Nathan Finn’s recent post entitled “The Southern Baptist Generation Gap,” deals with the issue of the lack of younger Southern Baptist messengers at the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). It is very clear there is a lack of participation in pastors who are under the age 40. This is one of the reasons we started Baptist21. We love the Southern Baptist heritage and the Southern Baptist distinctives. We believe the SBC has issues, as any group of sinful human beings does. We believe that the SBC is quite possibly the best, and perhaps the largest, organized attempt by a multitude of churches to reach the world for Christ. We believe, with some reform, the SBC could be more effective and successful than it already is. We are grateful for the cooperative program and the opportunities it allows: Theological Education, Pastoral Training, Church Planting, and World Missions. We believe that together we are more effective than apart. We believe the SBC is worth fighting for because when we fight for the Convention, we are fighting for a host of people who are serving Jesus Christ in fields across the world that are ripe for a harvest.
This post is intended to interact with Nathan Finn’s article, continuing the conversation on why there is a generation gap, proposing possible remedies for the gap, and casting a vision of what could come from closing the gap.
Why is there a Generation Gap?
We must answer the question “Why don’t younger pastors attend the Convention?” This list contains Nathan Finn’s reasons as well as some we have added, and we acknowledge that it is not exhaustive.
- Some still support the convention but cannot afford the trip
- Some still support the convention but trust the leadership to handle business in their place
- Some still support the convention but spend extra time away on the mission field. This means that time constraints limit annual meeting involvement
- Some just do not care to come
- Some only support the convention because their church has historically done so. They themselves do not see attendance at the annual meeting as necessary
- Some see the annual meeting as boring, and the annual pastor’s conference does not appeal to them
- Some do not feel valued or validated by the older generation. They desire positions and opportunities for younger pastors and are frustrated that this is not happening.
- Some were raised in churches where the pastor did not create a compelling vision for involvement in the SBC.
- Some are disenfranchised, rightly or wrongly, by petty arguments, overly political ambitions, and traditional, non-gospel centered issues
While many of these should be discussed, and at some point we hope to address them, at this time we will only deal briefly with two.
I. Some are disenfranchised, rightly or wrongly, by petty arguments, overly political ambitions, and traditional, non-gospel centered issues.
We must recognize up front that any group of people cooperating together for a common purpose and goal will have a political dimension. The question will be whether our political dimension will be petty and ungodly or gospel-centered and godly. Finn writes:
“I often wonder what role “fighting” plays in our generation gap. How many over-40 conservatives disengaged once there were no longer many moderates to fight? How many over-40 conservatives pulled out because they were tired of fighting moderates? How many over-40 conservatives quit attending because, once the real moderates were mostly gone, some Southern Baptists started inventing some new “moderates” so they could still have someone to fight? And since more than a few of our present squabbles are at least to some degree generational battles, here is the money question: how many under-40 conservatives never became involved because they suspect that many of the over-40 conservatives don’t really want their involvement (though their CP dollars are of course welcome)?”
We believe that Finn’s perception of the “under-40 conservatives” never getting involved because the “over-40’s” do not really want their involvement is partly true. There seems to be a growing division in our denomination. One side says, “the younger, postmodern generation is tainted with a fluid view of sin, therefore we mustn’t let them challenge, nor effect change in our denomination”, while the other side says, “our world is constantly changing and the way we go about changing culture and reaching people for Christ must be willing to change and adapt to be effective in our world.” Whether the younger generation perceives this rightly or wrongly, the perception is there and if many of the older generation want an SBC for their great-grandchildren, they must be the ones to reach out. We, as younger men, must also challenge younger men not to evidence so much immaturity and haughtiness as if we have all the answers. We need older men, and older men could benefit from younger men as well. This is part of the beauty of cooperation. Nevertheless, there seems to be a rift developing between these two sides, and we are now seeing young pastors who look at their ministries and say “I don’t have to deal with the pettiness, political ambitions, and traditionalism that is not gospel-centered to change the world for Christ.” Why should they waste their time in a denomination that in some circles reject them because of the way they do ministry, the clothes they wear, the music they listen to, and the people that influence them?
Case in Point: Baptist Press on Mark Driscoll
The recent article by Baptist Press on Pastor Mark Driscoll from Mars Hill Church in Seattle is an ironically timely illustration of this trend. Mark Driscoll’s track record over the last 10 years is staggering: 8,000 attend his church, 7 campuses, hundreds of churches planted through Acts 29 (with a 100% success rate), etc. Driscoll’s heart to reach as many people as possible for the glory of King Jesus is clear. What is also clear is the influence he has on millions of believers and especially young seminarians.
