06 March 2009

As One Having Authority

by Phil Johnson

his week, as you know, is the Shepherds' Conference at Grace Church. It's always my favorite week of the year for several reasons. Of course the conference itself is always a great pleasure. I get to see people I love but don't see often. In fact, almost every year I meet up with old friends I haven't seen for years. The weather is also usually (almost) perfect this time of year in Southern California. It's obvious now that the daylight hours last a little longer each day. It's the end of our rainy season, too. Spring is definitely here.

Still, the content of the seminars and messages is what thrills me most. I'm always challenged and motivated to face some of the hard truths that every minister needs to grapple with. Thursday night, for example, Al Mohler spoke on Matthew 7:29: "He was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes." Mohler passionately and eloquently defended authority, certainty, and the necessity of proclaiming biblical absolutes that go against the grain of these pathologically relativistic postmodern times.

He noted how common it is today for preachers to "curl their exclamation points into question marks." He decried the tendency of so many who approach unpopular truths with the attitude: "I know that's what the text says, but don't panic. We'll find a way around this." Mohler was at his very best. It was a powerful sermon and a great encouragement. Look for the summary at the Shepherds' Fellowship website. (I presume the full message will eventually be there for downloading, too. If you preach or teach in any context, you must listen to that message.)

If you want to sample the Shepherds' Conference livestream, I'll be speaking in a plenary session at 9:00 AM (Pacific Standard) this morning. My text is Titus 2:7-8. Among other things, I intend to say a few words about the off-color language and sleazy subject matter that has begun to dominate evangelical discourse. Is there a limit to the improprieties we must tolerate in the name of contextualization?

My title: "Sound Doctrine; Sound Words." Listen in if you can.

Phil's signature


Chris said...

I am at the conference for the first time this year. I look forward to your seminar. I was convicted with Al Mohler's message.

Becky Schell said...

And don't forget "periods slumping into commas", what great imagery! I also appreciated how you kept your message "positive" yesterday.

It is such a blessing to be able to attend, via the live stream. Each year it is like the anticipation of opening presents on Christmas morning...I wonder who will be speaking and what truths they will unpack. The best part is that there is never some cheesy, dollar-store imitation in the package (I was going to say dime-store, but times have changed); I always get just what I wanted and needed.

Susan said...

I was there live! (Well, kind of "live". I was in the chapel watching him on the projector screen.)

One of the many quotable quotes from Dr. Mohler tonight:

"Don't give me a postmodern pilot!" Right before that, he said, "I don't want to have a conversation at 33,000 feet, 'How do you fly this thing??'"

Kim said...

Oh, I really I hope I can the live feed going. I tried yesterday, but it wouldn't do it for me!

James Scott Bell said...

"curl their exclamation points into question marks."

That is a great phrase, and so true! I will try to listen to your talk today.

andy spaulding said...

Men will not preach the Word in all its fulness and authority for the plain and simple fact that thay are cowards, who would rather fear men than fear the Lord.

"Contextualization" is just a cowards attempt to be just as much like the world as he possibly can, but now he has a fancy word to rationalize his sin.

The whole book of 2Timothy refutes this whole silly notion of "contextualization." Paul's dying words to the young preacher were to preach the Word whenever it is popular or NOT POPULAR, not to make himeslf and the message more "fitting" to his wordly hearers!

FX Turk said...

Somebody leech Phil's message off the live feed and post it for me -- I'm in meetings all day and will miss it.

Stefan Ewing said...

It sounds like Dr. Mohler's message was a good one, and ditto for yours today, Phil.

But there's one thing you mentioned....

"It's the end of our rainy season, too."

There's a rainy season in Southern California? How can one take one's manicured Tibetan mountain poodle out rollerblading and sipping chai latte on the boardwalk if it's raining? Bummer.

The Squirrel said...

Listening to day 1 on my iPod right now. Audio is up at Shepherd's Fellowship. Looks like their about a day behind, which is really cool, because I remember when you had to wait weeks to get the tapes in the mail! Now we whine if we've got a slow connection and it takes an hour to download a whole day's take from the Conference.

Austin Duncan's message, Are We Losing Our Youth? And what your church can do to prevent it. was especially good. (No slam on you, Phil!) (Or Dr. Mac either!)

Looking forward to this afternoon, when I can download yesterday :-)

The Squirrel

The Squirrel said...

they're not their, sorry


Becky Schell said...

I can't get it to work on Mozilla at all, but Internet Explorer works fine for me. On Mozilla I get the feed window, but the player turns off seconds after it is turned on.

