My Two Cents on Mark Driscoll

Mark DriscollLove him or loathe him, Mark Driscoll’s not a guy you can easily ignore. He’s everywhere. His books seem to come off the presses every few months, his church is booming even in the spiritual desert that is Seattle, and he’s the media’s favorite new spokesman for evangelicals. I feel like I have a fairly good understanding of Driscoll’s ministry, though I’ve only looked on from afar. I’ve listened to many of his sermons with profit. I’ve appreciated his bringing the gospel to bear on difficult issues in an insightful way in Death by Love (which lacks most of the objectionable things for which Driscoll is infamous). I’ve enjoyed his teaching on parenting and been moved by illustrations of his interaction with his own children. I’ve appreciated his bold denunciations of the emergent church, and I’ve cited him as an authority on the movement. I’ve heard messages in which I was pleasantly surprised by his theological and biblical precision. I’ve even benefited from portions of his much-debated preaching on the Song of Solomon (such as his treatment of 8:8-9).  I admire his burden for a wicked city and for people that don’t seem to “fit” into normal evangelical churches. All that to say that I’m not a Driscoll basher who is blind to his giftedness or contributions to the cause of Christ.

That said, I’ve also been turned off more than once, and more importantly, I have an enduring concern that Driscoll’s brand of Christianity has some serious downsides for those who follow him. I think there are important reasons for young pastors and students to avoid emulating his ministry and important reasons for men like John Piper, D. A. Carson, and C. J. Mahaney to avoid promoting him before young people until he matures. It’s not his militant non-cessationism that concerns me, though I disagree with him on that issue. Nor is it merely his fascination with unsavory elements of our culture, which I can get past. My concerns about Driscoll’s ministry—and especially his influence on young preachers—are as follows:

1. Driscoll is just hilarious—distractingly so. Now, I think being considered funny is a compliment. He cracks me right up. The problem is, he’s hilarious in the pulpit. Almost all the time. Once in a while I’ll hear him deal with serious issues in a serious way for an entire message (or much of it), and I’ll wonder why he squanders his gifts by so often being the class clown of evangelicalism. Apparently he does so on purpose, though. Here’s the 4th of 10 principles Driscoll has taught to preachers about “Preaching and Teaching Jesus From Scripture“:

Study the stand-up comics. Stand-up comedy and preaching are the only two mediums I can think of in which someone walks onto a stage to talk for a long time to a large crowd. Dave Chappelle, Carlos Mencia, and Chris Rock are genius at capturing an audience using irony and sarcasm.”

Compare that strategy to the preaching ministry of John Piper, who is famously not funny. It’s probably not that Piper couldn’t be witty—he’s got the intelligence and the command of the English language to come up with comical statements, to be sure. But he refuses to distract people from eternal truth with disposable humor. Driscoll, on the other hand, too often talks about Scripture with levity rather than gravity.

2. Driscoll is too aware of himself. He’s cool, and he knows it. He’s funny, and he knows it. Mark Dever, by contrast, has said that he intentionally mutes his personality in the pulpit, lest people think highly of him instead of his Savior (1 Cor 2:1-5). Driscoll? Not so much. Sometimes he’ll forget himself in a powerful message or humble himself in a transparent moment, but more often than not what you’re going to get is “The Mark Driscoll Show,” not just straightforward expository preaching. He’ll talk about his clothes, his shoes, his work outs, his interviews, and his persecutions. Sometimes he gets on a roll and almost views an entire text through his “how it reminds me of me” glasses (as in his drawn out comparison of Nehemiah’s trials to his own). Another example: when people laugh nervously over a bit of crass humor, he’ll joke (kind of), “You knew it was coming. That’s why you came here, right?” Now, I don’t write as a humble man; my pride is a grief to me. But part of what’s missing from Driscoll’s ministry—in addition to gravity—is a John the Baptist-like sense that he needs to decrease; Driscoll needs to intentionally get out of the way so Christ is increased in the view of his hearers (John 3:30).

3. Driscoll is becoming a franchise. He’s not the only well-known pastor to adopt the multi-campus church model in which his messages are presented in different locations around a city electronically, but he’s a prominent one. I have serious reservations regarding what that model does to things like church autonomy, pastoral care for the “local church,” the biblical connection between relationship, example, and teaching (Acts 20:18-21; 1 Tim 4:12), and even the central place that Christ holds as the center and unifying factor of the church (Col 1:18).

4. Driscoll is crass. Famously so. Whether or not it’s fair, what he’s known for is not the hours he’s spent counseling, his heart for souls, or his passion for theology. He’s known for making a homosexual innuendo about Jesus. I got the point of the joke, and he was right about the ludicrousness of allegorizing the Song of Solomon. But it was lewd, and because it was about Christ, it was blasphemous. He’s also known for joking about masturbation by quoting a Bible verse. Again, it’s clever, and my flesh wants to laugh at it. But it’s a blasphemous bit of humor that, frankly, will probably affect the way I hear that verse for the rest of my life. That’s a big price to pay for a laugh. And worse yet, that’s the very sort of thing the press is going to quote him on. Why in the world would they grab a sound byte of him explaining the doctrine of propitiation when they can play one of him joking about sex? You can blame them for their editing, but it’s not their fault; it’s his for making such garbage readily available despite Scripture’s repetitive commands to cast it off:  “But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving” (Eph 5:3-4; cf 4:29 and Col 3:8).

Consider this opening paragraph from a New York Times article on Driscoll:

Mark Driscoll’s sermons are mostly too racy to post on GodTube, the evangelical Christian “family friendly” video-posting Web site. With titles like “Biblical Oral Sex” and “Pleasuring Your Spouse,” his clips do not stand a chance against the site’s content filters. No matter: YouTube is where Driscoll, the pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, would rather be. Unsuspecting sinners who type in popular keywords may suddenly find themselves face to face with a husky-voiced preacher in a black skateboarder’s jacket and skull T-shirt. An “Under 17 Requires Adult Permission” warning flashes before the video cuts to evening services at Mars Hill, where an anonymous audience member has just text-messaged a question to the screen onstage: “Pastor Mark, is masturbation a valid form of birth control?”

On it goes. While the Times discusses Driscoll’s theology (particularly Calvinism, which it represents quite unsympathetically), the impression he made on the reporter seems to be how cool he is, not how great God is: “Even the skeptical viewer must admit that whatever Driscoll’s opinion of certain recreational activities, he has the coolest style and foulest mouth of any preacher you’ve ever seen.” Great.

5. Finally, Driscoll promotes an understanding of contextualization that could approach Finneyism. I was surprised the first time that idea was presented to me (by Dave Doran), but it’s true, if perhaps a bit severe. Despite the fact that he’s known as a spokesman for young Calvinists, his “do what it takes to get an audience” methodology seems to be inconsistent with his theology. Sometimes it comes through a joke (again, kind of) in which he tells guys that the key to building a church is “to have a good band, and people will come.” Sometimes it’s a remark that people come to Mars Hill because of his “bad boy” reputation. Most recently it was his ridiculous attempt to meet some sort of goal by baptizing 200 people on Easter Sunday—a play right out of Rick Warren’s book. One has every right to look at this sort of showmanship and ask, “Is this really what dependence on the sovereignty of God and the clearly articulated gospel looks like?”

The thing is, as effective as Driscoll sometimes is (and he is), he could be much more so if he would, well, get over himself. It wouldn’t be easy. People who have spent significant time “in the world” adopt the world’s humor. I get that. I’m embarrassed by the things I can laugh at, or even come up with. But letting crassly funny moments pass wouldn’t hurt him; it would help him. Further, the struggle to make much of Christ rather than self is a struggle for every preacher; we’re all prone to say “Behold me telling you to behold the Lamb of God.” But such ambitions are wicked and must be denied, not winked at. Think of it this way: the guy has conservative evangelical leaders endorsing him and investing in him despite himself. He’s his own worst enemy. If he would preach the way he does for much of this message all the time, he could be a tremendous tool in the hand of the Almighty. As Paul instructed Timothy, he needs to stop giving his friends and critics excuses for looking down on his youth, and instead be a conscientious example, especially in “speech” and “purity” (1 Tim 4:12).

On the other hand, getting a laugh is a rush, and he’s great at it. Maybe he thinks it’s worth it.

I’d love to see Mark Driscoll mature into a serious-minded and conscientious preacher of the truth…all the time, not occasionally. But in the meantime, I’ll not be filling my mp3 player with a bunch of sermons from Mars Hill. Sure, I’ll listen in once in a while, especially if he’s addressing an issue on which he’s uniquely qualified to speak, like the emergent church. But I’ll not be drinking too deeply of the Driscoll well. Why? Because Driscoll (like every preacher) is teaching more than the meaning of a passage each time he stands up to speak; he’s teaching people how to preach, how to relate to a wicked world, and how to think. I’m not at all convinced that he’s the guy from whom we need to be learning these things.

