Contend Earnestly: Book Review Highlight

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Book Review Highlight

Our book review blog doesn't get much play...and that's cool, it's new and up and coming, kind of like Giff Visick; hopefully. Sorry Giff...but you did get a shout out...

Anyway...I thought I would highlight a review I just did on a new book from the emerging church. Have at it, and me, if your so inclined.

I was pretty apprehensive about reading this book. I really didn't know what to expect and didn't know really what the approach was going to be with this book. To be honest, the only reason that I picked up the book is because I went to the Resurgence Conference and Mark Driscoll was one of the contributors. I am glad I didn't "judge" Driscoll for being a part of this book before I read this, because I thought he was distancing himself from the people that contributed to this book. After reading, let's just say that Driscoll is definitely NOT a part of what is commonly known as the Emergent church and he is really a lot different than those a part of the wider used term, "emerging church."

The only thing that I got from this book, besides Driscoll admonishing the other contributors (Burke, Kimball, Pagitt, Ward), is to make sure that our theology is put into practice. I can say that it did make me think from that perspective. Outside of that, this book was very shallow and far from, and I mean FAR FROM, biblical ecclesiology. Mark Driscoll had to continually "exhort sound doctrine" to these other "pastors" and return them to the Scriptures. Driscoll was the only pastor that truly held to Sola Scriptura, while the others look more to our culture and those around them to form their ecclesiology, orthopraxy, and most dangerous: orthodoxy.

The two "pastors" that people need to really be warned of is Doug Pagitt and Karen Ward. They are far from Christendom (which they would admit and happily accept) and should not be given an ear to listen to. Burke and Kimball were on the edge but still held to the complete authority of Scripture, although I would definitely not adhere to a lot of the ways that they practice their theology and more specifically, their ecclesiology.

Again, Driscoll was the lone bright spot and because of the far reaching post-modern ideas of the other contributors, Driscoll sounded like John MacArthur more than an emerging pastor. Througout the discussion, just when you thought Driscoll was getting "soft" he "brought it" again.

As far as the frame of the book, it is set up to give each "pastor" a chapter with the other four being able to respond to that pasor's contribution. The original intent was for each author to show their thoughts on the Trinity, the atonement and Scripture. I found only Driscoll's chapter to be the only one who "followed the rules." But, what else should we expect from these emerging leaders? The sad thing is that since the authors were so shallow, Driscoll was forced to defend basic orthodoxy and wasn't able to give a great in depth study or defense of the above said topics.

If you would like to read about these different views on the emerging church, I guess it is okay to read, but it is just so messed up as far as their thinking on how church should be run that it is hard for me to recommend. I am glad I read it so that I could see that Driscoll is NOT Emergent in any way. He is far from Pagitt and McLaren and should be seen as the lone bright spot out of these that contributed to the book.

Please be discerning if you pick this book up and like a Berean, test all teachings to Scripture.


Jake said...

I haven't read it yet, but one of my friends, who is a part of the PCA and plans on going to Covenant Seminary in 2 years, has and he felt like Driscoll was the most sound but he didn't have any problem w/ Burke or Kimball. He had huge issues w/ Pagitt and Ward though. But he also said that Driscoll wasn't that helpful in his responses to the other four, which seems to be par for the course for Mark.

Don't get me wrong, I love him and he's a man I really admire, but sometimes I think he can be the, to borrow his own imagery, "the mean old guard dog looking for something to bite." That's the struggle I have with him, MacArthur, and even to a lesser extent, Piper. Piper is significantly better about it than Macarthur or Driscoll but I guess it's the same discussion we were having about open-theism, huh?

Out of curiosity, what issues do you have w/ Kimball? I've not read him at all but even the most strident critics (save Ken Silva) seem to think Dan Kimball's pretty solid. It seems like he's just a culturally-sensitive evangelical (or at least that's what I've heard) and I've heard similar comments made about Burke (John, not Spencer). How does that set them apart from Driscoll or Tim Keller? The only thing I can think of that sets them apart is that Kimball and Burke don't die on the hill of reformed theology like Mark and Tim will.

