John MacArthur, Mark Driscoll and The Song of Solomon

Tim Challies has a post recapping the recent criticism Pastor John MacArthur has kicked up toward Mark Driscoll’s style of preaching the Song of Solomon.  You can watch all of Driscoll’s teaching on the book or download the sermons here and judge for yourself.  While I dig most of what Tim Challies writes and have often linked to him here on this blog I think he might be a bit off base on this one.  Challies thinks we should leave the veil on Song of Songs and let it stand as evocative poetry.

While Song of Songs is obviously poetry this does not mean it is free of meaning and teaching content.  God obviously had an intent he sought to convey in including it in the Bible.  Besides since we as Christians affirm that all Scripture is God breathed and useful for teaching we must not shy away from understanding what it is the author is trying to teach us.

The great preacher Haddon Robinson said there are only three things we can do with scripture, explain it, apply it, and illustrate it.  Pastors must not be afraid to do just these very things when it comes to the SoS.  Of course this must be done with wisdom and tact, but truth be told, all scripture should be taught with wisdom and tact.  A few more thoughts.

1.  Some claim it is distasteful to talk about the sexual acts and behaviors that SoS seems to speak of.  But I would simply ask what do you mean by distasteful?  This attitude seems to carry an idea that has for far to long infected Christianity; that sex is dirty.  Sex is not dirty, it is a gift from God that practiced within the confines of heterosexual marriage is glorious and honoring to God.  There is no need for Christians to have a pragmatic/Augustinian approach to sex.  This might come as a shocker to some, but God invented it.  It a gift from Him to us, we must not see it as dirty, but rather something to be redeemed.

2.  Another idea I hear is that there is too much talk about sex in the church recently.  Not sure how you quantify this, is there 10% to much? 20%?  And who decides this?  Now I could understand this complaint if a church had been doing a series on sex for the last five years 52 weeks straight, but just because a handful of churches do 8 week or less series on the topic does not mean there is too much teaching on the subject.  And might I point out the obvious that when Mark Driscoll was doing his series, IT WAS ON A BOOK OF THE BIBLE.  He was teaching scripture.

Besides, if the church does not talk about sex then our people will get their sexual beliefs, values, and ethics from pop culture and the world around them.  It seems every year culture becomes more and more relentless in preaching a secular sexual ethic that pervades almost all areas of life.  Culture is preaching about sex 24/7 and people are listening.  The Bible clearly has teaching on the subject and we should not be afraid to teach it.

Now a word of caution.  As Matt pointed out to me, a preacher can go too far in teaching that just because certain sexual acts are going on in SoS they are prescriptive for all married couples and things we must do.  This is a grievous error and one that could lead to marital abuse, rejection, violation, and the breaking of oneness.  The Big Idea of Song of Songs is not the how and what sex should look like with your spouse.  Rather, it is that there is freedom in the marriage bed for a couple to honor God by liberally enjoying one and other.

ryan

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Welcome to the Circus

*** Preface. My buddy Brent has given some inside info in regards to the Genesis of this debate that most of us were unaware of. His information seriously hinders the integrity of my pressupositions that brought about this post. This being the case, please read the comments to find out how big of an idiot I am. But also take Ryan’s comment into consideration regarding the few good points I actually make.***

 

A lot of Christians I know are excited about the recent Nightlight debate about “The Existence of Satan.” They shouldn’t be.

Like a bad reality television show, the producers arrganged a debate not to come to any conclusion about humanity, or in this case, Satan. Rather they put four polarizing quote machines on stage hoping that a mosaic of chaotic one-liners would ensue.

Mission accomplished.

Lobert and Driscoll on stage

 

Let me start off with my team. I know Mark Driscoll. I know people that know Annie Lobert. Here’s why they were chosen:

On stage Driscoll is a loud mouthed, excitable one-liner quote machine of Christian pop-culture (he is many other things as well, many of them I am fond of, but I am assuming that none of those were why he was chosen for this debate). Listen to about 50 sermons and you will notice the recycled one-liners and soon be able to call them out before they come (note: he would no doubt conclude this as well. His sermon outlines dictate that he simply recycle his well prepared analogies and jokes around the Big Idea [shout out to Haddon Robinson] of the passage.) As he has shown by his recent media appearances: this is one of the main things “Pastor Dude” is good for.

Side note: I believe Mark to be one of the smartest and most theologically equipped theologians I know. But his recent media appearances have fed into certain stereotypes of his persona. His quick one-liners mixed with theology are so good for news media because they illicit such a visceral gut reaction either good or bad. Mark is a great theologian, but that is not why he is being interviewed by the media. Just for the record, D.A. Carson isn’t making any major news outlets for quotes or interviews.

Lobert was not chosen because of her compelling testimony, rather for her image, the bombastic nature of her ministry (which I am not in disagreement with) and her great claim that she was raped by Satan/demons. Not a theologian, simply a piece of the circus, of whom I can only guess producers hoped would be emotionally driven.

Super side note: I am not trying to bad mouth or say I do not like these people. I love Mark and am very grateful for Annie. I am simply trying to show why I think they were chosen for this debate.

Chopra came off as a pretentious know-it-all, so I’m guessing that’s why he was involved. And the other guy seemed, and probably is, nuts so there you go (plus he was black, and ABC probably wanted to even the race card out).

I sent the link of this interview to someone I knew that didn’t really have a horse in the race and this was his response (note, I sent this to him before I had a chance to watch the debate):

“Bro, you MUST watch these, hilarity will ensue, I promise!
-First off, who the hell (pun intended) picked these four people expecting a true debate?”

