Mark Driscoll on British Christians – hear it for yourself (the full interview with Justin Brierley)

Mark Driscoll on British Christians – hear it for yourself (the full interview with Justin Brierley) January 14, 2012

Over the last few days there has been a fair amount of discussion online about the interview I link to below.  It is a conversation between two people whom I both consider to be my friends.

Mark Driscoll, the sometimes controversial pastor of Mars Hill Church, Seattle has done much to advance the cause of Christ, and for that I am very grateful to God.

Justin Brierley’s Unbelievable?  radio show and podcast provides a unique opportunity for people from different wings of the church, and also those outside of Christianity altogether to actually listen to what one another believes. It is so important to do this rather than constructing straw men.  Justin’s show has proved to be an invaluable evangelistic forum, and one on which I have appeared twice, a debate with Rob Bell and on the resurrection with a liberal pastor.

I should therefore begin by saying that I love both men involved.  I do feel that the interview is well worth listening to for the following reasons:

  1. The interview covers much more than just the segment that has sparked controversy, and there are helpful sections on Driscoll’s recent book (the first twenty minutes or so), the growth of Mars Hill Church, and a number of doctrinal questions. These two men come from different worlds, and it is perhaps not surprising that the meeting of those worlds results in interesting radio. I am sure that both men, although different in their approaches, came to the interview with good intentions.
  2. It is vital that we hear the main point that Driscoll is making, that British preachers should be more bold. It is never nice when people make generalizations, but Driscoll is right that we in the UK have too many apologetic preachers.  Driscoll is angry at times largely because he has been gripped by the cause of Christ. I sometimes think we would loose more than we would gain if Driscoll was to become more measured in what he says.
  3. It is good to hear the whole context of something before passing  judgement.  So for example later in the interview Driscoll is very kind about British Christians, and in particular Newfrontiers (around 40 mins in). But then I suppose “Driscoll says British Christian group is doing a great job” doesn’t make such a good headline, does it?


My conclusion is that both men involved are a gift to the Church, and as I have often said before, you do not have to agree on everything someone believes or says to benefit from listening to them.

As Driscoll himself put it, “I go too far sometimes, almost every other pastor I know doesn’t go far enough.”

You can download the MP3 here or visit the Unbelievable? website to listen to this entire interview.



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  • Steve

    I thought the interview was fascinating. Firstly I don’t follow any man… I follow Jesus Christ, so I don’t favour one over the other. Paul had to address the issue of following men and not God (1 cor 1:10). This isn’t about personalities. I’d be very interested in seeing how people today would approach or talk of the Apostle Paul if he was here in the flesh. No one is perfect.. no one.. we all need God’s grace every minute we breathe. No one has the right to judge anyone, but within the church there is a place for righteous judgment, which is completely different. We have to discern what someone is saying is truth..from God.. and not from them (applies to ourselves!) That means we must have a relationship with God firstly, and discernment from the holy spirit, to hear and to understand what God is saying to us or through someone, especially when it comes to being said in the name of Jesus. We need to study our bibles like good Bereans, and not just flick over it thinking we know it, so that God speaks to us directly and we hear him. Many think they can get to know God by what they just hear on a Sunday. Not saying that isn’t possible because it is, but there is so much more that God has for us. I know this all to well believe me. There are many who think that with what little they know, gives them the right to rebuke men of God who are called to preach who know so much more. All we have is from God anyway!! Its crazy.

    Knowing Jesus (knowing truth / his will for us) can take time. Second hand revelation is all well and good, but the real depths of God and his word are often found much later ( that is first hand revelation) The Word of God that brings you real transformation, taught of God, through the spirit directly into your spirit comes by prayer, study and walking daily with your Lord. We grow in all the graces of God over time right?

