I Hate Loving Mark Driscoll

I Hate Loving Mark Driscoll January 24, 2013
Mars Hill Pastor Mark Driscoll

Rev. Mark Driscoll, founder of Mars Hill church, has a true gift. Just when I think I’m making at least a modicum of progress toward tolerance – if not actual Christlike love – toward the guy, inevitably he does something to make me despise him all over again.

On the Monday, before President Obama’s inauguration ceremony, Driscoll sent out the following message to his more than 300,000 Twitter followers:

Praying for our president, who today will place his hand on a Bible he does not believe to take an oath to a God he likely does not know.

As of Thursday morning, the tweet has received more than 3,400 retweets and nearly 1,350 favorites. Driscoll’s next tweet was about an iPad Mini giveaway.

I have so many points of struggle with this, it’s hard to know where to start. On a more superficial level, he taps into one of my biggest pet peeves (as pointed out in one of my “Christian Cliche” articles) by saying he’s praying for someone, and then following that with a double-barreled insult. It seems that, when people say they’re praying for someone in this context, it’s effectively saying the person is wrong and they’re asking God to make them different. This smacks of inauthenticity, condescension and contempt. You’re not praying for him; you’re praying at him.

Further, Driscoll drags the President through the theological mud by suggesting both that he doesn’t believe the Bible and likely doesn’t even know God. This places many subjective value judgments on something I believe can’t be made into a propositional “right/wrong” sort of binary. What does it mean to believe the Bible? Does Driscoll really believe that he – or anyone else – can embrace a thoroughly unmediated or uninterpreted understanding of scripture? This is arrogance of Pharisaic proportions.

And to suggest that anyone, let alone the President of the United Sates (whoever he or she is at the time) is Godless not only dishonors the office itself; it implies that the accuser knows the inner-workings of another’s heart and relationship to God. I’m no Biblical scholar, but my sense of the Bible’s message on this is that no one but that person and God knows a person’s true heart.

So I’m left here with these feelings about Driscoll, most of which are quite familiar to me by now. I worry that he is leading thousands of people in a direction of rigidity, intolerance and divisiveness. I am angered by his judgments. I am saddened by the number of affirmations his statement has received. And I’m disturbed by the fact that he can so effortlessly shift from denigrating the President to giving away iPad Minis.

Now. what the hell do I do with all of these feelings? Part of my jog as a Christian blogger is to call out wrongs where I witness them, which is part of the aim of this post. But as for Driscoll personally, I am at a loss. I don’t want to pray for him. He pisses me off. I don’t like him. I don’t even want to love him. If I do pray for him, I want to pray that he will change, which is in many ways the very thing I’m suggesting he has inappropriately done. I’d like to ignore it all, but he is one of the more prominent voices in Christianity today. His words have tremendous weight. His actions affect the future of the Body of Christ.

So how do I begin to love someone I find so very easy to hate? For me, it starts with the Serenity Prayer:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

Am I likely to change Mark Driscoll? Chances are he doesn’t even know I exist. And even if he didn’t the odds of him caring what I think are marginal. I don’t matter in his world. So what is the net effect of this hate? It’s poison in my own well, really. And if I don’t contend with it, I run the risk as a public figure of passing that poison on to others.

So I lay it down. I give it to God. I try to imagine Driscoll as a child – literally – and as a beloved creation of God. I also remind myself that God is God, and I’m not. It’s not my job to discern the nature of Mark Driscoll’s character, though I do feel compelled to name destructive, mean-spirited behavior when I see it. But to attack him personally is to, as Paul decries, become the thing I hate. It’s like Luke Skywalker striking out at Darth Vader, only to look down and realize that every act of aggression makes him more like his enemy.

In the end, in an effort to search my own heart, I think my greatest distress comes from a lack of trust. I can’t seem to trust that God will make God’s self known in the world in the ways that we need it to be known. I want people to see God the way I see God (surprise!), and I have a reflexive urge to discredit other perspectives that appear antithetical to that view.

So how do I love Mark Driscoll? Ultimately, I love him (or try, anyway) because as much as I wish I didn’t, I see myself in him. I can’t claim any moral high ground over him when he and I are of the same cloth.

Do I like admitting that? What the hell do you think?

So Mark, my brother, I can’t say with a clear conscience that I love you today, right now. But I’m working on it. And any help you can give me in that regard would be really great.

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  • I suppose my question is that I don’t understand the obsession so many people who don’t like Driscoll have with him. I don’t so I just don’t follow him. I see so many bloggers get so worked up over him. Yet to me, they are the ones who stir up the hornets nest about him. I don’t like Pat Robertson or Rob Bell either. So I just ignore them. It makes me sad to see so many people spend so much time on other people. None of it helps me in my walk of faith. It’s no different than what Rush Limbaugh does to Democrats on his radio show. It keeps people mad about the wrong things.

