The Key to the Driscoll Controversy

Controversy regarding pastor Mark Driscoll has come to a head recently. The responses to this generally fall into one of two categories in my mind. I believe there is an important, key difference between the responses. I think this difference is worth examining because it can help us understand how to respond in other situations besides this one.

Certainly all people make mistakes, and if you are a public figure, you will have some critics. Is this all that is going on here? Some people, including Driscoll himself, recognize mistakes he has made. I believe Driscoll is a sincere, dedicated follower of Christ. Driscoll has acknowledged and apologized for the poor actions he has taken in certain instances in the past. Shouldn’t we forgive Continue reading

Book Review: The New Tolerance, Part 3: “Absolutes” (Moral Truth)

(This post is a continuation of the reviews found in part 1 and part 2.)

While the authors complain about the use of the word “tolerance”, I was more confused by the way they used the words “absolute truth”. Being as it is that I have grown up in evangelical circles, I’ve heard people talk about this many times before. But I’ve never completely understood what they’re talking about. The authors speak of people not believing in absolutes (absolute truth) and conversely believing that truth is based only on what a person chooses to believe. I thought this idea was ridiculous. If you believed the earth to be flat or the sky to be green, I don’t believe most people would think that it was actually true for you. I believe they would just Continue reading

Book Review: The New Tolerance, Part 2

(This review is a continuation from part 1.)

As mentioned, the first half of “The New Tolerance” basically says “liberal ideas have come and are taking your kids away from you!” However I feel the authors mainly argued against a straw-man. They defined “new tolerance” rather than having someone who fairly represents a thoughtful liberal viewpoint do so. The quotes the authors do use to support their case seem to be examples from the further end of the left. I live in the Midwest and understand that it is a more conservative area than the northeast and west coast (though less conservative than the South). Maybe the authors live in a more liberal area and consequently have a different perspective. To me however, their characterizations Continue reading

Book Review: The New Tolerance, Part 1

The New Tolerance is a book written by Josh McDowell and Bob Hostetler about fifteen years ago. The book is a bit of a challenge to review in that there are several different messages being communicated on various levels. Overall, I consider the book political even though it doesn’t promote any political action. The reason is that it’s basically an outcry against liberal ideas with the desire to uphold conservative values in our society. I think the authors demonstrate a significant lack of understanding of the position they’re arguing against.

The stated topic of the book is “new tolerance”. However, in my mind, this really isn’t the primary message. The entire book is written in an alarmist tone. Virtually everything is wrapped in Continue reading

Evangelicalism’s PR Problem: Private Love, Public Condemnation

I recently read a book written from a conservative Christian perspective. The authors’ spend much of the book warning of their perceived dangers of liberal / progressive ideas. I admit I was surprised that their solution to all this was a call to love people. Though I don’t directly share their point of view, I do think what they said about love is essentially spot on. This, what appeared to me to be a dichotomy, caused me to have a significant realization.

A popular Christian phrase is “love the sinner, hate the sin”. Some people cringe at this phrase already, at least in part for the reason I’ll get to in just a moment. But it does try to capture the balance between “truth and grace”. In other words, we’re supposed to love not condemn Continue reading

Questions for Understanding Beliefs and Productively Engaging Disagreement

People have disagreements about many things. When a person is passionate about an issue, I venture to say it’s typically because their belief represents one or more values which are important to them. When people have disagreements over an issue, they’re often talking past one another without digging into what is really driving the other person’s beliefs. I think if we could discuss the values behind our beliefs, we would have much more productive discussions. We might actually be able to come up with ideas that uphold both party’s values. But we won’t get there if we’re only fighting about our end beliefs. Here are some questions intended to help dig in and understand the values behind our beliefs and how that might aid our Continue reading

Book Review: Invitation to Tears

Invitation to Tears” is a new book coauthored by Jonalyn Fincher and Aubrie Hills. If I were to describe “Invitation to Tears” in a word, it would be “permission”—permission to grieve. The authors are sensitive to the various ways people grieve. They also recognize that the death of a loved one is not the only loss over which we may grieve. I appreciated this since the greatest losses I’ve experienced have been of this latter type.

My impression is that the book is written for the person who is grieving. It is divided into short, easy to read chapters. In each, Jonalyn and Aubrie attempt to express some of the emotions and experiences in the grief process, giving a few thoughtful tips along the way. If grieving, I certainly think Continue reading

Secret Church Review and Problems of Focusing on Sin

Secret Church is an annual event put on by David Platt and his church in Alabama. The event is promoted widely and simulcast to groups meeting across the U.S. and world. Some friends of mine had participated before and organized a viewing locally this year. So I joined them. It was scheduled for a single evening, from 6 to midnight, which because of the time zone difference, meant 7 pm to 1 am for us.

I have been aware of Platt and his book “Radical” since it received a fair amount of attention after its publishing. However I had not read the book nor was I directly familiar with Platt before attending this event.

I must say, I was significantly disappointed in Secret Church. There were a few songs and a bit of time for focused Continue reading

Truth Is Not a Process, Belief Is

Update: I submitted this blog to the “Bridging the Divides” syncroblog. I feel the following concept is important for having respectful dialog with those with whom we disagree.

We all have beliefs about various things. This is fine. However, some people expect everyone to agree with them. Or in other words, they expect everyone should share their beliefs. The thought process is like this: “(I believe) this is true, so everyone else must acknowledge it is true also.” This is a problem.

I think people confuse truth and belief. The truth is true unconditionally, no matter what. But our beliefs are in flux. Truth doesn’t need our belief nor anyone else’s in order to be true. Our belief however is a process, a journey. We aren’t born Continue reading