Mark Driscoll-SOS and Lake of Fire-Guest Post

If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair. CS Lewis



We are still visiting in lovely Enid, Oklahoma, with Wade and Rachelle Burleson. We are having a wonderful time and are grateful to be in the presence of a real pastor, not just some talking head. Last night, we got to have dinner with Debbie Kaufman, who was instrumental in exposing the lies of Ergun Caner. What a courageous woman! Tomorrow will be an intense work day as we look at our project. What a trip!

This is the last installment of our guest poster, Wenatchee the Hatchet, on Mark Driscoll. We hope this will stimulate some good discussion. We appreciate his "insider's" glance at the oddities of Driscoll's theology. As with all guest posters, TWW does not necessarily agree with everything he says. However, unlike the hyper-authoritarian types who blog, we believe in exposing all sides of an issue. Besides, WTH has thought through this subject very thoroughly. Many Christians could learn from such a Berean. Always look at the Scriptures for yourself.


When the Bridegroom mustn't be literal and the Lake of Fire must:

Driscoll sees Satan in texts that clearly and literally refer to pagan kings

By now I've pointed out the historical challenge of Driscoll (or for that matter, John MacArthur) attempting to completely sidestep any typological or allegorical reading of Song of Songs. Millennia of church tradition are difficult to ignore. If millennia of church tradition are easy to ignore there's the realization that Jamnia consented to the canonization of Song of Songs on the grounds that an allegorical reading was acceptable.

The plainest reading possible of Song of Songs on the assumption that Solomon must have written the book runs into the problem of the sixty queens and eighty concubines and virgins beyond number. If this is Solomon, really Solomon, then a "plain" reading of the text that attempts to skirt how many women "Solomon" refers to in his harem is trying to have things both ways.

Not all scholars even agree that "the Song of Songs, which is Solomon's" necessarily indicates Solomonic authorship, only possible Solomonic patronage.

Having established that Song of Songs is a book Driscoll (and John MacArthur) think should not be read typologically or allegorically it remains to be discussed where Driscoll, particularly, lands on other passages that he chooses to interpret literally that may not be as literal. For instance, if Driscoll can joke that the Song of Songs cannot be literal because he'll be bummed if Jesus is preparing to have sex with him, why has Driscoll over the years been quite a bit more literal about "Hell" even within discussion of Revelation? If the Wedding Feast of the Lamb has to be a metaphor so Driscoll doesn't suffer an end-of-time gay panic moment why would the lake of fire be literal? Why would it be "hell" if "hell" is clearly described as being thrown into the lake of fire anyway? What is the basis for reading one apocalyptic passage metaphorically while insisting that the Lake of Fire has to be literal within just the book of Revelation?

To be sure Driscoll isn't the only conservative preacher who has done this over the years but in Driscoll's case his eagerness to reject typological or allegorical reading of the groom/bride metaphor in just one book of the Bible in favor of a literal reading raises the question of how, when it comes to Revelation, he selectively literalizes Hell where the other apocalyptic imagery is allowed to remain metaphorical so Driscoll doesn't get his gay panic moment.

For that matter while Driscoll has been eager to not see Jesus in Song of Songs, why shouldn't he then refrain from embracing the plainest, most literal, and least allegorical reading of other biblical texts? If Driscoll's hermeneutic is to avoid allegorical readings where he thinks they're not warranted it would seem he chooses to NOT see Jesus in Song of Songs while seeing Satan in two passages where Satan is not actually the literal and plain referent in biblical passages. Let's pick two non-random passages historically linked to Satan Driscoll referred to in his Christus Victor presentation on spiritual warfare.

Isaiah 14 is often cited as referring to Satan when it referred to the king of Babylon. Since in context Isaiah is referring to a long-since deposed pagan ruler why would Driscoll (or MacArthur for that matter) be so eager to accept a typological or allegorical association of the Morning Star with Satan when that is not what a "plain" reading would indicate? If Jesus "can't" be in Song of Songs why is Satan the Daystar in Isaiah?

Then there is the prince of Tyre and the king of Tyre passage from Ezekiel 28, which is in the broader context of Ezekiel 26-28.

Ezekiel specifically says Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, will lay siege to Tyre for its mockery of Jerusalem. I will note here that John MacArthur notes that Ezekiel 28 was incomplete, suggesting that the king of Tyre passage refers to Satan. Well, let's discuss what that really means in military/historical terms. Ezekiel predicted that Nebuchadnezzar would lay siege to Tyre and destroy it.

