The Gospel of Pastor Mark Driscoll

So Mark Driscoll, right? Eh.

I’ve never been the blogger who jumps on every controversy du jour with a quick take that will get easy traffic. After watching the Driscollversies roll like choking waves week after week lately I might as well offer my take.

Driscoll is a controversial preacher from Mars Hill which is a church in Seattle and not a different planet. He’s often angry and/or saying offensive things. A quick Google search should explain what I mean. I know people who like Driscoll and those who loathe him. Kristen from Rage Against the Minivan recently did a good job describing how @PastorMark has brought a certain Howard Stern style to the pulpit.

Now we can move onto his most recent muck-up. Here’s what the mad chatter said during President Obama’s inauguration:

Praying for our president, who today will place his hand on a Bible he does not believe to take an oath to a God he likely does not know.
@PastorMark
Mark Driscoll

What a guy. In a TOTALLY unrelated note can you believe that some people think Christians are arrogant and judgmental? Where could they possibly get this stuff?

Mark Driscoll accusing Barack Obama

“I can too put my hand on the Bible.”
“Yeah, the Bible for LIARS.”

Here’s what I’m NOT going to do. I’m not going turn the beat around on Driscoll and spit venom back at him. One, that’s not the gracious thing to do. Two, he’s already giving opponents of Christianity enough ammunition without me jumping off the top rope, elbow of justice poised, into the ring of Christian infighting. Although, confession time, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t chuckle at some of these reviews of Driscoll’s new book. Yes, I know that ultimately it’s a sad commentary and stuff, but he kind of asked for it.

Responses to Driscoll’s Inauguration tweet were fiery and explosive. You know we’re living in strange time indeed when one of the best replies comes from, *checks notes, wait that can’t be right*, Alyssa Milano? (Insert Who’s The Boss pun here.)

.@ Your last tweet is not very Christian of you. Shouldn't you be inspiring people to love and have compassion and respect?
@Alyssa_Milano
Alyssa Milano

It’s tough to respond in a measured way sometimes (although I recommend this take from Lore at A Deeper Church as well as this one from Christian Piatt). It’s difficult to not rage a little when a high profile pastor feels like he can tell the world exactly what our president believes. Glad to hear Driscoll knows what’s in every man’s heart.

‘But wait Clay, do you really think Obama is a Christian?’ I’m sorry if that question comes to your mind. Here’s a quick rundown on some of the Greatest Hits of Jesus:

  1. Love God with everything you’ve got.
  2. Love others exactly as you want to be loved.
  3. Go tell people everywhere that God loves them and they need Jesus.
  4. Don’t judge people.

Not only are we not supposed to judge what’s in the hearts of others, we are explicitly told NOT to do that. Now, I don’t want to get worked up here so let’s anagram. It helps me relax.

Mark Driscoll=I’m Dark Scroll, Kill Mars Cord, and my personal favorite Mad Rick Rolls.

Okay, now I feel better. Stress gone.

So this is the point where some people say, “Well, what are we supposed to do, ignore the evil ways of everyone? Somebody has to speak up! We expected to never stand up when Obama/people…?”

Here’s the way I see it, and no, I don’t pretend to have it all figured out.

1. The Bible says to respect government leaders and always remember that God is in control (check out Romans 13). New Testament peeps didn’t defy the rulers unless they were told to renounce their faith. Far as I can tell, no one is forcing us to renounce our faith.

2. We’re also supposed to take the plank out of our own eye instead of throwing handfuls of saw dust into our neighbor’s eyes. While Driscoll is saying the president is a liar who doesn’t believe in the faith he professes, many people are looking at Driscoll asking why he says and does the things he does while professing the same faith.

3. And what about Jesus’ command to love our neighbors as we love ourselves? Does Driscoll or any of us like being judged? Should we ask Driscoll if he really believes these things he’s saying then what about the part of speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15)? It’s okay to disagree with behavior that God calls wrong, necessary even if you want to be more specific, but we seem incapable of criticizing ideas without attacking others.

