Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Commentary on Two Items

1. Scot McKnight posted on 10 Reasons why Golf is better than soccer. If you ask me, that's like posting on 10 reasons why tofu makes for better dessert than does play-doh. In the end, neither one is satisfying. Or 10 reasons why a Honda SUV is better than a Chevy SUV. In the end, neither one is a Jeep. Or even 10 reasons why Country is better than Hip-Hop. In the end, they're still both irritating.

Because golf may be better than soccer, but in the end they're both still a waste of time. Want the "outdoor sporty experience" of golf, try going for a hike or bike ride. Want the team aspect of soccer? Baseball and football are much, much better, much more interesting to watch and/or play. There are a hundred things that would be a better use of your time than golf or soccer. So why does it matter which is better than the other?

And since that's my opinion, that makes it true.

2. On a more serious note, the Seattle papers were abuzz yesterday with the news that yet another Mars Hill campus opened this weekend - this time, across Lake Washington in Bellevue.

It's not really my goal in life to criticize Mars Hill Church - I know people whose lives have been dramatically turned around through the ministry of Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill. I know people who still attend Mars Hill, people who are faithful disciples of Jesus and seeking to serve him in the world.

And yet, every time I turn around, they seem to be making these statements that completely rub the wrong way (caveat: I guess there is always the possibility that the press is trying to present them in a poor light. . .).

So, for instance, the Seattle P-I interviewed Jesse Winkler, the 30-year-old pastor of the newest Mars Hill Campus. And I have to wonder, who is training these people?

Winkler: "As Christians, I think we tend to add churchy stuff to what Christianity is supposed to be like. We say Christians are supposed to look, talk, dress and eat and drink this way, and the Bible just doesn't have that stuff."

This argument has been around since, what, the 195os? At least since the early days of the Jesus Movement. Hasn't it already become somewhat stale? Who exactly is he talking about? What Christians (except for a very few) are actually telling others how to look, talk, dress and eat and drink certain ways? Who is he arguing against here? Or is there really no "who," and he's setting up a straw man in order to better market to young people who are always fighting against some supposed "the man" who's telling them how to behave?

(And, as a side note, the Bible actually DOES have a lot to say on how Christians ought to talk and dress and eat and drink.)

Winkler: "We (Mars Hill) keep a little bit of a raw edge to us. We keep it simple, without any human, man-made stuff. We're not the churchiest of folks. We're pretty big Bible people."

I have never, in my entire life, found a church that didn't have "any human, man-made stuff." If he were telling the truth, their women would wear coverings on their heads, their men would be greeting each other with holy kisses, they would encouraging all their people to seel everything so that poor people could eat, their worship songs would be nothing but Psalms. . .If they don't do all those things, then they are "theologizing" the biblical texts, which means they are adding "human stuff." We all add "human stuff." Because we're SUPPOSED to add "human stuff." God didn't give us a detailed playbook, he gave us a book that forces us to wrestle with it, with our "human stuff."

Winkler (when asked about Mars Hill's choice to limit leadership in the church to men): "We believe that's a role God has given to men. He's given roles for women in our church as well, but the office of "elder," we believe, is reserved for men -- for one reason or another. We'll find out (why) in eternity, I suppose."

I know, I know. It's tough to do deep theology when answering a reporter's questions. It's impossible to sum up the arguments for and against women in ministry in one pithy statement. But still. "We'll find out in eternity, I suppose?" That's supposed to convince people that our position is the correct one? It just sounds so. . .trite. It sounds so much like what Josh McDowell attacked in "Don't Check Your Brains At The Door."

It also goes back to that earler part, where Winkler said "We're pretty big Bible people." Because, if that were true, they'd be aware that even Paul commends women who are in leadership in the earliest church.

Now, to his credit, Winkler makes this comment, which is pretty powerful: "The thing that makes us successful is the power of God's word, which is the Bible. When we compromise on that, we do damage to what God wants us to do. The power of this church isn't us, it's God. We're really not driving this ship at all."

I'm saying "amen and amen." Right up to that last little sentence. I think I know what he means, but I'm also wary enough to recognize the possibility of a cop-out. It's too easy, when we're being challenged, to say "well, it's just God is all. Don't challenge me, I'm just doing what God says." Which, sometimes, really means "I have no good reason for doing what I'm doing, so blame God if you disagree." Which is a shallow answer, at best.

In the end, I want to see the Kingdom of God grow, and I want to see young leaders grow into mature leaders. I know people make mistakes and say silly things all the time, and it's not my place to sit over here and say "neener-neener" at them.

It's just that, there seems to be this trend over at Mars Hill of pastors who, while claiming to speak from a biblical point of view, instead seem to be clothing a worldly point-of-view in biblical language and calling it good. And that's not good.

Perhaps it's all just growing pains. It will be interesting to see what happens to a church that markets itself to 20-somethings ages, when all those 20-somethings are in their 40s and 50s. Will the language change? Will the "rebellious" passion remain? Or, 30 years from now, will they become the old fuddy duddies, being challenged by a "new" youth culture?

1 comment:

Lori said...

I so agree with you on the sports issue. Golf is good for inspiring a Sunday afternoon nap. I like to watch soccer live, but it really isn't a sport I enjoy nearly as much as baseball. It's all american. Right along with the peanuts, cracker jacks and the $9 dixie cup of beer or coke.