Tuesday, March 8, 2011

An Open Letter to the Entire Evangelical World

It's not often that I use my Evangelical clout and rock-star status to reach out to the entire world, but every now and then a situation will arise that clearly calls for the irreproachable and utterly infallible "Final Word of the Don."

Folks, I hope you understand the gravity of this: once I've spoken on an issue, that's the final word. So I'm about to give it to Rob Bell once and for all, and make no mistake: there will be no need for anyone else to blog or write on this issue ever again.

You're welcome.

A Little History

Most of you are probably aware of the need for me to step in and pass final judgement on the Rob Bell / Justin Taylor / John Piper fiasco. However, for those of you who have other things to do than go heretic hunting, let me give you a basic timeline.

On February 23, Rob Bell released a video on the Vimeo site promoting his new book, Love Wins. Since February 26, Justin Taylor, John Piper, and a cadre of Calvinists have been trying to show that it doesn’t.

There has been a lot of ink spilled over the issue in the last week. And while many people were simply happy for the distraction from Charlie Sheen, the noise coming from Evangelical circles has been loud enough that the New York Times published an article about the debacle just yesterday.

The Bell Tolls for Thee

So in the midst of all of this debate, accusation, and heresy flinging, the Don has arrived to set the record straight and to put an end to the mayhem.

First off, I’d like to applaud John Piper. Without even reading Love Wins, he sent Rob Bell packing from the world of evangelicalism. That takes some major guts, my friend, but you were willing to do the hard work when so many people wanted to actually wait and see what Bell had written.

Now I realize that some of you will say that this was a brash thing to do. Some of you will point out how ironic it is that Piper’s message this last Sunday was titled Neither Do I Condemn You. Some of you might even point out that what John tweeted last week even seems to go against some of the articles on his blog asking us to consider the motivations behind one’s actions before judging or to judge out of love instead of “a condescending disposition.” Some of you may even feel like Piper’s quick dismissal of Bell is illegitimate because it goes against things he’s written in the past, such as in Desiring God on page 113 where he states that Scripture teaches us to “not just do acts of mercy, but to delight to be merciful or to want to be merciful.” After all, you might ask, wouldn’t being merciful to Rob Bell at the very least include reading the book you are prepared to cast him out of the faith over?

But you’d be wrong. You see, Piper’s quick dismissal of Rob Bell is worthy of applause precisely because it goes against Piper’s own belief system. It takes true courage to dismiss someone so quickly that you don’t even crosscheck it with your own beliefs. Thankfully, for the sake of the Body of Christ and the millions who might hear the heresy that might exist in a book that hasn’t been published, John Piper was courageous enough to preemptively do away with Bell before that book ever hit the stands. It’s the theological equivalent of attacking a country that might pose a threat to the United States. I, for one, salute Piper.

And what of Justin Taylor? Well I hardly need to stand up for Taylor because Kevin DeYoung has already done such an outstanding job. Taylor had every right to launch a nuclear attack against Rob Bell because Rob was asking the wrong questions. Don’t get me wrong, we want people to understand their faith; like Kevin DeYoung, I want people to ask questions about their faith. They just need to ask the right questions, and Bell was asking the wrong ones. Questions about the nature of heaven and hell, though they have been pondered and debated for centuries, are simply out of bounds these days.

Now, Rob, I realize you may not have understood that. That’s okay; we accept your apology. For future notice, here are some appropriate questions you can ask and still be evangelical:
  1. Young earth or younger earth?
  2. Passion of the Christ: great movie or the greatest movie?
  3. What’s the best way to donate to Desiring God ministries?
See, stick with the basics, Rob. We don’t need your heretical questions muddling the minds of people we’ve trained not to think for themselves.

After all, because of Bell's questions millions of people around the world are now discussing and wrestling with issues of salvation, Jesus, heaven, hell, and what it means to be in right relationship with God. And we simply can't have that.

The Don has given his "Final Word." Leave a comment or email us to leave your own word.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Rob Bell Brings The Don Out of Retirement

I was done. Gone. Finished. The Don had shut the door on the blogosphere and discontinued patrolling the internets. I was perfectly happy with writing 27 books a year, teaching my Trinity students the art of awesome, and looking like a vampire in my Amazon.com bio picture.

And then Rob Bell had to go off and disappoint John Piper. And much like he used to do when we were kids, Piper displayed his disappointment by taking his ball and going home.

So mark your calendars, folks: I've got a special blog entry coming next Tuesday, March 8 at 10:00 a.m. central time to deal with Rob Bell so that John will stop texting me his complaints about Bell's new book every 30 minutes.

Bell will curse the day he was born for making me put up with this whining.

In the meantime, feel free to completely ignore 1 Corinthians 1:12-13 and pick up one of these T-shirts.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Well...I guess that's it...

