29 October 2009

Book review: Death by Love, by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears

by Dan Phillips

I already shared what it has been like reading the Olive Tree software version of this book on my iPhone. Now to the contents of the book — though first, I will remark that a disadvantage of reading an iPhone version is that I can't easily refer to page numbers.

My reaction to this book is very varied, as I've come to expect from Driscoll. And that isn't, in itself, a good thing.

First, I think the premise is absolutely brilliant (and was supported by a terrific ad-campaign). Driscoll takes a pastoral approach to number of real-life counseling encounters, describes them, and then writes "letters from the cross." That is to say, in each situation, Driscoll takes an aspect of Christ's atonement and applies it to each situation, each human need or brokenness or sin.

In this, the book reminds me of a book I read years ago named Search for Significance, by Robert McGee. Without rabbit-trailing on that particular book, what I liked about it was that McGee took fundamental soteriological truths and applied them to human need — as opposed to saying, "Everyone wants to feel loved and lacks confidence, God loves you, just keep repeating Philippians 4:13 to yourself," as many do.

So I love where Driscoll and Breshears start with this book. It's exactly the sort of thing we all need to do. We say, "Preach the Gospel — not just to the unsaved, but to the church, and to yourself," and we insist that the Gospel bears on all of life. But then do we do it, do we work it out, do we bring the Gospel? Or do we content ourselves with moralizing advice? Driscoll makes a manly effort to do what we all say we should do.

Does he succeed? Largely, I'd say yes. Driscoll gets into a wide range of aspects of the Gospel, not in the least shrinking from controversial facets such as penal, subsitutionary atonement and propitiation. In issue after issue, he comes down on the Biblical side. With solid Biblical support, some good documentation, and earnest applications of the many facets of the one brilliant gem (such as Christus Victor, Christus Exemplar, etc.)

All this Driscoll and Breshears do well, forcefully, persuasively, wholesomely, and articulately.

And boy oh boy, you're just waiting for that "but," aren't you?

I'm genuinely sorry to have to say that there's more than one "but." The first, elephant-in-the-room "but" is Driscoll's deliberately-crafted image. By his own insistent and repeated behavior, Driscoll has put a pall over his ministry through his readiness to do anything for a laugh, for a shock, for being seen as "Reformed Theology's Bad Boy!" The way Driscoll has dealt with brotherly and fatherly reproof just can't be shrugged off, and that's a pity. It's a pity because this book shows Driscoll is capable of some truly good, effective work.

But that same baneful taint spills over into the book as well. Really, Mark, does everyone you meet have primarily sexual problems? Chapter after chapter, we have to read about naked bodies, fondling, and sex of various kinds. The word "sex" occurs 27X, "sexual" another 26X, along with other related terms and uncomfortable modifiers. It's not always graphic, it's just there... and there, and there, and there, and....

True: the chains and harm of sexual sin are out there. True: we  must deal with it. True: the message of the Cross is needed and relevant. But really — is it that prevalent, requiring this degree of specificity? Two millennia of Christian pastoral writing, and only now it has to be gone into over and over?

Don't try putting the "prude" label on me. It won't fit. But I'm okay with the "not-everything-that-can-be-said-should-be-said," Ephesians 5:3-12 label.

Plus, there's Driscoll's obsession with being perceived as a big, tough, chest-thumping, manly-man. Why is it so important to Mark to convince everyone how tough and manly and rude and crude he is — so much tougher and manlier and ruder and cruder than all us pantywaists?

For instance, in chapter nine, Driscoll counsels a wicked, sinful old man who (Driscoll keeps impressing on us) really makes him angry. Driscoll hates this guy. He writes that "everything in me wanted to ...give him the beating of his life." Because, you know, beating up a dying old man is the manly thing to do.

Driscoll wants us to know that "I did my job and decided to assault the old man with my words instead of my fists." Driscoll metaphorically grabbed this old, dying man by the neck and rubbed his face in his own feces. (BTW, that isn't an exaggeration: Pastor Mark judged that the man "needed to sit in his own feces for a season until he smelled his filth.")

What's more, Driscoll wants us to know that he cussed at the old man and called him horrible names — employing, Driscoll adds coyly, "some other  words I won't write because some good church folks could not handle it."

Got that? Nothing wrong with the words. Driscoll isn't apologetic about them. See, they're not a problem. We're the problem. Because, don't you know, we're not real, and gritty, and tough, and manly-men — like Driscoll is! He's real. He's 100% first-class male. We're just "good church folks" — girly-men? — who can't "handle" those big, bad manly words.

Manly words, by the way, that The Man never found the need to use.

So this (wretched, sinful, wicked, repellant — it's all true) old man breaks down and weeps. Does Pastor Mark apologize or soften? No, it just makes him mad. Because he's so tough! And manly! In fact, when Driscoll finally gets around to granting that the old sinner might find forgiveness in Christ, it seems to be with palpable reluctance.

In chapter six, Driscoll criticizes church guys who don't teach what he does (about anger) as "flaccid." In fact, Driscoll uses that word again and again in that chapter: "flaccid... flaccid... flaccid...."  Huh, Mark; what are you trying to say about guys who don't teach what you teach? Maybe your point's just too subtle.

Also, Driscoll dabbles in trendy notions of doing battle with demons by seeing them behind some temptations, talking to demons, ordering them about and the like. His exegesis is weak, but he stays well-shy of obsession.

And hey, turns out Driscoll's an Amyraldian. His argument is made with great confidence, Driscoll calls it the "unlimited-limited-atonement" view, and he tries hard to distinguish it from your daddy's Amyraldianism — but his case falls far short of convincing. Driscoll provides no answer for the question of how people suffer eternally (as he affirms) because of sins for which Jesus already made full atonement. So for all his vaunted "Reformed" cred, Driscoll's yet another four-pointer.

Back to the positive. Driscoll goes toe to toe with universalism repeatedly. In his letter to his dearly-loved little son Gideon, Driscoll tells him that as much as he loves his son, he loves Jesus more. If his son grows and apostatizes, Driscoll pledges to oppose him. It's bracing and instructive, in this Franky-Schaeffer day, to see Driscoll's commitment to God's truth, to loving Jesus more than he clearly loves his son.

Driscoll also seriously smacks down nonsense such as finding self-esteem in the Gospel. This is also good.

So in sum: the book is like what I've heard of Driscoll's preaching. He communicates sharply and articulately. There's a lot of good, but it is marred by elements seemingly reflective of personal issues, and by the reputation Driscoll has crafted and earned and kept, and has chosen not to mortify.

The former simply renders the latter all the sadder.

Dan Phillips's signature

122 comments:

Johnny Dialectic said...

Your reaction to Driscoll is sort of the same as mine, based upon his preaching. He's obviously very smart and a very good communicator, and has some great insights. Perhaps sometimes he's tinged with a bit too much self-awareness, a bit too studied in entertainment or "shock" values. I know why he does it, but do wish he'd do less.

I am happy to hear about his Amyraldism, though of course I find it inconsistent the "other way." But the "manly man" stuff gets to me. There are other pastor-writers who seem to want to make this their "brand." Feels a bit like a pose.

Daniel Portela said...

Hey Dan,

Thanks for the review. I am about halfway through the book and have picked up on a couple of those things as well.

Driscoll's unlimited, limited atonement view has always puzzled me as it does not tie up certain loose ends as you pointed out.

My one point of disagreement with you is that there is too much talk of sex. I am a couple of generations younger than you and the sexual attack that is heaved upon my generation, and the future ones, I believe (because of the internet), is much heavier than it was previously.

I would go as far as saying that the sexual battle for young men is the most serious issue that the church will have to deal with in the future years, especially as these guys take up leadership roles.

As you can see in Challies blog, he has a similar view and has come out with a series of texts on "sexual theology".

I do agree with you that Driscoll has stepped over the line several times before in sermons and such, but I haven't seen him get crude in this book (at least so far). But by what I have seen as the topics for each chapter I have pretty much gone over the ones where he attacks lust and sexual sin.

