the YRR echo chamber you'll quickly notice that the controversy surrounding Real Marriage isn't really about wifely submission. 

The long run controversy will be about Mark Driscoll's habitual reference to God telling him things directly and plainly that don't match up with the expectations of cessationists or even most Christians who are continuationists.  Mark seems certain God audibly instructs him to a degree that he won't take very seriously being claimed by anyone else most of the time (if ever). Claiming God gives you super-powers to discern who is sinning against you is the actually controversial statement that has been running through Mark Driscoll's public utterance and as blogging goes the second biggest controversy in blog-land after the bit about effeminate pastors was the "I see things" clip. 

The Gospel Coalition already has established that they basically promote Driscoll's books and accept whatever Mark happens to say at the time as copacetic.

Since I was actually at Mars Hill during the Doctrine series and was in a position to know that 1,000 members left over a combination of things I can't take a Gospel Coalition plug for a Driscoll book seriously.  Early 2008 was when people left for one of a few reasons:  1) they were upset about the by-laws changing and being told they had to agree with them or bail 2) they were upset that Driscoll and the other pastors, after months of stonewalling on the firings of Paul Petry and Bent Meyer admitted both men were fired over their objections to the by-laws 3) finally being told by MH leaders that an expensive building purchased in a capital campaign from 2005 was not being used and could not be used for the objectives that were publicly advertised in the capital campaign and the book Reformission Rev 4) Membership contract renewal fatigue 5) disagreements about the increasingly multi-site nature of the church overall.  No substantive changes in doctrine actually occured during 2008 at all and the pending revised doctrinal statement wasn't even on the table for elder discussion at that point. I wrote at more length but with less organization on this in the link below.

Merely because Mark Driscoll has convinced himself and others that Mars Hill lost 1,000 members at the time the Doctrine series was going on and so that meant it had to be because members didn't like the doctrinal requirements being firmer doesn't mean there's truth to the claim.  If the Driscoll's book Real Marriage has shown us anything it's that the gap between the public pontification a Driscoll makes and the behind-the-scenes reality are not always the same.  To be on the safe side assume that Driscoll will wait anywhere between four to ten years to concede that the gap between image and reality is bigger than previously advertised.