A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Translation of Superpastor Piper on his friendship with Driscoll

John Piper waxed lyrical in answer to the question “Do you regret partnering with Mark Driscoll?” when it was recently put to him.  I was asked to write a translation of Piper’s answer. I observe the language of manipulators because it helps me and others like me to stay safe. As we document how sin is minimized by Driscoll’s allies, we can observe how they are pressuring anyone who questions his sincerity or his repentance and the language they use to apply this pressure. This mirrors what often happens to targets of abuse. There is pressure to accept the abusers’ claims of repentance, pressure to reconcile, and it is insinuated or outright stated that those who don’t are bitter, unforgiving, and not true Christians. I notice the patterns in the language and I write about that sometimes and I hope and pray that it helps people who are confused by claims of change and by pastoral counsel to go home and submit harder.

Note, in the text below I have added paragraph breaks in the transcript for ease of reading. ACFJ has taken a screen shot of the original transcript in case Desiring God should ever scrub it.

Link to original transcript [Internet Archive link]

Color coding: Black = Interviewer and Piper’s answers (Nov 13th 2014, by John Piper. ©2014 Desiring God Foundation).  Red= my translation of Piper’s words. Purple italics = my comments.

Interviewer: About 100 emails have come in from listeners regarding Mark Driscoll, and your relationship with him. Mostly the questions are centered on whether you now regret partnering with Mark Driscoll in the past? Secondarily, are there any lessons you’re taking away from your relationship with him. And third, do you agree with the decisions of Christian bookstores that have decided to pull Mark Driscoll’s books off shelves?

John Piper: Well let me take the, maybe I forget the order, the first and the last, I think, the issue of regret and the issue of books on or off shelves and just dispose with those quickly and then tackle lessons a little bit more extensively.

First, no regret. John Piper has no regret for befriending Mark Driscoll, going to Mark Driscoll’s church and speaking at his events, or having him come to the Desiring God conference. I do not regret that. My regret is that I was not a more effective friend. If I had been a better friend I could’ve saved him! Be a good friend now and call him to repentance.

Mark knew he had flaws Flaws. Driscoll has flaws. He’s just flawed like all of us. Doesn’t anyone sin anymore? He knows he has flaws. And I knew he had flaws. He knew that I knew he had flaws.

There were flaws of leadership attitude He abused his flock because of flaws, not sin or pride. Not arrogance, just flaws, flaws of unsavory language that I think is just wrong for Christians to use, That’s true. Christians shouldn’t talk that way. flaws of exegetical errors, say, in regard to the Song of Solomon. I wrote a long critique of his use of the Song of Solomon. I wrote him personally about these I’d like to see those letters.

But I always hoped that in those cases the relationship with me and with others would be redemptive and helpful. I hoped we’d rub off on him and we wouldn’t have to call sin, “sin.” I hoped we could all go on happily introducing each other and selling each other’s books at conferences and none of his flaws would have to be addressed so publicly. This is the same thinking that keeps abusers in power in family units. Pastors think they are counseling abusers on their minor flaws and their counseling will be ‘redemptive and helpful’ and the abusers will knock it off — or their targets will give up hope of ever getting it to stop. Then there’s no ugliness for anyone to endure but the target, and no loss of income.

He certainly gave me more time and counsel than I deserved. See, he’s a nice guy. People are being too hard on him. I remember him sitting in my dining room, spending a long time with me and Noel, giving us good counsel about the last chapter of our ministry, and then going home and producing a long paper for me and to give guidance to me and the elders. I’m thinking of Psalm 1 here. “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers.” Why on earth was Piper getting counsel from someone with so many “flaws?”

He didn’t have to do that. I didn’t even ask him to do it. So there was a mutuality about this and I felt loved by Mark and I wanted to love him in return. Abusers often ingratiate themselves. They give marvelous gifts of time and or money. This is so can they can play the “After all I’ve done for you!” card when others try to call them on their sin.

I still do hope for the best in Mark’s life and ministry. Mark’s ministry? So, no, I don’t regret it. Can you imagine the Apostle John saying “I still hope for the best in Diotrephes’ life and ministry?”

With regard to his books, whether they should sit in shelves in bookstores or churches or homes, that is a tough call. If he is disqualified from being an elder should he still exercise the teaching office of an elder through his books? That is how one might ask the question. But sooner or later a book becomes detached from the personal life Personal life? Do you mean “flaws?” What about sin? What about the sin of abusing his flock? Was his bullying leadership just “sins of his personal life”? of an author and who is the author anyway? and stands on its own merits as true or helpful or not. So are Driscoll’s books helpful or not? You’ve evaded the question.

