Flaws and Friendship Were Not the Problem
November 13, 2014
I deeply appreciate John Piper. His ministries of preaching and writing have meant a great deal to me over the years. I pray that the Lord will continue to use him to bless His church. I point that out because I am not a guy who makes it a point to hate on Piper. I don’t consider it cutting edge to publically disrespect a man who has contributed much good to the body of Christ.
Piper recently addressed the question, “Do you regret partnering with Mark Driscoll?”
On the one hand I appreciate that Piper is addressing the issue of his relationship with Driscoll. The problem is in the way in which the discussion is framed. I don’t know of anyone who has a problem with the fact that Piper befriended Mark Driscoll. Indeed many of us were hoping that Piper and some of the other well-known older Christian leaders connecting with Driscoll would have a maturing impact on his life. Alas.
Dr. Piper mentions Driscoll’s “flaws.” Again, this is not the issue. I don’t know of anyone who criticizes Driscoll for having flaws. All of us, without exception, have flaws. The problem is that the word flaw trivializes what was happening at Mars Hill. Plagiarizing, bullying, foul language, global missions funds being used for local projects, generously offered tithes being used to buy a bestseller, etc. are far more serious than flaws.
What possessed John Piper to promote this man? Piper acknowledges that Driscoll ran his church like a CEO presiding over a corporation. He praises Driscoll’s doctrine while saying that his interpretation of Song of Songs was completely wrong. He acknowledges that Driscoll had become a wealthy man. Over the years Piper has had appropriately strong words for pastors who live and lead in those ways. Nevertheless he invited Driscoll to speak a number of times at his national conference. Many people trusted Driscoll precisely because Piper trusted Driscoll. At the very least this was a failure of discernment. And when a world-famous pastor with great influence lacks discernment the consequences are high.
The controversies surrounding Mark Driscoll were not suddenly discovered six months ago. For years there have been numerous voices sounding an alarm. And now, mere weeks after Driscoll’s resignation from Mars Hill Church the whole enterprise is collapsing. I am not blaming Driscoll’s sins on the well-known men who surrounded him. I do wonder, however, why they chose to promote him so vigorously when there was so much evidence of trouble.
Next Wednesday on Mortification of Spin Carl, Aimee and I will be addressing the question of whether a pastor who has fallen can be restored to the office of pastor.