Beliefs Culture Ethics Institutions Jonathan Merritt: On Faith and Culture Opinion

Is Mark Driscoll this generation’s Pat Robertson?

The controversial comments of Seattle pastor Mark Driscoll makes him strikingly similar to the blundering Pat Robertson.
The controversial comments of Seattle pastor Mark Driscoll makes him strikingly similar to the blundering Pat Robertson.

The copious controversies of Seattle pastor Mark Driscoll make him strikingly similar to the blundering Pat Robertson.

At the Catalyst Conference in Dallas, Texas, pastor Mark Driscoll ignited controversy yet again when he made it known that he isn’t concerned with caring for creation.

“I know who made the environment,” Driscoll reportedly said. “He’s coming back, and he’s going to burn it all up. So yes, I drive an SUV.”

The 42-year-old pastor has developed a cult-like following among American evangelicals in recent years, energizing his fan base with similarly brazen comments. From antiquated views of women to a seeming obsession with sex-talk to shouting to his congregation that “God hates you,” Driscoll’s raison d’etre seems to be creating conflict. In fact, his acquired taste for foot is so fierce that one can’t help but be reminded of a Christian leader from last generation: Pat Robertson.

Robertson began his career as a Baptist minister in 1961, but he rose to prominence in the 1980’s as the founder of The Christian Broadcasting Network, and later, The Christian Coalition. He became a political force in American life, eventually running in the 1988 Republican primaries against George H.W. Bush. Robertson’s supporters’ signs said, “Knock ‘em flat, Pat”. And he did—just not in the way they’d hoped.

He would claim the oppression of evangelicals by liberal America is ”more terrible than anything suffered by any minority in history” and the feminist movement is “about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.” And he threatened that if Walt Disney World continued to host “gay days” at its theme parks, God might send a meteor to destroy America.

In recent years, Robertson insinuated that Ariel Sharon suffered a massive stroke because he wanted to “divide the land” of Israel, and he urged the United States to violate international law and assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. He claimed that Hurricane Katrina was God’s payback for Mardi Gras and said the Haitian earthquake was God’s judgment on the country because they “swore to a pact with the devil.” In 2011, Robertson encouraged a viewer of his television show to divorce his Alzheimer’s-stricken wife “and start all over again.”

And these are only the highlights.

Robertson’s meteoric rise to popularity morphed into a slow burn of outlandishness, a trajectory that Mark Driscoll is well on his way to mimicking. To wit,

Robertson’s incendiary comments are often political or prophetic, while Driscoll’s are usually theological or social, but it’s difficult to discern which are more provocative. And while Driscoll’s list of miscues stretch long for someone of such a young age, Robertson has had more opportunities at 83-years-old. What if Mark Driscoll had a daily television show where he could say anything he wanted? Might we not surmise that before long he would amass a Robertson-esque portfolio? It seems likely.

Another growing similarity between the two men is the way they’ve been able to polarize even the core of their own Christian bases. Mainstream Christians desperately want to ignore both figures, but they can’t. They just can’t. There are too many broadcasts and podcasts, book sales and supporters. So instead, many work to distance themselves from either leader whenever their names arise in conversation.

When it comes to Robertson, Christians—even those who voted for him in the ‘88 primaries and watched his television show, “The 700 Club”—are now quick to assert they don’t support him. “I’m not a Pat Robertson kind of Christian,” someone might say.

The same is true for Mark Driscoll. He’s been heavily criticized by Christian voices across the spectrum, and according to reports, several attendees at the Catalyst Conference in Dallas walked out during his talk. He’s even being marginalized by some Reformed Christians (i.e. Calvinists) who precipitated his rise to prominence. “I’m not a Mark Driscoll kind of Calvinist,” some have remarked to me.

Over the years, both men have been pressured to issue apologies and clarifications. Ironically, when I received word of the comment made at Catalyst, I was in Malawi working with Christian brothers and sisters there who’ve been wracked by environmental devastation. I wondered why an American Christian leader would make insensitive and flippant comments about such a serious topic. One might make the case that in such a situation, it is beneficial for Christians who disagree with their perspectives to distance themselves. After all, when an influential Christian claims to follow Jesus but makes inappropriate remarks, those outside the faith may think they represent all Christians. Unless others speak up.

Unlike Mark Driscoll, I don’t believe that God is going to burn up the world with a literal fire, but I am reminded of another fire mentioned in the Bible. The Apostle James calls the tongue a “small spark” that can set a forest ablaze. When Christians produce leaders with a penchant for bombastic speech—as each generation does—we’re reminded again of the power of words. They can destroy or heal, burn up or breathe life. We get to determine how we use our words, just like each generation gets to choose whether to support those who misuse theirs.

And you can take your SUV to the bank on that one.

About the author

Jonathan Merritt

Jonathan Merritt is senior columnist for Religion News Service and a contributing writer for The Atlantic. He has published more than 2500 articles in outlets like USA Today, The Week, Buzzfeed and National Journal. Jonathan is author of "Jesus is Better Than You Imagined" and "A Faith of Our Own: Following Jesus Beyond the Culture Wars." He resides in Brooklyn, NY.


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  • Jonathan, nice job with bringing the true scriptural application to Mr. Driscoll’s comment. The other thing that came to my mind is that when he says he’s not concerned with caring for the environment and will use it as he likes, he’s taking more than his share of the resources God gave this world. As you just saw in Malawi, thereare real people on the other side of that decision.


    P.S. This post isn’t my usual topic, but I had to speak up about Mr. Driscoll’s sermon statement about studying God’s word

  • Thanks Jonathan. I appreciate how when you offer a critique it is always gracious. There is too much yelling back and forth and not enough talking within the church. Thanks for being a thoughtful and confident voice in the church that presses us to think more about what the Gospel is about.

  • Good words Jonathan. My problem isn’t really with Driscoll or Robertson. I can basically ignore them as they speak without thinking and mis-represent Christ and the church so frequently.

    The real problem is that there seems to always be such a strong group that follows their every world. Not everyone walked out at Catalyst. Some tweeted in appreciation for what he said.

    And that happens every time he says inappropriate things. When he asked people to ‘out’ worship ministers that they thought might be gay, there were hundreds of comments on he facebook page before his Elders stepped in and asked him to take down the facebook post.

    I am not a fan to Christians that are trying to patrol everyone’s beliefs. But some people seem to revel in the inane and inappropriate comment. And that speaks a lot about their faith and the faith of those that follow him.

    The whole thing just makes me sad.

  • Hey Jonathan,

    I have to admit, I’m a little surprised by this article. I’ve always found your voice to be a refreshing one in the cacophony that is the christian media/blogosphere. First let me say I attended the Catalyst conference in question and was equally taken aback at the theological implications of what Driscoll said about everything burning up—but that’s another post another time. The benefit of being there was hearing the context in which he spoke it, so it’s fairly easy to get our panties out of a twist in the realization that nobody really believes SUVs will be here forever and ever amen. In the meantime, he needs a way to get his kids to soccer practice. It was a joke. Get over it.

