DG06 – When Josh Harris Was Glad He Wasn't Mark Driscoll

DG06 – When Josh Harris Was Glad He Wasn't Mark Driscoll October 1, 2006

Josh Harris reports from one of the discussion sessions – his whole post is great, but what stuck out for me was what he had to say about Driscoll:

Moment I Was Most Glad Not to Be Mark Driscoll: When John Piper gave warm pastoral adjustment and correction to him while he wasn’t there. I thought Driscoll carried himself really well at the conference. God is doing so much through this man. This weekend Mars Hill celebrates it’s ten-year anniversary. Praise God! I love his courage, his passion for God’s Word and church, and his zeal to reach a lost world with the Gospel. And I sure would not have wanted to be the lone representative of the “younger generation” in the midst of the Giants of the Faith assembled at this conference.

But the moment I was most happy not to be Mark Driscoll came after his session, when he had already left for the airport and John Piper commented on his message. Piper began by explaining how he thinks about who he hangs out with, and how he decides who to invite to speak. “I have a litmus paper and it’s 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.” The audience clapped loudly for this.

Then Piper went on to share that he does have some differences with Driscoll on some so-called “right hand” issues of style that he feels free to share with Driscoll. Then he went on to share a specific one, noting that Driscoll would get to see this on video. (This was the moment when I was glad I wasn’t Mark!) As if he were speaking to Mark he said (and I paraphrase): A pastor cannot be clever and show Christ as glorious. Mark Driscoll, you’re clever. You have an amazing ability to turn a phrase and make statements that draw people back week after week. But it’s dangerous. So many pastors will see you and try to imitate you and then try to watch all the movies and TV shows so they can try to be like you. In essence, Piper was bringing correction to certain aspects of Driscoll’s style and delivery, while stating that they agreed on the most important issues of doctrine.

Driscoll has thick skin and will take this like a man. I can only imagine that Piper’s words will sting a little. But the wounds of a friend are worth the sting. And that’s definitely the spirit in which Piper delivered them.

I felt in his statement not just a correction for Driscoll, but for me and every other young preacher learning to proclaim the good news of the glorious Savior. Thank God we get to learn from guys like Piper. Thank God they’re talking to us. I’d rather be berated by John Piper than cooed over by someone else.

We young guns have a lot to learn. We can’t be satisfied with being clever. We have to learn to show Christ as glorious. I see Driscoll doing this more and more, and I know that by God’s grace he will only improve in the days ahead. I’m glad that our generation has older heroes in the faith like John Piper who are willing to not only give us a chance to minister alongside them, but also provide the leadership to help us see what needs to improve.”

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