20 May 2010

What to do with a mass of credible critics?

by Dan Phillips

Honestly, it seems as if one of Mark Driscoll's favorite things is painting himself as a brave, noble, but beleaguered victim of mean old bullies. I that same theme here and there.

Well, Driscoll's at it again. Or should I say he never stopped? Frankly, I don't read him enough to know. But he's striking the pose of the weathered, grizzled, seasoned old veteran of countless conflicts, putting down his tankard for a moment to spare some advice with a green, fresh-faced young'un.

"Sorry, man. I get it," Driscoll rasps; you can almost see him fingering the long virtual scars criss-crossing his neck.

The title is "What To Do With Internutters." It's a pinch north of 630 words, but I can summarize it in two: ignore them. Don't listen to a word. Don't respond, don't make eye-contact. Hire a lawyer to write mean, threatening lawyer-letters, or get a court-order, if you want. (Seriously; Driscoll says that a couple of times.)

Now, I think my main problem with the article is that Driscoll is not very specific about who he's calling "internutters." About as close as he gets to a description is that his young protégé was subjected to "someone who had become quite a vocal critic all over the Internet and in relationships with church members, making wildly unfounded accusations and creating a lot of additional work."

We'll all agree that "wildly unfounded accusations" are bad things. No one should make them. We here at Pyro totally believe that. And I'll say (no snark) that I don't have Driscoll's experience dealing with... well, actually I have dealt with a number of nutters. But I'm sure not as many as he, nor as publicly. I'm an immensely smaller fish.

However, I'm not sure it's wise not to answer even "nutters" at least once, if you can. Of course, some accusations are pretty tough to answer. As I mention in a very different connection over at my place, it's awfully hard to prove a negative, for instance. "You constantly beat your wife in a way that leaves neither bruises nor witnesses" would be a difficult charge to refute. Or a post hoc charge with a deft propter hoc (e.g. "Pastor X counseled Y, who then did Z — because of the pastor's counsel!").

Phil Johnson, on the other hand, has dealt with many, many gen-u-ine nutters over the years. I'd be interested to hear his thoughts on that subject.

But let's say the "nutters" are saying truthful, Scriptural, sober things, well-founded in both reality and evidence.Well then, they're not actually "nutters," are they? For instance, I hear and read "bloggers" used in the same tone as "nutters," as if they're interchangeables. They're not. Ironically, most of the people who speak dismissively of "bloggers" and dismiss the whole lot of them tend to be ones who have received valid reproof they haven't liked.

Further complicating my exegesis of Driscoll is the fact that I have seen him speak exactly as dismissively of men who tried hard to bring sound, sober, fact-based/Scripture-based concerns to his attention.

So those who offer such criticism and rebuke cannot so easily be brushed off as "nutters." I mean, say — just to pluck an example out of the ether — you are a well-known pastor who has a pronounced tendency to say disgraceful things from pulpits over and over and over again, over a period of years. And say serious believers try again and again to call you to repent and forsake such abuse of the pulpit.

See now, that's a different situation, isn't it? To call such folks "nutters," dismiss their reproof as "wildly unfounded," declare that you won't dignify them with a response, and try to strike a noble pose... well, that wouldn't be very adorning to the Gospel, I would think. You know, I've heard what is allegedly an Irish proverb to this effect: "When everyone says you're drunk, sit down."

It's not always simple, though, and I don't mean imply that it is. The majority can be dead-wrong. Solid-gold Christian leaders, whose ESV Study Bibles you're genuinely not worthy to ferry about, can make mistakes. There's still constant need to judicious discernment, to focus on facts and Scripture.

But to Driscoll's opinions, I'd offer these cautionary Scriptural counterpoints:
  1. Never forget: if it's a sin, you're capable of it (Romans 7:13-23).
  2. If you have sinned, you do not want to be the last to know it (Proverbs 29:1).
  3. Denial is not a remedy for sin or folly (Proverbs 28:13). In fact...
  4. Denial is the way to destruction (Proverbs 29:1).
  5. Hating critics is the mark of a fool (Proverbs 9:8a; 17:12).
  6. It is the characteristic of the wise man to welcome and heed wise, godly correction (Psalm 141:5; Proverbs 9:9b-10).
  7. The way to mercy lies through self-humbling, accepting rebuke, repenting and forsaking (Proverbs 10:17; 11:2; 12:1; 14:33; 18:12; 28:13).
God grant us ears to hear, wisdom to discern, and humility to apply. Because it isn't easy nor simple.

Dan Phillips's signature


Christopher said...

