The UK Real Interview – Was it of the Undisciplined or the Undiscipled?

kinnon —  January 15, 2012 — 58 Comments

Mark D UK Interview

You know, I probably would’ve been better off going to church this morning, rather than listening to the UK interview that Justin Brierley conducted with Mark Driscoll late last year. An interview that created an interweb brouhaha this past week and prompted my previous post.

So at 9:30 this morning, with the 1st cup of coffee brewed in my Aerobie Aeropress, I sat down with the interview. Three cups of coffee and two hours later, I began fixing the notes below. (NB. The first 5 minutes of the podcast linked to are Justin talking about said brouhaha.)

The reason I went through this interview is not because I have any particular bone to pick with Mark Driscoll. I don’t know Mark personally, but I do recognize the impact he is having on a particular population of the church and some of that impact is cause for concern. (I should note that I am the father of a 25 year old son, a 23 year old son and a daughter who turns 21 on Tuesday— all three of whom are practicing Christians.)

As well, Mark plays fast and loose with the truth in his blog response to the brouhaha created by excerpts from his interview. Those excerpts first reported by Christian Today (and their contextual veracity supported by Christianity magazine who originally requested the interview) which, after listening to the interview, were reported accurately and without prejudice.

Mark writes,

The interview in question had nearly nothing to do with the book or its subject matter, which in my understanding was supposed to be the point of the interview. My wife, Grace, was almost entirely ignored in the interview, and I felt she was overall treated disrespectfully. The only questions asked were about any controversial thing I have ever said in the past 15 years with a host of questions that were adversarial and antagonistic. It felt like a personally offended critic had finally gotten his chance to exercise some authority over me. 

Justin’s interview with Mark and Grace Driscoll begins with him explaining what Christianity magazine wants to do with the interview. This includes not just talking about the book Real Marriage, but also talking about Mars Hill, “using it for a profile interview for yourself, Mark€.” Driscoll responds, “Yeah that’s great,€” happy to do so.”€

And in terms of Grace, who Mark claims was disrespected, Justin says, “and Grace, just feel free to put your voice forward whenever you like in the course of the recording.” As Grace has the same communications degree as Mark, one would think Justin’s statement would be license for full participation on her part.

In the 1st part of the interview, Mark responds to a question about complementarianism with what might generally be called “a soft-complementarianism” response. But what I find interesting in this is that he doesn’t talk about the need for young men and young women to be properly discipled — they simply need to be preached at.

I recognize that this may be projection, based on my own experience with leaders like Mark, but he seems to suggest that if guys would just listen to his preaching and do what he tells them to do then things would be right with the church.

Mark responds to the question on sexual practices, when he is asked whether he’s in the position to make the statements he makes, by saying,

“€œI’m a Bible teacher, and if anyone wants to disagree with me, they can argue biblically and I’ll be glad to do so.”

At this point I would strongly state that if anyone’s being adversarial and disrespectful in this interview, it would be Mark. He accuses the interviewer of being adolescent and immature,

€œ”You’re not being fair, you’re being sort of scandalous and being immature about the issues. You’re going for one or 2 pages in the book where we answer very common questions that Christians have and you’re trying to put a little shock around for the radio. And, as a pastor, I’m trying to answer the questions people have.”

I hear Mark responding like a bully, in rather condescending tone. He insults the interviewer rather than accepting the legitimacy of the question. Who exactly is disrespectful here? (This happens at approximately the 17:20 min. mark of the podcast.)

Mark suggests later in the interview that most Christians don’t think biblically — they think emotionally or culturally. <Snark on> But, of course, Mark, with the correct exegesis of the Scriptures, does think biblically. So really you shouldn’t question what he has to say if you claim to be Christian. It’s not that Mark believes the Scriptures are inerrant, he believes his interpretation is inerrant. In my not humble opinion, of course. <Snark off>

As the interview continues, I note that Mark tends to go on at length, rarely allowing the interviewer to get a word in edgewise.

In response to a question about Ted Haggard and this story, Mark claims in what can only be heard as rather bald-faced prevarication, that he never said anything about the Haggard situation,

“€œI didn’t say anything about the Haggards, and I regret what happened in their marriage and I grieve for that woman.” (At the 20:30 mark of the podcast).

By this point in the podcast, Mark has completely dominated the conversation. Justin finally directly asks Grace to respond at the 23 min. point. If anyone has disrespected Grace in this, it was Mark. He could have easily at any point in the first 18 min. of the interview said quite simply, ‘€œlet me get Grace to respond to that.’ (Note again that the actual raw interview begins at the 5 min. point of this podcast.)

It’s at the 25 min. point of the podcast where Justin asks the question that triggers Marks response of ‘guys in dresses preaching to grannies’, etc.

A particular bizarre point from Mark in this section is the suggestion that most men either don’t have or haven’t had “a father. Really?!

This after Mark has pointed out that UFC is something that attracts men — not guys in dresses preaching to grannies. When Justin suggests that ‘isn’t this simply appealing to culture’, Mark says that he takes on the role of “father or “drill sergeant“. And this is done from the platform as he says, “I speak for an hour+”.

This, to me, is more of the rather bizarre and simply destructive idea that discipleship takes place from the pulpit. Let me be blunt. It doesn’t. Discipleship is one-on-one or at the very least one with a few. Not one standing before 16,000 live and via satellite.

Let me take a moment to confront this as Mark is not the 1st person from whom I’ve heard this kind of nonsense. At a Canadian church where I was once a senior staff person, the person who was in charge of an exploding youth ministry told me how he was informed by the senior pastor that discipleship programs were unnecessary for new believers. To grow they only needed to come hear him speak on Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings. The fallacy of pulpit as discipler. (I deal with this issue at length in a blog post called Sermons Don’t Make Disciples)

Further along in the podcast, Mark admits that perhaps he goes too far, but in his words most leaders are “timid and fearful”. Mark sets himself up as the antidote to what ails the church. I find this simply sad.