Some in our denomination believe that God is doing great things through Driscoll and that connecting with such a leader is beneficial for those training for ministry, young pastors, and even for current leaders in the denomination. Others have distanced themselves from him because of past occurrences of sin that, for some reason in their minds, can never be forgiven and still stain his current biblical, theological views. Not only have they distanced themselves from Driscoll, some have attacked his Acts29 network (like Missouri), and others have been critical of those who have allowed him to be involved in our SBC entities.
The article in the Baptist Press criticized Driscoll in an inaccurate and unfair way, and it gives an illustration of why some in the younger generations disengage. These kinds of things only aid their decisions to leave. Bombing raids on Gospel-centered brothers (who are not the enemy) turn many of them off. Baptist Press and others continue to castigate a man who has repented of past sins, and we as redeemed sinners must believe that the Cross takes care of sin. We should value repentance, not ignore it. We also continue to berate a man who preaches more gospel-centered sermons in a week than most pastors (including much of the SBC) preach in a year. We acknowledge that Driscoll is by no means perfect, nor is he always accurate. Some of what he does and says is edgy, radical, and stirs up controversy, but most of the time his approaches are not unbiblical. We in no way intend for this to be an endorsement of all things Driscoll, but we do believe he is doing valuable gospel work and he is not the one we need to launch our grenades on. We think that Dr. Alvin Reid’s Twitter comment says it well, “listen to his podcasts from SEBTS and decide for yourself if he’s friend or foe.”
This BP article gives a direct picture of what some in our denomination want to convey to those who may be influenced by men like Mark Driscoll. It seems that they are sending the signal “if this is you and your influenced by him, then change or stay out.” We at Bapist21, along with several “older-40” pastors and leaders in our denomination highly disagree with this inaccurate portrait of Mark Driscoll and ask that you stay in our denomination and let your voice be heard. We desire to affect change in our denomination and the world by remaining focused on what matters: “Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God.” The reason we are willing to learn from someone like Driscoll is because we believe he shares this common vision with us and we hope you do as well.
Some Interactions with Quotes in the Baptist Press Article:
We are not even going to address the journalistic nature of this article, though others have. We turn to their thoughts.
“This graphic, found on Driscoll’s blog, warns that the material is not suitable for minor readers. However, there is no warning that such topics should be discussed only within the confines of marriage.”
It is wrong-headed to say that these topics should only be discussed in the confines of marriage; they must also be discussed with those that are moving toward marriage. That would include most of the congregation, though language should be tempered as appropriate for different ages. We need to be honest about these issues because this is what the younger generations (and everyone in the world) are talking about. If we can discuss these things anywhere it should be a church setting. Some people in your churches will not have parents to cover some of these issues and the church should recapture its authoritative role in instructing its people, not peers or a Google search.
“Schleuter also castigated Driscoll for linking the blog to a website, christiannymphos.org, which features articles on how a Christian wife can turn herself into a dominatrix, the glories of an-l and or-l sex, and the use of sex toys.”
We wish that Baptist Press had felt it necessary to post the disclaimer that Driscoll does with his link to this site.
“At a time when American young people are hit in the face with graphic sexuality in every facet of our culture, the church should be a safe haven where the sacredness and privacy of the act of marriage is respected by pastors,” Schleuter said in a press release. “Those with sexual issues need to receive private counseling — not sex seminars in a church auditorium.”
We would argue that Pastor Driscoll respects sexual issues more than many do, he at the least wants to help guide his congregation to a biblical view of sex. He never espouses premarital sex of any kind. He is intensely biblical in his view on sex and Schleuter is partially right, the church should be the safe place to discuss sex, which is what he was doing.
“For generations, Christian pastors have managed to convey the Scripture’s teachings on fornication, adultery and the beauty of sexuality within marriage without sullying and cheapening it” Schleuter added.”
This is the most ironic quote of the article. Is this why the church’s record on sexual issues like premarital sex and divorce is in lock step with the culture? The divorce rate inside of our own churches is extremely high, which shows there is a lack of accurate preaching on the subject of sex and marriage. This is one of the reasons we are grateful that pastors are beginning to cover tough topics; this should have always been the case.
“He (Driscoll) has simultaneously embraced the spirit of the age when it comes to his treatment of sex. In the process, he is pornifying the church and only adding to the moral squalor of our culture.”
Driscoll is engaging the spirit of this age, not embracing it. He is trying to help in an area that has spun out of control in our culture and in most of our churches. He is trying to redeem a gift from God. The Church is absolutely the place to do this.
If you will listen to Driscoll and read his books you will see a man that has a keen eye for the culture and how to address it biblically. It is our hope that we will figure out who the true enemies are. If we will not, as another blogger said to me, we will “continue to hear the splash of young seminarians jumping overboard.” We fear that this article is indicative of why the generation gap continues to grow.