~Mark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
~Mark said...

One of the most common remarks I get from unbelievers and surprisingly often from Christians is along the lines of "you sound so sure."

I am sure, 'cause it's true!

Sharp Virtual Yard Sale said...

Dr. Mohler rocks!

Doug McMasters said...

Will be listening to you, Phil, along with Royale!

Solameanie said...

Good for Al Mohler. I am wrestling with jealousy because I couldn't be at Shepherd's this year.

As to cussing pastors, I think we should bring back the practice of washing mouths out with soap when they say something crude. What a sight that would be . . . a group of elders wrestling a potty-mouth preacher to the ground and forcing him to bite into a bar of lye soap.

In fact, I am looking for a good lye soap recipe at the moment. They used to have it on the back of the lye can, but I guess the nanny state was worried that someone might get hurt (no matter that lye soap has been used for years, especially in the South). I will begin carrying one in my pocket on Sunday mornings just in case.

Carla Rolfe said...

Dear Phil,

amazingly enough I was able to listen live today, even on dial up. Thank you brother for standing up for what is good, right and Biblical, despite the "stylish evangelicals" that have embraced the current trends in speech.

This was an excellent message and one that every youth pastor ought to be playing for their groups this coming week.

THANK YOU once again for taking this topic on, and not wavering.

Richard said...

Frank Turk:
Somebody leech Phil's message off the live feed and post it for me -- I'm in meetings all day and will miss it.

I posted it here:

Ebeth said...

I was able to listen to you today also and, to lift this title you used here, you spoke as one having authority

Lorraine said...

Thank you so much Phil for that great message. I look forward to feasting on some of the other messages yet to be posted.

The Fantastic Daughter-In-Law's Spouse said...

I too listened, still a bit hazy on his point from this morning.

Seriously though, yeah it's my Dad speaking so I'm biased - but you should all take an hour of your life and click on the link from Mr Wizzard...you won't regret it.

In fact Frank or Dan - I'm betting that my Dad's not going to do too much more to plug his own message, but I'm thinking it just might deserve it's own post (I wouldn't rely on Pec for that).

In other news, I'm going to have to change my pseudonym that I use bi-annually...

SolaMommy said...

So what's this J-Mac said about Phil becoming a grandfather soon? :-D

Brad said...

Great message this morning. As you were speaking I found myself wondering if you had confronted Mark Driscoll and, if you have, how he responded. If you haven't, do you feel any obligation to talk through these issues with him directly, especially after a message like the one you shared this morning? Keep preaching.

Chris said...


I had the privilege of hearing and seeing you preach that home run message out of the park today at Shpeherd's! Spurgeon and Lloyd-Jones would have joined the many "amens" and "yes" affirmations heard throughout the worship center if they were in attendance! I know you have no desire to receive such accolade if it were all about you, but unlike false, heretical teachers of the sort you described this morning, your preaching was clearly received from the Lord Jesus Christ, honoring to Him, and delivered back to Him and His people in the Holiness and reverence our king deserves...in language He deserves! So, please receive this recognition and thanks for such a necessary sermon as a faithful servant who preached His Word selflessly, and in awe of Him! Glory be to God!

Anonymous said...


I listened to the your sermon and I too agree that this issue needs to be addressed.

My question is that has there been any dialogue and interaction between you and and some of the leaders you criticize. As someone who went to Pastor Mard D's church, I really have a heart to see this whole thing resolved and really do think that opening a dialogue with him and others in his camp would be a step in the right direction.

I guess when I see such a disagreement and division between people I respect, it saddens and discourages me.

Thanks for all you do.

Hoping for unity,

Anonymous said...

Some things Driscoll has said have made me cringe, however the only real question for me based on the mornings message was regarding what I perceived to be the insinuation that Driscoll should leave the ministry.

Intentionally or not, that came through. I would love to know what Phil expects Driscoll ideally to do.

Richard said...


Shape up or ship out?

Chad V. said...

Sound words indeed Phil. Your sermon was a blessing.

Let all who name the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

Anonymous said...

Wizzard, that seems to be the feeling.

I really wish it was clear what dialogue there has been, as that is a mystery. At the moment this issue of contextualisation is causing me distress, especially with there not being a succinct and mutually agreed upon definition of the word.

Habitans in Sicco said...

"I really wish it was clear what dialogue there has been, as that is a mystery.

Would that make a difference one way or the other? Why?

At the moment this issue of contextualisation is causing me distress, especially with there not being a succinct and mutually agreed upon definition of the word.

