Donuts for the Duck, Duck, Damned

Donuts for the Duck, Duck, Damned

Yesterday, Mark Drisoll, the pastor who describes himself as, “a nobody trying to tell everybody about Somebody” (The Washington Post), posted a blog called, “Westboro Baptist Church, This False Prophet and His Blind Lemmings Welcome You to Our Whore House for God’s Grace and Free Donuts.”  In this blog, he says of Westboro Baptist Church,

Doctrinally, they are extreme five-point Calvinists, or what I like to call Crazy Calvinists. They basically believe the underlying message of the Bible is one of God’s hatred and wrath against humankind, and that the Bible is properly interpreted through that filter. Therefore, they believe all mentions of God’s love in the Bible are in reference to God’s Christian elect and not applicable in any way to others outside God’s elect—pretty much a cosmic game of Duck, Duck, Damned.

I’m a fan of God’s grace, as well as free donuts, and I, too, loath the idea of “Duck, Duck, Damned.”  I recognize that Mark Driscoll is very passionate about God and truth and righteousness.  His concern with distancing his ministry from the Westboro Baptist Church philosophy and practices is understandable.  I really like it that he uses blunt language, such as calling the gathering of MarsHillians a “whorehouse” implying that we are all equally in need of God’s grace and that he focuses on this grace (with a side of donuts) in contrast to the message of hate the tiny Westboro Baptist Church so boisterously proclaims.  However, if one takes a close look at the theology of Westboro Baptist Church and the theology of Driscoll’s Mars Hill Church, one will discover that Driscoll’s disgust for Westboro, who he calls “More of a dysfunctional family of religious lawyers than a church” appears to be a classic case of psychological projection.

This idea that psychological projection is taking place is not simply a case of me using personal judgment against the motives of Driscoll and his flock, it is evidenced in Driscoll’s own words, as I will demonstrate shortly.  Although I could go into great detail about how deep the layers of avoidance can go (perhaps I’ll do a blog series later), this blog focuses on one particular idea – that Westboro openly displays the very same demons that live in the Mars Hill closets.  Of course, Driscoll would disagree with this idea and use one particular so-called difference in theology as his defense, that is, the “L” in Calvinism’s TULIP, an acronym used to describe the five basic tenets of Calvinism.

The Calvinism of Westboro is the classic five point TULIP, and the Calvinism of Mars Hill is a modified version of this.  The point where Driscoll would claim they differ is limited atonement.  The Mars Hill website’s statement of faith, “What We Believe” doesn’t expound on the matter to which I refer, but recommends, “you can reference the Gospel Coalition Confessional Statement for further detail of our beliefs.”  There, readers can see how Westboro and Mars Hill are not so theologically different after all.  Instead of elaborating on this difference in my own words, I’ll let Driscoll do it for me by referring you to his sermon notes on “unlimited limited atonement” (no, that isn’t a typo, he seriously believes in unlimited yet limited atonement, what I see as a futile exercise in cognitive dissonance).  In this document, Driscoll says,

Simply, by dying for everyone, Jesus purchased everyone as His possession and He then applies His forgiveness to the elect by grace and applies His wrath to the non-elect.  Objectively, Jesus’ death was sufficient to save anyone, and subjectively, only efficient to save those who repent of their sin and trust in Him.

Driscoll’s theology (like his free donuts) has a hole in the middle.  Some people see that hole and attempt to figure out why it is there.  Driscoll’s response to this criticism is to offer additional reading material along with a few insults, which I believe is evidence of that psychological projection I referred to earlier.  Driscoll considers anyone who would disagree with his unlimited yet limited take on atonement, “…young, nitpicking, theologically geeky, Calvinist crazy-makers who are like a rock in my shoe…”

The TULIP of Calvinism was modified, not because it is inaccurate, but because it is inadequate.  People fail to recognize that atonement is only limited in this age.  The real sticky subject here is really not the limited or unlimited atonement, it is the negative implications on God’s character that result from these ideas.  If atonement is always limited, this means Jesus didn’t die for everyone, only some, and that all those for whom He did not die were cursed to eternal torment in Hell before they were even born.  God created them knowing full well there was absolutely no hope for them.  This makes God look very, very evil for creating them in the first place.  If atonement is ultimately unlimited, this means that Jesus actually did die for everyone, and that His sinless life, death, and resurrection was sufficient to save everyone.  Since the religious traditions of men dictate that not everyone will be saved and that we must do what Driscoll refers to as “your job”, that is, repent and believe, this view is not accepted by modified Calvinists.  The biblical doctrine of unlimited atonement must be somehow limited to account for all those who supposedly burn in Hell for eternity.  However, if we understand that atonement is ultimately unlimited and that the reason it appears to be limited is that not everyone repents and believes in this age, then there is no need to perform theological gymnastics.  Those who God has appointed, enabled, and motivated to repent and believe in this age do so, not because they performed their job, but because God in His Sovereignty has made it so.  This does not negate the work of Christ for all those who don’t – it postpones the results of His perfect work until the appointed time.