    I’m disappointed in this piece mostly because it’s simply not good journalism—which is what I’ve come to expect from you. It’s fairly one-sided, and nearly everything you linked to was in some way defaming. I’m not defending Driscoll (I’ve written plenty on why our obsession with Driscoll (and the whole celebrity pastor culture) is damaging to the Church), but I am concerned that this piece simply adds fuel to a fire that will burn itself out if we simply let it alone. There are some hills to die on, but Mark Driscoll’s mouth is not one of them. A mouth like that can do a lot of trouble, true, but it can also do a lot of good. Show me another pastor who’s been at the helm of a church-planting network growing as voraciously as Acts 29, but who isn’t a little radically rough around the edges? Pat Robertson may have done a lot of damage to the Church, but I believe we call that a refining fire, separating the dross. It was men like Robertson who pushed theologians in the past 20+ years to tighten up their theology and presentation. So, in a way, we’re grateful for men like that because they help produce for us better theologians.

    Until then, time is short, God is building his kingdom and it is at hand. It’s going to take more than angry bloggers and rampant twitterers with a collective grudge to see heaven brought to earth. I may disagree with his tactics and some of his theology, but just once I’d like to hear someone talk about what has been accomplished through the ministry at Mars Hill.

    The rest of that talk at Catalyst, by the way? Spot on. Solid. One of the clearest teachings on identity and calling I’ve heard in a long time.

  • There is too much good to be done and too many people to love to be trapped in Driscoll’s lack of humility, unbiblical view of women, and extremely distorted and uneducated view of current events. When leaders turn their opinion into the pulpit, nobody benefits, and in this case, hundreds of thousands suffer. I, like Adam, am not a fan of Christians who try to patrol everyone’s beliefs. I believe that some people do seem to revel in the inane and inappropriate comment because it justifies their behavior of marginalization, comparison, and lack of graciousness. And agree that it speaks a lot about their faith and the faith of those that follow him. While I wouldn’t be comfortable being a part of such a dogmatic environment, I have a hard time with Christian leaders who do not display foundational Christ-like behaviors. We would do better to live in simple obedience rather than explicating and manufacturing a distorted view of the simplest message ever told. The lack of focus on reconciliation and proud nature of defiance towards stewardship grieves me.

  • I’m with Lore. I love your writing and thought processes. But this is a stretch…and a hurtful one. I can’t help but think this kind of caricaturing is actually more of a stereotype of a Robertson-esque blunder (or even Jerry Falwell, whom I loved, as a former LU student myself) than Driscoll’s comments. And to boot, Driscoll has made a noticeable change in his tone of late. Just my thoughts. Love your writing. Just not this piece. Sorry.

  • 914 shares on an article by a Christian that criticizes another Christian for a handful of comments made during a career-full of preaching that Jesus is the savior. The tongue is a fire indeed!

  • It’s not a stretch. It’s a great comparison. I would go further to compare him to the late Baptist minister Jack Hyles, who pastored a mega church in IN. He got famous and went further and further into bizarre and cultish tactics to rule his church. Do research on those who have left Driscoll’s churches. They have a lot to say.

  • Tim: I love Karen. She’s great!

    Mark / Lore: Thanks for posting comments. If I get it right most of the time, I’m doing better than most writers I suppose. So I hope that you like most of what I write even if you don’t agree with or like some of it. I would like to point out that in this article I was trying to discuss the comments and not the commenters or their characters. I don’t know Driscoll’s heart. Heck, if Jeremiah was right, I don’t even know my own. Instead, I wanted to get people thinking about the power of words used by public Christian leaders. I don’t think that public figures should be hands-off just because they are Christians, though I do think Christians need to be careful, prudent, and graceful when they engage or discuss the actions of brothers and sisters. I tried to model that here, but you’ll have to decide whether I missed the Mark.

    Lore, I should also add that it was difficult to find links to these things that took a Dragnet approach (“just the facts, ma’am). People who write about these sort of things are generally doing it because they take exception with them. So I was a bit constrained with sourcing. It should also be noted, I think, that “I was just joking” is not the “Get out of jail free card” for public figures. I met with people this week who are starving, whose children are starving, whose futures look bleak, and who are crying for help because of environmental devastation. It is, frankly, not a laughing matter. Except of course for wealthy American Christians who have the luxury of jest in such matters. Even still, I find it hard to reconcile insensitive jokes with loving one’s neighbor in cases like this.


  • Kevin: Thanks for leaving a comment. I’d like to caution you against name-calling. I like to keep this forum a place of civil discourse, even if the discussion revolves around emotional issues.



  • I agree with you about the “get out of jail free” card. Absolutely. I do think that much of the christian blogosphere etc. needs to lessen up a bit on policing Driscoll’s jokes, though, and concern themselves more with things of lasting importance i.e. the children you met this past week, the sex-trafficked women I work with every day, the church planting initiatives of Acts 29. There are more important things at stake here, and that’s *exactly* what I’m saying.

    Leaders aren’t exempt from careful consideration, you’re right, they have put themselves there and ought to be above reproach in all matters. My concern is, like Mitch says above, that we’re not eating our own with no mind for the good they’re doing. Driscoll is so caricatured by the christian-sphere, I wonder how many of us have a clear picture of him at all. I feel like I can say that with some measure of authority because my own pastor is well-known all over the world, but to me, to us, to his church? He’s simply a man well aware of his faults and failures in front of us and others, but who loves us deeply and repents often.

  • If he needs a way to get his kids to soccer practice he can get a fuel efficient car that doesn’t have such a big carbon footprint (or take his kids on the bus). To people living with the downside of climate change (with huge food insecurity for example) I don’t think ‘but I needed to take my kids to soccer practice’ is much of a comfort. Just because something is said ‘as a joke’ does not make it ok. Whether SUVs will be around forever is irrelevant, it is the affect they are having here and now that matters.

  • Appreciate your thoughts Lore. I’m not a fan of all things Driscoll – but I sincerely praise God for lots of good things that he’s done (and am very critical of his recurring arrogance and unbecoming speech). Even if this wasn’t a joke (but of course if it was, as you say – then it’s rediculous to make an issue of it at all) it seems like typical Driscoll to me: to state starkly what sometimes need to be said. It’s worth poking fun at environmental extremism, and I doubt that Mark would deny a reasonable stewardship of the earths resources – even while holding to the historic Christian position that according to texts like 2 Peter 3, the present earth is indeed being reserved for destruction by fire at the second coming of Christ. The point I would make is that people can strongly disagree with and rightly criticize many things in Driscoll’s flamboyant overstatements – but this is not one worth bothering with.

  • Hey Jonathan,

    Thanks for bringing in those who are the least of these and how they are dramatically impacted because of environmental devastation. If you look along the “tropic of chaos”, the belt of economically and politically battered postcolonial nations and war zones girding the planet’s midlatitudes, it seems that is where Christ’s message of reconciliation and hope is needed most. While we here in the west are not as directly impacted, we are definitely contributing. The Church should be leading the charge to alleviate the suffering the developed world is leveraging on the developing world. I think Christ has something to say about the people living in failed states who are also amid climatic disasters, I just hope that our leaders are listening to what He is saying. While I cannot question Driscoll’s heart, I do question his actions and how it reflects listening to a God who hates suffering.

  • Jonathan,
    I have a couple of questions for you. Answer if you wish.

    1) From what you know of him, is Mark Driscoll a Christian?
    2) Has Mark Driscoll led people to Christ in one of the least churched cities in the United States?
    3) Is the Acts 29 church network something other than Christian?
    3) Is it possible that God is using Mark Driscoll and his tactics, to reach that city and a certain subset of people who might not otherwise respond to the gospel?

