Mark Driscoll: On the attack

Mark Driscoll: On the attack October 25, 2013

Jesus is not a pansy or a pacifist

-Mark Driscoll

Pansy: a usually disparaging :  a. weak or effeminate man or boy b. usually disparaging :  a male homosexual

Pacifist:  adverb: strongly and actively opposed to conflict and especially war.


Over at Religion News Service, Jonathan Merritt reports that Seattle pastor Mark Driscoll has outraged several well-known Christians with a blog post about whether God is a pacifist. Read it here.

Typically I ignore anything Mark Driscoll says. I’m sure that won’t bother him a bit. I’m a woman, after all, and Driscoll tends to be completely dismissive of women except in the bedroom, where he has plenty to say about the role and duty of women to their husbands.

Adding to my reluctance to comment on anything Driscoll says or does is that I have several family members who are Driscoll devotees. I love my family. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

I am the daughter of a Staff Sgt. whose own death came about as the result of mortar fire. Friendly fire, as it turned out. (Is there a worse misnomer in all of history than friendly fire?) I am also the friend to many, many veterans and military families. And I serve on the advisory board to some national veteran organizations.  I understand something about war. About the cost of it. Paid for by families and veterans.

I was in Portland a week ago, speaking to a writers group. When I spoke of my father’s death in Vietnam, a woman broke down in tears. I still have no idea what pain she was in, why she wept so. Another woman, however, approached me later and told me her son had been killed in Iraq. In my circle, we refer to her as a Gold Star Mom.

My first response when I meet a member of the Gold Star family is to hug them. Sometimes I weep with them. Sometimes they weep with me. We get it. What we never ever do, however, is sit around and argue the theology of killing and the distinction between killing and murder.

Now I don’t know if Mark Driscoll loves to argue, or if he’s just looking for a way to keep his name in the media cesspool. In his blog post, he claims to be addressing the Sixth Commandment:

“The Bible distinguishes between killing and murder. This is important, because many people don’t understand the difference. The sixth commandment does not say, “Thou shalt not kill.” It does say, “Thou shalt not murder.”

I’d venture to say Driscoll has never been in the situation where he’s had to kill another human being. Men and women who have been there, done that, rarely talk about such matters in theological terms. Instead, they often talk about the guilt they feel or the nightmares they’ve endured, or how they wish they had died instead.

Driscoll doesn’t live in the trenches. He resides in the lofty places, behind the pulpit. Which is a sacred place, and ought to be respected and treated as such. One ought to weigh carefully the words one speaks over the people, making sure such words aren’t demeaning or cursory in nature. The last thing anyone ought to be doing from the pulpit is being charmed by their own smart-ass wit.

Driscoll may be suffering from megalomania. It’s a disorder common to religious and political leaders who have sought the limelight throughout history. Megalomania is defined by a “mania for great or grandiose performance, feelings of personal omnipotence.”  Or it could be that Driscoll suffers from the milder variety known as Narcissistic Personality Disorder, where the narcissist’s undeniable quest for attention leads him to search for a steady source of admiration. The narcissist will often turn to inspiring fear or hatred than suffer the nightmare of being ignored. The narcissist is indifferent to the consequences of hurting people.

That certainly seems to sum up Driscoll who strategically places inflammatory words as if they were IEDs.

Driscoll maintains that this distinction between killing and murdering is proof positive that “Jesus is not a pansy or a pacifist.”

We are left to assume that Driscoll either didn’t know the true meanings of the words he employed here or that he knew full-well the meaning of the words and chose to use them in a demeaning and cursory fashion. He intends his audience to associate being a pacifist with being a homosexual — both bad things in the eyes of Driscoll and his devotees, apparently.

The literal definition of a pacifist is one who is opposed to war. Who, besides the defense contractors making millions from warring, is for war? Raise your hand right now if you think war is good thing and ought to always be our first course of action. Go ahead and speak up.

William Stafford, another pansy pacifist, once said “Every war has two losers.” Perhaps Driscoll ought to spend a lot more time reading history books to learn the truth of that, or at least visiting with our nation’s war veterans before mouthing off about something he knows so little about.

