January 16, 2021

Danny Akin’s Comments on Mark Driscoll

Southeastern Theological Seminary President Danny Akin on Mark Driscoll:

I appreciate Mark Driscoll and Acts 29. Southeastern has no formal relationship with either, but I am thankful for many aspects of both ministries. I think there is much that our students can learn from them. Mark and I have become good friends, but I do not agree with everything Mark says or does. In particular, I disagree with some of the language he has used in the pulpit in the past (though not in several years!) and I am uncomfortable with his position on beverage alcohol. I do appreciate his courage to tackle the difficult book The Song of Solomon and to address sexual issues with the adults in his congregation who have serious and important questions needing answers. Many of you know I have had a similar ministry through Marriage and Family conferences for years. I also wrote a book on the Song entitled God on Sex. Now it is the case I have chosen to address these issues in a different manner than has Mark, and at certain points I think he might have addressed some sensitive sexual issues in a more careful manner. But, I believe we can learn from those with whom we differ, and on the whole I believe Mark has much to teach us about missional living, theology-driven ministry, and culturally relevant expositional preaching. I also think our students, and Southern Baptists in general, are mature enough to treat Mark Driscoll (and every Christian leader) with appropriate discernment.

I want to remind our readers that good seminaries continually expose their students to diverse opinions, including the opinions of those with whom we disagree. There are few textbooks, guest lecturers, and even chapel speakers with whom I am in 100% agreement! Several times in the last decade the SBC annual meeting has been addressed by speakers who differ with Southern Baptists, including Condoleeza Rice (a Presbyterian who describes her views on abortion as “mildly pro-choice”), James Dobson (a Nazarene who is egalitarian and consistently Arminian) and Bill Bright (another Presbyterian). Individual Southern Baptists also learn from others every time they read a book by Augustine, C. S. Lewis or John Stott and every time they listen to a sermon by John MacArthur or Chuck Swindoll. It is a healthy thing to interact with and appreciate fellow Christians with whom we have theological differences and even strong disagreements on secondary and tertiary matters.

Let me invite any of our readers who have concerns about Mark or Acts 29 to do three things. First, make sure your criticisms are up-to-date rather than rehashing issues that were settled several years ago. Second, acquaint yourself with the doctrinal convictions of both Mars Hill Church and Acts 29. Finally, please note that all of the Driscoll addresses are available online at our website. I would encourage you to listen to them as well as an interview David Nelson conducted with Mark last spring. I think you will be blessed and encouraged by what you hear. If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to email me or call my office. I would be happy to talk with you, listen to your heart, and hopefully put your concerns to rest.

The relevance to the debate between Frank Turk and myself is rather obvious. As in all things here at IM, think for yourself and come to your own conclusions.

I’m with Akin.

If Akin’s approval of Driscoll means he should resign as well, then you’ll have to find another blogger to defend that one. I’ve got a book about Jesus to research/write.


  1. My grandmother used the term “beverage alchohol” she also said polk instead of sack or bag and “hope” instead of help, but I digress.

    It may have something to do with the church covenant that says “abatain from intoxicating drink as a beverage” leaving room for alcoholic drinks for medicinal purposes and for those true vine baptist churches that still use real wine in communion. We actually have a handfull of those around these parts.

  2. it may have been spelled Poke not polk

  3. Monk,

    speaking of, have you ever written about the church covenant document that is so common in many churches, i know folks who want attend a church that doesn’t have it hanging up

  4. Though the Sunday School board published one in church manuals that were commonly used in the early-mid 20th century, Covenants are actually quite diverse in Baptist life. Many different ones, most never mentioning alcohol or friend chicken or donuts.

  5. Ky boy but not now says

    “The reason so many SBC folks don’t like MD is that he exposes the warts they don’t want to believe exist.”

    I’d like to change this statement to what I hope better gets my meaning across.

    MD admits he lives in the world that surrounds his local church. Many SBC members (and others) pretend to live in a make believe world that is just short of Heaven on Earth. Accepting that MD is right on many things would require them to give up their personal (but shared) church fantasy.

  6. I have only in the last year or two heard of Mark Driscoll. What I like about Mark is he capital with a capital G. Mark is also reformed in his theological stances which is probably seen in most circles as more theological, systematically sound than the Arminian side (which of course is debatable and up for discussion) :-).

    However, where I draw my lines is maybe diffferent from many people and why I like Mark is he has a very HIGH Cristology. He does not leave Christ behind to accomplish other “stuff” his Church needs to do. Christ is front and center and He makes it obvious.

