23 Comments on “Driscoll on the reality of “Free Will”

  1. Driscoll? Haud me back. A recent google (which I swear was not actually an attempt to find dirt on him) led me to him arguing, amongst other things, that : no Christian can accept evolution; masturbation turns you gay; semi-nude imagery leads to paedophilia etc etc. Even if one finds nothing worrying about the phenomena of evangelical rock star/poster boy preachers per se (I do), it's surely a disservice to the evangelical (subset of?) faith that such a talentless hot-button pusher should be taken as the voice of Orthodoxy. He's Ann Coulter with theological pretensions.

        • Those links don't actually show the positions you claim. The first one doesn't claim that masturbation turns you gay, it argues that it is, in a sense, homosexual activity. The second says nothing remotely like any of the things you suggest, and the third says that Christians should reject atheistic evolution (surely a no-brainer), and mentions the theological problems he has with theistic evolution. Whilst Driscoll does say plenty of controversial things, he is frequently portrayed as being far more controversial than he actually is, and people who don't like him have a tendency to read more into what he says than is actually there.

          And, in any case, even if he did hold those extreme positions, it doesn't mean that he is never worth listening to. This particular clip shows him at his absolute best, explaining the doctrine of election in a totally accessible and easy to understand way.

          • >>The first one doesn’t claim that masturbation turns you gay, it argues that it is, in a sense, homosexual activity

            So, he doesn't argue that masturbation *turns you* gay but that it IS gay. That's actually more ludicrous than my characterisation of it. And if you expect Driscoll's point that masturbation is inherently homosexual how can engaging in it not be gayifying (for want of a better term)

            >>>The second says nothing remotely like any of the things you suggest,

            Really!? Your reading of the following is what, then? :

            Lusting eyes may begin with a magazine, web site, or video and continue to view more magazines, web sites, or videos until they become bored and then descend into strip clubs, prostitutes, and/or easy women, which eventually become boring and lead to orgies, voyeurism, exhibitionism, pedophilia, and wherever else a crooked human heart can venture. Don’t kid yourself. Sin is an onramp to death. If you get on it and don’t repent, turn around, and exit, you will find the landscape getting darker, grosser, filthier, and deadlier. You may even be one of the millions of men who murder their own children in the womb of their mother, as yet another sinful fool proving yet again that sin leads to death.

            >>>you suggest, and the third says that Christians should reject atheistic evolution

            Driscoll is largely using 'atheistic' as an intensifier, as evidenced by the giveaway use of creationist jargon like 'marcro' evolution. 'Accepting' evolution necessarily avoids rejecting unscientific creationist nonsense, which (in Driscoll's mad worldview) is unChristian. Worth stressing that Intelligent Design is not in fact science (c.f. the Dover County judgment made, pointedly, by a Bush-appointed *Christian* judge) and that covert (or not so covert) creationist propoganda doesn't become science on the basis of theology (let alone theology as inane as Driscoll's)


  2. Peter

    Thanks for posting this clip of Mark Driscoll. It's the first time I've heard him on anything, although my son raves about him. What a wonderful, clear presentation of the doctrine of election! My spirit was warmed to hear the great truth that God loves us so much that He has chosen us, even as we were rebelling against him in our sin. I find that the more I reflect upon the great truths of God's love, beauty, justice and, yes, his wrath against sin, the more I find myself being in a proper place in relation to Him: a great God and a small 'me'!

  3. Just watched this – and the way Mark Driscoll tells it prompts the question, how come God is such a bastard that he only rescues some rebellious children from the oncoming traffic, but leaves others to die? (I say this given that MD makes an explicit distinction between Christians and non-Christians, setting up Christianity as an 'us' who are saved and a 'them' who are not).

    I can't deny my own hard-heartedness – or indeed the arrogance and rivalry that fuels my zeal to argue on some of these threads. With this in mind I wonder if it would help to come at this at a bit of an angle….

    When I'd just started university I went along to a meeting of the Christian magazine that some students produced. The meeting was taken up in part by two of them arguing over the 'free will or predestination' question. I recall wanting to side with the guy arguing for free will rather than the woman who argued for predestination; my memory's not that clear now (this is nearly 13 years ago) but it may have been that the way I imagined things when I heard 'predestination' wasn't far off the 'God as rapist' view that Mark D mentions. I'd probably have gone along with the view that free will makes us independent of God (which also underpins Mark D's telling), even if i couldn't really have articulated this and hardly thought about it.