1 Timothy 2:3-6 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

Driscoll avoids the inclusive view altogether, and here’s how – he lumps any and all people who call themselves universalists together with Pelagians and states (inaccurately), “Universalism contradicts the clear teachings of scripture on human sinfulness…” and “the heresy of universalism [is] we are all sinless in Adam.”  I have no idea where Driscoll gets his information.  That certainly is not what I believe.  He then dismisses the inclusive view altogether, as if he actually addressed the idea in the first place and then found it inaccurate.  He says, “This leaves three remaining options for Christians regarding the question of whom Jesus died for.”  Oh really?  Is Driscoll saying that those who take the above named passage to mean what it says it means are not to be included in the group defined by Driscoll as “Christians”?  And he calls Westboro religious lawyers… Anyway, I believe that I have explored this idea enough to return to the topic at hand, the difference between Westboro and Mars Hill.

Westboro puts its theology on large picket signs and strategically places its people in the most public way possible, while Mars Hill contains its hate within the church walls.  For example, the typical Westboro messages are “God hates you” and “God hates fags” and the like.  Here is what Driscoll teaches to his flock and anyone else who shows up on a Sunday,

God hates you… God can’t even look at us because he is so disgusted… You have been told that God is loving, gracious, merciful, kind, compassionate, wonderful, and good… That is a lie… God looks down and says “I hate you, you are my enemy, and I will crush you.”

Granted, that is not all Driscoll teaches; he gives the typical “offer” for people to do their “job” along with it.  And as long as people comply, then everything he just said about God is no longer true.  But for those who do not comply, the Westboro-type condemnation still sticks and will stick for eternity unless you do something about it.  To the person who subscribes to Driscoll’s theology, Jesus perfect life, death, and resurrection are “only efficient to save” some; in an “objective” sense God loves you, but in a “subjective” sense He hates you.   Mars Hill may not create picket signs and show up at funerals shouting their condemnation, but it exists in their minds by implication.  Considering this, let’s remember God declared He “does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”  God sees the heart of the average sign-toting Westboroan and the average Mars Hillian and sees the same doctrine there – “God hates you.”

  • Lanny A. Eichert June 17, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    Since the religious traditions of men dictate that not everyone will be saved. Why is it not also God’s Word (specifically that not everyone will be saved) verified by the Revelation closing with a populated undissolved Lake of Fire without remedy? The inclusive view may be altogether flawed. Isn’t that possible?

    • admin June 19, 2011 at 9:25 pm

      I am not ignoring your populated undissolved view on the Lake of Fire… I’ve been very busy. I’ll probably be addressing that subject more thoroughly when I get to that section of Revelation in the blog series. I’m glad you keep reminding me, though, because there are others who also hold your view who are equally bothered with some of what I write, who subscribe to your view on the true understanding of Revelation. “Is it possible the inclusive view may be altogether flawed?” you ask. Anything is possible. But what is probable? Better yet, what is highly probable? Watch this vid for the remainder of my reply:

    • admin June 26, 2011 at 10:39 pm

      If the inclusive view is flawed, then many portions of scripture are no longer valid. For instance, if the Lake of Fire remains populated, undissolved, without remedy, in other words, if the majority of mankind and spiritual beings remain unreconciled to God, then many scriptures are no longer valid. I have provided some examples below. We would need to do away with hundreds of other passages as well. The stuff in bold simply cannot be reconciled with the non-inclusive view:

