Friday, August 5, 2011

My Response to Mark Driscoll’s Presposteous Proposition, Part II

First, cessation means that the bestowing of certain supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit such as healing, glossolalia, interpretation of glossolalia, miracles, revelation, and etc. upon certain individuals no longer takes place. Cessationism believes that these “sign” or supernatural gifts were provided during a very crucial and important transitional period in church history. God used them to authenticate both his message and messengers as the Jews, Samaritans, and Gentiles were brought together to form a unified body of believers known as the church.

When the Scriptures were complete there was no longer any need for these gifts, since the authentication of a message or messenger was now done with or by the Scriptures.

Second, cessationists do not believe that God no longer heals people or cannot enter into the realm of human beings and perform supernatural events such as miracles. God can and often performs miracles in our realm. He no longer issues these types of spiritual gifts via the Holy Spirit to specific individuals as he once did. (The Holy Spirit however still gives service gifts, Romans 12) It is at best incorrect to say that cessationist believe that God does not work miraculously and at worst dishonest.

Driscoll does not believe that the bible is our only authority for faith and practice; he believes it to be the highest authority for faith and practice. As a matter of fact what makes his proposition so serious and troublesome is that he does not believe in the sufficiency of Scripture. I am quite sure he believes in the efficaciousness of Scripture, but non-cessationist or continuationists do not believe the scripture is sufficient. This is very dangerous. He cleverly tried to contrast a reformation staple, Sola Scriptura with Solo Scriptura. He admits the scripture is our highest authority but it is not to be our only authority. Driscoll believes that various men in the Reformed movement, both past and present, have truncated if not trampled lesser revelation that should be under the scripture.

The problem with admitting new or additional revelation is that it opens the door for subjectivity. In other words, it cannot be proven wrong even with the scriptures because it is “new” and who is to say that this “new” revelation doesn’t supersede any of the “old” revelation.

What makes his proposition preposterous is not only the fact that it isn’t true, he chooses to use secular philosophy to attempt to support his proposition. Driscoll tries to cleverly throw sand in your eyes by taking you down a trail of individualism, rationalism, and skepticism. All of which you would condemn. He is trying to use smoke and mirrors to develop a distaste in your mind for such things and then associate cessationism with them. If he is successful you will develop a distaste for cessationism.

He is extremely dishonest in his presentation around the 28 minute mark of his presentation. This is why he is dangerous. He makes an untruthful statement mixed with an aversion to secular philosophy expecting you to buy into his proposition without really hearing what he said. I don’t know of a cessationist who would be in favor of creating skepticism or doubt in your mind about the miracles in the bible. Driscoll wants you to think that if you are a cessationist you would be skeptical or doubt whether Jesus really walked on water, or maybe He just walked on the shoreline, appearing to walk on water.

Cessationists do not doubt the miracles in the bible. Driscoll is shooting at a straw man. He built upon an unfounded argument. I firmly believe that God created ex nihilo, (out of nothing) this earth in six days. I believe Moses parted the Red Sea and the Israelites walked across on dry land, I believe Joshua (through God's power) made the Sun stand still and so forth. Driscoll is wrong when he cleverly tries to associate rationalism with cessationism.

Although it is not my intention to take on every inaccuracy, even the blatant ones to task in this response, it is equally dishonest and preposterous to say that cessationists have removed the Holy Spirit from the Trinity. Cessationists are not trying to explain away biblical truth by becoming rationalists or skeptics. Driscoll stated very strongly that the end result of modernistic worldliness in Christian form is hard cessationism.  He states he hasn't said this publicly and he should't have, someone should have stopped this presentation. 

What Driscoll has done, whether it is intentional or unintentional is to confuse the issue. This is a technique that the liberal left has done for years. He has made cessationism synonymous with rationalistic skepticism that would deny all miraculous activity of God in or outside of the bible. This is dishonest and dangerous. Stay tuned for the finale in part three.

Join us on Fridays for our Heroes and Heroines feature. We will take a look at various men and women who have been used by God to shape Christian thought, theology, and teachings. These men and women have had a major impact on Christianity. Here we will attempt to honor them. We hope to expose you to leading Church Fathers, martyrs, pioneers, pastors and teachers of both the past and present.


welcome to my world of poetry said...

Not only has Driscoll confused the issue he has confused me.

Have a great week-end Gregg.


Persis said...

Very good, clear post, Gregg. And an excellent response to the straw man arguments.

james said...


