At this year’s Expositor’s Conference there was a Q&A session in which a concerned pastor asked Al Mohler about the influence of Mark Driscoll. Mohler’s answer was winsome and helpful. He helpfully balanced being encouraged that Driscoll is preaching the gospel while at the same time expressing concern at some of his emphases. As he says, we ought to be able to be grown ups about this issue and other similar ones. There is no good reason that we can’t discuss this winsomely and with discernment.
Here is a transcription of that part of the Q&A; if you’d rather listen, click here. (Note: This happened in October, long before the book Real Marriage, so do not take this as Mohler’s reaction to that book)
Question: I work with college students, mostly leading them to Christ and discipling them, and one of the big influences they have in their life right now is pastor Mark Driscoll and the ministry that he’s doing. I’d just like to hear from you just what you feel like to be some effects of sitting under him on YouTube or from his website, what kind of things that I need to be prepared for just ministering to young college students just listening to his teaching?
Mohler: You had a better question? [laughs] I told you it’s dangerous to turn left. It never works, just take that as a parable. Now I appreciate the question and I’m not going to dodge it. Here’s the thing—we ought to be grown ups, we can talk about these things, we want, together, to be a company of discerning men and we want to think about these things.
One of the things that we need to say, first of all, is that, wherever the gospel is to be found we need to be happy about that. And I’m thankful that Mark Driscoll believes in, teaches and preaches the gospel of Jesus Christ. I appreciate and admire his boldness and his tenacity, being in a very secular place for a long period of years to preach with such boldness the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Gospel has implications. Pastor Driscoll and I would not agree on all those implications. I have great concerns about what I would consider to be excessive contextualization. Now I do think we need to acknowledge that all of us contextualize. I’m not here in pajamas. There’s a certain contextualization that is taking place here. I’m using the English language; if I came here speaking German, Helmut and Helga in the back would appreciate that greatly but the rest of you would probably be left out of the conversation. So, in other words, we’re always about some kind of contextualization and actually the most dangerous contextualization are things we do not think about. It’s the subconscious contextualization.
I am concerned about contextualization when it comes to, say, to reach a secular society you have to be crude, you have to be, because there’s a difference between being crude and being simple, okay. There’s also a difference between being crude and being candid. I think there’s some things, gospel ministers, actually don’t ever have to talk about, ever, because they’re simply not on the screen of a gospel application. That means an application of the gospel, not an application to be a Christian. I have to watch what I’m saying here. They’re simply not there. I think there are other things that should never be talked about in the full congregation. There are times when the men in the church need to get aside and talk about certain things that only men need to talk about and likewise women, talk about only things women need to talk about. There is a respect for modesty of gender in the New Testament that has to do with leadership, it has to do with older women counseling and teaching younger women. There is also a need in the church at times for there to be an age discrimination. There are things adults need to talk about that parents need to talk about, that children, and for that matter middle schoolers and teenagers don’t need to be a part of. There’s a matter of discernment there.