After much attention sparked by Pastor Mark Driscoll's visit to John MacArthur's cessationist Strange Fire Conference in California, Driscoll has formally invited Pastor MacArthur to the national Resurgence Conference in Seattle in November. Driscoll, who is a continuationist, was stopped by security from handing out free copies of his upcoming book, "A Call to Resurgence: Will Christianity Have a Funeral or a Future?"
This morning, Driscoll addressed a letter to MacArthur explaining in detail what happened at the Strange Fire Conference, and inviting him to dialogue about the person and work of the Holy Spirit. He began by saying that he had gleaned much wisdom from MacArthur's teachings as a new believer in Christ - "You have made deposits in my life through your ministry and for that I thank God and appreciate you," said Driscoll. Pastor Mark, who had tweeted that his books had been confiscated at MacArthur's Strange Fire Conference last week, complimented the staff and seminary students he met there, saying they were very hospitable, gracious, and kind.
"The only difficult moments on my visit came during my interactions not with your pastoral staff, but with a few of the apparently staff security personnel," said Driscoll, who had begun handing out free copies of his upcoming book to conference attendees. "The pastoral staff said I was welcome on campus ... however, there were two security guards who seemed to operate in a manner inconsistent with the permission I received from the pastoral staff," he explained.
The security detail told Driscoll that he could not hand out any more books, and that they would need to be removed or the guards would have to "take it to the next level." They offered to take the books to Driscoll's car - "It was at this point that I told the security guard that, since they were going to confiscate the books anyway, they could just keep them as a gift from me," said Driscoll. He wrote to MacArthur, "Out of respect for you, I said nothing unkind about you or your ministry to anyone on my visit ... I am grateful I got to hang out for a bit and meet some of the pastoral staff and your son. I would've been glad to have met you as well."
Driscoll then addressed the more important issue at hand - that MacArthur, who does not believe that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are present in the church today, claims that continuationists are offering "strange fire" - unacceptable worship - to the Lord. "I would agree with you that error and excess are often perpetrated, tragically, in the name of the Holy Spirit. This grieves him deeply ... I also think that, since the majority of Christians worldwide are not cessationists (believing that some gifts of the Spirit have ceased), it is unreasonable and unhelpful to broad brush faithful brothers and sisters in Christ along with those who may not be faithful or may not even be brothers and sisters in Christ."
Driscoll invited MacArthur to the upcoming Resurgence conference so that the two can speak with one another - rather than about one another - in an attempt to break down the "tribalism" which exists between the different Christian schools of thought. "At this point, I believe what would honor Jesus is for us to sit down and talk," Driscoll concluded - "Ours will be a dialogue on very important issues, and I pray by the Spirit's power we can model some graciousness and clarify terms while striving to state what we believe to be biblical truth."
Driscoll hopes that MacArthur will accept his invitation to both dialogue and set an example for Christians who may disagree on theological matters. "I believe this could be a very profitable discussion-especially for young leaders who will be tuning in to learn as we model how to handle disagreement. In our day when online misquoting and Internet flame throwing hinder real progress, I truly believe we have a great opportunity to model a different way of dealing with important issues for God's glory," he said.