Mark Driscoll Teaches Church History

Turns out St. Patrick is not a Catholic saint. And the Church he founded was basically a fifth century Mars Hill Bible Church. Somehow the Irish got the impression they should say Mass and celebrate the sacraments. An especially dim-witted people. In fact, all early Christians were dimwitted in exactly the same way, since they all were given simple Bible-based Evangelical churches and yet they *all* immediately started celebrating Masses and Divine liturgies that look nothing like Evangelical Bible-based church services and extremely like Catholic liturgies. How all early Christians managed to make the same mistake has not yet been explained. Research proceeds and success is expected hourly.

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  • Barbara B.

    Wow! Way to make up history!

    • Chris M

      well, that’s pretty much the only way they can ultimately justify their existence..

    • Ted Seeber

      It isn’t entirely made up. The norm for canonization of Saints who weren’t martyrs, up until the 12th century, was popular acclaim endorsed by ANY Bishop. The Canonization process was formalized in the 1100s, and has changes *several* times since then.

      But that’s just Doctrinal Development. Interesting how Mark goes from “Not canonized by Rome” to “not canonized at all”, that’s a logical leap I can’t figure out.

      • Rosemarie


        AFAIK, the Blessed Virgin was “not canonized by Rome,” either. Guess she’s also not a Catholic saint.

  • John C

    His description of these barbarous Irishmen reminds me of some friends who are Patriots fans. I can tell you that copulating with a white mare is rare nowadays. It usually only happens before a big play-off game.

  • Rob

    The Roman Catholic Church had given up on converting such “barbarians,” who were deemed beyond hope.

    In his effort to paint the Church as the big ooga-booga, he has conceded that, yes, in fact, the Church that was in existence in 390 (and previously, seen as we had already given up by then) was the very same Catholic Church that is in existence today. That is the first time I’ve heard a Protestant so casually concede this point. Not that this guy is representative of anything, but still…

  • Randy Johnson

    “…commissioned as a pastor…” rather than ordained as a priest. I actually laughed out loud.

    • nadster

      I LOL’d at the commissioned statement as well. It’s one thing to be a 40-something bible preacher who dresses like an 18 year old, but just don’t be dishonest. Either you know history, or you don’t. This guy is engaging in revisionist history for the same old tired purpose of trying to justify his modern mega Walmart church, with it’s sound stages, coffee bars and all the beautiful people.

      • Yeah, funny how Driscoll doesn’t mentioned who did the ‘commissioning’ (St. Germanus, the Bishop of Auxerre).

      • Made me chuckle.

  • Nate

    He obviously doesn’t believe what he’s writing, because I’m assuming he’s a reasonably intelligent person.
    So the only charitable reply here is, “You’re bluffing, dude. Please.”
    So what gives? It’s curious, from a psychological point of view, I think.

  • Oh, Driscoll has much worse stuff than that. Two examples:

    1) Since the fourth century the true Church Christ established was known by four marks: one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. But according to Driscoll, not only are these four marks wrong, but there are actually *8* marks which define the Church. (And also coincidentally describe his own community):

    2) In his defense of the Protestant canon, Marc makes several claims that are objectively wrong such as “Both Jews and Christians rejected any of the apocryphal books as divinely inspired sacred Scripture until the Catholic Council of Trent in 1546.” Joe Heschmeyer at Shameless Popery dismantled Driscoll’s arguments with his typical clarity and calm:

    • Ted Seeber

      Of those 8, I think all are covered by the 4:

      And sure enough, we’ve got two of each! I would claim that Mars Hill doesn’t rightly administer the sacraments, is not devoted to real fellowship, is not committed to Jesus’ Mission, and doesn’t have authentic leadership.

  • Tammy

    And Im sure all the Pastors Patrick Commissioned stayed quite busy Dedicating all the 4th century babies

  • I too have often wondered how all those early Christians in all those different counties made EXACTLY the same errors, EVERY SINGLE TIME. It is an amazing coincidence!

