BREAKING NEWS: Mark Driscoll Doesn’t Like Critics



You probably read that headline and thought, “tell me something I don’t know.”

It’s not exactly breaking news that Mark Driscoll doesn’t like critics. He really doesn’t like them when they come in the form of “internet bloggers”. (As opposed to those people who blog off the internet?)

Of course, Driscoll is not alone in his disdain for critics. Nobody likes to be criticized. I don’t. Criticism hurts, especially when it’s true.

What makes Driscoll different than other public figures who have battled critics is that he doesn’t simply dismiss them, nor does he accuse them of spreading falsehoods. Instead, he tries to frame the issue of criticism in spiritual terms as we see demonstrated in this latest video posted by Mars Hill.

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For Driscoll, on one side you have critics: lazy, bitter, angry, trouble makers who sit around pointing out everything churches/celebrity pastors are doing wrong without taking any action on their own part to correct the perceived problems.

On the other side are the servants: noble, loyal, peaceful Christlike disciples who offer their unwavering, no questions asked support to their church/celebrity pastor and when they do see something wrong they take action.

So to recap: critics are lazy sinners who just complain all the time. Real Christians follow their leader and don’t ask questions.

Aside from the fact that this clip is a thinly veiled attempt to dismiss the mountain of criticism directed his way, like a lot of Driscoll’s theology his argument is both ridiculously absurd and ironically un-Biblical.

For starters, everybody’s a critic. Literally. All of us. We’ve all criticized things or people and we will continue to do so for the rest of our lives.

So has Mark Driscoll.

Every time he gets on stage to yell and scream about a satanic movie, demonic exercise, or effeminate/n0n-reformed theological position he is criticizing something.

And that’s ok. Criticism, when it’s constructive (and even sometimes when it’s not) is a good thing. Criticism helps us do what we are often incapable of doing ourselves: seeing our own mistakes. If we have the courage to listen to those criticisms and learn from them, then criticism can be a mechanism for growth.

More importantly, there are few things we encounter more often in the Bible than criticism of the people of God, which makes me really confused as to what Bible Mark Driscoll is reading.

When Moses comes down the mountain and yells at the people of God for not living up to their covenant with God he’s being a critic.

When Samuel holds Saul and David accountable for being imperfect kings he’s being a critic.

When the Psalmist cries out to God “why have you forsaken me?” he’s being the boldest critic of all by criticizing God’s fidelity.

The second half of the Old Testament is entirely devoted to critics. We call them prophets. Their job was to call the people of God to account for not being faithful to God. They did this by criticizing the way they lived and the way they worshiped.

Then, of course, you have that guy named Jesus in the gospels. When he’s not healing sick people or preaching to the masses he’s criticizing the religious establishment.

But the Bible isn’t done with criticism after the resurrection. Much of Paul’s letters (as well as the other New Testament writers) are full of criticism of the churches he was righting too. He wasn’t being “mean” or “un-Christian”. He was holding them to account so that they could learn from their mistakes and grow into the people of God they professed to be.

The tradition of ecclesiastical criticism, though, doesn’t stop with the Bible.

The early church fathers, not least of all St. Augustine, were constantly criticizing their opponents for false teaching.

Two of Mark’s great reformed heroes, Martin Luther and John Calvin, were two of the greatest church critics of all time.

Jump ahead to the modern era and we have people like Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King, and countless others who criticized the church for the way it was treating people.

So, despite what Driscoll may want you to believe, the truth is that some of God’s best servants were also some of the church’s greatest critics.

But here’s where Mark’s bifurcation of critics and servants really falls apart….

ALL of these Biblical and post-Biblical critics actively pursued the change they called for. They didn’t just sit at home complaining, they confronted kings in their throne rooms, stood up in the heart of the temple, nailed their grievances to a church door, led marches, lived with the oppressed, and even gave their lives.

Mark Driscoll’s dismissal of critics out of hand as lazy trouble makers only demonstrates his inability to respond effectively to their critiques. He tries to frame his critics as false Christians, or wolves among the sheep, so that way he can ignore them by claiming some sort of spiritual high ground because “real Christians” shouldn’t let themselves be distracted by Satan’s attempts to thwart the preaching of the gospel.

The reality, of course, is that much of the criticism directed his way isn’t the devil’s handiwork. Many of Mark’s critics are genuine disciples of Christ, concerned that the things he preaches and the way he leads his flock are not reflective of the Jesus he claims to serve.

Like it or not, what happens at Mars Hills reflects on all of us. That’s why we criticize and that’s why we actively try to do something about it.

Sure there are critics out there who sit at home, never go to church, and criticize everything, never do anything about the problems they see. But that is absolutely not true of everyone. For Mark to pretend that it is in order to simply ignore the criticism is…. well…. lazy.


