Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Mark Driscoll at the Crystal Cathedral

You can read the text of Driscoll's 8/23/09 sermon here. If I get this right, you have to pay Schuller $15 to own the sermon. So, read it.

Given that it was transcribed by such a massive organization, the amount of misspellings and typos are surprising. But what about the content?

I'll be brief. I know that someone who is "out for Driscoll" could carp over this and that. It isn't the sermon I think I'd preach, offered the same pulpit.

But HSAT, honestly — Driscoll preached Christ. It is not bad at all. Driscoll did not go off on himself, waste time making himself look cute and edgy and "bad-boy." He simply preached Christ: preached Him as God, preached His atoning death and resurrection, preached His exclusivity. It was Jesus, from start to finish.

Driscoll even talked about our sin, and our need for forgiveness. I imagine Driscoll will be faulted for his "God needs to" riff, but I think it is pretty clear that he means "we need God to." I'll leave catching people at bad syllables and conjunctions to the Pharisees. It's a standard no mortal could meet.

And Driscoll's message would have been adorned were he a person of greater overall credibility, unburdened by baggage of his own persistent creation. But he preached Christ from that apostate pulpit, and I rejoice in that (Philippians 1:18). Now let's pray all the more that Driscoll's life adorn the Gospel (v. 27), by his dealing with those shaming issues.

Given where he's preaching, I didn't love Driscoll's closing prayer, which includes a petition that his hearers "be as people with joy and purpose and passion and pleasure and enthusiasm and hope and joy that never ends." But once again, in context, this is prayed for people who have (as he prays) embraced the real Jesus in living faith.

It's a good sermon.

So what do I think I would have preached, sitting here in the safety of my relative anonymity, in a universe where the likelihood of that invitation is far less than the likelihood that Obama will do a 180 and move America back towards its best founding values?

I have a bit of a history with Schuller. Robert Schuller said he learned "possibility thinking" from Norman Vincent Peale, promoter of "positive thinking." Norman Vincent Peale said he learned "positive thinking" from Ernest Holmes. Ernest Holmes founded the non-Christian mind-science cult from which the Lord saved me.

As a Christ-hating non-Christian, I sometimes heard Schuller. He was kind of like us, but mentioned Jesus more than we did. After my conversion, I thought "Now I can get more out of Schuller!" I tuned in... and bleeagh! It was like a mouth full of dead hay. It was awful. This was what I'd just been saved from.

Schuller effectively denies sin, denies the exclusivity of Christ, is at best a functional universalist, and is well out of the pale of Biblical orthodoxy.

So, in preaching Christ's exclusivity, Driscoll did hammer at Schuller's rotten foundation. In preaching Jesus as He is, rather than how He can help you get what you want, he also brought another critical truth to bear.

I think, if I had only one sermon, I'd have preached God's holiness and our sin, and the unsurmountable crisis that poses; and I'd have preached Jesus as God's only way — and our only hope — of dealing with that crisis.

If I had two, I might have done that and what Driscoll did.

Because what Driscoll did preach was good, and nothing's gained by denying it.

UPDATE: the photographer who snapped the top image is Ronald Hodgman.  He has other pictures of the event here.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the wrap up Dan. I forgot he went out there to preach. I remember we chatted a bit about the subject in CA so I'll definitely give this a read.

Fred Butler said...

Why didn't he wear robes so as to contextualize his visit? He dresses like a grunger at Seattle to reach his neighborhood. I mean, if you are going to reach pseudo-Presbyterian new agers who wear robes... You'd think, right?


DJP said...


DJP said...

Denise, tell me what you think after, please.

VcdeChagn said...
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NoLongerBlind said...


He is wearing "robes", contextually-speaking, compared to his normal attire.

VcdeChagn said...

Given that it was transcribed by such a massive organization, the amount of misspellings and typos are surprising. But what about the content?

Read the rest of the article with interest but pulled this out for a completely unrelated aside:

Have you ever read the Logos version of MacArthur's Romans commentary? I'm amazed at the typos in it. Dozens, maybe even a hundred or so. HSAT, it's Logos' responsibility, not GTY (I verified this with Phil).

After that parenthetical...

I can't even imagine preaching at a place like that. Driscolls sermons grate on my nerves (this is MY problem, not Mark's...) so I probably won't read or listen to it. But I am glad to know that someone I trust says it was a good sermon!

reposted with correct tags.

JackW said...

Nice shoes, must be asking for directions to the basketball court.

Michelle said...

Thank you for giving credit where it is deserved. I agree wholeheartedly that it was deserved here.

