Bruxy's Arminianism vs. Driscoll's Calvinism…?
I think I was warned about this. One of my teachers told me that this emergent idea of sampling from all sorts of denominations (and, in some cases, different religions) would lead eventually to confusion and hard choices, if one is really pursuing truth. Well, that has happened.
For several years, Bruxy Cavey has been my favorite preacher – I was almost thinking of him as my “online pastor” (am I allowed to have an online pastor, in addition to my local pastor, or is this “cheating”…?) and I have grown a lot under him. Recently, however, I have been changing. The post “From Cool Young Emergent to Boring Old Conservative” really signalled a turning point in my Christian life and thought, and one by one, things in my life are changing, getting in line with this new direction I have been taking. My allegiance to Bruxy has been one of those things. Although I still love the man dearly, I am having a harder and harder time listening to and respecting his opinions.
I have been raving about Mark Driscoll recently. I have been assuming that this would just be a phase, and I am still not entirely sure that it is not. However, I feel like there is something “real” about Driscoll. He makes me think of 1 Cor. 4:19-20, “But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I shall find out, not the words of those who are arrogant but their power. 20For the kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power.” There is real power in the sermons of Driscoll which I have not regularly heard in the sermons of Bruxy, or in the sermons of most other pastors.
Take, for example, Driscoll’s sermon “The Cross: God Dies.” This sermon moved me as few ever have. I could hear the crackle of hell, and the warm glow of heaven. I could see the pitch black of sin, and the brilliant light of grace cutting through. I kept thinking of Driscoll as Aaron – carrying the precious censer of God’s grace, to “take his stand between the dying and the living,” (Numbers 16:48): “to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life And who is adequate for these things?” (1 Cor. 2:16). Indeed – who is adequate for these things? To stand and preach or speak the gospel into someone’s life – to “snatch from the fire those who are perishing” (Jude 1:24)?
There was real power in that sermon: this is the kind of preacher I want to be when I grow up!
All of this is background and preamble. The real event which is behind this post is a sharp family feud, which has left me shaken.
I said recently that I love debate, and that I sometimes synthesize debates by listening people presenting one side of an argument, then listening to the other side. This has happened (somewhat involuntarily) on issues of Calvinism vs. Arminianism, as I have switched from the Anabaptist/Arminian Bruxy to the Reformed/Calvinist Driscoll. My, did they ever have a fight in my head this weekend!
In working through our series on Christmas, our small group listened to Bruxy’s sermon “Technology: The Culture of ‘I’.” This was really a sermon examining the narcisicism of our culture against the teachings of the Bible, but in the middle, Bruxy spent considerable time unpacking his Arminian doctrines. He reminded his congregation that our works outside of Christ (aka before we are saved, or outside of God’s help once we get saved) are at least a little bit pleasing to God. He spent a lot of time on Cornelius: when the angel came to this man, he did not say, “your works are as filthy rags, disgusting in my sight – however, I love you purely because I have CHOSEN to love you, before the foundations of the world…” rather, he said that “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God” (Acts 10:4). You can clearly see in this story that God took the initiative to choose and rescue Cornelius: however, it seems that God’s actions were based on Cornelius’ righteousness. Now, Bruxy hastens to add that there are righteous deeds which God finds repulsive – these are empty religious works, done to try to earn God’s favour. Such works rightly deserve to be called (as Driscoll so elequently puts it) “dirty tampons” (Isaiah 64:6) and “a steaming pile” (Phil. 3:8) in God’s eyes. Genuine prayers, however, and works to the needy really seem to carry some weight in this story, however.
Lord, save me from the competition of opinions within my cranium!