Mark Driscoll doesn’t want you to study the Bible

April 28, 2013 in Theology · 124 comments

Mark Driscoll

Mark Driscoll recently caused another brouhaha with his views about gender roles. The short version of this latest controversy is that he compared nagging wives to water torture. You can watch the offending segment here.

But are we really surprised by this sort of thing from Driscoll? By now it should seem par for the course: we know where he stands on these issues, we know that he states his positions in less-than-eloquent ways, we know he characterizes the positions of his opponents in less-than-charitable terms and we know that none of this is likely to change.

But in the rush to point out yet another misogynistic statement from Driscoll, a perhaps even more troubling statement from him was overlooked. In the opening of his sermon on Ephesians 5.22-33 and the subject of wives submitting to their husbands, Driscoll says:

“What does that mean in the Greek, Pastor Mark?” You can always tell a rebellious evangelical. They do word studies. They try to go to the Greek and figure out if it perhaps means something else. I’ll just read, OK.

Really? Rebellious evangelicals do word studies? And submissive evangelicals don’t? They just meekly accept the “plain meaning” of the text? So if I choose to dig deeper into the Bible, to seek out the original meaning of Greek and Hebrew words, to study the grammar and context and culture of a passage — if I question assumptions and I really study the Bible — then I’m rebellious? In Driscoll’s world I must be: I’ve chosen to think for myself and in doing so I’ve stepped out from under the authority God, the authority of the Church and, worst of all, the authority of Pastor Mark.

But wait a minute, doesn’t Driscoll have a degree in exegetical theology from Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon? Yes, he does, but Western isn’t exactly recognized for a robust emphasis on the Biblical languages. In fact, it seems that at Western, one can get an M.A. in exegetical theology without learning Greek or Hebrew at all! It’s hardly surprising given Driscoll’s education, background and ministry “successes” that intellectual engagement with Biblical and theological issues is downplayed and discouraged.

What’s really going on in Driscoll’s statement is a flippant dismissal of all discussions regarding the meanings of κεφαλή (head) and ὑποτάσσω (to submit) — meanings upon which much of the egalitarian/complimentarian debate hinges. If you’re going to teach on a controversial passage that has wide-reaching implications for how we lead our lives as Christians today, shouldn’t you want to understand and convey the exegetical details of that passage? Driscoll not only doesn’t want to explore the grammar and context of this passage, he goes so far as to encourage you not to do so yourself!

Ironically, ὑποτάσσω may mean something far worse than Driscoll would lead you to believe. Likewise, the discussions regarding the precise meaning of κεφαλή and the context and culture of the first-century Greco-Roman world conveyed in Ephesians are also fascinating and complex and are far from the black-and-white simplicity Driscoll espouses. As with much of the Bible, simply saying “I’ll just read, OK” does little to elucidate the critical issues at hand.

The anti-intellectualism that Driscoll encourages is destroying the church. Asking Christians to abrogate the life of the mind in favor of blind “submission” to a particular doctrine — especially when that doctrine is itself divisive and destructive — is tantamount to forming a cult: don’t think for yourself, don’t investigate what I’m about to say, just accept what I’m going to tell you because it’s in the Bible and the Bible is God’s Word. Is that the message of Christianity? Is that what Christ asks us to do in order to follow him?

Anytime someone encourages you to not investigate, to not dig deeper, to not seek out the truth, that’s a sure sign they’re hiding something and that the only means they have for retaining their power is to convince you to not question that power. The only antidote to such an abuse of power is truth. Fortunately, Christianity has something to say about truth: “and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (Jn. 8.32).

118 comments… read them below or add one

Jennifer Edwards April 28, 2013 at 5:12 pm

Don’t you know that the Bible was written whole cloth under the reign of King James in England? (insert lots of sarcasm here!)


Dan April 28, 2013 at 5:46 pm

I’m pretty sure the Bible was written in 2001 by a team of scholars and pastors working for Crossway Books:


Allen O'Brien April 29, 2013 at 12:16 am

Yes. Yes it was.


dgregoryburns May 2, 2013 at 10:54 pm

The Psalms were written by my professor at Covenant Seminary I’m almost certain.


dgregoryburns April 28, 2013 at 5:26 pm

So tired of him. I am surprised that the “new reformed” leaders like Keller have not sat him down and jerked a knot in his tail or publicly distanced themselves. He frustrates me because I have seen this level of arrogance before and it almost always ends with gross moral faliure and disrepute being brought upon the church. This is what happens when their is no accountability, when we Christian celebrities who reach their position because of thier ability to entertain or shock rather than humble shepherds who know what they are talking about. AGHHHHHH!!!!


Dan April 28, 2013 at 5:47 pm

I couldn’t say it any better!


Ryan Frost April 28, 2013 at 10:21 pm

Get of your morale high horse! The man is not perfect and says some dumb stuff. But He preaches Jesus! and that is it!


Shannon Montgomery (@GrumpCurmudgeon) April 29, 2013 at 11:20 am

If he really preached Jesus and that were it, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.


mike moore April 29, 2013 at 11:35 am

But Mark Driscoll doesn’t preach Jesus. He preaches Mark Driscoll, and Jesus is simply part of the act, and I believe that is the point here … when someone tells you not question or dig deeper, their motive is to solidify their own personal power, not spiritual enlightenment.


Peet April 29, 2013 at 11:52 am

“moral” not “morale.” Thanks.


Peet April 29, 2013 at 11:57 am

Angry people have already lost their authority. Anger is equivalent to hate (Matt 5), and the tone of communication undercuts anything this guy might say. Does he look loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, gentle, or self-controlled? No? Then safely ignore and move on.


Eric Boersma April 30, 2013 at 8:02 am

Anger is not equivalent to hate. I don’t know who’s teaching you that, but it’s fairly clear, even from just a basic reading of the Bible. Jesus was angry at those who turned the Temple into a marketplace, but He didn’t hate them. He was angry at the Pharisees, but he didn’t hate them.

Anger is a healthy and oftentimes appropriate response to a circumstance. Hatred is a poisonous and dangerous attitude that is cultivated over a period of time. Being able to distinguish between the two is a part of the maturing process, but anger is not and never should be considered equivalent to hate.


allegro63 April 30, 2013 at 8:26 am

I agree. Anger can be a very useful emotion. It is a natural response to perceived wrong. It can propelled us to take action to correct that wrong.

