Mark Driscoll’s  love of punk-rock music

Mark Driscoll claims to be theologically conservative and culturally liberal. That is, he claims to follow the doctrines of reformed Christianity, and he even says that Spurgeon is he favourite preacher. But while Driscoll can preach a sound sermon if he chooses to do so, he promotes a way of conduct that is far removed from the conduct and behaviour of a reformed Christian. To gain some idea of the music that Mars Hill promotes, see God loves punk rock music. Also relevant is Driscoll’s relationship with the music of Jeff Suffering.

Take music. According to Justin Halbersma, the Associate Pastor at Central United Methodist Church in Winona: “Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in the state of Washington in a chapel service at my college, called the artists of secular culture the prophets of our day. I think he was right.”

Driscoll is open about his love of secular rock music. He 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.” So who is Jay-Z? Watch the video and you will get some idea of the music that Driscoll enjoys. Is Jay-Z really a genius?

According to Wikipedia: “American Gangster is the tenth studio album by American rapper Jay-Z, released November 6, 2007 on Roc-A-Fella Records. It is Jay-Z’s last release for the Def Jam label and his first concept album, which was inspired by the film of the same name. The album features production from Diddy & The Hitmen, Just Blaze, and The Neptunes, among others.”

There was a storm of controversy surrounding Driscoll’s choice of music. Over the next week or so the post received over 400 comments. Many were deeply shocked and disappointed, while others supported Driscoll’s choice of music. Driscoll later defended his position as part of his research into almost all parts of the world around us, so as to be a better minister of the Gospel.

Driscoll’s love of Christian punk-rock worship

Driscoll’s love of rock music has had a large impact on Mars Hill Church: “I envisioned a large church that hosted concerts for non-Christian bands and fans on a phat sound system, embraced the arts, trained young men to be godly husbands and fathers, planted other churches, and led people to work with Jesus Christ as missionaries to our city.” (Confessions, p40)

“Our church services started to stink a whole lot less. We scraped together enough money to buy some big honking speakers, and I stole an unused sound console from my old church along with a projection screen, which were sins that Jesus thankfully died to forgive.” (Confessions, p62)

‘So I grabbed one of our punk-rock worship teams that had recently come together, with Matt drumming, Jeff, [Jeff Suffering] who had been the front man for a punk band called 90 Pound Wuss, and a college student named Luke singing and playing guitar. They have remained with our church ever since as the worship team humorously called Team Strikeforce. I also grabbed a few young college students who wanted to go into ministry, expecting I could use the experience to train them.’ (Confessions, p100)

“In its first few years, the Paradox [a secular music ministry of Driscoll’s church] hosted about 650 concerts for about 65,000 kids. We have had only a few minor problems, like the Japanese punk band that got naked during their set for no apparent reason and another band that set off fireworks during their show.” (Confessions, p127)

He writes in Radical Reformission. “I was torn between buying the ‘secular’ music that I enjoyed and the Christian music that I did not. After much prayer, I decided that God loved me and allowed my music to be stolen so that I could buy back the old albums that I enjoyed. And so I did, and as pastor of a church filled with ‘secular’ bands that hosts ‘secular’ concerts, I have not had a regret since.” (Radical Reformission, p126).

It seems remarkable that Driscoll, as a preacher of God’s word, did not enjoy Christian music. Why was that? Do the hymns and spiritual songs of the Christian faith not help him worship God? He asks us to believe that he spent ‘much prayer’ about the type of music that God would allow him to enjoy. He concluded that God actually allowed his Christian music to be stolen so that he could go back to his rock bands. We are told that because God loves Driscoll, God allows Driscoll to do what he wants. We are asked to believe that God actually approves of Driscoll’s taste in secular rock bands. What Driscoll so likes about the “gospel” of the emerging church is that, “The emerging church proclaims a gospel of freedom.” (Confessions, p25). In Driscoll’s mind, a gospel of freedom allows Christians to listen to secular, godless music that promotes licentiousness.

Driscoll tells of the new Paradox theatre that was funded by a generous gift. “This enabled Bubba, who was a deacon and is now an elder, and his army of indie-rock volunteers, many of whom are not yet Christians, to run a lot of free concerts and draw the young fan base back to the shows… We also host a non-Christian jazz festival that boasts some world-renowned musicians along with free clinics for young student musicians, thereby providing us with a great opportunity to practice hospitality to our city.” (Confessions, p158)

“I am encouraging Christians on reformission to involve themselves in their local cultures not merely for the purpose of entertainment but primarily for the purpose of education. As a missionary, you will need to watch television shows and movies, listen to music, read books, peruse magazines, attend events, join organizations, surf websites, and befriend people that you might not like to better understand people that Jesus loves.” (Radical Reformission, p103)

Mark Driscoll: “The emerging church proclaims a gospel of freedom.” (Confessions, p25). Driscoll’s gospel of freedom permits believers be listen to godless rock bands.

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth  the will of God abideth for every” (1 John 2.15-17).

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