November 16, 2008

The “Corrupt Communication” of Mark Driscoll

Dear Guests:

I have been engaged in a serious and important discussion at the pseudo-fundamentalist Sharper Iron
(SI). The subject has been in regard to Pastor Mark Driscoll, aka the *“Cussing” pastor.

You would find that most men at SI in the discussion thread are hostile toward raising an alarm about Driscoll’s sinful communication. I must caution you that Driscoll’s manner of speech in his lectures is highly offensive, lewd and irreverent. If you link to his lecture(s) you will likely be exposed to remarks by him you’d probably rather have never heard.

Following is one comment from the SI thread. It was written by Pastor Christian Markle. I appreciate very much what he wrote and would like to share it with you.

There is coming a time (and I suggest that it be soon) that we should set aside our “us vs. them” discussions and deal with the substance. There is plenty of time to attack the foulness of fundamentalism. Many electrons have been spent on this site doing such. Many of these threads are freely available.

I have personally participated in what felt like a lone and lengthy debate on this site regarding gracious speech with a staunch fundamentalist brother. I have sat in on off color remarks in fundamentalist preaching. A book has been written by one fundamentalist with some twisted teaching on sexuality and it was firmly decried here at SI. However, it will appear to some on the outside (and at least one long term member of SI) that we have simply exchanged loyalties. Some younger and older fundamentalists have denounced the leadership, preaching and philosophy of what they call extreme fundamentalist only to embrace the same in evangelicalism. Their man-centeredness has not really changed only shifted to a different focus. The new men at the center are other famous (and infamous) men on the other side of the evangelicalism.

Personally, I think we have spent too much time reading men and developing human loyalties and not enough time becoming truly loyal to our Savior. None of these men died on the cross for us. None of them are the long promised messiah. None of them can really show us the Father (John 14:8-9) no matter how many books they right about Him. Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and man, promised messiah, and redeemer of men. We are all to be striving until “we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:” (Ephesians 4:13).

Lets stop playing games and call sin sin. Some sin is deplorable and must not be supported or ignored. Let us graciously with gospel-zeal be loyal to our Lord and love the brethren enough to warn them of the deplorable sin of others--as well as ourselves. After hearing Driscoll’s Desiring God session I come away wondering why anyone who heard it would be upset for calling sin sin -- Brother Driscoll specifically preached that this very thing should be done.

Brother Driscoll has said some horrible things and he has admitted to as much in his Desiring God session (listen/watch the whole lecture). He is not Christ and we have every right and for those who are leaders whose sheep may be impacted,
responsibility to mark him where he is wrong. Certainly, we ought to do the same with our fundamentalist friends. Jesus firmly rebuked the Pharisees as well as his own apostle, Peter. In this way he was no respecter of persons and neither should we be.

I believe Driscoll’s communication is too often corrupt and too seldom edifying (**Ephesians 4:29). His defense (in the DG session) for this was at times biblically sound, but did not actually defend his behavior. His foul mouth accomplishes much more than what he defended. It is suggestive, apparently uncontrolled, and often indiscreet and unholy (See Titus 1:8) In his lecture
his biblical examples at times were twisted beyond the text to fit his own behavior; instead of allowing the text to suggest the boundaries of our communication, he imported his own ideas into the text. Furthermore he ignored clear teaching (Ephesians 4:32, Philippians 4:8, 2 Timothy 2:24ff) to defend his actions with biblical examples. This is IMO poor hermeneutics.

His closing remarks almost redeemed the whole session. He may be on a journey towards Christlikness (as I am, with much ground to tread before I arrive), but I am unwilling to suggest that young/old sheep be influenced by this type of leadership or preaching. I praise the Lord for any progress Brother Driscoll has made on this journey, but the videos I watched today leave me very unconvinced of significant progress.

One last comment. I can appreciate the heart of John Piper and others who are mentoring this preacher, but that does not mean I have must have them or Mark Driscoll as my heroes with the assumption that they do no wrong. Ultimately, it does not matter what I think. The God of heaven knows my own wretchedness and I wonder why He is patient with me, but I fear testing that patience with any form of fleshly patience that leads to a lack of obedience in regard to sin.
For additional commentary on the irreverence of Mark Driscoll see the ***following discussions.

