Posted tagged ‘Pragmatism’

Mark Dever on Numbers and Faithfulness

May 30, 2012

I think if we would be honest with ourselves, our default position is to elevate fruitfulness over faithfulness. The two should not be at odds with one another, but when they are, fruitfulness tends to win out. This discussion is one that many are having in evangelical circles today, and I think we need to think it through without making excuses for neglecting either (those not seeing any fruit from their ministry saying all that matters is being faithful, and those with significant fruit saying all that matters is being fruitful).

In light of that, I commend the balanced, wise counsel of Mark Dever regarding the ministerial responsibility to be faithful in discharging the duties of a gospel minister while recognizing that the results belong to God.

Highway to Hell and the Regulative Principle

April 12, 2011

Back in October 2oo7, Mark Driscoll started an online game called “Ask Anything” where anyone could ask him a question and people voted on their favorite questions.  The top nine questions would turn into a sermon series which later became his book entitled Religion Saves.

On October 12, I blogged about the question I asked Driscoll.  The question was:

Do you believe that Scripture regulates not only your theology but also your methodology? In other words, do you believe in the regulative principle? If so, to what degree? If not, why not?

The purpose of me asking this question was related to what I saw happening in evangelical life, namely the popularity of pragmatism over theologically driven and biblically sound methodology.  Driscoll used the illustration of the two hands: one being contending for the faith (doctrine) and the other being contextualizing the faith (practice).  My question was specifically geared around the ways in which doctrine (theology) shaped or influenced practice (methodology).  In other words, do these two hands work independently of one another, or does one hand have a tighter grip on the other?  I wanted to know to which degree Scripture determines what you do versus what culture, trends, or “what works” determine what you do. I thought the question was pretty straightforward, simple, and relevant.

Well, a firestorm erupted on the “Ask Anything” website when my question took the top spot after the first week of voting.  After a month of dealing with antagonism and anger from folks, I asked people to stop voting on my question, which resulted in it dropping down to #13.  After a month of silence, the voting came down to the final days, and friends were eager to have me make a final push to get out the vote because they felt the question could possibly get into the #9 slot and get into the sermon series and book.  Little did we know,in a matter of three days the question moved from #13 to #1, taking in 10,000 votes in that short period of time (a total of 25,181 in all).  I must admit, it was a rather fun moment in the history of this little blog.

The reason I bring that saga nearly four years ago is because of the recent discussion between James McDonald, Mark Driscoll, and Perry Noble regarding Noble’s church singing the song “Highway to Hell” in their church service.  Here’s the video:

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Between Hyper-Calvinism and Pragmatism

April 23, 2010

For the past couple of weeks, I have been working through the book of Nehemiah.  One of the books that has been helpful to me is J.I. Packer’s A Passion for Faithfulness. This week, I have been working through chapter 3, which is quite fascinating.  In his chapter on “Man-management,” Packer explains how some people can “decry organization as a focus of carnal confidence and an intrinsically Spirit-quenching development.”  The argument is generally made to the effect that “the Spirit of God has to do it” or “the root of the problem is spiritual, not structural.”  Therefore, we need to wait for the Spirit to work upon the hearts of people to move them to action.

The upshot to this thinking is that any kind of practical, structural, or organizational change is superfluous or inconsequential.  Strategy, planning, and developing a system or process are inherently un-spiritual.  It is like inefficiency is godly and spiritual and practical usefulness is suspect.  If I could employ the trisperspectival model to leadership (prophets, priests, and kings), the Reformed tradition, of which I belong, is strongly prophetic and priestly.  However, there is an inhibition or reservation about being strong in the kingly role of leadership–by that I mean administration, planning, developmental processes, etc.

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