And I can see a temporary reaction to Mark stepping down resigning rather than submitting to his board of elders by bookstores or churches where they pull those back so as not to give any kind of public affirmation of mistakes Mistakes, not sin, just mistakes. I’m saying “mistakes” now because I wore out the word “flaws” earlier and perhaps it’ll remind you of Robert Morris’s referring to Mark’s “mistakes” and he can scratch my back later. You’re welcome Robert. that Mark may have made, May. They’re just possible mistakes, forget about the fact that his abuse is well documented. Let’s just go with “may” but then maybe in years to come the books will emerge as helpful since I think most of what he has written has been true and helpful. Please don’t stop selling my books. Ever.

So let me turn to the lessons. What have I learned? What can we learn from these recent events?

[1] Number one, people are very complex. They are multi layered. They are often paradoxical. The psalmist cries out: Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent of hidden faults. That is an amazing statement. Some of our sins, he is saying, are hidden to ourselves. He just asked: I cannot discern my sins. We have flaws and sins that we cannot ourselves fathom. Sin leveling.

[2] And the second lesson follows. We desperately need to take seriously what wise counselors tell us about ourselves. Yes we do. Driscoll should have years ago. We have been asking you to apologize for your “flawed” remarks on abuse for some time. Will you? If we have sins that are hidden from ourselves, then perhaps they are not hidden to others and we do well to listen. I think that is implied in that text. Perhaps? True. Perhaps they are well documented and people who claim to care about their friends should call sin “sin” not “flaws” or “mistakes.” We aren’t fooled by these terms. Unbelievers aren’t fooled by these terms. Just say “sin” like the Bible says “sin.” No one is surprised when sinners sin. Christ died for sin. It’s not a bad word.

[3] Third. This also follows from those two. Sometimes — and I have experienced this — sometimes you can see what others are saying, pointing out to you about yourself and sometimes you can’t. And if you can see it, then you repent or clarify and you fight the sin. But what if you can’t even after others tell you what they see — you look and you don’t see it in the way they see it. What then? Well, in order to have any integrity, I think you have to go with what you see. Could you pray about it? Could you ask God to show you? Otherwise you would be always jerked around by everybody on the street that tells you they see something and you say: Well, I don’t think it is there. And Paul certainly did not agree with all the criticism that came against him, nor Jesus. When they said he had a demon, he didn’t have a demon. So they were wrong. His critics were wrong. Did he just compare Driscoll to Christ and the Apostle Paul? Or is he comparing himself to Christ and Paul? 

And the result is either a struggle, in other words, when you have people around you who say this is true of you and you don’t think it is true of you, then the result is there is a struggle for leadership and one or both stands down. Or there is a fight and somebody wins. And that is the ugliest of all. Struggle for leadership. Fight. Piper’s mindset is leaking through here — his focus on power and control. It’s easy for him to mutualize sin where convenient, but mutuality in relationships doesn’t come so easily to him. One person has to be on top, always. Oh, but it’s easy to be mutual when narcissistic men buddy up with each other and mutually collude with each others sins flaws: then they scratch each other’s backs in mutual delight. 

And Mark stood down refused to submit to his elders and that is, you know, probably a concession to yes much of what you say is true and probably it is a measure of I don’t think you saw me right. Since I’m such an experienced and wise leader I can pretty much read Driscoll’s mind and guess his motives. And that is just life. I mean, Paul and Barnabas couldn’t work together because they did not perceive their own flaws. I’m ascribing flaws to both Paul and Barnabas to remind you that in it takes two to tango — all interpersonal conflict must be mutually caused. For anyone who is counting, that’s 9 times he’s used the word “flaws.” Somebody was amiss amiss” is handy alternative for “flaws”  and they couldn’t see it. And I have seen it over and over again. It is just one of the heartaches of relationships. Did I see a crocodile tear in the corner of your eye, John? 

