Mark Driscoll: MacArthur had the right idea, just the wrong people

I’ve been condemned to hell twice in the last week and a half, and I still have the weekend ahead of me. I’m sure I’ll get another 6-7 emails from readers who think I’m doomed, so it’s not shaping up to be a good week for my eternal salvation. In case you weren’t on the internet over this past week, an interesting thing happened. First, John MacArthur condemned thousands of charismatic Christians to hell for blasphemy of the holy spirit at his conference, Strange Fire. Our good ole friend, Mark Driscoll crashed the party in a publicity stunt for his new book, while clothing the stunt as an effort for peace.

Apparently, Mark wasn’t upset that MacArthur was condemning thousands of Christians to hell– he was just pissed because he didn’t think of it first.

Mark, deciding to get in on the send-people-to-hell action, went home and penned a blog post that also condemned thousands of Christians to an eternity of getting snapped with rubber bands wile listening to fingernails on a chalk board and being slow roasted over an open fire. Not to be outdone, Mark stamped an interesting group of Christians hellbound– one that would include some shocking names, including: Jesus, his disciples, all the Christians in the first 400 years of Christianity, Martin Luther King, nearly every Christian martyr in history, and well, me too.

At least I got lumped in with good company this time.

Those Mark thinks are going to be slaughtered by Jesus?

People who teach nonviolent love of enemies.

In his post (which you can read in entirety, here) Mark engages in some of the worst exegesis I’ve ever seen regarding the issue of nonviolence in an attempt to throw some red meat to his audience, arguing that those of us who believe in Christian nonviolence have made Jesus into a “pansy and a pacifist”. Mark builds his argument through citing Old Testament violence, completely skipping the nonviolent commands of Jesus and Paul, and moves straight to a horrible exegesis of the end times.

Which, really isn’t his fault– he’s just a product of a violent education. Mark attended a seminary where all professors are required to sign that they believe in a violent eschatological sequence, a theological framework that I’ve covered at great length in previous posts. Jesus taught that violence only begets more violence, so it naturally flows that pro-violent seminaries produce violent Bible teachers.

Instead of simply stating that he rejects this aspect of the teachings of Jesus, Mark takes it a step further– condemning those of us who affirm and teach this hallmark of God’s kingdom as false teachers who will one day be slaughtered by the Prince of Peace himself.

Mark writes:

“Jesus is not a pansy or a pacifist; he’s patient. He has a long wick, but the anger of his wrath is burning. Once the wick is burned up, he is saddling up on a white horse and coming to slaughter his enemies and usher in his kingdom. Blood will flow… Some of those whose blood will flow as high as the bit in a horse’s mouth for 184 miles will be those who did not repent of their sin but did wrongly teach that Jesus was a pacifist. Jesus is no one to mess with.

Apparently Pastor Mark is a go-big-or-go-home kinda guy, because by his argument, when Jesus comes back he’d have to slay himself– because Jesus not only taught nonviolence but said that embracing nonviolence is necessary in order to be called “children of your father in heaven”.

I guess that would make Jesus the false teacher of all false teachers.

Thankfully, some of the other “false teachers” out there didn’t take Mark’s post lightly, and have responded with some fantastic pieces that are a little more intellectually honest than Mark’s (ok, a lot more). Here’s a quick plug of the two best responses, which I hope you’ll read each entirely:

Greg Boyd: Greg is basically the most brilliant Bible teacher I know. If you only read one of the resources here, this is the one. In it, Greg reminds us of what I’ve written about previously: Jesus overturned the OT laws on violence, and replaced them with a new ethic of total nonviolence:

“In fact, this “eye for eye” principle is called the lex tallionis (law of retaliation), and it’s at the foundation of all the laws of the OT that require violence against perpetrators. Yet Jesus repudiates this principle and replaces it with his teaching to never “resist [anthistēmi] an evil person” (which, by the way, means that we aren’t to respond to aggression with aggression, not that we’re to do nothing).”
Secondly, Preston Sprinkle from Eternity Bible College who recently wrote a book on Christian Nonviolence, wrote an especially solid piece. Sprinkle in part, says:

“Mark rightly distinguishes between “killing” and “murder” in the Old Testament, but then he heroically leaps over biblical books in a single bound. After summarizing the “bloody Old Testament” as supporting “lawful taking of life, such as self-defense, capital punishment, and just war,” Mark jumps past the Sermon on the Mount, the life of Christ, Jesus’s prohibitions against violence in the gospels, and Paul’s commands against violence in Romans 12, finally landing on Romans 13 for a quick touch and go before he flies over the rest of Paul’s letters, Hebrews, and 1 Peter, ultimately arriving to the book of Revelation.”

