25 October 2006

Fed Up

erhaps you are one of those who thinks I have been too hard or too shrill in my criticisms of "the Emerging Church." In all honesty, the more I have been exposed to the various streams of the movement, and the more closely I have examined the agglomeration of trends and ways of thinking that make Emerging-style "ministry" distinctive, the more I want to distance myself from everything "Emerging." If any ostensibly-Christian movement since late-nineteenth-century modernism was more deserving of a shrill warning, I can't imagine what it would be.

Here is a lie writ large: "Postmodern Ministry Takes Us Back to The Bible." I invite you to follow that link; read the page; notice the sound file linked at the bottom of the page; and give it a careful listen.

It's a sermon by Rob Bell. David Posthuma introduces the message with this hopeful claim: "I present this teaching for one purpose alone . . . to illustrate how radically different postmodern Biblical facilitation is from the Seeker-Sensitive Topical Talk model so prevalent within our churches today."

OK. I'll grant that Bell's message is completely and radically different from anything you would hear in a seeker-sensitive context. But Posthuma's blogpost seems to imply that Bell's sermon proves Emerging-style ministry is somehow more "biblical" than seeker-sensitive worship.

Hardly. Bell's message is not only unbiblical; it's anti-Christian. He takes a bit of drivel he apparently learned from a yoga instructor somewhere, badly rephrases in quasi-biblical terminology, and spends 36 minutes doing "exposition" on a breathing exercise.

The result is not merely trivial: it's flat-out heretical. And in more ways than I care to enumerate.

I'll give one brief example, though. Here's a sample of what Bell does with the gospel: "You can't get enough points to get in with the Big Guy. You can't do enough good deeds and then God will like you. One of the things the Spirit does is remind us that we belong. Period. Just exactly as we are. You are loved by God."

Bell's syncretized amateur yoga exercise is not Christianity by any stretch of the definition. I'll go further: if this is what Bell really believes, he himself is no Christian.

The message actually proves that the stream of Emerging religion represented by Rob Bell hasn't a clue or a care about basic biblical truth. It's nothing but an experiment with the deconstruction of Christianity.

On a side note, but a related subject I thought in the interests of balance, after hearing that sermon by Bell, I ought to listen to a sermon from the "conservative" side of the Emerging movement. So I listened to this one by Mark Driscoll. I wish I hadn't. Driscoll's smutty language and preoccupation with all things lowbrow are inappropriate, unbecoming, and dishonoring to Christ. I completely agree that many Christians fail to appreciate the true humanity of Jesus. But it's not necessary to get vulgar in order to communicate the truth about His humanity.

This is the first time I have ever posted anything critical of Driscoll. I have appreciated his defense of the atonement and his willingness to confront the neo-liberalism of other Emerging leaders honestly. But I don't think his perpetually coarse language in the pulpit and his apparent preoccupation with off-color terms and ribald subject matter are merely minor flaws in an otherwise healthy ministry. It is a serious shortcoming.

No, it's actually worse than that, because it blatantly violates the clear principle of Ephesians 5:3-4. It is shameful (v. 12) and therefore a reproach. It's characteristic of the old man and one of the fleshly behaviors we are expressly commanded to put aside (Colossians 3:8). Scripture even seems to indicate that unwholesome language signals an impure mind (Matthew 12:34). And yet this is a deliberate, calculated, and persistent practice of Driscoll's. It is practically the chief trademark of his style.

That's troubling, and even more troubling when I see young Christians and older believers who ought to know better mimicking the practice. If this is the direction even the very best Emerging-style ministry is headed, it's not a trend any Christian ought to find encouraging, much less one we should follow.

Phil's signature


jen said...

I knew there was a reason I really like Phil... He's not afraid to tell it like it is.

Dennis Elslager said...

That's right Honey (joythruchrist)! I also believe Phil is on the right track with this... I can call this good looking girl "Honey"... she is my wife. She usually doesn't like being seen with me on line for my longwindedness. That's why I'll keep this one short.

Martin Downes said...

I listened to it.

If you follow Bell's method and message I guess you don't really need the Cross after all, and you won't look to the Cross and empty tomb in order to deal with sin.

And if preachers don't point you to the Jesus of the Bible, to his I finished work and to the believer's union with him, then they must be pointing in the wrong direction.

Jim Bublitz said...

I hear you Phil. I just got done listening to Erwin McManus in sermon in which he says :

"There's a religion that is not about love; it's about facts, and information, and doctrine, and truth . . . and they think it's a big 'T' but it's really an upside down little 't'.".

This is a love that wants to detach itself from truth and doctrine.
McManus goes on to bundle a bunch of world religions with Calvinism, calling them "fatalistic religions", and then declaring that he could not believe in a god like that.

yes2truth aka Charles Crosby said...

All religion, including the 'Christian' religion, has only one god - the Devil.


Chris Ross said...

I think I see what Driscoll is trying to do with his particular vocabulary (I listened to the sermon), and I can appreciate this inasmuch as it comes from a desire to share truth with his congregation.

But I do share your concerns about the obscenity and unbiblical nature of his banter, and what this kind of example will produce in 'Driscoll proteges'. Followers often exaggerate their leaders' most conspicuous traits. And the way he sets it up, anyone who protests his approach will immediately be labelled pharisaically religious -- a foil for his allegedly more earthy, authentic Christ-likeness.

So much error comes from reducing things. Why can't we have relevant preaching AND dignified speech? Or for that matter (regarding the whole emerging phenom), keep traditional forms of worship while REFLECTIVELY and BIBLICALLY researching the merits of more 'high church' elements like candles, Lent, etc. -- or sing hymns AND new worship choruses -- or preach expositionally AND live missionally. We should practice the first without neglecting the latter. Moderation and balance can be dull, but that's often where wisdom is found.

My two cents.

ricki said...

Phil - thanks for the post. While I don't think I share your passion for the issues with Rob Bell, I certainly agree that there's something generally wrong there.

But I'd like to spin this another way. I read Pyro because of the depth of analysis and thinking. Personally, I'm in awe at the insight that you guys often provide.

However, building on some previous posts, I'd like to point out why some of us get bothered by some of what you guys post. I'm not speaking for all - it seems that there are some hot-heads and some babies - and that sometimes I'm one of them. But I thought this would be a kind way to do it since I'm agreeing with your overall issue with Bell.

Here you quote Bell, "You can't get enough points ..." as an example of the issue. My issue with your issue (can I say that?) is that there's no context. That is, Bell clearly said right after the part you quoted that God isn't impressed with our stuff nor our self-perceived good works. Don't you agree with Bel on that? If Bell was making his statement in the context of who we are in Christ, then I would want to agree with him. The problem for me is that he simply makes the statement and never deals with our sin, Christ, etc..

So you took his comment to the extreme negative, which may be true (and if I'm forced to choose, I'm with you). But I think it could also be extrapolated to the other direction which would then be good. Net - you seem to hammer on what he says. My bigger issue is with what he doesn't say.

And therefore, while I want to agree with you, I would have to make assumptions to either defend or attack him. Given the situation, I cannot do that and this is what causes the tension as I read some of the pyro blog entries. There are statements of judgement that I think do not fit the sample being judged and on a personal note, I think the assumptions made are not always correct.

I would accept those judgements if prefaced with something like, "if he meant X, then ..." or "since he never said Y then ..."

Finally, I haven't listened to Driscoll's message on the atonement but I'm surprised that is a position of his that you liked. I'll have to go check it out now. I assumed I wouldn't agree with it because Driscoll almost fooled me into being a 6 point Calvinist, i.e., I almost bought into unlimited atonement in addition to limited atonement. But then I realized he had redefined atonement.

I found his reminder of the general grace of God a good one - one which is often overlooked while arguing for limited atonement. But I think it is a mistake to define that grace as atonement. So I'm proud to report that I'm still a 5 pointer.

So - thanks for the diligence and hard-hitting analysis. I hope you can see at least some of what I'm getting at.

FX Turk said...

Hoo-boy. And I was going to link to Driscoll's DGM 2006 National Conference audio today to demonstrate why he's not an Emergent guy.

An interesting side note: the singular and specific criticism John Piper offered Driscoll (in absentia; Driscoll flew home before the conference ended to attend his church's 10th anniversary celebration) is that he is far more clever than a Gospel preacher ought to be -- and his model is so stylized that others will imitate it because it is entertaining.

I know that I, personally, am an unclean man with unclean lips, so I take Phil's criticism personally -- that is, even though it is not about me, I have the same problem Driscoll does. If there is a difference, however, it is that I recognize that it is a problem and he thinks it is a cultural style.

Anyway, let me end up with this: I think Phil makes a mistake lumping Driscoll in with Bell. Rob Bell has been problematic since the first Nooma video was coined (2003? 2004?), but Driscoll has visibly distanced himself from "Emergent" for doctrinal reasons for at least as long.

That said, my opinion about what allows Driscoll to be the kind of speaker he is turns out to be a lot more conventional than calling him "Emergent": I think Mark Driscoll has fallen into the same trap Max Lucado and Joel Osteen are caught in -- which is the tyranny of the mob.

Let me explain that a little. Max Lucado has tried, over the years, to "firm up" his doctrinal substance from a sort of Mr. Rogers puppies-and-bunnies view of Jesus to something a little more substantive. When he wrote He Chose the Nails, I thought I read an interaction with the concept of sin that I had never read in Lucado before. But that was the last book in which he tried that -- because HCTN didn't sell very well. The language of sin and repentence doesn't go very far with the Lucado reader because that reader has already been conditioned to receive the Gospel as a cupcake, or as a Jelly Baby.

Joel Osteen, as has been demonstrated in his appearance(s) (I think there were two, but I might be wrong) on Larry King, can't bring himself to report the Good News at all -- because he can't be frank about the bad news of sin. It never comes up. But it never comes up because preaching a "Jesus wants you to have your best [read: most affluent] life right now" has bought him the Compaq center in Houston. Why preach about anything else is "Jesus is my MasterCard" has done so well?

And Pastor Driscoll has the same problem: he's Mark the cussing pastor. If he stopped being Mark the cussing pastor, I don't know what would happen -- and neither does he.

I have more on this, but I have to get to work. I'll bump Phil's front-page thing with a response and hope that he doesn't cancel my lunch date with him next week because I have been looking forward to it for about 2 months.

Craig Schwarze said...

Hi Phil, I always enjoy Pyros, but I think you have been far too harsh with Driscoll. I listened to the sermon and thought it was excellent. I look forward to seeing what your readers think of it.

I've written a bit more about this on my blog, but I'd like to share the following Spurgeon story -

The Ipswich Express once criticised Spurgeon's sermons for being "Redolent of bad taste, vulgar, and theatrical."

Spurgeon replied, "I am perhaps vulgar, but it is not intentional, save that I must and will make the people listen. My firm conviction is that we have had quite enough polite preachers, and many require a change. God has owned me among the most degraded and off-casts. Let others serve their class; these are mine, and to them I must keep."

4given said...

Exactly joythruChrist.

I really have tried to like Driscoll's sermons but for me there has been too much garbage to sift through.

By the way, Spurgeon painted word pictures, he did not resort to off-color terms and ribald subject matter nor smutty language in any sermon I have ever read. If he did... where are these sermons? Wasn't it more that they were miffed that Spurgeon preached to the common man? and not that he resorted to smut?

Craig Schwarze said...

"Wasn't it more that they were miffed that Spurgeon preached to the common man? and not that he resorted to smut?"

Well, Phil is the expert on Spurgeon, so he can probably tell us exactly. But from what I've read they objected to the fact that he used "common language" rather than the uber-polite phrasing that was practiced in the pulpit.

As far as smut goes, what exactly did you think was smutty in Driscoll's sermon, 4given?

I've read Driscoll's books and listened to quite a few sermons, and he consistently upholds a high sexual ethic. Someone give me some examples?

donsands said...

Thanks for sharing your heart Phil.

As I listened to Driscoll, and as I prayed, I thought he doesn't speak as a pastor/teacher. At least not to me. There's no edification in his words. Was the doctrine pure? Not completely, but for the most part he honored the Scriptures.
He may be an evangelist. I don't know.
I believe he is our brother in Christ. I pray that he would pray about his calling. And I pray that he would have an open heart to listen to other leaders in the church, such as Phil, and Dr. Piper.

I didn't listen to Rob Bell. Not sure that I can. But maybe I'll bite the bullet.

Craig Schwarze said...

