Mark Driscoll has been a loose cannon in evangelical circles for quite a few years now, with little contest.  Why haven’t Christian leaders challenged his “grunge Christianity”?  We believe the answer is two-fold.  First, there is no question that Pastor Mark is tickling the ears of the “manly men” in Christian leadership.  Secondly, Christian women have been silenced and are not “allowed” to speak out against him!

At long last, there is a lone shepherd crying “Wolf” . . .

Dr. John MacArthur, Bible scholar and Senior Pastor of Grace Community Church in California has finally “broken Mark’s nose” so to speak.  Just last week Dr. MacArthur posted four installments on his website entitled “The Rape of Solomon’s Song” (links are provided below). 

Part 1: 

Part 2: 

Part 3: 

Part 4:

What has John MacArthur so outraged?  Dr. MacArthur explains in Part 2 of the installment:  “A CD copy of that shocking message, entitled Sex:  A Study of the Good Bits of Song of Solonon was recently sent to me by some deeply offended and concerned Christians in the UK.  It is the primary reason I’m doing this series.”

Mark Driscoll’s message, delivered in November 2007 at Destiny Church in Edinburgh, Scotland, was the last straw for Dr. MacArthur.  Here’s a link to selected parts of Pastor Mark’s message delivered at Destiny Church. 

(WARNING!  Read At Your Own Risk!!!)

Without repeating the excellent points made by John MacArthur, here are some of his comments in The Rape of Solomon’s Song:

“Mark Driscoll has boldly led the parade down the carnal path.”  (Part One)

“It’s frankly hard to think of a more appalling misuse of Scripture than turning the Song of Solomon into soft porn.”  (Part Two)

“To interpret beautiful poetry by translating it into scurrilous soft-porn is to corrupt the most fundamental intent of the text.”  (Part Three)

“What would easily receive an NC-17 rating by the world is being heralded and defended by some in the church.”  (Part Four)

In his fourth installment, John MacArthur answers some thought-provoking questions that others have posed.  We highly recommend that you read his answers to these questions.

Here are two of the questions, along with Dr. MacArthur’s responses.

5.  You titled your articles “The Rape of Song of Solomon.”   If you object so much to strong language and sexual themes, doesn’t that seem over the top?

Dr. MacArthur’s response:

“One of the fundamental problems with this whole discussion is a refusal by many to acknowledge the crucial (and elementary) distinction between strong language and obscene language.  Mark Driscoll himself contributed to this confusion by blending and blurring the two issues in his message last fall at the Desiring God Conference.  Scripture condemns heretics in powerful, sometimes indelicate terms (e.g. Galatians 5:12).  But the Bible is never smutty, and the strong language in Scripture certainly doesn’t make profane language or filthy joking acceptable (Ephesians 5:4).  In the first article of the series, I explained why the title is fitting.  If someone thinks it is an example of what I have decried, that person hasn’t understood what I am saying at all.  Rape is an act of forced violation; and this treatment of Solomon’s Song is a molestation of the book, tearing off its God-designed veil, publicly defiling its purity, and holding it up for leering and laughter.”

7.  Why did you single out Driscoll and connect him with the “sex challenges”?  Why call him out publicly?  He has already repented of his unguarded speech, and he is being privately disciplined by men like John Piper and C. J. Mahaney, who keep him accountable.  Did you consult them before calling Driscoll out by name?  If the problem is as serious as you claim, why haven’t they said something publicly about it?

Dr. MacArthur’s response:

“In the sermon that prompted this series, Mark Driscoll (speaking specifically to wives in the congregation) made several comments that were far, far worse than the steamiest sex challenges.  Furthermore, Driscoll’s edicts to married women were not mere “challenges” but directives buttressed with the claim that “Jesus Christ commands you to do [this].  That material has been online and freely circulating for more than a year.  But you’d be hard pressed to find even a single Web forum where anyone has demanded that Driscoll explain why he feels free to say such things publicly.  I am pointing out something that should not be the least bit controversial: pastors are not free to talk like that.  In response, a flood of angry young men, including several pastors and seminary students — not one of whom has ever attempted a private conversation with me about this topic — have felt free to post insults and public rebukes in a public forum, declaring emphatically (with no obvious awareness of the irony) that they don’t believe such things should be handled in public forums.

When 1 Timothy 5:20 says, “Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all,” it is talking about elders in particular.  Those in public ministry must be rebuked publicly when their sin is repeated, and public, and confirmed by multiple witnesses.

Nevertheless, I have written Mark privately with my concerns.  He rejected my counsel.  As a matter of fact, he preached the sermon I have been quoting from seven weeks after receiving my private letter encouraging him to take seriously the standard of holiness Scripture holds pastors to.  Here is a small selection from the six-page letter I sent him:

“[Y]ou can[not] make a biblical case for Christians to embrace worldly fads — especially when those facts are diametrically at odds with the wholesome speech, pure mind, and chaste behavior that God calls us to display.  At its core, this is about ideology.  No matter how culture changes, the truth never does.But the more the church accommodates the baser elements of the culture, the more she will inevitably compromise her message.  We must not betray our words through actions; we must be in the world but not of it. . . . .  It’s vital that you not send one message about the importance of sound doctrine and a totally different message about the importance of sound speech and irreproachable pure-mindedness.”

Mark Driscoll’s response to that admonition and the things he has said since have only magnified my concern.  

Mark did indeed express regret a few years ago over the reputation his tongue has earned him.  Yet no substantive change is observable.  Just a few weeks ago, in an angry diatribe leveled at men in his congregation, Driscoll once again threw in a totally unnecessary expletive.  A few weeks before that, he made a public mockery of Ecclesiastes 9:10 (something he has done repeatedly), by making a joke of it on national television.  So here are two more inappropriate Driscoll videos being passed around by young people and college students for whom I bear some pastoral responsibility.  In their immaturity, they typically think it’s wonderfully cool and transparent for a pastor to talk like that.  And they feel free to curse and joke in a similar manner in more casual settings.

It is past time for the issue to be dealt with publicly.

Finally, it seriously overstates the involvement of John Piper and C. J. Mahaney to say they are “discipling” Mark Driscoll.  In the first place, the idea that a grown man already in public ministry and constantly in the national spotlight needs space to be “mentored” before it’s fair to subject his public actions to biblical scrutiny seems to put the whole process backward.  These problems have been talked about in both public and private contexts for at least three or four years.  At some point the plea that this is a maturity issue and Mark Driscoll just needs time to mature wears thin.  In the meantime, the media is having a field day writing stories that suggest trashy talk is one of the hallmarks of the “New Calvinism;” and countless students whom I love and am personally acquainted with are being led into similar carnal behavior by imitating Mark Driscoll’s speech and lifestyle. Enough is enough.

Yes, I did inform John Piper and C. J. Mahaney of my concerns about this material several weeks ago.  I itemized all of these issues in much more thorough detail than I have written about them here, and I expressly told them I was preparing this series of articles for the blog.

To those asking why pastors Piper and Mahaney (and others in positions of key leadership) haven’t publicly expressed similar concerns of their own, that is not a question for me.  I hope you will write and ask them.”

Our response to Question 7:

Wow!  C. J. Mahaney, the humble self-professed “head apostle” is “discipling” and “mentoring” Mark Driscoll?  We’re sooooo relieved!!! 

It is apparent that our criticism of the “silent pastors” who refuse to condemn prosperity charlatans (see archived blog post) carries over to the “New Calvinism” pastors like Mark Driscoll.  The silence is deafening !

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