Pastor Mark Driscoll attacks Christian pacifism the same week he calls for Christian unity. (Photo credit: Cali Lowdermilk)

Pastor Mark Driscoll attacks Christian pacifism the same week he calls for Christian unity. (Photo credit: Cali Lowdermilk)

The same week Mark Driscoll declared via a press release that “[Christians] spend too much time lobbing e-bombs at each other in cyberspace,” he published an internet article confronting Christian pacifism.

“Jesus is not a pansy or a pacifist; he’s patient. He has a long wick, but the anger of his wrath is burning,” the Seattle-based pastor wrote. “Once the wick is burned up, he is saddling up on a white horse and coming to slaughter his enemies and usher in his kingdom. Blood will flow.”

The more than 1,200-word article titled, “Is God a Pacifist?” argued that Exodus 20:13 (“You shall not murder”) does not teach non-violence, but the conclusion was especially pointed:

“Some of those whose blood will flow as high as the bit in a horse’s mouth for 184 miles will be those who did not repent of their sin but did wrongly teach that Jesus was a pacifist. Jesus is no one to mess with.”

Predictably, Twitter erupted with Christian pacifists who felt misrepresented. Pacifist denominations include the Church of the Brethren, Mennonites, Churches of God (7th Day), Quakers, and Seventh-day Adventists.

In light of the growing conversation, I asked several prominent Christian pacifists for their thoughts and reactions:

Claiborne

Shane Claiborne,
Activist and bestselling author of Red Letter Revolution

Jesus was not a pansy. Nor was Jesus “a prize fighter with a tattoo down his leg, a sword in his hand, and a commitment to make someone bleed,” as Mark Driscoll has contended. “Fight Club” may have been a good movie, but it makes for really bad theology.

Mark may see things like “kindness, gentleness, love and peace” as feminine, dainty things for pansies, but the Bible calls them the “fruit of the Spirit.” These are the things that God is like.

We need only look at the cross to see what perfect love looks like when it stares evil in the face – love forgives, love dies, love does not kill. Jesus was not violent, and surely not passive. Jesus shows us a “third way” that is neither fight nor flight.  He teaches us that evil can be opposed without being mirrored, oppressors resisted without being emulated, and enemies neutralized without being destroyed.

The way of the cross is problematic to fight-club theology and the theology of imperialism, power and might. It was offensive even to Jesus’s own followers who begged him to call down “fire from heaven” on their enemies, and who continually digress to the logic of the sword. Fight-club theology is nothing new, but it is always sad, and it is a betrayal of the cross.

Jesus is Life. He died to conquer death. His blood was shed to stop the shedding of blood. His sacrifice on the cross was the sacrifice to end all sacrifices.  It was the final triumph of life over death, of love over hatred.  There is no need for more blood. In fact, we can even say that when we shed the blood of another, it is a offense to the cross.

We can call Jesus crazy, but we dare not call him a pansy. The nonviolent love that we see on the cross is not the sentimental love of fairy tales but it is the daredevil love of the martyrs… and it teaches us that there is something worth dying for, but nothing we should kill for.

Withrow King

Sarah Withrow King,
Deputy Director of Evangelicals for Social Action

Here’s a big idea: look at scripture in context. Yeah, Jesus quotes the sixth commandment in Matthew 5, and then he transforms it into something amazing – the command is no longer “please try to refrain from killing people” but “go and try to reconcile with your enemy.” In fact, even if you’re in the middle of one of the most important acts of worship — offering your gifts at the altar, if you remember that you have unresolved conflict with someone…leave, drop everything, and go reconcile with that person.

Jesus goes on to tell us that retributive violence is no longer the moral code of the day. Instead, we Jesus followers are to turn the other cheek, go a second mile, and give our enemies the clothes off our back. We’re to pray for people who persecute us, and love them. When we are threatened, we engage in active, non-violent resistance in order to turn the tables on people trying to harm us. We don’t kill them, and we don’t respond to their violent acts with violent acts of our own.

Sprinkle

Preston Sprinkle,
Author of Fight: A Christian Case for Non-Violence and professor at Eternity Bible College

In spite of the fact that Romans 13 doesn’t mean what Driscoll thinks it means, in spite of the fact that Driscoll’s Hal Lindsay-like literal reading of Revelation finds little support among respectable commentators, and in spite of the fact that Jesus’s nonviolent life and nonviolent commands as well as the nonviolent exhortations of Paul (Rom 12), Peter (1 Pet 2-3), and John in Revelation (throughout) are completely ignored, what I find most entertaining about Driscoll’s sermon is his description of pacifists as pansies.

Martin Luther King, who courageously led the charge against segregation, was a pansy. Charles Spurgeon, who boldly denounced warfare and violence, was a pansy. André and Magda Trocmé, who refused to use violence when they helped rescue 5,000 Jews from deaths camps during WWII, are both pansies. The leaders of the Christian church for the first 300 years of its existence—all of whom were pacifists—were also pansies.

Pastor Driscoll and I actually have a lot in common. We’re both conservative, reformed evangelicals, who think Calvin got it right more times than not. We both love baseball, hot wings, good beer, and hard-hitting hour-long sermons. But I’m genuinely confused at how Mark can read the Bible and still be so adamantly convinced that non-violence has little (or no) biblical merit. I can’t help but think that Mark has been more shaped by the worldview of those who put Jesus on the cross than the One who hung on it. It was the Roman empire, and not Jesus and not his followers for hundreds of years, that had no place for pacifism.

McKnight

Scott McKnight,
Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary and author of Sermon on the Mount

Pacifism isn’t quietism or withdrawal or inactivity, and it isn’t simple submission. Pacifism’s root is connected to the peacemaking beatitude, rooted in love, and expressed when the follower of Jesus actively seeks peace. Pacifism isn’t a lack of interest or non-involvement, but the hard work of seeking peace. Pacifism is non-violent resistance not non-resistance. What Jesus teaches his followers to do illustrates the sort of pacifism he advocates: turn the other cheek, surrender even more clothing, go the extra mile, lend and do not charge interest or require a payment back. Hardly the stuff of the inactive. These acts subvert the Roman system.

Wilson-Hartgrove

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove,
Activist and author of Strangers at My Door

I like Mark for his clarity. He knows what he thinks, and he makes it plain.

Mark Driscoll right: murder is not the same as killing. He’s making a basic moral distinction. It’s part of the Old Testament law. And it’s written into American law. Involuntary manslaughter in our society’s criminal code is not the same as second degree murder, for example. As anyone doing time in prison can tell you, these distinctions matter.

But his clarity also betrays his misunderstanding of Christian pacifism. He insists that Jesus “is not a pansy,” by which I think he means to say that Jesus does not roll over and give up in the face of evil. This is true, of course. But this is not what Christian pacifists claim. We believe, instead, that Jesus along with all the martyrs of the church exhibit the highest degree of courage when they refuse to return evil for evil. Jesus is not a pansy before Pontius Pilate. He is Christus Victor.

*RELATED: “Is Mark Driscoll this generation’s Pat Robertson?”*

*RELATED: “Divisive pastor Mark Driscoll says Christians should stop infighting”*

182 Comments

  1. Rachel Held Evans

    I am so thankful for these thoughtful, gracious responses!

    Whenever I challenge something Mark Driscoll has said (using words like “queer” and “gay” in derogatory, hateful ways; encouraging his followers to mock “effeminate” men; calling women “gullible and easier to deceive than men,” etc.) someone will inevitably say: “Yes, but he gets men to go to church.”

    But my concern here is that Driscoll is drawing men to church by appealing to their basest, most destructive instincts regarding women, sexuality, violence and power rather than the actual teachings of Jesus.

    “I cannot worship the hippie, diaper, halo Christ because I cannot worship a guy I can beat up,” he says.

    The bad news for Mark is that we *do* worship a guy who got beat up. We *do* worship a guy who taught us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. We *do* worship a guy who spoke honorable about women and treated them as equals. We *do* worship a guy who surrounded himself with just the sort of people Driscoll likes to publicly mock.

    We worship a guy who inaugurated his kingdom, not by “making somebody bleed” but by bleeding!

    Pastors should certainly strive to reach and serve men. But we can’t do this by twisting Jesus to fit into our culture’s skewed views of masculinity. Getting men to go to church is not the same as making disciples of Jesus.

    • Jeffry Neuhouser

      Rachel! Thank you so much for your comment. As someone who feels attacked when he tries to imitate the person of Christ through tenderness, grace, kindness, love, peace, etc. I very much appreciate your words. I was just helping someone withe their research on masculinity and the church today so this comes at a time when this is all very fresh in my mind. I have struggled my whole life trying to fit into the mold of traditional masculinity and have failed time and time again never feeling at peace. However, the more I study Christ and spend time with him I realize how much he calls me to tenderness, grace, and these qualities he calls all Christians too. These are what have brought me true peace! I want to cry every time I here Driscoll speak on masculinity because I think he is leading many men, young and old, down a path that is not healthy. As you have always said, it is dangerous when we slap the label “biblical” on what we think.

