This just in:

Roger Goodell has said multiple times that he wants to see Michael Vick show remorse for his actions. That means Vick may have to follow a strict path of behavior before he’s allowed to return.

For dog fighting. Is dog fighting a sin? How could I know if I was thinking about this? How much of a moral authority is an NFL QB supposed to be, anyway?

You know what: I am already sorry I asked.

Right to Rebuke? (2)

I have read iMonk’s opening statement for this little exchange, and kudos upon him for being open-minded about that multiple places where this whole discussion goes awry. As one wades through his points, one would find he and I share a lot of the same concerns, but of course at some point he and I have to disagree or else the universe will implode as even a sovereign and omnipotent God cannot have that.

The current trend in Mark Driscoll apologetics has caused me to think about something: I’m thinking about this guy who was well educated, fluent in the common languages of his culture, and learned-up in theology. He spent time learning the religious practices of the people he was with. He was not, however, a cleric. He was certainly well known in his home city, both for his public life as well as the power and persuasiveness of his speech. His reputation there earned him praise early in his career even from many of the leaders of the church in his day, who referred to him as a "saintly man." However, he was later accused of lying about his own teachings in order to avoid public condemnation. Most of his later life was spent defending himself against other theologians.

The guy I’m thinking about is Pelagius, a self-made theologian from the 4th century who, it turns out, was a heretic – his theology was not only bad but actually damaging to the faith of others. For whatever it’s worth, Mark Driscoll would repudiate all of Pelagius’ errors, and that’s why so many people like MD: he’s in the right camp when it comes to how Christ saves and why Christ must save – which is the Gospel.

But here’s why I’m thinking about the monk Pelagius: you’d think that Pelagius – as a guy who wasn’t even ordained – should have been handled by the leaders of his local church. That is, he should have been handled by his local elders, if we take the current iteration of counter-concerns about the MD situation at face value. There was no sense in, for example, Augustine refuting and condemning Pelagius: Pelagius was not his man, nor was he Pelagius’ elder. Better to have left it, apparently, with the pastors and bishops in Rome because this sort of thing speaks to the high road of Congregationalism.

Right? Or not so much?

It seems to me that it is “not so much”. Let’s concede something for the sake of clarity: Pastor Driscoll is not disqualifying himself as a Christian (some might say “yet”; MD himself might say it since he has taken the highest [and in my view, right-minded] view of repentance). The question is whether he is disqualifying himself as an elder and as a teacher.

iMonk has rightly said that, by Ipanema, we’re not Presbyterians or Rome: we’re Congregationalists at heart, champions of the local church. And he’s right in theory. It’s his interpretation of what that means which we ought to consider fully. In his view, if MD sinned, it’s up to his elders to measure that out, counsel him, and seek the fruits of repentance from him as they see fit – that’s how we do this, congregation by congregation, local church by local church.

But here’s the thing: if that’s the hardcore view we’re going to take, Mark Driscoll needs to stay home. He needs to stay off the TV. He needs to get off the conference circuit. No more books, RE:lit. In short: he needs to stop interfering with the local elders in other churches if that’s the standard for congregationalism.

However, since he’s not going to do that ever, we have to admit that, in the first place, “congregationalism” does not, and has never, meant “local church isolationism”. It’s a respect for the boundaries of the local church based on the responsibilities of the local elders for the people they have been given to for God’s purpose. So in that, Mark Driscoll doesn’t need any more elders – but none of the local churches he’s influencing need any more elders, either. And when someone is coming to their church – invited or uninvited – they have the same responsibility to their local church that they had to start with: raise up disciples and protect them from error.

It’s the “protect them from error” part here which, frankly, has to be the focus of attention. But to do that, let’s track the arguments in favor of cutting MD some slack from what I perceive to be the beginning of this little square dance – at or around the time of Phil Johnson’s Shepherd’s Conference message.

The first round of objections to the criticism was: “You should take this to him in private and not out in public.” However, when it was disclosed that both Phil and Dr. MacArthur had actually taken the concern to MD privately and his response was less than engaging, the tune changed.

