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25 September, 2007 / theexpositor

Mark Driscoll in Christianity Today

Christianity Today’s September issue features a story on the life and ministry of Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington. Understandably so, Mark garners a lot of attention, whether he means to or not. Here are few quotes from the article by Colin Hansen. You can read the entire article here.


Driscoll can’t stand in front of a crowd for long without stirring things up. That’s what you get from a pastor who learned how to preach by watching comedian Chris Rock. Before long, he has the audience going. “If you’re going to be a fundamentalist or moralist … pick things like bathing with your wife to be legalistic about,” Driscoll says in his distinct, gravelly voice. “Don’t pick something stupid like, ‘Don’t listen to rock music.’ I don’t know who’s choosing all the legalisms, but they picked the worst ones. Eat meat, bathe together, and nap—those would be my legalisms. Those are things I can do.”


Indeed, according to Breshears, “he offends everybody.” “[Driscoll’s approach is,] ‘If Jesus says it, I’m gonna stick it in your face. Get used to it,'” Breshears says. “But that’s part of what people respond to. Here’s a guy who stands up, opens his Bible, and says, ‘Dude, this is it.’ When he says, ‘Dude,’ he turns off a whole lot of folks. And when he says, ‘this is it,’ he turns off a lot of folks.”


Even among those who share his views on gender roles and his concern about the emerging church, Driscoll is scarcely less controversial. John Piper says no other speaker at his Desiring God conference has caused such a stir. Some Calvinists do not fully trust Driscoll because it took time for his Reformed theology to solidify. Preaching through Exodus early in his career, Driscoll was struck by God’s sovereignty over Pharaoh. He saw how God acted to deliver his people. The Book of Romans eliminated any remaining doubt about Reformed theology, which he summarizes this way: “People suck, and God saves us from ourselves.”


Venerable Reformed expositor John MacArthur has complimented Driscoll’s soteriology. He is thankful that Driscoll stresses substitutionary atonement and justification by faith alone. But that doesn’t make up for his “infatuation with the vulgar aspects of contemporary society,” MacArthur wrote last December in Pulpit magazine. “[T]he lifestyle he models—especially his easygoing familiarity with all this world’s filthy fads—practically guarantees that [his disciples] will make little progress toward authentic sanctification.”


“Fundamentalism is really losing the war, and I think it is in part responsible for the rise of what we know as the more liberal end of the emerging church,” Driscoll says. “Because a lot of what is fueling the left end of the emerging church is fatigue with hardcore fundamentalism that throws rocks at culture. But culture is the house that people live in, and it just seems really mean to keep throwing rocks at somebody’s house.” (Driscoll)



  1. Douglas / Sep 25 2007 13 33

    “But culture is the house that people live in, and it just seems really mean to keep throwing rocks at somebody’s house.” (Driscoll)

    People live in houses that are in an wicked sinful fallen culture. Seattle is no different than anywhere else. The culture is only going to get worse. Many fear to walk the streets these days. Right around the western world. Guys like Mark Driscoll bring the fallen culture into the church. We as Christians must faithfully proclaim the gospel to those who are lost in fallen cultures. The first century Christians were too busy fleeing persecution to be interested in the culture, preaching the gospel in those days was a very dangerous task. At times, the persecution was so hot they had to meet underground. Will those days come about again? The church grew under persecution, now it seems it’s up to mans innovations, tricks and methods to grow the LORD’s church. How many Christians in America actually leave their relatively comfortable western life styles and go as missionaries to places like Iraq or Iran or other Islamic or Hindu nations around the world and preach the full-orbed biblical gospel to one and all, with the possibility of never seeing their homes again and being tortured and martyred for the faith. Guys like Mr. Driscoll want to have their cake and eat it too. Does Mark Driscoll’s church reach out to many outside his church’s medium age bracket? Like the shut-ins in their homes due to sickness, loneliness, mental problems or for one reason or another, the elderly in old folks homes, those in hospitals, those in hospice care, those in the 50-70 and older age bracket? How many gray beards are in his church, how many older folks? Do they cater the church services to meet their needs? Or does he bring in the loud rock and roll music to entertain the younger masses? Is not Mark Driscoll one who is quick to cast the first stone? Sure he has some good things to say but he has some bad things to say as well. Some preach Christ out of good motives and some preach Christ out of not so good motives but no matter what, Christ is still being preached. True? We all have to be working on getting the log out of our own eye before we can take the speck out of our brother’s eye, that includes me.