    • My only answer to your question, if I understand it, is that this post is about working on my own issues, rather than trying to change him. As for why it matters, when someone has that degree of influence in a common sphere such as contemporary Christianity, I think we have a responsibility to hold one another up and also to hold each other accountable. I get lots of questions baout hwo to deal with things like this, and so I feel compelled to reflect on it in a public forum so folks wrestling with it too can hopefully find some clarity.

      • Thanks for the post Christian. I don’t think that writing about it means you are obsessed with Driscoll – I totally understand your “hate of loving him”. To me your post was a good reminder to re-evaluate what I say and think and do.

      • Steve

        Driscoll has also hurt many, many people with his positions and spiritual abuse, especially of women, whose complete submission he demands. That is why we have to call him out and cannot ignore him.

        • Wow, that’s quite a charge. Driscoll has called out those who practice abortion as murderers. Is that the abuse you are talking about?

          • andrewtb

            I’m sorry, Joel, but your reply just doesn’t even make sense. Steve was saying that Driscoll’s positions and methods as a spiritual leader have been called into question a number of times, and many people have been hurt because of it. It has absolutely nothing to do with murder or abortion.

          • Andrew, it wasn’t a reply as much as it was a question, and I’m still waiting on a reply. Who has been hurt, and what? Feelings? Physically? You seem to be saying that Driscoll is doing something wrong because his positions and methods have been “called into question a number of times”?

            If so, I would encourage you to check out the “positions and methods” of, say, Christ, Peter, and Paul, for starters. Many people questioned them, but it didn’t make them wrong; instead, it made their questioners wrong.

            I do know of a sermon that Driscoll preached that dealt with abortion, wherein he called out those who had participated in abortion as “murderers.” I’m sure that hurt some peoples’ feelings.

            So, I’m still asking my question: Who has been hurt by Driscoll’s “position and methods”, what has been hurt, and how?

          • andrewtb

            I would certainly argue that the current state of Christianity is hurt by Mark Driscoll and his extreme and, at times, violent rhetoric toward those who disagree with him or do not practice their faith in the manner that he sees fit. It hurts his Christian brethren–myself, the president, and so many other progressive minded Christians (to to mention the many who have been shunned by Driscoll and Mars Hill)–by asserting that because we do not practice his particularly conservative brand of Christianity, that our faith gets to be called into question. As if he has the actual authority to do any such thing. It is his arrogant self-righteousness, and that of millions of others, who spew their indignation for no other reason than to feel superior in their own faith than those they disagree with.

            So, no, my feelings were not hurt. The president’s feelings were not hurt. Nor, obviously, was there any physical pain inflicted. Driscoll’s words and his unabashed arrogance as a leader, instead, causes intellectual and spiritual pain against a broader, more inclusive, evolutionary faith that I pray to God every single day will become the norm in Christianity.

          • I’m sorry, Andrew, but your reply doesn’t even make sense.
            You state that Driscoll has caused “intellectual and spiritual pain against a broader, more inclusive, evolutionary faith.”
            You need to read Steve’s post again, which is what I responded to. He stated that Driscoll has “hurt many, many people with his positions and spiritual abuse, especially of women…”
            Steve spoke of actual people that have been hurt. You, on the other hand speak of what appears to be a movement “broader, more inclusive, evolutionary faith”. Steve speaks of flesh and blood persons, while you have merely mentioned an abstraction. I trust you can appreciate the difference between the two?
            In the mean time, I’m still waiting for examples (flesh and blood people with names, not some abstract trend or movement) who have been hurt by Mark Driscoll, and so far neither you nor Steve have supplied any.

          • Pam

            Matthew Paul Turner published the story of ‘Andrew’ last year, there’s the Mars Hill Refuge blog, there’s the former elders of Mars Hill that were kicked out (can’t remember their names right now) – there’s video on YouTube of Driscoll talking about that situation and saying people were ‘sinning by questioning’ (apparently Driscoll’s word is gospel and you cannot question his methods), there’s his recent preaching series where he recast Esther as a godless whore, there’s his insistence that wives give their husbands oral and anal sex when they’re having their period…shall I go on?

        • Jeff

          Is it a problem that the Bible tells men to love their wives as Christ loved the Church, and laid His life down for her? The Bible then tells wives submit to your husbands…not really a problem if men are striving toward their part of the imperative, is it? Pretty sure that’s the long and the short of Driscoll’s view of marriage (complimentarian).

      • I understand that and thought that part of your post was done very well. The part I don’t understand about your response, though, is how you or I or the other bloggers I see can actually hold Mark Driscoll accountable. What I mean is that I could write a post tomorrow about how Christian Piatt and others write all sorts of posts about Mark Driscoll. How does that hold you or them accountable? The only people who can hold you accountable are those you are willing to listen to. Perhaps your pastor or friends that you trust. The only people who can hold Driscoll accountable are those at Mars Hill or Acts 29, etc. All that comes across to me from everyone who points out what a jerk he is (and I agree on that point) is that they don’t like him and tell everyone about it. I’m not sure how that helps me or anyone else.

