Sydney’s Quirky Christianity: We Turn.

Man have people turned on Driscoll! As best I can tell, in exactly one year he went from posterboy to piñata.

Public opinion really turned when Mars Hill Global was announced. Fair enough, I think MHG is a bad idea. But what he’s being smacked around for now is that he says he is Reformed Charismatic. Is this enough to take someone from hero to zero? Really?

I’ve heard MD mention it, and another (sympathetic) speaker quote him, and a few things are clear:

  1. He’s speaking to specific audiences, who will understand the nuanced meaning he’s going for.
  2. He’s talking about tempering the crazy from both the Ultra-Reformed and Ultra-Charismatic camps.
  3. He’s basically saying that he has a Reformed soteriology and he isn’t a cessationist. He would agree that the Spirit’s primary work is in pointing people to the Son, but also believes that ministry is done in the power of the Spirit, that there is a spiritual battle going on, and that the Christian needs to keep in step with the Spirit. Who’d argue?

Men for whom I have a great deal of respect are arguing it’s impossible to be a Reformed Charismatic. DJPJ at least sees the rhetorical skill in the phrase, fair enough too, given his oratory skills, but he ultimately argues that the title doesn’t make sense.

I’ve got no problem with Phil Jensen deciding he’s not on board with the phrase – his critiques are always thoughtful. But something broader has swept through Sydney. Driscoll has somehow become one of the bad guys, and “Reformed Charismatic” is his weak link to attack. The real message seems to be: He’s not on our team anymore.

I was at neither of the last two MTD Ministry Intensives, so this is based on what filters out, but that’s ok. Only a few are at the day, the rest of us hear what filters out. It seems that the obvious subtext of this year’s conference day was why last year’s was a mistake. If you were there and disagree, that’s great, but I’m talking the message that has actually got out.

That message is that Driscoll is now on the nose.



6 responses to “Sydney’s Quirky Christianity: We Turn.

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Sydney’s Quirky Christianity: We Turn. « Dan's gotta blog. --

  2. I don’t know how the two men would like the comparison, but Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was definately Reformed and non cessationist. He’s still pretty popular in the Ultra-Reformed corner I live in. Maybe it’s the “tempering the crazy” part that’s unpopular.

  3. have you been listening to his sermons dan? (this is not a trick or rhetorical question – because i haven’t been for a long time).

    What do you think of his sermons and the things that he is teaching his flock? Do you think he is really out of the group (from his sermons) or he is in?

  4. hey dan. love that you gotta blog.

    posterboy to pinata is a tidy little phrase: nice wordsmithing.

    In the kooky world of christian celebrity – which is what we’re dealing with when we talk about both of your alliterative states – the reality is that not everyone’s mind is made up based on nuance, or even on what label Driscoll gets given.

    Part of me thinks that Driscoll’s pre-eminence was just a fad, and that the pendulum simply swung away from him once people had learned that he was teaching pretty much the same stuff that we were getting fed here, but with more sketched-out application (esp for guys) and more cussin’ for effect.

    Also, that on reflection, although he nailed us on a bunch of stuff, and there’s some critique that a foreigner can bring that the local can’t, at the same time he swung and missed on a few points, which sowed the seeds of doubt as to whether his voice would carry to australia in the long term.

    The response from mtd was to get him, on a whim, to talk to the ministry training and development crew while he was here, on as close to a whim as guys who plan a year ahead can get 😉 Better to hear him in person than to always be saying, “I heard that he said once …”

    I was only at the second intensive retreat (this year’s) where two things were made clear: firstly, that God is using Mark and we stand happily with him in his proclamation of the gospel; secondly, that if more time had been spent listening to his back catalogue on spiritual things, he might not have got the guernsey he ended up with. Either that, or he was asked not to go there while he was here – again … I can’t tell.

    But that’s what unity looks like internationally, I suspect: majoring on the majors and minoring on the dissimilarities that don’t prevent us working together in proclaiming Jesus.

    The biggest critique of driscolmania that I came away with was the stark contrast between him and dever when it comes to passing the baton: driscoll said that if he died while he was away, his church could well collapse in the short term. Dever said that if he didn’t come back from down under, the church would barely notice.

    While I don’t believe either of them in full, I think the contrast is the essence of why driscoll’s ended up being ‘on the nose’.

    Australians hate the cult of personality. (insert gross generalisation here).

    I suspect that something in our Anglican Church League heritage – where we had to fight tooth and nail to get evangelical rather than liberal or high church guys in positions of responsibility – means that we’re obsessed with having a system that creates the next generation of faithful gospel guys, rather than the once-a-generation Next Big Thing guy.

    Maybe it’s just that Driscoll had some things to say to us that we needed to hear (and he sure did! – and the fruit of that is just starting to show in geneva, rice etc being recognised rather than looked down upon), but isn’t the guy to take us forward.

    Maybe he’s not on the nose so much as his time here has passed?

    I’m just ramblin. Thanks for being thought-provoking.


  5. Daniel McClintock

    @stemcd: Thanks for coming! The ‘tempering the crazy’ wording is my own, sorry if that’s unclear. Having said that, I don’t think Driscoll would be above such abrupt phraseology…

    @cynth: I haven’t listened since he started Luke. Not that there’s anything wrong with Luke, just can’t listen to everything. His is definitely different to most Sydney preaching – much freer with application and paradigms that are only sorta in the text, for example – but I don’t doubt he’s on the Jesus team.

    @roj: And I love that you gotta comment. Seriously.

    Yeah, in terms of a fad passing, I think you’re right. Punters just got so into him that his poularity had to wane eventually, and that’s normal. Aussies really do avoid personality cult.

    It doesn’t really concern me that the mood of the punters shifts, but what does concern me is that the rhetoric of the loudest voices got much sharper, on an issue that is not at all central for the person being critiqued – MD is hardly banging on about putting ‘reformed charismatic’ in any doctrinal statements. What is said between the lines in this video ( is pretty clear.

    ‘The guy to raise the issues, but not needed to drive it forward’ might be spot on. From what I can tell, he’s happy with that too. He’s keen to see the Aussies taking the reins, and helping them out however best he can.


    PS It’s interesting that Driscoll said that about Mars Hill if he died, ‘coz I’ve heard him talk about the succession plans that are already known as options, primarily MH campuses being handed to their campus pastors as the main preacher, rather than a satellite feed. Meh. I think both were exaggerating in that quote. One could hardly argue that Dever is not instrumental at CHBC.

  6. Heh… haven’t checked here for a while, sorry!

    I have to say, I’m not a fan of Driscoll any more. Not because of the “reformed charismatic” thing, which is unfortunate but I can deal (Grudem’s systematic is the one I buy people for Christmas (no, I haven’t)).

    I think I tend to keep away from him these days because I feel that he is more of a spectacle. He seems to always want to push the envelope in some area or another, and I really had to stand with MacArthur/Phillips about the whole language thing.

    Over the last few years, I’ve come to realise that I’m a sucker for personalities, programs and schemes. I pour myself into the next big preacher, the next big theological whatever, until I realise I’m chasing my tail. One of the best things about coming to PTC for me has been learning that God works through his word, in ordinary and sometimes boring ways. I’m not going to become more like Jesus by attaching myself to the next big preacher/personality/planting push, but by living in simplicity and sincerity, looking for Jesus at church each week in the word and sacraments.

    So maybe I’ve got a bit of a bias against big personality at the moment, but I think that it’s really helped me.

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