the difference between mark driscoll and westboro baptist church

Question: What’s the difference between Mark Driscoll and Westboro Baptist Church?
Answer: Westboro makes signs.


Other than that, neofundamentalist Mark Driscoll and Westboro Baptist are theologically about the same when it comes to the sectarian nature of their soteriological claims.

Here’s what “Pastor Mark” tweeted today:

In case he deletes it, here is a screencap of the tweet:

Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church tweeted the following on January 21, 2013 just before President Barack Obama's second inauguration: ""Praying for our president, who today will place his hand on a Bible he does not believe to take an oath to a God he likely does not know."

Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church tweeted the following on January 21, 2013 just before President Barack Obama’s second inauguration: “Praying for our president, who today will place his hand on a Bible he does not believe to take an oath to a God he likely does not know.”

And here’s a transcription of what he wrote:

“Praying for our president, who today will place his hand on a Bible he does not believe to take an oath to a God he likely does not know.”

Remember the difference:

Westboro Baptist Church child protestor.

Westboro Baptist Church child protestor.

Westboro Baptist says: “God hates fags!”

Mark Driscoll screaming,

Pastor Mark Driscoll

Mark Driscoll: “God Hates YOU!

…and apparently President Obama too, but he’s “praying for him“, so it’s not disingenuous or condescending or self-righteous or otherwise dickish in any way.

(and for the record, here was Westboro Baptist’s tweet for the day. Like I said, Westboro Baptist makes signs, but it’s the same sentiment as Driscoll toward gays.)

bent meyer, mars hill church elder fired by mark driscoll, speaks out

Don't drink Mark Driscoll's Mars Hill Kool-Aid

Don't drink Mark Driscoll's Mars Hill Kool-Aid

One of the elders fired by Mark Driscoll in 2007 has spoken out. You can read the comments by Bent Meyer here at the Wartburg Watch. The entire article is worth a read.

With all of the turmoil that Mark Driscoll has brought upon his Mars Hill church franchise in recent months (see the exposé by Matthew Paul Turner here), including his highly suspect and cult-like disciplinary tactics meant to shame and humiliate any who would not submit to his authority and/or might threaten to leave his church, it is important to get the back story from those who know it best.

A portion of Meyer’s response reads:

The downside is Mark’s pathology shows up in ways that are impulsive, aggressive, irascible, shut off from effective relational influence, and most apparent not respectful and submissive to anyone, though he claims otherwise.

I have hoped and still hope for something short of him destroying himself that would bring about substantial change for this ever increasing population of worshiper. Some have fretted there will be a great loss of Christians with the demise of Mark and/or the Church. I don’t think so. The church that comprises all of us will survive. The chaff will be blown away, but the church will remain.

Bent Meyer is a good man, and his voice should be heard in this matter. Read it here.

jesus appears in a walmart receipt

Jesus in a Wal-Mart receipt

Jesus in a Wal-Mart receipt

A Christian couple in Anderson County, SC discovered an image they believe to be Jesus on a WalMart receipt (of course that’s where they were.) But some are questioning whether the image is Jesus or someone else. (Experts are doing comparisons with some early self-portraits and photographs of Jesus to determine for certain.)

There is one easy way to determine whether the pic is of Jesus or not: is the man in the picture a masculine looking man, or just some “chickified church boy in a sweater vest“? @PastorMark #ManlyMen

The pic does looks pretty thuggish and hard core. Maybe @PastorMark can use him as a greeter at Mars Hill (it is a WalMart receipt after all…).

mark driscoll responds after his elders ‘sit him down’, offers no apology

There was no apology, but neo-fundamentalist Mars Hill Church Pastor Mark Driscoll responded to the backlash of criticism (including my own, Rachel, Joel, Jim, Scott, and others) about his general theology of men and women self-described “flippant” remarks made on Facebook:

Mars Hill Church Pastor Mark Driscoll incites gossip about "effeminate" worship leaders and asks his followers to name names.

