In an interview published on the Desiring God website (13 November 2014), Dr John Piper responds to the Mark Driscoll controversy.
Tony Reinke, a content strategist and staff writer for Desiring God, presents the issue: ‘About 100 emails have come in from listeners regarding Mark Driscoll, and your relationship with him. Mostly the questions are centered on whether you now regret partnering with Mark Driscoll in the past?’
What follows are extracts from the 11 minute interview:
Piper: ‘First, no regret. John Piper has no regret for befriending Mark Driscoll, going to Mark Driscoll’s church and speaking at his events, or having him come to the Desiring God conference. I do not regret that. My regret is that I was not a more effective friend. Mark knew he had flaws. He knows he has flaws. And I knew he had flaws. He knew that I knew he had flaws. There were flaws of leadership attitude, flaws of unsavory language that I think is just wrong for Christians to use, flaws of exegetical errors, say, in regard to the Song of Solomon. I wrote a long critique of his use of the Song of Solomon. I wrote him personally about these.’
Here we should note the mirth in Piper’s voice. He seems to be amused by Driscoll’s outrageous interpretation of the Song of Solomon as a sex manual.
Piper: But I always hoped that in those cases the relationship with me and with others would be redemptive and helpful. He certainly gave me more time and counsel than I deserved. And I felt loved by Mark and I wanted to love him in return. I still do hope for the best in Mark’s life and ministry. So, no, I don’t regret it.
With regard to his books, whether they should sit in shelves in bookstores or churches or homes, that is a tough call. If he is disqualified from being an elder should he still exercise the teaching office of an elder through his books? And I can see a temporary reaction to Mark stepping down by bookstores or churches where they pull those back so as not to give any kind of public affirmation of mistakes that Mark may have made, but then maybe in years to come the books will emerge as helpful since I think most of what he has written has been true and helpful.
So Piper boldly declares that most of what Driscoll has written has been true and helpful. And he makes this statement as one who has actually promoted many of Driscoll’s books on his Desiring God website.
A few short extracts from some of Driscoll’s books will show us what Piper regards as true and helpful.
In his Confessions of a Reformission Rev. Mark Driscoll writes:
‘I assumed the students and singles were all pretty horny, so I went out on a limb and preached through the Song of Solomon in the fall… Each week, I extolled the virtues of marriage, foreplay, oral sex, sacred stripping and sex outdoors, just as the book teaches, because all Scripture is indeed profitable.’ (pp94, 96).
In Vintage Jesus Driscoll writes:
‘In the first chapter of Mark, Jesus starts off by yelling at complete strangers to repent of their sin… In the second chapter, Jesus picks a fight with some well-mannered religious types and does the equivalent of breaking into a church on a Sunday morning to make a sandwich with the communion bread because he was hungry. In the third chapter, Jesus gets angry and also grieves and apparently needs Praxil. He then ignores his own mom…’ (p42-43)
In Radical Reformission, Driscoll describes Eve as ‘a perfect woman who is beautiful, sinless and naked —the same kind of woman every guy ever since has been searching for’.
He tells us that ‘God works through a cowardly man named Abraham, who is happy to whore out his loving and beautiful antique of a wife to avoid conflict… And to top it all off, God comes to earth. He has a mom whom everyone thinks is a slut, a dad whom they think has the brilliance of a five-watt bulb for believing the “virgin birth” line’. (p28-29)
In Real Marriage Driscoll writes:
Driscoll writes: ‘Legally and biblically anal sex is permissible for a married couple as Scripture does not forbid it.’ He presents an argument to show that ‘anal sex within marriage is not sodomy, is not inherently sinful, and is permissible.’ He explains the meaning of sexual role-playing: ‘Role playing is when one or both spouses assume roles to act out in character as part of their flirtation and lovemaking… Some couples with good imaginations find it fun.’ (p199).
We learn much about Piper from his defence of Driscoll’s books, many of which have been promoted by Desiring God bookshop.
Piper: And Mark Driscoll has done much good in speaking and writing much truth. Thousands of people really have been saved and really have been built up in biblical gospel truth and those people should not question their salvation or their truth just because he might in some cases have walked out of step with the truth.
Piper declares that Mark Driscoll ‘has done much good in speaking and writing much truth.’ So Piper appears to condone Driscoll’s remarkable statement:
‘Some people actually see things. This may be gift of discernment. On occasion, I see things. I see things.’ Driscoll continues: ‘I’ve seen women raped. I’ve seen children molested. I’ve seen people abused. I’ve seen people beaten. I’ve seen horrible things done. Horrible things done. I’ve seen children dedicated in occultist groups and demons come upon them as an infant by invitation. And I wasn’t present for any of it, but I’ve seen it visibly.’
Upon occasion when I get up to preach I’ll see—just like a screen in front of me—I’ll see somebody get raped or abused and then I’ll track ‘em down and say, “Look I had this vision. Let me tell you about it.” All true.
See article here: http://www.driscollcontroversy.com/?page_id=501
Driscoll’s sermon, The Weaker Christian from 1 Corinthians 8:1-13 dealt with the issue of tattoos.
‘Let me just say our position is this—tattoos are not a sin, right. Jesus Christ is going to have a tattoo—Revelation says on his second coming. It says that down his right leg will be written King of Kings and Lord of Lords, which will be really freakish for all for the fundamentalists to see Jesus all tattooed up. I can’t wait for that day… Make sure you go to a good tattoo parlour, two of the best in Seattle are actually members of Mars Hill… go in there for a biblical new covenant tattoo, is what we would recommend.’
See article here: http://www.driscollcontroversy.com/?page_id=126
Piper: I think it would be sinful and unbiblical for any of Mark’s detractors to simply feel good riddance. That is a sin to feel that. No, we pray for truth to hold sway and for grace to transform and renew and restore all of us including Mark.
Piper’s bold declaration that he has no regret about supporting and encouraging Driscoll’s deeply flawed ministry over many years, demonstrates a remarkable lack of spiritual insight and judgement. There is no doubt that Piper’s support has been an important factor in creating Driscoll’s celebrity status. In the face of the serious allegations made by a number of Mars Hill Church leaders and elders, Piper remained silent. He stood aside when many were been harmed by the hostility and anger of Driscoll’s ministry.
Spiritual discernment is the ability to tell the difference between truth and error, and right from wrong. John Piper, it appears, lacks spiritual discernment.
‘A doubled minded man is unstable in all his ways’ (James 1.8).
‘Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world’ (1 John 4.1)
You can learn more about Pastor John Piper, Dr Tim Keller and Pastor Mark Driscoll in the book, The New Calvinists (2014), published by The Wakeman Trust and Belmont House Publishing. The book is available from The Metropolitan Tabernacle bookshop or from Amazon More on John Piper and his Christian Hedonism at The Real John Piper website