A couple of years ago Mark Driscoll was reported saying he thought the five points of Calvinism was garbage.
This puzzled former Mars Hill media head Justin Dean who nevertheless commented (rightly, as we'll see) that he didn't think Mark Driscoll had (or would) actually change his core views.
That Driscoll was not a strictly Reformed type on the limits of the atonement goes back to his 2008 Doctrine series where he advocated for what he called "Limited Unlimited atonement", which has historically been identified within the Reformed traditions as Amyraldianism. Driscoll has lately been restating his views on soteriology and atonement in Duck, Duck, Doom (as distinct from his preferred nomenclature in the Mars Hill years of "duck, duck, damn".
For sake of simplicity he lays out a fairly conventional taxonomy of views, which is to say it's conventional for him to lay out a range of doctrinal options in schematic ways:
...For the sake of simplicity, I want to share the six options for who chooses our salvation:1. No one is saved and everyone is damned. I cannot remember anyone actually ever teaching this which is odd. The truth is, hell makes perfect sense. Fallen angels cannot be saved and only go to hell. If fallen people joined them it seems like a fair deal.2. God chooses everyone. This is called Universalism and a heresy so if you believe it, you are a heretic and need to pick another option.3. We are good people who can freely choose God. This is called Pelagianism and also a heresy so, once again, if you believe this, you are a heretic and need to pick another option.4. We are sinful people but God grants everyone a free will choice. This is called Arminianism or Wesleyanism where God gives everyone at some point “prevenient grace” which opens their fallen will to make a free will choice to follow God or not (kind of like Adam and Eve existed before the Fall). This is not a heresy so, if you believe this, congrats to you on not being a heretic.5. God chooses some sinners for heaven and some sinners for hell. This is also called Calvinism, or double predestination. This, too, is not a heresy but can appear to be a very capricious version of the kids game “Duck, Duck, Goose” renamed “Elect, Elect, Damned”.6. Everyone chooses hell through sin and God chooses to save some people through His loving grace. This is called Lutheranism, or single predestination, where the non-Christian gets what they want, and the Christian gets what God wants for them. If you believe this you are not a heretic and agree with me, Jesus, the Bible, the Holy Spirit, and all that is right and good. You should buy us both a cupcake to celebrate....
For some who think that if you pivot to the East there's no concerns about Pelagius you might want to reconsider that. There's an Eastern Orthodox fellow who points out that regarding Pelagianism as heretical is normative within the Orthodox traditions. And universalism, contra David Bentley Hart.
Driscoll used to speak of the Wesleyan position as if it was heretical circa 2000-2002. I told him it was irresponsible to regard non-Calvinist approaches to soteriology and atonement as heretical to his face and he brushed that off. Well, okay, so twenty years later he's come around to conceding the point that regarding non-Reformed approaches to soteriology as non-heretical is an option.
Unsurprisingly, Driscoll still presents his taxonomy in a litany of ideas furthest away from what he approves of to close on the position he regards as the biblical position.
He's revisiting ideas and recycling some material, such as his old explanation that predestination is like him saving his daughter from running out into traffic.
The daughter is now sharing quarterly updates for Real Faith, which was earlier called Mark Driscoll Ministries, according to the ministry 990.
That Mark Driscoll described some Calvinists as operating out of father wounds in how and why they have a theology of Big Brother Jesus rather than discuss God the Father is something I've discussed in the past. That it's still "all about Jesus" at Real Faith does not convince me that Mark Driscoll's basic approach has changed. Driscoll was not a Calvinist in the earliest years of Mars Hill and he may have been a self-identifying Calvinist to the extent that he could, in good faith as he understood it, accept financial and institutional support from David Nicholas.
Confessions of a Reformission Rev
Mark Driscoll, Zondervan 2006
So I decided to start a church for three reasons. First, I hated going to church and wanted one I liked, so I thought I would just start my own. Second, God had spoken to me in one of those weird charismatic moments and told me to start a church. Third, I am scared of God and try to do what he says.
In the sixth season, I was invited to speak at a national conference in October 1997 with Leadership Network. Pastors from around the U.S. came to discuss the issues of postmodernity and emerging generations. My sermon at that session opened a great deal of national opportunities and media coverage that propelled Mars Hill into the national spotlight as a model church for emerging ministry paradigms. Since that time our church plant has been featured in such publications as Mother Jones, the Washington Post, Seattle Times, Worship Leader Magazine, Current Thoughts & Trends, Arizona Republic, Vineyard Cutting Edge, Christianity Today, etc. We have also been featured on local radio programs, as well as the east coast affiliate of NPR, and on TV with the 700 Club. We now provide consultation and teaching for an enormous number of churches and denominations, a number of Christian colleges and seminaries, as well as numerous national ministry conferences.
