Phil Johnson has replied here, mostly to Doug Wilson’s post but mentions me as well at a couple of points, so I’ll throw out a few other comments for whatever it’s worth.
First off, Doug’s follow up post here is really helpful in defining the issues and terms, and I’m in full agreement with it. And I would only reiterate what Doug mentioned in his earlier post that these principles ought to be the ground work for further discussion on what the Westminster Confession calls “private spirits” and what Driscoll calls the “gift of discernment.” Our common commitment to the finished and final authority of Scripture should give us the common ground to be able to have a conversation about what Driscoll talks about. And there are numerous indicators that Driscoll really is committed to the authority of Scripture, so it’s not like trying to find common ground for a conversation about fiscal responsibility with a congressman.
But here are my two bits: A large part of my concern in all this is to uphold biblical standards of justice. The Bible says that an accusation should not be brought against an elder except by the mouths of two or three witnesses (1 Tim. 5:19). This is the New Testament reaffirmation of the Old Testament principle of justice still enshrined in our American law code: the accused are to be regarded as innocent until proven guilty (cf. Dt. 17:6, 19:15, Mt. 18:16, 2 Cor. 13:1, Heb. 10:28).
This means God requires His people to take extreme precautions to protect those who are accused.
It’s not enough to have two or three people exclaiming, “Holy Smokes! Did you hear what Driscoll said?!” “I know I can’t believe it!” “Sweet Fancy Moses!” They can’t just convene a heresy trial on the spot and convict him in the comments of a blog post. And to be clear, I’m not suggesting that anyone seriously was considering that. But some of the rhetoric can get pretty piping hot, and it’s not so clear to all bystanders/readers exactly what people mean.
It’s not enough for a guy to say, “I’m a witness.” Terms need to be defined, witnesses need to be cross examined, testimonies compared, etc., before judgment is rendered. Now, hear me clearly: I’m not saying that a pastor or elder can’t stand up and wave the warning flag and sound the red alert on somebody that has all the makings of a huckster and a conman. Shepherds need to protect their sheep, but lobbing H – bombs off your blog’s balcony can be just as injudicious as Driscoll claiming that Jesus told him something – as though he were St. Paul’s hipster clone or something.
For instance, I thought there was a helpful back and forth, a little Q and A in the comments of Doug’s previous post regarding what exactly qualifies as “pornographic.” Is it pornographic for Ezekiel to spout his obscenities? I would argue that Ezekiel is being obscene, but that his obscenity is clearly in the service of doing a demo job on Israelite unfaithfulness and therefore not pornographic, not guilty of the sin of porneas, sexual immorality. This would be in the same category as Paul’s wish that the Galatian Judiazers would get out their machetes and just finish off the deed already (Gal. 5:12). The same Paul who condemned coarse jesting and filthy speech could stoop to bit of holy doggerel on occasion, as could his Master as well (e.g. Mt. 23).
Someone in the comments said it would be sinful (i.e. pornographic) for a man to see another man’s wife or daughter uncovered, even if the man had enough spiritual fortitude to be unmoved toward any indecency. And I would ordinarily heartily concur. Three cheers for fidelity and modesty. But does this condemn every Christian male OBGYN who regularly finds himself viewing the “nakedness” of women who are not his wife or daughter? I hope not, else the gestations and births of my four children have been the occasions of great evil. Seems to me that the “uncovering of nakedeness” that is expressly forbidden in the Scriptures is for the purpose of sexual immorality. There may be tons of wisdom (and surely is) in avoiding exposure to certain kinds of images and circumstances, and I certainly wouldn’t encourage every young man I know to pursue a calling in women’s health. Likewise, if someone sends me pictures of his wife caught in the act of adultery, there are good reasons to use extreme caution, avoiding the need to view any of them. My guess is that police officers, detectives, emergency response personnel, etc. undoubtedly find themselves in contact with images (live or recorded) that could undoubtedly be occasions for sin. But those occasions are not necessarily “pornographic” (i.e. sexually immoral) merely based on the fact of nakedness.
Again, the point here isn’t to exonerate Driscoll as I though I don’t think there could be improvements in his presentation of this stuff. But it is to defend him from the accusations of blatant sin, which I take the adjective “pornographic” to necessarily imply. Unwise or unclear on certain counts? Sure. Sin? I didn’t hear anything that required that conclusion. Could there be sin in his words/actions/thoughts? Of course, it’s possible, but according to Biblical standards of justice, you can’t convict a guy simply because you strongly suspect him.
Along the same lines, I think the term “divination” could use some tightening up. Divination is a pretty serious charge, one which according to Old Testament law required the death penalty. The most I think anyone could really accuse Driscoll of is being muddled, and I would love to see him interact with Doug’s theses in particular. By Driscoll’s own account, he isn’t always 100% right which means he can’t be claiming to be a “prophet” according to the standards of Dt. 18. At the same time, the point I made several times in my previous post is that Driscoll seems to clearly appreciate the need for accountability and witnesses and therefore seeks it out which is consistent with the spirit of biblical justice for this sort of thing. At the same time, just because you doubt that Driscoll has real accountability from other elders and pastors is not sufficient grounds for accusing a minister of being a false prophet. The standard by which you judge is the standard by which you will be judged (Mt. 7:2).
Speaking of which, what I want to know is why to this point no one has pointed out the most distressing part of that Driscoll clip that Phil Johnson posted. Was no one as completely distracted by the Micky Mouse t-shirt as I was? I would never wear anything so ridiculous….