“Let’s just say this . . . right now, name for me the one young, good Bible teacher that's known across Great Britain. You don’t have one – that is a problem. There's a bunch of cowards who aren’t telling the truth. You don't have one. You don't have one young guy who can preach the Bible that anybody's listening to on the whole earth."
Big Ben (Taken by Deb)
Oh what a difference a year can make! It was around this time last year that a chap who goes by "theurbanpastor" shared some fantastic news on his blog. This was his jubilant anouncement:
"‘We’ve got him’ were the words that brought to fruition ‘Red Dawn’; the covert operation to apprehend Saddam Hussein in 2003. I have no idea whether Stephen Fletcher, omnicompetent administrator of the London Men’s Convention, shouted something similar when he recently received the confirmatory e-mail from Mark Driscoll. But he’d have been forgiven for whooping in celebration! It’s now official, Mark Driscoll is coming to London. And he’s playing live in the Royal Albert Hall for the benefit of the 2011 London Men’s Convention. This is very good news. And I hope that it’ll be received as such. I realise that Mark Driscoll is not everyone’s cup of tea; some don’t approve of his risqué, unconventional and abrasive style even if they stand with him on the substance of his ministry. But here’s a Reformed guy, preaching the gospel, stimulating ministry and mission, especially amongst the emerging generation, and he’s doing it for the glory of Christ. What’s not to give thanks for? He’s been in London in a virtual sense for a while, now he’ll be here physically. It’ll be good to welcome him."
The London Men's Convention, which began in 2002, is an annual conference organized by an interdenominational group of evangelical ministers and leaders who "believe these distinctives of the Christian faith:
1. The unique supremacy of Christ
2. The seriousness of sin
3. The penal substitution of Christ's death
4. The justification of believers by grace alone
5. The sovereignty of God the Father
6. The regeneration of God the Holy Spirit
7. The reality of God's coming judgement
8. The priority of evangelism
9. The authority of Scripture
10. The centrality of Bible-teaching
11. The importance of the local church
12. The necessity of holiness"
Not all Brits were pleased that Mark Driscoll was extended an invitation to speak at the 2011 London Men's Convention; however, Driscoll controlled his tongue during his presentations and was purportedly well behaved. Despite Driscoll's 'proper behaviour' while in London, several websites chided convention organizers for inviting him and warned of the dangers of Driscoll. Here is an excerpt from one such website (post published on October 17, 2011):
"The purpose of this website is to highlight areas of Driscoll’s ministry which should cause grave concern to true, discerning Christian believers. It is the contention of the authors of this website that the levels to which Driscoll has publicly stooped in his approach to a variety of issues are unacceptable when it comes to Christian ministry and ultimately make a mockery of the Christian faith. We are disturbed that Driscoll uses the pulpit to mock Noah, and to call Gideon a coward. We believe that the picture Driscoll describes of Vintage Jesus is blasphemous. We are concerned that Driscoll’s flippant and irreverent conduct makes him unfit for the pulpit. We are concerned that Driscoll encourages the use of what he calls new ‘convenant tattoos’ and that Mars Hill Church declares that Jesus loves tattoos. We believe that the assertion that God loves punk rock music demeans the holiness of God. In view of this evidence, and in the light of Scripture, the discerning Christian needs to face up to this question: Is Mark Driscoll a false teacher?
It is essential that concern is raised in regard to the enthusiastic welcome which has been extended to Driscoll from across evangelical circles, and the support that has been publicly voiced.
The intention of this website is not to provide a platform for discussion on the ministry of Mark Driscoll but rather to provide primary source evidence from Driscoll’s own mouth and written works, as an opportunity for discerning believers to weigh what has been publicly stated with the Word of God."
Dr. E.S. Williams, an experienced medical doctor with an interest in Christian apologetics, wrote an article that was published in the English Churchman on Friday 22 & 29 April 2011. This is what he wrote regarding Driscoll:
"It is surprising that the organisers of the Convention believe that Mark Driscoll is the right man to teach men about faithfulness at home. Are they unaware of the highly controversial nature of Mark Driscoll’s ministry? Are they unaware that Driscoll’s crude language and explicit sexual messages have received great attention in the mass media? Are they unaware that he has been referred to as the cussing preacher? Three voices in the USA have raised serious concerns about the ministry of Driscoll that should cause alarm among all faithful believers. The purpose of this article is to rehearse these concerns."
