Monday, December 19, 2011

Mark Driscoll vs. Genesis 7:1

Mark Driscoll has a sermon segment (I hope it is just a segment) regarding Noah.  The thesis is that Noah wasn't a righteous man.

Driscoll makes some good points about the fact that Noah was saved by grace, the same way Moses, Abraham, and David were saved. However, in his eagerness to make his point, he overlooks a crucial verse:
Genesis 7:1 And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation.

And this, at first blush, appears to have reference to this:

Genesis 6:22  Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.

Scripture says Noah was a righteous man. So, we can too. That does not mean that Noah was saved because he was righteous. It simply means that all those children's Bibles, which say "Noah was a righteous man," are not in need of white-out, Sharpies, or whatever Driscoll has in mind - at least not until the moral of the story.

In fact, the New Testament enlightens:

2 Peter 2:5  And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;

And perhaps more significantly:

Hebrews 11:7  By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

So, while much of Driscoll's point about salvation by grace through faith is right, his application is wrong.


UPDATE: A dear reader points out that Driscoll goes on to discuss (in a portion of the complete sermon just after the video clip above):

Genesis 6:9  These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.

This does soften my view of Driscoll's comments considerably.  I still don't like the clip, but I think the clipper would have been better to include a little more.  With this greater context, it appears that while it sounds like Driscoll is saying Noah wasn't righteous, he is just guilty of careless expression.


Patrick said...

Is that laughter live or pre-recorded for his podcasts?

repeater75 said...

I'm curious about this. I'm a member of Mars Hill (Orange County, CA) and I care deeply about theology, as I believe my head pastor in OC and teaching pastor, Pastor Mark do. I'm not a 20-something and I don't wear skinny jeans. I love my church very much, in spite of its faults and not agreeing 100% with their position on every doctrine. So - my question is: in what way was Noah righteous? Is the righteousness attributed to Noah here a different kind of righteousness than what we think of when we speak of justification? If so, then I think your explanation makes a lot of sense. I think the difficulty is in confusing the meaning(s) given to the term "righteous" and the theological implications.

Micah Burke said...

He was righteous, the text isn't about justification, it's about obedience.

repeater75 said...

Ok. So was he attributed with obedience before or after God favored him? Maybe I'm misinterpreting but it appears as though Noah is favored by God (Genesis 6:8) and afterwards is found righteous (Genesis 6:9) - perhaps a result of God regenerating or sanctifying him in some way?

turretinfan said...

He had relative righteousness compared to the other people of the earth. He also had, by faith, the righteousness of Christ. But the "found righteous" refers to his relative righteousness.

Craig French said...

I couldn't watch past the first 60 seconds...I hate stand-up-comics.

Ron Van Brenk said...

Thanks TFan,

Kind of elementary stuff. Puzzles me that Driscoll could blow that.

Didn't even think that point was necessary to reference in my latest posting... but will use your post as a reference now.

Steve Drake said...

'In what way was Noah righteous'? It's the same for all living on either side of Christ in history, by faith! Noah looked forward to the Promised Seed of Gen. 3:15 and by faith believed that God would fulfill it. In obedience he made an intellectual commitment to trust God's promise and thus found 'favor', or 'grace' in the eyes of the Lord. In obedience he, like the later Job, was blameless, upright, fearing God, and turning away from evil (Job 1:1), rising up early in the morning and offering burnt offerings according to the number of them all...(Job 1:5). God looked at Noah in the same way that He answers Satan in speaking about Job: "For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil." (Job 1:8)

rfwhite said...

I suspect we can all appreciate what Driscoll was trying to protect, but the expression translated “to find grace in the eyes of somebody” customarily means "to be approved of as deserving of favorable treatment." Check out, e.g., Gen 39:4; 50:4; Num 32:5; Deut 24:1; Prov 3:4; cf. Luke 2:52. It does not mean to be favored as an act of mercy in spite of one’s ill deserts. As others have suggested below, granted the correct meaning of the expression, the point of the text would be that God condescended to reward Noah's works of faith by delivering him and his house from the temporal judgment of the flood. In fact, if anyone is shown mercy despite one's ill deserts in the narrative, it is Noah's house: it is they who receive temporal deliverance for Noah's exemplary works of faith, not for their own.

turretinfan said...

I agree that seizing on the word "grace" there was misplaced. That said, to "find grace" was generally to receive favor (often unmerited). For example:

Genesis 19:19 Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast shewed unto me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die:

Genesis 33:10 And Jacob said, Nay, I pray thee, if now I have found grace in thy sight, then receive my present at my hand: for therefore I have seen thy face, as though I had seen the face of God, and thou wast pleased with me.

Genesis 47:25 And they said, Thou hast saved our lives: let us find grace in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh's servants.

Jeremiah 31:2 Thus saith the LORD, The people which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest.

2 Samuel 16:4 Then said the king to Ziba, Behold, thine are all that pertained unto Mephibosheth. And Ziba said, I humbly beseech thee that I may find grace in thy sight, my lord, O king.

Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

turretinfan said...

The tells us what kind of righteousness we are talking about. It is a comparative righteousness in contrast to the other people on earth (much like Job).

turretinfan said...

And interestingly, Noah, Daniel and Job are the three especially righteous men identified in Ezekiel 14:14 and 20.

Steve Drake said...

@TurretinFan in reply,
Yes, in no way was Noah sinless. Neither were Job or Daniel. The Ezekiel 14:14 and 14:20 passages are a good example as a word from the Lord in comparative righteousness however, seizing upon the contrast to make a point. In Noah's case, he alone along with his wife, three sons and their wives were saved and brought through the judgment of God upon the earth in the global universal Flood of that time.

Tim Margheim said...

What do you think of the portion of the sermon immediately after the Youtube video cuts off, where Driscoll discusses Genesis 6:9, "Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation"?

You can find it at this link, timestamp 45:37.

Whether or not you agree 100% with his reading, would you still say "he overlooks a crucial verse"?

turretinfan said...

That does change things. Thanks. I've updated the post.

Steve Drake said...

I noticed something else in my perusal. Notice the reference as well to Joseph in Matt. 1:19: 'And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man...'

jean-marc said...

Why do people laugh when he says that people were bad totally all the time?? 2:07 and that everyone was bad 2:14- is depravity a matter to laugh at?

Lyndon Unger said...

In my bi-annual digging through your blog I saw this and Turr8tin, I'd have to strongly disagree with you on this one. I think you were reading far more into what he was saying than was actually there. It seemed fairly clear to me that Driscoll was saying that Noah was a sinner (like everyone else) and was saved by grace, like everyone else who has ever been saved. He may have not had a level of articulation that you would have liked, but that's ultimately irrelevant.

It seems clear that he's reacting against a shallow moralism/works righteousness idea that pervades many "children's version" Bible stories in theologically abysmal efforts at cultivating good behavior/manners. I do the same thing when I teach old testament narrative to elementary school-aged kids.

turretinfan said...

He reacted imprecisely and said something that directly contradicts the text. That said, as my update indicates the video clip seems to have been somewhat unfair in terms of taking him out of context.