In the seventh season, we began to organize the church by adding elders, deacons and members. This step was an attempt to identify the core and heart of our church by distinguishing those committed to us as a family versus those coming to consume goods and services.
In the eighth season, our worship ministry was in great disarray and I had a dream that Brad Currah, who had been a member of our core group before the launch, was leading worship. I repeatedly informed Brad that he was to be our worship leader and after numerous conversations he began volunteering time overseeing the worship and arts ministries. Brad had spent a few years playing the club scene with his band Springchamber, but was quickly overwhelmed with the demands of his first time pastorate and quit his job at Microsoft to free up time for ministry and hoped to live off of his wife Devonna's salary. But, she soon became pregnant and needed to quit her job. I then got a call from a pastor in Florida who had a network that funded church plants. Grace and I met with Pastor David Nicholas at Spanish River Church, and his church planting network agreed to help us financially. This gift allowed us to bring Brad on full-time, which has culminated in a fantastic independent worship album, multiple worship teams, and an aggressive set of new songs written by some of our many gifted artists. [emphasis added]
In our ninth season in the beginning of 1999 we were forced to move from our Laurelhurst location. Five days before the end of our lease we still did not have a location to meet in and were dreading the move. Then, pastor Rick Hull and First Presbyterian Church in downtown Seattle graciously welcomed us in. So, we shut down the 7pm service, and ran the 5pm service in their 1300 seat sanctuary. [emphasis added] The move was nothing new, in three years we have had services in four locations and at four different times, and the office has had six different phone numbers due to all the moves. It was also during this season that we launched our first daughter church, The Gathering, one hour north of Seattle in Mount Vernon. A family, the Tackels, I had met while teaching at a conference purchased an RV to begin taking their children and their friends to our church. Their 23 year old son Ron Wheeler had returned from a one year missions trip in Africa and resonated with much of our ministry philosophy. He began a Bible study in his community that continued to grow until they launched their church at 6pm on Easter of 1999 in a beautiful old brick church in downtown Mount Vernon. Funding for Ron was generously given by Dr. David Nicholas and our Acts 29 church planting network, and funding for his worship leader Micah Kelly was given from Ken Hutcherson and Antioch Bible Church. [emphasis added] It was also at this time that we hired Janet Sawyer and Eric Brown, both members of our church, to come on staff full-time as administrators who have very much helped organize and stabilize our chaos....
For sake of background, Spanish River Church is a Presbyterian (i.e. Reformed) church. So at a key period in Mars Hill Church history it was being given financial support by a Presbyterian minister in Florida (David Nicholas) and was being given a space to have services by another Presbyterian minister in Seattle. If we consider a working theory that Mark Driscoll was able and willing to shift his doctrinal positions a bit to comply with the doctrinal interests of his patronage base then it doesn't come across as a surprise move that he pivoted to claiming to be a Calvinist during a period in which the welfare of Mars Hill church (still just a few years old) depended on the support and accommodation of Presbyterian clergy. For those familiar with the 2013 to 2014 period of Mark Driscoll's career, it may merit revisiting that the most extensive and trenchant criticisms of Mark Driscoll's teaching and writings came from Presbyterians (OPC and PCA). For folks who didn't read the old post ...
John Piper on the debacle in Seattle ... but if it was a defeat for Reformed theology why did it seem so many of Driscoll's most persistent public critics have actually been Reformed?
To put this as simply as Driscoll often likes to put things, Mark Driscoll was never actually Reformed regarding ecclesiology or even soteriology in the basic details, but he did become a monergist and was willing to say the Calvinist way was "the" way whether or not he was particularly committed to it in the long run. He'll say he's "Lutheran" on soteriology now but in his bibliographic citations in even his post-Mars Hill books Spurgeon and Don Carson still show up enough that it's hard to see that he's made a Lutheran pivot. He may in all likelihood still be an Amyraldian monergist who calls himself a Lutheran but this may suggest he's being lazy with terms. A Lutheran would not necessarily say that an Amyraldian monergist is a Lutheran.