It is sadly one we often struggle go master, letting the emotion control us.


zoebrain April 30, 2013 at 6:58 pm

“I agree. Anger can be a very useful emotion. It is a natural response to perceived wrong. It can propelled us to take action to correct that wrong.”

Here’s what was written by an atheist on this very issue:

“”Anger is an Energy”, and you have to transmute it….Transmute Anger -> Energy, then Energy -> Compassion and Rational Action. Not quite “Don’t get mad, get even”, more “Don’t rage, make things better”. Use your hurt to motivate you, to never give up, never despair, never give in, regardless of cost or odds.”

“The problem … is that Intersex and Trans people continue to be born. So we’ll win, the only issue is when, and how high will the butcher’s bill be. The main problem though is that those who fight monsters often become monsters themselves. Stare too long into the Abyss, and the Abyss stares into you.”

Quote “Transmute Anger -> Energy, then Energy -> Compassion and Rational Action.”

Note: Not just Rational Action to win, but Compassion so we don’t become the Enemy we fight against. Both are needed. Justice untempered by Mercy is not just over-rated, it’s dangerous to us. We can’t afford to hate, not for their sake, but for ours.

No-one said this was going to be easy…..

You wrote: “My latest source of incomprehension is how it’s possible for any intersex activist NOT to be a white-hot sphere of pure rage.”

Now you know how. The ones who give in to rage fall by the wayside. It’s Darwinian selection of the cruelest kind. We can’t afford that luxury. We don’t have that privilege as I said before. We have to be Kind, unreasonably forgiving, as well as implacable, indomitable, and so obdurate it goes beyond merely “stubborn”.

We’re not Saints, just ordinary humans. But we have to do this or we too fall by the wayside. That’s a powerful incentive. Survival.”

“… I’m not doing this for her but for me, as the injustice HURTS. I can’t get rid of it all. There’s too many mountain ranges of it, and all I have is a bent teaspoon. But while I have that teaspoon, I will dig. If I didn’t make “that kind of distinction”, if I didn’t see both the bad in the best of us, and the good in the worst of us, I’d be ground down by the task. This making of such distinctions is not a matter of virtue, but survival. We don’t have the luxury of not loving humanity, with all its faults.”


W Froese April 30, 2013 at 8:25 pm

This is what I think of Christians claiming righteous anger: James 1:19-20, 26 NASB This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. … If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless.


mel August 7, 2013 at 8:07 pm

God does hate; it says so in the bible. Of course Jesus hates too, since he has in him the nature of God!


Dan August 7, 2013 at 9:29 pm

Hate isn’t inherently sinful or wrong, it depends on the object of the hate and the reason for the hate: “for everything there is a season … a time to love, and a time to hate.”


revjohnson May 15, 2013 at 12:04 pm

No, he was using humor to point out how men and women misread and misinterpret this text…Woman look for someone to usurp the authority of their husband and husband use this verse to lord over their wives. If you would have listened carefully to this sermon instead of looking to further your witch hunt of Pastor Mark, you would have seen this. It was clearly stated…


Tim May 15, 2013 at 1:04 pm

I read the whole sermon text. None of that was “clearly stated”, or even obliquely stated.

It wasn’t a humorous rhetorical tool; in fact, there was nothing humorous about it at all. It was dismissive. Not a preaching method I’d want to employ, let alone sit under.



Dan May 15, 2013 at 1:34 pm

revjohnson … here’s the problem: you (like Driscoll) have already concluded that there’s only one correct way of reading the text — your way — and that anyone who understands it differently is intentionally misreading and misinterpreting it. But the truth of the matter is that the egalitarian understanding of gender roles in the Bible isn’t necessarily the result of deliberate rebellion or the intentional exchange of “timeless” Biblical truths for the fleeting values of contemporary secular culture. This isn’t a witch hunt, it’s a critical examination of how we engage with controversial issues.


allegro63 April 29, 2013 at 12:06 pm

I think in the case of the discussed sermon, Mr driscol was discussing Paul not Jesus, and his not exactly original thoughts on the matter.


Mike April 30, 2013 at 1:52 am

Driscoll’s version of Jesus – you mean


Stu May 10, 2013 at 1:36 pm

Well Okay then, how about I bake you a whole tray of brownies and add just a little 1/4 tsp. of dog poop. And you’ll dig right in because they’re not perfect but they’re still brownies right?


Mindy April 30, 2013 at 4:50 pm

Isn’t “Christian celebrities” quite the oxymoron? Aren’t the likes of “Christian” men with power, wealth and a modicum of fame pretty much the antithesis of one who lives a Christ-like life? I do NOT understand how they justify it. Talk about not following Biblical teachings –


MDM May 28, 2013 at 7:33 pm

Indeed. Have noticed this, too. I’m sympathetic with him only because it must be very hard to reign yourself in when so many seem to resonate with your message and style and your congregation grows and grows. But this is no excuse. There seem to be Xtn leaders who get it that this kind of pride is not from God, but from someone else, and there are those who don’t seem to.


allegro63 April 28, 2013 at 7:37 pm

Reading about Mr. Driscoll discouraging people from digging deeper into scriptures is eerily familiar to what I grew up with. The church had a charismatic leader who’s writings were second only to Paul in importance. In fact I’d heard several times that one day, this man’s books would be added to the bible. It was required reading, along with all church produced literature, more so then the Psalms, most definitely more so than the gospels. The mindset was pretty much one of “look, we’ve figured it all out for you, so don’t bother, let us tell you what God has to say…and never mind the humble man behind the curtain.” Those that peeked and then questioned, were soon ousted.

And yeah things went down in scandalous flames over the years. The former church is a many splintered, much smaller version of its former glory…yet the true believers…and there are still there, including my dad, still have stacks of articles, magazines, sermon cassettes etc. Its sad really.


