"Have you ever had to read a long back-and-forth discussion where the subject is you? It is an odd and uncomfortable feeling…"
Last Friday I wrote a blog post entitled Tim Challies Gives Accolades to Mark Driscoll in which I called into question Challies' favorable review of Mark Driscoll's latest book (pictured above).
As I pen this follow-up, that post is approaching 400 comments. There has been quite an open discussion about Challies' review of Driscoll's latest book, and it appears that it's not just the TWW faithful who are reading your comments. Here is an excerpt from Tim Challies' current post which he named When a Good Guy Writes a Bad Book.
"The other day I followed a link on Twitter and found a web site where various people were discussing something I had written. Have you ever had to read a long back-and-forth discussion where the subject is you? It is an odd and uncomfortable feeling (though, honestly, it didn’t devastate me; I felt very much like an outside observer). I had recently penned a book review and some were expressing disgust with me, telling others that I am merely a patsy, someone who is just a pawn in a greater agenda, answerable to some higher authority. Some were suggesting that I am desperately trying to curry favor with the Christian bigwigs, trying to ingratiate myself with the decision-makers."
Which website do you think he was perusing? I highly suspect it was The Wartburg Watch, though he is careful not to name it. The Calvinistas definitely don't want their followers reading over here…
In recent years the world wide web has leveled the playing field when it comes to the dissemination of information, and there's no turning back. I remember an e-mail Dee and I received last year from Sergius Martin-George in which he stated that while the posts Dee and I write are thought-provoking, what is really fascinating to him are the comments.
We totally agree!
What makes TWW somewhat unique in the blogosphere is that there are many voices represented here, even dissenting ones. We do our best to allow comments from all of our readers. It takes a lot to get your comment deleted from this blog! On the other hand, it appears that comments are deleted (or not allowed) on Calvinista blogs with some regularity. For example, JeffB, who alerted us about Tim Challies' latest post, attempted to leave a comment on Challies' blog this evening. When it failed to get posted, JeffB shared it with us under our category – "My Comment Was Deleted". (link)
“When A Good Guy Writes A Bad Book” (1/9/13)
Tried posting it about 8:15 PM on 1/9/13. Got a message that I’m not allowed to post on that thread – no doubt because sometime last year I tried several times to comment on Mahaney – haven’t tried again until now.
Comment is below:
"Mr. Challies – I will take your word for it that Driscoll’s book is solidly biblical. But does it not strike you as ironic that a book on Christian identity has been written by someone who has, over and over again, for years, publicly displayed grossly sinful behavior? He used to be called “The Cussing Pastor” – that seems almost quaint now. Have you heard his sermon on “The Song of Songs,” one of many instances of his obsession with graphic sexuality? Have you read all of his childishly macho statements, such as, “I wouldn’t respect Jesus if I could beat him up?” Do you know that on Facebook he solicited, for his own amusement, stories about effeminate worship leaders? There are many more examples.
His pattern is to apparently repent of his behavior, and then, after a short while, continue it. I’m sorry, but I think you do new and young believers a disservice by not mentioning these things in a review of a book on Christian identity. (“Who Do You Think You Are?” would be an appropriate question for Driscoll.) From what I read, most of his “fans” are young people, so they know about him already. Do you think they might be confused that so many mature believers treat him with kid gloves? I think that anything less than outrage would qualify as that treatment.
If the book is solid, then the best that could be said about him is that he’s a hypocrite – “Do as I say, not as I do.” I think that, in Driscoll’s case, criticism of his public life is legitimate in a review of one of his books, particularly one about this subject."
Surprisingly, a negative comment did get through on Tim Challies' website a little while ago. Francis Chanti had this to say:
"Gee Tim, I couldn't disagree more about your Driscoll logic. So here I am a new believer, or maybe a non-believer, and you've convinced me to read Mark's latest. And the scales fall from my eyes, and I see Christ in an entirely new way, and my heart savors to learn more.That's great, right? Maybe not. Maybe I'm so helped by Mark's book, that I seek out more of his teachings, and being young in the faith, or a seeking unbeliever, I drink his Kool Aid believing that he represents core Christian belief.
Just how does your review misguide a new believer… If I put Mark's book in the hands of a seeker, I'd feel culpable for the outcome. When there are so many better ways to bring someone to faith, why take Mark out of context and present him as a mature Christian?"
We will definitely be checking back to see whether it was deleted.
Over on Amazon, Stephanie Drury wrote a detailed one-star review in response to Driscoll's book Who Do You Think You Are? which she cleverly called:
Mark Driscoll is to biblical wisdom as Richard Simmons is to cage fighting (link)
"When I got an email from Thomas Nelson asking if I'd like an advance copy of Mark Driscoll's new book, I malfunctioned for a second and then deleted the message. Within a day or two I skulked back to my trash folder and sent them my address, knowing that if I read the book I'd have to write this review. Just know from the outset that words basically fail. Starting with the fact that I was sent a copy of anything by Mark Driscoll to review, I can hardly begin to explain my feelings about this book. But don't worry, I'll try!