I don’t know, maybe Driscoll is tapped into some God line I never read about in the Bible. He seems to have his own gospel anchored in a style that Christianity needs to escape because it’s not always very good news. It’s hard enough to represent Jesus well when we don’t fill up at the pride pump every day on our commute to life. Humility is as closely related to truth as love is. We do well to ensure those virtues are in our own hearts rather than examining the hearts of others.

Your turn. Comment away.

In related rantucation check out my other post on Obama’s inauguration & Doomsday Christianity.

  • http://deuceology.wordpress.com Larry Carter

    Clay, I’m not. Driscoll fan, even though our theologies are somewhat similar. But I wonder why so many of those who rant against him even follow him. Your’s was one of the better treatments of him. I guess that so often what I see out of people is giving him the same business and that is not Christians either.

    • http://ClayWrites.com/ Clay Morgan

      Honestly Larry, that’s one of the reasons I often avoid these controversies. He’s not my pastor and I’m not some kind of faith-based Twitter cop. And yes, I try to be fair because I see the same thing, people respond in anger or bitterness and become the very thing they are condemning in Driscoll. Check the post I linked above from A Deeper Church ( here it is again http://deeperstory.com/mark-driscoll-isnt-my-pastor/ ). Probably the best take I found and I think you’ll appreciate her thoughts.

  • http://steadilyskippingstones.com/ skippingstones

    I got myself sidetracked on the last post, but yes I agree with your take on the Doomsday folks. What I really think when I find myself getting worked up by someone’s doom hype is that God knows what He’s doing. And if this whatever event is the beginning of the end of all things, then that’s God’s plan. If not, then I trust God to get us through.

    As for Driscoll, I think it’s very sad. I think of the people who eat up his words. I think of him, and I wonder about his thoughts and the feelings in his heart and how he must really believe that his vision of God is absolutely clear. I think of all the people who respond negatively to him, angrily, hatefully even, who feed into that darkness. Not to be overly dramatic, but Satan revels and thrives in the anger and bitterness. Whenever someone counters Driscoll with their own heart full of venom, they are making Satan happy. That guy is so sly and sneaky, and he gets believers to stoke his fires without their even realizing. Through Twitter. Scary.

    I say this knowing that I’m as guilty as the next person. I way too often respond with bitterness, anger and judgment rather than kindness, love and compassion. But the more I turn toward God, the less I’m able to behave that way – the less I choose to. It’s terribly sad to see that people are being directed away from God rather than toward him.

    • http://ClayWrites.com/ Clay Morgan

      I agree that the bottom line is where we end up focusing as a result of these things. I took a couple extra days to write this post because I feel all the reactionary stuff that is so easy to let fly. On the one hand I understand people who say they want to protect the image of the church, but I also understand the glee so many have in watching Christians duke it out over these types of things. I’m trying to find a right perspective, and it’s not always easy.

      • http://steadilyskippingstones.com/ skippingstones

        Thanks for sharing that – it makes me feel a little less self-condemnation when you say it’s not always easy for you either.

        It’s more than just people enjoying a Christian cage match. I think people in general like to be up in arms about something. I was thinking that when Larry wondered why people who don’t like him even follow Driscoll. Following those tweets and clicking all the links gives us a “valid” reason to be angry and indignant and – really it gives us an opportunity to be self-righteous.

  • http://somewiseguy.com/ ThatGuyKC

    Mad Rick Rolls. Brilliant.

    I live in Seattle and have heard Pastor Mark speak live on a few occasions. I’ve read numerous flaming articles critiquing his methods, platform, etc, but try to stay out of the fray as well. It all gets a bit ridiculous regardless of whoever may be right.