I actually think that his combativeness against sexual sin is a direct fruit of where he ministers and the age of his congregation.

I am not saying that sexual sin was not an issue before, but I do think that today there is a much higher % of men getting addicted to sex and the sins that walk with it than there were before (especially in the church).

Sincerely,

Daniel

besiderself said...

If Driscoll is unwilling to listen to older, wiser guys about his crudeness, how come so many of you are willing to give him free airtime and advertising by mentioning him and his books in your blogs?

Even though your comments are negatively exhortative, you're giving him press. And that's worth something. In fact, it seems to be working quite well.

The Damer said...

I find your critique of Amyraldians interesting. Unless something has radically changed in the last few years the J-Mac, Grace, Masters crew have always been strong 4 pointers. I was told to not bother applying there in the mid 90s because of my Non-dispensational Eschatology and was questioned strongly and not altogether positively about my 5 pointyness.

Your first critique seems harsh and somewhat unrealistic. Was the Grace-braintrust really expecting Mark to come back to them and bow down before their leadership? It's pretty clear that Piper intervened and rebuked Mark pretty sharply. I think he responded appropriately.

Finally, Mark does appear to have just a bit of short mans disease. It could be worse.

DJP said...

Really, damer? What relationship do you think I have to MacArthur, Grace to You, GCC, or any of that?

Really, besiderself? You think Driscoll would read this and think, "Ahh, yes; just what I love to read"?

Jim Pemberton said...

You know, Jesus shouldn't have railed on the Pharisees so much. He was just giving them press.

Luke said...

I'm mid way through reading this too, and have to agree with the lukewarm review.

I think the concept is excellent and looking at his pastoral method (except verbally beating up an old man - haven't got there yet) is helpful. He takes their issue and finds where they have misunderstood the gospel and explains it to them, never sugar coating their sin.

My issue is that this book aims to handle some very important doctrines about the cross and I feel that it just doesn't explain them well, which is a REAL shame. I think the fact that Driscoll is not a theologian and has not had serious theological training (other than part time and self teaching) really shows. The fact that he can write such a book without this shows his intelligence, but I do find myself wondering what could have been....

coxapaua said...

Thanks DJP. Another helpful review.
The theses of the book sounds excellent, shame about the ever present sex theme
Disappointing to read that Driscoll is an Amyraldian. I must disagree with Damer. MacArthur's view of the Atonement is very much in line with 'The Synod of Dort' and was clearly explained in his series on the Doctrines of Grace.
.

Fred Butler said...

I find your critique of Amyraldians interesting. Unless something has radically changed in the last few years the J-Mac, Grace, Masters crew have always been strong 4 pointers.

Phil?
Would you bury this dead horse once and for all.

Steve said...

Having witnessed this syndrome firsthand in the life of a well educated pastor, all of these negative characteristics are intended to hide what's going on inside the man. It's all a ruse, which will ultimately be exposed by a fall. God forbid in Mark's case, but the Father does reject the proud and gives grace to the humble. Being obsessed by the sensual side is merely symptomatic of the root problem, Pride.

1Cor1031 said...

Jim Pemberton, nice. Very nice. That made me laugh.

Thanks for the review Dan. I've come close several times to buying this book. I've noticed the same problems with Driscoll that you have noted from reading this book, and that's why I've never followed through with the purchase. There was always something that told me not to buy the book. But I would pick it up again the next time I saw it, and reconsider.

The issue he has with being viewed as a tough guy, always trying to get a laugh, check out all the great illustrations I have for each and every sermon series I do . . . has always grated on me. Maybe that's my problem, maybe I should pray about my attitude. Or, maybe I should pray Piper has more influence on him because he has the potential, as shown in this book, to be really great.

1Cor1031 said...

coxapaua . . . have you ever listened to John MacArthur's sermon titled, "For Whom Did Christ Die?".

I think you will find his view of the atonement to be very much in line with the rest of us 5 pointers.

Gary said...

From Driscoll's sermons on unlimited-limited, he doesn't sound like he's advocating Amyraldism in the "hypothetical redemption" sense (per the link you provided). It sounds more like he's arguing that Christ bought common grace on the Cross as part of the atonement. He talks a lot about the good that the world reaps through Christ, in terms of education, morality, etc.

I agree however that, even in his sermons, his scriptural support is weak at best, and there are serious implications for systematics that he doesn't address. But he himself said, "I hold to a high view of inerrant Scripture and am trying to be biblical, even when it makes a mess of my systematics."

Penn Tomassetti said...

I appreciate the honest review since I don't have the time or interest to read what Mark Driscoll writes. I have to depend on the reviews of others.

Anyway, I wanted to say that I do believe impurity, fornication, lust, adultery, etc. are extremely difficult sins to do battle with in our culture and need really good, Biblical and Godly counsel for believers who may be tempted often. We are in a battle with Satan. However, there is a real problem with being explicit, because then you are hurting the person being counseled with mental images they are trying to escape from. That just doesn't work. I don't know where Driscoll was on that in his book, but I do think it is an issue worth discussing.

About being angry at a sinful old man, there seems to be a real problem there with Christian maturity. Especially since Scripture calls us to be gracious in our speach (Col. 4:6). Some believe Jesus showed no grace when verbally blasting the pharisees, but I disagree. Jesus was calling them to true repentance before their own hardness and unbelief sealed their judgment in hell. I imagine that perhaps some of those pharisees were saved later on. I hope so. As for the unbelieving ones, at least Jesus did in fact expose their hypocrisy for their own benefit, that they might have escaped the trap of the devil if God had willed it to be so.

That's what I was thinking :P

Chad V. said...

What Driscoll did;

"What's more, Driscoll wants us to know that he cussed at the old man and called him horrible names — employing, Driscoll adds coyly, "some other words I won't write because some good church folks could not handle it.""

What the scripture says;

" What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus." Rom. 6:1-11


I think I'lll go with scripture.

DJP said...

1Cor1031 - yes, my brother Phil will raise an eyebrow as I note that Driscoll mentions his "friend" John Piper a couple of times.

One prays that Driscoll's friend will be a Proverbs 27:6a friend to him in an effective way, and not a "cover" for refusing to address issues of real concern.

DJP said...

Gary, he tries that "Jesus died for everyone without exception, but in a special and effective way for the elect" line. He even presses 1 Timothy 4:10 into service, as if Paul is saying "God sorta spiritually saves everyone, though He ends up sending them to Hell; but He really really saves believers."

Andrew Faris said...

Perhaps there is a bit too much love of slamming Driscoll? More in the meta than in the review. Y'all might remember that DJP's review is mostly positive, but then in come the comments thanking you for steering folks away from the book.

And we can't blame the readers entirely: somehow your review, while commending it generally despite your concerns, leaves me with the feeling that you mostly didn't like it. I got the feeling as I read the positives that they were obligatory because we like the gospel enough to like the basic idea of the book, but the negatives were where the real meat was- or something like that.

Regarding sexual sin, is it possible that Driscoll hammers on the subject more simply because it is so obviously ugly sin? That is, the cross is enough for even the most glaringly terrible sin, the kind of stuff that everyone can agree is downright evil. That's just one idea.

Aaron said...

I wanted to read this book specficlly for chapter 5 to see how he deals with a person who has admited to abuseing a child. His tone to say the least wasnotwhat I think was good pastoral counsel i.e. starting out a letter to a guy who obvisully has a lot of guilt and shame and then tellhim it was better you had never been born just doesnt strike me as good pastoral counsel. Also the whole concept of publishing letters in response to people seeking Pastoral counsel seems to violate the sanctity of the postion Driscol holds.

DJP said...

Yeah, Aaron, I wondered if I'd missed some explanation, you know - something like "These are composites of counseling cases" or suchlike. If it's there, I couldn't find it. It's presented as if these are actual individual to whom he wrote these actual letters.

Maybe it's in the "Extras" feature on the DVD.

(c:

Eric said...

