Mark Driscoll and the Regulative Principle

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John Carpenter

Puritan Board Freshman
There's no evidence that Driscoll doesn't fully hold to to the distinctions of the Persons in the Trinity or the full Divinity of each or the Unity of the Three. Personally, like you, I think he is wrong to reject the long-standing terminology of Nicea on "eternally begotten" and eternal procession. But since I'm Reformed and not Catholic (or Eastern Orthodox) what determines orthodoxy is not exactly repeating the formulas of the past but being faithful to the Biblical ideas. There are no grounds for suggesting that Driscoll's doctrine is not Biblically faithful, Trinitarian, historically orthodox, and Reformed.

Your statement sounds more Catholic than evangelical. Check that.
 

John Carpenter

Puritan Board Freshman
I've paid some attention to Driscoll's ministry and while I'm not uncritical, I think he is basically sound. I do not believe you can substantiate any of those sweeping accusations you've made.
 

MightyManfred

Puritan Board Freshman
Driscoll is "reformed" in the "soteriologically Calvinist" sense (and some would raise questions about even that) and that's about it. That's a legitimate use of the word, though.

To be Reformed, one must hold to the 5 solas. Being a Calvinist (which requires holding to all 5 points) does not make one Reformed. Driscoll is not a Calvinist - by his own mouth, he is a 4-pointer. One of the hallmarks of Reformed theology is the regulative principle of worship, which flows out of Sola Scriptura. One cannot legitimately claim to be Reformed if he is not holding to this principle.

I think one could just as easily contend that one cannot legitimately claim to be "reformed" without holding to paedobaptism, but I digress.

That's laughable, considering paedobaptism is construct of man and not found in Scripture. How can one hold to Sola Scriptura AND paedobaptism? The New Covenant corollary to the Old Covenant circumcision of the flesh is the circumcision of the heart, which is not made by human hands.
 

thbslawson

Puritan Board Freshman
Actually, since paedobaptism isn't mentioned in scripture one can legitimately argue that teaching it is a violation of Sola Scriptura and practicing it is a violation of the regulative principle; therefore, paedobaptism is inconsistent with being Reformed.

:deadhorse:And here we go...
 

Zach

Puritan Board Junior
Driscoll is "reformed" in the "soteriologically Calvinist" sense (and some would raise questions about even that) and that's about it. That's a legitimate use of the word, though.

To be Reformed, one must hold to the 5 solas. Being a Calvinist (which requires holding to all 5 points) does not make one Reformed. Driscoll is not a Calvinist - by his own mouth, he is a 4-pointer. One of the hallmarks of Reformed theology is the regulative principle of worship, which flows out of Sola Scriptura. One cannot legitimately claim to be Reformed if he is not holding to this principle.

I think one could just as easily contend that one cannot legitimately claim to be "reformed" without holding to paedobaptism, but I digress.

That's laughable, considering paedobaptism is construct of man and not found in Scripture. How can one hold to Sola Scriptura AND paedobaptism? The New Covenant corollary to the Old Covenant circumcision of the flesh is the circumcision of the heart, which is not made by human hands.

Actually, Driscoll holds to the 5 points, he only emphasizes the potential sufficiency of the death of Christ for all. I think he's wrong to do so but it doesn't disqualify him from being considered Reformed.
One could make a good case that since paedobaptism isn't taught or described in scripture that it is a violation of the regulative principle and therefore someone who practices it isn't really Reformed! :)

Both of you ignore the fact that the Trinity is not mentioned in Scripture. Is being Trinitarian a violation of the Regulative Principle and Sola Scriptura? Your logic is flawed and not only that but inconsistent with the Confession of Fatih:

WCF 1.6. The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man's salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men. Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word: and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Actually, since paedobaptism isn't mentioned in scripture one can legitimately argue that teaching it is a violation of Sola Scriptura and practicing it is a violation of the regulative principle; therefore, paedobaptism is inconsistent with being Reformed.
The Trinity isn't mentioned in Scripture, so by parity of reasoning is teaching it a violation of sola scriptura, and likewise a trinitarian shape of worship (by implication) a violation of the RPW?