Well … Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Tyre for THIRTEEN YEARS and did not actually destroy it. A compromise was established in which Tyre agreed to be a Babylonian precinct in exchange for not being completely destroyed and Babylon could turn its attention to Egypt. The reason, skeptics may easily proffer, that the king of Tyre passage in Ezekiel 28 "has" to be interpreted by Christians as finding typological fulfillment in the final defeat of Satan is because Christians can't concede that a prophecy in the Bible made by Ezekiel regarding Nebuchadnezzar destroying Tyre could not have been fulfilled as written.

But this is where we get to the question of how the apocalyptic idiom, which for all intents and purposes Ezekiel started, should even be read. Even skeptical scholars and rationalist students of the Bible note that Ezekiel kept everything he wrote as it was even in cases where it would seem that doing so would have given people written evidence that Ezekiel was a false prophet and provided a basis for his being put to death!

Now another thing to consider is that at this point Ezekiel was prophesying in a completely post-exilic setting. In other words, even if the prophet Ezekiel made predictions in the name of God regarding events that failed to take place in his lifetime there was no covenanted people of God in a form organized enough to implement Deuteronomy 16-18 and those passages regarded how to approach prophets within a pre-exilic community anyway.

All that to say this, a preacher like Driscoll who simply affirms that Ezekiel 28 refers to Satan has not bothered to engage with what Ezekiel was really writing about in his own lifetime, let alone how the typological introduction of Satan as the ultimate referent point for the "king of Tyre" prophecy constitutes an apologetics question. MacArthur does at least grant the issue comes up since the king of Tyre was not actually destroyed in the manner described by Ezekiel.

However, merely to suggest that the king of Tyre had to be Satan because the king of Tyre wasn't in Eden is to miss how hyperbolic apocalyptic language is. David's account of God's rescue in Psalm 18 is far more flamboyant than the much more prosaic account in Samuel of the troubles God actually delivered David from.

Preachers like Driscoll and MacArthur can say that Isaiah 14's reference to the king of Babylon and Ezekiel 28's reference to the king of Tyre refer to Satan. There's just a problem of exegesis involved. The problem is that the Babylonian king whose fall is anticipated by Isaiah 14 is the same king who will be the cause of the fall of the king of Tyre in Ezekiel 28.

Now, sure, we can say that typologically there's reference to Satan and typology can account for a lot. But if that's the case then why COULDN'T Christ be the bridegroom in Song of Songs if conservative preachers who reject an allegorical or typological reference to Christ in Song of Songs insist on a typological reading of Satan into both Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 when the context of both prophetic passages forces us to say that one "Satan" is prophesied to destroy the other "Satan"?

In Driscoll's spiritual warfare presentation he affirms without the slightest hesitation that Ezekiel 28:14 refers to Satan. But if Ezekiel 28 refers to Satan what about Ezekiel 26-28 as a whole, which is obviously referring to Tyre? Why does a snippet of Ezekiel 28 get to refer to Satan while Christ can't possibly be referenced in a Christian's reading of Song of Songs?

Well, the history as to how and why Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14 came to be read as referring to Satan is rather lengthy and historian Jeffrey Burton Russell published no less than five books on the history of Christian and Jewish thought about the Devil (all of which are very useful references and are considered standards on the subject). The shortest practical answer for the present discussion is to say that a great deal of the ideas associated with the devil/Satan and demons developed not within the actual canonical books themselves but in intertestamental literature. This is a subject which Catholic and Eastern Orthodox scholars are a bit more familiar with, and Christians in more "mainline" settings.

Now the reason I bring all of this up is to point out that when a preacher like Driscoll (or MacArthur) rejects an allegorical approach to Song of Songs on the grounds that that is not the "plain" reading of the text here's a question you can ask them, if that's true, why should people trust that their take on Isaiah 14 or Ezekiel 28 is "really" referring to Satan when that is not the "plain" reading of the text?

If you should avoid allegorical readings of biblical texts because, as MacArthur said in his response to Driscoll, that opens up all sorts of room for huge mistakes, why would both Driscoll and MacArthur stick to a view of Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 that developed within the medieval period, when it would seem that those pesky Papists were super-imposing their ideas on to the Bible. Don't people get sent to Hell for imposing their own ideas on the Bible? Well, if that's the case couldn't it be said that those who claim Satan is being referred to in Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 have sent themselves to Hell for claiming God's word talks about Satan when a literal and plain reading doesn't establish that? 

Satan is referred to in the book of Job, where he proposes a bet that God accepts. Satan is also referred to as accusing the high priest in Zechariah 3. Satan is described as inciting David to take a census near the end of his reign in 1 Chronicles 21 while 2 Samuel 24 tells us that God Himself was the one who incited David to take a census of Israel because the Lord was angry with His people.