"Was the doctrine pure? Not completely,"

That's interesting - I thought it was a very faithful presentation of orthodox Christology. Which parts of the doctrine were unsound, Don?

Carla Rolfe said...


your mouse-over caption on the garbage pile graphic states my position perfectly.

I'm not sure what it is that attracts people to these types of preachers, or this type of preaching. For me, and for many others, it's nothing but re-heated worldiness in a Jesus-label. For me, it's depressing and disheartening to even listen to any of them (although I have) to try and give them the benefit of the doubt.

One commenter here, HC Ross has mentioned something that is of equal concern as far as cause and affect goes:

"But I do share your concerns about the obscenity and unbiblical nature of his banter, and what this kind of example will produce in 'Driscoll proteges'. Followers often exaggerate their leaders' most conspicuous traits. And the way he sets it up, anyone who protests his approach will immediately be labelled pharisaically religious -- a foil for his allegedly more earthy, authentic Christ-likeness."

It's not just Mark Driscoll fans that this describes, but the whole ECM in a general way (broadbrushing is usually not all that accurate but in this aspect, I believe it is). The fruit (if you can call it that - and your top graphic in this post is rather appropriate for the kind of fruit I refer to) of this kind of "preaching" is in many cases most disturbing.

When folks resort to cussing out someone, or referring to that person on public blogs in a vulgar, demeaning, demoralizing, or other ways intended to bring shame to them, because they dared to criticize your favorite missional/emerging/resurging/whatever pastor/speaker, you have to wonder just exactly what level of conduct the favored pastor/speaker is motivating in his followers or admirers.

It's as if folks are trying to see how much they can get away with, rather than crucifying the flesh to strive to live according to a holy standard. What's worse, if possible, is that there is an entire generation of professing believers that supports this, and mocks those who are convicted to aim for that holy standard.

This, is not Biblical Christianity. I don't know what it is, but I know what it's not.

Because I know what happens when you post public criticism of any "stream" within the ECM, like you have in your post, I'm a bit reluctant to hit the "publish" button on this one. The very idea that you strive to defend Godly conduct TO BELIEVERS, is rather exhausting.

James Scott Bell said...

ROB BELL: The first half of his "sermon" was okay. A teaching about Spirit and what that meant. A few flags went up (e.g., Gen. 1 is a "poem," which is partly right; it is also factually true, but people who use "poem" alone usually mean to downgrade the truth aspect).

But the second half, the "facilitation," ruined whatever was good from the first half.

One example. At one point, when he's instructing people in "breathing out" he says, let go of "greed, envy, lust." Boom.

Well, excuse me, but each of these sins needs a whole lot of biblical explanation, recognition and repentance.

Bell's message of "breathing out" is not repenting of sin, but doing a simple exercise that will give YOU a better life. It's no different than any of a million self-help ideas.

He uses biblical words but does not explain them.

I guess the key to the number of people who attend is this "facilitation" concept. He is giving people the idea that they are empowering themselves by coming here. This "worship service" is really nothing more than a self help seminar with an "approved by God" stamp on it.

And certainly there's not biblical confrontation of sin in words like "God loves you just like you are" and "Breathe in some beauty."

I would not call Bell's salvation into question over this. I would, however, remind him that teachers will be held to a higher standard by God, and he seems to me to be setting himself up for writing standards on the blackboard.

MARK DRISCOLL: Yes, he used some questionable terms as applied to Jesus, trying to "connect" with his audience. Not a choice I would have made. A couple of words toward the end were clearly inappropriate. Of course, he does recognize (and probably revels) in being controversial. "That'll give the bloggers something to talk about in their free time."

Driscoll was, at least, a lot more biblical than Bell. (Maybe this is a sad statement about the state of preaching today!) Driscoll was actually trying to teach doctrine. That's a good thing. But he needs to clean up his language.

He also needs to shorten his sermons. This one got boring.

But I also think Piper is onto something. I get the feeling that pastors who preach like Driscoll have made it their prime objective to be liked -- to make people laugh, use some off color language, gain street cred. IOW, they want to make sure, above all, that people know they aren't their father's Oldsmobile. There's a creeping pride in this that will, if unchecked, spoil what's good in a ministry. I think that's what Piper is getting at.

David A. Carlson said...

Rick Said:

"Here you quote Bell, "You can't get enough points ..." as an example of the issue. My issue with your issue (can I say that?) is that there's no context. That is, Bell clearly said right after the part you quoted that God isn't impressed with our stuff nor our self-perceived good works...."

Rick has identified exactly what is the problem with so much commentary on the evils of the the church - selective qoutes that do not represent the meaning of the original author.

For example, I could defend Joel Osteen by presenting accurate qoutes about how he believes in Lordship Salvation - in fact he ends his sermons with an invitation for his listners to "make Jesus your Lord and Savior" - doenst that make him just like Dr. M? Of course not - but I can pull out random qoutes to "prove" my assertion.

However Phil provides direct links so his readers can discern for themselves, which is far better than other bloggers do. Phil demonstrates a basic honesty about his opinions by allowing readers to actually go to the source of his commentary. Phil allows us to be like the Bereans

So, thanks Phil. Your honesty in your opinions and how you allow your readers to form their own is one of the things that makes this a great blog.

And Frank - go ahead and post the link - do you think that Phil is going to bully you because of the post? Its not like you were going to post about Santa.

donsands said...


Mark says things like Jesus was invited to a lot of parties. This is what he wants to believe, and that's fine. But it may not be true.
He also said the Lord worshipped as we do.

He spoke of the Lord being tempted, and yet he left it very unbalanced for me. Though he wasn't teaching anything wrong here really.

He also said Jesus was funny and told jokes. He can surely believe that if he wants. He said, "It's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle" was a joke, as well as the log in the eye joke.

For me, Mark Driscoll needs to grow up.

To say Jesus was wrestling with Jacob, and all the rest that went with this portion of his sermon, was incredibly poor.
In fact, it may have been an angel that wrestled with Jacob.

I will try to remember to pray for Mark. He is where he is, and I pray the Lord would show him his shortcomings.

As I said, for the most part he honored the Scriptures.

I believe Phil has it right:
"It's characteristic of the old man and one of the fleshly behavior".

Craig Schwarze said...

Don, I don't see any of those as real doctrinal issues. Regarding parties, Jesus did seem to get invited out a lot, and he was even accussed of being a drunkard and a glutton.

Regarding temptation, the Bible is clear that Jesus was tempted. I'm not sure what you mean by unbalanced there.

I actually think Jesus did use wit in a humourous way. But you concede it is no big deal either way, so we'll leave that.

I somewhat agree with your comment about Jesus wrestling with Jacob. Opinion has been divided over whether this was a theophany or not. To be fair to Mark, many theologians through history have believed it was.

I don't really understand why you think he needs to grow up? Anyone who can use the phrase "hypostatic union" in their sermon and still be interesting is doing pretty well in my books!

Anonymous said...


I appreciate you filling the rle of "watchman" the way you do. It is refreshing.

Listening to Bell, the only thing I kept thinking was that he may be giving a nod to the Bible, but he is blatantly undermining its authority. He seems to indicate that it is merely a conglomeration of ancient ideas from the world compiled into neat stories that we can read. He makes a statement during the breathing excercises about "the ancients thought God actually lived inside of people, that is why they came to use the words ruach and pneuma the way they did." Or, they used pneuma and ruach because that is what they were inspired to write. But clearly Bell does not believe that; it is evident in his teaching.

I must be a glutton for punishment; I am going to give Driscoll a listen next. But I wanted to get these thoughts down while they were fresh.

In Him,

David said...

With all due respect to him, thanks for calling out Mark Driscoll. He's been getting far too easy a pass from far too many of our friends in light of what Scripture teaches on the matter.

Daniel said...

There is a flawed philosophy that reasons that whatever comes out of our mouth is only wicked if our heart is wicked, a philosophy that is employed in order to justify doing the exact opposite of what scripture teaches.

The Pharisees did the same (recall the "Korban" episode?), and Jesus identified the problem - they had invented an interpretation that allowed them to circumvent what scripture clearly taught - and they loved their invention more than they loved the truth.

Scripture does not teach us that we can justify foul language by having a good heart - it teaches us that if we are speaking foul language there is something that isn't good still in our heart.

C. T. Lillies said...

What do you mean by vulgar? Are we talking Spurgeon or Hollywood? There's a big difference.


Sharon said...

Phil: I suppose that's just a tiny bit like my reaction (multiplied to the power of infinity) at hearing Driscoll make a joke about whether Jesus ever got the toilet seat wet (not to mention his other comments in that vein).

I'm appalled. To say something like this from the pulpit is unconscionable. I wouldn’t last 5 minutes in a church where a pastor preaches like that.

Jason said...

Thanks for standing firm, Phil. It is encouraging to know that others see the same things. There are not enough hours in the day for me to keep up with everything, but what I am aware of has bothered me. I appreciate coming here and reading the clear defense of the gospel.

Phil Johnson said...

Frank: "I think Phil makes a mistake lumping Driscoll in with Bell. Rob Bell has been problematic since the first Nooma video was coined (2003? 2004?), but Driscoll has visibly distanced himself from 'Emergent' for doctrinal reasons for at least as long."

I'm not "lumping" them together just because I mentioned them both in the same post. I said I appreciate that Driscoll has tried to distance himself from Bell and McLaren.

Now I think he needs to distance himself from his reputation as "the cussing pastor." Instead, he seems to cultivate the image. I'm making the point that it's a serious problem, not a charming idiosyncrasy.

I'm also making the point that I'm fed up with both extremes (as well as the middle) of the Emerging spectrum.

Frank: "And Pastor Driscoll has the same problem: he's Mark the cussing pastor. If he stopped being Mark the cussing pastor, I don't know what would happen -- and neither does he."

Regardless of "what happens," he needs to stop being Mark the cussing pastor.

It's curious that you cringed when you heard my adult son refer to me as "dude." Multiply your response to the power of infinity and mix it with a conviction that blasphemy is the most egregious of all sins, I suppose that would be something like my reaction at hearing Driscoll make a joke about whether Jesus ever got the toilet seat wet (not to mention all Driscoll's other comments in that vein).

"Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" (Matthew 12:34). I'm saying Driscoll's proclivity to raunchy, scatological, and off-color language and subject matter is a breach of the commands in Colossians 3:8 and Ephesians 5:4. That is as morally disqualifying as the other sins Paul names in Colossians 3:8-9. And it's especially a problem when a pastor does it from the pulpit.

Chris Ross said...

I've often thought a good challenge to younger Christians (or anyone enchanted by the ECM) today would go something like this:

"If Jesus told you to be SQUARE for him, would you do it? Would you wear average-looking clothes and have an average-looking hairstyle for Him, if He asked you to? Would you submit to your parents and teachers, even if you believed they were wrong, if Jesus asked you to? Would you go to a traditional church and submit to the elders there, and sing 'How Great Thou Art' and 'The Old Rugged Cross' and other 'outdated' songs every week, for Jesus' sake? Would you put up with an antiquated worship style out of love for your brothers and sisters in Christ above the age of 50, if He asked you to? Are you willing to be UNCOOL for Jesus?"

Show me a young man or woman who's willing to do that for the Lord's sake, and I'll show you someone who's got the Holy Spirit.

C. T. Lillies said...

Ah, Hollywood it is. Thats ridiculous.

I can see that its important to try to reach the crowd he's trying to reach the with the gospel--God bless him for that. A pulpit in a cesspool is still a pulpit though. Come on...


Phil Johnson said...

Rick: "My issue with your issue (can I say that?) is that there's no context. That is, Bell clearly said right after the part you quoted that God isn't impressed with our stuff nor our self-perceived good works. Don't you agree with Bel on that?"

I'm not trying to rip anything out of context. In fact, I gave the link to the whole sermon just so that my readers can hear for themselves the FULL context. Let me know after listening if you still think I'm misrepresenting the context.

Of course I would agree that our good works can't earn favor with God. But that's because we are sinners and therefore everything we do is tainted. It's not because God loves us just fine "just exactly as we are." And it's a hellish lie to say that the Holy Spirit's message is that "we belong. Period."

The closing sentences of the excerpt I quoted nullified and utterly corrupted the point of the first two sentences. I quoted as much as I did (rather than starting the excerpt woth the words "One of the things...") precisely so that you can see how he turns gospel truth on its head.