[4] So a fourth lesson is that biblical leadership structures are not luxuries. I think the trend among some mega churches to put in place outside councils with authority that are not based in the elders of the local church is an unbiblical, unwise approach towards church leadership. I think the biblical pattern of leadership is that every church should have a team of elders, vocational, non vocational, all with one vote. Never mind that I didn’t publicly chastise Mark Driscoll for wresting control of the Mars Hill church government structures by re-writing its ByLaws back in 2007,  and I didn’t — as I should have done as one of the most famous friends/mentors of Mark — keep the public pressure up till Mark ditched the autocratic Bylaws. Don’t look at my sins mis-steps, just look at my achievements in my own church: The preaching pastor has greater sway, not by having a veto power with all the votes, but by being a wise, thoughtful, exemplary leader. As soon as I could I put in place at Bethlehem a leadership structure that gave me one vote, first among 20, then among 30, then among 40. And that is where it ended. I had one voted, which means I could be voted down easily. But I never doubted I had great authority at that church ever, because of the pulpit and because I tried to be a teacher leader. I attempted to lead with truth, not with official constraints. I never wanted to use office or political power to get my way. I wanted people to be persuaded. So I think structure really matters and there are a lot of, I don’t know if it is a lot, but there are some mega churches today that I think are going off in an unwise direction. Behold me and my achievements, while I airbrush and sweep under the rug Mark Driscoll’s history of tyrannical leadership. There are fourteen “I”s in that paragraph.

[5] I think there is a lesson here about money and salaries of pastors. I think it is a huge mistake to view pastors as corporate executives with huge salaries in the two, three four, five, six, seven eight hundred thousand dollar range. That, to me, is a clear danger signal that the elders and the pastor have their heart in the wrong place. I don’t know Mark Driscoll’s salary, but I think the corporate mindset was too prominent and so the warning to us stands. Why didn’t you publicly call out and name Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill for this ages ago?

[6] Sixth lesson. I have got eight of these [lessons]. There is a lesson of how the same theology, Reformed or Arminian on paper can coexist with very different personalities and leadership styles and sins. There is no theology on paper or merely in preaching that keeps a man from sin. Loving God keeps people from sin. Peter’s withdraw from eating with the Gentiles in Galatians two was sin and it was not owing to a defective theology. Paul said very clearly in verse 14: “I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth.” And he means the very truth they believe. Human beings don’t live up to their theology. Therefore when a person falters another euphemism in their behavior it is a mistake to jump immediately, without wider considerations, to ‘Oh, defective theology,’ because there are sinners and some serious ones in every branch of theology. Don’t stop buying Reformed books just because of Driscoll. Keep buying my books. So Peter knew the truth and he didn’t walk in it. And that is always a possibility with whatever truth is at stake. And Mark Driscoll has done much good in speaking and writing much truth. Thousands of people really have been saved and really have been built up in biblical gospel truth and those people should not question their salvation or their truth just because he might in some cases have walked out of step with the truth. Might?

[7] God’s kingdom and his saving purposes in the world are never dependent on one man or one church or one denomination. God is God and his kingdom is coming and no one can stop it and his Word is not bound. Piper’s shortest lesson of these eight lessons is the only one that needs no translation. Interesting that when he gets himself out of the way he can utter plain unalloyed truths. 

[8]  And the last lesson I thought of was, let him who thinks that he stand take heed lest he fall. The way he has applied this is sin-levelling. Shame he doesn’t take more heed as to whether he’s standing true and upright himself. But of course, he’s just given himself so much wriggle room! He’s reminded us that people — ahem, leaders — can be ‘blind’ and not see their sins even when they are pointed out. Restore such a one in the spirit of meekness lest you, too, be tempted. Paul said. And so did Robert Morris. You’re welcome again Robert. Keep selling my books! [Long distance fist bump] Just be good compliant sheep and keep giving Driscoll more rope: he can still be restored even though he rebelliously bailed from the restoration program that Mars Hill had in place. 

But I think it would be sinful and unbiblical for any of Mark’s detractors victims to simply feel good riddance. That is a sin to feel that. Mark’s victims should feel guilty if they are happy at all to see that he’s left Mars Hill. No, we pray for truth to hold sway and for grace to transform and renew and restore There’s that wrong use of “restore” again. all of us including Mark. Maybe Mark will write a book about all he’s learned from his flaws and you can buy his book and learn from it. 


