December 3, 2020

Why I would rather hear Steve Brown than Mark Driscoll preach…

…or John MacArthur, or John Piper, or Katharine Jefferts Schori, or a host of other dogmatic preachers, no matter what end of the theological spectrum they come from.

I want a humble pastor, a pastor without all the answers, a pastor who points me to Jesus rather than to himself or herself. I want a pastor who trusts God to work through Word and Sacrament and does not see himself or herself as indispensable to God’s work in the world.

In short, I want a pastor who understands grace, and doesn’t take himself or herself too seriously. Like Steve Brown, who says:

“I often say at the end of my sermons, “Fifty percent of what I just taught you is wrong. I’m just not sure which fifty percent. So, you’re going to have to get your Bible and do some checking.” That drives Christians nuts because we’re all looking for someone to follow who has all the answers and is willing to lead. I’m not that person. I used to be, but I’ve repented.”

• From Three Free Sins: God’s Not Mad at You
by Steve Brown


  1. Marie Whitehead says

    Love Steve Brown!!! For all the reasons you mentioned and more.

  2. I enjoy Steve Brown too, including his attitude and voice.

    I do think it is interesting that you also felt the need to name people you don’t want to hear, rather than just leaving the positive comments about Brown stand alone.

    • I thought the contrasts enlightening.

      • But was it necessary? Would the readers not have been able to consider the positives of Brown without the negative aspects of others?

        When do statements unnecessarily become divisive, especially within Chrisitianity/the church?

        • I don’t see how it is more negative than you criticizing his criticism of them. I could tell my own pastor I don’t like to hear him preach (which wouldn’t be true), but that isn’t going to split our church or the church of Jesus Christ. Sometimes it really is worse to not be critical. But, as the saying goes, throw a rock into a pack of dogs, and the one who yelps the loudest is the one who got hit.

        • Well, to quote the announcer from an old NFL-based video game, after a player committed an unnecessary roughness or similar penalty, “that was totally unnecessary, but a lot of fun to watch.”

          And from experience, I’ve found that Miguel’s theory is quite accurate.

    • It is human nature to put people down one disagrees with. Be they liberals, conservatives, athiests or muslims. And human nature is alive andactive on this site.

      • Vern, didn’t say I disagree with them (at least not all the time), and that’s not really the issue here. I said I’d rather listen to Steve than them. The preachers mentioned represent what Steve said in the quote: “…we’re all looking for someone to follow who has all the answers and is willing to lead.” They seem to me to be examples of “leaders” like that, to whom people look for “answers.”

        • There is only one who has all the answers. Jesus Christ. The rest of us are flawed.

          • Precisely CM’s point, Vern. And you’re right about Jesus. And about this site, because yeah, we’re all humans. (In fact, nowadays we’re required to check a box to prove it!)

      • Joseph (the original) says

        i do have personal preference for what i give ear to. having come from a faith journey that has camped out at different traditions i can say my ear has learned to ‘tune out’ much of the religious things being promoted by the big name teachers/preachers/ministers/clergy…

        i have no need to listen to those named in this post. really i don’t. i am sure i may find some things edifying, controversial, enlightening, enjoyable, boring, etc.

        maybe having an opinion, pro or con, should not be considered sacrosanct on this site? i happen to think the writers of the articles have an opinion that i do consider worthy of my consideration. i happen to have read a John MacArthur book. and i have listened to some of Piper’s comments. but no, i would not want to listen to Driscoll, or Rick Joyner, or Todd Bentley, or others i have heard before but now consider not worth my time. personal preference is simply that: personal. no other claims real or imagined intended…

    • Rick, I think it’s interesting that you chose something to criticize about the post instead of leaving your positive comments about it stand alone. 😉

  3. Don’t hover on the name Chaplain Mike uses to contrast with Brown. Don’t miss the point of this post. I would rather hear someone speak of God’s vulgar grace than another sermon on how to manage my sin. I would rather be offered three free sins than told I am guilty and should feel guiltier.

    And when I have preached, I come away thinking that maybe 10% of what I said is right. I aspire to Brown’s 50%.

    • “Don’t hover on the name Chaplain Mike uses to contrast with Brown. Don’t miss the point of this post.”

      It’s not the name. It is the fact that he felt the need to provide a name. The point of the post would have been even stronger had he avoided the negativity, Let the readers come to their own conclusions when they consider the positives of Brown.

      • And please don’t get me wrong. I appreciate much of what is written here. However, there comes a time when there seems to be a throwing of people under the bus for no good reason.

        Criticize a book one has written? Criticize a statement one has made? Certainly.

        But thowing out names, being overly critical, etc… is below this blog. It is something one sees more on the watch-blogs.

        Let’s try to avoid being overly divisive for inadequate reasons.

      • I don’t think saying, “I’d rather listen to Steve Brown preach than…” is really being negative at all. It’s just a statement of fact. I think you’re trying too hard to read negativity into a statement where there really isn’t any. I just assumed the other pastors were listed because they’re popular preachers at the moment, not necessarily because Chaplain Mike was calling them out.

