April 1, 2020

Centuri0n Vs iMonk: On Driscoll’s Need To Repent

md3Frank Turk and I have been tossing the Mark Driscoll guilt/repentance issue back and forth a bit. So we decided to both post on the subject and link the other fellow’s post. Then you can argue in the comments.

Here’s Frank’s take on the matter. Expect uproarious applause. Trust me that Frank is serious about this. We wouldn’t even be friends if he hadn’t publicly called on me to resign the ministry several years ago.

So here’s my take. Expect Dan Phillips to denounce me as an apostate and Truth Unites and Divides to be banned from the comment thread.

The passage that seems to have the most bearing on what we are discussing is I Timothy 5: 19 Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 20 As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear. 21 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality. 22 Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor take part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure.

1. I wouldn’t argue that Driscoll’s language has not occasionally been sinful. I would say, however, that it falls into a category of behavior that is more a matter of a maturity issue than a blatant sin issue. It is foolish speech, not malicious speech. In Driscoll’s context, this kind of speech doesn’t create the kind of response it would in a church where most of us. That doesn’t justify it by any means, but it may explain why Driscoll tends to sin as he does with words that he ought to temper, while preachers in my town should stop putting American flags in the worship space and having “God and Country Sunday.” In other words, with certain kinds of character issues, context inevitably gets involved in how we perceive and apply what the Bible says.

2. That isn’t, however, an excuse. Driscoll has certainly been made aware that his language/humor was controversial and distracting from the Gospel. Who made him aware of this? I can’t be sure, but I’m of the impression that, at the least, the “Together for the Gospel” crew, especially John Piper, have frequently taken him to task for this. (By the way, when I post about Driscoll, angry feminists and other women have the most critical and condemning words for him because of what he says about complementarianism. Many of them feel he needs to repent, resign or go to jail.)

3. In Driscoll’s books and in his presentations on the use of words, it’s not hard to see that he doesn’t interpret the overall problem the same as John Macarthur et al do, i.e. Driscoll is unfit for ministry. Driscoll seems to feel it is 1) perhaps offensive and/or excessive to some, but not seriously damaging to the Gospel and 2) part of the way he has learned to communicate with the specific audience he sees as target: younger, “hip,” aware of the place of comedy, etc.

4. Those who have corrected Driscoll have probably pointed out that 1) this isn’t Christlike, 2) it does bring negative attention and 3) Mark has a responsibility to grow under the admonitions of other, more mature brothers who are his mentors. Who judges if he has complied with those correctives?

5. His elder board at Mars Hill. Were I to be an elder in Mark’s church, I would be more concerned with Mark’s teachability and perception of what it means to be accountable for continuing character flaws, even if they are “second level” and not disqualifying. I’d have some specifics I’d want him to be working on. I wouldn’t be as concerned with “public apologies,” which, in this case, have the scent of neo-reformed team sports about them.

6. I believe the passage in I Timothy is placing the correction of an elder with other elders, and that is where it should be with Mark. His elders are responsible for how they specify repentance in this situation. It is entirely possible that they have done so, and Driscoll’s recent sermons on humility have been part of how he has taken responsibility. I don’t know how his elders judge the infraction or his repentance, but I believe they are the “all” before whom Driscoll is primarily accountable.

7. I think that the correction and rebuke offered Driscoll by men like Macarthur, Frank Turk, Phil Johnson and some (not all) others, has been appropriate because Driscoll is a public figure, but they are not the elders to whom he is accountable. Again, it is Driscoll’s elders who are responsible for how he, as their pastor, responds to public rebuke. (I can imagine being rebuked by a visitor hearing me preach something controversial in our chapel, and I can imagine that person saying I should apologize for something I said. But it is my pastor, my school President and the board of trustees who evaluate and decide what the issue is and how I should respond.)

8. Overall, I’m more curious about the Mar’s Hill elders than I am Driscoll. I think he has said a lot of what he needs to say and I think he’s made satisfactory efforts at growth. Why he hasn’t been held more accountable, or made more accountable or required to be more specific is a question for his elders. Everyone else is simply expressing an opinion about what they don’t like, which can run the gamut from Bible translation to wardrobe to humor. Let the elders decide the seriousness of the offense and the specificity of the repentance.

