"How bad will it have to get before true leaders ... start calling the church—and some of these out-of-control exhibitionist preachers—to repentance?"

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SharperIron's picture
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Phil Johnson on the most recent expression of a disturbing trend.

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Internal contradiction

First: "The notion that evangelicals are naïve and squeamish about sex and don't discuss it openly enough is a myth."

Then: "But when it comes to the intimacy of the marriage bed, a strong sense of biblical propriety has governed Christian discourse about these matters from the time of the apostles till now. Name one Christian leader from Pentecost until 2005 who ever made public as much detail about his sex life as we have heard in the past three years from Mark Driscoll . . . about [his ]."

Does anyone else see Phil Johnson contradicting himself here? Again, I'm not a Driscoll supporter. But on this issue, from extended personal experience in both IFB and conservative evangelical churches and circles, there is absolutely no question that we Christians do not discuss sex openly enough. We don't help each other enough to have proper doctrine or practice when it comes to marital sex and we don't help each other enough to have proper doctrine or practice when it comes to sexual sin. And one of the biggest barriers to being more helpful to each other is our lack of transparency about the nearly universal struggles that exist in one or both areas, leading most people to assume that they are alone or in the small minority of strugglers and/or that God's grace does not extend to this area of their lives because the Church and its members won't/don't talk about it in any real way. This failing in the Church no doubt plays a role in the too-high divorce rate among Christians.

It's great that there are a number of good how-to books out there from a biblical but frank perspective. But that's not enough -- most church members have never read or will never read those books, and even if they do, they almost certainly still need someone to talk to about their own situations. I've read the Driscolls' chapter opening up about their own struggles in this area. I'm baffled how someone can criticize Mark for not safeguarding his wife's reputation, as if he wrote the book without her permission or input, when in fact she co-wrote the book with him. And their transparency seems to me to be appropriate -- not 100% transparency and not salacious, but honest enough to make it clear that they have had significant problems and sins, individually and together.

I'm sorry, but Phil Johnson's criticisms are overstated and appear to be much more driven by his pre-existing antipathy for anything related to Mark Driscoll than by any honest or careful analysis.

Alex Guggenheim's picture
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As long as Phil Johnson and

As long as Phil Johnson and his juniors at Pyromanics remain a satellite for many of these groups which support the very "Exhibitionists" he is complaining about, he has nothing but his usual cloister of echoed thoughts fan club to which to complain. What leaders, Phil? How about assigning some direct responsibility while you complain. Not just groups references. Groups have heads, leaders.

Nevertheless, it is good to see Johnson somewhat waking up (he still has quite a bit of sleep in his eyes, though) to what others saw from the outset which he and his juniors, back then, lambasted at his "blog" for saying what they saw so early regarding these theologically and ecclesiastically nebulous groups.

To this statement, however:

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Name one Christian leader from Pentecost until 2005 who ever made public as much detail about his sex life as we have heard in the past three years from Mark Driscoll . . . about [his ]."
Maybe this fact ought to inform us that there is a reason so much "detail" has not been made public, it is called discretion. But more importantly, I see not evidence that the premise of this being a necessity have been proven.

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@DMyers

DMyers-

I don't think it's a contradiction; I think that it is entirely possible to discuss sex as believers (even in a worship/church setting) without diving into immature, unholy, and unprofitable discussions that emphasize shock, graphic depictions of conjugal activity, or immature and coarse jesting. Phil's point is that at some point any pastor worth his salt ought to be aware that even the unsaved are embarrassed at that kind of behavior that typifies Driscoll's train wreck of a 'ministry'.

Jude 10-13 is the passage that best describes Driscoll, in my opinion, and I am continually shocked and appalled by how many self proclaiming Christians buy into his shock schtick. I dread what his following will look like in another ten years, when the seeds that he is planting start to manifest themselves in their lives.