I guess you haven't been reading this blog long. Click on the "contextualization" tag. See especially this one.

Chad V. said...

I feel like I'm living in the twilight zone. Why is it that people can't see that these things that Phil spoke on are detestable abominations?

Anonymous said...

Brother Phil,

Thank you for your message on the "Pornification of the Pulpit" today.

I had blogged heavily on this issue a few weeks ago and was dismayed at the mindless kneejerk responses to criticism of MD and the defense of even his most extreme actions by those who I would have thought would know better. IMO pragmatism as well as denominational politics played a large role in this.

These reactions however distressing they were, have though served to give me some clarity with regard to the future direction and context (i.e. denomination or lack thereof) of what future ministry I may have.

James Scott Bell said...

I liked your talk too, Phil.

I wonder about XXX Church. I actually bumped into these guys in Vegas, at the big annual porn convention. What, you may ask, was I doing at the big annual porn convention? Suffice to say I was at the hotel on a biz trip having no idea the convention was there, and went down to the ballrooms for another reason, and felt like Orpheus descending into hell. Boom, all of a sudden, there I was. I looked at the people. It was so sad--"normal" looking "mom and pop" folks were there because this was their business. A man was there with his 10 year old son. It was horrible. And then I saw the XXX booth. They were handing out Bibles. Real, unedited Bibles. I didn't see any Gideons there, but these guys seemed to be about only one thing: getting people out of the porn industry and into Christ. I didn't see the item you mentioned in your talk.

Since they are not really a church, and are not preaching to Christians in an assembly, but are about reaching the lost, I think perhaps they are not of the same ilk as preachers in church doing the things you talked about.

From what I can tell, they are having an effect in rescuing people from the horror of pornography and pointing them toward Christ.

FX Turk said...


um, What?

Was Mark Driscoll the only object of concern in Phil's talk? What about Ed Young -- does Phil want Ed Young to leave the ministry?

Listen: of the three active Pyros, I am the one by far most likely to use radioactive language in any context. I recognize in myself that this is not a credit to me -- far and away, it is among the most abiding sources of sin in my life. And in that, I get the impulse to go lowbrow.

That doesn't mean I should be banned from blogging, right? It means I need to apply some kind of Biblical understanding of that impulse to the urge rather than act on my urges and then find ways to decorate my urges with prooftexts.

And that's just me walking around -- not a man who has a pulpit and a spiritual responsibility to a local church to make disciples.

As for "dialogue", as an exposition of Titus 2 Phil's message was to the pastors @ the Shepherd's Conference to warn then from following the trend Phil outlined. If someone from among those ministries he specifically mentioned wants to have a conversation, and talk about the things Phil mentioned, I am 100% confident Phil would love to talk. It just has to be more productive than what usually happens here in the meta at the blog.

Chad V. said...

I have seen that item Johnny D, in pictures of them on college campuses no less.

Chad V. said...

I do believe that the people that Phil mentioned and many others who follow in their wake have already disqualified themselves from preaching. Or is there nothing that disqualifies someone from being a pastor?

Preaching and blogging aren't the same things. That's a very bad analogy. If I memory serves the Pyromaniacs do and have in fact banned people for using the kind of language that Phil mentioned.

Frank, isn't there a difference between an occasional indiscretion by a lay person such as your self and the constant blasphemy of men like Driscoll, Ed Young et. al.?

Th fact that the people who support Ed Young, Driscoll etc. aren't immediately repelled and made sick in their hearts by their actions is a very bad sign.

Anonymous said...

Wish I were there Phil!

Chris said...
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Chris said...
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D Smith said...

Phil ... You and John are precious to my family and I credit John's teaching for leading to the salvation of both me and my wife.

We love you and we are saddened by the ease at which you lump post-modern no-truth-allowed decievers with those who preach and defend the Gospel of our God, albeit more rough around the edges that you would like.

For the sake of the Gospel ... next time *before* you critize others for their crude comments, confess your sins of sarcasm and running down someone's character instead of their ideas. If polimics and other tatics of warring ideas are good for you (and I think they are), then polimics against the 1950s church culture is probably OK too. Mark may deserve the criticism, but your public behavior disqualifies you from throwing the first stone.

Blessings ...

Nick Jesch said...


Nick Jesch said...

