Who do you think you are? by Mark Driscoll

Driscoll has brought out a new book entitled “Who do you think you are? Finding your true identity in Christ”. I was honoured to be asked to write an endorsement for the book. Here is what I said:

This is not a self-help book. It reminds you that your life is not about you, it’s all about Jesus. Driscoll’s latest book teaches Christians that true freedom can only be found in rejoicing in who you are in Jesus. Did you know that you are a saint? What an antidote to low self esteem! Forgiven? Watch that guilt flee away! And if that’s not enough, you’ve been adopted into the best family the world has ever known! Driscolls pithy meditations will help these wonderful truths make the all important jump from head to heart. It might just help you more than you expected!

I think you could do a lot worse than to buy this book for someone this Christmas.

About Adrian Warnock

Adrian Warnock has been a blogger since April 2003, and part of the leadership team of Jubilee Church, London for more than ten years, serving 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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You are warmly invited to comment on this blog. By doing o you demonstrate that you accept Adrian's comment policy.

  • Peter

    Thanks for highlighting Mark Driscoll’s latest book and also the Mark Driscoll interviews. I have always admired his books and he did a fantastic set of presentations at Newfrontiers in a trip to the UK. However, I wanted to ask whether you could venture an opinion concerning the controversy over Mark Driscoll which has arisen in the UK since last year when he did the interview with Justin Brierley in which he suggested that UK bible teachers were ‘a bunch of cowards.’ I have since heard mixed reports about him coming from the USA, partly due to some of the good things he seems to be doing but also some very disturbing aspects. This relates mainly to his pronouncements that seem to advocate perceived crushing of opposition. Below are two examples:

    In the context of firing two leaders in his church he said the following:

    ‘Here’s what I’ve learned. You cast vision for your mission; and if people don’t sign up, you move on. You move on. There are people that are gonna to die in the wilderness and there are people that are gonna take the hill. That’s just how it is. Too many guys waste too much time trying to move stiff-necked, stubborn, obstinate people. (pause) I am all about blessed subtraction. There is a pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus (laughs) and by God’s grace it’ll be a mountain by the time we’re done. You either get on the bus or you get run over by the bus. Those are the options; but the bus ain’t gonna stop. And I’m just a—I’m just a guy who is like, “Look, we love ya, but, this is what we’re doing.” There’s a few kinda people. There’s people who get in the way of the bus.’

    Also, when two respected elders in Mars Hill protested a plan to reorganise the Mars Hill church they were fired and one was shunned along with their family on the basis of leadership disagreement. At the exact time it is well documented that he told his congregation that he asked advice on how to handle stubborn subordinates from a “mixed martial artist and ultimate fighter, good guy” who attended Mars Hill. He said to his congregation, “His answer was brilliant … ‘I break their nose.’” One of the two leaders now runs a counselling service for people who have experienced abuse from church leaders.

    This is well documented and the quotes not taken out of context or distorted –first one is on YouTube and it is clearly Mark Driscoll saying these words. There are many other examples, spread over a number of years, all well documented and sufficient to suggest this is a pattern in his behaviour, not one off instances.

    My worry is that people are overlooking this dark side of Mark Driscoll and I wondered what you think of this aspect. Is there a dark side? Is it reasonable to ignore these aspects because of the good things he does? I am thinking historically, when people have perhaps done this and not spoken out sufficiently with eventual dire consequences. I know you are friends with him and have interviewed him on a number of occasions, so perhaps you are well placed to comment on this issue? Should we overlook this controversy as being trivial? Am I being unfair on him for raising these concerns?

  • Charles

    Peter – here is how I see it. As a fan of Mark Driscoll I have found his books very readable and this touches on many issues that other writers shy away from, perhaps due to fear of controversy. Like you, I did worry about some of the things he says, perhaps more in relation to women and again this does seem to be a pattern. One thing that did bother me was the remark he made is relation to the time when the US evangelical leader Ted Haggard admitted he had bought drugs from a male prostitute.
    He wrote in a blog:
    “It is not uncommon to meet pastors’ wives who really let themselves go. A wife who lets herself go and is not sexually available to her husband … is not responsible for her husband’s sin, but she may not be helping him either.”

