A gifted false teacher
Pastor Mark Driscoll’s shameful behaviour has become public knowledge as numerous former leaders and members of Mars Hill Church have accused him of abusive and threatening conduct. Such is the interest in Driscoll’s ministry that his troubles have attracted a frenzy of comment in the blogger sphere and social media. Such is his popularity that even the New York Times and Washington Post have commented on his problems.
The leaders of Acts 29 Church Planting Network cited Driscoll’s ‘ungodly and disqualifying behaviour’ as the reason for expelling him from their organisation, but said nothing about his false doctrine. Twenty-one former church leaders, who have accused Driscoll of persistent sinful behaviour toward others, characterised by a pattern of abusive and intimidating conduct, declared that ‘He has taught us sound doctrine.’ They want a process of mediation designed to lead to mutual repentance and reconciliation.
Nine current pastors of Mars Hill Church, who accused Driscoll creating an abusive, coercive ministry culture, want him to submit to ‘the authority of the elders of the church, who will oversee the details of his restoration plan’. The nine pastors say that they have been immensely blessed under Driscoll’s preaching. An article in Christianity Today (26 August 2014), ‘Forgiving my Pastor – Mark Driscoll’, says ‘For years, Mars Hill has been known as a church that cares deeply about right thinking and strong theology.’
And so the essence of the charge against Driscoll is that of inappropriate and abusive behaviour. None of the accusations express any concern about the soundness of Driscoll’s doctrine. Indeed, twenty-one former pastors openly declare that Driscoll has taught sound doctrine, and nine current pastors say that they have been blessed by Driscoll’s preaching. An article in Christianity Today says that Mars Hill church is known for its biblical teaching and sound doctrine. The impression is being created that if only Driscoll could be helped to improve his behaviour then all would be well and he could return to his ministry, and continue to teach sound biblical doctrine.
But the real problem with Mark Driscoll’s ministry goes far deeper that his shameful behaviour; the real problem is that Driscoll is a false teacher who trivialises and mocks Scripture, who skilfully mixes truth and error, sound doctrine with false doctrine. Indeed, Scripture warns of such men who secretly slip into the church to promote lasciviousness and antinomianism, as we show on this website.
With all the biblical warnings to beware of false teachers, it is remarkable that none of the charges against Driscoll mention his false doctrine. Our Lord said many false teachers would arise and that true disciples would know them by their fruits. In his Sermon on the Mount, our Lord gave us the test for false teachers. He said: ‘Beware of false prophets which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits… a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit… wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them’ (Matthew 7.15-20).
The book of Jude gives this warning. ‘Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Jude 3-4).
Corrupt fruit of Driscoll’s ministry
The corrupt fruit of Driscoll’s false teaching is plainly visible to all who have eyes to see. We shall only mention five areas of the corrupt fruit:
An unnatural and ungodly obsession with sex
At the heart of Driscoll’s ministry has always been an unnatural obsession with sex. In Confessions of a Reformission Rev (2006) Mark Driscoll wrote, ‘I assumed the students and singles were all pretty horny, so I went out on a limb and preached through the Song of Solomon in the fall… Each week, I extolled the virtues of marriage, foreplay, oral sex, sacred stripping and sex outdoors, just as the book teaches, because all Scripture is indeed profitable. I was frank but not crass and did not back away from any of the tough issues regarding sex and pleasure.’ (pp94, 96) Driscoll’s fame has been achieved largely through his explicit sexual messages from the pulpit, based on his interpretation of the Song of Solomon, which he handles as a sex manual for married couples.
Driscoll’s book, Real Marriage, published January 2012, is highly significant for it confirms his position as a teacher of sexual licentiousness among God’s people. He writes: ‘Legally and biblically anal sex is permissible for a married couple as Scripture does not forbid it.’ He presents an argument to show that ‘anal sex within marriage is not sodomy, is not inherently sinful, and is permissible.’ He explains the meaning of sexual role-playing: ‘Role playing is when one or both spouses assume roles to act out in character as part of their flirtation and lovemaking… Some couples with good imaginations find it fun.’ He says that there ‘are many reasons cosmetic surgery may be beneficial. It can make us more attractive to our spouse. And if our appearance is improved, we feel more comfortable being seen naked by our spouse, which can increase our freedom in lovemaking.’ He goes on to discuss a catalogue of other deviant sexual acts which he says are biblically permissible in marriage, including the use of oral sex, sex toys, sexual medication, and cyber sex. Driscoll writes, ‘Legally and biblically anal sex is permissible for a married couple as Scripture does not forbid it.’ Indeed, in Real Marriage, Driscoll takes delight in dealing with intimate and perverted sexual matters in a way that is contrary to Scripture. The apostle Paul warns that fornication, uncleanness and filthiness should not even once be named among God’s holy people (Ephesians 5.1-17).
In his ‘I see things’ outburst, Driscoll gives a graphic account of a woman in his congregation committing adultery in a hotel room, describing the sex act in graphic detail. Driscoll’s obsession with salacious sex is again brought into the open. The sex scene in
Driscoll’s imagination is so explicit that he even claims to know the colour of the bedspread and the height of the adulterer. To even suggest that his pornographic vision is from God is to impugn the holy character of God. Driscoll said to the woman, whom he was accusing of adultery in the presence of her husband: ‘And deep down in your heart… you desired him because secretly he is the fantasy body type.’