    Is Mark Driscoll so popular because he preaches the gospel soberly, carefully and soundly, or is he so popular because he preaches more like a comedian, cracking jokes and making people laugh? Has he gone from “the cussing pastor” to “the joker pastor?”

  2. Douglas / Sep 25 2007 14 23

    Sorry for another post but Mr. Driscoll’s comment here really stirred my soul:

    “The Book of Romans eliminated any remaining doubt about Reformed theology, which he summarizes this way: “People suck, and God saves us from ourselves.”

    People are sinners, natural born sinners, sinful from the moment of conception, they are not sinners because they sin, they sin because they are sinners. God saves us, His people, from our sins and from His wrath.

    R.C. Sproul, in his book, The Holiness of God says:

    “Sin is cosmic treason. Sin is treason against a perfectly pure Sovereign…The slightest sin is an act of defiance against cosmic authority. It is a revolutionary act, a rebellious act in which we are setting ourselves in opposition to the One to whom we owe everything.” (pg 116)

    Brother, Are You Saved? – R.C. Sproul

    “The last thing in the world the unrepentant sinner ever wants to meet on the other side of the grave is God. But the glory of the Gospel is that the one from whom we need to be saved is the very one who saves us. God saves us from himself. But woe unto those who have no savior on the day of wrath.”

    God does not save us from ourselves. God saves us from His consuming fire, from His divine wrath, from the prospect of being cast into the lake of fire for eternity, something we all deserve.

  3. Chris / Sep 25 2007 16 23

    My one question for Driscoll:

    If he really believes God is Sovereign in salvation, why, oh why, do we need to ‘relate’ to ‘seekers’ by using locker-room language?

    Does a Sovereign God really need Driscoll’s efforts to ‘relate’??

  4. sam stilley / Sep 25 2007 23 07

    My one question for Chris and Douglass:
    How many lost, secular, liberal people have you seen come to CHrist in your church in the last year?
    Wait, one more: How many of these people are you guys in a relationship with?

  5. Tyler / Sep 26 2007 11 46

    Well Chris, we could take that question a little bit further – if God is sovereign, why do we need to do anything? Why do we need to plead with people to repent if the Holy Spirit is going to do it anyway?

    • Scott / Apr 20 2010 17 21

      We are called to do the work of an evangelist, to become all things to all people that we might save some, be prepared in season and out to tell people about the hope we have holding out the word of life where we shine like stars in the universe… I see we have work to do when we read the scriptures, not just sit back and wait for people to walk into our buildings and say “here I am, the baby you’ve been waiting for to show up so you can feed me and help me grow and mature”

  6. Chris / Sep 26 2007 17 22


    It’s all about numbers, isn’t it?


    Because God has commanded us to do things. To plead with people. He has NOT commanded us to talk trash in the process.

  7. sam stilley / Sep 27 2007 2 28

    What does each number represent?

  8. Chris / Sep 27 2007 13 49


    Each number represents one of two things:

    A) A sheep who has been irresistably drawn by God, in spite of the preacher’s failures and errors, or

    B) A goat who has been allowed entrance into the flock, to the detriment of others.

    Every available evidence indicates that 80% (or more) of our evangelical churches nowadays fall into category (B).

    Now, Sam, I have answered your question honestly.

    Will you now answer mine, providing me with Scriptural reasoning for why one must use foul, sinful language to ‘engage a culture’ if one truly believes in a Sovereign God?