      CLV(i) 1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus, through the will of God, and brother Timothy, 2 to the saints and believing brethren in Christ in Colosse: Grace to you and peace from God, our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 3 We are thanking the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, always praying concerning you, 4 on hearing of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints, 5 because of the expectation reserved for you in the heavens, which you hear before in the word of truth of the evangel, 6 which, being present with you, according as in the entire world also, is bearing fruit and growing, according as it is among you also, from the day on which you hear and realized the grace of God in truth, 7 according as you learned it from Epaphras, our beloved fellow slave, who is a faithful dispenser of Christ for us, 8 who makes evident also to us your love in spirit. 9 Therefore we also, from the day on which we hear, do not cease praying for you and requesting that you may be filled full with the realization of His will, in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, 10 you to walk worthily of the Lord for all pleasing, bearing fruit in every good work, and growing in the realization of God;” 11 being endued with all power, in accord with the might of His glory, for all endurance and patience with joy;” 12 at the same time giving thanks to the Father, Who makes you competent for a part of the allotment of the saints, in light, 13 Who rescues us out of the jurisdiction of Darkness, and transports us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 in Whom we are having deliverance, the pardon of sins, 15 Who is the Image of the invisible God, Firstborn of every creature, 16 for in Him is all created, that in the heavens and that on the earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones, or lordships, or sovereignties, or authorities, all is created through Him and for Him, 17 and He is before all, and all has its cohesion in Him.” 18 And He is the Head of the body, the ecclesia, Who is Sovereign, Firstborn from among the dead, that in all He may be becoming first, 19 for in Him the entire complement delights to dwell, 20 and through Him to reconcile all to Him (making peace through the blood of His cross), through Him, whether those on the earth or those in the heavens.” 21 And you, being once estranged and enemies in comprehension, by wicked acts, yet now He reconciles” 22 by His body of flesh, through His death, to present you holy and flawless and unimpeachable in His sight, 23 since surely you are persisting in the faith, grounded and settled and are not being removed from the expectation of the evangel which you hear which is being heralded in the entire creation which is under heaven of which I, Paul, became the dispenser.” 24 I am now rejoicing in my sufferings for you, and am filling up in my flesh, in His stead, the deficiencies of the afflictions of Christ, for His body, which is the ecclesia” 25 of which I became a dispenser, in accord with the administration of God, which is granted to me for you, to complete the word of God -” 26 the secret which has been concealed from the eons and from the generations, yet now was made manifest to His saints, 27 to whom God wills to make known what are the glorious riches of this secret among the nations, which is: Christ among you, the expectation of glory” 28 Whom we are announcing, admonishing every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we should be presenting every man mature in Chist Jesus;” 29 for which I am toiling also, struggling in accord with His operation, which is operating in me with power.”

      CLV(i) 1 Being, then, justified by faith, we may be having peace toward God, through our Lord, Jesus Christ, 2 through Whom we have the access also, by faith, into this grace in which we stand, and we may be glorying in expectation of the glory of God.” 3 Yet not only so, but we may be glorying also in afflictions, having perceived that affliction is producing endurance, 4 yet endurance testedness, yet testedness expectation.” 5 Now expectation is not mortifying, seeing that the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the holy spirit which is being given to us.” 6 For Christ, while we are still infirm, still in accord with the era, for the sake of the irreverent, died.” 7 For hardly for the sake of a just man will anyone be dying: for, for the sake of a good man, perhaps someone may even be daring to die, 8 yet God is commending this love of His to us, seeing that, while we are still sinners, Christ died for our sakes.” 9 Much rather, then, being now justified in His blood, we shall be saved from indignation, through Him.” 10 For if, being enemies, we were conciliated to God through the death of His Son, much rather, being conciliated, we shall be saved in His life.” 11 Yet not only so, but we are glorying also in God, through our Lord, Jesus Christ, through Whom we now obtained the conciliation.” 12 Therefore, even as through one man sin entered into the world, and through sin death, and thus death passed through into all mankind, on which all sinned -” 13 for until law sin was in the world, yet sin is not being taken into account when there is no law;” 14 nevertheless death reigns from Adam unto Moses, over those also who do not sin in the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him Who is about to be.” 15 But not as the offense, thus also the grace. For if, by the offense of the one, the many died, much rather the grace of God and the gratuity in grace, which is of the One Man, Jesus Christ, to the many superabounds.” 16 And not as through one act of sinning is the gratuity. For, indeed, the judgment is out of one into condemnation, yet the grace is out of many offenses into a just award.” 17 For if, by the offense of the one, death reigns through the one, much rather, those obtaining the superabundance of grace and the gratuity of righteousness shall be reigning in life through the One, Jesus Christ.” 18 Consequently, then, as it was through one offense for all mankind for condemnation, thus also it is through one just award for all mankind for life’s justifying.” 19 For even as, through the disobedience of the one man, the many were constituted sinners, thus also, through the obedience of the One, the many shall be constituted just.” 20 Yet law came in by the way, that the offense should be increasing. Yet where sin increases, grace superexceeds, 21 that, even as Sin reigns in death, thus Grace also should be reigning through righteousness, for life eonian, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.”