    • Exactly what I was thinking as I read this – “But my concern here is that Driscoll is drawing men to church by appealing to their basest, most destructive instincts”.

      He might appeal to a demographic of men, but if you told me I could be thin and healthy while only eating cake and not exercising, you’d appeal to me too.

    • Rachel,

      Thank you for this. These words are so important to hear in this conversation. It’s simply not enough to argue back with Driscoll about the legitimacy of his stance on Jesus, without looking at the violence inherent in the paradigms that he is promoting. It makes me glad to see you speaking up about this.

      Peace.

    • I know we are talking about Driscoll but I wanted to make a comment about the assumption that violence is one of men’s basic instincts. To say that men are by nature violent is an anti-male statement that is damaging. Do we not think more of men? Or believe for better? To say that it is natural is condemning them to violence a la “boys will be boys”. “Researchers tell us that half of tribal societies investigated over the past century had no, or very low levels of, violence. Some had no rape. No battering. No fist fights. No war. This is the best proof we have that humans in general, and men in particular, are not genetically programmed for violence against each other.” Violence is a learned behaviour. I think it has everything to do with social programming and harmful ideas around the construct of masculinity.

      • Lest we forget, violence means ‘to violate’. To violate another is antithetical to the 1 Corinthians 4 view of love in all ways. We are to share the Good News with gentleness and respect, as per 1 Peter 3:15. Godly anger should inspire good things, not carnal actions. There is a place for righteous anger, but harming another does not equate to standing up for what’s right. Defending our loved ones is a separate category as well. Our enemies are not flesh and blood.

    • Amen! Jesus lived out a very different understanding of masculinity than the macho one. As a follower of Jesus, I believe I am called to follow Jesus’ example of living life as a man, not that of the larger society or its worst elements which Driscoll upholds.

      At the heart of living out masculinity or femininity is being human. If we don’t start from how Jesus’ called humans to live, our masculinity or our femininity is going to be distorted. It is going to be an attempt to depart from being the image of God that we were created to be.

      Key characteristics of Jesus cross the boundaries of what cultures often identify as “masculine” values or “feminine” values. If we look at the person of Jesus, you can see that transcending of these stereotypes as he models what we are as a “new creation” which is really a recovery of how we were originally designed in the image of God – as icons of God, as the Orthodox put it.

      If we live into this way to which we are called, we will find ourselves liberated from the cultural boxes. Vulnerability is often considered a “feminine” virtue, but who was more vulnerable than Jesus? Christ would have us all – men and women – vulnerable, open to those hurting around us and willing to risk our hearts to pour out God’s love.

      Early male Friends (Quakers) experienced this. They talked of being “tendered” as they crucified their false selves and let Christ recreate them. They talked about being “nursing fathers” – an eye-opening and liberating image. When they put on Christ, their old boxes in society’s image of masculinity fell away. Driscoll may call this weakness, and he is right. The whole New Testament calls us to be weak in ourselves so we may be strong in Christ. The Gospel turns the table on images of weak and strong. The Suffering Servant who allows himself to be humiliated and executed is the one who conquers the world! If you are bound by the images of this world, this seems unbelievable and nonsense, but in it we find true liberation to be all that God would have us be. Praise God!

    • Robert Elliott

      Jesus suffered that way out of loving submission to His Father’s will not because of pacifism. Driscoll is right here. Jesus was an authentic man in every respect as he showed by driving the moneychangers from the Temple and by being gentle when needs be. Don’t quote Driscoll out of context or twist his words Rachel.

    • Jeffrey L Julien

      We once joked about how we could get men to our little village church by having a kegger after worship.
      I had never heard of Driscoll until recently but after several articles about him I am asking myself “why?”.
      Then I remembered the answer.
      When the offers are made in the desert (if one even goes to the desert to struggle at all) some accept them and some do their best to follow Jesus and reject them.
      Money, power, fame OR the strength of God’s spirit displayed in the kindness, gentleness, patience, love and peace of his children.
      I recall Jesus said we had to be as children to enter the Kingdom, not manly macho men.

    • Shannon Green

      Rachel, you hit the nail on the head. We can be pacifists or not. The bottom line is Jesus did get beat up, in fact much worse, he was killed. Knowing full well that he had the power to stop all of it in an instant. Whether you embrace non-violence or not, we must do something with the fact that Jesus chose to not physically defend himself when he could have. He chose to allow himself to be harmed, physically.

      And I agree with your point that Mark may in fact get men to church, but we need to consider that standing in a church doesn’t make us disciples, anymore than standing in garages makes us cars. ;-)

    • Yes, but you are a woman who rarely if ever goes to church in her home town because the dont do things right. You seems to fight Calvinists and Driscoll whenever you can. … You love to attack. Do Driscoll and Piper attack you? You make your living by attacking your home church, your town, your school, other Christians… How often did Jeses do that to people who really loved Uim and His Father? Most of the people you love to attack will spend eternity with Jesus so why the attack?

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      …someone will inevitably say: “Yes, but he gets men to go to church.”

      You could also do that by putting in stripper poles and/or a live feed of the Super Bowl.

      “Yes but he gets men to go to church!” is just a variant of “but he Saved lots of Souls!” that’s been used to defend frauds like Mike Warnke or the dime-a-dozen sexual predators we’ve seen in the pulpit. “Souls(TM)” — not people — are just Christianese currency. And just like those Secular Heathens, if you pile up enough currency for yourself you can climb on it high enough to get Above the Law.

  2. Rachel Heston-Davis

    I don’t understand why Mark Driscoll appeals to the second coming of Christ to prove that today’s pacifists are wrong. The second coming of Christ talks about what Jesus will do to set the world to rights. That does not necessarily mean that Jesus wants us to carry swords and make people bleed in the here-and-now. It’s sort of like how God has the right to judge everyone on the last day, but we do not have the right to judge people’s hearts in the here-and-now, as fallible humans. I do not see what’s complicated about that distinction.

    I suppose, though, he’s trying to go into an even larger conversation about the nature of Jesus, since pacifists have reached their convictions in an effort to emulate Him. Even there, the above point still stands. We are to emulate Jesus, yes. Christ and the New Testament have explicitly told us how to emulate Jesus, and precious little of that had anything to do with being tough guys and beating people up. The characteristics of himself that Christ chose to emphasize for our emulation were the gentle, kind, merciful ones. What He chooses to do on His white horse at an unspecified time in the future really has no bearing on our current behavior, because he never, anywhere, told us to act like that…only to look to Him for ultimate salvation on that day.

  3. Thankx Jonathan for putting this together. A lot of Driscoll’s teaching in this vein i find very disturbing and it is great to see a range of balanced responses here to it. I am with those who say i cannot understand how he can read the same Bible i am reading [maybe he is reading the new international WWE version?] and come up with that kind of Jesus – in the garden as He is being arrested, He rebukes Peter for cutting off an ear of a guy who had come to take Him down and even heals the guy. The woman caught in sin – Jesus response of let the person who is without sin cast the first stone. And then refusing to add condemnation to all the woman had gone through already. And the cry of ‘Forgive them for they know not what they do’ yelled from the cross…

    really appreciate this, keep on
    love brett fish

  4. I generally love Mark Driscoll, but I’ll also be the first to admit some of his comments leave me cringing. This particular blog post, I think, presents a great idea amid some very poorly-chosen language. He could certainly pick up a few pointers from the tactful and gracious way that most of those Jonathan interviewed presented their points. He might also have mentioned that just because Jesus assumes the authority to destroy sinners doesn’t absolve us of His commands to love our enemies and His example of the cross.

    But…I’m afraid I cringed at the content of some of these responses as well. You see, the difficulty is that the Gospels, while very much the Word of God, represent only 4/66 of God’s Revelation. Driscoll is, at his core, right. Jesus WILL judge sin, He WILL destroy the wicked, He WILL return with power and be anything but nonviolent. In the meantime, since we lack His authority as King of Kings to judge evil, we are indeed called to not resist our persecutors and love our enemies. But it’s not loving to neglect to warn them of the consequences facing them if they don’t repent, nor is it good for Christians to fixate on only the aspects of Christ that we find appealing.

    • I don’t have the wherewithal to take this on, myself, but having read a number of responses to Driscoll’s words on this subject elsewhere today, I’d encourage you to check some of them out (here’s one, which itself promises further installments: http://reknew.org/2013/10/responding-to-driscolls-is-god-a-pacifist-part-i/). Suffice it to say, folks who disagree with Driscoll have dealt with the other “62/66 of God’s Revelation,” yet still come up with a very different impression of what Jesus “WILL” do than what you suggest in this comment.