N.A. and R.P.
Part II of this blog will be added tomorrow
Other Responses to the Baptist Press Article:
I do agree that “some” are disenfranchised with the SBC as a result of these “petty arguments” however, I believe there are many, including myself, that are more inclined to believe that this issue is merely a small bandage covering a gaping flesh wound and are anxious to see change. I proudly call myself a Southern Baptist and am ready to see a stop to the political strings being pulled from unnamed puppet masters and there to be a “come to Jesus” type meeting that could attempt at bringing unity again. Yes, Mark Driscoll has a past, as do I, as does John Piper, and Spurgeon and every other believer, but we are covered deeply by the grace of Christ. We are works in progress. Driscoll preaches the Gospel of Christ Jesus and Him crucified, and we should spend less time attacking brothers and sisters and instead helping and shepherding them. I think this BP article has only revealed the small thread in a much larger tear that needs to be addressed. Today’s world needs Jesus more than ever and until we quit bickering among ourselves and playing he said she said we are going to continue to see people dying daily without hope.
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Excellent entry. As an under-40, actually under-30, seminary student in our convention, I have been thinking long and hard about the future of the SBC. I am grateful for my local church, the seminary (and the CP dollars that make it possible), and the IMB. I am also very grateful for the Conservative Resurgence that allows me to go to a God-honoring seminary and support missions around the world. However, I grow weary of the attacks and politics that seem to continue to keep occurring. These types of issues cast a small shadow of doubt over my continued involvement in the SBC. However, I am very encouraged by people like Dr. Akin and those behind the recent 20/20 conference. Furthermore, I think Dr. Reid’s piece at Between the Times was perfect for describing how we should approach others that we disagree with but who are doing great things for the kingdom of God – http://betweenthetimes.com/2009/02/13/i-have-a-problem/
As a former SBC church planter/pastor and a graduate of SEBTS under Patterson, I would like to add that one of the things leading men out of the SBC and into “SBC in name only” churches, independent movements, the PCA, or otherwise is the way those of us who are Calvinists continue to be thrown under the bus by convention leadership (including our more politically savvy Calvinists in SBC institutions.) We often get labeled and blackballed… And frankly, heaven and hell are coming too soon for us to keep on fighting for a “space” within the SBC system; so people like me just disengage. We’re tired of being kicked around by the Fundies and Pragmatists, and we’re disappointed in those who have had to kiss the ring to keep their jobs.
I have a hard time with Cranmer-esque reforms… It’s past time to stop fighting for a system whose time to die has come and time to move on to new networks and make sure our personal energies are spent in evangelism and church health.
If folks take a step back and say “Well, starting something new could take as much time [or more] than trying to change the established SBC”, then that might cause some to stay in.
If folks are comfortable with some new entities that are “already” established–like Acts 29 and Sovereign Grace Ministries–then I could see them more easily jumping ship, if you will.
Let me throw out one more thing.
I think [though I might be wrong here] that the younger generation is not as impressed by “bigness” as I think the older generation might have been.
In other words, I don’t think anyone saying “Look how L A R G E the SBC is compared to other groups” will impress the younger generation that much–if at all.
I think the younger generation is fine with something “small”.
I believe it’s a mistake to paint this disagreement as solely a generational thing. I’m under 40 and the knee jerk seemingly agenda driven reactions in defense of Driscoll’s behavior as much as anything else cause me to want to leave, and I’ve only just come into SBC life from conservative Presbyterianism. The website in question is still linked from the Mars Hill site. The iMonk (Michael Spencer) is hardly a fundy, but he said it was “a serious piece of stupid” and refused to defend Driscoll here. This is not just “old news.” Here are some further thoughts about it:
I just think that it is interesting that the real issue is one link in the dozens of blog posts that Driscoll has written. Is he not allowed perhaps one mistake? I have not been to the site, but what about the disclaimer on Driscoll’s blog that precedes the link – “We do not endorse everything on this website, but if you want to read some commentary on the issue from Christian married women…” Is one link really worthy of an article attacking this man?
I find it interesting that you think it’s “just one mistake.”
I wonder how many people will go to a site like the one Driscoll linked, and once having their fill of that and finding it doesn’t satisfy, eventually will visit a site that, shall we say, pushes the envelope even more into what everyone would agree is sinful behavior? Depravity being what it is and the fact that we are never free from sin in this life, it’s not much of a leap for some to go from a site like the one Driscoll linked to one that allows one to gratify their lusts to the full.
First, let me agree with you that I think the posting of the site is unwise. I have not been to the site so I am not aware about how good/bad it is. For me, the issue boils down to two points:
1. Is the linking of the website sinful?
2. Does this issue need to be addressed in a article published by the news organization of the Southern Baptist Convention?