Haven't yet listened to Phil's message. But I rather suspect, knowing what I do of him, that he did not specifically name any miscreants as examples in his talk. Yet I see here in these comments several specifically mentioning NAMES of offenders who should have heard that talk, and should take it to heart.. and the mention of those names is very much in the context of judgement and condemnation. I ask you, is this any different than the potty-mouth in the pulpit? "If you find a brother in a fault... GO TO HIM, PRIVATELY, and BE RESTORED. Failure to do so in places like this is no different than the occasional use of certain words and word pictures in one's preaching. Pot-kettle syndrome. I have heard Mark Driscoll preach a few times in his own pulpit. My recollection of his message was a solid exegesis of the scriptural passages dealt with. A gifted teacher, to be sure. My recollection is NOT of any foul language or indecent word pictures. I am aware he in on record as having done these things, and rather wish he'd cease. But to take that and extend it to "he should shape up or ship out", with no real direct dialogue, is a stretch, to be gracious. I also know he and John Piper have discussed these things together, and I rather expect to good results. So, whilst we are about rejoicing in Phil's great message, let not any of us commit the same fault with our speech in singling out men whom WE think ought to pay heed to it. And particularly eschew judgement of those not here to discuss in their own behalf THEIR side the story. And there is ALWAYS a "their side". Do I mean to exonerate Mr. Driscoll? No, I mean to urge those condemning him and bringing his name into this discussion that likely did not include him to cease. This is not the place for any to be discussing and correcting Mr. Driscoll's alledged faults. To do so is to fall into the very sort of misuse of speech Phil's talk certainly addresses. The fact it is not in a pulpit changes nothing. Foul language is foul language, and to be avoided.

Sharon said...

@Chad V.: WORD!

@D Smith: "rough around the edges"? Let's drop the “PC” euphemistic descriptions and call it what it is—a perversion! Filthy language has no place in the pulpit when a preacher is speaking for God. Besides, intelligent people do not need to use obscenities to communicate effectively. Phil gave several examples in his message. I’m wondering if you heard it in its entirety?

“. . . your public behavior disqualifies you from throwing the first stone.” Referring to his calling out men who supposedly are imitators of Christ, but use language that He soundly condemns? I say, bravo to Phil for taking the biblical stand against such blasphemy!

A Musician by Grace

DJP said...

Well, Nick, following your lead, I didn't read your comment beyond the first sentence or two. But I suspect that you're like most shallow, kneejerk whiners who feel that there's some special dispensation for public figures who make you feel good in some way. That is, they can offend and sin publicly, but for some reason the example of Paul doesn't apply to them, and they merit some sort of private rebuke. Oh, by the way, I'm also following your example of making a very long paragraph. So, anyway, I'm betting that, in spite of Phil's many-years-long well-proven exemplary model of NEVER going off half-cocked (like you just did), but ALWAYS "having the goods" when he talks, you're going to whine about his lack of specificity and paucity of proof. Which, if it were true, would be the first time Phil ever did that. He's been making fools of critics for years, and I don't suspect he's about to stop now. Have a nice day.

Chad V. said...

Phil named names and he was right to do it.

Besides, these people put their trash on the World Wide Web for the entire world to see and hear.

Anonymous said...

I have recently written a blog due to some criticism I've received for confronting public error, publicly. In my case however, I did try a private talk first, and went public only when I was refused privately.

However, I am of the belief that when people teach or behave erroneously, publicly, and put their errors on the internet, it is perfectly appropriate to respond to those errors publicly as well.

I would really appreciate some of your comments on this subject at the post I recently wrote on this matter:

Is Public Rebuke To Public Error Biblical?


DJP said...

I'm making an administrative judgment-call here.

Phil is surely happily busy with the remainder of the Shepherd's Conference, and can't field comments on this meta.

So I'm going to close the thread provisionally, inviting Phil to reopen it when and if he wants.

Phil Johnson said...

Thanks for calling a halt before it got uglier, Dan. I'm going to reopen the thread, with a few pleas for restraint:

1. To those whose point of view is essentially aligned with mine: There's no need to defend me against nasty personal comments, and if you feel you must respond, please don't reply in kind. Discuss the issue; don't return fire with deliberate insults. 1 Peter 2:23.

2. To those inclined to disagree with me: It would be nice if you listened to the message before you speculate about what I said or didn't say. You can download it for free.

3. To those who wonder if I first communicated my concerns privately and directly to Mark Driscoll: Yes. I wrote him in early December, told him the subject I would be dealing with at the Shepherds' Conference, and raised six specific questions I felt he had ignored in his message in September at the Desiring God Conference. His reply, which I received just last week, ignored my six questions and replied instead to a single question Mark himself raised.