The next round of objections was: “Are you really criticizing a sin, or is this just a difference in ministry approach?” The first one I thought was totally expected because that’s the fall-back for any criticism these days: yer a crude watchblogger, dude. But this second one, frankly, made me laugh – because it’s amazing in its own willingness to ignore the obvious.

Here’s the test -- you go find someplace by yourself where nobody can hear you (in case this would make you look foolish), and say this sentence out loud to yourself and see how it sounds:

According to the Bible’s standard for Christian behavior, anyone should be allowed to make jokes about masturbation in public without any shame.

“yeah but,” comes the response, “there’s a difference between doing something you ought to be ‘ashamed of’, and something that’s actually a ‘sin’.”

Really? Then while you’re there in your personal moral reflection zone, try saying this to yourself:

The objective of Christian sanctification is that we should strive toward becoming ashamed of things which we do which the Bible does not define as sin.

The third round of objections looked like this: “Because MD has done so much good for the Gospel, by calling him out on this activity you’re adding to the Gospel and becoming a legalist.” And I liked that round because it was a nice gambit to chide someone like Phil Johnson or John MacArthur (or in the cheap seats, someone like me) for being a moralistic fundie. The problem, of course, is that John Piper preaches on personal holiness; CJ Mahaney preaches on personal holiness; Matt Chandler preaches on personal holiness. They just don’t bring it up when Mark Driscoll might be associated with it.

Nobody who’s serious about the sufficiency of Scripture would deny that a qualification for the elder is that he already has very broad and deep evidence of personal holiness. The question is whether Mark Driscoll has ever had such a thing, and whether that should matter to those of us outside his local church who he is trying to influence.

Then there’s the one about the difference between “repent” and “apologize” – a distinction that the people proffering such a complaint fail to see as a difference with almost no meaning whatsoever. Before you bring your offering to God, go make it right with your brother and then bring your offering, you know?

And there may be some others from the “greatest hits” in this discussion which I have missed; sorry about that for you who offered them up. But this last round is the one which really gets us into the minutia. Since it has been taken up unsuccessfully in private, and it is actually a sin, and the elder really should be someone who demonstrates personal holiness, and part of that is actually repenting in a way which reflects the scope of the error, we have come down to an appeal to “congregationalism”.

Really? Two bloggers – or a blogger and the people in his comments – are going to appeal to “congregationalism” to avoid saying plainly that a pastor who tells salacious jokes on TV needs to repent in such a way that his repentance speaks to the public nature of his error?

Here’s the bottom line: those people who are elders, or teachers with a spiritual responsibility to those to whom they are given, have an obligation locally to speak to the errors which come into their churches. That includes the errors which look like a failure to repent.

As I am at my self-imposed limit of 3 pages in WORD, I leave it to iMonk to ask the obvious questions this post raises.

An important clarification

No: I am not Frank Turek. This is Frank Turek.

He's a reputable person; published author. I'm just a blogger.

Right to Rebuke?

iMonk and I have been sort of poking each other over the Mark Driscoll thing, and he and I have agreed to discuss a thesis regarding this hot topic. I’ll post here and link to his responses; he’ll post over there and link back to here.

Here’s the thesis:

"Because Mark Driscoll's sins are public, made as a pastor, it is right to rebuke him in public and seek his public repentance."

As you can imagine, this is my thesis which I think is wholly a legitimate concern. In fact, I have to admit something: I have no idea why anyone would disagree with this. The fact that this topic has to be dissected and defined down to the basic terms sort of leaves me wondering if we are actually reading our Bible and not just decorating our blogs with Scripture-linking java.

Here’s my basic argument:
[1] If a pastor sins, then he must repent.
[2] Mark Driscoll has sinned.
[3] Therefore he must repent.

There are two other context-enhancing issues: the first is that MD strives for a global pulpit, so he has the problem of all the other local churches he wants to influence and, in some sense, teach. That is, it’s not just his local elders who have an obligation to think about his behavior: it is any elder or pastor who knows his local church has been influenced by the Mars Hill pastor. They have a spiritual obligation to seek this repentance.