To answer the first question, I would say that it is perhaps unwise, but I think it might be difficult to prove that it is sinful. To answer the second question, I would emphatically say no. Not only is it poor journalism, but there are a number of seemingly unsubstantiated attacks on Driscoll (besides the website in question).
I do not think that everything Driscoll does is correct; however, he is doing many great things for the glory of God. Furthermore, I believe it is very important to remember that his context is a very pagan, sexually immoral city. He should be allowed to address and correct many of the sexual behaviors that occur in the city in a frank manner because that is his context. We should probably do less attacking of innovative leaders like Driscoll and instead look at what they do well and demonstrating grace in areas where they are still growing.
the SBC is continually shooting themselves in the foot. Many young pastors and seminary students are realizing where the SBC is heading and are leaving. I was a member of one of the three Acts 29 church plants in MO. I was also a senior at at Baptist College at the time, and am now no longer pursuing a position at an SBC church. Many others are doing the same. I hope the MBC and SBC wake up and quit fighting pointless battles and begin to focus on the Gospel.
Let me first say that we at Baptist21 appreciate your comments on our website. While we may disagree on some viewpoints, we respect your decision to post your thoughts here. We hope you’ll continue to visit our site and dialogue with us on any issue you feel necessary. That being said, I would like to respond to your posts with a few things:
(1)Let me first say, that the BP article is filled with poor journalism at best and dishonesty at worst. Some have already noted that men were asked leading questions that they did not know they were answering about Driscoll. You can read about that here. To defend that kind of journalism seems awfully imprudent. Some of the folks quoted have come out to say they were not referring to Mark Driscoll. Even Ed Stetzer made a clarification: “A LifeWay employee is mentioned in one of the articles. I work at LifeWay, I think it is important to note that Bret Robbe (quoted in the one article) was commenting on handling delicate subjects. He was not commenting on Mark Driscoll. And, his comments are right on. Thanks, Bret.”
(2) Driscoll Ministers in a city that is much different than places where we are. Seattle is one of the most unreached cities in America. It’s culture runs rampant with sexual promiscuity and paganism. That’s not to say America doesn’t, it does, but his city is much different than where I minister. He shepherds his flock in a way that will bring about God’s glory in marriage and love. If we believe that the marriage bed is undefiled, then we must trust that Driscoll is leading his folks into sanctification by providing resources that will ultimately help them, not harm them. I can’t criticize him because I don’t really know what he knows about his people. Some are criticizing those that have written blogs to chastise BP and are saying the use of cussing and vulgar language is not “old news”. The fact is the cussing accusation is old news and the idea that the language he uses about sexuality being vulgar is up for debate. It is not as cut and dry as folks try to make it appear. I remember while growing up, “fart” was a bad word in my house. It’s totally different in our culture. Language changes from city to city and culture to culture. I don’t know what families are okay with in the city of Seattle. In addition, this is what young people want to know about, and I mean godly young people who want to discern the bible’s teachings on sexuality. There are people right now in the church who want to know what the Bible says about masturbation, oral sex, and anal sex. If I do not tell those I lead what the bible says about these things, they will ask their peers or they will search the Internet and find it out. Should I, or Mark Driscoll, not speak on these things? Would it be wrong if I made a document and put it on my churches website with the answer to these questions for my church?
(3) If by chance, a child were to go to his website, and then somehow navigate through all the pages, or just so happen to search the right links and stumbled upon the page with the informational questions for married or unmarried folks about sexual things, would it be bad for the child to see that? Yes, it would not be good for a child. The truth is, how many children are going to go to that churches website and find that? Probably not many! In addition, children could get into any number of inappropriate websites online if their parents do not monitor them. Parents always need to be involved in their child’s time online. Should Driscoll not post this information for any one of his 8,000 members who may be struggling with these questions (which a good percentage probably are) because a couple of children may, somehow, somewhere stumble upon them because a parent is not watching their internet involvement? I think they are valuable questions for such a time as this in our culture.
In all honesty, I’m afraid that you have been tainted by the criticizing of Driscoll and have never given him a fair hearing. I do encourage you to go listen to his series at SEBTS or his recent post on Mar’s HIll about the Spiritual Discipline of love making (It’s great!). I certainly don’t agree with everything he says and does, but he is doing some things right in terms of helping a mostly pagan culture turn to Christ and make things right with the Lord. He’s helping young men and women discover what it really means to be in love, enjoy your spouse, and find completely satisfaction in only one spouse for the rest of their life. I’m all for making marriage and sex as fun as possible. I believe that’s what God wants for our lives and I believe people in our day have lots of questions about what is and isn’t permissible in the marriage bed. Lots of people in Seattle and in the world get their understanding of sex and love from watching pornography. They have very contradictory views than the Bible has. When they come to Christ, they have all sorts of questions that need to be answered and Driscoll uses his website, from an autonomous local church, to inform as a resource. Stay off his website and out of his church if you don’t like what he is doing. I for one am thankful!
