I am not sure how many people are aware of this, but Mark Driscoll is in Australia for a few weeks and today I managed to make it out to Morling College with another mate, Mark Falson, to here him speak. And do you know what? I was surprised. In a good way.
You see, while I have not had much exposure to Driscoll before, what I have seen and heard was not overly endearing. Not that I haven’t appreciated some of what Ive seen, but the general impression was: waaay too testosterone fuelled and aggro. Yet, that was not what I saw today. What I saw was very missional, very thoughtful and very encouraging.
What Driscoll spoke on was the relationship between preaching and contextualisation.
Here is a sample of what was said:
- “Proclamation should proceed contextualisation … BUT both should work together”
- Content of the gospel is not what we do but what Jesus has done (he differentiated between the gospel of the kingdom and the gospel of the king in a way I would not but I get where he was coming from)
- “Our goal with the gospel in never innovation but faithfulness” (Driscoll affirmed innovation in other areas)
- The gospel is about Jesus (its Christological) who died for our sins (substitutionary atonement) according to the scriptures (its biblical) who was buried (he really died) and rose again on the third day (resurrection) and if we have faith in his work we are saved (whilst I would place more weight on the resurrection than Driscoll, and see atonement theology as a bit more complex and multifaceted, I substantially agree with what was said)
- “Contextualisation is not capitulation”
- “Emerging Churches in my country don’t have converts” (I am sure some would contest that so feel free to speak up, but this does disturb me)
- In commenting on the more syncretist end of the emerging spectrum, Driscoll said: “If you’re thirsty I would recommend not drinking from the toilet.” Less than generous, but amusing all the same. Basically making the point that if you deconstruct the gospel so much that you’re no longer sure what it is, then should it be any surprise that you’ve got nothing left to preach about.
- It’s all about timeless truths (preaching) and timely methods (contextualisation). If you only go for the former you’re a fundamentalist, if you only go for the later you’re a creative innovative heretic. (This is basically what I have said too, though I find invoking the ‘h’ word unhelpful even when accurate)
- We don’t make the gospel relevant, we show the relevance of the gospel
- Seeker sensible not seeker sensitive. Not refusing to talk about sin and hell but taking the time to define the terms well. Assuming people have objections and taking time to try to answer them.
- Contextualisation takes time. May mean longer sermons.
- We all contextualise, the question is what era. 1800s, 1900s, 1980, 2008
- Amused to be given a taped copy of his sermon by a church with a tape ministry. Doesn’t own a tape recorder.
- Ministries led by proclamation but wont have conversions without contextualisation. Gotta have both.
- Contextualisation is not about fitting Jesus comfortably within other religions.
- He had a mild stab at extremist greenies (LOL I was waring a greenie t-shirt)
- Jesus is not a mirror.
- Noted the different meanings of charismatic in US, UK and Australia (he did his homework before coming here). Observed Aussies afraid of Holy Spirit except for the prosperity guys. Prosperity guys treat the Holy Spirit like a piñata (awesome comment, LOL).
- Said, “I am not a cessasionist.” Not that surprised me. I am not used to Reformed guys not being cessasionists.
- Charismatics chasing after signs and wonders. Jesus says its a wicked generation that chases after signs and wonders. Beware manipulation. But if we follow Jesus signs and wonders will follow us.
- He seemed mildly disappointed / surprised that we Baptists were not more aggressive with our questioning in the questioning time – obviously his research wasn’t extensive enough to pick up the major differences between us and our US counterparts 🙂
So to sum up, I was encouraged that he placed so much emphasis on contextualisation and evangelism working together. It was genuinely refreshing. Its something I think more leaders need to be talking about, Emergent leaders especially. I still have some reservations – particularly with respect to his well publicised views on women in leadership – but I was pleased that he delivered and stayed gospel focussed rather than going down that path in his talk.
And you know what, I think I am beginning to see why he seems to attract this love-hate response. The guy is incredibly sarcastic. Sarcasm flies well enough in Australia, where ribbing is a national past time and where its not unusual to call your mate “You bastard” as a sign of affection. But I can well see where that would backfire with some people, particularly back in his homeland. Get’s me thinking.