outrage is easy . . . or is it?

Last week I wrote that outrage is easy. It really is, isn’t it? I commented to a friend that I could simply be a ‘shadow-blogger’ of, say, Christianity Today, and bring you nothing but outrage all the time. So outrage is easy, and we could easily make outrage our constant focus.

In another post, I mentioned a well known Seattle church and pastor. In a recent sermon about worldliness, I commented on an announcement concerning the New Years Eve party held at their church:

Our second annual New Year’s extravaganza! Ring in 2008 in Red Hot Style. This New Year’s Eve party features internationally known artist, Bobby Medina & his Red Hot Band. This 12 piece big band does it all, from Swing, to Latin to Motown and beyond and are widely considering one of the top dance bands in the Northwest.

We’ll be transforming our auditorium into a Red Hot Spot, bringing in an enormous dance floor – TWICE as big as last years, refreshments, dessert, champagne, professional photography in an awesome backdrop designed for the event and all the noise-making party favors you could want. Not to mention a dance contest with cash prizes! At midnight, countdown with close to 1000 other revelers with fireworks live from Seattle’s Space Needle on the big screens. This is going to be an unforgettable party, with great improvements from last year. Get ready to sizzle!

This might be old news to you. I suppose I am way behind in my outrage. I really don’t have time for all the outrage needed these days.

The church, of course, is Mars Hill in Seattle. The pastor is Mark Driscoll. You can watch videos of his messages in various places. I don’t have time to sit and listen to many of them, but even a fairly brief review reveals a man who is quite willing to use profane language to make his points. The earthiness of his communication is well known and is perhaps the area in which he is most criticized.

He is quite antagonistic to fundamentalism. You can see that from remarks he made on the last page of this Christianity Today article. [I think the link will take you to the right page.] If you peruse his church site at all, you will find many things that would make a fundamentalist uncomfortable – the music, the statement from the “what we believe” page that I posted earlier, the attitude and probably more.

Outrage is easy for a fundamentalist in this case . . . or is it?

Driscoll and Piper

John Piper is another well known preacher. I am no fan, as readers of my blog will know. Yet many fundamentalists at least admire his writings and say kind things about him. On Sept 29-Oct 1, 2006, John Piper held his annual Desiring God Conference. Driscoll was an invited speaker. This raised eyebrows among some at the time.

Driscoll’s message at the conference apparently included some of his trademark presentation. It seems that some were perhaps a bit taken aback by it? I haven’t listened to it and don’t know. I read some blog comments at the time that seemed to indicate so. I recalled reading that Piper later made some remarks (after Driscoll had departed the conference) that were construed as something of an acknowledgement that there were aspects of Driscoll’s style he disagreed with. I was under the impression that Piper was attempting to distance himself somewhat from his controversial guest.

Well, maybe not. For a first hand account from an observer, you can see this blog from Josh Harris. [I know who Harris is. I have no time to deal with differences with him in this post!] Scroll down to the section headed “Moment I Was Most Glad Not to Be Mark Driscoll” In this blog, Josh Harris quotes Piper’s explanation of who he invites to speak:

“I have a litmus paper and its called theology,” he said. He referenced a point Driscoll had made in his talk about the importance of holding certain unchanging truths in our left hand that are the non-negotiables of the faith, while being willing to contextualize and differ on secondary issues and stylistically (these are “right hand” issues). Driscoll had listed nine issues we need to contend for, including the authority of God’s word, the sovereignty of God, Penal Substitutionary Atonement, the exclusivity of Christ, and gender roles, to name a few.

So Piper said, “If he [Driscoll] has those nine things in his left hand, I’m not even going to look at his right hand.”

All of this sounds like no distancing to me. Read the whole blog to get the context.

From there, I found a post by Driscoll where he describes his reaction to Piper’s comments and subsequent e-mail exchanges between Piper and Driscoll are posted as further background. In these exchanges, Piper says this:

I would not have .001 seconds hesitation in having Mark Driscoll come back tomorrow to our church or our conference. I LOVE being on the same team and consider my self a learner in your presence more than a counselor.

The mutually supportive relationship continues. In a few days, Driscoll is going to be hosting his National Resurgence Conference 2008: Text & Context / Acts 29 Bootcamp. One of the featured speakers? John Piper.

I ask my fundamentalist friends, those who are generally complimentary of Piper’s writings … is outrage easy?

