Thursday, September 14, 2006

Everybody Has An Opinion About Mark Driscoll

You can tell that from most every blog around. Yesterday I linked to the Salon article that offered a critical, socially left (or "progressive," if you like, though like G.K. Chesterton, I'm of the opinion that this generation has no right to use the label since it has no idea about what it is "progressing" toward) look at Driscoll and Mars Hill.

The panic throughout the socially liberal and Seattle area blogosphere was seismic. It was so hot in Washington state that the fog and rain actually lifted for a few hours. Long enough to see in the bright light of the face of Christ... that even when dressed in tattys and piercings, Christian discipleship is diametrically opposed to the ways of the world.

I said yesterday that I like Driscoll. I've not read any of his books, though I've enjoyed the squinting, sideways, squirming reaction they cause some of my hyper-pinstriped brothers. I've not heard him preach, though from the quotes and clips I've seen posted he does combine crudeness and creativity in a way that surely explodes any sense of Christian sensibility. He's also funny. Period.

I did hang out with him briefly at a seminary bookstore and later have the pleasure of having dinner with him once. That couple of hours is all the firsthand data I have on Mark Driscoll. All the critiques that people might offer aside, I like him. I just plain like him.

And the reason I like him most is that all I heard from him was passion for the Gospel, for the lost, for his family, for the Church, and for Christian living. Oozing it everywhere... yes with tattoos, piercings, and leather... but oozing Jesus. He called his family at least three times that I can recall... anxious to get home and be with his wife and children. He is as solidly reformed theologically as any pastor I've met in a long time, a voracious reader. He was discerning about many current threats to the local church today, and clear about what it takes to do the Acts 29 thang. For all the people who wave the complementarity banner, he is doing as much about in the life of Mars Hill as anyone else I know.

One person commenting over on Justin Taylor's link to the Salon article had this to say about Driscoll:

That I think sums up the Mark Driscoll experience. Complementarianism, rudeness and crudeness. Seriously, how this guy gets a free pass on stuff that would earn Bill Hybles a memorialized page on Slice of Laodicea escapes me.
It doesn't escape me. Two reasons.

1. Few of us understand him. Let's go ahead and admit that... he seems wonderfully contradictory, complex and strangely attractive. He loves Jesus and yet he dresses like folks we wouldn't want to meet in the proverbial dark alley. Scintillating juxtaposition of opposites.

2. He has bravely gone where no man has gone before. I like Driscoll because the Gospel, by God's gracious use of Mark, is going into the deep nether regions of a culture that 98% or more of the readers of this post have never really even considered going. I haven't. In the face of what seems an impenetrable cultural fortress, Driscoll has punk rockers living complementarian lives at home and in the church!! And he is doing it with reformed convictions!! Now who of us ever had a vision for that that didn't include the objects of our "loving efforts" becoming more like us, khakis, polos, cover those embarrassing tattoos, remove those piercings, and by all means get a haircut?! Assuming worldliness is always measured by wardrobe, most of us would want to see them "come out" of that culture by washing the outside of the cup.

I like Mark Driscoll. He's tougher than I am. He is bearing more fruit in a more difficult cultural setting than I am. I think more highly of him than I do myself... and for good reason. I'm praying for his sanctification, his growth in the knowledge of our Lord, good fruit from his ministry, and that the Lord would raise up others to continue the work--not weak carbon copies/imitators, but other men of conviction and complexity who with all their faults in tow preach the Gospel to the lost.

I like Mark Driscoll. In the big scheme of things, I don't suppose that carries any weight or influences anyone really. I don't really want it to. I'm glad to see people wrestling with what they see and learn from Mark. But since everybody has an opinion about Mark, I thought I'd share mine. I like Mark Driscoll.

In the immortal words of Snoop... Mark Drizzle is the schnizzle. That's my nizzle. Wes' side!


Anonymous said...


I agree with you whole-heartedly. I have not had the pleasure to meet Mark Driscoll, although I have read his two books.

I may not completely understand some of the crudeness, but I have been to Seattle once and can understand why it might be effective. It is a completely different culture there than where I am from.

I appreciate your words. I too pray that God would raise up men of conviction to press forward in the midst of cultural assault to advance God's kingdom.

BTW, nice touch with the Snoop reference!

Gail said...

and we like you, thabiti!

Mark D. Smith said...

I like him too.

Thanks for your post!!

Anonymous said...

Great article, Thabit! -- Travis

Anonymous said...

Good words Thabiti. I recently posted my excitement over and reflections on Driscoll's "Jesus was not effeminate" endorsement of Piper's new book.

MichaelJJ said...

I have never been to Mars Hill, but I have recently started listening to Mark's messages (probably around 50 or so to date). The man is doing an amazing job of preaching the gospel without compromise (i.e. contending for the faith) and at the same time contextualizing the gospel for the Seattle culture. People are hearing the gospel, being saved, discipled, and sent back out to evangelize the many lost in that city. Mars Hill is being used to bring the light and hope of the gospel to a very dark area (I used to live there for many years so I know this from experience). And, on a personal note, I have been profoundly affected by Mark’s teaching as God has used him to convict me of my own sin and stir up my heart for evangelism among other things. He is very easy and entertaining to listen to, yet, as I said before, he does not compromise nor does his method of delivery hinder the message – just the opposite in fact. The man loves God and his church and I would have no problem sitting under his teaching should I ever return to the Seattle area.

Unknown said...

Right on! It's so refreshing to finally read a post on Mark Driscoll like this. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

I'm a fan of Driscoll's as well, for many of the reasons you cite. But also because besides being a Christian (a Christian with piercings and, soon, a tattoo as well), I'm also a comic book writer and spend a lot of time with the kind of people that Driscoll is seeking to reach. Prior to Driscoll, I had no one to look to as some sort of example with how one reaches the type of people I encounter at a convention with the power of the Gospel. (Plenty of godly teachers to draw from, don't get me wrong. But no animal of this particular stripe.)
But now, I at least have one person I can glance at and say, 'Ok, this guy knows these people. Now, what does he say to them and how can I use this to be an effective witness as well?' I am grateful to God for the ways that He uses Driscoll and hope other people in situations such as myself are edified by Driscoll as well.

Again, thanks for the observations!

AJ said...

Right on! And way to utilize Snoop.

Anonymous said...

I think Driscoll does well in part because he is far more persistent than anyone else, and as this
article says
, he has conservative theology and a contemporary application. Just look at all the info at his website at

Anonymous said...


Excellent article, brother. I quoted you in my blog today: (

I'll be honest, I had a hard time with Driscoll only because, as I said in my blog, I pastor a traditional rural church of 221 years and do not believe they would hear what he's saying because it is couched in such crassness at times. But I admired the guy --- he's got some serious Reformed guts about him!

Matt Perry