Several influential voices among Southern Baptists have stepped into the batter's box to hit one out of the park for Mark Driscoll. I've read many of them. Below is an incomplete list, along with a quote revealing an obvious pattern in the usual defense of Mark Driscoll and his liaison with Southern Baptists:
- SEBTS: "We by no means agree with everything Mark Driscoll says or does."
- Alvin Reid: "I have a problem with Mark Driscoll...sometimes his language is a little edgy for my tastes, and I interpret the Bible differently than does he on the place of alcohol."
- Ed Stetzer: "Now, I am not saying that everything Mark Driscoll does is right...there are also areas where we disagree (and, I sat on his front porch and told him so)."
- J.D. Greear: "Mark and I disagree on some things, and sometimes strongly..."
- Nathan Finn*: "We acknowledge that Driscoll is by no means perfect, nor always accurate is he ...Some of what he does and says is edgy, radical, and stirs up controversy, but most of the time his approaches are not unbiblical. We in no way intend for this to be an endorsement of all things Driscoll...”
Clearly, the standard, bread & butter response from the most influential, public defenders toward concerns about his possible coziness with Southern Baptists is a vague allusion to "We are by no means endorsing all he does or believes." Unfortunately, this almost universal response comes across as little more than fanning smoke in peoples' eyes. Allow me.
First, could anyone of the defenders point to criticism concerning Driscoll who has undeniably made the charge that SEBTS signed a covenant written in blood stating Driscoll's presence there definitively signified their blanket endorsement? If it's there, where? If not, this defense is mere smoke and mirrors, perhaps designed to detour further criticism.
Second, the by-no-means-endorsing-all-he-does-or-believes-defense is a hollow shell, containing no reasonably helpful content whatsoever. Name one individual--including any Southern Baptist you wish--about whom this defense could not potentially describe. This honestly sounds more like a disclaimer than it does a defense. Such an animal is used in the advertising industry to prohibit disaster just in case something goes woefully wrong.
Third, it's ironic, at least to me, the defenders view themselves free to mention the disagreeables they possess with Driscoll--albeit vague and usually innocous. Yet, when others put teeth into the disagreeables--that is, they actually name the disagreement (e.g., either vulgarity or misguided sexuality)--the defenders charge "witch hunt," "Pharisaical legalism," "ill-informed," among other choice descriptions.
Defenders see themselves free to "disagree" but others hardly have such freedom apart from being derogitorily castigated. Of course, had those of us who chose to disagree had left the content of the diagreeables innocous, as do the defenders, we'd all just be one, big happy family!
Alas, as it is, I suppose those of us who foolishly questioned the liaison with a ministry which strangely but fully and clearly endorses encouraging husbands and wives to prayerfully consider sodomy as a viable Christian option to enhance intimacy together will just have to face reality: we are apparently woefully out of touch with what's hip today in reaching the multitudes with the gospel.
For the record, I think I'll just keep sailing the old gospel ship, if you don't mind.
With that, I am...
*Founders Advocate, Timmy Brister, makes the author implication