Are You Sure You Like Mark Driscoll? (Updated 2)
Some of my friends, Facebook and otherwise, have asked me about my say on Mark Driscoll. I’m not very familiar with him except that he is the pastor of a popular Seattle megachurch called Mars Hill Church. This came up especially when I named the study center that I started in Pasig City, Metro Manila, Mars Hill Study Center. Is this related to Driscoll’s church? After someone told me that Driscoll is foul-mouthed which earned him the nickname “The Cussing Pastor,” I didn’t know then whether to be proud or to change the name of the study center.
I’ve often wondered about that accusation, but just today, the Pyromaniacs guys posted the video below, “I See Things,” where he claims that the Holy Spirit shows him “things.” What “things”? “Things” like rapists, fornicators, wife-beaters and child molesters in the very acts. So beware if you want to watch and listen to Driscoll’s graphic descriptions of these “things” in “Pornographic Divination.” Here’s what Pyromaniacs has to say about Driscoll, in this video, and generally:
1. New revelations by the Holy Spirit are outside of Scripture and therefore they are bad teachings.
2. It is bad counsel to encourage his flock to seek new revelations when he’s not 100 percent sure they’re right. That’s the stuff of false prophets.
3. Sexually graphic details and racy talk have no part in the preaching of the Word, especially when children are present in the congregation.
4. It is not believable that the Holy Spirit will display such graphic “things.”
5. Driscoll proves that non-cessationism is bad theology.
6. Leaky-canon leaves the holy church exposed.
What does the Bible have to say to Mark Driscoll?
Ephesians 5:4: Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.
Ephesians 4:29: Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
Colossians 3:8: But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.
Colossians 4:6: Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
And for those of you who consider yourself Calvinist or Reformed, think again if you like Driscoll. In addition to being Pentecostal and Charismatic (he doesn’t like those two labels and prefers “Spirit-Filled Theology”)—Charismatic Calvinism is as oxymoronic as Arminian Calvinism—and obscene, he does not believe in the L of TULIP, nor the Regulative Principle of Worship. Probably not even in the holiness of God.
UPDATE: I found this post in “The Resurgence” after Time Magazine’s writeup about “New Calvinism” as the third biggest idea that is “changing the world right now.” In this post, he slanders the historic Reformed faith which he labels “Old Calvinism,” saying:
- Old Calvinism was fundamental or liberal and separated from or syncretized with culture. New Calvinism is missional and seeks to create and redeem culture.
- Old Calvinism fled from the cities. New Calvinism is flooding into cities.
- Old Calvinism wasÂ cessationistic and fearful of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. New Calvinism is continuationist and joyful in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.
- Old Calvinism was fearful and suspicious of other Christians and burned bridges. New Calvinism loves all Christians and builds bridges between them.
All of the above are erroneous hearsay, half-truths and caricatures at best. First, historic Calvinism is neither fundamental or liberal. These are two of the most hated words in Reformed circles! For “new Calvinists,” the word “missional” usually means being hiphop and preaching jokey sermons using street language. As far as “redeeming culture,” he’s right on there. Calvin and Luther taught the two-kingdoms view, and Reformed churches today do not envision redeeming and transforming society and nations. We leave that stuff to theonomists. And if there are entities syncretized with culture, it is Mars Hill Church and Resurgence.
Second, as of this moment, there are many “old Calvinist” churches being planted all over the cities of the world. Does he know that “old” Calvinists were the pioneers in world missions and evangelism? Calvin himself sent missionaries to Brazil. Dutch Calvinists,Â Puritans, David Brainerd, William Carey, David Livingstone: were they not all Calvinists? Driscoll should read “Calvinism and Missions: the Contested Relationship Revisited” by Kenneth J. Stewart.
Third, because he is non-cessationist, Driscoll is NOT Reformed NOR Calvinist, his “Spirit-filled theology” closer to the Anabaptists’ obsession with visions and new revelations. Fearful of the Holy Spirit? Yes, we are fearful of the Holy Spirit! And of the Triune God! Because he is a consuming fire not only to unbelievers, but to all who have filthy mouths and obscene minds. Maybe he doesn’t know that Calvin is also called “the theologian of the Spirit.”
Lastly, when old Calvinists criticize and condemn false teachings and other heresies, such as Driscoll’s pornographic visions, the goal is not to burn bridges, but to rebuke and steer others to orthodoxy. It’s not the Reformed who burn bridges. On the contrary, it’s the opponents of the Reformed who slam the door on our face as we explain, reason, and “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” from Scriptures. This is because doctrine, for most evangelicals, is anathema.
UPDATE 2: Michael Horton wrote another excellent piece on this debate, “Reformed and Charismatic?” where he argues, “I am convinced that non-cessationism is neither exegetically sound nor historically compatible with Reformed theology.” As to Mark Driscoll’s “visions,”
Mark Driscoll, a student of Grudem’s, has recently claimed to have regular visions of the sinful—usually sexual—behavior of people he encounters. “I see things,” he says, although the gift he describes is nowhere exhibited even in the apostolic era. Also posted on his Mars Hill website is a critique of cessationism as “modernistic worldliness,” lumping this view with deism and atheism. “Functional cessationism is really about the mind, but functional charismatic theology is really about the heart.” He concludes with a plea: “you Reformed guys, especially you who are more Presbyterian, you tend to ignore the Holy Spirit and attribute everything the Spirit does to the gospel.” Sovereign Grace Ministries, led until recently by C. J. Mahaney, has also followed Grudem’s path toward a synthesis of Calvinistic and Charismatic emphases.
There is much to admire in these men and their labors. I am not targeting these friends and brothers, but pleading with them—and with all of us—to rediscover the ordinary means of grace, ordinary ministry, ordinary offices, and to long for a genuine revival: that is, a surprising blessing of God on his ordinary ministry in our day. The false choice between head and heart, the Spirit and the Word, has been a perennial polemic of the radical wing of Protestantism. Mark Driscoll’s plea above reveals that dangerous separation of the Spirit from his Word. Only by assuming such a cleavage can one argue that Reformed theology ignores the Holy Spirit.
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