Mark states categorically that “what you are doing is not working” after saying that “you don’t need to do what I’m doing.” And Mark’s prescription for ‘what’s not working’ is the need to have a young, celebrity-preacher preaching in the UK. Someone like Mark himself, no doubt.

There’s little doubt in the interview that Justin is asking questions that deal with Mark’s history. He’s doing it lightly and with a smile and it almost comes across as playful bantering. This is nothing like what Mark claims was adversarial and it is typical for a journalist, Christian or otherwise. (I also have a degree in Radio and Television Arts from “one of the top” schools in the world or is that, universe.)

And in light of Mark’s whinging blog post about this interview, might I rudely suggest that if anyone needs to ‘man up’ its Driscoll.

Justin brings up Mark’s comments about not being willing to worship “a €limp-wristed Jesus“. Mark responds by saying that the whole reason he is on Justin’s show is because he says “€œthings that are interesting.” Is it too much for me to suggest that Mark reveals his heart here. He says ‘interesting things’ for their notoriety or more accurately his notoriety.

Is this the heart of the celebrity-driven pastor or more accurately again, a celebrity-driven church leader because where exactly is he acting as a shepherd? (This at the approximately 30 min. point.) As Justin so succinctly puts it, “€œis there not a danger of you becoming the sort of Shock Jock of the Pulpit.”

When Justin confronts Mark about the fact that Jesus did not put up a fight at the Cross and in fact he was beaten up, Mark deflects the question by talking about how Jesus will return in the 2nd Coming — looking to the apocalyptic visions of John in the Book of Revelations.

Does Mark struggle with Jesus, the Lamb of God? What does this say about Mark’s own understanding of what a man is? Incredibly Mark translates Jesus returning as “€œnot to take a beating, but to give a beating.” Must be from the UFC translation.

It’s at times like this that I almost agree with Martin Luther and question whether John’s apocalyptic vision should even be in the Scriptures, when it is abused in this manner.

In one of those peculiar, particular Markisms that leaves one scratching one’s head, Mark compares himself to Hudson Taylor, the great China missionary of the 19th and early 20th century. Although no doubt he’ll deny that’s what he meant. Perhaps English isn’t my 1st language.

At about the 39 min. of the podcast, after being confronted with quotes from John MacArthur, Mark says that he’s always willing to publicly repent, to be corrected, and it’s important to model humility. Oddly this doesn’t go far in explaining his blog response to this actual interview. Humility? Not so much.

Mark in his blog post says that, based on this interview, he and Grace now have new requirements for people who are interviewing them. He doesn’t want to go through this again. 

With the release of our book, Real Marriage, we have now done literally dozens of interviews with Christians and non-Christians. But the one that culminated in the forthcoming article was, in my opinion, the most disrespectful, adversarial, and subjective. As a result, we”€™ve since changed how we receive, process, and moderate media interviews.

This seems to suggest Mark can’t handle the heat but he’s certainly willing to bring it — as long as he’s in control.

Justin does try a bit of a ‘gotcha moment’ when he asks Mark about a husband who has a wife who is a church leader. He asks Mark about ‘issues of authority’ in their relationship. Mark gives a typical Markian response about confused headship and church discipline problems — with Justin only then revealing that Justin’s wife is a church leader.

Mark’s immediate response is to ask about the size and the growth in Justin wife’s church and how many young man they have. Further asking what “kind” of young men they have — suggesting this kind of church would only have effeminate men with a female leader.

At the 51 min. Mark states, “You look at your results and you look at my results and look at the variable that is the most obvious.” Mark claims that the church Justin’s wife leads is small because it’s led by a woman and Mars Hill is big because it’s led by a man. It’s amazing how important penises are for church growth. (And here I thought Calvinists believed that it was exclusively the Holy Spirit who awakened people to Christ – only a select few, of course.)

Hellish Portion of Interview

To say I’m stunned probably wouldn’t be accurate but €”at a certain point one becomes innurred to the bizarre way that Mark’s brain seems to work. As the interview begins to wind down around the 53 min. point, they are continuing their discussion of women in leadership, with Mark now interviewing Justin. Mark suddenly asks Justin where he stands on Eternal Conscious Torment and Justin’s understanding of Hell. Justin, taken aback by the comment, asks what this has to do with the discussion of women in leadership. He sees no connection. Mark strongly suggests ‘of course there’s a connection’. Because, ‘moms are nurturing and dads are strong and disciplining’. 

Thus, if you see God calling a woman to be a leader then you have a more feminine view of God’s nature and therefore you don’t believe in hell. Pretzel Logic, n’est-ce pas? Good grief.

Mark goes on to berate Justin on Penal Substitutionary Atonement. Even when Justin is willing to say he believes in it — but that there are other orthodox ways of viewing the Cross. Mark insists Justin must commit solely to P.S.A. Driscoll is simply obnoxious on this point. Mark brags on his book that he has written on this topic. One might simply wish that rather than expound on his understanding of this particular theological topic he might read a lot more N.T. Wright — or if he finds N.T. confusing he may want to read some Tom Wright, instead.

At the 54.5 min. point in the podcast, the interchange goes like this, Mark: “But do you believe it” — “it” being penal substitutionary atonement. €”Justin responds, “Yes I do”€. Mark says, “You sound like a coward when you say it.” Once again one wants to ask the question ‘Who’s being adversarial?’

And in the closing comments, Mark, who claims in his whinging blog post that it was an “adversarial and antagonistic” experience, says, “It was fun for me… I hope you recover.”

Justin laughs in response. Mark appears to be laughing as well, and then Justin apologizes to Grace by saying that he’s sorry they didn’t bring her in more. She says, “That’s all right.”

I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions.

UPDATE: But do read this post on Leadership Immunity from Lance Ford – which he published earlier in the New Year – it’s prescient. 



A television editor, writer & director since 1978. A Christian since 1982. More than a little frustrated with the Church in the West since late in the last millennium.

58 responses to The UK Real Interview – Was it of the Undisciplined or the Undiscipled?

