Why We Shouldn’t Make Fun of Mark Driscoll By a Guy Who Likes To

It could be since the release of Real Marriage, but these days, there is a steady barrage of jokes, posts, and youtube clips about Mark Driscoll. Lately, I probably click on one out of ten tweets/posts which got me wondering a little how I/we got here. To be up front, I am among the offenders. I’ve been guilty of retweeting, I’ve been guilty of hating on him, and I’ve made my jokes – and some of them have been down-right funny. I’ve repented.

The other day, I clicked on the Hitler video that said he was “pissed at Pastor Mark”.  I generally find humor in these remakes but this one crossed the line for me. I haven’t researched who made it, I don’t care and if you search for it, know that this is an example of how Christian critics of Mark shouldn’t respond. That not only includes the creation of it but also the sharing of it.

This post is a bit different for the “somewhat regular” readers here but it’s been on my mind. Maybe some of you don’t know who Mark Driscoll is. Maybe some of you love him. And maybe some of you can’t stand the guy. I consider this to be an “in-house” post so what the unbelieving world says about Mark is a shame but beyond this rebuke/confession. But for those whose tribe I am a part of, I am hoping we can do better.

For those eavesdropping here, if you have never heard of him, Mark Driscoll is a pastor at a mega-church called Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA. He’s written a number of books, helped start a church-planting network and is a sought after speaker in the neo-reformed crowd. He’s loved by many because he’s a dude who “says it like it is” and likes women, beer and MMA. On the surface, that doesn’t so bad, many guys can be described like this.

I have a number of friends who see Mark this way and have expressed that his preaching and writing helped them to connect the dots in their faith. I’ll argue with those friends about that in private and persuade them to read better books but I mention it here for two reasons: 1. To help you see my context and 2. to reinforce his influence – people I care about say he has helped them.

And that’s among our concerns. His influence is so great in some circles that it causes great concern for many of us who love the Lord and the Church. His bluntness combined with his opinions that he preaches as dogma is dangerous. Take these lines for instance:

“Avatar is the most demonic, satanic film I’ve ever seen.”

“Jesus was no ‘limp-wristed hippie’ who came to earth wearing a robe like some fairy.”

A more recent controversy:
On the state of the church in Britain: “Let’s just say this: right now, name for me the one young, good Bible teacher that is known across Great Britain. You don’t have one – that’s the problem. There are a bunch of cowards who aren’t telling the truth.”

Because his microphone is turned up so loud, many counter by trying to yell over him. Many others have chosen to insult him at every opportunity. They are on “the watch” waiting for him to say something else that will be spread online. They take his colorful terminology and use it against him (he’s been known to be a “potty-mouth”). But instead of trading jabs and ridiculing, there are better ways to confront the negative aspects of him.

We shouldn’t ridicule Mark because it’s not good Christianity.

I am critical of many of Mark’s views, opinions, convictions and the ways he chooses to express some of them. I see him and members of his tribe as the older brother in the prodigal son story. I don’t mean that to be be derogatory though I know it’s not a compliment. But in the story, these two are still brothers. (It would be something though if the Father kicked out the older brother upon the return of the younger, wouldn’t it?)

One, Mark professes to be a Christian, we need to treat him as a brother. We should hope he gets his act together not that he goes away. At times, I find him to be immature, chauvinistic and a bit narrow-minded. A similar list can be made for each of us. Though the number of critics we have will vary, we should hope that those who identify themselves as our critics would actually try to help us in a genuine way. This leads to the second.

Two, is to engage, confront him and hold accountable. I think what Matthew Paul Turner is exposing about his ministry at Mars Hill is a good thing (Part 1 and Part 2 and there are a number of follow-ups). What MPT is reporting of MHC is that it’s “cult-like” and is a poor demonstration of Christianity. It would seem that this should have begun as a private matter, some have argued that it did but this is the part of the new world of things. My hope is that pastors and churches that have relationships with Mark will take up these matters with him and his leadership.

And three, be in a posture ready to be faithful with opportunities provided. I’m not suggesting that this needs to be the priority of the church but it isn’t enough to ignore him. Being in that faithful posture means to do good when the opportunity presents itself.

Mark is a polarizing figure. I know many who have considered him to be a great encouragement. I will even admit to the fact that I heard a message on leadership by him that I liked. The test I was confronted with was if I didn’t know who said it, would I like it? Not sure why I chose not to lie to myself, I’ve done so before but hey whether it’s that broken clock cliche or he is knowledgable about certain matters, I had to admit I liked that particular speech I heard. I then subscribed to his podcast and after a month unsubscribed. Maybe it’s him, maybe it’s me, whatever, that message on leadership told me that he is able to contribute to the Kingdom in a way that even encourages me.