He pointed to Christ alone and faithfully testified to His deity and resurrection. He preached the gospel in that dark place. I was struck by how elementary it was, as if he was aware that most of his audience was probably hearing this vital news for the first time and he wanted to get it across simply and unambiguously. That's just speculation on my part.

I loved how he submitted to the sovereignty of God in his closing prayer, acknowledging in different words that it was the Holy Spirit who would have to open the minds and hearts of the lost there and allow them to meet Jesus as Saviour.

DJP said...

Yep. However one is forced to criticize Driscoll on other issues, here, he preached Jesus.

Denis said...

Fred said: He dresses like a grunger at Seattle to reach his neighborhood.

Not to go off on a tangent or anything :) ... but from everything I've seen he dresses like a regular working class guy. Heck, I'm white-collar and the clothes in the picture NoLongerBlind linked to could easily come from my closet or the closet of many of my colleagues - though the blue jeans are often saved for Fridays :).

If anything, it's a suit & tie that would, for him, be dressing like something he's not.

Fred Butler said...


Most grunger types in Seattle do dress like a regular, blue collar type: jeans and a Mickey Mouse T-shirt, flannel, shirt untucked.

Lookit, I hate suits. I certainly hate ties because of my inherited thick, no-neck Butler genes the men are cursed with in my family. Dressing in a suit would not be who I am. Does wearing a suit make me particularly more spiritual than those who do not? No. But dressing up shows a respectability to the activity I am about to engage. I want people to know I am serious about the message I am preaching.

Honestly. The picture of Driscoll in his suit with his black Converse tennis shoes and his Bible folded up in his hand like a magazine or newspaper displays to me a guy who is more of a punk than a guy I would want to preach to me.

Rhology said...

You can watch the sermon here, for free. At least, I did.

And if you didn't catch Michael Horton interviewing Schuller on the White Horse Inn, it's here, and a must-listen.

Fusion! said...

I can honestly say I am glad that you and Pirate Christian have been more than kind. However, at Defending COntending, they have been giving Driscoll grief over calling SChuller a brother. What say you? A gaffe or did he mean it?

DJP said...

I'm only commenting on Driscoll's sermon. Not his suit, sneaks ("trainers," for our BritBros/Sises), or anything else; and I don't see that he called Schuller "brother" in the sermon.

Yep, me, I'd definitely have trouble with that.

Denis said...


Guess we'll have to agree to disagree on this one :), but I don't equate dressing up with respect.

Now I won't get down on guys that do wear a suit (like my pastor!) but I think their choice of clothing is more reflective of the culture they grew up in than anything else. It seems exactly the same as my Dad who always put on a suit to go to work or special occasions - and he was in a very similar line of work as I am today. But I, on the other hand, virtually never wear anything but my "regular" clothes, in or out of the office. I don't think I, or my contemporaries, are being less respectful, I just think clothing trends have changed (and are changing).

I consider clothing (modesty issues non-withstanding), for the most part, is simply a cultural thing.

As far as how he held his Bible, I just assumed he owns a quality Bible that is nice to hold and feel in the hand. Perspectives, I guess.

p.s. As I've said elsewhere (I think), I have found Mark Driscoll's writings beneficial and find him to be a good teacher, at least in what I've been exposed to so far. I am open to hearing where he has failed or been wrong, but find most of the time he gets criticized for seemingly irrelevant things ... like what he wears.

Denis said...

Dan ... sorry for going down that rabbit trail. I'll stop now :)

Paula said...

His mom, when she birthed Him, was a teenaged young woman.

I confess, because of his past comments on this, I got a bit nervous. I'm glad he took the high road (or contextualized b/c or the audience, or whatever).

It was a good sermon. In my mind, the biggest challenge would have been the thought that this might be the only time some of these people would ever hear a clear gospel presentation. OTOH, I'm a Calvinist, so I have confidence that God will use his Word to accomplish his will. There's no magic formula. However, an explanation of the necessity of repentance would have rounded out the sermon nicely.

RE: the wardrobe discussion, my son, who is a senior in high school relayed this story to me last night: At a Baptist youth rally (GARBC) last weekend a bunch of the guys were getting on his case for wearing his hat in the sanctuary (we are new to Baptist protocol)(although he knows to remove his hat for prayer). A lively discussion ensued and finally, Bibles were brandished. The high school boys consulted scriptures they knew on the topic and determined that it was OK to wear the hat UNLESS it would cause someone in the congregation to become upset or cause someone to stumble. Since the crowd was made up largely of teenagers, neither situation was very likely, so he kept the hat on. In our conservative Baptist church with a large senior citizen population on Sunday morning? No hat. It ain't rocket science.

