It’s been a little over a week since the StrangeFire conference, and the internet has already doubled in size. There’s been rumors accusations, gossip, threats of writing books, open letters to everyone and their dog, radio show quote-mine sessions, t-shirts, and everything else under the sun in response to, or support of, the conference.
Now it seems like pretty much all Charismatics have been offended at the conference because some of the main figures in the movement got the rumor going that MacArthur & Co. had made the accusation that every Charismatic commits the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit; the unforgivable sin.
Well, that’s simply untrue and shows a shallow misunderstanding of the distinctions (i.e. the movement, as a movement, is separate from individuals within the movement, and “blaspheming the Spirit” [namely, sinning or teaching error in the name of the Spirit] is different than “the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit”) that were clearly drawn in the conference, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself with all this as much of these things merit a post unto themselves.
Ironically, what has created the biggest stir with regards to the conference wasn’t anything said at the conference. It was the Mark Driscoll (and James MacDonald) publicity stunt where Mark Driscoll showed up on the campus of Grace Community Church, unannounced outside of a twitter comment an hour before hand, started handing out books, and then was asked to stop…which he portrayed in a cryptically different light (discussed here and here).
Mark Driscoll has written a response here, which includes his side of the story (which has been officially rebutted already in the comment threads of the previously linked posts), and has more deceptive posturing designed to drum up support from his fan base who don’t really have all the facts (or are simply looking for a way to vindicate their favorite pastor).
What is the deceptive posturing? The invitation to his national Resurgence Conference in Seattle (which is happening next week). Here’s the full text of the invitation portion:
At this point, I believe what would honor Jesus is for us to sit down and talk. So, I am formally inviting you to Seattle to join me on stage for our national Resurgence Conference on November 5–6.
I will pay for your travel. I will give an honorarium to you or any ministry you choose. And, I will cover the travel costs of any of your pastoral staff you’d like join us, as I would actually like to see them again.
Originally, I was going to have a company live stream our conference online for people who paid an access fee, but I recently tore up that contract. We’re now going to show the conference free online for the world in an effort to open up our important discussion to as many people as possible. I would also post our discussion in its entirely—without any editing—for free online.
I am working as an unpaid volunteer for this event, and I believe the loss of live stream revenue is worth it for an investment in the Kingdom. I assure you, I will be very kind and gracious and respectful. Ours will be a dialogue on very important issues, and I pray by the Spirit’s power we can model some graciousness and clarify terms while striving to state what we believe to be biblical truth.
I believe this could be a very profitable discussion—especially for young leaders who will be tuning in to learn as we model how to handle disagreement. In our day when online misquoting and Internet flame throwing hinder real progress, I truly believe we have a great opportunity to model a different way of dealing with important issues for God’s glory.
In an effort to be flexible, I can guarantee any of the following options can work as a time to schedule our discussion, and I assume our time together would last 60–90 minutes:
- November 5 at 8:20 a.m. (I would gladly give up my opening session for our discussion)
- November 5 at 11 a.m.
- November 5 at 3:30 p.m.
- November 6 at 11:50 a.m.
- November 6 anytime between 1–3:30 p.m.
If you’d like to join us at the conference but need other options for timing, I would be willing to ask some of our other speakers to change their times to accommodate you. Our event is scheduled to end around 4 p.m. both days, but if you could only make it after that time I would also gladly extend the event to accommodate you.
Finally, I have spoken with Dr. Wayne Grudem, who has taught for both of us. If you would prefer to sit down with him instead of me at our Resurgence Conference, he has graciously agreed and would be happy to have a pleasant and polite public conversation with you about the person and work of God the Holy Spirit for one of the main sessions.
If there is anything you can think of that would help me make this offer more loving and reasonable, please let me know. The fruit of the Spirit is love, and that is my heartfelt hope. Thank you for considering this invitation.
Why is it deceptive posturing?
For the outside observer, it appears to be an honest “come on over and have a discussion” invitation. I get that it sure looks like it.
In reality, it’s an invitation to a major speaking event that MacArthur couldn’t possibly attend being 2.5 weeks after his own rather significant conference. It’s like when you feel that you’ve been neglecting someone at church, so you invite them over for lunch only after discovering that they’re already booked. You look like you’ve made an effort (and gladly claim the “social grace points”), but in reality you’ve never really offered a serious invitation.
I’d definitely say that is what’s going on here.
Mark Driscoll is many things, but stupid isn’t one of them…and I’d bet the Orphan Annie’s dog that Mark Driscoll knows that John MacArthur cannot possibly come to Seattle for 2 reasons:
1. MacArthur’s schedule isn’t exactly open. At the beginning of the conference, in the first address, MacArthur announced that he was celebrating his 50th wedding anniversary with his wife and the church gave him 50 days off for 50 years of marriage. He also announced that he had to come back from the middle of their holidays for the conference, which was time he was going to make up for after the conference with extra holiday time for his wife (like 25 days or more).
John MacArthur wouldn’t ditch his wife and their 50 year celebratory holiday to come to Mark Driscoll’s conference.
Mark Driscoll should know this, but even if he doesn’t, it wouldn’t matter.
2. MacArthur’s schedule isn’t exactly open. Mark Driscoll also knows that John MacArthur has a speaking schedule that’s booked two years in advance (just like his own) and even if Mark Driscoll didn’t know about the anniversary, he knows that John MacArthur couldn’t possibly come without cancelling on someone else who booked him 12-20 months ago. Mark Driscoll himself could only come to the conference to distribute books because he was already speaking at a men’s conference that had been set up over a year in advance. I’d guess that Mark Driscoll would have liked to crash the whole conference but simply could not because he was already booked, so he took the time that he had free and still drove up.
So whether due to ditching his wife on their 50th anniversary celebration holiday, or due to a monstrous speaking schedule, Annie would lose Sandy on this one:
Mark Driscoll’s offer looks sincere to the uninformed outsider, sure. He appears to want to talk, sure…although he’s evaded all MacArthur’s other offers to talk in the past…but it could still be that maybe he’s turned over a new leaf.
Maybe he wants John MacArthur there to join in a serious conversation.
Maybe he’ll even apologize for how he’s been divisive in the body of Christ…not that any continuationist/cessationist could ever be divisive with comments like those.
Or maybe not. His offer appears to be another piece of public posturing to a man who likely couldn’t possibly accept it. It’s like he’s making the offer with this face:
Come out to Seattle and have a chat…if you can convince your wife that I’m more important than your 50th anniversary, or if you can free up your schedule and take 3 days off on 2 weeks notice? I’m sure you can because you have nothing going on anyway, right?
Until Next Time,
Lyndon “No, I’m not comparing Pee Wee to Mark Driscoll…just the face. Calm down!” Unger
P.S. – Seeing that others have probably already beat me to this post, I slammed it out this morning with 1 hand on the keyboard and a 5 month old baby in my other hand. You’re welcome.