In the never ending saga of “cutting edge” preaching, Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church, has once again pushed the envelope. Recent articles regarding his sermons on the Song of Solomon are giving a man exposure that I don’t believe we should be giving.
One of the young men who I mentor emailed me his response to the articles about Driscoll:
“I’ve heard Mark teach a few times online. I’m not an avid listener, but I know that he has quite a following. I was going to a conference in North Carolina recently, but decided not to at the last minute. Driscoll was one of the keynotes there. It was a conference called Advance that was for ministers and those in ministry. Piper and some other guys were going to be speaking as well. Someone had given me tickets, but, honestly, I just lacked the desire to go so I didn’t. I know that everything Driscoll preaches isn’t bad, but at the same time he’s on a slippery slope because it sounds like he’s becoming the guy people listen to just to hear what “shocking” thing he’ll say next. Sort of the same reason everyone liked Dennis Rodman. Great ball player, but people were intrigued by his personality. And from everything I’ve been taught, personality will help you build a congregation that is ten miles wide and one inch deep.”
So this younger guy in ministry gets it. Mark Driscoll has become the “Dennis Rodman” of the church. I will agree that Driscoll gets some things right. But we are in danger when we listen to or follow someone who gets some things right, while the parts they don’t get right are heretical or indecent or inappropriate.
Ted Haggard got some things right, but I wouldn’t walk across the street to listen to him. Jim Bakker got some things right, but he took a bunch of investors to the cleaners. Jim Jones got some things right, but he led hundreds to commit suicide. False teachers get some things right, but they should be pointed out and rejected. The Pharisees got some things right, but they didn’t know God. I’m sure the Judaizers were sincere, but they added to the gospel.
Some say Driscoll has sound theology. If he does, he doesn’t have sound methodology or sound orthodoxy. He is playing at the fringes and often crossing the line. I cannot and will not listen to him or read anything he has to say. I may be missing some “good things,” but I really don’t care. He’s not someone I want to learn from. He may think I’m a prude; I think he’s a pervert for even thinking such sermons are appropriate behind a sacred desk using the sacred Scriptures.
We live in a day of the sensational and shock and awe. But when did it become appropriate to talk about anal sex, oral sex, and masturbation in a mixed audience? Is there no decency in this man? Does he not have any concept of holiness? He speaks of sex in such a casual manner that it’s nothing less than a church version of porn.
Driscoll calls himself a Calvinist; I call him a man obsessed with sex. It seems to be all he knows to talk about…when he’s not using profanity from the pulpit. The man (I refuse to call him a preacher of the gospel) has no sense of propriety and decency. He lets unwholesome speech come out of his mouth with ease. He speaks in public of things that should be spoken of in private or in a counselor’s office, not on a platform.
It is obvious he likes to talk about sex. What is not so obvious is his ability to just preach the Word and not subject his congregation (and all the rest of us) to his obsession with the subject. Will the next step be a strip show or a demonstration on stage? If you are willing to go into the details of anal and oral sex without any problem, why not just act like a heathen and sell a video?
If I owned a Christian bookstore, I would pull every book he has written off the shelves. I walked through the LifeWay bookstore at the Southern Baptist Convention a few weeks ago. I stood by a stack of Driscoll’s books and listened to a young couple in their mid-20s complain that Driscoll’s books were there. The guy said, “He’s a pervert.” The wife said, “He makes me sick.”
Maybe Driscoll is the stronger brother, and I’m the weaker brother. Maybe I need to grow up and get with it. Or maybe he needs to zip his lips, stick to the text, and go home to his wife and practice what he seems to be so obsessed with. While he’s at it, he should read Romans about “exchanging the natural for the unnatural” and the Epistles about speech that is edifying and wholesome. In other words, get in the Word and get a life and a message that sounds like Paul not Playboy.
Driscoll seems to be obsessed with wine, sex, and profanity. This is his legacy. Maybe one day he’ll become obsessed with witnessing, Scripture, and purity. Probably not because you can’t get a huge following by talking about things Jesus emphasized.