  1. Thanks for your hard work on this post, Bill. I sincerely fear for Mark. His type of hubris is usually a precursor to a hard fall. I also hate to see the MD cloning that is so pervasive on so many levels.

    • Lance,
      I wish I could say that I disagree with you, but I don’t. Your post on Leadership Immunity, which I link to at the end of this post, is very important in this discussion.

  2. I listened to the podcast when it came out. There was one thing that really surprised me. Mark Driscoll could not handle a fairly soft interview with a journalist I assumed he would be more skilled in handling those kind of questions. Yes, I found many of his responses bullying, condescending, graceless, and misogynist — and thought he might have exercised better manners — but that was really what surprised me the most. I thought a preacher so much in the public eye for his bombastic statements hadn’t learned how to field questions about said statements. It was odd.

    • It was definitely odd, Nadine. Justin was gracious and light in his approach and Driscoll was Driscoll. In Mark’s blog post response, he claims that Justin was attempting to exercise “authority” over him. Would that someone actually could.

  3. Mark’s words and actions don’t always match. There is a very, dare I say it, narcissism about him that includes some verbal abuse. He also goes from bully to repent in a nano second and back again.

    I think he has serious issues and I say this as one who has been following his trajectory since he was only the cussing pastor in Blue Like Jazz. Neither his book or this interview was a big shock to me. It is simply a logical outcome of who he is…… but now is outside the Reformed safety bubble of support where he cannot delete web pages or edit sermons for online.

    What concerns me more than Mark are his followers and even the older leaders in Christendom who have given him a pass for years because he “preaches the Gospel” and ignore the other things.

    They are compartmentalizing Mark. “Good Mark” and “sorta bad Mark”. But let’s take Mark as a whole person. He has serious spiritual issues.

    And I thought it telling he was very upset about that interviewer having what Mark saw as “authority” over him. This is Mark’s filter of life and it is not of Christ. I hope more Mark followers wake up. I keep waiting for the line in the sand when it comes to Mark. Is this it? I doubt it.

    • Lin,
      It’s sad when we folk, “living in our Mom’s basements, blogging in our pajamas” are the ones left to critique, and dare I say, correct the warped theology and authority of people like Mark. My contention is that had Driscoll ever been properly discipled, perhaps we wouldn’t be dealing with this today. The silence of far too many mature leaders in the Body of Christ in regards to Mark is deafening.

      • People tried to believe me. Older mature brothers were willing to walk with him and help him grow up but he rejected anyone who would challenge/confront.

  4. Mark may occasionally stumble across the gospel in his preaching. Sort of the way a traveler might stumble across Washington, DC when they drive south on Interstate 95 on their way to Florida. Just because he bumps into it once in a while, doesn’t mean it was his destination. Shame on the elders for allowing the ends to justify the means … they ought to know better!

    Secondly, when you talk to a pig you oughtn’t be surprised when all you hear is grunts.

  5. I do not recognize this “gospel” that Driscoll supposedly preaches. When a Christian minister preaches “God hates you,” he is a false teacher preaching a lie. Do his peers and mentors agree with this message? If not, why continue to claim that Driscoll is delivering the gospel. This is not a complicated theological issue; it is basic Christianity; “For God so loved the world…”

    Bill, thank you for taking the time to report on the interview. I think I will pass on listening to it.

    • Linda,
      I listened to it because I felt I had to based on my previous post. There are two hours of my life (with note taking) that I won’t get back. Sigh.

  6. I resonate with what Lin and others are saying, especially about those who stand in direct associations with Pastor Driscoll apparently giving him the equivalent of a virtual pass on his attitudes, behaviors, and words. I wonder if we – the American Church as part of the Body of Christ – are eventually going to have our fill of such follies, and do what we can to hold accountable those publishers and organizations who will not hold abusive “leaders” in their associations accountable.

    For instance, certainly Thomas Nelson, which published *Real Marriage*, and other publishers before them, have every *legal* right to contract with Mark (and Grace) Driscoll for the publication of his (their) writings. However, as time goes on and ever more evidence mounts on the question of whether Pastor Driscoll is verbally and spiritually abusive, perhaps these *Christian* publishers need to consider that their freedom of the press does not grant them freedom from *spiritual* responsibility. Controversy may promote books and sell copies, but what are publishers doing about authors who prove contentious and not just controversial? Who prove divisive in the Body of Christ, and are not just (supposedly) dividing the Word of Truth? Who demonstrate an unbridled tongue, anger, self-centeredness, and/or other items on the biblical list of behaviors and character qualities deemed unsuitable for those in public roles of leadership?

    Why are such individuals being given a platform and a virtual leadership role in the wider Body of Christ through being published? When these authors prove themselves spiritually damaging to others, why should we trust those who promote and/or publish them? They cannot pass off their responsibility; they have become active enablers of bad behavior.

    So, now I’m wondering if we should be more questioning of the discernment level of those responsible for editorial/marketing decisions in these publishing companies. I’m wondering if we should recommend to our author friends that they not publish with companies that publish and promote spiritually abusive authors. I’m wondering if we should boycott ALL products from publishers whose own leadership consistently shows lack of spiritual discernment and sound judgment in their choices of authors. The same goes for the Christian conference and training industries, which hire such people as speakers.

    If we’re going to be treated as mere consumers instead of as brothers and sisters in Christ, and if we cannot trust these publishers and organizations to use their roles as disseminators of Christian teachings wisely to protect the Body of Christ, then I guess public calls to account and even full boycotting may prove some of our only recourses to express robust dissent with their poor stewardship.

    In an era where authors’ words are available in audio, video, and print form – both online and off – no one should expect to get a “virtual pass” on meeting the standards of biblical leadership. And that applies to publishers and organizations that buttress the virtual position of those who demonstrate themselves to be spiritually abusive.

    • Brad,
      I would debate whether ZonderNelson is actually a “Christian Publisher” or just a News Corp subsidiary feeding American Christianity whatever it will lap up.