    Also, can you explain more specifically what you mean by his “unbiblical view of women?” Are you referring to the fact that he is a complementarian or to something else? Certainly some of the comments you are referring to above should have been kept to himself, but I would welcome your thoughts.

  • Lore,

    I’m sorry, but in your effort to critique Jonathan’s critical journalism skills, you most likely committed a similar faux pas. Your statement,

    “It was men like Robertson who pushed theologians in the past 20+ years to tighten up their theology and presentation. So, in a way, we’re grateful for men like that because they help produce for us better theologians.”

    I’m not sure who you’re speaking of or which theologian has benefitted from Robertson’s influence. Journalistically that doesn’t really add up as you have no way of verifying this nor is there an example of an accepted norm for this statement to be true. I would “seem” that the opposite is actually true, but my emphasis is on seems. Honestly, your comment about Robertson “feels” incredulous, and I’m just an arm-chair theologian who gets to be a professor of Bible.

    On top of that, the “douchebags who do a lot for Jesus” argument is old and tired. I know a number of incredible men and women who do a lot without having to be a jerk. I thought unqualified generalizations weren’t good journalism either. Either way

  • So what is important enough that he should be called out? Personally, I find that insinuating that many worship leaders are gay and that saying that men that stay home to care for children should be brought under church discipline and are ‘worse than unbelievers’ are statements that are pretty significant and not just statements intended to be a joke.

    I do not question whether he is a Christian or not. But I do think he should be called out on inappropriate comments.

  • Hey Nate,

    Sorry, my bad, this was a poorly worded sentence: “It was men like Robertson who pushed theologians in the past 20+ years to tighten up their theology and presentation.”

    I simply meant that the poor theology/presentation of Robertson was a catalyst for future pastors/speakers to firm up both their theology and their presentation in an effort to not repeat his mistakes.

    My bad.

  • I’m wondering, if the major and minor prophets had been alive today, in the age of opinion columns and internet diatribes, would we say the same thing of them that we do of people like Driscoll and Robertson? I’m not attempting to make Driscoll out to be a prophet by drawing the parallel, but it seems if one disagrees with Driscoll’s take on things then he’s “dangerous, misguided, and misrepresents Christ.” I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time studying the major and minor prophets and prophetic speech this past year and find Driscoll’s words TAME by comparison. But, to make incendiary or “concerned remarks” about Driscoll (from a vantage point of practiced disagreement with people of his theological disposition), means that those who make these statements about Driscoll do NOT misrepresent Christ and hold to the proper view of our LORD and Savior (in their own thinking). It could be that Driscoll is misguided and wrong on many things he says. So are many pastors on any given Sunday. I find this also tends to be a conversation reserved for white Christians, as the things often said in African-American churches on Sunday might make you blush. However, it could equally be that we no longer have patience for prophetic speech in an age of rampant Christian cynicism and disagreeism.

  • It looks like you’re going for some sort of Gotcha! response. The thing is, none of it is relevant. I’m pretty sure Robertson is a Christian and has done great things for the Kingdom, but that does not excuse his shenanigans. The same goes for Driscoll or any other leader prone to saying things they probably shouldn’t.

  • Jason,
    I believe Jesus is leading people to a life with God, a full life, in Seattle, in A29 churches, and that tactics that look like bearing the marks of Christ are what really counts. Let’s not put Mark above the messenger, the message, and the kingdom that is bigger than personality or a church or a network.

  • Calvin,
    I’m sure you are wondering the same thing about Brian McLaren and Rob Bell as prophets as well. Let us not prophets in our image (whoever they may be) but let us considering imaging the prophets and their message, the chief of whom is Jesus.

  • Lore,
    Classically the people who did that were considered heretics. Are you calling Mark and Pat heretics? Not sure I would go that far but I am just wondering.

  • Hey Jonathan/All,

    Let me first say that this is probably the best composure that I’ve ever seen displayed in an online forum that covers emotional and controversial topics. Kudos for fostering such an environment.

    I also must agree with Lore, here. From the beginning of the article, nearly every mention of Mark came with somewhat backhanded language that would definitely leave readers who don’t have prior knowledge of Mark seeing him as a mean, uncaring, unkind pastor leading uneducated and rather blind followers. I also find it wildly unfair, even unethical, to list statements that he has made out of context and without presenting the undeniable benefit of his work along with your disagreements. If I may, it left me feeling as if you almost have a somewhat personal agenda against the man, rather than some theological disagreements with a brother.

    Although I recognize that this may expose my bias on the topic, I am an active member at Mars Hill Church. Mark, over the last 3 years, has repeatedly mentioned that he has failed in the past in allowing his tone and language to be insensitive and brash. His demeanor, while still challenging and confrontational when necessary, is now definitely that of a loving and patient pastor.

    God is using Mark, in all of his failings, to reach an extremely unchristian and liberal city in an astounding way. His focus is on building and teaching the basic family and life principles that the city has, in many ways, abandoned. He preaches Christ crucified, he openly admits his failings and repents for them (AND visibly changes), and he has a powerful hand in the restoration of broken families. I’d be interested to hear whether you have researched the impact of his work, and whether or not you would deny my statements.

    I think it’s also work stating that Mark has the support of several leaders in the faith, including John Piper, Rick Warren and Matt Chandler. This post, particularly the word “cult”, leads one to believe that mark is pulling his followers away from other teachers of the faith into his own twisted theological world, which he isn’t.

    Anyways. To summarize, I found your post to be defaming, biased and ultimately untrue. It’s pretty evident that your theological disagreements with the man have led you down a fairly hateful and judgmental road. It’s continually fascinating to me how those who disagree with Mark charge him with all manner of unkindness in all manner of unkind ways.

    Thanks for your generally insightful writings. I shall continue to indulge in them.

  • People are coming to Christ but what “really counts” are tactics? What an interesting thing to say.

  • Well I believe God is big enough to lead people to Christ through anything (Almost drowning, drug overdose, botched suicide are always some of my friends came to Christ) but that discerning Christians should consider what type of ministry looks like Jesus. Heck, even false teachers have managed to point people towards the real thing at time by not being it.

  • I certainly see your point, though I’d be hard pressed to see another example of a time that has happened on this scale. It seems that the options are either to say that we, as his congregation, have rather stumbled our way into genuine Christianity despite Mark’s heresy, or that very few of us are genuine Christians.

  • Though I don’t entirely disagree with the comparison, if we push the historical envelop a bit more a more appropriate comparison would be with fundamentalist preacher J Frank Norris.

    Maybe I’ll write up a post on this. Great piece…as always.


  • I agree that it doesn’t excuse shenanigans. I pray that I never have a pulpit so public that every word I say is subject to public scrutiny. I pray that in all things Christ would be glorified and people would come to know him…as they seem to under the shepherding of lots of men I may disagree with.

  • Having had plenty of friends in Seattle who went too Mars Hill (none non-christians before hand, MH is more of a Christian Culture thing than a congregation of converts, but to be fair that is true of most churches) they were all grounded in scripture, prayer, and worship. Most weren’t ardent Mark defenders and instead enjoyed a Christian community of people from all walks of life and opinions. I don’t think we are forced into the conundrum you are posing, we are only drawn to that place if we are giving 1 person too much credit at the neglect of a big God.