Incidentally, the above comment re. "Reformed" in conjunction with paedo-baptism, is simply a reflection of the fact that the overwhelming consistent Reformed witness by dozens of Confessional statements (which is a churchly way of testifying to a common faith), from every country in Europe, over the 100+ year Reformation era, is prima facie evidence that p-b is part and parcel of the definition of Reformed.

Such was the poster's point, even if the concession is made that at the tail end of the era, an English Confession appeared that promoted most of the standard Reformed doctrines, with (at least) the noteworthy change on the subject of baptism. Few today make a serious effort to reserve the word "Reformed" in its historical sense (some are still jealous for it), where "Particular" or "Calvinistic" Baptist once did the descriptive duty for those who self-consciously rejected a distinctive mark of the historically Reformed.

Times change, and so does language. The 20th century was a time of building bridges all over the place, and looking for common ground. So, "Reformed" is now recognized to be a much broader term than it was even 50 years ago.
 

John Carpenter

Puritan Board Freshman
Hi Zach & Bruce,

The idea of the Trinity is taught in scripture. Teaching the Trinity is proper exegesis of numerous Biblical texts and so actually an out-come of Sola Scriptura. That's why I -- and notably Driscoll -- hold to it. I don't believe even the idea of paedobaptism is found in scripture. One can debate that but no one can debate that the practice of infant baptism isn't found explicitly in scripture. There isn't one explicit model of an infant baptism or an instruction given to do it. So if being "Reformed" is defined Biblically -- as being most faithful to scripture, as I think it should be -- then that most of the early proponents of the "Reformed faith" were paedobaptists only shows us that they were inconsistent with Sola Scriptura.

The strict definition of the regulative principle is that nothing ought to be introduced into the worship of God that is not found in scripture. Since infant baptism isn't found in scripture, then one could argue that doing it is a violation of the regulative principle.

But what I think is missing from the strict application of the RPW is the understanding that it is a "principle" and principles are abstract guidelines that can express themselves in many forms. The NT simply does not give us a detailed, specific order of service to follow. It gives us principles -- like "Spirit and truth", "decency and order", "for edification", "preach the Word", etc. --and only a few specific instructions, like "sing psalms . . .", "do this in remembrance of Me". How exactly those principles are expressed and the details included is a matter of wisdom and liberty. That's what I think should be understood as the "regulative principle".
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Zach - the Trinity is clearly revealed in Scripture, though the English word is not.

Next!
This response is, if possible, even less substantive than the original assertion. The naked assertion that "paedo-baptism" isn't discoverable in the pages of Scripture is the same form of argumentation.



John,
You do a little better job responding (and we really should avoid a thread-hijack), but your dismissal is precisely the point of disagreement between us. And therefore, it is the same form of argumentation that the Arians attempted. Let's argue these points elsewhere, and use strong arguments, not beggarly ones.
 

raekwon

Puritan Board Junior
So anyway, yeah... Driscoll isn't an RPW guy. He more closely aligns with the normative principle of worship. I listened to his sermons weekly back when that one came out and I remember, while it was reasonably argued, sharply disagreeing with it.
 

John Carpenter

Puritan Board Freshman
we really should avoid a thread-hijack),

but your dismissal is precisely the point of disagreement between us. And therefore, it is the same form of argumentation that the Arians attempted.

Hi, you're right we should avoid getting off-track. I brought up infant baptism because someone commented that being Reformed means X, Y, & Z and since Driscoll doesn't hold to X, Y, & Z therefore, he isn't Reformed. I used the same logic (and I think actually more soundly and consistently): being Reformed means holding to the Sola Scriptura and the Regulative Principle. Infant baptism isn't taught in scripture or shown to be practiced. Therefore, it isn't "Reformed". Shocking, I know, but probably fairer than the attacks on Driscoll I see that are unsubstantiated and common.

