Friday, April 1, 2011

Spit Against The Wind, Oh Won't You, Mark Driscoll?

I had hoped to stay out of any further Rob Bell discussion. I haven't read his book, and doubt I will anytime in the very near future. I'm not gonna discuss his teachings. I don't know what they are, so it'd be pointless. I've yet to hear him take anything away from the gospel of Christ, so I don't see any need to "speak out" about him. It's all of the reactions to his book that are just so darn bloggable (if that's even a word).

I came across an article yesterday where Mark Driscoll preaches against Rob Bell (without naming him outright - gotta admire that kind of bravery *SA ) and his perceived teachings (article here). I say "perceived" because I don't genuinely know what they are. I'll go further and say that Driscoll probably doesn't either. I doubt he's read Bell's book, but of course, I don't know that for sure. It wouldn't make any difference anyway, because Driscoll has sold the entirety of his soul to a dogma, despite what the bible, which he claims to view as authoritative and absolute truth, tells him.

I like to be up front, so I'll go on the record and say that I consider Mark Driscoll a moron. A fundamentalist, religiously dangerous moron. I don't like the guy. I don't even have confidence in his "good intentions".  He's a false teacher. Don't believe me? I'll show you in the course of this piece.

The linked article cites an interview that Bell did with MSNBC's Martin Bashir (I've seen the interview - it was an ambush).

"Is it irrelevant about how one responds to Christ in this life in terms of determining one's eternal destiny?" asked Bashir, who also accused the author of amending the Gospel so that it's palatable.
"It is terribly relevant and terribly important. Now, how exactly that works out and how exactly that works out in the future, we are now when you die firmly in the realm of speculation," Bell replied. "You have to be very careful that we don't build whole doctrines and dogma about what is speculation."

Now, personally, I don't have any problem with what Bell is saying there. I haven't personally visited eternity, so I don't know exactly what it will be like, and it'd be pointless for me to speculate on the judgment of God because I've neither experienced it or witnessed it. I believe I'll spend eternity with God because of Christ, but I've no idea what that will look like, sound like, smell like, taste like, or feel like. It's too big for me to speak definitively, and ignorantly, on. From where we sit as humans, everything, and I mean everything, about the afterlife is mere speculation, regardless of our personal faith. 

The responses to this kind of thinking, though, remind me of the Seinfeld episode where Jerry and George went to NBC to pitch their idea for a show, a show about "nothing". When the NBC execs expressed discomfort with the idea of a show about "nothing", Jerry was willing to meet them in the reasonable middle, but George, who had sold his neurotic soul to the idea of a show about "nothing", went ballistic, "NO! It's about NOTHING! It has to be about NOTHING! There's no show if the show isn't about NOTHING!"

Compare the Seinfeld anecdote, and George's response to the NBC execs, to these statements from Driscoll's sermon referenced in the linked article...

Without naming names, Driscoll, author of Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe, expressed profound concern over false teachings and messages that proclaim anything other than salvation through Jesus Christ.
"It greatly disturbs me when well-known pastors and preachers and authors get invited onto television ... when the world is listening to them, the interviewer inquires of them 'if you don't believe in Jesus are you going to hell?' and they squirm or they change the subject or they appeal to the emotions or they tell a story, they do anything but say 'yes, if you don't know Jesus you go to hell,'" the 40-year-old pastor said. "Friends, this is the most serious of matters," he told the congregation. "I'm not the judge but there are pastors that are going to hell. So be careful who you trust."

I've yet to see Bell say that anyone can come to God apart from Jesus Christ. Maybe I've missed it, but I haven't seen in.

Oh, but there's more George Costanza-esque-ness...