    What does matter is what we hear…truth…and that we are changed by it. Jesus came for truth (John 18:37). He is the truth! (John 14:6) This truth transforms us.
    Also God speaks to us all the time about every area of our lives. The word comes to us doesn’t it and reveals to us truth. Not only the gospel truths…but also personal truth, what we must repent from, how we must lead our wives/family, evangelism in the home and work place, how we should discipline our children, how we should spend our money. God speaks to us, directs us, encourages us, chastens us. And where ever we are, whatever the culture, Christ, the gospel, the word of God, needs to be preached, and those who receive it/Him, will be a new creation and we grow to be like him on a daily basis (2 cor 3:18) and have the mind of Christ (1 Corth 2:16) What has happened in the spirit, will work itself out in the natural. This is what is called sanctification is it not? Its not a one stop shop.
    Also we are called to walk in the spirit, not the flesh. These war against each other (Gal 5:16-17). None knew this more than the Apostle Paul, who called himself the worst of sinners and a wretched man. We all need to have this humility before God… how many so called controversies, blog posts would come then i wonder?
    Pastor Mark kind of reminds me of the Apostle Peter. A bit zealous lol! Pastor Mark, I really don’t mean any offence by that. I too can say things before thinking things through. But God still used Peter greatly! What hope for all of us! Its better to be cold or on fire than to be lukewarm (how many Christians need to get that message into their souls). God will use anyone who wants to be used! We make mistakes, all of us and we learn by them.. and we need to praise God for that. You follow a God who forgave King David!! He discerns the heart.. we don’t..and what God sees there is the most important thing. If through these mistakes we are growing in God, his grace and therefore worship to God, and are being changed daily great.. if not.. then there is a problem. I don’t know Mark personally, but It sounds like he’s growing in the grace of God daily like us all. Why can’t people understand that? He isn’t a wolf in sheep’s clothing…he’s a brother! 1 John… we all need to read it and test ourselves to make sure we really are in the faith and know the truth. If we know God, we will love God and love others, if we confess our sins to him and be forgiven much, we should be forgiving each other. And knowing we are nothing and have nothing other than God’s grace to rely on… we give much thanks, in all things and should be offering ourselves up as a living sacrifice to God.. holy and pleasing.. i.e lives of worship / and obedience. Too many sites/tweets I read.. there are 1000’s of Pharisee’s, but not many tax collectors. Oh how I wish to be more like David in Psalm 51:17

    The Book..
    The book Ive not read, but from what I heard from this interview, personally I would agree with 90% of what Pastor Mark said. I find the part regarding to a specific sex act a little hard to understand that God would will that in my life, left to conscience or not. But I’m a young Christian who is maturing slowly.

    The book wasn’t really the main point of focus from what I heard, it was all about getting to know Pastor Mark the man. I felt Justin was ok as the interviewer, he certainly didn’t say anything untoward. But the end of the interview I think had a lot to say. I think Pastor Mark wasn’t out of line in asking questions himself. What’s wrong with that? Jesus answered everything with a question! Would you tell him your being disrespectful? This interview for me speaks of something bigger. Its the reality of knowing God, knowing Jesus, knowing truth. The realities of how all that manifests in our lives, and therefore ‘the church’ today.

    Jesus said, They will hear my voice, and follow (John 10:27) They will not be of the world (we are holy… we are separated.. we are the called out ones). We are supposed to be far from the norm when it comes to being like the world. The word of God says ‘Peculiar people’. Not odd, or strange in a bad, weird way, but people who do things, say things, think things that are so completely 180 degrees from the world! We should live like Christ, act like Christ, talk like Christ, etc. etc.! That is who we really are!
    Relativism /Humanism and many of the other ism’s come to that, have no place what so ever in the Church. Being like the world to attract the world I find completely offensive. We are to have nothing to do with that. I find this a real offence. Christ doesn’t need help in making himself attractive!! He is attractive! We are called to be like him, to love like him, and make him known and to give the good news, and we do all that in his might, not through our own. The philosophies these days that surround us are simply not called for. The word of God is our foundation. In fact is weakens a church if they chose to do this.
    There is absolute truth, and anyone who follows Christ would know that, and rest in that and wouldn’t be persuaded from that. Can we all honestly say that the people of God in Britain are where the Lord really wants us to be? Is there a thirst and hunger for revival in each of our lives, for the righteousness of God..for more of him, calling on God in not only repentance but then to walk in obedience to his Word, so that our Lord would come and fill us in power and strengthen the church and make it again fit for it’s calling!??!
    Do you look at your church and see Christ in it, is all his offices not just some? Is he LORD as well as Saviour to you and those in your chruch, including the leadership? We have been purchased at a great price. I’m not sure how many Christians view themselves like that? What is occurring in your it God’s will? Is Jesus being lifted up? Is it really all about Him and not you? Is his presence felt and seen? Are people living holy lives? Are lots of people being saved? Are blessings being poured out from Heaven there? Or do you see judgement? Weak preaching, Leadership not preaching the full word so they don’t offend anyone? No power, no saved souls, carnal Christians that live continually like they were before with no transformation? This isn’t about works we do… its about the work that God is doing! That’s a call to each of us..and its serious!
    Don’t be fooled by what you think is the church when you look at it from what you read in the paper, or see on TV. Don’t look upon the church as buildings or movements, or people in dresses as Mark so wonderfully put it. His bride is people, and the Kingdom of God rests in the hearts of people. And all that God does inwardly, shows outwardly. A good tree bares good fruit. We have a good shepherd, a wonderful councillor, a mighty God! And He has called us out to call others out! So we need to make sure that we are actually called out firstly, and that we are ‘in him’ (John 3:16), so that we can then call others. Otherwise we are just in ourselves, and we are not in the faith.