The second issue is that because Pastor Mark has made his errors in a public forum, before both believers and unbelievers, he has an obligation to demonstrate the fruits of repentance publicly.

Now, that’s all very well-said, I am sure: it just has no overt Bible attached to it, and of course we shouldn’t do anything without the Bible’s sufficient and authoritative guidance, right?

Yeah: that’s my first frustration here. If we’re going to get serious about the substance of the accusation, maybe someone has to get serious about the substance of the activity which has spawned all the madness first. You know: does the Bible really demand we make crude jokes about Ecclesiastes, or read some parts of Scripture with a lot of influence by our own personal commitments to enthusiastic marital sex? Did the Bible really teach us that in seeking out (for example) the crude Cretans, a pastor should appeal to their crude humor and their every question in public in order to teach and rebuke?

The question of sufficiency starts which the question of cultural appeals and using the more vulgar elements of any culture to reach out to those who are lost and dying.

But fair enough: what’s good for the Gander must be also applied to the Goose.

[A] There’s no question that what Mark Driscoll has done is a sin. Eph 5 says, “sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.” “Must not even be named”? That’s not a guideline: that’s a command. Is the word of God sufficient to tell us that? If not, what is a stronger way to express the idea behind “let it not be named” – the negated present passive imperative? Violating that command is not hardly Victorian as it comes from the 1st century.

[B] There’s no question that when one sins, one must repent. Even Mark Driscoll calls those who do not repent from sins “heretics”. Why would this need to have Acts 2 or Acts 17 cited to underscore the necessity of repentance?

[C] The elder must be blameless. That’s Titus 1, and when we abandon that we are frankly jumping off of Scripture when it doesn’t suit us. The letters to Timothy also tell us that the Elder must be mature, not maturing. So the question of “rookie mistakes” for a guy who’s been an elder for more than 10 years, and writes books for the church to receive, and claims to have a verbal call on his life from God is, frankly, hollow.

But here’s the thing: why should someone who teaches Sunday school, or who’s a pastor of another church, bother to bring it up to Mark Driscoll in any context – let alone blog it and expect to be taken seriously?

[D] I’m thinking of Jesus condemning the Pharisees with the 7 woes: did Jesus first take them aside privately and with some kind of knot in his tummy plead with them gently to please not be like that? I’m thinking of Peter and Paul in Galatia – was Paul’s first reaction to Peter’s hypocrisy to have a private meeting with him to see if his heart was in the right missional place to the Judaisers? I’m thinking of Stephen to the leaders of the Jews: did Stephen first apologize for the big misunderstanding? It seems to me that the guy who gave a global exhortation in a Desiring God conference about the value of prophetic hard words has the essential pastoral moxie to get it that nobody owes him a private lunch and a sorry tone of voice when he talks like a frat boy at spring break on national television. Public context makes a public response totally suitable.

[E] In that, those who have a spiritual responsibility to others have an obligation to address the spiritual influences on those in their charge. Consider the book of James, and the warning against too many becoming teachers as well as the exhortation to turn a brother away from sin. Consider again Paul confronting Peter before the Galatians. Consider Paul confronting the Super-apostles in Corinth. Consider The demand in the book of Titus that the leader must be able to teach and rebuke in order to set things right in the church at Crete.

I respect that Michael thinks this belongs inside the gates of Mars Hill Church. It belonged there until Mark Driscoll started seeking to be the global pastor for hipsters and hipster-wannabes.

I look forward to Michael’s opening statement.

The sky has unfallen

Turns out yet another report is being suppressed which undescores the hoax which is global warming.

Tell your friends.


Piper demonstrates his gift for leadership & humility.

This is how one actually apologizes, and then actually uses the opportunity to leverage the humility and guts it takes to say, "I am a jerk when I do this", to teach an important lesson about the Christian life.

