Friday, January 23, 2009

In the Banner

Check out this article I wrote for The Banner last summer. I'm so pleased it's finally published.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Manly Calvinism?

This weekends NY Times Magazine has an article about Mark Driscoll, a popular minister in Seattle. I wanted to bring it up on my blog to start a discussion with my calvinist friends about how to parse his (offensive to me) message given our background. I should mention first that I think the writer does a great job, although I wish she would have consulted other mainstream calvinists with some of her discussion of the impact of calvinism.

My primary question is about the way Driscoll's understanding of masculinity and authority are tied up in his understanding of calvinism. A few illuminating quotations:

Driscoll is adamantly not the “weepy worship dude” he associates with liberal and mainstream evangelical churches, “singing prom songs to a Jesus who is presented as a wuss who took a beating and spent a lot of time putting product in his long hair.”
The mainstream church, Driscoll has written, has transformed Jesus into “a Richard Simmons, hippie, queer Christ,” a “neutered and limp-wristed popular Sky Fairy of pop culture that . . . would never talk about sin or send anyone to hell.”

“They are sinning through questioning,” Driscoll preached. John Calvin couldn’t have said it better himself.
Now, I think I heard that John Calvin himself was kind of an authoritarian jerk and sexist (it was the 16th century after all, who wasn't?). However, I don't think that Calvin's theology, or the other theology in that tradition necessarily implicates these attitudes. In fact, I found Molly Worthen's conclusion quite satisfying:

At one suburban campus that I visited, a huge yellow cross dominated center stage — until the projection screen unfurled and Driscoll’s face blocked the cross from view. Driscoll’s New Calvinism underscores a curious fact: the doctrine of total human depravity has always had a funny way of emboldening, rather than humbling, its adherents.
So here's my question for participation: DOES Calvinism lead to this kind of arrogance and machoism?

Here's another: why does Driscoll reject most evangelical's distrust of alcohol, tattoos, cursing and violence, but stand resolutely behind traditional gender roles and sexual mores? (My suspicion: he likes power and to be "tough" and feminism takes away power from men like Driscoll.)

Also, I think it's incorrect to associate warm fuzzy Jesus who doesn't challenge anyone or deal well with bad things that happen with liberalism. This might be my bias, but I think liberal theology does the opposite: acknowledges the wages of sin in the world and calls for justice. Also, are tattoos and spiky hair still a mark of hipness? Just saying.