Piper, Driscoll, Contextualization, Postmodernism

I think I’m coming to hate the word “contextualization”. It’s not the idea behind it, it’s the thought that it is being held to the same level of importance as doctrine, and in some ways, as more important. At Desiring God 2006, Marc Driscoll said that we should have two hands, in the one, which is tightly clenched, we hold the unchangeable truths of God’s Word and in the other, which is open, we hold a contextualized, timely message. “And you’re anchored to the truth,” says Driscoll, “so you can be creative.” But what I get from this, is that the unchangeable truths have no unchangeable practical implications. What I pick up, is that we keep those truths held tightly in our hand, so that they are not able to get in the way of our “creative” ministry.

Even John Piper made the following statement shortly after Driscoll finished speaking and left the conference to catch a plane:

Let me tell you how I think and how I decide who I’m going to hang with. As I look across the broad spectrum of Evangelicalism and all the different styles, what concerns me is doctrine. And if Mark Driscoll holds those nine truths firmly in his left hand, then I don’t care what’s in his open hand.

He went on to say,

Now the problem is that some of us believe that what you have in your open hand may subtly undermine what you have in your closed hand. And so I would sit down with Mark and say things like, ‘Mark, you cannot be clever in the pulpit and be faithful to the gospel message.’ But what matters to me is doctrine, and I don’t care about form or style.

[quotes taken from Piper, Driscoll, and Contextualization]

And so, I say the hand analogy is bad, in fact, I say it’s fatal. We are to preach what God has given us. We are to dilligently seek his face, read his word. When contextualization occurs, I believe it is in the spirit of Proverbs 16:1 “The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the LORD.”

There is one more thing that we should remember about contextualization and Postmodernism, and that is this: Jesus Christ lived in a Postmodern world, so did Paul. You don’t get much more cynical or pluralistic than the Roman Empire. You would be hard pressed to find a people more inured to metanarratives (or incredulous, with apologies to Jean-Francois Lyotard). And when you look at Paul and Christ, the major way they contextualized their message was in deciding whether to start with Genesis or Matthew.

Sodomy in the Church

Marriage is not about you. This life is not about you. Consider:

Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. Hebews 11:3

Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband. Ephesians 5:21-33

Marriage is about Christ and the church. It is a witness. It is a symbol. We do not need to ask ourselves why sodomy is so rampant in our culture. We need only look at the marriages in the churches of our nation. With every husband that refuses to lead, with every wife that lifts her head to rule, we have shown the world how we can place a skirt upon Jesus Christ. We have shown them that the words chosen to frame the worlds, were poor in their choosing. We have said to the world, “the sexes are identical” and they have responded with the homosexual movement, a movement whose very name means “the sexes are identical”. Should it come as a surprise? Our attitude toward sodomy begins in the home and in the church. Our attitude toward sodomy begins everyday. Because marriage is not about us. This life is not about us. It is all about God.