In the end, as we said before, this is not an endorsement of all things Driscoll. This is a call to stop the “bombing raids” on good brothers who are doing the best to protect and sanctify their flock. The BP did a poor job in reporting. You can say it is a “take my ball and go home” mentality among the younger generation, and you may be right. If that is the case we at Baptist21 do not support that. It does not change the fact that it is the case, as you can see from a recent comment on this site, people are fed up with fights over non-gospel centered issues, plain and simple! That is what is going on here. They just see a fight because a man wants to shepherd his congregation toward biblical sexuality and his language may be a little too edgy for some to stand. That is what our post is about. It is not a Driscoll defense. It really is a hope that we will stop the petty squabbles and care about the Gospel. Anyway we cut it, this kind of fight just shows what many, regardless of age, are tired of.
We agree with your assessment. We, as younger Southern Baptists, who see and hope for a future SBC that is thriving and reaching the world for Christ, desire that you would stay with us. That you would stand with us and help us make the voice sound louder! We desire that your opinions and your advice may help turn this ship on a new course.
The truth is, there is arguing wherever you go, no matter the denomination or network. There will always be issues, though some not so large as the ones in ours. We want to reduce the bickering and refocus the mission. Please stand with us and don’t jump ship. You can be a part of both the SBC and a network of your choosing. Please stand with us and help give suggestions on our future. You are the future of the SBC if you will agree to stay on board and help cast the vision for those under your leadership. You can start with those who are following you.
The link in Point #1 I was pointing to is here: http://www.biblicalrecorder.org/post/2009/02/13/Unfair-Unbalanced-and-Unacceptable.aspx
I wonder what Mark Driscoll would have to do before he would offend some folks? The Baptist Press piece merely pointed back to a piece in the NYT which pointed back to Driscoll’s own words. I have looked at the blog piece on an-l sex. This is biblical counseling? Hardly! I didn’t bother to follow the link to christiannymphos.com. Driscoll’s own warning was enough to make me pass that “opportunity.”
Driscoll’s stupid comments on masterbation and his view that the pulpit even in Seattle is the place to talk about or-l sex. Please, this is not generational. It is a matter of propriety. Driscoll loves to shock and push the envelope.
So he built a church of 8000. Let’s wait to the final judgment to see what was built and by whom. Joel Osteen has a much larger church in Houston. Numbers of attenders mean nothing.
I listened to his CNN interview this week. For such a courageous champion of truth, he certainly gave an anemic presentation of the gospel, which, heretofore, I assumed he held quite high. Whatever he did, in his basking in the media attention over his outrageous sexual conversations, he missed a grand opportunity to proclaim the Christ he professes to serve!
Al Mohler would never have let such an opportunity to be missed. But then Al Mohler has more Christianity than to talk about an-l and or-l sex publicly! Thanks God for Al Mohler!
I am just interested to know how much you know about Mark Driscoll and what your level of knowledge is concerning Driscoll, Mars Hill, etc.? I am not trying to attack you by that question, I am just wondering about your exposure to his teaching outside of non-Christian sources such as the NYT and CNN.
Concerning the CNN interview, I just watched it and I am wondering what you consider are the stupid comments? He did crack a joke or two…which might have been wise or unwise concerning on your point of view. I find it interesting that you criticize him for his “anemic” presentation of the gospel but you don’t mention his obviously strong stance, mentioned on the air, concerning premarital sex, adultry, and public repentance of his past sin of fornication.
Finally, concerning the numbers. I would not base any evaluation of his work based on numbers, as you aptly demonstrated, a large church does not guarantee biblical truth. However, I encourage you to actually read many of his discussions on theological issues. His sermon series on Essential Christian Doctrine was very theologically sound. Furthermore, Driscoll’s work with the church planting movement of Acts 29 is doing great things to spread doctrinally sound, God-glorifying churches to pockets of darkness both in the US and across the globe.
Honestly, I feel that you made some rather assumptions of Driscoll’s motivations – “Driscoll loves to shock and push the envelope” and “basking in the media attention over his outrageous sexual conversations.” Furthermore your declaring that Dr. Mohler has “more Christianity” that Driscoll, from my point of view, is rather judgmental. I do not understand what Dr. Mohler has to do with the issue.
I do appreciate your discussion and your challenges regarding Driscoll’s teaching. Every teacher should be tested. My issue is not testing, it is more judgment and absence of graciousness towards a man who is a brother in Christ.