Considering all of these issues if Driscoll thinks Song of Songs can't possibly refer to Jesus under any reading then he's welcome to take that approach. But it would help if he could then also explain how, by the praxis of rejecting all allegorical reading of Jesus on to Song of Songs, he has so simply contented himself to accepting that Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 refer to Satan when that isn't a plain reading of a biblical text in either case. How does "Satan" cast out "Satan"?

After all, Jesus said that if Satan is casting out Satan his kingdom is divided against itself and cannot stand. And, of course, this is right. But that would be true regardless of how Mark Driscoll or John MacArthur handle Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28. Particularly in the case of Ezekiel 28 Jewish scholars have noted regularly that the literal fulfillment of Ezekiel 26-28 didn't come to pass. They don't fret about it. Christians introduced a typological reading of Ezekiel 28 to refer to Satan over time. Now if a guy like Driscoll claims to "just preach what's in the Bible" he may just have to avoid ever actually unpacking the exegetical and textual issues of Ezekiel 28 and avoid any comparison of what Ezekiel wrote to what can be established by archaeological evidence regarding the military campaigns of Babylon at that time.

Or … if he can grant that Ezekiel 28 DOES refer to Satan he can ALSO grant that it is within the scope of historic Christian thought to take a typological approach to Song of Songs in which the woman is God's people and the man is God. After all, if what's good for the goose is good for the gander then Driscoll's goose could be cooked when he tries to apply his "just what's in the Bible" approach to Song of Songs (with no possible reference to Jesus) to Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 (in which a Babylonian king who is supposed to be the Devil destroys the king of Tyre who is supposed to be the Devil, too). Apparently the Devil gets to show up in some places where he isn't literally mentioned in the text but God Himself, who inspired Scripture, can't be bothered to show up in the one book Driscoll and his critic MacArthur say has to be read mainly about marriage and sex.


Mark Driscoll-SOS and Lake of Fire-Guest Post — 43 Comments

  1. Well, both Driscoll and MacArthur explicitly reject the plain reading of the words of Christ when he said, “This is my body” and “this is my blood.” For them, this simply must be allegorical because a literal reading offends their rationalistic sensibilities and presuppositions. The “correct reading” of a text seems to be what ever makes sense to them. They have really set themselves up as a magisterium in their little non-denominational worlds, haven’t they?

    It bothers me to high hell when SoS is pornified and read as a how-two manuel for married couples to have great sex. As if that were somehow one of God’s chief concerns just because it happens to be one of ours.

  2. My Take: I’ve always been surprised that the Song of Solomon was a part of the Bible. Somehow, in my little fundamentalist mindset, it seemed unlikely that the love between a man and a woman would actually be one of the 66 books of Scripture; that it would actually be of concern to God.

    He does surprise you.

  3. Thanks for writing this WTH. I agree with you.
    Many things about Driscoll’s SOS frustrate me.
    One of those things is his arbitrarily deciding that, because can’t view SoS as having any allegorical of symbolic applications toward Christ and the Church then an allegorical view must not be possible. It has everything to do with how he feels about it and has nothing to do with any consistency in interpreting the Bible.

    Thanks for posting it Deb and Dee. The more people that know, the less Driscoll will be able to hold up his view as the only way to go.

  4. WTH,

    Keep up the good work! The last thing these guys (Driscoll, MacArthur, Piper, et al.) want is people researching, reading, and doing their own thinking. They know full well that ultimately it will detract from their power and authority over people. They fear even more the loss of revenue in their coffers.

  5. WTH
    I just read your posts of last night over on the “wicked” thread, and very much appreciate. Since this article also speaks of the prophets and prophesying, I wonder if you might recap/elaborate here a little. Specifically I wonder what you think real NT prophesying might or ought to look like. The reason I’m commenting here is that i’m in a now-formerly-acts-29 church, and prophesy/preaching are conflated, so only pastors need apply. (It remains to be seen how far the church might distance itself from Driscoll, although I never hear him quoted/promoted except by a couple of single, young, restless, recently-discovered-reformed-theology guys.) I was for many years, and as many years ago, in a church which practiced prophesying as distinct. There was some charismaniac craziness as a result but usually well-dealt-with by the leaders for a number of years, I think. I now leave church meetings having heard some good preaching, but feeling like something’s missing in the application department.

  6. Somehow, in my little fundamentalist mindset, it seemed unlikely that the love between a man and a woman would actually be one of the 66 books of Scripture; that it would actually be of concern to God. — Seneca Griggs

    That’s because it’s part of Reality, and outside Gnosticism Old and New, God deals in Reality.

