Video: Mark Driscoll’s Right Wing Resurgence

For a while I’ve been suggesting that what’s usually called the neo-reformed or neo-calvinist movement is producing a new religious right in America.

That is, a Christian movement framed primarily according to conservative political stances. 

And this is important because new life is being breathed into what seemed to be a dying trend among evangelicals. As we speak, Mark Driscoll is holding his Resurgence Conference, right on the heels of the release of his new book, A Call to ResurgenceI’m not sure what the contents of the conference have been so far, and I haven’t read the book (though this review is very helpful). But this video presents the premise for the book, and it’s really telling, I think:

The first thing that strikes me is Mark’s ironic misuse of Kierkegaard’s quote in the very beginning:

 Christendom has done away with Christianity without being quite aware of it.

Here, the philosopher is actually saying that Christendom itself is to blame for the demise and decline of authentic Christianity in the modern world, and thus Christendom is the problem in itself. But Driscoll’s premise is something altogether different. What Mark is saying is quite simply that the culture has driven out Christendom, so that Christendom is dead - and this is a lamentable fact. Throughout the video (and, I presume, the book), Mark fleshes this out by bemoaning the effects of Christendom’s demise (“really ticked off” amidst metal guitar riffs, etc.) and setting the stage for his “call to resurgence.”

Which is, in fact, a call to a fundamentally political right wing resurgence.

If that’s not clear from what Mark is saying, it is abundantly clear in the cleverly interjected media throughout the video. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Louie Giglio withdrawing from the inaugural prayer because his anti-gay sermon surfaced. Mark talks about “persecution, opposition, and criticism.”
  • A quote from President Obama: “Thank you, Planned Parenthood. God bless.” Mark says, “The question is, what will we do?”
  • A church sign: “Jesus had two dads, and he turned out okay.” Mark talks about getting the church” back on mission.”

After all this, Driscoll betrays the confusion of his point when he refers to the old church he’s driving to as formerly a part of “Christendom, civil religion.” So, is Christendom now liberal, “social justice” Christianity? I don’t think Mark really cares, so long as the definition suits his point at the moment.

And all of this matters because what Driscoll’s resurgence is proposing is really a return to Christendom – a recapturing of a conservative evangelical majority in America and a degree of power in Washington in order to affect gay rights, abortion, and religious freedom (privilege?) legislation. Rebuilding Christendom, for Mark, is what it means to be “on mission,” which is why he is willing to even sacrifice some significant theological points (aligning with folks like Joyce Meyer and Joel Osteen) as long as the conservative political stances are held in common.

Unfortunately, I think this is actually the opposite of what it means for the church to be on mission.

And I agree with Kierkegaard – Christendom is the problem, not the solution.

The more we identify ourselves by seeking selfish political power on exclusionary issues, the less we will be able to welcome the world into the redeeming work of Christ through the church.

So, my brothers and sisters, Reformed, conservative, missional, progressive – can we agree to get back to the thing that really matters, the good news of the kingdom of God inaugurated by the Liberating King, Jesus?

Print Friendly

About Zach Hoag

Zach J. Hoag is a writer and missional minister from notoriously non-religious New England. His book, Nothing but the Blood: The Gospel According to Dexter was released in 2012.

  • http://www.faithmeetsworld.com/ Rob Grayson

    IMO this is the big danger of adopting a flat reading of the Bible in which every part carries equal weight and historical context is largely unimportant: it means you’re guaranteed to read your own interpretation into the text. Of course, this is something we all do to an extent, but the less nuanced and contextually informed your reading of scripture is, the more you will be open to this kind of superimposition of whatever cultural forces you’re most shaped by. It doesn’t surprise me that in the US, where there is a strong affiliation between conservative Christianity and right-wing politics, the fusing of the two is becoming increasingly evident. It’s a great shame that so many Christians are prepared to take the words of someone like Driscoll at face value, and are so biblically uninformed that they’re unable to see any problem.

  • Dan White

    Spot on. My wife and I watched the video and the shocking point of his speech was when Mark said we “need to get really mad, really ticked off, then we’ll do something about it”… “and that’s the point of the book.”

    My question was: are we to get really mad, really ticked off because our political and cultural power has been take from us? Where did the Apostle Paul ever tell the early church to get inflamed with Rome not letting them have a power position at the table? This is just Christian-wierd.

    • http://zhoag.com/ zhoag

      EXACTLY. thank you.

  • http://www.carisadel.com/ Caris Adel

    I read most of the book in the amazon preview yesterday, because apparantly I hate myself. “I’m also sick of the nerd parade of books and conferences that approach the Bible like scholars whose mission is to get their master’s rather than soldiers who are on mission with their Master.”