Grace and peace,

Zack Hunt

  • the other ed
    April 24, 2012

    Dear Mark Driscoll,
    Jesus was concerned with the people who worshipped God who, when they come together, form a church. He was NOT supporting a mindless institution…

  • NFQ
    April 24, 2012

    [Jesus] was NOT supporting a mindless institution…

    Heh. Really? I bet you’re not a fan of Hebrews 11:1, or Proverbs 3:5, just for a couple examples. The Bible isn’t exactly big on people thinking for themselves.

  • Robin
    April 24, 2012

    So….on the one hand we have a dynamic pastor with a thriving ministry, being used by God to bring thousands to Christ every year; on the other hand we have a guy who didn’t, and doesn’t like the way the other guy did it. At least give Driscoll a gold star on the chore chart Zack. How ’bout we jump off the “let’s attack Mark Driscoll” bandwagon. So grieved when I see the church cannibalizing itself.
    “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is good, if there be any virtue or anything praiseworthy, think on these things.” Philippians 4:8

    • Zack
      April 24, 2012

      “So….on the one hand we have a dynamic pastor with a thriving ministry, being used by God to bring thousands to Christ every year; on the other hand we have a guy who didn’t, and doesn’t like the way the other guy did it.”

      So ministry only counts when you’re the celebrity pastor of a mega-church? Guess I’ll have to let the students in my youth group know that the past 5 years I’ve spent being their youth pastor was irrelevant since I’m not famous.

      • Robin
        April 24, 2012

        I guess it’s just easier to throw granades than it is to catch them. :-/

        • Zack
          April 24, 2012

          I have no problem with criticism. Thus the post.

          I simply find it absurd and profoundly un-Biblical to think that critiquing other Christians is somehow “wrong” or that it means we’re “cannibalizing” the church. It doesn’t. It means we’re holding each other accountable and that is a very good thing.

    • Karen
      April 24, 2012

      Robin, sounds like you’ve been “drinking the Mars Hill koolaid” to me! Sad. To reasonably and justly criticize a member or pastor of a church when he or she is found promoting false teaching and unsound practices from a biblical perspective does not “cannabilize the Church!” (Good grief–what a foolish and weak notion of “the Church” you have!) It warns the naive to steer clear of bad influences, and if the leader/member is capable of repentance, then it helps to prod them toward that repentance.

      Of course, if you’re inferring that Mark Driscoll is “low hanging fruit” for criticism because he appears to have “open mouth, insert foot” disorder, I’d agree with that!

  • brad
    April 24, 2012

    just because driscoll leads a mega church he should be revered? Bullshit!!! he is a glory hound. He is a power hungry ego maniac. One of those oh so common my way or the highway fundies. He cant entertain for one minute that he is wrong. Remember Jesus fed people, healed lepers, and didnt ask that they followed him first. Churches feed the hungry, pay peoples utility bills, and dont ask about their soul first. Jesus did everything with a servants heart. You dont change peoples hearts by screaming that they are wrong; you serve them. an athiest in south texas had a change of heart because of a congregations charity.

  • Fred
    April 24, 2012

    “On the other side are the servants: noble, loyal, peaceful Christlike disciples who offer their unwavering, no questions asked support to their church/celebrity pastor and when they do see something wrong they take action.”

    But if the action taken is contrary to what the “leaders” want, then they are no longer servants, but are critics.

  • Kaytee
    April 25, 2012

    I am not a fan of Driscoll. I think he does a lot of harm and usually disagree with him on many, many things. I am often offended and hurt by his words and have a hard time even listening to him. With that being said, I actually don’t find much fault with what he is saying in this video. I agree that if you see a problem in a church, you should try to fix it rather than leave. He doesn’t seem to be saying that you can’t question the church or even have issues with the church but that criticizing the church without following up with action won’t be helpful in actually solving the problem at hand. I actually know of someone who attends Mars Hill, for many reasons, but one of them is to try to be change there. Of course, if you try and try to bring about change and nothing is happening and the church becomes an unhealthy environment for you, by all means, go worship elsewhere, I’m just not so sure that Mark is saying what you think he is saying in this video. And trust me, it is hard for me to say that. He seems to be calling people to act upon what is bothering them, rahter than just stand back and complain. And I honestly hope his congregation listens to this message and does just that.

    • Jesse
      April 26, 2012

      The problem with Driscoll though is that even when people do go about these issues in the right way and try to voice their plan for addressing them in a reasonable way, he paints them as trouble makers and gets them out of the picture as quickly as possible. I’m sure it’s already been mentioned on this site at some point, but that’s what happened with Paul Petry–

      So, I would have to disagree and say that Driscoll DOES seem to be saying that you can’t question the church (Mars Hill anyway). And I realize that your comment is more towards what he said and not actually his character, but I think his comment was just deflecting people from seeing the truth of his controlling nature. So, while I can see truth in the comment itself (like you), it’s actually a load of crap coming from him because he doesn’t actually operate that way.

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