We welcome back Dr. Malcolm Yarnell as a guest contributor. Below are his thoughts concerning Mark Driscoll and the comments of Dr. John MacArthur concerning Driscoll.
For over a year now, I have been deeply concerned about some of the teaching that is being propagated by the leader of a Seattle church and of the Acts 29 movement, Mark Driscoll. Although previously expressing misgivings about the man’s flippancy in an interview with New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in March 2008, I have since remained relatively silent. However, one of his more recent missives, released in November 2008, was absolutely horrifying to my wife and me. And now, at this time, because Mark Driscoll continues to gain recognition, and in order to support publicly the sober response of another minister, I have chosen to speak again to the matter.
One man’s ministry that has repeatedly inspired many ministers to be more biblical and thus more like our Lord Jesus Christ, in word and in deed, over the years, is Dr. John MacArthur. Dr. MacArthur recently concluded a short series in Pulpit Magazine on proper and improper exegesis of the Song of Solomon and on the need for purity in the pulpit. His four-part series is a restrained approach to a recent rash of improper but otherwise unchallenged conduct by Mark Driscoll. MacArthur has shown incredible foresight even as other ministers, who continue to support Mark Driscoll, have apparently been rather reluctant to register rebuke.
The doctrinal moral of this sad tale is that any time that a preacher attempts to appropriate worldly methods to aid in the propagation of the gospel, he has already fundamentally compromised the gospel. The recent movement towards claiming that, “As long as our doctrine is correct, we can agree to use various methods,” certainly carries some truth, but such a position is not to be taken naively. Methodology, too, is restrained by the commands of Christ, both positively with regard to the church’s actions (preaching the Word, celebrating the ordinances, worshiping in spirit and in truth, etc.) and negatively with regard to personal and communal doctrinal and moral integrity. The issue in the present case is moral integrity: there simply is no way that the sacred and the profane, or Christianity and Hedonism, may be blended, even for altruistic “missional” reasons. In the very act of combining the holy–that which has been separated unto God–with the unholy, the result is assured to be profane (1 Cor. 5:6, 10:21).
Earlier this evening, as I spoke tenderly but firmly to my oldest son about how to treat a young lady properly when on a date, I prayed for him to have wisdom in such situations and he bowed his head in agreement. And later, as I tucked my two precious daughters into bed, moved in the depths of my heart by concern for them in a sinful world, I prayed for the Lord to give these girls godly husbands, who would treat them with a holy respect, in word and in deed, and they smiled in agreement. And tonight, as I conclude this post, I pray that the ministers of our nation, young and old, will see their task not to engage their cultures with reckless abandon but to carry their Christ-given crosses with bold holiness. Oh, Lord, hear this prayer! And, oh, reader, consider the wisdom of Proverbs 19:25!
Thank you, Dr. MacArthur, for your bold and needed stance in reminding us of these truths. May others see the wisdom in your words. (Note: If you are not a mature believer, please do not read the posts linked here. Although Dr. MacArthur handles the issues circumspectly, they are nevertheless for the mature.)
Today we present to you this post from guest author Dr. Malcolm Yarnell, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology & Director of the Center for Theological Research at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Then His mother and brothers came to Him, but they could not meet with Him because of the crowd. He was told, “Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, wanting to see You.” But He replied to them, “My mother and My brothers are those who hear and do the word of God.”
Luke 8:19-21 (HCSB)
Yesterday, Sunday afternoon, my two oldest sons were late on their homework and were diligently seeking to finish their work before Monday. However, a kink was thrown into their plans: the evening service at our church was scheduled to celebrate communion. I explained to the oldest boy that Christ commanded us to celebrate the Lord’s Supper until He comes again and that our church practiced communion at set times but with less frequency than my own desire. There was no way any of us were going to miss out on obeying the Lord’s command when given opportunity. Without delay, the three of us packed into the car and joined my wife with the other three children for worship.
Over the last two years, during previous celebrations of communion, I was in the practice of whispering to my youngest son, who is now a 9-year-old, what the Lord’s Supper means. The Lord’s Supper is a memorial celebration performed as a communal confession of the atonement of Christ worked upon the Cross. The fundamental reality of the body broken and the blood that Jesus Christ, the sinless one, voluntarily poured out on behalf of our sins is powerfully represented in the bread and the cup. The accompaniment of the visual practice with the audible Word has a powerful effect upon the observer of this second of the great Christian ordinances.
Today we present an article written by Tennessee pastor Joe White. Brother Joe is the pastor of the Thompson Springs Baptist Church in Cleveland, Tennessee. He earned his Bachelors Degree in Theology from Andersonville Theological Seminary in Camilla, Georgia and his Associates Degree in Business Administration from Cleveland State Community College in Cleveland, Tennessee.
He and his wife, Andrea, have been married for 10 years and have been blessed with two wonderful daughters; Whitney and Makenzie. The Tennessee Baptist Convention selected Brother Joe as the 2007 Bivocational Pastor of the Year for the state of Tennessee. In November, Brother Joe and Mrs. Andrea began serving a 4 year term on the Tennessee Baptist Convention’s Bivocational Ministry Counsel. You can read this post, as well as other thoughts from Brother Joe, at his blog, Lifted by Love.