I appreciate the balanced view of criticism, and the witty Irish "proverb" as well. We do need to be careful when several trusted people come up to us and tell us the same thing...we need to weigh their words very heavily and then make a prayerful decision.

I would also add that, when we make that prayerful decision, we need to make sure that we do not just take advice from those in our circle. Rehoboam (I think) was guilty of this. He enlisted the opinions of a bunch of his classmates and then made his decision. It may be that when Driscoll gets a stern rebuke for his mouth he goes and talks to one of his Acts 29 co-laborers and ask if they see the same. Nothing against A29, but you get the point.

My, wasn't that a long slice of dribble.

Weeks said...

I imagine that the sheer volume of vitriol poured out in Driscoll's direction would cause any man to want to plug his ears with his fingers and murmur Psalm 51 over and over to himself.

Of course, he does bring this on himself in a lot of ways, you know. The in-your-face "manly" image and confrontational preaching does tend to bring every wacko in earshot out of the woodwork. That said, I agree with DJP here, I've listened to Driscoll less and less over the last year because I just can't abide the posturing, the primadonna show he throws on stage. It's such a contrast to the humble Bible study and exhortation that is a John Piper or John MacArthur sermon. The latter is what I need these days.

Johnny Dialectic said...

As you point out, the Driscoll piece seems to be about a "critic" spreading "wildly unfounded accusations." A true nut, IOW, bent on causing harm (e.g., slander). In that context, Driscoll's advice seems apt.

Then there's the context of a critic with some "sober" criticisms. I wonder if a "consider the source" rule ought to be in operation. If a John MacArthur or a Phil Johnson offers critcism, it needs to be considered. They have track records. But if a true nut with an ax to grind gets in the game, I'm not so sure. Your suggested reminders at the end seem a good way to sift it all out.

DJP said...

Yeah, as I said, the problem is in Driscoll's imprecision. Also, I have heard him speak exactly so dismissively of the latter category of critics. Mm; I think I'll go edit that into the post.

"Consider the source" is good. What should serve to keep us all humble are these two:

1. Even the best "source" can be dead wrong.
2. Even the lamest and most malicious critic can be dead on.

Stephen said...

Appreciate again Dan your comments and insight.
I can't say that I've not been challanged and blessed by Driscoll on occasions, like so many of us when its good it's really good when it's bad it's really bad, when he's on a Christ honouring/ exalting theme he can be really moving despite his self conscious almost 'stand up' type of delivery, but when it gets on to demonology etc I really start switching off.

He's a man entering his 40's I will be exiting mine all too soon.

Just how much longer can the hair gel,( sadly I have no need for any!) daft shirts, and 'grunge' praise go on for, before you start to look like mutton dressed as lamb? In other words just'plain silly! To paraphrase it rather badly: 'those who live by the sword of cultural relevance are at some point going to fall by it' as the next great fad rolls into town and you get left behind.

Again appreciate the comments and my advice to those who like me listen to him from time to time is "listen if you will, but keep the discernment Radar 'ON' and set to 'HIGH'

Stan McCullars said...

Someone has been reading Proverbs.


Can't wait to get the book!

DJP said...

LOL, I'm hearing that a lot. It's just that... they're so apropos!

art said...

when i read the term 'internutters,' the first thing i thought about was you three pyros and that angry lady at slice.

funny that you end up writing about it.

Staci at Writing and Living said...

Besides just bloggers and nutters, we should also bear this in mind in our dealings with the pastors and leaders in our local churches. Pastors often have to fend off so many frivolous criticisms, that when a genuine criticism comes along, it's all too easy for them to write it off as more of the same. Making petty complaints against church leadership not only stirs up dissension, it also becomes a stumbling block to the ones God has chosen to lead us. We need to carefully heed 1 Timothy 5:19.

Merrilee Stevenson said...

I have one "serious" problem with your post: that tin-hat photo had me laughing so hard I had tears in my eyes. And every time I glanced back at it, more laughter ensued! (If you're in need of more serious cat photos, you have my permission to use the two from here: http://merrileesmusings.blogspot.com/2009/11/tin-november-24-2009.html

On the topic of criticism, here are my thoughts: a person is only going to truly hear the love behind the criticism when they are humble enough to think that they need it, and willing to submit themselves to the task of forsaking the wrong. I usually am reluctant to hear criticism when I haven't asked for it. (Perhaps I'm getting criticism and advice a little mixed together, but they are like sisters--like the two in Proverbs 7:4)

Unfortunately, for those of us who struggle with pride, sometimes it takes us a long time to reach the point of humility and submission, and willingness to listen to advice and accept instruction (Proverbs 19:20). Sometimes it happens once our lives fall apart. I hope that is not the case for Driscoll.

