Wittenburg Door on Mark Driscoll

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Most of you know about Mark Driscoll, he’s a mainstream pastor from Seattle with a church of about 6,000 people. He’s also infamous to many for being rather misogynistic, and focused on an overtly-testosterone reading of the Scriptures.  The satire magazine Wittenburg Door has done an article about his recent conference and it’s a good read.
Here’s a quote:

“The problem with our churches today is that the lead pastor is some sissy boy who wears cardigan sweaters, has The Carpenters dialed in on his iPod, gets his hair cut at a salon instead of a barber shop, hasn’t been to an Ultimate Fighting match, works out on an elliptical machine instead of going to isolated regions of Russia like in Rocky IV in order to harvest lumber with his teeth, and generally swishes around like Jack from Three’s Company whenever Mr. Roper was around.???

Driscoll Reaches New Spiritual Level, Kicks His Own Ass | Wittenburg Door

After you read that, then read Halden’s post called, “Who Can Driscoll Worship?” where he looks at Driscoll through the eyes of astute theological criticism. This caught my attention partially because of a recent workshop I went to outlining the growing trend in masculine-focused spiritualities: promise keepers, John Elderidge, and the most recent (and most extreme) GodMen, a guys only church where the power-team, meets GI Joe, meets Sunday morning worship. You can see a promo video here. It’s interesting because in a way, it’s not at all surprising that there is an increase in a violence-oriented ministry, given the violence-saturated culture (movies, music, video games) we live in as Americans, but this certainly doesn’t make it okay. What are your thoughts?

And I have to ask, what’s so bad about cardigans?! :)

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Wess

A papa, Quaker minister, Phd in Intercultural Studies from Fuller, & prof. Contributor to Antioch Sessions. Angelic troublemaker & #sketchnote preacher. Enjoys #remix, liberation theology, bourbon & a wool vest.
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27 thoughts on “Wittenburg Door on Mark Driscoll”

  1. I was amused to read Halden’s thoughts on Driscoll a few weeks ago. I was afraid I was the only one with serious issues regarding his theological stances. I don’t want to get into all of the erroneous and dangerous things Driscoll says, but I am horrified when old college friends tell me how they love his sermons and books.

    The Wittenburg Door is a crack up. I find humor incredibly helpful in dealing with these things sometimes.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with cardigans. Absolutely nothing.

  2. Mark Driscoll is one of the most theologically solid guys out there. There are things that I dont quite agree with but I think the Scriptures give room for his interpretation and it is nothing that hasnt been repeated for the last 600 years. So it isnt like a new thing even.

    I also LOVED the Wittenburg Door parody. Good job guys. Mark has a thick skin so I am sure he will love this as well.

  3. My first thought is that hyper-masculinity is usually just a facade in place of an insecurity, probably of not being “masculine” enough.

    Driscoll talks a lot about a Jesus who kicks-ass, and while I agree that certain things about God kick ass from our standpoint (omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence to name a few), God doesn’t “kick ass” from a power relation point of view.

    Driscoll seems to be obsessed with power as physical coercion and manipulation, when indeed that’s the very power that Jesus tried to overthrow (particularly in relation to the Roman Empire) by using the alternate (and under-discussed) side of the power coin: influence and persuasion. I’ve heard it called “power under” elsewhere as well. This kind of Jesus — incidentally, the one I find in the Gospels — kicks ass by being quite un-manly, according to our culture’s standards and Driscoll’s hyper-manly standards.

  4. wow, ok, I mean, wow.

    I had heard MD’s name but not actually looked at any of this stuff.

    I do believe that we need to make the church more man-friendly, but this is not it.

    Things I noticed:

    Those GodMen look pretty flabby. I wonder if they know that a middle aged guy with a big belly is carrying more estrogen than me, a post-menopausal woman.

    Those guys were all white.

    They seem to think that dangerous =violent

    They seem to think that only boys want to be dangerous.

    MD says that Jesus has a “pride tattoo” Bet that is not gay pride, what other word goes with “pride”

    That short blonde Godguy REALLY doesn’t like witches. Why do I think that if he got his way that a lot of dangerous women would be labeled ‘witches’ and burned at the stake.

