Real Marriage And Fairy Tales

My wife and I are reading “Real Marriage” by Mark and Grace Driscoll. We are only through the first two chapters and it has been a delightful experience thus far. I know there are many negative opinions and reviews regarding the work (I’ve read a few myself), but I have decided to reserve mine until I have read the book in full.

Also, I’d like to share a vid by Jefferson Bethke, the viral spoken word rock star who started an e-fire with “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus.” He actually has stated publicly that he wishes he would have tightened his language and theology down before airing that vid. As has been pointed out, Jesus didn’t hate all forms of “religion” and actually partook in “religious” acts while living on earth (going to the temple, enjoying the feasts, instituting the Lord’s Supper).  Bethke seems like a genuinely humble, God-loving bloke.

This vid on relationships and sex is stellar, and touches on what much of the “Real Marriage” book is about (Bethke goes to Driscoll’s church, Mars Hill):

If you’re married I hope you make Ephesians 5:25-32 the heart’s cry of your marriage. If you’re single don’t go chasing a Hagar in haste, God’s got every provision under control. And just maybe, you should read this: “Why You Should (Maybe) Stay Single.”

Bryan Daniels

Man Crush Confession #2: John Piper

{This is a blog series coined “Man Crush Confession.” To access my first “man crush” post go here. Please don’t be offended by my tongue in cheek use of “crush.” It is strictly an homage to a godly influence in my life}

I sat in an open cattle field in central Texas with 40,000 other young adults, fasting for the day and pledging Isaiah 26:8 as our life vision and passion. The year was 2003.

An older man, on the back-end of his fifties and sporting glasses, took the stage. He opened his bible and commenced to lay out the greatness of the person of Jesus Christ as revealed in Scripture. Every word dripped with blood-earnest weight, every truth was exposited in humble boldness. I had never heard preaching quite like that before. He cast a biblical vision of the holiness of God in Jesus Christ that shook me for days after. As a freshmen college student, with nothing more than unguided fervor for my young faith, I was immediately hooked.

There were plenty of other great messages and messengers at that event. But for that particular sermon my thirsty soul felt like it was drinking from a fire hydrant. He offered free copies of his new book “Don’t Waste Your Life” to all in attendance. After I received my copy in the mail I devoured it 3-4 times and was convicted and encouraged by its radical call to know Christ and make Him known more.

More Than Just Tulips

To my surprise, shortly after this, I found out the speaker, John Piper, was a Calvinist (dum da dum dum!). This perturbed me a little because the only Calvinists I knew personally were a bit contentious and parochial about what mattered in the gospel. Every seemingly harmless conversation with them circled back to the topic of predestination. But Piper was different for me. And through reading his books and using his excellent websource, DesiringGod.org, a world much bigger than five points was opened up to me. The writings of dead guys like Johnathan Edwards, George Mueller, John Owen, and Augustine became a vast plateau of gems spread about a rich church

Not West-side fool. "Westminster!"

history I had never cared to discover. And of course all these dead guys pointed back to the inspired text that revealed the Living Word, Jesus, in a fresh and glorious light.

I was passionate about the gospel before, but my understanding lacked theological and historical depth. There was a host of saints, reformers, ministers, and revivalists who had trod the hard gospel road long before me. They had found their satisfaction and delight in the glory of God as revealed in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and that was more than enough for them (2 Cor 4:4, 6). I came to a greater appreciation of the denominational stream I was born into (Baptist); and I also discovered a newfound respect for other streams that converged at the same wonderous cross.

God used a little professor from Minneapolis to help open the wide door of Christian heritage to me.

These revelations began a massive paradigm shift within me: The gospel of Jesus Christ doesn’t make much of me. The gospel of Jesus Christ makes much of God. The center of the world is not man and his worth. The center of the world is God and His glory. Piper’s missions manifesto “Let the Nations Be Glad” should be a required read for the missions and evangelistically minded. If you doubt a Calvinist can exalt in God’s sovereignty while simultaneously being sold out to the Great Commission then I highly recommend it. Piper has a solid range of works, from the devotional “Fifty Reasons Jesus Came To Die,” to the scholarly “Justification of God.” The 23% I understood of the latter book helped tie down some loose ends in my thinking about Romans 9 and Predestination (which became a four part blog series).

Your Fav Podcast Pastor Doesn’t Know You

Piper has his faults. He has annoyed many in his own camp with his close associations with Rick Warren or Mark Driscoll. He has annoyed many outside of his camp with his interpretation of biblical masculinity and femininity. But for my readership who don’t know me personally, I am coming clean to you right now about my bromance with John Piper. I’ve never met him but His ministry of the Word has reached me many times when I needed biblical encouragement, conviction, or sometimes just a swift kick in my spiritual butt.

I know there is an unhealthy pedestal e-pastors may be put on in this fast paced information age. So I better stop now before I begin to gush (that would be awkward for everyone). I do want my readers to know how much I appreciate the countless unknown shepherds who tend their small flocks well in relative obscurity. I encourage everyone reading to pray continually for and be complimentary of the man God has entrusted to them to be their pastor. We’re subject to real local elders (Heb 13:17), not rock star international conference speakers.

With that said, I’d like to hear who your longtime Man Crush Confession or secret Bromance may be (I won’t judge, promise : ))

What post-biblical era leader, living or dead, has impacted your life in Christ in a positive permanent way?

Bryan Daniels

And just for kicks:

Massaging Elephants In The Elephant Room

So many people have said what I am about to say so much more thoroughly and clearly. But I just wanted to share four quick observations after reading the manuscripts of  Elephant Room 2. I’m a Johnny-come-lately to the ER2 blog party, partly because I wanted to glean as much info as possible before coming to any conclusions about the parties involved.