    For someone who starts their view of church history at the Reformation?!?! no wonder he doesn’t like scholars! What the bloody hell????

    That review was actually really good. The point that drives me up the wall (besides all of it) is his insistence that evangelicals are the only ones doing it right and that’s what people have to get back to. I think you’re right on with the right-wing stuff. So infuriating.

    • http://zhoag.com/ zhoag

      caris, you are definitely a brave soul for reading the book. not sure if i could handle all of this in long-form.

      • http://www.carisadel.com/ Caris Adel

        oh my goodness, I don’t hate my life that much, haha. Just most of what was in the Amazon preview – which was more than most books I think, but still just a couple of pages per chapter.

        • http://zhoag.com/ zhoag

          oooooooh, ok. that’s good. i thought you found a way to read most of the book itself.

  • stephen fife

    He seems to think the church needs to retake some sort of political place in the country. I guess he has short term memory loss and conveniently forgot about the Moral Majority and how well that worked out. I believe the church always operates best from outside the power/political realm. The church should always be the counter balance that points to a different kingdom. I think that Billy Corgan was on to something when he talks about God being that third rail.

    I think we confuse this on both sides of the aisle. On the Right Wing we think this means politics and vote the liberals out then we can have some sort of moral majority and rule the country the way God intended. On the Left Wing we think this means some sort of socio-economic-justice role so we castigate anyone with more conservative theologies. I am not content with either of these options, and still looking for what it means to follow the hermeneutic of Jesus.

    • http://zhoag.com/ zhoag

      good stuff stephen. i’m with you. third rail!

  • Kenneth Balch

    I couldn’t agree with you more.

    • http://zhoag.com/ zhoag

      thanks ken, glad to hear it.

  • Tylor Standley

    I’ve been listening to the conference, specifically Driscoll’s messages. His first speech was about the death of Christendom. Most of his points were about homosexuality and one point was about the presidential election. Honestly, it’s very difficult to tell what he thinks about the death of Christendom. He says that it bred lots of social Christians who weren’t really committed; yet, practically his “call to resurgence” is really just a call to live as if Christendom is alive and well.

    • http://zhoag.com/ zhoag

      but tylor, they totally got the slash through the o in soren. i mean, they get it.

      seriously, thanks for filling in the blanks on mark’s messages. that confirms the confusion around christendom even as he’s really arguing for a new version of it.

  • Pingback: Links! | Phoenix Preacher

  • tn

    sooo…anyone read teh book? maybe a lil context to some of this…to try n be fair? i havnt.  just sayin…
    sheesh. typical find a vid about someone/position, post on blog to make it look like real post, and…go!  blog vitriol, it’s everywhere.  stuff is way outta context yall, no matter how ya spin it.  read…then swing…..

  • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

    @tn haven’t read the book, but have seen/heard enough from driscoll in articles/sermons to make this critique. btw, this is hardly “blog vitriol.”

  • tn

    zachhoag hmm.  well if ya havn’t read the book, the way you critique is to post those things you’ve “seen/heard” from “articles/sermons” you’ve read.  literary crit. 101.  bash if u must, but back it up. always. you’re reason above would be crushed as 100% incredible anywhere outside blog-dom.   Sad findin’ blogs encouraging discussions of a book based on a trailer of it… and yea, there’s worse blog vitrol, but if you gonna attack a man’s creds by attackin authorship you havnt read…yea that counts buddy.  not trying to go on the attack here man, just sayin i dont ever recall readin a blog post on the basis of assumption, ‘have seen/heard enough from driscol…to make this critique’…about a book that might be not at all what you thought because ya really don’t know.  wow, yea. that carries no weight bro, ever. unless your post is bout stuff he actually said/wrote previously. sorry. 
    best to you and your ministry.  peace.

  • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

    @tn zachhoag commenter 101 – use a real name, email, and website link. back it up, bro.

  • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

    P.S. nice try, Carl.

  • harry vest

    @stephen fife …Not trying to be rude here but what exactly did you mean by “I guess he has short term memory loss and conveniently forgot about the Moral Majority and how well that worked out.”? Are you implying that things didn’t work out for the Moral Majority? I hate to tell you this but nothing could be further from the truth. They have basically taken control of the entire Republican party and have more candidates in every level of Government in the United States than in any time since the formation of the country!!! The day is coming when they will take the Presidency and with it the country! The Fourth Reich is coming wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross. Driscoll and his “New Calvinist” ilk may be the final nail in the coffin that will bring about this Empire.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X