The Guardian of Grunge and Seattle-Sludge Here is an excerpt,
I am sorry ladies and gentlemen, but the kind of humor Driscoll offers that treats the Lord Jesus Christ as his punch-line in smutty terms is foreign to biblical Christianity and is not the leading of the Holy Spirit! How far will Mark be allowed to go before any of his faithful supporters will say “enough brother! You will not dishonor Jesus with your twisted humor and vulgar barbs anymore?” In the midst of his emerging circumlocutory - having his yes be yes and his no be no would be refreshing.
John Piper, Mark Driscoll and Harsh Language Excerpted,
Later Driscoll notes that, though God’s Word uses this type of language infrequently, ‘that doesn’t mean we never use perhaps even strong language, harsh tones, cutting remarks, biting sarcasm, devastating uses of humor and irony, cause God does.’ And so, contends Driscoll, pastors today not only can, but should, use provocative and offensive speech because that is how God’s spokesmen have communicated at times in the past. Driscoll’s argument ultimately comes up short unless he can demonstrate that the way in which the OT prophets, Christ, and the NT apostles used ‘harsh language’ (especially as it related to the cultures of their day) is directly parallel to his own penchant for lowbrow humor, coarse rhetoric, and sarcastic wit. But Driscoll’s track record hardly seems to fit the patterns established by these biblical examples.
Kind regards,


Please continue to- Mark Driscoll’s “Corrupt Communication” What is the Biblical Response?

*See Christianity Today for the origin of Driscoll's title “Cussing Pastor.”

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers,” (Eph. 4:29).

My linking to these additional sources must not be considered as support for, condoning or agreeing with any aspect of theology or practice of the men and the ministries they represent or the ministry of others that are presented within the articles. I share these links to further substantiate the disturbing speech habits of Mark Driscoll, nothing more.


  1. Well, Lou, unfortunately, your thread has died the death at SI.

    I am sympathetic with your complaints against Driscoll as you know. It seems two problems came about that made your thread 'one-man-against-the-world' and ultimately unsuccessful.

    One is that I think you were drawn into a debate exclusively about Driscoll. This prevented a wider discussion on the merits of Piper's relationship with Driscoll (along with many other Conservative Evangelicals). And in this discussion, I am afraid just a few coarse words won't cut it. It seems that most who attacked you were unaware of Steve Camp's charges (and if aware, even unfazed by that!!!). I do think that some might have been persuaded with a more thorough understanding of the problem.

    I suppose this points to a second problem. In order to thoroughly present the problem, you would have to wade through a lot of unsavory material, document your charges, explain carefully the links and history of Piper/Driscoll and so on. In other words, research and write a paper! As I say, perhaps some would be persuaded by a thorough approach. In the end, you were on the defensive and reduced to making short posts attempting to respond to everyone, and, it seemed, perhaps losing track of who said what and overlooking some of the charges/countercharges, etc. This is to be expected in an assault like that (all against one) but if you had more of the story marshalled and at your ready at the start, perhaps you could have reduced the barrage and swayed some.

    Just my opinion, of course.

    Finally, though, as I think is pretty obvious, you did hit the nail on the head with the man-centered nature of SI's religion. It is ironic that so many of the young theologs want to claim to be God-centered and gospel-centered etc, but those words have become code words for "I am of Piper" and I am of Mahaney" etc. But that is just what you are confronted with over there. In such an environment, when you scratch one of their heroes, it really doesn't matter what you say. The gig is up and the game is over: you are the target.

    Hopefully you will have an opportunity to continue to make your case over there, but it does look like your days are numbered.

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  2. Don:

    Thanks for the comments. I'll follow up with you on Tuesday.


  3. Don:

    There is not much more I can add to what I shared at SI.

    The torrent of replies I was getting made it hard to keep organized and respect everyone's wishes.

    Many at SI look back to some of the problems in Fundamentalism, which exist, some form the 70's & 80's that may not have been handled correctly. This troubles them deeply and should, especially if legitimate issues were overlooked.

    That, however, should not distract the same men from the issues in Evangelicalism that are legitimate concerns, some of which are making inroads into IFB circles.

    I think that is all I want to say at this time.


  4. Hi Lou,

    Yes, I agree with your observations.

    I hope we have a fundamentalism left at some point in the near future!

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3