I say this as someone who has been impacted greatly by the Walk in the Word radio ministry of James MacDonald. When I was a construction driver for a year I always would look forward to MacDonald’s refreshingly bold expository sermons during the afternoon time slot. They would break up the monotony of Christian-y peptalks and belligerent conservative pundits the air was typically filled with. You can only hear Sean Hannity spew the talking points he stole from Rush Limbaugh so many times before it gets old. I have nothing but respect for James MacDonald and his ministry.

With that in mind, here are four brief observations about ER2 and some of the recent online reactions to it:

TD Jakes Is A Trinitarian And A Modalist?

I still don’t know if TD Jakes is orthodox on the subject of the Trinity. He seems like an amicable guy who was game for the ER2 experience, and as was pointed out, he didn’t have to accept the invitation there. But based on the discussion in question he could be an excellent politician/lawyer/debater in his own right simply because he is masterfully adept at saying much of nothing in a very eloquent manner. At the beginning of the ER2 discussion Jakes initially affirmed the historical biblical understanding of the Trinity, did some fine hermeneutic gymnastics, and then flipped back to modalist language at the closing comments. In the end, he deconstructed the topic so much he was able to practically say (as orthodox pastors nodded approvingly): “Shucks! We’re all just trying to explain the same mystery!” Was it a clear affirmation, a movement towards orthodoxy, or just a play at shady syncretism? I really don’t know. In that regard, I feel ER2 didn’t satisfy the most basic tenet of biblical Christianity: The triune nature of God. Given some of the clear theological minds that were present, that is both unfortunate and a little shocking.

Get off Mark Driscoll’s hairy back

Watchbloggers have jumped on Driscoll like a tick on an inner thigh because of his “association” with the Jakes in the Elephant Room. I watched a closing EP2 video with James MacDonald and a couple notable black pastors summarizing the event. In retrospect, what was most interesting to me is that MacDonald didn’t seem to know, suggest, or really even want Driscoll to bring up the topic of Trinity to Jakes. I am quite certain the topic would have never even been brushed if Driscoll didn’t have the backbone to actually point out the biggest elephant of heresy in the whole room (Jake’s Modalism)…Do you really think Steve Furtick would have broached the subject? Right after Driscoll’s questioning MacDonald almost apologizes on his behalf, gushing over Jakes fruitfulness, stature, and humility to subject himself to such interrogation. Fist bump or not, at least Driscoll brought it up.

Blinded To The Word-Faith Elephant

The other major elephant left unscathed at EP2 was the Word of Faith/prosperity gospel Jakes has propagated numerous times in his preaching ministry. MacDonald assures us it was addressed privately in some back room at some point and Jake’s categorically denied it then and there. That’s nice to know, but most pastors of the Word Faith ilk have shunned the “prosperity gospel” label for some time now (just as new Southern Baptist church plants omit “Baptist” in the title and are named after a body of water or direction instead). Positive confessionism and name-it claim-it type “destiny” preaching is just new lipstick on an old pig (prosperity gospel). Yet again, not a peep or query about it during EP2 from the Evangelical leaders who have been very passionate and bold about preaching the gospel of a bloody Savior, and not a shiny Sedan.

What’s Race Got To Do With It?

Pastor Crawford Loritts pulled the race card pretty quickly after ER2 on all who would question Jakes and his liberal use of false doctrine. Black evangelical leaders who defended orthodoxy were just “jealous” of the mega-church pastor’s success (bet you won’t say that to Voddie Baucham’s face :0), and white leaders needed to be “careful” because they were, well, white afterall. I don’t know how race is relevant to the orthodoxy of a pastor, but it seems we still have a long way to go in race relations when theological discussions turn into race baiting for no good reason whatsoever. As of me writing this, Jakes’ Statement of Faith on his church website still affirms modalistic language. If that is not important enough to confront someone about then the contemporary American church really does know nothing of Scripture, the nature of God, or church history. Getting the nature of God right has eternal implications. Heresy cannot be winked at. The red herring of race has nothing to do with it.

Any thoughts from my dear readers? I’d like to know what you think of the recent turn of events in the Elephant Room 2, the Gospel Coalition, and evangelicalism at large.

Bryan Daniels

Get off Facebook! BE A MAN!

Paul Washer is one of my favorite voices in the recent Reformed movement. He’s passionate, radical, sometimes abrasive and frequently offends his audience…probably just as a forerunner to the Bridegroom should do (just look at that rough and tumble wild man John the Baptist!) A healthy 1/3 of the sermons on my IPod are from Paul Washer with Piper, Chandler and Driscoll compiling the rest.

I know it seems hypocritical and a bit ironic to post a video rant about Facebook on a blog, especially when it is likely this will be shared via Facebook. There is more here than just an epic rant I assure you. Biblical manhood is Washer’s main focus, and I believe FB and the social media craze in general has an unhealthy grip on both young men and women. A majority of women age 18-35 check their facebook account’s in the morning before they even pee. That’s some news, folks. I share a generation that values a self-indulgent stalker tool over the basic essential bodily functions and needs.

I probably already have YOU!

Though there is much to lament about our societal fixation with the trivial (Trolololo Man, I regret to indict you), I know the Holy Spirit has the power to break through the self-inflicted distractions of our lives. I hope Washer’s message doesn’t fall on deaf ears. Godly men will not be found until grown boys repent of their wayward consumption of entertainment and social media.

And I’ll admit, I should be the first one in that line.

Bryan Daniels