"We will never save civilisation as long as civilisation is our main object. We must learn to want something else even more."
—C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
What idiot "preaches" or illustrates from a school rule book? Does Driscoll think all rules are a form of legalism, like the ten commandments?
Legalism is "a keeping of the law, particularly in a formal sense, and a regarding of obedience as meritorious" (Erickson). I don't recall BJU saying that their rules (i.e., wearing a tie or the length of hair) were a way to gain favor with God. So Driscoll's point in reading the rule book was lame and a waste of time.If I work for a corporation that requires me to wear a tie, am I a legalist for complying or are they legalistic for requiring it from me?Having or obeying rules does not make one a legalist. It is a matter of intent.
heh - In regards to hair length: "Samson would have been expelled...:and he had such high moral character, if only his hair was shorter...c'mon man, if he would have quoted from the current rule book half of what he talked about (especially the more grievous parts) have changed. Behind the times? Sure. Legalistic? Not so sure. Though no doubt there have been a fair amount of legalists pass through their halls, rules don't automatically make one a legalist.
D,Does a school have to specifically state that their rules are a way to gain favor with God in order to give that impression? Ben and I grew up in a BJU-saturated church and school, and I don’t recall anyone ever stating that obedience to rules = favor with God, but we got the message loud and clear.I disagree that it’s a matter of intent. It’s a matter of “message”, not the intent behind the message. I’m afraid that when I’m a parent I’ll be an accidental legalist, because it was so ingrained in me. If I accidentally teach my child that obedience to rules leads to favor with God, it doesn’t matter what my intent was.Which leads me to my last disagreement with you, in comparing a work dress code with a Christian institution dress code. The purpose of a work dress code is probably to exude a certain form of professionalism, maybe to make an impression on a client and sell a product. Christian institutions can have dress codes for “professionalism” reasons too, but anyone who’s attended an institution like that and has had to determine whether or not the shirt you’re wearing qualifies as a sweater (acceptable dinnerwear) or a sweatshirt (unacceptable dinnerwear) by the amount or strength of the elastic at the bottom, and had to pass through a gauntlet of dress code police, would probably agree that there was a spiritual meaning attached, intentionally or not. Besides, Christians aren’t selling a product; even if we were, why would we be so concerned with the external appearance when God cares about the heart?Anonymous,“Behind the times”? You’re referring obviously to BJU’s rule against interracial dating? Right and wrong doesn’t change with the decades or centuries. Calling the rule “behind the times” is awfully kind.
Actually, my behind the times comment had to do more with some of the dress code stuff. Never agreed with the dating rule and was glad it was dropped while I was there.
Here's something that sounds like it might be talking about the same thing...http://stuffoutloud.blogspot.com/2010/04/contextualized-preaching.html I think its possible for contextualizers to be legalistic, setting up as law their own lawlessness. That might be a more contextualized application for the Seattle community.
Greg,"Ben and I grew up in a BJU-saturated church and school, and I don’t recall anyone ever stating that obedience to rules = favor with God, but we got the message loud and clear."This is a very telling sentence. Not about BJU, but about you. I came out of public school, but the Pastor at the church I was attending when I came to Christ was on the board of BJU. I was at BJU for eight years (undergrad and grad) and have been in "BJU-friendly" churches every since then - including the one where I currently serve as Pastor. I NEVER got the impression that my obedience to the rules was somehow making me more righteous than anyone else. BJU made it a point over and over again to emphasize the fact that obedience to the rules of BJU does not equal righteousness. I can remember hearing Mr. Berg, in particular, teach on this numerous times.If YOU picked up the opposite message "loud and clear" perhaps the problem is with your ability to process messages or with what you wanted to believe rather than what was actually true.Perhaps rather than misinterpreting and blaming the messenger, you ought to reflect upon how you could have so distorted the message and feel that it is now acceptable for you to blast the messenger because of your own distortions.