As for infant baptism, if you had a scripture to support it, then you would show it. But you can't. If someone asked me for scriptures on the Trinity, I could provide them right away, Mt. 28:18f comes to mind; John 1:1 on the divinity of the Son, etc.

But I accept that paedobaptists are Reformed and have been some of the greatest leaders, evangelists and theologians of the church. And so my basic point is that we should back of these excessively restrictive definitions of what it means to be "Reformed", including ones that exclude Driscoll.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
As for infant baptism, if you had a scripture to support it, then you would show it. But you can't.
Says you, just because you would disagree with my presentation of baptism from the Scriptures.

If someone asked me for scriptures on the Trinity, I could provide them right away, Mt. 28:18f comes to mind; John 1:1 on the divinity of the Son, etc.
Brother, you have to exegete Mt.28:18f and Jn.1:1, applying hermeneutics to them, to teach Trinitarian doctrine from them, and furthermore show that this is a doctrine that is derived from all over the place in Scripture (which is how p-bs who know their Bibles defend their doctrine of baptism).

So, please. Brother, let's drop the whole p-b discussion (here and now) WRT Driscoll's purported stances on points of orthodoxy. I'm not interested in trying to "fence" the title to "Reformed."
 

John Carpenter

Puritan Board Freshman
Do you understand why I brought infant baptism up? Some want to say that to be "Reformed" means Sola Scriptura (true) which means the Regulative Principle of Worship (depending on how it is understood) and since Driscoll doesn't repeat verbatim the traditional terms of Nicea or the "L" in TULIP and does that while dressed in a Mickey Mouse t-shirt, so he isn't "Reformed". But two can play that game! :)

While I think Driscoll's presentation on the principles of worship was fine and well-presented, what is missing is understanding that the Regulative Principle of Worship is a "principle" and principles are abstract guidelines that can express themselves in many forms. Of course, that is also missing from the strict Reformed expressions of the RPW that Driscoll is responding to and the proponents of which would often charge Driscoll with not being truly "Reformed" -- and throw in another few choice insults and sweeping accusations which they usually can't prove. I believe in the Regulative Principle of Worship. But it's just a principle. The NT simply does not give us a detailed, specific order of service to follow. It gives us principles -- like "Spirit and truth", "decency and order", "for edification", "preach the Word", etc. --and only a few specific instructions, like "sing psalms . . .", "do this in remembrance of Me". How exactly those principles are expressed and the details included is a matter of wisdom and liberty. That's what I think should be understood as the "regulative principle".
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
John,
I think I understand your point. And it's not my point.

The p-b issue was brought up by someone on "this side" of the fence. That was an unfortunate distraction. It was doubly unfortunate that the comment wasn't left to die a lonely death.

What it precipitated is a side discussion on what it means to be "Reformed," and in the general context of the thread, what "Reformed" means is something that some wish to reduce to a single issue, or two, or 5-Points, etc. On this Board, however, "Reformed" is the totality that the church confesses corporately to be biblical doctrine. The biggest "sticking point" on that subject is (maybe) Baptism, because in fact we aren't all of us in Confessional agreement on that subject--because the Confessions differ; that is, one of them differs from the rest of them. But we've agreed to admit that difference, and even argue over it between ourselves.

The issue is complicated by the fact that "Reformed" is an historical distinction (current for several centuries until only about 50 years ago). And with "the right administration of the sacraments" being one of the cardinal Marks of a true church, the doctrine of baptism was not a minor point of definition for all those centuries. Some definitions die hard.

So, in the context of this thread, you have at a critical juncture appropriated the adjective "Reformed," made it applicable exclusively to an ad hoc, truncated definition of the term, and then cut out the historic owners of that term on the basis that they don't deserve it, while keeping yourself included. But clearly, the basis for the claim (as you represented it) is entirely open to severe criticism on your own terms. The riposte WRT the Trinity and Arianism was an accurate read of the weakness in the form of argument.