I find it ironic that Mark would show up at the Strange Fire conference in apparent protest over the condemnation of thousands of Christians to hell– and then ran home to condemn thousands of Christians to hell.

I guess Mark and Johny Mac agree on principle, but just disagree on which Christians should be consigned to the eternal torment of the Evangelical version of hell.

Pastor Marky Mark would do well to re-check his scriptures re-discover the radical message of Jesus– where embracing nonviolence doesn’t make one a “pansy”, but a “child of our father in heaven”.

In the end, Mark and I do agree on something. In a follow up piece he released today regarding the publicity stunt, he said that we live in a culture that is progressively opposed to biblical truth. I agree.

Biblical truth is that we are called to emulate Jesus through a radical, nonviolent love of enemies, and the vast majority of American Christianity is diabolically opposed to that truth.

I pray Pastor Mark, and all those who reject this essential teaching of Jesus, will repent.



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  • Terry Firma

    Great opening line!

  • “Which, really isn’t his fault– he’s just a product of a violent education.”

    Education and upbringing can have a significant effect on worldview and opinion. No one can deny that. But in the end we are all personally responsible for educating ourselves, assessing other worldviews and philosophies, doing battle with ourselves over how we should best live our lives in the brief lifetime we have. And we are doubly responsible for the words and actions that we speak and commit as a result of being intelligent human beings.

    So yes, Driscoll is at damn fault for what he says and does and you can bet I hold him to that. He’s the end result of 4.5 billion years of incredible wonders, and it’s time he starts acting like it.

  • I was a little surprised only twice. Gotta step up your game, Ben.

  • I’ve struggled a lot with how to relate to Mark Driscoll. I’ve gotten to the point where I refuse to actually click and read the articles, although I get so many quotes secondhand that there’s still plenty to get upset about. For the most part I feel sorry for him. I really think that he just got too much fame too quickly thanks to his charisma and his willingness to be blunt. His maturity just didn’t keep up to his fame, which means he just doesn’t bother to listen to anybody who disagrees with his preconceptions which are based far more on his favourite UFC fighters than on anything to do with Scripture or Christian tradition. I’ve been at a loss for a long time about how to best deal with things like this.

  • It’s a bad day to be a charismatic pacifist; surely the hottest hell awaits those Christians whose faith in the Spirit of God convicts them to love their enemies extravagantly, just as God in Christ loved them. They must be so lost and so deceived.

  • GaryBT

    Great article and an articulate response to Mark Driscoll and others like him. If you haven’t already done so, I would suggest reading some of the works of Rene’ Girard, Gil Bailie, S. Mark Heim. J. Denny Weaver, and the latest by James Warren, “Compassion or Apocalypse”.

  • I just bought a 30 day tanning package so that I don’t burn as quickly.

  • WOW. Driscoll repeatedly astonishes me. I have trouble imagining a gospel that doesn’t demand a nonviolent way of living. But you aren’t the only one who was sent to hell in the last week. On the homeschool podcast Generations with Vision, Kevin Swanson said those of us part of homeschoolers anonymous are apostates and relativists. “Relativists go to hell, and hell is hot, and hot hurts.” I realized that if God puts people in hell for these ridged terms 1) we will all end up in hell anyway 2) I’d rather stay in hell.

  • Kay

    So many say they speak for God, but I wonder if God is really ok with all that is said? It could be considered using God’s name in vain. I’ve also not been comfortable with hearing people say, so & so is lost or saved, in conversations either. But condemning folks to Hell, I believe, is against this written in Romans 10:6-7:

    6 But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down), 7 or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).”

    Seems a lot are in the judging of others business.

  • Jake Pruitt

    Let’s not forget the fact that, as a leader, he should hold himself to a higher standard. When you are responsible for teaching others, you had better do your own homework first!

  • Al Cruise

    It’s good to hear voices of reason like yours. I believe the more that voices like yours are heard by the followers of Driscoll it will begin to resonate with them. As this happens and he sees it happening, the more outrageous he will become. Continue to share the truth, I’ve done street ministry for 40 years and non violence, unconditional love and compassion are who Jesus is. I know this for a fact because I’ve seen the effect of it. You are writing the Truth in your blog.

  • Lydia Cranston

    While I agree with your stance on non-violence, I am quite astonished at your attacks on other Christians. “This is how you know my disciples, that they LOVE one another.” Condemning other Christians for their weaknesses is not the same as attacking their faulty theology. In order to maintain your credibility, please consider spreading love, not sarcasm. And sprinkling your blog with cussing does not make you ‘hip,’ it indicates a lack of accessible vocabulary. (And yes, I cuss, but when trying to make an educated point it detracts from your argument and authority.) Show yourself the better person and extend understanding and genuine affection.

