In 2009, some big conservative names came our swinging at Mark Driscoll – I speak mainly of John MacArthur. For 2009, the controversy has surrounded Mark Driscoll’s handling of the Song of Songs in a sermon he preached in the U.K. in 2007, then a series of sermons he preached through in 2008. MacArthur wrote a series of articles offering a stinging rebuke to Driscoll on his handling of Song of Songs, specifically for his use of explicit descriptions of what is happening in the text. MacArthur’s articles can be found at the following links:
In the second article, MacArthur says that the impetus for these articles was the recording of the 2007 sermon in the U.K. which was sent to him by some offended believers, however, he does go on to make many references to the 2008 sermon series which he preaches to his church in Seattle. After receiving correction over the content of the U.K. sermon from other godly pastors, Driscoll removed the recording of the U.K. sermon from his website (www.theresurgence.com). However, his sermon series (which was refined and reprocessed and more palatable for a broader audience) is still available on Mars Hill’s website. I would encourage you to listen to that sermon series before making any judgments.
Also, I’ve been able to locate a video where Mark Driscoll attempts to address some of the issues which were raised in a letter from Phil Johnson.
And in addition I’ve also located a statement from John Piper concerning the ongoing “discussion” between MacArthur and Driscoll.
I’m a late comer to this particular debate. I listened to several of the Peasant Princess sermons earlier this year unaware of the controversy surrounding them. I was not personally offended by his handling of the Scriptures, nor by the humor which was employed, nor by the explicit detail which he used. But to say I wasn’t offended doesn’t mean I think his approach was entirely wise for a mixed audience of married couples, singles, teenagers and young children.
Now having read MacArthur’s articles and some of the responses they received, I must say I do not agree that the sermons were NC-17 material, nor was it soft porn. For sure I would characterize it as PG-13 with a few R moments, but nothing which a mature, discerning audience cannot process. Which brings me to my only criticism of it all. A sermon series of such intimate detail would probably be better taught in a more controlled context like a marriage conference where you are sure that the people you are speaking to are married couples.
So what about Mark Driscoll? Most of Driscoll’s critics come either from the Emergent church who criticize him for being to conservative/fundamentalist or from the conservative evangelical church who criticize him for being to easy on sacntification and holy living. The liberals criticize his theology and the conservatives criticize his methodology.
For me, I don’t agree with everything Mark Driscoll says or does. Admittedly, I believe he’s got a big mouth that gets him in trouble. He publicly admits he struggles with issues of pride. I don’t think he’s always wise in his choice of words from his pulpit. However, his theology is rock solid (if you agree with Reformed theology), his heart is to win people to Jesus, and clearly he’s accomplishing that in Seattle. I’ve read two or three of his books now and I find them to be very solid. I find his methodology to be a breath of fresh air in the church. Overall, he’s alright in my book.
I’d love to get your opinions on this. Just remember to be kind in your words and be careful not to slander anyone I’ve mentioned in this article. You may disagree with Driscoll and with me, or vice versa, however there should be room in our hearts for these types of non-theological differences.