      As our friend Sonja said to us elsewhere… the problem is us, the people who buy this crap willingly… “because (we) have not been taught how to think or to question or to work through conundrums and paradoxes.”

      And I point to 1 Samuel 8 once again.

      Thanks my friend. Your responses are always invaluable.

      • Thanks Bill, and thanks for having the fortitude to absorb and analyze this unpleasant situation and provide some perspective. You’ve touched on an important topic. I thought some more about your post here and the whole “remove the immunity” idea Lance Ford talks about in his post that you linked to. I commented over there, relating the idea of “no virtual pass” to his diplomatic immunity metaphor.

  7. Driscoll didn’t say anything about the Haggards, that’s actually true of course that’s also not something that evades the problem of what Driscoll still said. He still used the downfall of Ted Haggard as the occasion to say a lot of pastor’s wives really let themselves go because they figure they have their Christian husbands locked in so that they can’t get out.

    Now that Real Marriage has been published and with that, the confessions of Mark Driscoll in the first chapter retroactively shed some light on why it was so important to him to say some pastors feel like their wives are letting themselves go and not being sexually generous and the men are stuck without the option of living because to leave would break a divine command. He may not have been thinking about Haggard so much as other preachers and also, potentially, himself.

    In the 2005 atonement series (indebted in part to John Stott’s work) Driscoll said there were plenty of other ways of understanding the atonement that were all necessary and beautiful. Why he feels PSA has to be the one to hammer is hard to explain since he didn’t used to be so pedantic about PSA..

    • WTH,
      As you know, Mark hides behind the fact that he never directly mentioned the Haggards in his immediate response to that then latest American church crisis. Haggard was head of the National Association of Evangelicals, as well as a megachurch pastor at that time. But Driscoll certainly had to back pedal dramatically for his comments, when most sentient folk took his comments to be directed at Ted Haggard’s wife. Even if Mark was simply trying to blame all the sexual problems of pastors on their wives. (That was hyperbole, folk.)

      Your post here does a much better job of unpacking all of this than my short response can. People should read it.

  8. Hi Kinnon, I disagree with almost everything you have written! Funny how 2 people can listen to the same interview and come away with such a different take on it (btw I listened open minded). I wonder if you come to this with your own pre-conceptions and agenda as you sound as if you have a lil chip (ie. you refer to MD’s ‘whinging’ blog post more than once, ‘whinging’ is an emotive word generally used with antipathy)… I just don’t have the time to respond to you point by point, but I feel as though you are making MD’s point case with regard to men for him, rather than actually engaging with his challenge to the church and trying to get to the truth of the matter. He may be wrong on some counts (aren’t we all?) but there is likely to be at least some truth in what he’s saying and you can’t just refute it all because you don’t like his style/culture. Objectivity is important.

  9. Perhaps in the future, SilverStar (is that your real name or are you hiding behind a pseudonym which wouldn’t be manly now would it) you should leave the listening to interviews to the professionals.

    • Bill, everything that I’ve seen of Mark Driscoll over the years and what I’ve seen of this interview needs a critique. I think you are right in much if not all of what you are saying….
      However, I think the comment above was unworthy of you.

    • Wow. What a very arrogant thing to say. Like SilverStar, I also think that you’re attacking Driscoll in a very unfair manner and in an obviously biased manner. I listened to the interview as well and people like you and the interviewier are trying to attribute more negitivity and hostility to Driscoll than what’s really there. And you call yourself a Christian? Attacking a fellow brother in Christ in this manner? And why am I not surprised all the people here agreeing with you who have no idea what mission God has called Driscoll to preach in. I don’t go to Mars Hill Church but I do live in Seattle and all I have to say is if Driscoll used the “limp-wristed flower holding” language all of you people seem to be used to hearing the gospel of Christ preached Mars Hills would have folded up shop years ago.

      All you people live in your perfect suburban bubbles and no nothing of reaching out to people who want nothing to do with you or the gospel of Christ.

      You have zero right and absolutely no authority to come against a pastor like this and the fact that you think you do goes to show how full of yourselves you really are. You can tell a lot about a pastor by the fruit that he bears and the company he keeps. And last I checked 12,000 people and pastors like Matt Chandler, Tim Keller, DA Carson, Francis Chan, John Piper, etc looks like Kingdom winning fruit and fantastic company.

      I always find the people who are the most critical the most jealous and envious.

      Shame on all of you.

      • Scott – I am an occasional visitor to this blog, which I came across while researching Mark Driscoll for reasons I’ll come to in just a moment. You may have a point; and incidentally, Bill, if I may humbly say so, your apology might have been better if addressed to SilverStar directly (though I concede that his/her addressing you as “Kinnon” was not exactly courteous). But I stray. Scott, your response to Bill contains several broad and generalised accusations for which I doubt very much you have evidence. If your correcting of “all the people agreeing with [Bill]” is coming from a position of greater love and Christian maturity, then you haven’t shown it here.

        Anyway: my interest in Mark Driscoll. It began with a friend who was then a new Christian, who was frustrated by the lack of teaching in his local congregation, had come across Driscoll and was very strongly influenced by him. This friend asked us to join him and his wife in listening through to a series of Driscoll podcasts (on 1 Corinthians and spiritual gifts, in fact) and get together to compare notes. At the time, I was more than glad to do this because I’d heard nothing but good about Mr. Driscoll. But as I listened over several weeks, I went from being nonplussed, to surprised, to disappointed, to exasperated by what I heard. Namely, teaching that was riddled with errors, verses quoted incompletely or out of context, texts forced into highly questionable interpretations, and even (in once case) an extraordinary crass mis-quotation of a verse that would otherwise have undermined Driscoll’s teaching.

        It’s unimportant that I don’t agree with all of Driscoll’s theology; I don’t disagree with all of it either. I have stated in this very blog that his rejection of “gentle Jesus: geek, and child” is something that we in the UK should pay earnest attention to. And anyway, who appointed me as Pope? I don’t own the Bible. My concern is that Driscoll acts and speaks as though, in his opinion, he does. And that is an attitude, and character, that I do not want to see reproduced in my brothers in Christ close to me.