    For them to maintain their gender-facade, they would need to require that women maintain a complimentary gender-facade and that would of course be enforced with violence.

    They really, really don’t get the middle-eastern culture of Jesus. It would have been Much like my African friends, who are more secure in their masculinity than these American men, they touch, and hang all over each other and kiss each other without shame.

    If MD wan’t a God who can kick his ass I would suggest Thor or Zeus.

    I want a church that doesn’t require any facades, gender or otherwise. Where you are not assigned to your group and the groupthink that goes with it. I want man-friendly, trans friendly, gay friendly, child friendly, girl friendly, woman friendly, weirdo friendly, schizo-friendly, boy friendly. An All sweaters allowed church. Why is that so hard?

  5. I didn’t really grasp what was so revolutionary of the GodMen stuff. The message wasn’t all that different than anything I’ve seen before.

    I’m interested in the tension that leadership in the Church has been and continues to be primarily male, yet most members of churches are women. Why is that?

    In the late 80’s and early 90’s there was a lot of talk about Cheers as church — a place where all are welcome and “everybody knows your name.” Then the coffee shop from Friends became a model. Are Driscoll and these other “manly” forms of Christianity taking some aspects of Fight Club (a movie I love, by the way) and applying them to faith?

    Like in Fight Club, I think the Church needs to explore what it means to be male, but it seems to me that these ministries simply take what the dominant culture says it is to be male and drops those characteristics into their faith. I don’t agree with Fight Club’s conclusions, but a lot of those questions need to be asked in churches.

  6. Wess,

    Great, great post. I have long thought on this issue, and agree with what you say.

    I just posted over at my blog, and some quotes by you.

    Then again, I guess some people might put me in the same camp as Driscoll cause I talked about modesty in church :-)

    rhett

  7. Thanks for the comments all, a couple responses:

    @Scott – Mainstream, yes, depending on how we understand it. But Driscoll’s weekly podcast is one of the topmost downloaded sermons on iTunes, mainstream because A LOT of people go to his church, read his books and blog, and consider themselves his followers (even if not in Seattle). Just do a youtube search and see how often his videos are watched. We’re not talking mainstream like Kanye West or Angelina Jolie (weird examples, but the first to come to mind) but mainstream enough, as far as church leaders go.

    @Jake – I liked your points on power, I think you’re right on.

    @Peggy – I’ve been laughing about a number of things you said in your comment, especially, “Those GodMen look pretty flabby. I wonder if they know that a middle aged guy with a big belly is carrying more estrogen than me, a post-menopausal woman.” And I agree with you assessment on Church being a place for everyone. But then again, welcoming people who are different from us may not be that “manly” even if it is Christ-like.

    @Tyler – I heard a really good presentation on GM, there’s more there than you can get from the website and youtube. But it’s all mainly facade stuff to be quite honest, and some borders on parody, nothing deeply theological either. But if they ever want a theology that grounds what they’re doing, I think their man is MD.

    @Grete, et al – thanks for the affirmation on the cardigans. I’ll wear mine proudly!

    @David – I had the same question. How is it that men are saying they want to take the church back, back from whom? Middle-class white men?

  8. ***Jake said “Driscoll talks a lot about a Jesus who kicks-ass, and while I agree that certain things about God kick ass from our standpoint (omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence to name a few), God doesn’t “kick ass??? from a power relation point of view???

    Jake have you ever read the Psalms or Revelation? God very specifically talks about being a God who “kicks-ass???. Exodus 15:3 says that God is a Warrior and there are many other references to things such as God crushing the teeth of His enemies or crushing Satan under his feet. The word crushing in Greek is a violent, repetitive stomping on the head.

    ****Peggy said “Those GodMen look pretty flabby. I wonder if they know that a middle aged guy with a big belly is carrying more estrogen than me, a post-menopausal woman.
    Those guys were all white.
    They seem to think that dangerous =violent
    They seem to think that only boys want to be dangerous….They really, really don’t get the middle-eastern culture of Jesus. It would have been much like my African friends, who are more secure in their masculinity than these American men, they touch, and hang all over each other and kiss each other without shame.
    If MD wants a God who can kick his ass I would suggest Thor or Zeus.???