"BJU made it a point over and over again to emphasize the fact that obedience to the rules of BJU does not equal righteousness. I can remember hearing Mr. Berg, in particular, teach on this numerous times."Obedience to the rules does not equal righteousness, sure. But, does disobedience equal unrighteousness? Ah, there's the rub. And, what about obedience with a "bad attitude"? Hmm.Keith
Keith,Is there really a question in your mind that disobedience to a legitimate authority in one's life or obeying said authority with a bad attitude is pleasing to God? You may think the rules are silly but if you have put yourself under that authority structure, how could those actions you describe be anything other than unrighteous in God's sight?
ding, ding, ding, ding! And, there it is. In less than an hour.Keith
Keith,I have no idea what your point is.Do you have any children? Does Driscoll have any children?
I would surmise that Keith's point is this: we cannot please God. Christ already did that. He enables us to love Him and love others...that IS the law. The harder we try, the harder we fall. So stop trying and let Jesus hold you...you are dearly loved. We work because He works. Nothing you can do will make Him love you more, and nothing you can do will make Him love you less.
1 Thessalonians 4:1 Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more.
"that you abstain from sexual immorality" seems to be the point of that passage...not that you cut your hair or listen only to Mac Lynch.
Sigh. Let’s review the argument so far:1. You said, “I would surmise that Keith's point is this: we cannot please God.”2. I quote Paul showing that we ought to try to please God – it’s a valid concept, especially because we are justified in God’s sight. Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid!3. Then you respond with, that verse isn’t talking about only listening to Mac Lynch.Honestly, who said it was? The issue isn’t hair length or music. It isn’t should the authority have certain rules. It isn’t has the authority has asked you to disobey God. The issue that Keith raised was does disobedience to legitimate authority (or obedience with a bad attitude) constitute unrighteousness? In other words, as I read that question, does that action measure up to the standard that God has for those who have crucified the flesh and the lusts thereof? Is that how the new man is supposed to act? Now, Paul says in 1 Thes 4:1 that there is apostolic doctrine that we have received and that teaches us how to live our new lives in Christ and how to please God, and I believe that apostolic doctrine touches on Keith’s questions. That’s why I commented in the first place. I’m flabbergasted because this seems pretty simple to me. Unless Keith means by “unrighteousness” that we lose our right standing before God – which would be a very uncharitable assumption on his part to make, i.e., that people at BJU (given the context of the discussion) believe or teach that you lose your right standing before God if you break an institutional rule – then, as I said, I completely don’t understand his point.
BJU absolutely left me feeling like pleasing them was equivalent to pleasing God. I fear we cannot agree, since you don't concede that this happens/is taught/implied at BJU. I was a tortured soul and I was a prize example of a BJU person, leadership roles and all. The more I tried to please God by pleasing BJU, the more miserable I was. I lived in a state of anxiety and was one of the least loving people I knew (with the best possible intentions).To restate Driscoll's points about legalism:How to Become a Legalist:1. Make rules outside the Bible2. Push yourself to try and keep your rules3. Castigate yourself when you don't keep your rules4. Become proud when you do keep your rules 5. Appoint yourself as judge over other people6. Get angry with people who break your rules or have different rules7. "Beat" the losers
and now, I might add, I'm being treated by people still at BJU the same way I used to treat others. Right down the line of the 7 points Driscoll makes. But I am rejoicing in God's goodness and loving His Word in a way I never would have thought possible. I've seen fruit I could not have seen if I was still working to please BJU.
Anonymous,I obviously don’t know who you are, your background, or what your issues were at Bob Jones. We both went to the same institution and came away with two completely different experiences. A tortured soul? Why? What does 1 Peter 2:13, 18-19 mean to you in this context of supposedly unjust rules or treatment at Bob Jones?Bob Jones has certain values that it believes in and promotes. So does Driscoll. Bob Jones has rules outside the Bible. Driscoll says you shouldn’t have those. Yet, if he is a parent, I suspect that he has rules that he expects his children to obey that are not direct Bible commandments. At least I hope he does. Is that wrong? Would it be wrong for a child to think that God expects him to obey his parents with a good attitude? Would it be wrong to say that disobedience to parents displeases God? When my son disobeys me, it displeases me, yet I still love him just the same. Same with God. That’s not hard to understand.I will give you that parents can react to a child’s disobedience in a way that tells the child, I only love you when you obey me. That would be wrong. Maybe that is the type of experience that you had at Bob Jones. If so, I am truly sorry about that, and that would have been very wrong on their behalf to treat you like that. But to Frank’s point, the problem may have been your thinking/theology going into the situation. Maybe you thought you would lose your standing with God if you did not obey the rules at Bob Jones. Just reading your comments here makes me think that might be the case. Regardless, I don’t believe that would have been the norm for most people on campus. Furthermore, it doesn’t have anything to do with the existence or non-existence of rules, but how those rules are communicated and enforced, and how one views his relationship to God and authority.