And isn't it strange: what Piper did was some much smaller than the on-going unpleasantness with Mark Driscoll, yet nobody had to have a series preparatory meetings for how to address Piper, then meetings to set up “the meeting", then a meeting in which counter-grievances are heard, and then a cooling-off period in which the facts are re-researched, and then another letter or meeting to clarify, and then at some place someone says, "that's quite enough of this -- you go your way and I'll go mine, and you stay on your side of the world and I'll stay on mine."

Piper can see that Piper was, in his words, a "jerk". This is why he's qualified to be an elder in his church, and a man to whom other elders can look up to.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

Pathological paranoia

Until the D-blog gets fired up some time this weekend, you can enjoy the post-SBC antics at Peter Lumpkins blog.

Bring a lunch.

In which I eat crow

The temptation is to give a laundry list and then sort of duck out as I say what I ought to say, but that's bush league.

In the past, I have been a vocal critic of Ronnie Floyd, and of his one church in two locations -- specifically of their past record of Cooperative Program giving.

Today I read this post at Dr. Floyd's blog. We could fisk the number listed there and try to minimize it, but let me say this: $350,000 is a lot of money for any church to give over to the cooperative program of the SBC, especially in economic times like these, and I credit Dr. Floyd, his staff, and the members of his churches for giving.

That's real money, and it puts to shame any criticism of them on that front. May God bless them for it, and use it for the sake of the Gospel.

Two books, briefly

Crossway has dipatched more books to review in spite of my lack of earnestness in reviewing all the books they send me. The title to the left is Religion Saves, and 9 other misconceptions, by Mark Driscoll.

You heard the sermon series last year, I am sure. I was reading the other title I received this weekend while my wife was paging through this one. She says to me, "Are you going to review this one?"

Of course, I said. That's the deal.

"You better throw it away when your finished with it. Our kids are readers, you know. If you leave this laying around, they'll read it and it's not appropriate for them."

So I'll have to review that one pretty quick before my wife takes summary action with it.

The other one is the title you see to the right here -- Southern Baptist Identity, edited by David Dockery. On the one hand, thank God someone is talking about this besides me and iMonk. Seriously.

I was having an e-mail conversation with a Southern Baptist Missiologist who didn't ask to be drawn into this conversation but did contribute to this book (this was about 2 years ago) and he was going on about how the SBC was a denomination -- and I told him that this was the problem. He didn;t get my sly remark, so I clarified: the SBC was never intended to be a denomination: it is a convention. The distinction there is that a denomination can and will dictate terms to member churches because that's the point of a denomination: centralized leadership through which to force conformity. A "convention" ought to be a mode of cooperation by local churches who are seeking to do more for the Gospel collectively than they can do individually -- the agenda is driven from the bottom, up.

And in the ways that this book speaks to that truth, it's a useful book for Southern Baptists to read and think about and discuss vigorously.

You can look forward to some discussion about that book here in the near future.

And sometime this week a debate about the Trinity is going to break out at the D-Blog. I am sure it will edify someone.

Listen: when all these guys are one degree of FaceBook from me, they obviously need a better class of friends.

into the breech once again ...

I hate the CARM forums. Rather than being a place where actual intellegent apologetic exchanges are thoughtfully worked out, they're just petri dishes for vile things. I won't link to it.

But, sadly, someone there has volunteered me to debate some Oneness advocates, and you'll probably see that exchange come up at D-Blog in the next 5 days. The thesis is:

"The One God, even the One Father of both Testiments is the person Jesus enfleshed in his own Son, the Man Christ Jesus"

Long exchange - 10 questions - likely.

To prepare yourself, be in the Lord's house on the Lord's day with the Lord's people this weekend.

HT: Doug Wilson



Yeah, listen: Justin Taylor I think has a caucus of caucasian clerks culling computers from Canada to Calcutta to find everything which you might find useful for your spiritual health out there on the internets. he doesn't really blog much: he just finds all the interesting stuff on other blogs and links to it. It's brilliant.

Now, in that sea of (as he would say) "helpful" links, today he has posted something which every Christian man should read and consider repeatedly for the next 30 days.

