Thursday, 2 October 2008

A question of Jensen on Driscoll

I was fortunate enough recently to visit Sydney and hear Don Carson and Kent Hughes speak. Two incredibly godly, learned, compelling teachers, and it was a joy to sit at their feet. Oh, and Mark Driscoll was there as well (which is in no way to imply that he isn't godly, learned or compelling!). If you don't know who he is, check out here (and congrats on waking up from the coma you've been in for the past couple of years).

Driscoll made 18 comments on the state of the church in Sydney, and it is fair to say that people in Sydney have not stopped talking about them. Personally I think many were spot on, some were deliberate (hopefully) caricatures and exaggerations designed to waken the slumbering, and a couple were unhelpful and wrong. Most recently, over at the Sola Panel (wish we'd thought of that name), Phillip Jensen has offered his thoughts, which are very helpful and steer a good middle ground.

However, I have difficulties with one of Phillip's comments. He says:
His [Driscoll's] address to us in the Cathedral was more that of a prophetic preacher than an expositor of the Bible

Driscoll's first comment was that 'the Bible guys are not the missional guys'. His seventh was that 'your teaching lacks [...] apologetics, mission, and application. Both statements are cutting critiques because they are stating that we [those who might align themselves with conservative evangelicalism] are handling the bible incorrectly. They're saying that we 'teach' the Bible without apologetics, mission, and application(!). That when we handle the Scriptures we are somehow not thinking about the culture (ecclesial and secular) that the Word is speaking into.

And my difficulty with Phillip's comments is that he implicitly affirms what Driscoll has criticised. He has validated Driscoll's criticism by splitting apart what shouldn't be. That being a 'prophetic preacher' can be separated out (somehow!) from being 'an expositor of the Bible'. They can't be. To expose the Scriptures is, by the power of God's Spirit, to prophetically (Rev 19:10) proclaim (2 Tim 4:2). And as God's word is made clear, as it is shown to counter our culture, as questions which oppose the message are answered, as it is prayerfully and graciously and lovingly applied to the hearers (Christian and non-Christian alike), the expositor is prophetically proclaiming the glorious gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The great irony in this, of course, is that Phillip is both, par excellence - by being an expositor of the Bible he is a prophetic preacher. And of course I'm sure Phillip wouldn't try to separate them out. But it is a timely reminder for us to keep on our toes, and to handle the word of truth correctly. Let us not separate what God has joined together.

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