Archive for September 26th, 2008

KissMark Driscoll has done it now.

For those of you unfamiliar with Mark, he’s the senior pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, a church which has thrived – despite its unwillingness to alter the beliefs of the church to fit its culture – in a twenty-something, pagan culture in this ultra-liberal city. While I don’t necessarily agree with parts of Driscoll’s theology (**cough** Calvinist **cough**), I have often found his teaching, his energy, his bluntness, his steadfastness and his depth something to be admired.

But now he’s walked off the map, if parts of the Armchair Discernment Media are to be believed. (Granted, they like him from time-to-time when he makes statements about their favorite targets, but those times are few and far between.) One rabid critic of Driscoll is Steve Camp (yeah, the warmed-over Christian musician from the 80’s who jumped the shark on a Christian cruise ship years ago), and Mark has him hopping mad now.

Why?

Because Driscoll has started a series on The Song of Songs. More importantly, Mark decided NOT to teach SoS as allegory, but instead as it has been treated for eons by the Jewish church and by the early Christian church, prior to Origen. Mark decided to teach a series (to a church full of twenty- and thirty-somethings) about the Biblical view of sex and sexuality, and to use the book of the Bible that explicitly addresses this topic as something non-Puritanical.

So, just to get this straight – The same folks who will declare you a heretic if you view the opening poem of Genesis as allegorical or semi-allegorical will also go into fits of apoplexy if you exegete another Biblical book literally instead of allegorically. Then, just to complete the smackdown, they’ll give you a hundred-plus-year-old Victorian exegesis from Chuck Spurgeon. OOOoooohhh, that’ll show him!

In reality, the Song of Songs is a poem, attributed to Solomon, which describes the relationship between a man and a woman. In some ways, the SoS can be treated allegorically, as love between God and Israel and as love between Jesus and the church. However, parts of it cannot really be viewed as allegory. In reality, though, these were used by Jewish families, particularly the newly married, as a way to view their own new relationship (since many were in arranged marriages, and may or may not have known their spouses before marriage).

Historically, Jewish boys were forbidden to read from the SoS until after the age of accountability, age 13, because of some of the imagery there, so I don’t see any problem in Youth Pastors in avoiding this text for lessons. However, with all of the unhealthy views of sex in society today, is this really something that our adult Christians should be ignoring – or allegorizing away?

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