Interview with Mark Driscoll

UPDATES

In July 2008 I was able to record a video interview with Mark Driscoll. There are also a lot of other posts about him on my blog.

In January 2008, the following post was identified as the number one all-time most popular post with readers of this blog. The 2nd most-read post was “Blogging, Discernment, and a Book by Tim Challies.”

Back in April 2006, I had only recently heard of Mark Driscoll. When we conducted this interview, he was already prompting quite a significant response online, and as the months progressed, he would become probably the most talked-about preacher on the Internet. Other recent and popular posts on my blog about Mark Driscoll include:

I have also listed ways of obtaining Mark Driscoll’s sermons online at “Audio Sermons: Mark Driscoll—The Charismatic With a Seat Belt“.

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It is an absolute pleasure to welcome to my blog, Mark Driscoll. Mark is known for having a prominent role in the early days of the Emergent movement, and for his rapidly growing Mars Hill Church. More recently, via his new venture, Resurgence, he has made an explosive entry into the Christian blog-world, which some have likened to none other than The Pyromaniac himself. More posts about Mark Driscoll are linked at the end of this article. You can also visit my interview with Wendy Alsup, a deacon at Mark Driscoll’s church.

Adrian
So, Mark, tell us a bit about yourself and your ministry . . . .

Mark
I was born in 1970 to a hard-working blue construction worker dad. I was raised Irish Catholic, but did not know Jesus until God saved me while reading Romans in college at the age of 19. Shortly thereafter, God spoke to me, telling me to plant a church, train men, preach the Bible, and marry my girlfriend, who was a Christian I dearly loved. I married Grace at the age of 21, graduated with a degree in Speech at 22, moved back to my hometown of Seattle, and launched Mars Hill Church at the age of 25. Today I am the father of five children and remain one of the elders at Mars Hill Church.

Adrian
In my first post about you I said, “Mars Hill is one of those unique churches that is probably too emerging for some evangelicals to cope with, much too traditional for the emerging folks, too charismatic for the reformed folks, and too reformed for the average charismatic. It’s a wonder anyone likes the church! Actually, the more I read of Mark the more he sounds like he is making his home in the same kind of centre ground that my own church tries to occupy.” Do you recognise that description of yourself—do you sometimes feel like something of a theological misfit?
Mark
I AM a theological misfit and have learned to be okay with that. We are missional, which offends fundamentalists. We hold to the fundamentals, which offends the liberals. We are theologically charismatic, but not shake and bake holy rollers, which puts us in the middle of a big debate to be shot by both sides. We are reformed, but not old school, and don’t baptize babies, don’t hold to the regulative principle, and won’t die on the hill of Limited Atonement, but hold a more unlimited/limited position, which upsets both sides of the debate. In the end, I hold to a high view of inerrant Scripture and am trying to be biblical, even when it makes a mess of my systematics.
Adrian
What other groups or individuals can you look at and say, “Yeah, they seem to have got it—I can follow them?” Who would you say have been your main influences?
Mark
I learn a lot from Dr. John Piper, D. A. Carson, Wayne Grudem, and Tim Keller. The dead guys I like tend to be Puritans and early church fathers. I also am a huge Spurgeon fan, and read every biography I can get on him. I love biographies and learn from the lives of Calvin, Luther, Aquinas, Augustine, Patrick, etc.
Adrian
What about your emergent friends? You seem to have been distancing yourself somewhat from them lately. Do you now feel that the Emergent movement as a whole has anything to teach us as churches?
Mark
I see various teams flying under the banner of emerging:
  1. Relevants—theologically conservative, culturally innovative church forms.

  2. Reformed Relevants—theologically conservative and reformed, culturally innovative church forms.
  3. Reconstructionists—theologically conservative, reinventing church forms.
  4. Revisionists—theologically liberal, reinventing church forms.

I have no problem with the evangelical Relevants (e.g. Dan Kimball, Chris Seay, Rob Bell, Erwin McManus). I have respect for, but some concerns with, the house church Reconstructionists. I consider myself a Reformed Relevant. And, the Emergent crowd is Revisionist, which I have strong concerns about regarding such things as gender roles, original sin, substitionary atonement, homosexuality, authority of Scripture, hell, etc.