    I think this interview for those who really want to hear, will hear much. We all need to look at ourselves firstly, then the church, and the greater mission of the church in this nation and across the world … you will see a lot in what was said.

    The grace of God has come to these 2 men, yes they have opposing views, but I’m sure they both love Jesus. But there is only one truth. We should pray for them, and for ourselves, that we know God, and all of his ways. Are we loving him with all our hearts? If not ask for more love, repent and then seek him with feverency. God gives to those that ask, not those that don’t. Are we working out our salvation with fear and trembling or just going with the flow..what ever flow that is? John the Baptist said ” I must decrease, he must increase”. Jesus is our greatest treasure! Lets desire him above all else..only then can we make his name known to all, letting his light shine through us. Not looking at this person, or that person, but first looking up, unto Jesus!! Then we will know Him, and the life he has for us will be done, a spring of water welling up to eternal life!
    Doctrines have a massive place in the church, and so does systematic teaching/preaching. They reveal God’s attributes, his nature. I think this is very apt for today. I don’t know if its prophetic, but from many churches Ive visited, God’s attributes are never really preached.. and with that comes watered down preaching, and quite possibly confessions of faith, but not real converts/disciples because those that hear never hear who he fully is!
    By his spirit, let the Word of God humble us, this revelation about himself come fully in all its fullness. Pray for preachers to rise up and do this. Pray that when they come we will hear this preaching, and that it will shape us to be like Christ.. who is the way the truth and the life. Let us all be transformed by the renewing of our minds I pray, so that we can all be like the Psalmist “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer (Ps 19:14)

  • Cameron

    As an early Christian, Driscoll and Mars Hill blessed me a lot. But over time I began to prefer other churches which followed a church model whereby one could be better discipled.

    I am all the more convinced now that Driscoll does not conform to the Biblical picture of ‘pastor’. I can’t believe he would insult his radio host and call him “annoying” when Justin was simply asking questions that many want to hear responses to. By Justin remaining polite demonstrates the positive side of British culture, namely, cultivating better self-control rather than blunt, emotional, reactive responses like Driscoll displayed. Yes, truth is truth, and much of what Driscoll says is true. But even the Westboro Baptist Church is true at times. But will anyone listen to the truth when it’s not delivered in such a way that is humble and profound? I’d hope that Grace is pointing this out to him.

    I live in Seattle, and used to go to Mars Hill right as it was becoming a megachurch (which isn’t Biblical). Many of my current Christian friends have left there, some of whom used to be on staff, or taught there. The church has changed in many ways as it’s adopted a megachurch model, for good and bad. Mark’s philosophy of ministry can prove to be dangerous at times, hence a lack of accountability on his part, whereby he acts like an immature, snarky bulldog for Jesus, NOT a pastor.

    As far Mark’s idea of yelling at young guys in order to make them men… back around 2006, I went to a men’s retreat at MH and you could see pansy Seattle guys trying to act tough by grunting “amen”, or copying Mark’s ways and trying to be blunt as well, because I guess that’s what it means to be a Christian with balls or something. I thought it was silly at the time, and now really realize how silly it was. Being an upfront jerk has nothing to do with being a Biblical man, or pastor. Even I’ve followed suite at times, but thankfully now have repented.

    As for Driscoll’s “Calvinism”, he is barely a Calvinist. Nowadays, people think that if you believe in predestination and hold a high view of God’s sovereignty then you’re a Calvinist. This is a good start, but only a small percentage of the picture. Driscoll holds to an odd kind of 4 point Calvinism, and rejects limited atonement. Talk about liberal Christianity. This is actually a liberal type of Calvinism, historically speaking.

    When it comes to penal substitutionary atonement (PSA), I would recommend someone like N.T. Wright, whom holds to that view, but ALSO does an excellent job of balancing it with Christus Victor, which ties more into the significance of Christ’s resurrection – something the 1st century church would have greatly emphasized. Overall, Justin was right. One needs to be careful what they mean by PSA because there are so many negative connotations attached to it. A loving response from Driscoll would be to understand this, rather than be poised to be the theological bulldog police. Interesting how Driscoll questions Justin, yet Driscoll does not do the same with people like Rick Warren whom teach very humanistic theology, and whom he holds many conferences with.

    Then when Driscoll questioned TD Jakes flat out heresy of Modalism, the room was ready to errupt in applause for approval and acceptance, when there never really was enough clarification given. The first major heresy the ancient church ever dealt with was almost overlooked with TD Jakes by Driscoll, yet Justin is here railed. I find this very odd and inconsistent.

    That’s my 2 cents.