        In saying this, I am not “coming against a pastor”. What Driscoll gets up to within Mars Hill is a matter for himself, the other elders and (ultimately) the assembly of believers there. But he actively occupies a much higher and more prominent platform than that; he writes books and preaches sermons that dictate doctrine to the wider church both collectively and, as seen in That Interview, to individuals with whom he has no relationship and over whom he has never been appointed as an elder. His attempt to judge Brierley’s theology and even the way he expressed it (what does “you sound like a coward” mean?) was clearly an attempt to take authority; but he will not submit to it himself. Rather, he dismisses those who call him to account using ad hominem arguments, ridicule or accusation.

        So no, I’m not coming against a pastor, but against the immaturity of a believer attempting to call the shots where he is not in leadership, and to make authoritative pronouncements for which he has no right and zero authority.

  10. “One might simply wish that rather than expound on his understanding of this particular theological topic he might read a lot more N.T. Wright — or if he finds N.T. confusing he may want to read some Tom Wright, instead.”


    (BTW, you don’t know me, but I’ve been following your blog from the UK for a few years, and I’m very grateful for your balanced perspective on this and other issues. I know you were a big fan and friend of Michael Spencer, and I think you sound very much like him in being willing to speak the truth in what is often a very firm and direct yet disarming way. So thanks!)

  11. Bill, I just finished listening to the whole interview, and I’m right there with you: Mark was the aggressor in the interview, and the last 5 minutes where he turns the tables on the reporter are not just cringe-worthy but scary as they reveal how Mark sees the connections between his version of masculinity and his views of correct doctrine.

    Now, I’ve never written a book and have been the subject of maybe three interviews in my life, but if what I just listened to for an hour was what Driscoll considers a “disrespectful, adversarial, and subjective” interview, and one that is driving him to change his policy on taking media interviews, well, then he needs to develop thicker skin. That was a good interview that Mr. Brierley should be proud of.

    • Thanks, Chris. I think Mark needs to go on a silent retreat. A couple of years might work. 🙂

  12. Followed your link to the Hatchet blogpost.

    So what he is actually saying is that, based on the revelations in the new sex book, when MD made his public comments about “wives letting themselves go” after the Haggard scandal went public, MD was actually having problems with his own wife not being sexually “available” to him – so he made those comments from the pulpit, before a public audience, along with his SOS comments about “his fruit being sweet to her taste”? If that is not what the Hatchet implied, let’s hear it.

    If that is the implication, it suggests one of the most outrageous examples of misusing the pulpit to shame and manipulate another for one’s own selfish ends – not to mention a grievous example of spousal abuse – does it not?

    And, with this revelation, how can the Pipers, the Mahaneys, the Devers, the Mohlers, the DA Carsons, the MacDonalds, of this world continue to remain silent, and by their silence, approving?

    • Because, it’s all about the numbers and Driscoll has big numbers. WTH was a Mars Hill person when this went down. He knows Mark. And his conclusions are well reasoned.

      The state of American evangelicalism is incredibly sad.

      Thanks for adding to the discussion, RP.

  13. Having read your multiple Driscoll posts (and being a long-time BHT lurker), I’m surprised that you’ve missed something that you’ve only danced around: that Mark Driscoll is a Narcissist. He is the star of his own movie; all other players (wife, church, etc) are simply costars who need to act according the script he’s written. Who wrote the book? A “Pastor and his wife.” ‘Wife’ becomes an identifier, a possession to fill out the identity of ‘PastorMark.’ Why is he upset at the reporter? Because he was trying to exert “authority” over PastorMark. And who can have authority over the star of the movie I’m starring in?

    The list could go on… Why does Grace need forgiveness from PastorMark for premarital sex and being sexually abused? Because PastorMark isn’t the type of character to marry a that type of woman. That’s not how the script goes. UFC Jesus. The self-perceived gift of ‘discernment.’ All things the character of PastorMark needs to be the character PastorMark. Never mind that Mark Driscoll could never last 20 seconds in a real UFC ring, or actually do the manly things he asserts are manly… But PastorMark could. If the timeline in RobertP’s comment is correct, then I think the case is closed… Mark Driscoll has a bad sex life… But fixes it by asserting an active, fulfilling sex life as PastorMark. ‘’ indeed.

    The problem with these sorts of things is that ultimately, it requires others to conform to the identity the Narcissist requires them to be in order for the Narcissist to maintain their own projected identity. Talking about PastorMark as ‘Celebrity Pastor’ or ‘Cussing Pastor’ or whatever identifier you want to use is only reinforcing the bad behavior; after all, that’s exactly what PastorMark wants to be/perceives the character to be. Justin Brierley receives the wrath of PastorMark because he challenged his identity as PastorMark. And the result is not real hurt, but narcissistic injury… You can’t tell me I can’t be the star of the movie I’m starring in.

    The playbook is somewhat already set… My guess is that eventually someone’s going challenge PastorMark’s identity in such a clear, forceful way that the character of PastorMark will self-destruct and will do so violently (not in a physical way, but that will be the language and imagery). And the cycle will repeat until Mark Driscoll realizes the one, common denominator to all of Mark Driscoll’s problems and controversy: Mark Driscoll.

  14. I’m sad to see so much energy used to pick a part Pastor Mark’s flaws while the church in your country is on the verge of extension. He’s not perfect. He admits that easily enough. But God tends to use men like that more than often than not.

    • I’m dishearted about this too, but probably more for other reasons. And I believe there is a partially true point to be made in saying “God tends to use men like that more often than not,” however, that doesn’t get around the issue that this same Lord has also revealed His standards for people who are in leadership positions. The presence of some apparent good from someone in public ministry does not justify everything done in the name of Christ. Flawed people, yes, God uses them/us. But people who continue to damage those in their charge and defame the name of Jesus despite calls for repentance and healing, well, that’s in another realm entirely.