  • ” It seems that the options are either to say that we, as his congregation, have rather stumbled our way into genuine Christianity despite Mark’s heresy, or that very few of us are genuine Christians”

    I’ve met some of your leadership at a counseling conference and they sure seem genuine.

  • I absolutely am not. Not, unless, you would call all of history wrought with heretics, because it is from them we learn how to shape and sharpen our present arguments.

  • I think his point is that the prophets (as well did the apostle Paul) spoke truth in a loud way that usually offended most. Your comparison is drawing him against those who have completely abandoned fundamental Christianity and exchanged it for something else.

    It seems that, in general in this post, the disagreements with Mark are mostly regarding his tactics and not his theology. People just want him to be nicer, but no one has challenged his soteriology per se. That seems to change it from making him a false prophet to making him someone you don’t want to bunk with, but is that worth the trouble of trying to take him down via defamation?

  • Lore,
    I think your misunderstanding me. The point the church has made was the people that caused us to refresh and clarify what we believe were heretics. They were so close but so faraway, and often new things were born out of that confusion. Rowan Williams (and Karl Barth) both have refreshing ways to look at the heretics that aren’t so all or nothing as we are. I just thought that’s the way you were treating them, which I think would be interesting.

  • “God hates you” is an attach on his theology as well as view of creation. The reason Paul wants us to trust him is because he looks like Jesus. I think the reason people question so Mark is that his ministry, character, and body (bearing the marks of Jesus) don’t match up, on top of some questionable theology.

  • What exactly is defaming him here? You want links for all this stuff? I think they’ve been provided.

  • Mars Hill is a church. My local MH pastor officiated my wedding, I have a local community group, I have a wonderful supportive church. It’s not cool Christian hangout club, though for many it starts that way, and that’s totally fine with me. The source of your information (a few friends who attended) seems to sort of disqualify you from speaking on how MH functions and whether or not it “qualifies” as a church.

  • Very unprofessional, biased, defaming, and wicked intended post. If you have a problem with Driscoll, why don’t you find a way to talk to him about it as the bible says to go to your brother if you have a problem with them? You should be praying for him instead of criticizing him. Bad journalism.

  • Never said it wasn’t a church. I think the fact that I have friends who go there who I consider to be faithful Christians doesn’t really disqualify a person from anything. The question at hand is does Mark’s ministry look like Jesus? Or here’s a better question does Mark meet this from 1 Timothy: He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap. You live in Seattle, do those outside MH consider Mark to have a good reputation?

  • Was it not enough to simply state his points without adding emphasis words like “antiquated”, “brazen” and “cult-like”? THAT’S what crossed the line here from disagreement to defamation. I’m sure if I was to go back and chop up the last 16 years of conversations you’ve had and highlight 9 or 10 insensitive phrases or sentences, you wouldn’t look so hot either. While if you were to grab statements at random, you’d probably have immense difficulty finding one anyone on this post disagrees with. I recognize that as a teacher he has signed himself up for scrutiny, but I don’t see room for this in the church.

  • Everyone accept some loud Christians… the community seems to have a fairly decent opinion of him. Guinely.

  • I think both of us know that’s a pretty big cop-out. And if we did that with many teachers that would admit there mistakes. When Mark writes a reconsideration on ‘god hating people’ and his view on creation, let us know.

  • Having lived a couple of blocks from the Ballard campus for years I can tell you that’s not true. They are either indifferent because they don’t know or enraged at Christians because they do.

  • Kyle, Tell me one Christian leader who has a consistently good reputation with outsiders. Even Paul and Peter were pretty unpopular with some outsiders.

  • Kyle,

    Actually, I wonder this of all preachers/pastors I “disagree” with, now. So, yes, you are correct. I wonder this about McLaren and Bell (to a lesser degree).

    Calvin Moore

  • As a former member of Mars Hill Church, I would like to represent one of the many that seems to be referenced a lot within these arguments. I of course do not represent every former MH member. But I would say that there a quite few who are like me.

    While I left Mars Hill for many reasons, having left, what concerns me more than anything is the level of abuse that Mars Hill, Mark Driscoll and the members of the church often face from critics (usually those who claim to be Christian). For some reason it has become acceptable (in fact, popular and hip) to attack all three, and it usually comes from people who have never actually listened to any of Driscoll’s full sermons, read his books or visited the church – or who do so for the very reason of criticizing it. These articles rarely actually give legit sources, and often instead site links that go to other bloggers and articles that took aim at those affiliated with MH. Occassionally quotes will be pulled, but usually out of context.

    As stated above, I left Mars Hill for many reasons that concerned me (personally). Ultimately, I felt it would be better of I find a different church community. My reasons included a difference of theology (on many issues), a lack of connecting with the members of the church itself, and a disagreement with the way Mark would present some of his sermons (or his methodology) amongst other reasons.

    What concerns me though, is despite all of the above reasons I personally chose to leave for, Mars Hill is a very God glorifying church – and no one ever acknowledges this simple fact. A great majority of Driscoll’s teaching is, in fact, very good and very biblical – and yet again, no one ever acknowledges this.

    While I agree that Mark has made some very poor judgements at times, the truth is that most of the things that people site are completely exaggerated (or flat out lies), have been publicly repented of (though no one publicizes THAT), or were immediately clarified – and most of the things he is criticized for are, in actuality, increasingly further in the past. Most of my critiques against Mark’s critics apply within this very article.

    A couple of points were made within this article that I think should be considered on another level by those reading the article. 1) We need to get away from seeking controversy in order to gain appeal. While Driscoll is most definitely guilty of this, and has publicly admitted so (in an effort to repent) in his sermons, so are the writers who have targeted Driscoll as a subject of criticism – usually as an article in itself. This is no different and deserves a similar response of public repentance. 2) Words matter. This includes the commission and omission of words. Many of the bullet points of things that Mark has “said” listed in this article (and many others) have omitted phrases and context which greatly changes (though doesn’t ALWAYS excuse) what was actually said. And rather than taking infamous (and infamously misquoted) things that have been stated over the years to form a very general attack against him, perhaps we should instead write articles about specific things that have been stated and suggest a better approach (whether in theology, methodology or message) that could have been taken.

    I would also note that the similarity between these articles and websites that are devoted to “debunking” scripture by pointing to a few passages and points that every-critic-who-has-never-actually -read-the-Bible seems to know… Is pretty astounding.

    While we could have found more time to actually present the gospel, we have instead settled on bad-mouthing those we disagree with. This has become just as glamorized as the popular teachers that they attack.

    Perhaps it is time for us to collectively repent brothers.

  • The Greek word for repentance implies a u-turn, a change of direction. Tough to say what direction Jonathan would have to change but I’d be interest in how Mark’s repentance has ever involved a change of direction. His is more like, hey I’m sorry but let me keep going down this road.

  • Right. Given that he said Christ was returning to restore the earth, we should all go kill a herd of buffalo.

  • While screaming at women to stay in the house, running everyone out his church that questions, blaming an affair where a man had sex with another man on his wife, while mocking Jesus because MMA fighter wouldn’t have gone the cross that weakly, making sure it was simulcast at every Mars Hill church just to prove he has no ego, then finishing it off with calling worship leaders homosexuals because they like music.

  • All in all it was a pretty average day at Catalyst. I thought the highlight was when Dave Ramsey gave Francis Chan a swirly and lit a hobo on fire.

