Happy Valentine’s Day from Mark Driscoll

I wrote a short article for ET on Mark Driscoll back on January 10th.  Because it dealt with such a controversial and complicated Pastor/ministry it was of course a well read and commented on blog post.  Overall my article did not do much to advance the conversation that has already been had at various Christian blogs around the http://www.   Honestly, I do not know how much more can be said on this topic by way of dialogue.

I watched Mark’s recent interview on CNN this morning and to no ones surprise it was much of the same.  I read the comments of professing Christians (post CNN interview) and guess what?  It was much of the same.  Please check out the video for yourself here at http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/bestoftv/2009/02/13/hughley.cussing.pastor.cnn?iref=videosearch 

Now for those who are not already “in bed” with Mark (excuse the CNN video play on words friends) it only served to confirm some of my growing concerns.   I know from listening to other Pastors talk I am not alone in this.  By the  way, the group I am speaking of here is not a bunch of Driscoll “haters” or “Hyper-critical-Fundies”.  It is a group of Biblical pastors who appreciate the gospel that is being preached at Mar’s Hill but who share common concerns about some of the other “baggage”.  Those concerns have been discussed here and elsewhere so their is no need to go down that path again.  I simply add that the cutting words of Jesus in Matthew 23 do not remind me of the controversial words of Driscoll in videos like the CNN one.  I guess John Piper (others) and I disagree on this point http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i38tv1AVnRY or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XRg7lpozNzU&feature=related

If you would like to dialogue more about the CNN video do so at “Between Two Worlds“.

In fairness to Mark I need to say that it appears Mark tries to answer questions on CNN the same way he would at Mars Hill.  Everyone is grateful when Christian Pastors don’t act like chameleons.   Mark is who he is.  He and others sincerely believe this style of ministry and his choice of words are appropriate; whether at church on Sunday AM or on CNN during an evangelism conversation. 

Perhaps some of the principles that the Apostle Paul discusses in Philippians 1 could and should be applied to this conversation.  Happy Valentine’s Day E.T. readers!

The glory of the gospel is that when the Church is absolutely different from the world, she invariably attracts it. It is then that the world is made to listen to her message, though it may hate it at first. That is how revival comes. That must also be true of us as individuals. It should not be our ambition to be as much like everybody else as we can, though we happen to be Christian, but rather to be as different from everybody who is not a Christian as we can possibly be. Our ambition should be to be like Christ, the more like Him the better, and the more like Him we become, the more we shall be unlike everybody who is not a Christian.

D.M Lloyd-Jones, Intro to the Beatitudes

21 responses to this post.

  1. The glory of the gospel is that when the Church is absolutely different from the world, she invariably attracts it. It is then that the world is made to listen to her message, though it may hate it at first. That is how revival comes. That must also be true of us as individuals. It should not be our ambition to be as much like everybody else as we can, though we happen to be Christian, but rather to be as different from everybody who is not a Christian as we can possibly be. Our ambition should be to be like Christ, the more like Him the better, and the more like Him we become, the more we shall be unlike everybody who is not a Christian.

    D.M Lloyd-Jones, Intro to the Beatitudes

  2. I appreciate this post quite a bit. I think what gets lost in the noise with Driscoll is that he is actually quite counter-cultural in his message, though he may seem worldly in how he presents it. I am glad to read the recognition that maybe he is contributing something to the Kingdom as opposed to how Ingrid sees what he is doing.

    I was blessed to hear him speak twice last weekend at a conference at Southeastern Baptist Seminary. His two plenaries were Christ-centered and extremely challenging.

    My main concern about him is not so much his language as his ego. He admits that he struggles with humility and it shows sometimes. My fear is that it will be the downfall of all the great things that are happening as a result of his ministry.

  3. Posted by alanreynolds on February 14, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    In all fairness, is making some joke about being “in bed with Mark” all that much more appropriate than anything Driscoll said in the CNN video or on the panel with Piper?

  4. You’re right Alan. Mark and I are obv. alot alike. :)

    On a serious note, the Lloyd-Jones quote is worth thinking about. I know i by no means always live out Matt 5-7 but I’m not proud of it. I try to be in the world but not of it but sometimes I fall short of Jude’s warning (Jude 22-23).

    The issue MLJ addresses in his short quote is what concerns me most about Emerging and Seeker churches. If you don’t get this point then we agree to disagree. Peace-

  5. I completely agree with the MLJ quote. The question is — does Mars Hill violate that?

    We are all somewhat like the culture to some degree. We wear clothes that fit in our culture. We speak roughly the same language. We refer to things that are relevant. For example, I live near Raleigh, NC. Was it wrong for our pastor to refer to the UNC-Duke basketball game? That’s a big deal to a lot of folks here. Yet it could be seen by some as catering to the culture. An argument could be made that someone could take the inherent idolatry of a big spots matchup and use it to preach on the need for total worship to God.

    My point is that few would argue with the MLJ quote. The argument comes with where the lines are drawn.

  6. Posted by Caleb Kolstad on February 15, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    I would suggest the following lectures to further advance this conversation. These lectures have helped me develop my personal convictions and may be of help to you.