  7. Is this really that big a debate?

    Hermeneutics can be very complex.

    We also know from any plain reading of the OT that a text may have a plain reading and a future application, as well. There can be layers of application.

    Of course, it’s easier to see in hindsight.

    I think that the better approach is one that has been with us in various forms or another since the reformers.

    I just don’t find this all that big a deal, really.

    But I don’t follow preachers that much, and I don’t really keep up with whose saying what about everything.

    I am glad guys like you take the time to do this, however.

  8. “(Driscoll, MacArthur, Piper, et al.) want is people researching, reading, and doing their own thinking. They know full well that ultimately it will detract from their power and authority over people. They fear even more the loss of revenue in their coffers.”

    You surely don’t think Piper and MacArthur are worried about being rich. I can’t see that at all. Where do people come up with this? Does anybody really think Piper and MacArthur are about the money? Can’t see it. Don’t know about Driscoll, I’m much less familiar with him.

  9. Hey, its not a bad life for people who probably could not make it in something else like science, engineering, finance, etc. Maybe commission sales, though. Pretty easy, but time consuming. Not easy in a congregational church, but if you are the top in a hierarchical, then you set your own terms. $500,000 net revenue package (house, counting tax benefits), car, office, staff, salary, retirement, insurance. Not bad.

  10. “…That’s because it’s part of Reality, and outside Gnosticism Old and New, God deals in Reality…”

    Yep-a-doodle pilgrim. The idea of an immortal soul separate from an evil body is a product of Hellenism, which indeed crept into Judaic thought, but not before the writer penned his or her poetic romantic/erotic idyll that we now call SoS.

  11. Seneca, don’t you remember the MC in “Cabaret”? (played by Joel Grey in the film version) “…monee monee monee makes ze vurld go round ze vurld go round…”

    Yep they sure are rich Seneca, and they need a continued cash flow to sustain the RPM of that kind of world.

  12. One thing that bugs me about this particular teaching of Driscoll’s, is that it’s a good example of his near-frantic need to convince us of just how heterosexual and manly he is.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am all for celebrating sex between married partners, and I think more pastors should be open about it. But Driscoll speaks about it so much that it seems like an obsession. He spends a lot of pulpit time addressing it, and he chose to devote a LOT of space in his new book on marriage to what happens between the sheets.

    He also says a great many things either in warning against or in ridicule of homosexuality (the silliness quoted here, for example, or the assertion that if a guy should ever pleasure himself he’s one step away from a homosexual act. I could go on).

    He also talks a lot about his vision of Jesus and the apostles as ultimate prize-fighter types, and says “I cannot worship a Jesus I can beat up.”

    It’s like he is so desperately desperate to desperately tell us in desperation that we must believe he is one thousand and five percent heterosexual and manly at all times.

    Now, I’m not suggesting that he is a closet homosexual! What I am suggesting is that he is fundamentally immature. Immature and insecure men are the ones who constantly need their masculinity affirmed; those who are secure in themselves and their relationship with God usually don’t.

    I guess my point is, don’t you find it more than a little disturbing that the thing which drives him to make these crazy exegetical claims is, at base, his own need to be seen as the uber-man? Really, that’s what it boils down to. The idea of being in the allegorical category of “bride” is not dudely-enough for him, so he goes to great lengths to distance that idea from the meaning of the text.

  13. I guess I shouldn’t have said “crazy exegetical claims” because crazy is too strong a word. What I mean is, the criteria that he uses to decide HOW to interpret something seem to be heavily influenced by his need to appear manly. That gets the last word in his exegesis, in other words.

  14. Right, Red.

    It’s all about how he FEELS about it rather than logical and reasonable research.

    Sorry. But the stereotype of emotional females, logical males really falls apart with you have men like Driscoll make their FEELINGS as their bottom line ignoring more rational views on the subject.

  15. Seneca, I take SoS to be a poem that can be read at both levels.

    Anonymous from Dec 12, 2012 4:46pm

    It is not clear from the text of SoS that the two lovebirds were actually married, Christian assumptions about the text notwithstanding. I have not limited myself to Christian interpretations of the book and have considered rabbinical comments and Jewish translations.

    Michael Spenser commended Ariel and Chana Bloch’s translation of Song of Songs and in their forward the Blochs explain that the Song of Songs does not clearly depict the lovers as married. The “pious bias” has ensured certain parts are translated in a way to suggest marriage is pending or has taken place but the text is not that clear. Their rendering of the last chapter is interesting because it builds a case that the young man considers how Solomon has a huge harem and pays men to guard it while he has his one dove whose devotion he has no need to question.