definitely I came into BJ with that mindset, because it was the same at my Christian school and my church and at home with my BJ grad parents. Grace is missed...the real meaning. Truth is there, but it is mixed with grievous error. Paging Galatians. Also Matthew 23:But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.
as to 1 Peter 2, that is one of the biggest errors I've seen in fundamentalism. Treating the government as something to be despised and viewed with paranoid suspicion, instead of God-ordained. In cases of (for example) abuse within the Catholic church, who has come along and helped the wrongs be brought to light? The police, the legal system. In fundamentalism, a guy "repents" privately (to himself or a trusted deacon) and then goes about his business. I've seen it. No police report filed, no counseling sought, no social workers involved. The children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light. We care more about Sovereign Grace music than we do about abused children. We have been straining at gnats. Just one example.
Oh, and Frank Sansone? You definitely imbibed the chapel sayings posted around campus, particularly this one: No doubt the problem is with you. Your posts to Greg drips with it. You can't even see how unloving you sound. Honestly. And I think you're a good guy, and I remember you from school. But you've drunk the beverage.
Anonymous,I haven't read the comments in this thread yet, but if you're going to engage in a long conversation like this I'd encourage you to identify yourself in some way.Anonymous comments are welcome, but my personal practice is not to interact with them.
It's a good policy. I'll respect it by leaving, since I don't think my relatives welcome these sorts of posts from me by name. Thanks for wording it so kindly.
Here Driscoll descends into a spirit fundamentalists are criticized for: poking fun at brothers, lambasting brothers as Pharisees and legalists, judging brothers on the basis of a decade-old policy now repudiated. For a few good laughs he dishonors the body of Christ, reopens old wounds, and foments schism and false stereotypes, replacing charity and humility with unfairness and cockiness. Some within fundamentalism do this regularly. Some non-fundamentalists repudiate these things as un-Christian and un-loving, then go ahead and do them. It is hypocrisy. The spirit smacks of Peter Ruckman's.I have no problem that he reads and evaluates something written by BJU and makes a case for the existence of those rules tending towards legalism; neither do I have a problem when fundamentalists read and evaluate something written or said by non-fundamentalists. I do have a problem with any of us doing this in a fun-poking, know-it-all, "this'll bring down the house" spirit.Repudiating sin is good. Warning the flock is great. Grieving over error is divine. But getting some laughs over a handbook is the stuff appropriate of David Letterman, not the expositor of God's Word.In a world where fundamentalists are publicly appreciating the contributions of conservative evangelicals and conservative evangelicals are publicly recognizing the strengths of fundamentalists, I do not see how Christ and the unity of His kingdom were served by Driscoll's illustration. May we learn from this how NOT to handle disagreements with brothers. May all believers raise the maturity level of our blogging and preaching above the bar.
"The issue that Keith raised was does disobedience to legitimate authority (or obedience with a bad attitude) constitute unrighteousness?"That is not the issue that I raised. The issue I raised was, "Does breaking a BJU rule result in unrighteousness." I also added, "what about obedience with a 'bad attitude'?" (notice the quotation marks around bad attitude).You jumped right to the "legitimate authority" bit. Can a school legitimately ban "interracial dating"? Does openly criticizing such a rule -- even while obeying it really constitute a sinful attitude?Jumping like you've done Andy, definitely sends a message and reveals something.Keith
@ Andy Efting, One of the ways institutionalized rules of the type we are discussing here promotes a sort of legalism is the way they practically ignore progressive sanctification. In a church discipleship arena, failures/halting progress is more than merely acceptable, it is expected as the norm. It a Bible College, you must meet (sometimes arbitrary)expectations xyz no matter what, or you don't get to be educated/trained/discipled there.I'm sure the rules are formulated with an expectation that a desire to attend presupposes a certain maturity level. But when that is not expressly stated it can be confuising (and even more so for grade or high-schoolers).What ends up being communicated, or at least strongly implied, is that "good/real Christians don't/won't (want to) do [insert forbidden item here)". Which may be true, but that statement leaves out most of the redemptive equation. It may not techically be legalism, but it often functions as such.David.