Dr. Williams then highlights the various individuals and organizations in the United States that have investigated Mark Driscoll and spoken out against him. Those include — the Missouri Baptists, Cathy Mickels (at The Gospel Coalition conference), and John MacArthur (on the Song of Solomon). Please see his article for details. Dr. Williams concludes with these remarks:
"Scripture warns of ungodly men who will creep into the Church and turn ‘the grace of our God into lasciviousness’ (Jude 4). The problem with Driscoll is that while he claims doctrinal orthodoxy, and can preach a sound sermon if he wants to, at the same time he engages in blatant sexual licentiousness—doctrine is divorced from conduct. Driscoll’s appalling mission is to sexualise the church. Like the rebellious priests of Israel who violated the Law of God, Driscoll puts ‘no difference between the holy and the profane’ (Ezekiel 22.26).
What is it about Driscoll’s ministry that the organisers of the Men’s Convention finds so appealing? Do they want to plant Acts 29 churches in the UK? The invitation to Driscoll surely is symptomatic of the deep compromise that has overtaken evangelicals in the UK. Undoubtedly Driscoll will be on his best behaviour when he appears on stage at the Royal Albert Hall. Nevertheless, having appeared with eminent evangelicals his reputation as a Bible teacher and church planter will be enhanced. Thousands of men will be exposed to his false teaching and many will be encouraged to read his books and view his website. The organisers of the Men’s Convention have a lot to answer for. God is not mocked."
That is the backdrop for the current controversy with Mark Driscoll. Little did I know when I first read Mark's rant A Blog Post for the Brits that there are some in Great Britain who have been lobbying AGAINST him for quite some time. Remember, their efforts were BEFORE the release of Real Marriage. Can you imagine what these Brits must be saying now?
Perhaps these critics have been somewhat successful in their campaign because Driscoll was NOT invited back to the London Men's Convention planned for March 17th. And it's really too bad for Driscoll because this year's convention theme is right up his alley — God's Spiritual "Fight Club". Take a look…
"The London Men’s Convention 2012 is devoted to the practical realities of spiritual warfare. The Christian man faces the bruising daily struggle with the heavyweight temptations of the World, the Flesh and the Devil. We all need to be encouraged and trained as fighters by God’s Spirit through God’s Word. This year’s LMC is God’s spiritual “Fight Club”!"
Why is Mark Driscoll so worked up about the Brits in his recent blog post? If you haven't yet read it, the rant begins as follows:
"There is reportedly an article coming out in a British Christian publication that features an interview with me. As is often the case, to stoke the fires of controversy, thereby increasing readership, which generates advertising revenue, a few quotes of mine have been taken completely out of context and sent into the Twittersphere. So, I thought I would put a bit of water on the fire by providing context.
Here are some of my unedited thoughts for British evangelicals, whom I love and desire to see be exceedingly fruitful as they contend for the gospel of Jesus in their country."
Driscoll goes on to outline his unsolicited "observations" and recommendations for British pastors. Then he concludes with these remarks:
"Some Context for the Interview in Question
I have a degree in communications from one of the top programs in the United States. So does my wife, Grace. We are used to reporters with agendas and selective editing of long interviews. Running into reporters with agendas and being selectively edited so that you are presented as someone that is perhaps not entirely accurate is the risk one takes when trying to get their message out through the media.
With the release of our book, Real Marriage, we have now done literally dozens of interviews with Christians and non-Christians. But the one that culminated in the forthcoming article was, in my opinion, the most disrespectful, adversarial, and subjective. As a result, we’ve since changed how we receive, process, and moderate media interviews.
The interview in question had nearly nothing to do with the book or its subject matter, which in my understanding was supposed to be the point of the interview. My wife, Grace, was almost entirely ignored in the interview, and I felt she was overall treated disrespectfully. The only questions asked were about any controversial thing I’ve ever said in the past 15 years with a host of questions that were adversarial and antagonistic. It felt like a personally offended critic had finally gotten his chance to exercise some authority over me.
Things got particularly strange near the end of the interview. I was asked a question about, if a woman was the pastor of a church which that pastor’s husband attended, would that be emasculating to him. The question was asked in such a pointed way that it was odd.
At the end of the interview, I started asking questions of the interviewer. He admitted that his last questions were really about himself and his wife. Apparently his wife is the pastor of their church, he’s strongly committed to women as pastors, disagrees strongly with our complementarian position, and takes it to some degree personally.
He then admitted that he very much struggles to believe in penal substitutionary atonement—that Jesus Christ died in our place a substitute for our sins—and that he does not believe in a literal hell. In short, the reporter is a very liberal Christian, and on these issues I am not.
