Now that John MacArthur has thoroughly and fully spoken on the subject, perhaps  my complaints will be taken a little more seriously, eh?

Oh, what subject? Read MacArthur


and here

and here

and here

If you want to reference my complaints, please see my posts in the archives connected with the preacher in question. See also this post where I express my dismay about some who might be in a certain ecclesiastical camp.

I really have to applaud Dr. MacArthur on this issue. I highly recommend, no, urge and admonish you to read his posts if you have not already done so. They are very well done. Would that fundamentalists would be so strong. Worried that they are not and don’t see the need to be. I’ll give you MacArthur’s closing paragraphs after the jump…

Here they are:

It is past time for the issue to be dealt with publicly.

Finally, it seriously overstates the involvement of John Piper and C. J. Mahaney to say they are “discipling” Mark Driscoll. In the first place, the idea that a grown man already in public ministry and constantly in the national spotlight needs space to be “mentored” before it’s fair to subject his public actions to biblical scrutiny seems to put the whole process backward. These problems have been talked about in both public and private contexts for at least three or four years. At some point the plea that this is a maturity issue and Mark Driscoll just needs time to mature wears thin. In the meantime, the media is having a field day writing stories that suggest trashy talk is one of the hallmarks of the “New Calvinism;” and countless students whom I love and am personally acquainted with are being led into similar carnal behavior by imitating Mark Driscoll’s speech and lifestyle. Enough is enough.

Yes, I did inform John Piper and C. J. Mahaney of my concerns about this material several weeks ago. I itemized all of these issues in much more thorough detail than I have written about them here, and I expressly told them I was preparing this series of articles for the blog.

To those asking why pastors Piper and Mahaney (and others in positions of key leadership) haven’t publicly expressed similar concerns of their own, that is not a question for me. I hope you will write and ask them.

All I can say is, “Hear, hear!” Thank you, Dr. MacArthur.



  1. Is this a separating issue for MacArthur, because he doesn’t inform what to do with it, except that it is wrong. Phil Johnson hints at separation in his sermon at the Shepherd’s Conference. Not instructing in separation is a problem. Is all we have to do is speak against something that someone else has done. The confrontation over sin is only the first step. Doesn’t he understand this?

    • Hi Kent,

      Yes, that is the $64,000 question. But it is very interesting how MacArthur closes the article. He is basically doing a put up or shut up to Piper and Mahaney. I don’t think this story is finished yet.

      But MacA has been willing to settle for tough talk and stop at that in the past.

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  2. I agree that what he and Phil Johnson say is refreshing. It opens up a huge door on the application of Scripture that evangelicals haven’t touched to my knowledge.

  3. I know I seem to be in the minority here (in Christendom), but I do not believe the Song Of Solomon describes married love at all. It describes the courtship and fellowship of Solomon and his bride – and is a perfect parallel in all particulars with our walks with the Lord. The Song ends with the engaged woman looking forward to his return to take her away and marry her – which is where all true believers are (ie. waiting for the Bridegroom to return and take us to the marriage supper of the Lamb). Chapter 3 looks BACK to the time of their espousal (which means engagement, not marriage). Seeing as they are not married within the song itself (and the Song ends with the woman still awaiting the return of Solomon), sex anywhere within it (veiled or not) would totally contradict the whole Word of God and mar the picture of our walks with the Lord (seeing as fornication is against God – whether spiritually or physically).

    I have gleaned so much from Spurgeon, Matthew Henry, Hudson Taylor, and various other sound commentators of the past – and none of them make the Song of Solomon refer to what happens after marriage (ie. and symbolically, what happens after Christ returns for His bride) – but what happens here and now day by day as we await His return.