9. Frank points out a recent column by John Piper as an example of what Driscoll has not done: be public and specific. There are two things to be noticed here. First, Piper is using the “apology” as a clarifying illustration in a column on what media he views and abstains from. He expressed what his conscience dictated was important in an apology, but it wasn’t in the context of public repentance as much as public writing. I don’t think Piper confesses all his flashes of temper publicly to his church or all his readers, nor should he. Secondly, ironically, Piper has apparently not told Driscoll to make a public apology, but has continued to counsel him privately, if their public accounts of their relationship are accurate. Both Piper and Driscoll have described their relationship in terms that I assume would include “I told him to apologize publicly and he won’t.” I think Piper sees this as a matter between Driscoll and his elders (that’s my guess btw) even though he sees the value of rebuke by non-Mars Hill elders.

10. I’d like Mark Driscoll to do a lot of things differently, and acknowledging some of the boneheaded things he’s said in public would be one of them, but then I’d like John Macarthur to apologize for a lot of things he’s written about charismatics and I’d like 20 other public ministers to apologize for things they’ve said and done. In my view, scripture gives us the right to speak, but formal accountability is between Driscoll and his elders. If they fail, then they should be called out by the critics as well.

Comments

  1. I just posted on the SBC’s resolutions against Mark Driscoll here

  2. Michael,

    Great insight into the “controversy.” I for one, land on the same side as you. I think your number 6 really seals the deal on the issue of him “stepping down.” It is not up to anyone with a blog and internet access to “rebuke them in the presence of all.” It is the role of the elders in his own church. Therefore, while MacArthur, Johnson, and Turk are all insightful godly men, it is not their place to say he is “disqualified for ministry” and expect Driscoll to step down due to their word.

    “I’d like 20 other public ministers to apologize for things they’ve said and done. In my view, scripture gives us the right to speak, but formal accountability is between Driscoll and his elders. If they fail, then they should be called out by the critics as well.”

    Very well said.

  3. Yes, I’m a little puzzled at how one’s life doesn’t become an ongoing circus if the fact you are a public figure means you have to apologize publicly for everything that might impact the public. That’s over the top, imo. It’s soap opera-ish.

    I also want to know the difference between blameless and perfect, because a person with a strong conscience has a deep sense of personal sin and surely feels like he needs to apologize about all kinds of things.

    Driscoll’s development of character does include public awareness of sin and repentance. But what I sense here seems to be some of that, and some of a blogosphere tug of war between supporters of two different ministries and approaches to being a pastor.

  4. “But what I sense here seems to be some of that, and some of a blogosphere tug of war between supporters of two different ministries and approaches to being a pastor.”

    Agreed, wholeheartedly. There certainly seems to be a strong divide between the two camps when it comes to what “contextualization” looks like, what is and isn’t “appropriate” from the pulpit or “in the public eye,” and it also appears to be a type of generational division. There are certainly exceptions, but most “younger” folk are in the Driscoll camp while most “older” folk are in the MacArthur camp.

    I think the generational divide has mostly to do with how one approaches pastoral ministry. It amazes me how solid and robust both the MacArthur and Driscoll camps are and yet because of “contextual” differences this controversy is as big as it is while Osteen, Meyer, Paggitt, and on and on continue to “preach.” It is not good when this issue gets so more attention than false teachers.

  5. Michael,

    Nice comments, though I wish I’d never seen Frank’s “complimentary” article.

    I am quite weak-kneed when it comes to hypocrisy in my own theological camp, so as I try to reign it in, I hope the folks here will extend my rant a bit of extra sympathy.

    I have always found it troubling how the “Flame throwers” have always felt it necessary to make Driscoll the pinata of what’s wrong with modern evangelicalism and yet I never seem to hear anything genuinely, generally positive about Mark’s ministry. Yeah, Frank’s “I think Mark is gifted pastor, BUT…” just doesn’t cut it as sincere. Let me tell you, that as a resident of the area, The Doctrines of Grace in the Pacific Northwest is simply an aberration. Save Mars Hill, there are very few large churches in the Seattle or Portland metro areas that faithfully preach in my theological vein. I guess I wouldn’t mind Frank, Phil and Dan taking Mark to task if they had at least some street cred when it comes to extending grace to Driscoll. They should, like Paul and the Scriptures they claim to treasure, be rejoicing that the Gospel irregardless if they are happy where it is coming from. Rejoicing over Driscoll? Heresy!

    Sadly, I’ve always suspected that envy is the true ingredient here and Frank’s conclusion is a massive tell:

    “It belonged there until Mark Driscoll started seeking to be the global pastor for hipsters and hipster-wannabes.”

    This is nonsense and purely the same kind of back biting that Frank and anyone whose ever read 1 Corinthians should know better. Frank knows that Mark has never openly professed a desire for anything like the smear he intends his closing to be. In a word, I found this article full of grace and not surprisingly, I found Frank’s to be quite graceless.