Mars Hill Church Pastor Mark Driscoll incites gossip about "effeminate" worship leaders and asks his followers to tell their stories.

as well as a number of past comments about “effeminate” men. (Kudos, btw, to John Von Rader and Rick Allen (above) for immediately calling Mr. Driscoll on his incitement of gossip in this public forum. And conversely, I hereby offer the following Merriam-Webster.com link to Will and Virgil.)

Mr. Driscoll’s response wasn’t actually so much a response to the merits of the objections raised against his behavior as it was a mere acknowledgment that some people didn’t like his recent Facebook incitement of homophobic gossip comments. Glaringly absent, however, from his comments was any form of an apology whatsoever. Mr. Driscoll did acknowledge in a carefully worded statement that his executive elders “sat him down,” saying:

As a man under authority, my executive elders sat me down and said I need to do better by hitting real issues with real content in a real context.

I’m not sure whether to interpret this as an acknowledgment of disapproval by his superiors (methinks so?), or an attempt to deflect criticism by suggesting that what is really needed is a better venue to publish his unapologetic thoughts on the gender issue. I lean toward the latter because where the apology should have been, Mr. Driscoll instead promised to create a new website where he will attempt to better articulate his “complementarian” position of using “biblical authority” to continue to suppress discuss the roles of women in the the church. Not unexpectedly, Mr. Driscoll states that he will use the first post on the new website to hock a new book that he and his wife have written tentatively entitled, “Real Marriage: The Truth about Sex, Friendship, and Life Together” (apparently differentiating real marriage from same-sex marriage, which Mr. Driscoll opposes) to be published by Thomas Nelson publishers.

Driscoll reasserted his position that King David was properly qualified to be the chief psalmist (the apparent equivalent of “worship leader” to Mr. Driscoll, who appears to have forgotten about the worship function of the Levitical priests in early Israelite religion) of the Bible because he still possessed the very “masculine” trait of being “a warrior king who started killing people as a boy.” (Driscoll’s actual quote is this:

I explained the main guy doing the music in the Bible was David, who was a warrior king who started killing people as a boy and who was also a songwriter and musician.)

So in the end, Mr. Driscoll appears not to be saying that he said something inappropriate, but by offering to create a new website to promote discussion of his views, he appears to be saying that we don’t understand him because he’s not saying it loud enough. Go figure.

Ephesians 5:25 says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church.” 1 Corinthians 13:4ff defines love as “patient, kind,” etc. Nowhere in 1 Cor. 13, however, do I see the masculine love husbands are to show defined as “watchin’ football, makin’ money, climbin’ a mountain, shootin’ a gun, or working on a truck” (see the 2:50 mark here).

Don’t forget that Mr. Driscoll’s Mars Hill church sees its primary mission as the proselytization of 22-25-year old “young, single, non-Christian, perverted, educated, technological men” (see the 3:45 mark here). Mr. Driscoll made his name as a pastor by appealing to young men. He does a lot of consulting on the side and has achieved much success within Evangelical circles because of his strategies to appeal to young men. This means there is much potential personal and financial incentive for Mr. Driscoll to preach a gospel that appeals to “young, single, non-Christian, perverted” heterosexual men who like to “slaughter other men,” “win a fight,” and “punch you in the nose” (see the 2:20 mark here). Perhaps this is why we continue to hear and read repeated homophobic and gender-discriminatory comments from Mr. Driscoll: his “gospel” is designed to appeal to the “young, single, non-Christian, perverted” men from whom he gains his power.

Imagine if these men ever learned about the real Jesus presented in the Bible. I’m guessing that would be bad for business…

HT: Rachel Held Evans

a study in masculinity: comparing michael irvin and mark driscoll

Michael IrvinESPN is reporting that Dallas Cowboys Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin will be appearing shirtless (well, abs-uncovered at least) on the cover of next month’s August issue of Out magazine. Why, you might ask, would a straight male appear on the cover of the world’s most widely-read gay magazine?

