The Pen

Mark Driscoll Ridicules Reformed Theology

The infamous Phoenix pastor says “Calvinism is garbage.”

Calvinists everywhere smile. We hope Driscoll has dropped off all his John Calvin sweatshirts at the same thrift store where he picked up his new theology.

No one is seriously following Mark Driscoll anymore. At its high point in 2014, the former Seattle pastor’s multi-site church boasted 14,000 members in fives states.

Back in the day, Driscoll favored an edgy, aggressive style marked by prurient sermons laced with cuss words and punk style worship. All the edgy aggressiveness boiled over in 2014 when the empire suddenly imploded due to Driscoll’s emotional and spiritual abuse of the flock, plagiarism, and accusations of financial misconduct.

Not many years later, with the help of his crony James MacDonald, Mark Driscoll wrapped up his own discipline and re-established himself behind a pulpit in Phoenix, Arizona. His new Trinity church uses seeker-friendly gimmicks like “swimsuit Sunday” to boost numbers.

Driscoll’s New Theology

Recently, Mark Driscoll was interviewed  by Matt Brown on the “Debrief Show” video blog. In this hour interview Driscoll referred vaguely to Galatians to explain his updated theology. Bible terms like repent, righteousness, justice, atonement, and forgiveness were routinely swapped out for: broken, needy, accepts, honest, and grace.

Toward the end of the interview, Driscoll narrowed in on his discarded “Calvinism”:

“I’ve gone so far as to say I think the whole Young Restless Reformed Movement, TIME magazine said I was one of the thought leaders…I don’t even hold to the five points of Calvinism. I think it’s garbage…so, anyways, because it’s not Biblical…”

Now is as good a time as any to pause and lay down a comparison: Young Restless Reformed Calvinism, as a movement, is “Calvinist” like feminists are “feminine.”

Calvinism is historical and confessional. “Young Calvinism” is trendy and always reduced to 4 points. John Calvin taught piety and reverence. Hip “Young Calvinists” prefer to “engage culture.”

Nevertheless, Mark Driscoll has a different complaint about Young Calvinists: He feels they are inordinately focused on Christ.

“These are little boys with father wounds…and they love, love, love Jesus because they love the story where the son is the hero, because they’re the sons with father wounds.”

Mark Driscoll and his interviewer left their Bibles on mute during this part of the discussion. This sort of theology is best supported with pop-Christian sound bites.

Driscoll’s interviewer Matt Brown expounded on Driscoll’s “daddy wound” theology with these words:

God who is a Spirit calls on us to call him Father. Why? We all need a male role model…God relates to us as father because we all have a father wound…We all need a role model and a rule giver.”

Our Heavenly Father exists to heal our “daddy wounds”? To Mark Driscoll and Matt Brown, human needs are the alpha and omega. “Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (I John 5:21).

Old Roads Lead Home

Actually, there is someone who could help Mark Driscoll reform his idolatry according to true Bible themes. Someone who had much to say about the love of a Father who draws us to himself in holiness forever. That would be the 16th century reformer, John Calvin, who ended all his sermons with these words:

Now let us fall before the majesty of our great God, acknowledging our sins and asking him to be pleased to make us increasingly aware of them. And, as he desires us to come to him in repentance, may it please him to draw us to himself by his Holy Spirit, and to bear with our infirmities, until he has altogether purged and cleansed us of them, and brought us to that state of perfection to which he calls and exhorts us.”

Mark Driscoll has discarded his “Calvinism” like a set of youthful parlor tricks. What did they used to say back in the day? “Theology is every gentleman’s hobby?” For the infamous “cussing pastor” the analogy breaks down a bit at the gentleman part, but the main idea holds. It is possible to toy with “theology,” but plastic dollar-store toys always break sooner than later.