Q and A with cent

I've been reading your comments about Pastor Mark Driscoll, and I think you need to think about whether you have the authority to make these kinds of comments. For example, you're an advocate of the slogan, "he should repent or step down." How do you justify making such comments?

I justify them as opinions -- not ecclesiastical decisions. There's a vast difference between saying that Mark Driscoll needs to repent or step down (an opinion) and marching over there with a bunch of sandwich-board-wearing librarians and actuaries demanding that Mars Hill Church turn out its pastor and elders.

Others have asked me, btw, whether this is a private matter between MHC and MD. The answer is "no". It stopped being a private matter when Pastor Driscoll wanted a global pulpit. If these were shenanegans going on inside MHC, we could just decide that they're like GUTS Church in Tulsa and ignore them as a group of people using the Bible for their own private purposes. When MD started looking for wider acceptance, he opened the door to wider scrutiny as well.

And let's keep in mind that my blog documents a history of mixed feelings for MD and his ministry. I'm not hardly his biggest fan, but I have never been an outright denier of his methods. However, the masturbation joke on Hughley was simply too much.

And let's be clear: this is about one or two specific incidents which, frankly, anyone who is a Christian ought to be ashamed of -- let alone a pastor speaking as a pastor representing his church and the Gospel.

Does this situation only get worse when you yourself admit (as you have) that you aren't qualified to be an elder?

Nope. Nobody got their nose out of joint when I started blogging and did an 8-part reproach to Tony Campolo for his gross misrepresentations of Calvinism and conservative evangelical christianity. This is not one iota different.

Doesn't a fight like this detract from the declaration of the Gospel?

I think that's a clever repositioning of this matter. See: what's at stake is not, "Does Mark Driscoll preach the (reformed) Gospel?" What's at stake is whether there are qualifications (and therefore disqualifications) for the place of an elder in a local church.

If an elder was stealing or sleeping around, I hope nobody would bat an eye when the least of us opined that he was no longer qualified. It seems to me that a pastor who commits other disqualifications -- such as telling dirty jokes to score points on Hughley's show -- and then refuses to publicly repent has disqualified himself. The really, really crazy thing is that I haven't seen anyone really dismantle that.

Was it a dirty Joke? That is, would you tell it in a place where you were seen as an advocate for the Gospel? If the answer is "yes", then I think there's a lot more leg work for the FOMD (Friends of Mark Driscoll) to work out than they are doing right now.

Are you adding to the Gospel by demanding that Mark Driscoll obtain some level of sanctification in order to keep his pulpit?

This is an interesting ploy -- one being promoted by MD himself in his Gospel Coalition talk. That is: those who think that his filthy talk needs more work than a shrug of the shoulders are somehow detractors of the Gospel, adding works to what Christ has done.

That only works if what people like me are saying is that Mark Driscoll is not a saved person. I'm not saying that -- I wouldn't bother saying that. I'm saying that being saved is not the criterion for elder which is in-play here.

The question is if telling a dirty joke in public is an offense, and if it is should a pastor who tells one specifically repent?

Isn't the standard for propriety culturally affected? That is, isn't it wrong to judge the joking of a pastor in Seattle by the standards of Oklahoma, or Tennessee, or Little Rock, or what have you?

That's an interesting proposition. See: someplace where MD and I would agree is complementarianism -- which is a Biblical standard. That stand, which requires male elders for the local church, doesn't go over very well in Seattle because it is anti-cultural. It is part and parcel of preaching the Gospel because it is a substantive part of the theology of marriage. If one has his soteriology all properly unpacked, but he doesn't have this unpacked properly, he goes right off the rails.

Let me say plainly that this is equally true of coarse jesting -- as exemplified in Eph 5 and Titus 1. So that standard is not "what will they accept in Crete" or "what will they accept in Seattle", but "what does the Bible proscribe?"

What has happened here is that the Bible has proscribed some behavior which Mark Driscoll has frankly embraced. It's not wrong to point that out, and it's not wrong to say it's not pastoral to do those things. It is also not wrong to apologize for doing such a thing in at least an as-obvious way as the mistake/error was made.

And do you know what would cover 80% of the gap between my objections and what has already happened? A simple, public retraction of the behavior. "I was wrong to make a masturbation joke on national television as it was a violation of how Scripture tells all people, let alone pastors, to behave." That ends nearly all of the core controversy.

It's not hard to say you're sorry and you're wrong -- unless you don't believe you are either. And it is in that latter state of mind that all the other concerns gather around.

Thanks for asking.