    • Rachel Heston-Davis

      I don’t think what’s on the table here is failing to warn people of consequences. But I think it is worth asking: what are we warning people about? Should we be warning people that they will get beat up by Jesus if they don’t follow God? Or should we be explaining that human beings were created to have true existence and full flourishing in harmony with God, and that being cut off from that eternally would be the worst fate one could imagine? I feel like the second option is more in tune with what we believe theologically. It’s not that God is just coming back to pop some noses for no reason, so get on board or else! But that’s how Driscoll often comes off when he speaks on this subject.

    • I appreciate your thoughtful engagement here, Tommy.

      I think we have to be wary of reading the Bible flatly, as though the incarnation is just another event in a line of equally important events. The Gospels may only occupy 4/66 of the Bible in regards to physical space…but what happens in those Gospels?

      God becomes flesh and lives among us! God straps on sandals and eats and cries and prays with us! God not only speaks to us, but lives with us and shows us, through action, what God most values, what God is really like! As John put it: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

      It’s kind of a big deal. :-)

      Jesus said he came not to abolish the Law but to fulfill it. So in Jesus we see the fulfillment of all OT Law. Jesus said that all the law and prophets hang on the commands to love God and love neighbor. So really, the Gospels teach us HOW to interpret the rest of Scripture. We interpret the rest of Scripture through the lens of Jesus. Jesus teaches us how to interpret the Bible, not only by teaching about it but also by embodying its ultimate purpose.

      As Jesus put it: “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”

      Ultimately, our faith isn’t in Scripture; our faith is in Jesus Christ. God’s Word culminates when it is embodied in Jesus.

      So every other passage HAS to get weighed in light of the teachings of Jesus. Where we may sense a conflict, or where it’s not clear, we must look to Jesus – his teachings and his life – for clarity.

      So skipping over the gospels and creating an entire theology of violence around a difficult/probably metaphorical passage in Revelation is irresponsible to say the least.

      • Thank you Rachel – you’ve hit it on the head. We worship Christ, who is God incarnate, and who is revealed by Scripture, but we do not worship Scripture itself. The Word of God points to the revelation of God, which is Christ, who shows us how we are to live, and how we can find God and love one another.

        Tommy, I agree with the statement you ended on, “nor is it good for Christians to fixate on only the aspects of Christ that we find appealing,” but I think we come at it from different sides. I affirm Rachel’s statement that we must read Scripture through the lens of Jesus, and look to Christ as the embodiment of God’s purposes for the world. God is all about blessing the families of the earth, redeeming creation, and reconciling people to God. As Rachel said, anytime we read anything in Scripture that may conflict with the gospel/good news of Christ’s redeeming love, then we have to go back to Jesus’ life and teaching and weigh the conflicting passage in light of Christ. We must wrestle with Christ’s teachings of radical love, forgiveness, justice for the oppressed, and grace…even when it feels vulnerable.

      • Rachel,

        Thanks for taking the time to reply. I read your blog often, and while we disagree on several issues, I admire your gracious spirit and genuine love for Jesus and those around you.

        To clarify: I certainly didn’t mean to disregard the Gospels. I love the Gospels. I was dead, and now I’m alive because of what the Gospels describe! And yes, Jesus actually lived out in His time on earth what it means for us to follow Him, loving our enemies, serving one another, and dying to self.

        You are so right that an intellectual knowledge of the Scriptures, without a devotion to Jesus, is empty. We can never, ever overemphasize Jesus Christ, or the model of what it means to follow God that He lived out for us and taught us.

        That said, I love Revelation too. I love the promise of Revelation that one day all creation will finally be what it was intended to be before we chose to worship ourselves instead of God. Revelation reveals Jesus’ saving work every bit as much as Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. He will consummate what He started on the cross – what He really started at creation – by finally ridding the world of death, pain, injustice, cruelty, and sin. Tragically, that can’t happen nonviolently. Too many people will never willingly surrender to Him. Whether you interpret Revelation literally or not, it is clear from the whole of Scripture that a day will come when Christ will come back, and everyone will worship Him, voluntarily or otherwise (Philippians 2:9-11; Acts 1:10-11). I take no pleasure in this. I would love for everyone to be saved. But that’s the reality of fallen human beings.

        You say, rightly, “our faith isn’t in Scripture; our faith is in Jesus Christ. God’s Word culminates when it is embodied in Jesus,” and that “we must look to Jesus – his teachings and his life” to interpret the rest of Scripture. Spot on, but Jesus also talked, apologetically, about judging sin during Him time on earth. (Matthew 13:40-50; Matthew 23; Matthew 25:41-46; Luke 10:10-16).

        Again, you are so right that we are called to know and follow Jesus, and that certainly means practicing love. But I would respectfully submit to you that knowing Jesus means acknowledging all of Him: the servant, the Lamb of God, and the Good Shepherd, but also the Lion of Judah and the King of Kings.

        • Oops, that should be “unapologetically,” in the next to last paragraph. Stupid autocorrect…oh wait, I guess I’m supposed to love autocorrect and bless it. Sigh.

        • The problem with using Revelation to argue that Jesus violently destroys enemies (and therefore we are justified in violently destroying ours) is that it’s not clear that’s what the text is saying. Driscoll interprets Revelation uber-literally, like it’s describing what will happen in the future in precise detail. But Revelation is Apocalyptic literature, which means we have to read it knowing there is symbolism involved. For example, the sword Mark refers to is not, as he says, in Jesus’ hand, but in Jesus’ mouth, which like refers to the Word of God.

          Theologian Greg Boyd did a good job addressing this in more detail here:
          http://reknew.org/2010/09/revelation-and-the-violent-prize-fighting-jesus/

          Hope that helps.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy

            Welcome to the Gospel According to Hal Lindsay, where Revelation is nothing more than History Written in Advance and God has to stick to the End Time Prophecy checklist — check, check, check, check, check.

            (I got immersed in Hal Lindsay back in the Seventies, when the Bible had 3 1/2 books — Daniel, Revelation, the “Nuclear War Chapter” of Ezekiel (the half), and Hal Lindsay’s Late Great Planet Earth. Bad Craziness. Since The World Ends Tomorrow and It’s All Gonna Burn, why bother? Just clutch your fire insurance and Rapture boarding pass — any minute now, any minute now, any minute now…)

            Chaplain Mike over at Internet Monk once theorized that the Industrial Revolution and Age of Reason caused a shift in how the Bible was viewed. From Old Stories of God and Man to a Spiritual Engineering Manual and checklist of Fact, Fact, Fact.

          • To be fair, it is not only Revelation that speaks about Jesus coming back bringing judgment, even violent judgment. Paul seems rather convinced of that is what Jesus at least in one case will do:

            And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming.adasd 2 Thess 2:8

            Now that of course does not mean we are to wage war and use violence.

        • Rachel Heston-Davis

          But here again, we run into the problem: even if we interpret Revelation completely literally and believe that Jesus will one day do those things, that would still be what Jesus is going to do in the future…whereas Driscoll is criticizing pacifists’ interpretation of what Jesus would have US do in the here-and-now. Regardless of the picture we have of Jesus coming back, it’s really, really hard to argue that the way Jesus lived in the Gospels (and thus the way we ourselves are to live currently) prizes strength or force.

      • Serious question: how does the Jesus of Revelation inform our understanding of God? Does that Jesus also show us who God really is or is it just the Jesus of Matthew 5–7? What about the Jesus of Psalm 2?

      • Whoops, sorry. I didn’t see your mention of Revelation in your last paragraph, RHE. So how much difficulty and metaphor does a passage need to have edited we get to set it aside? I find quite a bit of both in the Sermon on the Mount myself.

        • You misunderstand her point. It is not that we set aside what we don’t like as metaphor. But that the actual literature structure of Revelations is different from the gospels. Revelations is apocalyptic, the sermon on the mount is teaching in context of a gospel narrative. They should be treated differently.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy

            And the followers of John Nelson Darby and Hal Lindsay treat Revelation as a linear checklist of History Written in Advance and nothing more. Check, check, check…

      • While the gospels are only 4 out of 66 books, they make up more than half of the content of the New Testament alone. Additionally, Luke’s writings alone – his gospel and the book of Acts – comprise 1/3 of the New Testament in terms of word count.

        Moreover, the New Testament in multiple locations pronounces Jesus as the definitive revelation of God. And, the sword is always a metaphor for Jesus’ words in Revelation. Truth, not violence, will cut those who do violence to God’s people.

