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23 May, 2008 / theexpositor

Mark Driscoll on Preaching Doctrine

From a story today at, quotes from Mark Driscoll on the topic of doctrine:

“The rule is, if you have a big church you’re supposed to not talk about certain things that are controversial [or] divisive,” said Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church, which draws mainly twenty-somethings.

But the 37-year-old pastor has his theological convictions and wants both non-Christians and Christians alike to know the core truth claims of Christianity.

Mars Hill is now eight weeks into the 13-week series titled “Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe.” Driscoll is taking a break from the pulpit this coming Sunday after having preached on one of the most important and challenged dogmas of the Christian faith – the crucifixion of Jesus and atonement for sins.

“Some are erroneously teaching that the cross should not be taught because it’s ‘divine child abuse,'” Driscoll told church attendants as he rejected claims that the cross contradicts God’s love. “Others would say ‘you can’t teach the cross because God is love and how will people see the love of God at the cross of Jesus?'”

“My answer is ‘the cross IS the love of God,'” he stressed. “Apart from the cross all we have is a sentimental understanding of love. God doesn’t just send a greeting card. He goes to a cross and dies. He does something.”

“So much preaching today is about seven steps to this, four steps to that, 13 steps to this. I’m totally fine if you want to have a great marriage [or] improve your business,” Driscoll said. “But at the end of the day, are people learning about who Jesus is and what he’s done?”

“Are we trying to give people principles without power, meaning follow [Jesus’] example but don’t live in relationship with him?” he posed.

Read the entire article…



  1. Douglas / May 23 2008 23 02

    Where in the Bible does it say Yahweh dies?

  2. nathan / May 28 2008 15 02

    The part where Yahweh becomes man and then is killed on a cross.

  3. Douglas / May 30 2008 14 00

    Yahweh becomes man and then Yahweh is killed on a cross? God goes to a cross and dies? Christianity must seem a tad confusing sometimes. No wonder Muslims have a hard time with Christianity. I think some of the terminology used is bewildering. God dies? God went to a cross and died? Definitions are often not carefully and clearly explained.

    “The Bible indicates several things that God cannot do. He cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18). He cannot die. He cannot be eternal and created. He cannot act against His nature. He cannot be God and not be God at the same time and in the same respect. ~ page 39 “Essential Truths of the Christian Faith” by R. C. Sproul
    (emphasis mine)

    “We must distinguish between the two natures of Jesus without separating them. When Jesus hungers, for example, we see that as a manifestation of the human nature, not the divine. What is said of the divine nature or of the human nature may be affirmed of the person. On the cross for example, Christ, the God-man, died. This, however, is not to say that God perished on the cross. Though the two natures remain united after Christ’s ascension, we must still distinguish the natures regarding the mode of His presence with us. Concerning His human nature, Christ is no longer present with us. However, in His divine nature, Christ is never absent from us.” ~ pages 81-82 “Essential Truths of the Christian Faith” by R. C. Sproul
    (emphasis mine)

    Can God die?

    “If God is immutable, can He die? The obvious answer is no. Then why do so many Christians speak as if God could die?

    Many hymns mention the death of God on the cross. Charles Wesley wrote a hymn entitled “And Can It Be” in which the lyrics express amazement and delight that our God has died for us.

    Did God die on the cross? Really? Was there a moment in human history when the Lord God Omnipotent was deceased? In the darkest hour of Calvary was heaven suddenly vacant? Did God pass out of existence?

    What would happen to the universe if the heart of God skipped a single beat? The universe not only was created by God but is sustained moment to moment by His power. If God were dead for one second, the world would collapse. The sun would vanish; the trees would vaporize, and no one would survive for an instant to behold it. If God died, the world would perish with Him.

    Would it be better, perhaps, to say that part of God died on the cross-the Second Person of the Trinity, the divine Logos, was slain on the cross, but the world didn’t perish because the Father and the Spirit were still intact? No, this is improper also. If God is three in One and only one of the three Persons died, the unity and immutability of God’s essence would be destroyed. If the unity of His essence were destroyed, He would cease to be God.

    Why, then, do Christians speak of God’s dying on the cross? Jesus did die on the cross. Jesus was the God-man. If Jesus was God and Jesus died on the cross, it does seem logical to say God died on the cross.

    Again, we must distinguish the two natures of Jesus without separating them. Human natures can die, but divine natures cannot die. Death affected Jesus’ human nature. The perfect humanity of Christ was slain on the cross. That perfect humanity was in perfect union with the deity of Christ. That does not mean, however, that the deity died. The perfect union between the two natures continued even in death. The difference was that the Second Person of the Trinity was perfectly united with a human corpse rather than with a living man.” ~ pages 89-90 “The Character of God, Discovering The God Who Is” by R. C. Sproul

    This kind of expression is popular in hymnody and in grasroots conversations. So although I have this scruple about the hymn and it bothers me that the expression is there, I think I understand it, and there’s a way to give an indulgence for it.

    We believe that Jesus Christ was God incarnate. We also believe that Jesus Christ died on the Cross. If we say God died on the Cross, and if by that we mean that the divine nature perished, we have stepped over the edge into serious heresy. In fact, two such heresies related to this problem arose in the early centuries of the Church: theopassianism and patripassianism. The first of these, theopassianism, teaches that God Himself suffered death on the Cross. Patripassianism indicates that the Father suffered vicariously through the suffering of His Son. Both of these heresies were roundly rejected by the Church for the very reason that they categorically deny the very character and nature of God, including His immutability. There is no change in the substantive nature or character of God at any time.

    God not only created the universe, He sustains it by the very power of His being. As Paul said, “In Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). If the being of God ceased for one second, the universe would disappear. It would past out of existence, because nothing can exist apart from the sustaining power of God. If God dies, everything dies with Him. Obviously, then, God could not have perished on the Cross.

    Some say, “It was the second person of the Trinity who died.” That would be a mutation within the very being of God, because when we look at the Trinity we say that the three are one in essence, and that though there are personal distinctions among the persons of the Godhead, those distinctions are not essential in the sense that they are differences in being. Death is something that would involve a change in ones being.

    We should shrink in horror from the idea that God actually died on the cross. The atonement was made by the human nature of Christ. Somehow people tend to think that this lessens the dignity or the value of the substitutionary act, as if we were somehow implicitly denying the deity of Christ. God forbid. It’s the God-man Who dies, but death is something that is experienced only by the human nature, because the divine nature isn’t capable of experiencing death. – pages 158-161 THE TRUTH OF THE CROSS by R. C. Sproul

    “Another example is Christ’s death. God cannot die. We should never speak of Christ’s death as the death of God. But humans can die, and Jesus’ human nature did die. Thus, even though Jesus’ divine nature did not die, we can still say that the Person of Christ experienced death because of the union of the two natures in the one Person of Christ. Because of this, Grudem says, “by virtue of union with Jesus’ human nature, his divine nature somehow tasted something of what it was like to go through death. The person of Christ experienced death.” – from How can Jesus be God and man? by John Piper

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