We all know and love Mark Driscoll as a straight-shootin’, rootin’-tootin’ cowboy unafraid to “keep it real” with his tongue, even though he goes overboard, at times, by his own admission. We at Xenos certainly enjoyed a front-row seat at one of Drisoll’s cantankerous conversations (or “temper-tantrums”) a few years ago.
It’s an amusing interview, even if it is a little misguided for one man to attack a nation. When Mark gets mad, he swings no matter what, and once he starts swinging he doesn’t know when to stop.
The Butt Scandal
It all started when the interviewer of the Christian radio program “Unbelievable” asked Mark if it was appropriate to extol anal sex and sex toys for married couples in his new book on marriage. I’ll confess my own interest was piqued (not for my date nights with Darlene, mind you).
Mark suddenly, without warning, ties into the interviewer:
“You’re not being fair. In fact, you’re being sort of scandalous, and you’re being immature about the issue, so I don’t appreciate that. You’re going for one or two pages in the book, and you’re trying to put a little shock around that for the radio.”
To the interviewer’s credit, he politely listened and never struck back, but if the interviewer was aiming for a scandal, Mark certainly fueled that fire! (Why would he?) As a listener, you’re struck by how odd or touchy Driscoll’s reaction was.
Later the interviewer asked Mark if he is sometimes too harsh, referring to his solicitation on Facebook for “best stories” about “wimpy worship leaders.” (By this time, the audience needed no example of his harshness.) Driscoll answers by attacking England for its wimpy, effeminate preachers.
“Right now, name for me the one, young, good Bible teacher that’s known across Great Britain,” Mark said. As the interviewer pauses to think, Mark says, “You don’t have one! That is a problem! There’s only a bunch of cowards who aren’t telling the truth.”
If the interviewer was giving Mark a chance to hang himself, Mark was lunging at it. But the interviewer was stunned, and tried stammering out a response, but Mark cuts in:
“You DON’T HAVE ONE! You don’t have one young guy that anybody’s listening to on the whole earth.”
“I hope you appreciate I’m just bringing up some of the quotes that come up in this area,” the interviewer said, apologetically.
“That’s the deal with me: you’ve got to break through the cultural noise,” Mark said. “If you just say, ‘Jesus is nice, blah, blah, blah, Jesus is sweet, blah, blah, blah, then nobody listens.”
A Xenos Monster?
“I go too far sometimes,” Mark said. “Almost every other pastor I know doesn’t go far enough because the church tends to be led by men who are timid and fearful and afraid of going too far.” Mark certainly shouldn’t say such things after his experience at Xenos, unless…
Could it be that Xenos taught Mark to toughen-up a little, perhaps too much? At Xenos, Driscoll tied into us one night, saying we were all “a bunch of pricks,” and yours truly is “the biggest prick of all!” He complained that in England he was loved and supported by good brothers in the Anglican charismatic movement, but then flew to Columbus where he gets beaten-up by “a bunch of pricks.” Admittedly, charismatics are probably warmer than cold-hearted Xenos intellectuals. At the time we apologized for our prickish ways, and Mark apologized the next day for losing control.
When a tough guy like Driscoll calls you “the biggest prick of all”, is that an insult or a compliment? I’m still pondering that. Maybe, as I said, Driscoll got tougher after his Columbus visit, because he certainly extols the virtues of “big pricks” like himself, and deprecates kind and loving English brothers—a big turnaround. I don’t understand how he can praise the Anglican charismatics and its leaders, then call them a bunch of pussies.
Bitchin’ the Brits
Christianity is lame in England, no doubt, but if Mark knew anything about the “Unbelievable” interviewer, he would know the man is both young and a champion of God’s Word. He’s obviously tough enough to take Mark’s punches graciously, and brave enough to keep asking Driscoll tough questions. He dismantled Rob Bell—an American universalist who claims to be Evangelical—a few months earlier, and got him to admit he was a universalist, a feat other interviewers failed to do, and despite tremendous resistance and word games by Rob Bell. “Unbelievable” also sponsors tough-minded, well-attended conferences on apologetics across England.