Adrian
I guess that the focus on being missional is something we can all learn from—engaging with the culture is surely part of every Christian generation’s duty—would you agree? Can you explain to my readers what being missional looks like?
Mark
Scripture commands us to “contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 3). Therefore, the truths of Christianity are constant, unchanging, and meant for all people, times, and places. But the methods by which truth is articulated and practiced must be culturally appropriated, and therefore constantly translated (1 Corinthians 9:22-23). If both doctrine and practice are constant, the result is dead orthodoxy, to which the Relevants, Reconstructionists, and Revisionists are each reacting in varying degrees. If both doctrine and practice are constantly changing, the result is living heresy, which is where I fear the Revisionist Emergent tribe of the Emerging church is heading. But if doctrine is constant and practice is constantly changing, the result is living orthodoxy, which I propose is the faithful third way of the Relevants and pray remains the predominant way of the Reconstructionists.
Adrian
One verse that I have found inspiring on this point is Acts 14:1 which in the ESV says “Now at Iconium they entered together into the Jewish synagogue and spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks believed. Do you agree with the way that I interpret this verse, that there is a type of preaching that is basically guaranteed to produce salvation? If so, how do we recapture that kind of preaching today? What do you think it looks like?
Mark
Because everyone is a sinner and Jesus is Lord over all, then the preaching of repentance of sin and life of faith in Jesus works for everyone—believer and nonbeliever. It seems obvious, but preaching Jesus every week is both faithful to Scripture and fruitful in the lives of everyone.
Adrian
For the struggling preacher, perhaps even in Africa or another developing country, the ability to listen to sermons like yours online is like being given free access to a gold mine. How do you feel about preachers listening online and taking ideas or phrases and incorporating them into their own sermons?
Mark
I am glad to be of help in any way that I can to whoever wants it. I read commentaries and books to learn from other guys so my stuff is not all original either, and in some way we are all borrowing from each other.
Adrian
What about the preacher who went a step further than that and simply re-preached one of your messages, possibly without telling his congregation?
Mark
This has happened, and some preachers have been disciplined, and one even perhaps fired. There is a line between being influenced by someone and essentially being lazy by stealing their material and not attributing it.
Adrian
Moving to a different subject, your humility in publicly apologising for your harsh words towards some of your old friends has been much appreciated by bloggers—a quick Google blogsearch for your name reveals some very positive reactions. I have done a lot of thinking about “tone” in written communication online and had to make my own public apology recently. Do you agree that at least part of the misunderstanding we all seem to generate at times online is due to the fact that people cannot read our emotions and intentions by the text they read?
Mark
I am a sinner working out my salvation with much fear and trembling. The digital piece is odd because tone, sarcasm, humor, etc. don’t communicate well. And, we can tend to say things we would not say in person. Some call this the “flame throwing” effect of technology.
Adrian
I found a quote online which was attributed to you—did you say this? Does it express how you feel right now about these issues?

Let me agree that much of the church today is incredibly frustrating. Personally, when I hear so many young guys denying substitutionary atonement and the like after drinking from the emerging church toilet, I turn green and my clothes don’t fit. However, let me say though that we need to stay on mission . . . .

driscollNot to boast, but we have stayed on our mission and gone from nothing to 3600 in the nation’s least churched city. Meanwhile, the gay pastors are on their mission, the Republican pastors are on their moral mission, the Charismaniacs are on their prosperity mission, and the list goes on forever. What I’m finding is that if I stay on my mission, eventually a platform gets big enough that you kind of just have permission to do your thing and others respect you even if they don’t like you.

Sure, some pastors and churches are angry that I’m not putting my weight behind their mission, but in the end, I won’t stand before them for judgment and they won’t stand before me, so I just let it go and keep pushing ahead until I see Jesus and He can separate sheep and goats and hand out rewards to the faithful. In the meantime, I refuse to get off my ladder, but keep my sword close by, and if a wolf shows up in my flock, then I draw my sword, but not until then

Mark
I posted this on our church planters website to a young pastor who asked for my input. I took the metaphor from Spurgeon’s Sword and Trowel magazine.

Adrian
Sadly, that’s all the time we have. Many thanks, Mark, for taking time out of your busy schedule to join us.

Mark
I appreciate the opportunity.


Other Posts on My Blog About Mark Driscoll:

About Adrian Warnock

Adrian Warnock is a medical doctor, a writer, and a member of Jubilee Church, London since 1995, where he serves as part of the leadership team alongside Tope Koleoso. Together they have written Hope Reborn - How to Become a Christian and Live for Jesus, published by Christian Focus. Adrian is also the author of Raised With Christ - How The Resurrection Changes Everything, published by Crossway. Read more about Adrian Warnock or connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or Google+.

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