Andrew,

Can you provide a few examples of "slamming Driscoll" from the comments in order to illustrate what you view as slamming and taking joy in it?

Solameanie said...

Whatever became of "Do not speak sharply to an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father?"

Yelling and swearing at an old man seems to fall a bit short of that biblical injunction.

Daryl said...

I'm with you on the sex thing. Every generation seems to think that no one had it as bad as WE do.

Well I remember my teen years. I remember not having access to porn.
I remember not needing it, and wondering if I'd ever be free of this temptation.

Life is hard, sin is constant, and we face only such temptations as are common to man.

Meanie, my thoughts exactly. How does one become a lead pastor without meeting the basic qualification of elder or deacon?

Mike Riccardi said...

Gary, he tries that "Jesus died for everyone without exception, but in a special and effective way for the elect" line. He even presses 1 Timothy 4:10 into service, as if Paul is saying "God sorta spiritually saves everyone, though He ends up sending them to Hell; but He really really saves believers."

Dan, could you distinguish this with Spurgeon's famous line: "Christ's death brought some good things for all men and all good things for some men"?

Oh, and about MacArthur and limited atonement, just check out his NT commentary on 2 Peter 2:1. That should erase all notions of "4-pointeryness."

Phil Johnson said...

Fred: "Would you bury this dead horse once and for all?"

Well: John MacArthur is a 5-point Calvinist, not an Amyraldian.

Nevertheless Damer isn't totally out to lunch, either:

1. John MacArthur has not always been a 5-point Calvinist. Until the early 1990s he used to call himself a "4.95-point Calvinist." He has been a solid 5-pointer since he preached through 2 Corinthians some 15-18 years ago.

2. The Master's Seminary faculty are not all 5-point Calvinists. (Incidentally, I am not affiliated with TMS in any way and the faculty there would probably appreciate it if I stressed the fact that I do not speak for them or represent them in any official capacity. Ever.) I haven't polled them, but I would guess that several of them have a modified Amyraldian or 4-point view of the atonement. I think I have even heard the expression "limited-unlimited atonement" from there.

3. The EXTENT of the atonement is not addressed in the TMS doctrinal statement or the doctrinal standards of Grace church. I don't think anyone here makes a great deal of that debate, especially in intramural discussions.

4. Personally, I don't care if Driscoll's a 4-pointer. That's not something I would take him to task for--except that it does seem to contradict the claim he and his supporters commonly make, that he is "Reformed."

Andrew Faris said...

Eric,

Yikes! Point well taken- I wish I could edit my last comment. Maybe it was more from DJP's sarcasm in the review itself, or what I find to be a bit of an anti-Driscoll hobby horse on the blog more generally.

I guess I just reacted to the fact that Death by Love is a book where a pastor focuses unwaveringly on the total sufficiency of the cross to cover every sin, and the response is "he focuses on sex too much and gets too angry."

There's room for critique, I'm sure- I haven't gotten to chapter 9 yet, myself. But let's note how many modern pastors would rather preach about emotional brokenness than sin and whose counseling is amateur psychology instead of gospel-centeredness, and then appreciate that Driscoll has really contributed something, especially considering his massive audience.

All that to say: I take back my "slamming Driscoll" comment and appreciate the corrective!

Andrew

DJP said...

If you just take me at face-value, Andrew, does it really not hang together? What do I say?

* Brilliant premise
* Largely well-executed
* Marred by the following factors

Example: my eldest son and I share the same birthday. We had a tradition of going to a floating seafood restaurant. Usually good service, very good food - but flies. Eventually the flies coupled with some other factors to make us give up that particular place.

Do you have to question my sincerity in saying the food was good, and we liked that it was a floating restaurant (a boat, actually), because I say the flies etc. eventually drove us away?

Phil Johnson said...

Andrew Faris: ". . . a bit of an anti-Driscoll hobby horse on the blog more generally."

Seriously? Do you actually read the blog?

I propose a test: search our blog for the past 6 months and list the "anti-Driscoll" posts you find. I'd like an exact count, please. with 120 or so posts since May 1, it shouldn't be hard to do that research.

I do hope our stance on Driscoll is fairly clear. But to suggest that we have made him into a "hobby horse" is ridiculous.

DJP said...

BTW, perhaps a clarifying thought just occurred to me.

Who here wouldn't run to buy a book with the exact same premise, but written by Ligon Duncan?

I know I'd love to read such a book. Everything I know about Lig tells me the man could teach me reams about (A) the Gospel, (B) being a pastor, and (C) pairing the two.

frenchcanadianmissionary said...

When worlds collide: You guys and iMonk discussing Driscoll on the same day.

DJP said...

I'd say something, but I don't want to get "Mr. Phillipsed" again just yet.

Eric said...

Andrew,

I suspected that you might soften your stance upon closer examination, and appreciate that you have done so. However, even in softening your stance you fall into the trap that you inaccurately accuse Dan of falling into. By summing Dan's criticism up as "he focuses on sex too much and gets too angry", you are accusing him of being unbalanced and ignoring the good. Not only did Dan not do that, but you engaged in exactly that activity in your review of his review.

Andrew Faris said...

DJP and Phil,

I just went back and re-read the original post and grant again that I was needlessly harsh. Please accept my apology.

I'll save any further comments for interaction with the content itself.

Andrew

P.S. Phil- is that a new image? I can't remember if I've seen it before or not, and I like it. I envy your hat.

DJP said...

'tsall-good, bro.

DJP said...

And Andrew, don't look too closely at Phil's picture.

It will hyp-mo-tize you.

Jon Cardwell said...

Thanks, Dan. Appreciate the review very much.

Though I haven't had to really sit down to read it, snippets here and there, what I have read has lined up in my thinking with all you have written.

John said...

I think a bit more focus on the text of the book and bit less focus on Mark would be more helpful. When we study historical theology it is the written ideas that matter, not so much the individual who wrote them. Frankly, I am a little disturbed by the evangelical fascination with personalities. That being said, a few notes on the content of the book:
1) The book does describe Amyrauldian soteriology, but I am not sure that MD espoused that on purpose - I'm sure we have all heard pastors butcher soteriology in one context or another. The lesson here is be very careful what you write and what you read.
2) I don't know what city you live in, brother, but in mine sexual sin comprises about 80% of everything I deal with. It is rampant. I imagine it is worse in Seattle. I was very uncomfortable with some of the imagery in this book, and that is a good thing - whether it should have been written or not is another issue. The lesson here is that we have got to come to grips with the horrible slavery to sexual sin that our very people are struggling with. For an excellent message on this topic, try Jim Hamilton's chapel address on David and Uriah's wife, here.

Joshua Allen said...

I really dislike the "me too" posts, since there's no point in giving our own "reformed bad boy" a big head, but I have to say that this was a really good post.

It's tricky to write a balanced review that highlights significant negatives, without coming across as having an axe to grind. By being very specific and tightly-scoped about the negatives, this review succeeds in being informative, persuasive, and useful to anyone considering the book.

CR said...

PJ:
1. John MacArthur has not always been a 5-point Calvinist. Until the early 1990s he used to call himself a "4.95-point Calvinist." He has been a solid 5-pointer since he preached through 2 Corinthians some 15-18 years ago.


Hmmm...I thought he had been a 4.5 Calvinist, never heard the 4.95 calivinist thing. As to why he changed to 5 point after his study in 2 Cor, again, just goes to show you, why verse by verse expository preaching is so, so, important both for the preacher and his congregation.

Shawn said...

It's sad that Driscoll feels he has to talk the way he does to be seen as manly...

Before coming to saving faith, I spent 8 years of my life as a Skinhead, then I hung up my boots, and started hanging around 1%er Motorcycle Clubs for the next few years...

So, when Christ opened my eyes to my sin, I had this dilemma, how do I conduct myself in a way that would not dishonor Christ, and at the same time wouldn't loose the reputation I had earned as a toughguy.