    My wife who was quite shocked at his comments and thought it implied that it could be that a women is partly to blame for the situation if husband has an affair with another person, because they don’t dress appropriately or have sex. To be fair, after a huge media storm over this statement in which he was sacked as a newspaper columnist there was an apology and he regretted what he had said, although not his belief.

    Perhaps you have separate the good that people do and the way God uses them with such things– in other words compartmentalise the two things – and not be put off too easily. We should look for the good in people and ignore their more negative aspects and not get too worried about these things

    But I would be really interested to know what Adrian thinks – whether you think we have to worry about the potential dark side of people’s personality if they are in a leadership position and what stage would you have to say it’s really a problem. Like you, I don’t really have the answer to this but would like to know what other people think.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/adrianwarnock Adrian Warnock

      I think that Driscoll himself has admitted he goes too far sometimes but almost every other pastor alive today doesn’t go far enough. Check out the full transcript of that interview.

      I also think that strong leadership is always required for any organisation to grow large. If people like a more collegiate feel they can always join a smaller church. It can be hard joining a large church if you have expectations of the experience based on a smaller context.

      I’m sure Driscoll would be the first to admit he has made lots of mistakes along the way. But I sure am glad that we all get to watch as God is slowly perfecting him and using him for HIS glory.

  • Phillip Maitland

    Adrian – I have listened to the interview with Justin Brierley. It is hard not to come to the obvious conclusion that Justin Brierley as a journalist was questioning Mark Driscoll’s integrity – given the publicity surrounding Mark Driscoll, in my view this was the right thing to do following on from some of the public statements made by him over a number of years. By asking the question it gave Mark Driscoll the opportunity to respond to people who have criticised him for a particular remark. However, instead of responding graciously to this and admitting his wrongdoing, Mark reacts aggressively by calling Justin immature, British leaders cowards and engaging in a sort of ‘well my church is larger than yours – it’s because you are unbiblical’ narrative (i.e. well anyway – my toy is bigger than yours type mentality).

    The difficulty is that people see this as Mark being just petulant. But they fail to see that his actions are strategic – in that he wishes to intimidate people who he thinks are opposing him, also backed up by ruthless action. They also do not take into account that Mark is now mature and his overall approach is consistent and calculating. I see no change in the pattern of his pronouncements and behavior over recent years. There is some regret, but it is very carefully worded so as to excuse his actions, and no real remorse because he feels no remorse and shows no remorse by his actions.

    There is also a deceit spirited in, which has to be labelled as such – a dangerous lie – which is that in order for Christian leaders to act courageously it is OK to ‘risk’ saying things that are abhorrent and wrong. A moment pause and reflection on courageous Christian leaders in the past shows this is clearly not the case. Think of Billy Graham – he had to face huge opposition from both fundamentalist and liberal christians
    and did this will courage and grace.

    In my view there are real historical parallels with autocratic figures in history whose dangerous and negative side has been ignored with terrible consequences. Take Adolph Hitler as an extreme – the reason why he amassed his power basis, with and staggering growth in his National Socialist Party and was eventually elected into power within a democracy was that people deliberately and wilfully ignored his darker side. All the pronouncements were there as evidence about his intentions (destruction of democracy, abolishing human rights, murder of opposition, wanting more living space for Germany in the East i.e. destruction of nations, destruction of the Jews), but people chose to compartmentalise these issues because they were seduced by the other things he had to offer – illusory power, prestige, wealth and self esteem. Leaders in Germany reassured each other that they did not need to take Hitler seriously when he made these pronouncements and used the same old argument that ‘well he does go too far on occasions but look at all the good he does, he will moderate over time.’ This is why I think the suggestion by Charles, that we should compartmentalise things, is a very dangerous suggestion.

    As good journalist, Justin was right to question Mark Driscoll – more worrying for me are the people who make excuses for him and so he is not taken to task for his actions – they will have to take the greatest responsibility for the negative consequences in the end. We need more Christian journalists like Justin who are willing to ask the hard questions and not make excuses.

    Here is another quote from Driscoll:
    ‘you can’t just go around beating people up – tragically (meaning tragically you cannot) – it does simplify things – there is no like attorneys and blogging… just …’I punched you in the mouth – now just shut up.’

