Blogging from the peanut gallery is a rather easy practice, especially when Mark Driscoll is the target.
Because of the ever-present danger of being misunderstood (especially when questioning the biblical validity of a famous pastor's claims), allow me to preface my remarks with a few disclaimers:
First, I am not claiming to have arrived as far as my personal evangelism is concerned. Honestly, I am not even close to where I should be in sharing Christ as well as I should. I envy men like Mark Driscoll, men driven by a desire to personally share Christ well and often.
Second, although the church to which I belong isn't as effective in evangelism as it could and should be, we are improving. Although I may disagree with Driscoll's methodology, I rejoice that people are coming to know Christ (Philippians 1).
Third, although Driscoll seeks to distance himself from the ecclesiastical methodology of the church growth movement, he seems to embrace the movement's "win the lost at any cost" methodology. And while one can adapt outreach methodologies without compromising the Gospel message, behind every evangelism method is a philosophy. Although Driscoll's methods are somewhat disconcerting (especially to a lifetime Baptist fundamentalist), it's the driving philosophy behind those methods that demands examination.
Following is an exerpt from a Desiring God interview with Driscoll (who is Pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington) in which he chides the church for being too Christian: [view the entire video HERE]
I need to get to know (the unbeliever) them and observe them. And in so doing, then, I can get to understand the ways the Gospel answers their questions and meets the real longings of their heart—because ultimately, they need Jesus. But without me knowing them, I don’t know how to articulate that Jesus is the one that they truly need.While I appreciate Driscoll's desire to see people converted, and his delight in loving his neighbor, I find his comments rather disturbing.
So immersing oneself in culture is like a missionary trying to figure out, “Who are these people?” And many Christians do not have significant experience outside of their Christian world. They listen to Christian radio. They listen to Christian music. They watch Christian television. They read Christian books. Their kids go to Christian school. They go to Christian church. They go to Christian events—they go to Christian concerts. Their friends are Christian. They go to community group or home Bible study with their Christian friends. They vacation with their Christian friends. And meanwhile their neighbors don’t know Christ. But the Bible says we’re supposed to love our neighbor, and we’re supposed to practice hospitality—which is the welcoming of our neighbor. Well to do that, we need to get to know our neighbor. And I think that is an attentiveness to the detail of the lives of lost people.
It seems that even theologically conservative men (which describes Driscoll) struggle with this issue of cultural contextualization for the purpose of evangelism (and I do, too!). In order to fulfill their idea of the Great Commission (i.e., win the lost at any cost), they must emphasize specific aspects of Jesus' ministry while de-emphasizing the writings of the apostles (the call to holiness and cultural distinction -- see 1 Peter 1 & 2) and the OT commands to not flirt with other cultures and their practices (Isaiah 52:11).
I am not convinced that I need to immerse myself any deeper in the anti-God American subculture in order to understand unbelievers. I get enough immersion (maybe this phraseology is the Presbyterian coming out in me!) by watching television, eating at restaurants, and coaching my son's baseball team. The Gospel need not be immersed in the culture or cultural language in order to be relevant or effective, the Gospel supercedes culture.
I am not convinced that the church's problem is over-Christianization. I believe that the church's problem is it's unwillingness to keep the anti-God American subculture out of the church. The church doesn't need more of the world, the world needs more of the church.
And while I am a part of this American subculture because I have eyes and ears, I can love on and show hospitality to my unbelieving neighbor without immersing myself any deeper in it.
More to come on this topic ...