The conclusion I came to was that my pre-occupation with worrying about this particular thing was pointless...I just couldn't look past "I must decrease and He must increase"

The point of all this is that I feel for Mark, I think I know what he is going through. It's just to bad because at times I enjoy his teaching but at others I am grieved over his reluctance to flee from corse language. So I have decided to just stick listening and reading teachers who are going to promote my sanctification and not justify my fleshy desires. I really do hope Mark will come to see what the Lord showed me.

stratagem said...

"Steve" wonderfully expressed exactly what I was thinking about MD as I read Dan's review: Pride; short man's disease if you prefer, seems to be in charge. And I don't even know if Driscoll is short.
Mark may be intelligent and know a lot - but has he let what he knows shape him? I'm not as sure about that.

Bob said...

I don't feel that I have too much to add, except to say that when young men want to talk, I almost always want to ask them up front nowadays, "so, what sexual sins are you dealing with"? And women, "So, who molested you"? It's not that bad, but Mark has certainly touched a chord with thousands...maybe hundreds of thousands of young people looking for authenticity.
For the man stuff, the feminism that crept into our churches over the last 50 years needed addrssing in a big way. Mark has taken this to the limit.
From what I have read, he has examined the extent of the atonement and is not Amyraldian. I think that is over the top. I think.
Yes, I think he is over the edge and at times is on a dangerous edge...for himself as much as others. But from reading him, I think he knows this. I think we should all devote serious prayer for Mark.
Of course, I would assume that you good brothers have already done that extensively. In fact, I know that you probably have. OK... Have you?

BrettR said...

I read the book awhile ago, not long after it came out. The things that you have a problem with did not really even raise a red flag with me. As I read it, I liked the brashness and cavalier manner.

But...

That does not mean to say I think Driscoll is in the right based ont the argument "but it didn't cause me offense." It actually should be a warning light on my dash to tell me to look at my motives and thought life to see where I am too numb to the dung that I am standing in it.

Though...

I would recommend this book to a Christian who needs to know how the Gospel is needed in every dark corner of their lives including sexual deviance and addiction that is extremely pervasive amongst men. My point would be that the "ubiquitous one" (Challies) is doing a better job of that right now on his blog than I have seen anyone do in being shocking or crude. That said (again it may have more to do with my weaknesses), I really didn't see anything in his book that made me not want to recommend the book to my own mother.

Great review and it helped me to separate the wheat from the Amyraldian chaff.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

Phil Johnson, I am glad you pointed out that John MacArthur is a 5-point Calvinist. I was wondering myself there for a minute. I post at SF and find many there in agreement with the 5 points. I think most people there would agree that Dr. MacArthur is one.

DJP, I am glad it was you that spent the money to buy Mark's book because frankly my budget does not allow for questionable purchases. I still have nightmares about his rendition of "Song of Solomon."

God bless you both,
Mary Palshan

Rachael Starke said...

Great "good vs. bad" review Dan.

As a member of a church with a lot of the kinds of people Driscoll's church is drawing, what I get so frustrated about with Driscoll's writing and teaching is how his personal behavior and style gets in the way of what could be an even more effective ministry as a "bridge-builder" theologian. By that I mean - there are a lot of unchurched/new believers at our church who want and need the richness and fullness of the doctrines of grace defined and expressed in "real world" terms. A lot of my contemporary heroes - Piper, Spurgeon, even Carson - are tough for them to follow. Driscoll has a unique ability to explain essential ideas of the faith in a very contemporary way. It's effective and really valuable.

But when you couple that skill with the pugnacious attitude and the one-note harping on sexual sin (to the exclusion of ones like, for example, pride or anger), I actually think it becomes dangerous. Pupils tend to take on the characteristics of their masters, good and bad.

As for the sexual stuff in particular, I think it was in the Screwtape Letters that C.S. Lewis makes the excellent point that sometimes one of the most effective tricks the Enemy plays with someone who is battling with a besetting sin, is to focus all of their thought and energy on their successes and failures with that one sin. Sucesses provoke pride; failures provoke despair, because our focus is, in both cases, on ourselves. Far better to focus continually on Christ and who He is and what He has done for our whole life - the fruit He is producing elsewhere, the victory over sin in other areas. That's what should then offer someone renewed joy and hope that he or she will yet have victory over those tougher sins too.

DJP said...

Well, Mary... it was a review copy. So not even that.

donsands said...

A couple things struck me as I read the comments:

"Regarding sexual sin, is it possible that Driscoll hammers on the subject more simply because it is so obviously ugly sin?" -Andrew


" I still have nightmares about his rendition of "Song of Solomon." -Mary
"C.S. Lewis makes the excellent point that sometimes one of the most effective tricks the Enemy plays with someone who is battling with a besetting sin, is to focus all of their thought and energy on their successes and failures with that one sin. Sucesses provoke pride; failures provoke despair, because our focus is, in both cases, on ourselves." -Rachel

I remember way back when I used to watch Jimmy Swaggert, when he was the numero evangelist in Church land, and he was very explicit about sexual sin.
A couple months later, well, it's history.

Mark might be a godly pastor in his sexual life, and doesn't struggle, I hope he is. But I wonder about these things.

Maybe I'm making too much out of it.

Thanks for the review.

I usually stay clear of Mark's books, ever since I read 'Vintage Jesus'.
Very similar book to your review of this book, good theology, and crude, and even blasphemous stuff.

CR said...

Rachael: snip snip By that I mean - there are a lot of unchurched/new believers at our church who want and need the richness and fullness of the doctrines of grace defined and expressed in "real world" terms.snip snip

See, this is the problem (and I'm not saying you're doing this) that I've mentioned before when our culture or Christians or the church place too much emphasis on form and beauty.

It really shouldn't matter the way a preacher conveys truth (as long as it is done in love) as long as it's truth. We should be able to listen to a Mac, Sproul, Piper Lloyd-Jones, or the thick accent of Derek Thomas or Sinclair Ferguson.

With regards to Dan's review, I'm not surprised at it by all. The first sermon I ever heard from Driscoll was when he described the crucifixion. It's not that it was offensive. The gospel is offensive to those God has not regenerated. But he used coarse and vulgar language.

I was really surprised to learn that he was a 4 pointer. I mean much of the Reformed community has made him out to be Reformed when in fact he is not. So, that part of Dan's review really surprised me. I didn't know that.

John Doe said...

Dan,

I guess i am disappointed to see you, seeing you clearly point out the regular Driscoll garbage that made it to this new book again, and then not be able to refrain from *any* kind of positive evaluation...

Do you really think we can have it both ways? Like, appreciate the good theology- but point out and rant a bit about the bad stuff?

Not so, Dan.

I frankly don't understand why one would want to post a public review of a book like this - it is indeed a type of promotion.

Oh, and yeah... a "terrific add campaign"? Like, separating the content from the packaging and freely 'praise' the packaging?

It is exactly the same line of thought -in reverse- that allows Driscoll and all his defenders to think that it is OK to change the 'packaging' of the preaching as long as your content (theology) remains sound.

Again: Not so, Dan.

DJP said...

Huh?

Gary said...

"Do you really think we can have it both ways? Like, appreciate the good theology- but point out and rant a bit about the bad stuff?"

Absolutely. That's what makes it a review; an honest appraisal of the good and bad of the book.

stratagem said...

John, if your point is "who cares how much Driscoll knows about the Gospel if he isn't following it?" To which I would respond, I can't say one way or the other whether he is or isn't following it? We don't know what Mark would be like if he weren't following it.

Daniel Portela said...

Not wanting to stir up trouble but as I gather from reading many comments on this post, including Phil's, should we then label 4 point calvinists as not being "reformed"?

Phil said: "4. Personally, I don't care if Driscoll's a 4-pointer. That's not something I would take him to task for--except that it does seem to contradict the claim he and his supporters commonly make, that he is "Reformed." - so then can I use the same logic and say that the teachers at the Master's Seminary who are 4 pointers aren't reformed?

Just asking...

Daniel

Mike Riccardi said...

Daniel,

I'd say you've got it pretty accurately.

Just me though.

donsands said...

Isn't it really a five pointer is the only possiblity?