The original link is here, but I have PDF'd the text and have stashed it on my private host site here in case the link ever breaks.

In particular, I want you to read this paragraph:
But in our unconstrained age, tradition is, at best, a quaint relic, a lifeless curiosity gathering dust in an unfrequented museum. At worst, it is synonymous with oppression, the destructive force that brought us slavery, misogyny, and imperialism. Seeing farther now than our ancestors ever did, we are no longer burdened by the prejudices of the past or bound by promises that linger long beyond the point of their initial inspiration. We are now entering a brave new world, where marriage is easily dissolved before it becomes tyrannical, where parenthood is the product of choice not mere biology, where reproductive technologies allow us to have the children of our own making, and where fathers have finally earned the hard-won freedom to follow their dreams and leave their children behind.
Even if you don't read the rest of that essay (and i forbid you to come back unless you do), think seriously and often about this: what dream is worth missing the delight on one of your children?

Maybe somebody has said this already

I just want to reiterate it for the record:

If David Letterman is willing to apologize for his coarse joking, you'd think that a pastor who does the same kind of thing would be willing to make at least the same kind of clear and contrite statement.

You'd think. I'd think, anyway -- you think what you want to think.

Jiggling one's Jenga

See: I know you people have read the bit by Dr. Peter Masters about the massive failings of the “New Calvinists”, particularly his criticism of loud music and Colin Hansen’s apparently-wrong evaluation of Calvinism in the U.S. in the 20th century.

And then some of you have nothing else to do but wait for iMonk to write the next thing which will make me call him a turkey, and you have read his response to Dr. Peter Masters which, in effect, says, “eh. So what? He’s a fundamentalist, and that’s what a fundamentalist would say about this.”

And now, because I baited you, you are hoping for the show because you bought your popcorn and a large coke, and it’s refillable, so this better be long and good.

Well, it’ll be good. Turns out it’s also pretty long – standard 3 pages.

First thing: I agree with both of these guys. I mean: there’s no question that the Calvinism of John Piper and John MacArthur are not really much like each other, let alone like the Calvinism of Owen or Edwards – and that’s actually a good thing in spite of Dr. Master’s claxon of warning. But it’s not hardly as bad as Dr. Masters makes it out to be – which is where I find fault with the Appalachian podcasting genius in his assessment of Dr. Masters.

Here’s what I mean: it’s a good thing that Calvinism in 21st century America doesn’t look like Calvinism in puritan England because these are two different cultures. Calvinism will not look like Puritanism in the center of modern China; it will not look like Puritanism in the middle of the Sudan. It will not look like Puritanism in Labrador amongst the isolated white Canadians there, and it won’t look line Puritanism if it ever breaks out in Mexico. In fact, the Puritans themselves were not hardly as uniform and frankly-rigid as Dr. Masters would have us believe.

For example, John Milton is often counted among their number because of his non-conformist views, but he was in fact also non-trinitarian in spite of his idolization of Cromwell as an epic, religious hero. Speaking of which, Cromwell is another kind of Puritan really not much like Owen or Baxter or Sibbes. So I think that the actual diversity among the 2 centuries of actual English puritans (not to mention their American pilgrims) sort of jiggles Dr. Masters’ Jenga tower a little harder than he’s letting on.

I will give him this: the central concern for holiness is a serious and useful concern. There’s no question at all that many (a-hem – yes, that’s what I mean) younger guys could be more serious and could get more serious about what it means to consider God’s holiness. Therefore our own holiness would be a good bit more consequential in what we say and do as a reflection of the actual work of Christ for us and in us.

I might even give Dr. Masters a half-credit for his distinction between edifying music and other genres like metal and rap – that somehow there really is a place where the art in a culture reflects its depravity, and we can and should avoid aping the culture because we can’t think of ways to simply be right-mindedly foolish, or right-mindedly creative.