    Peggy Brad Stine, Paul Coughlin, Ken Sands, and Nate Larkin are all slim and fit middle aged men. Next what’s the big deal if they are all white? Are you a racist? I know them all personally and they do not think dangerous equals violent. I think it is safe to say that most of the people in America do not understand middle-eastern culture. The reason your friends are secure in their masculinity is probably (depending on where in Africa) had to do a rite of passage to be considered a man and one of the points of Godmen. You might want to read the response I gave to Jake.

    ****Tyler said “I’m interested in the tension that leadership in the Church has been and continues to be primarily male, yet most members of churches are women. Why is that?’

    A great book that explains this and asks the same question is “Why Men Hate Going to Church??? by David Murrow.

    ***Rhett I went to your blog and read through it. Why do you think it must be an either/or proposition? Why can’t it be a both/and proposition?

    ***David said “last i checked about 99% of church ‘leadership’ is male…so what is all this garbage about the church becoming, in discolleez,‘chickified’??????
    David said “female-friendly…. this is so horrible. why are these guys trying to cast women as the enemy????

    David have you listened to the worship music lately? How about a father’s day sermon? The chickified statement has less to do with the number of men in ministry than the attitude! Also specifically they are talking about why men do not attend church. It isn’t that females are the enemy, it is that most church services are programmed around the likes and needs of women.

  9. I figure when Jesus talked about turning the other cheek, he meant that Christians should be able to take a blow, not strike one. And didn’t Paul say that in Christ, there is no male or female?

    Driscoll bores me.

  10. Robin, should I be walking down the street and see a couple of guys jump a girl and attempt to rape her should I turn the other cheek?

    Jeusus’ comment on turn the other cheek was in relation to being persecuted for the Gospel. It had nothing to do with sporting events (boxing or UFC) or self-defense.

    Yes Paul does say that now in Christ there is no male or female so does that mean women should not receive treatment like opening the door for them, flowers on valentines day, paying for dates with them? I mean since there are no male or female should we eliminate all seperation of males and females like in bathrooms and dorms?

  11. @Fightingpreacher —

    I appreciate your one-man band fighting for and sticking up for Driscoll, but you’re arguing in the wrong crowd here. The majority of us have committed ourselves to a far more radical reading, and far more Jesus-like understanding of the Gospel, than what your man Driscoll and others espouse.

    Jesus didn’t base his teachings on extreme cases, like rape, physical force and fear but rather in the reality that the Kingdom of God is among us. Jesus’ teaching to turn the other cheek isn’t in the context of being persecuted for the Gospel, he’s preaching the “sermon on the mount,” to people who were not yet his followers. He’s preaching a way of life that is rooted in the reality of God’s kingdom, a far more radical way of life than the world based in power offers.

    There is a strong and faithful witness of the church since its inception that have rejected this stance of power and force as the way to heaven. You’re talking to a group of people who subscribe to this faithful reading of the Gospel and church history.

    You’re interpretation of Paul doesn’t offer any positive hermenuetic, just rhetoric that reinforces Robin’s point. The identity makers of male and female in Christ, in the Kingdom of God, are radically universalized and redeemed in relationship to Christ not bathrooms, dates, flowers etc. Those are all social mores put in place over in our country’s history, not the Gospel.

  12. Wess that almost sounds like Gnostism? Is that what this is?

    You are absolutely correct in saying that Jesus didnt base his teachings on extreme situations. Yet we need points like extremes to bring balance with what others say. For example using “turning the other cheek” to say that Jesus means people can not enjoy sporting events such as boxing and UFC because they contridict his teachings.

    Nobody including Driscoll have claimed that power and force are the way into heaven. He is talking about an effiminate christianity, that has nothing to do with the message of Salvation or how we become one of the Children of God.

    Church History and the Scriptures refer to sporting events such as wrestling, boxing, and other martial aspects such as military life in a very positive manner. The problem is in the Western thought we have forgotten what it is too be male.