  • What in his theological outlook here would make that a problem, not that actually would do it or tell people. I assuming you have no real response to that, other than more absurdity.

  • Really? I mean….well, I’m not sure how to respond to “He drives an SUV therefore he supports killing a herd of buffalo.” I guess you win? I’m going to go watch Dances With Wolves and pray for awhile.

  • I could careless about the SUV. I mean this kind of dangerous, stupid, unorthodox theology: He’s coming back, and he’s going to burn it all up.

  • I think I outlined pretty clearly what repentance would look like in this case. Did you actually consider anything I wrote, or did you just feel the need to reply because you dislike my stance? And my call to repentance was not just to Jonathan, but the whole community of people that encourage these articles.

    Driscoll is not perfect, but he has made progress. As I stated, it was an ATTEMPT at repentance… As also stated, all of the above critiques are fairly old (and most don’t represent any accurate form of truth anyway). Have you listened to him lately? Can you point me to something specific from recently to show that he hasn’t repented? Even though I’m not his greatest fan, I know Driscoll’s stuff well… In most cases (including almost all in this article) I can tell you what’s been exaggerated, what’s false and what is taken out of context or related incorrectly.

    Most of what permeates these articles and threads are slander and gossip. Repentance is pretty clear there too.

    Please note: no Bible character who ever repented of anything made a complete U-turn and never struggled in that area again. In fact, most of them continued to make errors of the same scale and character. Repentance is something that occurs in the mind – a 180 in your thought process – that permeates your life. Yes, your life should bear the fruit – but if you think that means you never fail, you’re setting yourself up for impossible standards.

  • Thanks to the author for this thoughtful assessment of Mark Driscoll’s ongoing patterns of inflammatory rhetoric and erratic doctrinal assertions. While it is touching to read the spirited support offered in some of the comments made by Driscoll’s parishioners, most of Jonathan’s central critiques remain unanswered. Driscoll built his ministerial reputation on the sort of confrontational and provocative statements quoted above; so after reading most of Driscoll’s books and listening to countless sermon podcasts over the years, I found very little of the content in this essay to be newsworthy. I must respectfully disagree with those who contend that this essay is a misrepresentation of Driscoll’s ideas and an unfair attack against this flawed but passionate servant of God. This is an especially ironic line of argument given the fact that Driscoll has been dishing out his own brand of slash and burn judgments against Christian leaders with perspectives that differ from his. (Ask Brian McLaren or Rob Bell how graciously and/or constructively Driscoll has treated their ministries in recent years.) Alas, no string of Internet comments are going to get to the bottom of a dispute as complex as this one. Perhaps Brian has the right idea by resorting to absurdly comic exaggeration as a way of diffusing an argument that is unlikely to be resolved here tonight. Either way, the debate will continue. Thanks again to Jonathan for being willing to spark such lively conversation.

  • Loved your response Lore. I too was a bit disappointed with some aspects of this article. A couple of the attacks against Driscoll I found moot because of the place where Driscoll is called to serve, Seattle. He see people worshipping creation rather than the creator all around him and thus his very serious stance on Avatar and some of the underlying beliefs presented there. His comment about SUV’s is very much for shock value. His purpose for driving an SUV is the size of his household more than anything else but I’m sure it urks earth worshippers where he lives quite a bit and he’s got a knack for getting people stirred up. What urks me are the constant attempts to portray Driscoll as a sexist. I have heard more than enough marriage related messages of his as well as attended his Real Marriage conference when he was in Chicagoland. There are plenty of women in this world who now have better husbands because this guy refuses to let guys slide by with extended adolescence. And lastly I thought referring to his following as ‘cult-like’ was weak. Call his following a cult or don’t. Call Driscoll’s statements ‘blundering’ or don’t instead of saying he is like the blundering Robertson.

  • Thanks for posting this comment. I agree that there is a need for collective repentance.

  • He will explain all those comments, at the Judgement Seat of Christ. Maybe you will be next in line and you will be able to hear his answers.

  • Dear Jonathan,

    Please allow me to quote you:

    “Unlike Mark Driscoll, I don’t believe that God is going to burn up the world with a literal fire, but I am reminded of another fire mentioned in the Bible. The Apostle James calls the tongue a “small spark” that can set a forest ablaze. ”

    Now I would like to quote Apostle Peter from II.Peter 3,10:

    “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall be dissolved with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up.”

    My humble suggestion would be to look into your own heart and ask a few question from yourself:

    Do I read my Bible enough? Is the quotation from James has something to do with my own tongue?

    God bless you and guide you my friend on the path of righteousness.


  • Gabriel,

    Thanks for your comment. Three things to say here.

    1) The primary picture of fire in the bible is not something that obliterates but something that refines. Hence, the Holy Spirit–also referred to as fire–doesn’t kill us but transforms us.

    2) The primary picture in the Bible of what will happen when this “fire” comes is Noah’s flood. And Noah’s flood didn’t obliterate the earth; it cleansed it. The bad was removed and the earth was set right again.

    3) Mine is not a scant view. You might read Scot McKnight or NT Wright for more on this. It’s pretty common.



  • I think your comments here sound super-moralistic, Lore. It is one thing if you don’t like a critique of someone (but the quotations/references demonstrate that a critique of MD isn’t out of the question). But your finger-wagging, holier-than-thou tone seems quite critique-able itself. Tone here : Condescending and aggressive (“panties in a twist”? “Get over it”? That’s just rude.). I agree w/ you that MD has been used by the Lord in some ways and that that is worthy of mention. But it’s just odd if you think MD is beyond critique (BTW, if JM can be aggressively critiqued by you, why can’t he critique MD?), esp when you read the “blow job,” “anal sex,” and “outing purportedly-gay worship leaders” comments. Come on.

  • Martin Luther said that the Christian life is one of repentance. Proverbs 24:16 says the righteous falls 7 times and rises again. Progressive sanctification.

  • Hi, Lore — it’s ironic that at your blog you say you hope it’ll be “a place where the message is quiet, encouraging, and somewhat simple.” I guess you seek that only at your own blog.

    Or maybe “quiet” and “encouraging” includes comments to male bloggers about getting their panties twisted up.

    Also ironic: the post that’s at the top of your blog is about how love is patient and never rude.

  • I was at the Catalyst Conference in Dallas when Mark uttered that comment. It was made in jest, and everyone in the audience knew it.

    Driscoll is a lightning rod, but he invokes thought in believers and tries to walk the walk of Christ. Some like it, some don’t. But to compare him to Robertson is a quantum leap.

  • Jonathan,

    I’m particularly bothered neither by Driscoll’s comment nor by his choice of transportation. Nevertheless, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with the actual theme of your post (which seems not to figure too prominently in the comment thread). Shock-jocks must ever remain shocking or else they fade away into the background. I think you’ve corrected and creatively found the proper category for Driscoll.

    I don’t know about Robertson, but for Driscoll, I feel a tinge of regret and sadness when I speak of it: It appears that he possesses the talent and intelligence to have excelled and to have contributed much without having indulged these darker elements of his personality that may eventually complete his metamorphosis into a caricature.

  • I think Jesus understood the scrutiny of public speaking and the tactics necessary to present the strategy of heaven. Shenanigans weren’t needed, just an in depth willingness to go about his father’s business. The controversial things he did say weren’t meant to be ridiculous, they were meant to tell a story and make people think. Driscoll seems to be more of a “shock jock”-type pastor in his technique.