    • http://ClayWrites.com/ Clay Morgan

      That’s about all there is to it KC. Sometimes you just have to let it all wash over you and anagram the day away.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nateleetx Nathan Lee

    Clay here’s my problem with the whole situation. It all boils down to what the roles of a pastor are. When you dissect Ephesians 4 and look at the roles God gave called some to (apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists) those are given to equip the body for several things: maturity, growth and unity. Pastors are not supposed to intentionally court controversy IMHO because that is the opposite of building unity. And let’s be honest. There is no other way to interpret that Tweet as anything less than intentionally controversial. I can’t even say that it was intentionally provocative to promote a conversation. From what I have seen it has merely drawn a line between pro-Driscoll and less than pro-Driscoll (we’re Christians…we can’t say that we’re anti-fellow believers, right) Will we always agree? No. Will we appear controversial? Hopefully, to a sinful world we would because of the truth of Jesus Christ. What promoted unity in Driscoll’s statements? What promoted growth among the Body? What aided us in expanding the Church?

    • http://ClayWrites.com/ Clay Morgan

      I agree with you Nate, every part of your comment I think. Yes, I think he’s supposed to build unity. I also think that some (many?) Christians take the idea that we’re going to be controversial because Jesus draws a line in the sand so let’s get out there and take our lumps of persecution. But then sometimes those people just go pick fights. Needlessly. Even wickedly. That’s not what we’re called to do.

      I’ve heard a couple different responses to this post (elsewhere, not in these comments) where I got the idea that people thought I was defending Driscoll. That seemed odd to me, so I reread from an objective perspective. I think I can see how some people might read the second half from a perspective of criticizing Driscoll instead of criticizing the president. Not sure if that all relates to your comment here exactly but it was while reading your thoughts that this struck me. Am I rambling? I think I’m rambling.

      • http://steadilyskippingstones.com/ skippingstones

        You’re not rambling. You’re discussing.

        I love to see the different takes on this. We all come at it from our own perspective. People are so interesting.
        [image: DISQUS]

        Clay Morgan wrote, in response to Nathan Lee:

        I agree with you Nate, every part of your comment I think. Yes, I think he’s supposed to build unity. I also think that some (many?) Christians take the idea that we’re going to be controversial because Jesus draws a line in the sand so let’s get out there and take our lumps of persecution. But then sometimes those people just go pick fights. Needlessly. Even wickedly. That’s not what we’re called to do.

        I’ve heard a couple different responses to this post (elsewhere, not in these comments) where I got the idea that people thought I was defending Driscoll. That seemed odd to me, so I reread from an objective perspective. I think I can see how some people might read the second half from a perspective of criticizing Driscoll instead of criticizing the president. Not sure if that all relates to your comment here exactly but it was while reading your thoughts that this struck me. Am I rambling? I think I’m rambling.

        User’s website

        Link to comment

  • http://www.facebook.com/nateleetx Nathan Lee

    Also how do I get Alyssa Milano to comment on my tweets?

    • http://ClayWrites.com/ Clay Morgan

      Not sure but I can tell you that the letters in Alyssa Milano’s name can be rearranged to spell SALSA ALIMONY or LAYS ON SALAMI as well as many other combinations, some of which probably aren’t proper to say. So maybe if you throw her some anagrams she’ll be impressed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nateleetx Nathan Lee

    No worries. I fully understood where you were coming from. This was just my two cents when he initially made the statement on Twitter. Someone reminded me of this back when Rob Bell released “Love Wins”. His biggest problem with the book was that it sought controversy

  • http://www.facebook.com/nateleetx Nathan Lee

    What’s kind of mind blowing is when Driscoll, Piper and Bell all have books coming out at the same time.

    • http://ClayWrites.com/ Clay Morgan

      Guess how many of them I plan on reading :D

  • http://meetthebuttrams.com/ Jessica Buttram

    One: I think it’s weird that you anagram to relax. Nerd.

    Two: Thanks for this: “New Testament peeps didn’t defy the rulers unless they were told to renounce their faith.”

    A lot of the political noise coming from Christians lately is, at best, unnecessary.

    There is now a huge difference between being an American Christian and being a Christian who happens to live in America. I think we’re losing sight as a whole of what our message needs to be.

