ulpit Live is currently posting transcripts from Friday morning's plenary session at last week's Shepherds' Conference. The comment-threads there would be a perfect place for me to answer some of the questions I have received since the Shepherds' Conference, but for reasons unknown, the Pulpit website won't accept my comments. (I'm dead to them.)
On top of the many comments posted in various on-line forums, I've received about two dozen e-mails from people who have written me directly to ask questions or lodge complaints about Friday's message. All who have written me directly have been very gracious, and I believe all of them have been sincere. Most have asked the same two or three questions, so today I want to answer those questions (plus a few of the not-so-sincere objections that have showed up here, there, and on Facebook). These are roughly in order from the most common questions to the most bizarre:
Yes. I sent Mark a 6-page letter the first week of December, telling him what I was planning to deal with at the Shepherds' Conference. I explained why I thought his message at the Desiring God Conference in September left some of the most important objections to his own use of crass language unanswered. I also enumerated six specific questions that I thought would help my understanding of his position.
Mark didn't reply or acknowledge my letter until one week prior to the Shepherds' Conference. Then he phoned and said he would answer me by video since the timing was late. When the video arrived, Driscoll had addressed his reply not to me but to the attendees of the Shepherds' Conferenceas if I had invited him to share my time slot at the conference.
His reply also ignored the six questions enumerated in my letter. Instead, he answered a question of his own choosing, saying he believed that one answer would suffice as an answer to all my questions.
John MacArthur likewise attempted to correspond with Driscoll a year and a half ago. He too received no answer for almost six months, and when the answer finally came, it was routed indirectly, through an e-mail sent by Driscoll's secretary to John MacArthur's secretary. Curiously enough, Driscoll's reply to John came on the first day of last year's Shepherds' Conference.
Driscoll clearly does not take his critics very seriously. Communication with him hasn't done anything so far to convince me that he understands (or wants to understand) the concerns some of us have tried to express to him.
So I hear. I mentioned that fact in my letter to Driscoll and cited three well-known instances of ribald jokes and profane remarks that occurred long after he said he was sorry for past sins of the tongue. The first of my six questions to him was, "How do the above remarks differ from things you previously said you had repented of?" He did not answer that question.
I mentioned Driscoll by name only in two places in my messageonce at the start and once at the end. The first time I mentioned him, I quoted from the opening sentence of an article in the New York Times Magazine about Driscoll. I attributed no words to Driscoll himself. The second time I singled out Driscoll by name, I referred to a joke he has told repeatedly. I made no attempt to "quote" the joke, because doing so would have violated the principle I was attempting to affirm. So I described the joke in oblique terms. Again, I attributed no words to him.
Both of those references dealt with material that has been published since January 1 of this year. So I would be curious to know where the critic thinks I "misquoted" or made use of "5- and sometimes 10-year-old arguments against him, etc."
Not only did I not accuse him of using "cuss" words; I did not even mention Donald Miller's infamous nickname for Driscoll.
My complaint about Driscoll's language in the pulpit is much more serious than the question of whether he cusses or not. And I think I made that fairly clear.
There's no reason to assume that had anything to do with me, or that it meant anything sinister. He said he was meditating on Proverbs 26:4: "Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself." It's a good verse. I meditate on that verse virtually every day, whenever hostile or hateful comments show up on my blog.
But you know what? Even if I thought Mark was aiming that Tweet at me, I wouldn't make an issue of it. I'm not particularly interested in what his visceral reaction was on Friday afternoon. I'm curious what his response will be when he has had time to think through the biblical substance of my message.
Precisely how did I "lump" them? By naming them both? Both of them have shown a predilection for dealing with sexual topics in lurid terms. But not only did I not draw that connection or imply that the two of them are in any way in league with one another, I don't believe I even made any specific mention of Driscoll's series on sex from Song of Solomoneven though I think some aspects of that series and the accompanying Q&A were even more offensive than Ed Young, Jr.'s smirking interviews on the cable news programs that featured his sex challenge.
I have noticed, however, that all the questions I'm getting are about Mark Driscoll. Where are the defenders of Ed Young, Jr., ChristianNymphos, and xxxchurch's inflatable mascot?
Here's the point: My message was not actually about Driscoll per se. If the problem were just one guy who likes to talk dirty, I wouldn't have even dealt with the topic.
What my message actually decried was the atmosphere in evangelical and post-evangelical circles that deliberately glorifies everything lewd and lowbrow at the expense of any serious call for holiness.
I think I made that pretty clear, too.