Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained.
Now, sure an apostle who wrote an epistle that ended up in the Bible could describe religion in positive terms in a religious compilation of canonical texts but Mark Driscoll's been insisting upon the entirely pejorative use of "religion". Even though Mark Driscoll Ministries is where you can read the guy talking about all kinds of religious subjects he's still committed to being too-cool-for-school on "religion".
Pastor Mark Driscoll
What About the Person Who Claims to be a Christian but Never Changes?
On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?” And then will I declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” Matthew 7:22–23
People tend to be religious by nature, which means they think they can justify themselves in one of three ways.
First, loosely religious people assume they are living a good enough life and that no spiritual devotion or extra effort is required on their behalf [emphasis added] for God to be pleased with them when they stand before God at the end of this life.
See, it's interesting that Driscoll described the loosely religious people in this way because "good enough" was how Mark Driscoll has described himself. Driscoll used to obliquely say of himself and Grace, "We broke some rules ... but God is faithful. Which "rules" wasn't too hard to figure out for anyone who was paying attention but not everyone was, so the clarification, it seems, had to eventually be official. And, along the way, Driscoll trotted out how he'd been "good enough".
Real Marriage: the truth about sex, friendship and life together
Mark and Grace Driscoll
copyright (c) 2012 by On Mission, LLC
ISBN 978-1-4041-8352-0PAGE 9-10
Before long I was bitter agaisnt God and Grace. It seemed to me as if they had conspired to trap me. I had always been the "good guy" who turned down women for sex. In my twisted logic, since I had only slept with a couple of women I was in relationships with, I had been holy enough, and God owed me. I felt God had conned me by telling me to marry Grace, and allowed Grace to rule over me since she was controlling our sex life. [emphasis added]
Although I loved our people and my wife, this only added to my bitterness. I had a church filled with single women who were asking me how they could stop being sexually ravenous and wait for a Christian husband; then I'd go home to a wife whom I was not sexually enjoying.
So there's that.
Now let's get to the other kind of religious people.
Second, secular religious people work very hard at some social cause because they think that they’re good people and need to overcome the evil of bad people who are ruining the world.
Although even secularists can behave in religious ways it seems worth noting that religious people ca work hard at a social cause because they think they're good people and need to overcome the evil of bad people who are running the world. Driscoll must surely know from experience how eagerly even religious conservatives can get into this social cause stuff in the conviction that they're good people who need to overcome evil because ... how else does William Wallace II get explained?
CONFESSIONS OF A REFORMISSION REV
Mark Driscoll, Zondervan
copyright (c) 2006 by Mark Driscoll
CHAPTER FIVE: JESUS, WHY AM I GETTING FATTER AND MEANER?
350-1,000 peopleAt this time, our church also started an unmoderated discussion board on our website, called Midrash, and it was being inundated with postings by emerging-church type feminists and liberals. I went onto the site and posted as William Wallace II, after the great Scottish man portrayed in the movie Braveheart, and attacked those who were posting. [emphasis added] It got insane, and thousands of posts were being made each day until it was discovered that it was me raging like a madman under the guise of a movie character. One guy got so mad that he actually showed up at my house to fight me one night around 3 a.m.
So even within the functional parameters of the second type of religious person Driscoll's got a publicly documentable participatory role in that, too. So that third type Driscoll mentioned this week ...
Third, devoutly religious people work very hard at keeping the rules of a particular religion in an effort to justify themselves as good and obedient people in the sight of God.
It's not that different from "two". It could even be construed as the religiously observant variation of category 2 with its "secularist religious people". By this point if you hadn't caught that 2 and 3 were basically the same then this next hat trick might sail by without notice, the part where Driscoll uses a pejorative definition of "religious people" being among the people of God, as if by some alchemy some of the people of God are currently atheist:
Religious people have lived among the people of God since the beginning of salvation history. Because human beings are very good at deluding themselves and each other, this is something we can expect to continue until Jesus returns. Jesus warned us that this would be the case (Matt. 13:36–43). And in Matthew 7, Jesus addresses this very issue. ...
There is, of course, no middle ground. You're for or against. Driscoll went on to discuss how we should beware of false prophets:
... Beware the False Prophets
Earlier in the chapter (7:15–20), Jesus warns his disciples to beware of false prophets who are like wolves in sheep’s clothing. In discerning who these false prophets may be, Jesus says that they’ll be known by their fruits. To know these false prophets by their fruit is to know them by the quality of their life and how it measures up to the kingdom ethics espoused by Jesus Christ. For some people, their bad fruit is quite evident, but for others, it’s not. Some are like wolves with sheep’s clothing, which means that some false prophets live and breathe within the church and give the appearance of being Christians when in reality they are not.