4. To those who are resolutely in favor of sexual themes and salty language as tools of contextualization: Post away, as long as you don't breach the standards of propriety established in our posting guidelines. I personally think the more you argue your case the more the absurdity of it becomes obvious. It's fine with me if you disagree with my position. Give me your best arguments, and let anyone put those arguments alongside my analysis of Titus 2:7-8 and its context. Let's see whose arguments actually stand out under rational scrutiny.

Anonymous said...

I just listened to your message Phil. Well said and well preached.

It occurs to me that most of us would not let our children listen to or say far less racy things at home, why should they hear it at church?
We struggle all week to live in an ungodly culture and make it through without falling too badly. Should the church not be a haven of rest?

Mike Riccardi said...

I listened to the message earlier, too, Phil, and I thought that the point you made about how including all the smutty talk and "pornified" topics in preaching and teaching can be a stumbling block to those saved out of such lifestyles / struggles.

And I think that's where a real criticism can be laid. This kind of talk under the guise of contextualization does nothing to show me the beauty of God in Jesus Christ, but only distracts from Him. I need somebody to point me to the beauty of my Savior, and that's really it. That's what attracts me. Anything else -- especially appeals to my worldliness -- is only a distraction from what my singular focus is to be about: Christ Himself.

And I'm a 23 year-old guy, in the center of the Emerging church's target audience.

You see, when we understand that God calls His sheep -- that He saves His elect, and not just randomly -- and that they are regenerated only by thet revelation of the beauty of Christ (John 3:3ff; 2Cor 4:3-6) as revealed through the Word of God (1Pet 2:23-25; Rom 10:17, etc.), all the appeals to the worldliness in unbelievers makes no sense at all. God doesn't save people by engaging them in their worldliness. He shows them how unlike their worldliness He is, how attractive He is by comparison, and calls them out of the fleeting and dying pleasures of sin into the joy of their Master.

When the church gets a hold of that, then the Biblical methods fall into place, and all the talk about contextualization makes no sense.

Thanks again, brother, for your example of godliness and your boldness in proclaiming these things. I really feel that you've carried out 1 John 5:2 even towards me.

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments.

Mike Riccardi said...

Finishing my first sentence:

I listened to the message earlier, too, Phil, and I thought that the point you made about how including all the smutty talk and "pornified" topics in preaching and teaching can be a stumbling block to those saved out of such lifestyles / struggles...

...was a great one.

LoL... sorry for not finishing that thought.

SolaMommy said...


Thank you for having the guts to preach that message. You said everything that needed to be said, and I was cheering for you on the inside as I listened online. I have a number of reformed friends on Facebook who are absolutely smitten with this type of "preaching" (specifically Mark Driscoll) and they use all those excuses you blew apart to try to defend him. As a woman, I must say that I would feel completely awkward sitting in Driscoll's church surrounded by brothers in Christ, listening to the types of "messages" he gives. Many guys may be comfortable with him b/c of his locker-room talk, but I would imagine it makes many women uncomfortable. That in itself should send up red flags. Thanks again for sounding the alarm in such an intelligent, Biblical way :-)

Anonymous said...

4. To those who are resolutely in favor of sexual themes and salty language as tools of contextualization: Post away, as long as you don't breach the standards of propriety established in our posting guidelines. I personally think the more you argue your case the more the absurdity of it becomes obvious. It's fine with me if you disagree with my position. Give me your best arguments, and let anyone put those arguments alongside my analysis of Titus 2:7-8 and its context. Let's see whose arguments actually stand out under rational scrutiny.


I couldn't agree more. The more they post, the more eyes are opened to how widespread and inane this insanity really is.

The blog comment you quoted in your message about the guy boasting of dropping "f-bombs" in evangelistic encounters is a perfect example, as are some of the comments left on my blog and elsewhere when several of us were raising concerns about the linkage on Driscoll's website and people you would have thought would know better attempted to defend his actions. Others adopted a "See no evil, Hear no evil, Speak no evil" approach and tried to paint it as part of a crusade against Calvinism in the SBC that was just rehashing the old "cussing" story.

I have a lot of respect for Dr. Danny Akin. When the Driscoll controversy erupted following the Baptist Press article last month, he responded in chapel that he wouldn't do everything that Driscoll does and wouldn't have posted some of the questions on the website. But he also asserted that the sexual practices in question that the Slice of Laodicea post (alluded to in the Baptist Press article) denounced are questions that young people are asking today.

Yes, given the corruption of our culture, people are asking about lots of things. But what is the answer to these questions? That's what's important, as well as the proper forum for addressing them.