    What hasn’t tended to get discussed that I think should be discussed is how the concept of fornication developed in the intertestamental period. Blochs’ translation and commentary on Song of Songs points out that fornication as a judicial concept did not exist in the Torah and was not a thing discussed in OT literature as we have it. Rabbinical thought later extrapolated fornication from a number of sources but that is not something that has been discussed.

    NT authors assume fornication is a sin without any explanation or citation. This invites the necessary question of how and why fornication, which is not listed as a sin anywhere in the OT, became a sin of some concern by the time the 1st century CE rolled up. From a guy like Driscoll who said Christians shouldn’t invite rabbis to teach them because there’s nothing a Christian can learn about the Bible from a Jewish guy I wouldn’t expect any interest in explaining how fornication is mentioned nowhere in the OT yet is assumed to be a sin in the NT without any background explanation. But the explanation would be useful simply as a historical overview.

    If this seems like a pedantic and irrelevant discussion maybe the recent article in Relevant may be, well, relevant. A Gallup poll indicates (for whatever that’s worth) that 80 percent of self-identified evangelicals ages 18-29 admit to having had premarital sex already. However it is that evangelical churches these days preach against fornication the case doesn’t seem to be compelling enough to keep the vast majority of younger evangelicals from fornicating by their own account. I know what any number of Christians would like to say is responsible for this but that fornication was addressed between the exile and the time of jesus suggests that on this subject there really isn’t anything new under the sun.

  16. “…From a guy like Driscoll who said Christians shouldn’t invite rabbis to teach them because there’s nothing a Christian can learn about the Bible from a Jewish guy …”

    Now he’s (Driscoll) starting to sound like an einsatzgruppen captain in say Poland circa 1940.

  17. Muff, Driscoll has been known to do a complete 180s on an issue. 😉

    From 2002 to 2007 he was apt to say that courtship was how things were going to get done in the Driscoll household. Guys who wanted to date Ashley would have to go get permission from him first. Then a well-known member with two highly sought-after unmarried daughters, who was an advocate of courtship, left. A lot of people who were at Mars Hill from the late 1990s met the early 00’s courtship fad with skepticism. Then a new member with two unmarried daughters spoke up on behalf of courtship said he didn’t think everyone had to go with courtship but that it’d worked for his family and was his preferred method. Suddenly dozens of single guys who had previously spoken up against courtship suddenly saw the light! Well, more accurately, they saw the unmarried daughters! Driscoll had a poster-boy for his own courtship ideas and began to talk from the pulpit about courtship saying, “This is how we do things in the Driscoll house.” Of course his oldest daughter wasn’t even close to hitting puberty yet but, so what? From about 2002-2007 the courtship fad was in full swing and many a guy who might otherwise have questioned whether modern dating is only ever sinful avoided saying that in case it would hurt his chances in courting or dorting or whatever they called it. Then the prominent member left and (more importantly in some ways) one of his daughters got married and suddenly Driscoll, in early 2008, was talking about how courtship was a nice idea that had all these impractical limitations to it.

    What people may be tempted to think is that Driscoll is completely principled about everything. He is about some things but in the last fifteen years he’s shown a very pragmatic streak. In the 1999 series he just declared Solomon and Abishag were true little lovebirds early on. In the 2008 he’s pragmatically hedged things and said that this is his speculation. I’d call that an improvement if his fans weren’t still thinking everything he says is solid. So he’s softened a little bit but I’ll give him another ten years before he concedes from the pulpit that he may have overdone the sex thing. 😉

  18. John Piper and John McArthur want the word to go out; Jesus Saves.

    It really is that simple for them.

    Neither man cares about wealth, neither man is, by reputation, a “control freak.” As far as I know their kids/spouses, grandkids love them. J. Mac is now 72 or so, John Piper is about to turn 66.

    They do have large churches which they pastor with the help of numerous associates.

    People hate J Mac and John P. because they insist that the Godly life is all about Jesus Christ as spoken of in the inerrant word. They are unbending about their belief in the inerrant Word.

  19. Hhmm.
    And I always thought the marriage occurred in chapter three with the procession and sedan chair and Solomon’s mother crowning him on his marriage day, the day of his gladness of heart.
    That’s the plainest reading of it that I know.

  20. So… If Driscoll doesn’t think Christians should invite rabbis to teach them because there’s nothing a Christian can learn about the Bible from a Jewish guy… What does he think about Christians inviting Greek philosophers, such as Plato, to teach them? Can a Christian learn something about the Bible from them? I’m not anti-Hellenistic–really– some of my best friends–

  21. so MD actually said he couldn’t learn anything from Jewish people.