Anyway, listen to the whole message and tell me if you seriously think any of it is salvageable. I would say not. If Bell's sermon doesn't fit in the category Paul described in Galatians 1:8-10, I've never heard anything that does.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Phil. Plain speech is in order in this hour. I get emails constantly from new believers who are confused about the whole emerging church issue and there is a shortage of men of God who will say it like it is. It will get you plenty of flak, but that's the price of being a truth-teller in this age.

Ingrid Schlueter
Slice of Laodicea

Lee Shelton said...

I'm not saying it's right to use that kind of language, but wasn't Martin Luther well known for his rather vulgar vocabulary?

donsands said...

What is date of Mark's sermon? I didn't see it.


I still need to grow up myself. It's when we don't think we need to, when we are in trouble.

I thought i was quite the mature elder a few years back. The Lord brought a seasoned godly man into my life, and I was exposed for the immature elder that I was.
And I thank the Lord for that. I was able to grow up by being convicted, through His grace, by walking in faith and repentance. And i am stilling growing in His grace and knowledge.

What do you think about Mark's remark that Jesus had to learn to worship like us?

I pray the same for Mark, that happened to me.

God has used him, and he has even greater potential as an evangelist, and a witness in this perverted age. But I believe he needs to clean up his act. Be a little more like Billy Graham, but with deeper theology.

sharon, I agree that I and my wife could not be shephered by Mark. When he talked about Jacob kicking Jesus, that hit me as a little kid trying to be cool. I would not want my wife to hear that in church.
Funny though, when he said these crude things, there was a good amount of laughter.

DJP said...

Phil -- Of course I would agree that our good works can't earn favor with God. But that's because we are sinners and therefore everything we do is tainted. It's not because God loves us just fine "just exactly as we are."

It also isn't because we're made of dirt. There's a world of difference between frailty and fallenness, between being a creature and being a malefactor.

And his pronunciaton of Hebrew -- oy!

Screaming Pirate said...

Thats very interesting that you still lump him in with ECM. In the question and answer portion of DG 06 he spoke as if he does not consider him self as part of the ECM. Matter of fact He seemed to align him self with the reformed tradtion more so almost to the exclution of the whole ECM. So my question. Why put him in the ECM catagory?

FX Turk said...


My friend, you lumped them together as both being Emergent. You have called Driscoll the "conservative side" of Emergent.

I think you're mistaken. And please do not read anything I have written (or am about to write) as soft-soaking toilet jokes from the pulpit. There really is a world of difference between perceiving the way the world speaks and doing it yourself -- and I think there's ample legitimate reasons to criticize what Driscoll does without also making his faults a result of being inside a wholly-corrupt movement in the church.

More in about an hour ...

Phil Johnson said...

Pirate: "Why put him in the ECM catagory?"

Good question, and it would require a whole post to answer adequately. But here's the short answer:

1. Driscoll is the first one everyone points to when they want to argue that we shouldn't write the "Emerging" trends off completely.

2. Driscoll does have one foot (or at least a few toes) in the Reformed tradition, but the other foot is still in the Emerging community. This sermon illustrates the ramifications of that.

3. Note that I applied the term "Emerging" to Driscoll, NOT "Emergent." There's a reason for that, carefully explained in my various critiques of Emerging/Emergent, which you will find scattered here and there.

Renee said...


Lee Shelton said...


I can't think of Luther's exact words off the top of my head, but I recall reading some very harsh quotes from him regarding the Jews. And I think there was also some controversy over the heated exchange between Luther and Zwingli concerning transubstantiation.

Silly Old Mom said...

I only skimmed through Bell's talk. I can't even bring myself to call it a sermon. I can't even call it a talk, since every time I moved the progress bar, I heard silence because of all the deep breathing.

Contrast that with what I heard in church on a recent Sunday morning. I can't imagine my pastor explaining yoga moves to anyone, much less asking the congregation to breathe deeply for any period of time.

Driscoll's sermon will have to wait until the kids are asleep.

Martin Downes said...

Those deep breathing sounds reminded me of the Lord. The Lord in question being Lord Vader.

Mrs Pilgrim said...


1. The word "vulgar" has changed meaning since the days of Luther. Now it means "scatological or obscene"; then it meant "pertaining to the peasantry and lower classes." (This statement made with the standard "IIRC" attached.)

2. Why are people in such a hurry to drag down Jesus from His rightful pillar? I find it difficult to believe that He ever did ANYTHING imperfectly. (Such as, why would He waste time "memorizing" Scripture, as some would have it? He wrote it, and the last I looked, He didn't check His omniscience at the proverbial door when He became incarnate.) I acknowledge that I'm still kind of ignorant, but I just have to reject the idea that Jesus was ever anything BUT totally perfect.

3. Is Mr. Driscoll unaware that "toilet seats" are a fairly recent invention? (Nitpicking for humor's sake.)

4. "Screaming Pirate," if a person insists that he's not a thief, but a "progressive" trying to exert a little economic justice in this world, should we honor that? Or should we still call him a thief?

5. "Centurion," may I respectfully disagree with you regarding the influence of ECM on one's language? Of all groups, the ECM is least likely to take Mr. Driscoll to task for his manner of expression. Silence is assent...

Sorry to be so long on my first comment here! I just had a few things to toss in! Love this blog.

Screaming Pirate said...

Second question. If your so inclined.(If you feel it is apropriate to answer.) Is it his Christology, that you think makes him, still, ECM material?

Jim Crigler said...

Now that I know Rob Bell is the guy in the Nooma video I saw recently, my life just got a lot more complicated. There are times when ignorance really is bliss ...

Anonymous said...

What is very alarming is the presumption of some of the Emerging Church folks claim to embrace Reformed Theology while dismissing many of the principles concernign the doctrine of worship and the doctrine on the church that were born out of that tradition.

The Emergent church can do as they may, but please don't do it under the guise of being "Reformed". It is anything but.

Screaming Pirate said...

That is style issues aside.

Solameanie said...


I'm glad this was posted, and I can't wait until the EC defenders discover it. It is strongly possible that your "banned poster" list will multiply exponentially.

I have addressed this issue time and again on my radio program, on my blog, and posts to other blogs such as this and E-NO. You would think this would be an issue that ought to be obvious to nearly all believers, even those who aren't the sharpest knives in the drawer. But a whole host of these people not only laugh at said language and theology, they applaud it. The way that the more "trained ones" on the EC side try to parse words and nuance Scripture is an exercise in Lewis Carrollian exasperation. You get called unloving, a legalist, ignorant, naive, outdated, outmoded..yada yada. These misguided individuals have totally lost sight of what the holiness and righteousness of Christ is.

For every remark made about Jesus and the toilet seat, I think of how the Jews had to tie a rope onto the high priest in case God struck him dead for making a mistake while in the Holy of Holies. Again, thanks so much for this timely post.

Finally, in reference to Max Lucado, it should be mentioned that he is/was part of the so-called Restoration Movement (churches of Christ, Disciples of Christ, and Christian churches). His own church is formally part of the hardline "church of Christ" that usually teaches baptismal regeneration. However, Lucado's name is "mud" right now with many of the C of C churches because he has "liberalized" from traditional C of C doctrinal distinctives.

I don't think Lucado personally teaches baptismal regeneration, nor does he hold to the common C of C view that they are the only true church, and that if you're not part of them, you're not saved. I don't mean to endorse whatever he is saying or teaching now..quite frankly I haven't read a lot of his material. However, whatever he is writing or saying now might be understood in light of that background.

What is interesting to me, as someone who grew up in the C of C, normally when people find their way out of that group, they often get VERY liberal in their theology. I have only grown more conservative, only in a true biblical way, by God's grace.


Caleb Kolstad said...

Thanks for all this.


Jeremiah Johnson said...

Am I the only one who noticed that the only way to defend these Emerging types IS to take their comments out of context?

Need proof?

Just take a look at the syntactical gymnastics Rick had to go through to find something he could agree with.

Frankly, I think I can find better things to parse.

John Haller said...


As usual, great stuff.

This is a bit off topic, but the more practical question for me, "in my context", is how do we educate leaders who are promoting this as just another way to "do church." There are a lot of fellowships who are either being torn apart over this or who are letting the stuff creep in with the usual admonition to "chew the meat and spit out the bones." I would hope to avoid the former and I'm certain the latter approach is not biblical (I seem to recall that what was distasteful in the Laodecian church was the mixture).

I think most thinkers here will agree that it's bad stuff, but some of us are heavily invested in fellowships where the wolves are coming in the front door. So, I'd be interested in a discussion here or in another post on how to deal with it on a practical level.

ricki said...

Phil - for the record, especially since historically I have been a Pyro antagonist, I don't think you intentionally took anything out of context and I commend you for linking to the full sermon - I use the word sermon loosely.

My goal wasn't to defend Bell. I'm with you overall. I just wanted to point out how this limited medium of blogging can cause debate (even fighting) simply because of it's limits.

Now focusing on Bell, in the context of what he was saying, I'll repeat, those words alone do not alarm me. What alarms me is that those words are alone (well actually couched in a bunch of other suspect stuff). I also suspect Bell thinks these words plus nothing - but I don't know that.

As I started to type what he could have meant which could have been acceptable to me, I realized that perhaps I may be in error on the topic of our righteousness in Christ. I thought he could be leaning on the Holy Spirit reminding us of who we are in Christ and yada, yada ... you probably know the line and maybe you could address that in a future post (or point me to some past post that I skipped over).

I'm allowing for a tension that God loves me and sees me as the righteousness of Christ and yet my sin is ugly and unacceptable to him. Perhaps you could help reconcile this or explain how it is not both but rather one or the other of these.

PS - mensa reject - I didn't think I went through gymnastics. I honestly didn't try to twist his words. I tried to take them at face value and ask myself if they were a problem for me ... and they weren't.

wordsmith said...

Methinks that a fundamental problem of the ECM crowd is that they've essentially created "god" in their own image. When that forms the basis for one's theology, it's no wonder that Scripture (when it's employed) is deconstructed to mean whatever one wants it to mean, and "cussing pastors" are perfectly okay.

UK67 said...

I've been listening to the Driscoll Mp3 Phil linked, and I've been thinking, I have no problem with this...then I got to about 34-35 minutes in where he starts talking about Jesus laughing and all that (a subject one usually hears liberal idjit theologians going off on) including the mandatory flatulance references, and I agree, he is off the rails.

He also uses the word 'fun' many, many times. I just mention this in passing because to the world 'fun' is the most important standard for everything.

Now I'll be accused of being anti-fun and uptight and all that, and...here we are in the Driscoll vs. his critics show.

Another passing thought: I think it's easier to descend into such misreading and loose interpretation of Scripture (what Jesus was 'really' like, etc.) when you spend all your time with modern paraphrase type bibles...

Final note: since 35 minutes in he's been seriously off the rails non-stop...

Scott said...

I'll start off with saying that I'm no fan of the ECM.

Let us all stand in judgement of those who are different from us. I'm sure that's biblical. Who can know a man's heart but God? I know that you'll answer that you can know a man by what he does (i.e., his words in this case). But remember, that Jesus was chided by the religious powers of the day for his "new" ways. Don't let the message be lost...

UK67 said...

>no2salvation-by-process said...

>All religion, including the 'Christian' religion, has only one god - the Devil.

That's not what God says. Or...I can agree with you if by 'religion' you mean all creature/creation/false idol worship that comes from man vs. reality that is the faith as revealed by God in the Old and New Testaments.

Yes, if you're not worshiping God you're worshiping the devil, either directly or in some roundabout way.

Kim said...


Methinks that a fundamental problem of the ECM crowd is that they've essentially created "god" in their own image. When that forms the basis for one's theology, it's no wonder that Scripture (when it's employed) is deconstructed to mean whatever one wants it to mean, and "cussing pastors" are perfectly okay.

Well put.

Dave said...

Confession: I have grown to appreciate Driscoll over the past few months for his commitment to Scripture and sound theology. It was refreshing, compared to his Emergent/emerging/post-modern contemporaries.

Second Confession: I'm a young man who's been a believer most of his life and who developed a pretty careless/foul mouth during my college years (at a private Baptist college, no less). I've wrestled in the few years since with taming the tongue. This may be one of the reasons (for good or ill) that I related to Driscoll at first.

Comment: While I still appreciate elements of Driscoll's ministry, thank you for reminding me that we are commanded to pursue verbal self-control, especially those who are teachers.

Jeremiah Johnson said...


I'll grant you that "gymnastics" may have been a bit harsh.

