Posted tagged ‘Regulative Principle’

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:


Asking and Answering – Today

March 2, 2008

Just a reminder to all of you who were so supportive and voted for my question on “Ask Anything” and especially those of you who participated in the 9th inning rally that rocketed the question from #10 to #1 in six days (a total of over 25,000 votes). 🙂

While Pastor Mark Driscoll will preaching on my question today, I do not expect the audio and video to be available by mid-week. Those of you who will take the time to listen or watch, I would be interested in hearing your responses to Driscoll’s treatment of my question. All the media should be posted here.

“Ask Anything” Sermon Series by Mark Driscoll

January 9, 2008

Well, it seems like yesterday that we had the ninth-inning rally where the question I asked when from #10 to #1 in six days thanks to all of you who voted (nearly 10,000 votes!). I just noticed that Pastor Mark Driscoll has started his sermon series at Mars Hill, beginning with question #9 on birth control. If Driscoll preaches each question without interruption, my question will be preached on March 2 (which happens to be the week of my birthday!). I look forward to listening to these sermons and encourage you to check them out.

Emergent and the Regulative Principle

December 17, 2007

PBS recently did a two-part series looking at Emergent–the more liberal wing of the emerging church movement.  As Driscoll came to see some merit to my question on the Regulative Principle, he mentioned some of what you will see below.  Take a look, and tell me what you think.

Ask Anything . . . and a Big Thanks

December 15, 2007

The game is officially over. A week ago today the Ninth Inning Rally began, and over the course of this past week, almost 10,000 votes came in, bringing the question back from obscurity to the top slot. There is no doubt that this was due largely in part to all of you who took the time each day to vote, to blog about it, and encourage others to get involved. One of the amazing things about the web 2.0 is the ability to share, discuss, and even vote on common interests, and regardless of what side one falls on regarding the Regulative Principle, many have felt it important enough to be discussed, preached, and included in a book to be published next year. So let me take a moment and say a heartfelt “thank you” to all who were a part of making it happen.

I know that Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill have taken a lot of heat for this project, and I want to say thanks for letting others get in on asking questions on their mind. We indeed are living in a Corinthian age, and I believe Driscoll’s intentions in this project was not a popularity contest or another book published, but rather to probe the evangelical community to find what issues are most important in the age in which we live. I believe such probing is profitable, even if it comes at the expense of uncharitable and un-Christlike behavior. I have never personally met Driscoll, but I hope to do so in the near future (perhaps the A29 Boot Camp in Chicago).

Looking back, I realize the issue I brought up has a lot of misunderstandings and misperceptions and has been known to be a very divisive issue. For the record, that is not, nor has it ever been, my point. Instead, I consider myself to be in a generation embracing both our Reformed tradition as well as the missional movement as a desire to effectively communicate the gospel of Jesus Christ through biblically healthy and faithful churches comprised of Great Commission Christians sent into the world for the glory of His name. What I am finding, however, is that methodology often times is being discussed in an arena where either culture or pragmatism seem to be the “regulating” or deciding issue. Granted, every church and Christian desiring to making an impact for the kingdom of God wants to be useful, effective, and engaging with the culture. However, I fear that we are often taking about what the church does (missional) without considering first what the church is. The question of how should be predicated by the question why.

Of course, there is much more that can and perhaps should be said on this matter. I hope to provide some resources in the future and maybe discuss it more as well. For those who haven’t seen, here’s how the votes ended up. Again, thanks for voting!

#1 Do you believe that the Scripture not only regulates our theology but also our methodology? In other words, do you believe in the regulative principle? If so, to what degree? If not, why not? 25,181

#2 What can traditional/established churches learn from “emerging” churches? 24,642

#3 How does a Christian date righteously; and what are the physical, emotional, and mentally connecting boundaries a Christian must set while developing an intimate relationship prior to marriage? 21,373

#4 If salvation is by faith alone (Romans 3:28), then why are there so many verses that say or imply the opposite, namely that salvation is by works (James 2:24, Matthew 6:15 & 7:21, Galatians 5:19-21) 21,337

#5 How should Christian men and women go about breaking free from the bondage of sexual sin? 21,311

#6 Of all the things you teach, what parts of Christianity do you still wrestle with? What’s hardest for you to believe? 21,285

#7 Why does an all loving, all knowing, and all sovereign God will into creation people He foreknows will suffer eternal condemnation? Why does Romans 9:20 feel like a cop-out answer? 21,218

#8 Why do you make jokes about mormon missionaries, homosexuals, trenchcoats wearers, single men, vegans, emo kids and then expect these groups to come to know God in the same sermon? 21,101

#9 There’s no doubt the Bible says children are a blessing, but the Bible doesn’t seem to address the specific topic of birth control. Is this a black and white topic, or does it fall under liberties? 21,008

POTW :: 12.14.07 :: Bridgemania

December 14, 2007

View in Flickr (see it LARGE)

View in Flickr (see it LARGE)

View in Flickr (see it LARGE)

View in Flickr (see it LARGE)

Extra! Extra! Flickr has finally added stats to your photos! Man, it’s about time. They say it will take about a day for them to grab all the info, and I am curious how the dashboard/stat page will shape up. For more info about it, go here.