FWIW – Not that it matters much, but I have a PhD from Southern (2004) under Tom Nettles. I have read a considerable amount of material on the Emerging Church in general and Mark Driscoll in particular . . . enough to publish an article in an academic journal.
As for Driscoll in particular, I have listened to numerous sermons and presentations in various venues (e. g. Piper’s conference 2006 and 2008), interviews he has done with others–Mark Chandler, D. A. Carson.
I have read Confessions, Vintage Jesus and Radical Reformission. I have Death by Love which I may get to this spring.
I have read numerous articles about him, many favorable – in CT, and I just forget where, (I am away from my office where the articles are filed).
I know that others of note also agree with my assessment, some in print, like John MacArthur (Pulpit Magazine, Dec 2006). He calls Driscoll’s Christianity “grunge.” I wonder what he would say with this new stuff?
I recently dined with one well known SBC Calvinist that thinks that men are making a mistake using Driscoll because of his worldliness. I won’t mention his name publicly because its up to him to enter the public discussion, which I wish he would.
Also, to keep things in perspective, i have read dan Kimball, Doug Pagitt, Tony Jones, Brian McLaren, I am reading Phyllis Tickle. Also the Emergent Manifesto and the Fives Streams books. I have read in some other books and listened to numerous critics on the EC including Carson’s recent stuff. I know Mark represents the “conservative” wing. Conservative in theological but culturally liberal.
Thank you for sharing your opinions, I want to reiterate the point of our blog is to show that this kind of attack on men for non-gospel issues is part of the reason some pastors leave the SBC. You can say that is wrong for men to leave because of this, but it is what it is. Having said that, we obviously disagree on whether or not Driscoll should discuss sexual issues from his pulpit or site. I think many (especially of the young, though as we have said repeatedly this is not clean cut across age boundaries) are grateful that a pastor would address the concerns they are talking about. Just recently, my Dad was at a Christian University sharing on the topic of biblical sexuality and afterwards several female students approached him and asked him why he did not mention what the bible says on oral and anal sex, as well as masturbation. My dad asked one of the leaders if these were prominent issues and the leader said yes they are, this is what these students are discussing and want to know what Scripture has to say to them. These are students that want to know what the biblical expression of sexuality is and want to honor God. These topics should be discussed and the church is absolutely the place to do it. You may say it is a matter of propriety, but we will just have to disagree, oral sex and a myriad of sexual topics are nothing to run from in the pulpit, they are mentioned in the Bible. If it was good enough for Solomon to mention in Scripture, I guess Mark can do it from his pulpit.
Also, I hope you are not implying that Driscoll and Osteen have similar ministries. I don’t think you would, since you have shown you have extensive knowledge on the subject, and I hope your sentence doesn’t indicate that you are already judging the ministry he has built. However, it could be read that way.
Thank you for your mention of Dr. Mohler. A man whom I love and by God’s grace have a friendship with and see on a regular basis. HE is more of influence in my life than Driscoll, but he, I believe (if I am remembering wrongly I will happily admit my error), has spoken from pulpits on the topics of oral sex and masturbation. This may have been a matter of impropriety in your view, but I think it was a much-needed word for teenagers and their parents as they thought biblically about important topics, that churches for far to long have neglected. If you visit his website and put in “oral sex” or “masturbation”, you will find articles in which he has addressed these issues. Why? Because teens are talking about it! I much admire Dr. Mohler and he makes me proud to be a Southern Baptist.
I want to be clear that I write all these things because I want young men like myself to stay in the SBC, because I think it is worth being in. However, it is tiresome to be in a place that launches attacks on people who are friends of the gospel and not enemies. You say he is culturally liberal, well Jesus and the Apostles were accused of that as well. Driscoll is so clear on many of the culture issues like abortion, homosexuality and the like. He is a man who loves the gospel, trains men, teaches scripture, knows theology, but he does occasionally cover tough topics from his pulpit, because his people are asking about them. I think Scott Thomas (of ACTS29) has it right, lets move on and worry about the Lost around the world that need Jesus. Driscoll seems to be concerned with them. So let’s not fire on him. Many have thought that was the SBC of yesterday and what defines us, I hope it is not the SBC of tomorrow.
Not only must our gospel BE right but how we adorn it must be right. Al Mohler and your dad MIGHT have addressed delicate issues from the pulpit but their ministries are not marked (thank the Lord) by the worldliness that marks Mark Driscoll.
Jesus may have been counter cultural in terms of the Pharisees and the religious leaders of his day, but he was not worldly. If the SBC has to become like the world to retain its younger generation, then perhaps it ought to dissolve.
