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Posts Tagged ‘Driscoll Talks Sex’

I received the following comment under #43. My response became quite involved so I wanted to create a new post covering some of “Mr Nater’s” challenges and opinions. His comment is in italics. My response follows.

A lot of beef seems to be over Marks complimentarianism and your (apparent) egalitarianism…

Isn’t there room for humility over such a difficult issue? Do we really need to fight dirty over the complimentarian vs. egalitarian debate?…Reality is that each side is deeply emotionally intrenched on the issue. And so are you.

I say this because this article is very much antithesis. You do a thoughogh job at Marks statements but you do not substantiate your own perspective. Your perspective is only painfully obvious to people to those who already believe what you do. In this case you are not changing anyones mind, you are just flaming the fires of hate between disciples of Jesus .

Sure i understand criticism is ok, but when it is everything then its slavery. Why don’t you build a case for egalitarianism. Why not treat the discussion fairly and intelligently. Why don’t you build a case for your view instead of polarizing, bullying and fear mongering… ironically becoming what you accuse Mark of being right?

Sure you can get a lot of web traffic by tearing down a popular church… but its no better than those awful youtube conspiracy video’s.

God has used both egalitarian and complimentarian churches to advance his kingdom. By all means we have a right to this important internal debate. But if it consumes us, and consumes this website, what do you have? Disciples fighting disciples.

Mr. Nater,

If I understand you correctly, you seem to be suggesting that I, and others like me, need to have “Humility over a difficult issue.” By “humility,” in this context, I am wondering if you might mean something like being quiet and gentle, non-assertive, non-challenging, non-confronting…This, along with other things you have written, informs me that you are perhaps a bit confused as to the “issue” here. We are talking about what looks like very serious abuse at Mars Hill Church, abuse of God’s people (see Post #14 Cult-Like Spiritual Abuse Issues & By Laws In a Nutshell, and #30 Driscoll’s Questionable Words & Behaviors, and #34 Is Mark Driscoll Verbally and Emotionally Abusive?)

…and abuse of God’s precious daughters especially… Have you not read, Mr. Nater, the crude, derogatory and disdainful things Driscoll has said about women which I’ve posted here on this blog? See post #8 Christian Taliban & Christian Women Donning Berkas: Spiritual Warfare Series, wherein Driscoll states that “women are the weaker vessel” and are therefore “the more easily deceived” that women are “busybodies and gossipers,” that ministry goal-oriented women are “manipulators” “controlling” and “drama queens” and that they are influenced by Satan if they want to marry a pastor and that women’s ministries are “cesspools” of gossip. Also, see Post #37 Mark Driscoll: Is He Qualified to Lead? Wherein he is quoted, “Most people thought [Mary, mother of Jesus] concocted the crazy story [of her pregnancy] to cover the fact she was knocking boots with some guy in the back seat of a car at the prom,” and “…a naked lady is good to look at, so get a job, get a wife, ask her to get naked, and look at her instead,” and Driscoll described a young man in his church as “a chronic masturbator, a porn addict, banging weak-willed girls like a screen door in a stiff breeze.”

Am I to have “humility” about this while thousands of young twenties are being deceived, demeaned, and held in bondage? Driscoll does not keep his apparent abuse directed at the women in his congregation only, he lashes out at the men “under his care” as well (see # 33. Driscoll Rants at Abusers… Abusively?) In my opinion Driscoll is behaving like an immature dictator. The more I learn of what he is up to, the more disgusted I become. There is no other word for it. Disgusted. Well, and deeply grieved. Driscoll has taken on a role never assigned to anyone in the New Testament, and he is abusing God’s children in that man-made role.

“Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matt 20:25-28). Even Paul said he only wanted Christ’s disciples to follow him AS he followed and modeled Christ. Where Christian leaders fail to model Christ, we are under absolutely no obligation to follow their lead.

But it appears to me that Driscoll on the other hand, and contrary to this passage, has become a ruler of his own little kingdom, a despot with dangerous levels of power… and no one in a power position is confronting him on his abuse… go figure. They’re in those same high-powered man-designed, pride-catering positions themselves. If they rock Mark’s world, they have to rock their own little worlds. It’s the good ol’ boys club on a grand scale, and pathetically, supposedly in the Christian world.

This blog is not about gender per se, but about spiritual/church abuse. It might be helpful for you to read testimonies of those who allege abuse by Driscoll through his teaching and by his MH system. See posts #17, #20, #24, #25. Read Molly Warthen’s New York Times article, posted here in #21. To the extent that Driscoll’s prescribed treatment and beliefs about women are abusive and within the context of his being their “spiritual authority,” that too comprises spiritual/church abuse. Since there is so much of what appears to be abuse of women at MH as seen in their oppressing, demeaning, domineering over, and placing legalistic constraints upon women, gender inequality will continue to be a major issue I have with MH and will continue to be a major aspect of that system’s abusive tendencies and/or characteristics.

You write that I have not substantiated my opinions in post #43. You might want to look at #42 and other posts for the vast amount of substantiation I have provided. Based on Scriptural qualifications (1 Tim 3, Tit 1, see #42 Is Driscoll Really Qualified to Pastor?) Driscoll does NOT qualify to be a pastor nor even any kind of church leader when one carefully weighs his character, his actions, and his words. Also see #15 The Characteristics of a Controlling Personality—in my opinion heaps more of these descriptors fit Driscoll than the character qualities of a leader listed in Scripture! It appears, Mr. Nater, that you have misunderstood “the issue” on freedom4captives to be solely about Driscoll’s oppression of women. This is a weighty and grave part of the issue, but not all of it. Apparently you have missed much of what has been written here. I repeat, this is about spiritual abuse. This is about church abuse. This is about gross power abuse in the role of “Elder” in Scripture (which we now call pastor). Driscoll has apparently repeatedly lied to his congregation, he robs them of the freedom Christ died to give them, and he seeks to rule over them autocratically. See #13 Shocking Sections of MHC By-Laws, with Neilson’s Notes and #41 Should A Pastor Rule Over You?

Matt 23 comes to mind:

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2″The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. …they do not practice what they preach. 4They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them…8 But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ [my Great One, Teacher] for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. 9And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Christ. 11The greatest among you will be your servant. 12For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. 13″Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to…16″Woe to you, blind guides! … 23″Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness… 24You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel… 29″Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! … 33″You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?

As to the effects my blog might have on others, I  do not think that you, Mr. Nater, are in a position to read every reader’s mind and to prognosticate what conclusions they will or will not come to having read parts of this blog.

If any “fires of hate” are being flamed about on this end, it is the fire of hate we as Christians are called to: namely, we are called to hate oppression and injustice, to hate hypocrisy, to hate false authority and those who in the name of God seek to “lord it over” GOD’s flock… We are told to “HATE evil, love good” (Amos 5:15) and to “Hate what is evil; cling to what is good,” (Ro 12:9) and that “To fear the LORD is to hate evil,” (Pr 8:13)… Also, See #9. Christians Criticizing Christians Can It Be Biblical?

By stating facts and quoting Driscoll and comparing that to Scripture, how is this “polarizing, bullying and fear mongering” on my part? This seems to me that you have resorted to a pseudo polite form of name calling, rather than dealing with the issues at hand. You are not dealing with any of the issues I call Driscoll on in post #42 or #43, or anywhere else in this blog actually. You are participating in the logical fallacy ad hominem (“argument against the person”– an argument which links the validity of a premise to a characteristic or belief of a person advocating the premise.” Wikepedia.).

You charge me with “ironically becoming what you accuse Mark of being.” I find this rather amusing (and disturbing at the same time) in that I am not in a position of abusing thousands of people by laying down legalistic rules and “laws” which Scripture never even commands–in fact, laying down “laws” which Scripture commands against. I am not blaspheming my Lord by inferring that I love him but not in a way that I would want to perform oral sex on him when I get to heaven! Yes! Driscoll said this, see # 35 Driscoll: “Your husbands appreciate oral sex…So serve them well…” I am not claiming the first seat for myself as the Pharisees loved to do, etc.

If you think “web traffic” is what I’m after, you have 1) not read much of anything in this blog, and 2) know nothing of what it means to be abused by those in power, especially those claiming “God’s authority” as their right to having power over you. These types of abusers are usually men, and they are those who have not the heart of God and therefore abuse any authority he may have given. I think it comes down to your throwing accusations without anything to substantiate them.

The primary issue here is not gender equality, however I freely admit that gender equality has become a passion of mine, more so now than ever since running into Driscoll’s cult-like system (yes, in my opinion cult-LIKE). Gal 3:28 states, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Certain men–who seem to me to be quite insecure in themselves–are the only people so desperately concerned with coercing women to “obey” the few Scriptures which seem to imply total subjection to husbands (which contradicts 1 Cor 7 and Eph 5:21) and seem to imply women can never teach men or speak in church (which contradicts the Holy Spirit’s giving all gifts to all people, male and female, in the body of Christ, such as speaking words of knowledge and wisdom, speaking in tongues, and prophesying IN CHURCH among men! There are also the gifts of preaching and teaching, given by the Holy Spirit, to all who call on the name of the Lord, male or female, it does not matter to God… Acts 2, 1 Cor 12; 1 Cor 14).

I was reading several of the articles on cultwatch.com , such as, Church Authoritarianism; Church Leadership; and How Do Cults Work. This material contained some very helpful analysis of the original Greek word meanings and usage in the NT. Of interest is that the Greek words used for “submission” between husbands and wives and between elders and Christians are words indicating the choice of the one who might do the submitting. It is never about the other forcing the one into submission and condemning her to hell if she does not submit. This would be tantamount to women making a big hoopla about men not obeying a certain aspect of Scripture.

When Peter became overly concerned with John’s walk with Jesus and whether or not he would remain alive until the Lord’s return, Jesus told Peter to never mind about John, “you follow me.” Why is it that certain anxious men must so vehemently demand that women submit to them? Why don’t they leave that “command,” if it is such, up to the women to fulfill or not, just as we are all called to choose whether or not to obey the Lord on many various issues. This is harmful enough when male laity behave in such a manner, but it is exceptionally abusive when men use their church positions (and usually false authority) to coerce women into obedience to their desire to rule and reign (all in the guise of obeying Scripture, of course).

I find it awfully suspicious that some “Christian” men are so extremely invested in ensuring that women “obey” a few cherry picked Scriptures! This is very cult like. This is what cults do. That is why MH’s stance on women and the testimonies of those harmed by this caught my attention, along with other aspects which match up with VanVonderen’s and Dr. Enroths descriptions of church abuse. Cults use various Scriptures out of context also in order to control the cult members. Driscoll, and others like him, use Scripture passages which are difficult to translate, to understand and to apply correctly partly due to one glaring reason: they seem to contradict the gender equality Jesus teaches, Paul teaches and Gen 1-3 teaches and which many other Bible passages exemplify. Conversely, you do not find women in an uproar about husbands not loving their wives properly and not giving their lives up for them, now do you? You don’t find women teaching on this and making bogus principals out of this (like the men’s “headship principle” and “prophet, priest & king of the home principle”) and hounding the men with this every chance they get, now do you?

If you would like or need more scholarly information about Christian Biblical Equality see my posts #29 and #28 and/or go directly to Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE) at  http://www.cbeinternational.org/  .

As much of  a passion as gender equality in the Body of Christ has now become to me, still that is not primarily what this site is about, although at times it will take the pre-eminence because of the spiritually violent aspects of Driscoll’s false theology and spiritual abuse which violates women.

Freedom4Captives is about analyzing and highlighting what appears to be CHURCH ABUSE at Mars Hill. The more I read of mind control, aberrational “Christian” churches and of cults, the more I see similarities in Driscoll’s style of “leadership” (control) and the Mars Hill system. I urge you, Mr. Nater, to go do some research on the issues at hand, to spend some time studying what Driscoll is actually preaching, writing and how he is behaving, and then feel free to come back and address the complexity of the issues here if you’d like.

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I’ve been wanting to post on this for quite some time… I can no longer put it off.

Is Driscoll Really Qualified to Pastor?

In order to ascertain the answer to this question, I encourage you to read some of the posts on this blog, read the testimonies of the many who have been seriously wounded, and I would say spiritually and psychologically abused, in his church (Mars Hill, Seattle) and by Driscoll, do your own research, listen to Driscoll’s sermons, read some of his books… After you have done that, read the following Scriptures and check off the characteristics that do NOT fit Driscoll… let’s see how many biblically mandated qualifications remain and whether or not Driscoll truly qualifies, biblically, to be a pastor… And then, for what may feel like torture (as it was to me), read some quotes from his recent teaching (June ’09) about the necessity of having qualified leaders who are humble and do not lord it over the flock… The irony… That will be in the next post.

1 Tim 3:1-10

1Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, [pastor][a] he desires a noble task. 2Now the overseer must be:

–above reproach, [MD has said many things which have caused legitimate reproach from other believers, and from the world alike]

–the husband of but one wife, [here’s one that appears to apply]

–temperate (pleasant, mild, moderate), [I don’t think this fits Driscoll either, based on my research and how he carries himself and communicates; he seems to be rather extreme, not moderate, I mean, biblically moderate, not liberally “moderate”]

–self-controlled, [Driscoll has lost control of his anger on many occasion, and he seems to have very little control over his tongue once he gets going—the somewhat amusing thing here is that MH has recently changed the way and the timing in which they broadcast and post his sermons: they are now postponing MD’s sermon broadcasts and posts ONE WEEK LATER after they select which service to use and after it’s been EDITED. This is true even of what the other MH church campuses have access to and watch on their mammoth video screens for their Sunday morning services—they see Driscoll preaching what he had preached in Ballard the week prior. So if you really want the scoop on EVERYTHING MD said, you’d have to go live, to Ballard… Of course when MD announced this at a church service a few months ago, every reason but the obvious was stated. The obvious being the embarrassing habit of MD spouting off something that truly comes from his heart (“Out of the heart the mouth speaks”), but which does not reflect well on him and MH. Now MD and MH can “FIX” that. More on “self-control:” MD has also described himself HITTING a congregant and/or counselee, a male who was really ticking MD off. Driscoll said he lost it so badly he couldn’t even remember the scene very well! Nice! The reference is somewhere in this blog—I’ll dig it up. He really said that!]