The truth is that people may fool us for a while, but eventually their deeds will expose them, even if they make it to the last day. In verses 21–23, Jesus explains, saying, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Not everyone who calls Jesus “Lord” is a legitimate disciple. There are fakes out there. This statement acts like a summary statement, which is then illustrated in verses 22–23.
Which is true, and it raises again for us a question about what deeds of Mark Driscoll and those associated with him ended up being exposed. How about the matter of citation errors in his previously published work? How many corrections had to be made in books where in their first print editions not everyone whose work was cited did get footnotes? What about Result Source being contracted to rig a #1 spot for Real Marriage on The New York Times Bestseller list? We'll get back to that in a bit.
“In That Day”? In What Day?
In verse 22, Jesus begins by saying, “Many will say to me in that day.” The phrase “in that day” is basically a way of saying “at the final judgment.” It is used throughout Scripture in different ways to describe the coming judgment of God, with the final day of judgment at the end of time ( cf. Mal. 3:17–18; Isa. 2:20, 10:20; Matt. 24:35, 26:29; Luke 10:12; 2 Thess. 1:7–10).
What is it that these people will say to Jesus on that day?
“In that day” the “many” will address Jesus and say, “Lord, Lord.” “Lord” (kyrios) can be used as a customary address to a superior, like “master,” “sir,” or “lord,” but in this instance, it means much more. The use of “Lord” twice in a row demonstrates a level of fervency on behalf of the “many” who are calling out to Jesus. This double usage of kyrios within this context implies that the “many” are not being overtly polite to Jesus but are rather calling out to him as the gatekeeper into heaven (cf. 25:37, 44). This is why D.A. Carson said commenting on this passage, “Thus the warning and rebuke would take on added force when early Christians read the passage from their postresurrection perspective.”
What’s striking about the fervency by which the “many” approach Jesus is that their words seem to imply that they already know their fate, “But Jesus! Didn’t we do this, this, and this?” They ask in a way that assumes a positive answer from Jesus, “Of course you did those things!” There’s no reason for us to think that they didn’t prophesy, cast out demons, and do mighty works in Jesus’ name. All these things could be done by both false and true believers alike (Matt. 7:15; cf. Matt. 12:27; Mark 9:38–41; Acts 19:13–16). There’s no reason to doubt that they performed deeds that were spectacular, whether by the power of Satan or God. But powerful works are no sure sign of a child of God.
“I Never Knew You”
After the “many” claim the feats they accomplished in Jesus’ name, Jesus doesn’t mince words in his final declaration to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness” (cf. Psa. 6:8). There are two observations that can be made from Jesus’ words.
First, Jesus says, “I never knew ([gnosko, because he can demonstrate he's got Greek font]) you.” Within biblical language the word “know” means more than just knowing facts about someone or something, it “denotes a relationship.” Jesus isn’t saying that he never met these people or didn’t know who they were. He is saying that he never knew them in a way that made them a part of the true family of God.
Second, even though “the many” performed miraculous feats, Jesus calls them “workers of lawlessness.” All their religious activity was “merely a veneer on a life fundamentally opposed to the will of God.” In other words, this tells us that the “many” had some sort of lax view of God’s law and were opposed to upholding it.
So if we turned around and applied this to Mark Driscoll himself, just because he's shared stories over the last twenty years about how God verbally instructed him to do X, Y and Z doesn't ensure his election. King Saul was appointed by God to be king over Israel but died rejected by the Lord. Even if Mark Driscoll has somewhat notoriously said "I see things" just because you "see things" doesn't mean that at the end of days Jesus automatically has to say "I know you."
Now had Driscoll submitted to the restorative discipline he said the Board proposed for him at Mars Hill back in 2014 instead of pulling up stakes and leaving and only getting around to saying "God said I could leave" in 2015, then Mark Driscoll would be better-situated to instruct here. As it stands, he's gone and left the state and has been preparing to launch a new church without having lived out in his own example the precepts he taught as binding on others with regard to restorative discipline in a church community. This doesn't necessarily mean Mark Driscoll's not a professing Christian, just that it seems a tad hypocritical for him to talk to the public at large about how all these other folks have religious activity that was veneer. There are a few words we won't quote verbatim but Driscoll made sure to discuss the Great Exchange, substitutionary atonement, etc., etc.
In summary, we are not saved by but to our good works. It’s not about what we do for Jesus but what Jesus has done for us. Ephesians 2:8–10 says it this way: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one ay boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Therefore, you do not have to do good works so that God will save you; rather, if you’re justified and regenerated, you get to do good works because Jesus already saved you.