    Keep it up Mark Driscoll!

  7. Did Macarthur begin his disciplinary campaign by going to MD privately or with the company of few respected leaders? Or has everything been hashed out in public?

  8. Peaches,
    Such an action by MacArthur would be called for if Driscoll had sinned against MacArthur. Of course, at some point the process calls for Driscoll’s elders to oversee the situation, which has never been done… or at least his elders haven’t acted in the way that Turk, MacArthur, etc. would have them act, so they continue their public whining about Driscoll.

  9. Frank Turk wrote:

    Mark Driscoll doesn’t owe me anything..

    This was very helpful, to me. There’s a big difference between, “in my opinion, MD should resign…” and “MD owes me a resignation, if he does not repent”. I appreciate the clarification, this helps me put Frank’s take in a better context.

    Greg R

  10. Dr. Akin continues to impress me.

    As for Mark Driscoll’s “curse” at the end of “Marriage and Men,” I would say something much worse to anyone I caught intimidating/threatening a female friend of mine.

    I must admit, I’m not as up on Dr. MacArthur as I am many of the other major players in evangelicalism, but he seems to become more and more of an ivory tower guy every time I read something of his.

  11. Dr Akin sounds like my kind of Christian leader!

    When criticising other leaders we need to be aware that we are not Jesus, we are never, ever, ever, ever 100% right (as I believe the mighty Tom Wright says – at least some of what I say is wrong, I just don’t know what part!).

    The church seems to so often swing between two extremes, either

    (a) beating people with a sledgehammer when actually only a quiet word is enough (e.g. Driscoll); or –
    (b) Ignoring blatantly destructive behaviour and/or teachings (e.g. Osteen, Bentley, etc)

    We need to get somewhere closer to the middle ground I think, though not sure how that works out…

  12. This is a pretty great example of why Christianity has never spread across the world.

    From the very beginning until now, we never fail to spend 100X the energy on arguing amongst ourselves about each other than we do on the great commission.

    If God wrote the Bible, it being His Word and all, why didn’t He make it clearer? Why did He write it so that two scholars can study their entire lives and still come up with diametrically opposing views?

    Why did he write it so that Christians would spend more time composing lawyerly briefs to each other than on anything remotely related to the teachings of Jesus?

  13. ” But I think Dr. Akin is choosing to minimize his differences with MD for a specific SBC reasson: putting to death the landmarkist legalism inside the convention”

    Hmmmmmm. Maybe. Where is Mohler’s rebuke of Driscoll and call for repentance? Akin is simply playing both sides and covering his bases.

    The truth is that seminary presidents are faced with a problem. Many of their students ADORE Driscoll. They have to be very careful.

    Actually, many at the SBC convention had no idea who the Driscoll character is mentioned during teh motion. You should have seen the confusion on the faces of the masses when his name was mentioned in the motion. I had about 40 people in my section alone ask me to write down his name so they could look him up.

    Akin, Mohler and others are walking a fine line here. When more of the masses wake up to Driscoll’s vulgarity and bizarre patriarchy, they are going to have some ‘xplainin’ to do which is why you see this weak response from Akin. He can point back to this and say, see? I was concerned but he repented. It has worked for Piper.

  14. I was on a Pastoral Search Committee and a Pastor we were considering and ended up making a call to was giving a a pre-sermon at our Church. He was different and unique and was passionate about doing right for God.

    To make a point that he was different he actually said during his warm-up part of the sermon that some people dont like it when you san “Crap!” from the pulpit. He was basically saying if you give me call make sure you know what your calling– a very intentional ply of his to make sure as a Church we knew what we were getting.

    He has never used a bad word on the pulpit (although I dont consider crap a bad word myself). The pastor is a pastors kid and traditionalist with a cultural twist. He is passionate on accomplishing what God wants him to accomplish.

    When we voted for him one guy stepped up and said he would not vote for a guy that used a word that he would not allow his kids to use. We voted him in anyways.

    We had a Church split a year later…. but being on the Pastoral search committee was the best thing I ever did for my community.


  15. Jeremiah Lawson says

    The term “cussing pastor” that Driscoll got may possibly derive from a sermon about eight years ago (or nine?) in which he said that, as best I can remember the statement, if anyone insists on telling you that there is salvation apart from Christ they’re selling a G**-****** lie.