–respectable, [Is Driscoll respectable in the way he speaks about women? NO (just see my post #8 Christian Taliban…Spiritual Warfare Series). In the way he talks about men who are not –blue collar over-sexed, macho must drive a big truck to compensate– men? NO. Is he respectable when he tells his female congregants to give blow jobs to their husbands as a way of “serving them well”? Hell no! Is he respectable in his subjugation of women? NO. Is he respectable in his language? No. Is he respectable in his obsession with sex and crass way of “teaching” about it from the pulpit? Hell no! Is he respectable when he talks about the mother of Jesus being found pregnant outside of marriage and that the villagers probably thought she was [loosely paraphrased but close] ‘banging boots in the back of a car on prom night?’ Not even remotely!! Is he respectable when he infers that if Song of Solomon is allegorical about the Body of Christ as the Bride of Christ, and that –rough paraphrase—if tasting of ‘his fruit’ is going down when I get there, it’s like, I don’t think so. MD said, “I love you, Lord, but not in THAT way.” No! May it never be that this is considered respectable!]

–hospitable, [I don’t know regarding his home, but at his church, he doesn’t seem to be from his pulpit]

–able to teach, [There has been much discussion about the carelessness with which Driscoll plays at “exegesis.” I read one, whom I think is a theologian, state that Driscoll massacred Song of Solomon. Many very knowledgeable, biblical Christians are scratching their heads at Piper’s and Mohler’s support of such a one as MD].

3–not given to drunkenness, [MD frequently extols his “freedom” to drink his beers… Personally, I am not opposed to a Christian having a glass of wine or a beer, or Cosmo, we are simply told in Scripture to “be not drunk with wine, but be filled with the Spirit.” MD, however, makes a frequent and inflated issue about his freedom to drink, just as he does from the pulpit about his freedom to have sex and “lots of it” within marriage… one wonders what is behind such an emphasis and focus…]

–not violent but gentle, [Well, just watch some of his video clips… just listen to his voice when he lashes out at his congregation… violent, not gentle]

–not quarrelsome, [he argues from the pulpit with those who do not have a similar platform from which to defend their point. He’s been called the “bully from the pulpit,” and I think there is ample evidence of the truth in that.]

–not a lover of money. [I wonder what he earns?]

4–He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. 5(If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) [I can imagine he does this with an iron fist]

6–He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. [I believe this is part of the crux of the matter: MD was a relatively new Christian when he became a pastor at age 25. That’s awfully young developmentally, AND he apparently was not mentored, he wasn’t under the leadership of an older, wiser man or woman of God. MD, per his own admission, was never even a parishioner. He never had to submit to any leadership. In my opinion, he still doens’t. He was top dog from the beginning and so he apparently remains, unhindered, unchecked, unaccountable (carefully read the 2007 By-Laws, they too are included in this blog). And yet despite all this MD sure hammers home teachings on congregant and female submission. Submission in general, and I would say by way of inference submission to HIM as male leader/authority/pastor/elder, is one of his pet doctrines… it keeps others under his “biblical” control.]

7–He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap. [MD has been incredibly and needlessly offensive, and no, not merely about preaching the truth of Jesus and the gospel, but offensive in his mannerisms and extreme, non-biblical views and the way he bandies these about. He seems to have a very BAD reputation with many in the non-believing community in Seattle, among the “outsiders,” as well as with many across the nation and even in other nations, based on discussions across the internet. There are many very biblical Christians who just cannot believe MD seems to be such a “darling” parts of the Christian community! I am one of them. The Bible says we are to season our communication with salt, to give grace to the hearers. We are not to become obnoxious to others for obnoxiousness’ sake, nor are we to use any kind of authority over anyone, Christian or not, as a means of beating them down into subservience and compliance to our wishes and our way of seeing things. Did Jesus ever do this? He did not blast people to obey Him. The only ones we see him blasting were the false teachers, the legalists, the Pharisees and Sadducees. Those who dared to misrepresent his character—these he blasted. Follow the example of Acts and what and how Paul and Peter preached… they were firm about the need to repent and believe on Jesus. They called sin, sin. But they were not obnoxious. And yes, for the gospel, offense was given, but it wasn’t Paul’s or Peter’s offensiveness, it was the “offense of the cross.” The Bible says that, “As far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone,” and we are to “Speak the truth in love…”]

8–Deacons, likewise…10They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons. [From what I can tell, MD was never really tested, and no one seems to be testing him now, not according to these Scriptural criteria, except perhaps bloggers… If anything he is “tested” by his effectiveness in holding an audience’s attention, entertaining them, preaching the Gospel, and by the numbers of people coming into his church. None of these are the criteria we are given in Scripture by which to measure a pastor’s qualifications, no, not even his success. These are humankind’s methods of measuring “success,” (other than preaching the Gospel) but not God’s. “My ways are not your ways…”]

And finally, another Scripture (which I will not be breaking down to analyze MD in comparison; this Scripture just reinforces the prior one).

Titus 1:7-9 7Since an overseer[b] is entrusted with God’s work, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. 8Rather he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. 9He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.

Please see: 43. Driscoll Teaches on Qualified Leadership (Did I Hear Laughter?)

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I have been contemplating a particular potential post for this blog for quite some time, and I was actually going to call it this title here, but someone else beat me to it. The following is taken from another site and hit the topic from a more comprehensive and somewhat different angle than I was going to. But that’s okay because I still have an alternative title in the wings with which to address the issues/Scriptures and Driscoll from the approach I had been thinking of.

Anyway, I have abridged this article as much as I could but still it is long because the author covers so many significant and grievous points regarding: Driscoll’s lack of solid biblical exegesis, his chauvinism and/or misogyny, his obsession with sex and especially smut, his flaunting of such, his efforts to come off as a macho he-man, non-chickified dude (and creating Christ in his own image), his immaturity, etc…

I have run into some macho and apparently hierarchical (chauvinistic) types here and on other sites who apparently think I have no sense of humor which, according to them, explains why some of the Driscoll quotes below offended me… Well, I’ll let you be the judge of that. Actually, I find it quite shocking and terribly disheartening that any man would find any of this funny. I would like to ask these men (and others like them), “Would you consider Driscoll quite as cute and entertaining if he were saying these things about your mother? your sister? your girlfriend? your wife? your daughter? Would it be so harmless and even humorous then?

All of the following is from Cathy Michel’s article, Mark Driscoll: Is He Qualified to Lead?

Mark Driscoll: Is He Qualified To Lead?

Friday, January 16, 2009 Guest Blogger: Cathy Mickels lives in Seattle and is the co-author of Spiritual Junk Food: The Dumbing Down of Christian Youth

Summary and Introduction

This memo is written to Christian leaders detailing my concerns regarding the ministry of Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle. His church has grown to 6,000 members in 11 years and is also described as one of the fastest growing, innovative churches in America.

Because this ministry is characterized by so many examples of the trivialization of Scripture, crudeness, foolish talk and vulgarity it will be a challenge to keep my correspondence as brief as possible.

Research leads me to concur with Pastor John MacArthur, who has also said, “I have a great concern about him. [Mark Driscoll.]”

…Since Mark Driscoll has proven time and time again that he handles God’s Word carelessly, why is Mark Driscoll a highlighted speaker at The Gospel Coalition’s 2009 National Convention? It is all the more disturbing knowing Driscoll will be speaking on “Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth.” Why are evangelical leaders, such as John Piper, willing to overlook his crudity and excuse the fact that at the expense of God’s Word, Mark Driscoll distorts and twists Scripture as if it were material for a stand-up comedian? http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/about

…Throughout the history of the church, vulgarity and playing fast and loose with Scripture would have immediately been identified as falsehood, error, or a serious character flaw. However, for some reason, today many in the Church are compromising and excusing ungodly behavior coming from the pulpit…

I submit that this ministry attacks the integrity of Scripture, the character of Christ, and feeds the sensual, worldly heart of man. Therefore, out of love for Mark Driscoll and the Body of Christ, there needs to be close examination and scrutiny of this ministry. 3

Rewriting Scripture from a secular script

In Genesis 3… in the story of Adam and Eve, Driscoll throws out a suggestive, sensual idea about Eve that I guess Mark thinks will amuse his male audience. He says “…God creates a perfect woman who is beautiful, sinless, and naked,- the same kind of woman every guy ever since has been looking for.” (The Radical Reformission, pg.28.)

