Mark Driscoll answers, "Will everyone who doesn't know Jesus go to hell?"

Mark Driscoll's response to "What if people never heard of Jesus?  Does that mean they will go to hell?" 

Hipster Church Tour: Mars Hill

As part of the research for my book, I’ve been visiting churches all over the country over the past year—a tour of “America’s hippest churches,” you might say (though soon to expand to Europe as well). The goal is to gain a good bit of qualitative data on the subject I’m writing about, to understand firsthand how various church bodies are fitting in to this whole thing. I have stopped at dozens of churches in many states and talked with countless people, and every now and then on my blog I will describe in depth my various observations about these churches.

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Here We Are Now, Entertain Us


This past week, Mark Driscoll's Mars Hill Church in Seattle became the #1 downloaded spiritual/religious podcast on iTunes.

That's #1 over not one, but two Crest-white Joel Osteen podcasts; and #1 over the queens of the substance-less, marshmallow hugs of 'new spirituality' Oprah Winfrey and Marianne Williamson. 

The last time a group from Seattle overthrew well-heeled millionaires peddling bubblegum was in 1992.  On January 11, 1992, Nirvana's Nevermind usurped Michael Jackson for the #1 spot on the Billboard charts and, in the process, toppled the spandex-and-make-up monolith that was hair metal and power ballads, and ushered in the last truly great musical revolution.

Not So Fast: A Lesson For the New Calvinists

Time recently did an article on big ideas that are changing the world right now and ranked "New Calvinism" as the third biggest.  Though the article itself was a bit snide, I wasn't so concerned with it as with Mark Driscoll's response.

"What?!", you say.  Those who know me at all will probably be shocked at this.  I have a lot of respect for Driscoll, have read his books, and have been listening to his sermons weekly for about two years.  I appreciate all that he has done for the Gospel in one of the most secular cities in America, not to mention how he has served the international Church by speaking around the world and offering his sermons, ebooks, and teaching materials for free.  He has inspired a lot of young men (myself included) to, as he might say, man-up and be a Christian man.  I'm genuinely thankful for the man and his ministry.

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Preview the Mar-Apr 2009 Issue of Bible Study Magazine with John D. Barry

Check out this video, where I introduce you to the hot-off-the-press Mar-Apr 2009 issue of Bible Study Magazine. This issue features my interview with Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church, titled "Bible Study Anywhere," as well as 11 tips from Driscoll on Dinner Time Bible Study. There is also an article by Conversant's Christy Tennant on "Hollywood Bible Study." Plus, in this issue we answer the questions: "Did Jesus believe in Reincarnation?" and "Does the Author of Ecclesiastes need Prozac?"

(There is an HD option on the video, so don't forget to click it. Also, if you stick around until the end, you will see some good outtakes)

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Sex From the Pulpit: Part Two

Mark Driscoll

I had always heard that Mark Driscoll liked to talk about sex. And cuss. And when I sat in on a service last November at the Ballard campus of Mars Hill Church where he pastors, the guy did not disappoint (well, he didn’t cuss per se… but he did say vulva).

Now, let me preface this by saying that I have a lot of respect for Mark Driscoll. I think that he’s doing great things for the church in Seattle, and deep down—beneath the frat guy, “Jesus was not a limp-wrist hippie in a dress!” veneer—he’s a caring, Godly person. But man oh man does he like sex: having it with his wife, talking about it, and getting as many young married hipsters in his church to have it daily.

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Sex From the Pulpit

It’s a topic that used to be taboo in church—a topic that made church ladies blush and teenagers giggle. If it wasn’t totally off-limits in a church, it was handled with great care and (usually clunky) attempts at subtlety. But not so these days. Over the last few years, sex has not only become accepted as a sermon topic; it’s become almost requisite. If you’re a pastor and you haven’t done a sex series or at least a mildly scandalous sermon on Song of Solomon, you’re behind the times.

It’s a topic that Christian authors are writing popular books about. Rob Bell’s Sex God, for example, or Lauren Winner’s Real Sex, which I highly recommend. There’s also last year’s much-praised Sex and the Soul, by Donna Freitas, which I have not read yet. Interestingly, there was a chapel series at Biola University recently entitled “Sex and the Soul.” Doubtless there are dozens others like it happening at other evangelical universities. Oh, and for a “frank discussion of pornography & masturbation,” you can check out Porn-Again Christian by Mark “Sex” Driscoll (more on him in part two of this blog series).

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Mark Driscoll in the NY Times

Click here for an article about Mark Driscoll in the New York Times Magazine ("Who Would Jesus Smack Down?", Jan. 6, 2009), written by an acquaintence of mine of whom I have a high professional opinion.

In my limited experience with Mark Driscoll, I find him a paradox, indeed. I am both impressed and frightened by him (though mostly impressed), and I think Molly Worthen did a good job of presenting facts, while not seeming to slant the piece in favor or against him.

As it happens, Driscoll doesn't need journalists to pit people against him; his own mouth does a good job of making him objectionable. In fact, it is apparent that one of his goals in his speaking is to offend and shock people (which is often precisely why he is effective). While I respect him and have recommended his book (Vintage Jesus) and teachings to several people, I have no doubt that he is thrives on making people wince, sometimes effectively, sometimes, it seems, to get his kicks. (To see what I mean, check out the panel discussion at last year's Desiring God National Conference and Driscolls' talk at that conference. I was there, and compared to some of his other talks, this one is pretty tame!)

The article paints Driscoll as a hypermasculine, hard-nosed leader who cuts loose anyone who stands in his way, which is all substantiated by his own quotes. It also highlights the rise of New Calvinism among Christians in America, and  comes down hard on the Joel Osteen camp (which I, for one, appreciate - I think the bad theology Joel Osteen and others like him preach is one of the most damnable issues in the church today).
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