  • I do not think that the earth will be burned up. I believe the language about fire is a refining fire. Everything will be made new again, not destroyed.
    But, if you read passages like 2 Peter 3 or Isaiah 34 literally, then believing that God will destroy everything in fire before making the new heaven and new earth is a fair assessment.
    Driscoll might have used some uncalled for hyperbole, but to mock or slander him for his stance on the destruction of the earth is unfair.

  • Shem, I think the point is the “climate change” is a joke. Nobody lives on the “downside of climate change” because “climate change” is a hoax, scientifically unverifiable. It’s a weapon leftists and progressives have used against capitalism and free enterprise, and it simply doesn’t pass the laugh test. I and Marc Driscoll will drive whatever cars we darn well please!

  • You don’t have to believe climate change is real to understand that we need to think deeply about issues like this. For example, automobile emissions in my hometown are causing record high levels of childhood asthma. Because we love our neighbors, we should think about these things. And we should eschew an arrogant “darn well please” attitude.

  • This is silly. If someone took all the tongue in cheek comments Ive made and put them into a blog I’m sure I’d sound asinine too. This whole conversation is ridiculous….the world outside of evangelical blogs is so much larger than talking about Driscoll. Someone sent this to me and I’m disappointed I read it. Blogging about pastors has to be the biggest waste of time…I’m pretty sure Jesus just threw up in his mouth.
    Love Jesus. Love people. Quit wasting your time on guys like Mark.

  • You don’t need to agree about climate change. The real issue is scarce resources. Water, aerable land, fuel, forests; there is only so much to go around. Bragging about driving an SUV because you believe in Jesus and his eventual return is like slapping the less fortunate and then stealing their lunch – only they don’t have enough food for us to call it a full meal.

    It’s not something an ambassador of Christ should joke about, especially from the pulpit and even more especially from a pulpit with thousands of listeners.


  • If the point of this article was to help Christians re-evaluate their speech, then one can see the author failed. Everyone is talking about Driscoll and nobody is talking about godly speech. That’s not merely because Driscoll is so controversial, but primarily because the author’s bias against Driscoll led the conversation in that direction. There is no objective language in this article at all. First time I’ve read this author; it’ll be the last time too.

  • Usually appreciate your work but to be honest. Thipiece is petty. To compare Driscoll to a Pat Robertson is reckless. Its woefully obvious that you carried no measure of objectivity into this, in fact, I’d bet that if Driscoll never made a comment about his SUV, this piece wouldn’t be here to comment on. Your voice is much to influential & needed to waste on personal crusades and I hope to hear.more productive things from you in the future. Thanks!

  • The most ridiculously uninformed statement on climate change I have ever heard. Only the most inexcusable neglect of the most basic (& clearly verified) evidence can conclude otherwise.

  • Hmmm. So, we have Mike’s “laugh test”, and we have the opinion of the Royal Society, The National Academy of Sciences, Australia’s CSIRO, and 31 other national scientific academies of similar standing (with no scientific body of national or international standing taking a contrary view).

    On a matter of science, which are we to believe. I understand, it’s a tough call…

  • You are comparing oranges to apples. Though I haven’t agreed with everything PatR has said there have been some compelling statements he’s made that are fitting to the environment of sin we are living in. Maybe you skipped over Isaiah, Jeremiah and Zephaniah but there will always be judgment for sin. And it comes in many different forms. As far as MarkD is concerned any so-called admirable qualities he may have are all negated by his obsession with perverted sex. I don’t know any spirit-filled man or woman who spews such filth. Therefore, I think your comparison is ludicrous.

  • Good writing, Jonathan M—and an interesting discussion stream. Journalism itself has a sort of “prophetic” function in identifying questionable statements, methodologies, and beliefs held by the church. Years ago, designer Paul Lewis (in Julian, CA) published “The Whittenberg Door”, which served as a “gadfly” for Christian culture. Of course, so did Martin Luther regarding what the (then) church was doing or selling to parishioners. Few would fault the latter for being “critical” in the refinement process. It is quite appropriate to question the “darn-well-please” attitude within conservative, libertarian Christianity (where consumerism reigns), or—for instance—the “Resisting The Green Dragon” fear-mongering of Calvin Beisner and Acton Institute. Creation Care is not a trivial or unbiblical notion that deserves to be ignored or discounted. Good work, JM.

  • LOL….of course you were contacted by Mars Hill after this article was written. What does is say about a “church” that has a PR person on staff?

  • You’re exactly right. He should have a low carbon footprint, just like Al Gore. Oh, wait a minute…..nevermind.

  • Thank you for drawing very rational lines and not fearing any irrational response. The idolatry of theology is so destructive.

    “With lots of words comes wrongdoing, but the wise restrain their lips.” Proverbs 10:19

  • Shems, really. The most fuel efficient car will still not benefit anyone in eternity. We are to be good stewards of resources NO DOUBT! But responding to the call of Jesus on our life makes ECO issues an idol. Blog less about seals and the environment and more about Jesus. Only one of those issues will last… Gods word more and mans word less…including your own!

  • Everyone on this comment thread should read Henri Nouwen’s “In the Name of Jesus” where he describes how Jesus, when tempted in the desert just before his earthly ministry launched, did not respond to the temptations to be relevant, spectacular, or powerful. Instead Jesus chose to model integrity, create a community where everyone could belong, and empower others. If Jesus is the model, no other rhetoric is needed in the debate for or against Mark Driscoll. How is he following Jesus’ model in the the above three areas? His words and behaviour speak for themselves. Not a fan. Enough said.

  • Jonathan, I have supported you when others circled the wagons in an attempt to do you harm. But, this is nonsense. I was there. Mark was joking. BTW, He was also correct. God is in control of the environment. Mark lives in a part of the world where they act as if salvation is accomplished through recycling.

    I have issues with many of the things Mark Driscoll has done. Very serious issues, but this was way below you. It’s simply unkind, unwarranted, and thoughtless. You can do better.

  • He obviously uses statements intentionally for their shock value. So I would suggest that perhaps he is the church’s Howard Stern?

  • The issue is not about whether or not to believe in global warming. It doesn’t sound like Driscoll argued against it, his point was that no matter what the damage might be he’s going to drive an SUV because God will burn up everything anyway. Such a short sighted, selfish view of how to be stewards of God’s world and caring toward the future generations.

  • Lol, I used to listen to this group of teenagers ‘the Inner Circle’ destroy Driscoll in debates on the radio. They knew he was wacko way back then.

  • I appreciate the article analysis, but not its faulty conclusions. It attempts to kill a gnat by using a shotgun which thereby defeats the very argument that it makes. The article condemns Driscoll for making bombastic remarks, but the article itself could be viewed as bombastic. This is irrelevant to the problem and misses the target completely. Furthermore, it also by implication condemns Jesus and the Apostles who speak against our sinfulness and preached God’s grace to sinners.

    While Driscoll does not represent orthodox Christian teaching, the issue isn’t that he is willing to speak the truth, but that he errs in what he speaks. There will always be false prophets, but there will always be true teachers who confess, teach and preach what the sacred Scriptures speak regarding God’s demands (moral law) and God’s love (forgiveness of sins for Christ’s sake). While the culture may find many things that the Scriptures speak as antiquated or backward, it is better to remain faithful to God in this life and perhaps and suffer than to suffer eternal hell.