    In the last few years I've come across the work of Herbert McCabe OP and this subverts that picture in a way I don't understand very well and haven't fully 'processed'. Consider this, from the posthumous Faith within reason:

    "I shall argue… that freedom and causal determination by God are not incompatible because God's causality is unique. He is not an outside cause in the sense that other creatures are.
    "It is with God's activity as it is with God's presence. He does not take up space. If I fill up a basket with apples and oranges, the more apples there are, the less room there is for oranges, and vice versa. The apples and the oranges compete for the available space. But apples and God do not compete for available space… The presence of God does not leave less room for the apples. On the contrary, it is because of the presence of God that the apples are there at all… The apple is not moved to one side by God. It is where it is because of God.
    "Now it is the same with causality as with spatial presence. Created causes compete with each other. This activity is due to me and to that extent it is not due to causes other than me. Usually an activity is due partly to me and partly to other causes. The other causes make a difference to my activity… But the activity of God does not make any difference to my activity. It makes it what it is in the first place. It is because of the activity of the Creator that I have my own activity to begin with…
    "God's activity, then, does not compete with mine. Whereas the activity of any other creature makes a difference to mine and would interfere with my freedom, the activity of God makes no difference. It has a more fundamental and important job to do than making a difference. It makes me have my own activity in the first place. I am free; I have my own spontaneous activity not determined by other creatures, because God makes me free. Not free of him (this would be to cease to exist), but free of other creatures.
    "The idea that God's causality could interfere with my freedom can only arise from an idolatrous notion of God as a very large and powerful creature – a part of the world" (pp73-76).

    Far too long and name-dropping a quotation you may say… and you can probably see as well how 'undigested' it is. But notably if true it means (maybe from a different angle?) that you're right, Peter, to call 'violating free will' a canard. As I said I hadn't come across this until I happened upon McCabe's work and I haven't done enough 'working through' of it, but it gives a very different picture from what many of us have in the back of our minds…

    in friendship, Blair

    • How would you respond to Paul's argument in Romans 9 that God hardens Pharaoh's heart? How does that correspond with McCabe's suggestion that "The idea that God’s causality could interfere with my freedom can only arise from an idolatrous notion of God as a very large and powerful creature – a part of the world"?

      • Not entirely sure, but I don't think McCabe's position means that God cannot 'harden someone's heart'. In another piece ('Forgiveness') in the same collection, he says:
        "…God never changes his mind about you… What he does again and again is change your mind about him. That is why you are sorry" (Faith within reason, p158). But am not sure if I'm addressing where you're coming from here?

        in friendship, Blair

        • But if God hardens Pharaoh's heart and then judges him for it, and if God never changes his mind about you, what was God's mind about Pharaoh before he hardened his heart? Do you see what I'm getting at?

          Does God change everybody's mind about him, or only some?

          • The moment might have passed by now… but perhaps it's worth saying that you were at the mercy of the way I quoted McCabe's text. Without ellipsis the full quote would have been:
            "God never changes his mind about you. He is simply in love with you. What he does again and again is change your mind about him. That is why you are sorry". Would that change your response…?

            in friendship, Blair

              • Well, everybody's, I trust – which may be too glibly said. But to your second question – how can you or I know for sure? I'd certainly like to think I do at times, but…..

                in friendship, blair

                • I think that is too glib. I think your answer to the second point avoids the clear evidence that many people reject YHWH and the revelation of himself in Christ – just pop into your local secular society meeting to see that fact.

                  • Do Jews reject YHWH or just Christ? Understand the use of the tetragrammaton but looks a bit odd.

                    And 'secular' doesn't equate to 'atheist'. No scottish episcopalian (for example) with any knowledge of the church's history of persecution would pine for a restoration of theocracy.

  4. A late comment on this one. To play devil's advocate, his illustration sounds like a clear argument for universalism to me. His daughter continued to ignore her father and at no point "repented", in spite of his entreaties. Yet she was still saved, and entirely by her father's action (grace if you like). In spite of her "persistent sin", at no point did her father "hate" her, or stop loving her and reaching out to save her. At what point does one become "unsaveable" or God give up?

    • It's only universalism if he does it to everybody.

