Monday, March 10, 2008

Problems With Reformed Theology and Mark Driscoll

This week I've been re-thinking my Calvinism, I am listening right now to a sermon by Mark Driscoll on Limited vs. Unlimited Atonement. This might be nit-picky but I just am frustrated with him a bit these days.

First of all he keeps saying 'James Arminius' but it's Jacobus Arminius and he talks about Pelagianism and how he says that Augustine is a hero who proved it is wrong. But why do reformed people always quote Augustine and fail to accept all of his theology. For example he believes in Free Will, something all good Calvinists deny. He also believed and advocated at church councils that the Deutero-canonical books (Apocrypha) was the inspired word of God. And arguably (though a good case can be made) he believed in the bible only because the church authorized it and believed in the supremacy of Rome. The famous misquote (but still retaining the intention) of Augustine is after all "Rome has spoken, the case is closed".

I think I'm just tired of the way people prooftext certain thinkers and totally pull cafeteria theology. I do that, but I'm not preaching it to people. If I was a Methodist Pastor, I would preach what John Wesley said. I don't agree with Christian Perfection (I think it's heresy) but Wesley taught it, so I would. I just think that maybe if people have unique opinions they should be based on what the thinker actually said.

Look at this quote and try to guess who wrote it:
"It is a sweet and pious belief that the infusion of Mary's soul was effected without original sin; so that in the very infusion of her soul she was also purified from original sin and adorned with God's gifts, receiving a pure soul infused by God; thus from the first moment she began to live she was free from all sin."
That is a quote so Roman Catholic it makes me throw up a little in my mouth. And guess who said it. Maybe Brennan Manning? no too intelligent. Pope Benedict XVI? nope no Nazism, but MARTIN (effing) LUTHER. One and the same, founder of Protestantism believed that Mary was sinless. If Martin Luther were alive, he probably wouldn't be able to be ordained as a his own denomination.

This is why Driscoll and everyone else makes me angry, they quote early Christians to pretend that their views are 'historic' but really if you think Augustine is the shit, be an Augustinian Catholic. Otherwise just be another fool who misquotes famous people.

I just find there are too many "all"'s in the bible if you know what I mean, to believe in limited atonement, and too many commands to obey for me to deny free will. So call me an Arminian - the worst of all slurs, but I'm just tired of the proof-texting and the Calvinist arrogance. And for the love of Wesley - there is a difference between foreknowledge and predestination... wow I really sound Arminian now.

However let it be noted that Driscoll does say you can be an Arminian and that most people believe it and that it's alright.

Finally Driscoll says Thomas Aquinas wrote one of the two most important books in all of Christianity, but Aquinas believes in merited salvation (though it is through God's grace - so really it's not super merited). So really he would disagree with Aquinas as well.

So finally we get to Calvin. Look at some of his quotes Calvin says "You cannot have God as your Father unless you have the Church as your mother". In a congregational (I'm assuming) church like Mars Hill, I doubt he holds to Calvin's authoritative view of the church. As well Calvin would punish by death heresy (anything other than his opinion) and I doubt that Driscoll cares that much about theology.

Furthermore I guess no one agrees with their denominations founder or whatever. And basically I have found that Arminianism and Calvinism both fail at answering these questions and fail at offering a full view of scripture, so in the end maybe everyone is wrong. Though I still haven't read on Molinism but I have a feeling I'll disagree with it too.


  1. I love this post more than anything.

    Yeah, Mark Driscoll...Still don't know. Reformers are jerks, thats all I know. I wouldn't go to far with saying he wouldn't kill someone for disagreeing with him though...I wouldn't be surprised to be honest.

    I am glad you are showing some arminian sound a lot more loving.

    Also, my favorite reformed argument is "All in the Bible doesn't actually mean all."

  2. Here are some questions that make me more comfortable confessing Limited Atonement:

    On what basis are we forgiven?: That Christ suffered and died a substitutionary death for me?

    Did Christ die for the sins of every person?: If he did, then is everyone saved?

    What does it mean to say “Christ died for every single person?”: In one sense I may agree if grace is dependent entirely on the atonement, and reprobate experience grace, though it is not saving grace.

    Could we also not say the death was the sufficient for all, but only efficient for the elect?

    But in another sense:

    If Christ died for every person, and I am to say Christ died for the elect person, and Christ died for the reprobate person, what did that death actually accomplish? What significance does the Cross hold in reconciling sinners to God, if someone Christ died for, to reconcile to God, goes to hell and is not reconciled to God?

    What justice is served by a double punishment for sin: one for Christ, then again for the reprobate?

    What then is the deciding factor on the application of salvation? Is it faith? If then faith, are we the deciding factor? If it is then said faith is a gift, then doesn’t God choose who gets the application of Christ’s death? If so, why again are we saying Christ died for every person?

    Why would Christ’s substitution death be a point of model for husbands loving their wife if Christ died for every person, rather than just the Church? (Eph 5:25) Would husbands be required to love their wife as he loves every other woman?

    Mark Driscoll is not exactly the greatest Reformed theologian. If you want a case for it from a source that knows what he is talking about, try John Owen’s Death of Death.

  3. Reading the actual canon of Dort might be good. It's hard to disagree with how they formulated it:

  4. Ya Jared, but did the Prodigal Son get dragged home or walk home? I believe in Grace but Augustine affirms free will. SO why couldn't God have died for everyone and it is an offer opened to all, but when they die the offer is no longer available, and so it is not efficient for them?

  5. Calvin believed in free will. Jonathan Edwards believed in free will. Sartre believed in free will. Pelagius believed in free will. Aristotle believed in free will. My Jewish friend Matt believes in free will. What are we getting at?

    I am Reformed, I confess free will, and the offer of the gospel is freely accepted by those who are saved, not coerced by God. Yet, we would never choose God if he did not redeem our desires from our meager satisfaction in lesser things, to revive them towards greater things. We are perverse creatures content with dog food, never aware there is steak. God must convert our desire from dog food to steak, and then He must also reveal the steak to us. Then we will freely and gladly accept His gift of steak. It will be freely chosen, and still we could do no other, because why would we eat dog food when steak is offered to us now that our desires are aright? It is free, it is inevitable.

    On the Prodigal Son. Parables are meant to teach certain truths, but cannot be pressed for too many insights beyond the ones intended in the parable by Christ Himself. That parable is actually saying more about the bitter older brother, whom we all resemble as much as the prodigal son. I could just as easily take the story of the shepherd who left his 99 to pursue the one who wandered off to argue the opposite, that the shepherd pursued the sheep, not the sheep the shepherd. I could also say the parable of the 99 shows us if we are the 99, then we don’t need the shepherd around all the time, something beyond the intended lesson. Christ coming to us is not to the exclusion of us coming to Christ.

    Yes, there are sense in which Christ died for all. My attempt to explain below:

  6. lol 'my jewish friend...believes in free will'. I openly admit it Jared, you are alot smarter than me. Your position makes sense, I guess I just have been reading a bit too much Alvin Plantinga and believe that for will to be free, there has to be a real possibility that the world could exist where I choose between a and b and that both could exist, and that it isn't necessary for God to make me choose a, and that I could really choose b.

    Though since he made me, my mind, and my environment, maybe it is still foolish.

    I guess I'm just not smart enough to argue with you.