Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Surprise Comment Made My Day

And rather than leave it and my response lost in the comment section, I thought I'd bring it forward.

In February, Wenatchee the Hatchet brought a quote to my attention and I made a post about it here:
"Driscoll uses the Bible as a Sock Puppet..."

Quite frankly, I'm surprised that Nick Bulbeck even found my little blog in the great cybernet wilderness. But I'm quite honored that he did. And he left a comment that I want to copy and paste in this post.

I could have just responded in the comment section but it was a long way back (in blog months) and both what he said and what I said would be lost and benefit no one. Plus, those who have interesting bits to add that we could have benefited from, well, we would have never known what they had to say.

Here is Nick's comment in full:

Mara - thankyou for your kind words, though the quote is not completely accurate - I wrote that Mark Driscoll isn't a teacher, but "is merely adept at using the Bible as a sock-puppet that always agrees with him".

May I clarify further? Namely, by saying that Driscoll is by no means unique in that respect. Ironically, many of the anonymous heresy spotters out there (who, perhaps, sit in their nan's basements blogging in their pyjamas, as the saying goes) do likewise. Not only that, but when I first properly discovered bible teaching 25 years ago, I was the same; I became a drooling and self-righteous fundamentalist, eager to "correct" the doctrine of my more gracious, patient and Christ-like christian friends.

As it happens, I'm only a couple of years older than Mark Driscoll and he and I both therefore discovered the bible at about the same time, though thousands of miles apart. And if I had been a strong personality with a clear leadership gift, then I too might have amassed a band of loyal followers and become a pastor before I ever learned to be a disciple.

Yes, I believe some of Driscoll's influence is unhealthy and must not go unchallenged. But I am not, in myself, better than he is; there, but for the grace of God, go I.

A couple of things first.
I totally agree that Driscoll is not unique in doing the sock puppet thing. He's just offended me more than most others for reasons I may or many not get into later.

I also greatly agree with the fact Nick pointed out that in order to be a good pastor, you must first learn to be a disciple. Driscoll skipped that stage to the hurt of himself and those he "pastors".

Another thing I would add is that if a person actually had the gifting of the office of a teacher, even with minimal training, that person would not make the blatant errors in teaching that Driscoll makes.

Now to the thing I really wanted to add. To me, this goes beyond even discovering proper Bible teaching, though that plays a prominent role in all of this. Because even the most 'proper' teaching of scriptures can go a muck. The best example I can give is the Pharisees in the day of Jesus. They knew the scriptures inside and out. But still, human error and tradition made them not recognize the Messiah when He came.

The point, even beyond proper Bible teaching is... Seeking God through prayer and the Scriptures. His ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts. Driscoll screws up major royale in thinking that God thinks the way that he does.

And as Nick pointed out about Bible teaching, Driscoll is "by no means unique in that respect". We all do it to a degree. We think that God thinks like us. The point, though, is to recognize this as one of our human failings. When we reach out to God and His Book we must keep this always before us. And along with this, we should reach out to each other and compare notes. There is no one person who totally gets all of Who God is and What He is all about.

Sometimes I use this illustration, but not often because it is borrowed from Eastern thought and therefore soundly rejected by many. But it is still the best picture I know.

It's the story of The Blind Men and the Elephant. Each of the blind men touched a different part of the elephant and came to different conclusions of what it was. This is how we are with God. And while I hold to the Christian view, I see this also happening within the Christian circles. Each person or group has some sort of revelation of Who God is. They have managed to touch some part of God, and rather than realizing that what they understand is only a small part of the whole, they build a temple on this one aspect of God and shun and criticize all others rather than compare notes.

One of the reasons that Driscoll has gotten on my bad side is this:
He has decided a certain aspect of God, or in particular, a certain interpretation of the Song of Solomon is the one and only way to view both God and the Songs. Instead of realizing that he has only touched on a small area of what the the Songs are about, he has criticized, insulted, and mocked everyone and everything that doesn't agree with his narrow view and has run head long into deep error by not being willing to consider that perhaps others also have an understanding that brings the picture of the Whole better into focus.

So yes, this is why the "Sock Puppet" quote struck such a chord with me. The way certain men put forth their puny opinion on Bible interpretation as God breathed, all encompassing fact and then holds people accountable to their narrow and misguided interpretations, well, this really gets my goat.

Nick or anyone else?


F. Fantastica said...

Mara, I've followed all the links back to Nick Bulbeck's original comment. There is a lot of good grist there. I'm really glad it didn't get lost. Thanks to all three of you.

