UPDATE: In addition to criticizing Driscoll for his nutty exegesis of Song of Solomon and his less than impressive analysis of The Shack, I’ve backed up Pastor Mark before.
It became painfully/strangely/humorously obvious at this week’s SBC meeting that a lot of people are worried about Mark Driscoll.
I’d like to suggest a brief program to calm you people down before you hurt yourselves, or worse, start a preaching series on cursing preachers who link sex toys on their sermon pages.
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.