My point wasn't that you twisted Bell's words, but that in order to agree with him, you had to take his words out of context (you had to separate the "you can’t do enough good deeds to win God’s favor" bit from the "God loves you and accepts you just the way you are" bit).

That was particularly ironic, since you were questioning whether Phil had taken Bell's words out of context in his own quotations.

C. T. Lillies said...

Scott I've got a pretty good idea of who's lost the message here. Yes, thats a judgment and a biblical one at that.


UK67 said...

I know this is my third post, but I want to agree with the individual above who stated he finds it hard to imagine Jesus didn't do everything perfectly. I think Jesus was tempted, as a human, but I tend to think it was in the context of His unique mission, I mean, the devil tempted him in the beginning and it was to get him to fail in what He agreed within the councel of the Trinity (Covenant of Redemption) to do to redeem fallen man, or the elect.

Yes, He was tempted in not wanting to for instance suffer death on the cross. His being human was part of that temptation.

But I don't think he was ever tempted in the typical ways Driscoll was getting at, anyway not in any degree that wasn't like brushing away a fly (i.e. all the typical lust of the flesh type things and so on). No, Jesus was a serious human and He came to do a very serious work. When He was really tempted it was regarding that work He had to do. Difficult work indeed. Which He accomplished, as God and as man.

FX Turk said...

Minky --

Having a problem with one's tongue doesn't make one Emergent. I would agree with Phil, however, that it seems to me that The Emergents do have a language problem -- and it's not related to Post Modern linguistics.

That said, Phil did say that Driscoll was on the "Emerging" spectrum and not the "Emergent" spectrum. I'm trying to figure out how, when Rob Bell is on the other end, that doesn't mean "Emergent" in the pejorative sense, but there ya go.

Solameanie said...

Query of the day:

Is there ANYONE out there who is as tired of the phrase, "do church," as I am?

Everytime I hear this spoken or read this on paper or screen, I have a serious battle to repress the gag reflex. The first thought that comes to mind is a gaggle of metrosexuals jawboning on a street corner.."yaas, let's get together tomorrow. We'll do lunch." (said in between the slurps of latte and smacks of Bazooka bubble gum)

For the life of me, I can't imagine Ezra saying to the children of Israel, "I've got a different way to "do temple." I think he probably would have been zapped dead on the spot.

Chris Ross said...

It seems like one of the (false) assumptions with which Driscoll is operating is that tons of people reject Jesus because they don't understand how cool and like 'us' he is (I think he said humorous, passionate, a sufferer, specifically). And they don't know about THAT Jesus because stuffy, traditional Christians have kept him hidden.

That's definitely an attitude that pervades the ECM, and if I'm not mistaken Phil touches on that in his two messages (http://www.swordandtrowel.org/PJ-CDA14.htm). It's connected to the idea that lots of people don't come to church because it's not enought like [fill in your favorite locale here, eg, coffeehouse, mall, bohemian love-pad, etc].

Both of these assumptions miss the fact that conversion is a work of the Spirit of God, who MUST MAKE spiritual things savory to otherwise corrupt, fallen, depraved humans in order for them to find pleasure in God, Christ, Scripture, etc.

No matter what aspects of Christ or church you try to accentuate, non-Christians will find a reason to reject those things, OR they'll be attracted to something you offer them that is really UN-Christlike or UN-Christian.

The GOSPEL is, finally, the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes (Rom 1:17-18).

John Haller said...

One other thing I notice among some emergents, such as Bell, is the hand wringing over certainty. They seem to relish it, even promote it.

The irony of this struck me when I was listening to a Bell interview where the interviewer closed by asking Bell if he thought U2 was the greatest band of all time. He sounded very certain when he said they were certainly in the top 5 of all time.

Which, I guess points to the fact that a PoMo can never really live in the uncertainty he believes in because, ultimately, the philosophy implodes upon itself. It's just not livable.

John Haller said...

oops, meant to saythat they relish uncertainty

art said...

A perfect example of why i stopped reading this blog a long time ago. A friend directed me to it, pointing out the ignorance found within it.

It's a shame you posted this load of crap. I had more respect for you before reading this.

Scott said...

Photini, the message that has been lost is that Jesus never espoused organized relgion. He never encouraged the creation of an even more legalistic group than the pharisees. The church has created the greatest religio-legalistic system ever devised and it makes me cry when I think about all of the people who are being run away from faith in Christ due to the church. The lesson being lost is that religion kills. All of this talk is about relgion.

CT lillies, thanks for judging me. I'm sure it was done biblically and we're both better off for it.

DJP said...

They-y-y-y-'re he-e-e-e-e-e-ere.

donsands said...


I think Mark was trying to make the point that much of the art and film, which is suppose to represent our Lord, has been done in a bad way. I agree with him. But I agree with you, that he says in a way where he is looking for results.
Results seems to be a motivating force with many in the Church today.
Instead, we should be motivated to bring glory to His name,(Rom. 11:36) because of His great love wherewith He loved us (Eph. 2:4).

donsands said...

Thanks for making me laugh Dan. i needed that.

isaiah543 said...


My name is Michael Shea and I am the pastor of the Community Evangelical Free Church in Champaign, IL.

I believe that your interpretation of Ephesians 5:4 is facile. I believe that Mark Driscoll is a true gospel minister. I believe that your cursing of him is reprehensible and you need to repent.


Yours in Christ,


art said...

Alright, let me explain. First, I do not consider myself anywhere close to 'emergent.' I read and listen to Driscoll because I think what he is doing in Seattle and through the Acts29 Network is excellent and because, like someone above said, he is concerned with Scripture and Theology. He also has been hanging out and speaking with guys like Tim Keller, John Piper, Ed Stetzer, Joshua Harris, Anthony Bradley, and Matt Chandler...guys who are passionate about Scripture, theology, and translating that to our culture. That is bringing glory to God and growing his kingdom.

I also read Bell and listen to his sermons. The idea that Phil can say the following is simply, ironically, unbiblical and, quite frankly, ignorant:
"Bell's message is not only unbiblical; it's anti-Christian...it's flat-out heretical. And in more ways than I care to enumerate...I'll give one brief example, though. Here's a sample of what Bell does with the gospel: "You can't get enough points to get in with the Big Guy. You can't do enough good deeds and then God will like you. One of the things the Spirit does is remind us that we belong. Period. Just exactly as we are. You are loved by God."...Bell's syncretized amateur yoga exercise is not Christianity by any stretch of the definition. I'll go further: if this is what Bell really believes, he himself is no Christian."

First of all, Phil cannot claim to know someone's heart, only God does (1 Samuel 16.7).

Second, this comment is at best horrible scholarship and at worst a lack of integrity. What Phil has done is taken one part of an entire message within an entire series and presented it as Rob's Gospel. That is ignorant on Phil's part.

Third, what does Phil say the correct answer should be? Can we earn God's favor? Scripture says that we cannot (Romans 4.16, 5.1; Galatians 33.1-3; Ephesians 2.8-9). Does the Spirit not bear "witness with our spirit that we are children of God" (Romans 8.16)?? Does God not love us (1 John 4.10)??

Perhaps Phil doesn't like the way Bell puts it together; perhaps he doesn't like his popularity; perhaps he doesn't like the way he dresses...I don't know. But to say that Bell is not a Christian because Phil took one snippet of his sermon (which has a Biblical backing at every point), called it 'his gospel,' and then calls him anathema is entirely anti-Christian (James 4.11-12).

And then Phil calls out Driscoll because Phil equivocates his interpretation of "crude joking" (Ephesians 5.4) with Mark's realistic description of how Jesus was really human. Does Phil not realize this? Or does he just not like to talk about it? And to say that Driscoll is still participating in practices that have to do with the 'old man' and that he has an 'impure mind'....seriously Phil?? Those types of comments are not even meant for Driscoll's well-being or for his sanctification. If you really cared that much, why don't you write Mark and talk to him about it (which, I believe, is something I heard someone say was a good idea one time [Matthew 18.15-19, cf. Galatians 6.1-3]).

Solameanie said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
C. T. Lillies said...


The church has created the greatest religio-legalistic system ever devised and it makes me cry when I think about all of the people who are being run away from faith in Christ due to the church.

Enter the Reformation. You're a little behind.

CT lillies, thanks for judging me. I'm sure it was done biblically and we're both better off for it.

Anytime and thank you for judging me in my judgement of the message that was presented. Christians do that you know, and they're commended to judge things. It's in the Bible. See, heres an example: The Bereans did it all the time by comparing Paul's message with what they read in the Scriptures. This is essentially what Phil is doing here to Mark. He says Mark falls short.

On the other hand, I haven't actually done that to you at all.


Kent Brandenburg said...

Several questions:
1. In what way is having Driscoll indicative of the discernment of John Piper, since he had Driscoll to speak in a major role in his "Desiring God" conference? Is foul language employed in preaching hedonistic?
2. Doesn't the Bible teach that, without repentance, one separates from a Driscoll? Does "mark and avoid" apply? Yet, if one would separate, how does that obey "no schism in the body?"
3. Can one characteristically use foul language in preaching and be "blameless?"

John W. Lostus said...

Art said:

"It's a shame you posted this load of crap"

I guess he and Mark Driscoll do have a lot in common. Nice mouth, and temper. Hot heads who respond like this shouldn't be in the ministry. Westminster take note...

art said...

Apparently saying 'crap' disqualifies one from ministry...yet one can write a long blog on how fellow ministers are anti-Christian and have impure minds...hmmm.

Solameanie said...

I had to delete my earlier comment to edit as I was pretty aggravated.


I think your first post was a tremendous example of what Phil was discussing.

Mike, as a member of the Evangelical Free Church, I find it distressing that you would applaud this sort of thing, especially as a pastor. Of course, the EC movement is causing splits in all sorts of fellowships, not merely my own, so I shouldn't be surprised. If you think it's appropriate to use gutter language from the pulpit, or to reference our Savior in such an irreverent way as described, I am concerned for not only your congregation but also for my fellowship at large. A pastor truly ought to know better and I say that as kindly as possible. Just being a Berean.

Phil has NOTHING of which to repent here. Matthew 18 does not apply here. Matthew 18 deals with personal offenses. Error disseminated publically must be corrected publically, as Paul demonstrated with Peter.

I suggest a re-read of both OT and NT texts describing how the Lord was treated and spoken of by His people. God didn't allow Moses into the Promised Land because he "didn't treat Me as holy." As for the Lord Jesus, even His closest disciples never spoke to him in such a manner. He was always treated with reverence.

art said...

"Phil has NOTHING of which to repent here. Matthew 18 does not apply here. Matthew 18 deals with personal offenses. Error disseminated publically must be corrected publically, as Paul demonstrated with Peter"

Yet Galatians 6.1 does apply here.

"Brothers, if anyone is caught in ANY transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of GENTLENESS."

Chris Ross said...

A quote from Bell’s message:

“And the yoga masters say, ‘This is how it is when you follow Jesus, and surrender to God … It’s your breath being consistent; it’s your connection with God regardless of the pose you find yourself in. THAT’S integrating the divine into the daily. So that whatever you’re going through, you never lose consistent, deep breathing.’”

True story: I grew up in a conservative, dispensational Bible Church in Texas. The ONLY, ONLY exorcism that I know of ever occurring there came about when a young lady who had been involved in yoga started experiencing really weird symptoms, and either she or a friend of hers called our pastor. He and some of the elders spent several hours praying and exorcising the enemy from her.

Creepy, creepy stuff on Mars Hill.

Joe L. said...

What is the TeamPyro record for most comments in a 24 hour period?

Craig Schwarze said...

There are a lot of generalisations here ("Mark needs to clean up his language" type comments) but not much specifics.

In a sermon that went for 70 minutes, there was one word that was borderline "cuss". I think baby boomers would be offended by it, but GenY would consider it regular, unoffensive idiom.

As far as the "cussing pastor" goes, that title was given him by Donald Miller. Driscoll resents that title, and thinks it's unfair (he mentions it in his Confessions).

I have never heard a "cuss" word in Driscolls sermons. I suspect that some people on this thread are criticising what they've heard *about* Driscoll, rather than what they have heard Driscoll say himself.

Talk about Jesus urinating, defecating and flatulating is *not* offensive in the context of a discussion about his humanity. We are all dualists by nature, and our discomfort with these ideas show us how difficult it is to grasp the incarnation.