Why? Because you cannot meet Jesus without changing. My point in this is not to give you a gavel by which to go around pronouncing judgment on others. But rather, for each of us to examine our own life to see if we have truly met Jesus and if so how he has changed us.
Driscoll banks a lot on life-change. That is, unfortunately, an area in which a person could ask whether or not Mark Driscoll's life-change pre-conversion to post-conversion was easily measured.
One of the things Driscoll used to preach from the pulpit was about how guys who blamed their own sin issues on their wives or on God Himself were abusive men.
Part 5 of Proverbs
Pastor Mark Driscoll | October 28, 2001
[around 7:50ish is where he discussed becoming "a bit of a street brawler, protecting my brothers and sisters"
These men are like Adam, they abuse others. Adam did that. He sinned and who does Adam blame his sin on? God and his wife. That's an abusive man.
So after years of Mark Driscoll saying stuff like that from the pulpit ...
Real Marriage: the truth about sex, friendship and life together
Mark and Grace Driscoll
copyright (c) 2012 by On Mission, LLC
Before long I was bitter agaisnt God and Grace. It seemed to me as if they had conspired to trap me. I had always been the "good guy" who turned down women for sex. In my twisted logic, since I had only slept with a couple of women I was in relationships with, I had been holy enough, and God owed me. I felt God had conned me by telling me to marry Grace, and allowed Grace to rule over me since she was controlling our sex life.
So ... okay ... given what Mark Driscoll said during the 2001 Proverbs sermon series about how an abusive man sins and then blames his sins on God and his wife ... what was going on in this revelation in 2012's Real Marriage? Couldn't this come across like Mark Driscoll living and behaving in the "religious" way he was describing earlier this week? And to say he felt God had conned him into marrying Grace, Mark Driscoll's lament that Grace was ruling over him since she was controlling the sex life ...
has Mark Driscoll ever stepped back to consider how he looks if he measures himself by the measure he has used to judge others? Pronouncing judgment on others in public has been an unavoidable element of Mark Driscoll's public ministry over the last twenty years.
And then thanks to Real Marriage it turned out that Driscoll may have actually been himself the kind of guy he was telling us to not be like. He made a case to his wife that the cure for his mood swings and depression was getting more sex with her.
Mark and Grace Driscoll
Copyright (c) 2012 by On Mission, LLC
ISBN 978-1-4041-8352-0 (IE)
As with many things in marriage, communication is key. When I cam to the conclusion that the cure for a lot of my moodiness was having more frequent sex with my wife, I simply told her. Yes, it's that simple. For years, when I would endure depression, I tried to talk to Grace about it. Her natural inclination was to want to have long talks about our feelings toward each other, and I know that connecting with her like this is important. But sometimes I was jsut too frustrated and ended up blowing up and hurting her feelings. The truth was I wanted to have more frequent sex with my life, and we needed to discuss how that could happen.
To make matters worse, seemingly every book I read by Christians on sex and marriage sounded unfair. Nearly every one said the husband had to work very hard to understand his wife, to relate to her, and when he did that to her satisfaction then, maybe, she would have sex with him as a sort of reward. After many years I finally told Grace that I needed more sex. I asked if we could have sex more days of the week and try a variety of positions. She'd be the one to decide exactly how we would be together. Grace said that helped her think about our intimacy throughout the course of the day, which helped prepare her mind and body. To our mutual delight, we discovered that both of us felt closer more loved and understood, and were more patient with each other if we were together regularly in some way. And whether my depression was testosterone-induced or not, I just generally felt happier.
The Biblical Man
And most guys are just simply frustrated, that I have talked to, because they're not getting enough sex. I'll give you one story. Won't name his name, but I remember meeting with a--this is a lot of my marriage counseling. I don't think I'm a great marriage counselor but I do think I have one key insight that I'll share with you. Oftentimes I meet with couples and here's what I hear--the wife says, "I don't feel like we're connected. I don't feel like we're close. I feel like he's a little irritable." And then I ask, "How often are you having sex?" And she's, "What does that have to do with anything?" [slight chuckle] That effects everything. You know. Frequency is important.
"You guys have sex every day and then come see me again in a month and if there's still communication problems, he seems depressed, he's lethargic, THEN we'll talk because there's OBVIOUSLY a problem. But we're gonna start with what SEEMS to be the most obvious solution."
I'm telling ya, ninety-nine percent of the time they come back a month later she's like, "He's just totally a different guy. ...