      • Yes, Rachel Although it may be a wee bit silly to compare one book’s worth over another’s, and I’m NOT advocating for exclusion of certain Biblical books, we could do okay without Job, Ezra, Jude, and Philemon, etc…
        But the Bible is utterly meaningless without the Gospels.
        The God who is a long ways off, and separate from man by our sacrifices and attempts at appeasing, introduces himself to mankind as the totality of WHO God is, up close, and in your face. As Terry Scott Taylor of The Swirling Eddies & Daniel Amos puts it –
        “We want an infinite meddler, a fix-it-quick man, but He gets off his high horse, gets dirt on His hands, and He woos us like a lover throught a bloody cessation,
        and hangs on the cross with the rest of creation.”
        Marvelous.
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PlUTotLmAFI

    • It’s not just that he is saying true things tactlessly- his tact is fine, it’s the content that is lacking. Viewing the gospel as a minute fraction of God’s revelation to us, while true, misses the larger point that the other 62 books should be viewed through Jesus.

    • How does he do it? Driscoll, as is indicated in the blog post and comments, misunderstands the Book of Revelation. Let me suggest a couple of sources which provide a much more scripturally developed view of Revelation.

      In print, a series on What does the book of Revelation say? by Ted Grimsrud.
      Index to series: http://thinkingpacifism.net/revelation/

      In audio, a sermon series on This Is Not the End: An Exploration of the Book of Revelation, mostly by Matthew Dyer:
      http://www.crcc.org/series/book-of-revelations/

      Both of these look at the images in Revelation, the context of the book, how it ties together, and how it relates to the rest of scripture.

    • I agree, Tommy, though some of the responses make me just shake my head in disappointment rather than cringe when people just talk past each other.

      I have cut down on my online reading considerably for this and other reasons. Many bloggers seem unable to offer anything but abstractions and cliches, to say nothing of being unable to divest themselves of personal animus when responding to writers they don’t like. In this respect they seem to be more like Driscoll than they realize.

  5. Mr. Driscoll seems to have skipped part of the passage in Revelation where Jesus arrives on the horse and wins the last battle. He doesn’t win my smashing his enemies to bloody bits. He wins by showing up and speaking (the sword out of his mouth in Revelation 19:21.). That’s it; the war’s over; victory is won.

    He might want to read the part a bit earlier in Revelation about the Lamb on the throne. He’s worthy because he was slain, not because he bloodied people’s noses. (Revelation 5:9.) As Rachel said above, we serve a God who not only told us to turn the other cheek but did it himself and it got him killed.

    Mr. Driscoll might think I’m a rebel because I actually looked at the Bible for myself to decide what it says about God and his people rather than take his word for it. But in any case I’ll go with the word of God, not the word of Mr. Driscoll.

    Cheers,
    Tim

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        The Lamb who was slain stands alone facing all His enemies, speaks Words of Truth, and they all melt away as if they’d never been.

        At least before the Warhammer 40K crossover fanfics got rolling.

  6. Mark Driscoll was unnecessarily inflammatory in his post, by using the word pansy in the same phrase as pacifist. His last thoughts are too much, even for rhetoric.

    But most of what he said was correct. His teaching on the commandment is correct. The famous picture of Jesus is a myth, just like he said.

    Jesus came the first time as a suffering servant Messiah, the second time he will come as a conquering king Messiah, but I agree the details are murky and open to various interpretations. But there is a difference between a suffering servant and a conquering king, I think most will agree on that.

    Can a believer in Jesus be a pacifist? Sure.
    Can a believer in Jesus NOT be a pacifist? Sure

    All believers are commanded to oppose evil and there are different ways to do this.

  7. Was Jesus violent when he was here the first time? Sure, he may have flipped over a table or two, but who hasnt wanted to flip a table at a church business meeting.

    Question: Is Driscoll’s article any different from MIley Cyrus’ twerking at the VMA’s or a political pundit on talk radio. This was about shock value. Shock value is what our society asks for, longs for, and when it happens, we say “for shame” but talk about it for weeks to come.

    Love him or not, Driscoll knows how to get in the news and spur debate. The only way that we will ever stop him from using this kind of awful language and theology is to ignore him. Until then, these kinds of articles will keep coming.

    • I’ve considered the need to just ignore Driscoll in the past myself. To the extent that he thrives on controversy, there is indeed good reason to just leave him to his own devices and not get involved. I’m even reminded of the whole “casting pearls before swine” passage, but that’s perhaps unnecessarily unkind.

      The problem is, he’s causing real damage to his people, to those who read and follow his teachings, and to the reputation of Christians (of many diverse stripes), to say nothing of the reputation of Christ himself. Ultimately, I’ve come to the conclusion that we do more harm by allowing him to continue to make his wild claims unchecked than we do by arguing against those claims.

  8. I don’t know a whole lot about Mark Driscoll, but I must say that I agree with the majority of his points in the article. As best I can determine, the sixth commandment is an injunction not to murder, not a blanket prohibition against the taking of life, God (Jesus Himself,) both wrote the laws governing the use of force and encouraged Joshua in his war against the Canaanites, and God Himself is eventually going to judge all the world, and a death far worse than we can inflict faces those who have refused Him.

    And I agree with his conclusion, in part. There are those who preach a false gospel, incorrectly identifying Christ as a pacifist- and dare I say it, yes, a ‘pansy.’ I don’t believe that any of the people in this article believe such, but I have heard some individuals express the belief that Jesus is ‘nice,’ which isn’t true, and if they don’t correctly believe that Christ will judge, then their own souls are in danger.

    Now, what of the larger point? I think the issue here is that, as best I can tell, Scripture makes a clear distinction between what is worth fighting for and what is not. Putting the Old Testament (in which God Almighty commands warfare and bloodshed,) aside, we still face the fact that Jesus did use force. He forcibly drove the moneychangers out of the Temple, twice. If using force is a sin, then He is a sinner, and that leads us down a very dangerous road.

    What do we make of this? I believe that we need to be clear about when and why force can be used. Driscoll is, I believe, correct on the point that using force to defend another is permissible, and I would argue, that if the choice is to use force or to allow evil to happen, then choosing the latter is a sin- at that point, you know to do good and choose not to do it, which James rightly condemns. Similarly, Paul does say that the civil authorities are to use the sword as God’s arbiters, to punish wickedness. If one is in a position of authority and chooses not to use force to punish evil in the world, then again, I believe that one has gone against the expressed will of God, which is sin.

    Let us also remember that the commands to give one’s cloak, or to turn the other cheek, or to walk an extra mile, all have a specific cultural context. These were either legal punishments for wrong-doing, or they were exacted labor on a conquered people. Thus, it speaks volumes about our relationship with the state and with those whom we have wronged, but not so much about the broader questions.

    In conclusion, I do agree with many here, that we are too quick to take up arms to defend ourselves. Indeed, I agree with one of the pacifists that the Christian way, in personal life, is to be one of patience, active peace-making, and modeling the life of Christ. But let us also not forget that we are in a different cultural context than the early Church. They had little or no political authority, and thus their role was to emphasize one side of the Christ they serve. In the modern era, that position no longer holds true, and so we need to look carefully at what God’s commands in similar situations were.

    Above all, let us remember that God calls us all to different missions. It may well be God’s will for the pacifists to be peace-makers for the sake of Christ, and it may well be God’s will for others to use their strength to serve as justicars for that same cause. Let’s approach this, then, with that understanding.

    • You make an error early on in your comment when you raise the point about Jesus using force to turn over the tables of the moneychangers. This is an error on two counts: (1) using force is not the same thing as committing an act of violence, and there is a great deal of literature that exists attempting to parse out the differences; (2) Jesus’ use of force needs to be taken in its context and could signify different things depending on where you land on your interpretation of this event in Jesus’ life and ministry (from the perspective of the Gospel in which the story is found).

  9. What I see happening today is that people are so focused on one attribute of God. That is the LOVE attribute. Which many have made their own definition of love; somewhat different than God’s definition of love. But God has other attributes and one of them is WRATH. A very righteous wrath. Mark just wants people to understand that we can’t focus on one attribute while denying the wrath of God. When Christ does return, it won’t be what this society calls love. Our society does like to make Jesus into a pansy. Mark is very direct when he speaks-no beating around the bush. And I appreciate Mark for having the courage to speak out. I don’t want people speaking the wishy-washy, love, love stuff without also speaking the truth. And Christ’s wrath is all a result of His love.

    • I do not see anywhere in Scripture that says “God is wrath. ” But I do see that “God is love.”

      To love is not a weakness; love is strong. What Jesus exhibited on the cross was love.

      “Love always overcomes.”

      Love is powerful.

      • I don’t agree with Driscoll, and I do agree with you that God is love, as is powerfully stated twice in 1 John. But Scripture also says that God is a consuming fire (Hebrews and Deuteronomy) and God is thrice holy (Revelation and Isaiah). And perhaps the most significant and complete of all for understanding who God is comes in God’s declaration of his name in Exodus 34:

        And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”

  10. I am heartened to see colleagues speaking out to remind us that non-violence is an integral part of the Way that Jesus taught and modeled. I believe it to be essential for Christianity.