Perhaps he could just pick up a newspaper and read the stories out of Afghanistan or Iraq, about what a dismal failure those two wars have turned out to be. As if there is ever anything really victorious about warring.

I am not even going to address Driscoll’s remark about Jesus not being a pansy. I will let that stand on its own two ugly feet. I’m trusting that the audience has the decency to see that this pastor has with one word demeaned a whole group of humanity, a people that God himself loves enough to die for.

Speaking of which, if you are going to maintain that Jesus was no pacifist, how in the world do you explain the Crucifixion?

The Crucifixion is the purist example of pacifism.

What’s that you say? What about Jesus in the temple? That was not the work of a pacifist. Jesus overturning tables! Jesus whipping the money-changers!

You are right.

Nothing made Jesus more distraught than the religious leaders of his day.

It angered him to no end to see the lengths pastors would go to exploit the people. All in the name of the God they reportedly represented.

Jesus recognized the mega-pastors of his day for what they really were – liars, cheats, swindlers, thieves.

Driscoll ends with a warning:

“Once the wick is burned up, he is saddling up on a white horse and coming to slaughter his enemies and usher in his kingdom. Blood will flow. …Some of those whose blood will flow as high as the bit in a horse’s mouth for 184 miles will be those who did not repent of their sin but did wrongly teach that Jesus was a pacifist.”

I’m no prophet but I’m betting those words will come back to haunt Driscoll one day very soon.




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  • Andrew Dowling

    Driscoll never joined any branch of the Armed Forces. Typical chicken-hawk. If this were the late 60s I’m sure he would’ve discovered some genetic ailment preventing him from service, or received a revelation to preach the Gospel in Canada . . .

    • No of course he has never served. I knew that from his inane post. Follow the logic: If a pacifist is adamantly against conflict, especially in regards to war, and, as Driscoll claims: Jesus isn’t a pacifist. Does that mean that God is a war-monger?

      • Kim

        I agree with several points you made about Driscoll. However, when he says we need to repent, we really do need to repent. There is no other way than to humble ourselves. I won’t judge Driscoll because I have liked some of his teaching, but I am really starting to question some of the things he says regarding women. That being said, he really does seem to cherish his wife. Another thing…God never did shy away from war. Sometimes war is necessary as we have seen in the bible. God doesn’t shy away from wiping people out either, right?

  • Tim

    Mr. Driscoll misses the import of Revelation 5. Jesus is the conquering King, of course, but he’s worthy to sit on the throne because he is the Lamb who was slain. And even as the conquering King he wins the ultimate not by smashing his enemies to bloody bits but by opening his mouth and speaking his word according to Revelation 19. Just another example of faulty doctrine getting the better of Mr. Driscoll, I’m afraid.

    Your ability to put real world experience into the doctrinal discussion is really helpful, Karen. Doctrine means something because God is real and the people he created are real and the experiences we have are real.



    P.S. He missed the doctrinal boat it with a parenting advice tweet last week too:

    • Great blog, Tim. Thanks for sharing. And thanks for holding sloppy tweeting accountable. RE: Driscoll: I wish he would get some counseling.

  • JoJo

    Not too judge-y.

  • AFRoger

    You’re being generous, Karen. Perhaps if Pastor Driscoll were actually behind a “pulpit,” instead of on a stage, there would have been more attention paid to pastoral formation and character development. He holds a Master of Exegetical Theology degree from the same seminary where I took a year of New Testament Greek, He does not, however, have a Master or Doctorate of Divinity. These may seem like peripheral issues, but they may be very siginificant in the process of what we in the business know as “pastoral formation.”
    There are doctrinal concerns with Driscoll’s approaches, of course. But a bigger issue may be personality itself. I’m not sure if Pr. Driscoll was ever required to undergo Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE). If not, I could only wish that he had participated in the CPE peer group and under the supervisor I had (a hard-ass former Army chaplain, BTW). Driscoll could be a much better leader and minister of the Good News.
    All that said, I fully understand why Driscoll makes hay right and left in our culture. We are awash in narcissism, relativism and moral murkiness. He stands out instantly with boldness and certainty (“certainosity?”) that leaves certain mindsets feeling led and inspired while others feel ill. Underlying even the question of WHAT one reads in Scripture, particularly apocalyptic portions, is the broader question of HOW one reads Scripture. Driscoll likely blieves there is only one way to read Scripture–his way. If so, any dialogue or discussion of WHAT Scripture says will be very limited.