  • Thank you for another thoughtful post that is not afraid to shy away from conflict, tension, and speak out against injustice while intentionally holding onto virtues of character, serenity, and trying to life out a Christ-like call to love all. I can learn a lot from your example of loving someone who is easy to hate or at least dislike.

    • Charles

      Yes, Melissa, Christian’s comments here also help me. Modelling how to process my anger/irritation/self-righteousness at Christians that strike me as (ironically) narrow, angry and self righteous.

  • Great blog Christian. I don’t even live in the United States, but have an idea of the type of persona Mark Driscoll has and portrays. But more than your opinion on the kind of influence he exerts, I value the way that you deal with your brother that seems to be wayward and how you feel towards him. That is really helpful too. Peace x

  • Dave Kirkland

    So, some persons find Mark Driscoll “offensive or mean”….as a pastor & Christian, is he supposed to disregard what The Bible commands & teaches, in the name of PC, tolerance or in order to not offend everyone? That makes no sense…Christians are called to be different, not constantly change to what society has decided is presently best or progressive. You sound a bit offended that Mark would “insult” others….I am a more than a bit offended that Obama promotes sexual perversion & abortion (which are NEVER spoken of in a positive manner in The Bible), and he is demanding that business with faith values also support & pay for these things. It’s kind of an interesting blog, but in all fairness, I think Mark raises a legit question: Obama placed his hand on The Bible, yet “tolerance” & “progress” & “evolution of concepts” seem to be far more important to him, than honoring what is clearly written in The Bible – that sexual perversion & taking innocent human life are sins….no matter what “society says” Mark Driscoll is more interested in honoring what The Bible says over what political correctness says, and people can either hate that or not. If some (Obama) says he is a Christian and Jesus is Lord of his life, then he needs to honor what The Bible says & the morals God has made clear, otherwise, I would question whether Obama truly believes/knows God either, or it’s just lip-service.

    • Rev. Eric Atcheson

      I am a pastor and a Christian. I teach what the Bible says.

      And the Bible never calls homosexuality a perversion.

      I’m just saying.

      • Dave Kirkland

        @ Eric…thank you for your hard work for The Kingdom Of God & teaching what The Bible says… for real! I am serious in saying that working as a Pastor or Reverend is extremely hard work & so valuable…and comes with much responsibility, as a man stated above (another reason not to be “so critical” of Mark Driscoll…) However, you say “The Bible never calls homosexuality a perversion”… I hope we are not getting into semantics here…not trying to justify certain sexual behavior because the text never used the exact word “perversion” For Heaven’s sake, The Bible also never used the exact words “Crystal Meth” or “Marijuana”, but are we really supposed to think that means it is condoning such substances & drug use behavior? I doubt it…if we are honest & critical thinking people. I am sure you are quite familiar w/the text of Romans 1, and I fail to see how homosexuality is talked of in a positive light or behavior that is NOT SINFUL. Please clarify, if there is some deeper or hidden meaning here (particularly verses 24-27): “18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

        21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

        24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie,and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

        26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts.Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

        28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity.”

      • Chris

        Homosexual References in the Old Testament:
        Genesis 19; Judges 19:14
        Leviticus 18:22 and Leviticus 20:13
        Deuteronomy 23:17; 1 Kings 14:24, 15:12, 22:46; 2 Kings 23:7

        Homosexual References in the New Testament
        Romans 1: 26-29
        1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Timothy 1:9-10, Jude 7

    • I think you may have missed the point of Christian’s post. He does not condemn Driscoll for thinking Obama is godless, but for the way he cloaked an insult in a prayer request, which is inappropriate on two levels.

      First, as a Christian, Mark has no business making assumptions about Obama or any other humans heart. Period. He can call him out on his actions, that’s fine, but to say he doesn’t know God is out of the realm of human authority. Beyond that, it’s not edifying and does nothing to bring glory to God or the anyone to repentance. Why waste wind saying it if not to elevate oneself to a righteous judge?

      Second, by tacking on the call for prayer, Mark lends just enough credibility to the statement to justify saying it. The call for prayer seems to serve only as an excuse to insult the president and bolster his own favor among his anti-Obama audience.

      • Dave Kirkland

        @ Sarah, thanks for your reply…but, I am a bit confused: Are you saying it would be okay for Driscoll to think Obama is godless, but it is somehow a “bigger offense/sin” to post an prayer request that is actually an insult on Twitter/FB? Huh? I believe in my heart that Mark actually IS praying for Obama & our other leaders, and he is urging his church & Christians around the World to do the same… Aren’t you being kind of a “righteous judge” yourself, if you think you know Mark’s heart & motives? Seriously. My other question is: Is it really SO OFF BASE to question Obama’s faith & relationship w/God, if he does not seem to be honoring God & Bible w/his decisions, his laws, what his administration is making most important? Obama seems to think in some twisted way that homosexuality/sexual perversion (gay & straight) and abortion are somehow “just fine” w/God. Does he think The Bible ACTUALLY says that, or promotes those broad concepts? A straight forward reading of The Bible easily confirms that killing, adultery, idolatry, sexual perversion have ALWAYS been sins in the eyes of God, and they will never be acceptable behavior, even if society promotes it and puts a stamp of approval on it. Mark has admitted publicly many times that he should watch his mouth (we all should…) and he has even apologized publicly for harsh statements, but I think he was on good ground questioning whether Obama believes in God or knows Him. Even Hitler tried to call himself “a Christian”, but the fruit of his life has never struck me as Christian fruit…it was in no way Biblical.

