Who Would Jesus Smack Down? Mark Driscoll?

Molly Worthen wrote an article for the New York Times this last week about Mark Driscoll, the pastor of the popular Mars Hill Church in Seattle. Here is one of her observations:
God called Driscoll to preach to men — particularly young men — to save them from an American Protestantism that has emasculated Christ and driven men from church pews with praise music that sounds more like boy-band ballads crooned to Jesus than “Onward Christian Soldiers.” What bothers Driscoll — and the growing number of evangelical pastors who agree with him — is not the trope of Jesus-as-lover. After all, St. Paul tells us that the Church is the bride of Christ. What really grates is the portrayal of Jesus as a wimp, or worse. Paintings depict a gentle man embracing children and cuddling lambs. Hymns celebrate his patience and tenderness. The mainstream church, Driscoll has written, has transformed Jesus into “a Richard Simmons, hippie, queer Christ,” a “neutered and limp-wristed popular Sky Fairy of pop culture that . . . would never talk about sin or send anyone to hell.”
I have visited Mars Hill and have listened to many of Mark's sermons via his podcast. I find him very entertaining. There is a reason that his sermons are at least twice as long as most pastors- he has a remarkable gift of gab and can certainly hold his congregation's attention. But I also experience Mark to be angry- angry against American culture, against the feminism of the Church, against anything that doesn't line up with his hard-core Calvinistic approach to Christianity. That anger is having an impact, especially right there on the green ground in Seattle. But even though this local church is growing into a multi-campus ministry, I don't know that Mark's particular message or model should be interpreted as pure Gospel. In his welcome video on the church's web site is the tag line, "It's all about Jesus, it's only about Jesus, it's always about Jesus." But sometimes I wonder if Mark is designing his macho, masculine and Fonzie-cool image of Jesus while he is staring in the mirror.

Your church is cool, Mark, but remember, even Fonzie jumped the shark.

Mars Hill style of Calvinism has its pitfalls, in my opinion, and I think there are more productive responses to feminism than flexing our manly muscles. Sometimes it is only good for a laugh, not too unlike this blog.


BoiseGuy said...

Your last paragraph got my wanting to ask "and..."

So please post the 2nd half; either here, facebook or via the Pike Place Pulpit (how's that for alliteration"

Chad Estes said...

BoiseGuy, I'm not sure what you want to know more of; my opinions on Mars Hill, on Calvinism, on making the Gospel macho, or about the demise of Happy Days.

My point to the article, and the purpose of this blog, is to look at something that is held up at Jesus and look at it a little closer. In this case, I have my reservations. I'm not against Pastor Mark or Mars Hill, I just think some of what I hear from them shouldn't be attributed to God. It is good for conversation (and as I have said, entertainment) but troublesome when it becomes dogma.

Did you read Molly Worthen's article in the New York Times? What did you think of that? What is it that you want to discuss?

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