I didn’t think it could be done, but Jonathan Merritt pulled it off: he managed to channel Ken Silva and Rachel Held Evans in the same post.
Apparently, it’s been too long since Mark Driscoll was given a sound thrashing on the internet, so Merritt took it upon himself to do so on Wednesday. Like Silva, his post is drowning in links to allegedly prove his “point”. Also like Silva, many of the links are about incidents so old, they have sprouted penicillin. He even references the “cussing pastor” nickname from a book that’s over a decade old. (To his credit, Merritt did differ from Silva in one part — all of his links go to other people’s sites.)
The age of the issues is what’s incredible, and frankly, beneath a man of Merritt’s intelligence. It implies — nay, screams — that any example from any point in Driscoll’s life is entirely representative of where he is right now. Sure, Merritt throws him a frickin’ bone near the end of the post by saying, “I hope that Driscoll is having a change of heart…”, but (when it isn’t smacking of faux piety) even that implies that there hasn’t been any change yet.
Such a charge is patently ridiculous for anyone who even casually follows Driscoll, let alone someone who is going to take it upon himself to write authoritatively on him. The reasons why this is ridiculous are legion, but I’ll name just one biggie: if Driscoll hadn’t changed by now, even for all his patience, John Piper (who has taken Mark to the woodshed a couple times) would have totally given up on him by now.
Then there’s the flip side. Uncannily like Evans (so much so, that halfway through the post, I went back to the top to see if I had read the byline incorrectly), Merritt completely conflates Driscoll’s methodology with his theology, telling us that Driscoll has offended this or that group, never conceding that it might just be that what Driscoll believes might be offensive — let alone that it might actually (gasp) be right.
Now does Driscoll’s methodology leave something to be desired? Sure. Sometimes it has been flat-out embarrassing, even to people who are on his side. But I am reminded of Peter, whose methodology and theology both sucked for quite a while. I’d give anything to have just a nickel for every time Peter acted like a pompous ass during the 48 hours leading up to the crucifixion alone: telling Jesus not to wash his (Peter’s) feet, saying he’d never leave His side, yanking out his sword and whacking off Malchus’ ear — and we still haven’t even gotten to the three-time denial yet. Even after Pentecost, Peter was still popping off with (what Michael Card has noted is) the ultimate oxymoron: “No, Lord” (Acts 10:14).
But back to Driscoll. His methodology is a lot better than it used to be. However, in the time period of his improvement in methodology, he has also become more strident and vocal about what he believes. And what Merritt (and Evans and countless others) fails to see is that just because one believes differently than Driscoll on certain issues does not give that person license to ignore the fact that he has grown. Sadly though, all they see is that they don’t like what they hear, with no acceptance of the possibility that, while it used to be the way in which he said it, now maybe it’s just what he’s saying that rubs them the wrong way. And so they see Driscoll as being just as “bad” today (if not “worse”) than he was years ago. And so it becomes perfectly acceptable to dig up stuff that’s older than God.
Perhaps, though, the funniest (saddest? most ridiculous? so damning that one wonders why the post was even written?) part of Merritt’s post is this: After spending over 500 words establishing that Driscoll is a smartass who is given to hyperbole, Merritt then takes a 30-character tweet from Driscoll completely at face value. And thereupon rests the entire basis of Merritt’s “AHA! I’ve got you!” And without that triumphant “gotcha”, the post falls flat on its face.
Merritt said of Driscoll in the plugging of this article on Facebook, “Apparently, the irony is lost on him …”
Right back atcha, Jonathan.
UPDATE: For those interested in what actually happened at the event that Merritt references, here’s an account by someone who was actually there (as opposed to someone who knows someone who knows someone who read a Tweet once).
UPDATE 2: Oh, great! Tim Suttle has seen Merritt’s silliness and raised him an “omniscience” with this silly gem:
Driscoll isn’t serious. Driscoll is just trying to sell books.
The best thing about heaven is going to be that only one person will be claiming to be God.
UPDATE 3: Credit where credit is due. If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know that I’m less than thrilled with Frank Turk. But he nailed it on a Facebook comment about the Suttle article: