I want to follow up on some recent events. Yes, I mean Mark Driscoll and his horrible behavior and his removal from Acts 29 Network, which by the way is far too late and just a political move in my opinion. But I want to follow the example of Tim Challies and ask what this means about New Calvinism.
Challies wants us to see the truth that character matters in preachers and hopes the New Calvinism becomes a little less restless and a little more mature on this point. Good points for sure, but I think it still does not quite hit the mark. Character did not matter for Driscoll because New Calvinism is against denominations. Going through ordinations processes with legitimate denominations is how we help weed out bad characters. Obviously no one gets them all, but it is a check and balance. New Calvinism is mostly independent minded and frankly you should expect abusive leaders in an environment where there is no one checking on the pastor. There was no place for appeal for the members at Mars Hill. There was no one to complain to about Driscoll except the people who had their jobs because they stayed in good graces with Driscoll.
Perhaps now we ought to all go back and look at Piper’s points about New Calvinism and see how they helped create this mess. The emphasis on the “local” church (point 5), personal networks (point 6), and interdenominational with a strong baptistic element (point 7) are other ways to see “breeding ground for tyranny and spiritual abuse”. The Driscoll episode has exposed a flaw in the entire system. Driscoll has been accused of many things over the past few years, but especially this past year. Yet only now does Acts 29 do anything. Only when Acts 29 itself is starting to look bad did disassociation occur. And let us not mistake disassociation with discipline. No discipline has taken place. Yet, let us not forget that Acts 29 did not disassociate when Driscoll plagiarized and then abused the reporter who discovered it. They did not disassociate when massive church funds were used to make Driscoll’s book a best seller. Disassociation did not occur when Driscoll tried to crash MacArthur’s event. They did not disassociate when his lack of humility led to several Twitter incidents and his temporary ban on himself from Twitter. They did not disassociate for massive “staff turnovers”, which would have all had to be approved by a presbytery if the church were part of a denomination. The disassociation came when many private emails were made public. Now disassociation occurs.
The Young Restless and Reformed - New Calvinism crowd all has to answer for this, in my opinion. They helped give him a national stage. They brought him into the lime light and crowned him. John Piper and others welcomed him with open arms. The inability of New Calvinism to denounce anything has come back to bite it. It turns out we need the “Old” Calvinism structures of denominations, discipline, creeds, and rules. It turns out they help protect the people in the pews, the integrity of the ministry, and promote the glory of Christ.