"Our task today is to tell people — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells
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@JayC

Have you read the chapter in question -- Chapter 1 of the book, the chapter summarizing the Driscolls' personal experience? You've set up a straw man. The chapter doesn't emphasize shock, graphic depictions of conjugal activity, or immature and coarse jesting. "Any pastor" who would regard Chapter 1 as behavior "that even the unsaved are embarrassed at" is part of the problem I identified in my first post -- i.e., the Church's failure to talk enough, honestly and constructively, about sex. Like Johnson, you seem to be reacting on the basis of previous disagreements with Driscoll, not on the merits of this book.

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Permission

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I'm baffled how someone can criticize Mark for not safeguarding his wife's reputation, as if he wrote the book without her permission or input, when in fact she co-wrote the book with him. And their transparency seems to me to be appropriate -- not 100% transparency and not salacious, but honest enough to make it clear that they have had significant problems and sins, individually and together.

Her giving permission doesn't make his exposure of her sin appropriate. When Mary was found with child, what was Joseph's response? Is there any example in Scripture where sexual sin was examined and discussed to the lengths that MD does in his messages and books?

Phil Johnson has a good point when he asks why Driscoll's 'prophetic' gifts only work for sexual sins- why doesn't he expose tax evaders, or shoplifters?

I've seen and heard the fruit of his kind of teaching- young women harassed by their husbands to perform acts they are uncomfortable with, some of which are not healthy, and a few that are flat out dangerous. Instead of feeling safe and cherished, they are pressured to constantly make their sex life more and more exciting, thrilling, ecstatic...

If a relationship is dysfunctional, there are many ways to get help in a proper, discreet manner. Sometimes the first person the spouse needs to see is a physician.

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dmyers wrote: Have you read

dmyers wrote:
Have you read the chapter in question -- Chapter 1 of the book, the chapter summarizing the Driscolls' personal experience? You've set up a straw man. The chapter doesn't emphasize shock, graphic depictions of conjugal activity, or immature and coarse jesting. "Any pastor" who would regard Chapter 1 as behavior "that even the unsaved are embarrassed at" is part of the problem I identified in my first post -- i.e., the Church's failure to talk enough, honestly and constructively, about sex. Like Johnson, you seem to be reacting on the basis of previous disagreements with Driscoll, not on the merits of this book.

What about chapter 10?

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DMyers

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Have you read the chapter in question -- Chapter 1 of the book, the chapter summarizing the Driscolls' personal experience? You've set up a straw man. The chapter doesn't emphasize shock, graphic depictions of conjugal activity, or immature and coarse jesting.

No, I haven't read it because it's been out for barely one week. I'll be honest - I have no desire to read it based on the reviews that I've read from http://www.challies.com/book-reviews/book-review-real-marriage ]Challies and http://teampyro.blogspot.com/2012/01/evangelical-exhibitionists.html Phil Johnson .

Tim wrote this on the book:

Quote:
A chapter earlier they look to Song of Solomon and state that each verse points to a very specific sexual act. There is no subtlety in describing sexual deeds and misdeeds; rather, everything is explained in detail. Some of these acts are so intimate (perhaps invasive is also an appropriate word) that many readers will never have considered that they even exist. As a husband I would not want my wife to read some of what this chapter contains. This is not prudishness but protection. It is one thing to address specific questions that have arisen within the marriage relationship; it’s another thing altogether to introduce those questions to the marriage relationship.

Finally, Mark’s abuse of The Song of Solomon has been widely noted and discussed, but he continues to treat it as a graphic sex manual. To treat it this way is to utterly miss the point.

And Phil writes this (underline is my emphasis):

Quote:
After hours of writing and half a dozen drafts, I've decided not to review or link to Mark Driscoll's latest book, Real Marriage. Over the past two weeks or so, lots of our readers have written via e-mail, Twitter, and Facebook to ask for a TeamPyro review of the book. Last week I said I'd go ahead and do it. But after trying for most of the weekend to write a review without breaching the boundaries of propriety and chaste conversation, I'm throwing in the towel.

The book is the umpteenth incarnation of Driscoll's infamous homilies on sex and the Song of Solomon. It is by no means the first book in which he has dealt with supposedly taboo sexual topics in graphic ways that are calculated to shock. (Now that I think of it: Has he ever written a book that doesn't somehow get around to the same themes that make up the table of contents of Porn-Again Christian?)