Do you agree with some fundamentalists [professed] who say that Piper is taking stands we can appreciate and perhaps join with him? Do you think that joining with a Piper will result in joining with Driscoll? Are you comfortable with that?

Outrage is easy . . . or is it?

Dever and Driscoll

As I was thinking about this post, a few blogs from another site flashed across my screen. That would be the 9Marks blog, home to Mark Dever and his cohorts. It seems that Dever spoke recently at the Acts 29 Bootcamp held in Chicago recently. Acts 29 is a Driscoll church planting organization. The first note of this came on Jan 30, Blogging from Acts 29 Bootcamp. Dever’s topic was “Church Planting Evangelism”.

Later that same day came this post: More from Chicago. Here are the relevant comments:

Sitting in on Mark Driscoll and Mark Dever chatting for two hours late last night. Man, I wish I had a tape recorder for that one. It was like mega-church Godzilla and church reform Moth-ra chatting amicably and plotting to flatten Tokyo together.


Met some awesome Acts 29 church planters. These guys are getting great training at the Boot Camp and it’s exciting to see Reformed guys with a heart for planting churches. Did you know that Acts 29 churches earmark at least 10% of their budgets to church planting? I love the mission mindedness.

Please note, these comments are not coming from Mark Dever, but from Michael McKinley, the author of the blog posts and self-designated “swag monkey” for Dever. (Whatever that is!)

And last there was this post: Mark Dever on Cooperating With Acts 29. In it, McKinley shares a direct quote from Dever’s remarks at the conference:

Our differences are enough to separate some of my friends—your brothers and sisters in Christ—from you. And perhaps to separate them from me, now that I’m publicly speaking to you. And I don’t want to minimize either the sincerity or the seriousness of some of their concerns (things like: humor, worldliness, pragmatism, authority).

But I perceive some things in common which outweigh our differences—which the Lord Jesus shall soon enough compose between us, either by our maturing, or by His bringing us home. I long to work with those, and count it a privilege to work with those whom My Savior has purchased with His blood, and with whom I share the gospel of Jesus Christ. I perceive that we have in common the knowledge that God is glorified in sinners being reconciled to Him through Christ. This is not taught by other religions, nor clearly by the ancient Christian churches of the East, or by Rome, by liberal Protestant churches, by Mormons, the churches of Christ, or by groups of self-righteous, legalistic, moralistic Christians. And not only do we together affirm the exclusivity of salvation through faith alone in Christ alone—we agree on the sovereignty of God in life and salvation, the regenerate nature of church members, the importance of church membership and discipline, the priorities of expositional preaching, and evangelism, the importance of authority and a growing appreciation for the significance of complementarianism. These are not slight matters. And they only fire my desire to encourage you and cheer you on, until you cross that finish line that the Lord lays down for us.

Now, fundamentalist brethren and Dever fans, what do you make of that? Consider this blog, posted on the Acts 29 site, also citing Dever’s remarks.

It is said that it is possible for fundamentalists to expect a growing together between us and conservative evangelicals like Dever and Piper. Really? And would that mean that we would also be growing together with the likes of Driscoll and his ilk? Consider this comment from the Acts 29 blog referenced above:

I attended this week’s boot camp in Chicago, and I walked away totally blessed for having been there. What you are writing about is exactly one of the main joys I took away from the week. To see Pastor’s of different denominations and contexts (Dever, Stetzer, Driscoll, Patrick, etc.) coming together and uniting under the glorious cross of Christ. I was thoroughly blessed about a year and half ago when attending John Piper’s National Conference I was first exposed to Mark Driscoll. I highly respect John Piper, and highly respect him more for bringing Mark to the conference. It just goes to show that while we minister in different contexts we can still be unified under the banner of Christ crucified!!! I thank you guys for bringing Dever and for working hard to unite us to further the Kingdom.

Notice what this fellow cites as his introduction to Mark Driscoll. Will any association with the likes of Piper, Dever, and whoever (pick your name from the list of the young fundie evangelical heroes) lead to closer association, yea, even cooperation with the likes of Driscoll?

So brethren, is outrage easy?

What are we to make of the silence and apparent ambivalence of fundamentalist leaders?

Outrage is easy . . . or is it?