      Could it not also be just as true that a rather sick system of followers and publishers and conference organizers is keeping afloat someone who seems to be demonstrating more and more as time goes on that he is probably UNqualified for public leadership ministry due to immaturity, if not DISqualified from public ministry due to such unChristlike character issues as anger, an uncontrolled tongue, lack of humility, etc.?

      Could it be that part of what prevents extension of the church in America is the rotten fruit being passed off as “okay” and in fact is rotting others in church planting networks and conferences and books?

      I’ve witnessed and written about what happens in the long run when malignant ministers are not confronted as the Scriptures tell us to do. It is sad to even have to do so, but if no one ever stands up to those in bully pulpits, what will be the state of our system and our churches 5, 10, 50, 100 years from now?

    • 1 Corinthians 4:7 makes it tough to claim that an appeal to numbers is a persuasive case.
      For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?

      There is nothing Mark Driscoll can point to and say “This is what I did that got results.” If he claims that everything up to this point has been the grace of God and is all a gift then he doesn’t have a platform from which to tell British Christians or pastors that they’d get the numbers he’d get if they just did things his way. To even say so presents a difficulty in that by saying so Driscoll is saying that if you follow his formula you’ll get his results, which denies the gift nature of the numbers he has boasted in.

      The numbers argument becomes a double edged sword. If Mark Driscoll did things the way Joel Osteen does things then, sure, he’d get those numbers, too, but that’s the problem with “If you look at my numbers you look at the obvious variable.” Driscoll wouldn’t consider reaching a huge number of people as proof of legitimacy for, say, the author of The Shack, so why do numbers count for him and not for William Young? Why do numbers count for Driscoll but not for Hinn or Pat Robertson, who arguably created a media-based multi-site church in his way decades before Mark Driscoll was even on the scene?

    • Mark does readily confess his failures, but then he goes and doubles down on the same things. He should say what the bible says on sexual things in my opinion. Where it is silent, he should be as well. That would take away about 50% of what he has to say.

      • WenatcheeTheHatchet January 22, 2012 at 7:19 am

        Jim, this is a good observation and sums up what became a concern of mine in my Mars Hill years. It’s true, Mark will apologize for the “how” if there’s enough of a public backlash (though not with the effeminate worship leader coment). Then later on he doubles down on the “what” even in cases where a careful study of a biblical text will show that the “what” he’s talking about is not a very good application or interpretation of the text.

  15. Great reflections on the interview between Driscoll and Brierley. I posted my own thoughts about the whole sorry saga, only to find your blog and realize you had already said it so well!

    I’ve lived in Seattle, and I’ve lived in the UK. So I know something about the church scenes in both places. Yeah, the UK church has some serious challenges to contend with, but Driscoll completely misdiagnoses the problem (and the solution…which, as you noted, he thinks is more of himself, apparently).

    While living in Seattle, I found there are generally two types of Christians there: those who hang on Driscoll’s every word, and those who have to apologize to their non-Christian friends for Driscoll’s caricature of Christianity. Granted, I’m oversimplifying to make a point, but there’s some truth to it.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing your thoughts. It’s cathartic if nothing else. (I laughed out loud when I read, “Or if he finds N.T. confusing he may want to read some Tom Wright, instead.”)

  16. Mark Driscoll should be interviewed by Jeremy Paxman. I’d pay money for to see that.

  17. All I know is that I have seen more attention about Driscoll and his book from his critics than I have from his supporters. The same thing happened with Love Wins– the ratio of critics to supporters was 20-1. I think the influence you guys fear Driscoll has and will have could be lessened if you’d just ignore him.

    • Not sure I completely agree. Guys like Rob Bell (whose church I belonged to for several years) and Mark Driscoll started amassing large numbers of followers long before they attracted negative attention to any significant degree.

      Yes, when you voice disagreement w/someone like Driscoll, it can generate further attention for him. But what is the alternative when he’s influencing lots of people (whether he gets more attention from criticism or not), including people you care about?

      I would agree there can be a tendency to beat these things to death (trying to use a metaphor Driscoll would appreciate), but I also feel like sometimes you have to speak up.

      Just my two cents.

  18. I read your article here, and then listened to the whole podcast. I am not a huge MD fan by any stretch. I find his discussion of all things sexual, disturbing and his overall treatment of women unbiblical. His teaching on the Song Of Solomon was in my opinion, more influenced by the pornographic culture than scripture. (my $.02) However, I didn’t think he bullied Brierley at all. It seemed to me that many of the conflicts they have are just pretty natural between a conservative and liberal viewpoint and practice of biblical Christianity. Brierley does come off as cowardly in the way he talks about fundamental issues like the cross near the end.
    I attended a church like Brierley’s before I became a Christian, that kind of soft-pedaling of the bible and fundamental doctrine is deplorable. I do think Mark comes off as a bit self-impressed when they are comparing his church with all of U.K. He needs to be reminded who’s church it is. Again, my opinion. Thanks for the post.

    • Jim, thanks for the comment. But why do you say that the church Brierley’s wife leads ‘soft pedals the Bible and fundamental doctrine’. Do you know the church that he is talking about? And your comment suggests, intentionally or otherwise, that the church Brierley’s wife leads is not Christian. Was that your intent?

  19. It is one thing when those who Driscoll portrays as “living in our Mom’s basements, blogging in our pajamas” (to borrow Bill’s quote, earlier in the comments) are non-Christians who hate him for what he says, are concerned about what he says, or both.

    It’s another when Christians, known and unknown, influential and noninfluential, are doing the criticizing. Not out of hatred, or to mock the man, but out of concern that what he says and how he acts is at best detrimental to the body of Christ and a poor example for any leader to set.

    I was once impressed with Driscoll’s ministry, thinking that a real man’s man with robust theology had finally come along who I could sit under and learn from. That impression passed long, long ago. I’m not looking to become a “pajamadeen”, but I am concerned about his influence, that the good that he says and does is far overshadowed by the craziness, the unhelpful and the flat-out-bad fruit that has manifested itself in his ministry.