But to come back around, Driscoll is not an adherent to a Confession that establishes the boundaries and the content of what defines "Reformed." When he reduces what is needful to being "Reformed" to only what he thinks is OK, so as to define himself within that precious moniker, he's asserting a claim to decide what puts him in or out of the club he (apparently) wants sometimes to be in known association with. That is a stance itself open to just opposition, by the hitherto established "owners" of the title.

Do you understand my point?
 

davenporter

Puritan Board Freshman
You've accused a pastor of serious sin ("a serious pride problem") and doctrinal error ("some dangerous teachings"). Either document how you know those statements to be true or simply don't make them. If you have problems with particular teachings and practices, name them and deal with them specifically. Throwing around such broad accusations without substantiation is inappropriate.

Driscoll admitted the pride problem himself.
Driscoll’s Confession on Pride – Justin Taylor

Doctrinal error - he considers himself a 4.5 point Calvinist, thereby rejecting Limited Atonement. If you want more, just watch his Song of Songs sermon series and TELL ME that there are no dangerous teachings there.

Also, tell me that 4.5 points "limited atonement and unlimited atonement at the same time" isn't contradictory and is Reformed. If he really believed in limited atonement, he would call himself a 5-pointer! So he must not be talking about sufficiency and efficiency!

I didn't even know about the Trinity stuff, but apparently there's even more "dangerous teaching" than I knew about! And, oh yes, his charismaticism and continuing revelation. That's also dangerous teaching. And we don't even need to go into his ecclesiology.

Actually, since paedobaptism isn't mentioned in scripture one can legitimately argue that teaching it is a violation of Sola Scriptura and practicing it is a violation of the regulative principle; therefore, paedobaptism is inconsistent with being Reformed.

That's like saying since the Trinity isn't mentioned in Scripture one can legitimately argue that teaching it is a violation of Sola Scriptura and practicing it is a violation of the regulative principle; therefore, the Trinity is inconsistent with being Reformed. (Oh, whoops -- Zach beat me to it... but I typed this post as I read)

Edit:
And now, having read the second page:

I understand your argument over infant baptism. Unfortunately, it doesn't apply. When I said Driscoll isn't Reformed in any sense of the word, I was referring (obviously) to more than just the fact that he's not confessional, specifically that he is not Calvinistic. Maybe eventually the usage of the term will become SO BROAD that it will refer to someone even TRYING to be Biblical, but we're not there yet.

Typically, Reformed is used to refer to someone who is AT LEAST Calvinistic. Calvinism seems to be the lowest bar for "Reformed" -- and Driscoll himself has admitted (like I said) that he is a 4.5 pointer, thus missing even the lowest bar for "Reformed". Maybe he doesn't miss it by much, but by his own statement (4.5), he does.

Not that the Reformed or not thing even matters -- it's whether Driscoll is dangerous or not. And I think he is!! But I don't think he is trying to be, and I try to assume the best of people unless I have good reason to do otherwise. I think his motives may be good but his actions and teachings aren't.
 
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JP Wallace

Puritan Board Sophomore
I believe in the Regulative Principle of Worship. But it's just a principle. The NT simply does not give us a detailed, specific order of service to follow. It gives us principles -- like "Spirit and truth", "decency and order", "for edification", "preach the Word", etc. --and only a few specific instructions, like "sing psalms . . .", "do this in remembrance of Me". How exactly those principles are expressed and the details included is a matter of wisdom and liberty. That's what I think should be understood as the "regulative principle".

So back to the subject. The Regulative Principle is a principle, and to that extent it is abstract, but you seem to be presenting it as principle of regulation which has few regulations, it proposes only very general principles such as in Spirit and Truth etc. Is that in keeping with spirit of the RP itself? Does the RPW not actually teach us that we are restricted in what we do in worship and what we ought not to do in worship, i.e is the RPW not as much about what we do and not merely how we do it?

