Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A unified assembly

Take the time to watch this clip of a discussion between Mark Dever, Mark Driscoll, and James MacDonald.  If you don't want to watch the entire clip, at least watch the first 1:58.

I found this while visiting the Grace To You blog.  In it, John MacArthur addressed the pragmatism displayed in the first part of the video concerning the problem of basing ministry success on numerical measurements (i.e. "We had this many saved", "I have this many campuses", etc.).  You will notice that their discussion but it is based primarily around whether a multi-site, multi-service church is "successful" or not.

Driscoll and MacDonald are advocates for broadcasting their services into sites their church has setup elsewhere.  While they give numerous reasons why, none of them are based from Scripture.   In fact, when Dever attempts to biblically define "ekklesia", Driscoll asks "According to who?" as though Dever is appealing to some extra-biblical authority.  Pay close attention to this conversation that starts at :59 and continues through 1:27. The point I want to make here is not to readdress the pragmatism Dr. MacArthur has already spoke of but rather to address the corner Mark Dever quickly finds himself in when he speaks of the "coming together" of the local church.

Let me first say, I appreciate everything Mark Dever has and is doing.  The 9Marks Ministry is a powerful tool in assessing the biblical foundation of local churches.  However, his application of the "coming together" principle he proposes here finds him in a bit of a predicament.

Dever wants to point out that the New Testament says the local church body is to come together under the shepherding of the Elders.  They are to be physically gathered in worship.  He uses the examples of the Ephesus where the believers assembled as the result of the mounting riot to show the unity that should exist.  I am in full agreement with him.  However, as he is making this case, MacDonald point out that Dever's church has a children's ministry thus noting that Dever himself is already violating the principle is attempting to reinforce.  This is a prime example of a proverbial "GOTCHA" moment.  You will notice that Dever does not attempt to defend that point but simply rolls with the punches.

Dever's biblical stance on the unity of the local assembly is now compromised because he is guilty of the violating the very principle he is preaching to them from Scripture.  By referencing the children's ministry, MacDonald is pointing out how Dever's church already divides the assembly of believers.  Although, MacDonald and Driscoll do so through multi-site congregations, Dever is now shown to be guilty of doing so through age-graded ministries.  MacDonald notes that since Dever has already "broken that code" he should just "break it again".

Thus, we have the slippery slope that too often develops when we do not rely solely on Scripture.  I am in no way accusing Mark Dever, James MacDonald, or Mark Driscoll of knowingly and deceptively trying to compromise on the Word in this particular area. My point is simple:  let the Word be our guide in all areas of ministry.

Study earnestly to present yourself approved to God, a workman that does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)

Sola Scriptura!  Sola Deo gloria!

Until the whole world hears,
Adam (and family)

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