Instead, people are directed to what is at best a borderline porn site and all we get in response from MD's friends are things like a mild "I wouldn't do it exactly that way," "Well, these are questions people are asking" and "This is a guy that is reaching people, so we have some things to learn from him."

Again, I'm sure I speak for a lot of people in being very thankful that this issue was squarely addressed at the Shepherd's Conference at a time in which it seems that no one else in the evangelical realm is doing so besides a few peons such as myself and a handful of blogs like Slice that are widely viewed as "heresy hunters" and thus dismissed on that basis.

Anonymous said...

Contextualization is what the nation of Israel did. They wanted to be like the nations that surrounded them, they wanted to "use" the nations gods --- in fact worship them --- which is what they did (syncretism), in the name of Yahweh (e.g. the Golden Calf). And look what happened to them . . . hmm.

Bobby Grow

Chad V. said...

That is likely the most astute comment I've read on this subject theologyofbooby.

Sharon said...


That is likely the most astute comment I've read on this subject theologyofbooby.

Considering the topic of Phil's message yesterday, that's quite a freudian slip!

A Musician by Grace

Chad V. said...

Well, he really captured the essence of the whole thing in just two sentences. Anyway, you guys know what I mean.

Anonymous said...


Well thank you! I think home-court advantage has something to do with Sharon's ;-) response, but that's okay --- I understand.

Morris Brooks said...


I have only heard you a few times, but that was the best.

Anonymous said...

I do not wish to pursue this issue further by answering individual comments.

Some of us were just wondering what had taken place before Driscoll was named before an audience (incl online) of many thousands. Phil answered that question.

Let us all consider now how best to pray in this situation for all involved.

Chuck Weinberg said...

Thanks for speaking out. Thanks for your many years of faithful service to our Lord. Thanks for your love for His Word and for the protection of His Bride.

I was at Shepherd's. I actually talked briefly with Phil a few days before he gave this message. His heart was very tender and he seemed to be wanting to win Mr. Driscoll, rather than throw him under the bus.

In a very short visit, I personally got the feeling that Phil's heart was deeply saddened by the statements he was going to have to make. I said "have to make" because Phil, and many others in positions of authority, have to stand up against this type of perversion of Christ's Bride.

I am not a pastor, or anyone else who is regularly teaching in front of people, but I would not even use this type of communication style in my business advertising, and my business is in the Seattle area.

God is most magnified by a pure Church, and churches don't get more pure when their pastors and leaders look as much like the world as they possibly can. We, and especially church leaders, are to be set apart-called out.

I hope that the Dr. Pipers and CJ Mahaneys of the Church will audibly take a stand, as Phil and Dr. MacArthur have. The Church needs to know where these men stand. While disagreeing in this type of approach to "ministry" is helpful, if they don't take a stand against, it comes across as if they are perfectly ok with Mr. Driscoll's practice.

I have a 20 year old daughter and I am her gate keeper. If I let someone talk this way in front of her and don't say anything, will she know that I think this is wrong? Shouldn't I immediately shut them down and say, "Not on my watch Mr." And she is not Christ's Bride.

Phil, hold fast to the faith and defense of the Gospel. We love you and are excited to see what God will do because you were willing and ready to stand in defense of His Bride.

Solameanie said...

It never ceases to amaze me how people who ought to know better manage to find all sorts of clever ways to defend the indefensible.

Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. If vulgarity proceeds from a mouth with little restraint, what does that say about the condition of the heart?

What about completely blown credibility when someone purports to be speaking for God while speaking in a manner that God has forbidden?

I have no problem with someone wading into a pigpen if the purpose is to rescue someone from asphyxiation i.e. dragging them out. I have a serious problem when the would-be rescuer decides to have a wallow himself.

Carol Jean said...


Thank you for your message! It is so needed. There's a whole generation of pastors embracing this "genre," especially, I'm afraid, in youth ministry. In many cases, the senior pastors, who would never speak this way, are allowing their youth pastors to go this route in their otherwise conservative churches. Or maybe they don't know?

You used the terms "defilement of what is holy" and "blasphemy" and that's what much of it amounts to. The church we used to attend recently did a MD style Q & A with the youth group and a student asked a graphic question about whether Jesus sinned in a certain way. Way to go Mr. Youth Pastor. Now the minds of these young people will forever have that defiled picture of our pure and holy savior in their minds! And to make it worse, the kids were instructed to discuss it, thereby prolonging the image (and giggling and inappropriate comments.)