So, your comment was all about the dating rule? I don’t want to be sucked into that conversation. They have changed the rule and said their former policies were not right. Can we please move on?
No my comment wasn't all about the dating rule. My question was, "Does breaking a rule result in unrighteousness?"If so, then all the lip service to "Keeping the rules doesn't make you righteous," and "These are just institutional rules" is just that, lip service.Andy, you seem to assume that institutional authority is automatically legitimate and that one must happily comply with such institutional authority.Should one happily and quietly comply with any and every rule that BJU comes up with -- until they decide to change it later? What makes/made them change it? This question applies to the dating rule, but to many others too. BJU hasn't done a good job of teaching its students how to discern what authority IS legitimate and what to do -- other than leave or "separate" -- when an authority's decree is illegitimate. You don't even consider the possibility, and in the case of an admitted illegitimacy, you won't discuss it.We can "please move on" as you say. Any chance you see, though, how that type of comment gives the impression that one's relationship with the institution is a mark of virtue (or lack thereof)?And, I'd still really like to know, does breaking a rule (like the dating rule, or the "off limits" churches rule, or the ties in the morning rule, etc.) result in unrighteousness? Does it or doesn't it?
"the problem may have been your thinking/theology going into the situation."Yes, that is one possibility. Anyone sane must admit that. Will you admit that another possibility is that the problem may have been the way the rules were communicated or "lived"?An institution in which the second option is ruled out as a possibility (because it is defined as "a bad attitude") is one that should be resisted.Keith
Oops. That's me right after Andy's last comment too.Keith
Keith,Yes, I do agree with the concept of institutional authority. That institution can be the home, the church, school, government, employer, etc. I don’t believe that gives the institution the right to institute ungodly rules. Honestly, I was not considering that as part of this discussion. I was thinking of legitimate rules that would come under the authority of the institution. If you want to talk about how to respond to illegitimate rules, I think that’s another conversation. Yes, going to a church that is off-limits would be unrighteous. If you have put yourself under an authority that says you may not go to such-n-such church, then to go to that church would be sinful rebellion. If the rule is that you have to wear a tie to breakfast, then to disregard that rule would be sinful, unrighteous rebellion against God. Do you really disagree? Can you be a good Christian and disregard your school’s rules, your parent’s rules, your government’s rules? No, you cannot.But don’t turn that into making me say that I’m advocating a Bill Gothard type view of obedience to authority. I’m not. In general, yes, we should happily and quietly comply with the rules. Does that mean all rules? No. Should there be legitimate ways to contest rules that you don’t agree with? Yes. Are all rules good, godly, and wise? No. Is Bob Jones perfect? No. Have they implemented and communicated their rules in the best way? No. Have they done a poor job? In some cases yes, and in some cases, no. Would I like them to do a better job of teaching principles of sanctification within their rules and culture? Yes.