    Brad

  6. Note to self: Always edit, always edit…

    They should, like Paul and the Scriptures they claim to treasure, be rejoicing that the Gospel [is preached] irregardless if they are happy where it is coming from.

    Brad

  7. “I think the generational divide has mostly to do with how one approaches pastoral ministry. It amazes me how solid and robust both the MacArthur and Driscoll camps are and yet because of “contextual” differences this controversy is as big as it is while Osteen, Meyer, Paggitt, and on and on continue to “preach.” It is not good when this issue gets so more attention than false teachers.”

    This is has been grudge war for years – and decidedly one way. The MacArthur camp has been worried about Driscoll’s growth and relevance in Reformed circles for years. But you’ve hit on the very point I was trying to make in a much better way…there is a disproportion here and its because Driscoll has come from the Emergent camp to the Reformed. So where is the joy over the progress and personal growth Mark has made in the last five years? Sanctification is a good thing, even if it happens to be a hipster who threatens to knock you off as the top dog on the Top 10 Reformed Mega-Churches in the US List.

    Brad

  8. Atone, for what it’s worth, regarding Frank and this comment of yours:

    I have always found it troubling how the “Flame throwers” have always felt it necessary to make Driscoll the pinata of what’s wrong with modern evangelicalism and yet I never seem to hear anything genuinely, generally positive about Mark’s ministry. Yeah, Frank’s “I think Mark is gifted pastor, BUT…” just doesn’t cut it as sincere. Let me tell you, that as a resident of the area, The Doctrines of Grace in the Pacific Northwest is simply an aberration. Save Mars Hill, there are very few large churches in the Seattle or Portland metro areas that faithfully preach in my theological vein. I guess I wouldn’t mind Frank, Phil and Dan taking Mark to task if they had at least some street cred when it comes to extending grace to Driscoll.

    …until quite recently, Frank was nearly a Mark Driscoll apologist. I….er…am searching to be gracious here. I disagree with Frank on a lot (including how much slack he’s historically cut Driscoll), but he’s been, imo, more than fair. Check out his blog.

  9. I don’t keep up with every move that Mark Driscoll makes, but hasn’t he stopped using foul language in the pulpit? Didn’t he stop that a couple of years ago? I know that some people were upset about his interpretation of Song of Solomon (MacArthur among them), but many preachers handle portions of Scripture poorly. Is it just because it was about sex and it wasn’t about racism or money that has people in an uproar?

    These are serious questions. If Driscoll has stopped with the coarse language (as I heard, but could be wrong), then do we keep piling on because someone found an article from two years ago calling him out on it? I don’t know if he should resign or not because I don’t keep up with him much. I’m just going off of what I’ve heard.

  10. Mark Driscoll is not perfect. But I have discovered in 20+ years of church attendance that every pastor I have EVER sat under did something that made me applaud AND did something that made me absolutely cringe, on a fairly consistent basis.

    Here’s where I draw the line– I trust John Piper. Dr. Piper has publicly stated that once he heard the Scotland message (which he called AWFUL), he immediately wrote a scathing critique to MD and within 24 hours, the sermon was removed. He then confronted Driscoll in person. Piper then declared that MD’s SoS series at Mars Hill was a great improvement and was an identifying mark of maturity and growth.

    The difference I see between MacArthur and Piper is that I see in Piper a man who wants to mentor, coach, and father to Driscoll, while MacArthur and his camp just want to throw the stones and knock him down a peg because there’s a Truth War to be fought, and Driscoll is a high priority target.

    If after all that’s come out, Piper is still willing to put his arm around him, do conferences with him, have him PREACH AT HIS CHURCH, then it tells me that if Piper is the wonderfully mature pastor he is touted to be, then he must think Driscoll is on a positive track.

    The day Piper says “I’ve tried, but MD won’t listen to reason and I must cut ties with him” is the day I’ll know MD is not attempting to mature and grow and walk in repentance, and that’s the day we should call for his ouster or removal from ministry because at that point, those that actually know him and have walked with him are telling us that he’s unrepentant. That’s something that you, me, and 99% of us can’t really tell, but someone who knows him well can. I’ll let Piper and those that have influence call those shots and trust their integrity.

    Meanwhile, I’ll roll with the good and bad from MD, spit out the occasional bone, and enjoy the meat– just like I do with EVERY minister I encounter.

  11. “…until quite recently, Frank was nearly a Mark Driscoll apologist.”

    Cindy, I’ve perused his “Mark Driscoll Fan Club” section and I’d have to say that your “nearly” works in the in the same way we Reformers would say that the unregenerate are “nearly” saved.