    He is a bigot, then. (Which was my opinion of him anyway, but this is … as Muff said, very SS-ish.)

  22. numo, it might seem that way … but I think MD said that because he was unhappy that a church brought in a rabbit to explain OT because as he sees it the Bible is all about Jesus (well, except for one book! 😉 ) so for a Christian to learn from a rabbi suggests Christians might have something wrong about the Bible. A few years after he said he couldn’t learn from a rabbi about Jesus he was trying to get the Targum Neofiti to be proof that Jews living before Jesus’ time believed in the Trinity for the 2008 Doctrine series. Scott Bailey fielded that whole set of subjects at Scotteriology.

    A lot of his statements, when you start actually setting them side by side over the years, come off as too incoherent in the particulars to suggest any anti-Semitic ideas. He opened up Peasant Princess with the declaration that Jews are not as squeamish about sex as Christians are and that we should learn from that.

    Whatever MD’s actual views on Jews and Judaism may be I think it can be well-established how fast and loose he’s played with Song of Songs. If you read the transcripts of the sermons in Peasant Princess you’ll see that there are some things he shares about marriage that aren’t all bad. Michael Spenser wrote that some of the marriage advice Driscoll gave was actually quite good but that the problem was the Peasant Princess series was being billed as a set of sermons about the Song of Songs and that was emphatically not what was actually happening.

    Driscoll’s fans often fail to realize that they don’t have a pastor who does truly expository sermons, they have a pastor who preaches topical sermons that use an ostensibly expository preaching framework. Listen to or read a sermon of his some time and you’ll see what I mean … not that you have to. 🙂

  23. As to MD’s sincerity and motives, I don’t doubt either, which is actually why I’ve taken so much time to discuss what I consider to be his problematic approach to Song of Songs. I don’t doubt the motives or sincerity of Piper or MacArthur either and I don’t need to in order to have reservations about what they teach or disagreement about their positions and arguments. I hope I can make a distinction between attacking someone’s arguments and attacking the person. I don’t always succeed but I can keep trying.

  24. When I see remarks on MacArthur like this it makes me want to abandon blog comment section altogether. HE HAS REFUTED TITHING doctrines time and time again unlike others.

  25. Also re. Piper and $$$, I’m surprised that nobody has mentioned his book tie-in with Mel Gibsons “The Passion of the Christ” plus lots of other big-selling titles. (In xtian stores, anyway.)

    Piper clearly is not only a “star” in Calvinista circles; he has broken through to lots of people outside that milieu, who buy his books and CDs and so on.

    That’s… money. And power. When people look to you as a guru, you have a LOT of power. And those same people will buy your merchandise and donate money and…

  26. Does any one here believe the SOS interpretation that it could be a story about a love triangle. I used to consider it as a possibility. None of the interpretations are perfect so I never worried about just which one if any are correct. But after I had read and listened to Mark’s porno and domestic sexual abuse like messages from it, SOS was completely ruined in my mind. Especially after the Edinburg message. So now I choose to accept the love triangle version. Solomon the king is wooing the Shulamite with his stuff, like a high rolling gold chain wearing 70’s Vegas ‘king.’ I don’t see how she could have been Solomon’s first wife because other wives and concubines are mentioned. Mark says if you do how he thinks the Shulamite served her husband then you will keep your man. If she was his first wife how did that work out for her.
    In the love triangle view authentic love for and from the shepherd wins out over all the tinsel.
    That view is the only view that doesn’t make me feel like God is twisted like Solomon, a sick sense I always used to get being taught the king/peasant allegorical view. The shepherd being a third person in the story instead of Solomon is the only one that washes my soul with soap after Mark threw mud on it all together.
    And no, I am not a prude.

  27. Patti, a very good friend of mine also holds to the love triangle position.

    I’m undecided but open to there being many levels of looking at it. Afterall, it’s a book of poetry, not a book of the law or prophets. Nor is it anything similar to a modern day text book or instruction manual with a special trouble shooting sectiona on how to keep your man happy and faithful.

    I had been meditating on SoS for several years from a God/Lover, Israelorchruch/Beloved point of view before I ever heard of Driscoll (though I had heard of the sexual manual through Beverly and Tim Lahaye’s book) . And like you, his version so ruined it for me.
    It was like pig’s blood and urine being splattered about the holy place. It was so disgusting.

    My point to you, though, is that SoS IS poetry, not instruction. And it IS hard to nail down to one meaning. In fact, to try to nail it down to one meaning and one meaning only is to completely miss the point of all poetry, both ancient and modern.