Yet, that’s what’s happening. The most disconcerting thing to me about Driscoll’s ministry is not simply what he says and does but that he’s becoming a role model for young preachers. College students and seminarians love the guy. The thing is, you can’t immerse yourself in the sort of shenanigans Driscoll too often employs without it affecting you. Crassness is contagious (1 Cor 15:33). I’ve seen it in my own life, and I am (I hope) a pretty stable pastor!  For example, I surprised myself and my fellow leaders by opening what promised to be a difficult finance committee meeting at TCBC by saying to them, “I hope you wore a cup.” That’s a classic Driscoll line. It wasn’t dirty or sexual, per se, and I didn’t say it in mixed company. Nevertheless, our relatively laid-back leaders were embarrassed—embarrassed for their pastor. I’m embarrassed to think back to it. I shouldn’t have said it. Yes, it was kind of funny, and no one approached me about it afterwards. But it wasn’t appropriate or helpful. As much as I enjoy humor, it wasn’t the sort of comment I want to be known for. It’s not the kind of man I want to learn to be, and it’s not the kind of man I want aspiring preachers to learn to be. I can’t blame Driscoll for my own folly, obviously. But I don’t need his help to foster it, either.

Driscoll’s mixture of “cross and crass” isn’t good for the church and isn’t good for my own soul. Pray that he’ll cling to the former and put off the latter. I’m not just throwing out platitudes; genuinely pray for him. But until there’s a long-term and significant turn away from the gutter, while I may listen on occasion with caution, I’ll feed my soul somewhere else.

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113 Responses

  1. I guess I’ll get right to the point – where does the Scriptures allow for, “while I may listen on occasion with caution, I’ll feed my soul somewhere else.”

    I struggle with only keeping him (Driscoll) at arms length. Separation is separation. It doesn’t mean maybe once in awhile.

  2. While teaching our church through the book of Titus, and hitting 2:7-8 this evening, for some reason Driscoll was the first thing that came to my mind (privately). Especially with how Titus was supposed to be as he ministered through his doctrine and example to young men who he was to exhort to be sober. Driscoll really has no business in the role he is in according to Paul’s words to Titus.

  3. Chris – I think you are right on. Thanks for commenting on Mark Driscoll. I like some of his stuff, and even benefit from it, but it is not the same as “feeding my soul”. I do think we will see more good than bad from Driscoll in the long run, and of course it is up to the Lord to do that work. I have a hunch that he will mature over time and I give him credit for seeking out relationships with men like Piper and D.A. Carson. It is interesting that my teenage son listens to some of the podcasts and we actually have good conversations about what was said. Some of the good stuff that Driscoll says about manhood has had a good impact on him.

  4. Chris,

    Good work here. I had the same very strange thought about Driscoll being a Calvinistic Finney after “coincidentally” re-reading Revival and Revivalism just before watching the Mars Hill Easter weekend on their website. It’s striking.

  5. One more thought along these lines. It really amazes me when other much more serious pastors and theologians justify their endorsement of him because of the “great impact” he’s having. I haven’t heard Piper say that, but that’s how Keller introduced him at TGC meeting a month ago. It sounds so strange coming from a Calvinist.

  6. Tom, I don’t want to chase this issue around with you, but I have no relationship with Driscoll, personal, ministerial, or otherwise. To play the separation card on reading and listening is a bit much, I think.

    I’m not sure about the “impact” thing, Scott. I’m thinking that Calvinists throughout history have recognized and rejoiced in God’s unique blessing on the lives and ministries of others, be it Edwards’ comments about Whitefield or others.

    I’m not comparing the men, of course. Just noting that recognizing the effectiveness of one’s ministry isn’t inconsistent with Calvinistic thought, IMO.

    At any rate, I think we’re agreed on the principle that Driscoll represents a strange sort of Calvinistic revivalism. Weird. :)

  7. No, I’m just observing that it seems as if they’re justifying his methods because “it works.”

  8. Hi, Pastor Anderson,

    Just started reading your blog. It’s great. This post is very informative – going to have to check this guy out – have never heard him – and then I’ll read it again. I will definitely be back for some more cents…Thanks for what you’re doing

  9. Thank you so much for this fair and balanced critique. I think you are right on. I have had a hard time explaining to people that I don’t despise him but have some concerns. I hope that as we wait patiently the fruits of his ministry will grow to be more consistently Christ-like. I hope this critique gets in the hands of Dever, Piper, and Mahaney.

  10. I appreciate your balanced approach. Funny, reading point 2 made me think of Joel Osteen. Osteen seems to use himself and his wife as examples often. No, I don’t regularly watch him, but when I do (not for spiritual purposes) that’s what I hear. Of course, Osteen is selling self-help.

    Anyways, I will have to check out the Finney connection. I haven’t heard that yet.

    Thanks for linking to Ben Wright too. I got to meet him at my church last year with the 9Marks group. Nice guy.

  11. BTW, have you listened to Matt Chandler? Any opinions? He has some similarities to Driscoll.

  12. Hi Chris,

    Great post. I went to the TGC gathering in Chicago last month and Driscoll split my side with laughter. I loved it! But, I remember thinking that I’d choose someone else to pastor my family were I to live in Seattle looking for a church. That said, I’m an optimist and believe he’s going to mature. But, I agree with your post–he is wrong for his lack of dignity and self-control. To which he generally replies that his critics don’t get what he is trying to do. Whatever. I don’t see the Apostle Paul as the epitiome of “becoming all things to all men” using profanity, promoting cigars and ales, telling racy jokes, and etc.

    On a similar but variant point: A question that has been bouncing in my mind is this: How should we preach crass passages? Should our respect for the inspiration of Scripture lead us to reflect the graphic (if not offensive) nature of some verses from the pulpit? Or, how about erotic passages such as Song of Solomon? Should we turn R rated verses into PG or G?

  13. My son asked me about Driscoll a few months ago. He’s 17. This behaviour of Driscoll is exactly what I’ve been telling my own boys for years to stay away from. If girls and women want to listen to this middle school macho, they can hang our at the coffee shop during school lunch hoursd.

    My answer was five words: “Gone to the dark side” This is not the behaviour of a true shepherd and pastor. Stop calling him a pastor, and stop calling Mars HIll a church until they get a man of God in their pulpit. There is no middle ground here, no offsetting good vs. bad, no balance. He is vulgar, narcissistic and impure.

  14. [...] Pastor Chris Anderson on “Driscoll’s mixture of ‘cross and crass’” [...]

  15. I made the revivalism point about Driscoll here:

    http://jackhammer.wordpress.com/2009/05/18/a-modern-revival-that-wasnt/

    a little more than a week ago.

    It is modern Finneyism. However, I think it is more of a modern day reenactment of the late 60s, early 70s Jesus Movement that MacArthur calls a revival. MacArthur lists the measures that were conditions for that “revival.”

  16. Thank you so much for providing some clear and biblical insight into this issue. It is, by far, the most helpful I’ve come across.

  17. “Eventually, he’ll mature.”

    When? At what point can we say that his trajectory is stagnant at best?

    That said, the Finney thing is about radical pragmatism in methods. It’s true of Driscoll insofar as it is true of any of us when we put “soul winning” above sound doctrine and action. I think it’s not wholly fair to call Driscoll a Finneyite when in fact he has a wholly-sound theology which he has dressed in vulgar clown wigs and rubber noses.

  18. I for one am a seminarian who has had Mark come and speak. There are paramaters that he was kept in, I believe by our president, and he did an outstanding job of relating our culture and church and the lack of impact we are having in our culture. Remember, Mark was not shepherded, and is still standing. And he will stand alone before Christ in the judgement. Usually with the amount of blessing and the pressure to divert because of what of God has done can be quite overwhelming, but I do see a maturing happening. Remember many start strong and finish poorly. It appears Mark is maturing ever so slowly while he continues to uphold the scriptures. Who would you rather have leading the charge, him or the guy in Texas with 25 grand in attendance. Let us bear with him, and in time he may have an impact for years to come. Good balanced article. Better than much of the vitriole coming out of other camps. I appreciate the candidness.

  19. [...] a comment » A friend forwarded me a link to this post by Chris Anderson, giving some insightful and balanced thoughts on the Driscoll phenomenon.  If [...]

  20. Who would you rather have leading the charge, him or the guy in Texas with 25 grand in attendance

    Why are these the only two options?

    Surely we can do better than either.