According to the article by Cyd Zeigler, Irvin is attempting to honor the life and struggles of his gay brother, Vaughn, who died in 2006, by speaking out:

Now, after working through some of his personal demons with his long-time bishop, T.D. Jakes of the Potter’s House church in Dallas, Texas, Irvin is ready to talk about Vaughn. More than that, he’s become a passionate supporter of gay athletes and equal rights for same-sex couples.

Michael Irvin also has a pointed message for the African-American Christian community:

“I don’t see how any African-American with any inkling of history can say that you don’t have the right to live your life how you want to live your life. No one should be telling you who you should love, no one should be telling you who you should be spending the rest of your life with. When we start talking about equality and everybody being treated equally, I don’t want to know an African-American who will say everybody doesn’t deserve equality.”

[Note that 2008 California election exit polls indicated that an overwhelming 70% of the California African-American community supported Prop 8 (which sought to ban same-sex marriage), while the ballot initiative only passed with a slim 52.24% majority.]

Good for Michael Irvin. Irvin is now admitting that much of the womanizing he did in his younger years was, in part, due to the fact that he knew his brother was gay, and he didn’t want people to think he was gay. I applaud Irvin’s honesty, especially on a topic where many men are not honest. I firmly believe that many men oppose marriage equality for same-sex couples simply because they do not wish to be perceived as gay.

I know this from experience. Despite my wife and child, many of my “good ol’ boy” friends from back home in Madera and Fresno, CA (especially the Christians) and an even greater number of folks who only know me from appearances on TV or pieces I’ve written either assume I am gay, bisexual, or am no longer a Christian because I advocated so strongly against California’s Proposition 8 (here and here and here and here). They call me all the names you’d use to tease a gay man, as if I’d somehow be embarrassed or offended by names if I were. And while I don’t let petty name calling trouble me much, I do think that many other straight men (especially people of faith) are so afraid of the mere concept of homosexuality (i.e., that it might somehow “rub off” on them or, like Michael Irvin admitted, that it may be a genetic thing and they may carry a recessive “gay” gene that may present at any time), or are simply so afraid of being called gay, that they overemphasize their masculinity and vehemently oppose homosexuality, and even go so far as opposing equal rights for homosexuals. These men, who fear feelings and emotions they may or may not experience or understand, attempt to purge their minds of the perceived threat by condemning gays, opposing their civil rights, and insisting that men stick out their chests, work on their trucks, play football, cuss, suppress the roles of women, and “not act like a bunch of ‘chickified’ church dudes” who “wear sweater vests.”

Which brings us to Mars Hill Church Pastor Mark Driscoll, who in this case study, must be viewed as the Christian antithesis of Michael Irvin and those of us fighting on behalf of social justice and civil rights for all persons.

Opposition to homosexuals, same-sex marriage, and what he calls “effeminate” men is nothing new to Mr. Driscoll. I’m referring to comments after comments he has made about both women and men he feels do not meet the Christian criterion for “dudes,” including “chickified church boys,” and “nice, soft, tender” men “walking around singing love songs to Jesus.” (see below. And, don’t miss the mash-up of the below video here.)

In the above interview (around the 1:50 mark), Mark Driscoll rants about “effeminate” men, saying they are:

“church boys wearing sweater vests and walking around singing love songs to Jesus…nice, soft, tender, ‘chickified’ church boys”

and arguing real Christian men should be characterized as:

“slaughter other men, heterosexual, win a fight, punch you in the nose, dudes”

Driscoll goes on to complain that:

“60% of Christians are chicks, and the 40% that are dudes are still sort of chicks…it’s just sad”

“You walk in and it’s sea foam green, and fuschia, and lemon yellow, and the whole architecture and the whole aesthetic is real feminine and the preacher’s kinda feminine, and the music’s kinda emotional and feminine…”

“and the innovative dudes are home watchin’ football, or they’re out makin’ money, or climbin’ a mountain or shootin’ a gun or working on their truck.”

Note that Mr. Driscoll is not specifically opposing gay men in the above clip, but “effeminate” men whom he feels are not real Christian men who, of course, punch people in the nose and climb mountains.