I appreciate your willingness to bring up the matter. And I am also looking forward to the published version of the Proverbs book.

DJP said...

Thanks. It is in the publisher's and editor's hands as we speak.

lee n. field said...

"God spoke to me, "Marry Grace, plant churches, train men, preach the Bible."

How can you argue with that?

Wait, wait. God spoke to Mark Driscoll? Is he just being sloppy in the way he talks, or is he playing the magical mystical "God told me, you can't argue with that" card? Cue up DJP's discussion of this in the last couple weeks.

ME said...

Sooo....God doesn't speak anymore? Oh wait, at Masters you guys pump out a bunch of fundies who don't believe in the work of the Holy Spirit today....I forgot. So 2 things:

1. What is the problem with marrying a woman, training men, planting churches, and preaching the bible?

2. Also, "disgraceful things from pulpits" is a subjective thing. To fundies, the word "sex' is disgraceful. To most people, it's not.

Christopher said...

@ME: Wow, dude, seriously? Way to completely come out of left field there.

@Damer: I do not think it would be fair to say that the whole Acts29 movement is going to die out. Let us not forget how many issues Southern Baptists have had in the past. Like any "denomination" Acts 29 is made up of individual people who do not all agree on the same non-essential things. And, I would ask in all honesty, how do you know what Acts 29 looks for in their planters?

VcdeChagn said...

Let me start this by saying...

My kids have a saying anytime something happens that is outsized in proportion to what should be reality.

See a giant bug splat against the windshield?


Younger son still in diapers has a blowout of epic proportions.


That being said:

Sooo....God doesn't speak anymore? Oh wait, at Masters you guys pump out a bunch of fundies who don't believe in the work of the Holy Spirit today....I forgot. So 2 things:


I am a fundamentalist and I affirm the work of the Holy Spirit AND the Sufficiency of Scripture. Not just one of them.

Why it that all the "left-fielders" don't have a profile?

BTW, I proudly affirm the Fundamentals of Christianity. If you don't, I highly recommend this link. After all, they are fundamental

Mike Riccardi said...

It's alright guys.

Thanks to ME we all know what an internutter looks like.

Thanks dude.

archshrk said...

I just wanted to take a moment and thank you (TeamPyro) for all the great posts. They have been invaluable in helping teach and encourage me over the past year as I and some Christian brothers have wrestled with pastoral abuse (abuse from the pulpit, not the RC kind)

OldChurchFan said...

Remind me a lot of the book ''Transitioning'' by Don Southerland...
More specifically, chapter 6, ''Dealing with opposition''...

Critics are always wrong, don't have a point, they are from the devil because they stop you from ''doing the work of the Lord''...


The Squirrel said...

"1. Even the best "source" can be dead wrong.
2. Even the lamest and most malicious critic can be dead on

Dan, spot on! The truthfulness of the truth is not dependent on the "nutterness," or lack there of, of the conveyor of the truth.

And, "Never forget: if it's a sin, you're capable of it" is going on a post-it near the desk.


OldChurchFan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
stratagem said...

I can't understand why Driscoll gets so much attention. Maybe the best bet would be for people to ignore him?

Sir Brass said...

A certain dean at Liberty in Virginian sure could benefit mightily from taking heed of this post.

I sure hope Driscoll will take heed before his ego grows to the same size as that previously mentioned Dean, or his "God told me"-isms/fibs gets to be as big as that previously-mentioned-Deans claims of "born to Jihad".

And I'm really hoping people are able to understand what I'm saying here

Weeks said...

"And, "Never forget: if it's a sin, you're capable of it" is going on a post-it near the desk. "

You too? I pasted the whole list into a word doc, blew it up and bold'ed it, gonna post it on my wall at home as a daily reminder. Fantastic stuff.

m.e. said...


This post reads like you saw an opportunity to take a couple of shots at Driscoll and jumped on it. Its the same kind of drive-by that you accuse the MSM of on your other blog (albeit rightly). I don't get the point of all the extra little digs. Is that really helpful to your point?

You state your main problem with his article is he's not clear who he's cautioning his "protege" against. However, the whole article reads like an email he wrote to a friend about a specific problem and he decided to put it up on the web as a potential help to others. Wait... doesn't he say that??

Do I think he could have adapted his email to make for a more clear, spelled-out-in-detail argument? Yes.