Regarding the question of Jesus temptation, Hebrews 4:15 says he was tempted in *every* way known to man. To reduce this to a formality is to deny the humanity of Christ (as well as to contradict scripture).

As far as whether Jesus grew in his "worship" of God, Driscoll was referring to Luke 2:52 -

"And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man."

This is a really remarkable verse to consider. But Driscolls teaching was strictly orthodox - that Jesus voluntarily limited/humbled himself in the Incarnation, choosing to know only what the Father revealed to Him. That is why the omniscient logos has to ask questions and doesn't know everything.

What a great sermon that has us discussing Chalcedonian Christology!

Lance Roberts said...


Jesus espoused obedience.

If you don't accept him as Lord and Master, then you don't accept him.

ricki said...

Joe - funny you asked ... I just logged in to ask if the Pyro guys would provide some metrics just for fun. Most comments in 24 hours? Most comments total? Longest comment? Most unrelated to the topic comment? Funniest comment? Etc..

Chris Ross said...

Scott said,

"Photini, the message that has been lost is that Jesus never espoused organized relgion."

C'mon. Jesus chose twelve disciples , not more or less. When he fed the thousands he had them sit down in separate, numbered groups. Somehow Judas was designated to carry the disciples' money -- not the best personnel choice, but it reflects some necessary organization. Then in Acts we see men being selected to handle Hellenist Greek widows' issues. More organization there. Paul designates elders and deacons. The Spirit designates pastors/teachers and various other gift sets. I'm not trying to sound pedantic, but there is quite a bit of organization in the NT church. I won't even say anything about Israel's God-given organizational stipulations.

Organization is crucial to ensure order and efficiency in any group or movement. Throwing rocks at 'organized religion' is a jejune, tired shtick.

DJP said...

I'm guessing this thread holds the record.

Anonymous said...

I listened to the first twenty minutes of Driscoll's sermon and concluded he now channels the retarded spirit of Gene Scott.


Phil Johnson said...

I've been tied up in meetings all day and unable to read, much less reply to the various rebukes, end-zone celebrations, and calls for my repentance until now. And even now, I have only enough time to complete one response I began this morning. I'll try to get to some of the others this evening. But just so you know, I'm not deliberately ignoring anyone. But I started this one comment hours ago, before going into some meetings. When I finish it, I have a ton of other stuff to do before answering any more comments:

Screaming Pirate: " Is it his Christology, that you think makes him, still, ECM material?"

No, and thanks for the opportunity to make this clear: Aside from Mark Driscoll's glaring lack of reverence when he speaks of Christ's humanity, I have no issues with his Christology. I agree that Jesus learned things the way any boy would learn. Scripture expressly says so (Luke 2:52). I agree that Jesus was fully human, saddled with all our normal non-sinful infirmities, including the ones we don't talk about (or giggle about) in settings where we need to be polite.

What makes Driscoll "Emerging" is the philosophy that underlies his deliberate public use of such language and lowbrow cultural references. He seems driven by the notion that the Christian message must be "contextualized"—or translated in a way that suits not merely the language but also the cultural preferences of the target society.

The society he is trying to reach is the infamous Seattle grunge community. (It's more of a dysfunctional subculture than a foreign culture or language group, but that's beside the point.) His target demographic must define and determine his style. Notice: Driscoll's strategy for "contextualization" is driven by generational differences, stylistic issues, and fads. So we're not really talking about cultural or linguistic differences such as those that arise from centuries of unique traditions, like a missionary from Mississippi would face in trying to reach North Koreans or whatever.

But anyway, we have to be "missional" and seem "relevant" and "contextualize" everything for whatever culture we are trying to reach. That presupposition is deemed self-evident these days. No one in the know would ever dare question it.

Just ignorant bullies like me.

Whenever evangelicals have tried to "contextualize" their message for a particular generation (as opposed to a legitimate culture or language group, the result of the philosophy is always the same: Their primary goal becomes a desperate attempt to make Christianity seem "cool." Driscoll is head-and-shoulders better at this than anyone.

I count Driscoll as "Emerging" because he was one of the movement's founders and chief advocates until roughly six months ago. He still seems to be aiming at a kind of "contextualization" that is driven by postmodern sensitivities rather than by biblical convictions.

That said, let's be clear about the point Frank wants me to make: I realize Driscoll is nothing like Bell doctrinally. He most likely wouldn't approve of Bell's sermon any more than I did. He might even be more forceful or use stronger (and much cruder) language in his denunciation of Bell's gospel-twisting than I did.

So I'm not suggesting that the two disparate problems I highlighted in this post are the same thing, or even equally serious. My only point in tying them together is (once more) to explain why I'm not interested in anything in the way of Emerging Christianity, from either end of that spectrum.

Dustin said...

Hey Phil,
I'm trying to understand what was wrong with what Rob Bell said in that context. He was speaking to Christians and said that there is nothing they can do to earn their relationship or their salvation from Christ, but it has already been done for them and what Christ did is what makes them redeemed. How is that un-Christian? Isn't that the gospel?

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the participants in this blog could (even if only for a week) post articles that affirm something. What they love about the gospel without having to trash anyone at the same time. It seems like every post here is "What's wrong with ________." Could you resist doing it for even a week?

UK67 said...

Something that should be separated out from the criticism as well as the defense of Driscoll is he is a pretty funny guy, no doubt. He can deliver a line. I mean some people might be defending him because they like him in this sense, but his humor is beside the point regarding Phil's criticism.

(I refer to things like when he described his 8-month old wanting to wrestle him like the other kids, things like that...)

UK67 said...

There's a power in the Bible and in Reformed doctrine that is just lost when you're saying: "So Jesus was basically campin' with these twelve guys and crackin' jokes having finger-pullin' marathons, huh? right? I mean you know that was goin' on, right?"

Don't ask me what 'finger-pullin' marathons' are, but Driscoll said it... (OK, I guess I can guess what it means...I mean I can guess, but it's not something I associate with Jesus Christ...)

Anonymous said...

Okay, Okay. I'll admit everything.

I too had trendy postmodern conceptions about breathing deep, Jesus, humility, and coffee.

Then I repented and trusted Christ as my Lord.

So: that squishy stuff makes me nervous.

Just be biblical. Whats wrong with that?

David A. Carlson said...

wow, emergents that make slice's posse of former commenters seem polite.

Craig Schwarze said...

He seems driven by the notion that the Christian message must be "contextualized"—or translated in a way that suits not merely the language but also the cultural preferences of the target society.

Phil, surely this was the charge against Spurgeon - that he was speaking in the idiom of the common man, using language and illustrations that they understood. He was once derisively called "the shopkeepers pastor".

Did Spurgeon's critics have a point? Why didn't Spurgeon speak "the Queen's English" like everyone else? If the doctrine from these other pulpits was pure, why did Spurgeon need to innovate with a vulgar style?

Open question - could someone please email me 4 or 5 examples of Driscoll "cussing" in the Pulpit? My email address is on my profile page - many thanks.

Joe L. said...

Dan - Yea, that one was a classic. Although, this thread is cookin at a nice clip. I guess we'll have to check back at midnight tonight to find out. :-)

Scott said...

Lance, I’m down with obedience to Jesus’ commands, love the Lord and love your neighbor. I however want no part of obedience to a power hungry church that craves control to it’s legalistic system of faith.

Ross, you can paint me as an inane anarchist if you would like but that isn’t the nature nor the intention of my comments. You see the tendency to dismiss a disagreement as simple, outdated, or fringe is a useful political tactic. However, to address my comment, I would say that Jesus, not the NT church, but Jesus never espoused the organized religion. In fact, he despised and chided it whenever possible.

I can imagine that the attempts at organization found in the NT church stemmed from the established religious system’s influences. People’s expectations to be served or taken care crept into the NT believers group…a little yeast goes a long way.

David A. Carlson said...

Finally listened to the Bell.

I was ok with it until he got about half way through - that whole breathing thing - stupifying.

Wow. Phil was polite. That was insanely bad.

Joe L. said...

Great. Blogger goes down, which throws away 2 hours of solid comment making. May not get the 24hr record now. Oh well, I am sure tomorrow will bring more opportunity. ;-)

FX Turk said...


You kill me, bub. I wonder if you have been reading this blog for more than one day.

Here's an experiment for you: read the post I just made here and tell me: is it an affirmation or not? Because I wrote it as an affirmation of what ought to be true in Gospel ministry and "missiology" and compared it to what is in evidence with a pastor who publicly claims to hold views nearly identical to my own (the major exception being cessationism).

So read that, and then read the archives, and think to yourself: what is the purpose of writing something which affirms an important doctrine or practice? Is it to be light, fluffy, and cute -- or is it to guide people away from careless or harmful behavior and toward something that is good and true?

Anonymous said...


Seeing that you ended it with "let the weeping and gnashing of teeth begin" - I wonder how much of an affirmation any of it can be. I have no idea what you mean by "light, fluffy and cute"...but I do think that if you see something as awe-inspiring and beautiful (i.e. the gospel) maybe it can stand on its own without being completely defined by where the other guy has it wrong. Can you point me to a post that fits this criteria? And yes, I do read this blog.. I remember a recent pictorial post by Peccadillo basically showing a fat kid at McDonald's with a caption reading (more or less): "Haha! That kid's fat!" That's why I take all of the uproar here concerning Driscoll's "earthiness" with a grain of salt. If this is a blog devoted to the pure gospel and being an example of Christian love, why post a picture of a morbidly obese child and call him the son of the Michelin Tire Man? How is that any different from Driscoll's salty sense of humor? Listening to the sermon that was linked...yes, he goes over the top...but at least it isn't at someone else's expense. Why is that OK and Driscoll's "cutting loose" isn't?

Chris Ross said...


You said, "I would say that Jesus, not the NT church, but Jesus never espoused the organized religion. In fact, he despised and chided it whenever possible." Are you sure you're not talking about Marx? Where did Jesus despise or chide organization in religion? Are you not aware that Jesus Himself created the organization of the Israelite priesthood, with all its rites, in the OT?

Do you think Blogger is whacked for being organized, though they host your blog, 'ironicobservances'? How could they offer the service they do without organization?

Why WOULDN'T anyone catgorize you as an anarchist, given your stated views?

Anonymous said...

John said to him, "Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us." But Jesus said, "Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. For the one who is not against us is for us."

No one who does a mighty work in His name will be able to speak evil of Him - is Jesus putting the experience of Him before the sound doctrine?

"For the one who is not against us is for us" - What was Jesus saying here? He certainly stopped the disciples from "correcting" someone who wasn't part of the in-group..

I am open to correction - but this passage seems pretty straight forward..

Phil Johnson said...


As a matter of fact, I wrote and posted a very long series on the glory of the gospel. It's probably our longest-ever series on a single subject. I could cite many other examples, but if you were really a long-time reader, I shouldn't have to.

One thing is sure: the ratio of positive to critical posts here is infinitely higher than the proportion of positive posts you have contributed to the discussion.

Anonymous said...

"As a matter of fact, I wrote and posted a very long series on the glory of the gospel. It's probably our longest-ever series on a single subject. I could cite many other examples, but if you were really a long-time reader, I shouldn't have to."

Thank you for the link. Why exactly did NT Wright get so much exposure in the first post? Is the gospel primarily a reaction to other conceptions of the gospel, or can it hold its own in its own right? And if it can, why doesn't it ever?

jen said...

I have to say, the thought of Jesus using the bathroom never even entered my mind until today. I guess my mind was on more important matters of Christ's incarnation.

Phil Johnson said...


So is your claim now that we have never made a single wholly positive post, or has the ground now shifted, so that you're implying that we should never make a single negative post--even one post in a nine-part series about the gospel?

Because before I answer you, it would help to understand exactly what your complaint is.

Your own negative-positive ratio is still completely on the opposite side of the scale from the one you claim to favor, BTW.

Pecadillo said...


If you have a problem with something I posted on another blog, I would appreciate it if you would take that up with me. Frank Turk is not responsible for anything I post, especially something I posted on my own blog. It's not fair for you to take something that I did on my own and throw it in Frank's face when he had absolutely nothing to do with it.

You didn't even leave the comment on my blog, let alone the post in question. I'll have to look, but I think I've posted on Pyromaniacs three times, and not one of them with a negative intent. In fact, every post I’ve ever written has had one purpose and most people seem to understand that.

I'm pretty much an honorary Pyromaniac. If you want to get my attention, that’s not the way to do it. And if you want to pretend to be a pyro expert, I suggest you start by actually reading Pyromaniacs.