    He may be able to boss around an English interviewer, and shut down all criticism from his church and Acts29. What will he do when the criticism begins to pour in from other Christian men and women, outside and inside his camp, who speak boldly about his actions and comments, and their influence on the church and community? I guess we’ll see.

    • Brian,
      Thank for this. Not sure why it got flagged as spam but it’s been rescued from there. Great thoughts… as usual.

  20. Not that I am a supporter of mark or you for that matter, but I fail to understand why such a response is needed? Are we working towards unity amongst the family of God or against it?

    • Sean, what exactly does “working towards unity amongst the family of God” look like to you?. How would you respond?

      • i just fail to see the benefit of such blog posts. i understand your points in the blog, agree with some of them and disagree with others. but yet at the end, i have to ask, what are we working towards? shouldnt we be pointing out strengths in one another and encouraging them, be it justin or mark, rather than going to battle against a person, particularly brothers in the faith? especially doing so in the eyes of non-believers. not that we need to paint a “everyone loves each other and never fights or has disagreements” view of the family of god, but doesn’t the world already have enough reasons to look at us and say “they cant even get along with one another”? it seems to me, that often we, myself included, fight more against fellow christ followers than fight for the souls of the lost. and i see a lot more in the holy scriptures that talks building up unity in the family of God rather than pointing out the flaws we see in others. then again maybe i am doing the very thing to you that i am talking about…

      • Sean, you expressed worry about how the world sees us. I confess that I’m less worried about the world in this particular instance than I am the wider body of Christ that look to people like Mark Driscoll as leaders. It was either Benjamin Disraeli or Edmund Burke who said “all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing”. When evil is being done in the name of the gospel, it needs to be addressed.

        Mark Driscoll is more broken than some and less broken than others but his brokenness has a huge audience and causes many great pain—and it’s that brokenness, in my obviously not humble opinion, which needs to be addressed.

        And that’s what I’m attempting to do here.

      • so is he (MD) leading people away from Christ? can he really be classified as “evil”? to me its most profitable to spread the gospel than all of this…
        god bless. may jesus be exalted above all else.

    • About 35 to 40 years ago, Francis Schaeffer addressed this in *The Mark of the Christian* (1970) and *The Church at the End of the 20th Century* (1977) by saying, as best I can recall, “Truth without love is harsh. Love without truth is soft.”

      Purity and unity in the Body of Christ should not be an either/or kind of thing. Confrontation and critique may appear unloving, but the alternative of silence against tyranny causes additional damage. In calling out malignant ministry and those who inflict it, aren’t we actually preserving the opportunity for this generation and the next to be discipled in ways that more fully reflect Jesus Christ in a world of darkness? We cannot do that well when we passively allow darkness to go unchallenged, whether that is inside the Church or without.

      What does seem to be (understandably) missing from much of the commentary is anything about restoration of those who have been bullies in the pulpit. And by this, I’m not talking about returning them to their former positions after some period of contrition and rehabilitation. If someone who has harmed others by his/her role as an authority representing Christ, and steps down (or is removed), then how do we work with him/her for repentance, healing, and helping them discover a productive role to play within the Church? That’s missing in the mix (understandably right now, as it appears there is no repentance/taking responsibility), but we should be sure to keep it on our radar, and pray for the best … By a heartfelt compassion and concern and willing to help a former perpetrator,don’t we close the circle on promoting truthful and loving unity within the family of God?

      • BANG ON, B-RAD!
        Well said. Could and should be a post on it’s own.

      • Well, as I’m in the midst of editing a book on spiritual abuse, how we treat people – – including perpetrators of abuse and former perpetrators – – is critically important. I imagine that I and other survivors would much rather that the chapter on “Restoration” be blank. But what does that accomplish? In the small scale of things, it borders on revenge at worst, apathy at even worse (maybe there’s no “at best” here). In the big picture, recovery is a significant part of discipleship for anyone who follows Christ.

        I think the best response is to move from intervention and confronting those who demonstrate themselves to be bullies, to prevention so those in that trajectory cannot find a place of public influence/ministry. And that means we have to come to clear and comprehensive biblical understandings of the requirements for leadership in terms of gifts, skills, and CHARACTER – and the biblical prohibitions that lead to removal of leaders who are UNqualified (due to lack of spiritual maturity) or DISqualified (due to lording their authority over others and other sins).

        So, it really all does come back to genuine and relational discipleship with both truth and love, and not just informational teaching of truth that allows teachers to continue without love.

  21. Notice how Driscoll makes a completely circular argument:

    1. Women should not be in charge

    2. I will prove that women should not be in-charge by asking Justin some questions (Justin responds, none of his answers support Mark’s claim).

    3. Yea, but, you’ve got a woman in charge!

    I used to listen to Driscoll a lot, but now I’ve seen the light.

  22. “I think the best response is to move from intervention and confronting those who demonstrate themselves to be bullies, to prevention so those in that trajectory cannot find a place of public influence/ministry. And that means we have to come to clear and comprehensive biblical understandings of the requirements for leadership in terms of gifts, skills, and CHARACTER – and the biblical prohibitions that lead to removal of leaders who are UNqualified (due to lack of spiritual maturity) or DISqualified (due to lording their authority over others and other sins). ”

    Amen to this. I have an experience similar to Bill’s when I left a career to work in a mega church. Since my career had been in corporate training, I had experience working inside many companies in the US over 18 years. Nothing prepared me for the mega and I have seen quite a bit of dysfunction over the years. There is nothing worse than evil or deceit done in the Name of Jesus. The man made systems (businesses making merchandise of the Gospel) and cult of personality in Christendom are very dangerous to souls.

    If I can help even one person not to get involved or support such systems (and the problem is inherent within the system as the system must be maintained at all costs. The people are second to the system) then that is a good thing in my opinion.

    But here is the problem. People are taught it is considered sin to mention ‘negative truths’ so people actually think they are being pious by looking the other way as if a negative truth hurts the ’cause of Christ’. It doesn’t… And that protects these systems. Unity is a spiritual position. There can be no unity when we ignore victims of these systems or the bad that is done within them. That is fake unity. Jesus Christ will present a pure Bride to Himself. Not a perfect one but a “pure” one.

