Ten Notes on the Driscoll Dogpile

1. In what follows I want to make some observations about what has clearly become the Driscoll dogpile. But in this, I don't want to say anything that might come off as though I am privy to any back room information. I am not part of the private reconciliation or accountability processes, and so I want to compose myself as one who is not (Prov. 18:17). At the same time, elements of the whole saga have spilled out into the open, and I believe it is legitimate to talk about those aspects of it that are public, or which are acknowledged by all. For example, if Mark Driscoll says that he needs to seek forgiveness from certain people, he doesn't need any defenders who are more catholic than the pope, saying that "no, he doesn't really need to." 2. I feel a bit sheepish about all the links to my own stuff, but as I say in one of them, this ain't my first rodeo. If you would like to be critical, just chalk it up to my laziness, not wanting to write a bunch of the same stuff over again. … [Read more...]

Though There Is a Difference

I want to talk about the recent events surrounding Mark Driscoll for a few moments, and to do so without talking about Mark at all. As you probably know by now, he has been invited off the Acts 29 board, and more than one opinion on it has been voiced on Facebook. For all the people who are in the same room with Mark, by his side, or facing him, I commend them to the work of the Spirit in all their conversations. Speak the truth, and say it in love. Respond with truth, and say it in love. But we are not in that room. My concern here has to do with all the folks out here in the cheap seats. Ambrose Bierce once defined a Christian as someone who believed the New Testament was a divinely inspired book, admirably suited to the spiritual needs of his neighbor. Out here, our temptation will be to spend a lot of time discussing what Mark Driscoll should do, or should have done, or what the Acts 29 board should have done, and so on. We should actually be thinking about what we should do. … [Read more...]

Sexual Justice

If you stick around, in just a moment I am going to be dealing with the problem created by registered sex offenders attending church. However, before we get there, I want to say something about the cultural context we find ourselves in. And that said, I want to warn you beforehand that the point I am going to draw from that context is probably not what you think I am going to draw, so please hold your wrath until you finish the paragraphs following. There is no way to pornify a culture the way we have done without making porn far more available to kids than it used to be. And kids obviously learn from what they see, monkey see monkey do. This includes what we call "mainstream" entertainment, and not just the triple-x stuff. We now have young kids who have seen, or who have heard about on the playground, practices that previous generations learned about in their second year of med school. Nobody should be surprised when when some junior high boy tries out some of what he has seen or … [Read more...]

On Spiraling into Chaos

Wait Wait Sheep

The trial of George Zimmerman is now over, and there are perhaps a few things we can learn from the whole sorry mess. Perhaps. In the aftermath of this trial, we clearly have a highly polarized society. On the one hand, we have those who believe that a young and unarmed black man was targeted and killed simply because of his race, and who believe the "not guilty" verdict is therefore a travesty. On the other hand, we have those who believe that he was a young black man up to no good, and that he was the aggressor in his fatal encounter with Zimmerman. They were relieved at the verdict. The reason we even have trials is so that we have a ordered substitute for what such polarized societies would do in the absence of trials. What they would do is fight, riot and kill. In advanced cases of this pathology, they go to war over such things. The function of trials is to dampen the ardor of factions, crowds, and lynch mobs, not to inflame them. The irony is that Trayvon is now being … [Read more...]

I Shot the Sheriff . . .

"Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God’s" (Dt. 1:17) In an earlier post, on injustice and empathy, a point rose deep in the comments which needs to be bumped to the top. The point that was raised concerned a possible double standard when it comes to one of "our guys," someone like C.J. Mahaney, and someone outside our tribe -- I know it is au courant to say "tribe" these days, and I am nothing if not au courant -- like Joe Paterno and the Penn State scandal. We need to use equal weights and measures (Matt. 7:1). We need to have one standard for all, not one standard of justice for those we know, and another standard of justice for those at a distance. I agree with this point completely. "Divers weights, and divers measures, both of them are alike abomination to the Lord" (Prov. 20:10). This means that if Joe Paterno needs to take the hit simply because he was … [Read more...]

Injustice and Empathy

Don Carson, Kevin DeYoung, and Justin Taylor have posted a very good statement about the Sovereign Grace lawsuit here. I appreciated it very much. The issue -- among thoughtful Christians -- should never be whether or not justice should be done. That should be a given. What should we seek out, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God? (Micah 6:8) The issue is that we do not know what the just response is until after a fair and just trial. Just sentences do not fall out of the sky -- they proceed from just trials. And in order to have a just trial, it must be managed and conducted by just men, men who hate bribes, men who have a backbone, men who know the law. If a man is accused of child molestation, a horrendous crime, and charges are made and the evidence is being gathered, then patience is absolutely necessary. If a judge is ruled by the spirit of Prov. 18:17, and he is proceeding with all deliberation, and then he finds himself accused of covering … [Read more...]

Feeling Like a Confrontation

One of the ways we have allowed egalitarianism to flatten everything can be seen in how we apply trial procedures to everything (to everything that is, except those situations when actual trial procedures would actually be called for). Determining that somebody is a security risk is not the same thing as finding them guilty of treason. Voting no on somebody for the elder board because you don't quite trust them with the responsibility is not the same thing as bringing charges. Saying no to a suitor because he is not tall enough is not the same thing as condemning him for being short. Picking out chocolate is not to find fault with vanilla. These are all entirely different issues. But we flatten these issues, and thus we confuse ourselves. Sometimes you decline to pick somebody for leadership, not because there are any character questions at all, but rather because you simply believe they are not equipped for the job. If some boys are playing sandlot football, and three boys who … [Read more...]

