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This episode title is a quote that comes from The Fight Club movie. Mike Cosper talks about the interplay between that movie and Mars Hill. It’s ironic and off-putting that the last two episode titles (three and four) are about crass, crude, sexual, and violent movies, and CT is critiquing a crass and crude person. It is as though the pot is calling the kettle black.
My aim in working through these episodes is to help folks think through the church they attend, the leadership culture of their church, and, potentially, identify things that might not be apparent. I will not provide a “Monday morning play-by-play” critique. I hope you will gain personal insight through this review as well as applications to your teachers and the church you attend.
The episode opens with Mike Cosper talking about William Wallace, a pseudonym Mark Driscoll used on a message board to say harsh, unkind, sexist, and hyperbolic things to some attendees/members of Mars Hill Church.
Translation: Mark Driscoll lied about who he was to communicate things that were harsh, crass, crude, insensitive, and degrading. He perpetuated this deception for several years, which speaks to his hubris and desensitized conscience. Nobody knew that Mark was posing as someone else on a Mars Hill message board.
Mark Driscoll is a gross person. I’m not sure if he has changed, but the collection of sound bites that CT puts together make an objective case: he’s a gross man. There is no other way to say it. You feel dirty after listening to this episode.
Mark was also seeker-sensitive in the sense that he adapted to become what he needed to become to connect with his hearers, i.e., young, urban-dwellers, who loved tattoos, piercings, and black clothes. Because of his “William Wallace deception” and gross heart (Luke 6:45), you have to wonder if he sincerely cared about these people or if he was adapting himself to satisfy his cravings. (After resurfacing in Arizona, he reinvented and rebranded himself again to reach another kind of audience, even disowning complementarianism and Reformed Theology.)
Wendy Alsup said if you could get through his communication style, he preached the Bible. “He pokes you in the eye with the sermon title, but the actual content was very life-giving.” You do sense throughout this series that there is a twofold appeal to Mark Driscoll:
I have talked about pragmatism in previous reviews, but there is this other feature that many of the interviewees mentioned; the appeal was how different it was from how they had experienced church. Some Christians are so disillusioned by the state of the church that when someone like Driscoll shows up, there can be appeal without discernment. When you switch off discernment, you will be susceptible to anything.
Overreacting: Any person who comes out of a disappointing season (i,e., church, marriage, school, or employment) may succumb to the temptation to overreact or react impulsively—and make a poor decision.
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Mark was speaking to their hearts. Mike Cosper described many of the men as lonely, fearful, ill-equipped, and fruitless. Mark challenged them, albeit in a crass way. When someone can put a new spin on something that resonates with you, there will be a temptation to drink all the KoolAid.
Mark has a quick mind and insight into the human condition. He packaged the solution in dark and crass ways. In the beginning, they focused on the features (it resonates and has edgy appeal) and overlooked the flaws.
Mark’s church planting niche was masculinity-centered. It sounded like, “If I can get the husband, I can get the wife and the children.” Rather than the exaltation of Christ, it became niche-driven to men. Many churches make the “niche mistake.” They focus on something other than Christ and the authority of God’s Word.
Thus, Mark presented himself as a “man’s man,” and he pressed that message into the DNA of the men in the church. He was answering the “lonely, fearful, ill-equipped, and fruitless” problems. They loved it. Many of the attendees/members spoke so positively about their Mars Hill experience because their lives were changing.
It was as though there was a divide between the leaders and the followers. The followers were changing, growing, and maturing. They were building relationally with each other. It’s similar to the employer and the employee. The employees have lives that are not necessarily connected to or interested in the employers. Mark was bearable—tolerable, and the messages were changing the followers. They loved what was happening to their families while turning a blind eye to what was happening with Mark.
CT talked about Mark’s complementarian worldview in this episode. I do not know how Mark taught it or even if he believed it, but a lot of his preaching was biblical. If you’re listening to this series, you mustn’t conflate a bad pastor with biblical teaching, or you will dismiss the preached and his teaching. As Wendy Alsup said,
He pokes you in the eye with the sermon title, but the actual content was very life-giving.
After listening to this episode, the question that came to mind is, how much am I willing to tolerate to experience a life change? Or would it be better to find a calmer environment with a pastor of solid character to learn and grow? Sometimes, in our desperation, we can make choices that are not the best for ourselves and those we love the most.
Rick launched the Life Over Coffee global training network in 2008 to bring hope and help for you and others by creating resources that spark conversations for transformation. His primary responsibilities are resource creation and leadership development, which he does through speaking, writing, podcasting, and educating.
In 1990 he earned a BA in Theology and, in 1991, a BS in Education. In 1993, he received his ordination into Christian ministry, and in 2000 he graduated with an MA in Counseling from The Master’s University. In 2006 he was recognized as a Fellow of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).