Driscoll clearly speaks against "hard" cessationism, and he also speaks against charismatic loons who do not submit to the authority of the Bible (he has always done this).

Driscoll has never said that the Bible isn't our sole authority, and I don't find that in the presentation he made.

Do miracles happen? Yes. If a cessationist believes in miracles (as, then I don't believe Driscoll is talking about him, but rather, again, a "hard" cessationist. He is merely doing the same thing, on the opposite end, that MacArthur did to the *extreme* charismatics in his book Charismatic Chaos.

Also, to compare Driscoll to the liberal left is quite unfair.

Also #2, to get cessationism from 1 Cor. 13 is quite a stretch, if you ask me. So though I might not agree with Driscoll on everything, all the time, I agree with him on that.

Brad said...

"This is a technique that the liberal left has done for years."

How is this a political issue?


Trisha said...

Ok, there's much here I wasn't aware of....

I will say this. We used to be under a Pastor who specifically preached that miracles no longer took place today.(He was a huge MacArthur fan, but I don't know that that's related in any way)

Really. It was shocking and very disappointing. As one who has experienced what I would define as "miracles" in many different physical ways (and not because a healer put hands on me, but because God in His mercy chose to heal and remove what was said to be impossible), I have also encountered the doubting looks from those specifically in the "Reformed" camp, for lack of a better description. :)

There was more enthusiasm from a dental hygienist when I shared what God had done than in my own church body. Those members seemed to want to rationalize away what happened. Reformed believers are often called the "frozen chosen" for a reason. Having not always been Reformed, I see that there is often a neglect of the Holy Spirit and a lack of enthusiasm and belief in what God can do.

I don't get that at all from what you're saying, Gregg,though and thanks for clarifying about miracles and affirming that God does heal in miraculous ways today.

The sufficiency of Scripture is essential, and you're right, we're on dangerous ground if we don't believe in it.

Ok, I'll be quiet now and wait for your next post. Great job!

Scott said...

Why is anyone surprised. Driscoll has had questionable methodology from the start and has been hiding behind "mostly orthodox" reformed theology. This is just one of those occasions where he steps out and shows his true colors. I wish we'd stop giving him the time of day and just move on.

Gregg said...

James - Thanks for reading and commenting. If you didn't here him say that the scripture isn't our only authority or sole authority then you missed it big time. He stated that the scripture is our highest authority but not our only authority. He tried to be clever and contrast Sola Scriptura with Solo Scriptura. He believes there are lessor authorities, to be submitted to the highest authority, but lessor authorities such as church history, even parents. He believes revelation is an authority, submitted to scripture and the elders, but still an authority. So he doesn't believe the bible is the only authority.

I didn't compare him to the liberal left, I compared his technique to the iberal left's technique. Ignore what is in plain sight and build your case with a smoke and mirrors and placing words in the opponents mouth that they never spoke.

If he is trying to make a case against the extreme cessationists, he was not clear. He used the term cessationists a number of times and "hard" cessationist a couple of times. My perception was that he lumped them all together.

I Cor 13 might be difficult but to liken certain interpretations to "folding and changing shapes" until you get a desired design was a slight at best and an attack at worst.

I am not a fan. Nor am I really a critic. He is not a target nor on my "hit" list (which I don't have one by the way) but when I listened to that message 3 complete times and then reviewed it a fourth time, I felt somebody had to say something against the preposterous and I think cleverly deceptive manner in which he misspoke.

james said...

Gregg, we believe in Sola Scriptura, not Solo Scriptura. Sola Scripture does not deny that there are other authorities outside Bible that govern Christian life and devotion (parents, the creeds, elders, government, etc.). Also, if the Bible is our only source of truth then we can't change a tire or do algebra. Now, if any of these lower authorities do not line up with the Bible teaches, then they are not upholding the authority of the Bible. This is why the Scriptures are "sufficient" for us. They are the final authority. (See pgs. 67-69 in Driscoll's "Doctrine" book.)

Wayne Grudem in his "Systematic Theology" says that prophetic claims today are not equal to Scripture and have a "lesser authority" that must be subjected to the final authority of Scripture (see chapter 52).

@Scott: The man loves Jesus and God is using him in great ways. Hard to get DA Carson, John Piper, and, oh, the whole Gospel Coalition, to support him if he is not worth "the time of day."

Petra said...

I must echo what Trisha said! Thanks, Gregg!

Josh Litton said...


Thanks for the thoughts on a controversial (obviously!) topic.

I was just wondering...when are you going to start wearing the Mickey Mouse shirt and the jeans with holes? It could catch on...