[Btw, I wonder how he’d feel about a 6’1″, 220 lb., free thinking, sharp tongued, former redneck from Fresno who ate something his father shot four nights a week for dinner growing up, who is still an equally good shot with a 7mm Remington Magnum or a .357 Magnum, who has climbed that mountain, fixed that truck, won that baseball championship, and took on that bully, and who, now as a Mensan with a formal graduate education in biblical studies and ancient languages, regularly advocates for social justice and the civil rights of those being oppressed by Christian neo-fundamentalists like Driscoll? I wonder how he’d feel about the kind of man who is actually comfortable enough with his own masculinity to wear Uggs and regularly wear a leather satchel which his daughter refers to as a “murse” (i.e., a man-purse) to a professional conference of his peers? Because, you know, they’re out there keeping people honest. Just a thought…]

And this isn’t a one-time thing for Mr. Driscoll. Just this past week, Pastor Mark Driscoll placed the following on his Facebook page. (And yes, since the public backlash best expressed by Rachel Held Evans and countless others), he’s since deleted it from his wall. But fear not, I always make screen shots ;-):

Mark Driscoll asks his Facebook followers to opine on "effeminate" men.

Mark Driscoll incites his Facebook followers to opine and name "effeminate" men.

And Mr. Driscoll is not “just kidding around” as so many of his numb-minded followers are quick to assert in his defense. His neo-fundamentalist pattern of behavior (which I define as a 1950’s fundamentalist in an edgy screen printed hoodie and a pair of designer jeans) is consistent and unapologetic.

Here, when questioned about whether or not he’s “just kidding,” he defines precisely what he’s asking:

driscoll_definition

Mark Driscoll articulates to his Facebook followers what he meant by "effeminate" when questioned by a respondent about what he was asking.

And, lest you think Mr. Driscoll felt he made a mistake, he defends his asking the question:

Unfortunately, bigotry like this is not limited to the (other) Mars Hill (the better, truer Mars Hill is here), and it is time for people of all faiths to stand up and combat racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, and bigotry in all its forms.

This is what Michael Irvin and most sound Christian scholars, bloggers, advocates, and people of faith are combating. This is the bigotry and nonsense that has plagued the church for so long.

I may not understand the gay mind, but just because I do not understand something does not mean I should oppress the civil rights of those who do. In fact, when asked if I am gay, I always refuse to answer the question and usually reply with the classic “West Wing/CJ Cregg” response of, “It’s none of your damn business.” (See also this clip. And this one. And this one. West Wing said it best!) In a panel discussion at Pepperdine University on racism and homophobia, I explained that I say this because I believe that the sooner straight men stop answering the question, the sooner the question will stop being asked. It is not enough for straight men to say that they support same-sex marriage, but then when asked, “Are you gay,” respond with, “W/Hell no, I’m not gay!” as if there is something embarrassing about it. Straight men should speak out more often in support of marriage equality and we all should stop answering (and asking) the question “Are you gay?”

So I applaud Michael Irvin’s decision to face his fears, honor his brother, and speak out in favor of marriage equality. I’m not a Cowboys fan, and never have really been a Michael Irvin fan. But this decision has turned my opinion of Mr. Irvin to a favorable one, and I am now a fan. I applaud his decision, and I hope this is the beginning of yet another long and distinguished career of public advocacy on behalf of the oppressed for the heralded “Playmaker.”


P.S. If you’d like to contact Mark Driscoll’s church’s “elders,” you may do so here.

how not to read targum neofiti

Again, I shake my head, but stay with me on this one: Mark Driscoll has successfully butchered Neofiti.

Apparently, as a part of an indoctrination informative series of mini-sermons on ‘What Christians Should Believe,’ pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle attempted to expound on Targum Neofiti. In particular, he attempted to use Neofiti as part of an apologetic defense for evidence of the Christian concept of the Trinity in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament.

Watch the video here first:

I’m not sure where to begin, but please allow me to make a few friendly correctives.