      CLV(i) 1 Now I am making known to you, brethren, the evangel which I bring to you, which also you accepted, in which also you stand, 2 through which also you are saved, if you are retaining what I said in bringing the evangel to you, outside and except you believe feignedly.” 3 For I give over to you among the first what also I accepted, that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, 4 and that He was entombed, and that He has been roused the third day according to the scriptures, 5 and that He was seen by Cephas, thereupon by the twelve.” 6 Thereupon He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the majority are remaining hitherto, yet some were put to repose also.” 7 Thereupon He was seen by James, thereafter by all the apostles.” 8 Yet, last of all, even as if a premature birth, He was seen by me also.” 9 For I am the least of the apostles, who am not competent to be called an apostle, because I persecute the ecclesia of God.” 10 Yet, in the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace, which is in me, did not come to be for naught, but more exceedingly than all of them toil I – yet not I, but the grace of God which is with me.” 11 Then, whether I or they, thus we are heralding and thus you believe.” 12 Now if Christ is being heralded that He has been roused from among the dead, how are some among you saying that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 Now if there is no resurrection of the dead, neither has Christ been roused.” 14 Now if Christ has not been roused, for naught, consequently, is our heralding, and for naught is your faith.” 15 Now we are being found false witnesses also of God, seeing that we testify by God that He rouses Christ, Whom, consequently, He rouses not, if so be that the dead are not being roused.” 16 For, if the dead are not being roused, neither has Christ been roused.” 17 Now, if Christ has not been roused, vain is your faith – you are still in your sins!” 18 Consequently those also, who are put to repose in Christ, perished.” 19 If we are having an expectation in Christ in this life only, more forlorn than all men are we.” 20 (Yet now Christ has been roused from among the dead, the Firstfruit of those who are reposing.” 21 For since, in fact, through a man came death, through a Man, also, comes the resurrection of the dead.” 22 For even as, in Adam, all are dying, thus also, in Christ, shall all be vivified.” 23 Yet each in his own class: the Firstfruit, Christ; thereupon those who are Christ’s in His presence;” 24 thereafter the consummation, whenever He may be giving up the kingdom to His God and Father, whenever He should be nullifying all sovereignty and all authority and power.” 25 For He must be reigning until He should be placing all His enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy is being abolished: death. 27 For He subjects all under His feet. Now whenever He may be saying that all is subject, it is evident that it is outside of Him Who subjects all to Him.” 28 Now, whenever all may be subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also shall be subjected to Him Who subjects all to Him, that God may be All in all.)” 29 Else what shall those be doing who are baptizing? It is for the sake of the dead absolutely if the dead are not being roused. Why are they baptizing also for their sake? 30 Why are we also in danger every hour? 31 Daily am I dying. By this boast of yours, brethren, which I have in Christ Jesus, our Lord, 32 if, as a man, I fight wild beasts in Ephesus, what is the benefit to me? If the dead are not being roused, “we may be eating and drinking, for tomorrow we are dying.” 33 Be not deceived: evil conversations are corrupting kind characters. 34 Sober up justly and do not be sinning, for some have an ignorance of God. To abash you am I saying it.” 35 But someone will be protesting, “How are the dead being roused? Now with what body are they coming? 36 Imprudent one! What you are sowing is not being vivified if it should not be dying. 37 And, what you are sowing, you are not sowing the body which shall come to be, but a naked kernel, perchance of wheat or some of the rest.” 38 Yet God is giving it a body according as He wills, and to each of the seeds its own body.” 39 Not all flesh is the same flesh, but there is one, indeed, of men, yet another flesh of beasts, yet another flesh of flyers, yet another of fishes.” 40 There are bodies celestial as well as bodies terrestrial. But a different glory, indeed, is that of the celestial, yet a different that of the terrestrial, 41 another glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars, for star is excelling star in glory.” 42 Thus also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is roused in incorruption. 43 It is sown in dishonor; it is roused in glory. It is sown in infirmity; it is roused in power. 44 It is sown a soulish body; it is roused a spiritual body. 45 If there is a soulish body, there is a spiritual also. Thus it is written also, The first man, Adam, “became a living soul:the last Adam a vivifying Spirit.” 46 But not first the spiritual, but the soulish, thereupon the spiritual.” 47 The first man was out of the earth, soilish; the second Man is the Lord out of heaven.” 48 Such as the soilish one is, such are those also who are soilish, and such as the Celestial One, such are those also who are celestials.” 49 And according as we wear the image of the soilish, we should be wearing the image also of the Celestial.” 50 Now this I am averring, brethren, that flesh and blood is not able to enjoy an allotment in the kingdom of God, neither is corruption enjoying the allotment of incorruption.” 51 Lo! a secret to you am I telling! We all, indeed, shall not be put to repose, yet we all shall be changed, 52 in an instant, in the twinkle of an eye, at the last trump. For He will be trumpeting, and the dead will be roused incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal put on immortality.” 54 Now, whenever this corruptible should be putting on incorruption and this mortal should be putting on immortality, then shall come to pass the word which is written, Swallowed up was Death by Victory.” 55 Where, O Death, is your victory? Where, O Death, is your sting? 56 Now the sting of Death is sin, yet the power of sin is the law.” 57 Now thanks be to God, Who is giving us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 58 So that, my beloved brethren, become settled, unmovable, superabounding in the work of the Lord always, being aware that your toil is not for naught in the Lord.”