I mean, all 5 points go together, don't they? If you remove limited atonement, then unconditional election means what?

Just thinking out loud.

As far as reviewing Mark's book as a good thing, I think it was very helpful.
My pastor reveiewed 'The Shack', and brought out the good things, and the bad things; mostly bad in this book.

CR said...

Daniel: Not wanting to stir up trouble but as I gather from reading many comments on this post, including Phil's, should we then label 4 point calvinists as not being "reformed"?

Correct. We should label them as not being Reformed. You have to go back to what it means to be Reformed (i.e. fully and comprehensively biblical on the gospel) and it in order to do that you have to go back to the Reformation and more specifically the Synod of Dort. They laid out what it meant be Reformed which was all five points.

And if Dan is right (and I have no reason to doubt that he is) about Driscoll and does not subscribe to limited atonement then he is not Reformed. Plain and simple. There is no such thing as a partly Reformed. It's black and white. Either you are, or you are not Reformed.

It's really quite a misnomer and quite false for him or anyone else in the Reformed community to put him out as Reformed.

I haven't been a big follower of Driscoll, pretty turned off to him after hearing his first sermon but I took at face value what others were saying about him that he is Reformed. Boy, was I duped.

John Doe said...

"Absolutely. That's what makes it a review; an honest appraisal of the good and bad of the book."

Yes, Gary, I would expect nothing 'less' from the Washington Post or the NYT...

But my comments were based on the assumption that 'contending for the truth' somehow figures in the equation of this blog's raison d'etre. Maybe I was sent to the wrong address?

Frank Turk said...

I have sworn off writing about Mark Driscoll, so I have nothing to say about that. I would like to say, however, that DJP should review more popular books. Lively and informative, Dan: good work.

Another thing that needs to be said, apparently, is that TMS is not exactly "reformed". Just ask Kim Riddlebarger.

And the last thing that needs to be said is that if "Reformed" is the be-all and end-all, then we're just another fad. But Dan's point in saying what he said is that the PR for Driscoll continues to be something more than what continued inspection seems to reveal.

Thanks. Glad I could stop by.

DJP said...

Please - don't be a stranger. Visit anytime. I have a special chair for you.

(c:

CR said...

What is TMS? Isn't that some celebrity news website?

Being Reformed I would say is essential because it has to do with the gospel and therefore salvation. The gospel and how the Lord saves men is the be all and end all and everything else pales in comparison even very, very, very important issues like baptism and eschatological views.

I was troubled with Driscoll's course language and now I'm even more troubled he rejects limited atonement and add the large almost somewhat cult following he has, well, that's troubling. He is a preacher and teacher. My hope is that he will change and this is a far more urgent issue than his coarse language.

Phil said...

More and more I'm convinced that "reformed" "5 pointers" are no more than neo-gnostics who haven't come clean. The internet is fertile ground for a man-driven high-flying-theology pick-your-club or yahoo group [or blog] to be associated with.
It's simple, and fun! After picking a group, peruse through their beliefs to get up to speed, then you are ready to jump in. Spend your time attacking or vilifying and not bothering to listen to the 'enemy'.
Us vs them, lack of Biblical support, appeals to uncited Synods and councils, seeing fault in everything, hidden knowledge, lack of reasoning through the logical implications of a theological position all make for a good internet club and a very bad understanding of scripture.
That kind of graceless un-humble attitude is infectious and insidious and has permeated almost all corners of the internet Calvinistic culture.

It's not a wonder we don't have more theologians worried.

DJP said...

So, Phil; after you get a chance to read the post, let us know whether you have anything to say about it, okay?

DJP said...

So, Phil; after you get a chance to read the post, let us know whether you have anything to say about it, okay?

stratagem said...

Was Martin Luther a 5-pointer? If not, is he excluded from amongst the Reformed by those who are 5-pointers? I honestly don't know the answer and am not being a smart aleck.

John From Down Under said...

Phil as much as I can’t overcome my strong allergic reaction to TULIPians, and I find some of your comments sometimes intensely irritating, honesty compels me to admit that your critique is spot on. Well done!

MD’s smuttiness and macho obsession are overbearing. Nonetheless, I can’t write off Driscoll altogether because there is still a lot of good in the man and his contribution to the church.

I was hoping that all the things he’s been criticized about were a passing fad, but they seem to be more in his DNA. Reformed theology but deformed expression.

Denis said...

Regarding the "unlimited-limited-atonement" I seem to recall that in the chapter, he called it a third way, a middle ground, between limited and unlimited atonement. In his review of Deep Church, Kevin DeYoung wrote: Usually, the “third way” is basically the same as one of the other two ways, only a little nicer.

So, the more I thought about it, the more I wondered if Driscoll's view really isn't just that, one of the 2 views (limited atonement), only a little nicer. It still seems to say that Jesus only specifically died for the elect, but that his death also bought common grace in some respect; that those he saved would better the temporal lives of those he didn't (I'm not sure that's how it was put, but that's how I'm remembering it!).

That said, I didn't really get some of what he said in that chapter, so I don't claim to be completely correct on this :)

Regarding the book in general, I thought it was good, but haunting. I've read a couple of Driscoll's books now and really relate to his style, but I am certainly taken aback by the rawness of some of the examples he uses. In the end, he is an author I recommend.

donsands said...

"That kind of graceless un-humble attitude is infectious and insidious and has permeated almost all corners of the internet Calvinistic culture."

That's a humble statement.

I think there's plenty of pride to go around: 5-pointers, and non-5-pointers.

John Doe said...

Dan...

my point was that this types of reviews are helping no-one, not the readers of this blog, nor MD himself.

If you find it necessary to post a review on something like this - I think you really have only two options:

1) Write simply one word: Garbage. Or,

2) Use the opportunity to issue (another) public call to mark to step down, remove himself from all ministry/public activity to seek God in solitude. For God is gracious and forgiving and there may still be hope for mark.

All else, I fear, actually encourages mark on his road to destruction, gratifies the pride of some who take it a 'valid' spiritual exercise to try to discern the degree of soundness in mark's messages and theology, and probably increases the confusion for the rest.

Just some thoughts for your contemplation.

Zaphon said...

"Does Pastor Mark apologize or soften? No, it just makes him mad. Because he's so tough! And manly! In fact, when Driscoll finally gets around to granting that the old sinner might find forgiveness in Christ, it seems to be with palpable reluctance."

"for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God." James 1:20

As for being a spiritual He-Man,remember that special mention at 5:16-18 sec.in the 60 Minutes interview here of Joel Osteen------->>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KEsimWJjg9g&feature=related
He should probably meet up with Osteen and see who can BENCH more. :-)

Phil Johnson said...

Daniel Portela: "so then can I use the same logic and say that the teachers at the Master's Seminary who are 4 pointers aren't reformed?"

The ones I know who aren't 5-pointers would probably love it if you would say they aren't "Reformed." They don't claim to be.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

I think I better reread the "Crust and the Core," by Kevin DeYoung. We all need to be gentle in our approach to differences among 5-pointers and those we feel are at -0.

I am sorry for the comment I made about Mark. If someone were to look back at my early walk with the Lord, I, too, would be ashamed of some of the things I said. I think many of us, at some time or another have not forgotten other's past transgressions, and we FORGET that God is STILL doing a mighty sanctifying work in people's hearts. It is ongoing.

I'm hoping to be that chocolate covered raisin that Kevin described below.

"Striking the balance is not easy. But let’s try hard to be discerning and grounded without always looking for the next theological misstep in our friends, our family, or the songs we sing. And let’s be able to tell the difference between wandering sheep and false teachers. We must delineate between a slightly ill-informed wording of a phrase and a purposeful rejection of truth. We must pursue a passion for fidelity to Scripture and a winsomeness that sweetens the already honey-like drippings of the word of God. Let us be more like a chocolate covered raisin, likeable on the outside and surprisingly good for you on the inside, and less like a tootsie roll pop with its brittle, crunchy exterior that must be broken through before anyone can get to the good stuff. Our theological heart, if it is worth anything, will pulse throughout our spiritual bodies, making us into someone more prayerful, more godly, and more passionate about the Bible, the lost, and the world around us. We will be theologically solid to the core, without the unnecessary crust."