Dan April 28, 2013 at 9:39 pm

Wow…what a sad story. To be clear, I don’t think Driscoll is at that extreme of a position … and I hope he never gets there. But whenever we start making idols out of people and their particular teachings, we are bound to be deeply disappointed.


allegro63 April 29, 2013 at 12:10 pm

Thankfully, he isn’t.. but yet I see some worrisome similarities. I am always concerned when a pastoral celebrity gets
It in his or her head that they know more than the “little people/ sheep”


Youreabaffoon April 28, 2013 at 11:07 pm

You are a baffoon.


Dan April 29, 2013 at 9:24 pm

Buffoon … it’s buffoon. 😉


Allen O'Brien April 29, 2013 at 12:24 am

I know that he’s trying to tighten his grip on his culture of submission/control, but this simply breaks my heart. It is difficult enough to get people excited about the original languages behind our English texts without (what I would like to call sideshow wack jobs, but can’t – given how much of a voice they have in our evangelical culture) lovely individuals like Driscoll castigating them as the dark realm of the “rebellious.”

In all reality, this is just ridiculous. I’m not sure how much longer he can hang with the fundamentalists, once he’s taken a swing at a branch like this. Maybe it’s for the better in the long run, as he distances himself from from the rest, but I still think it’s sad that some (or many) will be hurt in the process.


lageorgia April 29, 2013 at 12:15 pm

Oh dear, I flunk the school of Driscoll. As a confirmation teacher at my church for 8 years,(and yes I am a woman teaching both young men and women) and a mother to two(yes one is a boy)I have always taught to dig deep and keep discovering. I taught a special lesson where the young people learned not to take at face value anything a teacher told them but to research it for themselves. To always go deeper in understanding on a particular subject.


Mindy April 30, 2013 at 4:42 pm

Oh dear. You taught them to THINK? To QUESTION? In a CHURCH?? :::::::shaking head sadly:::::::

snark font off.

You sound like someone I’d have liked to have teaching my child back when she was in Catholic school. Because we pulled after kindergarten when I realized that not only were they not meeting her educational needs, they were already working hard to ingrain a non-questioning mentality into my oh-so-curious little girl. No way that was going to happen!


Sam Welbaum April 29, 2013 at 1:00 pm

Even taken out of context, as it has been here, this intent of the statement is clear…and when one looks at the full sermon it becomes more clear, and he is correct. he never affirms that all people doing word studies and digging deep are liberals, but he does affirm that a liberal Evangelical is someone who will attempt a word study so that he/she might get away with something that the text seems to prohibit.

The internet’s desire to strawman and take out of context one of the most solid and theologically orthodox preachers of our time is sad and frustrating, particularly when it is as blatant as this example.


allegro63 April 29, 2013 at 1:16 pm

Back the truck up a second. Which is it? Only liberals do word studies, or only liberals do word studies to get scriptures to fit the way they want t it? Moderates or conservatives never bother? And just who’s opinion is that? Mr Driscoll, yours? What basis is such opinion based on?


Sam Welbaum April 29, 2013 at 2:39 pm

Neither option is accurate, and neither reflects what Driscoll was saying. Driscoll is stating a quality of liberal evangelicals (just be happy he is considering liberals evangelicals), not that it is true only of them, but that it will be true of them. It is not a claim of universality as pertains to word studies.


Dan April 29, 2013 at 2:55 pm

I’m not sure how you can say I took this statement out of context. But anyone is free to decide for themselves: I provided a link to the entire sermon in my post.


allegro63 April 29, 2013 at 2:59 pm

Only mentioning liberal Christians as partaking in this practice gets the point across. He doesn’t have to say others do it too, because of the intended implications that are drawn by the omission. Its a tried and true ploy.. and its dishonest.


Sam Welbaum April 29, 2013 at 9:17 pm

Nothing dishonest about it. He wasn’t making a statement about all people who do word studies, he obviously wasn’t dismissing word studies because he himself does them in his writing a study. Statements aren’t made in a vacuum, and not all statements are made to address universals. I agree, if you want to hate on Driscoll, you can interpret this sentence, from a pastor who encourages indepth study at his church, to mean that people shouldn’t study the Bible. Heck, I have 2 friends who were at the message when he said this or something similar and he points out that his words will be taken out of context. He knows how the internet works.


Dan April 29, 2013 at 9:44 pm

As I said before, the whole sermon is available to verify the context of the quote. There’s video, audio and a written transcript:

Do I really think he doesn’t want you to study the Bible? Not exactly … I think he wants you to study the Bible as long as you don’t come to a different conclusion than him … which means you probably shouldn’t study the Bible too closely and should be very, very careful about word studies, because they might lead you away from the “truth.” After all, “the question is, will we be God’s messenger or God’s editor?”

As he said in the sermon, the Christian view of gender roles is not a trivial issue. And while he doesn’t quite equate the complementarian view as necessary for salvation, he comes awfully close, tying it to orthodox Christian belief regarding the Trinity. For a topic that’s “perhaps the most hotly contested, heatedly debated section in all of Ephesians, if not the entire New Testament,” he gives short shrift to the exegetical difficulties and alternative interpretations, instead plowing ahead with his “correct” understanding of the passage and leaving little, if any, room for charitable disagreement.

You can continue to say that I’ve taken his words out of context … but what then is their proper context if not that egalitarians are rebellious liberals who are consciously subverting the Word of God?


Shawn April 30, 2013 at 12:22 am

You’re a… oh yeah, feminist.


Dan April 30, 2013 at 6:13 am

Thank you.


Mindy April 30, 2013 at 4:45 pm

He wants you to study HIS favorite version of the Bible, and never mention the fact that it was written in a very different time, in a very different culture, and because of that, it *might* carry different meaning today – OR, that meaning might hold a different value today. He would like to decide these things himself, and then tell people which is what. That way, he stays in charge.


Scarlet Syn April 30, 2013 at 5:58 pm

The problem with this is that if someone is hermeneutically studying the context of the Bible, shouldn’t they come to the exact meaning as the one preaching? So what does it really say when somebody comes to a DIFFERENT meaning than what is being preached? Is is possible that a preacher could be wrong/misinformed/leading people astray? Or is it always the fault of the person studying because they’re not as wise/holy/smart/good as the preacher? Or do all liberals look at original context JUST to be bad and evil because they are inherently bad and evil? What does it say about a person who views an entire political group as bad/evil? Could it possibly be that the entire thing has NOTHING to do with the Bible or religion but rather just a cover up for a political agenda?