Jeremiah Johnson said...

OK, raise your hand if you even have the foggiest clue what Unscrunched is arguing for here.

Help me out--as I read it, you're against any and all negativity when it comes to blogging.

Do you really want Phil to post random lists of things he likes (i.e. puppies, candy, harpsichord music...etc.)?

Or is it just negativity when it comes to talk about the gospel? If that's the issue, then how are you able to read much of Paul's writing, or James', or even some of the words the Lord Himself spoke?

Loving and preaching the gospel sometimes REQUIRES a little negativity.

And besides, for someone who apparently shuns negativity the way you pretend to do, you're really piling on Phil, Frank, Dan, and Pec with an extra measure of aggression.

Chris Ross said...

Wow, I was JUST thinking to myself how Pyromaniacs needs a post about harpsichord music!

C. Stirling Bartholomew said...

Perhaps Rob Bell and Mark Driscoll in one post is not such a great idea. They have little in common. I've been listening to Driscoll now and then since he started talking in public places. Some one suggest that he needs to grow up. He has grown up, allot in fact. He will continue to grow up.

I suspect that most of you reformed guys have only read sanitized translations of Luther.

It would be much more interesting to hear someone seriously engage with Driscoll's theology. Peter Kirk asked some very astute questions about Driscoll and Piper a while back. I wonder if he is back from his trip to central Asia.

Phil Johnson said...

C. Stirling Bartholomew:

I've read unsanitized Luther. Luther's proclivity for scatalogical language and crude topics is well-documented. And it's offensive.

I've been to Wittenberg more than once, and at the entrance to the library, they display a book of cartoons apparently written by Luther and illustrated by Kranich. It's in a glass case and permanently open to a page with a cartoon so vile I won't try to describe it. But let's just say it's classic toilet humor, used to lampoon the pope.

So the comparison between Driscoll's style and Luther's is not far-fetched.

Luther's scatology hurt his ministry while he was alive (because it gave his critics legitimate reason to criticize him); it has hurt his reputation ever since; and it is still something that critics of Protestantism sometimes point to as a disqualifying flaw in Luther's character. In no way did it enhance his influence.

Same goes for Driscoll. That's exactly my point.

Luther was also antisemitic and advocated the drowning of a mentally retarded boy. Would we tolerate ministers in this postmodern era who aped any of those characteristics?

jen said...

WOW. Way more than I ever wanted to know about Luther.

Phil Perkins said...

You are NOT too shrill. Imagine what Paul or Jesus would say.

Keep ringing that bell. I am SBC, and just found out that out president, Frank Page is endorsing Emergent. I have composed an open letter that I will post early next week if not sooner.

Phil Perkins

ricki said...

hey, another cool metric would be which of the Pyro's have generated the highest average number of comments ...

ricki said...

and which post generated the most links? and which commenter (is that "or" or "er") made the most comments to a single post?

Maybe you could put these metrics in your sidebar.

;- )

donsands said...


"He has grown up, and will continue to."

Thank God. That's what we all need to do. And is what the Lord is doing in us.
We are being conformed into the image of Christ, and that's quite a process of growing up.


It's real simple to me. I listened to Mark's sermon.

He used crude words. I think it's wrong, and goes against the Scriptures. Period.

When I speak, there are times when my wife comes to me, and says I did this or that in a bad way. I try to listen to her, and hopefully repent, and make amends if needs be.
This is the way the Lord has called us to live for Him: To walk by faith, and to live a life of godliness, by His grace and mercy.

FX Turk said...


Again, that's amazingly funny stuff.

Let's start here: the thing I appreciate most about my friends at TeamPyro is they are actually my friends and not some guys I share a blog with. So when I put my foot in something, they are equally as likely to help me make a correction as they are to defend me when someone is doing me an injustice. That may have nothing to do with your last comment to me, but it needed to be said.

Now, there are a couple of things in your comment that are extraordinary statements, but the one that gets me is this one:

How is that any different from Driscoll's salty sense of humor? Listening to the sermon that was linked...yes, he goes over the top...but at least it isn't at someone else's expense. Why is that OK and Driscoll's "cutting loose" isn't?

Driscoll didn't go "over the top" "at someone else's expense"? Dude: did you just deny the incarnation, or are you saying that scatological jokes about Christ are not actually "at someone else's expense"?

Here's the test: let me post three scatological jokes about Pastor Driscoll's wife here on the front page of the blog and let's see how they come across. If nobody is offended, I'll change my mind about your point of view.

As for why a joke in a blog is different than a joke from the pulpit, I'm wondering if you have ever read the description of an elder and pastor the NT provides for us. When one is expositing the doctrines of the faith, that's not a time to cut loose with a joke about male anatomy or excretory biology -- if there ever is a good time to do such a thing.

The thing, really, which leaves me with coffee in my nose this morning, though, is that somehow it's OK to say the things Driscoll said publicly and nationally (via his church's podcast) from the pulpit, but to criticize him for doing such a thing makes someone (Phil, me, Dan, Officer Pec) a bad guy.

Honestly: I may be the only one at TeamPyro who really likes Mark Driscoll -- but when he does stuff like this, it make me look stupid for liking him at all. He needs help, and the more people who can join together to offer him the help he needs -- which is not a pat on the head but something stern and serious -- the better for him and the spiritual health of his church.

Last thing this morning before work: my friend Mark Shea posted a critical comment about this controversy yesterday from the perspective that being a prude about language is fundy legalism. Let me, first of all, repudiate that remark from this perspective (you will recognize it): scatological remarks about Christ are, at the least, disrespectful of Christ as incarnation if not to Christ as Lord and Savior.

The question is not, "Does Mark Driscoll laugh at potty jokes?" The question, in fact, is "Is a potty joke about Jesus' body an exceptable way to reference Christ from the pulpit?" This goes way beyond any example of common "guy talk".

In that, the discussion about whether we are free to use some words in our language which are "bad words" is not at stake here: what is at stake is the degree to which we honor Christ with our God-given ability to communicate.

I admire and trust Mark Shea. I disagree with him on this matter and I think his objection is a category mistake.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Still smoldering, eh?

James Scott Bell said...

Driscoll's theology, from what I can tell, is entirely orthodox. But the driving desire of the Fellowship of the Untucked Shirt is to be popular with the crowd, to grow large with the marketing poistion as the anti-traditional church. And this eventually overwhelms the effective proclamation of the gospel.

"Our constant effort should be to reach as many persons as possible
with the Christian message, and for that reason numbers are
critically important. But our first responsibility is not to make
converts but to uphold the honor of God in a world given over to
the glory of fallen man. No matter how many persons we touch with
the gospel we have failed unless, along with the message of
invitation, we have boldly declared the exceeding sinfulness of man and the transcendent holiness of the Most High God. They who degrade or compromise the truth in order to reach larger numbers, dishonor God and deeply injure the souls of men." -- A. W. Tozer

FX Turk said...

Matt --

Does your reply to Don sound, at all, like PoMo language theory to you? No?

OK -- then let me give you the answers you need in order to perceive this problem. The Bible tells us frankly:

Col 3
5Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

OK: now you may say, "obscenity is culturally defined, cent. What Paul might have had in mind may not be truly obscene, or even relevent to our culture today."

You know: I anticipated that objection by citing more than 3:8 to you -- because Paul has contrasted slander and obscenity with the image of one's creator. Paul isn't placing this moral precept on the back of some transient cultural practice or perception: he's placing it at the feet of the image of the creator which is unchanging.

So when Paul talks about "obscenity", he's not talking about secular ideas about such a thing: he's talking about "aischrologia" -- filthy talk, dishonorable talk, "low" in the sense of morally low. And given that it's paired with slander, anger, wrath and malice, it seems clear that he's talking about speech that is low in intent as well in content.

On your second count, it seems a little incongruous to say, on the one hand, that Pastor Driscoll has been rebuked by his own elders for this kind of thing in the past and then to say that we are jumping the gun on whether this is a heart issue. Listen: I have the same problem Pastor Driscoll has, and when I have to teach at church I sweat it -- because I want what comes out of my mouth to be God-honoring and Christ-exaulting, and I don't want to say what I think is right or what might make some kid in the back row laugh but what God has said is right. It is a heart issue, and those of us with this problem can confess that it is out of the overflow of the heart which the mouth speaks.

When we make that confession, we then have the grounds to reform what is happening to us.

If scatology is a good way to reference the humanity of Jesus, why doesn't the NT ever do it? Think about that -- the NT is target-rich with examples of how human Jesus was, but in that orchard of examples it never mentions anything about his private anatomy or its functions.

Is scatology really a necessary part of communicating the Gospel to Seattle? Is Seattle the first culture in 2000 years which requires an understanding of something which the Bible never references to hear and embrace the work of Jesus Christ?

The defense of what happened here is starting to wind down to, "geez -- we weren't there and we don't know what really happened." That's simply a cop-out. We know what happened, and Mars Hill broadcast it as a podcast/download of sermon audio. If you comb through the archives of GTY, or Capitol Hill Baptist, or DGM, or any of dozens of other broadcast/podcast ministries, you can't find this kind of reference -- because it is out of line.

Frank Martens said...

First off, I agree... the foul english has to go (when I say foul, I mean crude alegories, examples, jokes, etc...). Didn't Paul say that we should leave NO room for criticism in regard to worldliness?

Second, this post has an amazing number of replies to it, I think just before I posted this it was 140. AMAZING what can happen when you point out some critical issues.

Third, this might be a slight tangent but considering "emerging" was even mentioned I thought I might mention this. (Do what you will with this comment, maybe you can answer it in another post? :)

So I'm checking out this site titled GCM - Churches for the next generation and I read this on their Churches page... "In addition to a deep love for the local church, a passion for evangelism, and a heart to mobilize the next generation, GCM has a core strength that many in Christendom are starving for: relevancy to an emerging culture." And it occured to me that the term "emerging culture", I have never ever heard defined or talked about by the secular community. ONLY within the "emerging church" community. It's like a term that has only been defined within the "evangelical community." Doing a search on google for "emerging culture" turns up all church/christian related pages.

It struck me as quite odd. Is it possible that this term is just a figment of the "emerging church" communities imagination?

James Scott Bell said...

Matt, you are right to raise a point about judging "driving desires." We must be careful about this. But any assessment of a movement necessarily involves generalizations taken from observation, interaction and analysis. Driscoll's sermon, which was orthodox as I said, sounded like so many others I've heard/read from the emergent perspective. The danger I've discerned (and so, apparently, has Piper) is as Tozer describes. I don't know that Driscoll has gone there, but I posted this as a potential danger, one that needs to be watched carefully. It is so easy for someone to get as popular as he is and slide down this slope.

And I did not state or imply that the driving desire is "other than the glory of Christ." Their motives are not in question as far as I am concerned. But I do continue to believe they pointedly "set themselves apart" and work diligently to do this via things like crude language, satirical slapdowns of traditional churches, soggy self-help interactivity, etc. That's not a proper way, IMO, to seek distinction.

Driscoll sounds like a good man trying to do good work, but that doesn't mean he shouldn't take heed at the wisdom of men like Tozer and, gulp, even Spurgeon!

donsands said...

"I want what comes out of my mouth to be God-honoring and Christ-exaulting"
Thanks for the good comment Frank.


The main crudeness with Mark's sermon, was when he talked about Jacob and the Lord Jesus wrestling. Not to mention it was very shallow.

I see the pulpit as a place for the Word to be preached and taught to the people of God.
For the gospel to be proclaimed. For God to be worshipped.
For God to be called upon to bless us.

The Church gathers to thank the Lord for His great mercy. To praise Him for the Cross, and for our salvation.
To proclaim the risen Lord Jesus Christ is sovereign!

Our light should shine bright when we gather.
This dark world hates it.

The Holy Spirit is working through the Church to bring the Lord's lost sheep out of this darkness, and into His marvelous light, so that the Father will be worshipped in Spirit and in truth.
It's all about His glory. The glory of His holy name, and to the glory of His amazing grace.

candy said...

I find it interesting that in all these posts, one thing has not been fully addressed. I hope that Piper's rebuke/correction to Mark Driscoll at the Desiring God Conference has been pondered and acted upon by Mark Driscoll. I am hoping that Driscoll will see that his cleverness and crudeness is adolescent at best and will grow out of this phase in his life into maturity.