        • andrewtb

          I’ve been reading your replies, Dave, and your logical fallacy in all of them seems to be based on this idea of a mutual belief that homosexuality is equatable to “sexual perversion” as mentioned in the bible. And beyond that, your thesis seems to be that those who do not agree with you on that point or any point in which your interpretation of Scripture differs are on grounds to have their Christianity called into question. Do you get to make that call? I don’t think you do, nor does Mark Driscoll. And that was, I think, part of the point of Christian’s post–that Driscoll does not get to determine who is or is not a Christian based on his own feelings.

          And that mentality is the fundamental flaw in these types of discussions, with people that you seem to share similar qualities: you are so dead-set on your own interpretation of things that there is no discussion. You think that you get to lay down the ground rules and ideas like “nuance” and “personal interpretation” never seem to be included in your rule book. Just because someone doesn’t see life within your parameters, or those of Mark Driscoll, it doesn’t give you (or him) the right to infer that someone is not a Christian.

          Regarding the Christian response and homosexuality:
          I would highly encourage you to investigate how other devout Christians interpret the issue of homosexuality. Specifically Andrew Marin in his book ‘Love is an Orientation’. Also, a pastor by the name of Steve Chalke, from Oasis Church in the UK, recently made some waves when he posted a blog and accompanying video titled ‘A Matter of Integrity’; both speak to the idea of Christians taking a more progressive stand in regards to the topic of homosexuality.

          Here is a link to the video:

          And as a side note: anytime you bring Hitler into a discussion regarding President Obama (or any politician, really), especially in light of it being a huge Faux News comparison, your point almost immediately becomes hyperbole and incredibly difficult to take with any seriousness.

          • You’re far more eloquent than me!

          • Dave Kirkland

            @andrewtb & Samir…Thanks for your responses! I was hoping you guys were trying to be a bit funny, but sadly enough, it appears that you to are serious. I was truly shaking my head with your comment: “why do so many Americans always distill following Jesus down to two issues: abortion and gay rights…? It is such a turn off!” First of all Samir, nice stereotypes/caricatures. That is not super helpful. I am not sure what “progressive thinking nations” you & andrew are from, but what kind of progressive Christianity do we need? More red-light districts? Women covering their faces or hanging gay people? Do we need to run our economies like Greece & Spain? Or depend on the government for free money and hand outs? How about those stereotypes? Not helpful or the tolerance people talk about, but end up NOT LIVING OUT. Samir, you know why abortion & gay rights are huge issues to many Christians? Because they are huge issues to God. God said “do not murder”…multiple times, and He highly values human life (over the “choice” of a woman”) So, unless you want to lay out a logical? case for why abortion really isn’t murder, then that’s why Christians are not stoked on abortion & promoting it. Similarly, with sexuality and marriage, God said He created “man & woman to be united in marriage and one flesh”…. If marriage & sexuality could be any which way, why was God angry with Canaanite & Amalekite cultures who practiced & promoted other sexuality, and why is the “wrath of God” mentioned in Romans 1? I did not hear any good arguments against these things. So, even if the culture says, “God is cool with ANY marriage, ANY relationship, ANY sexuality…” That’s the culture speaking….not The Bible & God. You can agree with the culture if you like, but I refuse to. Call me Old School, but I value what is written down in The Bible far more than what is PC and “acceptable” presently. Finally, I have listened to Chalke (I was not impressed) – I’ve heard it before & think the guy is simply trying to gain popularity in our culture. I was a fan of Rob Bell with his Nooma videos, but his book “Love Wins” was also NOT impressive or Biblical. Rob did not sound like an expert on much, except opinions that he wishes were true, yet have no scripture to back them up. Yeah andrewtb, I really should not mention Hitler…he’s much too difficult to deal with. Since he said was a Christian, and maybe had it on his belt buckle, well he must have just been a Christian and we should leave it at that. Even though, God never promoted killing His chosen people The Jews or throwing them & many others in ovens. Don’t consider Hitler’s life or dynasty with any seriousness.

          • apologies I missed your response. JUst getting to grips with Disqus..

            Thanks for taking the time to make your point. I’m from the UK btw and would consider myself a failed and failing Christian…

            Peace x

          • I meant to say that I guess there will always be differences of opinion between those with a Reformed/evangelical approach and those with a “progressive” outlook.

