Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Beth Quick and Mark Driscoll

In her article Mark Driscoll, Mainline Churches, and The Numbers Game, Beth Quick expresses better than anyone I've heard the pain than mainline Christians experience when they are falsely categorized by other Christians. Read it!
Here's a quote:
Driscoll, in a charming tale about filling his young son's heads with ridiculous stereotypes of mainline-church Christians, wrote about driving by a mainline church with his son, age 7:

"He asked me what that church believed and I told him they do not believe people are sinners, do not believe the Bible is to be taken literally but is more like a fantasy video game, do not believe you need Jesus to go to heaven, and do believe that being gay is cool with Christ."
Mark Driscoll, I say to you: that hurts and you're wrong.


Steve said...

Jason, is it possible that is exactly what Driscoll has experienced with mainline churches?

As you know, that has been my experience as well as someone who grew up in a mainline church without ever hearing the gospel or ever seeing the Bible taken seriously. It's also the experience of some of my friends as well as people I've met who have been converted to Jesus out of mainline churches.

Dude, I see you as a very different guy with a real gospel presence where you are. But I think you are the exception and not the rule, which would make Driscoll's comments pretty much right on.

Elizabeth said...

Jason - thanks for the link, and the comment on my blog. I appreciate it!

It is hard when someone criticizes in a way that makes it seem like they are calling your faith false, or weak, or at least less than theirs. It is a good reminder to me to be careful about how I speak about those with whome I disagree!

Jason Woolever said...

Thank you for your post. It expresses my feelings too. It is hard to be labeled as of the devil. Keep up your ministry, sister!

Jason Woolever said...

Steve. It is possible that Driscoll has experienced that in mainline churches. But that doesn't make his generalization true. And how is Driscoll's kid going to treat my kid at school because of his father's loose lips.

Driscoll is a good pastor, but his mouth hurts people Steve. Christians need to be accountable for generalizations that hurt their brothers and sisters in the body of Christ.

I may not be the rule, but I'm not the only evangelical mainline pastor. There are thousands of us. I promise you. I'm saying Driscoll and those who share his blanket views of mainliners are wrong in labeling all of us as being the same. They're wrong and they're hurting people and they're teaching others to hurt their siblings in Christ.

I want to be in mission with Driscoll. I believe the same things he does. If he keeps calling my ministry apostate, he's destroying my ministry and pushign me away. I can't see how that glorifies Christ.

Mike (ducking for cover) said...

Hey Steve.

Generally speaking, you will find that most mainline churches fit basically within an evangelical/traditional/moderate perspective. It is the crazy loopy ones that are more in the minority - but they scream and shout and brow beat louder than the rest of us.

On the subject of Mars Hill, I would much rather be under accountability (which the Methodist system does very well) than be out on my little old lonesome.

I've been called lots of names - my first parish thought I was a bleeding heart liberal, the second thought I was a fiery fundametalist; the third was just right. Hmmmmm - there's a fairy tale in there somewhere.

Despite my theological ponderings, my liberalness on some issues and my evangelicalness on others, I still work under (apart from Jesus that is), as most Methodist pastors do, the word of Wesley - Offer them Christ.

And if offering them Christ means spending time with gays and lesbians, then I will offer them Christ. If offering them Christ means to go with someone to a Jerry Falwell rally (Lord save me!!) then I will offer them Christ.

The trouble with pastors like Driscoll and the like is that they want to offer themselves a clean cut, blonde haired, blue eyed watered down nationalistic jesus - who is probably fashioned more after their own moral and belief system than after Jesus himself.

My Jesus got his hands dirty - his harshest words for for the religious purists who thought it was their way or the highway.

Be careful Pastor Driscoll.

Just my 2c worth.

Conrad said...

I notice that Driscoll also said:
"I gave my son the Driscoll-boy knuckle-to-knuckle handshake because he was right. The most left-leaning end of mainline Protestant Christianity is much like an insane asylum where the prisoners have taken over."

I am actually wondering if Driscoll is as Christian as he claims.

