Mark Driscoll’s Thorough Evaluation of the Emerging Church

13 09 2008

Wow, if you had only 1 hour to hear a contemporary critique of the emerging church I would highly recommend downloading the link below –

Mark Driscoll at Xenos on the Emerging Church

Mark identifies 4 streams of Emerging (I can’t remember Mark’s exact titles):

  1. Hipper Church (Dan Kimball)
  2. House Church (Alan Hirsch)
  3. Emerging Reformers (Mark Driscoll)
  4. Emergent Liberals (Brian McLaren)

Not sure where Mark would put me (City Church to Body Church to Apostolic Teams)?  I wouldn’t personally identify with any of the streams he’s listed.  Hopefully that means we’re not emerging. 🙂 (I much prefer to be Restoring).

Mark gives an especially detailed critique of the theology of both Brian McLaren and Rob Bell.

Mark’s serious and far more careful tone is very refreshing and his call at the end against reactions I thought was also important.

If you get a chance to listen let me know your thoughts.



9 responses

14 09 2008
Kevin Rains

I listened to it.

I have a lot of respect for Driscoll (for this talk and for other reasons namely how he has treated some friends of mine with deep hospitality and kindness)

I also know and love (and like) many of the people he critiques and in particular Brian McLaren (we’ve shared several meals, one was in my home and one and one)

The label “liberal” is too strong for McLaren and some of his companions. It is easy to lift some quotes and hammer, label etc. Mark is great at that. Mark admits in this teaching to being an “arrogant, proud sinner.” Ok, noone would argue with him on that and it would be easy to do a seminar with quotes from his own writing and speaking to support that… Brian is a thoughtful, brilliant man who is not by definition a liberal. Mark uses that label pre-maturely in my opinion. However, he knows him better and has read him more than I have so he may be right… but not from what I’ve read and seen in him.

I see some of the guys that he throws in the liberal camp as being wrong about some things (aren’t we all?) and more in need of correction. In first century terms they are more like an Apollos being corrected and enlightened by Priscilla and Aquilla and not ex-communicated as a Gnostic or False Apostle would have been.

Mark’s passion for a theologically pure church (very admirable) makes him lean toward unnecessarily vilifying people who are are not necessarily wolves in sheep clothing trying to lead God’s people astray.

However i do hear his warnings and take them seriously. I’ll be curious to see how this all plays out in the upcoming years…

For the record and whether you like it or not you are in the house church lane… don’t fear being labelled… do fear being a part of the weirdness of that lane…. there’s a lot of it =) Curious why you wouldn’t put yourself in that stream…??

16 09 2008

Good information on the emergent church. Mark’s tone was more careful and his breakdown was helpful. Brian McLaren’s theology sounds new age to me. But maybe they call it something different nowadays.

17 09 2008

wow, that audio was pretty helpful. I’ve heard these labels and names floating around for a while but didn’t have much info previous to hearing this. I was really impressed by how Driscoll handled the communication of this very tricky line being drawn in the sand….making very clear that he thinks others are on the other side of the line while not personally attacking them.
A few thoughts:
– I would have like to have seen Driscoll point out more of the validity of McLarens purpose and perspective. In a lot of ways I can relate to what McLaren is reacting against and while I disagree with his conclusions I wonder if there are aspects of his theology that we could all learn from. Driscoll uses examples such as the trinity and homosexuality which seem like no brainers to me but what about everything else? I think that a more through analysis of this would strengthen Driscoll’s points because I think we all know the dangers of being bonked on the head with funtamental “truths” repeatedly.
– I loved Driscoll’s repeated calls to love the whole church. This facilitated a very special time that I had with God to reflect on my own short-comings that I would like to write more on later.
– I loved when he rebuked that chick on the post for laughing. I don’t know if it was more out of principle to make a point or if it was legit but either way there is something about that guy.

18 09 2008

I listened to this presentation awhile ago and realized that I was being told by Driscoll who I should and shouldn’t listen to. Recently I saw him tell people in his congregation not to read the “Shack” and at other times I’ve heard him say that if you’re thirsty – not to drink water from the toilet and other remarks of similar fashion. I have appreciated alot of Mark’s teaching and have learned and gleaned a lot. I accept for all of us that God can speak a perfect message through an imperfect messenger and that at other times He can allow for a message to come out of the same person’s mouth that isn’t so great and actually very unhelpful, mean, untrue, slanted, etc…. I believe this is the case with Mark. His style and delivery from an outsider’s perspective assumes a posture of authority. When I’ve listened to him in his own church I listen to him differently – he’s more free there – but in other settings he holds back with a few outbursts.

All of this to say – for a character like me – I am unable to concede to him that he knows what he’s talking about all of the time or even most of the time. It seems that he believes by his posture and use of language and force and rhetoric that he is right and others are wrong or that they are close but still off by a bit. I know that is probably part of his personality but to assume that he’s the reference point for what is true and what is being said by others – is unbecoming to a good educator. I won’t speak of him pastorly because he is not my shepher and I would never want him to be my shepherd so I won’t speak of that now but his treatment of those under his teaching seems to assume that he has established a reference point.

I just can’t buy that. We can all learn a lot from him but for him to speak beyond that is too much.