Comment from Barb Roberts (no color coding)

Piper’s eight lessons are for his followers. These are not lessons that Piper has learned for himself; they are for his fans at Desiring God. The interviewer asked him “Are there any lessons you’re taking away from your relationship with Mark Driscoll?” But not once does Piper say anything like “I’ve learned something new for myself from my relationship Driscoll. I got it wrong. I’m ashamed to say that I made some very wrong judgements and I’m ashamed of the way I chose to behave. For all my experience as a leader, this one threw me a curved ball that I didn’t know how to hit. Here is what I, John, have learned from this.” No; Piper’s lessons are lessons for everyone else, pearls of wisdom that he bestows liberally for his followers to drink up; but they are simple, obvious things that many people (including Piper sometimes) have been saying for years. Nothing new here. Boiled down, the lessons are things any half-way decent seminary would cover in a basic degree:

  1. People are very complex. Duh.
  2. We desperately need to take seriously what wise counselors tell us about ourselves. Duh.
  3. If you examine yourself and you don’t see yourself the way others see you. . . . you have to go with what you see. Weelll — maybe. But it’s a darn good excuse for a malignant narcissist, isn’t it? 
  4. Biblical leadership structures are not luxuries. Duh.
  5. It is a huge mistake to view pastors as corporate executives with huge salaries. Duh
  6. There is no theology on paper or merely in preaching that keeps a man from sin. Duh.
  7. God’s kingdom and his saving purposes in the world are never dependent on one man or one church or one denomination. Amen, but Duh.
  8. Let him who thinks that he stand take heed lest he fall. Duh. Look in the mirror Mr Piper. 

When John Piper answers a question, he ought to answer the question that was asked.  And if his only regret was that he “was not a more effective friend” to Mark Driscoll, that begs the question: What should or could Piper have done to be a more effective friend? He completely skips over that. He’s too bent on teaching everyone else.

Ellie is now offering a private translation service. For more info email her at EllieCriesForJustice@gmail.com. [Ellie’s translation service is no longer available. Editors.]


  1. Why do I feel like Piper calls out divorcees who don’t regard their divorce as sin (because they were in abusive marriages) as basically lost, while he gives a pastor like Driscoll every benefit of the doubt?

    The thing that is clear to me reading through this is that Piper isn’t sure that what Driscoll did was really that wrong. He certainly wouldn’t call it abusive. Actually, I’m not sure Piper thinks anyone ever does anything abusive.

    As I’ve read many people commenting on MD, this seems to be the overall attitude. They see him as an essentially good man who made a few mistakes, and what those mistakes are we don’t know for sure.

    Except we have videos that MD put out himself. We have him saying “Drink your juicebox” to congregation members who were asking for clarification on what the leadership of the church was doing. Somehow, Piper and others don’t see that as being a really evil, abuse of power. If MY pastor ever told the congregation to “Drink your juicebox”, I’m pretty sure most of us would revolt. Because we know that’s not OK.

    • joepote01

      Yeah…I saw the same thing…divorcing an abusive spouse is reason enough to be cut off from the body of Christ. But an abusive leader should be offered an opportunity for ‘restoration.’

      So wrong!

      I recently saw a clear illustration of God’s heart in these matters in 1 Samuel: Abuser Protection [Internet Archive link]

      Thank you, Jeff S!

    • Brenda R

      Piper seems to be find with abusers, murderers, rapists and unrepentant clergy can all be in the bride of Christ. All are able to be forgiven even if they continue on in the same behavior. Divorce is THE UNFORGIVABLE SIN. People don’t “drink the koolaid”, it is loaded with a man’s (Piper) twisted view of scripture based on man’s (Calvin) twisted view of scripture based on a man’s (Augustine) twisted view of scripture. I believe everyone of these men are/were controlling, manipulative misogynist’s.

      • StandsWithAFist

        Amennnn, Barbara! “Bully Pulpits” filled with bullies, liars & scoundrels.

      • Hi Brenda
        I do not contest that Piper, John Calvin, and Augustine are/were misogynists in that they wrote things that have been very unsensitive and cruel to women who suffer abuse from their husbands. Piper’s errors in this regard we have documented extensively on this blog (see our John Piper tag). Calvin’s attitude to such women is demonstrated clearly in the letter that Calvin’s consistory at Geneva wrote in reply to the French noblewoman’s letter (see Appendix 15 in my book Not Under Bondage [*Affiliate link]). Augustine’s attitude and in particular his culpable blindness to the dynamics of male abuse of women is seen in his account of his parent’s marriage (see Appendix 1 in my book).

        However, I am not personally inclined to damn every word that Calvin and Augustine wrote. For one thing, I have not read everything they wrote. For another, from what I have read, Calvin articulated some key points in the doctrine of how we are saved (soteriology) very well indeed. Jeff may want to tweak my wording here because he is more well read on Calvin than I am, but I understand that Calvin did a good job of articulating and boiling down the essentials of soterioly in a way that was very consistent with the Bible. I’m referring to the five points that became know as TULIP.