  • ivan_the_mad

    Well thank goodness Driscoll came along. In my ignorance, I’d taken as authoritative Butler’s account.

  • Jmac

    It’s freaking scary that pride and hubris get so huge that we can just make up whatever history makes us feel good and trumpet it as fact. I’m pretty deep into Ross Douthat’s “Bad Religion” right now, so I can recognize that Driscoll just seems like the latest in a neverending stream of pastors who define history to be whatever they want, but I still for the life of me can’t figure out why they can’t call themselves out on this.

    • John C

      Better get used to it. There’s no such thing as truth any more, and there is no such thing as facts. Adjust your life accordingly. We are reduced to greasy persuasion or naked power.

  • MarylandBill

    So if Saint Patrick is not a “Catholic Saint”, how did he get on the calendar of feast days? Of course, none of the Apostles or Paul were canonized either…

    Now, nitpicks (beyond the just laughable).

    1. He is right that Saint Patrick was not Irish (And any Irish man could have told you that), but unlike Mr. Driscoll claims, he was not English either… there were no English in the 4th and 5th centuries.

    2. Three leaf ‘shamrocks’ were used to explain the Trinity, not the Gospel. We don’t actually know what modern plant was the shamrock… it might have been clover, but it might have been something else as well.

    3. Not many people anywhere were building ornate churches in the early 5th century since the Western Empire was undergoing a series of wars that would ultimately lead to its fall.

    4. I am proud of my Gaelic heritage, but seriously, at its height, the Romans were not afraid of the Irish. They were no more “wild” than a number of other Celtic or Germanic peoples that the Romans successfully conquered. Ireland’s isolation had more to do with its independence than anything.

  • Irenist

    Driscoll is an Irish surname, and Wikipedia tells me Mark Driscoll was raised Catholic. So I assume he grew up thinking St. Patrick was awesome, and this attempt to make St. Patrick sound Calvinist is just a bit of cognitive dissonance reduction.

    The Anglican Church of Ireland has historically had similar habits, inflating the existence of a monastery-rather-than-diocesan-based organizational model in the early Insular church and some controversies over clerical tonsures and the dating of Easter into a full-blown dissident Celtic Church standing opposed to an imperialist Romish Church as if St. Patrick, St. Malachy, and such like early Celtic Catholics were really Low Church Tudor Anglicans avant la lettre.

    I suspect the Celtic crosses much used by Anglicans and Episcopalians are symbols of this invented useable past. The postmodern tendency to imagine that this invented “Celtic Church” was also full of tree-hugging feminist semi-pagans has allowed this myth to survive Episcopalianism’s transition from Nicene Christianity to NPR-at-prayer. Your local female “bishop” is probably wearing a Celtic Cross right now.

    • Sal

      There was a similar Anglo-Catholic meme on the insularity of the Catholic Church in England, or English Catholic Church- take your pick- which meant that the English Church had always been rather independent of Rome. So the break with Rome was just more of the same, but codified, or something. I’ve heard otherwise deeply intelligent and well-educated clergy peddle this view, so it’s not just the average Joe.

      My personal favorite? That Scripture went underground and was passed about clandestinely among true “Bible Christians” in the Middle Ages. B/c no one had access to them, thanks to the chained-up Bibles. An examination of the sheer technological and social impossibility of this on the scale I’ve heard described will earn you a “Shut up- that’s why!”.

  • Mark S (not for Shea)

    All of the Protestant pseudo histories would make a fascinating book.

    My wife and I once sat in a restaurant, listening to the lady in the next booth over explain to her granddaughter how the first Baptists were the disciples of John the Baptist, who had to go underground when the Catholics took over. And not a shred of historic proof to back up any of it.

    We had similar pseudo histories back when I went to a non-denominational church. I’d love for someone to gather all these myths into a book.

    • MarylandBill

      But the reason the Baptists don’t have any proof is that the Catholics destroyed it all.