…[Driscoll] undermines the seriousness of the messages of Jeremiah, a prophet of God, by describing him as someone “who cries like a newly crowned beauty queen all the time.” He laughs at Noah for getting drunk and ending up naked in his tent, and then compares him to “some redneck on vacation.” Why would Driscoll find amusement or pleasure in seeing Noah’s dignity reduced or undermined?…

Perverting the character of Christ

Scripture states, “….out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks”, which makes it puzzling to hear or read what flippantly comes out of the mouth of Mark Driscoll. For the sake of a laugh, it appears nothing is off limits.

[The following paragraph is in regards to Song of Solomon 2:3, “I delight to sit in his shade, and his fruit is sweet to my taste,” which Mark declares must be about a woman giving oral sex to a man:]

… At the expense of the reputation of Christ, Driscoll flippantly joked regarding those who differ with him on the interpretation of this book. Driscoll asserted, [that some say] “ ‘Well the allegorical interpretation, it’s not between a husband and a wife, Song of Solomon, love and romance and intimacy; what it is, it’s about us and Jesus.’ Really?… I hope not…If I get to heaven and this goes down, I don’t know what I’m gonna do…. I mean it’s gonna be a bad day. Right? I mean seriously…’You dudes know what I’m talking about… You’re like, “No, I’m not doing that… You know I’m not doing that… I love Him [Jesus] but not like that.” What was the response of the congregants? They laughed. (Excerpts from Driscoll’s first sermon on the Song of Solomon series called, “The Peasant Princess” – start at 27:15)

This lack of respect can also be seen in Driscoll’s irreverent account of Jesus’ family in his book Vintage Jesus. He writes, “Jesus’ mom was a poor, unwed teenage girl who was often mocked for claiming she conceived by the Holy Spirit. Most people thought she concocted the crazy story to cover the fact she was knocking boots with some guy in the back seat of a car at the prom.

In a Christianity Today article titled, “A Jesus for Real Men,” Driscoll is quoted as saying that “real men” avoid the church because it projects a “Richard Simmons, hippie, queer Christ.” However, according to Driscoll, “real men” – like Jesus, Paul, and John the Baptists- are “dudes: heterosexual, win-a-fight, punch-you-in-the-nose dudes.” The article states this is the sort of Christ men are drawn to- what Driscoll calls “Ultimate Fighting Jesus.” http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2008/april/27.48.html

But, Jesus is not a dude, He is a King. In the words of A.W. Tozer, Christ is being “courted with a familiarity that reveals a total ignorance of who He is. It is not the reverent intimacy of the adoring saint but the impudent familiarity of a carnal lover.” Mark Driscoll may think these images and descriptions of Christ play well in edgy Seattle, but they are a figment of his imagination, not the Word of God.

“If then I am the Father, Where is my honor? And if I am the master, ‘Where is My reverence?’ says the Lord of Host.”
Malachi 1:6

Feeding the sensual tastes of man

The mind is the battleground, but in the case of Mark Driscoll, instead of protecting the mind against the crudity and vulgarity of the world, he intentionally uses it. For example, Driscoll appears to have discovered early on that sex sells and that he could use it to draw a crowd. He writes, “I assumed the students and singles were all pretty horny, so I went out on a limb and preached through the Song of Songs. ….Each week I extolled the virtues of marriage, foreplay, oral sex, sacred stripping, and sex outdoors, just as the book teaches…This helped us a lot because apparently a pastor using words like ‘penis’ and ‘oral sex’ is unusual, and before you could say “aluminum pole in the bedroom,” attendance began to climb steadily to more than two hundred people a week.” Even the title of his new book, Porn-Again Christian, is case in point of distorting the words of Christ in order to grab the attention of guys to read it.

It is also curious that in spite of Mark Driscoll’s acknowledgement that many of the young men at Mars Hill struggle with pornography, Mark would intentionally and frequently plant himself in a barbershop filled with pornography. In his own words, Mark describes his barbershop as “providing the finest selection of waiting area pornography in our city.” But, isn’t the word “finest” a rather odd way of describing perverted material?

…Similarly, Mark’s response to a phone call he received in the middle of the night from a young man also raises questions regarding his choice of words and judgment. Driscoll writes that [some college guy called him, crying. He tried to pretend like he cared]. Mark blurted out, “What have you done?” When the caller confessed he had watched porno and masturbated, Driscoll actually asked the upset caller, “Was it good porno?…” …According to Driscoll, the caller was still left unclear about what he was suppose to do, so in Driscoll style, he told the caller, “…..A naked lady is good to look at, so get a job, get a wife, ask her to get naked, and look at her instead.” What message is Mark Driscoll sending to unmarried, young men by his crude, disrespectful remarks about women?

In another one of Driscoll’s church stories, he tells about a time of exhaustion when he snapped at the young men at his church. Describing them as a chronic masturbator, a porn addict, banging weak-willed girls like a screen door in a stiff breeze, etc., Mark says he cussed out a poor guy, losing his mind to the point that he thinks he actually cuffed him upside the head. In a follow-up meeting, he preached to the young men about manhood, but then, in my opinion, he snapped again.

According to Mark, his explanation for getting their act together was “….because you can’t charge hell with your pants around your ankles, a bottle of lotion in one hand, and a kleenex in the other.” He concluded the meeting by handing “each man two stones and told them that on this day God was giving them their balls back to get the courage to do kingdom work.” As a result, Mars Hill began having “boot camps” for men, teaching them how to get a wife, have sex with that wife, ….buy a house…study the Bible…and brew decent beer.”

In fact, regarding Mars Hill’s worship leader, Mark describes him as a manly man, who brews his own beer. Mark says he was impressed with his worship leader because “most of the worship dudes I have heard are not very dudely…they seem to be….exceedingly chickified from …..singing prom songs to Jesus.”

…Why would he detail the story about the attractive woman at the airport who offered him what Driscoll describes as her “impressive” “sexual favors”? It is also curious why Mark would use the language he does to describe this woman, whom Mark says was “Hot….like hell.” (Confessions of a Reformission Rev, pg. 128.)

Instead of a pastor spiritually lifting the Body of Christ up to a higher standard, Mark is dragging the Church through the gutter. As the prophet Jeremiah lamented, my people “… were not at all ashamed, Nor did they know how to blush.” (Jeremiah 6:15, 8:12)

The far-reaching influence of Mark Driscoll

…Apparently, whether it is sex or bragging about how “tough” it was for him to preach on Lake Washington with frat guys “mooning my [his] church” with “a backdrop of their hairy heinies,” or describing the “well-endowed young women passing by on a boat, lifting up their shirts,” or detailing his gross account of “messing my[his] pants while preaching with the stomach flu,” Driscoll seems to go to any length to create interest in his books and his ministry. …This is the language and conduct of a child, not a man ready for the pulpit. (Confessions of a Reformission Rev, pg. 88, and 176-177).