    And Driscoll? He needs an elephant. (Google “Driscoll needs an elephant”)
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/faithforward/2012/01/why-mark-driscoll-needs-an-elephant/

  11. The point of the original article is being missed entirely. Jesus did say love your enemies, pray for them, even to turn the other cheek. What is being totally missed is the fact that God is a just God. He will only let sin and disobedience go for so long before he comes again and set up His kingdom.

  12. Personally, I’m glad and thankful to see the tide turning a bit against Reformed Theology in general. While I am willing to subscribe to some of it, I was getting scared the last few years that they were, by brute force, hijacking the mic from other voices within Christianity – Charismatic, Traditional Baptist, Anabaptist, Methodist, Pentecostal and so on.
    Honestly there is not enough people challenging their general theology, front-and-center, that leads to the types of conclusions that Driscoll draws from scripture. His idea of Christ’s character is shaped by Calvinist ideals. God is dead set on slaughtering the unregenerate, because he predestined the for hell. Armed with Romans 9 (taken completely out of context), they can make God out to be as angry and vengeful as they please……..
    Why aren’t our strongest, most intellectual minds not challenging these en from the very base of their beliefs. I feel like even those who’s input is valuable here, are hesitant to grab the microphone and express, especially to so many from the younger generation, that Reformed Theology is not the only intellectual Christian viewpoint. Why are we content with only writing reactionary articles, instead of more preventative/defensive posts of what we see as the “gospel”. Re we overly consumed with turning the other cheek at the neglect of presenting a more balanced view of the bible?

    Some interesting things to ponder….

  13. Joshua Schroeder

    “[T]he blood of so many hundered thousand souls of Protestants and Papists, spilt in the wars of present and former ages, for their respective consciences, is not required nor accepted by Jesus Christ the Prince of Peace.

    “[I]t is the will and command of God that (since the coming of his Son the Lord Jesus) a permission of the most paganish, Jewish, Turkish, or antichristian consciences and worships, be granted to all men in all nations and countries; and they are only to be fought against with that sword which is only (in soul matters) able to conquer, to wit, the sword of God’s Spirit, the Word of God.”).

    “[T]he permission of other consciences and worships than a state professeth only can (according to God) procure a firm and lasting peace.”

    – Roger Williams (1603–1683), Founder of the Rhode Island Colony, A Plea for Religious Liberty excerpt from THE BLOUDY TENENT OF PERSECUTION, FOR CAUSE OF CONSCIENCE (1644) available at http://www.constitution.org /bcp/religlib.htm.

  14. I’m struggling with this…if we’re talking about violence, are we talking about the same Jesus that drove the sacrilegious from the temple violently? Who often used violent imagery in parables? Who will also, as God, be part of casting the unredeemed into a violent eternity (I guess, if you believe in a literal hell). Am I wrong to see that the character of God is more than just love, demonstrated, but also wrath? Need some help understanding here…

    • “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” These are qualities that describe the Spirit, and these fruits will grow out of us if we are of the Spirit. I don’t believe that the Father, Son, and Spirit are at odds with each other. I don’t believe that God throws peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control out the window when he’s angry over sin. If we, as Christ-followers, aren’t allowed to act against the fruits of the Spirit, then I doubt that God would make himself the exception to his own rule.

  15. It’s amazing to see Christians go out of their way to defend killing. When Jesus said the main rules to follow in life are to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves, He didn’t give us any exceptions to those rules. He didn’t say, “Love your neighbor UNLESS they are trying to kill you. Then you can set your love aside for a moment to kill your neighbor first before they kill you.” He didn’t say, “Love your enemies UNLESS they are enemies of the country you live in.” He didn’t say, “Cheer when a man is put to death in the electric chair for his crimes, for I am a just God and want you to carry out my wrath on humanity.” No, instead Jesus had mercy on prostitutes, adulterers, and tax collectors who cheated people out of their hard-earned money. As if that wasn’t enough, he asked God to forgive those who were putting him to death- despite the fact that his enemies hadn’t even repented of their sin.That’s radical. He said that by his kindness he would draw people unto himself. This is Jesus, and his life that he lived on earth is the life we are called to imitate.

  16. I like Mark and agree with a lot of the things he has to say. I’m glad he is stepping on people’s toes…they need to hear this. I’m a Christian, but there are some people like Shane Claiborne that really get under my skin. It’s very difficult for me to understand weirdos like him. Sometimes I just want to punch people like this in the face to wake them up because they don’t see the whole picture. I know that’s not Christ-like…but man, they need read the Bible more.

    • Aaron, forgive me, but I sometimes I want to punch people in the face who are arrogant enough to believe that simply because someone has a different view they haven’t read their Bible enough. Unbelievable. Calling someone a “weirdo” and accusing them of ignorant (not just poor or bad, but uneducated because they haven’t read their Bible enough) theology makes you sound ignorant and arrogant.

      Also, as I’m trying to remind myself of you right now, Shane Claiborne is a real person. You should remember that before you write these things. I hope in real life you are much more kind than you are appearing right now.

  17. Dean Jameson (@JustDeanJameson)

    Jesus was a walking paradox. He was neither pacifist nor warmonger. The same man who embraced the leper, tipped the tables in the temple. He is not easily understood, nor are his teachings as simple and straightforward as we would like them to be. The complexity of who he was, what he claimed about himself, and what he did while walking this planet is, in fact, what makes him interesting, and what draws me to him.

    • Jesus didn’t kill anyone or hurt anyone when he flipped the tables in the temple. So that scenario doesn’t really have anything to do with nonviolence. The act of slipping tables and driving people out of the temple was a symbolic act.

      • Dean Jameson (@JustDeanJameson)

        The act of turning over the tables in the temple WAS a violent one, whether we like to admit it or not. And Mark 11 tells us that he drove out the money changers, most think he probably used a whip or something similar to do so. Am I siding with Driscoll? Not in the slightest. I don’t like his tactics or much of his message. Am I saying that Jesus was a FAR more complicated person than those on both “sides” of this debate want to admit? Very much so. He was polarizing, even then, because of his complexity. He remains so now, for the same reason.

        • It doesn’t say that Jesus used violence to drive out the money changers anywhere in that passage.

          I agree with you that Jesus was and is very polarizing- but I believe he was polarizing for different reasons. He didn’t have a bipolar personality(as if he could heal a leper one moment then turn around to give someone else leprosy the next). I believe one of the most controversial aspects of Jesus was that he refused to use violence to advance his kingdom- even when the Jews expected him to be their conquering king.

          I don’t believe Jesus was and is polarizing because he is complex. I believe he is polarizing because he was so straight forward. Beyond his words, the way he lived his life as a merciful savior who died for the sins of world is something that people just don’t want to accept.

          • Dean Jameson (@JustDeanJameson)

            We have very different views of who Jesus was. To me, he wasn’t “direct” on very many occasions. He spoke in parables and painted word pictures.

            As for the passage in Mark, how do you supposed Jesus “drove” the money changers from the temple? Do you think he went up to them and say, “Hey guys, would you mind much if I turned over your table, scattered your money, and released your animals? And oh by the way, if you wouldn’t mind leaving the temple, that’d be great. K? Thanks. Bye.” Of course that makes no sense. Logically, Jesus was very angry at what those me were doing in the temple, and he expressed that anger by throwing those men out.

            Jesus WAS complex. Of that, there can be no doubt. Any man who claims to be God’s son; who verbally eviscerates the religious leaders of the day; who refuses to condemn the woman caught in adultery; who gains a reputation as a wine bibber (deserved or not); who gathers a very ragamuffin crew of disciples; who angrily throws out the money changers from the temple; who is gentle and kind, ferocious and fierce, all in the same being; THAT man, Steph, is no simple man.

            Jesus is, and remains, a complex man, difficult to understand, but easy to love.

          • Dean, in reply to your last comment, I didn’t say Jesus wasn’t complex. I said that the reason he was polarizing was because he was straight forward in preaching about nonviolence.Yes, he spoke in parables that were hard for people to understand, but he also spoke very directly about other things like loving our enemies, about being the Son of God, etc. He also lived a very straight forward life. If anyone had a question about what he was talking about, they could look at his actions to see who the man was.

            As for the passage in Mark, we have to read our own thoughts into the passage to come out with violence. How did Jesus drive them out? There are a number of ways a person can scare people out of a space. Flipping over tables is one way. I’m sure he was yelling quite a bit & chasing people out. But who really knows unless we were actually there.

