Monday, August 30, 2010

Driscoll, Chan, and Harris

Here's an interesting conversation between Mark Driscoll, Francis Chan, and Joshua Harris.

I think Mark Driscoll's questions are on the money, particularly his question at about the 8:50 mark, and the conversation that follows is the sort of conversation that many of us are having in various contexts.

HT: Justin Taylor


Douglas said...

Yes, very interesting discussion. For what it’s worth, I guess I think Driscoll’s question might be a bit confused in a couple ways. First, he assumes wealth is just some neutral thing that is the equal opposite of poverty (“poverty theology is the same error as prosperity theology”). But Jesus didn’t talk that way. Jesus didn’t pronounce woes on the rich and poor equally (Lk. 6). He didn’t ask the poor to take on a load of wealth the way He asked the rich, young ruler to get rid of it. Driscoll tends to distort the question to think of it in terms of a balance scale. Whatever we’re to make of it, Jesus said it was an either/or situation: “you cannot serve God and Mammon.” Second, Driscoll speaks of suffering in terms of “cancer” or living a rough life in the third world. But Jesus didn’t focus on that kind of suffering as something to be pursued. Jesus simply went about provoking idols and demons. He attacked the reigning cultural god (Mammon), and suffering and social shame came very quickly. You don’t have to “pursue suffering for sanctification.” Just pursue the kingdom. If you pursue Jesus’ kingdom, suffering will be sure to hunt you down. I think that’s just another way of supporting Chan’s point – it’s about love.

Jason Farley said...

Hmmmmm . . . thanks for the link.

Toby said...

Thanks for the interaction, Doug. I of course agree that there must be a choice between God and Mammon, but is that the same thing as "having money in the bank" or "not having money in the bank?" The issue is idolatry, the "reigning cultural gods" as you note, right?

Paul warns the "rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy." (1 Tim. 6:17) Of course he goes on to exhort them to share and to be rich in good works. My only point is that there does seem to be a sense in which wealth is "neutral" depending on where one's trust is placed. And radical differences follow that trust.

The thing I found helpful about Driscoll's question was the fact that sometimes God blesses His people with lots of wealth, prosperity, and peace. And yet Christians must be faithful and pursue holiness in that context too. Of course that must mean "love" as Chan insists, but if God gives us richly all things to enjoy it can/should also mean enjoying those gifts, right?

And for those whose trust is in the Lord, enjoying those gifts would include an awful lot of sharing and giving. But maybe I'm missing your point!

Doug Jones said...

I’m not assuming we disagree at all, but I might not understand. An additional point arises with your claim “if God gives us richly all things to enjoy it can/should also mean enjoying those gifts, right?” That sounds a bit general and abstract. Wealth has to meet some qualifications before we can enjoy it. For example, certainly thieves steal within the providence of God, but we don’t believe they should enjoy or be thankful for the wealth from that providence. In a similar way, even nice, moral middle class people can enjoy their wealth (a) if it didn’t come from “grinding the face of the poor” (Is. 3:15) by means of special legal privileges or someone bullying the poor in the marketplace, and (b) if the needs of at least all our local Christian community are taken care of first: “whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?” (1 John 3:17). Similarly, “If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’ but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?” (James 2:16). It looks like both justice and community need to be in place before we can rightly enjoy God-given wealth.

Andy Madsen said...

Thank you for posting this. I was unfamiliar with Chan but I'm glad to have encountered him.

It seemed to me that Harris and Driscoll came out of the gate on the offensive. They assumed Chan was making some tragic mistake because a mega-church was losing its high-profile pastor. No where in the bible do I get the idea that the church NEEDS either.

I found Driscoll's last question rather simplistic. The issue of God blessing poverty or wealth seems to distract from the messages of Christ that are burdening Chan. If Chan was a gifted brain surgeon who quit his job because it paid too much that would be much different than a pastor of a mega church stepping down. He's stepping down because he believes the church is getting the gospel wrong not because he believes in "poverty theology."

My concern with Chan is that he acts too confused. I think he knows more about his actions than he lets on. Perhaps he is being tactful in not saying what the problems are with mega-churches and superstar pastors. He's getting drilled with the questions but I'd like to seem him, using Christ's words, switch places with Driscoll.

Jason said...

In my opinion, that question was almost meaningless coming from Driscoll. If, say, Paul Washer or Joel Beeke had asked the same question, then perhaps something deep could have arisen in the conversation. But when a megalomaniac, high-on-the-hog, mega-church celebrity frat-boy pastor asks that, it just comes off as self-justification.