Driscoll’s attack against Britain’s “Unbelievable” Christian radio is relentless, however. Later, on his blog, he writes:
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 [the “Unbelievable” interview] 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.”1
Driscoll goes on complain “I was selectively edited and presented in a way that is not entirely accurate”, but the evidence he gives is simply a half-hearted apology to the Brits for his own misstatements:
In particular, the quote about cowardice may not fit all British men, but for men who misuse their authority to advance their agenda, it seems applicable.
Mark wishes he gave such a qualification, but he did not. He did throw a temper-tantrum against British cowardice, it was a blanket statement, and not the result of clever editing by the reporter. Mark should have the balls to admit he misspoke rather than blame the interviewer. It is obvious that Mark is the only one being “disrespectful, adversarial.” Nothing was “selectively edited” at all. Christian magazine rejected Driscoll’s accusations:
Ruth Dickinson, editor of Christianity magazine, says: ‘Justin’s interview with Mark Driscoll was robust and fair, and I utterly reject the claim that it was adversarial, disrespectful or subjective. We took great care to ensure that his quotes were in context, and gave him the opportunity to talk about his new book, as well as his life and theology.2
The Brit he attacks is a good brother with sound Christian doctrine, but Driscoll renounces him as a flaming liberal:
He then admitted that he very much struggles to believe in penal substitutionary atonement—that Jesus Christ died in our place a substitute for our sins—and that he does not believe in a literal hell. In short, the reporter is a very liberal Christian, and on these issues I am not.
Mark’s rage seems unrealistic. His accusations against this brother are exaggerated, at best. A more sober Mark would actually research the guy’s beliefs.
The truth is that Mark opened the attack on “the reporter” with a flurry of mean-spirited questions, which included personal attacks against the reporter’s wife and her Evangelical church. The assault left the reporter stammering, which Driscoll says proves “he very much struggles to believe…” No Mark, he very much struggles to stand up to you! (As anyone would.) Afterwards Driscoll gloats, “See how I feel?” Not nice.
Driscoll deliberately suppressed the interviewer’s statement of faith given during Driscoll’s interrogation. The dude said his theology was identical to the late John Stott, an English theologian and a friend of Xenos. According to Driscoll himself, Stott was one of the “Four Horsemen” of Evangelical theology. So how Driscoll can possibly call this man “a very liberal Christian” is truly “Unbelievable”. Such an omission can only mean Mark is deliberately covering up his own missteps by besmirching a good man’s ministry. Certainly the man never made the evil doctrinal statements Mark attributes to him in his blog. The question must be raised whether the elders at Mars Hill are able to subdue Mark’s tongue when it’s out of control.
Driscoll claimed to know all about the UK because he visited there once, but apparently he never listened to a BBC interview, else he would recognize the interviewer was a typical British journalist. Unlike with American journalists, when a politician gives a cagey answer to a BBC reporter he will say, “Well, we already knew that, didn’t we?” and repeat the question.
In his blog, Driscoll makes a big deal about his “Communications” college degree, but as his communication gaffes keep mounting, one can only hope Driscoll will go back to get a Journalism degree. Perhaps he might learn how to avoid giving such scandalous answers to an “immature” and scandal-seeking journalist, as Mark perceived him.
Go Mark, GO!
Mark, if you’re out there, take it from “the biggest prick of all”. Let me disciple you in the ways of “prickdom”—there comes a time when a simple apology is stronger than a thousand fisticuffs. (A very quotable proverb!)
Nonetheless, “the biggest prick of all” still loves Mark Driscoll. His marriage book rattled Tony Jones so badly, Jones dropped his usual pretense as a simple, questioning mind and barred his teeth, snarling at “that misogynist crap” in Mark’s book.Of course Jones is one of the founders of Emergent-speak, the clever cloaking of secular beliefs in “Evangelical” garb. Tony refuses to marry the woman he lives with, for example. (“It’s just a piece of paper,” Jones says…and she buys it? Does anyone still use that line after high school?) Obviously Mark’s book on marriage would be “misogynist crap” for a man like that, especially when it calls for men to commit to their roles as husbands. Driscoll rattles Tony Jones and deserves some applause.
I wish Mark would aim his big gun more at the Emergent guys and stop harassing good brothers like the one at “Unbelievable”.