    I think there is plenty of room at the SoS table for the love triangle view.

  28. WTH:

    Thanks for the response. I appreciate it.

    I went to an extremely conservative Christian college for a while. My prof did his PhD on SoS. His opinion was that it was a love story (i.e. Jesus is not the “Lily of the Valley”, despite the fact that is a cathcy and nice song). He also believed that this book depicted a girl that had been brought into a harem. He did not get tangled up in wife, concubine etc. That was not the point of the story.

    Mores and customs did change from OT to NT, and Jesus, himself, addressed polygamy. I personally believe that our society is returning slowly to polygamy in some form and perhaps polyandry, as well. I believe that our culture will eventually recognize all sort of relationships – perhaps even inter-species relationships between people and their pets, whether sexual or not. I know that sounds crazy, but that’s what I predict will happen. Not sure if all that will be in my lifetime.

    Regardless of where the culture goes, the church, I hope and trust, will remain fixed to the NT standard.

    In a highly sexualized culture, with birth control, and a culture with disappearing sexual boundaries, it is not surprising that even Christian young people who embrace the NT standard have a hard time remaining chaste. The system works against it big time.

    But that is no reason for despair. A colleague years ago wrote his thesis for a degree from Emory (I believe) on the state of marriage in Luther’s time. It was deplorable. Much worse than we have today. This guy is a top rate scholar now. I remember reading his paper in shock because we are often lead to believe that things were more stable in the good old days.

    So, things come and go. What one generation masters, the next often struggles with. That is the challenge of discipleship.

    Let me say that I appreciate your statements about the motives of Driscoll, Piper and MacArthur. I believe that is the sincere Christian posture and attitude to have.

    One thing that I have noticed in your writing is that while you enjoy robust debate, this post being no exception, you don’t devolve to the level of calling people who disagree with you evil or even suggesting that.

    That is a rarity in the blog world.

    That happened on a recent post here. One particular proponent of a particular view said that the people on the other side were evil or influenced or blinded by evil.

    I admit that there are cases when it’s pretty easy to identify a moral failing of a pastor (e.g. Jim Bakker and others).

    But many times an immoral state is projected upon someone because of the views that person holds or the way they express those views.

    I appreciate that you do not engage in that. We all need encouragement to avoid it. The most successful advocates and the best Christians I know don’t do that.

    Keep blogging.

  29. Let me issue a clear statement here regarding the motives and sincerity of the icons of the reformed movement.

    There is a difference between sincerity and being sincerely deluded. I do not not question their sincerity, they believe they’re right and that they have the full force of Scripture on their side. Just because I don’t believe them or buy into their belief system, DOES NOT mean that I think their motives are suspect.

    It was sincerely believed at one time that bleeding a patient was in his or her best interest. Many good Germans believed that the final solution was no different than a vigorous rat control program in an old building. What I do object to is when ideology trumps a shared and common humanity amongst us all.

  30. Eagle
    Tune in tomorrow regarding Challies. We are about fed up. Discussed it on the plane trip. Thanks for keeping us posted.

  31. Muff:

    Thanks for your statement.

    Though, may I respectfully suggest that “wrong” is sufficient?

    Deluded sounds like the person is mad or unstable.

    And I have given up using holocaust and Hitler references to describe things like doctrinal differences, which I think is a good policy generally.

  32. RE: MARRIAGE = a wedding ceremony???

    Wenachee the H — your comment much up above sparked some thoughts.

    “It is not clear from the text of SoS that the two lovebirds were actually married, ……certain parts are translated in a way to suggest marriage is pending or has taken place but the text is not that clear……What hasn’t tended to get discussed that I think should be discussed is how the concept of fornication developed in the intertestamental period. …NT authors assume fornication is a sin without any explanation or citation. This invites the necessary question of how and why fornication, which is not listed as a sin anywhere in the OT, became a sin of some concern by the time the 1st century CE rolled up…”


    For the longest time I’ve marveled at the hype over wedding ceremonies, especially in christian culture. I’ll gloss over the ridiculous expense & silly traditions (bridesmaids, funny-looking dresses all the same color, matching shoes, groomsmen, white dress, a catered meal that is boring and predictable [chicken in a chafing dish, pasta salad, green salad,…], white cake, the bouquet, throwing bouquet, the garter, the groom procuring the garter, the groom throwing the garter, going away clothes, decorating the car,…)

    I’ll leave the silliness of all that in the “self evident truth” file.

    What is gnawing at me is the christian assumption that marriage is something that is required to have its beginning with a pastor (& typically all that silly stuff, too).