The Scriptures make it clear that while we are in the world, we are not to be of the world. There is simply no precedent in the history of the church for his kind of behavior from a man of God.
From where I sit, this is a larger issue than Mark Driscoll. It is an issue on how Christianity will look in the future. It appears it will look more and more like the world, something believers used to oppose as antithetical to true religion.
I am also a proud graduate of Southern. One thing many men tried to keep in mind there was to compliment our biblical training with practical application for the saints. Al Mohler and Danny Akin are heroes of mine. I have personally heard some of the heroes of Southern address the very issues you have concern over. Remember, addressing the issues of our world is not the same as becoming worldly. We need wisdom, godly compassion, and biblical application in order to minister to God’s flock, not just a piece of paper on the wall.
Ronnie, Nathan, and all at Baptist 21
Baptist 21 has been more helpful for me than any other blog out there. I believe the founders of the SBC would be proud of your efforts. I also believe that God is honored and glorified by your efforts. Keep up the good work. May the glory be God’s!
I am thankful for your thoughts. I do not want, in anyway, to purport that it does not matter what adorns the Gospel. I agree, we do not want to be worldly, I just think that Driscoll is in the World and not of it, you disagree. In the end, I just hope we don’t see him as the enemy. We hope that Christianity, and Baptists in particular, will look more engaged in the world, rather than sectarian (Driscoll did a great job of pointing this out at the first talk of 20/20, he labeled some of the church being in a “bomb shelter” mentality). We don’t want to see a bomb shelter mentality in our churches. I want to stress that his answers to these tough cultural questions are by no means worldly. Also, when the audio is up I would encourage you to listen to Dr. Stetzer’s Q and A he did today at SEBTS for the Great Commission Resurgence Conference, he addresses this topic well. I may be wrong, if so I hope that God in His grace will help me grow in this area.
I am very humbled by your kind words, as I am sure are all the b21 guys. I hope that we are doing will be of benefit to his kingdom for His glory and for the benefit of lost around the world.
Obviously, you are well studied and knowledgeable about Driscoll. I applaud you for researching his ministry and reading these texts.
Like I have reiterated before, I understand the labeling of some of his actions as “unwise,” but I do not think his discussions or overall ministry could be labeled as sinful. You keep saying that his ministry is “worldly.” I am wondering what your definition of world is exactly? Driscoll’s CNN interview was very faithful on biblical standards of premarital sex, adultery, and fornication. I have heard him tell young men on multiple occasions that if they are having sex outside of marriage that they are in sin. Where are the compromises and worldliness that you are referencing?
Surely the worldliness is not the discussion of sex from the pulpit. After all, if God’s word speaks of the topic then it should be an appropriate topic for ministers to address.
I work at a middle school and the sexual obsession of our culture, even at a young age, is shocking. I think that if the church does not speak on these issues from a biblical basis, then people will turn to our culture for the answers. In fact, in my humble opinion, this is what has been happening for many years. Because of our fear of addressing sex in church, there appears to be very little difference between the world and the visible church in our sexual ethic, especially with the younger generations.
I couldn’t agree more. The marriage bed needs to be addressed int he church . . . in the same tasteful way the NT does. Point me to anything that remotely addresses or-l, an-l, or masterbation. We live in a sex crazed world. We should model appropriateness in our conversations, in public and private.
Moreover, worldliness cannot be reduced to a list of dos and don’ts. It is an attitude or ethos . . . I think I have said enough here and do not want to hijack your blog. To discuss it, would entail an extended conversation.
I think we will just need to agree to disagree. I appreciate your discussion and willingness to discuss this issue even in disagreement. Perhaps at a future date we can discuss this issue further.
Your Brother in Christ,
I appreciate your commitment to biblical faithfulness. Think about this with me: 1 Corinthians 7:1-5 clearly states that sex is a good thing that married people should do frequently. It also implies that the entire body of one’s spouse is to be enjoyed by the other. Scripture does not prohibit or-l or an-l sex (or any other sexual act) between a married couple anywhere in scripture.
With that in mind, how would you address a fellow believer that has questions on that issue? I believe, as it is a popular topic among young people, we should be prepared and equipped to answer those concerns. We need to be able to think Christianly on every issue even those that some people may be uncomfortable with. If we did not allow the Bible to be the guiding voice in these matters, many believers would still have slaves, never play cards, and fear music with a beat.
What say you?
God bless you and to God be the glory!
Ronnie Thanks for the words of encouragement. Unfortunatley the decision did seem to be in my hands. You see as a deacon of one the Acts 29 church plants in Missouri, it was the MBC that decided THEY didn’t need ME. While they didn’t kick our church out of the SBC, since they don’t have the authority to do so, they did seal my fate with the SBC. Our church officially left the SBC, and I have since left the church to work for Wheaton College. As a Calvinist, I am now looking for a position in a BGC or PCA church.