    Brad

  12. Ben Cheney says

    @Atone/Brad:

    Perhaps you need to go back further on Frank’s blog to see the sort of thing Cindy is getting at. See this post for example. No “nearly” about that one – he’s a raging fanboy there!

  13. Michael, I think that you have really hit the nail directly on the head with points 5 – 8 regarding accountability to elders.

    Having had just one quite negative direct experience with Mars Hill, I don’t have first hand knowledge of their system, but a little searching turned up some interesting information. (I hope links are ok?) [MOD: Those links are not OK.]

    A couple of years ago two elders were fired, and the issues seemed to revolve around new bylaws that apparently give the top 4/5 pastors including Driscoll
    no accountability except to themselves.

    [MOD edit: I do not publish outside links that allege abuse of any kind.]

    Much of the discussion on the above blog revolves around complementarianism. While not wanting to start any side discussions on that, it’s very obvious to me that a church with no real effective method of accountability could easily become a very abusive place in the process of pushing this point of view.

    In rethinking my one visit there, [MOD edit: Your ONE visit? How can you go on the net and make claims about abuse after one visit and reading blogs? Sorry. Not here.]

    So why is the debate mainly over Driscoll’s occasional detours down the theological bunny trail rather than his methods? [MOD edit: Robin, I appreciate that you want to change the discussion, but I can’t give cred to a third party with one visit and a few hours on Youtube. You’re off topic for this discussion.]

  14. I’m not convinced this is all people are making it to be. Do we really want to start a big public fight over this?

    The bible is full of what we would call “profane”or “coarse” language. Sometimes it’s even God who is speaking.

    Ezekiel 23:20 is pretty rank even after the translators have “niced it up” for our delicate Christian sensibilities. This is God speaking through the prophet. I would get fired from my job if I uttered even the clean translation of those words in front of my boss.

    In Jeremiah 3:2, God uses the word “ravished” or “violated” You can insert the past tense of the F-Bomb in there for a closer equivalent of the original language.

    What about where the Apostle Paul says he considers his past accomplishments to be “rubbish” or “refuse”? The greek literally says “dog s#*t.”

    There are several other places where the language in the bible is profane or coarse.

    Apparently the Lord thinks that there are appropriate uses of this kind of language in ministering to His people.

    So we are going to rake Driscoll over the coals, in public because he has “potty mouth”? If the guy were a liar, or a drunkard, or an adulterer, or violent, I could see reason to be concerned.

    The guy ministers in one of the toughest and most Gospel resistant areas of the country, and I don’t think the average unbeliever that hears him will be turned off to the things of Christ and His Gospel because Driscoll uses the S-word, or is a big advocate of married sex that is fun.

    Is there even one instance that someone can point to where unbelievers have been offended by Driscoll’s use of language?

  15. I’ve listened to every message Driscoll has preached for about 18 months and have yet to hear anything that I would call profanity other than his inappropriate use of “hell” in his message on 1 Peter 3:7. You would think that his messages are like a Redd Foxx act they way many people have heard about what he preaches.

    Does he push the envelope? Yes. However, I personally do not feel that he has violated Ephesians 4:29 or Ephesians 5:4. Many think that it is self-evident that he has and, to me, that seems to be what much of the fuss is about.

    I fully agree that the question of him stepping down is between his elders and him. Podcasts have muddied the waters a bit since Mars Hill gives so much away. What concerns me about MacArthur is that it appears that he is turning Driscoll and his ilk into the same level of fight as he did over Lordship Salvation. I wish he would use his polemic talents elsewhere.

  16. …..maybe we could make him disappear Pat Robertson Style…..

  17. I’m not sure if I see any Biblical precedent for any sort of public rebuke by non-Mars Hillians. It strikes me as remarkably non-Biblical in terms of usurping the authority of MD’s elders and in terms of Matthew 18. And most of MD’s critics seem to me to be acting more out of jealousy and spite than from any real concern for MD or Mars Hill.

  18. I’m thinking that “atone” is nearly serious about his post, and that he nearly is a reasonable critic of me, given that he has nearly received correction and has nearly engaged in constructive dialog in the past without melting down and withdrwing from the blogosphere.

    The rest of you folks have a right to your opinions, which I hope to change to something more like mine in the future as this exchange rolls out.

  19. …Why he hasn’t been held more accountable, or made more accountable or required to be more specific is a question for his elders.