            If it comes down to a matter of interpretation that makes hermeneutics really interesting and valuable. Have you ever considered for example that ther Lord never spoke Greek, yet nearly all his words are recorded in Greek… is this significant? who knows?

            As a friend of mine has said, when it comes to matters I am unsure about I will try to err on the side of grace and pray that God help be “pure of heart” so that I might see Him.


          • Ginny Bain Allen

            “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” ~Matthew 7:16 Obama’s fruits are rotten. They are not in line with The Word of God.

            The Obama administration is quite akin to the reign of Hitler. Sadly, folks who have not surrendered their allegiance to Jesus are not afforded His guidance and wisdom. Therefore, their thinking is convoluted. It’s mental illness that has developed out of mental WILLness. That’s why they can’t learn from history, and are doomed to repeat it over and over.

          • andrewtb

            Ginny, you just lost your legitimacy privileges. Period. Your response is not in line with biblical or Christ-lived and spoken teachings at all. Nor does what you have written exist on any plane of rationality or reality, and it toes the line of full-on delusion. Scratch that — it doesn’t toe the line, it does an Olympic-sized, gold medal winning long jump over the line.

            This is baffling ignorance at it’s highest exponent, and it’s the kind of talk that maintains the poor perception that others have of people of faith and the God they claim to speak for.

          • Andrew, wow, your hypocrisy is breathtaking.

            It seems that you can tell Ginny that
            1) She’s lost her “legitimacy privileges”

            2) Her response is not “biblical or Christ-lived and spoken teachings”

            3) What she has written does not exist on “any plane of rationality or reality”

            4) She is delusional

            5) What she posted is “baffling ignorance”

            But Mark Driscoll can’t say that Obama doesn’t believe the bible and probably doesn’t know God.

            Hypocritical much???

          • Pam

            You clearly know nothing of history, nothing of Hitler’s reign, and nothing of Obama if you actually equate the two. There is simply no comparison whatsoever.

            A little bit of advice that you (and anyone else who uses the reductio ad Hitlerum pseudo-argument), just because you disagree with someone’s position DOES NOT MAKE THEM HITLER. It not only makes you sound utterly ignorant, it means that any real content to your critique will be dismissed because you just sound like a crazy extremist.

          • Chris

            Explain away all of these verses….you can’t

            Homosexual References in the Old Testament:
            Genesis 19; Judges 19:14
            Leviticus 18:22 and Leviticus 20:13
            Deuteronomy 23:17; 1 Kings 14:24, 15:12, 22:46; 2 Kings 23:7

            Homosexual References in the New Testament
            Romans 1: 26-29
            1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Timothy 1:9-10, Jude 7

    • why do so many Americans always distil following Jesus down to two issues: abortion and gay rights…? It is such a turn off! But hey, you’re entitled to your view, even if I find it kind of scary that so many people in your country think the same way…

      But anyhow, as the homosexual debate has been brought up this may be of interest to those of you still choosing to read on [liberal British newspaper alert]:


      Full article here: http://www.oasisuk.org/article.aspx?menuId=31887

      It’s funny. Here we are criticising each other, and we follow the Prince of Peace and we’re not supposed to be judgemental. I suppose the people that Jesus did criticise were not the liberal backsliders, but the hypocritical, legalistic, dogmatic, self-serving bigots…

      Peace, my American cousins x

      • andrewtb

        I just replied to Dave on this thread with a reference and link to Steve Chalke’s video, too! Sorry to double up, as I didn’t see that you had already linked to it. I just read his posts and was itching to respond.

        Thank you for your post and your progressive faith! Our American version is slowly growing, but I have a great hope that soon it will be the normative idea of Christian faith in America.

        • No problem Andrew. Glad we’re singing from the same hymn sheet. I think some of the most inspiring progressive Christians are American:
          Brian McLaren
          AJ Swoboda
          Shane Claiborne
          Mark Yaconelli
          Tony Campolo

          Christian Piatt
          Rob Bell

          And I am sure there are more. Perhaps it’s because the conservative evangelical right provoke such a response that resonates with me on a political, religious and spiritual level.

          I kind of like the idea of being part of a rebellious minority…

          Peace x

  • Laurie

    I have the same difficulty when people claim Christianity as the center of their lives and then speak things that have no love in it.

  • Keith Watkins

    This is a time to remember another cliche which has its own place in banned sayings: It’s good that we are commanded to love rather than to like. Love is an intellectual virtue more than a visceral feeling as like is. It may even be that love opens a door to the possibility of liking, at least a little, now and then.

