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Different Versions of Christianity

So here’s my thought on the Driscoll fiasco that everyone keeps asking me about. Doug had a great quote in the CT article on Mark. He said, “I think that we’re basically talking about two different versions of Christianity.” With this, I think, Mark would agree.

What troubles me about Mark’s critiques of Rob, Brian, and Doug, is that he is investigating the minutiae, the fine print, the footnotes. It’s almost like the scribes that Jesus constantly dealt with — those who kept trying to trap him in his own words (while ignoring the overall gospel that he was promoting). Mark doesn’t like that Brian footnotes a book called The Scandal of the Cross, that Rob recommends the philosophy of Ken Wilbur, that Doug has one line about our need to find “new ways to be sexual.” Once, at lunch with me, John Piper had a similar concern: that Brian endorsed Steve Chalke’s book, a book that in one line reiterates a view of penal substitutionary atonement held by many feminist theologians for three decades. (Please, read Chalke’s book — the rest of it really isn’t about denigrating your sacred theory of propitiation. Most people I meet have heard one line of Chalke’s book, but haven’t actually read the book.)

This kind of argument is tenuous at best. Criticizing folks for who they read, who they footnote, and who they endorse is not particularly persuasive, methinks. I’d much rather have Driscoll and Piper say, “We’re promoting a very different version of the faith than the emergent folks. Let’s look at the big picture of what they’re saying versus the big picture of what we’re saying.”

I’m sure that I’ll take some flack for implying in a sermon last Sunday that John MacArthur is a soft gnostic (I happen to think that 90% of Americans are soft gnostics, just as I think that 90% of Americans are semi-pelagians). I am talking about the overall Christianity that Johnny Mac is espousing — I think that it’s too platonic, and that it neglects hebraic holism — the water that Jesus swam in. I don’t really care if Johnny Mac (or Piper or Driscoll) reads Paula White, Jonathan Edwards, or Karl Marx. I’m most interested in the overall theology that he’s espousing. I do, indeed, think that it’s very different from the version that I’m espousing.

And I sure do appreciate the folks who keep inviting me to come and talk about it. They may not like it, they may not agree with it, but they should at least have the opportunity to hear about it.

That’s all.

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