As we attempt to deal with the many social and cultural issues that impact the church, we need to make sure we are biblically accurate. We must not seek to be politically or socially correct, but biblically correct. We believe, and Baptists have historically believed, that the Bible is the “sole authority for faith and practice”. It is not the “final” authority; it is the “sole” authority. Therefore, our philosophy must be born out of our theology. If we accept this as true, that our philosophy is to be born of our theology, then our theology must be based upon the Word of God. In other words it is dangerous and can be disastrous to build a philosophy for the church, a philosophy for ministry, or a philosophy for life without building that philosophy upon the right theological foundation.
by Alan Melton
“Seventeen summers,” said the busy father, wistfully describing the memory of his oldest child growing up. He continued, “We get seventeen summer vacations, and then our children are gone.” His statement stung me as I thought about my own family experience. Is that all there is with parenting; seventeen family vacations? If scripture teaches that children are a blessing, why am I not enjoying that blessing?
I thought about my own busy schedule; go to work Monday through Friday with some evening work, then Monday night- Deacon’s meeting/basketball practice, Tuesday night- church visitation, Wednesday night- prayer meeting & youth Choir, Friday night- youth group meeting, Saturday- basketball game, yard work and church social, Sunday- teach
Sunday School, attend worship, and back to church by 5:00pm for discipleship classes and evening worship. Most days we ate fast food or restaurant food while running to activities. My schedule allowed me exactly one night per week to spend with my family, and guess how we spent it? We went out to dinner, then watched television, a movie or I was on the internet! At one point my wife worked outside of the home, which would have made things even worse. Now she was busy providing taxi service to and from school, to basketball, to dance. Add to that television, video games, neighborhood friends and all kinds of other activities that I couldn’t oversee.
The document linked to here is a joint effort by Dr. Malcolm Yarnell and me to help clarify and lead others to a proper understanding of the Lordship of Christ as it pertains to matters which have been discussed via blogs over the last three years. Below are some excerpts from the paper. I would encourage all the readers of SBC Today to download the document for further reading.
The desire to discover the lowest possible standard before sin happens is not the way Christ expects us to live. Indeed, seeking the lowest denominator may be indicative of an improper attitude about temptation. Instead of seeing how far we may travel away from Christ’s will before we have gone over the edge, one who professes Jesus as Lord should be seeking eagerly for closeness to His will. If He is Lord, He must be Lord of the Christian’s life in truth. This applies equally in the spheres of doctrine and ethics. The Christian should adopt the attitude that asks, “How may I fulfill the standard that Jesus Christ reveals in His Word?” Likewise, the Christian must avoid the opposite attitude, which asks, “How far may I get away from Christ’s commands before it is wrong?”
When the method of theological triage was issued, it was accompanied by a call for theological maturity. We agree and echo this desire for growth, which we believe involves a growth into faithfulness to the Lord. Much of the current crisis in Baptist life circles around the relationship between gospel and faithfulness to Christ. On the one hand, the responsible Christian preacher, like Paul, will be careful to preach the gospel clearly. And he will be careful never to confuse the gospel with legalistic righteousness. Paul’s harsh words about the false teachers troubling the Galatians come to mind: “You who are trying to be justified by the law are alienated from Christ: you have fallen from grace!” (Gal. 5:4). There is no room for legalism in preaching justification as the declaration of righteousness through faith in the Righteous One.
On the other hand, Paul never treated justification by grace through faith as an excuse for immaturity. The responsible Christian preacher, like Paul in Philippians 3, will not stop with the basics of the faith but will issue a call to forsake immaturity and pursue maturity.
The secondary issues include, according to the offered form of theological discrimination, those doctrines that make us Baptist. One may consider here such important Baptist distinctives as believers-only baptism by immersion, New Testament communion, democratic congregationalism, and regenerate church membership (cf. Baptist Faith and Message, articles 6-8). To term such doctrines “secondary” in the sense of “insignificant” or “unnecessary” or “indifferent” is not only a misuse of theological triage; it may be more egregiously a subtle but significant downgrading of Christ’s Lordship over His church. Indeed, we would argue-building upon an earlier metaphor-that a misuse of the bowie knife of theological triage may end with the consignment of some Christians to the spiritual emergency room. For the church planting enterprise in which Great Commission Christians engage, these second-order doctrines may not be ignored; if they are ignored, chaos and confusion of the Corinthian magnitude will ensue.
What we can and must do for those Christians that are not Baptists is to encourage them to submit even more to the Lord’s will. And when they will no longer listen, we will resort solely to the illimitable power of prayer. With Paul, we humbly pray that those Christians with whom we disagree regarding our Lord’s commands will no longer “think differently” but that “God will reveal this to you also.” Likewise, we would hope that non-Baptists would share the grace of God’s revelation with us where they deem we have not properly interpreted God’s Word.
I would personally like to thank Dr. Yarnell for allowing me to participate in this paper. When we started earlier this week, I had no idea I would learn so much in organizing and presenting a paper. Again, to view the entire document, click here.