I do however commend all who continue to try and keep a positive influence within the SBC. I pray that one day God will provide you the opportunity to turn around the hijacked convention I grew up in.
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I can understand the struggle with Driscoll’s approach. This is the danger when we strive to contextualize for the sake of bridging to the unchurched. There will always be those sitting on the sidelines calling “foul balls”.
As one of the young SB guys, what frustrates me is that there seems to be no passionate or angry articles concerning the thousands of SBC churches who have chosen not to even attempt to contextualize. The churches that haven’t seen a transformed life due to their efforts in years. We are living in the only country today where the Church is not growing. We are rapidly joining the ranks of the unchurched countries of the world. Even cities within the Bible belt are quickly becoming unchurched. Atlanta, Georgia, statistically, is the fasted growing, unchurched city in our nation. Why are we not angry about the passive, mediocre Christianity that has allowed our nation to move further and further from God?
I would love for the BP and the SBC at large to focus on what really matters. Today, still over 5,000 people groups around the world have little to no access to the Gospel. Ninety percent of the world is still lost. Many of the PGs are moving to our own country. But instead of focusing on how to reach the unchurched, both Anglo and all other ethnic groups, we throw darts at each other and hide out in our “Christian Camps” while the world is going to Hell. This is why many young leaders are disengaged from the SBC. Let’s focus together on the main thing!!! God desires for His name to be famous to the ends of the earth, including your city.
As one serving with our mission sending agency I can say that one of the significant issues is adapting our approaches to allow for various generations. The structure and policies are set up based solely on the world view of the older, ruling generation. And all of these policies and standards are “grounded” (written with sarcastic emphasis) in scripture so who can argue with them?
With stuff like the sex-based firings at certain seminaries, boycotting of organizations such as Acts 29 and articles such as the one mentioned above….guys like me want to just walk away from the junk. Leadership says they’re only concerned with the gospel than why is that so much of our time is spent fighting about secondary issues that don’t matter for salvation. I’m sick of the politics and kissing the ring….until this climate changes then my generation will continue to walk away….and it will chalked up to our “liberalness”. This is what must change…no more gatekeeper mentality.
Maybe our generation is choosing to pursue a new type of reformation…it seems like we’re choosing to avoid putting new wine in old wine skins. Just a few thoughts…
“We at Bapist21, along with several “older-40” pastors and leaders in our denomination highly disagree with this inaccurate portrait of Mark Driscoll and ask that you stay in our denomination and let your voice be heard. We desire to affect change in our denomination and the world by remaining focused on what matters…”
Great thoughts, and even better motive. However, people like myself who have gotten the shaft time and time again find ourselves wondering whether there are many more than just you guys at Baptist21 and “several other ‘older-49’ pastors and leaders.”
One must also wonder about the effectiveness of reforming from within. One glance at church history, and it seems that the cards are stacked against you. Of course the conservative resurgence worked, but could a second reformation only several generations removed work again?
I think of Erasmus of Rotterdam. He lived during the reformation and even offered his own scathing reviews of the Roman Catholic Church in works such as “In Praise of Folly.” But he was committed to reforming from within. Erasmus, of course, has his place in history, but he essentially failed at his efforts in reforming the church. Marin Luther, likewise had thoughts of reformation from within. He finally realized, however, that if reformation was going to happen it was going to happen from without rather than within. Much of what he have as protestants today, we owe to Martin Luther. Where would we be if he never decided to step outside the box?
Reformation from within is possible. Reformation from outside the convention is far more likely. And with only one life to live, I’ll take my chances on the outside. After all, my ultimate allegiance was never to the convention. Why spend my time fighting over it, when there is so much more important work to be done.
Great comments and thoughts everyone… I agree with the ones about God using Driscoll to do great things. Remember that he is not perfect and neither are we. In this world and generation, we can no longer afford (if we ever could) to attack each other. Driscoll’s theology is pretty solid and very close to that of most SBC churches. As for Acts 29, God is blessing and using it in HUGE ways all over the world! We in the SBC need to be looking and moving toward fellowship and possibly partnership with Acts 29. I know there has been some of this already, and for that I am extremely thankful to God and the men who went against the stereotypes. We know that we need a Great Commission Resurgence in the SBC. American Christianity in general needs more effective discipleship of true godly men. We ought contextualize while being used by God to change the men and women that will change the culture over time. Acts 29 is changing cities and the world. I believe that some of their approaches/tactics/focuses should be thoroughly understood and possibly adopted if we at the SBC truly do care about more sinners being saved by GRACE. I hope and pray that the hand of the SBC will stop punching the Acts 29 arm.