But do I think you could have done a post about critics, internet wackos, and how to respond to those things without including Driscoll? Yes.

One last comment. I don't think I would have commented (I rarely do) if you had left off the sentence at the beginning of the last paragraph.
"But to Driscoll's opinions, I'd offer these cautionary Scriptural counterpoints"

Anybody who reads you regularly knows you choose your words with the utmost care. The above sentence is meant to lead the reader into the belief that all of what Driscoll says (or at least said in his post) was opinion and you are here to bring Scripture and reason. To use my analogy from earlier... its a drive-by you could have done without.

DJP said...

Thanks for the compliment, sincerely. I did mean it the way I said it.

David Rudd said...


I think the seven points at the end are well said, and worth being heeded.

Your entire post inspired me to create my own "pomotivational poster". (although my artistic skill could never rival that of you guys!)

my poster

Rachael Starke said...

This seems to be a classic case of eisegesis vs. exegesis applied to pastoral counselling/modelling.

Eisegesis - I define the terms of the problem. My experience offers the solution to the problem as I've defined it. God agrees with me. Do what I did and you'll be fine.

Exegesis - God defines the problem, which is actually much bigger and includes us. God has a lot of helpful warnings and encouragements about the problem. We should agree with God. Do what He says, and you'll be fine.

Heather said...

Wow. All this time, Ergun Caner was just taking Driscoll's advice! Who knew? ;)

Rachael Starke said...

For the record, I'd love to hear Phil's perspective too. I know he and Grace church have dealt with more than their share of factious people over the years. The Internet has certainly opened up all kinds of new ways to forcefully spread dissent and lies (and also expose the hearts of the people doing the forceful spreading). I'm glad that, here and elsewhere, when people have posted gossip, factious stuff in the interst of "offering persepctive, it's left by the wayside.

Chris said...


Couldn't agree more. HE is the one who should be ignored!

However, those efforts in the past year or so, by Godly men, to restore a brother overtaken in a spirit of sinful rebellion needed to occur, especially because those men who attempted to correct him were responsible to God for what they said and/or what they would have failed to say if they merely ignored it--as so many others in positions of leadership in the church have done.

Now, the fact that such biblical correction was met with denial, further rebellion, and a self-styled martyr's complex (with a following) simply manifests the reality that the aforementioned men were absolutely correct in what they were trying to do FOR Mr. Driscoll, not against him.

However, the carnal mind perceives a sprit of the latter in all forms of biblical correction, and thus seeks to utilize carnal means of silencing even the most biblical and Godly attempts at restoration.

The fact that a particular critic of his (or several) might indeed be an ungodly and/or crazy is not really the issue; the real issue is how very biblical criticism from very respectable men like Phil Johnson and John MacArthur were received in such rebellion.

Halcyon said...


As good as your post is, I'm afraid that VcdeChagn is the man today. I officially declare "Strawman of Doom" as the new "it" term. I demand that you use it in future posts and that Frank have T-shirts available soon.

ME:(not m.e.)

Your Troll-Fu is weak.

Don said...

It's always amazing to me how people want to influence the public but eschew public feedback. The reality is that you can't have it both ways. You don't get to set the rules. Step into the arena and the crowd will put thumbs up or thumbs down.

Chris said...

Staci at Writing and Living:

With all due respect to the point you are seeking to make, about not stirring up unnecessary contentions in the local church in particular and/or about pastors needing to fend off unwarranted criticism, I have had four experiences in four local (in Southern California) churches that speak to the contrary. In four churches that couldn't pile-up more divergent, emergent and/or seeker sensitive brands of heresy if they tried, there were four pastors at these places who were quite accustomed to receiving mostly positive affirmations for all of their "real" ways of "doing church" and being "relevant" (blah, blah, blah) from spiritually dead, milk-fed, and undiscerning congregations. They were so accustomed to both giving and receiving warm-fuzzies every day that ANY point of criticism, or even a request for clarity on something delivered in an errant sermon(ette), was labeled "divisive," both by the pastors themselves and by their loyal adherents. In addition, that reference you cite from I Timothy likewise accompanied their accusations of divisiveness, saying criticism--and doctrinal clarity for that matter--went against their "can't we all just get along" mentality. In retrospect, after spending the last two years at the most incredible church we could ever hope to be a part, I know that God used my wife and I in those churches to do just what we did, which was to wake up some from absolute complacency and a blind adherence to heresy. We did not ask to be in those situations, nor would I ever wish to be in such a situation ever again, as we were simply looking for a bible-teaching church led by a pastor who feared the Lord more than men.