I like his writing but it is difficult to learn from a man that doesn’t seem to want to learn from you. I will probably never meet the man and wouldn’t have that opportunity but having a sense that I couldn’t share a reciprocal relationship with him in a learning environment makes me think that I couldn’t share a relationship with him – I am thinking it would be one way. I guess I am sounding like I can only imagine these things and that is true – but one thing I learned in Bible school and seminary is that you can learn a lot about a person from their time in the pulpit – the more they are in the pulpit the more you can know of them – the pulpit doesn’t lie even if the preacher does.

This talk that he gave was very unfair and naming the people as well as following up with putting a patch of approval on them and then the whole “shame on you” phrases that he has used of people for listening to those he disagrees with is unbecoming for a man who claims to be discerning. Discerment isn’t a gift of being a watch dog – it is discerning the whole person, their writings, actions, interactions, intentions, heart and without face to face experiences and the time to get to know a person – the less authority you have to discern for others how they should think of this person. Brian McClaren and Rob Bell are the two people on Mark’s list who it seems he knows the least – Rob Bell he doesn’t know at all. I am making statements of Mark without meeting him but I would never tell you or anyone else not to visit his church, read his books, or listen to him or learn from him, I would just warn you of the failings and concerns I have and expect that you would experience him on your own terms afterwards. Mark doesn’t like doing that. I wish he would – others, including myself, feel dignified and treated with worth and value as a result. I wish he knew how others processed his remarks and I wished he would at least try to meet with these men and discuss what he would about them before maligning their teachings and their person and integrity.

19 09 2008
Bill Faris

I’m new to Mark Driscoll so I heard everything without being prejudiced one way or another concerning him. When he said he was writing for the Christian Research Journal (the Hank Hannegraff pubication?), I winced because I find Hanegraff’s treatment of the Vineyard, for example, to be sensational and unfair) but, okay, let’s hear more of what Mark had to say and how he is saying it.

In general, I found his efforts to stay in the right spirit to be believeable and sincere. I believed him when he said he was trying to be loving and when he admitted the limitations of his knowledge of particular people or subjects, I was reassured. However, I felt his treatment of Rob Bell was thin and had a “guilt by association” feel to it. His wife’s comments may have needed to be contexualized a lot more to be understood. Mark put his own frame around them that I felt might have been unfair and incomplete.

Having noted those things, I still found a lot of what he had to say to be valuable and decoded for me some of my own resistance to jump on the emergent bandwagon even though my quest has led me away from a lifetime of traditional church fundamentals (if you’ll excuse the expression) of ministry and church life.

My own take on the errors he described is that the ecclesiology is being driven too much by the (post modern) sociology as in: “the world is changing, so the church better get a clue and catch up”. I think you would agree, Jeremy, that if we simply embrace a truly biblical ecclisiology, its sociological applications will be timeless no matter what culture or cultural shift we’re talking about.

Anyway, thanks for sharing this. All in all, I felt it was a worthy effort.

20 09 2008
Luke Crook

I found the tone here from Mark more palitable than usual – thankfully.
I had some issues regarding his comments on Rob Bell. A lot of it centered around his wife’s quote that now she doesn’t know what the Bible is at all about. This needs the whole context if it is to be fair. I have said things like that hyperbolically a number of times when my biblical paradigms were changed – and all of those changes still left me in the orthodox camp. Secondly, Mark was ripping Rob for calling the Dali Lama, “His Holiness.” This is a total judgment call. I agree, of course, that he is not his holiness. I also know that Artaxerxes was not the king (there is one king, Jesus), but Nehemiah had no problem addressing him thus. Titles are conventional – Rob’s using of the Dali Lama’s title is not a sign of his liberalism.
Maybe Rob Bell has some serious theological issues. But, the things Mark brought up do not prove anything to me. By the way, maybe Mark should try to meet Rob, or at least talk to him, before speaking about him to thousands. Where is the brotherhood in this?

21 09 2008

Luke – Excellent points all especially re: brotherhood. The church has so many splinters we don’t think twice about making a few more. I was imagining making a rule for myself that, before I criticize a brother or sister publicly, I should write out my critique briefly and submit it to them for an opportunity to respond (in case I’m completely misinterpreting them). I know even the press often gives this opportunity for response when breaking a story. Never thought I’d learn anything about fairness from the media. 🙂

21 09 2008

Kevin – I certainly identify with writers like Hirsch more than most other modern authors on Ecclesiology but in our approach, a church gathering meeting in a home is more of a subpoint of a subpoint. For example this is where it fits in an outline of my Ecclesiology:

1. City Church
2. Body Church
…..* The Gathering
……..* Gathering usually meet in homes
3. Apostolic Teams

I’ve never heard Driscoll address my Ecclesiology in any of its major areas – City Church, Body or Apostolic Teams. I doubt he’s even aware of it.

25 02 2010

I thought Driscoll did a fantastic Job of breaking it down. I think Kevin is wrong in his assesment of Rob Bell and Mclearen. They are nullifing the gospel!!! Who do they think they are to change what the bible says. They are dangerous Heretics that are leading unknowing people astray and unless they repent and change their ways we will not be seeing them in heaven.

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