Don't get bent out of shape about Mark Driscoll

A couple days back, Michael Spencer at wrote this profoundly helpful and thoughtful piece about why we maybe shouldn’t be getting too bent out of shape about Pastor Mark Driscoll:

  1. First, cards on the table: I am, for the most part, a supporter of Driscoll. I’m not in agreement with him on gender issues, and I’ll criticize him without mumbling on a collection of boneheaded maneuvers. But the guy’s vulnerability, passion for the Gospel, missionary’s heart, vision for church planting and insight into contemporary ministry far outweigh his flaws. Give him a few years and some room to be a goober.
  2. The 75% of the problem you people have with Driscoll is that he’s bone-headed enough to hang some of his laundry out on the clothesline where we can see it. Trust me: all your preacher-heroes are flawed in ways that would disappoint you. Driscoll’s flaws simply have to do with his public persona. The other 25% really are flaws that, while not disqualifying, do need to be repaired, and I am confident they will be.
  3. Much of the Driscoll hysteria is pure hype. Donald Miller called him the cussing preacher and most of you think Donald Miller is an emerging church apostate. Can you locate a quote of Driscoll “cussing” in a sermon? (We’ll talk about his topical and vocabulary choices in a moment.) I heard him say “Who the hell do you think you are?” once. If you have the impression that Driscoll’s language is the swearing equivalent of Good Will Hunting, you’re misinformed.
  4. Here’s the deal: when he’s on the topic of sex, he talks like he’s on late night television. IOWs, he discusses sex very much unlike any preacher you know, and more like a typical guy in Seattle. He needs to change this. The problem is that Driscoll’s success has given him an audience of people who have no place whatsoever to process a joke about masturbation, etc. or to see Driscoll as embarrassing, but not dangerous.
  5. My good friend- and I mean that folks- Frank Turk and I are going to have a mini-debate on here sometime regarding whether and how Driscoll should apologize for the extent of his poor example and distraction to the Gospel. I believe Driscoll’s willingness- imperfect as it may be- to be mentored by men like John Piper is as good an example as his occasionally crude words are a bad example.
  6. Most of Driscoll’s problems relate to a sermon series that I believe was an unmitigated disaster. I’m willing to give the guy that one. I expect him to learn a few things.
  7. If your pastor or youth minister is behaving poorly, it’s an issue in your church and in his context. Don’t think a motion at the SBC is going to make your little Driscoll fanboy sit up and fly right. That’s your bad choice of a person to work at your church. I’d advise you to get him a mentor and some feedback, and see if he grows.
  8. Definitions of “holiness” in evangelicalism can get pretty prissy. The Bible has a lot of characters who are a lot more like Driscoll than they are like some prissy, fussy, fainting, prude of a morality cop. Men respect Driscoll for his imperfect holiness. People who are offended at his imperfect holiness may be in a zone that the rest of us should avoid anyway. Sometimes what offends you is offensive, and sometimes it’s an indication you ought to be doing something more constructive with your time.
  9. Banning Driscoll at Lifeway will do exactly nothing…..except maybe make him more interesting. The man has millions of mp3 and video downloads a month. Lifeway books aren’t actually where those who like his preaching plug into him. This is the way the world works now. Denominational approval is not required. Piper GIVES AWAY his books for Pete’s sake. If the SBC votes that Driscoll is bad, a few people feel better and Driscoll’s stuff sells 5% more than last month.
  10. Listen carefully: preacher boys liking Driscoll has to do with Driscoll getting about 25 things right most of the critics have been complaining about for years. If he grows as a person in the next 5 years in the directions most of us think he will, I don’t think you are going to want to have dumped him in the trash for being young and arrogant on occasion.

For all of us who are perhaps watching all this a bit too keenly, and all of us who have been influenced by Driscoll, let’s take Michael’s points under serious consideration and perhaps repent of our bad attitudes and wrong motives where necessary, and continue to pray for Driscoll’s maturity.

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  • http://ANTAGONIZ.COM rhanner

    As a fellow supporter of Mark Driscoll, I sincerely appreciate and agree with your thoughtful and insightful analysis. The attitude and attempted actions by some delegates at the SBC convention seems to be clearly addressed by Jesus in Matthew 7.