    This can be found on http://www.youtube.com/user/ReallySad1

    There is no evidence that Mark Driscoll really does not think this. He has never retracted this statement.

    Driscoll fans – wake up.

  • Charles

    Hi Phillip,

    I take your point about compartmentalising things – I suppose the issue is the extent to which we ignore these type of remarks and don’t worry about them.

    Adrian seems to be saying go to a smaller church and experience a different type of leadership, if I understand him correctly, but I don’t quite understand what this has to do with smashing people’s faces in or running them over. Sorry if this sounds a bit depressing but is this a vision of strong leadership? Positive strong leaders I have encountered seem to be more at ease with themselves and don’t go around threatening people with violence. Maybe I have misunderstood Adrian on this point and apologies if this is the case and would welcome a further explanation.

    I am interested in your point as to whether journalists should feel responsible for challenging people. Again, it would be interesting to hear from Adrian on this point – have you ever felt you should challenge Mark on some of the things he has said? Would this be appropriate or would it just create a negative reaction and damage your good relationship with him. i.e. do more harm than good?

  • Peter

    Thanks for these comments which I found very useful, especially to get different opinions on the topic. I am still a bit worried that we are glossing over Mark Driscoll’s darker side. I am not sure we are closer to answers. One thing Adrian I wonder if you could be clearer when you say ‘mistake.’ I take this to mean making a wrong decision about something but if somebody does something willfully abusive like saying that it is good an smash an opponents nose in, is the term ‘mistake’ really accurate, particularly if they have scripted this comment and used it on more than one occasion? I know politicians in the UK had up for fraud recently use the word ‘mistake’ so as to appear to take responsibility for their actions but not admit to the seriousness of what they have done. Other people called it fraud or breaking the law. Presumably you wouldn’t be prepared to say ‘Mark Driscoll has been the first to admit he has abused lots of people along the way?’ Of course he hasn’t admitted this and I cannot see him saying this at the moment. But what is the real truth in this situation?

  • Charles

    Phillip – I take your point about compartmentalising – perhaps I was meaning whether what Mark Driscoll is doing is sufficiently a problem to focus on it. Adrian – I find your view on leadership a bit depressing, but perhaps I have misunderstood what you are saying. Is the size of the church really the issue here? Surely a strong leader doesn’t have to say abusive things to command authority? I would be really interested in your clarification here. Another issue arising from this is the extent to which a person can have he courage to challenge somebody in public, as Justin did? Adrian, had you thought about doing this in one of your interviews with Mark, or do you think this would be counter productive? Am I being fair with these remarks and again I would really like to know what other people think.

  • Phillip

    Adrian – To add to my reply and in relation to the book ‘who do you think you are.’ It does seem strange that Mark can write this book but then is capable of tweeting the following type of message:
    ‘so what story do you have about the most effeminate worship leader you’ve ever personally witnessed?’
    which to be honest really is the thought of a bully, but also I wonder whether this says something about what is going on behind the mask, so to speak? There is some irony here Adrian when you refer to a book by Mark as an antidote to self esteem. Maybe the antidote is needed closer to home? Also, again, what is meant by him being the first to admit he goes too far? When dealing with a bully, do you sit on the side lines and say ‘well he is he first to admit he goes too far sometimes almost all pastors don’t go far enough.’ Where do we want our pastors to go? Adrian, what you are saying really is dangerous nonsense and it is extraordinary that as as a UK MRC Psych trained psychiatrist you are so naive about this issue.

  • Peter

    I perhaps started this debate by asking wondering whether one should ignore the darker side of Mark Driscoll. There were some really useful replies, including your contribution, Adrian. I am not sure we have a consensus here. Charles’ view is that we can compartmentalize things and focus on the good things people do. Adrian has indicated that in a large church you should expect this type of thing – people who are not used to this can easily go elsewhere – I know I am paraphrasing and hope I am being fair, but please correct me if I am mistaken. Phillip, you think this is dangerous and he should be challenged and thinks Justin Brierley was right as a journalist to challenge him. I then question the spin involved in making excuses for Mark Driscoll’s darker side. Finally, Phillip questions the wisdom of glossing over some of Mark Driscolls actions. Possibly too many questions, to tackle conclusively, but it is an interesting debate.