            Anyway, I don’t have time to debate on this right now. It’s been good talking with you, Dean. We might disagree on these things, but we can at least agree that Jesus died for our sins and rose again.:)

  18. Mark is broken in that peculiar bent which has to shore itself up by the use of that brand of braggadocio that makes itself great by making everything it can’t understand, can’t relate with, can’t control, small enough to ridicule and trample on. Every time he opens his mouth, his brokenness is shown for all who have eyes to see… and the saddest thing about it is that he doesn’t know that’s what he’s doing. Like the Emperor who had no clothes, he and his followers are being deluded into thinking that God made Himself a man so that He could destroy His enemies. In actual face, He made Himself lowly, vulnerable, meek and innocent so that He could take our place when Divine Retribution would otherwise take our lives. I’m sad for him but I’m also irritated by him, because he is using the call and gifts of God on his life to draw people away from the God who loves them, rather than be a signpost pointing them to Him.

  19. Michael McKeever

    John’s vision in Revelation is that the world is conquered by a slain Lamb that is risen. The fact that the Lamb is on the throne speaks to the very heart of God’s character and the manner in which God expresses power and authority to establish God’s peaceable kingdom. Revelation radically transforms the violent, retributive symbolism of apocalyptic into a profound Christian vision of conquering through faithful testimony unto death—both by the Lamb and by Christians, who are depicted as followers of the Lamb (i.e., martyrs).

    There is a transformation from the announcement of the military, conquering Lion to the slain Lamb that redeems all humanity. That is, from a nationalistic, political, and military kind of conquering, found in much apocalyptic expectation, to an inclusive, sacrificial, nonviolent image of conquering. This is a permanent transformation since it is the Lamb that becomes the preeminent symbol of Christ in Revelation and the Lion is no longer mentioned. Similarly, when John hears of an immense end-time army he sees something quite different, an innumerable number of martyrs who have paradoxically overcome the world by following in the footsteps of the Lamb (Rev 7). Those who follow the way of the Lamb never engage in violence but overcome by their faithful testimony. This is the essence of Jesus’ exhortation to each of the seven churches to “conquer as he has conquered.”

    Tragically, Revelation continues to be read as though it were a traditional apocalypse rather than a profoundly transformed Christian vision. Yes, God ultimately conquers the world non-violently. That is the message of John’s vision, that is the message of the cross. Jesus only and ever conquers by his own blood. This is why the Lamb is worthy to receive worship by all creation, “because you were slaughtered and by your blood you ransomed for God saints from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev 5:9; cf., 5:10-14; Phil 2:9-11).

  20. I’m so relieved that such respected figures have chosen to publicly speak out against the distorted picture of Jesus that is held up by Mark Driscoll. not because Driscoll needs to be publicly humiliated, but because the Jesus he is encouraging people to believe in is not the Jesus of the gospels. He is a fake Jesus forged in the image of empire.

    Reading through through the comments, I also find it amazing how many people claim that, when Jesus returns, it will be as a violent, conquering warrior king. It seems to me that to believe this is to repeat the exact same mistake that many in Israel made at the time of Christ. They were looking so hard for a mighty military champion that they missed the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world by spilling no blood but His own.

    My own contribution to the debate is here: http://www.faithmeetsworld.com/why-what-you-think-about-the-end-times-matters-now/

  21. Upon reading Driscoll’s original article, tow things stick out to me. One is the unfortunately common failure to understand the nature of violence. Violence is cognate with “violate”, all violence necessitates the violation of someone or something. For this reason, the idea that God condones violence is untenable. Now, it may be that what Driscoll means when he says violence is “force” and I can agree that force is sometimes necessary or justified, but the moment that force becomes violence it has overstepped the boundaries of what can be justified.

    The second point is that this is part of a series on the Ten Commandments, with this particular sermon/episode devoted to the sixth commandment, “Thou shalt not kill/murder”. That a preacher can prepare a message on “thou shalt not kill/murder” which delineates exactly where and why killing is justified strikes me as the sort of activity that Pharisees would engage in. It may help us to hold Driscoll’s sermon in contrast to Jesus’ own commentary on this commandment. (If anyone is angry at his brother he is guilty of murder.) To me, it appears that Driscoll has completely missed Jesus’ own perspective on this commandment.

    Finally, Driscoll rightly points out that shalom cannot be achieved until Jesus has vanquished his enemies, but it seems he has forgotten who the enemies to be vanquished are. As I read the Bible, the enemies to be defeated are sin, death and the grave, and the only one who needed to be killed to defeat these enemies died on a cross 2000 years ago.

  22. This is horrific from Driscoll’s conclusion:

    “Then there will be peace forever as the Prince of Peace takes his rightful throne. Some of those whose blood will flow as high as the bit in a horse’s mouth for 184 miles will be those who did not repent of their sin but did wrongly teach that Jesus was a pacifist.”

    So those who taught that Jesus was a pacifist will be part of Jesus’ slaughter? I am not sure what to make of this…but it does not sound good.

  23. I’m getting the vibe that 90% of you didn’t actually read Driscoll’s article. I don’t care if you agree with him or not, but is this how we practice our theology in the church today? Is this how we pastor our churches? Is this how we minister? Is this how we share Jesus? Do we make a decision and shout it out based on a rumor, or a commentary, or a couple of sentences without going to the original source and evaluating it within its context? Disagree with the man, but don’t preach out in your ignorance. It’s painfully apparent by what is spewing out of your mouth, and this is why Christians don’t have credibility.

  24. Pastor Mark is interpreting scripture. Something pastors do every Sunday. He is also leading people to the waters of baptism and helping people cross the line of faith. Critics will always criticize. The question needs to be, is this heretical? But the thought is often, he doesn’t fit my paradigm so let’s criticize. So, is this an example of bad theology or bad paradigm (compared to “mine”)? My thought is the latter.

    • Matt-
      That is the question isn’t it? If this is just someones opinion that doesn’t fit into my understanding of theology what is the harm? just move on… However Driscoll, like it or not, has a large audience and “his” bad paradigm or interpretation carries weight (whether that should matter is a different topic). This discussion speaks to the essence of who God is when we throw around his name. Acknowledging That Jesus comes back to Earth with Wrath and violence to appease a God who requires “payment” is a Fundamentally different understanding then of a God who seeks to bring about peace and justice to all through a covenantal relationship with him. The “type” of God we believe in has a drastic affect on the way we act and believe as Christians. And while certainly there are theologians who would support Driscoll There are those who would claim that what he is saying in his post is “Bad theology”. One mans theology is another mans Heresy, but through these conversations one hopes we gain a better understanding.

  25. Kathryn Price

    As a seminarian in my final year of an M.Div. program, there are a lot of things I could say about Driscoll’s theology, but others have already pointed out the problems in it. As a Christian, Jesus is my hermeneutic principle; I interpret the scriptures through him, a point Rachel Held Evans has spelled out quite well.

    Besides the incoherency in his theology, Driscoll’s remarks are disturbing in that they border on sadism in his blood talk (repeating “blood will flow”). Who revels in the “Prince of Peace” hacking people to death, and ironically, because said people portrayed him as a peacemaker? The article ends with a taunting, “Jesus is no one to mess with.”

    I would like to know how Driscoll reconciles his comments with Jesus’ words at his crucifixion: “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” Pansy words?

  26. As a Christian who is a United States Marine, I kick these ideas around in my head regularly. I am a part of an institution that, as an extension of American foreign policy, is designed to kill people and blow things up anywhere in the world within two weeks and 300 miles of the coast. How do I reconcile that with my faith? Can I?

    I also understand men’s feelings of revulsion toward the feminine nature of many modern churches and why Driscol holds great appeal to men. I admire Driscol’s aggressive nature and courage to speak plainly.

    • Michael McKeever

      Those are excellent questions to keep asking, Ryan. For the first three centuries of the church the answer was unanimously No. For many American evangelicals a good first step would be to at least recognize as you do the distinction between the extension of American foreign policy and the establishment of God’s Kingdom. Sadly, because of the cultural influence of muddled, sub-biblical understandings of Revelation such as Mark Driscoll’s, there is the very real and ongoing possibility of misguided military deployments and interventions in the Middle East.

    • ” I am a part of an institution that, as an extension of American foreign policy, is designed to kill people and blow things up anywhere in the world within two weeks and 300 miles of the coast. How do I reconcile that with my faith? Can I?”

      Do you feel a greater good is accomplished by it?
      That you are doing something which will ultimately help humanity?

      If you feel that you can answer those questions then you should have no problem reconciling such things.

      I am no pacifist. I recognize that some things in this world are evil and we sometimes require force of arms to combat such things. Pacifism never stopped genocide or a war of aggression. But as an individual choice, it makes sense to many.

      I also understand also that pacifism is a legitimate notion within Christianity. Its just not one popular with the overwhelming majority of the mainstream of the faith. [So damn inconvenient for those who mix religion and affairs of state!]

      Its less courage on Driscoll’s part than bravado and shameless impunity. The kind one gets in a bar before picking a fight.

  27. I’m just wondering about the merit of posting an article from a guy who is known for making some outrageous statements. In his delivery, the message may be lost. It them makes it easy for those who dislike the man to disreguard his message.