    For The Kings Honor!
    richard g. hanner

    • Aaron Armstrong

      Thanks for your comment, Richard. Honestly, I was quite shocked by some of the things I read coming out of the SBC this week; since I’m not Southern Baptist, I’ve never really much paid attention, but Twitter and the blogs I follow were ablaze with commentary.

      I’m really grateful for guys like Michael at who model what I believe is a really healthy attitude for disagreeing with someone who is a brother in Christ.

  • Keystone

    Today’s Resurgence is a regurgitation of a Mark Driscoll sermon on satan.
    Just throw away your Bible and listen to Mark.
    “Chalk it up to being a goober for a few years” as Aaron Armstrong alows in point 1 above (this post):
    “Give him a few years and some room to be a goober.”

    Driscoll says in Point 4 that the Holy Spirit is the satan fighter for you.
    It is kinda hard to square that with anyone reading Ephesians 6:10-20, the Armor of God. Each piece is essentially Jesus Christ, not the Holy Spirit.

    Helmet of Salvation? Who is the Savior?

    Belt of Truth? Who is Truth, Way, Light?

    Breastplate of Righteousness? When did the Holy Spirit usurp that role from Christ?

    Shield of Faith to extinguish ALL the flaming arrows? Our Faith as Christians is in Christ. His role again.

    Shoes of the Gospel of Peace? Who is Prince of Peace? Isaiah says How happy on the mountain are the feet of him who brings good news. Good news is Gospel. Gospel is Jesus, not Holy Spirit.
    Driscoll meets the goober quotient you are so ready to apply and accept for a Pastor, but would be nipped in the bud for a deacon.

    Kudos to Mark had he simply stuck with Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Then again, the WORD was made flesh—-Jesus again, eh?
    Will this guy ever get Christianity right?

    In his sermon on Ten Temptation Truths (as outlined in Resurgence, all Ten need reexamined for Biblical truth, since Mark will not espouse it.
    The Armor of God can be read by anyone and Point 4 in Temptation thoughts of Mark go bye-bye.

    Point 8 is bereft of truth too.
    “8. Satan eventually taps out
    Satan eventually taps out. Resist the devil and he will, what? Flee from you. Eventually. Maybe it takes forty days.”

    Hey maybe it will take forty days. Forty is all over the Bible so lets use that to eliminate satan and “tap him out”. What a laugh.

    James writes specifically of a two step process Mark.
    1) Submit to God.
    2) Resist satan and he will flee from you.
    (This is in the Bible, not my opinion).
    There is a specific sequence to perform.
    Driscoll says “resist the devil and he will what?”

    He will nail your hide,….that’s what. Even Michael the Archangel rebuked satan using the name of the Lord…and he is the strongest angel going.
    Daniel waited three weeks for prayer answer (I suppose 40 days woulda been cooler).
    But Michael again shows up and tells Daniel, “Hey, your prayer was heard and answered on the first day and the Lord wants you to know that. We needed reinforcements because this satan guy was bad news and blocked us from delivering the answer.. Watch out for that satan Daniel”.

    However, if you do not follow Driscoll and DO follow the Bible, you submit to God first. This means “Choose God”, surrender to him and be on His side.
    When you do step 1 (totally ignored by Mark to the poor souls of Seattle), the battle belongs to the Lord (2 Chronicles 20). It is no longer your battle, but God’s. At that point, satan MUST flee. But NOT the way Mark states and misleads. I doubt Piper will bring that up to Mark and more mistruths can be espoused for Seattle heathens.

    The other 8 points are just as biblically disjointed, confusing, misleading, and/or unbiblical. But what the hey…Aaron says the few years of getting it wrong will one day pay off. True, except for any souls who believe the consistent error espoused and accepted by men of God, due to the Seattle phenomenon.

    Even Mars Hills posts this day, an interview with a pastor in Haiti. Mark wants to build buildings and pastor salaries are mentioned in the interview.
    The pastor also points out that aftershocks are rampant and folks are in fear of being inside buildings (yes Mark, church buildings…not “campus”…the realm of talk of Tony Morgan….booted off “campus” by Perry Noble…the Mark Driscoll of South Carolina that all pastors condone, as they do Driscoll.