But is it really anti-sanctification to praise God loudly with music and song? My thought here is that there’s a difference between edifying conference music and corporate worship at the local church – and I would think that Dr. Masters, in his experience and wisdom could see that difference. Especially, if I may be so bold, when one is posting one's newsletter on the internet. Something can be edifying, and public, and not be formal, ecclesiastical worship – and can therefore also be held to a more informal and populist standard.

That said, iMonk is actually right about Dr. Masters in this respect: he honors and confesses a proto-fundamentalist view of all things, down to making even matters of style and context into urgent doctrinal crises and therefore matters over which to separate. And it’s a shame – because in Dr. Masters’ view, Calvinism has always been alive and well and living in America because there have been Calvinist presses and Calvinist bookstores and Calvinist congregations which have invited him to speak. Sadly, that’s a provincial view of where Calvinism has been for the last 150 years in America – because with the sharp decline in Presbyterianism and true Episcopalian/Anglicanism, and the Baptists not hardly holding up their end of the bargain (becoming by and large a theology-free zone in spite of the SBC resurgence) what America has had, frankly, has been a drift away from the historic reformational truths.

Ignoring that for a rosy view of one’s own movement doesn’t do anyone any good.

So here’s what I’m thinking: if Dr. Masters is right about “us”, and iMonk is right about Dr. Masters, maybe what “we” have to do is receive what they both have said about “us” and step it up. Get serious about your filthy mouth and your infatuation with movies and comic books and the down side of town. Stop thinking you can be the pastor who finally can say from the pulpit, “and the colored girls sing, ‘do-do-do-dotodo-do-do-do’,” like Lou Reed and people will think you are cool.

You’re not cool. And they are not going to think you are cool if they hear you preach the Gospel, because the Gospel is not cool. You don’t have to be a self-righteous thundercloud of disapproval – you could be the mortified chief of sinners. It’s a time-honored tradition. Let’s try that, and then we won’t have to worry about edicts from either the chapel of Spurgeon or the tavern bar stools.

Release the Hounds!

I have been Twitter-accosted by these two matters in the last week or so:

On the one hand, the well-respected Dr. Peter Masters begins shelling from across the pond because the "New Calvinists" are a lot more new and not so much Clavinist in his view.

On the other hand, iMonk sort or waves him on and waves him off for being a fundie.

What do I think?

I'll tell ya tomorrow ...

Prohibition season

The Southern Baptist Convention is about to convene, so that means it's time for the prohibitionists (you know: because the SBC is relevant to what's happening today in the English-speaking world) to trot out their amazing and ever-inventive singular vision of moralism. And in that, my friend @hereiblog has engaged in some Twitter apologetics with a fellow who calls himself "SAGordon".

@SAGordon tweeted thus:

Which is a clever approach, right? The Bible offers some warnings about drinking alcohol, but since it never explicitly demands we drink alcohol, we should therefore never touch the stuff.

Clever, but completely wrong.

Are the only two modes of communication from God "command" and "forbid"? What if we tried to form up the Gospel in those terms -- would our prohibitionist (and mostly-anti-calvinist) brothers in Christ accept the definition of the Gospel "the command from God to believe and repent or be damned"? That sounds a lot less like the pleading Christ they champion than I suspect they would be comfortable with -- even if there's not a Calvinist in the universe who would bat an eye at such a definition.

And I say that to say this: while there is no command to drink alcohol in the Bible, there is this:
    Praise the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, you are very great; you are clothed with splendor and majesty. He wraps himself in light as with a garment; he stretches out the heavens like a tent and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters. He makes the clouds his chariot and rides on the wings of the wind. He makes winds his messengers, flames of fire his servants.

    ... He makes springs pour water into the ravines; it flows between the mountains. They give water to all the beasts of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst. The birds of the air nest by the waters; they sing among the branches. He waters the mountains from his upper chambers; the earth is satisfied by the fruit of his work. He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate— bringing forth food from the earth: wine that gladdens the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread that sustains his heart.

