Mark Driscoll and the Progressive Double Standard

7 Responses

  1. Mike says:

    Can you elaborate how McLaren 'mocks traditional doctrines and sets them up with language that we can generously call unfavorable?' Perhaps an example?

  2. Charles says:

    Sure…this is from Everything Must Change a satirical rewriting of the Maginificat:

    "My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my personal Savior, for he has been mindful of the correct saving faith of his servant. My spirit will go to heaven when my body dies for the Mighty One has provided forgiveness, assurance, and eternal security for me—holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who have correct saving faith and orthodox articulations of belief, from generation to generation. He will overcome the damning effects of original sin with his mighty arm; he will damn to hell those who believe they can be saved through their own efforts or through any religion other than the new one He is about to form. He will condemn followers of other religions to hell but bring to heaven those with correct belief. He has filled correct believers with spiritual blessings but will send those who are not elect to hell forever. He has helped those with correct doctrinal understanding, remembering to be merciful to those who believe in the correct theories of atonement, just as our preferred theologians through history have articulated."

    That was the mocking, here is the unfavorable language, in his explanations of the "conventional view" of Jesus:

    "The Human Situation: What is the Story We Find Ourselves In? God created the world as perfect, but because our primal ancestors, Adam and Eve, did not maintain the absolute perfection demanded by God, god has irrevocably determined that the entire universe and all it contains will be destroyed, and the souls of all human beings—expect for those specifically exempted—will be forever punished for their imperfection in hell."

    "Jesus’ Message: How did Jesus Respond to the Crisis? Jesus says in essence, “If you want to be among those specifically qualified to escape being forever punished for your sins in hell, you must repent of your individual sins and believe that my Father punished me on the cross so he won’t have to punish you in hell. Only if you believe this will you go to heaven when the earth is destroyed and everyone else is banished to hell.” This is the good news."

    "Purpose of Jesus: Why is Jesus Important? Jesus came to solve the problem of “original sin,” meaning that he helps qualified individuals not to be sent to hell for their sin or imperfection. In a sense, Jesus saves these people from God, or more specifically, from the righteous wrath of God which sinful human beings deserve because they have not perfectly fulfilled God’s just expectations, expressed in God’s moral laws. This escape from punishment is not something they earn or achieve, but rather a free gift they receive as an expression of God’s grace and love. Those who receive it enjoy a personal relationship with God and seek to serve and obey God, which produces a happier life on earth and more rewards in heaven."

  3. Mike says:

    I guess it depends on your perspective. Those passages represent a view that has brought a lot of hope to many people who have seen the "traditional" view as hollow, empty, and as far removed from Jesus as possible.

    In your view, how could one disagree without being labeled as mocking? Or, is it the disagreement itself which you see as the problem?

    PS. I'm looking forward to seeing Cloverfield, but now your comments have me worried!

  4. Charles says:

    What I'm seeing in those passages is the author calling "conventional" a position that most with traditional beliefs disagree with.

    Adam and Eve were punished for disobedience, not imperfection. Each of us is responsible for our own disobedience…even those who believe in Original Sin acknowledge that.

    No one is "specifically qualified", and Jesus doesn't require anyone to have qualifications. He goes on to show his disdain for the idea that belief is the only step to salvation.

    Then he comes back with the "qualified individuals" thing. Of course, the rest of that paragraph is spot on. Once the whole "qualified individuals" deception is laid to rest, it really is good news.

    What's true is that many traditional believers have focused too much on heaven and too much on their own happiness. We need to spend more time in social justice work. But a view that ignores individual salvation and the promise of heaven is just as "hollow, empty, and far removed from Jesus" as one that ignores social justice.

    Jesus talked about then and now, there and here. How can you disagree without being labeled as mocking? Don't write in a mocking tone, such as the ones above. But I don't think that's really a problem. Satire is helpful and entertaining. The problem is getting upset with someone for mocking you, while mocking them out of the other side of your mouth.

  5. Charles says:

    BTW, our discussion is a perfect example of disagreeing without mocking.

  6. Mike says:

    Fair enough, Charles. I really don't see the mocking… it's more that I see an English Lit guy using literary skills to draw possibilities out of our imaginations. (If you spend any time at all with McLaren you'll find he is freakishly gracious in the face of some of the ugliest criticism out there.)

    The other thing to reinforce is the idea that what we're talking is not simply structural. In my case (and in many others) it's theological. I've been a believer my whole life, but I no longer resonate with the terms "individual salvation and the promise of heaven." Now the concept of a lifelong individual "conversion" I could embrace. And as for heaven, I don't believe we're ultimately going anyway. I think Jesus is coming back here.

    If you spend any time on my blog you'll find one of my biggest pet peeves. I'm not a fan of the label "emergent/emerging church", and I have no time for those who see it as the latest, coolest way to do the same old thing. In the interests of full disclosure, I think its the whole thing that has to go.

    I appreciate the conversation.

  7. Charles says:

    We don't have to call it mocking, satire may be a more fitting classification. As for criticism, we should all be prepared for it, and react to it appropriately, which I'm sure McLaren does.

    If this were a structural or methodological question, it wouldn't matter to me that much. Structure and method in the church aren't really important to me in comparison to the theology that undergirds them.

    I'm sorry that the ideas of salvation and heaven don't resonate with you, and I'd be interested to know why. They are part of the promise along with the lifelong conversion you mention. And while I agree with you that Jesus is coming back here, I'd like to know more about your view of heaven.

    What do you mean when you say "people who see [the emerging church] as the latest, coolest way to do the same old thing"?

    Of course, all of this wasn't the point of my post. My point was that traditional theologians should be free to use the same type of satire and criticisms or emerging theology as emerging theologians use. But what much of the emerging community seems to react to (online, at least) is the fact that the criticism wasn't polite enough, however legitimate a point was made.

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