    My sentiments on Driscoll are reflected almost exactly in my friend Chris’s. I appreciate his balanced critique.

  21. Very well said..excellent.

    Thank you. And thank you for what you do as a pastor. God richly bless you and your flock.

    Grace, and peace ~

  22. [...] Chris Anderson’s thoughtful evaluation is worth more than two cents. [...]

  23. Chris,

    I find your critique to be far more incisive and on point than MacArthur’s It’s also much broader, ironically. Well done.

    Bad news: I think that means I’m nominating you to be the spokesman for MacArthur as well as the FBFI. Let me know how that works out for ya’.

  24. Chris, excellent job. As I was reading, I was thinking that I cannot imagine anybody having a real problem with what you wrote. It was balanced and very well thought out. Imagine my surprise when I begin reading the comment section.

    Now separation includes listening to a message on an mp3? I am sure that restriction is imbedded somewhere in the text of 2 Thessalonians 3. Before long we will not be able to write out their names. It will be “M**k D******l”. Wow.

  25. Andrew says It will be “M**k D******l”

    That looks like profanity and thus isn’t avoiding the appearance of evil, so we obviously can’t do that either.

  26. I had easily ignored Mark Driscoll until this past year. And really, it was more idle curiosity than anything else that finally got me to watch the videos from the ABC “Nightline” forum on Satan that was held at his church back in March. Since then I have read the MacArthur critiques and watched Driscoll’s video response to Phil Johnson and the Shepherd’s Conference. I have to say that Mark just gives me the creeps. His hip, grunge, pop contextualization of ministry completely turns me off (but then again I am a RAYF). In addition to what you have highlighted, there is also the problem on his continued association with Robert Schuller. I am waiting for someone to stand up and say you can’t be part of a gospel coalition “committed to . . . reforming our ministry practices to conform fully to the Scriptures” and give a man prime exposure whose ministry is hardly consistent with the gospel of Christ (Phil 1:27; 1 Tim 1:9-11). I certainly agree that I would not want to feed my soul from his trough.

  27. Andrew said “As I was reading, I was thinking that I cannot imagine anybody having a real problem with what you wrote.”

    Dude, you are sooooo naïve. :)

  28. I can’t wait for the book to come out. “The Critique of Mark Driscoll.” Someone has to write it. Taking Mark to task has become the niche within the niche.

    And I am ok with that, as long as it is warranted and true. Unfortunately, the critique of Mark has been all over the map. Moreover, he is so incredibly different and new that one wonders if anyone can actually say (especially from afar), “I feel like I have a fairly good understanding of Driscoll’s ministry.”

    I appreciate your crack at it, and I gladly encourage you to hold to your assessment. Nevertheless, I can’t help but think that you have painted black when your point is to show that Driscoll paints white.

    1. Humor is a difficult thing. But the decision to, or not to, employ it is more cultural than biblical. Or would you have us tear large portions from 1 Corinthians (for Paul’s rhetoric, at that time, would surely have been considered polemically humorous)? And why, oh why, put him up against Piper? If that is the only model by which we can engage rhetorically then I say we should stop preaching altogether, if only because preaching would be immensely boring. Piper is great for Piper. But I am also quite fond of laughing along with Spurgeon (or is even Spurgeonesque humor off limits?).

    2. Agreed and well said.

    3. What you say has less to do with Driscoll and more to do with current ecclesiastical methodology. If you are taking on Mark here, take on Tim Keller while you’re at it.

    4. Agreed, but be more precise. Is Ezekiel 23:20ff too crass for you? Or see also point 1.

    5. I would tend to agree, again, but only when Mark’s practice leaves his undergirding philosophy. He believes quite strongly that we are to be missionaries to our people, and that means taking on certain cultural style (he points, not surprisingly, to Hudson Taylor as example). So where his/their practice abandons this philosophy for, say, a market-driven one, you are correct. Still, it seems to me that your examples do not actually do justice to what actually goes on at MHC.
    (6.) You are correct, that Driscoll’s biggest weakness is being too fond of himself. “The struggle to make much of Christ rather than self is a struggle for every preacher; we’re all prone to say ‘Behold me telling you to behold the Lamb of God.’” Brilliant. And I think Mark would agree wholeheartedly. When he stops agreeing with that (and working on it), I will gleefully purge my iPod of Driscoll along with you.

  29. “Sometimes he’ll forget himself in a powerful message or humble himself in a transparent moment, but more often than not what you’re going to get is “The Mark Driscoll Show,” not just straightforward expository preaching. He’ll talk about his clothes, his shoes, his work outs, his interviews, and his persecutions. Sometimes he gets on a roll and almost views an entire text through his “how it reminds me of me” glasses (as in his drawn out comparison of Nehemiah’s trials to his own).”

    Chris, your analysis here is the closest I’ve ever heard to being correct. I hope Driscoll will read your criticism. It would be very helpful to him. However, I see in the comment section the glee of some who have lobbed undiscerning criticism at him for years. It drives me crazy because they drown out the truly helpful criticism with blatantly false accusations. Some will link to your post here because they will finally feel justified for their unhelpful, often sinful criticism by your thoughtful, precise gospel-centered analysis. My hope is that upon further inspection, these same believers will be convicted by the difference.

  30. “Dude, you are sooooo naïve. :)”

    I prefer to think of myself as positive and kind-hearted and untainted.

  31. I have a meeting tonight and other responsibilities, so I can’t comment further right now. I will try to get back to respond to posts like Ryan Phelps’ later.

    I should note that the “Behold me” concept Ryan and some others have appreciated was first shared with me by my friend Matt Hoskinson in a personal email. He captured the struggle well.

    Eddie, bloggers can only be held responsible for their own words. :) Seriously, it’s important to distinguish between a post and what follows it.

    Blessings, all.

  32. [...] Pastor Chris Anderson has written a good post on Mark Driscoll that is worth your time to read if you are wondering what to make of him and his ministry [...]

  33. [...] Anderson weighs in on what is a very well-crafted critique of Mark Driscoll, and Dave Doran adds a few more [...]

  34. [...] I read this (courtesy of Phil Johnson) view of Mark Driscoll, which I found very helpful [...]

  35. Out of the abundance of the heart a man speaks.
    What does maturing have to do with it? How about repentance!

  36. Wow, were you throwing in your two cents, or something else from Ohio all the way to Seattle! Who does agree with everything that Driscoll does, or Piper does, or you, or I do, for that matter? The fact is Driscoll is preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a culture that you and I know very little about. I believe that we need to recognize that Driscoll is in a very different mission field (Seattle), than you are, in Ohio, or than I am, in North Carolina. If he were preaching false doctrine, the discussion would be different.

    Clearly, Driscoll doesn’t have it all together. The last time I checked, none of us do. Since we are throwing around our spare change:

    1. Jesus used humor in his preaching, but most evangelicals are afraid to use it in sermons, in fear of going to far (myself included).

    2. You seem fairly intellectual. My guess is, you know it. Driscoll has received counsel from Carson, Mahaney, Piper, and others about his pride. God grant us humility.

    3. While I don’t agree with all of Mars Hill’s polity, I do know that each campus has it’s own set of elders and deacons.

    4. I am not familiar with the innuendo that you have cited. However, I would say that the church does need to speak clearly about sex; our culture certainly has it’s message.

    5. Honestly, we conservatives need to loosen up a bit. Most of us just get too uncomfortable when even thinking about the word contextualization.

    Thank God there is only one Piper, Mahaney, MacArthur, Dever, and Driscoll. While understanding their wider influence in the Church, all of these men, would tell you to look to their Master first, and not to them. Maybe we should all do more of that. We certainly need to do as you said; pray for Driscoll, and every minister of the Gospel. “Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice” (Phil. 1:18).

  37. David E.,

    If you would take the points in the article and address them directly and precisely your points might be better made.

    I’ve talked with friends before about some of these issues. The answers I get are “yeah but…” with a generalization added. I think this is one of the reasons it can be tough to get anywhere in this particular conversation.

    Respectfully,

    Mark

  38. Mark,

    Indeed, you caught me cherry picking. Sorry, just following suit.

    Joyfully,
    David

  39. Following suit? lol

    OK then.

  40. [...] ministry that’s worth reading. He’s very popular and has some things right, but read Chris Anderson’s comments on My Two Cents Blog. It’s not brief, but that’s well justified—and makes it worth you taking time to [...]

  41. [...] impressed with his confession of his pride and his active search for humility.  I stumbled upon this critique of Driscoll which I think is worthy of consideration: 5. Finally, Driscoll promotes an [...]

  42. Chris,

    I think that your critique of Driscoll is fairly presented. I live 30 minutes from Seattle so I have a little different view of this thing.