    ... How many are your works, O LORD! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.[from Psa 104]

Which is, of course, not a command to drink wine, right? It's a catalog of the exquisite provisions God has made upon this earth (including the place where we get the title of this blog, fwiw). And what do we find there among the things which the Psalmist exclaims are the works of YHVH which "in wisdom [He] made them all"? Yes: wine.

So it's not a command to drink it: it's an offer to receive it as a blessing. God is saying, "it's a good thing which I give you as a blessing from my wisdom. It's good like oil which you may use as a comfort, and bread to satisfy your hunger. I made it to make your heart happy -- I made it for your sake."

God may be King of Kings and Lord of Lords, but he's not completely emotionless. He's not a stony-faced despot who is only forbidding or commanding. He's also a father who blesses us, and has done things for our sake. Try to work that into your theology regarding good works sometime this month as you wrangle the evils of Calvinism.

And be with the Lord's people in the Lord's house on the Lord's day this weekend. And if you have wine at His table, know that it is because He said that it's a good thing which he made with you in mind.

Paul Washer, too?

So it's not enough to continue to ask about Mark Driscoll's language -- I have a beef with Paul Washer, too?

Actually, what I have a beef with is Paul Washer fanatics, really. Washer is a well-known missionary, and well-respected speaker. He's not a heretic as far as anyone would care to think about it. He's just glum.

On my Facebook yesterday, I said this: "Frank Turk is tired of people tweeting and FB'ing Paul Washer quotes. He's trite and strident, which makes him a little careless."

Here's what I mean by that: there's nothing new in Washer, which of course his fans will say is a mark of his real commitment to being a man of God's word and so on. But there's also very little hopeful in what Washer preaches. You know: when you read the book of Galatians, where Paul is essentailly condemning a whole city of Christians for giving up the Gospel for works, Paul mixes his judgment with encouragement because there is hope in Christ. In fact, the reason why we should not trade the Gospel for works is because there is hope in Christ and not in works. The trajectory of Paul is almost always from our desperate state to hope in Christ because he actually believes in hope and not fear.

Washer rarely gets there -- and it bothers me that his fans enjoy his revivalistic fire and brimstone. It's half the story at best, much like a greeting card. You can get a greeting card with just about any verse of the Bible printed on the inside -- and probably in any English translation you want. But its use of that verse is trite, and sort of tossed off in order to make an emotional appeal. That's how Washer comes across to me -- and frankly, I don't think he means to be that way. I don't think he's trying to be like Finney or any revivalist -- but it turns out that he is. He just ahbors the altar call.


I received a letter from alert reader "LC" (initials only to protect the innocent) with two comments that I thought were cogent and relevant, and I wanted to share them with the rest of you.

[1] She thought the graphic looked like I had put a bull's eye on Paul Washer's face -- which, since it did look like that, is offensive. I used the same filter I have used on almost everyone I have given the "alien/mutant eye" effect to since time immemorial here at the blog, but this one came across wrong. I have changed the graphic to be sensitive that LC's perceptive insight, and I thank LC for it.

[2] I think it's important for everyone to read this statement, which I made in the original post:

But (the greeting card) use of that verse is trite, and sort of tossed off in order to make an emotional appeal. That's how Washer comes across to me -- and frankly, I don't think he means to be that way.

I don't think Paul Washer means to be the way I perceive him. But what is really the motivator for my FB entry and this post is that I think many of his fans prefer him that way. That's how they use his preaching, and I think it is not very productive, or as they say on the respectable blogopshere, "helpful".

It is totally possible to preach repentance in such a way that it overlooks the grace which makes the repentance possible. That kind of preaching is revivalistic, and the people who like that kind of thing always use it that way. I think Paul Washer has preached enough that people who like the revivalistic aspects of some of his preaching have embraced that part of his work, and I think we can all do better.

I hope that clarifies what I'm talking about here. There is no other implication of this matter which I care to endorse.

Weekend Red Meat

Yeah: OK. Here's the thing. I made a comment on someone's facebook page, and here's the thread:

For the record, names have been defaced to protect the unintentionally-involved.