    • Scott / Apr 20 2010 17 14

      As a member of Mars Hill Church, I am surprised to see so many people comment on things relating to this body of believers in which they know nothing about. You only know of the reputation. I’m sure in your congregations you have some who are sheep and some who are goats. Is it our job to separate them from the field? They are not always easy to identify, especially if you judge by the clothing, jewelry, tattoo’s, the PAST before Christ…… I’ve been there in that type of church, and I could never bring a non-believer into that context where the sheep look down their noses and refuse to love but instead judge. As a “member” of Mars Hill, the 40 plus elders have designed a very strict process. The theological standards are high as they should, and there is an insistence on being involved in the community of the believers. The Sunday meetings are open to all which is considered the “air war” – the ground war takes place during the week as we humbly apply the scriptures to our lives and walk them out together in community. There is a strong call to repentance. I have never been in such a broken, cross-centered environment in all my years as a believer. Mark is only the preaching pastor. The rest of the elders lead and call people into a deeper walk with Christ.
      From an inside perspective, Scott

  9. Rick / Sep 29 2007 1 02

    I agree with Driscoll in many of the things that he says. It is how he says it that is so discouraging.

    I’ll answer for Sam here. There is no scriptural reference.

    The fact is that in an effort to ‘engage the culture’ you deny the Truth you profess.

  10. John / Sep 29 2007 3 00

    I have little desire to learn the ways of culture in order to reach the culture. Do I have to watch trash tv in order to bring up a subject that someone can relate to? Sometimes it seems like Christians are a simply just a sub-culture if you will. We’re follwing the ways of the world, usually a few years behind but rarely making any eternal changes. Should we not rather be counter-culture, hit it head on with its sin and perversion and its trangression of God’s Law? If someone comes to hear a sermon because the preacher is really talented, funny, entertaining, etc…then it does make one scratch their head and wonder what message is being preached? We have only a few short years in which to run this Christian race, let us run with the Gospel that cares little with the varied interests of dead men, let us run with the Gospel that makes dead men live. After all, human nature hasn’t changed has it?

    John in St. Louis

  11. Doug / Nov 20 2007 18 11

    Chris and the others – If you guys think that acting like you’re not sinners is going to attract people to Jesus, you’re decieving yourselves. We are all wretched and not using salty language doesn’t make you a better person and it certainly won’t get you into heaven.

    By the way, where in the Bible does it say that salty language is a sin?

  12. Doug / Nov 20 2007 18 14

    One more thing – Did Jesus hang out with a bunch of pious types or did he “engage the culture” by hanging out with people considered to be bad?

  13. theexpositor / Nov 23 2007 16 50


    Ephesians 5

    Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

    3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not become partners with them; 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.

  14. Steve Short / Jan 2 2008 21 38

    Marc Driscol is a one of a kind pastor that is doing so much good for the young men (and women) in our messed up world. He does not try to pretend to be anything that he is not and that is what people need. People don’t need to be taught by some guy who pretends to be “holy” what they need is the bible taught by someone who truly knows it and studies it.


  15. Mike Osterman / Feb 26 2008 5 42

    For all the references to Mark Driscoll’s ‘potty mouth’ or ‘vulgarity’, I have yet to see even one example offered of Mark’s supposed trash talk.

    If you’re going to accuse someone of wrongdoing — particularly a minister of the Gospel — please have the courage, courtesy and intellectual honesty to cite examples that prove your point. If you can’t cite even one example, why can’t you?

    • Scott / Apr 20 2010 17 30

      Yeah! I haven’t found it either. I have searched youtube, and listened to him for years. Yes, he says “crap” or things like “who the hell do you think you are” – but as far as being the cussing pastor? I can’t imagine all the wonderful church leaders that Mark has invited in and has a relationship with would just sit back and not rebuke him if he dropped and “f” bomb or something.
      Lets move on now and be the students of the word and lovers of the church and broken-hearted for the lost people we are called to be until he returns in all his glory.

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