Out of the gates, let me say, I used to be a fan. Driscoll is an engaging speaker and has tapped into the masculine aspect of Christianity that modern evangelicalism shoves under the rug.
Underneath the amusing stand-up routine, however, lies not only a shallow and sloppy biblical scholar, but a man who is crafting Christ into his own image and leading thousands to believe in his Jesus.
But what is it that draws the secular press to Mars Hill? In the opinion of this humble narrator, three things:
- Driscoll’s views on men’s and women’s roles
- Driscoll’s hardcore Calvinism
- Driscoll’s anti-traditional views on sex and willingness to speak about them in front of God and everyone
It’s going to take a few posts to cover all three.
First things first. Driscoll preaches a pretty standard complementarian view of gender roles.
I’m more or less in agreement with that view, and kudos to him for talking about them out in the open in Seattle. Unfortunately it seems like that attitude (especially when combined with his high-octane Calvinism) leads to a Scheibe-like, alpah-male uber-masculinity that ends up beating up anything that does not find its essence in Dudeness.
Though there is much to be said for Dudeness (St. Nicholas punched Arius in the face at Nice, tres Dude), the example of Christian masculinity is not all fratboy posturing.
Of course we could talk about St. Francis of Assisi or even the gentle but amazingly powerful leadership of Pope John Paul II of blessed memory, both extremely anti-Dude, but that would be unnecessary. We could just talk about Jesus instead.
Let’s examine this “Vintage Jesus” Driscoll likes to go on about. Jesus certainly was a “construction worker” as Driscoll often likes to point out, but the term hardly held the same connotations then that it does today. He certainly had a fire in his belly that came out at moments like the cleansing of the temple and, to be sure, he didn’t pull any verbal punches with the Pharisees.
But being intense and masculine is not the same thing as being a Dude. Jesus taught and spoke and lived with a subtlety, a wisdom and a grace that are all absent from Driscoll’s fire and brimstone, yell and cuss approach.
Driscoll also likes to allege that Jesus was a Dude from a backwater town. Once again, true, but the connotations Driscoll’s trying to put on Jesus with the phrases he uses are completely off. Jesus was a scholar. Jesus could contend with Pharisees and Rabbis on the intellectual plain. He was not some simple spoken hick who didn’t want anything to do with no fancy talk.
This aspect of Driscoll’s persona and his crafting of Our Lord into his own image seems to be a great way to excuse sloppy scholarship and low-grade intellectual chops. Driscoll could in no wise contend with any serious theological scholar.
There is also a huge danger in putting all your eggs in the Dude basket that you will end up de-valuing the feminine. Where do we see this in Driscoll and Mars Hill? Well, it’s most especially clear in his teaching on sex, but that’s for another post.
One part of his teaching on sex, however, is that women have an obligation to stay looking like they’re 19 till they’re 60, to paraphrase. The reason cited for this is that women “letting themselves go” is the leading cause of male infidelity. This would be hilarious were it not so incredibly awful.
Now, I’m all for people in general taking care of their bodies. But, and this will no doubt come as a shock to Pastor Mark one day, women get older. Especially women who have lots of babies and stay home to take care of them. And there is a beauty in that aging that it is the pleasant duty of the Christian man to appreciate. 40 will not look like 19 and that’s a good thing.
Doug Jones once wrote something about how much he loved his wife as she got older and less “good looking” by societal standards. So much so that a nubile 19 year old was laughable as a temptation.
Driscoll’s view of women treats them like a piece of ass that will lose all its value if it “lets itself go.”
So, there’s the first installment on why I think Mark Driscoll isn’t just an amusing buffoon, but dangerous and a blight on the landscape of Christendom.
Next up: High Octane Calvinism