Thursday, January 08, 2009

Driscoll on Jesus the Evangelist to the Unevangelized?

Timmy Brister points to us an interesting paragraph made by Mark Driscoll that was posted on the Resurgence website:

Lastly, the fact that Jesus remains to this day an active evangelist is of great encouragement to me personally. It means that children who are aborted in the womb, those mentally incapable of understanding the gospel, and those people who have lived in times and places that missionaries did not visit are not necessarily beyond the hope of salvation. Indeed, Jesus could visit and save anyone anywhere because He remains The Evangelist.

I find myself very very uneasy over the sentiments stated in that paragraph and echo the same concerns as Timmy Brister. What does Driscoll mean here? Is this some form of inclusivism? Barring the mentally handicapped and the unborn, the mention of unreached peoples and people groups is very troubling. Is the Gospel necessary unto salvation, or can salvation be mediated by some sort of supernatural encounter apart from the Scriptures and cognitive belief in Christ? Something stinks over in the New Calvinist camp, that's for sure.

[HT: Christian Research Net]


Michael Krahn said...

This a difficult question to answer. The passage in Romans 1 certainly teaches that those who respond improperly to General Revelation are judged based on their response. Would it follow then that there is a proper response to General Revelation and that God would find this response acceptable?

Leon Morris says that, “He [Paul] is not facing the question whether there was enough in the revelation for them to be saved.” (P79) but he also says, “It does seem clear here that Paul is not speaking of a saving knowledge of God.”

If that is the case, then two questions come to mind: (1) If we say that there is no response to General Revelation that God finds acceptable, then what is the point of the revelation? (2) If we say that apart from human preaching (Romans 10:14-15) they cannot be saved, do we belittle God’s sovereignty?

In my opinion, this passage addresses those who have knowledge of God, yet actively and intentionally suppress it. Those who accept this knowledge and respond to it as fully as they can must have some opportunity to obtain a “saving knowledge” of God.

In the end, whether we believe they can or cannot obtain a saving knowledge via General Revelation, we should be eager for all to hear about and have the opportunity to accept Christ. It is fair to say that I don’t have this issue completely resolved in my own mind.

PuritanReformed said...


With regards to General Revelation, I tend to take the position that it is enough in it to save providing Man does not sin and rebel against God and His Law. In Rom. 1:21, the verse states that Man knew God and yet rebelled against Him. The problem with GR is not that it does not have the inherent capacity to save but it is unable to save because of Man's sin. The question therefore is not whether there is a proper response to GR but whether anyone can give that proper response in the first place. I submit that no one can do so because we are all sinners by nature.

With regards to God's sovereignty, most definitely God is sovereign. However, does this therefore mean that God does not operate apart from the means he has ordained to bring about salvation? I guess the idea here is whether God sovereignly saves people apart from the means of such (ie hearing and believing the Gospel). Most definitely, the case of the mentally handicapped and the unborn are something that may be harder to think through the issue, but is it hard to think through the case of those who have never heard the Gospel? After all, we are all condemned because we are by nature sinners and we sin continually, not because we have rejected the Gospel, right? Does God owe anyone the priviledge to hear the Gospel and have the opportunity to be saved, so to speak?

But most defintely, I agree with your last paragraph. We should be eager to proclaim the Gospel to all so that God may work salvation in their hearts. Amen.

rick said...

Based on his other writings I doubt Driscoll is saying anything very different than you. CRN is notorious for grabbing sound bites and we should be careful of that.

I do not know absolutely what Driscoll means. The quote itself is not contrary to Scripture without making assumptions regarding his intent. The whole of Driscoll's writing (at least what I've read) is very Christocentric.

So good dialog but be careful of joining the "something stinks over in the New Calvinist camp" camp. They find something stinking every time they step out of their own camp but never smell the stench from within.

PuritanReformed said...


Actually I checked out Timmy Brister's site and also the original article on the Resurgence website. So,it is not just a "soundbite" in that sense. The language itself is worrisome so I think Driscoll should clarify his position on thie matter, and alter the language if necessary.

rick said...

Again - no issue with recommending clarification but that's a long way from "something stinks over in the New Calvinist camp, that's for sure."

I think I could take a lot of stuff from your blog and say it needs clarification but that doesn't mean you are a bad guy.

But hey - I'm not a Driscoll defender ... I just thought the dialog here was helpful but did not require the comments toward Driscoll to trigger it.

PuritanReformed said...


the issue with the New Calvinists is not only with Driscoll per se. Since I came to know of the movement, something just doesn't add up and my spirit felt it. I haven't research that much into it yet but red flags of various sorts have sprung up once in a while. So I will continue to be very cautious about the movement while pointing out areas of concern as I see them.

rick said...

Fair enough ... let me know what you learn. I'd be interested. I have not heard the term. I don't know if Driscoll is in that camp but again, I've read some articles by him and I'm currently reading Death by Love and find it all Christocentric, hard hitting, etc. ... I have been pleasantly surprised.

PS - I trust all is well with you and perhaps I'll get another trip to Singapore so we can connect again. I enjoyed our meeting last time.

PuritanReformed said...


Well, I guess the term primarily came from Colin Hansen's book Young, Restless and Reformed.

Yup, if you ever come to Singapore again, we can meet.