In other news, baby Nolan has yet to arrive. For those of you who may remember, his due date was yesterday, but I can only assume that he is being true to Brister stubbornness. We go Monday for an ultrasound and are scheduled for inducement Thursday (the 20th) if he doesn’t come earlier. We are really curious as to how big he will be (hopefully under 10 lbs.!). Figuring our date nights would be limited once Nolan is in our world, we went out Monday to ride around in Indiana. Dusti shopped for Christmas ornaments, and I took my camera in hopes to capture some of downtown Louisville with the Christmas lights. However, the fog was very thick, and you could hardly see across the Ohio River. I decided then to capture a few long exposure shots of some bridges, using the opportunity to teach Dusti how to shoot long exposure night shots. The pictures above are the result of a few of the shots from Monday night.

Finally, a brief wrap up for the “Ask Anything” deal. The question went from #10 to #1 in six days which is really exciting (averaging 1500+ votes a day). Tom Ascol chimed in with the vote taking the #1 slot, so the Ascol family will be receiving the autographed copy of my postcard from Mars. Here’s the voting summary since Saturday morning:

Saturday 6:30 a.m. >> Position #10 :: Votes 15,236
Sunday 6:30 a.m. >> Position #7 :: Votes 17,036 (approximately, gain of 1800)
Monday 12:01 a.m. >> Position #4 :: Votes 18,179 (gain of 1143)
Tuesday 6:00 a.m. >> Position #2 :: Votes 19,602 (gain of 1423)
Wednesday 6:00 a.m. >> Position #2 :: Votes 21,281 (gain of 1679)
Thursday 6:00 a.m. >> Position #2 :: Votes 22,532 (gain of 1251)
Friday 6:00 a.m. >> Position #1 (woot!) :: Votes 24,442 (gain of 1910)

Six-day rally: From #10 to #1 with a total of 9,206 votes.

I want to say a special thanks to all of you who have voted and encouraged me to go ahead with the Ninth Inning Rally. I was content to stay away from the deal, but this past week made me realize that there are many folks out there who believe the question has considerable merit. Also, many bloggers assisted in getting the word out, even offering reasons why the question is important which was a real help.

Oh, one more thing . . . our Sunday School Christmas party occurred last week, and one of the games we played was to make a Santa outfit in five minutes with sheets, cardboard, and tape. My wife happened to be one of the five Santas, and she won the contest. Here’s a picture of all five Santas (no, she is not the one with the cigar either!).

Finney and the Regulative Principle

December 13, 2007

We are down to the final hours of the “Ask Anything” deal, and my question on the Regulative Principle is hanging tough (NKOTB style). I appreciate the interest level and thousands of votes that have come in over the past week.

Many of you know that I have been reading a lot of Finney this semester. I have written about some new “new measures” as well as Finney the controversialist. In this post, I want to share Finney’s view of methodology which is an out and out rejection of the Regulative Principle. Historically speaking, the regulative principle has been understood to mean that nothing must be required as essential to public worship except which is commanded by the word of God.[1] Derek Thomas argues that one of the reasons for holding to the RP is to understand that “what makes worship different is that is cultural ethos is determined by scriptural commands and principles rather than personal or collective tastes and mores.”[2] It is important to note that, historically, the RP was not to bind or impose upon worshipers regarding what they can or cannot do; rather, it was quite the contrary. For Luther, Calvin, and the Westminster Divines, it was about the liberty of conscience and freedom of the Christian.

Charles Finney grew up being taught the Westminster Confession of Faith, eventually publicly consenting to it when ordained in the Presbyterian Church. One would think, then, that Finney would be at least sympathetic towards a Scripture-governed view of the church. However, much like his soteriological departure, his view of the church manifested a clear rejection of the authority and priority of Scripture in worship and practice. For us, it is a lesson that theology indeed does drive methodology.


Last Day to Vote! (Ask Anything)

December 13, 2007

Just a brief reminder. Today (I think) is the last day you can vote on the “Ask Anything” deal. Yesterday, 1250 votes were cast for my question, and it currently stands only 363 votes from catching the #1 question (thanks to all of you faithful voters!).

Be sure to VOTE today, ten times (and ten times only!). Who knows, building bridges to Mars might be possible after all. 🙂  On a serious note, however, be sure to read James’ thoughts on why he believes my question is important.

I will be posting a little article later today on how the regulative principle in relation to Charles Finney. For the time being, here’s to our “Ninth Inning Rally.”

