Anthony Bradley tee'd off the other day on the niceness that passes for masculinity in evangelicalism.
That's my invitation to you guys as well. Flush the evangelical "nice guy" image down the toilet from which it came and embrace what God intends for you as a man. It's dangerous, exciting, adventerous, and much more fulfilling than passivity and "niceness."
I am sure Mark did the right thing in apologizing. If the Holy Spirit is convicting someone of sin then I wouldn't want to be the one telling them they aren't sinning. As one who believes in total depravity I believe we all have far more sin we need to confess than we actually do confess. So, Mark gives us a wonderful example of humility here.
But, and you knew a "but' was coming. I fear this whole controversy exemplifies what Anthony is talking about in regards to the nice-guy syndrome.
We live at a time when being nice is far more important than being orthodox. Maybe I didn't follow the discussion at Out of Ur deeply enough but it always seemed to me that people were more focused on Driscoll's words and attitudes than his arguments. I'm not saying that bad attitudes are ok, if indeed Driscoll had a bad attitude. Nor am I saying that the use of invective is a good thing.
Yet it does bother me that the whole discussion seems to have gotten sidetracked into a discussion of Driscoll's delivery, and not his arguments. The issue being debated was a pastoral response to homosexuality and Driscoll, as many of us, found McLaren's comments, shall we say, less than helpful and less than pastoral. Driscoll asked some very tough questions which I think have been given short shrift in the hubbbub that ensued over his tone.
Now, I am not trying to resurrect this debate right here and right now. Nor do I want to encourage Mark Driscoll or anyone else to reignite any hostile attitudes if hostility is what was present and what is now simmering down. What I am saying is that "niceness" is the new reigning orthodoxy and this is a huge problem.
Speaking along similar lines, in A Serrated Edge, Doug Wilson says:
The assumption that collegiality is owed in all debates is an assumption based on widespread but false notions of neutrality, and since neutrality is impossible, acceptance of such assumptions is simply a tacit way of going over to the other side.
And . . .
Every society has an orthodoxy (which is invisible to most adherents of it) and every society has its heretics, those who challenge that orthodoxy.
And . . .
. . . every orthodoxy protects its sacred things with blasphemy laws. Because our culture likes to keep up its secularist pretence, we do not use the term orthdoxy or blasphemy. But we do have politically correct thought, and we do have laws against hate speech. Furthermore, and related to this, every established orthodoxy maintains the definitions of arrogance, and this brings us to our point - a defense of biblical satire. Whenever someone uses satire against the current regime, among other things, he is invariably accused of arrogance. The orthodoxy is the keeper of the keys, and those keys include the definitions.
It seems to me, and again this is just one man's opinion, that a large part of the commotion over at Out of Ur was because Mark transgressed the reigning orthodoxy of niceness and collegiality. McLaren transgressed centuries of biblical theology and pastoral practice and Driscoll challenged him on it, with vehemence. Mark Driscoll transgressed the reigning orthodoxy of niceness and he was challenged by many.
When I read some of the great reformation debates invective flowed freely from protestant and catholic alike. I am glad that style of debate and dialogue is mostly gone. Yet, even with all of the flying invective it seems that in those debates that the issues themselves took center stage, not the attitudes of the combatants.
But in our day you can shut down nearly any discussion of nearly any issue at nearly any time by calling someone arrogant or mean. I'm not saying it is ok to be arrogant or mean, but let's face it, it's not a bad thing to be passionate about something. Sometimes emotions overflow into these things and the rhetoric gets heated.
I just hate to see us sidestep significant issues and debates in the name of niceness.