      Curiously enough, there is a group of people who claim to be (and indeed might be) descended from followers of St. John the Baptist. Mandaeism is a small gnostic religion in the Middle East that revere’s St. John the Baptist, but rejects Jesus (perhaps the followers of John the Baptist split.. and the ones who because Christian simply were absorbed into the Church).

  • lol, yeah I saw this a few a months ago. He also has the same crap for St Athanasius ( and St Augustine ( The funny thing is that Ss Patrick, Athanasius, and Augustine were all not just Catholic, but all were Catholic bishops.

  • Matt

    Nah, Driscoll’s got it all wrong. St. Patrick was really an old-fashioned New Testament Baptist:

    This was written by a former teacher of mine who now the pastor of a large Baptist church in Ohio.

  • j. blum

    There are Mandaeans here in Detroit, fellow reugees with the Chaldeans (and Chicago’s Assyrians) from our ongoing Iraqi unpleasantness. And if the Episcopalians are fond of the Celtic monastics (who seem to have had a lot in common wth Coptic Egyptian monastics), then why was their church so keen to abolish monasticism when they got it going as its own entity?

    • Irenist

      “[W]hy was their church so keen to abolish monasticism when they got it going as its own entity?”
      £ for the Crown and the aristocracy from monastic lands. Same reason the French Crown had annihilated the Templars a few centuries previously. A sketch of the situation is pleasantly presented in “The Rebellion of the Rich”, the eleventh chapter of Chesterton’s “Short History of England”:

  • And thus are Protestants able to ignore the inconvenient fact that for 1,500 years, Christian history was Catholic.

    For anyone with the stomach, check out the way that C. Michael Patton treats Christian history by relegating everything prior to the 16th Century to – almost literally – the infancy of Christianity.

  • KML

    Well, that’s certainly an interesting work-around of the old “to be steeped in history is to cease being Protestant” yarn – just change the history and it’s all good. I suppose when you have a theological hammer everything starts looking like a nail.

    Being a Seattlite, I have a few friends who have fallen under this guy’s spell. It never ceases to amaze me that people believe that thousands of years of church tradition spread over generations of popes, church fathers, philosophers and saints can be easily refuted by one man. Being the egotistical, hubris-filled people we are, is it any wonder that God designed his Church to counteract that?

  • john

    Wow…History Channel or National Geographic special presentation in the making…maybe thats what he is looking for.

  • “…they were known to show up for battles and partake in wild orgies before running into battle naked and drunk, screaming as if they were demon-possessed.”

    I’m confused: doesn’t Driscoll advocate for that kind of behavior as “biblical masculinity”?

    • GAB

      A people that runs into battle naked and drunk against an adversary that is sober and wearing armour is not going to terrify anyone. It’ll make for a pretty short battle too.

      • Andy, Bad Person

        While it’s not a long term strategy, I’m pretty sure it worked for the Scots for a good many years.

        • suburbanbanshee

          Other people have defended Patrick, but here’s a few other things:

          1. It’s not screaming, it’s a war cry. Obviously he can’t understand the beautiful Gaelic poetry of the sluagh-ghairm (slogan).

          2. The pre-Patrick Irish weren’t given to fighting naked. (Unlatinized Britons, like Patrick’s ancestors, were another story.) An Irish warrior was generally pretty well-dressed, with a beautiful long tunic and cloak, the better to impress the foe with his awesomeness. It also came in handy for single combats, when everybody was watching you and you had to look good. The poorer Irish fought with their long tunics kilted up, the same as they did everything else physically strenuous, and they probably bundled their cloaks out of the way.

          3. The exception is Cuchulain and a few other legendary magical hero go-berzerk types,
          who on occasion were said to do stuff like pop their eyes and turn their skins inside out to fight, or turn several different colors. I suppose that counts as naked, if you’re showing the innards of your bones and muscle to the world while smashing people’s heads in. (But of course, that didn’t really happen historically.)