    Al Mohler at Together for the Gospel on CULTURE.

    Phil Johnson at Shepherd’s Conference on Contextualization (Acts 17 main session sermon).

  7. Posted by Chris Poe on February 16, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    Over the past several days, I’ve been embroiled in what is up until now the biggest controversy I’ve engaged in in the blogosphere–a response to the simplistic knee jerk responses to the Baptist Press article on Driscoll’s link to a borderline porn site by people who I assumed would know better. (This includes some who are closely identified with Founders.) I addressed this in my most recent blog posts as well as in the meta of some of the blogs to which I linked.

    Unfortunately I overlooked this post until now, probably because of the reference to Valentine’s Day in the title. But perhaps this is a lesson to me not to overlook any post on Expository Thoughts in the future!

  8. Posted by Chris Poe on February 16, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    Here’s the URL to my blog, to which I referred in my previous post:


  9. Posted by Chris Poe on February 16, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    With regard to the Lloyd-Jones quote, he was of course laying down general principles. If anyone thinks that he wouldn’t have serious objections to the emergent approach to culture (if not doctrine in MD’s case–although ultimately can the two be divorced?) then they don’t know much about The Doctor.

    As to the responses here as well as elsewhere when reasoning similar to ML-J’s is employed to raise questions about this emergent approach to culture, the following comes to mind. Somewhere in the 2 vol. biography, (I’m sure it would be in Vol. 2) Murray reprints part of an interview with ML-J. The interviewer asked him what the biggest problem was in evangelicalism at that time. He responded, “Confusion.” There’s a lot of confusion (if not obfuscation) over this issue, even among those who are known for putting some meat on the table doctrinally speaking, and unless it is remedied, I’m frankly not too hopeful for the future of evangelicalism. The upshot of it is, “You don’t know what it takes to reach people today.” Where have we heard that reasoning before?

    I liken it to the response of those who don’t see the issue with Driscoll’s (and similar) actions to those who decried the Biblical Counseling movement and charged that those who refused to resort to psychology were “shooting the wounded.”

  10. I think the issue here is whether Driscoll has gone over “the line.” I say no, you say yes.

    I find it interesting that you would liken those who agree with MD’s methods to the integrationists with counseling. I don’t think that the comparison is apt. With psychology you’re talking about a completely different gospel. With methods you’re talking about subjective standards. You may find it interesting that I am committed to the nouthetic model (which, sadly, MD is not) and yet I have not been offended by what I’ve heard in any of the dozens of MD sermons I’ve listened to.

    Who gets to draw “the line?” That, to me, is the point. A verse like Ephesians 5:4 is of couse vital, we have to have some kind of working definition of what is “filthiness, foolish talk, or crude joking.” How are we defining that?

    I watched the CNN interview and I didn’t hear anything inappropriate. Then again, I was not raised in the Christian subculture either. Perhaps my lack of disapproval shows that I am more worldly than I’d like to think.

  11. Posted by Jerry Wragg on February 16, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    What is it that makes us use such qualifying language when evaluating the public ministry of Driscoll? Why do we feel the need to speak of the “good things” he preaches and the “positive impact” he’s said to be having?

    If Driscoll were a student in your youth ministry, his raw and often obscene speech, his frequent cocky and condescending barbs at more traditional believers, and his penchant for salacious sermon content would invoke serious discipleship attention, admonitions about pride, and maybe even questions of where his mind grazes.

    Instead, we look for every possible way to affirm the guy. Whatever for? If he behaves like an immature adolescent, he should be shepherded as one. Having 8,000 20-somethings affirm your ministry has never been God’s automatic imprimature. Nor is a man exonerated by the endorsement of other respected ministry leaders. Men are just that…mere men. I have no doubt that highly respected evangelical pastors who give Driscoll a platform are sincere and genuinely positive in their affirmations. That doesn’t make them either correct or without culpability. Each man must stand before God on his own and give an answer, and stand only in Christ we will!

    For the record, not everyone who’s offered a critique of Driscoll is hopelessly lost in old-time-religion. Moreover, if the criticisms raise serious questions as to the man’s fittedness for public ministry, it is foolish to summarily dismiss them as unkind simply because they don’t recognize the “good qualities” of his ministry. Some critiques simply consider the potential dangers far more weighty than all the claims to positive fruit. Pastoral ministry, especially that which publishes material to the masses, bears a greater responsibility and therefore should invite closer and more demanding scrutiny. Many serious and thoroughly biblical criticisms have been lodged to bring clarity and sobriety to the debate. I believe strongly in being carefully irenic when dealing with errant brothers and sisters in Christ, but graciousness should never overshadow the essential diagnosis of a serious flaw. I had to learn the skill of a gentle yet serious warning, but either way the error being addressed remains in need of clear identification and vigilant repentance.

    So what are we afraid of with Driscoll? Do we feel the need to identify the “good” of his work to avoid being marginalized as “out of touch?” Do we think he’s qualified for ministry because he can articulate right theology? Is he an exception to being tested and proven in his pastoral character simply because his approach is novel and popular?

