Sunday, October 27, 2013

Mark Driscoll invites John MacArthur to meet in 2013 vs Driscoll refusing to meet with MacArthur in 2009 at MacArthur's initiative

First off, let's lead with a statement Mark Driscoll made in 2006

Confessions of a Reformission Rev
Mark Driscoll, Zondervan 2006

page 190
Why is no one speaking in tongues during the church service?The issue of tongues is very controversial. and divisive in many churches, and thankfully it has never been so at Mars Hill. The elders do not believe the gift of tongues has ceased but believe tht it is often not done in a biblical way. Mars Hill has leaders and members who speak in tongues, as well as leaders and members who do not. What Paul does forbid regarding tongues, however, is speaking in tongues out loud during a church service because visitors and non-Christians will not know what is being said, will think we are nutjobs, and would be better served by convicting Bible teaching so they can get saved (1 Cor 14:12-25)
It's important to establish as deep background for the current situation that Mark Driscoll himself said that nobody speaks in tongues out loud in services at Mars Hill because it is considered an unbiblical use of tongues.  This means that MacArthur's polemic against charismatic/continuationist teaching and church practice is all but irrelevant to how an actual Mars Hill Church service probably still operates.  Whether or not Driscoll can be said to have properly or adequately exegeted 1 Corinthians 14 is interesting but currently irrelevant.

So just a couple of days ago Mark Driscoll made a very public invitation to one John MacArthur
That's the Christian Post link for you there.
.. As a Bible preacher, I rejoice in that. I actually considered attending your school myself after I finished my undergraduate work, but I was newly married and could not afford any seminary at the time. [
As Bible teachers, we both know that people often arrive at the wrong conclusion when they extract a line out of an ongoing discussion, ignoring the context, and then wrongly impugn someone’s character. I am guessing the security team and pastoral team were not entirely rowing in the same direction, and that security thought they were just doing their job.

Mistakes happen. I understand. And since no one owes me anything, I am grateful I got to hang out for a bit and meet some of the pastoral staff and your son. I would’ve been glad to have met you as well.

Maybe that can still happen?
At this point, I believe what would honor Jesus is for us to sit down and talk. So, I am formally inviting you to Seattle to join me on stage for our national Resurgence Conference on November 5–6.
I will pay for your travel. I will give an honorarium to you or any ministry you choose. And, I will cover the travel costs of any of your pastoral staff you’d like join us, as I would actually like to see them again.

Originally, I was going to have a company live stream our conference online for people who paid an access fee, but I recently tore up that contract. We’re now going to show the conference free online for the world in an effort to open up our important discussion to as many people as possible. I would also post our discussion in its entirely—without any editing—for free online.

I am working as an unpaid volunteer for this event, and I believe the loss of live stream revenue is worth it for an investment in the Kingdom. I assure you, I will be very kind and gracious and respectful. Ours will be a dialogue on very important issues, and I pray by the Spirit’s power we can model some graciousness and clarify terms while striving to state what we believe to be biblical truth.
I believe this could be a very profitable discussion—especially for young leaders who will be tuning in to learn as we model how to handle disagreement. In our day when online misquoting and Internet flame throwing hinder real progress, I truly believe we have a great opportunity to model a different way of dealing with important issues for God’s glory.

So now there's a public invitation of an all expenses paid visit from Mark Driscoll to John MacArthur.  As usual Driscoll talks about how single lines taken out of context can be used to impugn someone's character.  But the thing about John MacArthur and Mark Driscoll is that the breach between Mark Driscoll and John MacArthur has been close to a decade in forming and when the shoe was on the other foot MacArthur has already publicly informed us that when it was his idea to get in touch with Driscoll to talk about disagreements Mark Driscoll had no interest.

There's nothing about MacArthur's criticism of the November 18, 2007 sermon in Scotland from Song of Songs that seemed to take any lines or even entire sermons of Mark Driscoll out of context.  In fact Mark Driscoll mentioned somewhere or other that in light of criticisms of the sermon it seemed wise to take the sermon down.  But let's let MacArthur speak for himself a bit.
April 17, 2009

7. Why did you single out Driscoll and connect him with the "sex challenges"? Why call him out publicly? He has already repented of his unguarded speech, and he is being privately discipled by men like John Piper and C. J. Mahaney, who keep him accountable. Did you consult them before calling Driscoll out by name? If the problem is as serious as you claim, why haven't they said something publicly about it?

In the sermon that prompted this series, Mark Driscoll (speaking specifically to wives in the congregation) made several comments that were far, far worse than the seamiest sex challenges. Furthermore, Driscoll's edicts to married women were not mere "challenges" but directives buttressed with the claim that "Jesus Christ commands you to do [this]." That material has been online and freely circulated for more than a year. But you’ll be hard pressed to find even a single Web forum where anyone has demanded that Driscoll explain why he feels free to say such things publicly.
Nevertheless, I have written Mark privately with my concerns. He rejected my counsel. As a matter of fact, he preached the sermon I have been quoting from seven weeks after receiving my private letter encouraging him to take seriously the standard of holiness Scripture holds pastors to. Here is a small selection from the six-page letter I sent him ... [emphasis added]

So MacArthur has explained that he wrote to Mark Driscoll regarding some concerns and that, it seems on a plain reading, that Mark Driscoll preached the November 18, 2007 Scotland sermon on Song of Songs seven weeks AFTER receiving MacArthur's letter.  Not only did Driscoll not have any interest in responding to MacArthur in 2007 he preached one of his racier sermons just a couple of months after getting the letter. 