    I think you miss my point to Robin. Theologically the comment that their is no male nor female is not a statement that there are no gender differences, just as it isnt a statement that there are no racial or cultural differences. It is a statment of the economy of God in relationship to Kingdom Life.

    It has nothing to do with fighting, flowers, girly christianity, or manly christianity.

    My point was to show the obsurdity of using that passage in this a debate.

  13. Next, since you are critical of Mark Driscoll’s approach could you explain to me why men have checked out of church? Why do men not attend church in the numbers that women do? Why is it in churches like Mark Driscoll’s the numbers are more representative of how they should be?

    On any given Sunday in any given church regardless of denomination or belief system there are anywhere from 60-80% women and children and 20-40 percent men attending.

    I think it is because Christianity has been “chickified” to use Mark Driscoll’s terminology.

    I would love to hear your opinion on the matter

  14. Lastly, from reading your original post you said
    “The majority of us have committed ourselves to a far more radical reading, and far more Jesus-like understanding of the Gospel, than what your man Driscoll and others espouse…You’re talking to a group of people who subscribe to this faithful reading of the Gospel and church history.”

    Do I read this correctly that you believe that Mark hasnt committed to reading the Scriptures in a Christ Like manner and that he hasnt been reading the Gospel and church history faithfully?

    Man that sounds a little arrogant dont you think? I mean seriously havent we matured enough to be able to disagree with one another without insulting them or calling into question their motives and their methods?

    I do not agree with some of the ones who have commented here but nowhere do I question their faith or understanding of the faith.

    Once again I wonder…are you guys into Gnostism?

  15. @FP –

    I need you to show me in scripture where you find “wrestling, boxing, and other martial aspects.”

    And personally, I’ll pass on the need to “balance” the teachings of Jesus with extremes. I think he was capable of balancing them if that’s what he intended. Balancing all too often means neutering, and I’m Evangelical enough to still believe that the Scriptures are inspired by God. We need to do the hard work of careful hermeneutics and discernment, but balancing with extremes isn’t a method typically employed by the church for interpretation.

    In terms of why men have left the church? I have two responses. First, any explanation about people leaving the church should not need a scapegoat in order to work, in this case the scapegoat is woman. I’m not interested in any sociological or theological explanations that shift blame and responsibility to someone else. Second, I think a much better question is “why are people leaving the church?” Why is attendance in the Western Church on a decline, men, woman, and especially young men and woman? The priority given to men in yours and others question is in my mind part of the very answer to your Question. Why are men leaving the church? Because of an outdated, consumeristic, individualized and patriarchal structure that under girds much of our church’s ecclesiology.

    And maybe this is where Driscoll and I agree, there needs to be changes in the church – but our understanding of “change” looks pretty different.

    And Yes, I may be arrogant. I’ve been called worse, and if being committed to this particular reading of the Gospel gets me called names, that’s a lot better than our father and mothers who’ve gone before us who were killed for the same message.

    I’m sorry if you were insulted, not my intentions at all. I don’t know you, and I don’t know how you live out your faith, so it’s not my place to judge you in that way. My statement was geared towards my own commitment to what I believe is a more faithful reading, if I didn’t think it was, there would be little reason for me to hold it.

    I don’t really think I’m out of line for defending my particular theological understanding as being the faithful reading and it doesn’t mean I think Mark isn’t committed to a Christ-like reading. I’m just questioning the actual results of that commitment. Plus, Driscoll is king of calling other people heretics which makes him guilty of the same crime you charge me of. Except that I’m not calling him a heretic, I’m just calling him a bully and not very creative theologically. I don’t think it’s okay to call others heretics, but I do think it’s okay to challenge their fruits.

    I’m certainly not questioning your faith, just your loyalties.

    Gnosticism? No. “Primitive Christianity Revived.”

  16. First of Wes, I never and I mean never said that we must balance the statements of Jesus. If you will look at the quote I said “Yet we need points like extremes to bring balance with what others say.”

    The Scriptures are God-Breathed, Inspired, etc. Jesus needs no balancing.