    Where Driscoll preaches Christ, I applaud him! Where he preaches himself, I abhor him!

    From where he begins, he is a separatist. He does sound off about the emerging church and does seem to present a clear gospel.

    Obviously using worldly methods to accomplish God’s work is always wrong! The wrong music, crude speech, and prideful attitude must be called out as sin. No matter where you live and minister right is right and wrong is wrong. The culture may respond differently, but we are ultimately responsible to God.

    One other area that needs to be addressed. The man teaches folks how to make beer. After seeing the affects of alcohol upon folks, there are all kinds of principles that are being violated by this action– Weaker brother, abstain from all appearance of evil, body is the temple of Holy Spirit…

  43. This is the kind of stuff that makes the church look bad, when we are knocking other pastors through blogs. I would like to see any other pastor try to reach as many young people in Seattle. God is using Mark despite his deficiencies. If we looked at most pastor’s deficiencies the pulpit would look pretty ugly.

  44. Just for the record: I find him quite easy to ignore.

  45. What’s intersting about almost any critique of Driscoll is that all arguments against him typically have little or nothing to do with doctrine. It’s about his personality.

    It’s hard to come up with a more polarizing character than Driscoll in evangelical circles. I think many of your points can be combined into one: He has a big personality and he knows it and uses it, sometimes to the detriment of Christ’s glory and many times for the good of Christ’s glory.

    Is being funny a distraction? Not sure about that. His doctrine in the fundamentals is rock solid as far as I can tell. What’s great about God is He uses all kinds of personalities and character traits to further His kingdom.

    Not one of the points you mentioned had anything to do with doctrine (I’ll leave the “non-cessationist” comment aside since you did as well).

    JT

    http://redeemingriches.wordpress.com

  46. Chris,

    Found your blog at the main login page of WordPress.

    Just a question and a followup:

    Could you please share with me the parameters that make a city a “spiritual desert?” And did you come up with those parameters or someone else?

    And a quick question to John Stima,

    Do you know what kind of beer he makes? I’m looking for some good receipes.

    -mike

  47. linked from pyromaniacs,
    Good stuff and well balanced. I for one won’t give one thought to Driscoll if it wasn’t for the ‘influence’ thing. That’s been my concern, the effect he’s having upon other preachers, it’s a downward spiral-many young guys with better theology and weaker lives.
    Piper at the basics conf DID use the ‘Mark’s impact’ argument (ie baptisms).
    Yeah I’m totally against the satelite churches (ME extensions).
    If you care to look I made a Vblog about this (a concern regarding the new calvinists) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZedhmcKCGxA

    God bless

  48. [...] our friend Chris Anderson has practically taken the words out of my mouth in his excellent assessment of the Driscoll phenomenon [...]

  49. Chris,
    I appreciate your post.
    What is meant by this statement –
    “Nor is it merely his fascination with unsavory elements of our culture, which I can get past.” – just curious.
    15 years ago if someone would have told me that a well-received evangelical who was promoted by prominent names used lewd, coarse language and erotic imagery from the pulpit would be accepted and defended by evangelicals I would not have believed it. I truly believe American Christianity is on the downgrade (to borrow a term from Spurgeon).
    I totally agreed with Phil Johnson’s and Dr MacArthur’s assesment of the situation and glad that men like that are still standing for the truth. I would be thrilled to see Mr Driscoll repent and preach Christ.

  50. I think that laughter still is the best medicine for body and soul. Give it try and let me know the results.

  51. [...] A very fair and honest critique of Mark Driscoll [...]

  52. Thank you Chris…very helpful…I needed to read this. I was linked through by DMD’s blog…

    Jon

  53. What’s intersting about almost any critique of Driscoll is that all arguments against him typically have little or nothing to do with doctrine. It’s about his personality.

    Is it your position then that the critiques are invalid? What aspects of the person does the Bible tell us to look at for a person to be qualified to be an elder?

  54. Ryan Phelps,

    I’m not opposed to humor. I’m not opposed to occasional and germane humor in the pulpit if it can be used to make a point, and I acknowledge that the prophets and apostles would appeal to sarcasm and irony at times. I’m not arguing for sanctimonious glibness. What I’m opposed to is humor that either drives a message or distracts from a message, and I believe that Driscoll’s humor often does both. Sometimes levity is just out of place. I’ve intentionally avoided “ice breaker” jokes when dealing with a heavy topic, like the death of Christ. While Chris Rock may be effective at holding an audience’s attention, he’s not dealing with people’s souls, a Savior crushed by God for our sins, etc. Most of the Bible just isn’t funny.

    As for the “crassness” issue, I’m not opposed to frank discussion of difficult topics, be it sexuality or dung. I’m not arguing that we be unbiblically delicate. I’m saying that Driscoll sometimes crosses the line from indelicate to obscene. His masturbation joke, for example, accomplishes nothing. It’s not a teaching point. It’s not irony. It just gets him laughs, and that at the expense of the Scriptures.

    I hope that helps clarify.

  55. David E (and others),

    We’re probably just going to disagree on what’s appropriate in the pulpit. However, if you’re not familiar with the masturbation joke/innuendo (which was in the Times article and has, I believe, been on national news programs, etc.), you can’t very well complain that I’m being unfair or merely uptight. It was lewd, it was pointless, and it’s national news.

    Subversive,

    I initially deleted your comment, not because you disagree with me (which would be a big job on this post), but because it doesn’t contribute to serious conversation, IMO. I assumed that the questions about Seattle and beer recipes were just snarky. At any rate, Seattle is known to be a notoriously difficult city for Christianity due to strong influences of atheism, new age ideas, etc. I’ve not done any demographic studies or anything, but neither am I being novel with that assertion. Driscoll commonly describes the city as “the least churched city in America.”

  56. JT,

    I disagree that none of this is doctrinal. The inconsistent Calvinism is, I think, and the whole “view of God” angle is important, as well. How we represent Him says a lot of how we regard Him.

    At any rate, I agree with Mark that dismissing non-doctrinal critiques is bogus. The qualifications for spiritual leaders (e.g. 1 Tim 3 and Titus 1) are certainly not limited to mere orthodoxy, as important as that is.

  57. Subversive (and others),

    I think we would all clearly agree with Paul when he says the following:

    “Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. 16The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17The former proclaim Christ out of rivalry, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. 18What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.” Phil 1.15-18

    We truly do rejoice that the gospel has been proclaimed in Seattle through Mark Driscoll’s ministry. There is no doubt that sinners have been converted through the preaching of Christ there.

    But just like Paul, we do not back down to point out to point out the potentially dangerous errors in his ministry as well.

    I think Chris has made it crystal clear in his post that his motivation is that he (and some of the rest of us) think Mark could have an even greater impact for Christ (and by greater, that doesn’t necessarily mean in numbers) if his manner matched the gospel he loves and preaches.

  58. [...] Information-Action Ration. Marva Dawn got this from Neil Postman. My Two Cents on Mark Driscoll. [...]

  59. Chris,

    The beer comment was snarky. Sorry. I thought the alcohol comment by John Stima was trite, as heart disease and obesity could be argued to be have much worse effects on the population than alcohol (I am a home brewer).

    Your description of Seattle, and apparently Driscoll’s, makes me wonder two things:

    First, as far as evangelizing goes (something I think has gone far off-track from the days of the early followers of Christ), shouldn’t Seattle be a priority? Where does the idea of shaking the dust of a village that does not welcome disciples off our sandals fit into this description of Seattle? Should Seattle then be abandoned by Christians?

    Second, if someone stumbles across your blog, (like I did), but lived in Seattle, (which I do not), and was not a Christian (which if I had to label myself, I would consider ‘deist’ marginally appropriate), how would they respond to your description? I care little about Driscoll and pay him no attention, but I was instantly turned off from this post not because of your critique of Driscoll, but your idea of Seattle, and what could be the overall thought of Seattle by the Christian community at large.

    Nineveh comes to mind, but that may not be the best comparison.

    And thanks for putting my comment back up.

    -mike

  60. religiousaffections,

    Your post went up while I was responding to Chris, so I take a moment to note I am not concerned about Chris’ issues with Driscoll, but with the description of Seattle.

    What I find amazing in most evangelizing situations is the complete lack of trust given to the Holy Spirit and his/its ability to convict. Christians try to take on all of the responsibility themselves instead of doing thier part and moving on to allow others and the Holy Spirit to do theirs. Seattle seems written off at worst, and a hopeless casse at best by Chris. Yet there are people coming to Christ in Seattle.

    Chris calls Seattle a spiritual desert, when clearly it is not. It may be the wrong spirituality in his eyes, the word spiritual being used in place of the word Christanity. Who knows what God has in-store for Seattle?