Matthew Paul Turner, in an article entitled, ‘Exorcism at Mars Hill: One Woman’s story of sex, demons and Mark Driscoll’, published in June 2012, describes an interview with ‘Amy’ (not her real name), a young woman who was for many years a member of Mars Hill Church, Seattle. The full interview can be viewed at:
Amy tells how she and her husband received counselling for their marriage problems. She describes a private counselling session with Mark Driscoll, who told the couple that he was convinced that she had ‘sexual demons’. Driscoll then performed an exorcism, yelling questions at her ‘sex demons’, asking them about Amy’s past sexual sins and her current lustful thoughts, before casting out the demons.
Amy said of the meeting: ‘I think Mark obsesses about sex. I know that many have debated whether or not Mark has an underlying issue related to sex and lust. I think that debate is valid because it is absolutely one of his core focuses. In my opinion, Mark projected his issues onto me when he told me that I had sex demons. I think he has a problem. Even when I called Mark my friend, I always found it odd how he would force sexual topics into sermons and into all of our counselling sessions.’
Driscoll’s ‘ask any question’ sessions have an under-17 warning. He actually takes pleasure in declaring that the content of these sessions are offensive or extremely offensive. In providing answers to questions about perverted sexual conduct, that should never even be mentioned in public, he refers his viewers to two pornographic websites. The Mars Hill website actually provides hyperlinks to these depraved websites, offering advice on how to discreetly purchase toys.
Although Driscoll claims to support marriage, he has revelled in bringing unnatural sexual acts into the church. He has disregarded public decency and the biblical virtues of modesty, purity and self-control. According to Scripture lasciviousness is one of the evil works of the flesh (Galatians 5.19).
A characteristic of Mark Driscoll’s ministry is his ability to find fun and humour in the Scriptures. He claims that the Bible is full of irony and sarcasms. He admits that he uses a lot of comedy in his sermons. The reaction of the congregation is to laugh at God’s Word. Driscoll enjoys making fun of Noah, whom he presents as a red necked
hillbilly, while Scripture describes Noah as a just man, perfect in his generation, who walked with God (Genesis 6.9). Driscoll slanders Gideon, God’s mighty warrior, by calling him a complete coward. He finds scatological humour in Ezekiel. In his series of sermons on Vintage Jesus, he raises raucous laughter in the audience, making fun of Jesus and his parents. He writes: ‘In reading the Gospels, you get the picture that Jesus was actually a pretty fun guy because he got invited to a lot of parties with some pretty wild people… How could Jesus be fully human and not occasionally tell a decent joke… My suspicion is that both Jesus and his comedic timing were perfect’ (Vintage Jesus p39-40).
Flippant and irreverent dress in the pulpit
Another characteristic of Mark Driscoll’s ministry is the range of provocative t-shirts he has worn in the pulpit. In his selection of t-shirts we see the overflow of Driscoll’s heart—as he mocks Scripture with his words, so he mocks Christ with his t-shirts. Jesus Christ is presented as a homeboy, a disc jockey, a revolutionary, someone who likes Klondike candy bars, someone who watches members of his church download porn. His most outrageous shirt has an image of ‘Buddy Christ’. In the Vintage Jesus series of sermons, Driscoll says from the pulpit; ‘This is actually my Jesus bowling shirt. I’ll show you the back because that is the good part. It says, “Bowling for Jesus, he died for our pins, with a P.” (Laughter) Driscoll’s shameful t-shirt ministry is in direct contradiction to the teaching of Scripture. Apostle Paul commanded young Timothy: ‘Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation (conduct), in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity’ (1 Timothy 4.12). In Driscoll’s choice of t-shirts we see his false ministry—the holy is mixed with the profane.
In a sermon Mark Driscoll explains his teaching on tattoos. [‘The Weaker Christian’ from 1 Corinthians 8:1-13]: ‘Let me just say our position is this—tattoos are not a sin, right. Jesus Christ is going to have a tattoo—Revelation says on his second coming… Make sure you go to a good tattoo parlour, two of the best in Seattle are actually members of Mars Hill… go in there for a biblical new covenant tattoo, is what we would recommend.’ Mark Driscoll justifies his position by claiming that tattoos are simply a cultural issue, and the gospel gives believers the freedom to be tattooed if that’s what they would like to do.
There is no doubt that the tattoo is a mark of pagan religion, occult practices and rebellion against God’s law. The Bible warns us against tattoos in Leviticus 19:28 (Amplified) which says, ‘Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print or tattoo any marks upon you: I am the Lord.’ One of the fruits of Mark Driscoll’s false ministry is to condone, and even to promote, a new covenant tattoo in the name of the Christian faith.
Driscoll has developed a ‘church’ that was given over to the things of the world (1 John 2.15-16). Loud worldly music, casual dress, fun and humour are characteristics of worship in Mars Hill Church. There was no separation between the holy and the profane. There was no reverence for the things of God. There was no fear of God.
A skilful false teacher
In Mark Driscoll we see a skilful false teacher. While he can say right Christian sounding words, he mixes truth with error, and does not separate the holy from the profane. In his ministry we see the fruit of a corrupt tree. Pastor Mark Driscoll is a false prophet, what the Apostle Paul refers to as a grievous wolf, given over to the lusts of the flesh and the pride of life.
We need to remember the Apostle Paul’s warning to church leaders: ‘Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them’ (Acts 20.28-30).