"Some say Jesus is so loving, certainly Jesus doesn't believe in hell. I would say the most loving person who has ever lived not only believes in hell but clearly, emphatically, repeatedly teaches on it, which must mean that our sin is more damnable than we can fathom if it requires the most loving person to speak in the most stark of terms," he pointed out. "The existence of hell, the instruction by Jesus of hell should reveal to us how sinful sin truly is and how rebellious we really are."
Making clear what Jesus made clear, the Seattle pastor known for his no-holds-barred attitude said everyone who doesn't know Jesus will go to hell. "Have you received Jesus? Have you trusted in Jesus? If not, you are in the path of the wrath of God. You are headed to the conscious eternal torments of hell," he asserted.

It's about HELL! It's about HELL I tell you! HELL or nothing!
Oh, but then it turns into a fire insurance pitch...

"I'm really worried about some of you," he said as he became teary-eyed. “I love you. I can't have your blood on my hands.”
"God is holy. If we do not repent, we are in the path of His wrath."
Responding to questions about why God would create people if their future is hell, Driscoll stated, "People go to hell because they reject Jesus. We are in no way innocent."
(Actually, he's contradicting his own extremely Calvinistic mode of faith there - If God made me with the foreordained intention of withholding His grace from me, then, apart from anything else I've done, haven't I been rejected by God rather than me being the one doing the rejecting?)
Hell, he noted, was made for the devil and his angels who rebelled against God. And just as prison was made to protect the rest of the public, hell was made to "protect us." "You need not go there. Trust in Jesus."
Regarding what hell is like, the illustration in Luke reveals a place of torment with flames. It's like being trapped in a burning building forever, Driscoll said. Jesus also uses as illustration a place outside Jerusalem called Gehenna. There, children were murdered and sacrificed by fire to false demon gods. It was a cursed place that became a garbage dump of the city where worms were always feasting and flames were always burning.
Near the end of his sermon, Driscoll pleaded with the congregation not to judge God. "We have three-pound fallen brains. We have sinful dispositions. We have only been around for a few short years. We are not all knowing," he pointed out. "For us to sit on a throne even if it is an academic throne propped up by footnotes, asking the Creator of heaven and earth to pass before us that we might render a verdict regarding His holiness and justice is how all the trouble began in the first place."
Driscoll urged the congregation and other listeners online to make a decision – eternal life or eternal death. "You're still alive so I'm pleading with you. Make your decision while you're still alive."

Well, I, for one, certainly hope he sufficiently scared everyone into a healthy "relationship" with Christ.

Ok...Now for the false teaching of Driscoll. The Greek word in the NT, from the gospels to The Revelation, translated as "hell" is "hades". Hades means "1) name Hades or Pluto, the god of the lower regions 2) Orcus, the nether world, the realm of the dead 3) later use of this word: the grave, death, hell", according to Strong's. Above we see Driscoll tell us several times that if we die apart from Christ, we'll not just GO to hell, but we'll spend eternity there. His doctrine is false. His heaven isn't very compelling, and his gospel powerless, without its very own Great Satan of an eternal hell.
From Revelation 20...
12And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
 13And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
 14And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
 15And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

Examine that closely. If you believe in the authority of the bible, as Driscoll claims he does - really examine that passage. What does hell do in that passage? Where does hell go in that passage?

According to the bible, NO ONE will spend eternity in hell. NO ONE. So, Driscoll, and anyone else who preaches "eternity in hell", needs to get it right...or, do us all a favor and shut the eternity in hell up.

And no, this isn't an April Fool's joke, but I'm sure some of the responses will be interesting.


  1. Luke 3:16
    John answered, saying to all, “I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

  2. Excellent points!! Yes, according to many English versions it says "hell" (even though we know it's actually 'grave') but hell IS EMPTIED before it's cast into the lake of fire. And NO ONE is EVER put back into hell.

  3. Fire & Brimstone. The Puritan pastors would have loved Mark Driscoll.

  4. That verse sounds like everyone who is not saved spends eternity in the lake of fire. Doesn't sound much better/different than hell.