"Can you be a good Christian and disregard your school’s rules, your parent’s rules, your government’s rules?"What would Moses' mother say? What about Daniel and his friends? How'd Paul end up in jail? Why is Rahab in Hebrews 11? It just isn't as simple as you want it to be. And, the view that it is almost always that simple is part of what sends the message."If you have put yourself under an authority that says you may not go to such-n-such church, then to go to that church would be sinful rebellion."See, again, you assume that it is ok for the authority to do whatever it wants "if you have put yourself under" it. Is it really legitimate for a school to determine which churches are acceptable?A school which calls itself Christian should not claim the right to make whatever rule it wants just because attendance is voluntary. It may be within its political rights, but it is not necessarily within the limited sphere of authority granted by God.And, just as you don't want to be considered a Gothardite, I don't want to be considered an antinomian -- just because I think one ought to at least pause for a breath before assuming that institutions are "generally speaking" in the right.Why on earth must someone quietly comply with rules. Why on earth would it have been wrong to say, "I'm complying with this dating rule, but it is evil, and I hope to help change it." Why on earth would it be wrong to say, "I don't mind wearing this tie, but really, a colorful piece of fabric around one's neck is something necessary? How funny are we humans! It's so ridiculous." Would it really have been wrong to have said, "Southside was acceptable when I put myself under your authority, now you've made it off limits in the middle of a semester. You do not have this kind of authority over churches or me"?Keith
Keith,I’m not sure why you bring up Moses, Daniel, Paul, and Rahab because I’ve already said that I wasn’t talking about ungodly rules. No, it’s not always simple but really, for the most part, it is. Honestly, how many times does a student at BJ have to struggle with obeying God or a Bob Jones authority figure? Not often. I also never said that it is ok for the authority to do whatever it wants “if you have put yourself under” it. I acknowledge that there ought to be limits, but I don’t have heartburn over dress codes, or possible church restrictions.My junior year at Bob Jones I was told by an authority figure to do something that I didn’t think I should do. I didn’t do it and got written up for direct disobedience – 50 demerits. When I went before the discipline committee, I explained the situation and those 50 demerits were removed. I know that it is necessary sometimes not to follow the rules, but for the most part, it is unrighteous to break rules without a good, godly reason. As for quietly complying with the rules, what is the benefit for you or your authority figure if you constantly argue, complain, or poke fun at the rules? “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” Heb 13:17.
Ben,I am sorry to have "posted and run." I was at church (where we do not have internet access) and then I was with my son in the ER until early this morning and then we had visitation and other things at church today.Anonymous,If you are still around, thank you for pointing out how unloving my post sounded. I did not intend for it to be that way, but as I re-read it, I can definitely see that it did not come across nearly as gracious as I would have liked. Greg,Please forgive me for the nature of my post above. I believe the content is accurate, in that the interpretation that you received from the rules at BJU were not in line with the actual message being given, but I could have surely stated it in a more loving way.Keith,It seems that there are (at least) two specific question that you have asked that should be addressed in the context of this thread.1. You asked:"But, does disobedience equal unrighteousness? Ah, there's the rub. And, what about obedience with a "bad attitude"? Hmm."I would say, "Yes." Disobedience to a legitimate authority equals unrighteousness. We are told to obey/submit to those that are over us (Heb 13:17, 1 Peter 2:13-15, etc.). A failure to do so is therefore an unrighteous act because it is ultimately disobedience to the God who has told us to obey/submit. Whether the act is intrisically unrighteous act or not, if it has been given unto us by a legitimate authority, we ought to obey. For instance, there is nothing intrinsically unrighteous about driving 70 miles per hour. In fact, I am perfectly free to drive 70 miles per hour in some locations (I believe parts of North Carolina would qualify). However, if I were to drive 70 miles per hour in Maryland (or at least in our area of Maryland, although I believe it is state-wide), I would be unrighteous in so driving. Why? How did driving 70 suddenly become unrighteous? ANSWER: It became unrighteous when the legitimate authority over me declared that I was not allowed to do it in my state. These leads to the second question, which I will (I believe legitimately) paraphrase as:2. What constitutes legitmate authority? or Is institutional authority automatically legitimate? (I hope, Keith, that I am not misrepresenting the nature of your question posted in the middle of your response on 4/03/2010 11:07 AM)I would say that legitimate authority would involve those authority that God has undeniably placed over us (by virtue of birth, residence, etc. - things like our parents and our government), as well as those authorities under which we have placed ourselves (such as schools, work settings, etc.).Are there any times when it is okay to disobey a legitimate authority? While I believe that this would go beyond the scope of this thead (if we have not already went beyond it), my brief answer is "Yes, but there are conditions for doing so."In Christ,Frank Sansone