These same youth pastors dedicated a class to cussing - defending it and suggesting it might have uses for evangelism. They also made the kids raise their hands if the cussed (after promising they wouldn't tell their parents). The ones who didn't were told they were liars.

I think some of these men are so immersed in the world's culture bubble that they don't believe a world really exists where people manage to communicate without using profanity. They truly believe that when Christians get together and use sanitized, non-profanity-laced language, they're being hypocrites - nobody really talks that way in real life!

Chris said...
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Strong Tower said...

Look down from heaven and see, from your holy and beautiful habitation. Where are your zeal and your might? The stirring of your inner parts and your compassion are held back from me. For you are our Father, though Abraham does not know us, and Israel does not acknowledge us; you, O Lord, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is your name. O Lord, why do you make us wander from your ways and harden our heart, so that we fear you not? Return for the sake of your servants, the tribes of your heritage. Your holy people held possession for a little while; our adversaries have trampled down your sanctuary. We have become like those over whom you have never ruled, like those who are not called by your name.

Its amazing how often the prophets count themselves among the transgressors. Sounds familiar.

I hope we all get this.

Chris said...
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Chris said...
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Andrew Tucker said...
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LeeC said...

Not to puff you up, but to encourage you and point out if I may use the word the "relevance" of your message two of my friends told me that yours was actually their favorite session of the conference Phil.

Wish I could have been there. It's particulary vexing when I work close enough to throw a rock at GCC.(not that I would mind you!)

D Smith said...

Brothers and Sisters,

I encourage you to consider carefully the weighiness of the issues. Scriptures teaches us that there are sheep and wolves and thorns and thistles. If both good and saltly water cannot flow from the same spring, how do we rightly judge.

Since the Holy Spirit is God and he lives in believes and empowers the preaching of God's word, I would suggest that when Jesus is preached as scripture teaches then we should be praising God - even if we don't understand. Some might be quick to say that the Holy Spirit doesn't work through those who are culturally offensive. How can that be?

I would suggest that the sole measuring stick of a man is his congruence to the revealed word of God and the pattern of his life as measured against the "beattituides".

Check current trends and history. Any time that a preacher wanders from the core truth of the Gospel and it's offense, he ends up shipwrecked. However, the man who stubbornly and faithfully sticks to the Gospel and its offense is usually persecuted and/or killed and his place in our legacy of faith is great.

God will deal with the wolves ... and the wolves are not those who offend culture, but those who offend God.

Therefore, I exhort all who read this post to be exceeding careful to not lump post-modern no-truth-allowed decievers with those who preach and defend the Gospel of our God, albeit more rough around the edges that you would like.

Phil ... though I seem to disagree with you on how you discern the messengers, I want to hold you up in praise for all your bold pursuits in proclaiming Jesus as Lord!

DJP said...

Did you listen to Phil's talk, D?

D Smith said...

and yes... I have listen to all of Phil's talk. I have also listen to a number of Phil's talks in the past.

Over the last 25 years, I have listened to hundreds of John's sermons and read his books that Phil edited. I have a great admiration for both Phil and John.

Richard said...

D Smith:

It reads as though you take issue with the requirement of sound speech, integrity, etc. being applied. Do you just ignore the text? How do you interpret it differently?

If I am misreading your position, how do you convince yourself Phil's points don't apply?

threegirldad said...

and yes... I have listen[ed] to all of Phil's talk

In that case, I can't make heads or tails of the next-to-last paragraph in your previous comment. "albeit more rough around the edges tha[n] you would like" isn't the issue, and Phil spent considerable time explaining why.

Becky Schell said...

D. Smith: In your first comment you said, …next time *before* you critize (sic) others for their crude comments, confess your sins of sarcasm and running down someone's character instead of their ideas…

Umm, no less than Jesus would (did) submit that a person’s ideas (which are made manifest by his words) come from his heart (i.e. his character). It is absolutely right and holy to speak out against people who use shameful language in the name of Christ.

“For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.” Matthew 12:34-35

“…the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man.” Matthew 15:17

Paul affirmed those statements with this admonition to believers,

“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29

The issue isn't about what we like, it is about what God expects of His children.

Chad V. said...


A so-called gospel devoid of holiness is no gospel at all.

Aaron Sauer said...