Larri @ Seams Inspired said...

I have no comment other than I find this guy, of whom I've never heard of before today, fascinating. ☺ Happy Friday!

Mike said...

Gregg, first, I'm a bit confused by what your overall argument is against. Is it the "cessationist vs. continuationist" issue? Or is it the "Sola vs. Solo Scriptura" issue? Or is it the "Rationalism" issue. I felt a little bounced around in your argument, but maybe it was last night's pizza.


I'm not so sure that Driscoll is implying the Bible is merely one of many equals that are useful for faith and practice. It hasn't been his position in the past, and I don't honestly believe it is now either.

I think Driscoll would agree that the Bible is our Authority as it pertains to salvation, revelation, justification, etc, but is not the only SOURCE useful for faithful living. Like James wrote earlier, we need other sources to teach us things the Bible is does not, since the Bible's intent is to tell the story of and glorify Jesus Christ. And, by the way, it, too, uses outside media (Philosophy, Science, Politics, Sociology, etc.) to do just that.

He's never argued for additional divine revelation, as you suggest here. He's simply saying other sources are beneficial and useful to the Christ-like life, because those sources encourage, edify, and instruct.

(By the way, if these other media are not beneficial, why, then, do you continue blogging? Why not just recite the Bible only? Why preach? After all, we're only to use the Bible, right? Instead, why can't other media work complementarily with "Sola Scriptura"? Driscoll suggests those same media are beneficial and useful to that endeavor...JUST LIKE YOU and I believe.


Listen to Driscoll's message about "The Spirit-Filled life of Jesus" (available on itunes podcast). In context, he is speaking to a large group of Reformed pastors, leaders, etc. As we all know, there are many camps of Reformed. Their theology regarding the core, uncompromising issues of theology is Reformed; and what they believe about peripheral issues (like cessationism) are debatable. He's entitled to an opinion (just like you and me) as long as he can biblically support it. And that's his purpose in that message: attempting to convince his reformed brothers of his position on continuationsim, and that the Spirit is STILL very much alive and active in our ministries as He was in Jesus' ministry.

He makes the point that we can discuss and argue those issues "outside the border", but we will not go to "war" for them. Important? Yes, but peripheral, none the less. We WILL, however, go to "war" for the core issues, though.

I wonder if you're trying to make a bigger issue out of something that isn't really at issue with Driscoll at all. I certainly don't think Driscoll is outside the lines of orthodoxy or as it pertains to the issues you mention. It just happens that you two disagree...and you're ALLOWED to disagree. Why? Because these are peripheral issues and peripheral issues only.

So, to call Driscoll "dangerous" and his argument "preposterous" is, I think, unfair and unrightly harsh. He just has a different persuasion than you do...and that is entirely acceptable in the boundaries of orthodoxy.

I look forward to part 3.

Gregg said...


First, let me say I do appreciate the dialouge, thanks! My response is to his proposition that believing in cessantionism is worldliness, that is enacased in individualism, rationalism, skepticism resulting in worldiness. My believing that the supernatural sign gifts (not the miraculous) has ended does not make me a rationalist, a skeptic, or worldly.

Driscoll tried to be cute with his Solo vs Sola comment. I only referenced that to identify how clever one can be to make a point. Driscoll implied that cessationists are guilty of Solo, meaning one authority and one only, while foolishly leaving out any other "authorities," while He and his ilk hold the true position of sola. No that is not an issue with me, just an example of cuteness and cleverness. He is a great communicator.

No doubt, there are additional sources for determining faith and practice, I am with you and him on that. But that is not his argument, he is arguing for the validity of ongoing revelation which even when subjected to the bible is authoratative. Revelation has ceased, God is no longer speaking. We must go to the bible to hear him speak, not a prophet or someone with a "gift" of revelation.

Yes, he does argue for additional revelation. First, it is part of the sign gifts he is arguing for and second, he states plainly that if a prophet receives revelation it must be subjected to the elders, scripture. He is arguing far more than just simple sources are beneficial.

Your "by the way," shows me that you missed his point and you missed my point which saddens me. I am not arguing that we can't look to the early church, the apostles, great writers, and such - if you think I said that I was not clear and you missed my point.

The argument is "are the sign gifts availabve today (continuationist) or are they not (cessationist) They are not. Nor does believing that make one worldly.

First, cessationism is not a periphereal. One cannot say that revelation, tongues, gifts of healing are ongoing or not and be on a side issue. Too much is at stake to be a side issue. The greatest disruption to the church today is this issue. More destruction has been done to the body of Christ than any other thing.