  • Mike Ford

    Great post Christian. I’m not as up to speed on Christian culture, I guess. You give Driscoll the status of being one of the most important voices in Christianity today. I have heard of him, but never thought he was that important. Anyway, rigid, dogmatic, win/lose, cause/effect, reward/punishment doctrinarians like the Pharisees (and Driscoll) are simply first-half-of-life people who lead first-half-of-life people. They negatively reinforce misunderstandings of God and theology in others, but this is nothing new. It is difficult, indeed, to not be angry with them, but I have found that for me – just me – it’s because their misleading teaching touches a sore spot, but only if it’s still sore. Getting past the regret of having believed that stuff is hard, but we can have grace for ourselves and our past spiritual/religious misunderstandings, if we realize they simply came from being in the first half of life. For more on this, I recommend “Falling Upward” by Richard Rohr. The blending of good theology and a touch of Jungian psychology is really helpful stuff in navigating the spiritual journey in the midst of a church struggling to do so, itself. One can only lead others as far as one has gone.

  • I would also just add that I don’t really care if Obama is Christian or anything else, as long as he does the best job he can, to do the greatest good for the most Americans that he can, since that’s his job. He’s not in a religious hierarchy, so his religious status is, to me, irrelevant. Also, as a non-Christian, I’ve never had a president who shared my religious views. Trust me, it’s not the end of the world.

    • Charles

      Susan, I’m a Christian, and I couldn’t agree with you more. We don’t elect a pope. we elect a president. Last one I really liked was Clinton, due to his pragmatism, ability to be effectively bipartisan in welfare reform, balancing the budget (for the last time ever?). So he had a blow job and lied about it. I can deal with that.

    • Pam

      I agree with you, too. I’m in Australia, and our Prime Minister is a childless feminist Atheist who’s cohabiting with her partner. And pretty much nobody cares. It’s so nice to not have religion as a central part of the political debate. I really don’t know how Americans handle it.

  • Within my world of Methodism, there’s a lot of anxious pastors of dying churches who have secret crushes on Mark Driscoll. He’s bad-ass in a way that we’re not. Something about absolute hubris is attractive. Anyhow, here’s my version of what you just wrote: https://morganguyton.wordpress.com/2013/01/22/why-mark-driscoll-is-attractive-to-methodists/

  • KleoPatros

    Thanks. One of your best blogs.

  • even though you sort-of hint at realizing your own fault…just in case I’d like to point out how hypocritical it is to talk about the likelihood of “changing” Mark Driscoll. Im hearing this next part in your tone of voice: “….as if he needs to be changed. As if his interpretation of the Bible is wrong and that your supposedly biblical interpretation of his interpretation is the right interpretation. Seems to be the height of arrogance.”

    • andrewtb

      Grant! You ol’ so and so! How did I miss your comment?

      You and I have never seen eye to eye about matters of faith, and this seems to keep with that trend. The point of this post, I believe, was not to call out Mark Driscoll over theology or biblical interpretation–the point really only seems to be that Driscoll definitely overstepped the bounds of good taste and Christian brotherhood by implying that President Obama is not the Christian that he has claimed to be many, many times. In fact, Driscoll, with this tweet, seems to be standing in open defiance to the president’s declarations of faith, a written equivalent to spitting in the president’s face, I’d say. Do we really have to have a discussion about how wrong that is? If Obama claims to be a Christian, we can definitely discuss the merits of how his faith shows in his policy decisions, but whether or not he is actually a follower of Christ is between him and God. We have no right to insult the president’s integrity by suggesting that he is lying about his faith.

  • SonjaFaithLund

    I think what helped me with understanding “love your enemies” was a sermon by Jay Bakker which I attended at San Jose Pride. He said you know you’re loving people you don’t like when (like your response to Driscoll) you’re disappointed in them. You expect better of them. That’s love, because it grants the other person the dignity to be decent — even incredibly good. You don’t need to have warm fuzzy feelings about a person or like them or anything to look at something they do and say “I’m very disappointed, I expect better from you.”

  • If Jesus Christ came back and walked the earth in North America, he would be seen as unloving (“I wll say to them, ‘”I never knew you'”), bigoted (“No man comes to the father except through me”), and narrowminded (“that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not
    honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.”)

    For all my politically correct and “inclusive” friends out there: Would this preaching be welcome in your church? Would you ask Him to tone it down just a little?

    • The term politically correct is an vague insult to those who may be called “soft-minded” or “weak-willed,” as if those of us who would rather see a pastor using his influence to love rather then insult, are simply afraid of people thinking we’re “mean.”

      I take exception to the idea that Christ would be seen as unloving in North America, or any other region of the world. He lived and preached in an incredibly politically hostile world where religions ranged between paganism and legalistic Judaism. He was hated by many political and religious leaders, sure, but most people, average people loved Jesus. They felt loved by Jesus. they were drawn to him because his message was filled with both truth AND grace.

      It seems, however, that most people who employ this argument are using it in a twisted way to excuse their unloving behavior. If I was an asshole to you because I think that your exclusive politically incorrect worldview is wrong, would I be able to excuse that by saying “Well, you would have thought Jesus is unloving too?”

      It’s a way of excusing any unpopular behavior completely independent of whether it is actually right or wrong. Just because people like me doesn’t mean that I’m Christlike and…just because people hate me doesn’t mean that I’m Christlike.