Sorry, I just noticed that Andy already covered some of the things that I just posted. Not trying to pile on.Frank
Frank and Andy,I agree with you that a Christian should obey a legitimate rule imposed by a legitimate authority. That said:1) I suspect that you guys define "illegitimate" and "ungodly" too narowly. For example, I believe that it is at least worthy of discussion whether or not a school should sit in judgement on churches. And, even though Andy doesn't want to discuss it -- the interracial dating rule was illegitimate and ungodly on multiple levels.2) Andy asked, "what is the benefit for you or your authority figure if you constantly argue, complain, or poke fun at the rules?" Who said anything about arguing or complaining? I said openly protest or laugh. The benefit of protesting an illegitimate rule is that it might be changed. The benefit of laughing at silly rules is that it will maintain the distinction between holiness and institutional practicality.3) Finally, back to what was really my original point (that I admittedly did a poor job of articulating, for which I am sorry) -- (a)Is there any feeling/attitude that someone who is not under BJU's rules is less righteous when they "break" said rules (say wear their hair too long/short, listen to rock music, go to a church on the list, wear shorts, date someone of another race, wear blue jeans to worship, etc.)? (b)Is there any feeling/attitude that someone is less righteous if they choose not to go to the university because they don't want to happily and quietly submit to such rules? (c)Is there any feeling/attitude that someone who is under BJU's authority is wrong if -- even while happily and quietly obeying the rules -- they internally believe that the rules are ludicrous?If the answer to any of those is "yes" -- to any degree -- then it doesn't matter what Mr. Berg said. And, I think that is what Ben and Greg and maybe some others are trying to say here (sorry if I'm wrong here Ben and Greg) -- there's more involved in this question than the official talking points.And, to be blunt, if the folks at BJU themselves can't mourn some of their past rules and can't laugh at quite a few others, then there is something seriously out of whack in their understanding of legitimate authority.Keith
Wow, this has to be the highest comments : words-in-original-post ratio in the history of this blog. I'm not going to respond to the entire stream. Just a couple comments.First, Keith, I really wasn't making any point in the original post. "D" proposed a fallacious argument, Greg responded, and it was on.Second, Frank, what Jim Berg said is meaningless to Greg. He wasn't describing BJU and never attended there. But to your larger point . . . You seem to be arguing that an immense disciplinary system doesn't communicate anything in and of itself, provided that the words that explain the system are accurate. I've begun to grasp just how false and dangerous that notion is, ironically in the context of the worship style debate.The argument goes that no matter how sound the theology is in a particular song, its accompanying music is itself a language. That language doesn't communicate propositional truth, but it communicates just the same, and is perhaps even more influential because of its subtlety. The argument goes that even a word-driven genre with robust, accurate theology (say, reformed rap) can undermine or distort that message if the medium communicates something incompatible with the words..That's exactly what I see infecting the fundamentalist world. No fundamentalist I've ever heard would actually say that rules and standards constitute moral righteousness. (Wait, check that, I can remember one very clearly.) But the systems of standards and rules that so often characterize their ministries do precisely that. And it's not only the presence of those systems that's problematic, but also their priority—their centrality in the day-to-day life of the ministries. It's a centrality that displaces the gospel.I just posted two quotes in another comment thread that articulate my point. Here they are again:Don Carson: "I fear that the cross, without ever being disowned, is constantly in danger of being dismissed from the central place it must enjoy, by relatively peripheral insights that take on far too much weight. Whenever, the periphery is in danger of displacing the center, we are not far removed from idolatry." (Cross and Christian Ministry, 26)And perhaps even more provocatively, J.C. Ryle: "Let us never forget that truth, distorted and exaggerated, can become the mother of the most dangerous heresies." (Holiness, 24)
you guys are getting all wound up about bju, but driscoll also pokes at bigger things like judaism, hats, robes and the westminster confession. he pokes at bju as an example, but around minute 18, he says jesus couldn't have made it at a lot of christian colleges. bju isn't the only school with rules, and driscoll wasn't singling them out.and about the bju rules, driscoll was also pointing out the ridiculousness of the music rules, which unlike the dating rules, were not rescinded in 2000.also interesting is driscoll's opinion of the mechanism for jesus knowing the thoughts of the scribes and pharisees.and funny enough, driscoll jokes about his own fallibility in minute 29.a lot of posts here are just on their own tangents. if you'd just listen to the whole sermon, you'd have a more complete view of what driscoll is trying to say.
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