Mark Driscoll | Sex: A Study of the Good Bits of Song of Solomon
Edinburgh, Scotland on November 18,2007
I'll tell you a story if you don't tell anyone else of a man who started attending our church because of oral sex. Right? So many women go to church. In your country it's sixty or seventy percent. "My husband won't come to church. He doesn't have any interest in the things of God. He doesn't understand why church would apply to him." We had a woman like that in our church. She became a Christian. Her husband was not a Christian. He hated the church, wanted nothing to do with the church. She kept browbeating him about Jesus. "You need to get saved. You're gonna burn in hell." He had no interest in that.
And so, finally, I was teaching a class on sex and she said, "Oh, so oral sex on a husband is what a wife is supposed to do?" I said, "Yes." She said, "My husband's always wanted that but I've refused him." I went to 1 Peter 3. I said, "The Bible says that if your husband is not a Christian that you are to win him over with deeds of kindness." I said, "So go home and tell your husband that you were in a Bible study today and that God has convicted you of sin. And repent and go perform oral sex on your husband and tell him that Jesus, Jesus Christ commands you to do so." [emphasis added] The next week the man showed up at church. He came up to me, he said, "You know, this is a really good church." That handing out tracts on the street thing, there's a better way to see revival, I assure you of that.
Jesus Has a Better Kingdom
Pastor Mark Driscoll
September 21, 2012
Number two, men are castrated. Men are castrated. I’ll read it for you. “He commanded—” and these guys got names. “Mehuman—” That’s kind of a rapper name, I was thinking, like, ancient Persian hip-hop artist, Mehuman. That’s how it’s spelled. “Biztha.” Sounds like a sidekick. “Harbona, Bigtha.” That’s my personal favorite. If I had to pick a Persian name, Bigtha. Definitely not Littletha. I would totally go with Bigtha. “Abagtha, Zethar and Carkas.”Okay, a couple things here. The Bible talks about real people, real circumstances, real history. That’s why they’re facts. It’s not just philosophy. Number two, if you ever have an opportunity to teach the Bible and you hit some of the parts with the old, crazy names, read fast and confident. No one knows how to pronounce them, and they’ll just assume you do.
Here are these guys. So, you’ve got seven guys, “the seven eunuchs.” What’s a eunuch? A guy who used to have a good life, and joy, and hope. That’s the technical definition of a eunuch. A eunuch is a man who is castrated. [emphasis added] Proceeding with the story before I have to fire myself.
We've discussed all this before over the years but they're worth revisiting, these quotes, because for Mark Driscoll to publicly position himself as a guy who has an opinion on whether Christians use porn, for instance, or whether some people have a disordered relationship to their sexuality--it seems as if Driscoll's cumulative testimony about himself has been that he blamed God and his wife for his dissatisfaction with his sex life and that his solution was to basically tell his wife to give him more sex so that this would cure his mood swings and depression.
How does that demonstrate a changed life? How does that demonstrate a life changed by Jesus of the sort Mark Driscoll seems so eager to tell people is the distinguishing variable between a real Christian and someone who merely appears to be a Christian?
And then there's another before-and-after question, the kinds of shortcuts a person can be tempted to take to attain a desirable goal.
Part 5 of Proverbs
Pastor Mark Driscoll | October 28, 2001
These guys are just – they’re avoiding all their responsibilities. What they want, they want food without working. They want drink without working. They want sex without marriage. They want a house without a mortgage. These guys look at means and ends, and they want the ends but they don’t want any of the toil that comes with the means. So, they try and find a short-cut. [emphasis added] “Well, I’ll just steal his money. And I’ll drink his beer. And I’ll sleep on his couch. And I’ll sleep with that girl.” [Whistles] Good. Whoa, short-cuts. Praise the Lord. And Solomon’s looking at his son and saying, “This is just foolish folly. This is just dumb. This isn’t going anywhere. You weren’t created for this.” Here’s how they get there; something for us all to think about....
