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Mark Driscoll: "Not my sexiest preaching"

Because Mark Driscoll is totally on fire when preaching about Jesus in the Book of Revelation, and all we've had is the Spirit and being intentionally missional. I skipped the evening session today to sit around a dinner table with six other members of our local church to try and begin to talk through what Mark Driscoll's afternoon message means for us.

The (sinful) instinctive is to think about teaching it to others, but the real deal is to go and live it ourselves. That's going to mean breaking through being British (which Driscoll exposed us for - as in, one of the reasons Britain is non-Christian is that you're British and so you don't talk to people) and starting to be more human, to engage with culture and genuinely contextualise - showing that the gospel is relevant. We don't need to make it relevant - it is. We need to show it. This was Driscoll as heard before but you could tell he had studied us to know where to aim his message.

So far Mark Driscoll has given us a Luke-Acts theology of the Spirit and the Church. And then given us 8 marks of a Biblical Church. And this afternoon he got from marks 2 to 8.3.viii (of 27 subpoints, and there was apparently a point 8.4). Driscoll preaches off an A4 sheet of notes with a Bible for an hour a time - he lives and breathes this stuff. I couldn't care less about the structure I just wish there was time for even more of what he's bringing us.

UCCF lives and breathes this stuff, but I turned to our director Richard Cunningham after the session and said we have to up our game on this. We need to give more training and get living it more if we're going to see CUs take the Universities for Jesus and so see the local church grow. I enjoyed the banter with Richard and Nigel and also good times today with lots of the guys from Frontiers Church Exeter.


  1. Hi Dave,
    The title of the post reminded me of two articles I read recently. I think that some of Mark's preaching and words about Jesus in Revelation are unhelpful because the humour draws upon our sinful rejection of the weak. A very severe critique can be read here: "Who can Mark Driscoll worship?"

    A more winsome summary, prompted by the first, is here: "Is your God too small?".

    Food for thought.

  2. "we have to up our game on this"

    What do you mean?


  3. Sam - to be honest, not really food for thought, Driscoll has been one of the most sensitive and precise and careful preachers I've ever heard.

    Tom - not entirely sure yet - but up a gear on engaging, understanding, enjoying, living in etc our culture in intentional and missional living.

  4. Sam,

    If that's food for thought, then I have indigestion.

    I read through both responses and found some good remarks in both, but I think you, and the authors are mistaken. Here is why. Both responses take a nugget out of an entire worldview and hold that up alone. That's unfair and dishonest - it isn't the fully picture is it? Incidentally, it's a biblical nugget to see Jesus Christ as strong and conquering. Yet they hold that nugget up as the core dogma of Driscoll's concept of God. That's sloppy, very sloppy and you would do well to remember that creating straw men, setting up weakling false portrayals of people's viewpoints is what we criticise Richard Dawkins for.

  5. Dear Tom,
    When I first heard Mark preach I rejoiced because I thought FINALLY there's someone who takes both aspects seriously: Jesus as the incarnate, suffering saviour and Jesus who is the exalted, reigning Lord.

    The emerging church "thing" is IMO one big re-emphasis of the incarnation as a reaction to unhealthy things. The trouble with this movement seems to be the rejection of the idea of God's holiness (particularly his wrath) and reign - the absence of the exalted Jesus who demands our allegiance. Mark wants to emphasise both things, which is laudable!

    However, presenting Jesus as a sort of celebrated Spartan "with a commitment to make someone bleed" sounds more like the schadenfreude of the Edomites in Obadiah than the cry for justice from the persecuted church in Revelation. God's wrath understood outside the context of his holiness and goodness is frankly pagan.

    A further issue is distaste (with myself) for laughing at people who aren't macho enough... "I cannot worship a guy I can beat up." Why do I find that funny? Is it not because it reinforces the feeling that I am king amongst the pack of lions - as if I'm one of the social-darwinist winners.

    God made some people big rugby players and some people little jockeys. He made some who hack down trees in forests and some who delicately carve sculptures. Does that mean that the rugby players should laugh at the little guys, and treehouse-building lumberjacks should laugh at "limp-wristed" artists.

    I'm sorry, but I don't buy these wild-west assumptions about masculinity.

    So I've two major points of contention. That is not to say either that I am the fount of all perfectly balanced and wise statements or that I think Mark Driscoll has nothing good or important to say!

  6. Sam,

    Please give me a reference for this claim you make.

    "a sort of celebrated Spartan "with a commitment to make someone bleed""


  7. I think by far the worst thing about those 'critiques' - I think 'attacks' would be a more appropriate word - of Mark Driscoll, especially 'Who can Mark Driscoll worship?', is that they focussed on Mark as a person and were so harsh that I was left wondering why they seem to hate him so much. It's fine, in fact I believe very important, to weigh teaching and those in prominence, such as Driscoll, should expect to have their teaching tested and corrected if necessary, but I fail to see how comments such as, "In spite of all his bombast and goofy machismo, he is, in the last analysis a very sad, lonely person" are in the slightest bit beneficial... to anyone.

    It also seems that those people are forgetting that Driscoll's teaching is largely corrective and so you would not be surprised to find that he focusses more on the aspects of Christ that many people have lost sight of - namely that when He returns in power people will prefer to be crushed by rocks than stand before Him. No one is going to imagine they could 'beat Him in a fight', not even Mark Driscoll!

    Anyway, I'm ranting, so I'll end with a positive: I think you're right Dave in that UCCF need to 'up their game' (quite sad that I can no longer say 'our') and I think in Leeds there is a move to do that anyway. People like Mark Driscoll are showing the guys in CU that it is possible and desirable to be totally immersed in their local culture whilst remaining grounded and saturated in God's Word and that, for me, is very exciting.


  8. And Tom, look here for the original article with Mark Driscoll's comment about Jesus having 'a commitment to make someone bleed':

    Although having re-read it, Mark actually says that Jesus has the commitment to make someone bleed'. Maybe I'm just being pedantic but that does seem to make a big difference. Also, I think the 'spartan' bit was Sam's poetic license?

  9. Thanks Levi for posting the reference - the Spartan image is indeed my illustration of the "commitment to make someone bleed" quote.

  10. Levi,

    Great that people are moving that way in Leeds. I do see much of the same elsewhere.

    Personally just being around someone who is punching at the level of thinking, precision, output as Driscoll makes me want to step up. I must be able to engage more, to be sharper, to grow more... I want that.


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