Saturday 14 January 2012

Mark Driscoll’s interview with Christianity magazine

Mark Driscoll is an American pastor and author and the founder and preaching pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington. He also co-founded the Acts 29 Network.

The Mars Hill website describes him as ‘one of the world’s most-downloaded and quoted pastors’. He was also named one of the ‘25 Most Influential Pastors of the Past 25 Years’ by Preaching magazine.

Driscoll's casual, but direct approach style of sermons has resonated in the Pacific Northwest, a region considered the least churched in the nation, according to the North American Religion Atlas.

Mark recently did an interview for Premier Radio with Justin Brierley which is published in the February edition of Christianity magazine.

The interview has caused some controversy relating to Driscoll’s criticisms of young British preachers and ‘effeminate’ church culture.

An excerpt from the interview is available on the Premier website (listen from about 34m30s-42m40s)

Driscoll has claimed that he was quoted out of context, calling the interview ‘the most disrespectful, adversarial, and subjective’ he has ever done. He has qualified his comments further in ‘A blog post for the Brits’ on his own website

Justin Brierley has responded in turn to these comments and Ruth Dickinson, editor of Christianity magazine, has defended the interview saying ‘Justin’s interview with Mark Driscoll was robust and fair, and I utterly reject the claim that it was adversarial, disrespectful or subjective’.

Adrian Warnock has helpfully commented as follows:

1.The interview covers much more than just the segment that has sparked controversy, and there are helpful sections on Driscoll’s recent book (the first twenty minutes or so), the growth of Mars Hill Church, and a number of doctrinal questions. These two men come from different worlds, and it is perhaps not surprising that the meeting of those worlds results in interesting radio. I am sure that both men, although different in their approaches, came to the interview with good intentions.

2.It is vital that we hear the main point that Driscoll is making, that British preachers should be more bold. It is never nice when people make generalizations, but Driscoll is right that we in the UK have too many apologetic preachers. Driscoll is angry at times largely because he has been gripped by the cause of Christ. I sometimes think we would loose more than we would gain if Driscoll was to become more measured in what he says.

3.It is good to hear the whole context of something before passing judgement. So for example later in the interview Driscoll is very kind about British Christians, and in particular Newfrontiers (around 40 mins in). But then I suppose “Driscoll says British Christian group is doing a great job” doesn’t make such a good headline, does it?

4.My conclusion is that both men involved are a gift to the Church, and as I have often said before, you do not have to agree on everything someone believes or says to benefit from listening to them.As Driscoll himself put it, 'I go too far sometimes, almost every other pastor I know doesn’t go far enough.'

You can download the MP3 here or visit the Unbelievable? website to listen to this entire interview.


  1. I think Carl Trueman raises a very valid point here!!

  2. Agreed, about Adrian Warnock's helpful comments. He knows Mark Driscoll perhaps better than most people in the UK, through their work in NewFrontiers.

    It is good to hear whole context before passing judgement. For example, the following dialogue that caused so much controversy has to been seen in the context of what Mark Driscoll is trying to communicate in the interview overall:

    'Driscoll: I go too far sometimes. Almost every other pastor I know doesn’t go far enough and that’s okay ’cause the church tends to be led by people who are timid and fearful of going too far. I mean, let’s just say this. … Right now, name for me the one young good Bible teacher that’s known across Great Britain.

    Brierley: Hmm …

    Driscoll: You don’t have one. That is a problem. There’s a bunch of cowards who aren’t telling the truth.

    Brierley: So you think that the Bible teaches …

    Driscoll: You don’t have one. You don’t have one young guy who can preach the Bible that anybody’s listening to on the whole earth.'

    Taken out of context you could make the mistake of thinking he was saying bible teachers in the UK are anonymous, ineffective and cowardly. But then again the overall context is that Driscoll actually thinks they are doing a great job, in particular, Newfrontiers. This is really Justin Brierley's fault for not clarifying the situation in the interview.

    Also, when he tells Jonathan Brierley that he is being immature, without the context, you could see this as an impulsive attempt to belittle the interviewer out of frustation; but if you listen to the whole interview you find that actually it is Brierley who is being intrusive by asking too many questions.


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