(Photo, courtesy of Timmy Brister.) You might, and you might not be comfortable at Mar’s Hill church, pastored by the fire-brand preacher Mark Driscoll. From what I can gather, Mar’s Hill is a bit on the edge as regards worship style. You can’t get past that preaching, though. I do enjoy Driscoll’s preaching, because he preaches the plain Gospel with no apologies. His style seems to cut through the fluff and do what the preaching of God’s word is suppose to do: give glory and honor to God, through the person of Jesus Christ. I thank God he is where he is and is doing what he is doing.
I’m not sure exactly how to express this, but I am fairly convinced that Driscoll has captured, at least in part, something that has gone largely missing in “church” for quite some time now. Let’s describe it as a quality, and let’s call that quality masculinity. Some call Driscoll’s style nothing more than taxi-cab-driver crudity, but I believe there is something more there. Now before you turn me off, hear me out. I am not saying that he has this quality down to a science by any stretch, but after I got over the initial shock of Driscoll’s graphic approach to preaching, I detected in him a sincere love for two things. Hopefully you will see it coming through too, if you get over your prejudices and just listen to his preaching. Those two passions that I detected in all of his preaching I have heard so far were a love for the lost in Seattle and around the world, and a love for Jesus Christ. I hear a radically different style, to say the least, but I have also heard the Gospel, crystal clear in every message of his I have heard to this point. If I am not mistaken, this is what is called contextualization, or cultural relevance, without loosing the message. His ministry is reaching many people in the largely unreached Northwest, many people who have been hostile to our parents’ and grandparents’ styles and methods of evangelism and worship. And to all of that I say praise be to God!
A good bit of what is contained in the previous two paragraphs has been sitting in my future-posts folder for months. Impressed with the pastor who calls himself a “jack hammer for Jesus”, among other things, I thought it would be neat to write something about him. I had never even heard of Mark Driscoll six months ago. The name kept popping up here and there this summer on the blogs, so one day, seeing a link for a sermon by Driscoll, I downloaded it and listened. It was edgy, harsh at points, even shocking, but refreshing. My next encounter with Driscoll was in connection with the recent Desiring God conference, where Driscoll was a scheduled speaker. I realized more fully Driscoll was a bit of a controversial figure in the larger evangelical arena when I heard comments by Piper and others in one of the two Q&A audios released from the conference. You can listen or download all of the audio from that conference, including both Q&A sessions from the web site at Desiring God.
The topic I thought I would concentrate on at the time I first decided to post on him was his attire, his lack of a sense of dressing for the occasion, as that was alluded to once or twice in the afore-mentioned audios at the Desiring God conference. I was going to say something about whether he might consider dressing up for a daughter’s wedding, say in a dozen years or so. I was going to be largely positive, recommending you listen to some of his messages, with the petty caveat on appearances and special occasions.
My focus on Mark Driscoll all changed last week when, thanks to a post by Pastor Art Rogers, I downloaded and listened to a bit of audio featuring a Q&A session by Dr. Paige Patterson in chapel on November 28 at Southwestern Seminary. The very first question came from a professor at Southwestern, Jason Lee, who quoted from Mark Driscoll’s book, The Radical Reformission. In the chapter titled The Sin of Lite Beer, Driscoll makes the case that women’s suffrage and prohibition were both movements which were the result of the feminization of the Church around the turn of the 20th century. Professor Lee went on to read a section from the book:
“Prohibition is a pitiful result of syncretism and sectarianism. It matters because alcohol is a very real example of the pitfalls of syncretism and sectarianism. Prohibition began as a syncronistic liberalism that took away alcohol and the Christian freedom to drink. This happened because churches aligned themselves with a non-christian feminism that attempted to eliminate the pub as a gathering place for men to do theology, politics, and business. This syncretism undermined the clear teachings of Scripture, in an effort to fabricate a theology that supported its cultural form of morality.”
Professor Lee then asked Dr. Patterson if he agreed with Driscoll’s assessment or not, and why. Dr. Patterson’s reply was the most slick, subtle, ad hominem argument I have ever heard. Without giving any evidence for his objection to the position whatsoever, Dr. Patterson moved on with his worn out rendition of why alcohol is not “the best” for the Christian, with a bad joke thrown in for good measure. Here’s Dr. Patterson’s response. You have got to see it to appreciate it:
“Well, first of all, let me begin by saying Driscoll is an individual that I think that you would be well to read some of. He is a very provocative thinker, and had some great suggestions along the way. This is probably not one of them. I would say in this regard that he has made himself relatively famous, or infamous, as the case may be, as a proponent of the consumption of beverage alcohol. I find his linking of feminization of the church with prohibition to be a very unlikely scenario, to say the least. The two things I would say is that I do not believe there is a precise passage of Scripture that says you will not drink, what the Bible is very clear about is statements like this. Proverbs 20:1 Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging, and whosovever is deceived thereby is not wise. Now very interestingly we’ve got a situation that exists right now in church life in America where people are saying “well, it’s fine to drink, you just shouldn’t get drunk. Drunkenness is wrong.” Well that fails to observe that drunkenness is largely the result of drinking. In the second place it’s very interesting that in Proverbs 20:1 nothing is said about drunkenness at all. What it says is that Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise. Now if Brother Driscoll or anybody else wants to be in the category of the not-wise, then that’s their privilege. I’m going to come down in the area of the wise, at least on this one, and I’m going to say that there is every reason in the world why a Christian ought to leave alone anything that enslaves him.
