Words of a Fether

I am the way, the truth, and the life;
no one comes to the Father except through me. ~Jesus

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True Gospel, False Teacher?

Others have written about this, but I felt compelled to speak out as well.

I went to the website of the infamous Mark Driscoll to see if there was any comment on the accuracy of the New York Times article and the sinning by questioning quote, but I couldn’t find any statements about it, either to confirm or deny. So I checked the church’s blog, and still nothing. But I did find their statement of faith, which aside from the total depravity of man Calvinist plug, looks good.

However, under teaching and worship, then spiritual practices, there is a link to a PDF promoting Lectio Divina. In the sidebar of the site they promote one Rob Bell. Here is a clip from the bio there:

Rob Bell is the Founding Pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church. He graduated from ... Fuller Theological Seminary... He is the author of Velvet Elvis and Sex God, and is a coauthor of Jesus Wants to Save Christians. He is also featured in the first series of spiritual short films called NOOMA.

So much for discernment. But what are we to do with a pastor like Driscoll? What does the Bible say a Christian leader should be like?

On one hand we have the apostle Paul saying this:

Of course, some proclaim the Anointed One only to stir up trouble or try to make me envy them, but others do so out of love because they know I’m here for defending the good message. Some tell about the Anointed One only because they think they can make things worse for me here in prison, but so what? The bottom line is that no matter what the method or motivation, the Anointed One is being proclaimed, and that’s a good thing! (Phil. 1:15-18)

But is Paul really saying that the only criterion for leading and teaching an assembly of believers is that they get the gospel message right? Of course not. Preaching the gospel is done toward the lost, not the found, and all believers are charged with that task (Mt. 28:18-19). If you have to understand the gospel to get saved, then surely you can be trusted with passing on that simple (yes, simple, in spite of all efforts to complicate it) message. So the gospel one preaches is not proof of God’s approval on a person or ministry, nor even proof of salvation.

Yet on the other hand, and more importantly, leading other believers is treated by the NT writers as an entirely different matter. If even the newest believers were exhorted to have a good witness with outsiders (1 Cor. 5:11-13, 1 Peter 2:12) and other high qualities, what of leaders?

If anyone sincerely wants to guard, they desire an ideal work. The guardian, then, must be above reproach, faithful to one spouse, rational, wise, well-behaved, hospitable, qualified to teach, not a drunkard, not eager to fight but reluctant to fight, not eager to get rich, protecting and providing for their own home, and having children who are supportive, with all seriousness. Because if anyone didn’t know how to protect and provide for their own home, how will they care for the community of believers? Neither should they be a novice, so they will not fall into the Accuser’s judgment through conceit. And they should have an ideal witness to outsiders so they will not fall into the shame of the Accuser’s trap. (1 Tim. 3:1-7)
[an elder] must be someone who is above reproach, faithful to their spouse, with children who are believers that cannot be accused of being wild or disrespectful. Because a Guardian has to be a manager for God who is above reproach, not self-centered, short-fused, given to addictions, violent, or unethical. Instead, they should be hospitable, seeking the good, sensible, fair, pure, and self-controlled. They must be reliable for staying faithful to the right teachings so they can expose false ones.(Titus 1:6-9)
Remember your leaders who spoke the Word of God to you; think about the outcome of their behavior and imitate their faith... Now don’t forget to do the right thing and be a community, for God is pleased with such sacrifices. Pay attention to your leaders and defer to them, for they keep careful watch over your souls and must give an account. Make this a joy for them and not a chore, which would not be to your advantage. (Heb. 13:7, 16-17)

Mark Driscoll, are you paying attention? Since when are your violent outlook and foul mouth Christian virtues? Other Christian leaders, why aren’t you all rebuking this guy?

Elders who have done a good job of protecting and providing deserve double honor, especially those who labor in word and teaching... Do not agree to an accusation against an elder unless there are two or three witnesses. Those elders who are failing must be exposed in front of everyone, so that the rest may take warning. I solemnly charge you, in the sight of God and the Anointed One Jesus and the chosen messengers, that you must guard these things without prejudice; do nothing out of bias. Do not be too quick to place hands on anyone and thereby participate in the failures of others; keep yourself pure. (1 Tim. 5:17-25)

We demand to know why peaceful or moderate Muslims don’t protest against their alleged fringe elements, but has the Christian community done any better? How is it that it takes the unbelieving world to expose people like Driscoll (and a long string of other scandalous pastors in the news the last few years), after their sins have been swept under the rug by their good ole boy network, much the way incompetent physicians are passed from one state to another? While it’s true that Driscoll made a public confession about his pride problem (...I believe that humility is the great omission and failure in my eleven years of preaching. I believe that this is my greatest oversight both in my example and in my instruction. I therefore do not claim to be humble. I do not claim to have been humble. I am convicted of my pride, and I am a man who is by God’s grace pursuing humility...), he is overlooking what should be glaringly obvious: If he is still struggling with pride, he has no business in Christian leadership! He admits his bad example has affected others, yet he does not step down, and the other elders do not demand that he step down. And I’d venture a guess that this newfound quest for humility will not include laying down pride in male flesh.

How did someone like that-- and multiply this by thousands in many denominations-- get approved as an elder in the first place? While no one expects leaders to be perfect, they are nonetheless held to a higher standard (James 3:1) by God. And those of bad influence, as the scripture shows, are to be publicly rebuked. Yet very few dare to raise a hand in protest against any of these hired hands (John 10:12-13).

The gospel can be preached by literally anyone. But Christian leaders are to be the epitome of spiritual maturity, restraint, high moral standards, wisdom, and below all, humble servitude. Jesus said to them as much as anyone, Not so among you (Mt. 20:25-28), and showed by example in Phil. 2:5-11 what someone with power and authority is supposed to do with it. Humility should be the first and most enduring quality of any elder. Those elders who are found to be lacking in this area should immediately step down and sit under the mentoring of one who is not so lacking.

Posted 2009-02-02 under community, behavior, relationships, pride, pastor, driscoll, question, elder