…[An] Anglican director… says, “…[Driscoll has] made conservative Christianity almost sexy, which is a most astonishing thing.” I also noticed on Driscoll’s Acts 29 website the comment that even church planting can be “sexy.”

Conclusion

…[MacArthur noted] Driscoll has an “infatuation with the vulgar aspects of contemporary society…”

…It is a mockery of the Christian faith to have Mark Driscoll speak on the topic of “Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth.”

According to MacArthur Study Bible, rightly dividing the word of truth means “cutting it straight – a reference to the exactness demanded by such trades as carpentry, masonry….Precision and accuracy are required in biblical interpretation …” Why?… Because when we are handling the holy Word of God, nothing less is acceptable.

What comes out of the mouth of Mark Driscoll, and how he handles Scripture is not only shameful, but also an embarrassment to the Body of Christ. Regardless of Mark Driscoll’s ability to deliver a serious presentation of the gospel message, and draw people in off the streets of Seattle, something is spiritually unhealthy and wrong with this ministry. Based on the concerns raised by others and the questions raised in this memo, it is all the more confusing that evangelical leaders are excusing the conduct and teachings of Mark Driscoll.

It is the opinion of this writer that there needs to be a close examination of this ministry. Mark Driscoll is undermining biblical and historical Christianity, and lacks the wisdom, discernment and maturity to lead. If the church cannot see it, we are further down the downgrade than we think.

“Likewise urge the young men to be sensible; in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.” Titus 2:6

Further viewing/reading (viewer warning advisory):

Mark Driscoll on “Biblical Oral Sex” (YouTube)
Mark Driscoll on “Masturbation as Birth Control (YouTube)

http://thechristianworldview.com/tcwblog/archives/1640

pulled 6/29/09

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This is who Jesus says I am… This is who the Bible says I am… What say you?

…And, are half of His precious human creation to continue to be harassed, demeaned and oppressed by you and the men you train?

I pray to God that you and “your men” fall on your knees, repent hard and heavy, and answer, “No more. The abuse of God’s precious women stops here, and it stops now, in the name of Christ, Amen!”

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What is it with Mark and sex??? What is it with Mark and abuse??? I keep getting these images of Swaggart and Bakker coming to mind… The following was pointed out to me today… to say I am appalled falls short of how I feel… It’s not that I’m squeamish about sex, but Driscoll… what can I say. Read the article, then come back and read my ranting about it below (posted on another blog where someone was defending him, not for this, but for all the other stuff that’s been surfacing).

But first, here are a few excerpts from the link below:

“During the sermon, which was entitled “Sex, a Study of the Good Bits from Song of Solomon,” Driscoll interpreted Song of Solomon 2:3 as referring to oral sex and then said, “Men, I am glad to report to you that oral sex is biblical…. The wife performing oral sex on the husband is biblical. God’s men said, Amen. Ladies, your husbands appreciate oral sex. They do. So, serve them, love them well. It’s biblical. Right here. We have a verse. ‘The fruit of her husband is sweet to her taste and she delights to be beneath him.'”

“Driscoll went on to tell an anecdote about a wife who he said won her husband to Christ by performing oral sex on him. Driscoll said he told her that giving him oral sex would be following the admonition of Scripture. A transcript of the sermon quotes Driscoll saying he told her, “1 Peter 3 says if your husband is an unbeliever to serve him with deeds of kindness,” referring to oral sex. Verses 1 and 2 of that chapter, however, tell wives it is their “pure and reverent” conduct that will win their unbelieving husbands.

“In response to the idea that the Song of Solomon is an allegory about the relationship between Jesus and the Church, Driscoll said: “If so, it is weird, because Jesus keeps making out with me and touching me in inappropriate places. It’s bizarre, Jesus has his hand up my shirt. That doesn’t help the interpretation in any way. Now I’m gay … or highly troubled … or both.””

http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=30700&ref=BPNews-RSSFeed0617

Does anyone else get it? Does anyone else see how sickeningly sexually abusive it is for Driscoll to teach young husbands (by the thousands!) that they can basically demand oral sex from their wives because, he says, the Bible strongly endorses it?! What if that wife is opposed to oral sex? What if she has past sexual abuse issues where her dad or other abuser orally raped her or forced her to perform fellatio on him? Come on, Driscoll, and everyone else, please, open your eyes! This is beyond, waaay beyond merely putting up with a “Christian brother” who has differing theological views than I do.

The man is doing and saying countless things that appear extremely abusive: spiritually, psychologically (verbal/emotional), and now sexually, in that he is outright condemning the poor woman who will not “submit” and make herself perform oral sex for her husband because it “pleases him.” Oh, and then he claims that one believing wife brought her husband to the Lord by performing oral sex on him. Okay.  I see this in John 5:9… NOT!

Ugh!

Sigh!

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Today I was feeling a bit down having had an email interaction with a self-proclaimed “theologian” regarding a completely different issue than MH and MD. Despite the bit of research I had done, he kept stating I couldn’t trust any of the sources I had cited and instead I needed to read the pastor in question for myself. Okay, I understand about going to the source and all that, but how much poison does one need to ingest before one realizes, “Yeah, it’s making me ill”? And why would one want to go back and purposefully imbibe more? This “theologian” would also not dialogue with me re: the points of challenge I had brought up, but rather seemed to speak down to me, making moral judgments about me and insinuating I was part of the those haters who just sit around on the internet criticizing everyone who doesn’t think just like them. Ugh!

But I try to take all critiques seriously and to see what I can glean from them. So I thought long and hard about what he said, and I applied that to this blog on MH and MD… I began to ask myself a series of questions: Am I just “out to get Mark?” Are my motives to tear down MH for the sake of mean spirited vengeance (although I really didn’t get hurt at MH, just alarmed and I got out rather quickly, so not much to take vengeance on)? What if I’ve made Driscoll to be worse than he is? What if what I’m reporting on can’t hold water? Am I being destructive rather than helpful for God’s people?

While all of that was rumbling around within my mind, I did my weekly “practice run” search in Google to see what is currently showing up when I type in “Mars Hill Church Abuse.” In my present frame of mind you can imagine my sense of validation when I found the following. I’ve cut and pasted some of the forum’s comments, anonymously (but you can visit their site as a visitor, so their forum names/aliases are not top secret or anything)… This thread in their forum was posted at the beginning of April when I was at my old blog site (marshillchurchabuse.blogspot.com), and had recently posted about the Firing of the Elders and the By-Laws.

Anyway, I’m feeling pretty vindicated right about now… and I think I’ve got my vision/mission firmly back in place! 🙂

The following is found at:

http://equalitycentral.com/forum/index.php?topic=936.0

New Blog: Mars Hill Church, Driscoll & Spiritual Abuse

A

This situation happend a few years ago and it is all true. For a while, the two fired elders, who I think were paid, spoke out and then abruptly stopped. All the info about the by laws, etc are true. Driscoll took over completely and has some hand picked yes men. It was a planned coup. There are a few youtube videos where Mark is speaking about this and he is downright mean. You can tell where he is daring anyone to question him.

Actually, this is happening in many SBC churches, too. It is especially prevelant in mega churches. The sin of lording it over is alive and well in our churches. A sign of the times, I think…this almost lazerlike sole focus on hierarchies. It is everywhere.

B.