    Oh…and don’t bother critiquing my comments as too harsh or judgmental. Unless, of course, you’re going to first mention all the “positive” things about my theology and impact. Just afford me the same latitude given Driscoll.

    PS – In my opinion, Mark’s problem is that he pretends to do what he does “to reach 20 year old, single males,” when actually, he is simply living the “Christianity” he’s always secretly coveted: Cool, popular, funny, sensual, cocky, condescending, and independent. Huh…sounds just like a description of the imprudent young subjects of Solomon’s Proverbs. How ironic!!!

  12. Jerry — I think the reason for praising the “good” in his ministry is to make the point that he is not just tickling ears and raising up shallow “believers” like the stereotypical megachurch.

    I have no problem with criticizing him where it is warranted. I just don’t think that the criticism leveled against him is particularly valid or worth all the energy spent on it. I don’t have a problem with anything I’ve heard him say. My main issues with him are his self-confessed pride and his approach to counseling. I believe he is working on the former, but I don’t know about the latter. Based on his sermons, he is certainly not in the “defer and refer” camp, but he seems more tolerant of meds than I would like a pastor to be. Then again, so is Piper.

    I am curious about how you have that insight into MD’s heart. How did you form that opinion of him? I see a man who has a passion for the lost in a group that is poorly reached by the church. You see someone who is in it just for himself. How can you be so sure that he no longer deserves the benefit of the doubt to be speaking the truth about his motives?

    His critics seem to take it as self-evident that the way he speaks is somehow wrong. It’s certainly more edgy than what you associate with a pastor, but is it clearly in violation of Eph 5:4? Again, you say yes and I say no. How do we make that determination about him or anyone else?

  13. Posted by alanreynolds on February 16, 2009 at 2:43 pm


    I don’t disagree with the MLJ quote. I don’t necessarily agree with Driscoll. He wants to be edgy, humorous, etc? Fine. But I do think he could back off a little with some of the more controversial ways he says things. Some of them are fine, but if it’s not necessary–even if it’s not wrong–then just leave it alone. So I don’t think he has transgressed anything with his words, but I don’t think it’s necessary in all the circumstances. Part of it, I think, is just a desire to be found humorous that goes a little amuck.

    But people like Mr. Wragg on here are a little over the top. Critiquing someone and asking not to be critiqued? Seriously? God forbid a pastor have imperfections–most of which he readily admits, btw. I guess I better quite my ministry, what, with my imperfections and all. One day, when I have none, maybe I can try again.

  14. Posted by caleb kolstad on February 16, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    Alan and friends,

    Though Jerry (Wragg) and I have never talked about Mark Driscoll before I would not dismiss his comments too quickly.

    In the interest of full disclosure Jerry was my ministry mentor when i was in college and during my early seminary days. Today I am a Sr. Pastor in IL and our times of “connecting” are normally through this venue. Jerry does not need a Timothy defending his comments above but let me just say when he does offer a perspective on something stop and carefully consider them (I always do). In other words, his side comments are often more helpful than my blog posts.

    I don’t always agree with the men i look up to (Carson, MacArthur, Mohler, Wragg, etc) but i do value the theological precision they bring to various conversations. Today’s comment is no exception.

    Lastly, I too am in favor of the Biblical Counseling model. I don’t however believe that Christian Integrationists teach a different gospel.

  15. Posted by Jerry Wragg on February 16, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    Thanks Caleb for your kind words. I certainly don’t deserve them.

    Jason and Alan –
    I’m in a board meeting at the moment, so I can’t respond at length yet. Please be patient and I’ll get a response to you by tomorrow.

    Thank you.

  16. Posted by Chris Poe on February 16, 2009 at 7:18 pm

    If Driscoll’s linking to a site that defends sodomy and sells sex toys isn’t going over the line (even iMonk called it a borderline porn site and Driscoll’s linking to it “a serious piece of stupid”) then what more can I say?

    I don’t believe integrationists preach a different gospel either. I tied the two together because it seems that in both cases people set up a false dichotomy that either you utilize “x” method or you’re not getting anything done at all i.e. not offering the counseling people really need or not reaching the unchurched, etc.

  17. Posted by Chris Poe on February 16, 2009 at 7:32 pm

    My first sentence should say that if Driscoll linking to the site isn’t going over the line, then what more can I say.

  18. Please understand that I do not believe that all integrationists preach a different gospel. What I am saying is that pscyhology is a different gospel and integrationists believe that you mix the religion of self with the self-denying faith of Christ.

    Also, regarding the site Driscoll linked, does his disclaimer when he linked to it count for anything? He made it clear that he does not agree with or endorse everything you can find on either site he linked.

  19. […] specifically interact with the BP story, there are several recent posts that are pertinent.  See here (don’t miss Jerry Wragg’s comment,) here for a take on the NYT article and here where […]

  20. Posted by Caleb Kolstad on March 6, 2009 at 8:16 pm

    Phil is obv. a dedicated ET reader. :)


    Check out Shepherd’s Conference 09, session 6.

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