    The pattern for Pastors is Jesus Christ.
    Driscoll does not fit that pattern (yet). So those who listen to him are NOT receiving the pattern of Christ, and far too many Christian pastors look the other way. I think it has to do with money, as it usually does.

    One thing for sure, the people of Haiti at Church by the pastor in today’s post, have potable water. That was not from Driscoll or he would have noted it for credit. He did note what he gave Haiti pastors. Just what they need at this time to survive….a digital camera, and an internet source. Do they even have Internet reestablished in Haiti yet?

    Despite the fact that the church is made up of people, not bricks and mortar, and those people prefer to be outside of buildings as their country shakes, rattles, and rolls, all of that truth MUST be set aside and let’s build some buildings and get some salaries going.

    Food and shelter? Who cares?
    WWJD? Ask Mark. Build a building.

    If the above post by Aaron is supposed to be supportive of Mark as claimed, I would be embarrassed to accept it if I were Driscoll.

    Instead of Mark flying to Haiti and preaching the untruths he preaches in Seattle (no wonder they believe out there; it ain’t biblical stuff), get some biblical pastors to “de-goober” the guy before more damage is done…..not to the church buildings….to the church (people).

    I like that Driscoll is leading people to church in Seattle, heathen central in the USA. He alone gets credit for that. And that credit seems to create an unneeded haughtiness, a willingness to err on the side of biblical error, and a misleading of his flock. Accountability will come one day on that.

    All you famous pastors need to help this guy out fast.
    Rick Warren, you are excepted. If we have any more purpose driven anything, as opposed to Jesus driven everything, the game is over.

    As Christ was a rabble rouser to his audience and pastors of the times, Driscoll seems to relish the same. But he is not the son of God, nor does he preach as Christ preached. Therein, lies his eventual downfall unless a revision occurs rather fast.

    Baker, Haggard, Swaggart, Oral,…..NONE thought they were vulnerable.
    Temptation destroyed every one of them.
    Driscoll’s thoughts on satan and temptation make satan laugh with glee in hopes the folks buy his arguments.

    I spoke on only 2 of 10. The other 8 need revised just as badly.

    Now a view from the other side of the street.
    Driscoll has a passionate hope. That has enormous appeal.
    Peter said: “Always be prepared to give a reason for your hope”
    Driscoll does that enormously well…..he likes Christ!

    Peter added: “But do this with gentleness and respect”.

    Both Driscoll and I have part one down pat.
    Forgive me as I work on the “gentleness part”. (I already respect Mark).
    I respect the man, his work as a father at home, his husband-mission, and much more.

    Galations points out the Fruit of the Holy Spirit as Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Gentleness, Faithfulness, and Self-Control.
    I believe there is a reason Self-Control comes last.
    But Gentleness is a gift of the Holy Spirit I am still working on getting.

    Preach the Truth in Love.
    Jesus is Truth; God is love.
    Therefore, preach Jesus….not campus. Not misleadings on satan. He is a defeated foe and no one hears that in the Top Ten sermon.
    But Driscoll said it so it must be true….the bible notwithstanding.

    I find him an impressive father to his family and spouse to his wife.
    I hope he uses those traits to lead a flock, and concentrate on leading where the Lord established him……not all over the planet.

    I regret that I am unfamiliar with Lifeway, banning, or the position of the SBC as outlined in the post. But from what I saw of Baptist churches throughout the south, Driscoll would have to preach the Koran to outdo these erroneous guys.

    One fellow in Florida held up a military sword and waved it for his sermon, on the Armor of God. He laid it on the floor and told his flock to all come forward and jump the sword. Those who do so are saved, he said. You should have seen the old ladies jump up and down in joy at “being saved” by jumping over that sword.
    I almost vomited.

    “Test everything” was written into our Bible for a reason.
    That includes my thoughts….and Mark’s……two goobers in a pod, I guess.

    Some of your old posts are pretty good Aaron.
    You have the Fruit of “Goodness” to leave comments open on them. Thanks.