July 4, 1776: The U.S. adopts the Declaration of Independence, declaring their independence from Great Britain

May 8, 1945: "Victory Day" for the Western Allies, effectively ending World War II

November 9, 1989:  The fall of the Berlin Wall

September 22, 2007: the Don rides into the sunset

That's right, folks.  I've really enjoyed this whole blogging thing, and I must say that I've even been more impressed with the internets than I would have originally estimated (that's not to say I was wrong about anything; I repeat: I was not wrong about anything).  However, all good things must come to an end.  And, to be honest with you, I really need to free up a little more time to work on my badminton game.

As a way of saying goodbye, I'd like to salute the fine people who made this blog possible.  So...

...here's to Fred Phelps, whose demonization of, well, everyone, never ceases to both amaze and confound simultaneously.

...here's to John Piper, whose love of Jonathan Edwards is only eclipsed (slightly) by his love for God.

...here's to Paige Patterson, who never fails to look ridiculous, even when confronted with the greatest opportunities to look credible.

...here's to me.  Face it, this blog just wouldn't have been the same if I hadn't written it.

And finally... 

...here's to the administration at TEDS.  Hey, admin people, you know how at the end of every Friday the 13th movie they always think they've killed Jason off for the last time?  Just checking...

Keep learning, keep loving, and keep laughing.

Most Humbly Yours,
Donald Awesome "the Dragon" Carson

6 Things We Learned By Doing This Blog

Hello, all.  As previously stated, this is our last day here at The Secret Diary of D. A. Carson, and though we're sad to bid you fine folks goodbye, we've also taken a lot away from the experience.  In our parting entry (the Don will have one more after this), we'd like to share with you some of the things we've learned and observed.

1.  The internet is one fast moving machine.
All four of us are somewhat tech savvy, and three of us have had our own blogs for several years.  What took us by surprise with the Secret Diary is how quickly it caught on and how quickly word of mouth spread through your blogs, your emails, and your discussions.  We never dreamed we'd have over 600 people visiting us each day, but that's exactly what has happened over these last couple of weeks.  For those of you who helped spread the word and kept coming back: thanks.  It's been a lot of work to keep this up as long as we have, but you're the reason we kept at it.

2.  TEDS administration overstepped their bounds.
Some of you will disagree with us on this, but we're going to have to just be really frank and direct here: the administration of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School went outside of their bounds to get us to shut down.  Having no idea whether they were dealing with a TEDS student or not, they worked hard to get us off the web.

Sorry, guys, but in the age of the internet and tons of personal blogs, you're just going to have to let some things go.  Why TEDS would ever concern themselves with something as silly as our little blog is beyond us: it's a waste of their time and the resources of Trinity and, frankly, it's beneath them.  Which leads us to our third point...

3.  If TEDS had let it go, we wouldn't have been nearly as popular.
That's right, we'll admit it: the controversy got people blogging and sent us WAY more traffic than we would have had under normal circumstances.  Poor judgement and incorrect assumptions turned an annoying nat into a beast.  In the future if you face a similar situation, you may not be dealing with webmasters that are as sensitive to controversy as we have been, so more care really should be taken.  We're honestly saying this for your own good.

4.  For whatever reason, age and amount of education were polarizing factors in opinions of our website.
We have, to date, received almost 300 correspondences over email and our comment system.  Over 80% (about 240) of those have been extremely positive, and only about 10% (about 30) have been from people who were seriously attempting to dissuade us from continuing with the site.  Of those 30 correspondences, most of which were sent over email, 27 were either Ph. D. students, seminary professors, or people over the age of 50.

It's difficult to determine exactly what this data means.  Without pretending to know much about this area, we'd like to put forth a few beliefs about the data.

First off, we don't believe our humor is for everyone.  Some people think The Office, The Simpsons, and The Colbert Report are hilarious.  Some people just think those shows are stupid.

Our site is no different (except for the fact that it's not as good).  We have written things that have amused us and things that we've learned over the course of seminary, pastoring, marriage and life.  We're pleased that a great many of you were also amused and even edified by some of it.  

But some of you weren't.  And that's okay.  It seems that the more degrees you hold, the more offended you were when we poked a little fun at someone with a degree.  The older you were, the less likely you were to share our sense of humor.  There seems to be a generational and education disconnect happening that we really can't fully explain.

5.  We take ourselves too seriously.
Please don't misunderstand: we're not saying that everyone who didn't like our site takes themselves too seriously.  But a lot of us do.  Not only that, but we have, in many cases, elevated men (Piper, Carson, Wright, Rob Bell, Driscoll, Ed Young, etc.) to a dangerously prominent position in our hearts and minds.

We got one email from a professed atheist who couldn't believe that anyone was making such a big deal about what he called "a harmless, tame blog."  He told us that one of the reasons he stayed away from church and Christians was because they couldn't laugh at themselves.