I've not read enough from you to know your position on these matters, there are plenty today in RB circles who agree with John Frame who proposes what in essense is a regulative princple without any regulation - this seems a far cry from the spirit and intention of the Confessions;

BCF 22:1
But the acceptable way of Worshipping the true God, is instituted by himself; and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be Worshipped according to the imaginations, and devices of Men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representations, or any other way, not prescribed in the Holy Scriptures.
 

rbcbob

Puritan Board Graduate
Actually, since paedobaptism isn't mentioned in scripture one can legitimately argue that teaching it is a violation of Sola Scriptura and practicing it is a violation of the regulative principle; therefore, paedobaptism is inconsistent with being Reformed.

Mr. Carpenter, you have made quite the entrance with your posts. You will find that the PB is a large and diverse family consisting of paedobaptist and credobaptist alike. We generally strive to be gracious to one another and not refuel arguments which have been debated here ad nausium. There are highly trained ministers as well as simple pastors like myself and a host of regular church members besides.

If you would allow me I would counsel you to read many more posts (current and archived) in relation to those you submit until you gain a sense of how you might best profit from as well as be a profit to the folks here.

Peace,
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Folks, keep to the topic of this thread. Take the baptism question to another thread at an appropriate time.
 

John Carpenter

Puritan Board Freshman
Hi,

It takes some humility to admit pride, especially as it is a common problem, the root of sin itself. It's an excellent, mature statement that he posted. You may want to learn from his model.

Your characterization of his take on "Limited Atonement" ("Unlimited Limited Atonement") is too severe. He is simply trying to emphasize that the death of Christ is potentially sufficient for all, following Dr. Bruce Ware, a fine theologian. To call that "doctrinal error" is itself excessive. I think fudging on "Limited Atonement" is unnecessary and confused but there have been many Calvinists who do the same: emphasize the sufficiency of the death of Christ for all while admitting its efficiency for only the elect.

There is no proven problem with his doctrine of the Trinity and you appear to have exposed a problem with jumping to conclusions based on limited or misinformation; it belies your claim that you tend to think the best of people. Further, your sweeping statement that Driscoll is dangerous is frankly wrong. What is dangerous is the attitude that it's acceptable to make unsubstantiated, sweeping condemnations of Christian leaders. It's simply inappropriate to spread sweeping, unsubstantiated false or incomplete accusations at people. I realize that some people think that it is open season on Mark Driscoll and that apparently the 9th commandment doesn't apply when speaking about him. I know it is commonly accepted in our American culture to speak like that of prominent people. But our culture is anti-Christian in that regard.

The excellent statement of this Board on the 9th commandment states: "We begin with the basic principle that we ought to protect our neighbor’s good name. In applying this principle, we must not prejudice the minds of our brethren against others in such a way that would lead to the defamation of our neighbor’s good name." Mark Driscoll is our neighbor. We have a duty to uphold his good name from false accusations. If he teaches something we disagree with, we can challenge, correct and expose the problems with the specific teaching. If that false teaching goes so far as to be what the church has considered heresy, then we have a right to expose that too and warn others of the danger. But to make the kinds of broad condemnations, without specific evidence of real false teaching, is a violation of the commandment.
 
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John Carpenter

Puritan Board Freshman
Hi Pastor Paul,

I believe in the regulative principle, that scripture must guide and guard our worship assemblies. But having said that, we have to be honest about exactly the regulations scripture contains for our worship, which in fact is very few. Most of what scripture contains is general principles that can express themselves in a variety of forms. There just isn't a detailed order of service, a formal liturgy, specified in the New Testament. If there were, the regulative principle would require us to follow it exactly. But there isn't. When the NT does tell us to do something specifically, like sing Psalms (Col. 3:16), I believe we must follow. Hence, in our church, we make sure to sing a psalm every service. But it doesn't tell me how often to have the Lord's Supper, whether to sing only old hymns or contemporary songs, what version to use, how to take up the offering, the time of service, what direction to face, etc. As above, the principles of scripture that regulate use are usually general, like: "Spirit and truth", "decency and order", "for edification", "preach the Word". The statement you quote, from BCF 22:1, is fine and right. But when we actually open up scripture to see what God instituted Himself for the church, we mostly find general principles, not specific liturgies. So someone like Driscoll shouldn't be faulted for not slavishly following a traditional order of service or toeing the line of a "regulative principle" that doesn't take the actual content of the NT into account.
 