Mary Palshan

GT said...

"Manly words, by the way, that The Man never found the need to use."
Wow, awesome point. Thanks for the post.

crenshaw said...

I think, in the short time I've been frequenting this fine blog, that the high point has been reached with this post. I mean, really, how will you top a photo of eyes in the process of being rolled? Brilliant.

DJP said...

LOL, thanks, Crenshaw. That actually wasn't as easy as one might've anticipated.

Daniel Portela said...

Hey Phil,

Thanks for the reply. But you didn't answer my question. :-)

Would you consider 4 pointers reformed?

Cheers,

Daniel

Mike Riccardi said...

Donsands: I mean, all 5 points go together, don't they? If you remove limited atonement, then unconditional election means what?

Precisely. Well-put.

If you ignore dispensationalist-bashing, this article is something to check out. It's called, There are No Four Point Calvinists.

A different defense of limited atonement is also found here.

And CR, TMS = The Master's Seminary.

CR said...

thanks Mike.

YnottonY said...

Both of these labels have problems, but it's probably best to distinguish between being "Calvinistic" and being "Reformed." Whether or not Driscoll should be considered "Reformed" should not hinge on whether or not he holds the strict view that Christ only suffered for the sins of the elect [what some are ambiguously calling 'Limited Atonement']. The question should be: Is he or is he not confessional? Driscoll is not confessional, or even covenantal, so it's a misnomer to call him "Reformed" for that reason alone. What is clear, however, is that Driscoll is in some sense 'Calvinistic' but he thinks that Christ suffered for the sins of all men, as he is probably being somewhat informed by Bruce Ware's position.

The "Reformed" tradition has not been monolithic on the question of the extent of Christ's satisfaction, i.e. whether he was punished for the sins of all men or the elect alone. This was hotly disputed at Dort itself [see William Robert Godfrey's Tensions Within International Calvinism: The Debate on the Atonement at the Synod of Dort, 1618-1619 (Ph.D. Dissertation, Stanford University, 1974)]. Godfrey admits that men like Martinius were "really was within the camp of orthodox Calvinism," and that he could cite Ursinus for support. Dr. Richard Muller says that Davenant, Martinius and Alsted [all Calvinistic men at Dort] had maintained similar lines of argument as Amyraut's concerning the extent of Christ's satisfaction. Muller also says that The Westminster Confession was "in fact" written with this diversity [on the extent of the satisfaction] in view, and that it confessionally encompassed the varient Reformed views on the nature of the limitation of Christ's satisfaction to the elect, just as it was inclusive of the infra- and supralapsarian views. See Richard A. Muller, Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2003), 1:76-77. He even says that Reformed churches did not identify a particular theologically defined group [including that of Saumur and Baxter] as beyond the bounds of the confessions. On pages 79-80 of the same work and volume, Dr. Richard Muller makes the following points, among others:

1. Although some distinctions can be made between the line of Swiss orthodoxy as found in Turretin and Heidegger from tha of the line of the Academy of Saumur, they are both "various lines of development within Reformed orthodoxy."

2. There is no justification for identifying the Saumur strain of Reformed thought [or the Bremen theology, the British variety of Reformed thought or that of Baxter] as being outside the bounds of Reformed orthodoxy.

3. Turretin consistently identifies the Saumur theologians as Reformed and as "our ministers."

4. Owen and Baxter acknowledged each other's theologies as belonging to "the same confessional tradition."

5. The Salmurians are a branch of the Reformed tradition standing within the boundaries established by the major national confessions and catechisms of the Reformed churches.

Muller identifies Zacharias Ursinus, Jacob Kimedoncius, Heinrich Bullinger, Wolfgang Musculus, Jerome Zanchi, William Twisse, James Ussher, John Bunyan and others as advocating a non-Amyraldian variety of "hypothetical universalism," and who wants to suggest that these men were not "Reformed"? It's revisionist history to maintain that the "Reformed" has all been in agreement and have taught the Bezan/Turretinian/Owenic model of "particular redemption" that is so popular and singularly known today.

Is Driscoll "Reformed"? No, since he is not confessional. Is Driscoll "Calvinistic"? Sure he is, in a moderate [and I would say unrefined] way.

Tony

Craig and Heather said...

Well, guess I'll pass on reading that book.



H

David Rudd said...

i don't know about all this five and four point stuff. my hunter friends tell me you should really be looking for 10 and 12 pointers.

but i did go to reform school.

am i reformed?

Phil said...

Hey Daniel,
To answer your question- if the definition of 'reformed' is that they comply theologically with the canons of Dort then yes he is, as being a '4 pointer' does not disqualify him. See section 2 article 3. If you define reformed differently then that, or we talk about more than just that issue, well then perhaps he's not reformed.
What gets me upset is that orthodoxy is the Canons and not the Bible. Are we really that concerned that when we read Matthew 13 "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field." we can't accept that the treasure is the elect but to get it Jesus buys the field because its popular to believe Jesus only suffered for the elect? Really? Scripture can't be our centerpiece why?

Dan,
I very much liked the article insofar as you use scripture to rebuke his problems. I was neutral to your point about his motivation for being manly which is an interesting observation and might well explain his vulgarity. What I was upset about has already been written above.

Sir Aaron said...

I don't understand this obsession about talking about sex and cursing. I struggle with sexual temptations not so
much wth cursng, although I admit that sometimes an expletive leaves my lips. It doesn't help to be around people who talk endlessly about such things. In fact, it just brings those temptations to the forefront. I'd rather be around people who don't speak like that. Honestly, it's more helpful to talk about something else.

Mike Riccardi said...

Phil (not Johnson),

In Matt 13:44, Jesus is not the man; we are. Jesus doesn't find humanity outside of Him to be a treasure and out of joy of getting us decides to die for us.

We, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, are given eyes to see the treasure for what it is and always has been, and in the moment of conversion we "sell all we have," by renouncing our sin and self-worship and giving our life to follow after that treasure.

As far as I know, no 5-pointers brought up confession stuff to argue whether limited atonement is correct or not. 4-pointers did though.

The only reason for discussing this is that Driscoll is commonly referred to as reformed (in the common way that form is used nowadays, i.e., referring to soteriology), but apparently denies an essential tenet of reformed soteriology.

No one was arguing truth from confessions. But if you're going to argue from Scripture, I'm sure we 5-pointers would be happy to do so... and probably on another thread that has to do with the extent of the atonement. Even before that happens, though, I figure it might help to get that parable straight.

YnottonY said...

Incidentally, some may also wish to read what Carl Trueman has said about Owen, Turretin, Amyraut and confessional Reformed boundaries.

Mike said:
"As far as I know, no 5-pointers brought up confession stuff to argue whether limited atonement is correct or not. 4-pointers did though."

I hope you're not referring to me. I brought up confessional issues since 1) that is the criteria for determining what is and what is not "Reformed." That's different from 2) bringing up confessioned to determine "whether limited atonement is correct or not," or biblically true. Issue #2 would certainly be a straw man of my point (issue #1).

Mike said:
"The only reason for discussing this is that Driscoll is commonly referred to as reformed (in the common way that form is used nowadays, i.e., referring to soteriology), but apparently denies an essential tenet of reformed soteriology."

Right, this gets back to issue #2 and the need to look at confessions for determining what Reformed teaching is. Also, if you're claiming that Driscoll is in fact [not merely as others *say*] "denying an essential tenet of Reformed soteriology, then you're contradicting the above experts in the field of historic Reformed orthodoxy that I cited, i.e. Godfrey, Muller and Trueman. If Driscoll is in fact "Amyraldian" on the issue of the extent of Christ's satisfaction, as he has been labeled, then he hasn't denied an essential tenet of Reformed soteriology at all. The Reformed Confessions allow for differences, including the Ussher/Davenant/Martinian trajectory, the Cameron/Amyraut trajectory, and the Turretinian/Owenic trajectory. None of these, according to Muller, should be isolated as the "Truly Reformed."