If it is easy, where is the outrage from fundamentalist leaders over the associations of Piper, Dever et al with Driscoll and his group? I hope it will be forthcoming. I hope that there will finally be someone besides a small church insignificant pastor like me calling for this criticism. Our young men need to be made aware that their flirtation with Piper et al has consequences.

Oh, they say that we can eat the meat and spit out the bones… can we? Do you realize how dangerous associations can be?

In my research, I discovered several sites criticizing Driscoll for his ongoing ties to Emergant ideas. He has made much of his alleged withdrawal from the Emergent groups, but has he really distanced himself far enough? Specifically, the criticism is that Driscoll embraces writers promoting mystic philosophy. Evidence for this is said to be on the Mars Hill Recommended Reading list. You can see the criticisms here, here, and here. Some of the criticism points to books by Thomas Merton, which no longer appear to be listed. Still, a number of the books mentioned in the critiques still appear on the Mars Hill list.

The ease with which Piper and Dever are willing to associate with Driscoll is disturbing. It seems that the major criteria for cooperation and unity is Reformed Theology. Is Reformed Theology so important that all other considerations should be swept aside? Is that where our fundamentalist leaders who are contemplating rapprochement with Piper are heading? Is that all that matters?

Piper and Dever were not born yesterday. They are not novices who need training. They know where they stand and why. See Dever’s statement above.

Why are we seeing fundamentalists make mild statements about their compromise? Consider, for example, these words:

Conservative evangelicals are allies, and not enemies, of historic (mainstream) fundamentalists. I disapprove of the myopia that sees no distinction between conservative evangelicals such as Piper, and the now-old New Evangelicalism of Ockega, Carnell, Graham, etc. While there are issues to discuss between mainstream fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals, attacks and recriminations are out of order.

You can find the whole comment at #20 in the comments on this post.

So, brethren…

Outrage is easy . . . or is it?



  1. You would probably know that I agree with you Don on this. I believe that there is also a underlying misunderstanding of the gospel if it doesn’t separate. See 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1. Who are His sons and daughters? The gospel separates, not just positionally, but also practically. God is seeking for true worshipers, not just objects of reconciliation.

  2. Why do you think there is so little outrage (or none), Don?

  3. Hi Kent

    If you mean so little outrage here, I can think of a few reasons.

    1. Low readership.
    2. The shock of having to deal with a criticism of favorite heroes.
    3. Unwillingness to agree with me.

    If you mean so little outrage in general, I think things might be worse than we thought.

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  4. Or it could be that there is no real surprises here. After all, neither Piper nor Dever are fundamentalists.

  5. Hi Andy, I suppose that’s true…

    But the fawning over these two especially in certain locations makes me wonder how well known that is. For example, in the SI interview of Dever, Jason asked him ‘Are you a fundamentalist?’ Response: “Yes.” Then came some qualification of that response.

    I think that many are viewing them as ‘semi-Fundamentalists’ at least. Look at Joel T’s comments and Bob B about paradigm shifting, new coalitions, etc. (or words to that effect).

    The facts, however, say something quite different. And our leadership is not strong enough in their statements concerning these men. Witness the FBF Piper statement.

    That’s my view anyway.

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  6. Don,

    I just listened to Dever’s message to the Acts29 church planters. There is a link on Andy Naselli’s site:


    His introduction was quite disappointing, I admit. The thing the Dever misses, I think, is that the things these Acts29 guys are doing says things contrary to the gospel that they and Dever both embrace. So, for example, even though Paul and Peter had the truths of the gospel in common, that did not negate the need for Paul to publically confront Peter when his actions denied the gospel.

  7. Thanks for the link, Andy.

    The latest news makes me wonder where all of this is heading. Clearly some want to cosy up to Dever et al with no thought to who you become linked with in that relationship. Others are offering appropriate challenges to these men to make changes to their long held belief systems.

    Personally, I think it is all too optimistic. I can’t imagine change from the conservative evangelicals. They may be conservative and we can thank the Lord for any significant contributions they make on that score. But they ARE evangelicals, and as Dr. Bob used to say, there’s a lot of JELLY in evangelicals — you won’t be able to get them to commit to anything that amounts to a separation from their fellow evangelicals, even if they will criticize their philosophy, doctrine, etc.

    Time will tell, but I fear a good deal of damage will be done to orthodoxy in the meantime.

    The only hope we have is that the King is on his throne and will build his church. Men may fail, but the King never.

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3