    And just for the record, I do not agree with Paul. But I do find this post and this conversation to line up with what Jesus said in Mark 9:

    38 John said to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw someone using your name to cast out demons, but we told him to stop because he wasn’t in our group.”
    39 “Don’t stop him!” Jesus said. “No one who performs a miracle in my name will soon be able to speak evil of me. 40 Anyone who is not against us is for us.

    It seems as though Chris and others have taken their ideas of what a leader should be doing, backed up by Paul’s words, not Jesus’ in their critique of Driscoll.

    -mike

  61. I appreciate your gracious post about Driscoll.

  62. [...] Chris Anderson posted his two cents’ worth. [...]

  63. Ryan,

    I’m not giving Driscoll a pass on “unsavory elements.” My point is that if he were just into Ultimate Fighting or the Simpsons or Indy Garage Band music outside of the pulpit, I’d not make a huge issue of it, though I’d disagree. My point is that my concerns aren’t merely personal/cultural differences.

  64. Sigh. How can you honestly take seriously the viewpoint of a NYT reporter, especially when she opens her story with an outright lie?

    I was reading your article, agreeing with some points and disagreeing with others, but getting the overall impression that it was well thought out. Then I happened upon the NYT thing.

    I would expect those with a personal vendetta against Driscoll to reference such things in their sermons and on their team blogs as if they were true. But this post was going so well for so long….

    This is growing as wearisome as the “cussing pastor” baloney. Lauren Greenfield is becoming the new Donald Miller of misinformation.

  65. [...] Mark Driscoll and asked me to listen to his message and comment on it to them. Since our friend Chris Anderson has practically taken the words out of my mouth in his excellent assessment of the Dr…, I thought I would piggyback off of that and share the open letter I’ve written to my [...]

  66. Hey Chris-

    Thanks for your response. You were more precise, thank you.

    What seems more important in this whole debate is, what is the point? I am very happy to call out men and women who distort the gospel. But what do you do with guys like Driscoll, who say the name Jesus more than definite articles? You disagree with their methodology but not their theology.

    Some questions:

    1. It is obvious what you have decided to do in response to Driscoll: ignore him. But what do you want HIM to do? And it can’t be as simple as “Stop using humor the way you do.” I get that his crassness, despite the end, does not justify it as a means. Nevertheless, Mark’s style, his way of interacting and preaching, has engaged Seattle, a people with no roots in Christianity (or much anything, for that matter). So how would you change him but not change him at the same time? Or would you have him leave the ministry altogether?

    2. I trust guys like Piper, Carson, Keller, and Mahaney almost implicitly. What have you seen that they haven’t? Are they star-struck? Are they sinning by allowing him to speak at their conferences?

  67. [...] you can read it here. it’s a lengthy read, but well done [...]

  68. Piper’s recent reply about Driscoll at the Basic Conference was good. Piper said there were other things he has problems with. He was concerned about the Song of Solomon sermons.

    And?

    This touches on the bit of celebrity that we have in conservative evangelism. Piper did not name everything he has trouble with concerning Driscoll. He still has some problems though if I heard him correctly. Yet, I don’t see bloggers complaining that Piper has problems with Driscoll. Nor calling out Piper as to what the problems are.

    Why?

  69. [...] the Internet Monk and the moderator of the Boar’s Head Tavern, addressed a portion of my post on Mark Driscoll during his recent radio podcast, #142. You can hear it here, starting at about 13:30 and ending at [...]

  70. WOW. Fantastic post.

    I haven’t heard anyone mention (or maybe I just missed it) the authoritarianism rampant in Driscoll culture.

    I initially only heard Driscoll being worshipped, so I thought that maybe it was just me, but come to find out, my concerns are shared by many who, like me, have narrowly escaped being sucked down the drain of cultish church groups.

    We all seem to have the same red flags popping up when we hear/see Driscoll. What he teaches about authority and submission is really scary stuff (sometimes it’s actually not even done in coded language but is just a flat out, “Shut off your brain and do what pastor Mark tells you, or you’re on Satan’s side.”)

    On a related note…

    It’s really frustrating how Piper and Mahaney, etc, will nit-pick their opponents to death over all sorts of miniscule things, but give Driscoll a wiiide birth. The inconsistancy really frustrates me. I mean, just think what they would say about Driscoll if he was an egalitarian. Heh.

  71. [...] Another Blog post on Driscoll My Two Cents on Mark Driscoll [...]

  72. [...] My Two Cents on Mark Driscoll Love him or loathe him, Mark Driscoll’s not a guy you can easily ignore. He’s everywhere. His books seem to [...] [...]

  73. Dear Readers and Chris who wrote this article:

    I must say I am shocked at the critical words coming from all around. I attend this church every Sunday and have for 4 years. Coming from another mega church in CA, I can tell you that I have never felt more shepherded, loved, cared for and well taught IN MY LIFE. So, for all of those who like to talk about someone they don’t know, don’t listen to regularly, and someone who despite some obvious issues that can turn people off at times is still called to share the Gospel, I think that the discussion needs to end.

    I am honestly appalled that you as a pastor yourself would openly criticize another pastor who with some flaws, as I am sure you have as well, truly is a man after God’s heart. I can tell you one thing- he would never talk about any person like this. You as a pastor are an example to everyone you shepherd, which includes everyone that comes across this. I’m sad for you, your family and your flock. You are in sin my friend.

  74. Steph,

    Will all due respect, I have a friend who used to attend Mars Hill. He has a different perspective. It’s hard to argue against “feelings” and such.

    My question is did you feel the same way when Pastor Mark criticized, not on a blog, but at a conference, Brian McLaren and Doug Pagitt? These guys are both pastors.

    Side note: Have you got to meet and spend time with Driscoll? How accessible is he to you personally? I’m just curious.

    I struggle with Driscoll. I like him on many fronts. I do think the criticism here is done in love and not out from ill motives.

    I’m glad you feel shepherded.

    Mark

  75. Steph,

    So you are allowed to criticize Pastor Anderson but Chris is not allowed to criticize Pastor Driscoll? I am shocked by the critical words coming from you!

  76. I have grave concerns about the whole missional strategy (especially by those who say they are Calvinists). I thought this post from Phil Johnson several years ago made some excellent points about the errors in that line of thinking.
    taken from

    http://phillipjohnson.blogspot.com/2005_09_01_archive.html

    entry on may 28, 2005 – titled “Still more from the e-mail out-box” where Phil Johnson is responding to someone with missional type ministry philosopy – here is key excerpt
    “…And that’s what I want to respond to: the notion that adopting the fads of a juvenile, egomaniacal, shallow, self-destructive, worldly culture “works” better as an evangelistic strategy than a lifestyle that gives more prominence to the principle of Matthew 5:16 and 1 Peter 2:9.

    As you have described it above, body modification and combat boots are a significant and deliberate part—if not the very centerpiece—of your evangelistic strategy. You seem to imagine that if you try hard enough to fit into the punk culture, you might actually win people by convincing them that Jesus would fit nicely into their lifestyle, too.

    But wouldn’t you yourself actually agree that there is—somewhere—a limit to how far Christians can legitimately go in conforming to worldly culture? Surely you do not imagine that the apostle Paul’s words about becoming all things to all men is a prescription for adopting every vulgar fashion of a philistine culture. Do you?

    Can we agree, for example, that it wouldn’t really be good or necessary to get a sex-change operation in order to reach the transgendered community? OK, you might dismiss that as something inherently sinful and wrong for that reason. Well, how about pulling a few teeth and adopting the trashy patois and tasteless lifestyle of Jerry Springer’s guest list in order to have a more effective outreach to the underbelly of the cable-TV community? How serious are you about your strategy of accommodation and conformity?

    And why is it mainly the lowbrow and fringe aspects of Western youth culture that this argument is invariably applied to? Why are so few Christian young persons keen to give up video games and take up chess in order to reach the geeks in the chess club? or give up heavy metal and learn the cello in order to have a ministry to the students who play in the orchestra?

    There used to be a misguided youth on the Web who ran a website called “Backyard Wrestlers for Jesus.” He was trying to tap into the backyard wresting culture as a mission field. So he set up a Web site showing kids how to build a backyard wrestling ring, how to do what The Rock and the Dudley Boys do without getting hurt, and how to talk smack without really talking dirty—so that kids who wrestle in their own backyards could improve their style. Along the way, he figured they would see that his Web site had something to do with Jesus, and they’d know Jesus is cool, and they’d like Jesus better because he’s so cool.