  • “Show me another pastor who’s been at the helm of a church-planting network growing as voraciously as Acts 29, but who isn’t a little radically rough around the edges?” Easy: your own namesake, Dave Ferguson in Chicago, shows that you don’t have to be a jerk to be the head of a vibrant, relevant, and growing church and network of churches and church plants. More should model him.

  • There is no debate in the scientific community as to whether climate change is real or not. What you have written here is nonsense.

  • I’ve had this same thought for sometime. Mark Driscoll IS the next Pat Robertson.
    maybe, better, the next Father Coughlin, since he seems to subsist on deep reservoirs of anger. However. . . gratefully, nobody has given him his own television show. I bet, outside the evangelical subculture, nobody else has heard of him. I’m pretty sure that’s true in my corner of the Christian world. Episcopalians? Never heard of him.

    So let’s not make him a bigger phenomenon than he has to be.

  • True, Mark Driscoll has done a lot of good. But at what cost? There seems to be mountains of collateral damage with this guy. I used to havea great appreciation for him, until it became clear to me that he was more concerned with growing his church to a million and saying whatever arrogant thing came into his head than caring for the sheep in humility like a true shepherd.

    I’m not sure defending Driscoll based on the success of Acts29 is particularly helpful. Benny Hinn and Kenneth Copeland and countless other preachers on TBN have large and growing ministries, but I think it is right for others to call them out on their errant theology and manipulative tactics.

    I find it refreshing to see somebody publicly make this comparison and call a spade a spade in a responsible tone. Hopefully somebody can stop Driscoll from continuing the massive trainwreck he’s in. It seems to me its kind of a Samson type situation. Left to his own devices, Driscoll may eventually end up completely irrelevant and ineffective. , just a shell of his former self.

  • 1 Tim 5:8 But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

    Genesis 3:17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.18 “Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; and you will eat the plants of the field;19 By the sweat of your face you will eat bread,till you return to the ground, because from it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

    I am frankly surprised that Christians would have any difficulty with quoting a scripture that any man who did not support his family would be worse than an unbeliever. The scripture listed above clearly states this, so don’t shoot the messenger. Secondly, as to “stay at home dads”, I can find no scriptural reference that would ever support this. The curse in the garden regarding the difficulty and toil of earning a living was clearly put solely on Adam, not Eve. Eve had her own curse, and to my knowledge, no man has ever suffered Eve’s curse. God did not preface this curse with “If your wife earns more than you, then you can pass this curse on to her”. God set very clear gender roles. It is only the influence of culture that causes Christian’s to rail at Mark’s audacity to quote the passage in Timothy.

    I am a woman. I do not attend Mars Hill Church. I have absolutely no connection to Mark Driscoll.

  • Dana, in Genesis 3 is God setting gender roles, or is he announcing the consequences that necessarily flow from their disobedience? There’s big difference. Which do you think it is?

  • Tim, I think the very nature of the “consequences” suggests gender. Eve would have pain in childbirth being the most obvious – this consequence could never be visited on Adam. In Genesis 3, God speaks directly to Adam and tells him that because he listened to his wife he would spend his life toiling to make a living. Obviously, God isn’t speaking to Eve here or making it a joint consequence, because God wasn’t speaking to her and because Eve doesn’t have a wife. God, in His wisdom, crafted the consequence of Eve’s sin to correspond with her gender (clearly!) and Adam’s consequence to correspond to his gender. To suggest otherwise would indicate that Adam would also experience physical pain in childbirth (clearly not possible) and that Eve was to experience two consequences (but scripture does not say this).

    It is only in our current feminist culture that scriptures regarding gender roles have been compromised.

  • So we’re now judging the spirituality of Christians who fail to walk out on a pastor who said something that we disagree with? If Christians were to make a habit of doing that, most churches would be half empty every Sunday by the time the pastor finished the sermon!

  • I love your articles too.

    The most sensitive and relevant context for a critique of Mark Driscoll’s statement about the environment would be one in which you discuss why Christians should care about the environment. This would effectively be a conversation with Mark and his followers.

    The most sensitive and relevant way to have addressed your (and others’) concern that Mark is kind of a loose cannon would be to have prayed for him (as you may have done) and contacted him privately.

    I think that at the time when a Christian leader says something that’s unbiblical, other Christians can respond in a timely and loving way if they feel it is necessary to distance themselves from it. People will usually remember these faux pas without further prompting and take them to the social media grapevine without any nudging.

    I think Mark Driscoll has done and is doing a lot of good work for the Lord, which shouldn’t be overlooked.

  • Mark Driscoll mixes jokes and college level theology in his sermons. When living in maybe the most unchurched city in this country, different tactics must be taken. He is one of the few pastors that has the guts to preach verse by verse and take his sermons past 35 minutes (over an hour in some cases). Mark Driscoll uses humor to keep attention and lighten the mood, Pat Robertson uses “humor” to get the medias attention and unfortunately turn people in the opposite direction from the church.
    Also, I am not going to condemn the guy for driving an SUV and possibly hurting the environment…pretty sure the Driscoll family of 7 will not fit in a prius, volt, or leaf.

  • I believe Pastor Mark about his saying his latest comments were a joke, after all his whole ministry is a Joke. Badrum bum.

    Actually, I think he is his generation’s Jerry Falwell. Not for a second do I believe that Mark’s comments are not design to get a rise out of people. He is like Madonna trying to say and do outrageous things to keep his name in the headlines. He knows controversy sells and sells big. He is more like an Evangelical PT Barnum, laughing to the bank, while quoting “a suckers born every day” than Pat Robinson. Just watch. As soon as this latest roost dies down, he will say something on Facebook or to his audience (lets not degrade the word congregation) that will have another round of “can you believe he said that.” Let the show go on.

  • “about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.”

    Hard to argue with that

  • This is to Kyle, I don’t feel like you fully know what you are talking about. Mars Hill recently purchased a new building in Everett, WA. The city (outsiders) fought for us to get the building when everything was against us. Just one example of people being impacted obviously in a good way by Mars Hill. Also, I don’t think you have any idea as to how many converts there are at Mars Hill. I was at a service recently where a devout Muslim gave her life to Christ. The hundreds of baptisms that are done by new Christians at each campus. You obviously don’t know much about Mars Hill or Mark.

  • Makes, all of your comments are rude and uncalled for. First of all Mark encourages all the men at Mars Hill to love and respect women. Second People talk about how he hates, mistreats, speaks poorly about women. This couldn’t be farther from the truth, his sermons have shown me areas where I have failed and need to repent. I have started to understand how Jesus calls the men in His church to act and live.

  • Well said, Lore.
    Believe it or not I have never heard of Mark before yesterday when a fellow Bible study companion mentioned that he enjoys listening to him while traveling on business. So today I decided to do a little research and before I even found a link directly to Mars Hill, Seattle I had to sift through a list of links and sites demeaning Mark’s ministry. After reading some articles including the one above I am in no way convinced that I shouldn’t listen to Mark myself. In fact, I am more encouraged to investigate for myself the allegations brought against him and gleen from his teaching as much truth as the Holy Spirit reveals to my heart and mind. This is, afterall, what we should be doing when we listen to every teacher and preacher. Take with you a Berean mentality and put to the sermon to the test of your own study and knowledge of the Word. Thank you!!