Phil, the one you're responding to above, is conflating the issue of Reformed orthodoxy with the issue of biblical fidelity. What is relevant for this thread is the former, and not the latter, since whether Driscoll should be considered "Reformed" one of the issues in the main post.

Driscoll's atonement views do *not* in and of themselves disqualify him from being "Reformed." His lack of being covenantal and/or traditionally confessional do. He should not be called Reformed [as that is a confessional label], but it's fair to call him Calvinistic, since the latter is a soteriological stance.

The Damer said...

Pick on the poor Amyraldians all you want if you must but in the end we all believe in a limited atonement.

Who knew the "reformed" club was so exclusive? It's like Revenge of the Nerds where they start their own fraternity because none of the cool kids will have anything to do with them.

Besides most, if not all, of you are heretics anyway with your silly adult immersion baptism and your wonky Dispensational Eschatology. Please don't call yourselves "reformed" if you don't buy the whole package!!! Tongue firmly in cheek

A couple of directed blasts...
Dan,
Thanks for a fair and honest book review.

Phil,
Thanks for clarifying Dr. MacArthur's position. There for a moment I thought I had dreamed my interactions with folks on your home turf.

stratagem said...

Matthew 13 ...we can't accept that the treasure is the elect but to get it Jesus buys the field because its popular to believe Jesus only suffered for the elect? Really? Scripture can't be our centerpiece why?

I always thought this analogy in Mt. 13 was used by Christ to illustrate the reaction of a believer who realizes the truth of the Gospel, recognizes how much more valuable it is than anything else they have, then rids themselves of everything they have to get rid of in order to obtain it.
???

Separately, HEY could someone answer my question about Luther? Was he considered to be reformed or not, by the definition in use here? Thanx.

Hayden said...

Daniel,

I had a professor at TMS that was baffled that we at TMS were being classified as 'reformed' because the majority of TMS are not 'reformed' in eschatology. TMS is not a reformed seminary. (I am a graduate and am fine with saying that)

I get Phil's point. Most of the 'truly reformed' people would cast out a dispensationalist or even call out a 4-pointer, yet no word about Mark.

donsands said...

I just heard there shall be a Conference in California with RC Sproul, John MacArthur, Michael Horton, and Alistair Begg as the speakers/teachers/preachers. How I would love to be there for that 'Reformed' gathering.

Daryl said...

Ain't bunny trails fun??

Thanks for this review Dan. I've never been a huge fan of MD and, in the light of his not-so-subtle style have stayed away from listening to his stuff.
Recently, having been so out of the loop on him, and knowing that he really is a gifted I've been wondering if I ought to give him another listen.

I don't think I will, sadly. I just know me, and know that I can easily miss his good stuff because of the...other...

This was a really balanced review, thanks.

Rhology said...

Stratagem,

See here and here.

Phil said...

Mike,
In Matt 13 let's take a look at the context shall we? As we all know the farmer who sows in 1-8 is us.. and in 18-23 we are also the crop.
In 24-30 we are the farmer who sows good seed. The Devil must of course be the evil farmer, but then at the end we get to bring in our sinful nature and good nature to the barn and sort ourselves out. Sounds vaguely Ariminian but no matter.
31-32 We are the farmer which puts the seed in the ground to become a mustard plant. Self regeneration-why not?
In 33 we are the woman mixing yeast, choosing to initiate the process.
Wait what's that? v37 says the Sower was God? Suck. Okay strike that one being about us.
I'll skip the pearls since that is in question.
Then we come to the dragnet in 47 and 48. Obviously we are the man pulling in the fish, the fish being our works of righteousness yes? Some will be good enough for heaven some won't. Just don't read v49, I feel the need to keep this one about us as well.

In light of that string of parables being about Jesus did you still want to contend the middle one is about us? Or just the ones that Jesus didn't specifically explain as being about him automatically becomes about us? We'll do anything to keep the love of Christ for the reprobate out of our theology right?

stratagem said...

Rhology/James
Thank you - exactly the subject I was looking for.
Strat

Phil said...

Mike,
While I have you answering please go ahead and explain what 'buying the field' to get the treasure represents in your interpretation. You didn't explain that on your first post.
Thanks.
Phil

Mike Riccardi said...

Phil,

You're treating the parables as if they're allegories, which they aren't. I'd recommend Ellison's "Parables in the Eye of the Storm," if you're looking to get acquainted with the differences, as well as some good interpretations of the parables.

When we get parables we're supposed to discern the point that the speaker is trying to get at with his word picture, not press each detail into an extended metaphor; that's what an allegory is -- a string of metaphors.

The point of Matt 13:44 is that a man found something so valuable, that he sold everything he had to get it. He was so ecstatic about finding the treasure that he was willing to do whatever he needed to purchase it. Outside of Christ, we do not have that effect on God. We are not a treasure. God is not ecstatic about finding such a diamond in the ruff in unsaved humanity. The parable is there to illustrate a truth pictured elsewhere (e.g., Rich young ruler), that Christ Himself is such a treasure that we ought to gladly give everything in our lives if it means we get to have Him.

So to answer your question, the field is an aspect of the story that acts in service to getting to the point of the value of the kingdom (ahem, the value of the kingdom , not the value of us). It also serves to demonstrate that the kingdom is not something immediately visible to everyone; i.e., even those looking directly at a field may have no idea there's a treasure buried there. This pictures nicely the spiritual blindness of the world. They can look right at aspects of the kingdom (for example, in the ministry of the Gospel), and see nothing.

besiderself said...

>>Really, besiderself? You think Driscoll would read this and think, "Ahh, yes; just what I love to read"?<<

Sorry I'm so late in replying.

I'm not naive, and I hope you are not. Press is press, and negative press is still press. He might not like the comments necessarily, but it's certainly not convincing him to rethink, and it's definitely helping to make his name a household word...which is never bad for the exchequer.

Almost as many people will decide to buy and read the book because of negative comments as will due to positive comments.

I guess what I'm pondering is: is blogging about him and his books effective in the right way?

I don't know, not being a blogger myself, but it's something to consider.

Mike Riccardi said...

Stratagem,

Here's a post with a quote from Luther on Romans 9, in which we see that he did believe in limited atonement, which would make him "reformed" in his soteriology, as has been discussed in this thread.

Here's the quote from that thread:

“God will have all men to be saved” (1 Timothy 2:4), and he gave his Son for us men, and he created man for the sake of eternal life. And likewise: Everything is there for man’s sake and he is there for God’s sake in order that he may enjoy him, etc. But this objection [to God's sovereignty in salvation] and others like it can just as easily be refuted as the first one: because all these sayings must be understood only with respect to the elect [emphasis in original], as the apostle says in 2 Timothy 2:10, “All for the elect.” Christ did not die for absolutely all, for he says: “This is my blood which is shed for you” (Luke 22:20) and “for many” (Mark 14:24)- he did not say: for all- “to the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28). [Martin Luther, Lectures on Romans, translated and edited by Wilhelm Pauck (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1961), 252.]

Hope it helps.

Sir Brass said...

For all those who would like to claim Luther fully into the TULIP camp: y'all should listen to Monday's edition of Iron Sharpens Iron w/ guest James Swan:

http://sharpens.blogspot.com/2009/10/james-swan-martin-luther-facts-and.html

Fact is that there seems to be an evolution of his (Luther's) views.

Flynn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Flynn said...

Mike,

You say: "Here's a post with a quote from Luther on Romans 9, in which we see that he did believe in limited atonement, which would make him "reformed" in his soteriology, as has been discussed in this thread."

David: You should listen to the Swan piece. Its very good.

Further, Luther clearly affirmed unlimited expiation. You can see his undeniable clarity here: Martin Luther (1483–1546) on the Death of Christ

Also, there are two basic elements to the claim that Luther held to limited expiation, 1) his definition of "all" in 1 Tim 2:4; 2) The reference to "the Many" as not being all.