    Who says they haven’t held him accountable? As I assume none of us posting are elders at MH, that is an unwarranted assumption

  20. And banning someone is so passe. You really need to come up with some better means of mocking someone. Perhaps when you upgrade your website you can find someone with the mad skills needed to clown them

  21. dac:

    I said prominently in the post that I don’t know what the elders have or haven’t done. That’s private info.

  22. Yes, but you ended with If they fail (MH elders), then they should be called out by the critics as well.

    How will we ever know if they fail?

  23. dac:

    Frank and Phil will tell us 🙂

    C’mon dac. No one in the Christian world is going to publish all of their elder’s meeting goings on about these matters, especially if it includes private counsel. Not even the saintly Piper.

    A big problem with Frank’s thesis is that he wants Driscoll to apologize in a way that is acceptable to an amorphous group of internet critics, who arguably will not be happy until Driscoll formally surrenders to the opposing team.

    These things don’t resolve perfectly in the public eye, and the pronouncements of Piper, Frank or anyone else doesn’t mean the person has cleared the bar. There is too much that is “off camera/mic” in dealing with these things.

    Frank is convinced that Driscoll needs Frank for an elder. I wish he had twenty Franks for elders. I seriously do. I’d love to have Frank on a board overseeing me. I know his heart is totally in the right direction. It’s the mechanism that’s the problem. We aren’t Romanists. We don’t have a pope. We aren’t Presbys with a court. We are congregationalists, and this is as good as it gets.

    peace

    ms

  24. ms –

    I agree with you. My point is really directed at those …amorphous group of internet critics, who arguably will not be happy until Driscoll formally surrenders to the opposing team.. It seems to me that most of them argue for an Elder based approach to a church, yet don’t like that concept when it comes to Driscoll. All of a sudden, it’s not enough – we have to have the internet mob enforcing church discipline and demanding accountability. Since they are unhappy with Driscoll, by definition the Elders at MH can’t be doing their job and we must step in

    Either you accept Elder leadership as you church model, and accept how discipline is handled within each individual congregation, or you don’t. The critics seem to want it both ways

  25. Why is it taken for granted that MacArthur = older gen, Driscoll = younger gen? Things aren’t so black and white…

  26. I agree that’s a bit of a stereotype, but I would wager that research would bear it out in general. Good point.

  27. I agree that this is an issue between he and his elders, or a bishop – if the SBC has anything equivalent. Luther’s catechism outlines quite clearly steps for confession and restoration. It’s an on-going process, not just when the blogsphere wants to take someone to the woodshed. If either the elders cannot hold him into account or he is unwilling to submit to them, then there is a problem. If he is a type-A personality, which is what it sounds like, he’s going to be a handful. There is nothing wrong with being strong-willed; in fact, it’s unfortunately quite rare in our slouching-toward-serfdom culture. But accountability is not an optional responsibility for the church; failing to do so is neglect.

    I wonder if the role of elder is viewed as a church business role, rather than a spiritual leadership and and formation role? I guess pastors have the right to choose their own spiritual mentors, but the elders need to be cautiously watching over their pastor to make sure he’s getting the care, direction, training, rest, and exhortation that he needs. David needed both Jonathan and Nathan. I blame the secular business model imposed upon the church, which turns the pastor into a mere employee who is to be fired when he screws up. That is not the Christian model…unless one is a Donatist.

    It sounds like Driscoll is able to reach a demographic of men who have no interest in soft-spoken pastors. Some may be uncomfortable with this, because they could never be like him. Well, they shouldn’t; and I hope Driscoll doesn’t become the new standard for pastors to emulate. Saint Francis de Sales said, “Be who you are and be that well.” We need strong-willed pastors, but we need pastors with courage and conviction even more.

  28. Aha. “Congregationalists”.

    I had a feeling that was lurking around down there …

  29. Pat Kyle:

    I’d review the data on Paul’s use of “skubalon” if I were you. I think you miss the lexical range.

    However, given that I esteem Dan Wallace’s view that “skubalon” has the same force as the English word “crap”, in the whole NT — which is about 20 years of the Holy Spirit inspiring Paul to write — Paul uses that kind of language and speaking two or three times.

    So we can see that there comes a place where we call b***s*** “b—s—“, bit it’s not hardly a monthly overflow of the heart.

  30. skubalon would probably be less shocking in context than the “s” word. That’s been overplayed.

    Frank: Let me say congregational in a compromised with Presbyterianism sense. You’re right to correct that.

  31. I have the same questions as dumb ox as to what the role of the elders at MH is. Are they elders in the business sense or are they elders in the spiritual mentors sense? Does MD truly have anyone in the spiritual sense to submit to?