    I admire his desire to reach a troubled culture, but the methodology is all wrong and completely without any credible biblical warrant. I realize making Jesus seem cool is the dominant evangelistic strategy of this age, and everyone from Rick Warren to Brian McLaren is trying in whatever way they think best to make Christianity more hip and trendy.

    But I still think it’s a bad idea.

    Incidentally, I grew up in the 1960s in a liberal church with a fairly sizable youth group where dances with live rock music were the bait used to draw us on a regular basis. So there’s nothing particularly fresh or innovative about this philosophy. It didn’t work in my generation, and it’s not really working now. It’s made the church more worldly; it hasn’t made the world more spiritual.

    In fact, I’d say that this strategy represents the wholesale abandonment of the church’s responsibility to a sinful culture.

    The most effective way to minister to any culture—and this goes for every culture, from highbrow society to white middle-class suburbia to the urban street gang—is to challenge and confront the culture instead of conforming to it. “Therefore ‘Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean'” (2 Corinthians 6:17).

    Yes, I know Jesus was a friend of sinners, and His enemies accused Him—wrongly—of participating in their excesses. The truth is that He became their friend without adopting their values. That’s the example we should strive to follow, not the example of worldly culture itself.”

  77. Finally found a blog where some (not all) intelligent things are being said about this issue.

    BTW, I know more about street life in Seattle than Ballard Boy, so don’t get caught up in his “street wise” missiology line, it’s a crock.

  78. Regarding showing one’s personality in the pulpit (esp. humor), I was interested to recently find a statement by a friend of Tozer who said that he could tell when Tozer was not as prepared when his “homespun humor” started to show.

    Regardless what one’s view of humor in the pulpit is, the Bible explicitly states that a pastor is to be sober. I doubt that precludes the use of humor as a teaching or rhetorical device, but “funny” should not be the primary thing you think of when you think of your pastor, nor should it be the persona he intentionally and primarily projects.

    But the biggest problem is making a joke of sin. I remember attending a conference in France the summer before I started college (and had never heard of separation of any sort) and hearing Tony Campolo speak. I loved him in high school and was really excited to hear him in person. He started the message (before about 6-8 thousand) with a sexual innuendo which brought the house down. It startled me, and was probably my first recognition of how bizarre it is to make fun of something as serious as sin. I wonder how someone who has looked very long at the cross in Scripture (or in his mind) can joke about sin as part of his shtick.

    “Be not ye therefore partakers with them. For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.”
    Ephesians 5:8-13

  79. [...] Chris Anderson has written a good post on Mark Driscoll that is worth your time to read if you are wondering what to make of him and his [...]

  80. Chris, I continue to think that your analysis is very good. And Dave Doran made excellent points in calling out Driscoll’s doctrine on the issue of prophet, priest, and king in church leadership. That teaching simply doesn’t stand up to Scripture and has been cause for a lot of division in his own church.

    But I maintain that the piling on after your article in the comments section and the blogs that have linked to your post have likely undone any good from your original post. I’d encourage you to delete the comments so that if Driscoll or his assistants do read this blog, they can hear the accurate constructive help you give without all of the hyper-critical cat calls from the sidelines.

  81. Chris,

    Very glad that you, Dave Doran, Bob Bixby, and Reforming Baptist have taken the time to look at more than just the language that Mark Driscoll uses the Pulpit. Which unfortunately isn’t enough to raise a red flag in this Idiocracy of a sociality we live in. How some people look at his numbers and contextualize away everything else puzzles me. But, most see Driscoll as the answer for their next gimmick for their consumer driven congregations of goats and tares.

    God Bless
    Joe

  82. Eddie, I’m guessing the very next comment illustrated your point beautifully.

  83. Yes, it did.

  84. [...] I came across this assessment from someone more informed than myself. I found it helpful and accurate [...]

  85. re: Piling on

    Some of you fellows could use a dose of history.

    The notion of what constitutes a true minister of Christ Jesus is almost incomprehensible to even many “seasoned” Christians in our culture. What is doubtful and unprofitable is not evident to the best of men in these times. In the end, it seems even the Scripture is not sufficient authority for us to exercise discernment about what is painfully obvious.

    The behaviour of this man, played out for the whole world to see, is simply foul and degenerate.

    You want to see piling on? Read something of the life of William Tyndale. He suffered for something worthwhile. Here we are discussing a man who has let himself become a tabloid celebrity, and that not for any godly reason.

  86. I’m a person in Seattle trying to decide whether to join MHC as a member. I’ve been in one of their community groups for a couple months.

    Before that, I used to go to the Mars Hill website online and ‘laugh and point’ at Driscoll. Because there are tons of people right in Seattle who don’t like Driscoll at all. I was one of them. Then one night I went to ‘laugh and point’ and the Holy Spirit spoke to me about my own life through the two of Driscoll’s sermons I had watched. Last thing I was expecting. But I had strayed from my faith while living in Seattle (because one of the things that makes it so hard to be a Christian here in Seattle is that everyone is just too smart, too progessive, and too cool to confess Christ as Lord and Savior, and I fell into that trap of wanting to appear smart, cool, and progressive.)

    I think the points about Driscoll’s flaws and over self-awareness are well made, and it is good to constructively criticize any person who has become as prominent and influential as Driscoll.

    But please, please, before you criticize too much, take into consideration that God really is using Driscoll’s ministry in Seattle to reach people for Christ. Is there a Mark Driscoll cult of personality? Maybe. But I think that has just as much to do with the needs of some people to belong to a cult of personality as it has to do with Driscoll himself. I am pretty sure from watching a fair amount of Mars Hill content online that Driscoll doesn’t want to be seen as cult figure or a ‘guru’ either. In fact I find that, regardless of whether you like his “style” his content points constantly back to Jesus Christ.

    But Mars Hill isn’t even the point; Driscoll isn’t the point. Jesus is the point. This isn’t a “My conversion to Mark Driscoll” story. Through Mark Driscoll’s teaching, Jesus got in through the chinks in my “too smart, too cool, and too progressive” armour, and started reeling me back in to the faith. And really, the people who are truly becoming important to me are the people in my community group. We pray for each other and discuss the Bible. That’s what I’d had in college and immediately after college and what I had missed in my life.

    Even if, at the last minute, I find I cannot commit to Mars Hill as a member for some doctrinal reason, I will always remember Mark Driscoll as a person the Holy Spirit used to pull me back into the faith. I used to gleefully mock him, now I pray for him. Knowing where I’ve been in my life the past several years, I could use prayer too. I’m not trying to say criticism is all bad, but I think we could spend, as Christians, a little more time praying for each other and a little less time criticizing. You don’t have to be someone with ‘street smarts’ to fall into temptation, and we are all vulnerable.

  87. “Mars Hill is not 16th-century Geneva, but Driscoll has little patience for dissent. In 2007, two elders protested a plan to reorganize the church that, according to critics, consolidated power in the hands of Driscoll and his closest aides. Driscoll told the congregation that he asked advice on how to handle stubborn subordinates from a ‘mixed martial artist and Ultimate Fighter, good guy’ who attends Mars Hill. ‘His answer was brilliant,’ Driscoll reported. ‘He said, “‘I break their nose.”‘ When one of the renegade elders refused to repent, the church leadership ordered members to shun him. One member complained on an online message board and instantly found his membership privileges suspended. ‘They are sinning through questioning,’ Driscoll preached.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/11/magazine/11punk-t.html?pagewanted=all

    The latest instruction from Mars Hill pulpit:

    “True humility is…
    Accepting your place.
    Humble Christians Respect their Elders.
    Elders (pastors) are qualified and appointed male leaders within the church.
    Humble Christians should heed the elders’ counsel.
    In case of disagreement, one should respectfully follow the “chain of command” approach.”

    http://www.marshillchurch.org/media/trial/humble-christians

  88. I don’t know any of you and you don’t know me. So here is someone you might know and his thoughts on Mark

    http://www.desiringgod.org/Events/NationalConferences/Archives/2008/Podcast/95/

    If you want to see what mark said at this conference see here:

    http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/ConferenceMessages/ByConference/41/3261_How_Sharp_the_Edge_Christ_Controversy_and_Cutting_Words/

  89. “I can’t stand that guy Mark…he is so immature and disagreeable at times…he needs to grow up and I am not going to listen to him anymore until he changes.” — The Apostle Paul

    Thank God for Barnabas who saw the gifts and talents of young Mark…would the NT be the same without the grace and patience of Barnabas?

    Thank you for acknowledging the positives Mark Driscoll brings to the table…as long as he is preaching Christ and him Crucified I tend to be slow to knock his methodology…I prefer to wait and see…no, Mark is not perfect, and though I have only heard a few of his messages I believe he is the first to say this.