    I too have a lot of questions of why the western church is in decline, but the context of this particular discussion was geared towards a discussion of Mark Driscoll and his comments on masculinity so I kept it there and dealt with the issue of men leaving or just not coming to church.

    I dont know if you are arrogant or not. That is why I was giving you a chance to explain your comments. Which would appear that you have the truth and Mark does not. That is arrogance. Not you in particular. The reason why I am addressing you is…well quite simply we are having a blogging conversation. I have never spoken to Mark, I dont know Mark. Though on several occasions I have emailed his church with questions about comments he has made.

    The way you worded your comments were to say you are reading the text faithfully and he was not. If that isnt what you meant then I am sorry.

    Now on to comments about Boxing, Wrestling, Martial living such as the military.

    Genesis 32 GOD himself wrestles with Jacob
    1 Cor 9:26 boxing is used as a positive example
    Eph 6:12 Wrestling/Struggling/contending with is used as a positive example in our fight against demonic powers
    Exodus 15:3 God is a Warrior
    Zep 3:17 God is a victorious Warrior
    Isa 42:12 God will go forth like a warrior
    1 Cor 9:7 Soldier is used as a positive example of how a preacher should live
    Philippians 2:25 Epaphroditus is a fellow soldier
    2 Tim 2:3 Timothy and Paul are good soldiers of Christ Jesus
    2 Tim 2:4 Soldier is an example of Christian Life
    2 Cor 10:4 we wage spiritual warfare
    Revelation 19:11 describes Jesus as a warrior
    Matthew 8:10 the single greatest compliment in the Bible is for a Roman Centurion
    Luke 3:14 some soldiers came to John The Baptist and asked him what they should do with his message….he made no mention of forsaking the Military lifestyle

    NEARLY EVER GREAT LEADER IN THE OLD TESTAMENT IS A WARRIOR
    Abraham
    Jacob
    Moses
    Joshua
    Caleb
    David
    Gideon
    Cornelius
    Many more in Hebrews 11 said there act of faith was becoming mighty in war, putting foreign armies to flight.

    I will have to pull out my early fathers stuff to get you the rest.

    I remember Jim Elliot (missionary that was killed) said that all young men should wrestle and make his body a more able sacrifice for the gospel.

  17. I heard a song on the radio this weekend that could be the theme song for this comment string:

    “Gun Show at the Church” by The Beet Farmers (I couldn’t find a link, but it was on the Cal-Americana episode of Bluegrass Signal.)

  18. I don’t realize why we must argue if its masculine to be a “man of peace”. Violent images, while often necessary to draw one to the point of grace (i.e. Flannery O’Connor) are never the desired goal of the Gospel. I just don’t get the resistance.

  19. First let us define violence.

    The dictionary states:
    1. swift and intense force: the violence of a storm.
    2. rough or injurious physical force, action, or treatment: to die by violence.
    3. an unjust or unwarranted exertion of force or power, as against rights or laws: to take over a government by violence.
    4. a violent act or proceeding.
    5. rough or immoderate vehemence, as of feeling or language: the violence of his hatred.
    6. damage through distortion or unwarranted alteration: to do editorial violence to a text.

    Out of all of these which would fit? Anyone that would fit the UFC or Mixed Martial Arts would fit football, hockey and even baseball.

    The root of the word violence means to violate. To take something by force that isnt yours.

    So my comment is this. I believe that any sport doesnt fit the definition of violence. I do agree that Christianity and violence do not mix well though there are some exceptions like law enforcement, military, private contracting, etc.

    What do you think?

  20. I just don’t see what’s the big deal about men’s movements and the like.

    Haven’t women for years had women’s Bible studies, women-only prayer groups, moms groups, ladies aid, and even church-knitting clubs for cryin’ out loud? So, let the dudes hang out and do whatever it is they want to do. I do not see what the problem is. I’m not being required to go. I’ll pursue my relationship with God the way I want and I’m more than happy to let them. If they feel these men-only-things draw them closer to the Lord or feed a part of their spiritually that perhaps has been starved up to this point, then great!

    Those who seek find. Let them seek their way. God will show Himself to them. He’s faithful like that.

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