Subsequently, I am not surprised that after a very long interview, which took the better part of an hour, that I may be selectively edited and presented in a way that is not entirely accurate. In particular, the quote about cowardice may not fit all British men, but for men who misuse their authority to advance their agenda, it seems applicable.
It's All about Jesus
In the providence of God, I trust everything will sort itself out in time. The best thing is to not waste time blogging, twittering, and talking about me. I was not born of a virgin, have not lived without sin, and am not going to judge the living and the dead. Jesus is all that matters."
I have listened to Justin Brierley's interview numerous times and am grateful he posted the audio on the internet for anyone to hear. Here are Driscoll's criticisms along with my "observations":
"With the release of our book, Real Marriage, we have now done literally dozens of interviews with Christians and non-Christians. But the one that culminated in the forthcoming article was, in my opinion, the most disrespectful, adversarial, and subjective. As a result, we’ve since changed how we receive, process, and moderate media interviews."
Brierley treated Driscoll with respect, though he did challenge him on some theological issues. What is wrong with that? He asked the questions that I wanted to have answered. Now Driscoll wants to set the rules so he and Grace can be seen in the best possible light. How honest is that?
"The interview in question had nearly nothing to do with the book or its subject matter, which in my understanding was supposed to be the point of the interview."
Brierley asked at the very beginning of the interview if he could ask Mark some theological questions in addition to talking about the book, and Driscoll clearly agreed.
"My wife, Grace, was almost entirely ignored in the interview, and I felt she was overall treated disrespectfully."
MAN UP, MARK! That is not true, and you know it! Brierley told Grace before he asked the first question that she should feel free to chime in at any time. The only reason she spoke at all during the interview is that he asked her specifically for her input. Otherwise, she likely wouldn't have uttered a word. As best as I can determine, this was a telephone interview, so if anyone's to blame for Grace's lack of participation, it should be Mark who monopolized the conversation on their end.
"The only questions asked were about any controversial thing I’ve ever said in the past 15 years with a host of questions that were adversarial and antagonistic."
Driscoll knows better. Brierley asked him a number of thoughtful questions about his marriage, church, and ministry. Thank goodness the interview is available on the internet so listeners can see just how wrong Driscoll was in making such a claim.
"It felt like a personally offended critic had finally gotten his chance to exercise some authority over me."
I find this remark to be extremely revealing.
"Things got particularly strange near the end of the interview. I was asked a question about, if a woman was the pastor of a church which that pastor’s husband attended, would that be emasculating to him. The question was asked in such a pointed way that it was odd."
Actually, I thought this was rather clever on Brierley's part. Yes, his wife is a pastor, and Mark has a real problem with it.
"He then admitted that he very much struggles to believe in penal substitutionary atonement—that Jesus Christ died in our place a substitute for our sins—and that he does not believe in a literal hell. In short, the reporter is a very liberal Christian, and on these issues I am not."
Actually, Brierley explained that he believes as John Stott did on this matter (whom Driscoll said he greatly admired earlier in the interview). Brierley is a very liberal Christian? Mark is the master of intimidation by labeling those with whom he disagrees. Let's see, who did he insult in this interview? the Brits in general, priests in dresses, grandmas, John MacArthur (although he did not directly name him but inferred he is a chaplain, not a missionary as Driscoll is), and others.
"In particular, the quote about cowardice may not fit all British men, but for men who misuse their authority to advance their agenda, it seems applicable."
Once again, Driscoll has to correct his words. Didn't he say he attended one of the best communication schools in the country? "I have a degree in communications from one of the top programs in the United States." Could have fooled me, Mark.
"It's All about Jesus"
No, Mark, it's all about you.
"In the providence of God, I trust everything will sort itself out in time. The best thing is to not waste time blogging, twittering, and talking about me. I was not born of a virgin, have not lived without sin, and am not going to judge the living and the dead. Jesus is all that matters."
Yes, God is sovereign, and He is allowing concerned Christians to get the truth out about Mark Driscoll through blogging, twittering, and talking — the very tools he has used to promote himself and his ministry.
As I wrap up this post, it certainly appears that Mark Driscoll has been seething about the Brits for some time, based on how he answered Justin Brierley's questions. He and his 'disciples' likely monitor what is being said and written about him in Great Britain, and I believe that may have influenced his responses to Justin and as well as his blog post for the Brits.
Tomorrow I will highlight what I consider to be the most interesting exchanges between Justin Brierley and Mark Driscoll.
Lydia's Corner: Isaiah 8:1-9:21 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 Psalm 55:1-23 Proverbs 23:4-5