    All of us, to one extent or another, hear and incarnate Jesus as the Christ through our own personalities and experiences. The world and the church itself have always been “gifted” with blowhards and false prophets, The self-sacrificing ones turn out to be the genuine article. We are 50 years removed from the era and the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Today, we too often hear ABOUT him, rather than from him.
    For a good refresher on what it means to be faithful, for the courage and strength needed to take non-violent direct action, I recommend Dr. King’s 1963 Letter From A birmingham Jail:

    This letter was written 16 days before the “I Have a Dream” speech. Dr. King was only 34 year years old. Yet he has the wisdom of a centenarian. Note that the above letter was written to PASTORS, to the church itself. How rarely we hear such prophetic authenticity today. Note particularly the role of “self-purification” in Dr. King’s process for deciding on direct action (that doesn’t involve war, killing, violence or vandalism). Self-purification is the process of assessing the depth and genuineness of one’s courage and motivations, the willingness to endure insults, beatings, fire hoses, attack dogs, tear gas and jail. None of it for the purpose of self-promotion. None of it for show or the building of an empire.
    Dr. King spoke from a pulpit, not a stage. Actors live on stages. Prophets don’t.

    • Mark Driscoll is the definition of Certainosity. That, however, doesn’t make him right. You can be fully certain of a thing that you are completely wrong about.

  • AFRoger

    Correction: Dr. King’s “Letter” was written on 16 April 1963, 4-1/2 months before “I have a dream.”

  • Brian P.

    What people say about God wildly varies. It often tells us little about God, and much about the other person.

  • Steve

    I’m not sure if it is fair to say: “Mark said pansy. Pansy can mean homosexual. Mark intended for you to hear homosexual.” I don’t that leap is necessary when a perfectly good alternative explanation exists: The most common use of pansy is to indicate a weak, unconfident, effeminate man. And Mark believes those descriptions fit a man who is pacifist.

    As it stands, his observation on the sixth commandment was accurate. If that commandment really forbade all kinds of killing of humans, then it would seem odd indeed that God would then command the Hebrews into war and to annihilate armies and civilizations.

    But perhaps one sees that as part of a more vulgar, violent past. The question of pacifism comes down to: Is there a legitimate use for violence in New Testament Christianity?

    To which I’d ask, “What would you do if a hostile person was assaulting your daughter?” Would you try to convince him to stop? Would you stand and watch while your daughter turns every cheek on her body? I doubt it.

    It seems entirely justified to use force to repel unjust aggressors from innocent victims. However, this action must also be tempered by mercy – which would have us use no more force than is necessary, and to stop as soon as the threat is contained.

    • I suppose it’s entirely possible that Mark Driscoll doesn’t intend half of what he says to be what he means. But Driscoll has a history of choosing inflammatory language just for the sake of being inflammatory and if what he meant was weak, why didn’t he just say that? Why did he choose a word that is by all definitions, a word of disparagement?

      • Steve

        Well, he was saying that Jesus was not a weak, unconfident, and effeminate man. Words like “sissy” and “pansy” used to have only that meaning. Later on they took on a secondary meaning of disparaging homosexuals – so now I guess those words are banned.

        He used a word of disparagement because he was trying to disparage pacifism.

        • Yes. I agree. He was setting out to disparge people who may have a different viewpoint than his. Which, I might add, is just his viewpoint. It ain’t the Gospel truth. There is a difference, which Driscoll repeatedly ignores.

  • Casey Voce

    I have to say I’m disappointed at your speculation as to Driscoll’s mental state Are you a psychologist? Can you diagnose Driscoll from afar? This reads to much like those political games where where they insinuate that “the other guy” is crazy, so don’t vote for him. But always couching it in soft terms to maintain plausible deniability: “I didn’t say he was crazy, just that…” We can agree or disagree with Driscoll without games of armchair whatever-ology. (Now listen to me express my sublime views in theology…) 🙂

    • The job of a writer, any writer, is to observe. These are my observations. You, of course, are welcome to disagree — which you did — and offer your own thoughts – which you did. I’m not diagnosing Driscoll, albeit, I think he needs a good professional to help him do that.