Also, I was reading it not as an attack on liberals, but as an attack on women. Since the verse in question about about female submission, wouldn’t that make more sense? Or is it just an attack on liberal women? Or maybe it’s saying that all women are liberals.

Maybe, we should just let intelligent people study for themselves and come to their own conclusions for which THEY will have to answer at judgment.


Tim April 30, 2013 at 9:21 pm

Sam, I read the entire sermon. This post does not take the excerpt and interpret it out of context. It interprets it exactly in the context given. It doesn’t stand up to scrutiny, even when read in the midst of the whole message.

Check this out for more in-context analysis of Mr. Driscoll’s statement:



Alan Molineaux May 1, 2013 at 12:45 am

It intrigues me that people in the Driscoll camp are happy to do word studies on Jn 3:16 to make κόσμος not mean world but only mean the ‘elect’ world.

His linking of word studies with being rebellious shows his intent. This is not out of context. He s trying to silence certain voices.


logan c May 13, 2013 at 1:14 am

I second that sentiment


logan c May 13, 2013 at 1:21 am

Sam’s sentiment that is. About the internet


Iain Benson April 29, 2013 at 9:59 pm

Never heard of this guy. As for the “church” being destroyed… do you destroy an “invisible” church anyway?….how could you see that? “One, holy, catholic and apostolic”….THAT church is fighting the good fight while gnostic invsibility becomes increasingly a “….base for operations sly…for atheism” as Melville wrote in his long poem in the 19th Century…


Really? April 30, 2013 at 12:26 am

Iain Benson– anything you write after saying “Never heard of this guy.” need not be read. At least look him up before flaunting your opinions in such a debate.


Iain Benson April 30, 2013 at 1:00 am

lol…the article showed the guy to be an idiot. There is too much important material to waste a nano second on morons. Suggest you move on…


Dan April 30, 2013 at 6:18 am

No, I don’t think Driscoll and his ilk will utterly destroy the church. But I do think their attitudes and methods are destructive to the church. And to be clear, it’s a destructive force generally operating from within the church — I don’t think Driscoll is a non-Christian, just that he’s a profoundly misguided Christian when it comes to certain issues.


George April 30, 2013 at 11:25 pm

DRISCOLL probably thinks that YOU are profoundly misguided and that your interpretation of the Bible is driven more by the present culture than by the text and original context. Who is correct?
I suppose that remains to be seen. I would be very cautious about going with my interpretation of a passage against 1900 years of Christian interpretation that includes most of the church fathers, the Reformers, Puritans etc…SHALOM!


Dan April 30, 2013 at 11:41 pm

There’s cautious, and there’s very cautious and there’s overly-cautious. I readily acknowledge the complexity of the issue and I don’t think anyone should take a stand on something so important simply based on individual interpretation. But there is a very real need to continually reevaluate our theology (semper reformanda) and work through these issues as a Church. Tradition is important, but not an infallible guide. Likewise, the original context of the Bible is important, but is not necessarily directly applicable to our modern context. I’m all in favor of robust dialogue about such things, but I’m not in favor of dogmatic and arrogant teaching on a topic that begs for charity and understanding. Most of church history (and human history) as well as much of the Bible supports slavery. Should we simply defer to tradition and Biblical guidance on that issue? Or should we allow our “modern” culture to inform our understanding in a way that wasn’t apparent to Christians of the past?


Arni Zachariassen April 30, 2013 at 12:21 am

How profoundly non-Protestant.


wken April 30, 2013 at 11:07 am

Pat Robertson can’t live forever, so Mark Driscoll is surely hoping that he can take over as the crazy, under-informed, obnoxious misogynist in the Evangelical camp. Someone has to, right?


Mindy April 30, 2013 at 4:47 pm

LOL! Well, we can HOPE ol’ Pat can’t live forever, but he’s frighteningly well-preserved at this point. But you have a point, who will be his heir-apparent?


Jill May 1, 2013 at 6:06 am

Well, there’s money to be made in the Jesus-preachin’ market. Whoever’s the biggest…er, um… lightning rod. To the victor go the spoils, or something like that.


Patricia Raube April 30, 2013 at 5:30 pm

What I find interesting about this is the fact that at the uber-liberal Union Theological Seminary in NYC we used textbooks that came from evangelical professors and seminaries. Why? Because evangelicals care very much about the Word, and reverence it so deeply that it is incumbent upon them to be able to do exactly the kind of study Driscoll is mocking.

But really, why should I care what he thinks anyway? He has no credibility, his church functions as a cult.


Dan April 30, 2013 at 5:34 pm

But he does have enormous credibility and influence within the conservative evangelical movement…


zoebrain April 30, 2013 at 6:02 pm

“don’t think for your­self, don’t inves­ti­gate what I’m about to say, just accept what I’m going to tell you because it’s in the Bible and the Bible is God’s Word. Is that the mes­sage of Christianity? ”

Yes,of course. Exactly.

“Is that what Christ asks us to do in order to fol­low him?”

Of course not – but what has that got to do with Christianity as it’s practiced in the USA today?


Ted Olson April 30, 2013 at 7:41 pm

I didn’t hear or see what he said, but it sounds like he’s ignoring the gramatical-historical approach to interpreting the Bible – or at least encouraging others to do so. Thanks for posting. I’ve seen a few video clips from him – why is he always so grumpy?


March April 30, 2013 at 11:10 pm

You’re misunderstanding what he actually saying here, he’s talking about the intention behind word studies, he’s not saying, ‘don’t study the original texts and understand their meanings objectively’, he’s saying don’t approach doing these ‘word studies’ with the intention of attempting to find a meaning which suits your own personal (ideological) views. It’s the difference between skepticism and selective-skepticism (the latter being with an intention which is contrary to how we’re suppose to study/read the bible).


Dan April 30, 2013 at 11:26 pm

That’s an overly-charitable interpretation. Sure, you shouldn’t do word studies with the intention of subverting the true meaning of the text, but you also shouldn’t avoid word studies out of fear of subverting the “true” teaching of your pastor. Studying the Greek text to see if it means something other than what you’re being taught is not a sign of rebellion!