Father of Eleven said...

Why is Driscoll an issue? Because he influences people in our churches and families. I have a son who got into Driscoll for a time. The problem is that my son is one who has some of the same negative tendencies that Driscoll does. It was an opportunity to teach discernment, but it could have turned into a big problem. It would be easy for my son to say well if Dricsoll who is a pastor can say those things, why can't I?

Staci at Writing and Living said...

After I posted, Chris, I thought to myself that referencing 1 Timothy 5:19 distracted from the point I was trying to make. I was talking about frivolous criticisms. Asking a pastor to clarify something said in a sermon is not frivolous.

I was talking about things like accusing a pastor for being unfriendly because he didn't stop to chat when you ran into him in the mall (perhaps he was in a hurry?) Pastors wives and children are often targets for this kind of thing as well. Most take it in stride as part of the job, but it does force them to build up quite a thick skin, which isn't always a good thing.

Luke Leppla said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gapid said...

Titus 3:10

Chris said...


Ahh, gotcha.
You are referring to an entirely different set of legitimate and biblical circumstances, criticisms, and responses than we experienced.

Perhaps because our four personal experiences were all so horrible that I was unable to read what you said in any other context.

I'm sorry.

greglong said...

lee n. field writes:

Wait, wait. God spoke to Mark Driscoll? Is he just being sloppy in the way he talks, or is he playing the magical mystical "God told me, you can't argue with that" card? Cue up DJP's discussion of this in the last couple weeks.

Driscoll has repeatedly said from the pulpit that God spoke to him in an audible voice and told him to do these things.

stratagem said...

Chris - many thanks for the response. I've listened to Driscoll before and he struck me as being a loose cannon. That generally goes hand in glove with being rebellious and prideful.

I should know, I'm that way myself a lot of times. Hence I probably woudn't make a very good pastor (although a better one than I would have 20 years ago), and no one would appoint me to such post.

And I think that's the rub: If there were any ecclesiastical hierarchy, a man like Driscoll would never be where he is. But instead, churches may be started like so many hamburger stands, that is, if you can attract a critical mass of clients, you're in business.

Chris said...

Yep...and I think many in so many congregations today scrutinize their hamburgers, or their hamburger stands, far more than their theology or their church!

Deb said...

Thanks Dan for this post. When I first read this article on Driscoll's recommendations for responding to Internutters, I had some similiar reactions.

The one that concerned me most was where he recommends hiring an attorney, getting a restraining order, and having the critic arrested for "disrupting a meeting." Really? I can't imagine any of the apostles doing anything of this sort when they were endeavoring to plant churches. I can't think of anything less Christian or more harmful to the witness of the Church than if something like this was happening. Thanks again!

The Damer said...

For the record, I'm not rooting for A29 or Mark Driscoll's downfall. They've done a lot of good Gospel work but they tend to look for guys that exhibit a level of "confidence" that is somewhat dangerous.

@ME Your troll-fu is indeed weak but I enjoyed it. Thanks for making my day. It's been a long time since I was called a fundie.

Stefan said...


Indeed. If the critic is a brother or sister in Christ, then doesn't 1 Corinthians 6:1-8 come to bear?

one busy mom said...




As are the cautionary Sciptural counterpoints - will definately be printing those out. All of us can slip into that "me against the world" mode too easily. Thanks Dan,
these are great.

DJP said...

Candy noticed (and rightly objected to) an earlier comment that had slipped past my radar, which was of the nature of gossip and innuendo.

She was right. Since hers quoted what I'd missed, I removed both.

Thanks, Candy. Sorry for having missed it.

donsands said...

"1. Even the best "source" can be dead wrong.
2. Even the lamest and most malicious critic can be dead on." "the Danster"

Good words to take deep down into our ears.

Driscoll said Avatar was the most demonic film ever. What?

I say that to add in, because it shows this man's way. He is way too confusing for me.

Yet people will follow him, and even cling to him, because he is a very attractive personality.

And Mark is my brother in Christ, and I pray he will grow in humility and integrity for the glory of the Lord. Amen.

Pastor Pants said...

When there is a Pyro post on Driscoll it always leaves me feeling scared and praying.

Pyro posters are always so careful with their words; their arguments are always so carefully thought out with no wriggle room.

Driscoll often seems to shoot from the hip, taking insufficient care over what he says and/or the way he says it.

I know my tendency is to the latter.

So I read this kind of post, shudder, pray and resolve to think more, speak slower and prepare better.

Joshua Allen said...