        Having said that, I am also aware that at this blog we have readers (and ACFJ team members) who do not subscribe to each and every of the five points of TULIP. And Jeff and I are okay with that. 🙂

        But personally I do not cast aside or condemn every thing that Calvin wrote. Nor do I do that for every thing that Augustine wrote. I think it’s very important to bear in mind their blindness to the true dynamics of domestic abuse, particularly when it’s a man abusing a woman, and their participation in the presumption of male privilege that feeds male abuse of women.

        On a side note, I do not damn everything that John MacArthur wrote, but I find his teaching on divorce and male roles in the home and church very abuser-friendly. So this nuancing approach is not something I take with only Calvin and Augustine. I take it with any teacher and any leader for whom I think it is appropriate.

        But with Piper, I have found nothing worth following in what he says. His approach to Christianity is so tainted that I don’t think he writes with good sense on any part of it.

        Hope you are okay with all that 🙂

        *Amazon affiliate link — ACFJ gets a small percentage if you purchase via this link.
      • Brenda R

        I am fine with all of what you said. My point, which I did not get across well, is that rules for women and divorce for cause have been skewed over the centuries and there does seem to be a lineage from where the next man gets his theology and tweaks it even more to suit himself. Piper now having 7 points to Calvinism. I wasn’t addressing any other doctrine or wasn’t trying to. I haven’t read all of any of these men’s writings. I have found it difficult once knowing of the ways abuse has been handled or addressed by an individual to give any credence to anything else they have to say. I didn’t take a class that was written by RC Sproul Jr because of his connection with wife spanking and blanket training. I’d rather read my Bible and skip men’s views. I don’t subscribe to Arminian or Calvin’s theology in their entirety. I did not intend to offend anyone and if I did, I apologize. I do wonder if there were blogs in Calvin’s or Augustine’s day, what would have been said about their writing. Would they have dissected them in the same way that we do Piper now? Have their teachings simply become acceptable over time. Will 7 point Piperism take the place of Calvinism over time. Not that I have a problem with dissecting JP’s work. I don’t!! ACFJ does a great job of it. I haven’t read a thing that I could disagree with.

      • Yes Brenda, that lineage of shonky doctrine on divorce and remarriage. . . it has a long history. Calvin and Augustine are only some of the players. There were many many more, and the whole thing was such an inordinate mess!

        Even in Jesus’ day the contest over divorce doctrines was very much alive with the Hillelites vv the Shammaites. And after Jesus’ time another Rabbi (Akiba) joined the fray, making it even more complicated and tortuous. Then after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD, the Christian chuch lost touch with what that rabbinic debate had been all about, and consequently misconstrued Jesus’ divorce teachings in Matthew and Mark (and Luke).

        And then the ascetics got the ascendency and elevated sexual absinence to such a height of ‘holiness’ that it made it own ugly imprint on the whole doctrine of remarriage.

        Then the papacy got into such power that they forbade priests to marry altogether. I believe this was to keep the priest’s assets within the control of the church: if a priest had no legitimate children, he could not bequeath his assets to his children on his death, they would revert to the Church. More money for Rome.

        All these factors made the doctrine of marriage, divorce and remarriage so complicated and so unbliblical it was a diabolic mess. Then the Reformation started and that freed things up quite a lot, but there were still a lot of unbiblical ideas hanging on like old barnacles and they did not get fully cleared away by the Reformation. And Pharisees and legalists being what they are, those ideas still cling on and get regurgitated and passed down from generation to generation.

        In my reading on the topic of divorce for my book, I came across countless examples of men regurgitating some doctrine or other about divorce or remarriage that he assumed in all sincerity was true; because he’d read it in so many places from so many scholars and authors, it never occured to him to examine or contest it. And often he didn’t even quote his sources: he just stated it as self-evident fact that ‘we all know’. The most egregious example is when people say “Of course, God hates divorce . . .” and then rabbit on with the point they really want to make. They say “God hates divorce” in passing because they assume we all know that and we all agree with it and no one anywhere in Christendom has ever said anything else! It is a real stronghold of misunderstanding.

        Other examples are the idea that in Deuteronomy 24 Moses gave a law that permitted divorce but Jesus then rescinded that law in the NT. This is real canard, and it’s so hard to get it out of people’s heads because they simply don’t want to make the mental effort to think outside the ruts.

