This may be the final post I publish with hopes in making more people aware of some uncharted waters Southern Baptists are sailing as we drool over linking ourselves to the innovative ministries of controversial pastor, Mark Driscoll.
I'm quite sure I'll receive the standard "Why do you hate Driscoll so much?" replies, as well as the "Mark Driscoll does more for evangelism and church growth than all SBC pastors put together!" ones. Not to mention, of course, the concerns I raise are but the musings of an "ill-informed" blogger who unfortunately doesn't know what he's talking about.
"One of the speakers, Mark Driscoll, has received significant criticism from some Southern Baptists in recent days. At first the criticism was limited to ill-informed bloggers, but yesterday Baptist Press entered the fray with an article titled “Driscoll’s Vulgarity Draws Media Attention.” We were very disappointed in the BP piece, which we believe was inaccurate in content harsh in tone..." (emphasis mine).
Personally, I would like this thing to go away. I take no joy in raising concerns about the wonderful institutions with which our Lord has graced us. Yet, when Between the Times insisted critics read Driscoll himself before making "ill-informed" judgments, I could not resist their plea.
"We suggest that those who have concerns about Mark’s ministry actually listen to his sermons and read his books. You may listen to Mark’s recent chapel sermon and two 20/20 addresses-and all of the other excellent 20/20 sessions-at Southeastern’s multimedia page."
I took their advice but I did not go to the multimedia page. Instead I hopped over on Driscoll's site via the link Between the Times gave. Some material on Driscoll's site is impressive. Some is also profanely vulgar.
One of the popular criticisms leveled against Driscoll has been his alleged "cussing," which, supporters insist, Driscoll has long ago put behind him. While I am unsure about such, let's, for the sake of argument, accept their defense.
Even so, without a moral blink, how Southern Baptists can partner with a ministry obviously obsessed with some of the most rabid, gutter-oriented understanding of sexuality evangelicals imagine I cannot fathom. What, under the blue sky, was Between the Times thinking when they linked to a site that, more probable than not, could not be accessed from their own seminary browsers? Driscoll's series on sexuality includes images so base and utterly vulgar that I'd bet a weekly Starbucks Southeastern's web security filters would block access to some of the pages!
It shames me to do this but Southern Baptists need to know.
Indeed they must know.
On Driscoll's site is an entire series of sexually explicit posts in Q/A format. Some of the questions are both appropriate and timely. Issues like sexual boundaries between the unmarried, overcoming lust, intimacy apart from sex, etc.
Perhaps one could quibble about the most appropriate venue where either discussions or teaching times on subjects like these would best fit the context. However, for questions like the above, even given the reservations on venue, there is surely a place to explore them in biblical sexuality.
Thus, it is not sexuality teaching that is at issue here. Instead, it is questioning exactly how far to take this "study." The fact is, other explorations Driscoll pursued are in an entirely different category than the above. Indeed, many of his topics are so morally repugnant that I refuse to link them on the main page of SBC Tomorrow.**
For Between the Times, then, to link to Driscoll's site--a site which is definitively X-rated...a site with pages which probably could not be opened on the campus browsers due to security filters--for Between the Times to do such, while pleading for others to dismiss criticism against him from the "ill-informed," and instead read Driscoll directly, must be among the most morally confusing decisions I've ever observed from an administrative standpoint.
And, while I am writing this post, a Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary professor has issued a further defense of Mark Driscoll. After giving a who's who in church history about whom he possesses both admiration and concern, here is what Professor of Evangelism, Alvin Reid, writes about Driscoll,
"I have a problem with Mark Driscoll. Driscoll, the pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle and recent speaker on our campus, has seen possibly more hardcore unchurched young adults come to Christ in the last decade than any church in the US. He has led a church planting movement as well. But sometimes his language is a little edgy for my tastes, and I interpret the Bible differently than does he on the place of alcohol" /link
In addition, Professor Reid commendably underscores his own weaknesses, concluding he has a problem with himself.
Finally, Dr. Reid concludes, after singing the melodies of the Conservative Resurgence, with a lament, expressing his problem with the Southern Baptist Convention:
"But I have a problem with my convention, when we seem more intent on witch hunts than on contextualizing the gospel in our time, when we love to pick at each other’s differences than unite for the sake of the gospel...when we castigate younger men who love Jesus and His truth for simply doing what we taught them to do: study and honor the Word...I was a supporter of the conservative resurgence...But the resurgence I supported did not include a Pharisaical legalism that expects conformity in nonessentials...I am tired of talking good younger men off the ledge from leaving the SBC." (emphasis mine)
Though Dr. Reid does not explicitly say, presumably his problems concerning "witch hunts," "pick[ing] at differences," "castigat[ing] younger men," Pharisaical legalism," and "conformity in nonessentials" addresses, or, at minimum, is occasioned by, criticism toward the Driscoll liaison with SEBTS. If so, we unhappily have a much greater issue before us as Southern Baptists than we have imagined thus far.
I profoundly disagree with what can only be legitimately described as a white-washed description Professor Reid gives toward Driscoll's alleged potty mouth. If there is truth to it, then pulpit use of the "F" word must solicit significantly more than merely language a "little edgy for my tastes."
Even more, if Dr. Reid and Between the Times remain entirely comfortable morally categorizing the sincere concerns some Southern Baptists express about the sexually absurd pastoral counsel offered by Driscoll on his site, as nothing less than a "witch hunt," led by men tragically embracing "Pharisaical legalism," who seek but to "pick at differences" over "nonessentials" by "castigating younger men" who are only "loving Jesus" and "following Scripture," then Professor Reid is correct about at least one thing: he nor I signed on to a Conservative Resurgence which promoted such an agenda.
On the other hand, when our ethical lens is so morally scuffed, we can no longer rightly discern proper biblical categories...when we so badly blur distinctions, mistaking sincere conscience for unconscious antinomianism, excuse me if I confess--as a full-throttle supporter of the Conservative Resurgence all through the bloody eighties--and, confess just as boldly as did Dr. Reid: Neither did I sign on to a Conservative Resurgence then, or will I sign on to a Great Commission Resurgence now, which would sell its moral soul for a bowl of nihilist pottage.
With that, I am...
**If you must read for yourself, click the link below. I forewarn you, sexual advice not lacking on many secularly-driven nihilist sites you will find--