      • No, Jesus was not unloving. He told the truth, which is why He was hated. It seems that His idea of love is far different from our sentimental PC warm and fuzzy ideas of Christ-like love.

        I ask again: Would the preaching that I cited be welcome in your church? Why in the world do you think He got crucified? Where were all those “most people, average people” when that happened?

        Tell you what: When He died, he had no one who stood beside Him. No one. Where then were all your “most people, average people”?

        Look again at some of the things he said. He called people children of the devil (John 8:44), snakes, fools, blind guides, and hypocrites (Matthew 23); He even called Judas a “devil.” And, don’t forget, He was so offensive that apparently some “average people” unsuccessfully tried to kill Him–check out Luke 4: 16-30; recording what appears to be that same incident, Matthew and Mark even use the word “offended” to describe the apparently “average people” that attended synagogue that day (Matt. 13: 57 and Mark 6: 3).
        Make no mistake: Jesus Christ, the perfect, sinless Son of God called people names and was, at times offensive. But He was always loving, because He always told the truth. Always.
        It was for that reason that He was publically tortured to death. Don’t forget that.

  • Im a nobody and proud of it!!

    Well you made me laugh, PMSL!! haha

  • willpower242

    Christian…..and Im using that as your name NOT your title….are you crazy???? Marks tweet was RIGHT ON!!! You have lost you perspective are you ‘born again’? Your indignation at Mark and your complicity with Obamas policies are not from a Christian worldview. If you hate your brother the love of the Father is not in you. Just sayin’. Seems like you love the world more the His own.

    • BWF

      And yet you hate Obama… what do you have to say about that?

    • andrewtb

      This is ignorant, self-righteous indignation at it’s most poorly written.

    • Pam

      Just because you disagree with Obama’s policies does not mean Obama is not Christian. It just means you disagree with Obama’s policies – no more, no less.

  • Paul Freeman

    I’ve been reading many of the comments about the status of Mark Driscoll has with the rest of Christianity, especially in the USA. The problem is, whether we like or love him, he has been elevated to being put on a pedestal – whether he desires to be placed there or not, due to him being a pastor of a significant church that was started by him and the impact of the power he has gained in having such a following. Right or wrong it has allowed him to be given a megaphone which then his message is spread to others around the world, not just to the USA. Mark Driscoll is not the only person given this status and likely will not be the last one. I’m reminded of the scriptures that proclaims in 2 Timothy 4:1-4 “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I solemnly urge you: proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching. For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths.” (NRSV)

  • J Rife

    Not to over simplify this, but I think this wasn’t “double barreled” tweeting. It was a 140 character limitation putting 2 statements into 1 line. One statement reflected his action, the other his opinion (such as blogs do… Like this one but blogs have paragraphs to seperate the two. :). But I appreciate both of your opinions and positions and will follow God before following any man.

  • Not worth leaving

    Mark didn’t say anything crazy. Painful read

    • andrewtb

      Dude. Really? You can certainly disagree with with Mr. Piatt’s point, but you can’t really argue that it wasn’t well presented.

  • DAN

    I really like your post Christian. And the commentary.

    A couple of questions:

    – In our American political system, is it possible to honor God AND administer public policy that seeks to uphold that all men (people) are created equal and offer equal protection under the law?


    – if our president was a Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, etc, etc, or Muslim would you be so passionate about that president honoring his God and holy book through his decisions, laws, priorities?

  • Just followed a twitter link to the same article on RLC – wow! It’s gone kind of crazy over there. I must say that your followers here seem much nicer Christian!

    Good work on getting people buzzing, though still kind of sad to see…

    What’s next?

  • Todd G

    Trying to be as unbiased as possible, I see Driscoll acting very much in way of OT prophets. They called people back to the word of God and to repentance (your wrong and you need to change). These were men with major influence. They called out kings and commoners alike. John the Baptist calls out Herod in Matthew 14:3-12 telling him it was wrong for him to have his brothers wife. Their desire was the honoring of God and his word, not giving honor to a created title. Jesus taught that we would know Christians by their fruit (Matthew 7). And that we can ‘judge’ or examine if someone really believes what they say if their life or fruit, resemble that. I don’t know that Pastor Mark is doing anything more than what Jesus has taught every Christian to do. And what we see prophets and Christian leaders do all throughout scripture.

    President Obama claims to know the God of the bible, but shows his lack of concern for God’s word when he champions the women’s right of choice over the human right to life. Here are a few texts concerning God’s design of the unborn: Job 10:8-12, Isaiah 49:1, 5, Jeremiah 1:4-5, Psalm 127:3, Psalm 139:13-16. By not only allowing, but championing the killing of millions of babies, our President shows he, like many Old Testament Kings need to be called to repentance and to the word of God. Or like King Herod (who didn’t even claim to be a christian) needs to be shown the error of his ways.