Once I got past the denial stage of having a Driscoll book in my home and moved into the acceptance stage of reading it and writing this, I knew my involvement with the Seattle therapeutic community would inform the way I read him. I meet a lot of people who have significant spiritual and emotional wounding, and I've gotten to hear the stories of many people who have been involved at Mark Driscoll's church here in Seattle (Mars Hill). The stories out of there cause me so much concern. What I hear about gender roles and authoritarianism manages to surprise me and make me cry even after six years of hearing them on a fairly regular basis. (For more information and actual accounts of people who have been at Mars Hill Church, search these articles as Amazon reviews won't let me use URLs: "Jesus Needs New PR Mark Drisoll's church discipline contract," "Mark Driscoll's gospel shame: the truth about discipline, excommunication and cult-like control at Mars Hill," and visit Joyful Exiles dot com, and Mars Hill Refuge dot com.) It's not a secret that I feel Driscoll's teachings and his increasing popularity are a powerfully destructive epidemic in western evangelicalism. Having said all that, the writings of Mark Driscoll delight me in the way Tommy Wiseau's movie "The Room" delights me, which is the same way GWB's "Fool me once, shame on you" quote delights me, which is the same way the Miss Teen America contestant talking about maps and "the Iraq" delights me. Getting into the book I actually started to cheer up. When Driscoll reassures us "It's not a sin to purchase items or even to appreciate or enjoy them" (p. 8) and says "Ghandi…enjoyed having underage, nude, teenage girls share his bed" (p. 16), I defy you to bounce giddily in your seat.
We don't need another book like this. This book has been written thirty hundred times and is surely going to sell like crazy so, you know, why not. CHA-CHING THOMAS NELSON GET AFTER THAT GLORY TO GOD. It follows the typical premise of instructional Christian books: a pop culture analogy for a spiritual hunger/defect, numbered sections of steps to take and handy anagrams ("To help you understand idols, think of them in terms of Items, Duties, Others, Longings and Sufferings," p. 7), using the words "you should" on almost every page, and rushed transitions that make you stop and ask "did he really just say that?" Some of these nuggets include: "One popular Christian counseling book says, 'In a pinch you could do all your counseling from Ephesians'" (p. 19), "Paul's timeless words on reconciliation are as timely as ever" (p. 86), and "Rather than dating, relating and fornicating, you could be praying, serving and worshipping" (p. 194).
My biggest problem with this book may be the oversimplification of human identity. On page 18 Driscoll says "My goal is to take one massive need in your life, your need for identity, and connect it to one book of the Bible, Ephesians." Okay, I guess you could do that, but what is the benefit? To take one book of the Bible and attempt to derive something as core as an identity from it seems like a recipe for a primordial crisis. The stories of people I meet that were raised to derive their identity from the Bible in this way while leaving no avenues open for exploration, possibility or mystery tell me this is an incredibly dangerous approach to take. And Driscoll's not even talking about basing your personal identity on the premise that the entire Bible is inerrant, he's talking about ONE BOOK. My spidey sense is tingling.
On p. 52 he says "Why does God bless us?" and says Paul wrote that God's blessing is "to the praise and glory of his grace." Well, okay, but where is love? Where is space for that? Where is space for questioning and doubting? Where is attribution to mystery and the great unknown? I didn't find any of that in this book.
Driscoll has clearly been advised by his publicist to take his image in a new direction and has kept his thoughts on gender roles quiet for the most part. He says his usual stuff about loving your future spouse before you meet them, which he doesn't seem to view as unrelational or idolatrous. This is the kind of stuff that Mars Hill Church teaches that seems like it could have some merit, a good side to it, could possibly be a good point, and that veneer of goodness is what clouds the underlying aspects that cause people to deny their intuition and invalidate other ways G-d could speak to them.
He saves his Satan talk for the last chapter in which he says "Satan's goal is for you to take the bait without seeing the hook. Once the hook is in your mouth, he'll reel you in to take you as his captive" (p. 222) which is especially eerie for me in context of those I've known who have been involved at Mars Hill Church and have left. The good things on the surface drew them in. The shame and vying for absolution kept them there. But if Jesus said his yoke is easy and you are toiling under what you are being taught, is it possible something is wrong? If you are not allowed to bring your questions to your faith community, is it even a community of faith?
One frustrating thing about these kinds of nominally Christian publications is that the regurgitation of Things To Do cancels out so much possibility, makes the unspeakably complex so simplistic, and speaks with authority on subjects no one can have mastery of. The beautiful Story isn't handled with due reverence or curiosity, but with a posture of mastery and absolutism. And as I write this on the first Sunday of Epiphany it puts me in mind of the Magi with whom Epiphany begins, who were wandering and seeking that which they'd only inferred from the sky. How mystical is that? Why isn't such mystery given a place in evangelical Christian culture?
On p. 48 he says "Paul taught that God has chosen and predestined you to receive his love, enjoy his grace, and be his friend forever." He goes on to say "The doctrine of predestination can understandably bring to mind a host of questions. Why does God save some people and not others? Is God unfair and unloving to save some people and not others? Is there no hope of salvation for those who are not chosen by God? Sadly, the hard questions are often debated more than the divine truth of predestination is celebrated." Oh, there's that validation of doubt I was asking about. It's dismissed with a "Sadly,…" and shamed for not celebrating something Driscoll calls "divine truth of predestination." Nowhere in the text is the word predestination used and especially isn't called "divine truth." How dare YOU, sir."
There is a growing chorus of voices on the internet questioning whether Mark Driscoll is qualified to minister and author theological tomes. It's not just your glam blog queens who are questioning the endorsement of Driscoll's writings. We seem to remember that John MacArthur publicly expressed his problem with Driscoll, and that was before the Song of Songs debacle…
In case you didn't notice, the tiny print under Mark Driscoll's name atop the book states:
"Author of the New York Times #1 Bestseller Real Marriage"
Looks like a year after its release, Real Marriage may capture the attention of those who choose to read Who Do You Think You Are?
Keep those comments coming because the Calvinistas appear to be reading them…
Lydia's Corner: Numbers 26:1-51 Luke 2:36-52 Psalm 60:1-12 Proverbs 11:15