      • Brenda R

        And the lineage goes on. They are on every street corner and in every church. I know those men who say “God Hates Divorce”, with the “it’s just the way it is” attitude. You will never know or remember all of their names, as I won’t remember all of the names in the lineage that I speak of. It is a lot like remembering all of the “begats” in the KJV of the old testament. They are fun to read, but I will never remember all of their names. A few stand out on the way to Jesus. I’d have had a few words for David on a blog in the way he dismissed Tamar’s feelings and shame having been raped by her own brother. David’s rape of Bathsheba, as well. I would have words for all of those who threw Sam from the well because of her love life went really wrong. I will not stand with those who call her a prostitute. I believe she was a victim of the abuse of her culture both by men and women. Men who discarded her when she wasn’t what they wanted and women who thought there must be something dreadfully wrong with her because no man kept her. Being sold off by her father must have been a real nice feeling. The Samaritans had an ugly version of a woman’s worth. It is time for me to take a step back and abide in Jesus.

  2. Jeff Crippen

    Ellie – Isn’t it interesting how the Pipers and Driscolls seem to “connect?” I mean, I have never had Piper call me up, nor did I ever hear from Driscoll. “Hey Jeff, wanna come on over for dinner?” Oh yeah, I know they never heard of me, but I don’t think that is the primary reason these guys hang with the crowd they select. I think that they never got out of high school. They crave to bask in the glory of the “in crowd.” They really are in a self-glory feeding frenzy. “Yeah, you know,” (name-drop about to fall) “once when I was over at Mark’s having dinner…”; “Yep, had Piper over last night and watched some footba…uh…no, let’s see, Piper didn’t like that….played some….wait….spent some time in deep prayer. There you go.” And in the end, because these popularity seeking types really don’t truly LIKE one another, they go their separate ways and distance themselves when “their dear brother falls.” Oh yeah.

  3. Ann

     “John Piper has no regret for befriending Mark Driscoll, going to Mark Driscoll’s church and speaking at his events, or having him come to the Desiring God conference” — John Piper speaks of himself in the third person right out the gate. Is this just a slip or is it a way to distance?

    The whole speech was quite the dance of grace for Mark Driscoll.
    Wish this was how my pastor treated me instead of the interrogation and sin leveling session I got when I went to him about my husband’s abuse of me.

    • joepote01

      “John Piper speaks of himself in the third person”

      Tha struck me as pretty weird, too. I even reread it a couple of times to make sure I was reading it right.

      • kind of anonymous

        late comment in this thread but the only time I ever read of someone speaking of themselves in the third person was a transcription of a counselling session where a man with very poor self esteem spoke of himself that way to his counselor. The man thought that speaking of himself in the third person made him seem more important by being worth talking about.

  4. joepote01

    Overall, this rather verbose statement seems more geared toward muddying things up rather than clarifying.

    Thanks for the ‘translation’, Ellie!

  5. thepersistentwidow

    I am at a loss why either Driscoll or Piper are considered credible Christian leaders. They lack sound theology and dignity.

    In God’s mercy, I am certain that he uses the presence of both Driscoll and Piper to mark a doctrinally unsound church. Christians have a duty to take that into account and leave churches that promote them. Churches need to repent for ever being led astray by these men. There is no excuse for this sin.

    Any who remain in a church that advocates the teachings of Driscoll and Piper are spiritually depriving themselves. God has prepared much, much better for his people, but Christians need to stop being satisfied with false teaching.

    Ellie, you have done a great job in showing how abusers use deceptive and manipulative language. This is a good exercise to improve our discernment as we are surrounded with wolves.

    • StandsWithAFist

      I so agree. Ellie’s discernment is spot-on. As I read Piper’s responses, the words of Anna V. kept screaming in my head: “those who excuse abusers are themselves abusive. No matter the appearance of a mild-mannered nature — if a person excuses abusers it is because there is some space in their minds which accedes to the notion that in at least some cases abuse can be justified.”

      As we all know, give the malignant narcissist enough words and they will reveal themselves. Every time. The more they talk, the more self-absorption they expose. They believe they are “waxing eloquent” when in reality they are revealing their darkened hearts. Piper excuses MD abuse, and in the process reveals himself as an abuser….not unlike 2John 1:11. Piper “participates in his evil deeds.” The emperor has no clothes…..

    • Any who remain in a church that advocates the teachings of Driscoll and Piper are spiritually depriving themselves. God has prepared much, much better for his people, but Christians need to stop being satisfied with false teaching.