    (Side note: Considering our American rights basically fly in the face of our Christian commandments – freedom of religion? Not according to the First Commandment. Freedom of speech? How many Bible verses tell us to hold our stupid tongues?)

    We can’t get caught up in the politics of this government. There’s just not much time left. The more energy we focus on making our government more Christian, the less we are focusing on our churches.

    • http://ClayWrites.com/ Clay Morgan

      Thought I replied to this via email. Hmm. I think you make some good points J-Bird, and I’m intrigued by that thought about American rights vs. Christian commandments, at least in the way you put it. And you know you’re a nerd too.

      • http://meetthebuttrams.com/ Jessica Buttram

        Remember when the Jews all thought Jesus was going to deliver them from the oppressive Roman government and Jesus was all, “LOLZ, think bigger, guys.”

        • http://ClayWrites.com/ Clay Morgan

          That’s a bingo.

    • http://ClayWrites.com/ Clay Morgan

      Well said methinks Jess, and interesting thought about American freedoms vs. Christian commandments. And don’t pretend you’re not a fellow nerd.

  • R2D3

    If Driscoll is controversial, what do people think of some of the articles on Pastor Joe Schimmel’s blog, and his “documentaries” such as “They Sold Their Souls For Rock N Roll”?

    eg.

    http://www.goodfight.org/articles.html

    http://cupofjoe.goodfight.org/?p=2064

    http://cupofjoe.goodfight.org/?p=1195

    The Bono-Screwtape Connection
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Ryd9iAISGU

    *

    A counterpoint to Schimmel’s approach:

    http://u2station.com/news/1994/03/u2s-mysterious-ways.php

    http://canadianchristianity.com/u2-quiz-ears-hear-807/

    • http://ClayWrites.com/ Clay Morgan

      I’m not familiar with Schimmel, but there are thousands of people out there with blogs saying all kinds of things, many of them not worth commenting on as far as I’m concerned.

  • Matt Kim

    Love the anagrams Clay! I’ve always been stunned and confused at Mark Driscoll’s preaching but amazed at what the Holy Spirit does through it. However I don’t think Driscoll is being a good steward of the freedom he has because it might cause people to stumble. In 1 Corinthians 8:9 Paul mentions how the exercise of our freedom might cause a weaker brother or sister (who Christ died for) to stumble…I think it would benefit more people, for Christians in general (not just Mark Driscoll) to tame their tongues for the good of others. But this is all stuff I’m also learning out so…

    • http://ClayWrites.com/ Clay Morgan

      Thanks for the thoughts Matt. No doubt, it’s always tough to know what is best.

    • http://steadilyskippingstones.com/ skippingstones

      Good points Matt! I’m just a nobody and I always worry that I’ll say something wrong or harmful; I’d hate to confuse or set anyone back in their journey. Somehow I don’t think Driscoll or outspoken people like him are humble enough to consider that danger in regards to their own words.

  • Waters

    I do agree with some of these things, but one thing that always concerns me. We may not to our face be asked to renounce our faith but accepting something like Obama taking an Oath on the Bible is simply muddying the waters. eventually there is so much mud in the water that there is no more puddle. If that makes sense, Being condemned for being a Christian by non-beleives who use, often times, misinterpretted outta context quotes as their tools of condemnation. Calling Christians not to condem by condemming Christians. Allowing Christians to speak freely in public, but not in public places like schools, or offices or any other public place without being distained or labeles and written off. The Gospel is not always nice, Jesus wasn’t always ‘nice’ he was good but not always ‘nice’.

    I guess my question is how muddy should we let the waters get before we actual stand up for the real gospel not the manipulated and ‘acceptable’ gospel, the real one. The hard parts included.

  • Brent Davis

    Eight months late I know, but your cite was blocked by CENTCOM. I listen to Pastor Driscoll and like his approach. But I disagree with how he handled his reaction to the presidential events. This is what happens when religion becomes a party affiliation.

    By the way, I’m stealing your anagram therapy technique. Wish I would have had it when I was cramming for your “impossible to pass” exams at CCAC. Just kidding, I took notes and was awake.