  • Does anyone know about the growth (or shrinkage?) of Driscoll’s following in his church or more broadly? I don’t follow that much, but do know a number of people have left with warnings to others about unhealthy things going on there. That is bound to be the case, even by the somewhat skewed standards of “Evangelicalism”. My concern is not just with him, but the leaders and lay people around him who continue to (apparently) support him and where he’s taking his ministry. The lack of discernment and wisdom is alarming.

  • Sharon Jennings Bowler

    The Jesus that Mark D describes sounds quite like the Messiah that the Children of Israel wanted. That wasn’t Jesus then and it isn’t Jesus now. It kind of makes me wonder if Mark knows Jesus at all.

  • William Davis

    There is a lot of hate in this blog. Try a little love, forgive, unify. Isn’t that also like Jesus?

  • Tom Giacondra

    well, this comment of mine has the benefit of perfect hindsight…Im commenting almost a month after the Strange Fire event, so some light has been shined on some aspects of the situation

    As it turns out Mark Driscoll bore false witness against his brethren at the conference, something he should , as a pastor be held accountable for. Mark Driscoll lied about having his books stolen from him, video and audio now show the Strange Fire security and administrators asking Mark Driscoll to take his books offsite., as all materials sold at the conference went through a vetting process. Mark Driscoll knew this. Its obvious he was simply attempting to fight against MacArthurs conference by subverting the conference process…understandable, that is, up until the point he lied about what took place.
    Hasn’t Mark learned that in todays day and age, every yahoo has a cell phone with a camera recording everything? Shame on Mark Driscoll, he openly sinned against everyone, his own followers, the strange fire conference staff, and worse God…even David refused to harm Saul…why doesn’t Driscoll know this…. he is suppose to be a Shepard, is he not?
    Strangely by his actions, didn’t Driscoll validate John MacArthur’s claims concerning the character of the leaders of the charismatic movement?

  • disqus_V7T0EYYXA0

    Pastor Mark did not, in fact, condemn those who preach Jesus was a pacifist. He says it will be “those who did not repent of their sin” and some of those people will have preached Jesus was a pacifist. To think he did is just foolishness. Slandering Mark Driscoll is getting dull. While I disagree with Mark at times, he is a great pastor who preaches the Bible. Take your gun and point it somewhere else, not at the body of Christ.

  • If Driscroll was NOT saying people will be condemned for teaching pacifism, but was really just saying ‘people will be condemned, and some of those people will happen to believe Jesus is a pacifist’ (which is what you’re saying), how is the issue of pacifism at all relevant? He may as well have said, ‘people will be condemned, and some of those people will happen to eat buttered toast upside-down’. If they’re being condemned, why bring it up the issue of pacifism except to say that is the reason they’re being condemned?

    Ignoring just the paraphrase about horse bridles, here is what Driscoll actually said:

    “”Some of those whose blood will flow … will be those who did not repent of their sin but did wrongly teach that Jesus was a pacifist.””

    The word ‘but’ in this sentence is a contrasting conjunction. So we have an opening clause (some of those…), and two clauses (we’ll call them clause 1 and clause 2) that are contrasted by ‘but’ (the conjunction). This is how English grammar works. So the sentence breaks down as follows:

    A. Some of those whose blood will flow … will be those who
    B. (clause 1) did not repent of their sin
    C. (contrasting conjunction) but
    D. (clause 2) did wrongly teach that Jesus was a pacifist.

    The things in (clause 1) and (clause 2) are the things being contrasted with the conjunction ‘but’. Meaning, (1) and (2) are opposites that clarify each other. And since (1) is the negative clause (it uses the word ‘not’), then following how English grammar works, we can safely remove clause (1) and the conjunction ‘but’ without altering the meaning of the sentence:

    “”Some of those whose blood will flow … will be those who did wrongly teach that Jesus was a pacifist.””

    We’re not playing word games. We’re not playing semantics. We’re not finding obscure loopholes or second definitions. This is how English works. And following how English works, Driscoll was explicitly saying people will be condemned FOR teaching Jesus is a pacifist.

  • If Jesus was teaching total pacifism, then how do you square that with the fact that he grabbed a weapon, a whip, and violently removed the money changers from the temple? Or that he encouraged his disciples to own and carry weapons? Seems to me Jesus teaching is more aligned with self defense and non-aggression then total pacifism. Thoughts?

  • Ray Garza

    Mark sounds like a horrible pastor!! best friend went to his church for years.. He finally left after getting tired of all of his antics..