Being one with lots of travelling time to fill, I have now listened to all of the addresses from the much-promoted 2006 Desiring God conference on the Supremacy of Christ. Clearly, since I have been driving, I have not taken notes so my comments below are based on my fading memory of once-heard messages. So here are my comments:
David Wells: The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World. Impressive opening. Christ’s supremacy is seen in the first few chapters of Hebrews. This is connected with the suffering that the readers were facing and serves as the essential background to understanding their suffering. The situation is different in the West. Our problems is one of distraction of living in a highly pressurised, intrusive world. Nevertheless, Christ is not only still great, he is incomparable. The victory is locked up and he reigns supreme.
A Conversation with the Pastors Engaging panel discussion. Interaction of Mark Driscoll with the others was a highlight.
Voddie Baucham: The Supremacy of Christ and Truth in a Postmodern World Never heard him before, but liked what I heard. Amusing: Baucham reassured his “not-so-black” audience that it was OK that they were not-so-black. God loves them just the way they are. Tongue in cheek, of course. His approach to apologetics interesting.
Tim Keller: The Supremacy of Christ and the Gospel in a Postmodern World The token presbyterian. I always find Keller interesting, seeking to apply missiological thinking to church in the city. He thinks about how to present the gospel in a po-mo culture. I’m interested in his defeaters of the Christian faith.
Mark Driscoll: The Supremacy of Christ and the Church in a Postmodern World I have a great respect for Driscoll, his drive, commitment, focus, doctinal clarity. Nevertheless I thought he pitched this wrong. He was trying too hard to be hip and cool and edgy. The message was obscured.
Speaker Panel More discussion. Highlight: Don Carson reduced to tears as he related how his father struggled to pastor a church in a tough situation with little growth. Only when he retired did some kind of revival take place. That’s tough for a pastor to take. Lowlight: John Piper’s criticism of Driscoll for using po-mo “cleverness”. Though I agree with his comment, a public forum was not the place to do it. However, they seem to have made up.
Don Carson: The Supremacy of Christ and Love in a Postmodern World A rich study of love seen in Jesus’ prayer in John 17. Love in the church must be rooted in the intra-Trinatarian love. Worth hearing again.
John Piper: The Supremacy of Christ and Joy in a Postmodern World Piper begins this by addressing the controversy stirred up by his earlier comments about Mark Driscoll. He did not correct or retract. Instead he spoke of how someone had told him later that he too used “cleverness” of a different kind. He accepted the criticism and recognised that we are all in this together. I apprecieted this comment. However, his sermon was extremely difficult to follow and quite philosophical, so I think I understand the criticism he received.
Overall quite a good set of talks, though in some ways came across as a bit bitty. Perhaps that’s the danger of each speaker speaking once.