  • “(I’ve written plenty on why our obsession with Driscoll (and the whole celebrity pastor culture) is damaging to the Church)”
    “I may disagree with his tactics and some of his theology, but just once I’d like to hear someone talk about what has been accomplished through the ministry at Mars Hill.”

    Your condradicting your own words.

  • “Show me another pastor who’s been at the helm of a church-planting network growing as voraciously as Acts 29, but who isn’t a little radically rough around the edges?”

    -Bill Johnson
    -Heidi Baker
    -Reinhard Bonke (more of an evangelist, but still)
    -My pastor (you wouldn’t know his name but church has grown from 20 people to 400 in a couple of year)
    -Che Ahn of Harvest Rock

    And thousands of other Pastors around the country. Most people that follow Driscol didn’t get saved by his ministry but rather listened to him because of his view on theology.

  • Yeah, I have NO idea what he means – you aren’t being a bully, dude.
    But as to the topic at hand – is it too simplistic to just say that Driscoll says WHAT he says, the WAY he says it, because he’s assured that it will incite people?

  • thanks for writing this jonathan. i definitely do not think you took things out of context-i believe driscoll actually believes the things he claims to, and jokes the way he wants to.

    many years ago, at the beginning of emergent, i mistakenly attended an acts 29 church. it very much disappointed me – it had all the trappings of goth, hip, cool, yet the doctrine was very limiting (especially regarding women).

    i happened to critique the church online and had tons of responses from people in the acts 29 network as well as from the said church itself.

    the responses were very aggressive. in that sense, i believe that part of the problem is the lengths people will go to (and the blatant abuse that they are given as a ‘joke’) in order to defend driscoll’s positions.

    i am not nearly as humble as i ought to be in most ways, but honestly, driscoll is one of the meanest men i have ever heard. perhaps it is simply lacking any kind of empathy at all with other people. wouldn’t you rather go hear someone who will give you hope and truth rather than manly man jokes and putdowns on women?

    thanks jonathan.

    i don’t know you well, i was around when the emergent church was still being born (i had a book released under ’emergentYS’), and it drove me crazy to see the same old horrific hellish degrading preaching dressed up in drag. unfortunately, its that drag that people are drawn to, but when involved, becomes abusive and completely lacking in empathy and sensitivity.

  • This is the thing for me. I listen to Mark Driscoll, John Piper, John MacArthur and plenty of others. I know that leaders and teachers are held at higher accountability. But we are all still sinful humans and far from perfect. We will make mistakes, only their mistakes are public. I would also rather read my Bible too “literally” than not. I think for the fact that he has publicly apologized when he has realized that he is wrong shows a lot of humility. And you don’t see humility in a lot of pastors today..they only seem humble when they are caught in a scandal. And the thing I like about Driscoll and MacArthur both…is that aren’t afraid to say things that will step on your toes to get the truth across. Like sex. Sex is something, in the right context, that is 100% biblically but so many Christians have this view of it being dirty because everyone freaks out when it’s discussed. Once my husband and I took a biblical view on marriage and started discussing sex openly with each other, it totally change our marriage.

  • I agree with Lore, Christian, and several others on this thread that it seems like the author has a personal vendetta against Mark and it wasn’t a calling out that one would do in biblical fashion. More like an assult to his character.

    I think most of what was highlighted or posted here was taken out of context to evoke a rise in the reader to dismiss him as a leader.

    Just want to say this though. I grew up in Africa, and while I know what we can do to the environment on one side of the globe can transfer to another, taking words Pastor Mark said about driving his SUV doesn’t make me cringe at all because he was most likely (as someone commented here) referring to the tree hugging climate that he is most aware of given the city he serves.

    And, Robertson surely has said some wierd things, granted…Does it make him a louse? I am not convinced. But, I heard that comment he made about the marriage and decided not to listen anymore. So, I just don’t. I am not hating on the guy, though, as I was shocked just the same by people (and even at the moment had made my own comments to the fact ‘he’s crazy’), but I just realized I could just not watch him, imagine that.

    And, I admit to not following Mark Driscoll all that much but did know he was brash teacher. Recently, however, I saw his post on abortion on FB, which was so rare coming from a pastor (because pastors never speak of it), and was admitedly intringed. This made me pay attention to him for possibly the first time really for real. Oh, I saw one talk he did on sex and marriage, a few years back, but thought nothing of it at the time out of the ordinary to solid gospel teaching…and, I was also encouraged in my reading that recent thing on abortion(although I still haven’t heard the message), and still thought nothing out of sorts to the theology behind it.

    My point, after having said all that, is that I haven’t seen what this writer described, and while I also think back to people who make certain comments often when I am also out and about (albeit not on a trip to Malawi, but a trip to the store), I don’t think the comments Mark made then about his SUV caused any harm to the audience, nor harm to the Malawans.

    I’ll explain: Many people overseas drive SUV’s, ride motorcycles…gass guzzlers, you just have to ask my misssionary brother-in-law (or any missionary for that matter), as they will tell you it is what THEY need to get around in, period. And, you think these missionaries care about the environment they are in?? I will answer it for you: Yes, they do. Then why do they drive that Range Rover? Because they need to. They have to.

    And, while that isn’t alway nice to hear, I agree with Lore, when she said: Get over it!

    Because, these missionaries are also sharing the word, recycling, building schools, yet, you bet, driving those RR’s the whole time.

    To me, this is selfish and mean to assume this man was trying to be as flippant as possible and wants to pollute the world by making a simple sarcastic remark while also continuing to drive his car unashamed.

    If something is warranted as proven misdirection and a mispoke, then fine, by all means call it out into the open…but I fail to see where the pastor was in the wrong with the points made erroneously above.

  • Driscoll:
    The feminist movement is “about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.”

    What an imbecile!

  • It is now December 14th. Your article was written in May and the Mark Driscoll controversy shows no signs of letting up. He is a polarizing figure. Evangelicalism is a fractured big tent. My only concern coming from this big tent is working out my salvation with fear and trembling and a significant part of this, in addition to prayer to God, is rightly dividing the Word, and meditating about the Word and applying its precepts to my life. I have lived a long while. I have seen theological controversy after controversy. I see a hair breadth of difference between people who claim different theologies, whether Arminians or Calvinist, or complementarian or egalitarian in application. All I can write is that there are people in these many camps who love The Lord, and that they are all attempting to rightly divide the Word. With this in mind, there is no need for controversy if their hearts are pure and they are honorable people. Now I see a controversial pastor in Mark Driscoll. You have compared him to Pat Robertson. I have not decided who I would compare him to. I would submit we haven’t seen someone this polarizing among Evangelicals since Frank Morris, the Texas Tornado. I just hope and pray his intentions are honorable for both his own sake and that of his flock.

  • It is because of the loony tunes on the Christian Right — the evangelicals and the fundamentalists — that I no longer consider myself an evangelical. I am a Christ follower, but I’m not an evangelical. What Jesus did during the Incarnation, and what Scripture reveals, are both worth studying and applying. But when I look at fundagelicals, I see not love but fear, not open hearts, but closed minds. The Gospel of Grace is — it HAS to be — far richer than ever these groups actually demonstrate. May they return soon to the way of love.