Pastor Mark Driscoll loves firestorms. He's that kind of preacher. He likens himself to Chris Rock.
"In a Crosscut.com article, his style was described this way: "Pacing the stage at the main Ballard campus, he delivered a sermon on marriage roles as he saw them set forth in the Song of Solomon. He told stories from his own marriage, offered statistics, and dropped jokes without their feeling forced. Every few minutes he would sniff in a thoughtful, practiced sort of way. This untucked, down-to-earth demeanor was the opposite of a huckster televangelist, but polished in its own way. It makes the guy easy to listen to."
But his tweets are not easy to read.
There is no humility about Driscoll: his writings and sermons may seem "down-to-earth" but they are like Rick Warren's Hawaiian shirts: casual dressing on a Southern Baptist theology. And whereas Warren is Southern Baptist, Driscoll is Calvinist (with a capital C): everyone is called, but few are predestined. And Mark Driscoll is predestined. Definitely.
Bludgeoning People With "I Am The Way, The Truth, and The Life"
Driscoll may, however, suffer from the kind of righteous arrogance many evangelicals have about Christianity: we are the ONE, the ONLY way to heaven. We are RIGHT. EVERYONE else is either WRONG, MISGUIDED, or simply OF THE DEVIL. But because of this attitude, WE ARE SO PERSECUTED! Too many evangelicals have taken one passage from Scripture and made it into a sword/mantra, smiting sinning souls while repeating it endlessly to themselves as a balm for any wounds encountered.
Ironically, it is the one thing that is causing most young people to leave their churches (and religion) altogether. Such righteous arrogance has become abrasive. And Driscoll's tweet has caused similar reactions.
Here are some of the reactions thus far:
Hell Exists - For The Righteously Arrogant
The world's biggest guilt trip was done by God: "I created you, but you sinned against me. Then I came down to earth in your form and died an agonizing death in order to absolve you of those sins because I love you." Yes, God as Jewish mother. And this particular guilt trip has endured throughout centuries. The guilt trip also comes with a penalty from a stern father: hell.
Scholars and theologians doubt the existence of hell - the fiery place where a vengeful God sends people after they die. While Jesus mentions a fiery place (often thought of as Gehenna), his focus is more on love and forgiveness than vengeance and control. For the only purpose of such a place is control, a carrot or stick approach to the human condition: without the prospect of hell, man's sins would overcome him. The promise of heaven isn't enough. Bishop John Shelby Spong has some good thoughts on the man-made concept of hell (see below).
For the righteously arrogant, however, hell is heaven-sent (sorry): it gives them authority (and a bit of sadism) while it covers them in heroism: battling evil while saving everyone else.
Mark Driscoll's tweet puts him on a pedestal while dousing him with radiant heroism. "It's unloving not to say that." How noble. How righteous ... ly arrogant. In a sense, Driscoll uses a hypocritical slash and burn tactic against everyone not Christian. And friends of non-Christians don't like it. If Driscoll wants an even bigger firestorm, he should address the Dalai Lama directly. Or Mohammed.
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