  • JDH

    I am very thankful for this piece by Driscoll. I was under the impression that who was and who wasn’t a “Catholic Saint” was determined by whether or not the individual in question was commemorated on the Church’s calendar (either universal, national, or diocesan) or listed in the Roman Martyrology. Now I understand that the modern method of canonization must be used, meaning that the Apostles themselves are not “Catholic Saints.” Which, of course, means they were non-denominational Protestants. Which means the Catholic Church is not apostolic and totally bogus.

    • Jmac

      Let me just down this bottle of moonshine, then I’ll proceed to vigorously nod in agreement with you. I won’t be capable of human speech, but this train of thought will make perfect sense.

      • Confederate Papist

        I am guessing JDH was being sarcastic…but these days Shea’s blog has been inundated by the Legions of Trolls [TM], Inc., so I am not entirely sure.

        Just leave me some ‘shine Jmac…just in case!

        • Jmac

          Oh, I’m likewise sure. So I was sarcastic right back. I’m more of a Maker’s Mark and Jaegermeister guy, myself.

          • Confederate Papist

            Maker’s Mark, yes.


            • Jmac

              I’ll admit I don’t know many people who actually like Jaeger. But a chilled shot of Jaeger when you’re cold or have a cough is the best thing ever. Oh well, de gustibus.

  • Russ

    About 10 years ago an evangelical author wrote a book about true celtic christianity. His ultimate claim was that the Catholic church ruined everything when they forced people to celebrate the mass on latin and broke up the house churches. Is this any different than how communists rewrite pre and pist revolution history? Saint Patrick pray for us for historical honesty and academic integrity.

  • Russ
  • Ted Seeber

    What Mars Hill does is cult-like spiritual abuse:

    My only thought is that Mark Driscoll must have some form of sexual abuse in his past and he’s projecting that onto his congregation.

    • Confederate Papist

      Sounds like more of a David Koresh-type cult cherch than a church.

      What a creep!

  • I always want to ask Protestants what was the specific point when the Mars Hill Bible Church of the Apostles was eclipsed by that brontosaurian impostor, the Catholic Church. And when people start waxing eloquent about discarding all of those “medieval accretions” and getting back to the imagined rites of the second century, I snap at them “Hey buddy, some of us converts signed up because of those medieval accretions!”

  • Bill Kirby

    What astounds me is his claim that St. Patrick was an Englishman and a Roman citizen, who spoke Latin and a little Welsh. This before the Angles had given their name to Brittania, and before they had given the Britons the name Waelisc (stranger/foreigner) St. Patrick wouldn’t have known what England was, and most likely considered himself a Roman of British extraction.

  • Mike Walsh

    What a maroon. Human Toothaches like this just make me fonder of and more insistent upon the legends. The favorite window in the St. Pat’s church of my youth unashamedly depicted the sainted Patrick –Yes!– driving the snakes from the Blessed Isle.

  • Cynthia Beard

    Um…wait…he enrolled in seminary?? How is this even possible, given that modern seminaries emerged in the 16th century? Wait, let me guess, it was one of those fancy online schools…

    • Attia Sprouse

      This. For the win.

      Uhhh….open question to anybody, didn’t St. Patrick, oh, I don’t know, celebrate the Mass as well? One would think that would have been mentioned. A priest has to do that every day and all….(was this the rule back then?).

  • I’m not usually one to stand up for Mark Driscoll, but there’s a gap between your account of what he wrote and what he wrote. He said Patrick wasn’t a saint, that the church had given up on evangelizing the Celts, and that he built churches that weren’t ornate. I’m not sure that means that he was trying to make Patrick a 21st century neo-reformed pastor. I don’t know if it’s entirely bad for him to translate stories of ancient Christians into language that his people can understand. Most neo-Calvinists think that there was no Christianity between 100 AD and 1500 AD, so it seems like progress for them to learn about the saints even if the stories have a slight Bible church twist in their hagiography.

  • And the point of this is?