Here is where I think the deception comes in, I 100% believe the HS is active today and alive, to say I don't believe that because I am a cessationist is preposterous. The inference is you can't have it both ways. It is preposterous to infer that one would think since the sign gifts have ceased that one thinks the HS is not active or alive in the church today. That is a smoke screen.

In regards to the periphereal issue, I don't think it is. I am passionate about doctrinal purity. If one opens the door for revelation, the door is wide open for anything. The cessation of revelation is a core issue not a periphereal one. I am not trying to make bigger issue out of something that he or others may deem to be unimportant. This is huge. Either the scripture is both sufficient and effacacious or it is not. God does not speak today as he did in prior times by additional revelation. He and I do disagree, but not because it is a small issue, this is a core issue.

I called him dangerous because he is very clever, a very gifted communicator and can cause people to believe the wrong thing. His proposition that cessationist leads to individualism, rationalism, skepticism, and worldliness is preposterous at best.

I rarely use my blog as a "soap-box" to be negative or slam someone. First, I am not perfect, second, I am learning and growing everyday from a number of sources by God's grace. Second, I hate to see anything create a ripple in the body. My first post made it clear that based on his profession he is a brother in Christ and I rejoice that Christ is preached. Third, there is probably a place in the body for him.

But doctrinal purity is essential. The absolute sufficiency of scripture is essential. The cessation of revelation is essential

Gregg said...

I thought of something else after I hit the send button that I wish I had thought of earlier. I don't have it in for Driscoll, this is not about him. Yes, I did reference that fact that I thought he was a gifted communicator and as a result he can be dangerous and deceptive because of his giftedness, but it is not whether I disagree with him or not or have an issue, it is doctrinal purity. That is the issue, to turn into an issue of personality is to find another way of clouding the issue.

By the way, I made this comment to another commentor, this idea of peripheral, is overdone and abused I think. When we want to hold on to something it is easy to say it is peripheral. First, I don't think it is, I think it is huge. Second, how peripheral are things really. I don't think they are in reality. For example, let's get a baptist church to merge with a presbyterian church, or any other denomination. It won't happen (unless there is no committment to doctrinal purity.) Why? because all of a sudden what is considered to be "peripheral" is now very important to each group. One can say baptism is peripheral, I will over look your sprinkling if you over look my immersing. But how do you hammer out a doctrinal statement if you tried to put the two together? I know my "illustration" breaks down, it breaks down because the likelihood of a baptist group merging with a Presbyterian group is unlikely. But it does get tiresome to hear when one wants to protect a segment of one's belief's to list them as peripheral.

As I said, this is not small, peripheral, or unimportant issue. It is a blatant attack on the sufficiency of scripture. Let me quickly say I am not accusing Driscoll of attacking scripture intentionaly, directly, or purposefully. However, in an unintentional, indirect, and unwitting way, he is attacking the sufficiency of scripture.

Pat Donovan said...

may be you should ntake us step by step through 1 Cor 13.

james said...


I would like to point out that Wayne Grudem does call prophecy a form of revelation that is not equal to Scripture and must be measured against Scripture. I'm sure you wouldn't call Grudem's position "preposterous"?

Gregg said...

James, please remember what my point was; I did not call, as you noted yourself, Driscoll preposterous, no did I call his position as a continuationist preposterous, I called his proposition that cessationism leads to or is equal to worldliness preposterous. I stand by that. That proposition is preposterous. He could have attempted to make his case why the supernatural sign gifts were still available, but he chose to attack and label cessationists as individualists, rationalists, skeptics, and worldly. Somebody, and even you as astute and theologicaly trained as you should have said so.

So, having said that, no I would not call Grudum's position or Piper, or Mahaney's position as continuationists as preposterous. If anyone of them stated that cessationists are worldly then I would.

james said...

Sorry to be commenting in two segments now, but I see what you are saying, Gregg. Thanks for the clarification.

I agree that Driscoll should not have went there at all. Of course. However, AGAIN, I will point out that I think Driscoll is going after "hard cessationists" who try to downplay the miracles in the Bible altogether. (Of whom, among other cessationists, John MacArthur is not one.)

Most definitely, Driscoll should have come up with a word other than "cessationist" for this talk. His talk seemed, to me, to be about "Spirit-filled living" on the whole, and not gifts of the Spirit.

I am 100% solid with you that he should have not connected this to worldliness, but rather, as you said, just celebrated continuationism the best he could from Scripture.