Here I am, trying to tie up loose ends again. This was, I think, pretty much my first set of posts – the chapter summaries of The Radical Reformission by Mark Driscoll. If you haven’t forgotten, enjoy the last couple. If you haven’t read them, I encourage you to go get the book – it’s much better than my summaries. But if you won’t, enjoy the posts. There’s great food for thought.
Driscoll starts this chapter by talking about different ways to engage culture in the ancient world by looking at the four major Jewish religious groups. The Pharisees were the ones to separate from culture. They wanted to separate themselves to keep “clean.” This translates to our culture like this, according to Driscoll: “Sadly, many people despise Christianity because all they have known are arrogant, self-righteous, and judgmental people claiming to be Christians who avoid them as if they were infected and do little more than yell at them to be moral when they should be explaining how to be redeemed” (140). The Sadducees were the ones who wanted to blend in to culture. They did this to the extent that they denied a future resurrection (Mark 12:18-27; Acts 23:8). This would be liberalism in our world today. Zealots were revolutionaries who exerted their moral and national ideals by force. Driscoll states, “Today this form of Christianity exists in both the religious right and left. It’s present wherever people are more interested in sermons about legislative politics than in sermons about sin and repentance, wherever people get more excited about elections than Easter, wherever more people sign political petitions than sign up to join a Bible study, and wherever people believe that if we simply elect more people like us, the world will be a wonderful place” (141). The Essenes (the Dead Sea Scrolls are on display in San Diego starting late June of this year, by the way) abandoned culture to seek spiritual experiences.
Two of them are sectarian (Essenes and Pharisees), two are syncretistic, blending into culture (Zealots, Sadducees), neither of which is the goal. The goal is to hold on to theological purity and your culture – and don’t let go. Driscoll uses the sectarian perspective of tee totaling as his test case. It has a good study on alcohol consumption for those who are interested and he ends up, biblically I believe, on the fact that alcohol consumption is acceptable in Scripture, but drunkenness is not. The peril, as has been noted a few times in this series of posts, is that we don’t go far enough into culture if we are sectarian and we have no message if we syncretize. This is what mission (Reformission) is all about.
Here are some discussion points from the end of Driscoll’s chapter.
1. Which of the following ruts are you most likely to fall into? Why?
- A Pharisee who avoids culture.
A Sadducee who compromises too much and accommodates culture.
A Zealot who hopes to rule over culture through politics and power.
An Essene who ignores culture in favor of religious experiences.
2. In what ways have you gone too far into the culture and compromised your
conscience or Christian witness?
3. In what ways have you not gone far enough into the culture and missed
opportunities for evangelism and ministry?