Currently Mars Hill has thrown down the gauntlet to Sound Transit over real estate Sound Transit has already bought that Mars Hill would like to use to, among other things, start a Bible college and to relocate its central headquarters.  Mark Driscoll also has a new book out that includes him musing on how he keeps taking potshots for things people assume he said that he didn't say or that were taken out of context.

MacArthur simply isn't one of those people about whom it could be said "he took Driscoll out of context".  If a rejoinder to MacArthur's criticism were that simple why did Driscoll's team take down the Scotland sermon?  For that matter what was the reason Mars Hill excised the woodchipper anecdote from "The Man" after Wendy Alsup quoted from it in her review of Real Marriage in early 2012?  Precisely what was Driscoll referring to in the "Fathers and Fighting" sermon if not to elders?

Chris Rosebrough broadcast an audio clip of Mark Driscoll talking about "a pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus" from an Acts 29 event of some sort that was quite possibly never made publicly available. We've visited this topic earlier.  At this point there is documentable evidence that Mark Driscoll and his team have suppressed or withheld statements about some of his controversial decisions and stances in the past.  MacArthur may have ideas or views that are disagreeable to some but he has, it seems, been pretty public about what and why he dissents from Mark Driscoll's teaching and conduct. 

As we've seen this includes MacArthur's public statement that Mark Driscoll not only refused to respond to him years ago but that the Scotland sermon postdated MacArthur's private efforts to talk with Driscoll.  Mark Driscoll, for his part, opens his recent open invitation with some profession of admiration for MacArthur, mentioning that he considered going to MacArthur's seminary at one point, and saying that he's never publicly said anything bad about MacArthur despite some differences.  Well, so what?  "There's a pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus ... " wasn't broadcast to the world and that doesn't mean it was misquoted or taken out of context.  It also makes it hard to dispute the claim that Mark Driscoll is a person who will have it his way or people get thrown off and under the bus. 

The big question Driscoll has to answer at this point is why he only deigns to offer a public all-expenses paid invitation to John MacArthur NOW when MacArthur was privately contacting him years ago.  Let Driscoll's team put the November 18, 2007 Scotland sermon back online where anyone and everyone can listen to it and find out what MacArthur was even responding to and then "maybe" the new invitation will have something to it.  Until then it could be alleged by critics of Mars Hill in general and Mark Driscoll in particular that Mark Driscoll only wants to respond to or recognize MacArthur's criticisms of Driscoll's character and textual interpretation on Mark Driscoll's terms.

POSTSCRIPT: 10-28-2013

The blogger linked to above suspects the whole thing smells like a PR stunt and points out some practical reasons why the offer couldn't be accepted and that Driscoll probably already knew the offer couldn't/wouldn't be accepted.  But making the public offer is great PR and looks sincere to people who haven't been paying attention.  Even if it is sincere the blogger's case that the timing of the invitation is pretty stupid remains.


Anonymous said...

The biggest mistake MacArthur could make would be to succumb to the taunting and get sucked into a meeting with Mr. Driscoll.

Communication with a narcissist is best described as "crazy making" because narcissists are known to reinvent reality to suite their personal agenda. Leading psychiatrist Dr. Carole Lieberman, M.D. weighed in on the topic to further explain the mindset of a narcissist: "Since narcissists believe that the world revolves around them, or that it should, they think they can reinvent reality and no one should question them. Even though they know that what they're writing or saying is stretching the truth, they think that they are so clever about it that they will fool the recipient into going along with them."

The rule when dealing with a narcissist is simple but critical: no engagement. Similar to a drug addict, narcissists need to derive emotion from their victims...Communicating with a narcissist is like running on a hamster wheel. You can wear yourself out to the point of exhaustion yet you never left point A.

Brendt said...

The big question Driscoll has to answer at this point is why he only deigns to offer a public all-expenses paid invitation to John MacArthur NOW when MacArthur was privately contacting him years ago.

A couple possible answers:

1) MacArthur's contact of Driscoll happened (as you stated here) "years ago". Anyone who has been "paying attention" (again, to borrow your words) knows that Driscoll has grown. I know of no one who gets more of his past dredged up than Driscoll. To your credit, though, at least some of the stuff you dug up has absolutely nothing to do with the point, so uniqueness points there.

2) The whole SoS issue (good grief, are we still talking about that?) was a stalemate between Driscoll and MacArthur, if not of actual issues then at least about the means of expressing the disagreement. There was no middle ground to even be approached, let alone achieved. One man was going to have to completely agree with the other.