[Re: Post #8. Christian Taliban & Christian Women Donning Berkas]

“He even warns women not to rely on or trust in older women [contrary to Scripture] because they are likely to be busybodies and gossips, unless they are especially spiritual and very submissive.

“Fifty three minutes: Driscoll describes how he protects his wife from other women who want to go have coffee with her and get to know her, because, guess what, “that is Satanic,” and he says he knows what they’re really up to.”

Wonder what he’s afraid of?  This sounds extremely insecure and controlling to me.
Reminds me of the times my husband used to mock my fellowship with women “are you going to go and play with Chrissie today?” (in a voice dripping with contempt)
Chris (not “Chrissie”) is my 68 yr old female mentor.  If he could have got away with it, I’m sure he would have forbid me seeing her, but I had come out of the fog enough not to allow myself to be controlled like that.

C.

After reading that article, if only half of it is true, it confirms everything I *knew* in my spirit when listening to Driscoll before.  You know, once you’ve lived with one of these types and made it long enough to recognize them for what they are, you can smell them a mile away.  He just has it all over him.  I used to feel kind of guilty for not liking him, back in the day…I just couldn’t stand him, but couldn’t put my finger on it…just the arrogance…and yet all these other people just LOVED him…  I thought, huh, must just be a personality style thing, I guess.  Later I would come to realize what it was that I found so disturbing.

What is shocking on that blog is how many many many commenters are furious at the blog linked to above and others like them for existing and for reporting on such things.  Driscoll is so effective at presenting the Gospel, they say, so leave him alone and stop airing this “in-house” fight.  Driscoll is leading people to Christ, which means he’s above criticism.  Driscoll is an “untouchable,” above the masses.  I mean, people practically worship this guy!

I hate that kind of thinking.  He’s got truth and poison in the same breath, but because there’s truth in there, we’re just supposed to cover our eyes at the poison?  What kills me is how these are the VERY SAME PEOPLE who get angry about books like The Shack, etc, because they say that the poison they feel is in the book is dangerous, so don’t read it even though there is also truth in it and many people who would not otherwise consider Christ are now becoming followers.  *shakes head*  I hate the double standards.

D.

I  KWYM.  It was not apparent that he was that controlling just by listening to one or two or his video’s.  The more we hear , the worse it gets.  And to think that young men and women are listening to this.  The young men grab at it, because it is close to the sin nature to elevate self.  The young women feel obligated because it is close to their sin nature to adulate men, but also cringe because the degree is worse than their sinful inclinations.  Such bondage.  How horrible.

E.

Thank you for listening to and making an excellent summary of Driscoll’s message.  I have to say as one who does ministry in deliverance from your notes I believe Pastor Driscoll is in need of deliverance from the unclean spirit of “the hatred of women”.   His actions he expressed concerning his wife and how he sees women are certainly operations I’ve come to know as coming from the influence of this unclean spirit.

BTW – in deliverance ministry my husband and I have NOT found that we deal with “mostly” women – it is definitely 50/50.  I will also add the hardest person we’ve every had to deal with was a man who saw himself as the “head and priest” of his family.  He wanted to control every issue concerning prayer for his family.  He would “demand” we take authority over the unclean spirits he had decided they needed deliverance from — and would get terribly upset when we refused because we did not discern that these were the issue with his family members.

If Pastor Driscoll ever came for deliverance counseling with my husband and myself I do believe from what you summarized, Lin, that we would be addressing the unclean spirit of “hatred of women”.

F.

I took the excerpts of his teaching from the blog linked to in the first comment. However, I did listen to the peasant princess when it first came out. I could hardly get through it. It made me sick.

I agree with W that he has a deep seated hatred of women. But I think this is because Mark has to have an enemy. Probably always has as that is the only way he could make a living. I am starting to believe that emergent was not profitable enough for him in terms of influence. Too much competition. But not a lot of competition for a counterculture reformed guy.

Women are the perfect target as enemies becasue he can mask it as ‘doctrine’ and it is acceptable. For example: Why do so few people get offended when he alludes that all women are gossips? How can the men and women in that audience not see through such comments from him? Because he has made this primary salvic doctrine and turned it all into a work of salvation. I think men like this are worse than Rome for works salvation. They deny it but it is right there!

He markets his schitk as ‘counterculture’. All he does is slap a tatoo on a fish add works that are feminine and masculine and call it Christianity. It is a business. And he gets paid a lot for his speaking gigs.

G.

I also suspect Driscoll may be a Narcissist and whatever goes along with that.

H.

Where is the outspoken concern for his behavior from other well known pastors?  A few do but not many.

I.

I also wonder if any one else from among us who suffered spousal abuse had their teeth set on edge as they recognized the pattern of cutting the victim off from all sources of help in his disguise “I do this for her protection”.  I know from my own past and counseling that this is a common action of abusers with control issues.  This IS NOT Godly counsel coming from his mouth.   It is a form of abuse.

It makes me so angry to hear him present this form of abuse as Godly counsel.  (I find it to be much the same abuse done in the name of God that the women of the “no longer quiverful” blog are addressing.)

It makes me so very sad to know that many in the church have become so deceived they have become unable to discern the abuse of women in his message.

I am also left wondering who God sent in to be a help to his wife and was cut off by him in the name of “protection”.  My heart breaks for her and cries out for her liberty and freedom.  I pray she breaks out of her cage as Clay and many other women have done and walk in her God given freedom as a woman of God.

J.

When they have been outspoken in an area for a long time and made it part of their entire persona, made a living from it, it is almost impossible to see another interpretation or even admit there is another interpretation to even be considered. It has defined who they are

I wrote this and can see how come could say this would be naive. I want to clarify that the anger we see coming from those who tout these doctrines is taught to them. They see it as righteous anger.

The thing with Piper [& Driscoll], etc, is that they allow no disagreement. You are labeled, perhaps prayed for and put in a category as rebellious, not believing the Word, etc. That is not naive at all. That is protecting your turf. You learn real quick not to question or disagree in those circles. Because there is no real civil discussion of differences in interpretations. Yours is simply wrong and that is that.

K.

(NASB) Proverbs 28:10 He who leads the upright astray in an evil way Will himself fall into his own pit,…

(NASB) Proverbs 28:16 A leader who is a great oppressor lacks understanding,…

L.

I had a pastor like Driscoll once.

…The big issue is control… He didn’t put women down, but he sure did make Jesus out to be a tough guy. It’s the same spirit. Control can show up anywhere. It’s just if you add a hatred towards women to it, it makes it worse.

http://equalitycentral.com/forum/index.php?topic=936.0

5/4/09

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This article has received A LOT of attention, and since I’ve referred to it in previous posts, I thought it only fitting I should include it in its entirety.

Who Would Jesus Smack Down?
Published Jan 6, 2009

Mark Driscoll’s sermons are mostly too racy to post on GodTube, the evangelical Christian “family friendly” video-posting Web site. With titles like “Biblical Oral Sex” and “Pleasuring Your Spouse,” his clips do not stand a chance against the site’s content filters. No matter: YouTube is where Driscoll, the pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, would rather be. Unsuspecting sinners who type in popular keywords may suddenly find themselves face to face with a husky-voiced preacher in a black skateboarder’s jacket and skull T-shirt. An “Under 17 Requires Adult Permission” warning flashes before the video cuts to evening services at Mars Hill, where an anonymous audience member has just text-messaged a question to the screen onstage: “Pastor Mark, is masturbation a valid form of birth control?”