So let's begin here: Mark Driscoll's talk at Advance09 was good, yes? Anyone want to say it was bad? I didn't think so. It's a good talk.

So what's the bee in my bonnet already? Can't I just let it go -- his people go his way and I go find me a nice reformed baptist cell that listens to John MacArthur podcasts and be done?

Yeah, no. I prolly could have let it go if the facebooker after me hadn't jumped to the "Mark Driscoll is a humble and contrite man" button, and then the last facebooker asking what exactly I meant.

Here's what I meant: I think it takes a significant amount of some version of what his second talk was decrying to give that talk when he has yet to actually make any serious or significant repentance for the long litany of vile talk which issues from his pulpit.

"'Issues'?" comes the defender of Pastor Driscoll. "'Issues'? You mean 'issued', cent: when was the last time you heard any vile talk from the pulpit of Mars Hill?"

That's amusing, yo. So without issuing any apologies for all the vile talk in the past, say, 18 months, he goes about 90 days without a dirty joke or a scatalogical reference, and we call that "repentance"?

I think we can call Pat Robertson repentant of being a false prophet if that's the standard. I'd like to hear comments about that.

In fact, I insist. This'll be the post for the week here at the blog unless someone says something utterly stupendous in the meta.

UPDATED: Other comments on this matter bubbling up at johnMark's blog.

Hat's off

A while ago I used Desiring God as an example of bad form in podcast production.

Yeah, well, they're supplying the audio for the Advance09 conference this week, and can I say that this may be the best-sounding downloaded live audio I have ever heard? Fabluous stuff -- levels are well managed and normalized, and of course edifying.

Nice work -- hat's off to the little christian hedonistas at

Main Entry: le-galism

1 : strict, literal, or excessive conformity to the law or to a religious or moral code {the institutionalized legalism that restricts free choice}
2 : a legal term or rule

3 (centuri0n's lexicon) : looking for a list of things to do so you can accomplish the minimum and still admire yourself for being in conformity with the objective; the polar opposite of love which pours out all things for the sake of being pleasing to the object of affection. {The legalism of bible study ought to be replaced by a real zeal to know what God has said because God Himself has said it}

You need to read this


Practical application: the Gospel is the solution to Culture.

I admit it

I'm a sucker for elegant home cooking. That blog is in the technorati top 100 for a reason: it's delicious.

So they're going to move the U.N. there when?

I love this story: The U.S. is not the most peaceful nation in the world. Of particular note in that story is the definition of "peace".

Any time these proponents of "peace" want to help a brother out and move the U.N. to New Zealand or Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Austria, Sweden, Japan, Canada, Finland or Slovenia, I am sure we can manage to not let the door knob clatter too loudly as our door slams shut behind them.

Two killers, two victims

One murder gets twice as many national news stories than the other.

I wonder why?

What's Up?

Was reading this today because I am a procrastinator:
The skillful work from what’s basically a three-person cast illustrates how committed Pixar’s creative team remains to the ideals of storytelling and their desire to place a premium on fidelity of character. [Pete] Docter’s film is as far as can be from the movies coming out of DreamWorks Animation, the only other game in town for computer-animated films. The script is funny but never jokey, relevant but never dated. The characters and dialogue reach for and achieve the timelessness typical of Pixar films, and the moments that play broader or act as nods to the adults in the audience are never showy and always completely in line with the story. It’s a testament to Pixar’s focus on quality that even after it was acquired by Disney, becoming a part of the animation giant instead of just partnering with them for distribution, its films were still known as Pixar films. The name has become a brand that stands for legitimate excellence in animated filmmaking, and Up is the latest example. It’s emotional, moving, thrilling, and uplifting. Coming from Docter and the rest of the Pixar team, it couldn’t have been anything else.
This is not a shill for Pixar or this movie (which I haven't seen yet). I read this, and I heard the echo come back from my blog, "Somehow Pixar is known for something the church ought to be known for," and was inspired to write 3 pages about that. And then I checked my calendar today and had to only post this.

You work out the other 2-1/2 pages yourself.