Alan Molineaux May 1, 2013 at 12:56 am

I think his intention is clear. He wants to silence other voices by ridiculing them as the wrong kind of evangelical.


Greg Shurmer May 7, 2013 at 2:16 pm

“He’s saying ‘Don’t approach doing these ‘word studies’ with the intention of attempting to find a meaning which suits your own personal (ideological) views.'”

Is this supposed to be a joke? Driscoll does this very thing all the time. He’s also a big fan of proof-texting.

Driscoll’s theology doesn’t come from Scripture – it comes from Reformed theologians. He then approaches Scripture through the lens of his specific brand of Reformed theology and forces it into the categories he has created for it.


W Froese May 1, 2013 at 5:36 am

“Too much education is dangerous” is a common theme. Also we hear that those who come to different conclusions are driven by or “given over” to their sins. This has the handy effect of allowing a quick dismissal of all dissent and also gives a cue to people having dissenting thoughts themselves that it is likely a feature of their sinfulness.


allegro63 May 1, 2013 at 5:47 am

I’ve heard it put that getting an education, particularly a secular one is dangerous because it will cause someone to lose their faith.

Maybe but then it wasn’t worth much. More likely ,it evolves


TessHess May 1, 2013 at 5:41 am

“And so I have the great honor of teaching. You now have to decide what you’ll do with this information. I’d encourage you to get into a Community Group to talk about it with people, to continue to study the Scriptures and to see what God has to say.”
This is a quote at the end of his talk…..


allegro63 May 1, 2013 at 6:35 am

Ah..the small group.. facilitated by people on the same page as the pastor being given the “answers to the test” ahead of time in order to direct the group in that “proper” direction. Dissenters will find it harder to find their say “Yeah but…” because the group will rally around the leader.

Been there, done that


Morgan May 1, 2013 at 2:19 pm

I attended the Mars Hill Women’s Midweek Study where women were taught how to use a variety of resources to do word studies, find commentaries, cross-reference, etc. The idea that Mars Hill/Mark Driscoll does not want its members to study the Word is false. The idea that Mars Hill/Mark Driscoll discourages doing word studies is false. This quote was taken out of context.


Tim May 1, 2013 at 2:23 pm

I read the entire sermon, Morgan. The quote most definitely was not taken out of context. But from what you and others have said in the blogosphere, it is absolutely inconsistent with his encouragement elsewhere to engage in good Bible study. It’s too bad Mr. Driscoll chose such an unfortunate phrase, and said it in a way that is truly discouraging. Oh well, everyone has a bad day.

For another article on why it’s important to study the Word and compare it to what your pastor says, you might like this: . Then agian, you might not.



Dan May 1, 2013 at 2:37 pm

I understand that Driscoll doesn’t really not want you to study the Bible at all! In case you haven’t figured it out, there’s hyperbole in the title of this post. But … the fact that he is so off-handedly dismissive of deeper study when it comes to such a contentious issue is deeply troubling to me. And I think it’s more than simply “an unfortunate phrase” or “a bad day.” He seems to have a pattern of preaching/teaching on “difficult” issues in a manner that, to me, is sadly lacking.


Greg Shurmer May 7, 2013 at 2:28 pm

What is one of the women at Mars Hill faithfully studies Ephesians 5 with her exegetical resources, lexicons, and commentaries, and decides, on the basis of her own study and the opinions of qualified scholars, that this passage does not support a complementarian position, as Driscoll says it does?

The clear implication in Driscoll’s sermon is to study Scripture but to make sure this is done in a way that agrees with the doctrinal constructs set forth by MH leadership. Don’t toe the party line and certainly don’t even consider that complementarianism may be wrong.

(Which brings us to a whole other issue: adding to the good news of Jesus by elevating non-essentials to the status of essentials, and seemingly on-par with Christological and soteriological matters).


Jeff May 1, 2013 at 10:20 pm

This post is pure dreck; to say that “the anti-intellectualism that Driscoll encour­ages is destroy­ing the church” is absurd. The church does not belong to Driscoll, and it will be presented without blemish or wrinkle. Using the same type of hyperbole you criticize Driscoll for using scores you exactly zero points.


Dan May 1, 2013 at 10:40 pm

Thanks…it takes quite a bit of refinement to end up with pure dreck.

Evangelicalism has always had an extremely shaky relationship with intellectual engagement (see Noll’s classic Scandal of the Evangelical Mind). Whether Driscoll is furthering that divide or merely reflecting it I’m not really sure … either way it’s not a positive step forward for the church. As I said in another comment, I don’t think he will destroy the church, just that these sorts of attitudes are destructive. Do you think Driscoll was using hyperbole? Having read/listened to the sermon several times through, I’m inclined to think that wasn’t his intent.


Jeff May 1, 2013 at 11:16 pm

It takes zero refinement. But I recognize the tongue-in-cheek(i)ness of your response, and can appreciate it. Similarly, I think the same tone is evident in the disputed comments from Driscoll. You seem like a dry and humorous fellow, so I’m confused as to why you don’t like (or even detect) that side of Driscoll…

So yes, to answer your question, I do think he was using hyperbole.

Also, I don’t know that closer engagement with intellectualism should be used as a benchmark for progress. The retelling of the gospel is the clarion call for the church, and with a few historical/geographic exceptions that’s always been (and likely always will be) countercultural. Some pastors ignore this in the name of staying culturally relevant, but Driscoll isn’t among that group. By its own right that’s an appreciable quality, isn’t it?

In the end, Driscoll is being used of God to reach folks for the sake of the gospel. I suppose I just don’t like armchair quarterbacks, and in this case it seemed the whole post was unwarranted, and thus worthy of the pure dreck label.


Dan May 2, 2013 at 9:27 am

One thing I don’t detect in Driscoll is dry humor. Smugness and arrogance, yes. Perhaps I’m just not tuned in to his stylistic distictives, but I don’t find myself chuckling or even smirking when I listen to him, instead I find myself yelling and throwing things at my computer. A fault with me or with him? Or both?

