Tuesday, September 25, 2007

So Who Exactly Is On Notice?

I've never met Bob Hyatt, but I enjoy his blog and, much of the time, the way his brain works. He's started a conversation/discussion about Mark Driscoll's latest lecture - one given at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. There Driscoll says that Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt, and Rob Bell are heretics. (The names are separated from "heresy" by a few intervening sentences, but the title is applied.)
     Now, I also have never met Driscoll and I don't know exactly what he means by heretic or heresy (Does he think they're condemned?). But I have listened to the mp3 of the talk and I'd largely agree with most of what Mark says. And, frankly, how he says it. I cannot comment on McLaren and Pagitt, since I've heard very little or read very little of either men. But I too think that Bell went over the line in Velvet Elvis discussing whether Jesus' birth of a Virgin is an essential of the faith. The Virgin Birth is an essential.
     On Bell's side, he believes in the Virgin Birth - just that he doesn't think it crumbles the faith if it is dispensed with. We will have to disagree there. If I can dispense with the Virgin Birth, excuse my slippery slope, what else do I think I can dispense with? It seems the Scriptures are quite clear in speaking of Mary's virginity, and Mary's virginity allows and guards Christ's divinity. That being said, Bell does believe in the Virgin Birth - so I don't think one can call him a heretic for believing what all Christians believe.
     It's an interesting conversation taking place on the edges of the emerging conversation. I pray that it proceeds and ends in a greater love for one another rather than a diminishing of that love. And it raises some interesting questions: What is heresy? What is orthodoxy? Why does Driscoll believe that he has the authority to say that someone who believes differently is a heretic? Why do I?


Michael Krahn said...

Mark's point was not that Bell denied it outright but that he says that if turned out be false that it wouldn't matter much. I am definitely with Driscoll on this and to even suggest that maybe the writers of the gospels threw in some pagan mythology to make the story more palatable is ridiculous.

Like Driscoll said, if we lose the virgin birth we lose Jesus... "I went to public school, and even I understand that Jesus is pretty big for Christianity"

One thing I struggle with on the other hand is the Bible being absolutely supreme over science. For example - this is farfetched of course - but if the virgin birth really could be 100% disproved by DNA I would have to affirm it.

And I do think it would change my religion completely.

I had a pretty long go at Velvet Elvis earlier this year on my blog at http://michaelkrahn.com/blog/rob-bell/

Add to the conversation there if your interested.

Scott Lyons said...

Thanks, Michael. I don't believe Rob is a heretic. Yes, I disagree with him and Yes, I think he chose a worse-than-poor example to push his springs v. bricks example (which is, in itself, flawed - depending where exactly you wish to go with it).

But still, I've listened to Bell for quite some time and this is a man who is authentic and genuine about following our Lord. Or seems so to me.

I would agree with what Driscoll said as well, but I'm not sure if Bell belongs in the same camp (from what I've heard of McLaren and Pagitt) as the other two gentlemen. I don't believe that Bell even classifies himself as "emerging," but is just trying to do the work of the church (especially the part which has largely been ignored by evangelicals in the past).

But I would agree, there is some ridiculousness in the book. Overall, however, I enjoyed it.

I also enjoyed Driscoll's lecture - I thought it was substantively and tonally where it needed to be.

Concerning the science/DNA thing - not a real concern for me. I don't see science and the scriptures at loggerheads over anything, necessarily. And I think that science and religion can inform one another.

truevyne said...

I don't know what a heretic or heresy is...truly, I think it's God's business and not mine. Isn't it enough to say, "I believe..." and leave it at that? I heard an acquaintance of mine converted from Christianity to Buddhism. I know our faiths are not reconciled one to another, but isn't it enough to say "I still believe..."?

Scott Lyons said...

True, I think you're right that, if I mean by heretic, "Thou art damned." That is God's business and not mine.

If we mean by heresy a teaching that denies or rejects orthodoxy, well, then, that's another matter. But we still would need to determine who has the right to define orthodoxy.

I think it is always enough to say "I believe ... " in how we deal with our neighbors. But at some point the church must stand up and say, "Christians believe ... " If it were not so, then we would all be Arians or Nestorians or God knows what.