    My goal is to encourage people to really delve into the Word and ask themselves if what they are a part of represents the true Body of Christ and to NOT ignore red flags. So many do……. just as I did.

    But I also think many seminary’s will continue to churn out little popes.
    Blogging is one way to take the negative truths to those in the pews.

    • Totally agree … with the big-picture solution (interception and prevention) plus the big-picture problem, which is that Christians are often not discipled in any critical thinking skills, otherwise they wouldn’t let leaders (even good ones) do all their thinking for them. And so there are faulty concepts going around, like “unity means no negativity.”

      May God give us tenacity to persevere in provoking and encouraging His people to think well for themselves … and give us hope as we seek a redemptive way to turn our woundedness into spiritual wealth for others.

  23. I think I am bit more perturbed at the comments here than I am at Justin’s. They are based on emotion and they are patently false. After listening to the full interview I am inclined to side with Justin though. But as a Mars Hill member I have to almost give a small defense for Mark. Mark has been attacked often and without mercy. There are media here that sit in the congregation and wait just for him to say something biblical and how far its from the modern societal norm. Its then sensationalized as is almost always wrong.These comments (not Justins) are based off your interpretation of what youve heard against the backfdrop of all the other, often times false statements media makes about Mark. I think he was tired and was bit more impatient than he should have and might have been in a bad place. That doesnt make any of what he said is wrong and as he often admits is prone to sin. Hold Mark to the same standard as yourself or the pastor you currently have. These comments are flat out lies and misrepresentations. I get a bit upset when I hear people who say things they have heard other say about MD or heard a 15 minute clip of him (Mark) on youtube thats been edited. Having been a Mars Hill member for 3 years I have been taught to have a greate love for the Bible, higher view of Jesus, greater accountability as a father, deeper love and respect for my wife, a more profound recognition of my sin and awesome of community with my small group. My wife would say the same. All the married couples and singles I hang out with at Mars Hill would say the same. The characteriztions are incorrect and dont make judgements that you have no business saying. God will judge you in the same manner.

  24. I just revisited this. Since I haven’t been able to stand Driscoll for years, I heard bits about this interview and just didn’t even look into it. But as you might know he has recently pulled this same kind of “waaaah! They were mean to me!” stunt with Janet Mefferd, a respected and solid Christian talk show host in Texas here in the states. They contacted her show about getting him on and she warned them she would ask tough questions. So they said fine. (I guess they figured the cussing pastor could handle a lady!)

    link to

    However that isn’t how it turned out. Some of the premier voices in evangelicalism are shaming Janet Mefferd now, including Justin Taylor of the Gospel Coalition. (I guess he figures every Christian author is a plagiarist?)

    Keep in mind that he comes out of the gate lying through his teeth about what actually happened at Strange Fire, so that didn’t score him any points with her or anyone that’s examined the evidence on both sides. He never was forthright and truthful about his misdeeds throughout the interview. He was evasive and dismissive about his own faults at every turn, which most people don’t realize unless they’ve looked into the issues being discussed… which makes Janet come off as if she’s badgering. When in truth, she is just trying to get him to give a straight answer to something that is patently obvious to anyone with a sense of Christian ethics.

    At the end of the interview it appears that Driscoll hangs up on her. In truth, he was merely silent for 9 seconds (which of course on radio is a no-no) so she closed the segment. After that he hung up. Not sure exactly what happened there, but you can’t erase the fact that he refused to respond and this naturally led her to believe he had checked out of the conversation. So now because Janet thought he hung up (which he did when he realized he wasn’t being heard after his 9 seconds) he is saying she is the problem and she is lying about that. (playing spin spin spin doctor!) But for Janet the hangup was not even the main issue.

    Anyway, there are two different raw audio files out there. The stuff from Janet’s end and the stuff from Driscoll’s end. Driscoll’s has him speaking over her AFTER she thinks he’s ‘gone’ and saying “I’m here…” And Janet’s doesn’t (was recorded on mono so they could not have pulled him out since he was speaking over her closing out the segment).

    Please do listen to the calls that come after the interview as well. As always, the Driscoll sycophants come out of the woodwork and Janet explains that SHE was the one contacted for the interview, not the other way around. And Driscoll has the nerve to play the martyr during the call and say that he has the flu and that he was the one doing HER a ‘favor’ by coming on the show. Amazing.

  25. “There are media here that sit in the congregation and wait just for him to say something biblical and how far its from the modern societal norm.”

    Then he shouldn’t go about making so many enemies in the Biblical Christian camp by playing the martyr and going for shock value. Men don’t need a drill sergeant. Jesus said “it shall not be so among you.”

    We are not interested in criticizing him for being Biblical, but the world is interested in that. So what? They do it to all of us. If indeed he was Biblical, he wouldn’t be getting criticism from Biblical Christians as much as he does. He needs to stop being a jack*ss to his Christian brothers and sisters, coddling favor with heretics like T D Jakes and compromising cowards Joel Osteen (speaking of cowards – he excoriates British Christian pastors for being ‘cowards’ but has very little to say about Osteens unwillingness to speak the truth). So… speaking of ‘tribalism’ and false division… Driscoll ought to be looking in the mirror more often.

    But this battering of sheep, insulating oneself from criticism, consolidating power (edging out elders who try to keep him in check) and acting like a hireling who we must all kowtow to is what passes for Christian leadership these days. Driscoll is not the only one. He’s just the edgiest, currently. It’s all the same moralistic Purpose Driven Church Hostile Takeover nonsense combined with Calvinistic Charismaticism. So it’s a lot less friendly to those ‘dissenters’ even than the old version of Purpose Driven Church. He’s just a pricklier version of Rick Warren.

    Carl Trueman has weighed in on the Janet Mefferd situation and I daresay it applies equally to this past interview because Driscoll has not changed one bit in his attitude:

    link to


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