    I wish more of Mark’s critics toned it down as you did here in this piece…and I wish more of Mark’s critics were as passionate for Christ as he is!

    Peace today!

  90. [...] And if you want to read what I feel is a very helpful and non-pejorative critique, check out this article at My Two Cents [...]

  91. [...] I listen to the Internet Monk’s podcast periodically and in his last one he hi-lighted the My Two Cents blog where the author says some things about Mark Driscoll that I found interesting [...]

  92. [...] My Two Cents on Mark Driscoll [...]

  93. hej
    I’m sitting in my office in Sweden after reading your blog debating if I should comment or not. I’ve decided for the latter.

    I’ve read through several of the comments, left by others, in order to gauge if my perceptions of what you wrote coincided with anyone else’s.

    It is true that any young preacher often looks for role models to take after. Each preacher who has attained any amount of success can easily be filled with too much of himself. it is apparently a real danger for any one who speaks, on a regular basis, in front of others.

    I guess living in such a secularized place like Sweden, makes me wonder what would work here. We are taught in seminary to mute our personality so that Christ can shine through. Most people find our sermons boring and non-relevant. Hardly any one goes to church on Sunday in Sweden.

    About a year ago some of our college age people started asking me about Mark Driscoll. A short while later a good friend, from Australia, contacted me and asked me if I’d heard about Mark Driscoll. I started checking it out. After years of blasphemous sermons and no spiritual food I was very glad for being introduced to Mark Driscoll. I forgot that you can use humor and wit.

    I will be honest there have been times when I’ve wondered if his crassness and edginess were correct. But for a generation that thinks that South Park and Family Guy are totally acceptable then Mark reaches them. I have confirmands, just about every year, who’s only contact with the Christian faith, is the Simpsons and South Park. Most have already written off what we have to say.

    I’ve seen many young adults in Sweden start to take God very seriously. He jars them and shakes them into listening. I understand that Mark Driscoll can be somewhat rough around the edges but I am confident that with time these sharp points will be made smooth. In my town of Uppsala there is a preacher named, Ulf Ekman. 25 years ago he was rough and sharp and in many ways much like Mark Dricoll. Now Ulf speaks of unity in Christ. He is still on fire for God but many of the concerns that you point to, in you article, are no longer so.

    I think that Mark is sincere about wanting to live for Christ and so Christ will change him, just like he needs to change all of us who share the word. I’m not saying that everything that Mark Driscoll does is right or should even be copied. I don’t even know if it is possible to reach people in the cynical and relativistic generation without the things, that in most evangelical circles, many would find offensive or in close proximity to the offensive.

    What I know is that many people who, for various reasons, do not fit in or feel welcomed or find a place in the more mainstream churches are being attracted to Christ, in spite of Driscoll’s apparent shortcomings.

    Maybe living in Sweden makes me more susceptible to looking over the content of the jokes. What is presented on television here would be bleeped many times over in the States. There are some very real pitfalls with contexualism but it works in Europe.

    Thank you for your article and for not bashing but being informative and bringing up real concerns.
    I will continue to listen to Mark Driscoll as well as start reading your blog.
    God bless you and keep you.

  94. I would say that your assessment of Mark was fair and not nearly as harsh as some other pastors.

    Mark is leading and has led thousands to Christ; this is a good thing. My generation (I am in my 20’s) finds it hard to relate to our predecessors due to the last evangelical movement, with all of it’s faults, and over whelming legalism. Not to mention that secularism and Atheism are becoming rampantly popular.

    Yes he is crass at times, so are an abundant amount of Christians young and old. He has had his slip ups but I can be sure, by his actions and words, that he has repented and moved on. Would you appreciate it if your repented and paid for sin was brought to light constantly by critics? I doubt it.

    Mark is a very very extroverted man! He relates a 2,000+ year old message with his life and his struggles. That helps me immensely. Who are you to judge a preaching style? I find no signs of arrogance in the man and I have watched a good 2 years worth of his sermons in the last 6 months. His doctrine is as sound and Biblical as any I’ve ever been a part of.

    Being afraid to tell a joke, disdain for secular music, un-Biblically shunning alcohol and just plain making rules is what has led to an awful image of Chritianity. Let me follow by saying that there are ways to use things like jokes, alcohol and music to sin. But those things are not sin unless you use them in a sinful manner.

    Cut the man some slack and for everyone negatively commenting… I believe there is a verse about a plank in an eye…or maybe it’s the plank in HIS eye…..I’m not sure but maybe you should read it again.

    Ha! live your life and work on your own faults. God knows this drivel will not get us anywhere.

  95. It seems that many on this comment line have forgotten that we are to be salt and light. Please focus on the fact that we are all meant to be moving forward in the direction of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Think about this for a moment…What if Mark Driscoll was of a different color and from a different country? Would everyone still continue to have such prejudice about his style and approach? The whole purpose of church is what? Connecting with fellow believers to experience God’s love, through his Word (the Bible) and in return worship him for what he’s done for us. Unfortunately we are all like sheep and as stray, we must regularly be reminded of the gift we recieved.

    Jesus did not likely wear a suit on church day. Paul did not avoid harsh and accurate words to others in the church. Everyone is looking at this guy through their tiny North American perspective. Driscol seasons and preserves effectively. He is light to many who believe their light is on, but are actually living very dark lives.

    I am a Canadian transplant to the US Bible belt. I left the NorthWest with all of it’s liberal mindset and came to Dallas only to find Christians who worship their money, jobs, cars, houses, plastic surgery, televisions, clothes, etc. I live in the most well known part of the country for it’s “committment to God”. I am ashamed of the way we all walk so blindly. Satan has filled our world with bright lights, loud noises, and plenty of other ways to distract us. If we are to be “salt and light”, then let us all get off the finger pointing band wagon and offer encouragement to Mark in his fellow Christian crusade. If he requires correction (imagine that- I think he also is a sinner saved by Grace) then offer it to in love and with truth in large supply.

    This is the first time I have commented to anything on-line and I can’t help but notice how much it seems like talking behind someones back.

    Does anyone really believe that Christ is ashamed of Mark. End the non-sense and please get busy doing what we should.

    p.s.: I don’t think Christ would dine at Hooters. I think it is about time that some of you Christian men here in the Bible Belt quit using the buffalo hot sauce. And please stop giving it to your kids!

  96. You guys need to get a life and stop taking cheap shots at a guy who loves christ. This is a guy who talks about life how it really is. Sin is real and ugly, I love how he names it and calls it out. Young people love how real he is. Mark is not afraid to talk about how evil people really are and how good Jesus really is. He has some pride problems but at least he is doing something.

  97. David, you may not recall, but I began the article by noting that Driscoll is doing some good things. I’ve learned from him. My concerns were offered as kindly as possible, I think. And if you really value “keeping it real,” you shouldn’t mind dealing with an influential brother openly like this.

    Ironically, it seems like you’re taking cheap shots at some guys who love Christ.

  98. Brother Chris can I just say please think of the damage a thread like this does to spreading the gospel of our Lord Jesus. I witness to unsaved people and post a lot of marks sermons etc on my face book. No doubt some of them will want to know more about mark. So they Google him…. and 4th one down they click on this…..and see christians pulling him down for nothing to do with the bible but because he is slightly different from what you consder to be right. From the sake of unsaved souls PLEASE think before putting these posts up.

    Alex in Christ

  99. I think the original blog has some points but Driscoll is a solid clear teacher of the gospel. I’ve been blessed for years by the teaching of the gospel by Mars Hill church. God bless Driscoll and his team.

  100. Maybe his critics don’t understand him because they are trying to put him into their boxes of presuppositions which are evidence of their cultural religiousness.

    If someone posted a video of your sermons

    (because some of you are apparently pastors who have taken up the defense of righteousness as defined by your cultural presuppositions)

    , I would be very surprised if people you didn’t know who don’t care about you started criticizing your uncreative/safe/vanilla dress and speech, as well as your lack of confidence in who god has made you to be, in that you displayed your muted(! -God given) personality and your lack of/borrowed sense of humor.

    Why? because believe it or not, no one cares about you if all you have to say is stuff you regurgitate out of fear of “displaying your personal sin.”

    You (the critics) are judging so conclusively, that you are throwing your bottom-line credibility out with your hopes that someone will pay attention to you and your “very rehearsed” judgments with which all your friends in your church agree. Get over yourselves and your blogs, and stop being so hypocritically puritanical.

    I would love to respond back to any questions in my hopes of clarification to anyone.

  101. FYI to the moderator: My goal is discussion/clarification.

    I posted this in the hopes of providing a varying opinion to this blog for people such as myself who stumbled across it on the first Google search for this subject.