    I think we probably haven’t got very far with this, but I would be interested further thoughts from Adrian – as I say, you know Mark Driscoll quite well and are prominent in terms of supporting him from a UK perspective? Would you be prepared to say that some of his actions and statements are abusive (rather than just going too far?) and if so what do you think should be done about it from a practical point of view?

    Finally, this makes me wonder about the role of investigative journalism when Christian leaders go off the rails? On whole interviews by Christians tend to be anodyne so it was quite interesting to reflect on Justin Brierley’s interview. Is there a role for this type of investigative journalism when things could be dealt with adequately internally – would there be a role for Christian journalists to expose the truth, for example, to warn and protect people? For example, if a Christian leader goes off the rails and is abusive and harmful over a long period, should this be reported on by Christian journalists? Or should it be left to the secular media? Again, I really would be interested in your thoughts on this Adrian – although I apologize that this is somewhat tangential to your original intention to advertise Mark Driscoll’s book? But as someone who does journalism, I wonder if you have a view on this particular topic?

  • Phillip Maitland

    On a related matter I recently posted a comment on a website hosted by the Wartburg Watch concerning the above comments. This websites notes instances where critical comments concerning churches or their leadership have been blocked. I wrote:

    ‘It was’t my comment, but in a post by Adrian Warnock advertising a new book by Mark Driscoll. I was contributing to comments on Mark Driscoll and reports about some of his statements.

    The original comments were questioning whether what was referred as a possible darker side of Mark Driscoll should be challenged, some viewing them as abusive. Adrian Warnock replied. I comment on Adrian Warnock’s comment, fairly bluntly, but I believe fairly.

    Someone called Charles also posted a comment. This was moderated and removed. He then wrote roughly the same thing and it wasn’t removed. The original comments were then reinstated (looking at the posts you will see there are now two similar comments by Charles). I have wondered why the first one was originally removed, since it was faily innocuous.

    The overall comments address the issue as to whether to take notice if a church leader has a darker side. The debate then focused on whether the people around a person should speak out and I am pondering why they don’t. I am quite interested in this issue and in my comment drew a historical parallel – it has puzzled historians why apparently good people don’t speak out (see the comments). I have various candidates: apathy, ignorance, wishful speaking, blinded by hero worship, false sense of loyalty, not wanting lose influence and power and fear of negative consequences.

    For example, take the case Adrian Warnock. He can’t really be said to be ignorant. He is trained as medical doctor and a psychiatrist. He must know about personal interaction and the potential effect of abuse in a power relationship and be sensitive to the harm this can do, particularly to vulnerable people. His professional work code and environment would suggest that quite a few things Driscoll says should clearly not be tolerated. He is obviously a decent person and I have enjoyed reading his blogs. But he doesn’t seem to be able to bring himself to call a spade a spade (sorry if in the USA this gets lost in translation) when it comes to blogging about Mark Driscoll.

    Why not? I am trying to be charitable, but objectively, if he did speak out would that would be the end of his ability to have access to people like Driscoll, Molher, Piper, possibly Virgo, i.e. the powerful people in the new Calvinist movement that fuel his blogs and make them popular? I am not saying that is necessarily his reason.

    post to be found on

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/adrianwarnock/2012/12/who-do-you-think-you-are-by-mark-driscoll/

    See below for moderated/removed/reinstated comments:

    Charles says:

    January 8, 2013 at 7:18 pm

    Hi Phillip,

    I take your point about compartmentalising things – I suppose the issue is the extent to which we ignore these type of remarks and don’t worry about them.

    Adrian seems to be saying go to a smaller church and experience a different type of leadership, if I understand him correctly, but I don’t quite understand what this has to do with smashing people’s faces in or running them over. Sorry if this sounds a bit depressing but is this a vision of strong leadership? Positive strong leaders I have encountered seem to be more at ease with themselves and don’t go around threatening people with violence. Maybe I have misunderstood Adrian on this point and apologies if this is the case and would welcome a further explanation.

    I am interested in your point as to whether journalists should feel responsible for challenging people. Again, it would be interesting to hear from Adrian on this point – have you ever felt you should challenge Mark on some of the things he has said? Would this be appropriate or would it just create a negative reaction and damage your good relationship with him. i.e. do more harm than good?’


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