Thursday, October 24, 2013

Of Course Jesus Is Not A Pansy And No One Is Saying He Is: More Adventures In The Comedic Stylings Of Mark Driscoll

I don't know why I inflict this sort of stuff on myself but I made myself read Mark Driscoll's risible post, Is God A Pacifist? and got exactly the sort of juvenile school yard reasoning I have come to expect. This is a problem because for some reason Mark Driscoll has a wide audience and he is often portrayed as representative of several traditions I am sympathetic toward so someone needs to call out his ridiculous arguments.

First and foremost it is a ridiculous thesis. Is God a pacifist? That is like asking "Is God a member of the Elks Club?". God is God. He transcends our simplistic definitions and He is also perfect in knowledge, love, power, justice, etc. where we are not. When you ask a dumb question it is unlikely that the answer you offer up is going to be anything other than equally dumb. That may sound harsh but I have zero respect for Mark Driscoll given his general clownish behavior that is an embarrassment to the church and to many serious and sober brothers who get lumped in with him.

Second and almost as bad it is incredibly poor exegesis. His argument boils down to "The Sixth Commandment only deals with murder and war/self-defense is not murder so therefore God is not a pacifist". The examples he provides all have several things in common, they are in the Old Testament and they are specific commands from God for specific situations that are completely irrelevant to any discussion of "just war". God commanded His people to go to war in very specific and limited ways, He did not command America to invade Afghanistan or to enter the First World War or to kill one another over a dispute about slavery. There have been no wars commanded or sanctioned by God this side of the cross so to try to lump all "good" wars (i.e. the wars America was involved in) with the conquests of the Old Testament are such grotesque abuses of the text that Driscoll should be ashamed.

Third his argument makes no sense when grounded in reality. What is war if not murder? When you drop a bomb knowing full well non-combatants are going to die you can dress it up by calling it "collateral damage" but what it really is can only be called murder. When a scared 18 year old pulls a trigger and kills another scared 18 year old because he wears a different uniform you can dress it up as heroism and "doing his duty" but it is still murder, the intentional taking of another life.

Fourth, no surprise,  Driscoll is guilty of exactly what he accusses pacifists of doing, namely being selective in interpretation. Notice this quote:

Those who want to portray Jesus as a pansy or a pacifist are prone to be very selective in the parts of the Bible they quote.

How clever of you Mark! Create the strawman of the limp-wristed wuss who says that Jesus is a "pansy". Of course no one who is an even semi-serious thinker actually suggests anything of the sort. Someone who has the power to retaliate, to respond to violence with even more violence, especially on the scale of Christ who could have His Father "at once send me more than twelve legions of angels" (Matt 26:53) to defend Him, but chooses not to do so is not a "pansy". He is a far greater man that those who like to beat their chest and brag about their favorite cage fighting hero. Jesus demonstrated and taught throughout His earthly ministry of the power of love over hate, that peacemaking is central to the reconciling ministry of the Gospel. Recognizing the counter-cultural example of Jesus that He repaid evil with good and also that we as His people ought to do the same doesn't mean those of us who espouse non-resistance (a better term than the culturally loaded label "pacifist") think that Jesus was a "pansy". It does however redefine for us what it means to be a man, and that redefinition of our cultural notion of masculinity is the goad that those who want to have their Jesus and their American "tough guy" image at the same time kick against.

What is also completely and predictably absent is any interaction with the Sermon on the Mount, the teaching of Jesus on the sword, the contrast between the way of Christ at the end of Romans 12 and the way of Caesar at the beginning of Romans 13. Mark just goes from the Old Testament to the triumphant return of Christ in Revelation as if Jesus just sat around in the Gospels waiting to go the cross without teaching or modeling anything pertinent to a serious discussion of Christians employing violence.

This is the sort of foolish and silly empty bravado and pseudo-machismo that Driscoll specializes in and it is the sort of garbage that gives ammunition to people like Rachel Held Evans in her Quixotic crusades against those mean men. She simply points to Driscoll as the prototypical complementarian and her material just writes itself. Mark Driscoll is many things but he is not a serious thinker, or at least he manages to hide what thinking he does underneath a pile of manure like this. I am sure his clumsy and juvenile essay will give aid and comfort to the :real men: in the church but it does nothing to advance what should be a serious discussion.


Juan Carlos Torres said...

I'd like to read your 27 part series on Calvinism.

I couldn't find the link, though...

Juan Carlos Torres said...

I cannot for the life of me understand why any serious Reformed Christian follows this guy!

Excellent critique.

Jeremy Myers said...

You have a stronger stomach than I.

I cannot read or listen to Driscoll any longer.

Arthur Sido said...

Juan he has something of a following among the younger crowd because he is "hip", swears, watching ultimate fighting, etc so he is a "leader" that is down with deep theology but also keeps the coolness factor high.

Jeremy I have always found him to be an insufferable attention hound that lives out the old saying about power tending to corrupt.