I don't care about Driscoll, but it's good advice for myself. Good stuff.

Coram Deo said...


Right on the mark, Dan-O!

Question - and this isn't an attempt to hijack or derail the thread, so feel free to delete this if it's deemed too far off topic - what about Piper?

Piper has amassed a "mass of credible critics" on a variety of sober, important issues.

- His well established and deeply troubling pattern of questionable associations whereby he grants plum speaking engagements (and thereby tacit approval) at his big-time national conferences (Federal Visionist Doug Wilson; potty-mouthed prodigy Mark Driscoll; uber syncre-ecumeni-gelical Rick Warren)

- His affirmation that N.T. Wright and Doug Wilson do not preach "another gospel", but preach a "confusing gospel"

- His YouTube video wherein he makes the amazing claim that Rick Warren "is theological and doctrinal and sound"

What are we to think when someone of Piper's stature flatly refuses to hear or meaningfully respond to the occasion he's giving so many to stumble, and the blanket seal of approval he's publicly given to so many men who do so much damage to the church of Christ?

What ought Piper do with his mass of credible critics?

In Christ,

Robert said...

I have a serious problem with people thinking that just because people have done "good Gospel work", that it means that a pastor who does not fit the qualifications for a pastor/elder in the Bible should be left in place.

Let's just start with the general statement that Paul makes in 1 Timothy 3:2 - "Therefore an overseer must be above reproach". I think that it is clear from some of the language that he has used in the pulpit that he already has a problem...he is not above reproach.

But if there is disagreement there, let's look at instruction from another pastoral epistle. Titus 1:7 states that an overseer "must not be arrogant or quick-tempered". I have seen many comments in this string that paint the picture of a man who is definitely arrogant and does not humble himself enough to accept criticism from others.

I am saddened by the fact that people are willing to look at the effective speech/appearance/delivery of the preacher and gloss over the shortcomings of these men who get in the pulpit without following the model defined by Scripture for the qualifications for pastors/elders/overseers/shepherds. I have a friend who is a pastor and he told me that he actually laments people holding back comments or criticisms because then he can not address them. This might require him looking at himself humbly at times and responding with a Scriptural basis at other times. If one can not defend their position from Scripture, though, then one might want to reconsider their position.

stratagem said...

Are you suggesting that John Piper is above criticism? I don't understand your point. OK, so they both are off-base when it comes to exercising judgement... I think most of us knew that already; the implication of which is what, exactly?

trogdor said...


His main point is that he wants us all to denounce Piper as an uber-heretic, because he apparently finds perverse joy in seeing Christians attack each other.

DJP said...

Focus, please.

The point of the post is dealing with criticism. It isn't primarily about whether Driscoll needs to be criticized, or remotely about whether Piper does.

It's about YOU and how YOU deal/should deal with criticism.

Now, if you're buds with Piper and think he should read it, tell 'im. Or anyone.

See, I think you should read it. I think I should read it.

That's the point.

boyd said...

Good article! I agree with the your take. It is interesting however how much cherry-picking is done when judging the requirements for an overseer. Sexual sins and hatefulness are not tolerated, however I have never heard of a pastor/elder beening released for being "greedy for money", or not "having their children in submission".

Dan said...

Part of the problem is that we don't know Driscroll's context. Are there non-Christian doing these type of things to discredit the ministry? Granted DJP is right to bring who is he defining as who is the internutter. Maybe he is assuming everything DJP wrote about that true Christians would do. Who knows?

As an aside, while Driscroll is a very public person and tries to lead a very public life, many of us have not personally interacted with him and establish a desire to see him grow. Christian Discipline is meant to restore/sanctify, not destroy. It is also meant while in a relationship. Yes, enemies multiply kisses and friends are willing to wound but most of the commenters just want to wound without wanting to be a friend. One commenter said "If there were any ecclesiastical hierarchy, a man like Driscoll would never be where he is." We don't know that and if we keep the leader bar too high, no one can lead. The question should be are people showing progressive santification?

DJP is right that it is about our heart. But I would ask him, define a mass of credible critics? While he may not have listened to John MacAruthur or Phil Johnson, he is listening to people that are hardly
heretical (like James MacDonald, CJ Mahaney, Al Mohler, Danny Akin, John Piper, Michael Horton, JI Packer, Tim Keller, etc). So just because a man isn't listening to your own favorite teacher doesn't mean he is not listening or acting not above reproach? You're right, the majority can be wrong but the minority can be just as wrong if they are positioning themselves as a super hidden majority (think Quran's Essenes) so again, Check your motives against DJP's list.