Psychological Mint, Feelings Dill, Emotional Cummin

Jesus taught us to deal with the big stuff first. He said that the weightier matters of the law took precedence. The Pharisees of His day had justified their neglect of such things by making a big deal over how they tithed out of the spice rack. Look at us go, they seemed to say. Jesus didn't fault them for that practice, but rather faulted them for substituting their very thin slices of obedience for the thick ones. Slice it both ways, Jesus said. Over the years I have noticed a tendency to try to solve convoluted problems with an appeal to a psychological spice rack. This happens in counseling, and it happens with people trying to work through controversies and big snarls. Suppose a man snuck over to his neighbor's house in the middle of the night in order to shoot his dog. Suppose further that the dog-owner was a big personality who hardly ever let other people get a word in edgewise, who was an obnoxious bore at dinner parties, and who picked his teeth in an unsightly manner. When … [Read more...]

I Hope He Takes My Call!

Some weeks ago, I did some protestantial hooting about an upcoming encyclical from the pope on global warming. According to an informed source, my post has apparently caused some ongoing consternation among some of our Catholic friends. Although I have promised a handsome apology if it turns out the pope actually thinks that global warming is a boatload of hooey, some think this is inconsistent on my part. Since I don't want to cause any unnecessary heartburn, here is a brief explanation. What if, the argument goes, someone said that they read some newspaper account saying Wilson is a racist, and they believed it. But, they say, if proof to the contrary is produced, they promise to apologize handsomely, just like me apologizing to the pope. Isn't that the same situation as my comments about the pope? No, but it is at least a reasonable question. What is the difference then? The article I was using as the basis for my comments was a positive article, favorably citing the pope for his … [Read more...]

No Mas

As some may know, I have had a link to the Little Geneva website under the Moonbats category, and which I had labeled as "Clever Zionist Tricks." I am now removing that link because it appears as though the website has folded. Whatever the reason, I am grateful that the number of attack web sites has now gone down by at least one. There have been some connections and affinities between these sites (Seabrook, Vance, Metzler, et al), and so this may have a broader effect as well. Let's hope so. The author of the site also stated that he wants to live at peace with his neighbor in the next phase of his life. I wish him well in that effort. … [Read more...]

To Get the Chimps Jumping?

When accusations are brought against anyone, it is crucial for all potential participants, witnesses, or observers to think of the matter biblically. This is because it is perilously easy to fall into that species of do-goodism that wants to uproot the tares, but that kind of do-goodism is at root diabolical. This is true of accusations of private wrong-doing (e.g. embezzlement) and accusations of public heresy. I have already shown that the two need to be handled differently, according to Scripture. The first should be handled by the elders of the people, who conduct a careful investigation (Dt. 19). The second, as a public matter, should be handled as a public matter in public view. Jesus said to ask the people what He taught. But even with this difference acknowledged, there is still a common element in both situations that everyone should be aware of. First, we need to see that -- from Genesis to Revelation -- the godly prosecutor has a paucity of role models. The overall theme … [Read more...]

Appealing to the Cheap Seats

Normally I would file comments on the Steve Wilkins deal under Auburn Avenue Stuff. Why not? It's the name of his church, after all. But there is another aspect of this, and so I want to make just a few comments about this thing under "A Justice Primer." This is not an allegation of personal wrongdoing which is denied by the accused, and which then needs to be proven. In that kind of situation, we need to have all the factors that I have written about earlier -- presumption of innocence, two and three witnesses, accountability for the accusers, and so on. But this is a different kind of allegation entirely, and evidence needs to be handled differently. Not surprisingly, the Bible has something to say about this as well. Jesus was accused of teaching certain doctrines that His adversaries (for various reasons) twisted and misunderstood, and it is very interesting to note what the Lord's response to this was. The high priest then asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his doctrine. … [Read more...]

Braying Contests

In these days of web slander, what should a ministry's rule of thumb be in responding to such things? There are two basic principles to remember. First, if a charge has any surface plausibility (or possible "traction") at all, do not let it go unanswered. The Scriptures are full of vigorous replies to various saucy coppersmiths. But it is not necessary to spend the rest of your life doing this, answering every detail, because the kind of heart that does this sort of thing is good at spinning out details, frequently ex nihilo, and then you have hopped on the little squirrel cage run. But if you answer the central charges forcefully, cogently, and scripturally, then this gives any fair-minded individuals who hear about it all that they need. "Okay, this is clearly a Proverbs 18:17 situation." This is what Doug Phillips' church recently did -- and a well done to them, incidentally -- and the result is that strife has now broken out between the Sunni and Shia factions of the web … [Read more...]

Enemy Theology

We have been accused of all manner of perfidy here in Moscow, and for those who are following the proceedings with interest, the accusations need to be divided into two categories. The first category is that of specific accusations of specific sins or crimes -- pillaging the deacons' fund, or hating black people, or something like that. The way such accusations have been made (with enthusiasm and abandon), and the way some people have entertained them, was one of the reasons for this justice primer series of posts. If someone is accused of robbing a bank, the Bible tells us what is required before they can be convicted of having done it. Diligence in learning how to process accusations like this is an important spiritual discipline, and it is a prerequisite to wisdom in the second category. If you can't run with men, how will you run with horses? The second category of accusation is a global one. For example, one of the things we are accused of is the offense of cultivating an "enemy … [Read more...]