Unfortunately, contextualizing in our culture seems to mean embracing crudeness and scatological humor. Look at American comedies. Do you ever get to see one that does NOT incorporate scatological humor? Hello....aren't we so over that yet?
I hope that all of us who berate Mark Driscoll for crude and scatological issues do not enjoy those particular kinds of movies, and yes I understand he was at the pulpit. Scatological movies are a pet peeve of mine. A cheap way to get a laugh...which is why cleverness in the pulpit sometimes is a cheap way to get a laugh too.

Anonymous said...

Phil: The only reason I bring up what I brought up is because I am currently in a place where I am taking Bell and McLaren seriously and looking at their claims regarding the shortcomings of the protestant gospel. To them, protestantism is mainly a reactionary gospel, reduced to a divine (almost bureaucratic) transaction - where if you somehow ascend to the right "knowledge" (gnosis?) of the gospel, salvation is downloaded into your account mystically, (i.e. beyond our scope of experience.) It is defined by how wrong the Roman Catholics are. Christ becomes a blood-donor and little else. Scripture is cut and pasted, used more like an inspired barbed-wire fence then something you can invite someone else to enter into before they agree with a number of doctrinal statements and code words. So I look at your criticisms of them and I look at their criticisms of you and it looks like they are hitting the nail on the head. I would seriously love to see the reformed gospel espoused in a way that draws people to it out of its granduer, than the common "don't be like THAT guy, get in OUR in-group." So far the only link you sent me was a drawn out criticism of NT Wright.

Peccadillo: Your post was on TeamPyro, they accepted it and ran it. It isn't any better than anything Driscoll said - my question is why are they blasting him and posting that?

Centurion: I totally agree about the scatalogical thing. That was bizarre, but it was making a point that was a good one. Jesus did the common everyday things we have to do. When Driscoll said, "And he did it PERFECTLY, we are told" I had to laugh, because it completely messes with our Greek idea of perfection. In a very lowbrow way, but it wasn't an insult to Jesus. The photo that was posted here was an innocent child eating at McDonald's who was morbidly obese, posted for our amusement. Just because it isn't from the pulpit means nothing. We aren't supposed to be different in real life than we are behind the pulpit; that's called hypocrisy. Maybe Driscoll has a lot more right in this regard than someone who talks like Driscoll in everyday life and preaches like Spurgeon from the pulpit. At least Driscoll never has to worry about being a hypocrite, which is really the worst thing Jesus ever called anyone. If you want to laugh at me and my questions, feel free. It will just reinforce the perception that folks from this side of the aisle are much more into ridicule than dialogue.

FX Turk said...

Matt --

I'm an internet guy, and I have, in multiple situations, run into atheists and ex-Christians and non-christians who want to make their first question about Jesus, "did this part of Jesus' body work?" But, because they think Jesus is either an ancient comic book hero or just a man, they are willing to say those things in a way which, if I said it about their Dad or their brother or their small child, would offend them.

Why? Because usually those questions aren't honest questions. The one or two times I have encountered someone who has asked them honestly, they were simply stunned that I thought Jesus was actually a man at all. For them, to cognitively cross the line where "Jesus drank wine at Cana" was a shattering breakthrough. It made Jesus real to them if even for one second.

But the rest are frankly dishonest questions are intended to bait the person asked into saying something he'll regret -- like an extended discourse on the binary typology of the end products of the human digestive process. And in that, any of those questions can be disarmed by the simple statement, "Jesus was a man in exactly the same way you and I are men."

Why say more than that? Listen: I can't even think of an example of saying more than that which would be appropriate with regard to talking about my brother or my son -- let alone Jesus Christ.

Your insight in Col 3:8 is interesting because it doesn't go far enough. Let's assume that you're right and that somehow cussing is not associated with wrath and anger. What would the obscenity associated with wrath and anger be? It would be the things which we could say which dishonor other people -- like slander (which is actually mentioned).

Thanks for thinking about this with me.

Anonymous said...

I just went and clicked on Peccadillo's post and realized that the picture in question was posted at his personal website. For some reason, I thought he posted it here in one his extremely long pictorial posts on why dogs shouldn't wear people-clothes.

That was my mistake and I didn't mean to misrepresent anything. But I did, so I apologize, and I won't muddy the waters any further on this board.


FX Turk said...


Dude, let's see what you've stacked up here. If I'm a traditional protestant, I have a reductive understanding of the Gospel -- but it turns out that propositionally, Driscoll and I have the same view of the Gospel. So in that sense, neither one of us is really doing what Jesus wanted to do, I guess?

But in that, making the joke you have given as an example (I'll tell you -- that joke gets more and more offensive every time I hear it) is actually -more- Christ-like than, as an example, laughing at a person who is trying to take the high moral ground by laughing at scatalogical jokes. That is, somehow when your side laughs it's a God thing, and when our side laughs it is, by definition, dishonoring to God.

Somehow we have gotten back on the subject of bullies here at TeamPyro and we didn't even make it into next week yet.

God be with you, my friend. I hope, for your sake, that Bell and McLaren are right an I am the hypocrite, the pharisee, the one who is blocking the Kingdom of God.

Aaron Mills said...

I can't believe how ardently some of the posters here are trying to defend Driscoll. I can sympathize with the desire to reach this generation with the gospel more effectively, but when you try to embrace some of the base aspects of our culture in order to do so, you end up sacrificing reverence for God in the name of "reaching people" and "becoming relevant". Regardless of Driscoll's doctrinal orthodoxy, he has a problem with his mouth. You can accurately illustrate the humanity of Jesus without reference to His bodily functions, my Pastors do it all the time and all the teenagers and twentysomethings in my church get it. The language of Scripture is THE accurate expression of His humanity, and it speaks of Him with holy reverence even in regard to His manhood. So, will someone stand up for the honor of Christ, like Frank and Phil, or do you just want to defend Driscoll because he's cool?

danny2 said...


the gospel did not get reduced because of the theology incorporated in it. (as cent. said, he and driscoll hold to the same soteriology).

the gospel became reduced when we removed the word "repentance" from it. and i've heard each of the guys here speak of it...and i've heard driscoll speak of it.

but i do not hear mclaren or bell clearly articulate that idea, even though they are trying to recover the fuller gospel?

SJ Camp said...
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SJ Camp said...
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MSC said...

It is interesting that David Wells zeros in on all that is wrong with the loss of shame (and guilt) in our culture and the Church's co-opting the same baggage in his book Losing Our Virtue. The DGM Conference was centered around the themes of Well's latest book Above All Earthly Pow'rs (which I have not read yet, but plan to on Turk's recommendation). I wonder what Wells thought about being teamed up with Driscoll and his shameless use of language?

C. T. Lillies said...

This is only slightly off-track here but that guy down in Florida who says he is Jesus claims to be "Jesus the Man". Now you see what you get when you focus too much on that? Sheesh.

I'm still in shock that someone could get the idea that the Bible isn't relevent just as it is--like we need to add to it or something. Wouldn't that be "some other gospel"?


Aaron Mills said...


I don't know the reason you're defending him (although I wasn't referring to you specifically, but everyone defending him generally). There simply is no reason. If you have one, please address what I said...


Phil Johnson said...

To all:

I'm very serious about Rule 2 in the right sidebar, espeially in a discussion about inapproriate language. We don't need anyone to post a glossary of synonymns for private body functions, and I don't appreciate those who want to test the limit by giving examples of borderline words they think are just fine.

That goes for minced oaths, soundalike words used in place of God's name, abbreviations or deliberate misspellings, etc.

I'm not suggesting you're sinning every time you use such expressions. I AM saying there are places where they are simply not appropriate. As Rule 2 makes clear, the meta of this blog is just such a place. I DO routinely delete comments where people violate that principle, and I don't have time to write an explanation or give a defense every time it happens.

Here's a healthy rule of thumb: don't use words you wouldn't use front of a 65-year-old Sunday-school teacher named Prudence.

Also, please respect the home-school moms who lurk here.

donsands said...

"or whatever else he happens to say"

The words we use to proclaim God's message to the body of Christ is quite important.

That's what this is really all about.

It's been a great discussion. We need to learn. We need to listen.

May the Lord grant us hearts of humility, and minds that long to be renewed.
WE are being conformed into the image of Christ.
This is God's workmanship, and it's a work that bears fruit of love, joy, peace, righteousness, truth, and gentleness.

Words are so very important. I thank the Lord for Phil bringing this out to be laid on the table before us.
May the Lord bless our brother Mark, and show him what is His will for him, as Mark searches the Scriptures, and the Spirit searches Mark's heart. Amen.

SFB said...

Jon Unyan (sp?) I have to totally chime in with borther Wragg:

“The language of Scripture is THE accurate expression of His humanity”


I simply could not have put it more concisely or in a more expediently useful way. God richly blessed you with a wonderful insight there.

Phil/Frank/Dan/Pec, thank you for serving us.

My one thought here is that while we are so caught up in reflecting upon and magnifying Christ's humanity, we are forgetting that His humanity was altogether holy and spotless. Surely, the modesty and appropriateness of our speech should be fueled by a desire to mimic His, should it not?

REM said...

Greetings. Does Piper's publicly voiced concern about Driscoll at his own Conference and follow up privately, show nothing of discernment? How is your recommending to your blog readers of individual sermons preached by Driscoll which you listen to and benefit from not part of that charmed "broader landscape of evangelicalism" you just observed?

AuthenticTruth said...

photini: I don't know who this Driscoll is, but if he's preaching orthodox Christianity, albeit in colorful language, then why are there a zillion posts about him-- and almost NONE about Bell's RAMPANT and BLATENT HERESY?!?!?!?!?!!!

I agree with you that Bell is promoting rank heresy and his error needs to be pointed out. I have on my own blog. I am also in the process of confronting the leadership in my own church concerning Rob Bell, since they are beginning to dable with his NOOMA videos. I believe Bell is very dangerous. On the one hand he professes to adhere to the basic doctrines of biblical Christianity, but on the other, he essentially denies them by taking potshots at essential doctrines such as the virgin birth. To believe that you could eliminate the virgin birth and still maintain biblical faith is indeed heresy! Eliminate the virgin birth and you no longer have the biblical Jesus.

I am indeed thrilled that Mark Driscoll has distanced himself from Brian McLaren and Rob Bell, and takes a fairly solid theological stand. However, we cannot let Mark off the hook for his use of crude language. This counters Scriptural teaching as Phil has aptly pointed out. I would certainly like to refer to Mark's ministry more often, however his notoriety as the "cussing pastor" makes me very apprehensive. Course language is never acceptable, regardless of how doctrinally orthodox one may be.

SJ Camp said...


Greetings to you as well.

You wrote: "Does Piper's publicly voiced concern about Driscoll at his own Conference and follow up privately, show nothing of discernment?"

No. He even retracted those words the next day when someone confronted him about his own "cleverness."

However, if Dr. Piper was really demonstrating discernment to you by his comments publicly about/to Mark after Mark had already left to go back home to Seattle, then why did he choose "being clever" as THE issue to address publicly? Dr. Piper knows full well of Mark's popinjay antics; but "being clever" was worthy of public admonishment?

You also wrote: "How is your recommending to your blog readers of individual sermons preached by Driscoll which you listen to and benefit from not part of that charmed "broader landscape of evangelicalism" you just observed?"

No again.

You conveniently left out much of the context of my "recommendation" of Mark's message. I have listened to well over a hundred of Mark's messages; blog articles, interviews, vodcasts, etc. - and that is one of maybe two or three sermons that I could wholeheartedly recommend. It was meant, as you know, to say that I would hope he would do more of that kind of thing and leave behind his scatological stand-up while in the pulpit.

But we shouldn't miss Frank's excellent example in all this: if someone were to make the same kind of remarks about Mark's wife--would Mark treat it as benign humor and harmless chatter? Hardly. How much more when it is done about our Lord Jesus or in the context of pulpit ministry?

Grace and peace to you,
2 Cor. 4:5-7

FYI: according to Mark's own sermon this past week, his coarse and colored remarks about Jesus' humanity were premeditated; if fact, he wanted to further in his humor about them but "restrained himself." Per his own words, Mark prides himself in saying these things to "give all the bloggers something to write about."

So in a very calculated way, he is really enjoying all of this... And that is very sad.

Taliesin said...

I wonder what Wells thought about being teamed up with Driscoll

Wells during the Q&A: Actually, you know, it was really funny, as I was listening to Mark, because he sounded so far out, so testing the boundaries, so pushing the envelope. Now when I say those very same things, I sound staid...and tame.

candy said...