I know that many Christians are very excited that the gospel was preached (very well by Pastor Dude), as am I. I know that many are excited by how Driscoll came off, which wasn’t that bad. But we must not miss the bigger picture. We as Christians, the idea of Satan, and one of the most prominent leaders of the “New Calvinism” were made a mockery of. And it is really dangerous when you are being made fun of and don’t realize it. When this happens your voice doesn’t carry much weight, and your topic is automatically straw-maned. It doesn’t matter if it is justified or not.

So Christians, Mark Driscoll and Annie Lobert especially: you are being made a mockery of. You were picked to be a part of this circus because they thought you would make for entertainment. Not because they value our/your opinion.

Let’s reconsider how excited, and furthermore, how we promote these circuses.

– matt

Preached Today On “Piss Against The Wall”

I am taking an intensive Old Testament preaching class for the next two weeks.  Taking a preaching class thats designed for a whole semester in two weeks is quite challenging.  For example, on Monday the first day of class we were given our first passage to preach and I was assigned to preach it today.  That is a day and a half turnaround.  I have done that a couple of times for the young adults group I led.  Usually in those situation it was more of a talk, and I was much more familiar with the passage.

There were pros and cons to having such a short time to put together a sermon.  I came home from class on Monday and ended up studying, figuring out my “Preaching Idea” and then doing an annotated outline, all of this taking 9 hours for me that day.  And in all honesty, this is more time than a lot of pastors get to, or do spend on their sermon each week.  Plus I actually enjoy that pressure, it makes you really hone in and put all your energy into the task that you know is right in front of your face.

Well I preached this morning and got a good grade, so all is well.  But what really makes it fun is that my passage was 1 Samuel 25.  A story in which David is driven to rage by a greedy landowner named Nabal, for not giving him and his men some food.  David becomes so angry that he swears a curse upon himself if he does not kill every man in Nabal’s household. (1 Sam. 25:22)  Well I was digging in the Hebrew and discovered that the literal translation of the curse by David is that he would kill “all who piss against the wall” in Nabal’s house.

Oh the irony!  It is as if Pastor Steve is haunting me.  And if your wondering if I had the gall to highlight this in my sermon this morning the answer is…You bet.  I went for it, not to be a shock preacher, but because when preaching narrative your objective is to do everything you can to draw people into the story and help them feel the emotion and reality of it.  By telling of this we get a greater sense of how David is still a young, hot-headed, impetious fellow who is worked up to the point of using quite bold language.  And in case you are wondering who Pastor Steve is then watch this clip below, my post will then make a lot more sense.

A Theory that Explains the Relationship

I will concede my ignorance that Obama wrote the Philadelphia speech on his own. Yet I still cannot shake the implications of his relationship with Rev. Wright.

Richard John Neuhaus writes about other implications of Obama’s speech that I had not considered.

The Strange Ways of Black Folk

At the end of the day I am befuddled at Obama’s relationship to with the Rev. It cannot be ignorance, Obama is way too smart. It cannot be calculated deception, he is too aware of the public eye. Actually I believe there is a theory that clearly explains why Obama would continue to have a relationship with Rev. Wright…

and that would be THE PRIME RIB THEORY.

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Ryan, care to explain…

The Pastor, Hermeneutics and the Clarity of Scripture

What is the point of even having a preacher/teacher?

– To lead people to Christ?
– To teach necessary spiritual truths for growth in Christ?
– To equip the saints for every good work?
– ‘Cause that’s what we do?

Well, no matter which of these we give most importance, it is done primarily through teaching out of the Bible. Whether exegetical or topical, it all comes from an interpretation of scripture. So whether a preacher/teacher is using twelve different versions of the Bible to teach her mega-church about prayer, or whether he is explaining what the verse “really means” in Greek to his small circle of home school co-op’ers (or anything in between) they are both consciously and subconsciously developing the hermeneutical skills of their listeners.

Say what?

Take the example of the pastor who loves to explain what the passage “really means” in Greek, but more importantly is trying to set the context so his audience can understand what the author was trying to communicate to their readers.

– Consciously he is explaining that interpretation can best occur when we understand the context of the author, the reader and most importantly (to him) how the language was used. In doing this he is giving his listeners many great hermeneutical tools to help them interpret their Bible with.

– Subconsciously he is inferring that these tools are the only way to “really” or correctly interpret the text. In doing this he is handicapping his listeners in that the clarity of Scripture is now unavailable apart from a Seminary education (not to mention how many people that now try to understand Greek without any background education).

Now let’s look at the example of the Purpose Driven pastor who uses texts as obscure as the New Guinea Technological Convention Paraphrase of a second hand reading of Jude.

– Consciously she is showing that no translation has a monopoly of contextualizes the ancient language and exposing ourselves to different texts will open up our understanding of the scripture.

– Sub-consciously she is teaching her readers that instead of standing under the text and letting it interpret us, we are to stand over the text and interpret it and use it for what we want.

It is important for those of us who teach to realize that, although it never seems to make it’s way to the list of reasons we have a preacher/teacher, both consciously and subconsciously we develop the hermeneutic of our listeners every time we preach. May this put the fear of God into us as we prepare, pray and preach to both Christians and non-Christians.

matt

MEN! If You Want to be Biblical You Better Pee Standing Up!

What do the translators of the NIV and President George W. Bush have in common? They both pee sitting down. And according to this guy that is what is wrong with our country. Here I was thinking that what was wrong with our country was poverty, health care, and and a quagmire of a war. Listen to this whole thing it will both frighten you and make you laugh.

Your welcome.

ryan

The Prodigal Son Returns

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Joe Boyd is a pastor again.

And he has a blog.

And yes, there are about 3 people who read this that care.

Ryan, Adam…thoughts?

matt