BarryDean said...


Thanks for the review dude. I will probably read it mainly because I am curious to hear more about Driscoll's stand for Sola Scriptura. I also know some about Doug Pagitt. He wrote a book a while back titled "Preaching Re-imagined". In the book he basically referred to expositional preachers as dinosaurs and harmful. I thank God for those expositional preachers. I would much prefer to hear someone preach verse by verse with a high view of God and scripture than someone giving me a wishy washy, limp-wristed, (Driscoll phrase) everything goes in the pot kind of message. I found the following blog site very informative in the emergent watch arena.

Seth McBee said...

sorry I wasn't able to get back to you yesterday...

First, I think it is no mystery that we see differently in how to deal with others in the faith that we believe are straying from orthodox Christendom. I am not going to "call out" Kimball or Burke but felt as though they were weak in their chapters and weak on either the gospel or weak on the sanctification of the saints. Driscoll, in my opinion, was very helpful. All the others seem to pander to the other writers so it seemed like sometimes sitting in a place where everybody was sharing their poetry and everyone was like, "that is so beautiful, and that is just great, it really speaks to me" When in reality the poem sucked. Driscoll is not afraid to tell us that the poem sucked. And let's be blunt here, Jesus Christ and the kingdom are far more important than a poetic reading. Again, this is why in reality I thought the book was very shallow and really, not a very good read.

I like MacArthur, Piper and Driscoll. The reason is because they are shepherds that do the work of the shepherd. We are told to warn the flock, to keep alert, to be watchful. Just look at Christ in Matthew 23 in the 8 woes to the Pharisees.

I will tell you that sometimes we get so busy pointing at others that we forget that we are in reality just as bad if we are not out doing the work of James 2: real religion.

But, I don't feel like any of the men that you mentioned (MacArthur, Piper, Driscoll) sit around and just call others out. I also pray that I would not be "one of those guys" either. I pray that I would truly be a shepherd that loves the sheep and cares for the sheep. Sometimes, we as shepherds must WARN the sheep so that they aren't devoured.

Jake, I have only met you once, and I really enjoyed our time together that weekend. I hope to get together with you again in the future. I think when you see someone taken from the flock by the wolves and be devoured your views might change a bit. I have seen this, not only with church family members, but also in my own family. So, I take this very seriously. I will not sit back and just watch the wolves sneak in unnoticed.

Keep the conversation going, and know these are not "personal" attacks at you.

Jake said...

I don't think they are attacks on me, I appreciate how you're very fair about critiquing the idea without critiquing the person. I appreciate it greatly and I'm sure your other readers do as well. I hope I don't come across as either making personal attacks or taking things personally, because I do not mean to do either.

I was just asking for you to further explain your concerns w/ Burke and Kimball because you're honestly the first person I've come across to have reservations about those two (or at least what those two have written in this particular book). It's not that I necessarily disagree, I don't know enough about either to judge (although what little I've seen of Kimball, I really admire) and was curious at what your concerns were. It's true we'll probably disagree on how to handle it, but that's not a bad thing.

Thanks for continuing the conversation, I appreciate it.

Oh, and before I forget, I'm not saying I dislike any of those three guys, that'd be more arrogant than anything I can possibly imagine. All I was saying is that sometimes I feel like they (especially Driscoll and MacArthur) tend to be excessively harsh or use straw men to attack other views. That said, I love all three of them and I owe an enormous debt to Driscoll and Piper especially. What I said is not meant to put them or their ministries down, it's just an observation. I tremendously appreciate each of them and their god-honoring ministries in their cities. The questions I have are in no way due to their theology, but more in how we handle other theological views. I'm working on a blog post called Theology as Art that I'll hopefully be posting in the next week that explores some of these issues.

Seth McBee said...

I don't take any of your comments as personally attacking me. I think since have met each other and both had to wear "monkey suits" while watching a good friend get married, makes us both feel we can be more candid with each other. Which, by the way, I like.

thanks again for your comments and also for clarifying your concerns with Driscoll and MacArthur...

Related Posts with Thumbnails