Ninth Inning Rally?

December 8, 2007

There have been several kind folks who have asked me about my “Ask Anything” question that, for about a month, stood at #1 on Mark Driscoll’s “Ask Anything” website. Some of you will remember that exactly a month ago, I bailed out on the project as I thought things had gotten way out of hand, and the comments on the question seemed to miss the point. During this period of time, I seldom visited the “Ask Anything” site and did not vote.

The current vote total for my question stands at 15,236, landing it at #10 on the top 20 list. For the question to make the cut, a spread of around 1,200 votes will have to be overcome. At this point, there are only six days left before the voting process closes. That means we are in the bottom of the ninth inning. Can the regulative principle rally and make it in the top 9?

I think it is worth a try. I remember as a little leaguer when we would put on our rally caps, yell a little louder, and believe a little more. I guess that little leaguer in me is still there. So how is it going to happen? Well, I know at least it will require a team effort.

Here’s two suggestions of what you can do. First, vote ten times for the question every day until Friday. Second, encourage others in your circles to vote. Send out emails to your friends (with the links to the question explaining how to vote, 10 times each day), plug it on your blog, mention it on Facebook or Myspace, and talk it up in the comments of the question. But please do not vote illegally!

In case you missed it, the last time Driscoll actually spoke about my question (shortly after the bail out), he spoke of it in a positive light. Driscoll wrote:

“Much to everyone’s surprise the question on worship fell from the top spot for the first time. As I have been thinking about that question, it does have some good implications regarding the emerging church. Namely, do such things as icons, labyrinth walking etc. constitute freedoms in worship or paganism?”

And in the meta of my question, Driscoll wrote:

“But, for the record, I do think this is a good question and kindly stated. Especially with some Emergent type churches incorporating icons, labyrinths, prayer walking etc. it raises the issue of where a line is drawn between pagan and Christian worship practice. So, I do see this question as allowing me to speak broadly about how Scripture regulates our corporate worship as well as define worship in general as a life lived in totality under God’s rule over all. And, the man who asked the question is a man I have never meet and so I have no personal troubles with him at all. One of our Acts 29 planters I believe does know him and speaks very well of him as a great and thoughtful brother. Perhaps one day we will meet, and I suspect before then I will be preaching his question and I sincerely look forward to doing so as it is worthwhile.

Six days, down 1200 votes. Ninth-inning rally time. Let’s see what we can do to see this question makes the cut.

“What’s Timmy Thinking” (Ask Anything)

October 27, 2007

Well, the “Ask Anything” project is almost at the close of Round 1 for voting on the questions. Over 775 questions have been asked with over 70,000 votes tallied at this point. Many of you have been kind to vote for my question, which has continued to stay at the #1 spot for the past two weeks. During this time, I have listened to what others are saying, read the comments, and trying to chime in where I found it helpful. So with the “What’s Mark Thinking” blog in mind, I thought I’d a moment to write a little about “What’s Timmy Thinking” for fun, especially since I am now officially at my momma’s house blogging in my pajama pants. 🙂

1. I like Driscoll. I have gone to bat for him on more than one occasion, and love his passion for church planting and reaching the lost. I do, however, have limited knowledge of Driscoll (not read all his books, listened to many sermons, etc.).

2. I have come to realize that many people have never heard of the Regulative Principle, and the fact that my question being at the top of the list, at least will do a little to serve as in impetus to get more people thinking about what it means for our generation.


Ask Anything? Ask Something.

October 16, 2007

A quick update on my question for Mark Driscoll.

Since I posted my question last Friday, over 1200 votes have come in, currently holding the #1 spot on the site.  Thanks to all of you who have been voting for this question.  Apparently some of those commenting do not believe this is a legitimate or important question.  The question I asked is,

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?

In the comments, I elaborated a little further, adding,

Perhaps it would be worthwhile to explain my question a little further. Being missional and Reformed, there is the tension between Scriptural fidelity and cultural accommodation. At times, I feel as though Scripture drives your methodology (e.g. complementarianism among others); at other times, I feel as though culture drives methodology. What I would like to know is how you deal with this tension and how you reconcile these two governing factors. For instance, do you work from Scriptural prescription (explicit) to general principles (implicit) to prudence and practicality?

For someone who is so influential in missiology and ecclesiology, I think it is important for Driscoll to address the issue of the Regulative Principle.  If the RP does not “regulate” our worship, government, contextualization, or other ecclesiological and methodological issues, then what does?  Since the Reformation, the RP has been an issue worthy of considerable discussion and critical thought; however, my concern is that our generation isn’t adequately applying the sufficiency of Scripture regarding matters of ecclesiology. 

Driscoll is an intelligent guy, and, as far as I can tell, a student of church history.  It is unfortunate that some would consider this question as merely academic or legalistic.  That is why I am asking you to take a few minutes each day and vote for my question