Big, big thanks to my friend Jonah, who alerted me to The New York Times' article on Mark Driscoll.

I've never attended a service at Mars Hill, and I've never met Mark Driscoll. But I've met plenty of people who have. When asked for their opinion of Mark, the invariable response is along the lines of, "He's brilliant. He has issues."

That latter part is the problem. Everyone has issues, but Mark Driscoll's problem is he doesn't want to hear about his. The article mentions:
Nowhere is the connection between Driscoll’s hypermasculinity and his Calvinist theology clearer than in his refusal to tolerate opposition at Mars Hill. The Reformed tradition’s resistance to compromise and emphasis on the purity of the worshipping community has always contained the seeds of authoritarianism: John Calvin had heretics burned at the stake and made a man who casually criticized him at a dinner party march through the streets of Geneva, kneeling at every intersection to beg forgiveness. Mars Hill is not 16th-century Geneva, but Driscoll has little patience for dissent. In 2007, two elders protested a plan to reorganize the church that, according to critics, consolidated power in the hands of Driscoll and his closest aides. Driscoll told the congregation that he asked advice on how to handle stubborn subordinates from a “mixed martial artist and Ultimate Fighter, good guy” who attends Mars Hill. “His answer was brilliant,” Driscoll reported. “He said, ‘I break their nose.’ ” When one of the renegade elders refused to repent, the church leadership ordered members to shun him. One member complained on an online message board and instantly found his membership privileges suspended. “They are sinning through questioning,” Driscoll preached. John Calvin couldn’t have said it better himself.
This is hardly the first time I've heard about Driscoll's resistance to criticism. How this can be imagined as Biblical pastorship, I have no idea.

I'm not sure what it is about Reform theology that draws loud-mouthed jerks, but it's a shame such thoughtful theology is so frequently obscured by the actions of men (including Calvin and Luther themselves).

On the other hand, dogpiling Mark Driscoll's antics isn't productive, either. As a friend put it, his detractors would do well to take a cue from Paul in Phillipians 1:

It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.
But, my friend went on, Mark and his supporters at Mars Hill might do well to take these cues, as well.


  1. Driscoll called Rob Bell, among others, "heretics." Yeah, maybe Bell made some sloppy remarks in his book Velvet Elvis. But rather than go directly to Bell about it, he denounced him (and others) in a treatise called The Four Lanes of the Emergent Highway. Theology and dogma are important. But a lot of sloppy, even violent stuff went down during the reformation. Maybe it's inevitable when there is a shift in thought. But it would be so nice if we did the whole Matthew 19 thing and went directly to our brothers. And when we part ways, be more civil and uh, "Christian" about it.

  2. It is unfortunate how willing people are to pass judgment on a man who loves Jesus and speaks more about that than any of the controversial topics his critics gravitate towards. I have had the personal privilege of sitting under his teaching for a short period of time in a conference setting. In that time and since, I have repeatedly heard him express a need for Jesus' continued redemption of his life. Call it a matter of personal preference, but I would take the teachings of a sinner in need of a savior any day over a nice moral guru who feigns perfection.

    Thought this video might be of interest.


  3. I would personally be honored if Mark Driscoll deemed me "unfit" for his church.