Honestly, I hope he gets some of these things right. If Jesus teaches us to love our enemies, we ought to hope the best for our brothers and sisters in the Lord. It is my hope that he changes his trajectory (and that of the church he pastors) learns the value of restraint and grows in his wisdom. Not so much for my sake, but especially for those that hear his microphone.

So for those of us outside his circle, critique him, hold him accountable but pray for him. This isn’t to spare his feelings. This is to spare us. To spare us from being the type of people that use ridicule to get their way. Instead, may we be the people that we are called to be – loving, kind, and among other things graceful.

Thoughts? As always, feel free to push back.


  1. Jonathan Annis says:

    Good blog. I like listening to Mr. Driscoll’s sermons, I appreciate his heart for winning Seattle, which is the least churched city in the US, part of the reason he is the way he is is to be more appealing to the youth on the school campuses. Like Paul said, as long as it’s not sin, to live on the level of those around you to bring them to Christ. His bluntness is seen as real and direct and not trying to skirt subjects but to call out sin and present Jesus in a real and practical way. I don’t have a problem with someone not agreeing with his methods or style, but I think God is using him to reach lost souls in Northwest Washington.
    I appreciate the way you put it about not cutting down fellow christians, I’ve seen lots of fellow christians do this to others, in politics it’s rampant. but spreads to all areas of life. I don’t know why christians have forgotten to pray and encourage and lift up their fellow brothers. When the majority of the world is headed to Hell why are we bickering and back biting each other over particular methods..

  2. Thanks for posting this, Tim. It is sad to me that we even need to have this conversation. I’ve been railroaded by Driscoll’s followers a time or two myself. Unfortunately, like him, they spent the majority of their time trying to GIVE ME my dogmatic opinion rather than listening and seeking understanding and common ground and choosing the major only on the majors of theology.

    I’d rather spend my valuable/limited time investing in unbelievers and in fellow teachable people who want to push the kingdom forward by living out and responding to the gospel.

    We can argue, posture, and beat people down verbally all we want…but it is the result of our monitoring of our heart’s “soil” that leads to the growing of love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, goodness, and self-control. It is THESE FRUITS that help us lead others to repentance.

  3. Great post Tim… I’ve been following the PR frenzy on him lately as well. I saw his remark the other day about the church in Great Britain and cringed because I work with the church in GB and one of my colleagues saw it. She responded pretty graciously to his opinions. I have also gone to my fair share of Christian conferences in the US and have heard world renown evangelical pastors and missiologists tear down the character, callings and ministries of others, in front of crowds of thousands. When it happens – those rock-star sort of pastors drop down a notch in my eyes. It is a sad thing to witness and yet your post reminds and convicts me that I can be just guilty in being openly critical. Thanks for reminding us of how Jesus asks us to respond. May He give us all the power needed to pray for and extend grace to our critics.

  4. Thankyou for your thoughtful post. One of the difficulites perhaps is discernment and critiquing of the message and/or ministry of a pastor by those who are concerned may be seen as being ridicule, judgementalism and divisive by those who sit under the ministry of the pastor.

    Grace and peace

  5. Great stuff, Tim. As for me, when someone like Mark makes inflammatory comments, the reason I am concerned about what he says is because I think he speaks for me to some degree as a public Christian with a big microphone, and his comments occasionally don’t represent how I view the world or how I think we are instructed by Scripture to view and interact with the world.

    The part of your post I enjoyed the most is the end about being the type of people who refuse to use ridicule to get their way or make their points. Right on, and a message I need to be reminded of, even though I’m not a raving fundamentalist. (Dangit! There I go again!)

  6. Lol – nice.
    So true my friend. There are those who will assume/believe that the Driscolls’, Robertsons’, Osteens’ etc. are speaking for us.
    I do think they need to be critiqued and so forth but we have to do it manner constant with our faith

  7. Good blog. I listen to Driscoll every now and then and some of the stuff he says I think he is trying to push in a way to move people to action. Some of the great preachers of old said some of the same things in their day. And I guess I don’t understand why a christan would be a critic… Dosent seem healthy to look over everything someone does and then post about them. If people are so concerned shouldn’t they follow biblical authority and go to the person… Then if not accepted take two or three… And if sill no reproof take them before the church… Not slamming them infront of non believers… They will never step into that church or yours… It just seems that it causes division.

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