Rachael Starke said...

I liked it too.

I found myself wondering "So - what's Schuller's congregation going to do with that?"

Because it's certainly a whole lot different than anything else they've heard sitting there.

You'd think that if they were paying attention, they either sent angry letters to Schuller insisting he never be invited back, or (hopefully) they thought "Wow, this sure makes a whole lot more sense than what the guy in the wraparound cape has been going on about."

But I've been surprised at my own church to discover that we have quite a few unbelievers who come every week, hear the gospel preached clearly to the point where they should either get angry or get saved (and minus the scataological naughtiness), and....nothing. They keep coming, keep listening, keep placidly not responding.

Which, if I was was a preacher of Arminian persuasion, would make me rethink my profession bigtime.

Terry Rayburn said...


Dittos on your giving credit where credit is due.

I was rather thrilled that Bob's audience heard the real Water of Life, instead of just that fountain/stream water thingy they have there.

By the way, aside from Defending Contending's complaint about calling Bob "brother", they had a previous post on Aug. 23, ripping Driscoll, which I will quote in part:

"There was NOTHING about sin." [D/C's shouted emphasis]

I counted at least five fairly clear and resounding mentions of sin, and saw several other glaring areas where D/C misrepresented Driscoll.

D/C's comments were even worse than "spin".

They were a flagrant known bearing of false witness.

Unless of course the author didn't even listen to Driscoll's sermon...or was struck by temporary deafness...or his fingers slipped on the keyboard and accidentally spelled out "NOTHING" in all caps...repeatedly.

Why can't we just relate facts and truth, as you did in this post, instead of spin?

I hate spin, whether in theology or politics. The facts are enough.

DJP said...

Right, Terry. I would think that most lovers of the real Christ of the Bible, presented with that sermon absent the preacher's name, would say "Oh, they heard this at the Crystal Cathedral? Praise God!"

Mesa Mike said...

Driscoll's sermon outline:

A)Jesus claims that
1) He came down from Heaven;
2) He alone is God;
3) His miracles proved He is God;
4) He is without sin;
5) He could forgive our sin;
6) He was the only way to heaven; and
7) He will rise from death.

B) Jesus asks us, "Who do YOU say that I am?" Answer: "Jesus, I say that You are God and Savior and friend."


OK, so Driscoll preached Jesus. And that's probably more than you usually get at the Crystal Cathedral.

But... So what?
I mean, after all, I'm already basically a good person.
Did I miss something?

NoLongerBlind said...

MM - sounds like you're saying that he presented the solution without first preaching and declaring that they (the hearers) had a problem that needed solving.

Mesa Mike said...


NoLongerBlind said...

As WOTM's Ray Comfort likes to say, that's like telling someone they ought to put on a parachute, and trying to convince them to keep wearing it, no matter how uncomfortable it might be, without telling them the plane is going to crash.

NoLongerBlind said...
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Barbara said...

Erik Raymond addressed this too, over at IrishCalvinist(.com) and one of the commenters there indicated that there was indeed a second sermon (that he heard in person) that the good folks at the Cathedral had yet to post on their site: this one about the cross of Christ. Here's the link:

Sharon said...

This is a different question, but what do you think about accepting invitations to preach from apostate churches? Is any venue for the gospel worthy in itself?

trogdor said...

Any time you get an invitation to bring the Word, you'd better have an extraordinarily good reason to turn it down.

The only Biblical reason that comes to mind is Matthew 7:6 - "Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you." And if you're going to invoke that, you'd better be incredibly certain they're swine intending to trample. If I'm going to err, it's on the side of proclaiming the gospel.

DJP said...

Sharon, here's my answer to that very good question.

Susan said...

Dan, your link to the answer (to Sharon's question) doesn't work.

threegirldad said...

Hmmmm. First, Denis' link to a "quality bible," and now Dan's link -- same problem. If Blogger fritzing out?

This is a test.

Susan said...

3GD--yours works.

Paula said...

Dan's answer to that very good question is to clap his hands over his ears and hum a sea chanty.

DJP said...

Here is the link answering Sharon's question again.

Anonymous said...

Well. the link still doesn't work for me, but I think the problem's on my end.

But I'll have a go at the question about preaching in apostate churches.
I think you do it, always and whenever you can. But, as Driscoll did, preach Christ alone. Nothing else, just basic stuff.

Like Ravi Zacharias in the Mormon Tabernacle. If they want to hear what you think on the gospel, give it to 'em straight and thank God for the opportunity to preach light to the darkness.

Alien & stranger said...