    If marriage is some holy sacrament presided over by a pastor (priest, vicar), what about marriage ceremonies that happened in a muslim context, or jewish context, or hindu, buddhist, mormon, or any of the other multitude of world religions or thought systems? Christians seem to accept a couple who are known to be married, despite how it happened.

    I’m trying to get somewhere in my thoughts here, but i seem to be exploring.

    Maybe this will tie things together.

    I know a couple who are “married”. They married themselves on top of Half Dome in Yosemite. Just the 2 of them. It was later legalized in a civil “ceremony” of sorts. I love that they bypassed all the nonsense, and it was truly right to the point. They committed themselves to each other. That was it. With vow(s) they meant and likely won’t ever forget. (Me? I can’t remember what in the world i said at my wedding — what a crazy day that was)

    Or, what about a couple who have been together for years and years. Is their relationship any less honorable or less in any way because they didn’t have some kind of ceremony with some man in a suit in charge?

    “Married” — such a loaded word. A political term, a legal term. Even a legal term in christian culture.

    If christians are going to accept couples as legit and “married” who didn’t go through a “christian” ceremony but rather something different from a different custom/culture, why can’t they accept a couple as legit and “legal” (in a religious sense) who commited themselves to each other (bypassing the religious ceremony bit)?

    Isn’t commitment the heart of the matter anyway? Why is a religious ceremony the stamp of approval, the “genuine”, of the fact of “marriage”?

    Common law marriages can be every bit as genuine.

  33. Guess what I’m trying to claw my way to is the ability to articulate my sense of how “rules” and mandates and requirements are a distraction from the real deal — from the heart of the matter of the thing they are meant to support.

    Kind of like keeping everyone in a holding pattern, circling overhead, too busy following rules and getting those A+s and blue ribbons in keeping the christian code du jour of profesional christian celebrities to ever land in the real heart of the matter. Like the fractions my 10 yr old son is miserable over, the heart of the matter in *it’s most simplified form*.

    Or, changing metaphors here, it’s kind of like seltzer water that has gone flat. Ever taste it? It’s most unpleasant. But seltzer water with all the fizz is invigorating, delightful. So, what I’m trying to illustrate is how such a focus on rules, rules, rules, shoulds and shouldn’ts just drains the life out of the thing it’s meant to preserve. Distracts from the very point of it, from the heart of the matter, so that people can’t even recognize the “it” or the “matter” if it doesn’t have the familiar religious imprint, or that familiar religious whiff of all those rules.

    And I’m sick of all this.

  34. Mara, I love that you said “In fact, to try to nail it down to one meaning and one meaning only is to completely miss the point of all poetry, both ancient and modern.” I will enjoy poetry so much more now.

  35. This doesn’t seem to be working. I thought i was really getting on track here, but i’m ridin’ the tangent.

    OK, THIS is what was running through mind concerning SOS and “well of COURSE they were married.”

    Marriage, married has nothing to do with anything. As Wenachee the H mentioned, who knows if the characters even were. Seems to me the point is the pleasure of love. Great topic.

  36. Elastigirl – There really is nothing in the Bible that commands the church to preside over weddings to make a marriage legitimate. I listened to a set of lectures on church history once that said that the church did not do any such thing until the 5th century or so. At that time, the Roman Empire was crumbling and government was in disarray, but the church was organized enough to step in to maintain some structure and keep the records. I never heard or read that anyplace else, but I found that nugget an interesting one.

  37. elastigirl – like you, I’m confounded by all the fuss over wedding ceremonies. Is a ceremony the thing that makes a marriage a marriage?

    Don’t think so… because the ceremony is (imo) an official record of what is supposed to be going on in the hearts of those who go through it. Yes, there’s the “I now pronounce you man and wife” line, but does *that* make it real, or…?

    A couple of years ago I was reading some historical sources on marriage ceremonies re. where and when they came into being in Western Europe. Interestingly enough, the books I checked out stated that marriage ceremonies were generally conducted after the fact (so to speak) in the early medieval era. (I don’t have those sources immediately at hand, but can dig them up if need be…)

    It actually makes more sense to me to solemnize a marriage *after* the couple has already made that commitment to one another, if that makes sense.

    And I agree on the SoS being love poetry, and not necessarily (at all) “about” a Biblical king and/or women around him. Why does it have to be so danged specific? One of the contemporary Jewish translators of the SoS (am blanking on her name at the moment) views it as a series of interlinked poems, which seems about right to me – it’s not a straightforward *narrative* as such, but very episodic.

  38. Sex has a life of its own. I think a majority of the world’s religions are uncomfortable with that.