For several years, one of Driscoll's websites has featured a lot of the same kind of explicit material that recent reviewers have found so offensive. (The website actually includes some links and recommendations that point readers to even more outlandish and sex-saturated websites, such as "Christian Nymphos" and XXXChurch.) So the current controversy about the book's second half is literally years late. I'm quite amazed so many influential bloggers and Christian leaders seem totally unaware that Driscoll has been teaching this same stuff for years.

I think it's safe to say that there is very little, if any, merit in intentionally subjecting myself to a barrage of unwanted sex advice from a pervert. The fact that said pervert is a 'pastor' is what makes it worse, and the fact that Christians love this guy and what he does makes me ill.

Furthermore, even though chapter 1 may not cover sex in graphic detail, there are sections of the book - large sections according to the reviewers - and one particular chapter about whether or not certain sex acts are acceptable for Christians, covering everything from explaining what they are to how to do them and more. Now as I said before, there is a time and place for Christians to discuss sex and sexual matters within the framework of redemption. But there are some other Scriptural passages that come into play for believers for how we can/should talk about these things:

Ephesians 4:29-30

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Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

Ephesians 5:1-10

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Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.

Phil. 4:8-9

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Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Finally,

Quote:
"Any pastor" who would regard Chapter 1 as behavior "that even the unsaved are embarrassed at" is part of the problem I identified in my first post -- i.e., the Church's failure to talk enough, honestly and constructively, about sex. Like Johnson, you seem to be reacting on the basis of previous disagreements with Driscoll, not on the merits of this book.

Yes, I am reacting on the basis of previous disagreements with him. As I said before, Driscoll's cult-like following is built largely on the crude, immoral, and wicked obsession with sex, beer, and a misguided ideal of 'Christian liberty'. By his fruit I know him, and that's sufficient to say that I want no part of him, his book, or his kind.

"Our task today is to tell people — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells
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Cause for concern
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What Driscoll's ministry is (and what it isn't)

Jay C. wrote:

Yes, I am reacting on the basis of previous disagreements with him. As I said before, Driscoll's cult-like following is built largely on the crude, immoral, and wicked obsession with sex, beer, and a misguided ideal of 'Christian liberty'. By his fruit I know him, and that's sufficient to say that I want no part of him, his book, or his kind.

Disclaimer: what I say here is in no way an attempt to defend the book being discussed (I haven't seen or read it), nor is it an attempt to defend Driscoll from some of the well-known things he has written and said.

However, having now attended twice (as a visitor) one of Driscoll's satellite Mars Hill churches in the greater Seattle area, I can say that the people that attend that church are most definitely NOT a "cult-like following ... built largely on the crude, immoral, and wicked obsession with sex, beer, and a misguided ideal of 'Christian Liberty." I saw, met with, and talked with a relatively normal congregation of people meeting on the Lord's day for worship, and while I didn't know them, of course, they didn't strike me as refugees from other churches looking for all the liberty they could exercise. In fact some of them were there looking for *stronger* teaching and better doctrine than they had been getting at other local evangelical ministries.

I heard two messages on those two occasions, one via video from Mark Driscoll, and one on Christmas day given by a local speaker. Not only did Pastor Driscoll not pull any punches about the text with which he was dealing (which probably was not appreciated by some of those attending -- after all, this was the northwest), and preached the Word with power, he did not display any of the crude speech for which he is infamous, so it's clearly not something that comes into play in every message, or every time he opens his mouth.

The message by the local speaker, while not as hard-hitting, was just as in line with scripture as the message by Driscoll. While I didn't really think much of the music used in the church (both times, it was just a guy with a guitar, mostly singing songs I knew, though there were unusual timing changes, making it hard to sing, and the vocal quality had too much of a grunge-type sound to my ears), the service was done decently and in order, and I would have a hard time saying it was not done in a godly fashion.

Again, I'm not trying to defend things he has done that should be called into question or confronted, but I can say at at least one of the Mars Hill churches, your categorization of the church/people/etc. is completely unwarranted.

Dave Barnhart