  5. Anonymous...It may not be. I truly don't know. I'm also unsure about the eternal aspect of it. It may be eternal, and it may not be eternal. So much of Revelation is symbolism, and so much of all text about the afterlife in the various books of the bible is symbolic, that I think it's dangerous for any teacher to become dogmatic about eternity. We simply don't know.

    In Revelation, for instance, just about everything short of flying five-headed spiders with fire-breathing monkeys on their backs is used in the symbolism.

    I think a good way to look at it is this...Imagine a guy from a couple thousand years ago suddenly seeing a couple of elementary school-aged kids from today playing a game of ping-pong on a Nintendo Wii...and then trying to describe what he was watching in the language of his day..."In that day, children will wave a wand of power, and the mirror of light that isn't a mirror will yield to them, and the harp will play, and joy will abound."

  6. And then, take that description of two children playing Nintendo Wii...

    "In that day, children will wave a wand of power, and the mirror of light that isn't a mirror will yield to them, and the harp will play, and joy will abound."

    ...and imagine how we'd interpret it today if it were in Revelation. We'd probably make it into something ultra-spiritual. Imagine what Driscoll could do with such a verse. And it's two kids playing Nintendo Wii.

  7. Lewis, this is fascinating. I had never 'noticed' those verses about hell/hades before. Also, good point about Driscoll's contradiction with his Calvinism.

    One other thing I disagree with Driscoll and others is per the notion of fallen nature or sin nature. More and more, sin nature is being substituted pure and simple for sarx or fleshly nature in translations and teachings. My thoughts: 1. If Adam and Eve did not need or have a sin nature, and yet were plenty able to sin without one; why does anyone else need one to sin? Also, if our so-called sin nature comes from Adam, then it is NOT truly our fault if we sin. If any sin is due to a sin nature that we did not choose, then we are not responsible for our sins. Whoever 'gave' us our sin nature is. Adam is.

    The bible does seem to say that sin entered the world back then, due to Adam's sin, but sin being in the world is not the same as sin entering all people in the form of a nature anymore than water entering into a room full of people will permeate the people with water and become their nature. If they breath it in (choose it), then yes, it will go into them, but if they hold their breath or have gear that prevents it, etc., (still a choice) then water does not enter them; it just surrounds them. It does not become their nature. It just becomes a very pervasive part of their environment.

    From what we see with Adam and Eve, it appears that all people need to be able to choose sin is to have a human nature. Then, if they do choose to sin, they are responsible and accountable for their sin/choice. Perhaps a tangent, but a relevant issue to certain discussions. It is part of the whole Fundamentalist agenda and notion that people are just downright awful and even when they are 'saved' they still have this 'sin nature'. The evil of people remains a strong focus even after they are saved, in this view.

    Another anonymous

  8. Great points. That's the main reason I'm not comfortable with the idea of the "total depravity" of man. If we were all born totally depraved, and Christ came to earth as one of us and completely like us, wouldn't Christ have been depraved, too? And wouldn't that render His sacrifice void?

    I'm certainly not saying we don't need Christ, because we do, but think about the way Driscoll portrays us in his sermon. It's enough to make me want to just give up and live as a wino. Depressing.

  9. I get so tired of Christians constantly talking about "eternal Hell" or living in Heaven forever. I've been tempted to shout, "Don't you people read your Bibles? Hell gets tossed into the Lake of Fire in the end! So do people! While we don't know what that means, we do know that hell isn't eternal!"

    "And don't you ever read about the resurrection? We don't live in Heaven forever. Eventually, we all get new bodies and the planet is remade."

  10. I added this in the first post on Bell, but since we're still talking about Bell's book (and about Driscoll) here, I thought I'd add this link as pertinent to the discussion. More people will likely see it in this more recent post.

    Review of Love Wins

  11. Lewis 1:52 a.m.: Great point about total depravity and Christ coming to be like us.

    I laughed, though in all seriousness, about your final comment. It is so true-what in the heck are they really trying to accomplish with all that they spew forth?!!!