    I’ve heard about ten years worth of Driscoll’s preaching and that is literally the only statement he has ever made that I could clearly identify as cussing. In terms of its theological accuracy I am not sure any Christian could, strictly speaking, disagree with it. I haven’t read Miller’s book but it sounds as though he may not have provided the context for that “cussing” statement.

    I’m pretty sure that “if” that was what Miller heard that Driscoll wouldn’t have realized that might inspire him to be labeled “the cussing pastor”. still, since it seems that label sticks and people haven’t managed to verify anything I thought I’d mention that the “cussing” in question had to have happened at least eight years ago and provide the context for it.

  16. imonk,

    Your whole comment beginning with “Driscoll is Gospel without the fundamentalism” is so on target it’s not even funny.

    Check related blogpost on Talitha, Koum! and Et Elle.

  17. Thanks for posting Dr. Akin’s response, my respect for this man continues to grow.

  18. Scott Lewis says

    I pastor a church some would say is a classic old-fashioned 1950’s dinosaur. We wear ties and suits, use the King James only, have only male, undivorced deacons. We sing hymns and taped country-gospel and have three services a week, and even still have Discip;leship Training and RA’s. Yet we do use a projector for announcements and have black folks as members. Our bus picks up kids from all over, all kinds, and we have a real love for stage plays and mission projects.

    When I think about the goals of the Great Commission Resurgence I get excited about our mission dollars starting new churches. It made me mad when the NCWMU split from the BSCNC, and I never want my members to know details about compensation packages and company cars that came out of money they thought was saving kids in Africa. Money that goes into the plate comes out of the pockets of widows and shut-ins, not out of some general fund in outer space, and if the GCR means more church starts and souls saved, I’m for it.

    I guess what concerns me about the new direction is identity. I really don’t mind cowboy churches and people at the beach wearing Hawiian shirts to worship; I don’t see it and it isn’t contrary to scripture as far as I can tell, but when I stood up to preach the 10 points of the GCR, I got stuck on the part where I was going to tell my people that they were wrong, that wearing our best to worship was antiquated.

    Now, don’t get me wrong, fifteen years ago, when I was a young and passionate zealot, I would have gone white with rage and yelled “TRADITION!” and gone into a rant about how fundamentalist churches exclude lost people by embarassing them with an elitist dress code, but things have changed. I’m not just referring to my waistline or hairline, but to the culture and the convention as a whole. In a lot of churches I have seen two responses to the modern world: unreasoning lock-down or desperate accomodation. I’ve been part of both and have come to realize that what has been asked of traditional churches is a complex question: Can we be missional and not lose the distinctive conclusions we’ve come to when we read scripture?

    What I’m saying is there is a danger in losing something precious when we say to the culture: “You don’t have to change anything, we love your unique distinctiveness,” but say to traditionalists that they must meld into the melting pot and discard the things that bring meaning and substance and expression to their unique cultural tradition. Many critics point out that fundamentalists confuse biblical identity with cultural identity. For years reformers have looked at the monolithic old church as a cash cow to be corrected, inherently wrong in all her assertions. Like teenagers who insist “The Man” is the source of all evil, we may be in danger of underestimating the value of the staid conservative practice simply in favor of that which is novel for novelty’s sake.

    For example, it’s OK for Muslims to go ballistic when offended in any way, but good old Christianity will understand if we kick her in any way and tell her to quit singing hymns and being so embarassingly backward. Honestly, doesn’t the society we live in need a higher standard to live up to rather than an accomodation to blend into?

  19. Scott: The Gospel is not about living up to a higher standard. Christianity isn’t Islam, and we aren’t preserving “her.” Christianity is Christ. The Gospel is grace and there is no dress code.

  20. I see where you’re coming from, but aren’t there essentially two separate dialogs we conduct? One for the lost, a come-as-you-are inclusiveness, and one for the saved, which is never really satisfied with less than our best for the Master? I mean, we naturally can’t expect the lost to clean up first, that is the work of the Spirit, but when we focus on church life, and pleasing Christ is the focus, there is an internal motivation–not a legalistic outside “code” to adhere to–to respond to grace with a sincere & humble attempt to live holier? Is it truth in advertising to say to a lost world, “Become a Christian and let it all hang out because of grace!”
    I see Pastors caught in affairs I wish had focused more on Christ, and on preserving the reputation of their church as well. I think by our actions we may not be “preserving” her so much as building up or tearing down her witness in the community.

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