  6. Randy

    Thanks Ellie. You nailed it.

  7. joanne

    What factors contributed to the downfall of Doug Phillips and Mark Driscoll; two of the most influential leaders among Calvinist Christians? Abuse of authority is not one of the Ten Commandments so it took some time for the legally-minded to understand what was wrong. Phillips and Driscoll left scores of devastated people in the wake of unjustified excommunications.
    What is the common thread and how did they rise to the top? Though defensive about the subject; many reformed evangelical conservatives believe that men are superior to women in general. It goes far beyond being the head of their household. Add the emphasis on authority and you have unknowingly put out a welcome sign to bullies. Spiritual abuse, domestic abuse, and child abuse are more likely to go unchallenged. The line between misbehavior and criminal behavior can be crossed repeatedly because we are just “sinners saved by grace”, not perfect but always forgiven.
    I’m sure there are Godly Calvinists out there. It was personal experience with this faction of Calvinists that led to my conclusion. I have several family members in this group. They are shunning me because they “don’t trust my judgement”. I am not allowed to see my nieces who are toddlers. It is totally unjustified and heart-breaking. I draw closer to God; which is always a good thing. I’m so glad there are ways to speak out. Thank you.

    • Though defensive about the subject; many reformed evangelical conservatives believe that men are superior to women in general. It goes far beyond being the head of their household. Add the emphasis on authority and you have unknowingly put out a welcome sign to bullies. Spiritual abuse, domestic abuse, and child abuse are more likely to go unchallenged. The line between misbehavior and criminal behavior can be crossed repeatedly because we are just “sinners saved by grace”, not perfect but always forgiven.

      Very well said! So true.

      And Jeff Crippen is what I would call a godly Calvinist, so yes they are out there. 🙂

  8. thepersistentwidow

    Joanne, I have come to the same conclusions myself. Welcome to the blog and thanks for sharing.

    • joanne

      Thanks. So grateful that you’ve been helping the helpless in this arena. In the interview with Piper; you pointed out the self-centeredness that somehow goes along with all this superiority. How many times can you say “I” in one paragraph?


  9. Scarlett

    I’m really not surprised that the abusive and arrogant Driscoll shot himself in the foot so to speak But when are John Pipers many followers going to get wise to him?

    • thepersistentwidow

      Scarlett, It is a mystery to me why anyone would think Piper is worth following. He does give abusers liberties, so he may have a certain number of those in his fan base. Also since Piper teaches a works-righteousness salvation, I assume that must appeal to those who think they can trust in their own works. Probably many like the excitement of following a mob. Really, it is all idolatry.

  10. Barnabasintraining

    The whole speech is political.

    “Your tithe dollars at work.”

    • StandsWithAFist

      LOL!!!! Needed a belly laugh today….!

    • what a good wrap-up, BIT!

  11. Nancy

    My first introduction to John Piper was in marriage counseling with my abuser. The pastor handed me a paper with Piper’s comments and it basically allowed for abuse and told women to shut up (loose paraphrase on my part). My husband loved that marriage counselor. Intellectually, Piper and the marriage counselor seemed wrong; emotionally, I did not have the strength to accept my judgment as valuable.

    Of course we are relieved and happy when the greatest source and promoter of pain in our lives is gone. Today I was thinking, “No one can do anything to me that will hurt worse than 32 years in a loveless marriage.” Now that the marriage is over, I know a relationship with God that is free and uncluttered. Jesus has been and is The Rock, and is why I know the love of God now. It is a renewed focus on God that frees me from any bonds to the one who hurt me for so long. Even my anger and hate is gone. With God for me, who can be against me? My life is just starting; 53 is the new 20.

    Thank you for this honest and forthright blog. I appreciate the directness and no-bones approach. In a way though, I fear the comments on Piper and Driscoll sound a little too angry- sarcasm doesn’t read well. I’m passing links to this site on to anyone and everyone I know. My concern is that someone who is open to learning but doesn’t quite “get it” will be turned off by the tone. Righteous anger is holy and warranted though, so don’t let my concerns interrupt what God is telling you to say or how to say it.

    This is an amazing site that continues to encourage my boldness and honesty. The emphasis on holy living and humility is good for me as I grow in each.

    • Ellie

      Hi Nancy. Thanks for your comment.