I noticed that he is in Seattle and I know that on the Pacific coast that mainliners are often very nearly Unitarian Universalists, but I do not think that makes his broad generalizations about mainliners appropriate nor Christian.

It almost makes me want to stoop to his level and make a bunch of broad generalizations about these non-connexional independent mega-churches.

Jason Woolever said...

You know this really brings up the question: Can one be a Christian just by believing the right things, even if their behavior is hateful and destructive? Can you be a follower of Jesus by saying you believe in Jesus while acting like Satan?

JD said...

christianconversations.blogspot.com recently posted a 2 part series about entitled Why I am a Methodist. I believe it is worth a read because he discusses this very issue: the division of the Christian churches in America.

I have really been trying to get deeply involved in the Word recently and one thing that always stands out is Christ's Priestly Prayer in John 17. He ends it with a call for all His people to be united so the world may see "oneness, and give the godless world evidence that you've sent Me and loved them in the same way you've loved Me."

Comments like Driscoll's only fuel the fire of division in the Christian church, and most people do not actually do research before making blanket statements. I have been to many Christian churches, more so to better understand my faith, than any other reason else. But to stereotype all "mainliners" as he did is inappropriate.

With that, I will end this before is becomes a speech.


Jason Woolever said...

hey jd thanks for the link.

JD said...

np. I like reading his stuff, as I do yours.

Larry B said...

"You know this really brings up the question: Can one be a Christian just by believing the right things, even if their behavior is hateful and destructive? Can you be a follower of Jesus by saying you believe in Jesus while acting like Satan?"

I think Paul wrote that confessing ones belief in Jesus as Lord and Savior was the only condition to be placed upon a Christian. The rest are all incidental. Jesus did the same for the thief on the cross for example. I think God's forgiveness isn't understood to be granted on any other condition.

Now if we choose to foolishly waste that forgiveness and ignore Pauls advice for living as Christians then we have missed out on the incredible joy promised to Christians as a result of our forgiveness. Paul advocated expelling someone from fellowship who engaged in immoral behavior (I Corinthians 5), but from my understanding of the text, he never actually intimated that the person lost their salvation. The verses talk about allowing the person to be handed to Satan, so that the body may be destroyed and his spirit is saved.

So in my opinion it's equally unfair and unjust as a Christian to question another Christians confession of faith as we have no means to actually be that person. And if I understand Paul's theological statement correctly here, the body may be consumed by Satan and still the spirit has been saved.

Or I could be totally off base here. Any way those are my thoughts.

Jason Woolever said...

You make a good point Larry.

JD said...

Jason and Larry, sorry this is so long, I got on a little soap box, something dear to my heart and something that expands my earlier comments. :)


I see your point of your comment, but try to think of it this way: If I have chosen to follow Christ, and I continue my old ways, was my acceptance of Christ genuine? It is really hard to tell in America today. When Paul wrote in Romans 10:9 "That if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved," it was a different world. For doing exactly that usually meant you were lion food. Today, not so much.

Paul does go on to share this in Romans 10:10-12: "For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, 'Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.' For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, 'Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'"

I will never make a judgment of someone's relationship with Christ, and I believe that the times that we, as Christians, let our tongues speak what our hearts, in Christ, truly know is untrue, then Satan has gotten the best of us again, even if for a moment.

Even more so, I firmly hold true two things from James:

1. James 3:17-18, "But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness."

2. James 2:14-26, "What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, 'Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,' but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

But someone will say, 'You have faith; I have deeds.' Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.

You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, 'Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,' and he was called God's friend. You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.

In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead."

My whole point with this enormous comment/scripture lesson is this, being called to Christ and accepting all the He has to offer is a hard thing. Sometimes we slip and fall, but being a Christian, we can always ask forgiveness and get back to it. It is hard enough for us to have to overcome those that try to tear apart the Christian Church in America from the outside. We shouldn’t have to also fight off attacks to Christian Unity in America from the inside…our brothers and neighbors IN Christ.

And on that note, enough Bible study today!

Jason Woolever said...

2 shay

Steve said...