Driscoll doesn’t miss a beat: “I had one guy quote Ecclesiastes 9:10, which says, ‘Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.’ ” The audience bursts out laughing. Next Pastor Mark is warning them about lust and exalting the confines of marriage, one hand jammed in his jeans pocket while the other waves his Bible. Even the skeptical viewer must admit that whatever Driscoll’s opinion of certain recreational activities, he has the coolest style and foulest mouth of any preacher you’ve ever seen.

Mark Driscoll is American evangelicalism’s bête noire. In little more than a decade, his ministry has grown from a living-room Bible study to a megachurch that draws about 7,600 visitors to seven campuses around Seattle each Sunday, and his books, blogs and podcasts have made him one of the most admired — and reviled — figures among evangelicals nationwide. Conservatives call Driscoll “the cussing pastor” and wish that he’d trade in his fashionably distressed jeans and taste for indie rock for a suit and tie and placid choral arrangements. Liberals wince at his hellfire theology and insistence that women submit to their husbands. But what is new about Driscoll is that he has resurrected a particular strain of fire and brimstone, one that most Americans assume died out with the Puritans: Calvinism, a theology that makes Pat Robertson seem warm and fuzzy.


At a time when the once-vaunted unity of the religious right has eroded and the mainstream media is proclaiming an “evangelical crackup,” Driscoll represents a movement to revamp the style and substance of evangelicalism. With his taste for vintage baseball caps and omnipresence on Facebook and iTunes, Driscoll, who is 38, is on the cutting edge of American pop culture. Yet his message seems radically unfashionable, even un-American: you are not captain of your soul or master of your fate but a depraved worm whose hard work and good deeds will get you nowhere, because God marked you for heaven or condemned you to hell before the beginning of time. Yet a significant number of young people in
Seattle — and nationwide — say this is exactly what they want to hear. Calvinism has somehow become cool, and just as startling, this generally bookish creed has fused with a macho ethos. At Mars Hill, members say their favorite movie isn’t “Amazing Grace” or “The Chronicles of Narnia” — it’s “Fight Club.”

Mars Hill Church is the furthest thing from a Puritan meetinghouse. This is Seattle, and Mars Hill epitomizes the city that spawned it. Headquartered in a converted marine supply store, the church is a boxy gray building near the diesel-infused din of the Ballard Bridge. In the lobby one Sunday not long ago, college kids in jeans — some sporting nose rings or kitchen-sink dye jobs — lounged on ottomans and thumbed text messages to their friends. The front desk, black and slick, looked as if it ought to offer lattes rather than Bibles and membership pamphlets. Buzz-cut and tattooed security guards mumbled into their headpieces and directed the crowd toward the auditorium, where the worship band was warming up for an hour of hymns with Bruce Springsteens’s “Born to Run.”

On that Sunday, Driscoll preached for an hour and 10 minutes — nearly three times longer than most pastors. As hip as he looks, his message brooks no compromise with
Seattle’s permissive culture. New members can keep their taste in music, their retro T-shirts and their intimidating facial hair, but they had better abandon their feminism, premarital sex and any “modern” interpretations of the Bible. Driscoll is adamantly not the “weepy worship dude” he associates with liberal and mainstream evangelical churches, “singing prom songs to a Jesus who is presented as a wuss who took a beating and spent a lot of time putting product in his long hair.”

The oldest of five, son of a union drywaller, Driscoll was raised Roman Catholic in a rough neighborhood on the outskirts of Seattle. In high school, he met a pretty blond pastor’s daughter named — providentially — Grace. She gave him his first Bible. He read voraciously and was born again at 19. “God talked to me,” Driscoll says. “He told me to marry Grace, preach the Bible, to plant churches and train men.” He married Grace (with whom he now has five children) and, at 25, founded Mars Hill.

God called Driscoll to preach to men — particularly young men — to save them from an American Protestantism that has emasculated Christ and driven men from church pews with praise music that sounds more like boy-band ballads crooned to Jesus than “Onward Christian Soldiers.” What bothers Driscoll — and the growing number of evangelical pastors who agree with him — is not the trope of Jesus-as-lover. After all, St. Paul tells us that the Church is the bride of Christ. What really grates is the portrayal of Jesus as a wimp, or worse. Paintings depict a gentle man embracing children and cuddling lambs. Hymns celebrate his patience and tenderness. The mainstream church, Driscoll has written, has transformed Jesus into “a Richard Simmons, hippie, queer Christ,” a “neutered and limp-wristed popular Sky Fairy of pop culture that . . . would never talk about sin or send anyone to hell.”

This reaction to the “feminization” of the church is not new. “The Lord save us,” declared the evangelist Billy Sunday in 1916, “from off-handed, flabby-cheeked . . . effeminate, ossified, three-carat Christianity.” In 1990 a group of pastors founded the Promise Keepers ministry dedicated to “igniting and uniting men” who were failing their families and abandoning the church. In recent years, mainstream megachurches — the mammoth pacesetters of American evangelicalism that package Christianity for mass consumption — have been criticized for replacing hard-edged Gospel with feminized pablum. According to Ed Stetzer, the director of LifeWay Research, a Southern Baptist religious polling organization, Mars Hill is “a reaction to the atheological, consumer-driven nature of the modern evangelical machine.”

The “modern evangelical machine” is a product of the 1970s and ’80s, when a new generation of business-savvy pastors developed strategies to reach unbelievers turned off by traditional worship and evangelization. Their approach was “seeker sensitive”: upon learning that many people didn’t go in for stained glass and steeples, these pastors made their churches look like shopping malls. Complex theology intimidated the curious, and talk of damnation alienated potential converts — so they played down doctrine in favor of upbeat, practical teachings on the Christian life.


These megachurches, like Joel Osteen’s
Lakewood Church in Houston and Bill Hybels’s Willow Creek Community Church in Illinois, have come to symbolize American evangelicalism. By any quantitative measure they are wildly successful, and their values and methods have diffused into the evangelical bloodstream. Yet some megachurches have begun to admit what critics maintained all along: numbers are not everything. In the fall of 2007, leaders of Willow Creek sent shockwaves through the evangelical world when they announced the results of a study in which churchgoers reported feeling stagnant in their faith and frustrated with slick, program-driven pastors. “As an evangelical, I would say this tells us something,” Stetzer says. “The center is not holding.”

Mars Hill has not entirely dispensed with megachurch marketing tactics. Its success in one of the most liberal and least-churched cities in
America depends on being sensitive to the body-pierced and latte-drinking seekers of Seattle. Ultimately, however, Driscoll’s theology means that his congregants’ salvation is not in his hands. It’s not in their own hands, either — this is the heart of Calvinism.
Human beings are totally corrupted by original sin and predestined for heaven or hell, no matter their earthly conduct. We all deserve eternal damnation, but God, in his inscrutable mercy, has granted the grace of salvation to an elect few. While John Calvin’s 16th-century doctrines have deep roots in Christian tradition, they strike many modern evangelicals as nonsensical and even un-Christian. If predestination is true, they argue, then there is no point in missions to the unsaved or in leading a godly life. And some babies who die in infancy — if God placed them among the reprobate — go straight to hell with the rest of the damned, to “glorify his name by their own destruction,” as Calvin wrote. Since the early 19th century, most evangelicals have preferred a theology that stresses the believer’s free decision to accept God’s grace. To be born again is a choice God wants you to make; if you so choose, Jesus will be your personal friend.