I don't know much about Driscoll, but agree that his message was a change from the bland stuff usually dished up to them, and one hopes and prays that it had an impact.
Also can't help wondering about some people's hang-ups about how he dresses. This is religious and legalistic (remember the Pharisees - religious spirit, spirit of offence?). God looks on the heart not the outward appearance. I'd only have a problem if a person were being sexually provocative. In the flow to which our church relates, we don't use titles, we don't dress up to impress. Yeah, we're casual, but we love and serve the Lord whole-heartedly. Maybe it's time people started to be a bit more real - the WYSIWYG approach.

Susan said...

Dan, that link you posted for Sharon (and us) was great. The illustration was befitting and the message was clear. This old hymn comes to mind:

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.


On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

Susan said...

(Oh, one more thing about that Pyro link you put up: I hope you weren't serious when you said that Father Chester told the people put a picture of Mary in their wallet because they would put their own mothers' pictures there....)

DJP said...

Sorry, Susan, that is exactly what he said. As we carry a photo of our mothers, because we love them, so Mary is our mother, and we should carry her picture, because we love her.

RCs keep doing what they deny to us that they do. I can't tell you how many times I've seen that.

Anonymous said...

I listened to hundreds of hours of Driscoll, and read a bunch of his other stuff. I defended some of his word choices and such to critics on the basis of choosing taste over conetnt, etc.

To put it plainly, I really dug an awful lot of what Driscoll preached and appeared to stand for,and what he has accomplished in a city like Seattle (Pretty freaking cool when a college adds curriculum to try and counter the effect your having in young folks!)

But this Crystal Cathedral gig was not a "taste" issue, it was Christ vs. false prophets - and Mark chose wrongly.

In the weeks leading up to it I attempted to get some sort of explanation as to how he justified appearing there - no one from Mars Hill would respond to questions at all on it.

And then, as if it weren't already disheartening enough to be faced with this by Driscoll, he announces that he is following that visit with a series on false prophets. C'mon!

Had Driscoll given his sermon via a bullhorn in the parking lot or on the sidewalk - proclaiming truth to Schuller's congregation, I'd have cheered him on. But what he did do is openly opposed to the teaching of the Bible. What truck do we Christians have with Baal? None. You don't walk arm in arm with Moloch while proclaiming Christ. And bedding down with the devil's daughter as an excuse to tell her about Christ at breakfast is baloney.

People can label me any way they wish ('hater' 'fundamentalist' etc), but I will no longer listen to, read or promote Driscoll in any way. I can't so long as he parties down with the enemies of God.

DJP said...

Did you read the post and the comments? Why would you think anyone would want to label you anything? In a way, your comment reads as if you've written it and copied it to various blogs.

I'd like to welcome you to interact with the responses already given to your idea that Driscoll shouldn't have been there in the first place. Please feel free.

Terry Rayburn said...


I see the following similarities between Driscoll preaching at CC, and Paul preaching at [the original] Mars Hill:

1. Both are preaching the true gospel of Jesus Christ,

2. Both are preaching right alongside with false teachers in an anti-gospel atmosphere,

3. Both are inevitably criticized by some, and doubtless "heard" by some, not for the first time in their "careers".

What dissimilar things do you see that would cause you to write off Driscoll?

(I'll give you a start: wearng tennis shoes in the middle of $3,000 suits, in the midst of a nervous handshake, and probably under fierce spiritual warfare, he -- could we say "slipped", and called Bob "brother"...OK, I wouldn't have done that.)

Interesting that you mentioned Baal, since Elijah preached alongside the very prophets of Baal.

Speaking for myself, I not only would preach the gospel in the Crystal Cathedral, I would preach it in the Church of Satan.

And I'd likely reach a lot more people from the pulpit than I would with a bullhorn in the parking lot (though certainly nothing wrong with that).

"Bedding down with the devil's daughter"? "Parties down with the enemies of God"?


DJP said...

Amen, Terry.

I'd only add two provisos:

1. Other things being equal
2. If they didn't try to censor me in advance

The first is wiggly, but allows for the one time I had to turn down an invitation on principle - and this wasn't the principle. That case was a hard call for me.

Terry Rayburn said...



You and I often think in reams of fine print footnotes and disclaimers.

We are sick :)

DJP said...

This is absolutely true.

Our poor wives and children.

"So... was that a 'yes,' or a 'no'?"

Terry Rayburn said...

Well, not you. Sorry.

Sharon said...

Just wanted to say thanks for the ongoing discussion. I'm refraining from forming a conclusion until I discuss with my husband who has great respect for you, DJP.

DJP said...

Smart man.

< cue raucous laughter >