That, of course, is the question we are always asked when we address the issue of the language used by Mark Driscoll when he preaches. “Has anyone ever contacted Mark Driscoll privately?” Well, we can now answer that question in the affirmative. Phil Johnson shares his attempts–unsuccessful attempts–to dialog with Driscoll concerning his pulpit language.
These are roughly in order from the most common questions to the most bizarre:
Have you or Dr. MacArthur ever personally shared your concerns personally with Mark Driscoll?
Yes. I sent Mark a 6-page letter the first week of December, telling him what I was planning to deal with at the Shepherds’ Conference. I explained why I thought his message at the Desiring God Conference in September left some of the most important objections to his own use of crass language unanswered. I also enumerated six specific questions that I thought would help my understanding of his position.
Fair enough. Isn’t that what Driscollites want to hear? If someone has taken this matter to Driscoll personally and privately? (Even though the fact that Driscoll has made his messages public, thus negating the need for steps 1 and 2 of church discipline laid out by Christ in Matthew 18.).
So, Phil Johnson has stated that he petitioned Driscoll personally. Driscoll’s response?
Mark didn’t reply or acknowledge my letter until one week prior to the Shepherds’ Conference. Then he phoned and said he would answer me by video since the timing was late. When the video arrived, Driscoll had addressed his reply not to me but to the attendees of the Shepherds’ Conference—as if I had invited him to share my time slot at the conference.
His reply also ignored the six questions enumerated in my letter. Instead, he answered a question of his own choosing, saying he believed that one answer would suffice as an answer to all my questions.
John MacArthur likewise attempted to correspond with Driscoll a year and a half ago. He too received no answer for almost six months, and when the answer finally came, it was routed indirectly, through an e-mail sent by Driscoll’s secretary to John MacArthur’s secretary. Curiously enough, Driscoll’s reply to John came on the first day of last year’s Shepherds’ Conference.
Driscoll clearly does not take his critics very seriously. Communication with him hasn’t done anything so far to convince me that he understands (or wants to understand) the concerns some of us have tried to express to him.
Does that answer your question? Next question from Driscollites:
Didn’t you know that Driscoll has already repented of using bad language?
So I hear. I mentioned that fact in my letter to Driscoll and cited three well-known instances of ribald jokes and profane remarks that occurred long after he said he was sorry for past sins of the tongue. The first of my six questions to him was, “How do the above remarks differ from things you previously said you had repented of?” He did not answer that question.
Obviously, Driscoll did not think he was in the wrong for using crude, vulgar language from the pulpit. Even though we are admonished by the apostle Paul thusly–
But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks (Ephesians 5:4).
Now, the Driscollite will try and spin this to say that Driscoll is trying to relate to the culture. And, of course, they will throw these red herrings at us–
1st Corinthians 9:19-22–For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
Philippians 1:18–whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.
I say “red herrings” because while these are indeed Scripture, and were spoken to the apostle by the Holy Spirit, they are taken by those who defend potty-mouthed preachers and twisted to say something they do not mean. Do those who use these Scriptures really believe Paul would have approved of Timothy attending drunken orgies in the temple of Diana in Ephesus in order to “relate” to the culture of the Ephesians? Or that he himself should dabble in magic as the sorcerers? In fact, what did the magicians do in Acts when they heard the gospel of Christ? If you take that passage from 1st Corinthians too far, you wind up saying that Paul put himself under the curse of the law to win the Jews–a belief that runs completely contrary to the whole reason he wrote Galatians.
So, what does it mean? That Paul “became all things to all men?” It is quite obvious if you study they Scriptures. It means that he addressed whatever audience he was speaking to as one who had previously walked in the very ways they were now walking–not that he was currently walking in those ways. Remember how he had Timothy circumcised? Even while he had in his possession the letter from the Jerusalem Council saying that one need not be circumcised to be a Christian! Why did he do that? I believe it was to tell those Judaizers that Timothy was no less saved before (and no more saved after) what he referred to as “the mutilation” (Philippians 3:2). In fact, after he did that, what did he write to the Galatians? He asked them how they could be so foolish as to go back to the Law. Which is why he called the circumcision by which he circumcised Timothy “mutilation.” He didn’t laughingly engage this culture. He used this incident to show them how foolish they had become. In fact, wherever he was, he addressed that culture in a way that would show God’s condemnation of sin.
I have become all things to all men. Didn’t Paul write these words just a few pages prior–”Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God” (1st Corinthians 6:9-10)? So why would he then condone living and talking like those who would not inherit the kingdom? Why would James write that “friendship with the world is enmity against God” (James 4:4)? Why would Peter exhort us to “be holy even as [He] is holy” (1st peter 1:16)? Why would these holy men, being moved by the Holy Spirit, write all these words condemning mixing the holy with the profane (Leviticus 10:10)–if we are supposed to pollute the pulpit with “foolish talk”? And, by the way, “foolish talk” in Ephesians 5:4? The Greek is morologia. From moros (foolish, empty) and lego (speak). Guess what word we get from moros? I’ll give you a hint: take off the “s” and put an “n” at the end.
So, as you can see, mark Driscoll is ignoring the commands of Scripture to refrain from speaking in a way that brings reproach upon the pulpit. He is ignoring the admonition of James to “tame the tongue” (James 3:5-8). He is being conformed to this world, and has shown no desire to be separate from it.
PS–How is it people can talk to their children about sex without using crude and vulgar language, yet they don’t think a preacher can speak on a book like Song of Solomon without resorting to foolish talk and filthy jesting?