Yet Driscoll is not an isolated eccentric. Over the past two decades, preachers in places as far-flung as Minneapolis and Washington, D.C., in denominations ranging from Baptist to Pentecostal, are pushing “this new, aggressive, mission-minded Calvinism that really believes Calvinism is a transcript of the Gospel,” according to Roger Olson, a professor of theology at Baylor University. They have harnessed the Internet to recruit new believers, especially young people. Any curious seeker can find his way into a world of sermon podcasts and treatises by the Protestant Reformers and English Puritans, whose abstruse writings, though far from best-selling, are enjoying something of a renaissance. New converts stay in touch via blogs and Facebook groups with names like “John Calvin Is My Homeboy” and “Calvinism: The Group That Chooses You.”

New Calvinists are still relatively few in number, but that doesn’t bother them: being a persecuted minority proves you are among the elect. They are not “the next big thing” but a protest movement, defying an evangelical mainstream that, they believe, has gone soft on sin and has watered down the Gospel into a glorified self-help program. In part, Calvinism appeals because — like Mars Hill’s music and Driscoll’s frank sermons — the message is raw and disconcerting: seeker insensitive.

Most people who attend Mars Hill do not see themselves as theological radicals. Mark Driscoll is just “Pastor Mark,” not the New Calvinist warrior demonized on evangelical and liberal blogs. Yet while some initially come for mundane reasons — their friends attend; they like the music — the Calvinist theology is often the glue that keeps them in their seats. They call the preaching “authentic” and “true to life.” Traditional evangelical theology falls apart in the face of real tragedy, says the 20-year-old Brett Harris, who runs an evangelical teen blog with his twin brother, Alex. Reducing God to a projection of our own wishes trivializes divine sovereignty and fails to explain how both good and evil have a place in the divine plan. “There are plenty of comfortable people who can say, ‘God’s on my side,’ ” Harris says. “But they couldn’t turn around and say, ‘God gave me cancer.’ ”

Though they believe that God has already mapped out their lives, Calvinists have always been activists. Ye shall know the elect by their fruits, not by their passive acceptance of fate. When it comes to wrestling with life’s challenges, however, they reject the “positive thinking” ethos that Norman Vincent Peale made famous in the 1950s. That philosophy still dominates the Christian self-help market in books like “Your Best Life Now” by Joel Osteen, which promises readers that everything from a Hawaiian vacation house to a beauty-pageant crown is within their grasp if only they “develop a can-do attitude.” Marianne Esterly, a women’s counselor at Mars Hill, says she tries to help women resist the desperation that can come with forgetting that man’s chief end is to glorify God, not to obsess over earthly problems. “They worship the trauma, or the anorexia, and that’s not what they’re designed to worship,” she says. “Christian self-help doesn’t work. We can’t do anything. It’s all the work of Christ.”

Calvinism is a theology predicated on paradox: God has predestined every human being’s actions, yet we are still to blame for our sins; we are totally depraved, yet held to the impossible standard of divine law. These teachings do not jibe with Enlightenment ideas about human capacity, yet they have appealed to a wide range of modern intellectuals, especially those who stressed the dangers of human hubris in the wake of World War I.

Driscoll found his way into this tradition largely on his own. He recently earned a master’s degree through an independent-study program he arranged at a seminary in Portland, Ore. Years ago, paperback reprints of old Puritan treatises in the corner of a local bookstore piqued his interest in Reformation theology. He came to admire Martin Luther, the vulgar, beer-swilling theological rebel who sparked the Reformation. “I found him to be something of a mentor,” Driscoll says. “I didn’t have all the baggage he did. But you can see him with a quill in one hand and a drink in the other. He married a brewer and renegade nun. His story is kind of indie rock.”

Driscoll disdains the prohibitions of traditional evangelical Christianity. Taboos on alcohol, smoking, swearing and violent movies have done much to shape American Protestant culture — a culture that he has called the domain of “chicks and some chickified dudes with limp wrists.” Moreover, the Bible tells him that to seek salvation by self-righteous clean living is to behave like a Pharisee. Unlike fundamentalists who isolate themselves, creating “a separate culture where you live in a Christian cul-de-sac,” as one spiky-haired member named Andrew Pack puts it, Mars Hillians pride themselves on friendships with non-Christians. They tend to be cultural activists who play in rock bands and care about the arts, living out a long Reformed tradition that asserts Christ’s mandate over every corner of creation.

Like many New Calvinists, Driscoll advocates traditional gender roles, called “complementarianism” in theological parlance. Men and women are “equal spiritually, and it’s a difference of functionality, not intrinsic worth,” says Danielle Blazer, a 34-year-old Mars Hill member. Women may work outside the home, but they must submit to their husbands, and they are forbidden from taking on preaching roles in the church.

“It’s only since women have been in church leadership that this backlash has come,” says the Seattle pastor Katie Ladd, a liberal Methodist who holds that declaring Jesus a “masculine dude” subverts the transformative message of the Gospel. But New Calvinists argue that traditional gender roles are true to the Bible, especially the letters of Paul. Moreover, embedded in the notion of Adam as the “federal head” of the human race is the idea of man as head of the home.

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.

Most members, however, didn’t join Mars Hill in order to ask questions. Damon Conklin, who is 41 and runs a tattoo parlor, says he joined Mars Hill because Driscoll made his life make sense — and didn’t ask him to pretend to be someone he wasn’t. “I decided to stop smoking crack and drinking every day,” Conklin says. “I had to find some kind of God in order to do that.” He hated the churches he visited: “I would show up looking as mean as possible, with my Afro blown out, wearing a wife-beater, and then I’d say, ‘Why don’t they like me?’ Then I went to Mars Hill, and I believed Mark.”

Driscoll’s theology “changed how I view women,” Conklin says. He quit going to strip clubs and now refuses to tattoo others with his old specialty, pinup girls (though he still wears two on one arm, souvenirs from earlier, godless days). Mars Hill counts four of the city’s top tattoo artists among its members (and many of their clientele — that afternoon, Conklin was expecting a fellow church member who wanted a portrait of Christ enthroned across his back). While other churches left people like Conklin feeling alienated, Mars Hill has made them its missionaries. “Some people say, ‘You’re pretty cool and you’re a Christian, so I guess I can’t hate all of them anymore,’ ” he says. “I understand where they’re coming from.”

Mars Hill — with its conservative social teachings embedded in guitar solos and drum riffs, its megachurch presence in the heart of bohemian skepticism — thrives on paradox. Critics on the left and right alike predict that this delicate balance of opposites cannot last. Some are skeptical of a church so bent on staying perpetually “hip”: members have only recently begun to marry and have children, but surely those children will grow up, grow too cool for their cool church and rebel. Others say that Driscoll’s ego and taste for controversy will be Mars Hill’s Achilles’ heel. Lately he has made a concerted effort to tone down his language, and he insists that he has delegated much authority, but the heart of his message has not changed. Driscoll is still the one who gazes down upon Mars Hill’s seven congregations most Sundays, his sermons broadcast from the main campus to jumbo-size projection screens around the city. At one suburban campus that I visited, a huge yellow cross dominated center stage — until the projection screen unfurled and Driscoll’s face blocked the cross from view. Driscoll’s New Calvinism underscores a curious fact: the doctrine of total human depravity has always had a funny way of emboldening, rather than humbling, its adherents.

c. 2009, Molly Worthen, New York Times

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