No. He even retracted those words the next day when someone confronted him about his own "cleverness."

Steve. He didn't retract his words, he confessed that he was capable of the very same weaknesses. There is a difference you know.

REM said...

Greetings again.

1. I don't see how admitting your own cleverness while rebuking someone for cleverness is a retraction. But I will tiptoe past this because I see no point in either of us hashing out details on specific actions of discernment if you think Piper should not have invited Driscoll in the first place. I gather that is not an assumption, but correct me if it is.
2. I understand that you listened to a lot of Mars Hill sermons and that your intentions were exceptional in both recommending and warning us about Driscoll. My point isn't that you don't oppose a lot of what Mark Driscoll does or that you can't recommend a sermon by him. My point was, regardless of the small number of sermons, you still wholeheartedly recommended them from a guy who "is just not that important and certainly shouldn't be taken seriously". That was it.

Thanks for taking time to write me back, Steve. I know you are busy.

isaiah543 said...


I posted a sermon excerpt (written long ago) on my blog today that I think speaks to your effort to minister to Mark Driscoll.

Yours in Christ,



Solameanie said...


I wouldn't so readily dismiss "being a Berean" as cliched. It is used often in conservative circles, to be sure - but I have also personally encountered the "deer in the headlights" look with Christians who don't have a clue as to what it means. I will keep using the expression because that is what Christians are supposed to do. If more Christians would act like Bereans, we wouldn't even be debating the subject of toilet humor in the pulpit.

To the others who are trying to approach this in the pomo fashion playing games with meanings, there are plenty of Scriptures that address this. The meaning of these Scriptures (and yes, the Greek) is plain enough. It shouldn't take a Rhodes Scholar to figure it out. Filthy language, "coarse jesting" etc. is understood to be filthy and coarse by six-year-olds in the playground. If a six-year-old can get it, why can't learned theologians?

SJ Camp said...


"...is just not that important and certainly shouldn't be taken seriously."

If he continues on with the scatological popinjay commentary that is indicative of his current pulpit ministry. The one sermon of his I highlighted was the exception; it was biblical, Christ exalting and demonstrated a sobriety of tongue and spirit which was tremendous and I fully support.

BUT his latest message again on the humanity of Christ clearly demonstrated that he is still caught up with coarse humor even at the Lord's expense--and we should never take a man seriously who is a pastor but yet willing to be flippant with the person of Christ in a debasing way. I am sure you would agree.

I went back and listened again to John's remarks and you're right, he didn't retract his comment about Mark, but tempered his comment with mentioning the rebuke he received from another who was at the conference. It sounded like to me that he had regret in mentioning this in the first place.

Thank you for that clarification.

Rae Whitlock said...

I'm obviously coming into this conversation late, after all of the sturm und drang, but I thought I'd throw in my two cents as a rather unabashed "Driscoll fanboy" . . .

I've personally never been offended by his more "off-color" remarks and have rather enjoyed them at times, as a matter of fact. That might be indicative of a need for sanctification on my part, but I digress.

Anyway, Phil probably could have found a better example of Mark's "offensive" speech, because there have indeed been times that he's "cussed" during his sermons. Usually in forms of the word "hell" (for example, when decrying domestic abuse, he has spoken of sinful husbands who have "beaten the hell out of" their wives). The "worst" (and probably the funniest) I've heard was when he used a certain euphemism for female canines when describing something that Christians do best - complaining. Admittedly, he likely crossed the line there, but it got a laugh out of me.

Anyway, I didn't see this mentioned, so I will . . . Driscoll recently recounted a story when he was asked by a fellow elder in his church what he'd like to be remembered for. Mark answered something like "as a guy who loved Jesus and who helped to plant a lot of churches". The pastor retorted "well, you're quickly becoming known for your temper and your foul mouth". This served as a wake-up call. This was a few months ago, and as someone who has listened to Mark's sermons weekly for over a year now, I can tell you that the incidences of actual "cussing" have practically disappeared.

Phil, why not try to get in touch with Mark about your concerns?


donsands said...


In the end. it doesn't matter so much what you and I think about Mark's speech.
What does the Lord of lords, the Prince of glory, think of Mark's crudeness?

I hope He likes it, for Mark's sake. I'm thinking the lord doesn't, and that He will deal with His son.

Hopefully, as you have shared, the lord has already begun to shape Mark's heart for the better.

Thanks for sharing. Peace and grace.

jen said...

Rae said: I've personally never been offended by his more "off-color" remarks and have rather enjoyed them at times, as a matter of fact.

Rae, I'm not trying to be mean, but I think you've made a valid point regarding why the off color remarks tend to be a problem. You remark that you enjoy them. IOW, it feeds flesh.

I have often listened to sermons that I in no way enjoyed. Precisely because the Word of God is sharp, and convicts me of my sin. I would prefer to listen to a convicting sermon by Pastor MacArthur that slices me in two, instead of laugh my way through a colorful speech. It's just more edifying.

Rae Whitlock said...

joythruchrist - Well, I never said that I'm not convicted of my sin through Mark's sermons. Simply that I've chuckled during some of the lighter moments. The same can be said lighter moments in sermons from Dr. MacArthur, Dr. Piper, or my own pastor.

Trust me, I don't continue to listen to a preacher if all he does is entertain me.

jen said...

Point well taken.

Zs. said...

Here is why I believe Driscoll is more dangerous for fundamentalist Christians then Rob Bell. Even though Rob Bell preaches heresy and is very dangerous for non-fundamentalists, but those who stick to the fundamentals of our faith are more likely to embrace Driscoll who claims that he is orthodox in his beliefs too, then Rob Bell because it`s so clear that he (Bell) is astray. Therefore Driscoll brings in the junk together with the good things and so believers say: look, he sais some good things so we should also listen to his other stuff... and thus he gets invited to the Desiring God conference and is being embraced by those who should have more discernment. My point is: you are more likely to drink a cup of tea with a little poison in it, which you cannot see, than drink from a bottle that sais: poison-do not drink.

art said...

"My point is: you are more likely to drink a cup of tea with a little poison in it, which you cannot see, than drink from a bottle that sais: poison-do not drink"

My point is this: where is the poison?

And I'd be a little more careful before calling Rob Bell a heretic. That's out of line. Perhaps you don't agree with Bell and perhaps he strays in some dangerous theological waters, but to equivocate that with damnation in hell is simply bad scholarship mixed with immaturity.

Zs. said...

Dear Art,
By poison in Driscoll`s case I meant the things that were discussed in the previous 100+ posts and the original post by Phil,
1. Lack of reverence for Jesus
2. Unclean speech
3. Worldliness

About Rob Bell, you are right that I cannot know who is really saved. I just know that he is teaching heresy so I thought that someone who is teaching heresy is a heretic. He is teaching in his book that absolutely everybody`s sin is forgiven, even if they do not repent or don`t ask for forgiveness.

Daniel Portela said...

to feed more fuel into the fire...

Mark's Next Sermon

If the first one caused a hubbub I can even imagine this one...

REM said...

To Steve:

Thanks for your time.

In general to all:
Don't recommend any of Driscoll's sermons if you feel strongly against him. Pragmatically, myself included, that type of action admits he is worthy of attention. Wholesale warnings against Mark won't work alongside selective and careful recommendations. Why implore others to stop entirely when you only show them how to accomplish it partially? Either follow serious words with serious actions, or chill. I am preaching to the guilty party of myself here and hope I have done so humbly.

Lance Roberts said...

The commands of Christ aren't a sideshow, they're THE SHOW.

Aaron Thomas said...

Ya know this is a big reason why so many people refuse to get close to Christ. Because we bicker back and forth through blogs and sermons and podcasts... it's ridiculous. Together bell and driscoll have reached tens of thousands with the gospel. And instead of rejoicing we bash them. Bell has shown me depth and color to the bible i never saw before and to see someone tear him down is annoying. If you have all the answers and apparently know the bible perfectly why don't you do more than blog about it? Why don't we help people in need.. Do what Christ commands? I'm sick of the Christian sibling rivalry everywhere i look.

Unknown said...

Most every man will boast everyone his own goodness, but a faithful man, who can find?

(Proverbs 20:6)

This pretty much sums up the "emerging" movement.

What's the opposite of deny? The opposite of deny is to accept. The emerging church, the prosperity "gospel", the TV "evangenlists", and every other "movement" that is so prevailent today and so contrary to Christ has this as it's underlying message: accept yourself. No man can serve two masters. You can't serve God and money. If someone's master is God, they adhere to the teaching of Jesus Christ: deny yourself. If they are leaning towards the opposite and encouraging you to do the same, do you really wonder what their master is? Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. Those that worship God, worship him in spirit and in truth; not in a rock song or their opinion.

avere fede said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
avere fede said...

If you take things out of context (whether it be one sentence of Bell's sermon, one of Bell's sermons out of the context and truths of Mars Hill, or even one small Bible passage out of the big picture) than of course you can find faults with it. We can bend others words to make them mean whatever we want to.

I think that Bell is doing an amazing thing, though it is admittedly different from traditional conservative christian values. Through his sermons and teachings he has brought people who were not devout christians in the traditional church, those who were questioning their beliefs back to God, back to Jesus.

With every preacher, and every teacher you have to take what they give you and expand on it personally. If we followed every single thing Bell said of course it would be wrong, because it would lead us away from God

But by letting him lead a people of the new wave of christianity back to God is not heretical.

None of us really, honestly, and truly know everything about God. To say that we did would be blasphemous, because to know everything you have to be God. Because of this, I don't think that it is the place of humans to judge and label everything another christian says as wrong, and heretical.

Finally, I think that the point of Christianity is to love, worship, and follow God and Jesus. I also think it is a Christians duty to love others and bring them to the Christian faith through love. In this aspect, not just to damn everyone. Attitudes like that are what give Christians such a horrible name in Today's society--NOT the people like Bell

Unknown said...

I realize this is an old thread, but I only just found it and found it interesting. Out of all the comments on Driscoll I can't believe no one pointed out where he went heretical. I listened to the whole thing, found very little that actually offended me, although I found some areas where I could understand others offense. However Driscoll's comments about temptation in the "Humanity of Jesus" message were theologically unsound. His suggestion that Jesus wanted to do these things, but resisted the actual acting out violates Jesus's own principal of Matt 5:28.

Alan Pierce said...

Old thread and all, I just wanted to post that the Christians God used to bring me to himself were guys who were laid-back guys. Pull my finger wasn't unheard of with those young men and "low-brow" humor was something I think God actually used to endear them to me.

Religious people are so aloof from the rest of the people around them that instead of being winsome they often (rightly) come off as self-righteous, self-absorbed, and prideful. If a person preaching about Christ as though he's your blue collar neighbor offends you, then your Christology needs improving because he was a blue collar man.

I don't know what you who are bashing on Driscoll think of as coarse, but I'll tell you what I think is coarse. I think curse words are coarse if uttered without explanation and specific context. I think coarse language is language used to harm the emotional well-being of the hearers. I also think coarse language is flippant defiant language uttered out of pride.

The first two Driscoll obviously does not do here, and I'll explain why he doesn't do the third. He's explaining the humanity of Christ not by trying to insult the dignity of the deity of Christ but by showing how utterly human Christ was(is). He's obviously trying to impart upon his listeners a deep sense that Jesus was human like your son or your mother, or the guy sitting next to you on the bus.

I could go on but I realize that you probably either get what I'm trying to say by now or you don't and won't.

Jason said...

Why would ANYONE want to follow Jesus after reading how you all tear each other down? Thats all i seem to come across now days. One group of "followers" having a dig at the next.
Didn't someone somewhere in the bible say that arguing about these things is futile?
I just cannot believe all that I've read...

Anonymous said...

Anyone who is constantly focused on what someone else is doing is a Pharisee, even if that person is a leader. I take issue with Driscoll not because he cusses (Luther did too from what I've heard), but because gays in Seattle are so mad at him they march outside his church in a show of anger...he dismisses them outright. And don't accuse me of thinking "gay is just OK either" because I don't believe that. I just don't think it is as bad as yelling at your kids.....and yes, I just said that. Anal sex can cause harm to the body, but verbal attack DOES cause harm to the soul and spirit.

Cannot anyone take the time to pray and ask God who they should be reading? The greatest Christian thinker since Paul is here and we have our heads in the sand. I'm just going to say it : Dallas WIllard.

As Dallas says, you are focused on Christ when your attitude is this and only this: "Convert me, Lord."