    My university is known to be liberal and prides itself on its so-called diversity, but a student-led audit found that 100% of presidental campaign contributions in 2008 from all faculty went to one candidate.

    Please do not follow its example of hypocrisy and/or fear of confrontation.

  102. just saying ‘hi’!

  103. *The following comments are directed to this post and a number of previous responses, not just to Chris.*

    I think this posting does more harm than good. I think Mark Driscoll’s ministry does more good than harm. I see where you’re getting the fuel for your argument, but I think you make it sound like his “distractions” are more often than they really are. I think most of the humorous interjections he uses are usually on point and seldom do they distract. There are things that I have heard him say that made me think, “yeah, that’s a little too far. True…but a little too far.”

    I was talking with my Dad about Driscoll and my Dad said something profound. Keep in mind that my Dad is the type a guy that would most likely agree with your post, if you were right. Anyway, he said that Mark Driscoll’s approach would not likely be accepted anywhere else but a place like Seattle. Likewise, Tim Keller’s approach would not work outside of a place like New York City. God places the right guy, in the right place, for HIS purposes.

    Your post basically just instigates the responses of people who have never listened to Driscoll or the guys who have always had a problem with him. And your post mixed with unmitigated responses just makes Driscoll look a lot worse than he really is. You start out your post with several praises of Mark Driscoll’s ministry and impact, but the rest of the post basically nullifies the credibility of your praises.

    I don’t think Driscoll is perfect and he probably does have a pride issue, but I know this going into it. I have to know this about every pastor I listen to. Because they are flawed, sinful human beings. That is why we need to KNOW the scriptures for ourselves and not rely on our pastors for every ounce of truth. Now, if Driscoll taught blatant lies, if we could call him a false teacher, then blog away my friend. But you can’t say that. Because he’s not a false teacher.

    I would say this, if you think there are things that Driscoll needs to repent of, and you think he is doing more damage than good, THEN TAKE IT TO DRISCOLL. Don’t paint it all over the billboards of the internet for every Pharisee and Zealot to slander his name. The bible shows us how to resolve conflict in the church and you just skipped the first two steps. I understand the need for awareness, but your methods are no better and no different than the very things your are presenting.

    Piper is a direct mentor of Driscoll’s and is the reason Driscoll abandoned the path of the emergent church. Don’t you think Piper probably talks with Mark about this stuff. Piper said he had some concerns for Driscoll’s methods, but he didn’t go much further with it than that. Why? Because when you air private struggles like that to the public, the wolves come out. And, oh, here they are. It’s out of respect for the dignity of his friend.

    Like I said, if we were talking about false teaching, I would say this whole thing would be perfectly justified. Every one of Mark Driscoll’s messages are extremely Christ-Centered. Something the American church has gotten soft on yet DESPERATELY needs. Mark Driscoll never propagates sin. He recognizes that we are all sinful including himself and we all do foolish things even from the pulpit. His elder board have the freedom to call him out on his sin as they should when (and it will) the time arises.

    The church I go to (in a little town called Midlothian, TX) is the first church I have ever gone to that teaches an unadulterated GOSPEL message. It is the first church I have ever attended where my sins are being challenged, my identity in Christ is being revealed, and my life is truly being changed. It’s the first church I’ve gone to that I actually wanted to get up for and get involved with. This church is what is called an ACTS 29 Church Plant. ACTS 29 is a church planting organization developed and run by none other than Mark Driscoll. I listen to a lot of ACTS 29 pastors and they all teach from a conviction of pure biblical truth because this is the ACTS 29 model and required when planting an ACTS 29 church.

    All this to say, Mark Driscoll’s heart is for the church, to see the unsaved freed from their sins, and to see the name of Christ exalted.

    Is he perfect? NO! Most certainly not. Does he say things that could probably be put differently or in a more serious tone? Sure. But does he take the truth of the Gospel lightly? NO! Not in the very least. Does he love his congregation and want to see them free? Absolutely! If you can’t see that in his ministry then you choose not to see.

    And as far as those who want to challenge the concept of satellite churches. Are you freakin’ kidding me?! Who bloody cares?! We have the technology, let’s use it. It’s not the best thing in the world, but who cares? If people are learning more about Christ from a “satellite” broadcast of another location and they are growing in their faith and don’t mind the method, THEN WHO CARES? Pick your battles, people. I read the Bible on my cell phone…so shoot me.

    Besides, there are Pastors and Elders at every one of the satellite campuses. And the pastors don’t just sit there with a dumb look on their faces, they actually teach and do stuff.
    Let it go.

    I have said my 2 cents.

  104. The church is badly in need of another Reformation!As Christians we have every right to question the theological validity of Christian messages.Our opinions if they are candid will help others to grow.However ,if we critique out of spite,we destroy the brotherhood of believers so to speak.If our theological disputations are not directed at saving souls, but to show how smart we are,I pity the Cross!Those who have not been called or equipped to preach should not be distorting the truth.Those who know the truth should be spreading it in love to those who are going astray.If you do not preach Christ you cannot save souls.We are in a dispensation where God is stretching out His Hands to all of us sinners(THE YEAR OF THE LORD’S FAVOR).After this we will be out of favor( and we will be in THE DAY OF THE LORD’S ANGER) God is the only judge !

  105. Blessed are the available.

  106. I attended MHC for several years. To answer a previous poster’s question…Yes…when I attended, he was very available. Now that there are thousands who attend…probably not so much.

    I read the McArthur critique of Driscoll…and basically what I got out of it…is that McArthur simply doesn’t agree with Driscoll’s style. It seemed nothing more than a subjective opinion.

    To those who are so quick to point out Driscolls’ faults…read your Bible. The only two “heros” of the Bible other than Jesus that didn’t seem like complete screwups were Joseph(and the technicolor dreamcoat Joseph), and Stephen. The rest were murdering, conniving, lecherous, idots. Yes, these are the people who God chooses to use.

    On another note, his use of “foul” language, whatever that means, is actually a plus for him IMO. He actually speaks like a real person. He has no “airs” about him. I also believe this is one reason he is wildly popular. He comes across as credible.

    Having said all of this, my only real problem with him is that he seems to be too much of a black and white thinker at times. Very little gray. That’s ok though…God uses all types.

  107. Oh yeah…and…Seattle is somewhat of a Christian wasteland…but it is becoming much less so with the presence of Mars Hill.

  108. One more. To the guy that said that Marks’ joke caused him to never be able to view that particular scripture in the same light again…I have two things to say. (Assuming I am thinking of the same “innapropriate joke”)

    1. It wasn’t Marks’ joke. Mark was simply relating what another person had quoted trying to justify masturbation. And it wasn’t during a sermon. It was during the Q & A portion of one of the evening services.

    2. Basic Psychology…no other person can control your thoughts or feelings. I have heard all kinds of crazy comments and interpretations of different passages of scripture, they don’t affect how I view that passage.

    I do however give the kid credit…it was a pretty funny joke!

  109. Can someone please explain to me where it says in the Bible that expository preaching is THE only way to preach? And does the Bible not use graphic language in more than just the Song of Solomon? I think Paul used pretty coarse language a few times, John the Baptist called people names, and I remember a few times where Jesus sat down with his disciples and had a few drinks…maybe instead of criticizing Driscoll because he’s funny, effective, willing and able to talk about issues that so many deem inappropriate for the pulpit, we can understand Mark from the totality of his teaching…which is solid, biblically grounded, historic orthodox Christianity.

    If you listen to Driscoll consistently at all…he would laugh at the reality of this blog and how so many people criticize him and the church that God has placed him in. Christians can continue to sit in their pews in their traditional church services and play the organ for the offertory…all the while, Driscoll and many others are communicating the gospel to a generation that desperately needs to know about the salvation that God has provided. Are we more concerned about human traditions rather than spreading the gospel? Why is it wrong to be funny from the pulpit? Should we never talk about sex? Newsflash…people are going to learn about sex everywhere else in the culture, we may as well join in the conversation and attempt to provide a biblical framework for it!

  110. Actually no matter if someone doesn’t be aware of after that
    its up to other visitors that they will help,
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  111. I had posted several years ago when I was deciding whether to join Mars Hill. I decided not to join, because I’m too liberal for the church. It was a personal decision I made based on the fact that I did not agree with Mars Hill’s theology. Now, however, I would have to retract my earlier plea to “give MD a chance”. I have heard too many stories chronicling a pattern of abuse, traced back to MD, of the congregation at Mars Hill. Beyond the church, it concerns me that this abuse is happening in the City of Seattle. I knew I would not feel right if I did not come back here and follow up my comment from 6/2009. I do not support abuse.

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