    This book describes Solomon (and Christ) seeking his bride, the developing love and close fellowship between them, the outward darkness of trials, their engagement, what each looks like in the others’ eyes, the inward darkness of backsliding because of taking her eyes off of Solomon, witnessing, serving her king, waiting for his return – and various other things – all of which (in every particular) pictures the true believer now with their Saviour – various portions of that Song would not make sense if we try to make it apply to AFTER we are married to the Lamb (ie. there will be no more trials, no more backsliding, no more witnessing or serving in His field, etc.). Both Matthew Henry and Hudson Taylor do excellent jobs of showing how all the symbolism used can be defined by tracing those symbols (including the “body parts”) through the rest of the Word of God to see what He meant by each of them. They are not veiled, but they do need to be prayerfully/carefully studied out.

    As a young believer, I was much dismayed and disgusted by this book because of several interpretations given to me – it seemed like smut (and it would be smut if it was describing sexual activity in any way – seeing as it is a parallel to our walks with the Lord and we are not married yet – it is NOT describing our relationships with our physical spouses, but with the Lord). But since I started studying sound commentators like Henry, Taylor, and Spurgeon, this book has been such a tremendous blessing. So much opens up every time I read it, and it all relates to me right now in my walk with the Lord.

    Yes, the book describes intimacy with the Lord – but not sexual intimacy, but the intimacy of close fellowship and a developing relationship, and the anticipation of a lifetime (or eternity) spent together one day – the time when the Lord returns and the shadows flee away forever.

    • Hi Jerry,

      Thanks for the comment. You are right that you are in the minority at least among modern commentators.

      I haven’t really considered the idea that the Song presents entirely the courtship period, so I will have to re-read it sometime with that possibility in mind. From my recollection of previous studies, I would side with the interpretation that it reflects on married love. If that view is correct, the material as presented is certainly not inappropriate and also, as John MacArthur recently pointed out, not explicit at all.

      As for the allegorical interpretation or application, regardless of the basic interpretation, I really find no warrant for that view. Unless the Scriptures themselves give us a reason for making a passage an allegory, we are treading on dangerous ground to take it on ourselves to make that interpretational leap. For example, we know that in a sense we can take Sarah and Hagar allegorically for the purposes of the arguments of Galatians because the Bible makes that application, but for us to do that where the Bible has not done that is another matter entirely.

      But regardless of the interpretational argument, it is no question that Driscoll’s treatment and crude jokes about it are completely inappropriate. Some of it at least is simply blasphemous and true Bible believers should have nothing to do with him and shouldn’t be recommending him in any way.

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  4. Brother Don, please consider and compare Psalm 45 with elements of the Song of Solomon to see if the allegorical interpretation is warranted. The same kind of symbolism (and even some of the same symbolism – ie. the same pictures) is used in both – and I am certain you would accept the allegorical interpretation of Psalm 45.

    • Hi Jerry

      One difference with Ps 45 is the key verses that identify the object of the Psalm as much more than the immediate reference to an earthly king.

      Psalm 45:6 Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre.

      I don’t know of any passage in Song that elevates our understanding as this verse does. But the interpretation of Ps 45 wouldn’t be allegorical so much as prophetic. I think there is a distinction. Note: I haven’t read through the Song just now to make my statement, just going on memory. So if you could point me to a similar key verse or passage in Song, you might be able to make the case more strongly.

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  5. Please consider the following parallels:

    1) Psalms 45:8 All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad.

    Song of Solomon 1:3 Because of the savour of thy good ointments thy name is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love thee.
    Song of Solomon 1:12-14 While the king sitteth at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof. A bundle of myrrh is my wellbeloved unto me; he shall lie all night betwixt my breasts. My beloved is unto me as a cluster of camphire in the vineyards of Engedi.

    2) Psalms 45:9 Kings’ daughters were among thy honourable women: upon thy right hand did stand the queen in gold of Ophir.
    Psalms 45:13 The king’s daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold.

    Song of Solomon 4:7 Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee.

    I need to finish getting ready for work, so I am out of time this morning. But the second quotes from Psalm 45 fit our being the bride of Christ, as well as being children of the King of kings (a daughter of the King in this symbolic sense here). All glorious within, no spot in us in God’s sight.