Who Would Jesus Smack Down?

The NY Times recently ran an article titled Who Would Jesus Smack Down that highlights the ministry of Mark Driscoll at Mars Hill Church. It’s worth your time to give it a read.

Update: After further thought, I probably should have offered my take on the article and not simply post a link to it.  I thought the discussion on church discipline was harsh and brash and probably failed to reflect anything deeper that was going on in Driscoll’s church at the time. It came off exceedingly authoritarian and seemed to place Driscoll in a place of commanding others to shut up and do what he said because it was his church and if they didn’t like it they could take a walk (or was it take a punch to the nose?).  From listening to Driscoll for about 3 years now and reading his books, I’m convinced that the article does not reflects his heart.

I also found the second half of the article to be fairly negative about Calvinism in general.  It would seem to place an over-emphasis on predestination and election up front rather than as an outflow of God’s sovereignty.  I don’t think this is a healthy representation of Calvinism.  Sure we believe in predestination and election; however, that’s not the flag that is waved.  The flag that is waved is God’s sovereignty and predestination and election have to be viewed in light of sovereignty, not the other way around.  To flip the order is to present the Calvinist teaching in a light that was never intended – making it to appear harsh and brash.

I’d love to hear others’ take.  Comments anyone?

~ by toddbumgarner on January 10, 2009 7:27 am.

3 Responses to “Who Would Jesus Smack Down?”

  1. Hey Todd,

    here is what I wrote in a comment on my blog in response to a couple of folks’ concerns:

    I think there is a collision of two things going on here.

    Number 1 and probably most importantly, it is a New York Times reporter writing the article. I don’t know anything about Molly Worthen except that she wrote this story. I appreciate her work on it and I appreciate that she recognizes that there is something unique going on at Mars Hill. However, I think her baseline secularism shows up in the last page when she talks about complementarianism and the Mars Hill church discipline process. the last sentence of the article seems to give away the bias: “Driscoll’s New Calvinism underscores a curious fact: the doctrine of total human depravity has always had a funny way of emboldening, rather than humbling, its adherents.” This is a charge that Calvinists have always had made against them by people who refuse (for whatever reason) to engage with the Biblical substance of the doctrines of grace.

    Number 2, there is a basic misunderstanding of the important responsibility of church membership in this country. In the U.S. we are so deeply ingrained in a culture of individualism, that we don’t really comprehend the passages in the Bible addressing the serious ramifications of joining a body of believers. In Hebrews 13:7 and 17 the writer makes it clear that placing yourself under the authority of elders is very serious. You have to find elders whose faith you can imitate and you have to obey them because they will give an account for you to God. Wow! Think about the awesome amount of responsibility that places on someone like Mark Driscoll who is responsible for and will give an account for more than 7600 persons. James 3:1 is also very serious for Mark, as is I Peter 5:1-6.

    We are so used to our cultural congregational easy to join, easy to leave democratic church governance model that seeing a church trying to do it biblically seems extremely foreign. when such a foreign alien thing is run through a bias filter that is basically secular, then you get the kind of reporting that shows up on the last page of the article.

    I am willing to give Driscoll and his fellow elders the benefit of the doubt on this incident and believe there is another side to the story that is not being told

  2. bkingr (someday you’ll have to tell me your real name),

    Thanks for drawing out the point about the importance of church membership (and with that, church discipline). We do live in a world of individualism and in many churches membership is taken very lightly and church discipline isn’t even a concept on the radar.

    Thanks for your comment.

  3. sorry about that, Todd. my name is Keith

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