It comes to the point where I’m 15 and I wanna get a car. I said, “Dad, I need a car.” He says, “Good. Go get some money.” I said, “Okay, fine.” So, I falsified my birth certificate, I lie about my age, and I get a job at a 7-11 selling lotto tickets and liquor and cigarettes to people that are twice my age. I was not a Christian, so – I shouldn’t have done it anyways, but I wasn’t a Christian. And so, I’m 15, working at a 7-11 selling stuff. And I make a decent living, and I buy my first car, a 1956 Chevy that I should’ve never sold. That’s a whole other sermon. And – and so I’m 15, driving myself to work without a license, because I gotta go make money to pay for my car. [emphasis added] Okay? And again, I was not a Christian. Okay? So, I’m not saying, “Thus sayeth the Lord.”And I realize that, since I was young and I was strong, I could make more money. And so I started dinking around trying to figure out where to make more money. And I find out that guys in unions make a lot of money. And – at least compared to me working at the 7-11. And I got tired of getting robbed and held-up, too. ‘Cause if you run a 7-11 behind a Déjà vu, somebody’s gonna put a gun at your head. And after a couple of those, you realize, “For minimum wage, I’m not taking a cap. You know? I’m not gonna get shot for, like, a pack of cigarettes. I’m not gonna do that.” So, I lied about my age. I falsified my birth certificate again, and told them I was 18. Got a job working long-shoring down on the docks in Seattle. And I would go throw 100-pound sacks of peas, and unload trucks, and work hard. And they paid me tremendous money. [emphasis added] At the time, it was like $10.00-something an hour. This was, like, in 1986 or ’87 or something. And I’d work 40 hours a week, and over-time was double-time. And none of the guys would wanna work over-time. Usually it was on Friday, ‘cause they had to get containers out, and those guys all wanted to go to the topless club.
And so, I would work all the over-time at $20.00 an hour as a 16 year old kid. This is in the mid-‘80s. Right? So, I’m loaded. I have money, money, money, money. So, I buy a car, and I start saving for college, doing my stuff. And with my dad – I thank God for my dad. My dad’s like, “You’re a guy. You work. You pay your way. Good. It’s good for you.” And you know what? He’s right. He was totally right. Thank God for my dad. My brother and my other brother and myself, we’re all doing great, making good money, doing fine. My brothers are all in management leadership running companies or businesses. It’s great. You pamper a guy from his youth, and he just – he gets this course of action. All of the sudden he feels like if his hands are dirty, or his muscles are sore, or if he put-in a long day, or thought something was tough, that’s unusual; that’s abnormal. And so, he avoids it.
Looking back on the last ten years it looks like Driscoll wanted to write the books but maybe not entirely by himself. He wanted to preach a lot of sermons but you don't get Docent Group to send you help if you can handle all the research yourself, do you? It's hard not to look at the controversy surrounding Driscoll's published books without getting the sense that he took a few too many shortcuts along the way, whether in forgetting to credit authors whose work he benefited from in those first editions on the one hand, or in using the short-cut of Result Source to secure a spot on a bestseller list on the other. We know now without a doubt Mars Hill leadership signed on.
The problem with Mark Driscoll telling the world that a Christian should have a changed life is that it seems that in his pre-conversion days he was okay with rigging the game a bit to get the success he wanted and then back in 2011 ... it was okay to rig the game a bit to get desirable success. How much change is supposed to signal a real change, whatever that would be? Now some of us see David at the end of his life and see how he dealt with people as king, as father, as husband and it seems he didn't really get better with age ... but Driscoll hasn't availed himself of that kind of approach. He seems set on the idea that I you really know Jesus then you should display some life-change. And yet in the scandals that erupted around Mark Driscoll in 2013 it didn't seem he was above having a rigged set-up for Real Marriage on the one hand and on the other hand there were people whose ideas made it into the book but without credit in the first print edition.
It's an awkward question but one that may need to be asked does Mark Driscoll pass his own prescribed test for how to tell whether someone is really a Christian or just "religious"? I don't see a reason to assume he's not a professing Christian but then I don't subscribe to the idea that sanctification is a strictly one-directional trajectory. You can really slip up. But Driscoll ... it's not clear he's ever given himself or anyone else that option in his theology. If you sin it's because of pride and because of arrogance and you know what you're doing. That's what his theology of sin seems to have been.
Because you cannot meet Jesus without changing. My point in this is not to give you a gavel by which to go around pronouncing judgment on others. But rather, for each of us to examine our own life to see if we have truly met Jesus and if so how he has changed us.
But if in his pre-conversion days he was willing to game things to get the success he wanted and it turned out he was willing to do let things get gamed for his benefit in his post-conversion life; if even in his post-conversion life he resented his wife for not giving him as much sex as he wanted (and within the pages of Real Marriage said he felt that God had conned him and his wife was controlling their sex lives) how was this the same guy who in 2001 said from the pulpit that if a man has sin in his life and he blames God and his wife that that man's an abuser? The problem isn't necessarily that what Mark Driscoll has had to say has no merit, it's that when Jesus condemned the Pharisees and experts of the law his rebuke was as follows:
Matthew 23:2-7 (NIV)
2“The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.
In a headline that could basically be read as "Mark Driscoll wrote a blog post" ... here's The Blaze.
Since the second type of person is "secular religious" it's not really that easy to establish that that's a "religious" person in any sense at all.