The Mark Driscoll Controversy
By Dr ES Williams: Published in English Churchman 3rd & 10th June 2011
A letter in the English Churchman (‘Time to be fair to Mark Driscoll’ 27th May) declares that Mark Driscoll, at the London Men’s Convention, ‘preached faithfully from Ephesians 5, encouraging men there to love their wives as Christ loved the church. He is not a false teacher. He is a man who is deeply committed to the true gospel of Jesus Christ.’ We are told that Driscoll cannot be a false teacher because he preached a sound sermon. And this way of thinking, which holds that a teacher is to be judged by his words only, and not by his conduct, ignores the teaching of Scripture. 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). Therefore, according to Scripture, a ravenous wolf is identified not by his words only, but by his fruits. So what are the fruits of Driscoll’s ministry?
1. Perverse language and corrupt communication
Driscoll frequently uses perverse and crude language. He often mocks Scripture and makes fun of men of God. In a sermon he refers to Noah as ‘a guy with blue tarbs, a guy in a swim trunks and cowboys boots, drunk on moon shine with a John Deer cap, sitting around playing Texas Hold’em with his uncle daddy, eating hot pockets. That’s how I see it. It’s kind of funny that after God kills everyone, the one “righteous” guy passes out naked in his tent.’ Driscoll refers to Gideon as a coward with an empty colon. In his sermons he frequently and engages in crude jesting, and he does so in direct opposition to the teaching of Scripture: ‘Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers’ (Ephesians 4.29). ‘Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, no jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks’ (Ephesians 5.4).
2. Sexual licentiousness
Driscoll has frequently said that his favourite book of the Bible is Song of Solomon, and this gives him an opportunity to talk about sex in the most sensuous and irreverent way. Although he says that sex is for marriage, and homosexuality is wrong, his handling of sexual matters is salacious and impure. This is why his ‘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. Driscoll encourages men in his congregation to listen to salacious sex talk radio programs (Radical reformission, page 131) that open the way to the lusts of the flesh. While Scripture warns young men to flee from sexual immorality, Driscoll encourages young men to place themselves in the path of sexual temptation.Offensive or Very Offensive material
3. God loves punk-rock music
Worldly punk-rock music forms a major part of Driscoll’s life and ministry. Driscoll recently stated on his Facebook page, 29 November 2010: ‘It’s a Jay-Z soundtrack kind of day. Watched his NY show this weekend – I know he says bowling words but man the guy is a genius.’ The culture of Mars Hill church is grounded in punk-rock and all the wickedness, rebellion and lusts of the flesh associated with this depraved scene. The three bands that performed at a so-called time of worship at Mars Hill Downtown Campus were Insomniac Folklore, Destroy Nate Allen and Jeff Suffering. Examples of this weird, rebellious, depraved punk-rock can be viewed on youtube.
4. Jesus loves tattoos
Driscoll’s church proudly supports tattoo artists in their work. The issue of tattoos is discussed on the Mars Hill Downtown Campus under the headline: Jesus Loves Tattoos. Driscoll has no objection to Christian people being tattooed. His advice is to get a new covenant tattoo if that’s what you would like to do. Yet this advice is in direct opposition to God’s word in Leviticus. Moreover, the association between tattoos and pagan and occult practices is well documented.
5. Redeeming Halloween
In response to the question: So, what do we do with Halloween? Mars Church gives seven ways to redeem Halloween for the glory of God. One of the reasons is that ‘Halloween reminds us that Jesus created candy and taste buds so that we could understand what it means to “Taste and see that the Lord is good”. What is more delicious than your favorite candy? The most delicious of candy should remind us, in a very tangible way, of how truly good Jesus is.’ The article ‘Halloween: Trick or Treat?’ includes an image of Jesus apparently celebrating Halloween.
The apostle Paul warns Titus of unruly and vein talkers and deceivers, who ‘profess that they know God, but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work void of judgment’ (Titus 1.16). There is no doubt that Driscoll’s ministry is void of judgment. He promotes sinful behaviour in the church and has turned the grace of God into licentiousness. His teaching perverts holy living by encouraging worldliness in the church. He is promoting a carnal, fleshly version of ‘Christianity’ that revels in the lusts of the flesh. He encourages Christians to walk according to the ways of the flesh, to set their minds on the things of the flesh, which are licentiousness, immorality, impurity and sensuality (Galatians 5.19). So is Mark Driscoll a false teacher? Our Lord said, ‘Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.’ As a corrupt tree brings forth corrupt fruit, so a false teacher produces sinful conduct in the church. Mark Driscoll must be judged by the fruits of his ministry.
You can learn more about Mark Driscoll’s ministry in the book, The New Calvinists (2014), published by The Wakeman Trust and Belmont House Publishing. The book is available from belmonthousebooks.com/