First, one would think that a basic seminary training would have taught Pastor Mark some elementary Hebrew. אלה’ם (“Elohim“) is plural in form, but can be plural or singular in meaning, depending upon whether it is used in reference to the central figure of the Hebrew Bible, YHWH (God). (See Mark Smith’s Early History of God for more info.) If (“Elohim“) does preserve an early plurality, it is from Canaan’s polytheistic past, and not due to any notion of a Trinity, which was a theological construct hypothesized in the first few centuries of Christianity to deal with the Arian-Nicene controversy. The inscription discovered at Kuntillet ‘Ajrud, which offers an 8th century blessing reading “may you be blessed by YHWH of Samaria and his Asherah” (Cf. William Dever’s book, Did God Have a Wife?, or watch the NOVA special here), provides evidence that Israelites all the way down into the 8th Century (that is, long past David and Solomon) and well beyond still worshiped other gods besides YHWH. (Cf. the first 2 of the 10 Commandments in Exodus 20:3-6, and just about every prophet’s complaint about the ongoing problem of the polytheistic worship.)

Another elementary seminary lesson teaches that רוח אלה’ם (“ruah Elohim” or “spirit of God”) and the simple אלה’ם (“Elohim” or “God”) are interchangeable references to the same person depending on the author. A freshman level understanding of Wellhausen’s Documentary Hypothesis (and its descendants) reveals that some authors of the Bible favored a distant God who used messengers (like angels) or referred to God as the “spirit of God” when referring to him making personal appearances, while other authors viewed God in a more anthropomorphic sense, and referred to God simply as YHWH or “God.” Trinitarian apologists have looked to the OT for Trinitarian “evidence” for millennia, and pointing to Genesis 1 for evidence of the Trinity is easily refuted.

Another tactic used by Trinitarian apologists is claiming that the ‘us’ in Gen 1:26 (“let us create man in our image) can only be explained by the Trinity. This view is either ignorant or dismissive of the more widely accepted scholarly interpretation of this verse as employing the “royal we,” that is, God speaking to his royal court of angels, etc. (think book of Job). Of course, this too may also be a holdover from Israel’s polytheistic past (as persistently criticized by Hebrew prophets), where the story dates to a time of polytheism, and was so ingrained in the oral tradition and the minds of Israelites, that they preserved the polytheistic form of the verb and its derivative pronouns, and yet understood it as a singular. To claim that this passage can only refer to the Trinity is either simple ignorance or an unwillingness to consider any explanation other than what Driscoll has already decided. Making up one’s mind regarding what to believe and then scouring the text for evidence is called eisegesis, and is a common tactic among fundamentalists.

A side-by-side comparison of the Hebrew Bible, Targums Onkelos, Neofiti, and Pseudo-Jonathan, and the NIV (English).

A side-by-side comparison of the Hebrew Bible, Targums Onkelos (Aramaic and English), Neofiti, and Pseudo-Jonathan, and the NIV (English). translation of Genesis 1:1. The red arrow points to the word בחכמה “b’hakmah” (Aramaic: “in/with wisdom”) in Neofiti’s Aramaic translation of Gen 1:1.

Perhaps the most egregious of Driscoll’s exegetical errors comes when he attempts to invoke the Aramaic Targums to defend his argument that there is explicit evidence for the Trinity in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament.

First, Driscoll claims that Neofiti was written 200 years before Christ, and not 200 CE, which is the scholarly consensus. Neofiti was written long after Jesus had come and gone. This may be a simple mistake during note taking on Driscoll’s part, but it becomes a huge problem when Driscoll attempts to use this misinformation to turn Neofiti into a prophecy, rather than what it is: an attempt to reconcile two contradicting passages.

Second, and perhaps the most blatant of Driscoll’s errors is his complete misreading of Neofiti’s translation of Genesis 1:1. Anyone who has studied Aramaic targums knows that there is no such thing as translation without interpretation. Neofiti tends to interpret as it translates, which adds language to the original Hebrew text, but was considered permissible since those listening to a targum read aloud were most likely doing so because they couldn’t understand Hebrew. Thus, the targums would interpret and explain while they translated. The practice is not unlike writing a commentary on a passage that integrates the interpretation into the text itself.