    Paul wrote, and I find it interesting that most women love this characteristic in a guy, “Love always protects”. The context is always. Not when you don’t have to fight for it. Always. Jesus wasn’t and isn’t a passifist because he always loves me and always protects. He stands between me and the enemy.

    It is my contention that anyone who truely loves another will do the same. So you just try to hurt those I love. I will fight you tooth and nail to protect them. And when they are safe, I’ll drive you to the hospital and sit with you until you are better.

  28. Making fun of pacifists is like beating up on blind people. Sure its easy, but there is no way you can possibly look like a good person doing it.

    He’s a loudmouth cretin who appeals to other cretins.

    • Michael McKeever

      “Making fun of pacifists is like beating up on blind people.”
      Yes, if one willingly submitted to being blind as fundamental distinctive of discipleship, that is.
      I.e., not sure if this statement reflects a better understanding of Christian pacifism than Mark’s.

      • You didn’t read past the first sentence. Your snark was only outmatched by your laziness.

        As I explained, there is no way you can pick on pacifists, especially from an alleged Christian perspective without looking like a mean spirited cretin in the process.

        The New Testament is pretty clear on providing a basis for pacifist belief.

        The problem being that it is impossible to reconcile it with the desire of people to use religion to justify acts of state. To say God proudly supports the actions of my nation and whatnot. Its why there was so much backtracking with “just and unjust wars” by Thomas Aquinas and the notion of crusades.

        Lets face it, Jesus never meant for his ideas to form the basis of government. But it was used that way nonetheless. Its why whenever Christians want to sound tough they refer to the Old Testament most of the time.

        Mark Driscoll is just trying to justify boorish behavior by pretending its God’s word. The guy is a jerk.

        • Larry, I think you miss the point to the reply, which is that your example of someone who can’t fight back (a blind person) does not fit a Christian pacifist who chooses not to fight back.

  29. I think the heart of the disagreement here is about God’s character and to what degree all of Scripture ought to help us gain a complete picture. If Christ is the focal point and interpretative key to understand the Old Testament, we need to be very careful when jumping to conclusions what the occasional command to kill really says about God’s character and seriously consider whether the “but I say unto you” isn’t a crystal clear end to what God has permitted within certain parameters for a specific culture and a specific time. The prerogative of God to take life, and the prerogative of the secular government to limit evil through policing, imprisonment and in severe cases through execution says nothing about the church’s call to be involved in any of it. As a matter of fact, the contrast between Romans 13 and the end of Romans 12 points in exactly the opposite direction.

  30. Did even one of the commentators (other than Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove) take the time to read Driscoll’s article? Their replies were sophomoric and emotional. Very sad to see such laziness amongst so-called leaders in the Christian pacifist movement. What an absolute shame to see such intellectual dishonesty.

    Driscoll brought up various valid Biblical arguments and rather than arguing with his theology they argued with his semantics. These so-called leaders missed a great opportunity to truly dialogue and to garner respect and attention from their opposing audience, but they blew it.

    What a shame.

    Thank you to Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove for actually addressing the full article, I would have loved to hear more from you. The others were just painful to read.

    • Matt, I believe your outrage is misplaced. Jonathan Merritt’s articles as well as the solicited responses are not about Driscoll’s teaching on the sixth commandment but on the intentionally inflammatory nature of the monumental digression at the end of Driscoll’s post.

  31. I think Mark Driscoll is much like Cayenne pepper. A little bit can really make a plate come alive, but you can’t eat by the spoon from the jar.

    Much of what Driscoll says can and does bring balance to a conversation but is in many ways to polarized and absolute for it’s own good , or in many cases, the good of others.

    There are so many great points in the these rebuttals.So many wonderful leaders in leading us in the “Third Way” that Claiborne mentioned. I think place we MUST start if we is in Genesis. We have to remember that God said that if Adam and Eve ate of the fruit, they shall surely die. God did NOT say, that if you eat of this Fruit, that I shall surely KILL you. So the notion of Christ’s so-called Wrath should be reexamined. Perhaps Christ is to Sin as Chemo is to Cancer?

    Just a few thoughts.
    Thanks for reading.

    Aaron

  32. And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business.

    John 2:15-16″When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” NKJV
    www.riseupandwalkwithme.wordpress.com

  33. Why are people always taking Mark Driscoll out of context and misquoting him? Like when he explained Mars Hill’s expansion onto an adjoining property. He didn’t say kill everyone and seize their land. He said kill all the adult males, but take the women and children captive. Sheesh, get it right people! (Also, if you are dressing as a witch for Halloween, you may want to avoid the church’s Harvest Party.)

  34. If you think because we believe in Jesus, that we are free from punishment, I think you need to read your Bible again. Christians celebrate Pagan holidays saying they’ve redeemed them. Christmas, Easter and Halloween are detestable to the Lord. He will punish us for these sins. We are free from the Law of Sin and death which means we will have eternal life, but make no mistake we will be tested by fire and there will be death and pain and suffering. There are over 140 english translations of the bible, and over 40,000 denominations of Christians with their own doctrines. Beware the doctrines of men. You need to go back to the roots of the Christian faith to know what the truths of the Gospel are. As long as we follow the current teaching of our leaders(who don’t actually study the Hebrew of the Old Testament) we are doomed to repeat the errors of the Israelites of history. You need to watch Truth or Tradtiion and Identity Crisis by Jim Staley. We as christians are oblivious to the Depth of the Hebrew Language and the translators of todays modern bibles have missed the message. Please don’t make the same mistake.

  35. Dan, it sounds like you are overreacting and may have been exposed to some poor teaching in this regard. What you are sharing doesn’t reflect the peace and assurance that are rooted in Jesus’ Good News. Let’s begin by living out Jesus’ example and teaching and work from there. There is no damning mystery hidden in the nuance of the Hebrew Old Testament.

    I read Hebrew and Greek and have a graduate degree in Linguistics with extensive experience in translation theory. I am unaware of any modern translation that is unreliable in the sense that you claim. Nearly all modern English translations are highly reliable. Also, the NT is in fairly easy Greek, for the most part, as is the Bible of the early church, the Greek Septuagint translation of the OT from which all of the NT quotes in the NT are drawn.

    • The New Testament was not written in Greek. It was written in Aramaic. And if you translate with out a deep understanding of the original Hebrew/Aramaic text and of the Context of the time, you miss a lot. There is nothing new under the sun, History repeats it self.I’m not denying that God Loves us or that Jesus died for our sins, but just for example, his name is not Jesus. That is a transliteration of his proper Hebrew name Yeshua, which should be translated to Joshua in english. Technically, Jesus was not even written in the greek texts, as the letter J was only invented about 400 years ago. There are many place where translators add things, usually you seem them in brackets or italics. Never mind the word Church. That comes from Ecclesia, which means congregation. Church was added by King James to keep control of the scriptures. This is even acknowledged in the preface to most bibles, which most people don’t even read. The fact of the matter is that we are not to celebrate Christmas (Pagan holiday combining numerous pagan festivals, introduced by Constantine a devout Sun worshiper). Easter is all about Ishtar (ashtoreth ) and if you look at the history of egg decorating, you might realize how much our father hates this activity. I’m not even getting into Halloween. The truth of the matter is that most Christians are so hung up on grace, that they are missing the point and it will be a sad day when they realize how far apart they truly are from the mark. Yeshua’s example that we are to live out was his show of obedience living out the Torah commandments (the Law). Every miracle he performed broke the Rabbinical laws set in place by the corrupted ministries of the day. We are to follow the Torah Commandments but alas so many are blinded. Now I already know what you are going to say, so go ahead and tell me he nailed it to the cross. I used to believe that until he opened my eyes and I saw the truth. I will gladly continue this discussion, but until you are willing to seek him with all your heart, you will remain blinded. As for the punishment? Jeremiah 46:28 tells us what will happen to those being gathered. Shalom !

        • I never suggested we had the original manuscripts. However, Most of the disciples were Jewish believers, and Yeshua most likely spoke Aramaic. Definitely not Greek. I would have to argue that since most of the disciples were also Jewish, It points to a Jewish Bible. No doubt the Father would have had a hand in it considering the depth of the Hebrew Language. Most people don’t realize that each letter has its own meaning and the letters of a word give the word its meaning, not to mention each letter has a numerical value and a musical note. Also, the order of the Hebrew Alephbet (pronounce Aleff Bait) tells the redemption story thousands of years in advance.Considering most “scholars” are taught in Seminaries learning the doctrines of Men it doesn’t surprise me they would lean toward the greek. I urge you to watch “Truth or Tradition and Identity Crisis by Jim Staley at Passion for Truth Ministries or Sunburned by 119 ministries. Yahweh is waking up his people and revealing that “Babylon” is still alive and well. Shalom

          • Clark Coleman

            I believe it is quite obvious that the gospel of Mark was written in Greek for a Gentile audience, probably in Rome and its environs, hence the need to explain the occasional Aramaic words that Mark uses. It sounds as if Dan has been reading some peculiar teachings by those who have some axe to grind.

