Baby Steps


Matthew Wilcoxen, a commenter, writes:

Hey Mate,
Since you have so faithfully dissected Driscoll’s post and made him appear as a real chauvenist pig; will you also be faithful in covering his recent addendum and clarification to his post and his willingness to listen to his critics? He almost sounds Brian McLaren-ish in his tone. Are you “generous” enough to allow him to speak and clarify himself?

I have read Driscoll’s clarification on his blog and I must say that he does deserve (barely) some “knuckles” for digging deep and writing something that resembles a thoughtful, pastoral post on his blog. He did not apologize for his extremely poor choice of words and that would have been nice, but just like the way in which Bill Murray’s character measured his progress in the movie “What About Bob?”, it’s all about “baby steps”. Hopefully this will be the first of many baby steps for Mr. Driscoll on the path of being thoughtful and considerate when addressing other people and apologetic when he missteps.

In the end, I do not think Driscoll deserves any real praise for his clarification in this matter. This is simply the tone he should have taken from the start. It is a positive thing that he’s done here, but has the bar been set so low that we have to applaud a blog post that is, at best, thoughtful and non-offensive?


11 thoughts on “Baby Steps

  1. I agree. Applauding someone for making a semi-thoughtful comment after they had offend so many with previous thoughtlessness is not the best practice. Although I am not comparing the two, it makes me think of the situation with Michael Richards (Kramer) over the week. His “apology” for his highly inappropriate racist tirade did not “fix” what he had already broken. It was like putting a bandaid on a bullet-wound.

  2. I think his usual tone comes out of his position of position as the leader of a church that promotes complemetarian theology. In some ways I don’t think he can help but sound like he does. His non-apology is only because everyone got upset.

  3. please, don’t link complementarian theology with mark driscoll’s offensive attitude. driscoll would be offensive if he were an egalitarian. and i would add that driscoll’s views are closer to traditional hierarchicalism than complementarianism (he just calls it complementarian because it sounds less offensive).

    and just for reference, i’m not complementarian, so i’m not saying this because i agree with him.

  4. Maybe you’re right Sean, but oftentimes our beliefs drive our actions and words. Maybe he is a “traditional hierarchialist”?

    What distinguishes complementarian theology from traditional hierarchialism?

  5. Couple things Jamie,
    1.)”oftentimes our beliefs drive our actions and words.” –Oftentimes? Shouldn’t they always. I would argue that actions always reveal one’s true beliefs regardless of confessions made or assented to.

    2.) “What distingueshes complementarian theology from traditional hierarchicalism?”
    –unless that question was seriously inquisitive and not rhetorical, you have just straw-manned your oponents’ position, and rather badly I might add. Complimentarianism argues that men and women are ontologically equal and functionally different. Both man and woman are created equally in the image of God, and both enjoy different roles in the household and in marriage. Notice that I have used the word “different” for roles and function. I anticipate, due to your vitriolic disposition towards complimentarianism that you will argue that what I mean by this is that women are oppressively subjugated to men. This has never been the complimentarian teaching. Men are appointed by God, this schema says, to be the chief self-sacrificing servant of the woman, giving himself for her benefit and good (Sounds an awful lot like Christ and the Church, eh?). There is no biblical basis for saying that the man is ontologically (i.e. inherently) superior, nor can you biblically say that the man’s role as “head” is functionally superior.
    By contrast, “traditional hierarchicalism,” I believe, implies that the man is ontologically and functionally superior to the woman. I’ve personally never met any pious Christians who hold to this belief. In fact, I think this view is very far removed from any true Christian belief.
    In short Jamie, Driscoll’s view is not a hierarchical view (though you may, for convenience, prefer to continue to refer to it as such). His view is biblically defensible and historically acceptable. Whether the egalitarian view is similarly defensible, I’ll leave up to you. I would just say that we should be very careful of straw-manning our opponents’ views to the point that we make them look laughable, heretical, and unbiblical when in fact they are quite doctrinally formidable.

  6. Matthew,

    I am sorry if I offended you. Please forgive me for angering you. That was not my intent. Allow me to clarify…

    Our beliefs should always drive our actions–that’s what I was saying.

    My question was a genuine one because much of the debates surrounding Driscoll centered around complementarianism versus egalitarianism. I hadn’t read anything about hierarchicalism.

  7. I’m not going to say that I don’t look further into what people are implying when they talk…but at the same time I don’t want to be known as a person that is pessimistic looking for the worse in everyone. Aren’t we supposed to be looking for the good in each other? I read his apology and even though he may have not said exactly what some would have wanted he seemed to be on his knees(figuratevly speaking). This might be of interest: The tone I get from him “online” is totaly different than the attitude I get from hearing his podcast. The first 4 or so on his vintage Jesus series is great.

  8. jamie, first i would say that i don’t really think the terms ‘hierchicalism,’ ‘complementarianism,’ and ‘egalitarianism’ are very helpful, if helpful at all. that said, willcoxen’s assessment of hierarchicalism isn’t too far off.

    a complementarian, as i used to be one, would say that men and women have different roles. this does not imply inherent subordination of one gender over the other. it does not imply inequality, but rather difference in role. the status of women is not diminished in complementarianism, but it is asserted that they have a different role than men. the mantra is ‘equal but different.’ that is not necessarily something bad, misogynistic, or hateful in the least.

    however, driscoll also seems to assert a functional subordination of one gender over the other implicitly. that means that there isn’t something inherent that makes women subordinate to men, but it is functionally so because god intends it to be so.

    i would say that many complementarians also believe this to one extent or another, but i know that the functional subordination of one gender over the other isn’t a necessary belief for complementarians. as well, driscoll’s commonly heavy-handed words about the place of women in ministry and the role of women in marriage lack the nuance that complementarianism seems to require.

    he often says that men and women simply have different roles in marriage (and the church, for that matter) when discussing complemenatarianism, but the way he seems to work it out practically in his ministry and in his speech implies the subjegation of women in one form or another (which is more than just complementarianism). at times he seems to be implying not ‘equal but different’ as much as ‘separate but equal’ (a familiar phrase for most, which obviously means that the ‘equal’ part is only superficial).

    that’s why i said that driscoll seems to be close to hierarchicalism with his speech.

    driscoll may well not lean toward hierarchicalism, but his speech and actions seem to make it seem like he does.

    i’m going to try to be sympathetic toward driscoll here (though it is hard, and i won’t deny that). driscoll may need to be cut some slack. he seems to be in the same place as southern baptists who went through the denominational earthquakes of the 80s. he has spent so much time fighting against things that actually are malignant toward the church (liberal feminism, homosexuality being condoned, theological liberalism) that he can’t recognize who are allies and who aren’t (such as egalitarians, annihilationists, speculative theologians).

    i’m not defending him, but we should have compassion on him, because he certainly needs it (just as we all do).

  9. Thank you, Sean.

    I do agree with you. Driscoll does need compassion.
    I also believe that he needs to be held accountable by christians. I hope that in the future he does not need to others to question what he means because he hopefully has learned to take time to explain himself thoroughly.

  10. Jamie,
    I’m not (and wasn’t) angry. Well, I’m always angry, but what can you do? jk. I’m sorry that I misunderstood you.

    I’m having trouble following your argument in paragraphs 3-5 of your post. How does a difference in roles equate with functional subordination? How does Driscoll implicitly adopt a hierarchical position? Some of your statements deserves substantiation. Thanks!
    Matt W.

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