Saturday, May 09, 2015

a biblical precedent for God releasing someone from a divinely appointed role of service to God's people, 1 Samuel 15 and the rejection of Saul from kingship

Recently Mark Driscoll indicated that God audibly told him and Grace Driscoll they were released from ministry at Mars Hill.  Even if we set aside Mark Driscoll's own 2014 warning against taking any claims to a divine commission at face value, previously quoted and discussed here:

There's still another difficulty that can't be evaded by the Driscolls on the subject of what kind of precedent there is from the biblical texts for God giving someone a role and then saying the person or people are released from it.
The simplest and clearest example of God having appointed someone and released someone from a role leading God's people would be King Saul.  Saul was willing to accept credit for victories won by his son Jonathan but not to truly do what God commanded him to do.  Saul was in many ways still a better king than David and probably a much better father.  But in the Samuel narrative the distinction between David and Saul could be seen as follows:

1 Samuel 15:10-26 NIV
12 Early in the morning Samuel got up and went to meet Saul, but he was told, “Saul has gone to Carmel. There he has set up a monument in his own honor and has turned and gone on down to Gilgal.”
13 When Samuel reached him, Saul said, “The Lord bless you! I have carried out the Lord’s instructions.”
14 But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?”
15 Saul answered, “The soldiers brought them from the Amalekites; they spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the Lord your God, but we totally destroyed the rest.”
16 “Enough!” Samuel said to Saul. “Let me tell you what the Lord said to me last night.”
“Tell me,” Saul replied.
17 Samuel said, “Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel. 18 And he sent you on a mission, saying, ‘Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; wage war against them until you have wiped them out.’ 19 Why did you not obey the Lord? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the Lord?”
20 “But I did obey the Lord,” Saul said. “I went on the mission the Lord assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king. 21 The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the Lord your God at Gilgal.”
22 But Samuel replied:

“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
    as much as in obeying the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
    and to heed is better than the fat of rams.

For rebellion is like the sin of divination,
    and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
    he has rejected you as king.”

24 Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned. I violated the Lord’s command and your instructions. I was afraid of the men and so I gave in to them. 25 Now I beg you, forgive my sin and come back with me, so that I may worship the Lord.”
26 But Samuel said to him, “I will not go back with you. You have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you as king over Israel!”

Saul used kingship to his benefit rather than to serve the people.  In Jacob Wright's book on David in Judahite memory he points out that the beginning of the disastrous downward spiral for David began when he pursued a war not for the military benefit of Israel but for his own reputation and glory and Wenatchee The Hatchet's willing to piggyback on that observation to point out that when Nathan confronted David it was not merely about the Bathsheba incident but what had become David's attitude about power and entitlement that led to that particular moment with all the others.  Evangelicals tend to read David's sin as sexual immorality (and that's in there, too) but the sharp end of Nathan's criticism of David was ultimately his self-serving abuse of royal power and privilege. 

So even if for the sake of conversation it's granted a voice audibly indicated to the Driscolls they're released from ministry that's still not necessarily a good sign about a basis from which to relaunch a new ministry.  How can we be sure that the release from the last ministry couldn't have been because the Driscolls have rendered themselves unfit to serve in ministry in the wake of the years of the plagiarism and Result Source controversies?  If Mark Driscoll has turned out to be guilty of a domineering and self-serving leadership approach couldn't this be construed as Driscoll, at length, having revealed that as the "king" (i.e. one time legal president) of Mars Hill he behaved less like a David and more like a Saul?

1 comment:

Benjamin Ady said...

Wenatchee--it's such a pleasure having someone write so clearheadedly and dispassionately about the whole thing. Thank you so much for your blog!