    Either way, I am sure reactions from bloggers are taken seriously by MD. He wants to participate in the debate. He is interested in what other members of the Body of Christ think. Ultimately, the Holy Spirit will continue to do His work in MD. Until we are all perfected in glory, may we all be open to the continuance of growth in our own lives.

  32. So basically, some are never going to be satisfied unless MD executes a “My Name Is Earl” list.

  33. “I’m thinking that “atone” is nearly serious about his post, and that he nearly is a reasonable critic of me, given that he has nearly received correction and has nearly engaged in constructive dialog in the past without melting down and withdrwing from the blogosphere.”

    Frank, I’ve read dozens of attempts to reasonably correct you over the years for your perceived lack of kindness, gentleness, grace and compassion. You’ve met each of them with the same kind of arrogance that I continue read on your blog and here in this response. I don’t recall that you have ever once offered me anything except snide, condescending quips like this one, but please point me to a serious “nearly received correction” attempt that you have personally offered and I’d be happy to discuss it with you. So shoot me an email at bhuston77@gmail.com as I’m sure Michael would appreciate us taking this elsewhere.

    “..has nearly engaged in constructive dialog in the past without melting down and withdrwing from the blogosphere.”

    You’ve got me there, Frank, and I fully repent here and now of ever having engaged in the perpetual frays that go on in certain corners of the blogosphere whether on the Pyros blog, my own blog (back then) and elsewhere.

    I also publicly repent for being too harsh with you over Easter. I thought that by reengaging with the Pyros I could have a constructive dialogue with you and the gang, but I quickly found out I simply couldn’t handle the angry swill that you were stillserving over there. That said, I was too harsh with you and I sinned often when “returning railing for railing.”

    Do you know why I shut down my blog three years ago, Frank? I shut it down because I saw how little the flame wars with you and others brought glory to Jesus and how little they did in winning souls to Christ. I wasn’t maturing. I was just becoming a back biting theological snob (and though I’d never admit it to myself) I saw this kind of blogging as merely a way to generate controversy and therefore ratings and therefore more attention. From a numbers standpoint, times were good, but the visitor counter did so little in spreading the Gospel.

    Frank, I have been back blogging since February in a completely different way. So I haven’t completely withdrawn from the blogosphere, just certain corners of it that I believe do far more harm than good for the Gospel of our Lord.

    Brad

  34. I read the past few posts, as well as Frank Turk’s post and I am getting increasingly confused. Since I can’t be the only one in the blogosphere scratching her head, could someone please clarify? Just this: what is Mark Driscoll being asked to apologize for?

    The confusion comes because reading the comments leads me to think that he is being asked to repent of using some foul language (some commenters have said this was “a few years ago”) and in addition for preaching a sermon in which he talked about sex in terms that were too graphic for the pulpit. This seems rather “light”, though, so I am wondering if there is more to it, even regarding this present discussion.

    As for this debate,both Frank and iMonk’s points are well-stated. I would lean toward Frank’s argument since the preacher/teacher in question is preaching/teaching to a much wider audience than just a local congregation. For example, the church my family attends (far,far away from Mars Hill) was unfortunately shown some video of MD’s teaching during the Sunday school hour. The point being, he is being heard everywhere.

    If all he has done is use some offensive and racy language, an apology should be short and sweet and on to business as usual. But that goes back to my question: is that really the behavior that calls for repentance to either his elders or the Church at large?

  35. Michael –

    I think you have shared some insightful thoughts into Driscoll’s public life. You are right that he is ultimately accountable to the local elders of his church (but I hope he is also appointed as an elder amongst the group, not some ‘other’ pastor figure separate from them).

    The problem I find is that, when certain public figures reach a certain level, though they should be challenged, and maybe they are, it seems that they still continue in their specific behaviour. Why challenge one who is of such status? This man is one on top of a pyramid structure.

    So I wonder if the challenges, if they exist, will (or can) ever be heeded. For me, I hope so. I would ultimately hate for Driscoll to be considered in the same line as Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and a few others.

  36. “Either you accept Elder leadership as you church model, and accept how discipline is handled within each individual congregation, or you don’t. The critics seem to want it both ways.”

    dac, that’s a really good point. The complaints I’ve seen that Driscoll appointed all his elders, therefore he shouldn’t be trusted with this Scripture is simply outside of Scripture itself.

    Aileen,

    This is a faux controversy. In watching the video, Driscoll is just being honest about how another member tried to argue positively for masturbation by quoting a passage in Eccl. and Driscoll’s honesty about the whole exchange came out very humorously, not unlike the kind of humor Luther used in the 16th century that stoked the fires around his protestations.