Sadly, it seems that Mark Driscoll considers Phil Johnson to be a fool as he posted this soon after Phil gave his message http://twitter.com/PastorMark/statuses/1290139675

Could it have been a coincidence that Driscoll posted that soon after Phil's message?...doubtful. Twitter was abuzz about Phil's message and so were Driscoll's defenders. Mark is active on twitter and knew what was going on. He posted that right around the time that the message was given. That's the only time that I have ever seen Driscoll make a comment about him meditating on Prov 26:4.

DJP said...

Aaron Sauerif that is Driscoll's response to Phil Johnson, then could Driscoll have validated Phil's concerns more effectively?

And what message do you think such a response should send to Driscoll's "mentors"?

Aaron Sauer said...

Well said, Dan. It was also very troubling to hear that an attendee of the Shepherds' Conference wrote something along the lines of "Phil Johnson sucks" on a bathroom wall at Grace Community Church.

Praise God for men like Phil who will stand firm on biblical truth and risk persecution because of it!

DJP said...

You know, Aaron, I'm sure that was written by a gracious soul who's immersed himself in Puritan expositions of the Song of Solomon.

All he was meaning to say was that Phil Johnson sucks on the twin bosoms of the Old and New Testaments, so that he can get at the pure milk of the word, and give it out liberally.

Lovely sentiment.


The Fantastic Daughter-In-Law's Spouse said...

Trust me, it was far more heinous than simply "Phil Johnson sucks".

It simply could not be posted in a forum like this - which takes us back to the original point of the message...how dare anyone speak from the pulpit that which is unfit for general consumption.

(I find it interesting that no one on "the other side" is able to actually deal with that primary aspect of the discussion)

Phil Johnson said...

To be fair to Mark Driscoll, there's no reason to assume his Twitter comment had anything to do with me, or that it meant anything sinister.

Unless I'm mistaken, the timestamp on his tweet was more than an hour after my seminar ended. He might have had a guy in his office who was impervious to good counsel or something, and that's what he was referring to. I quote that verse on average 30 times a week myself.


What made the graffito at Grace Church particularly vile was not because of what it said per se, but the fact that it was accompanied by a crude drawing so utterly tasteless that I won't attempt a description. But TFD-I-LSpouse is correct, it wasn't merely a comment about my lung capacity; it was a hundred thousand times more profane than that.

The thing is, for someone steeped in the notion that all types of candor are good and no words, images, or topics are intrinsically unholy, then it makes perfect sense to respond to a sermon you don't like by scrawling your protest in graffiti in the church bathroom. That nicely punctuates the point I was making, while simultaneously making the strongest argument that particular critic could find it in his heart to make.

Chris said...


If that is his response to Phil's message, then it proves all the more just how necessary it was for Phil to preach the sermon he did! Phil not only addressed and identified the visible elements of "pornifying the pulpit" by gutter-mouths or sham ministries, such as triple x, but throughout his sermon he directly and indirectly addressed the less visible problem underlying the examples he gave from the utterly deluded and shamelessly vulgar: a brash spirit of rebellion against the authority of scripture and the holiness of God--of which we are warned would "emerge" at the end of the age, in these last days!

FX Turk said...

Is anyone still reading this thread?

Strong Tower said...

You are.

Strong Tower said...

Hey Cent, you know what would be a nice follow to this is if you could host a debate forum for Phil and Driscoll.

Not that the issues have not been beaten to death everywhere, but that might allow these two cogent and lucid men to lay out the issues side by side instead of yelling across the great gorge of the Ether River.

Chris said...

I second Strong Tower's great idea, and yes, I'm still a' readin this thread!

What a debate that would be, albeit the word count between them would be quite imbalanced due to the number of foul words one of them would need to utilize!

Chris said...

yet, we couldn't invite our kids to come and hear it.......or our grandmothers either!

Chuck Weinberg said...

I have not ever listened to, or read any of, Mr. Driscoll's sermons or Q&A sessions. A quick look at the MHC website is frankly gut wrenching to me.

After listening to just a few of his sermons, or whatever you want to call them, I am appalled that this hasn't been called out a long time ago.

Maybe he would say that I am prudish, but what would God say about his irreverence for His pulpit?

This is scary ground to be treading on, when God calls for "normal Christians" to be set apart, and the qualifications for one speaking for God are much higher.

I will not have to give an account for his actions, but there are preachers today, with authority, who need to speak out and address this trashing of the pulpit.

If you truly are his friends, you will stop him from leading his sheep into the mire and stop him from further condemnation.

Carla Rolfe said...

Chuck Weinberg said... After listening to just a few of his sermons, or whatever you want to call them, I am appalled that this hasn't been called out a long time ago.

It was. Very few listened. Sad, but true.