      You seem to misunderstand election. The doctrine of election posits God's sovereign choice regardless of how worthy or unworthy the saved person is. In that sense God never gives up, because all those who he saves are saved. None fall out of the Father's hands (as Jesus kindly points out in John 6).

      • I'm still struggling to get this election thing and how Driscoll's story illuminates it. So God gives up on some but not on others? He pulls one out of the way of the truck but lets another carry on and get run over?

        • Sorry for the delay in replying – your comments keep getting marked as spam and I have to manually rescue them.

          It'snot a question of God giving up on anybody. Rather, everybody rejects God and deserves to be judged and go to hell. God in his mercy saves some despite this and he does so not on the basis of anything they have done or will do, but rather purely through his grace.

          Can I recommend a read of The Potter's Freedom by James White. Although it is written as a response to a book by Norman Geisler it is the best one volume explanation of election I've ever read.

          • Peter, thank you for your response. I'm not sure why my comments are marked as spam, though the comment system here seems to have some slightly strange effects when posting at this end too.
            As I hope you realised from my first post I am not actually a universalist myself. However, I have always felt uneasy about the calvinist teaching on election because it actually makes God appear rather arbitrary in his exercise of grace. Although I can talk about God's sovereign will, it still does not explain how this will is exercised in a way that squares with what might be recognisable as justice – unless one employs the circular argument: God is just, so whatever God does (whatever it looks like) must be just, and therefore justice is whatever God does. I am happy to rest with the notion that God, being omniscient, is better placed than I am to dispense justice (in fact, I count on it), but this is not the same as your argument above which states that God's extends his grace to some regardless of whether they are worthy or not. To return to Driscoll's illustration, why does God grab one out of the path of a truck, but not another?

            Thank you for the book recommendation. I shall look forward to reading it (along with Geisler's book too, and maybe some others).

            • Hi Simon,

              That one came through OK, so I think having marked you a few times as "Not Spam" we have it sorted.

              You're getting to the heart of the Doctrine of the Sovereignty of God with these questions. This is exactly what Paul deals with in Romans 9:14-26

              What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

              You will say to me then, "Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?" But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, "Why have you made me like this?" Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? As indeed he says in Hosea,

              "Those who were not my people I will call 'my people,'

              and her who was not beloved I will call 'beloved.'"

              "And in the very place where it was said to them, 'You are not my people,'

              there they will be called 'sons of the living God.'"

              The answer in some ways is that those who think that there is anything in a human being which could in any way make God's action of election unjust, have got a faulty spiritual view of human beings in the first place. The truth is that human beings are 100% guilty of sin and rejecting God. There are no humans deserving of salvation through any portion of their own merit, so God's saving of some is a sign of grace and and is done to indicate his glory. Even humans who are not saved are used to demonstrate God's glory (e.g. Pharaoh).

              I finally became a Calvinist (for want of a better description, though if you want to be picky I'm actaully a Lutheran electionist) when after a year of trying to get to grips with this I realised (the James White book being one of the tools in this) that I either had to accept Election as a Biblical doctrine OR throw out my Bible. There was simply no other adequate way of exegeting Romans 9 that did justice to the text. I realised that the last thing stopping me accepting the truth of Election was that I didn't think it was fair that God could choose me or not choose me. But then, Paul had an answer for me which was "Who do you think that you are? Why do you think you have any right to be saved?" It was when I realised that the answer to this was "none at all" and yet God had chosen me regardless and I accepted that Election was true.

              And of course it makes sense. If you don't believe in Election then you have to make saving faith a work. You have to explain why unregenerate human beings suddenly become regenerate. You have to explain why if the Spirit is moving in all some accept and some don't. You have to get into tortuous explanations of how those who haven't heard Christ preached might yet be saved by some merit of their own (whereas the Calvinist can happily accept that God might elect some who never hear Christ preached, but *never* on the basis of their "good intent" or works).

              So in response to your question as to "why does God grab one out of the path of a truck, but not another?", the answer is very simple – "Because he does, and who are you oh human to have a problem with that in the first place?" It is the acceptance of that point that is the true wisdom of understanding just what a big deal salvation is. And crucially, it is accepting that point *not* because we like it, but because it is true.

  5. Just one other thing I wanted to say. I don't believe that WHAT I believe about election, predestination, TULIP etc. actually affects my (or anyone else's) salvation, which is dependent on God's love and grace shown in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.