        • You may be right, but I cannot help but see this as a continuation of criticisms of specific people. As I stated earlier, some of the posts are understandable. Others were questionable (the church discipline story). However, this was a case in which names did not need to be used. It seemed more as a criticism, for criticism sake.

    • I have never heard (or heard of) Steve Brown, but so far he sounds a lot like my favorite sinner, Brennan Manning!

      Same KRAZEEEE talk about love and grace!

  4. The last sermon I listened to from Piper he said pretty much the same thing: put what he says through the sieve of scripture, and chuck out what doesn’t match.

    It’s a good maxim.

    Perhaps it’s helpful to remember to do the same sort of thing to bloggers – I want them to point me to the grace of God in Jesus too.

    • Piper does NOT say the same thing, come on. I listened to him for years. He ain’t gonna get up there and tell you that he’s half wrong about everything. He’s pretty convinced he’s spot on about everything, otherwise he wouldn’t say it.

      • Well, that’s true of most of us, isn’t it? Why share information if you’re not sure it’s factual?

        But some of us always keep in mind that we could be wrong, and are open to correction. And some of us aren’t. And I always find myself stretched further by those who don’t claim to present me all the answers on a sliver platter.

  5. I haven’t wanted to read a book as much as this for a long time

  6. Steve Brown has the voice. If I take up smoking for 40 years, will I have a deep, rich baritone like him? I don’t know about his preaching though. I have a hard time staying awake because of the soothing tone… He should shout more like Driscoll to compensate.
    I do think it’s interesting to find such extremes as MacArthur and Schori on the same list. It’s true though, their overt dogmatism is quite off-putting. It only makes me wonder to how many people I may appear that way. It’s a fine line to be contentious for truth while still being gracious. I suppose if we could keep it about Jesus, and not theological fine points, that people would see His grace instead of our “correctness.”

  7. Growing up in my faith tradition, I was not aware that people actually preached out of the Bible until I heard John MacArthur on the radio. For someone who was starved for something remotely Biblical, I have always been grateful for his effort. I also like to hear John Piper preach (I like his passion). I used to catch Steve Brown’s radio piece in the morning on the way to work and always enjoyed it immensely. If I could afford to travel, I would be glad to hear any of them preach. Am I OK?!?

    Dogmatism can be irritating, but who can argue that it is sometimes has good effect? i seriously doubt that Piper, MacArthur, or even Driscoll were ever as dogmatic as Martin Luther could be . . . who, incidentally, I would also love to hear preach, and I can’t even speak German!

    Whatever their strengths or weaknesses, all of these men are important to me because all of them have strongly, passionately, and rightly proclaimed Christ and Him crucified as the central focus of the Christian faith.

    However we may have been distracted by personalities, this is a good post. God’s grace is truly amazing, only I’m going to probably exceed 3 sins. Peace to you all, brothers and sisters.

  8. Kenny Johnson says

    Dr. Brown and I probably differ a lot on both politics and theology (I tend to vote Democrat and am not Calvinist), but I love him and his show.

    Why? He listens. He engages in conversation. He is humble — even when he’s pretending not to be.

    He frequently has guests on that he has disagreements with — and the guests are always treated well.

  9. Maybe the same warning should be printed on the Bible as well. (Like it was on the “Messiah’s Handbook” from Richard Bach’s novel “Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah.”)

  10. Loved this.

    I grew up in a Baptist church. In the mid-90s I joined the Orthodox Church — a major change to say the least. I am now with the Anglicans.

    I left the Orthodox for a number of reasons that I won’t go into. But, one of their cultural traits that I loved and still love is their willingness to simply accept the mysteries of God, rather than trying to nail them all down, as so many in the Western World do.

    I get so tired of all the discussions and arguments theologians muddle through, trying to definitively explain some theological mystery that cannot be explained. Yet, they try…and in the process lead many “laypeople” down a road of “certainty” that is far from certain. God’s sovereignty vs. man’s free will is just one example. There are many others….

    I can accept the mystery far easier than I can accept some pastor emphatically teaching something that simply cannot be known in this life.

  11. I want to hear what is hard and not have my ears tickled. I want the truth preached and Jesus glorified. I do not believe that the blanket disregard for men and women who peach the Word just because they are not perceived “humble” is a shame. I have never heard any of the people mentioned say they know it all; many of them repeatedly say they don’t and admit to their failings in their sermons. When on preaches the truth, attack will come because the truth is hard to stomach; especially for those of us in the pews. But it is the truth of the gospel that radically changes lives and the grace of God that makes it available. First, there is bad news, before the good news and the bad news stings.

  12. I haven’t heard Steve Brown preach, but I like what he’s saying here.

    Personally, I would rather hear Otis Redding than any of those other folks.

  13. Steve is the real deal. He admits he is a sinner and doesn’t try to pretend he is perfect. He loves Jesus more than anyone I know and wants people to see Jesus and not him. There Three Free Sins is all about grace but in a funny way that makes you think. Yeah we get all the free sins we want because Jesus covered us.