Recently I’ve spent a bit of time critiquing some of Mark Driscoll’s viewpoints. And while I continue to find many of his positions highly problematic, I certainly don’t think everything he has to say is bad. So I randomly chose five of his sermons and picked out a paragraph or two from each that I think are pretty darn good.
I still have a minor quibble here and there with the views expressed in these selections, but in general I think they’re on-target. I have many more issues with the sermons in their entirety, and so in a sense some of these are taken a bit out of context. But the point is that, as much as we may disagree with someone’s style or theology or sense of humor, it’s still worthwhile to look for areas of agreement, to seek greater understanding and to work towards unity.
- from I Am Reconciled:
And what can happen is we turn our preferences into prejudices, and when we do that, we’re not loving the whole family. And what we are creating is dividing walls of hostility saying, “You know, if you want to be with us, then you need to be like us. And if not, there’s some sort of spiritual if not physical wall that we have erected here. And unless you are just like us, you’re not welcome to be with us.” And then God throws his arms around all the kids and says, “No, this is the us. It’s all my kids and I need my kids to have my heart for the whole family.” Jew and Gentile are reconciled together in Christ.
- from Humble Like Jesus:
Don’t be the person who says, “I eat one thing for breakfast every day for the rest of my life,” you know? Open the palate a little bit; open the menu. See what else God has for you. We don’t want to become too narrow. We don’t want to become too broad. Paul’s trying to get his church to strike that wise balance, where you listen and learn, but you don’t believe everything you hear. That’s how we stay out of trouble and extremism. He goes on further to say that the church ultimately is gonna be all right, because God rules over the church and the world, the present and the future.
God rules over life and death. God knows what’s going on. God has things under control. There is no need to be freaking out. And what he’s saying, though, ultimately, is we need to be like Jesus. That’s where he ends. “You are of Christ,” you belong to Jesus, “and Christ is of God.” Jesus Christ is God, who belongs to God the Father. And what he’s saying is now you need to look to Jesus for your example of what it means to be a faithful Christian.
- from Did Jesus Rise From Death?:
So what does this mean? This means that sin does not win, but Jesus does. This means that death does not win, but Jesus does. This means that hopelessness does not win, but Jesus does. This means the grave does not win, the empty tomb is the final word of Jesus. What this means is Jesus really did die for our sin and really did rise for our salvation. And we can sing to Jesus today because he’s alive. And we can pray to Jesus today. And he will hear us and answer our prayers because he is alive. And we can confess our sins to Jesus today and he will forgive us and embrace us because he has defeated sin and death. And he is alive and his words in John 11:25 are so wonderful. He says. “I am the resurrection and life. He who believes in me, even though he dies shall” — what — “he’ll live.” That’s eternal life, life forever without sin with Jesus. That’s what it’s all about.
- from Good Wine, Glad Hearts:
Am I saying that Christians should drink? I’m not, am I? I’m saying that you’re free in Christ to, but you certainly don’t have to. Am I saying that all Christians should eat meat? I’m not. I’m saying you’re free in Christ, but you don’t have to. What I won’t be is God, and sit around and make rules for people. I will preach the Bible and encourage you to pray and to follow your conscience and the Holy Spirit, and not do anything that causes someone else to stumble.
- from God The Holy Spirit:
If you’ve been a Christian for some time and you only know the verses you used to know, and you only know the Books of the Bible you used to know, and you only understand the things that you were taught a while ago, then you have not been spending enough time being instructed by the Holy Spirit. You should be continually learning and building upon your understanding of God and his Word. It should be an ongoing instruction process, because the Spirit always has something else to teach us, we always have need to learn something new, and he is our continual teacher. And so, for the child of God there is never a point whereby we sort of set our Bible and our studies on the shelf and come to this place of conclusion. It never happens. God is endless and God is infinite, and the Spirit of God is continually teaching more, and more, and more, because there is so much for us to learn.
These were just five random selections; I’m sure there are many, many more that I could have picked out as well. I don’t think finding good things that someone has said negates the bad things they’ve said, and I still think that some of Driscoll’s foundational theological positions are extraordinarily harmful. But, like all of us, Mark Driscoll’s a struggling, fallible human who’s engaged in the ongoing process of trying to make sense of life and God and the world and other people. He’s made mistakes and he’ll continue to make mistakes. But as quick as we are to jump all over those mistakes, it seems only right that we should applaud what we feel he gets right with equal enthusiasm.