In center stage we have falsely-named "continuationism" as represented by Mark Driscoll. In the talks recently discussed at Pyromaniacs, Driscoll positions himself thus:
- He has special powers beyond those of mortal man.
- These powers are the continued gifts of the Spirit discussed in the New Testament.
- One of those powers is that he has X-rated movies of his parishioners playing in his head.
- They're not 100% accurate.
- Yet, when challenged as to how he knows these things, he says "Jesus told me" — which is to claim that Jesus is saying things directly to Mark Driscoll that He is saying to no one else.
- Anyone who denies Driscoll's powers is a materialist, and a borderline atheist — or at least a Deist.
Now, Frank called Driscoll on part of this well and fairly, and Phil flatly called Reformed leaders out for giving cover to such malpractice by coddling "continuationism."
In response to Phil, commenter after commenter thoughtfully showed up and proved his point over and over again. I never cease to marvel at the apparent complete lack of self-awareness among such commenters.
But I do marvel at Douglas Wilson adding his name to their number.
In his characteristically wittily and well-written post, Wilson says many wonderful things, in order to say a really bad thing. Wilson has this C. S. Lewis-like ability to phrase things so well that, once he's said them, it's over, he just can't be topped. I love this phrase: Wilson speaks of "a Christian culture where lots of people think that the revelatory gifts are still operating on all eight cylindars [sic] and yet (mysteriously) without the Bible growing in size." Phil and I have been saying that same thing, but Doug Wilson here says it wonderfully well. And Wilson expresses concern over the resultant "ethos" that "continuationism" has created.
Yet Pastor Wilson is hosting this man, Mark Driscoll, who not only fosters that "ethos," but (A) does so in pastorally alarming ways, and (B) says anyone who doesn't agree with him on those specific claims is a "materialist." You know, like Owen and Augustine and the Hodges and Machen. Materialists, every one of 'em.
In the meta to Phil's post, commenters and I again and again drew out the practical, pastoral implications of Driscoll's claims. We imagined the aftermath of anyone taking seriously Driscoll's claims to Spirit-given supernatural powers beyond those of mortal man — as Driscoll demands that we take them seriously. We imagined scenes like this, which are necessary results of Driscoll's claims:
Woman: Grandpa, did you sexually molest me when I was a little girl?
Grandpa: What?! No!
Woman: OK. Pastor Driscoll says he saw you do it in a movie Jesus told the Holy Spirit to run in his head. But he also says he's not always right. So, never mind.
Or picture this conversation:
Man: Pastor Mark, I'm having a terrible spiritual struggle. I just have these vivid pictures of naked women in my head, sexual imagery, sexual scenes.Driscoll: Oh, I have that too, but it's a gift from the Holy Spirit. Are you sure it isn't God showing you something?Man: Um... I... um, I've never thought of it that way... in fact, I never thought of thinking of it that way... but if that's what my pastor says...
So here are my specific questions for Pastor Wilson. I don't ask them pugnaciously. The answers aren't all simple, though I think some should be. What troubles me in his post is that Wilson side-steps them; so I bring them up for consideration.
- What do you make of a pastor saying the Holy Spirit ran X-rated movies in his head by direct revelation from the hand of God?
- What do you think of a pastor telling a furious, abusive husband "Jesus told me," referring to a hunch he had about the husband's abuse, then leaving them to sort it out?
- Are you saying that these occurrences are examples of your "strange things happen" rationale, as set out in your recent post?
- Do you take any responsibility for the certain fact that "continuationists" like Driscoll will use your argument as "cover" for what they do?
- Do you see that that was Phil's point?
- Are Calvin, Spurgeon, Warfield and you materialists and borderline deists?
- Would you ever, ever ordain a man who did or said any of these things even once, and did not repent and show fruits of repentance for some time afterwards?
- What do you think about the clear and intended implications of this position, that preaching the whole Word of God is not sufficient for the salvation and sanctification of believers?
- Should you extend the mantle of respectable leadership to such a man?
- Do you think no one has yet tried to persuade Mark Driscoll to leave off his troubling practices before?
- Will you have powers of persuasion far beyond those of mortal man?
Final clarification: do I think leaders are always responsible for every error of everyone with whom they associate themselves? In no way. Were that true, no one could associate with anyone. I would barely associate with myself.
But isn't it apparent that this is not isolated, inconsequential, minor? This isn't something that some people allege Driscoll said or did 30, 20, 10, or even 5 years ago, and then either repented of or never repeated or never talks about as a central. It's something he insists on as an important, defining issue; everyone who doesn't agree with him are materialists, Deists, almost atheists.
It doesn't seem to me that Driscoll has left the option of chuckling, grinning, and shrugging off his actions as "Oh, that Mark, he's such a kidder!"