  36. Obviously, the ones who are demanding a pacifist Jesus didn’t read the whole Bible, or just ignore the part in Revelation that Mark Driscoll was paraphrasing… Revelation 19:11-21 “Then I saw heaven opened and here came a white horse! The one riding it was called “Faithful” and “True,” and with justice he judges and goes to war. 12 His eyes are like a fiery flame and there are many diadem crowns on his head. He has a name written that no one knows except himself. 13 He is dressed in clothing dipped in blood, and he is called the Word of God. 14 The armies that are in heaven, dressed in white, clean, fine linen, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth extends a sharp sword, so that with it he can strike the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod, and he stomps the winepress of the furious wrath of God, the All-Powerful. 16 He has a name written on his clothing and on his thigh: “King of kings and Lord of lords.”…”Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to do battle with the one who rode the horse and with his army. Now the beast was seized, and along with him the false prophet who had performed the signs on his behalf—signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. Both of them were thrown alive into the lake of fire burning with sulfur. The others were killed by the sword that extended from the mouth of the one who rode the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves with their flesh.”

    According the Word of God, God says of Jesus Christ that he will be the last conquering King of the earth and all his enemies will be destroyed by the sword that extends from his mouth. It also says that God will consume his enemies with fire from heaven after the millennial reign of Christ on earth…

    Revelation 20:7-10
    “Now when the thousand years are finished, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to bring them together for the battle. They are as numerous as the grains of sand in the sea. They went up on the broad plain of the earth and encircled the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and devoured them completely. And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet are too, and they will be tormented there day and night forever and ever.”

    The only way to get around these truths is to see all of Revelation as allegorical and it having no literal fulfillment. Which means that Christ isn’t really going to return and will never bring in a new heaven and earth. That also eliminates the hope of the resurrection. If the resurrection of the dead isn’t real then our faith is meaningless…

    On the same note, I believe that this whole thread is confusing because for some reason you are saying that Driscoll is calling Christians to war. He is definitely not doing that, except when it is necessary to fight for those who cannot defend themselves. However, we are to be peacemakers whenever possible.

    In conclusion, the difference is the subject. IF we are talking about Christ and the heavenly armies then we are talking about a God who will bring violence in the form of righteous wrath against all sinners, then that is a fact. If we are talking about Christians, followers of Christ, then we are to take a more pacifist role and that is true. Fighting only to defend others from unrighteousness.

    • Are you aware that the “sword” that extends from Jesus’ mouth is a metaphor for the truth of the Word of God? Thus, there will be no slicing? If you are not aware of this, which commentaries / scholars do you read to help you understand Revelation? If you don’t read any commentaries, what gives you the confidence that you are able to simply open an English Bible and understand it completely? If you agree that this sword is a metaphor – as is plainly stated in the passage – how do you then distinguish between what the author intends as meaningful imagery & metaphor from what the author intends to predict as “literally” (that is, in actual physical correspondence to the bare language used) going to happen?

      Are you also aware that your false dichotomy between “allegorical and no literal fulfillment” and “literal” is very wrong and ill-informed?

      • “Are you also aware that your false dichotomy between “allegorical and no literal fulfillment” and “literal” is very wrong and ill-informed?”

        Do you really think a Fundamentalist subjects their views to such a level of scrutiny or bothers with consistency, logic or even trying to make sense?

  37. Robert Elliott

    I can see why Driscoll offends but it’s also the case that none of the rather effeminate persons quoted above would ever disciple the same demeographic that Driscoll reaches in Seattle. It is all well and good for liberal Christians who do little or no evangelism to attack Driscoll but he at least preaches the Bible every week to the most hostile of audiences.

    Further, Jesus is not a pacifist as the money changers found at the Temple. Jesus was a man’s man and unafraid to stand up for right. But Jesus also did His father’s will and submitted to suffer as he did. It was his submission to His Father’s will that caused his Passion, not because Jesus was some Gandhi type pacifist. It is disingenuous to pretend otherwise.

    In response to the commenter above, Driscoll is right: non-violence has no merit. If you are a man and you are not prepared to fight for your loved ones and your faith, then you are shirking your Biblical duty as a man. Since Abraham fought to rescue Lot, a Biblical man has been obliged to put himself between his woman, children and loved ones and any present danger. There is no equivocating or spinning this truth. Harden up and be men.

    • When Catholic Sister Megan Rice and two other pacifists broke into a nuclear weapons production facility in Oak Ridge, TN on 7/28/2013 and preformed symbolic acts of destruction against it, she was being a pacifist. When Jesus preformed symbolic acts of destruction against the temple he was being a pacifist.

      Also, why do you describe those who graciously responded to Mark Driscoll’s ungracious provocation as “effeminate?” Do you know anything about them or their sacrifices to preach the gospel and disciple others? Is this your understanding of what a “man” does? What you have posted sounds like a two-dimensional caricature of both Christian pacifism and of what it means to be a “man.”

  38. There are things about Mark that I do not prefer and would rather that they not stand out as glaring as they do.

    But if we are going to continue as men and women, distinct; yet both bearing God’s Image, we have to find a way to move away from the pseudo-spiritual idea that men must act in some kind of ‘soft’ or effeminate way. Men can and do bear the fruit of the Spirit as men with manly, but godly characteristics. And the complementary must also be applied to women who may be strong spiritually while remaining in every way, feminine. This gender confusion, role reversal, abdication of place and all around foolishness that pretends to be Biblical Christianity is no more than the church’s adoption of cultural egalitarianism. That must stop.

    A great place to start reading, with Bible in hand, is Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood, co-authored by Wayne Grudem and John Piper.

    Mark trying to start a small campfire, but using a blowtorch to do it; it overkill and turns folks off on the one hand and provokes locker room nonsense on the other. At least it’s gotten some attention to the topic for discussion.

    • Agree with your book recommendation and that it is good that this brings attention and discussion to an important topic. My hope is that reformed brothers may begin to listen to more of one of their–an my–heroes of the faith, Charles Spurgeon: http://spurgeonwarquotes.wordpress.com/

      2 cents from a pansy Marine turned Christian pacifist.

  39. I’m not pacifist. Been a Marine and Soldier. Been to war in Iraq. Also been a Christian for 30 years. I’ve never met this weird caricature of Jesus that Driscoll talks about. I know Jesus told is to love our neighbors and even our enemies. The ones who, like Driscoll, continue to spew their hatred in the name of Christ make it especially difficult to do so.

  40. Wow. As the proverb says, “A man’s argument seems right, until another comes and questions it.” These challenges have me rethinking my fight-club theological positions of the past.

    Most convincing: “I can’t help but think that Mark has been more shaped by the worldview of those who put Jesus on the cross than the One who hung on it. It was the Roman empire, and not Jesus and not his followers for hundreds of years, that had no place for pacifism.”

  41. According to the Christian scriptures, Jesus beat up merchants, killed a fig tree, drown 500 or so pigs, healed the sick, raised the dead, comforted prostitutes, confronted the oppressors, stole food, trespassed, crowd-funded his operations, had an accessory to an ADW against a police officer, was in contempt of court, and died for redemption of others. It does not seem like he fits neatly into any of the battling boxes presented here.

  1. […] I haven’t spent a lot of time dredging blogs to see what everyone is saying, but I’m annoyed that of the things that have been posted by folks on the left, ranging from just-war theorists to radical Christian anarchist pacifists, all seem to be missing the point. For the most part the responses seem to pivot on Driscoll’s phrase, “Jesus is not a pansy or a pacifist,” with the general consensus being either “nuh-uh” or “so what if he was?” (See here for a modest sampling). […]

  2. […] I haven’t spent a lot of time dredging blogs to see what everyone is saying, but I’m annoyed that of the things that have been posted by folks on the left, ranging from just-war theorists to radical Christian anarchist pacifists, all seem to be missing the point. For the most part the responses seem to pivot on Driscoll’s phrase, “Jesus is not a pansy or a pacifist,” with the general consensus being either “nuh-uh” or “so what if he was?” (See here for a modest sampling). […]

  3. […] Mark Driscoll makes pacifists fighting mad “Pastor Driscoll and I actually have a lot in common. We’re both conservative, reformed evangelicals, who think Calvin got it right more times than not. We both love baseball, hot wings, good beer, and hard-hitting hour-long sermons. But I’m genuinely confused at how Mark can read the Bible and still be so adamantly convinced that non-violence has little (or no) biblical merit. I can’t help but think that Mark has been more shaped by the worldview of those who put Jesus on the cross than the One who hung on it. It was the Roman empire, and not Jesus and not his followers for hundreds of years, that had no place for pacifism.” […]

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