Again, we don't know what is going on behind the scenes. For charity sake, maybe both are painting each other with sin in their hearts that is prevent each sides from seeing with the eyes of Christ. ALL have sinned and many times we can be right in truth but wrong in relationship. Or like Paul (not comparing MD to Paul) didn't listen to Barnabas in taking John Mark, they just disagree but I'm sure they remained civil.

If you think Driscroll is wrong, he will have to answer before God not men. Rest in that and continue to preach the truth.

Full disclosure: I was a Driscroll Fanboy which pulled me from Willowback world. I still respect him but started listening to more conservative minds (via 9 Marks) and have benefitted greatly from both streams. My mouth has gotten me into trouble from the pulpit but certain people's truth (mainly Mark Dever) challenged my heart on the matters. So stick to truth, it will win always just not always immediately.

DJP said...

Fellow Dan: just to single out one thought —

...he is listening to people that are hardly heretical (like James MacDonald, CJ Mahaney, Al Mohler, Danny Akin, John Piper, Michael Horton, JI Packer, Tim Keller, etc).

Since you contrast them all to Phil and MacArthur, you take it that men on your list have all told Driscoll that saying disgraceful things from the pulpit is all right?

Lynne said...

You-all are obsessed with Mark Driscoll.

Brendt said...

From OP (emphasis mine): I think my main problem with the article is that Driscoll is not very specific about who he's calling "internutters."

How is this any different than when Ingrid Schlueter gave birth to multiple bovines back when Tim Challies criticized ODMs, but did not "name names"?

When a writer doesn't "name names" then the reader has to -- oh, I dunno -- consider the actual issue. (And, granted, you have largely done so, so why the "main problem" with the lack of specificity?)

But when a writer does "name names", the names can (and very often do) obfuscate the issue. To use an example that you cited, there are those who would follow Dr MacArthur off a cliff, taking everything he says as worthy of canonicity. On the other end, there are those who dismiss everything he says and see him as some kind of caricature of Dana Carvey's "cranky old man" character from SNL. Neither are any good at the whole Berean thing.

(And lest you think I exaggerate much, look no further than the whole Piper/Warren incident where people jumped from one end of the spectrum to the other in record-breaking time.)

I will freely admit that here are pastors/teachers/writers out there for whom I am guilty of the dismissive stance. I honestly hope it doesn't bug you much that I'm not going to "name names". ;-)

Honest question (not rhetorical): If Driscoll had "named names" and one or more of the names were of people that you respect and/or admire (in a healthy way), would the main thrust of this post still have been the issue rather than the names?

DJP said...

All depends on what he would have said in that instance, doesn't it?

I really don't think the post is that hard to follow.

Brendt said...

Seems that your "all depends" only serves to strengthen the idea I posited, doesn't it?

And FWIW, I never said anything about the OP being hard to follow. I actually noted that you did deal with the actual issue, which made it all the more perplexing that your "main problem" was Driscoll's lack of specificity.

DJP said...

Okay, great.

So we move on.

Brendt said...

Thanks for the dialog.

James said...

Thank you Dan for your post; you wrote what I am thinking, but better :)

swimthedeepend said...

If Driscoll calls me an internutter because I disagree with him and call him out on using filthy language, I think, great, I'm getting my living-godly-in-Christ-Jesus-because-I-suffer-persecution-points. But, if he's just going to ignore me because I'm a nut, now I'm going to have to find someone else to irritate into calling me names.

Derek and Lacey Joseph said...

Frankly, I thought Driscoll's article was very specific about the situation it was addressing.

DJP's advice about criticism at the end of his article is indeed good and biblical; however, it seems to discount - or really have nothing to do with - the actual extreme circumstances put forth in the original Driscoll article.

Both articles are good. If there's a wack job in my ministry who's spreading rumors and gossip and poison among the people, there are certain practical things to do that I think Driscoll addresses.

However, if there are friends who I'm in fellowship with who lovingly confront me about my sin, I need to be humble, realize my own sinfulness, and respond appropriately, as DJP points out.

WIth specific reference to Driscoll's 'correctability' - I'd like to point out Piper's rebuke of A29 not going after the nations. Now, they've begun to pursue world evangelism. I also understand Piper said something about worship at Mars Hill, and now it's been corrected.

I firmly think that if Piper, Carson, Grudem, or Keller - people that Driscoll knows and respects - called him out on something, that he'd not respond appropriately. It could merely be that he simply doesn't consider the GTY folks as 'credible.' Simply because he hasn't changed his behavior in the way you see fit doesn't mean he hasn't weighed the charges with the counsel of those with whom he has close fellowship and accountability, and even mentorship relationships.