    Should we write blogs about how inappropriate John the Baptist was? Or how intolerant the Apostles were, or how the OT Prophets had too much influence to speak out against the things they did? I hope we never have anyone in an earthly position, even a US president, that is above being challenged to honor God by the way they live.

    So, I struggle to see how, what Pastor Mark did is outside of his calling as an Elder or out of line with what leaders in the church not only have been doing for hundreds of years, but what they are explicitly instructed to do in scripture.

    As a side note, this part of your article makes no sense: “It seems that, when people say they’re praying for someone in this context, it’s effectively saying the person is wrong and they’re asking God to make them different. This smacks of inauthenticity, condescension and contempt. You’re not praying for him; you’re praying at him. ”

    It is not inauthentic to say you are praying for someone who you believe is not following God’s word. Of course he believe President Obama is wrong… And what ELSE would you pray for them about other than they would see their error and change or repent? And what is condescending, or what about (actually) praying for someone shows contempt? This whole paragraph was rather confusing.

    • Dave Kirkland

      @ Todd…thank you! I applaud & appreciate this response very much. It makes quite a bit of sense to me, and hopefully to other “Old School or Classical” Christians as well. It gets so tiresome hearing persons say, “You should agree with & honor what society says currently, OVER what is clearly written & taught in The Bible…” Really? Why exactly would I do that? Society cannot decide on much at all, definitely not an objective standard to live by, and some people don’t even believe there is such a thing as “truth”. You are completely correct that when Obama puts the “right to choose” in a higher position over the “right to human life”, I cannot & will not support him in that stance. God values human life, much more than any of our selfish human “choices” Furthermore, Jesus and John the Baptist had many difficult words for people in their societies (including leaders) When I read The Bible, I don’t hear Jesus telling people to go ahead & do whatever society was doing, when it was in conflict with the age-old morals/laws of God. He did not say to the woman at the well, “even though you had 5 husbands, just keep living that way…it’s cool” Or the woman caught in adultery, “if you like adultery or being a hooker…right on, you should just live that way.” Or the “authorities” selling items in the Temple courts, PC people today would say, “Jesus was so mean & intolerant for turning over their tables & telling them to stop” Let’s see, the temple is His Father’s house & He knew how His Father wanted it honored. Jesus did not care that certain people wanted to make $ their, it was sin. I will watch as the culture does what it wants, and “yes” I will PRAY (people can like that or not), but I refuse to agree with cultures on compromises & call that Christianity & following Jesus honestly. It’s not.

    • Chris

      good points. You make a very good argument

  • Mark Driscoll is indeed pretty powerful. But, yeah, some of what he says is over the top. Here’s a fragment:

    “[To be a Christian,] you need to know who the real God is and how the real God feels. Some of you, God hates you. Some of you, God is sick of you. God is frustrated with you. God is wearied by you. God has suffered long enough with you. He doesn’t think you’re cute. He doesn’t think it’s funny. He doesn’t think your excuse is meritorious. He doesn’t care if you compare yourself to someone worse than you. He hates them, too! God hates, right now, personally, objectively hates some of you. He has had enough! He is sick of it! There’s no sense of urgency with you, but the cup is filled to the rim for him!”

    Source: http://marshill.com/media/luke/jesus-sweats-blood#transcript

  • Ginny Bain Allen
  • Tania dsouza

    the point is that the president doesnt know God the way a true lover of jesus does. More over the point hes making is and refereing to” the president”, an iconic authority figure someone that the world looks up to is placing his hand on the bible. the very act of him doing this and making an oath is setting an example to the world. – thats ts ok to do this and this is good and acceptable and correct. when its not at all. its blurrs the line between knowing jesus and loving him and taking the bible seriously as Gods faithful and true words and making it something of a ritual.

    • Pam

      Being someone out in the rest of the world, I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that Obama is a much better representative for America, American Christians, and Christians in general that Dubya was.

  • Jeff

    Christian, I see that “irony” isn’t wasted on people these days… 😉 Driscoll’s tweet was not so much about a shot across the deck concerning the faith of Obama, as much as it is a commentary that we so flippantly use the Bible in these ceremonies and invoke God as our witness…while acting so contrarily after the fact, which Obama (and so many before him) has.
    Though I would like to point out that Driscoll is known to take the approach “ready, FIRE, aim” in an effort to be provocative.

  • rampaging knee grows

    Driscoll is a Douche bag!

  • I’m praying for you

  • Todd S. Jenkins

    Mr. Piatt might see himself in Mark Driscoll, but Mr. Piatt isn’t standing in front of a mega-congregation every week proclaiming that they’ll all go to hell if they don’t do or believe every single thing he tells them, no matter how un-Christlike it is. The blanket tolerance of evil pastors is perhaps the church’s greatest flaw, and it is already contributing to the mass exodus from Christianity in the world. The fact that Driscoll even still has a pulpit to speak from testifies to the abject immorality of his entire congregation.