I don’t appreciate Driscoll’s binary understanding of Christianity’s relationship with culture: “In our culture, love means you get to do whatever you want,” “We live in an entitlement culture where people are far more concerned about their rights than their responsibilities, far more attuned to what they believe they should receive than what they should give,” and “timeless truth for our truthless times.”

I think a Christian response to and engagement with the broader culture needs to be much more nuanced. See for example Niebuhr’s classic Christ and Culture.

As I said in response to another comment, I don’t at all deny the possibility of God working through Driscoll’s message, but I think his attitude, approach and understandings often run counter to, or at the very least offer unnecessary barriers to, the truths of Christianity.


Tim May 2, 2013 at 9:32 am

And about engaging culture and contextualizing within it, isn’t that what Paul did at the Aeropagus? Hmm, Driscoll doesn’t seem to like to follow Paul’s examples very much. He tells us not to be like Paul and his parishioners in Berea, and he tells us not to be like Paul at the Aeropagus.



Jeff May 2, 2013 at 12:02 pm

First, there’s quite a wide gap between popular culture and intellectualism. Second, I don’t share your impression about Driscoll’s intent at all–he strikes me as very committed to the idea of Christians being in the world but not of the world, and he certainly can’t be blamed for refusing to confront cultural norms.


Tim May 2, 2013 at 1:08 pm

Jeff, that may very well be his position, but this particular sermon does nothing to support it and actually suggests the opposite. An outlying sermon? Perhaps. But it is worth pointing out that his sermon is not something I’d want to emulate.



Greg Shurmer May 7, 2013 at 2:33 pm

“Some pastors ignore this in the name of staying culturally relevant, but Driscoll isn’t among that group.”

Don’t try and portray Driscoll as some sort of die-hard conservative who won’t cater to popular culture.

Driscoll is one of the most culturally-minded pastors currently behind a pulpit. Everything about Mars Hill and Acts29 screams “cool, hip, culturally relevant.” He is also a successful businessman, having created a popular brand and business model and having exported it locally and internationally.


Greg Shurmer May 7, 2013 at 2:36 pm

“In the end, Driscoll is being used of God to reach folks for the sake of the gospel.”

I’ve heard this argument so many times and it drives me crazy.

God can, and does, use anyone to further his purposes. Baalam, Cyrus, Judas: all bad duded that God used as integral parts of his plan.

Also, I know a few people who came to genuine faith through Joel Osteen’s ministry (and who eventually moved on to different churches).

Would you endorse Osteen’s ministry, because “God uses him to reach folks?”


allegro63 May 11, 2013 at 6:46 pm

Maybe its just me but I get the feeling that statements such as “In the end, Driscoll is being used of God to reach folks for the sake of the gospel.” sounds like marketing. I think God uses people all the time, and its in the quiet, behind the scenes, everyday mundane things that people do. Its not necessarily some guy leading a mega church.


James May 2, 2013 at 2:31 am

Paul says to the Philippians: Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will.
16 The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel.
17 The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment.
18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. To Live Is Christ Yes, and I will rejoice.

I would simply ask the writer of the blog whether his time is best spent picking holes in someone trying to reach people for the sake of the gospel, or would be better spent doing spreading the gospel himself. And I would have a better time understanding if this was one isolated post, but much of the blog is spent finding fault with Mark Driscoll. So the goal is, to discredit Mark Driscoll? This is a classic example of what Christians do worst. Disagree with each other disagreeably.


Dan May 2, 2013 at 8:36 am

Of the 87 posts on my relatively young blog, 3 of them focus on Driscoll (3.4%). Of the 42,196 words on my blog, 1,927 are about Driscoll (4.6%). Sorry if you think that less than 5% is a disproportionate amount! I’m not sure how you understand “the gospel” … but honestly I didn’t hear much of the gospel in this sermon. I recognize the ability of God’s truth to work through virtually any circumstance and message — but that doesn’t mean we should give a free pass to those who might be preaching “out of selfish ambition.” I don’t think a Christian’s responsibility to live out and spread the gospel abrogates his responsibility to critically examine and engage with problematic viewpoints.


Douglas Hamilton May 10, 2013 at 7:20 pm

I go to Mars Hill Church, have been for over 4yrs and I am a community group leader there. I just wanted to point out that this article has taken bits of this sermon completely out of context. I wouldn’t advise reading a phargraph of a book and then writing a review on the entirety of the book. Same should go for sermons my friends. The section that this article pointed out and made its main point on the article on the Greek word study was intended to be a joke from Pastor Mark, with a sobering bottom line. That alot of people do word studies to try to stir their way from the obvious meaning of the text because they rebel against hard sayings in the bible due to their hardness of heart and desire to sin while justifying their actions. In no way is mark advising that we shouldn’t study and or do word studies of text in the scriptures. I hope this can help. If anyone would like to know the full context, just listen to the whole sermon.


Dan May 10, 2013 at 8:26 pm

Douglas, thanks for taking the time to comment and for rising to Driscoll’s defense. In my defense, I’ve already addressed the points you raise in this comment. I’ve watched, listened and read the sermon multiple times and vehemently disagree that I’ve taken his statement “completely out of context.”


Tim May 10, 2013 at 10:47 pm

Douglas, like Dan I also reviewed the entire sermon. The portion focused on here may be a small segment of the sermon but this post is not taking it out of context. If as you say this was a joke, it is a joke no pastor should make in a sermon because to do so is destructive to anyone who does not know the pastor well enough to get the misguided attempt at humor. And when you have as many listeners as Mr. Driscoll does, the vast majority don’t know him well. They will either think he is serious or think he is foolish, but they won’t think he is funny.



Jacob Miller May 11, 2013 at 6:09 pm

“The anti-intellectualism that Driscoll encour­ages is destroy­ing the church.” Actually, what’s destroying the church is blogs that muse about bad theology and Christians that spend more time devouring their brother to pieces rather than loving and genty instructing him in righteousness as Christ commanded his childeren to do. To his own master he stands or falls and he will stand for God is able to make him stand. Sometimes I wish the internet would go away.


Tim May 11, 2013 at 6:21 pm

Actually, nothing is destroying the church. It’s the Body of Christ and will endure for eternity in spite of all our individual and collective shortcomings.