DJP said...

So you see, then, DL, this all creates the impression that the men you name are okay with the pattern of disgraceful speech. "They're tight and he's listening, so if he keeps doing it, it must be okay with them." You see? It ends up not only tarnishing him, but the men who associate with him.

I think the maxim is correct, that one's repentance should be as famous as the sin of which one is repenting.

In this case, what remains famous is Driscoll stiff-arming and sneering at folks who are know to have tried to talk with him about this, whatever their "tone" or venue. Expressions of disdain have been sharp (as Phil as documented), but expressions of regret general and non-specific.

That's a problem.

Andrew said...

Maybe we should have John MacArthur and Mark Driscoll do a cagefight. Then we can declare a winner and this stupid bickering over who is more Christian, or who is a better Christian, can finally stop. Seriously, posts like this make me think we are in kindergarden playing make-believe church.

mike said...

did you read and think at all before hitting "publish this short diatribe"?

see, a cage match would determine who was a better cage fighter.

If we want to determine who was more obedient to the Lord God of all men, then we use the standard that is given to us for that very reason. We search God’s word, and we compare how we have and are acting to the commandments given. If you close your mouth, and squint a bit, it will look almost exactly like what Dan has done.

We may not like it when one of the guys wearing a team jersey like ours is weighed and found wanting, but the only possible good and loving thing to do is to hold them to God’s standard.

Or we can cover our eyes, stamp our little feet, pound our fists a cry out. Either way, make believe it may well be.

Brendt said...

Yeah, Andrew, next thing you know, someone will try to use humor to diffuse the situation, and then where will we be?

Oh, wait ...

Aaron said...

Those last seven points where so good I posted them on my blog good job keep on keeping on.

Brian said...

Still DJP, your idea of "disgraceful speech" is different from others, so you shouldn't force your subjectivity on people as canon. Some think it is wrong, horribly wrong to say "darn" in a sermon, some don't care. Let God be the judge.

DJP said...

That might work in the abstract. In this case, it does not.

Jack said...

Driscoll listens to Piper, Keller, Carson, and a few others, and in contrast he doesn't listen to you. Good. You aren't his board, and he has no obligation to pay any attention to what any of you have to say. We readers are not stupid people. We will decide what stance to take toward Driscoll, the same way we decide what stance to take toward Turk's chronic sin of snideness, his divisive Baptist partisanship, MacArthur's broad-brush polemical writings, or all-y'all's intense defensiveness whenever someone dishes back to you that which you dish out to others. God will deal fairly with Driscoll, and it looks like he has provided Driscoll with men who know how to communicate with him. The only people on the earth that Driscoll answers to are his board and (in a broader sense) his family and his congregation. Not you.

Christopher said...

Why is Driscol under no obligation to listen to me? Who says that is the case? Sure, GOD may have placed people in his life that can speak to him and he listens to, but I do not think that relieves him of having to listen to other believers, does it?

If I hear a sermon at a local church, not my own, or even just a godly piece of advice, can I brush it away simply by saying, "Well, they are not in my circle, so I guess I do not have to listen"?

If you could give some kind of Biblical idea as to why Driscol would not have to PRAYERFULLY listen to others outside of his circle maybe that would help.

Derek Joseph said...


First off, I changed my profile so as not to include my wife in anything directed towards me. So it's DJ, not DL. :)

I think the reality is that the men I listed, for the most part, disagree with your (plural - your all's) exegesis of the texts in question, application of those texts, and assessment of Driscoll and his ministry.

As a matter of fact, I'm fairly certain of it.

I think we would be better edified if you'd take time to write about ways that we as Christians, and especially those of us in ministry, should handle criticism - without reference to Driscoll. It is not helpful to us, and I think your good points about how we're to respond to criticism in general are lost as a result of trying to contrast them with his advice to pastors in very specific, extreme situations.

mike said...

just to expand on Christopher's note, considering what it is that you do, could you provide any biblical explination for any of that snark thatyou just spewed out?

can you defend using anything besides "i like him, i don't like you, so there?"

it would seem to the outside eye, that these guys love Driscoll more than you do, as you seem so glibbly pleased with the statement that "God will deal with Driscoll fairly" i assume that you meant "justly" which may differ but that is another subject.

So Dan and others are willing to expose Driscoll to a little besmirched pride before humans, but repeatedly have sought his repentance to save him from the very judgement of God that you seem so content to send him to.