Saturday, November 14, 2009

Religion Saves - part 1 of 2

I have been listening to a series of talks recently - Religion Saves and 9 other misconceptions, by Mark Driscoll from Mars Hill, Seattle. I know there are some major fans of Driscoll out there, however this has been the first time I have heard any of his sermons. I have found them thought provoking and generally quite helpful.

He addresses 9 major questions, which were determined from online surveys and responses. Each sermons deals with one issue. I am not going to go through them in depth (mainly because I did not take detailed notes, as they were my exercise listening material!), but I will just give a summary of each, to see if you might also be interested in listening to them.

I know that Driscoll uses humour somewhat harshly, and can be quite overt in his preaching style and therefore sometimes he can offend. However, even so, I find his exegesis is usually pretty good and when it is appropriate to be serious, he certainly is.

Talk 1: Birth Control - I found this talk extremely helpful. He started by outlining ~16 principles of family, life and children from the bible. Then he scaled the types of birth control from 1 (nothing) to 5 (abortion and abortive methods). I found it well balanced, educational and biblical. I have written about contraception before, and this helped me to think again about the issues - how we should view pregnancy and life and the contraceptive methods which are appropriate, inappropriate and which are grey areas which mean that you need to be well informed.

Talk 2: Humour - This one appealed to me less, and in this one I thought his exegesis was questionable in several areas. (eg. Jesus named Peter 'Rock' like 'Rocky' making fun of him, because he was so weak, and unlike a rock. I disagree, for while Peter struggled to even own Jesus during his trial, the resurrection transformed him and in Acts, Peter is instrumental in the early church). He seemed to be trying to find jokes in the bible to suit his purpose. Now, I fully agree that there is humour, satire and irony in the bible and that Jesus used irony often in his parables and stories about the Pharisees. However, it doesn't seem to be to 'get a laugh' but to point out the sad misconceptions and mis-interpretations that 'religious people' had.

He does say that we should never mock God, never mock those who are godly and never mock our spouses, children or mothers. Those who were most open, in his opinion, to mocking were ourselves, which is very true - we should not take ourselves too seriously, and also religious people, who take themselves too seriously.

I didn't like the use of 'mock'. Mocking seems to imply an unkind element. The whole sermon, while having some very good points still sat a little uncomfortably with me. It seemed like the whole thing was designed to justify his own stance and the way he preaches. Having said that though, he earnestly apologised for anyone who he may have offended or sinned against, while at the same time urging them to honestly think about why they were offended (ie. was he right and therefore it was too personal?)

Talk 3: Predestination - started with the history of various views including Augustine, Calvin and Arminius. This helped to set up where he stands on this issue - Jesus died for all to be saved, and God saves those he has elected. I found this talk informative and helpful. He uses an extremely powerful illustration at the end to show how predestination is the act of a loving Father. It did not answer all questions someone would have about predestination, but really could anyone? He only touched on the impact this doctrine can have on our view of evangelism, but helpfully used Paul as an illustration - eg. he firmly believed in predestination, having seen it in action in his own life, and he was a committed evangelist.

Talk 4: Grace - this was great. Contrasting with a few of the previous talks, where he shouted a lot, this one was very gentle and therefore much easier to listen to. He talked about both common grace (the grace God shows to all humanity) and saving grace (the grace which believers experience). He had about 15 types of saving grace that God bestows on his believers, including electing grace, sanctifying grace, transforming grace and preached grace. I liked this one.

Talk 5 - Sex (sexual immorality). This sermon even started with a warning about its explicit nature! He starts by talking about how much sex has saturated society, to the point where sex is like a major religion, with its own adherents. It is idolatry which has taken over much of the world. Most of his application was related to how sex is idolatry, and we need to worshipping God and him alone, rather than any idol that the world offers. (I did disagree with his exegesis of the 'gift of singleness' in this talk)

One point that was excellent was that, for those who are married, our standard of beauty should be our spouse and nothing else. So when your wife is 20, that is your standard of beauty. When your wife is 40, that is your standard of beauty, as it is when she is 60 and 80, etc. Obviously the same applies in reverse and the way my husband looks now is my standard of beauty/handsomeness.

I'll get to the other 4 in the next few weeks, once I have listened to them!

I just discovered that Driscoll has recently turned this sermon series into a book, which I saw on the Koorong website.

1 comment:

Philippa said...

I have enjoyed listened to these talks this year (while washing up!). I agree that the humour one was less appealing. From memory I thought that there must be some American cultural element to it that I didn't understand, maybe that explained the rational behind his sermon?