Folks, if anyone should be able to laugh at themselves, it should be us.  Through the word of God, we know better than anyone what huge messes we are without His guidance and empowerment.  We would do well to remember that, regardless of how old we get or how many educational degrees we obtain.

6.  We were encouraged by this little experiment.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for all of your kind emails, your discussions, and your pleas to keep the site going.  Even though we ultimately felt that it needed to end, we were so greatly encouraged by the positive comments and emails you sent us from all over the world.  It's humbling to realize just how many of you cared about us keeping it up and how many of you checked in with us on a regular basis.

So where do we go from here?  Well, we're taking a break.  Maybe in a few months we'll revisit the idea of trying to find a great way to gather Christian community around the concepts of humility and laughter.  We'll be keeping this site up for a few more weeks and haven't decided yet how long to keep it archived; as traffic declines due to a lack of new content we'll take it down.

Thanks again to the "regulars."  You will be missed.

The Secret Diary Team

The T Shirt

Thanks to reader "Maverick" for sending in the above photo.

So, you say you want to help Dear Old Don by messing with TEDS administration, having them chase rabbits and bump into dead ends?  And you want to do all of that while looking ultra stylish and bettering your chances with the theologian lovin' ladies?  Pick up your "I'm Not Fake Carson" T-Shirt today!

The first 25 people to stop by the "White Horse Inn" at TEDS between 11-12 on Monday morning will get their free shirt.*

*Offer not valid in Illinois, Vermont, Michigan, or the United States of America or any other nation in the world.

Why Can't We Be Friends?

So a reader of The Secret Diary of D.A. Carson tipped the Don off the other day about a little tiff that's been happening between John Piper and Roger Olson.  A lot could be said about this, but basically it boils down to a Calvinist and an Arminianist arguing over why the bridge in Minnesota collapsed a little while ago.

The Don is a lover, not a fighter, so I hate to see people at odds with one another (you know, unless someone disagrees with me).  So I called up those two crazy cats and convinced them to head towards the Chicago area so that we could work things out.  I had TEDS fly them into town first class (you wouldn't believe how much money we have laying around from the outrageous tuition we charge) and then I picked them up from the airport in the Dragon Wagon.

Now Piper and I go way back, but I've only met Olson a handful of times.  I'm pretty sure that made John a little overly confident because he seemed to assume that the two of us were going to work together to bring Roger down.

We met in a neutral territory: Bennigan's.  After ordering three Monte Cristo sandwiches, the conversation went something like this:

D.A.:  Gentlemen, I'm glad you agreed to meet.  I really think it'd be best if you two could work out your differences and continue doing the work of the ministry as allies in the faith.

Pipes:  I couldn't agree more.  

Olson:  I think we're all on the same page, then.

D.A.:  Great!  John, what would you like to say to Roger?

Pipes:  Well, Roger, I respect you a great deal and I want things to be right between us.  I want us to be able to work together to further the kingdom and to bring glory to God.  So just admit that my model of God's sovereignty is the correct one and we can put all of this behind us.

Olson:  What!?  I can't believe that you-

D.A.:  John, come on...be nice.

Olson:  Oh, don't worry about me, Don, I can handle myself just fine.  You know, John, maybe I could agree with your model if God had ordained me to understand Him in the way that you do, but since it appears that He didn't, I don't know how you can possibly blame ME for what you can only believe to be GOD'S sovereign decision!!!

Pipes:  Roger, it's called COMPATIBILISM, and you should look it up some time when you're not claiming that you're OPEN to OPEN THEISM!!!

They went on like this for a while, so I pulled out some clubs and began juggling.  The room went dead silent and everyone stared at me.

Pipes:  Um...Don?  What are you going?

D.A.: I'm juggling.

Olson:  Uh...yeah, we see that...why?

D.A.:  Well, you two were just getting so upset with each other over your minor differences.  I thought maybe I could take your minds off of it and we could all have a good time.  I mean, as Christ followers you guys have way more that you agree on than that you don't.  Isn't it just good to gather around a juggler once in a while and laugh together?

Olson:  Don...you've lost it.

Pipes:  Well, I agree with you on that one, Roger...even if you are a borderline heretic.

Olson:  Yeah, Pipes, well your mom's a heretic!

D.A.:  -sigh-

D Day

Hey, guys!  Steph here, filling you in on the plan for the day.

As most of you know, this is the final day that Dr. Carson will be posting to The Secret Diary of D.A. Carson, and I wanted to give you a low-down of the Don's schedule.

It's a busy day for the Don, but before all is said and done he has three new articles for you, plus there is a fourth bonus article that will be posted at the end of the day.

Because of the work load and his very busy schedule, it will probably be later this evening before it all gets finished and posted, so be patient and check back tonight.  If you're planning on going to bed super early, you might even need to check back tomorrow morning.

Have a great day!

Much Love,