"I totally agree that Driscoll is not unique in doing the sock puppet thing. He's just offended me more than most others for reasons I may or many not get into later."

I'd be very interested to hear those reasons, because I find myself in much the same place and I've been asking myself why? Why has this particular dude got under my skin so much? In my case I'm sure it's a mix of legitimate reasons and my own particular weaknesses.

- René

Mara Reid said...

Hi, Rene and welcome.

I alluded to my reason towards the end of this post but didn't go into much detail.

Long before I ever heard of Driscoll I felt a leading to study the Song of Solomon. At the time, I was already aware of and accepted the sexual side. But in further studies, I found a very healing side stemming from a more allegorical reading.

Even with this healing/allegorical study going on, I continued to accept that the sexual side was an important part of the book and had no trouble with marriage counselors using it for dealing with sexual issues between husband and wife.

Driscoll, on the other hand, had taken the sexual aspect of it, completely pornified it, and turned it into something that demanded that wives become their husbands' nymphomaniac porn stars. And in doing this, he completely denied the spiritually healing aspects of the book, stealing it away from anyone that it might help. And he openly mocks anyone and everyone that believes that there could be any allegorical application. He sets himself up as "Mr. Smackdown" to anyone who won't accept his views as 100% correct. And his views felt like pig's blood being splattered all over the Holy of Holies the very first time I encountered them.

This was the very first of many things that has ticked me off about Driscoll.

Was that a bit TMI?

F. Fantastica said...

No, actually, not TMI. That makes perfect sense.

"And his views felt like pig's blood being splattered all over the Holy of Holies the very first time I encountered them."

That's a powerful (and apt) comparison.

BTW, thank you for the welcome. I've been reading here for a while, and appreciate what you have to say.

Unknown said...

P.S. I'm really happy I made your day, btw!

(Still struggling with my blog comments not vanishing into the ether, mind you... Wordpress no longer seems to acknowledge my existence. Never mind - my daughter assures me I still exist!)

Mara Reid said...

I have a Wordpress blog the lies dormant. I find Blogger to be much more user friendly.

Unknown said...

OK - here goes my second attempt to join the discussion (my first one was, as I hinted just there, eaten by some kind of e-gremlin and never appeared... your guess is as good as mine...).

I agree, Mara, that the well-known elephant story is actually quite instructive. It's not a perfect analogy, since we're not entirely blind in approaching God - he demonstrated his own nature with extraordinary clarity when he became human. But none of us has his full counsel, or meaningfully appreciates (much less reflects) every facet of his nature. That, surely, is why we need one another.

The frustration we share at the neo-calvinists, or whatever one cares to label them, may stem from something that runs very deep in us. Consider the truth that has become labelled as "Penal Substitutionary Atonement", or "PSA". Behind the academic label are some astounding implications: God almighty emptied himself, became as nothing, and faced death at the hands of his enemies in order to make them his sons and daughters. There's an old English hymn, My Song is Love Unknown, that puts it thus:
"... a murderer they save,
The Prince of Life they slay;
Yet, cheerful, He to suffering goes,
That He His foes from thence might free

If my understanding of this jaw-dropping truth moves me to worship; if it opens my mouth, but leaves me silent because I can't escape the realisation that I cannot possibly describe what I've just seen... then and only then have I truly understood it.

But... if my adherence to "PSA" moves me to self-righteousness and pride, and I use it as an empty shibboleth to prove I'm more doctrinally sound than the next person, then I've understood nothing, but am deceived and blind. My "good doctrine" is, to paraphrase Proverbs 11:22, just a gold ring in a pig's snout.

Proverbs 19:10 talks about a slave ruling over princes. The Seattle-based preacher under discussion here teaches legalism, rules, and justification by doctrine; that's slavery, but he has managed to get himself into a position of very high influence and authority. If he were just an immature high-school jock sounding off in the corner of a church somewhere because he'd only just become a believer and didn't know any better, that would be one thing. But it isn't so. He is judging and lecturing wiser believers - men and women - from whom he should be humbly learning. A slave ruling over princes; and it is not fitting.

Sorry about the delay in getting back here! I look forward to some instructive conversations in future...

Best regards,

Mara Reid said...

Nick, when I have more time, I plan to take your comment and make a post out of it and respond to it when I have more time.

For now, let me just say, I appreciate your use of Pr 19:10 here. It is right on. Can't wait to elaborate later.

Mara Reid said...

I need to make a correction concerning commenting.

When I try to use blogger whether on my blog or commenting on others, I have a lot of trouble when I use Internet Explorer.

When I use Google Chrome, everything is a breeze. Which would make sense since Google owns them both.