      That last bit is the most profound yet most often glossed over scripture in regards to the inclusive view. Have you ever shared your faith with someone who remained in unbelief and then died? Was your labor in the Lord “for naught” then? We have been promised that our labor is NOT for naught in the Lord. His word does not return to Him void, but accomplishes the purpose for which it was sent. If the Lake of Fire forever holds mankind captive, then the God’s word returns to Him void. And not only our labor, but the labor of Christ on their behalf was for nothing.

  • Mary Vanderplas June 18, 2011 at 6:13 am

    I am still of the mind that some people may not be saved, that they may spend eternity (or perhaps some period of limited duration?) in alienation from God and others – not as a result of some divine decree by which they have been deemed objects of God’s hatred and rejected beforehand (which I find unbiblical and abhorrent) but as a result of their choosing by their persistent actions to forsake the positive relationship with God for which they were created. And I still do not see this as being fundamentally incompatible with the message of God’s love for all and desire that all be saved or with the message that salvation belongs entirely to God. As I’ve said before, there is a paradox in scripture of complete divine sovereignty and human responsibility that I believe must be preserved and not “explained away,” lest God be reduced to our size and lest we be reduced to other than the responsible agents we were created to be.

    I can appreciate your desire to fill all of the holes, to construct an airtight theology, but to do so while ignoring or explaining away a sizable part of the biblical revelation, as you do, seems indefensible to me. I don’t disagree that there are texts which speak of universal salvation and unlimited atonement, of which 1 Timothy 2:3-6 is one, but there are other texts – more than a few of them – that speak of limited, conditional salvation, which I don’t think can be easily ignored or explained away. And it is a big stretch, in my view, to interpret the ending of the text you cite as a clear reference to people coming to faith at different times, in different “ages.”

    Still, though, I think that what can be said is that God is able, if God chooses, to triumph over the human will to persist in rebellion and that therefore in the end what God has done in Christ may well overcome all human resistance, with the result that everyone is saved. I can’t rule out this possibility, anyway. And, as the president of the school I attended said recently, erring on the side of “salvific generosity” in one’s theology seems preferable to embracing a “stingy orthodoxy.”

    I have a hard time understanding how anyone who is Christian can affirm a theological position premised on God’s hatred for his human creatures. Whether one is a “crazy Calvinist” or only a half-crazy (?) one, this theology is a hideous perversion of the message of scripture, which is that God is so crazy about us that he stopped at nothing to make us his own.

    • admin June 19, 2011 at 9:18 pm

      If there are texts which indicate limited atonement (resulting in eternal damnation) and there are also texts which indicate unlimited atonement, they can’t both be true.

      • Mary Vanderplas June 20, 2011 at 6:28 am

        You’re right, but the Bible does affirm both poles. Either we can try to reconcile the tension by choosing one of the two as being real or true (and explaining the other set of texts in light of the real view of how things will be, or ignroing them altogether) or we can live with the tension rather than trying superficially to resolve it, which is what the biblical writers seem to do. Doing the latter involves acknowledging that we don’t know for sure how things will work out in the end when it comes to who will be saved.

  • R June 18, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    In response to your insinuations that Pastor Driscoll is just expediently distancing himself from a group materially similar to Mars Hill (an analysis which I do not support), I would point out that it was Westboro Baptist Church that called Pastor Driscoll a “false prophet” and scheduled themselves to picket Mars Hill. Do you really need to distance yourself from a group that’s called you a “false prophet”? The WBC folks objected to Mars Hill’s teaching of God’s grace, recognized it as different from their message, and decided to stage an ugly protest. Pastor Driscoll then stepped in with a counter-statement, acknowledging the doctrinal differences and defending Mars Hill’s position.

    • admin June 19, 2011 at 9:15 pm

      Thanks for your comment, Rebecca.

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