Radical Reformission, Mark Driscoll and Haiti Aid
As the world watches in horror at the destruction and ongoing suffering in Haiti following the recent devastating earthquake, my heart goes out to these lovely people. Twenty years ago I spent 4 months working in Cap Haitian in the north of the island and I wonder how anyone could survive in the fragile mud huts, already poorly nourished and with so little infrastructure to support.
Mark Driscoll is rapidly becoming one of the most watched and listened to Christian preachers by both Reformed minded and Charismatic Christians around the world. I too have been following his fan site on Facebook as he quickly mobilised a relief team to help Haitians and encourage practical mission on the ground.
Such an approach to mission is eloquently summarised when he argues that Christians should be neither syncretists nor separatists. The former are useless in mission because they look exactly like the world and never call people to repent and believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The latter are useless because they condemn the world from afar, thinking that their purity will be contaminated if they get too involved in the life of this world.
Driscoll detects such polarities in every culture right back to Jesus’ day. Pharisees were guilty of separating from culture, Sadducees blended into the culture, Zealots ruled over culture and the Essenes ignored culture.
Sectarians love God but fail to love their neighbour. Syncretists love their neighbour but fail to love God. Jesus expects us to love him and our neighbour (including our enemies) and says that if we fail to do so we are no better than godless pagans who love their drinking and strip-poker buddies (Matthew 5:43-47). To love our neighbours, we must meet them in their culture. To love our neighbours, we must call them to repent of sin and be transformed by Jesus (The Radical Reformission, p.145).
Driscoll is provocative (particularly in the way he challenges the religious right and religious left in American church culture, e.g. the section on bars and drinking in this book). Such bold talk can be populist and empty if action does not flow out of it. But his presence in Haiti this week and obvious compassion on the ground has, for me, reinforced the genuineness of this provocative pastor.