The fact that Driscoll was communicating with Piper and Mahaney seems to point to where the stalemate originated. But I digress ...

In contrast, we are told by many MacArthur supporters that the accusations of broad-brushing all continuationists is simply a misinterpretation of what he said (and given the fact that he hasn't thrown the cautious charismatics all the way under the bus, this may indeed be true). If this is indeed the case, then there is middle ground to be approached and probably achieved. In fact, it's quite possible that MacArthur is already on that middle ground, or at least a lot closer than he is perceived to be.

Anonymous said...

Brendt said: "Driscoll has grown. I know of no one who gets more of his past dredged up than Driscoll."

And yet he refuses to repent or seek reconciliation or forgiveness from those he has mistreated, abused, and thrown under his bus.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

There are plenty of people who have more of their past dredged up than Mark Driscoll. Even as a hyperbolic rhetorical ploy it's difficult to sustain the claim that Mark Driscoll has had more of his past dredged up than anyone.

Regarding your two points

1) Driscoll's grown in the sense that he's friendlier to teachers like Steven Furtick and T. D. Jakes, both of whom he considers friends. He is also more friendly in his public statements toward Joel Osteen, which is quite a bit more lenient toward Osteen than Driscoll was in 2007, let alone 2005-2006 when he simply preferred to identify Osteen as a prosperity teacher.

If that's growth it's not growth that someone like MacArthur would consider an improvement.

2. MacArthur's criticism of Driscoll's approach to Song of Songs should be seen in light of the fact that the basic interpretive approach Driscoll has taken toward the book has not changed in any significant way in sixteen years. If you compare his 2008 sermons to his 1998 sermons or the pulled 2002 sermon and what's observable from the pulled 2007 sermon the basic approach to what the text is purported to be about is the same all across the board on the general points. When Michael Spenser wrote about a "conservative reading of Song of Songs" he noted that some of these were full of practical and interesting marital advice that had pretty much nothing to do with the actual text of Song of Songs itself. Driscoll used the text as a pretext to discuss things he keeps coming back to rather than discussing the text as a text.

Both Driscoll and MacArthur actually reject, basically, the idea that Song of Songs has any real allegorical or typological layer to it. Where they differ, for instance, would be on details such as whether or not there is a "wifely striptease" in the text in which the woman's vagina is exposed. Driscoll has not wavered in that interpretation over the last fifteen years and it does not seem that MacArthur has ever found that interpretation acceptable. This does not come down to a question of poetic interpretation among poets but gets down to acceptable ranges of Hebrew terms. Anyone who actually looks at the Hebrew and scholarly work on those terms will find Driscoll's assertion that the wifely striptease features the exposing of the woman's genitals a wildly speculative reading, at best. It's even more speculative to propose that Solomon's first true love was Abishag. In the sense that Driscoll concedes this is pure speculation, yes, he's grown, but someone who claims to just teach what's in the Bible shouldn't be founding an entire sermon series through a book on the Bible on such a groundless speculation, should he?

Where MacArthur is on cessationism and where Driscoll is on Song of Songs we may be looking at two men who would rather double down on their polemics than change their minds. Neither is necessarily a "good guy". At issue with the recent invitation Driscoll has offered is whether or not it can be accepted at face value as having been made in good faith and whether or not there are reasons to doubt the good faith of the invitation in light of what MacArthur has publicly said about Driscoll's interest in responding to disagreement in the past.

Then there's the detail about MacArthur celebrating his 50th wedding anniversary during the time Driscoll suggests that MacArthur come visit. Would Driscoll throw in all expenses paid for MacArthur's wife, too? Why not?

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

Another detail regarding Song of Songs and the two men, if Mark Driscoll actually took seriously his professed love of the Puritans he'd know that Richard Baxter stated bluntly that sodomy and buggery are grounds for a wife to divorce her husband on the grounds that he is sexually depraved. That's not up for negotiation or debate. That the Puritans had no problem allegorizing Song of Songs would have them at odds with both MacArthur and Driscoll but that's another matter. The point is that you can't state that SoS was a stalemate for two reasons 1) Driscoll and MacArthur are on the same team, the "not an allegory" team and 2) Driscoll's reading of Song of Songs pretends that the navel is the vagina when this can be disproven by a variety of scholarly sources. Driscoll can simply repeat his assertion that Bible translators are all cowards while never having to demonstrate that he's ever gained even a modicum of competence in biblical Hebrew. That's not a stalemate, that's Driscoll insisting he's right without ever bothering to provide any evidence and even admitting his foundational approach to a book of the Bible begins with speculation.

There probably is a middle ground, though, but men like Driscoll and MacArthur will probably never be the sorts of people to find it. It's another reason the invitation, even if it's not a publicity stunt, is ultimately a waste of time. MacArthur has had decades to nuance his stance on charismatic pneumatology just as Driscoll has had decades to come up with a viable defense of his handling of Song of Songs. The middle ground is going to be found elsewhere by others if it's going to be found.