      I think there is a wide spectrum of people here at ACFJ who comment on Piper. I know many have been directly hurt by his teachings. I have friends who love his work. I have tried to read some of his work, but I find his style is not to my taste. Some here delve deep into theological applications of his many teachings. I simply look at the language he uses in specific instances. In this case, it was because I was asked to, but with the Clarification, because I am alarmed that he still has so much influence among Christians while he has not yet apologized for the original remarks or done anything to relieve the great burden his teaching places on targets of abuse. We are devoted to helping targets gain freedom and safety and showing them they don’t have to do so at the cost of their faith. Piper teaches the opposite of that. This is dangerous.

      • Nancy

        Yes it is. Dangerous, I mean. Thank you for your reply.

    • Hi Nancy, and welcome to the blog 🙂

      It’s a tricky one, isn’t it? — the tone one uses. With Piper, his work is so influential, so damaging to victims of abuse, and he seems to never learn from criticism. For me, I feel outrage when I think about Piper and the damage he’s done. What does one do with the emotion of outrage? Ideally one channels it into effective action for change, being a whistleblower and influencer so that fewer people will be led astray by Pied-Piper types in the future. Sarcasm can be one way of way of tempering the emotion of outrage.

      I know that some people who may come across our critiques of Piper and his ilk may be somewhat shocked by our tone. If we moderate our tone, there is the risk that we come across as too soft on abusers and their allies, that we compromise with the group-think status quo and thereby fail to prioritize the voices and perspectives of victims of abuse.

      There is no way our tone can please everybody. Thanks for your input though, and I’m glad you are finding the blog encouraging.

      One last thought: sarcasm is usually not a helpful way to address a person of good character. But sarcasm can be a very effective way of addressing abusers — malignantly disordered characters. It’s like they have such thick skins and such entrenched habits of rejecting more gentle admonishments, that they only prick up their ears when sharply spoken to. (But of course, they do not prick up their ears for anything their victim says except for when they can turn it back into a missile they can send back at their victim.)

  12. Nancy

    You know what? I feel outrage too. And I just thought of something: People who can be so easily turned off by a “tone” and are not so open to learning, are they? If I want to know what is causing someone to hurt, I will listen past their anger. Thanks for your reply.

  13. StandsWithAFist

    “Paul and Barnabas couldn’t work together because they did not perceive their own flaws”
    How does Piper come to this conclusion? For some reason, super-pastors use the conflict between Paul & Barnabas to promote their own agendas (one super-pastor recently said the “takeaway” was to “learn to compromise”…..seriously? yikes) yet scripture never tells us who “won” (as Piper seems to prefer). It wasn’t about “flaws” or “winning” or “power” or even their “relationships”, but about spreading the gospel. And because they DID separate, the gospel was preached more broadly & was more important than their respective “brands”. There was a larger purpose, and it wasn’t about THEM. We also know from later scripture that Paul, Barnabas & John Mark all grew in love & affection for one another, mindful of a single purpose & a Sovereign Lord. I don’t see that same heart in Piper, MD, RM, etc.
    Just sayin’….

  14. Not Too Late

    “There is pressure to accept the abusers’ claims of repentance, pressure to reconcile, and it is insinuated or outright stated that those who don’t are bitter, unforgiving, and not true Christians.”

    Ellie, I bet you wished you could get a dollar for every time someone claims to you that readers here are bitter, unforgiving and not true Christians ;).

    • soldiergirl

      So true, Not too late.
      I too got the “forgiveness talk” from the pastor, that in his mind was suppose to lead me straight down the “reconciliation path” with my abuser.”
      And once that didnt happen, the pastor then gave me the ole “I’m concerned for your eternity” talk, – and when that didnt work I was ultimately shunned by the church for not buckeling under their pressure.
      These people are abusing their spiritual positions, as they themselves would not be willing to deal with the burdens that we have had to carry with our abusers.

  15. Searching

    I wonder why so many ministries are falling apart at the seams? Another one is the large Chris Jeub family, whose daughter has come forth with stories of abuse. When one who has been abused gets the courage to stand up and be open, it encourages others to do the same. But there will always be those who deny and minimize with every breath they have.

  16. Jennifer

    Funny how the only time he uses the word sin is in relationship to how the VICTIMS of MD feel!! They’re the ones sinning if they’re relieved he’s gone!

    • KatWalker

      Bingo!! Was wondering if anyone else caught that.

  17. Excellent analysis of Pastor Emeritus Piper!

  18. soakland

    That only goes to prove that hyper-focusing on the law only causes sin to abound more. Many of the Reformed didn’t get that memo, I suppose.

    • thepersistentwidow

      Amen to that, soakland!

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