Thursday, August 26, 2010

Mark Driscoll, Legalism, and Your Average PCA Congregation

Prophetic words from one of our cultural prophets. Driscoll sometimes makes me nervous. Yet, I give him props for speaking unvarnished, rugged truths to an urban audience.

And today I thank God for him for speaking unvarnished, rugged truths to me and my situation. He, like CJ Mahaney, uses doxological humor to great effect here.

I am becoming more and more aware and convinced that many, many people in the PCA do not understand the real nature of the Christian life, and it kills our kids, it kills our joy, it is pervasive among the leadership, and I hate it in myself.

The whole thing would bear watching. But, if you don't have the patience for an hour long sermon, start at 35 minutes.

Notable points at 50:50 and 57:50.

If you're in the PCA, especially listen at the 59 minute mark, where he expounds on "How to Become a Legalist:

1.) Make rules outside the Bible.
2.) PUsh yourself to try and keep your rules.
3.) Castigate yourself when you fail.
4.) Be proud when you do keep your rules.
5.) Appoint yourself as judge over people.
6.) Get angry with people who don't keep your rules or have other rules.
7.) Beat the losers.

Then he says, "If you parent like this, you will destroy your child."
Then he says, "If you are a boss like this, you will destroy your employees."

And if you lead like this, you will destroy your church. And if you lead like this, you will destroy your church. And if you lead like this, you will destroy your church....

Then he names the campuses of his own church most prone to legalism.

Then he says, "If you're sitting back, saying, "Yeah, I'm not a legalist. They don't drink, I drink. etc..." you're a reverse legalist, a libertine.

Both the legalist and the libertine are trying to do the same thing: please God by what they do or don't do.


What's the answer? Resting in Christ.

Which is basically the point of every sermon I'm trying to preach of late. Too often we're missing it, folks. We are legalists and libertines, when we need to be loving Jesus.


  1. Wow.

    This is very true. Just think of how many in culture raise their children. "Your in trouble, grounded."


    "Because you didn't obey me." <-- Legalism

    To avoid legalism with our children, we must continually tell them that the reason they are wrong is based on God's authority and therefore the authority he gave us based on what the Scriptures say. The answer is, "You didn't obey me because God's Word says, "Children obey your parents as to the Lord. And this is what the Scriptures say about why you should've obeyed me on this topic, not only because I commanded you to but because to run out into the street (for example) is being careless with your life and God says, 'Do not Murder'."

    Here God is the authority working through the parent who has been given authority by God, and the child is taught to understand that. He obeys his parent because God tells him to.

    In the first case, he was taught to obey his parent because the parent said to. That is teaching the child legalism.

    Any thoughts on that? Sorry if I didn't say it clearly, I didn't get much sleep last night.

  2. What you say is true, but not sufficient. I think you have to point them to the reality of grace, and that you share in the same struggle with the old nature they have.

    You also need to talk about motivation: we obey because we desire to please God.

    In short, what Tedd Tripp said! :-)

  3. This is such a difficult issue - difficult to flesh out. I think even in citing the scriptures and God's authority in disciplining our children it can have such legalistic tones AND motivations. Are we as parents sometimes using God to more or less spiritually/psychologically coerce our children into obedience? It seems to me the reason God commands our obedience is first rooted in love. He created us in His image. He knows what we should be and could be apart from our rebellious tendencies. Hence I see in the 10 commandments LOVE, love for God first and others second. This is of course God's requirement of us, but this is also the means by which we experience wholeness as human beings and holy, happy, healthy relationships with others. If we really believed that God loved us first and the giving of the law was an expression of that love, it would change our view of the law, our attitude in keeping it, how we communicate it, and how we respond to others and ourselves (children included) for that matter when it is broken.

  4. Okay, I just listened from about minute 45 to the end. Very good food for thought. Plain and simple we bring nothing to God's table. When we finally get that and extend that same grace to others, our churches will grow, and not just numerically but the people of God will grow in their love for him and each other. Driscoll did make me laugh a bit too.

  5. Great stuff!
    I'm guilty of allowing and doing some of this stuff.

    Best line from Driscoll: "It was illegal to heal on the Sabbath, but it was ok to plot his murder on the Sabbath."