John Carpenter

Puritan Board Freshman
I'll repeat what I posted above:
The excellent statement of this Board on the 9th commandment states: "We begin with the basic principle that we ought to protect our neighbor’s good name. In applying this principle, we must not prejudice the minds of our brethren against others in such a way that would lead to the defamation of our neighbor’s good name." Mark Driscoll is our neighbor. We have a duty to uphold his good name from false accusations. If he teaches something we disagree with, we can challenge, correct and expose the problems with the specific teaching. If that false teaching goes so far as to be what the church has considered heresy, then we have a right to expose that too and warn others of the danger. But to make the kinds of broad condemnations, without specific evidence of real false teaching, is a violation of the commandment.
 

thbslawson

Puritan Board Freshman

:ditto:

Simply searching the PB or teampyro for "driscoll" is enough to induce true nausea. :deadhorse:

You know, I'm not a sold-out "Driscoll fan". I really like most of what he says, and there are things that I have problems with, but at the end of the day he's a brother in Christ, and I do believe he's sincerely doing the Lord's work. I'm friends with an older mentor friend of Mark's and he commented once that "The internet will not let Mark grow up." The facts are that, while he still says some things and has some methodologies that I don't particularly agree with, that he's matured significantly since the early days of his ministry, yet many do not want to acknowledge this. I know for a fact that he has older, wiser, more mature Christians who counsel and mentor him. He asks for and submits to this.

Regarding Team Pyro, it's no secret that Phil Johnson and the gang are not Driscoll fans. I only wish they spoke of him with the same level of respect that he speaks of MacArthur and GTY. Better to pray for the man that God would continue to mature him and bless his ministry.
 

J. Dean

Puritan Board Junior
So, I listened to his sermon on the Regulative principle found here :Regulative Principle | Mars Hill Church . Unfortunately this only served to confuse me. Driscoll claims to be reformed, but I thought part of being reformed was acceptance of the regulative principle. Also, what about things like announcements? I assume that they would fall under things that we can infer from Scripture, but what in the Bible would illustrate that?

Thanks
While I admit to having questions about aspects of RPW, I wouldn't use Driscoll as a foil for measuring RPW critiques.
 

John Carpenter

Puritan Board Freshman
Yes, I read it and commented on it, concluding that there is nothing there. It appears to be saying that Driscoll is sort of doing something that Shedd said was a problem (abstractly). It appears to be purely inferential.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I'll repeat what I posted above:
The excellent statement of this Board on the 9th commandment states: "We begin with the basic principle that we ought to protect our neighbor’s good name. In applying this principle, we must not prejudice the minds of our brethren against others in such a way that would lead to the defamation of our neighbor’s good name." Mark Driscoll is our neighbor. We have a duty to uphold his good name from false accusations. If he teaches something we disagree with, we can challenge, correct and expose the problems with the specific teaching. If that false teaching goes so far as to be what the church has considered heresy, then we have a right to expose that too and warn others of the danger. But to make the kinds of broad condemnations, without specific evidence of real false teaching, is a violation of the commandment.

I notice that you have only recently joined the board. Before assuming the privilege of interpreting and applying the rules for the good management of the board, perhaps it would be the safest and best course if you took some time to settle in and see how the board works. There is such a thing as "general consensus." Discussion boards regularly depend upon it. Previous discussions have tended to establish it. It might be worth your while to look at previous threads (which can easily be accessed through the search function) in order to discern whether or not a proper course has been taken in evaluating the teaching of Mark Driscoll. Your criteria for evaluating his teaching according to the ninth commandment is commendable, but your accusation of "broad condemnation" merely recoils upon yourself if you have not examined what has already been established in previous threads.
 
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