To the first, Luther clearly changed his mind on the extent of the "all" and the "the many" later on. To the second, even if he did not change his exegesis of "the many" later, still a limited reading of "the many" does not entail an advocacy of limited expiation. We know that the restrictive reading was held by Musculus and Oecolampadius, both held to unlimited expiation. It was the same basic line of thought adopted by Chrysostom and others, who yet also held to unlimited expiation. What is more, in the same year he said "the many," is restricted in meaning, etc, he affirmed universal redemption.

Thus when one carefully looks at the assertion from multiple angles, the single comment does not prove that Luther held to limited expiation.

Swan's comment on Luther was surprising fair and balanced.

Hope that helps,
David

DJP said...

Stop!

Enough.

Luther developed idiotic, un-Biblical ideas about a number of things. It has nothing to do with anything.

Get back to the the post, the book, or something related to it.

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

Dan,

My comment was on point, since I am dealing with the criteria of what is and what is not "Reformed," which was related to the topic of your post. That's all.

Tony

DJP said...

Is that what you thought? Well, we live and we learn.

And in case you're thinking, "Yay ! The new topic is whether my comment should have been deleted!" — no.

The "post, the book, or something related to it."

And not in the tri-perspectival sense in which everything is related to everything.

YnottonY said...

Dan,

It is true that your main post deals with whether or not Driscoll is "Reformed." So, since you question Driscoll's "Reformed" credentials, what are your criteria for determining what is and what is not "Reformed"? I already quoted Godfrey, Muller and Trueman as discounting your strictly limited atonement criteria. Do you disagree with thier historical assessment?

Tony

DJP said...

I don't care.

Did you read Driscoll's book, Tony? Any thoughts about it?

YnottonY said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
DJP said...

Tony hasn't read the book, and won't get off his one-note hobby horse.

greglong said...

C'mon, Dan, you're being too harsh. The second I saw the title of your post, "Book review: Death by Love, by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears," I immediately thought, "I wonder whether or not Martin Luther believes in limited atonment?"

Anyone, thanks for a thoughtful and helpful review.

Rachael Starke said...

CR,

I'm late back to this (ministry and all that), but wanted to respond. I understand your argument, but don't agree completely. If you'll forgive a "mommy" analogy, hopefully it will be helpful.

When my girls were babies, they drank milk. When they were around six months, I started introducing "solid" foods. I'd read up on different approaches and made sure I didn't start with the sweet stuff, because babies like that by nature. I started with vegetables, because I wanted to train their palates to appreciate a wide variety of healthy foods. What I didn't do is give them big, hard bites of carrot or broccoli. At best, they'd spit it out because it's totally unfamiliar; at worse they would choke. I steamed and pureed it because that's the best way to get such food into little ones' tummies. Also, each time I'd introduce a new food, I'd wait to see how they tolerated it. Some babies' stomachs are ready for certains foods earlier than others. Feed them something too soon, and there are distressing consequences for baby and Mommy.

A lot of the people at my church are the same - they're young in the faith -either previously unchurched, or bad-churched. Some of them are crazy smart - one good friend was reading Edwards and Thomas Brooks before she was converted. Others are barely readers at all, and reading even a page or two of Piper (steeped as he is in the language of Edwards) is very tough going. (I recently recommended God is the Gospel to one dear older lady, only to find out she'd just donated it to her local library because she couldn't make sense of it.)

The problem with Driscoll is that he offers up a lot of good food, in a way that an underserved group of people really need, but he's doing it in some ways that may produce problems down the road, and that strongly indicate he's got some problems that he stubbornly refuses to address. That will also produce problems down the road, with the very people he's attempting to reach.

Our church has gone through earlier books of his, like Vintage Church, with new believers and college/young adults. Reviews like are helpful to those of us in leadership who have to make judgement calls about whether a book like Death by Love might be a good candidate for another study. Based on Dan's review, I'm thinking not. But another book like, with the same approach but minus the one-note focus on sexual sin and plus a more pastoral, loving, would be great.

Rachael Starke said...

BTW, one person I think fits the bill more and more is Paul Tripp. Another, more focussed on women, is Elyse Fitzpatrick. She has kind of a trilogy of books about the gospel in daily life called "Because He Loves Me", "Comforts From the Cross" and "Counsel From the Cross". The language is sometimes a little flowery and girly for me, but the content is excellent. And there are no incidences of her helling at old ladies. :)

Rachael Starke said...

Erm..."helling" should be "yelling". Or, maybe not. :)

John Sullivan said...

on your critiques.

his 'manlininess' stuff is pretty ridiculous. i agree. its kinda splitting hairs though.

the emphasis on sexual sin. come on! CONTEXT man. if you follow his ministry, and his teaching, you know hes counseled ALOT of issues surrounding sexual abuse. it just IS seattle. and Mark's heart is very broken about it. does that mean all his public teachings on sex are right? no. but sexual sin and sexual abuse is america's favorite past time. let's face it. not hide from it.

Bob said...

DonSands
Low blow. it wasn't too bad til I got to your reference that perhaps has sexual sins. that's what you said by referring to J. Swaggart.
Real low blow. Disgustingly low.
Yes, Mark needs some guidance. yes, God is using him mightily to the salvation of many souls. yes, we should learn from him. yes, he should be admonished. In fact, I often need to be admonished.
But, anyway. That was low.

6p00d8341c5bb353ef said...

well done review, dan. love the pictures.

donsands said...

Bob,
I didn't think it was low.
I was just stating the obvious from three comments. And then the truth about Jimmy Swaggert.

I'm not judging Mark.

Quote: "Mark might be a godly pastor in his sexual life, and doesn't struggle, I hope he is. But I wonder about these things.

Maybe I'm making too much out of it."

Mark's teaching of Song of Solomon was, and is, way to explicit, as Mary stated though.
I don't think i could quote him really.

Have a blessed Lord's day Bob.

DJP said...

Thanks, um... 6. (Can I call you "6," for short?)

(c:

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

And so goes the unending saga of Mark Driscoll, the entertainer extraordinaire, but on a happier note, it ended with much humor.

This person (6p00d8341c5bb353ef) commented that (s)he (or possibly a theorem, I can’t really tell), liked DJP's article, and DJP replied, "Thanks, um... 6. (Can I call you "6," for short?)


We all need a little comic relief, and DJP came through. :)

Mary

greglong said...

Dan, maybe 6... uses his real name for his password.

round.tuit said...

It appears to me that Driscoll is aware of how the Church has softened and has incorporated that which appeals to women (the messages, songs...). Tell me, do you really feel like you are worshipping when singing, "The Power of Your Love"? It seems to have sexual undertones to me. Personally, my thoughts of Jesus Christ are not that of Him holding me close and letting His love surround me.

Driscoll goes too far, and comes across as a brawler. Which is sad, because it seems like he does have a message and a point to be made in this emergent world. However, it does seem like this guy is much more approachable and has a more teachable spirit than folks like Brian McLaren, Peter Rollins, Rob Bell...

Tim Graham said...

Hey, it's your blog and you can manage the meta. But for the record, I thought Tony's comments were germane to defining the term "Reformed" which you used (without defining) in your post on MD. His first post on what is and is not within the realm of historical Reformed orthodoxy was well-informed and helpful.

DJP said...

Okey-doke. Well, they weren't. But over at your blog, you go ahead and do an article on Bob's Big Boy burgers, and Tony can comment that Harvetsius of Fresno in 1797 did a magisterial study titled Mighty Atonement That Saved No One Yet Did Yet Didn't Yet Did Yet Didn't And That's Really Really Deep, where on page 1497, footnote 11, he said....

And you can let him go on and on about it, and be happy.

But not here.

(And BTW, my 12:33 PM, October 30, 2009 comment still applies.)

Douglas said...

Christian forums crack me up.

I will never understand "evangelicals"... you all sound like a bunch of bumbling idiots throwing stones at each other.