With regard to Neofiti’s treatment of Genesis 1:1, the text was concerned with explaining away a problematic contradiction within the Hebrew Bible. (See the critique made by Dr. Christian Brady, Dean and Aramaic targum scholar at Penn State here, and Scott Bailey’s treatment of Driscoll’s errors here.) Dr. Brady points out that Driscoll completely misreads Neofiti’s translation of Gen. 1:1, and mistakes the Aramaic words ‏ מלקדמין בחכמה ברא {ד}ייי (“At the beginning, with wisdom, God created…”) with “at the beginning, by the firstborn, God created.” This is not even close! In fact, Dr. Brady and I are hard-pressed to find any possible way the Aramaic word בחכמה “b’hakmah” (meaning “in/with wisdom”, similar to the Hebrew חכמה “hokmah” – see the red arrow in the graphic above) can be misread to derive at “firstborn.” Driscoll simply misreads (if he read it at all) the Aramaic and invents something that fits his theological argument.

So what then is Targum Neofiti doing here by adding this word בחכמה “b’hakmah” (“in/with wisdom”)? Answer: it is attempting to harmonize the claim in Genesis 1:1 that says בראשית ברא אלהים את השמים ואת הארץ (“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth”) with Proverbs 8:22, where in a tribute to wisdom, the Bible claims that God created wisdom first, before the rest of creation (“The LORD created me [wisdom, cf. Prov. 8:22] at the beginning of His course, as the first of His works of old”). Targum Neofiti is attempting to reconcile the natural question of precisely what was actually created first: wisdom (Prov. 8), or the heavens and the earth (Gen. 1)? The answer offered by the authors of Neofiti was quite clever: God created the heavens and the earth in/with wisdom. The authors of Neofiti simply added the Aramaic word בחכמה (“in/with wisdom”), to their translation of the Hebrew text of Gen 1:1, which they felt solved their problem of which came first. God created the heavens and the earth “with wisdom.” Problem solved. The translators added to the Hebrew text, which was actually very common at the time. This practice of adding to the text and harmonizing passages while translating explains why there are so many textual variants of the Hebrew Bible, and is we love to study the targums: they teach about the diversity of thought at the time.

Unfortunately, in the end, Driscoll’s so-called mis-“reading” of Targum Neofiti is a mere fabrication – a complete misreading of the text, which he uses as evidence for something that isn’t there (evidence of the Trinity in the OT). It’s almost as egregious of a fabricated defense of the Trinity as the Johannine Comma, in which a medieval publisher (Erasmus) intentionally inserted text (under pressure from others) in 1 John 5:7-8 in an attempt to provide some explicit Biblical evidence for the Trinity (because there was/is none).

And that is how not to use the targums. How do you mislead your congregation into believing something that you believe, but that the Bible doesn’t mention? You just make something up.

As I said before, “I shake my head.”

It’s actually embarrassing that this video is still up there on the web. The entire sermon is built upon a fabrication of evidence. How long until he pulls it or offers an apology?

the most egregious misapplication of church demographics and male leadership i’ve ever seen

the irony is, i actually agree with him up to the :45 mark. granted, he sounds like he’s parroting john eldredge’s wild at heart, but he has a point. but, it is precisely at that point (the :45 mark), that driscoll completely derails and misses the point. i mean, really, are you seriously referring to women and men as ‘chicks and dudes’??

and really? the entire mission of the church should revolve around YOUNG MEN??!! really? is this the 50s? are we in afghanistan? if we target young men, we ‘win’???

no wonder driscoll’s church is ‘over half male, single, and in their twenties’: who wants to date an uneducated, ‘perverted’ male who’d rather ‘punch someone in the nose’ or ‘work on their truck’ than go to church?

see for yourself:

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