    Ben,

    Raging fanboy? Yeah, I read that post and didn’t find it as glowing as you did. When reading Frank, it’s hard to tell when sacrasm begins or ends.

    Brad

  37. A lot of this seems very “inside baseball” to me (in the idiomatic sense of that phrase), but as a new Christian I would like to say that I have found Mark Driscoll’s sermons very moving and inspiring and they have brought me closer to Jesus. (Thanks to iMonk who “introduced” me to MD btw.)

    I am neither young nor male nor a hipster or hipster-wannabe; I am a 48-yr-old female and I do not find MD offensive at all. For what it’s worth.

    OK, this outsider is going back to lurking so you insiders can continue your debate, 99% of which goes over my head. 🙂

  38. I have only a brief comment.

    I live in Seattle, and attend church less than a mile from Mars Hill. I have friends who go there and think it is wonderful. I have friends who used to go there, and have been deeply hurt by the arrogance and actions of Driscoll. I have definitely seen both sides.

    I absolutely agree with your statement that it is his Elder board who is responsible for correcting and guiding Driscoll as he develops his ministry. My concern with this is the composition of the Elder board. Currently, the Elders are practically hand-picked by Driscoll himself. Elders who disagree with Driscoll are removed from the church. This is the situation Robin (above) was talking about. It really happened, to people I have met, and IMO undercuts any current possibility of true accountability or change.

    I pray that Driscoll will grow up eventually, if only so that my church can stop receiving people into our church after they have been burned by Mars Hill. He is an incredibly gifted pastor, with some incredibly caustic character flaws. If he falls, he will take half of Seattle down with him. If he succeeds, it will be for the glory of God.

  39. MOD NOTE: If your comment is just an example of the need for verbal self-control, I won’t be posting it in a discussion of verbal self-control.

    For the record, Frank and I aren’t having a debate. We have no debate rules, etc. We’re just bouncing this topic back and forth a bit. Our positions are plain from the outset, and no one is providing a shocking revelation of new info. It’s a discussion of a relevant topic, and that’s all.

  40. I don’t really buy the “maturity” defense that Driscoll supporters often use (see your #1). “He’s young, he’ll learn to behave better” is what it’s trying to say. But, Mark Driscoll has been in the pulpit for over a decade and is nearly 40. He’s not a kid just starting out. At what point does the immaturity defense no longer work, and it just becomes an issue of recurring sin?

  41. It’s not a defense, but I’d be surprised to find anyone reading his first two books that wouldn’t call it a factor.

    I may need to say this more than once, but some of you need to find an actual clip of Driscoll “cussing” in the pulpit. I’ve never heard it aside from “who the hell” earlier this year. Sexual terminology and humor is a serious issue that deserves consideration, but frankly, I am tired of hearing people assume that Driscoll does something- now or ever- that they have no record of him doing.

    Intemperate speech is the specialty of a pack of preachers, most in suits and over 50. Let’s not be so stunned,

  42. I only just this moment started pondering something:

    Americans have a great tendency to try and imitate who they think are great, their heroes. And this is not unwarranted, for even Paul said follow me as I follow Christ.

    But, many times in America, we kind of make an obsession with such things. So, Willow Creek booms and we start copying Willow Creek. Saddleback booms and we start imitating Saddleback. Lakewood booms and we want to copy Lakewood. Etc, etc. And such is not really that helpful. We need to hear from Him as to the way forward. Anyways…

    I just hope we don’t all of sudden have an increase of Driscoll imitators in their preaching and setting up of church, though I think it is already happening.

    Again, I believe in mentors and walking similar to them. It’s healthy and good. But there is a point it can become unhealthy. And so I am hoping that a ‘school of Driscoll’ does not start where we start producing Discoll-esque pastors/leaders/preachers. That would not be healthy.

  43. Driscoll is a manifestation of a movement that did not start with him. If someone believes Driscoll, I’d suggest they do some reading on recent evangelicalism, going all the way back to the Jesus movement of the 1970s.

  44. I don’t pay too much attention to Mark Driscoll and I don’t know where I stand on his recent behavior. It could be that he needs to repent on some things and listen to wisdom. I don’t want to comment about that. I wanted to address this idea that Mark or any other pastor from small churches to large should only submit to the elders of a local church. Certainly he should listen to his own elders but aren’t we all a part of the same family? Weren’t there issues that needed to be addressed between Paul and Peter that transcended the local context and autonomy of a church? The Bible holds teachers to a higher account and I think if television and internet and megachurches had been around when the Bible was written it might read, “and those who have a mass public audience are held to an even higher standard.” It wasn’t that way so we can’t know for sure but I feel like the people on TV and on YouTube that are getting millions of hits on their videos and sermons, etc. should listen to wisdom from others and heed their advice. If a pastor is going to put himself in such a public ministry he needs to be willing to listen to public rebukes. Some of them may be unfair and he may disagree with some but the elders of his church are not the only people who have the right to call him to repentance.