Wow! What can you say to that? To begin with, I could be wrong, but I don’t remember anywhere Mark Driscoll being “famous, or infamous, as the case may be” concerning alcohol. I know his preaching style and way of saying some things, along with his shabby dress, has gotten him in some hot water, but I haven’t heard anyone comment on Driscoll’s views on beverage alcohol. So, this sounds a bit like misrepresentation on the part of Dr. Patterson. Then there is the poor handling of Proverbs 20:1. It embarrasses me to hear someone in the position of Dr. Patterson abusing the hermeneutical tools of the literal principle and the analogy of Scripture (or perhaps, the absence of the use of these tools). That sets the stage for a negative way of calling a brother in Christ a fool. Dr. Patterson should be reminded of our Lord’s warnings against such talk, found in Matthew 5:22. Probably least of all in this whole ramble by Dr. Patterson is the fact that he never gets around to actually refuting Mark Driscoll’s assertion. Nothing like that good-ol-boy charm from Arkansas, and a bad joke to cloud the issue, and make everybody think you just made a slam dunk. It doesn’t really matter if Driscoll was correct in his assesment, Dr. Patterson didn’t prove him wrong, not in the least.
Later on in the Q&A, a student asks Dr. Patterson what can the current generation do to continue the reforms in the SBC which were only begun at the Conservative Resurgence. Here is a portion of Dr. Patterson’s response, beginning about 25:24 into the audio:
“Every generation must fight its battles. . . The way to understand this, I think is something that my colleagues will instantly agree with here, and will say this is easy to do. And here it is. Imagine that I were the devil . . . what would I do? Would I be worried about what’s going on in the brothel? Unh-uh, wouldn’t even show up. It’s all going my way. Would I be worried about what’s going on where ever Mark Driscoll is in a bar somewhere? No, I wouldn’t worry about that. Got that going my way. What I would worry about is what’s going on at Southwestern seminary. . .
Well this last little dig was the capstone for me. What an arrogant, disrespectful treatment of a brother in Christ. What un-charitable, un-christlike behavior. Earlier, in this same Q&A session Patterson declared that we need to “get our people back to the simple business of witnessing.” And then, here he is, almost in the same breath, making sport of the pastor of a church that is the fifteenth fastest growing church in America, in the least-churched metro area in America. If I were in any way associated with Southwestern, I would be ashamed. What bothers me even more, is the fact that I have found nothing in over a week on the Internet to indicate any outrage among our own denomination over such un-christian behavior. I guess the SBC is too busy fighting the big battles over Patterson, Rankin, and the IMB. After all, Driscoll isn’t even a Southern Baptist. He’s probably a heretic any way, because he doesn’t dot his i’s and cross his t’s the way we do.
Just a few days ago I listened to a sermon by Pastor Mark Driscoll titled Why Should We Worship Jesus?, dated November 21. In it he comments on his view on drink and how it relates to worship. For Driscoll, even beverage alcohol is a part of his 24/7 view of worship. You should listen to it. You can listen to the audio or watch the video. Just look in the sidebar on the right for “Why should we worship Jesus?” If you wonder about his passion for a lost world, you should listen to his message titled Loving the City, dated October 3. Don’t let someone who doesn’t know influence you against this fine servant of our Lord and Savior.
This leads me to say something that is probably going to anger many, but that’s too bad: I’m sick to my stomach of Southern Baptists – Not the simple man in the pew, that Dr. Patterson and so many others brag about being the backbone of the SBC, and not all of those faithful pastors and missionaries around the world – I’m sick of all of the stuffed shirts, most of them above the rank of humble pastor, those who hold some position of prominence on a state or national level. Any time they get around a microphone all they carry on about is Southern Baptist distinctives, as if we are God’s gift to the world, and ever other denomination, Christian though they may be, are just second-class citizens in the kingdom of God. If you haven’t figured this out yet, let me tell you, God doesn’t need our 5,000 missionaries, or the biggest missionary machine in the world. God can pick up any old crooked stick and draw a straight line with it. God is working through many other denominations in small, quiet ways, that very few ever hear about. And maybe, just maybe, they are being more faithful, more effectual for eternity than we can even begin to realize. I’m also sick of hearing “How many baptisms did they have last year?” or some variation thereof. What I hear far too little of in the upper muckety-muck of the SBC is “Are we being faithful?” and “Are we honoring God?”
I think we should all repent on our faces before God.