The 11:11 Community
What I Mean When I Say "Emerging-Missional" Church

Driscoll and McLaren and the Six Degrees of Separation from Matthew Fox

The blogosphere is a weird place. And the conversation of the week concerned Uncle Brian McLaren's posts on dealing with the issue of homosexuality in the church and Brother Mark's rude and clumsy entrance to the blogosphere.


Here's a couple of weird and interesting juxtopositions that have occurred over the past few days:

1. The often foul-mouthed, uncouth, and rude Australians (i lived among them once) claimed that Mark Driscoll's comments were "offensive and depreciating" (Andrew Hamilton on JC) and the dry-witted tabloid-loving English told dear Mr Driscoll off harshly for ranting and using sarcasm. Now maybe its just me who sees something weird going on here?

2. Mark Driscoll posts a gentle apology and Brian McLaren posts a clear, concise answer about his beliefs. Who would have thought???

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3. Brian McLaren is submitting a paper to the conservative Criswell Theological Review and Mark Driscoll's church (Mars Hill) is showing a film on Feb 10 about Lonnie Frisbee, the Jesus Movement prophet and evangelist, who died of AIDS and found himself conveniently erased from church history because of his struggle with homosexuality.

BTW - the films director, David Di Sabatino will be at the event. He is widely considered to be the leading historian of the Jesus movement in the 60's and 70's. I have mentioned this film before here and here and David has told me he is interested in showing it in Europe. Greenbelt???

4. Last Sunday, Reformed Pastor Mark Driscoll successfully refuted the reformed doctrine of 'Theology of Glory' from the pulpit (a 'Theology of the Cross' was his worthy update) while yours truly, Recovering-Backslidden-Refomed missionary Andrew Jones enjoyed reading Banner of Truth's "The Sovereignty of God" by A.W. Pink while in search of the Reformed contribution to global missiology.

No don't worry. I wont resort to any Schaefferian extreme and I DON'T believe you can win Europe for Christ by pulling your socks up around your neck.
Note to self - Write a book on reformed missiology for Europe entitled "How High Shall We Then Raise Our Socks?"

Anyway, the subject is interesting. I have chatted to both guys on email this weekend and I can tell you that they are still good friends and will continue to respect each other. But they are VERY different from each other. They both mirror disparate characteristics of emerging culture, particularly as found in video gaming culture

Mark Driscoll is the spontaneous, inituitive gamer who jumps guns blazing into a scene that he knows nothing about. But he is pressing all the buttons on his joystick at the same time and, like my son who masters video games in the same intuitive manner, very quickly finds his way around by the response he gets - either negative or positive. Hey - if you don't know how it works, just shoot everything in sight and see where the penalties come from! After a while you figure it out.

Brian McLaren displays the other positive gamer characteristic which is the capacity to suspend completion of a game and endure mind-boggling lengths of time before arriving at the end. Some gamers have been working on Myst and Riven for nearly ten years and are still enjoying the discovery of the journey. They don't want to CHEAT and arrive early in case they miss essential things on the way. Brian could easily cancel the tension by coming out with his own statements of what he believes, but he doesn't want to rob people of the rich discovery process or the need for people to wrestle with deeper issues and arrive at a place themselves. Take his books - we still don't know where he is going to end up.

Both men are disappointments. Brian McLaren is the worlds worst liberal - He may smile like a liberal and he certainly has the tone of voice of a liberal, he may even aspire to become a liberal to reach liberals but he frustrates his critics by not claiming to be a liberal nor holding liberal beliefs. He certainly reads their books and listens respectfully to their arguments - as we all should do - but at the end of the day, he is not a liberal and he certainly is not a pan-entheist. Many of his critics (who are many) solve this problem with a guilt-by-association game, which could be called "Six Degrees of Separation From Matthew Fox", which is interesting but not always convincing. Because when Brian eventually comes to what he is trying to say, there is scant real evidence to back up the claims that he is heretical.

Same thing happened to us in London when we went to the Evangelical Alliance's grilling of Steve Chalke, now known as Chalke-gate. It was a fun night out, and thought provoking, but we left with our stones still in our pockets.

Mark Driscoll is also disappointing as a radical. His emerging church has an unexpectedly traditional structure. And, moreover, his angst-ridden antics on stage (and now the blogs) attract those looking for blood but it turns out that he is actually a big softy and a loving pastor and friend - a nice guy who enjoys riveting, extreme conversation bordering on the violent.
Rude? Yes.
Spiteful? No!
Up to something? Probably, but love believes the best.

So I am hoping that through all of this, we can appreciate each others differences and grow up a little more together into one body. Maybe we will even learn to like each other's weirdnesses.

Related: The Grilling of Brian