Here's the question I'd like the mainliners to answer. Are the majority of your churches & pastors evangelical (believe and preach the gospel) or not? Jason, you seem to say "no." You may know of MANY evangelicals among your churches, but if they aren't the majority then Driscoll is generally right.

I think the argument of how Driscoll's kid will treat others in school is silly and unfounded. This isn't about discrimination or looking down on others. It's about realizing spiritual deadness and seeking their transformation.

Here's what I think would be more helpful for evangelical mainliners. Instead of being "hurt" by Driscoll's words, realize where he is right and be the first and loudest critics of your liberals.

I'm a Southern Baptist and I'm a loud critic of the fundamentalistic, Pharisaical people in my club. They are the loudest and the majority. I can choose to be hurt when people lump me in their camp, or realize that by being in this denomination I have lumped myself in this camp. All groups are defined by their majority. If we define by all the exceptions then definitions become nearly impossible.

So I don't tell people they hurt me when they criticize Southern Baptists. I realize their general view is correct (though there are many, many exceptions) and that my being hurt and defensive will only perpetuate the problem in my own camp by spending more time trying to silence the critics instead of joining them for the good of my camp.

If you are preaching the gospel and seeing conversions, you will change the views of others. But Driscoll, and guys like me, have our views for very good reasons. That will change not by being a victim and changing the critics, but by being an agent of change among your group so that you will be defined differently.

In other words, Driscoll's words should be an encouragement for you to be discontent and seek change.

Jason Woolever said...

OK Steve. You may not be defensive of criticism of Southern Baptists. You've decided to place yourself in the Driscoll camp instead of the Southern Baptist camp. But you're clearly defensive toward and reactive to anyone who criticizes your man Driscoll.

Jason Woolever said...

another question. Why do you think its so important to be able to put a group of people into a broad category. Why couldn't you and Driscoll say, "historically they believe this... but today some believe this." He's at least teaching his son to use insufficient labels.

Steve said...


First, your comment on me and "my man" Driscoll is way out of line. You should already know I'm not trying to defend Driscoll since we already had an email conversation about this basic issue concerning your previous post that had nothing to do with Driscoll. Seriously man, your comment is ridiculous.

Second, I'm not saying it's "so important" to put people into broad categories. I'm saying that's the way things are. I'm saying it's going to continue. And I'm saying that if you will accept that then you can join with critics of mainliners and seek a more gospel-centered future. If you won't accept it, you will be defensive and hurt when someone lumps you into your majority.

Jason Woolever said...

Steve, I apologize for the rhetoric. Please understand. I appreciate and benefit from your ministry and Driscoll's ministry.

When someone I look to for leadership (with a lot of influence) starts making derogatory (sp?) statements about my church, my concern is that it hampers my ability to minister.

I made the assumption that Driscoll wants to equip and influence mainline pastors who agree with him doctrinally (and I do). He may want our ministries to cease to exist.

I listen to his sermons and read his books and really like him. As an ENFP, I find that I often feel things when it might be wiser to just think through them and blow them off. Feelers don't always have the option of being unaffected, even if we think it would be helpful.

I consider Mark Driscoll a brother in Christ. I have an older brother (in the flesh) who I also like. If I read a blog where he made derogatory comments to his son and me about my family, it would hurt.

You did have a bad experience in mainline churches. I had bad experiences and really good ones. I'll continue to do my best to preach God's Word and lead people to Christ within the mainline church. If people read Driscoll's blog and believe it, they'll be much less likely to give me the chance.

Steve said...

Jason, thanks for a thoughtful comment. Your are forgiven for the rhetoric thing.

I guess all I would add (or emphasize) is that I would rather agree with the people who say my brother is an alcoholic than get hurt that they spoke the truth and made my brother look bad. The best thing I can do is admit the truth and help him so that we have a healthy and not broken family. Same goes for denominations or churches or whatever.

If we disagree on what's wrong with the mainliners, that's another issue. But I thought we came to a general agreement on that in our emails.

Thanks for the discussion.

Jason Woolever said...

Thanks Steve. We do agree that there's a lot of heresy in mainline churches.

I repent of the fact that I'm bringing negative attention to Driscoll who I agree with doctrinally.