  • Casey Voce

    Whoops, hypertext didn’t work. Here’s the link to story:

    • Yes, interesting article. I read a similar one, and I must say that I tend to shy away from anyone who espouses moral certainity about other people’s affairs and not their own.

  • Casey Voce

    Thanks for the kind (and quick!) reply. I actually was not agreeing or disagreeing with your observations on his mental condition.. Mark Driscoll may or may not have these neuroses. (I had to look up the plural…) I don’t know.
    Mental health is still a pretty loaded topic, with a stigma often attached. I think we should stay away from speculation. Driscoll may not feel such caution, but I can’t control what he says or does, only what I do. (Of course, I spend all day at work in front of a computer, and now am spending my evening reading blogs. That probably says something about MY mental state.)

    Anyway, thanks!

  • Simul Iustus et Peccator

    Using words in a “demeaning and cursory fashion”–insinuating someone abuses his wife and teaches others to do the same for instance–is one way to show your disapproval. If the charge were true the tactic is justified truth-telling. If it were made up, it is slander.

    There are other rhetorical devices to eviscerate a person or position you detest: make a wild charge, say, your opponent’s mental illness, that dismisses his position with a snide, urbane wave of the hand.

    Provocative (and alliterative) language is the stuff of the orator. Jesus himself used it, though it offended the Pharisees; their positions and views were threatened by his seasonal popularity.

    You proved nothing in your strident ad hominem attack except that you dislike your opponent. And that is not good opinion journalism, even for a blog, much less one that claims to be centered in a Savior who stood silent before power.

    Was a Jesus a wimp (the most common usage of the word in question)? No. Was Jesus a pacifist? The majority position in the church says no. Is judgment coming and will it be terrible? Yes, according to the Bible and the Creeds.

    My comments here are not an endorsement of everything Driscoll ever thought or burped out.

    • Well, thanks for the disclaimer. Re: Insinuating someone abuses his wife & teaches others to do the same? Really? Perhaps you should do some research on Driscoll and his teachings towards women. I never used the word abusive, never even implied it. What I said is he is dismissive … except when it comes to a woman’s role in the bedroom. If anything that implies more neglect and ignorance than it does abuse. Abuse being an inflammatory word of its own in the context in which you have used it. Nothing strident about this blog post. All of the church who are calling for judgment might want to reconsider that position given the offenses committed by those within the church. Jesus reserved his harshest criticisms for the religious leaders of his day.

      • Simmul Iustus et Peccator

        You stated that he is “completely dismissive of women except in the bedroom” [sex] which insinuates, if not abuse, something close to it. I’m glad you clarified that you don’t think Driscoll teaches it is ok to abuse women. If he ever does, let’em have it.

        One person’s stridency is another’s critique. A fair moderator would say your blog post was ad hominem in that it claimed (without evidence) that Driscoll is mentally ill and aims to restrict women in a demeaning way to roles as sex providers. From your post an “outsider” unfamiliar with the issues could conclude Driscoll is abusive along the lines of the notorious Mormon sect in AZ.

        It is often observed that Jesus uttered harsh criticisms (judgments) against religious leaders. Of course these were leaders who utterly rejected his claims, not his own disciples. Who are the equivalent religious leaders today that Jesus would denounce? Popular conservative evangelical preachers–who admit they are works in progress and frequently sin?

        If your point is that that religious leaders–preachers–should be wise in communications, I totally agree. The world is watching. I would however apply the same standard to blogs and commentators such as myself.
        Since you retracted the insinuation of abuse, why not also retract the slanderous insinuation of mental illness and deal with the substance of Driscoll’s teaching?

        • To clarify: I did not “retract” any insinuation of abuse because I never insinuated abuse, although, a bit of research in the blogsphere would substantiate that Driscoll has been abusive in his approach toward women.
          And that “fair moderator” must be you, given your own insinuations.
          RE: Mental illness. Again, it is the job of a writer to observe. It is my observation as someone who has spent a great deal of time researching these things that Driscoll may suffer from some form of NPD (a disorder I wrote about in some depth in A Silence of Mockingbirds). You are free to agree or not, depending upon your own observations and studies of these matters.
          That said, you don’t even begin to address the issues presented in this blog post … only the personality of Driscoll.

