Saturday, 16 August 2008

Mark Driscoll on harsh language

John Piper's Desiring God blog has an advert for a conference featuring Mark Driscoll talking for about 5 minutes on the use of harsh language. Definitely have a look at it, it's pretty good. The main thing he says is that we should speak the way God does. And God uses strong language, though he does so infrequently. Then in the later part of the clip he adds that the main target of such sneering ridicule, satire, scoffing and, let's face it, abuse, is religious false teachers.

Couple of thoughts. One is that some of those who acknowledge this last point

arguing, for example, that Jesus reserves his harshest language about hell for religious hypocrites, and even using this as a reason to urge that we tone down language about hell in other contexts

will nonetheless become extremely squeamish when people actually put this principle into practice. So when such mockery is targetted at actual false teachers such as NT Wright or the current Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, the reaction is poor.

Now it may be that they disagree that these people are false teachers, so the mockery stings with greater effect than if they agreed with my view, which is that these individuals are not faithful teachers of the gospel.

The other thought is that for those who are so tentative that they would not dismiss Rowan Williams or NT Wright as false teachers out of hand, is there any false teacher that they would subject to mockery in the way that God does, or of whom they would say (as Paul does of the teaching of Hymenaeus and Philetus in 2 Tim 2) "their talk will spread like gangrene."

That said, I acknowledge the danger Mark Driscoll raises of overdoing it and recognize the tendency in myself. Putting a curb on your tongue is not easy. I figure those who have this tendency should pray for God's wisdom to judge the situation rightly, apologize when they make the inevitable mistakes, and keep going.

11 comments:

Darren said...

It is interesting though that you can pop at Evangelicals and get as personal as you like! Especially if they're from Sydney (which I'm not)

Someone (usually quite sensible) at my Church complained about "Jensen" saying he was a dictator. I asked which one, he said, "The Australian one", I asked again which one, there are 2, they're brothers - he looked blank. I suggested it's a good idea to actually know WHO you are making an accusation of and that we shouldn't believe everything we read on the letters page of the CEN.

So not only are people un-easy at saying someone is a false teacher. But if they are Evangelical you can call into question their very humanity.

The Pook said...

Ah those Jensenite fifth columnists, they're everywhere aren't they? Under the beds, coming out of the woodworks, infiltrating other denominations, undermining time honoured traditionalism... Shhh! Don't blow our cover...

The Pook said...

Oh yeah, and btw, though I disagree with him at key points, I would not put Wright in the same category as Williams, and certainly not as someone like Spong. He's the one I would reserve my harshest theological language for. In fact you could characterize his views as theological spongiform encephalitus, or mad theologian disease.

Gordon Cheng said...

In my view Wright is far more dangerous than Williams, or Spong for that matter, because his attempts to appear evangelical are more broadly successful.

The Pook said...

Maybe. I have to plead ignorance. I haven't kept up with my reading of him in recent years, so maybe he's got more liberal lately. I do seem to recall though that it was more what he was not willing to affirm than what he positively denies that is the problem, which as you infer can mask the true degree of his unorthodoxy perhaps. In sitting in the middle of the road he gets hit from both directions, being equally unacceptable to liberals and evangelicals alike.

Father David Heron said...

I'm from the Diocese of Durham where EVERYONE loves our Bishop -when he is here, that is. Anyone can take a 'pop' at an Evangelical. In fact, most of us would take a shotgun.

murray said...

Gordon, I wonder whether culture plays a role here. In polite Sydney aociety you are perhaps less familiar with and tolerant of strong language from the puplit than, say in parts of the USA? I don't know, just wondering.

About NT Wright, a certain Archbishop said to me once that it is not the liberals whom we need to watchful of, but those who let the liberals in. Many see Wright as a bridge between liberals and evangelicals (as a Pastor said to me a little while back).

Gordon Cheng said...

Murray, Sydney people are pretty rude most of the time. But in the subsection that is Anglican, you are more likely to find easily offended polite people. So they tell me, anyway—as one of the regular offenders I'm one of the first to feel the weight of their displeasure!

geoffc said...

If NT Wright is right about justification and Paul(and suppose he is for the sake of my question), would that make you a false teacher?

Gordon Cheng said...

Hey gc,

it is a little bit hard to answer the question, as the assumption is false. If black was white, would the sky be green? Maybe, but then again, perhaps some speculations are best avoided.

geoffc said...

I'm not sure what i was trying to achieve with that question. It was poor come to think of it.