I'm definitely guilty of flinging many a loose comment myself. Thanks for your understanding.

JD said...

Steve and Jason,

I see both your points, but the reality of it all is this: Christ called all Christians to be united in faith so that others may know we believe in Him who has set us free from these labels that we now throw upon ourselves.

I grew up Catholic, went to Catholic school my entire time I attended school, even through college, but during that time I attended a Baptist Church, which taught me to examine the basis of my Catholic faith and its traditions. I dated a wonderful woman that challenged me to look at Christianity for all that it can be and not limit it to what man wants to define it as. And finally, I married a woman who challengs me to let the Lord's Spirit guide me to His truth through scripture and prayer. Where am I now? I reply to things like this, comment on my studies in my blog, and pray every day that we will all realize that our "religion" is the outward expression of our Faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Some find solace in the Catholic Church, some the Baptist, and I myself, in the Methodist, but in all that, as long as my faith, or your faith, or some other Christian's faith is based on and strengthened through a historical and spiritual understanding of scripture (it takes both, regardless of what some may think), then I will NOT criticize, but celebrate Christ's love for us with them.

There ultimately is a truth in the Bible that continues to be watered down by some Christians to better fit their culture, or their society, their progressive thinking, or just to make us feel good. One thing about God is that He, His commandments, and His teachings never change, even though we may. The basic truth is this: the Lord God loved us so much that He sent His only son, Jesus, to be a final sacrifice for our sins. Jesus, being man, had the free will to walk away from what His Father asked, but He did not, because, He too, loved and continues to love us. God set down some rules, some guidelines, to help us along that path. He offers us the truth of His word and His grace that convicts us. You can follow or you can walk away, but we must all be willing to accept the consequences of our choices. What are you going to do when God calls?

In the words of one of my favorite Catholic hymns, "They shall know we are Christians by our love, by our love. They shall know we are Christians by our love."

The big question: Does today's society know that the Christian community in America is truly Christian by our love for others and each other, or not?


Jason Woolever said...

JD. I think your question is an important consideration.

JD said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
JD said...

I deleted the last one because I wanted to clarify my question:

Family will disagree about things, but not on the big picture, as we have been so many times recently. I think, in the terms of most psychologists today, we are "dysfunctional" at best. How can we, as both lay people and clergy, change that?

Jason Woolever said...

Great question, JD. I wish I knew! Systems theory would say that the best way to change a disfunctional system is to change oneself within the system, and when we do, the whole system is affected.

JD said...

And when it comes to faith, to change one person within the system is the work of God. We can give the tools, but ultimately, it is the individual answering that "small, still voice" calling them to follow.

I guess we answered our own question. :)

Anonymous said...

I do not think it is fair what many of you are saying about Mark Driscoll.

Listen to one of his sermons and you'll be able to tell his heart. He wears it on his sleeve.

You are correct. He does criticize some things that the "mainline" church does today. But he's got a point with much of it.

Do you not agree that there is such a bad taste in un-believers mouth regarding Christians...so much so that you feel like when you speak to an unbeliever, you have to undo what has been done to them just so they will listen to what you have to say about Jesus?

That's what he's talking about.

Seriously, just listen to one sermon on iTunes or their website.

He's doing some pretty amazing things and he's not compromising one iota of scripture.

I urge you, please don't disregard this but rather listen to what this guy has to say.

Jason Woolever said...

Anon, I agree with you. If you'll notice above, I tried to apologize, and I've since shared more very positive stuff from Driscoll on this blog.

JD said...

Same from me, Anon. I have made more positive comments after seeing an interview he did about evangelicals trapped in liberal churches.


Anonymous said...

mike(ducking for cover) said (way up top):

"The trouble with pastors like Driscoll and the like is that they want to offer themselves a clean cut, blonde haired, blue eyed watered down nationalistic jesus - who is probably fashioned more after their own moral and belief system than after Jesus himself."

wow, that's pretty much the antonym of driscoll's theology... if you need quotes, i can give them to you, i might be a little bit slow, but i'll get them if you really need it.

in love, momos