          • Simmul Iustus et Peccator

            You write, ‘I never insinuated abuse, although, research substantiates he’s abusive.’ Thanks for the clarification. Which is it? Is he abusive or not?

            Yes, it is a job of the writer to observe–and report truthfully and fairly and not include ad hominem attack (or at least it used to be). And it is the job of the reader to observe the difference between persuasion and a hit job loaded with unsubstantiated insinuations.

            A bit of pop psycho analysis of a public person by bloggers goes with the territory. NPD-tendencies are an occupational hazard for preachers, politicians, actors, bloggers and writers, and most other human beings, drawn like bugs to the limelight. It’s easy to see in others; not so easy to see in ourselves.

            This is your public space so say what you want about Driscoll. Perhaps you will sway readers to view him as negatively as possible. If this builds your case for something, go for it. Ad hominem will work quite well and will draw people to your blog, as it did me (I searched for something else about Driscoll and you popped up as the first thing Mr. Google suggests–your opinions are popping out there in the sphere).

            But let’s be honest about the tactic you used: ad hominem attack (ironic, given the tittle of your post).

            The substance of your argument is that Driscoll is not to be taken seriously in his comments on Jesus’ masculinity, war, or any other subject (since you typically ignore him) because he is a megalomaniac with NPD and research will show he is abusive in his approach toward women. That is a fair summary of what you’ve written.

            I did mention that Pharisees were unbelieving, non-followers of Jesus. Calling someone a Pharisee is calling them an unregenerate unbeliever opposed to Jesus. Calling 1st century Pharisee the equivalent of large church pastors (who lie and cheat) isn’t really a point is it? It’s an aspersion. As a teacher of writing you surely see this.
            Your comments about war were not substantive and were, well, a mild rant, not connected at all to your tittle, or the subject of Driscoll’s views of masculinity and whether Jesus was a wimp or a pacifist.

            If I were your journalism teacher, I’d give you a C- on this one. I think you can do better. Make your case against just war theory and complimentarianism rather than pile on Driscoll and give him three cheap shots when the ref is looking.
            If you ever need a defense attorney, look me up. I give you the last word…

          • Let’s stick with what I said and not what you are claiming I said, okay?

          • Simmul Iustus et Peccator

            Karen, I am sticking to what you said:

            “Driscoll tends to be completely dismissive of women except in the bedroom, where he has plenty to say about the role and duty of women to their husbands.”

            “Driscoll may be suffering from megalomania.”

            “Or it could be that Driscoll suffers from the milder variety known as Narcissistic Personality Disorder.”

            “… research in the blogsphere would substantiate that Driscoll has been abusive in his approach toward women.”

            “It is my observation as someone who has spent a great deal of time researching these things that Driscoll may suffer from some form of NPD.”

            Those are serious charges that, if true, disqualify a pastor.
            Your words are an ad hominm attack not a defense of Christian pacificsm or an argument against complimentarianism.

            The Judge of all the earth, who stood silent in his first coming, will come with a sword in his second. Even now, foretastes are palatable (Rom. 1:18).

    • Ashford Brunson

      Karen you should read 1 Corinthians 1 and see how you can apply this to your life if you are a believer. If you are a believer at all and it is pretty hard to tell by how you’re bashing Driscoll but if you are and if you have a problem with Driscoll then you should do as the scriptures say and come to him with your concerns and talk about them instead of this. This what you are doing is not biblical at all.

      you also need to read James 5:15 and 2 Timothy 2:24-26.

      God bless.

  • Mike

    You’re retarded

    • I don’t suppose you attend Mars Hill, do you?

      • Al Cruise

        Do you think that comment came from Driscoll himself? I heard he lurks around these parts. Anyhow by their fruits you will know them. Good post.

  • Patrick

    This truly has to be worst load of bs I’ve ever seen. It’s people like all of you that make the worst of the world not want to be followers of Jesus.