  45. I have great respect for both Dr. Piper and Dr. MacArthur (though they are both wrong on baptism!). That being said I personally have no desire to blog about Driscoll or even hear him preach in person or mp3. There was a time where I would listen to the occasional sermon of his however I could never worship at his church. My opinion does not really matter but I thought I would give my two cents because I have the time.

    1. Driscol’s teaching, while theologically correct, is rude and unworthy of the pastorate. I honestly think the guy has a problem with women because most complimentarians who are vocal are able to articulate their posistion in such a way that doesn’t offend as much. Wayne Grudem and Piper can articulate the truth in such a way that a women living in disobedience to scripture can want to repent. When driscoll speaks, it makes me nearly want to support women pastors because of how rude he talks.

    2. His preaching is far to casual. I really don’t care what a guy wears when he preaches but he treats it like its a lecture or a conversation. Such an casual attitute to the pulpit (or the music stand or whatever) trivializes the historic protestant doctrine of the preached word.

    3. The worship in his church is far to one-generational. A good church tries to encourage persons of all ages not just one particular group of persons in a society. How are older men going to mentor younger men and older women with younger women? I went to his worship service twice and I never saw someone who looked over 55. We ought to enourage multigenerational churches.

    4. Besides for his solteriology and his complementarianism is there any differene between him and the willowcreek methodology? Infact his entire acts 29 network seems to be united in pragmatism!

    5. John Piper behaves differently around driscoll publically. I honestly think Driscoll has more of an effect on Piper than the other way around. Just recently Piper published a blog post apoligizing for answering a question bad at a conference (quess which conference…) and infront of Matt CHandler and Driscoll he called some of the followers of Doug Wilson ”dumb”. And he criticized an entire reformed synod for condemning Doug Wilson. With all due respect to Piper, he has no right to criticize anyone interms of reformed orthodoxy. Given the VAST majority of reformed synods have condemned federal vision and wilson’s theology perhaps we presbyterians and reformed folk know our theology better than a charismatic baptist congregationalist with reformed solteriology?

    6. MacArthur, as much as I like him, has made a name for himself outside the reformed community for being a truth warrior as opposed to what he really is-an expository preacher! He does come along as criticing anything that is not pre 1700 (with the exception of dispensationalism!). He is a bit fundamentalist though he has gone much softer in recent years.

    Final thought: at the end of the day, this is a matter for the local church, but most of the elders there at Mars Hill (from what I heard) are infact almost always on the same side as him. A former member told me that it is essentially a 1 elder run church with several for show in terms of rulling ability. I hope those with more years than myself will engage him, but if he is a pastor I’m sorry he bears a greater responsibility than the average christian and while pastor’s need friends- they ought to not need mentors. They ought to be mentoring younger and future pastors and planters.

  46. Michael –

    No doubt Driscoll is not the inventor of such a style, church planting, or preaching method. But, unfortunately, a passionate Christian in their late teen’s or early 20’s will think he is the best thing since sliced bread. That is what I am hoping to guard against.

  47. “That is what I am hoping to guard against.”

    *Sigh* Even when there is nothing to guard against…. Again, where is the rejoicing here?

    Has anyone considered how many stumbling blocks have been thrown out here in the name of “guarding against error” as all those “sinners” are hearing the real Gospel and receiving it with joy?

    The ending destination of this path is simply…

    “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.” – Matthew 23:13

    Paul was happy just to hear the Gospel preached, even when those who were preaching it were only preaching in order to slander him out of envy.

    I think Piper’s approach is absolutely the right approach here, but sadly even Piper is slandered just to get to MD.

    Brad

  48. Atone –

    I’m not against Driscoll. But I am up for guarding against making particular humans, even particularly gifted human leaders, that which we ultimately model our lives and ministry after. That is all I was wanting to guard our hearts against.

  49. MOD NOTE: I’ve had to delete three comments in the last two hours, all well off topic. We aren’t debating church government or what women think about Driscoll.

    This is a discussion on a post, not an open forum to say anything.

  50. LAST CALL: I am asking nicely: stop attempting to make this a discussion of which form of church government is Biblical. Sheesh…..you are acting like a bunch of Protestants today 🙂