Literal this that and the other
Mark Driscoll, who is beginning to inhabit the darker regions of my consciousness like some baleful theological bogeyman, recently announced by Tweet that Charles Haddon Spurgeon is his favourite mentor outside of scripture. You have to wonder what sort of nightmarish world Driscoll is living in if he is willing to let himself be mentored by someone who not only is dead but was, as Driscoll himself writes, ‘kicked out of his own Baptist denomination for his unwillingness to stop teaching such things as eternal torment in a literal hell, the literal truthfulness of Scripture, a literal creation by God, and the perfection and divine inspiration of Scripture’. I just don’t see what hammering on about everything being literal and perfect is supposed to achieve these days.
So yes, I have trouble fathoming Driscoll’s attitude - and, I have to admit, his popularity. But the bigger question must be this: How are we going to break down the wall that divides the hard-preaching, literalistic, reconstructed neo-Calvinists from the soft-pedalling, sceptical, deconstructed emergents? Not to mention all those other dividing walls, partitions, garden fences, ditches, trenches, coils of razor-wire, and mine-fields that criss-cross the landscape of the church. Is this just something we have to live with? As Paul said, there are bound to be factions so that the genuine among us may be recognized (1 Cor. 11:19). I take some (albeit ironic) comfort from that!
Something in me wonders if the fragmentation of Christian worldviews isn’t just a matter of healthy competition. Perhaps it’s a good thing that the story is told in different settings, in different ways. Perhaps in some deep Darwinian sense it’s a good thing that we fight tooth and claw over our theologies. Perhaps it’s a good thing - or at least unavoidable - that we construct our belief-systems in the conflicted territories of the human mind. But at the same time, surely, the Spirit in us is groaning to be one. I just wish I knew what to do about it.