One of the things I know in this world is that entertainment and religion do not mix. I have received this orthodox teaching from the Bible, my time at Central Seminary, and from Tozer. I have also received this teaching from John Piper. I grieve that there are accepted Christian leaders who believe that they must put on a show, all baptized under the auspices of evangelism. I grieve that this true of Mark Driscoll.
On Saturday afternoon I heard Driscoll speak in person. I really did not know much about him. My only real knowledge of him came from watching a couple of his “vodcasts” leading up to the conference (watching those, I was not much disposed towards him). I had no idea that he was known as the “Cussing Pastor.” Cussing Pastor indeed. Piper was the first to tell me this (or all attending the conference) moments before Driscoll spoke. Evidently Driscoll has repented of this. I hope so, and with tears.
Mark Driscoll is an Entertainer, an Impresario. His sermon started (and continued) more like comedy routine than a sermon about the gospel. My more “evangelical” friends tell me this is how he relates to this culture. That, of course, is rubbish. Did ancient Christians know no humor? Did they not appreciate good jokes? Or did the larger Graeco-Roman culture not laugh? On the other hand, perhaps they did know of humor, but did not see how levity and foolishness and being funny related to sacred and holy things; instead they looked at this short life we live on earth in dead earnest, pressing on into the city whose builder and maker is God. I posted my Thursday evening post, “No Place for levity,” before I even knew I was going to this conference. How ironic.
I thought John Piper was on my side on this issue. Consider for example, some of the quotes (here and here) of Piper I have quoted in the past. Now I wonder if Piper is such a kindred spirit after all. In the sermon that he preached Sunday to conclude the conference (which I could only listen to), he sounds silly apologizing to us for not being “more relevant” like Driscoll. How sad! Driscoll is not relevant. He will not be wearing that silly thing around his neck 15 years from now. He will not be talking about the Simpsons and Madonna. He will have to keep changing, and his ministry will have to keep changing to prevent itself from falling into the irrelevance that characterizes the now passe seeker movement. If Piper only knew how relevant his preaching is. He through careful thought and study has keen insight into the human condition, demonstrating an apt ability to penetrate with his preaching, and all without talking about the latest movies and cable television shows. One of the things that has drawn me to him is his deep love for the gospel and his renunciation of all the things in this world. He did it more often and better than fundamentalists! And then he asks a man like Driscoll to come, who tells us “Jesus is as hot as ever” because hollywood stars are wearing “Jesus is my homeboy” shirts. Anybody else see the disconnect here?
He invites Driscoll (at the risk of my sounding angry, please allow me to continue), a man who thinks “incarnation” is another word for Jesus’ full humanity and “exaltation” is another word for Jesus’ full deity (the word “incarnation” is not about Jesus’ humanity, but about God becoming a man, and the exalted Jesus in no way leaves his humanity behind), who thinks the the fact that the gospels were written for different audiences vindicates the concept that we need to be relevant, who jokes about the virgin birth and hell and sodomites and Jesus destroying his enemies, who thinks that you can’t worship a Jesus you can beat up as that makes him some kind of wimp (just a reminder, we worship him because he was “beat up”), who “adores” the Passion of the Christ, believes Christ is “all tattooed up,” likens hell to God kicking your head with a boot, wonders (outloud) how the Jewish people “checked” if you were circumcised, and growls like a dog in the middle of his “sermon.”
As I said, this is something to grieve over.
“Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, . . . sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable.” – the Apostle Paul
“Let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”
If we are against the syncretism of Christianity and Islam (of course, not all evangelicals are against even this anymore), why should I be expected to listen to someone who syncretizes Christianity–even Reformed Christianity–with the comedy or night club? Is there nothing sacred? Mark Driscoll, if you read this (which is improbable, but I must say this nonetheless), I implore you with humility, for the sake of the gospel and the Lord Jesus Christ, to stop the jokes, stop the silliness, and stop the entertainment. Do not make profane the holy things of the Lord Jehovah. You are a holy priest speaking the oracles of Christ. You find it unbelievable that people deny traditional Christian doctrines like hell; well, with respect, I find it unbelievable that people deny traditional Christian mores such as reverence.