Dan May 11, 2013 at 6:32 pm

“Sometimes I wish the internet would go away.” That’s easy…just unplug, turn off & drop out.


Gordon May 20, 2013 at 6:39 pm

This article is juvenile at best. It really doesn’t do well to represent Driscoll correctly. The writer takes a simple sentence TOTALLY out of context. Driscoll was making a joke not discouraging his people from reading or doing serious bible study. His statement was simply to discourage people from going and doing the serious study in order to find loopholes and excuses for not obeying the scriptures. This article is a pathetic excuse at discernment. God help us.


Dan May 20, 2013 at 7:04 pm

So “juvenile” = “position you disagree with”?

You’ve twisted Driscoll’s words to mean what you want them to mean, not to reflect what he really said — indeed, you seem to be the one who’s ignoring the context. That it might’ve been a joke doesn’t resolve the deeply troubling message that he’s sending. His off-the-cuff remark is intentionally dismissive of scholarship that disagrees with his position on this topic.


Rene May 21, 2013 at 2:50 pm

No Dan, Gordon is right. Just listen to the context of the sermon. Driscoll was criticizing people who used the greek in order to find loopholes.


Tim May 21, 2013 at 2:56 pm

Rene, if that’s what he meant he certainly did not say it clearly at all. And – again – if it’s what he meant, he shouldn’t have tried to make a joke out of it because it’s no joking matter.

Luke commended the Bereans as noble for checking up on Paul. Mr. Driscoll jokes that they shouldn’t have bothered. I’ll go with Luke.



Dan May 21, 2013 at 3:17 pm

Rene, did you listen to a different sermon than I did? You can say I’m taking it out of context if you want to, but saying it doesn’t make it true.


Kara May 22, 2013 at 3:29 pm

I heard this entire sermon on the Sunday it was preached, and he was so obviously being sarcastic and joking. Everyone was laughing. Except the bloggers and critics. Find time to write about something else, please.


Dan May 22, 2013 at 3:37 pm

The audio and video are freely available for all to see. There’s certainly laughter when he jokes — but there’s no audible laughter when he makes this statement. Regardless, passing off a deeply troubling statement as a joke does nothing to address the underlying issue.

“Find time to write about something else, please.” Well, since you said please…


Kara May 23, 2013 at 9:10 am

Oh. Well since you didn’t hear it in the video…. Let me tell you there was audible laughter because I was there. It was a joke. I don’t think talking about a statement that was in jest from one sermon you watched on the internet makes you an expert on Mark Driscoll to the point where you can address any “underlying issues.”


Dan May 23, 2013 at 2:59 pm

I just watched it again, starting at about 4:20. Driscoll jokes about wives submitting and everyone laughs…but when he talks about Greek word studies you can practically hear a pin drop. I can’t prove that no one in the audience isn’t chuckling under their breath, but if this statement was a joke it fell very, very flat.

But as I said before, casting a troubling statement as a joke doesn’t get you off the hook. Women “submitting” isn’t something to joke about, nor is characterizing “rebellious” evangelicals as people who study the original languages. Presenting a highly contentious and divisive issue such as biblical gender roles calls for restraint and charity and nuance, not off-hand “jokes” about those who study the Bible and arrive at different conclusions.

I’m not claiming to be a Driscoll “expert” (whatever that might be), but I’ve listened to a fair amount of his sermons and read a bit of what he’s written. And, to me, he certainly does have some troubling underlying theological issues as well as an approach that all-too-often gravitates towards the controversial rather than the charitable.


Kara May 24, 2013 at 1:50 pm

I’m just being honest with you. I go to a branch of Mars Hill and people were laughing, maybe they weren’t at every branch but It’s a joke he’s made before. I do believe he was making an underlying point that people often read biblical commands and hope to find a “loophole” that somehow allows it to mean something different for them. I believe he was using humor to address those thoughts, so that he could then make his point regarding submission. But the title of your article is unfair, giving the impression that he’s rebuking people for studying the bible. His point was more about the tendency to study the bible through the lens of your own agenda. It does make a difference to recognize that.

My issue isn’t that you disagree with him and his theology, a lot of people don’t and they don’t go to Mars Hill. He does use humor, he is straightforward. But he takes the Bible and what he preaches seriously. To say “Mark Driscoll doesn’t want you to study the bible” just isn’t true. You say he should be charitable and not controversial, but it seems like posts like this aim to stir up more controversy than anything else.


Dan May 24, 2013 at 2:25 pm

The title of my post is hyperbolic … so if you take it any other way it will seem unfair … but no less unfair than saying rebellious evangelicals do word studies and no less unfair than equating complementarianism with the very Gospel itself. You say we shouldn’t study the Bible through the lens of our own agenda … but Driscoll clearly has an agenda and explicates the text through that lens. I don’t mind that he tries to use humor or that he tries to engage with the audience. But some topics — especially controversial ones — call for humility, gentleness and thoughtfulness. Being “straightforward” is great. Taking your work seriously is great. Discussing controversial issues is great. Making jokes about submissive women and rebellious evangelicals who study the Greek is not great.


Richard June 12, 2013 at 7:20 pm

I did know anything about this pastor. After reading this and watching the clips i would say your nuts and taking things out of context. Thank you for introdusing me to a good biblical pastor.


Dan June 21, 2013 at 11:38 am

What’s your definition of a “good biblical pastor”?


Steven Van Cout June 25, 2013 at 12:53 am

I don;t think Mark Driscoll is against growing in knowledge of the Bible, but has a great concern over those Christians which try to do word studies to avoid the convection that their beliefs are wrong. There are many passages in the bible that teach us to listen to our church leaders because they are wiser and studied longer. So it makes sense to trust their judgement.


Dan June 25, 2013 at 7:32 am

Church leaders are not necessarily wiser than us, nor have they necessarily studied longer than us, nor should we blindly trust their judgement. Rather we should, to paraphrase Acts 17.11, examine the scriptures every day to see whether these things are so.


DG July 17, 2013 at 2:28 pm

I have just finished listening to Mark Driscoll’s series on Ephesians having previously known nothing about him. Then I googled him and found this blog post. Personally I think your comments are way off track. The quote you are referring to was merely having a little dig in a humorous way at people who needlessly try to find hidden meanings in text just to find an alternate meaning. Listen to the sermon not just read it and you will concur. I could listen to it 1000 times and still not come up with the same idea as yourself.

By the way, I have found the whole series to be very helpful and this thanks to the way Driscoll has opened up the book and clearly explained the text with passion, sincerity and an obvious love for Christ. This I have found to be of great help to me.

Finally, if you look at the tag cloud for this blog you will see that Mark Driscolls name is bigger the Jesus name which kind of shows where your own agenda lies.


Dan July 17, 2013 at 2:51 pm

Thanks for adding your voice to the conversation DG.

I’m glad you found Driscoll’s series on Ephesians so helpful. I don’t doubt Driscoll’s passion, sincerity or love for Christ. I’ve even taken the time to point out some areas that I definitely agree with Driscoll on.

I’ve listened to and read this particular sermon many times and I continue to find Driscoll’s general approach to such contentious issues to be quite troubling. I understand that he was trying to be funny … but as a Christian who has a deep love for the Bible, I found his “joke” about in-depth biblical study to be profoundly offensive. But it’s not just the joke itself that’s offensive…it’s the meaning and intent behind it that concerns me. You express it yourself when you mention “people who needlessly try to find hidden meanings in text just to find an alternate meaning.” That is generally not the approach of those with differing viewpoints on difficult texts. Such a mis-characterization of the “opposition” eschews irenic discourse and instead merely fortifies the walls that divide us.

Lastly, the tag cloud you refer to is based on the tags that I manually assign to posts, not necessarily the actual content or relative merit of those posts. Regardless, “jesus” and “driscoll” are the exact same size in that cloud, since each has 5 posts bearing their respective tags. If you’re so intent on gleaning some sort of hidden agenda from the font sizes, I suggest you look at tag that’s larger than all the rest: “bible.”


MCH August 2, 2013 at 9:12 pm

How can you say “Driscoll compared nagging wives to water torture?” Driscoll read Proverbs 27:15 that said the contentious wife was like a dripping faucet. That idea of dripping water came from Proverbs, not from Driscoll. The guy gets carried away and takes things too far on a somewhat regular basis in an effort to get a laugh, but you are way off on this one. All he did was read Proverbs and make a reasonable comment on what the text says.


Dan August 2, 2013 at 9:55 pm

Driscoll: “Proverbs talks about certain women—they’re like a dripping faucet. You ever tried to sleep with a dripping faucet? Plunk, plunk, plunk, plunk, plunk. It’s what we use to torture people who are prisoners of war.”

Prov 27.15: “A continual dripping on a rainy day and a quarrelsome wife are alike”


gary September 16, 2013 at 11:37 pm

Baptists: Please throw your Greek lexicons in the trash!

Why do Baptist always want to go to the Greek to understand the Bible? It is as if Baptists do not trust their English Bibles: “Sorry, hold on a minute, I need to check the original Greek before we can believe that God really loves the whole world as your English Bible seems to say in John 3:16…we can only know for sure if we understand and read ancient Greek.”

When God promised to preserve his Word…did he really mean that he would only preserve it on 2,000 year old parchment and papyrus in ancient forms of Greek and Aramaic?? Did God really intend that the only people who could REALLY know what he had to say to mankind…would be ancient Greek-educated Baptist Churchmen?? Is the non-ancient-Greek- speaking layperson sitting in the pew supposed to just shut his English language Bible and sit at the feet of these Baptist Greek scholars to learn what God couldn’t explain himself in plain, simple ENGLISH??

Do you REALLY believe that God intended for only Baptist, Greek-speaking Churchmen to understand the Gospel? Because that is really what Baptists are saying, because the Greek scholars of the Greek Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church, the Lutheran Church, the Presbyterian Church, and the Methodist Church think that Baptist Greek scholars are all WET on their positions that the Bible does not support infant baptism and that baptism MUST be by immersion!

Is it really possible that ONLY Baptist Greek scholars truly understand ancient Greek, and that the rest of the world’s Greek scholars completely bungle the translation of the New Testament? How is that possible? It defies common sense. And if I hear another Baptist start talking about how the Greek genitive case proves that the Baptist position is correct, I swear I’m going to puke! Seriously, every time I get into a discussion about Biblical translation with a Baptist he starts in with the genitive case nonsense. If you want to understand the genitive case in a Greek document…I suggest you confer…not with a Baptist…but with a GREEK!

Instead of all this ancient Greek nonsense, which Baptists seem to have a fixation on, I suggest that every Christian layperson do this:

1. Obtain a copy of four different English language translations of the Bible. Read each one of these “problem passages”, as Baptists and evangelicals refer to them, in each of these English translations.
2. God’s true meaning of the passage will be plainly understandable after comparing these four English translations.

You do NOT need to read the ancient Greek text unless you want to delve into the study of ancient Greek sentence structure or some other nuance. God promised he would preserve his Word, and the English-speaking people of the world have had the Word of God IN ENGLISH since at least William Tyndale (1300″s??). Dear Baptists…PLEASE stop insisting on using the ancient texts to confuse Christian laypeople of God’s simple, plain message of the Gospel!

Luther, Baptists, and Evangelicals
an orthodox Lutheran blog


Dan September 17, 2013 at 2:54 pm

I’m not sure why you think this is a Baptist issue.


Tim September 17, 2013 at 4:12 pm

Dan, I think he’s reduced to blaming it on denominational issues because the rest of the argument makes even less sense.



Dan September 17, 2013 at 8:10 pm

Those [email protected]#$% Baptists! No Greek! Blah!


Tim September 17, 2013 at 9:21 pm

I’m betting that the people who did the English translations Gary is talking about probably knew Greek and Hebrew. Gary should talk to them and show them the errors of their ways.


iamhe October 23, 2013 at 8:04 am

I find it interesting that just a month or so later Driscoll is doing a word study on his blog at resergence to prove Jesus is not a pacifist. hmmmm


Dan October 23, 2013 at 9:06 am

Ah, but you misunderstand. Driscoll is allowed to do word studies — but we’re not.


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