“May we know what this new teaching is…”

January 12, 2009 on 1:09 am | In Christianity, daily life | 8 Comments

H/T to the Anchoress, for the link to an NYT article on Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church.

It’s a small universe. Eldest Son, Eldest Daughter and Younger Daughter all attend the church described in the Times’ story as “a boxy gray building near the diesel-infused din of the Ballard Bridge.” It’s located about 15 minutes from Eldest Son and Younger Daughter’s university, and Eldest Daughter’s apartment, but there are half a dozen churches even closer to them. One in fact is right across the street from the university campus. It would certainly be convenient, if that was what they were after.

They ended up attending Mars Hill in part because of Pastor Mark, as well as Pastor Tim and Pastor Bubba. Yes, that really is his name, go figure.

I texted Eldest Son and asked him to describe in one sentence what makes Mark Driscoll such a good pastor, and he sent back two words: “Not possible.” After a bit he elaborated:

He is blunt and makes me think. I don’t always agree with him, and it makes me question why.

Eldest son is headed for a career in the USAF; but he’s no blind follower of orders. He has a deeply probing mind and values straight from the hip speaking.  He’d never be content with a pastor who didn’t challenge him to explore what he believes.

Younger daughter also responded to my question:

He tells it like it is and is very passionate about God.

Contrary to what the Times’ author says, Mark Driscoll is easy to find on YouTube; even videos of the very topics cited in the article are there under the Mars Hill: Ask Anything playlist. This is classic Pastor Mark:

All three of my young adult offspring are intelligent and articulate. They’re also more apt to be leaders and independent sorts, not followers. They were raised from babyhood in the religion of our family, a non-denominational Protestant flavor, similar to the Baptists in doctrine. They made professions of faith and were baptized as older children, and went to Sunday School and Youth Camps and to private Christian and Catholic high schools (hence my familiarity with Catholicism). in short, they were “raised in the faith.” It was my hope that when they left home for college and adult life, they’d not leave faith behind along with their old high school uniforms.

Faith isn’t something you inherit along with blue eyes and lefthandedness. It’s something an individual has to embrace personally, for themselves, and being raised in a particular church often makes that harder, not easier. Being raised in [insert your parents' religion here] all too often can mean blind acceptance of a belief system without ever really believing its tenets. “I believe because Mommy and Daddy do” is fine for a small child, not so fine for an adult. When the tough times come–and they always do–that sort of faith usually proves to be no faith at all.

2 Peter 3:15 reminds Christians to

… in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.

Being able to explain why you believe what you believe is supposed to involve far more than “I was raised that way.”

That my kids have all chosen to find a church to attend regularly, and that they all ended up at Mars Hill, tells me they’ve grown past a simple “I was raised that way” level of faith. And they’re more mature than I was at their age; once I left my parents’ home it took marriage and looming parenthood for me to figure out that I needed the worship, teaching and fellowship of a church again. College, for me, was a spiritual wasteland, but that’s a topic for another day.

I’ve visited Mars Hill’s Ballard location (they have six locations in the Seattle area) and admittedly it’s all that the Times article said. The music is way loud, the preaching is way intense. I found it…refreshing, in a step-out-of-my-comfort-zone way. I got the distinct impression that these are Christians who know what they believe, why they believe it, and that they care very much about the larger community around them.

If I lived in Seattle, I’d probably end up at Mars Hill too.


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  1. It is God Tube which has the restrictions which result in it not hosting Pastor Mark’s sermons and Ask Anything segments, in case you were wondering. :)

    Personally, I do not agree with the doctrine of predestination. Maybe I’m the one in the wrong. Perhaps I am misunderstanding key parts of Scripture (namely John 3:16), but I wonder, then, what sort of God would send His only begotten Son to suffer a horrible death and resurrect Him supposedly for the salvation of the world when it was all decided ahead of time? God’s ways are above our ways, but throughout Scripture He has always had a plan, a point, and a purpose in what He has done.

    I’m for asking questions and challenging people and not preaching a weak and washed out Christ (I belong to a church who preaches and teaches a strong, powerful, non-compromising God). But to leave people with no hope unless they become Calvinists? And is that even enough?

    My mom grew up in a Calvinist church; now I don’t know if this is the ‘norm’ for Calvinism, but she was taught you would experience some sort of sign or gain a sense of ‘knowing’ whether or not you were one of the elect. She said it was depressing, really, to see people really serving God while wondering if they were one of the ones He had chosen to spend eternity with Him.

    Many things to ponder with this post, that’s for sure!


    admin Reply:

    Being uncertain of your salvation is not something Mars Hill teaches at all. I’m not sure if it would help, but there’s a video on the subject of Calvinism and Mars Hill Church here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=–iC5KHqaZk In the video, Driscoll describes the doctrinal difference between Calvinists and “Arminians,” which he lists as including Wesleyan Methodists, Nazarenes, Free Will Baptists, Pentacostals, Calvary Chapel, Four Square Gospel, and Assembly of God. He underscores that both groups are Christians, agreeing “on the big issues of our faith: The Bible is true, there’s one God in three persons—the Trinitarian community of Father, Son and Spirit, we’re all sinners, Jesus is God, his death on the cross takes away sin, and if you don’t believe in Him you will go to hell. Both teams believe this…If you’re an Arminian who loves Jesus, you can be a member of Mars Hill Church. All who love Jesus and have turned from sin are welcome at Mars Hill. We can disagree on this [indicating the Calvinist doctrine]. We’ll debate this with you, but we’re not going to divide over this with you.” That’s pretty much my own attitude. ;-)


    crosscribe Reply:

    I watched the video and I agree — it’s definitely not something to divide over. My concern, I think, is that I don’t want people to lose *hope* that they, too, can be saved through faith in and a personal relationship with Jesus.

    And that is what really matters. No man comes to the Father except through Jesus. It’s not the church you go to or the songs you sing or the many specifics of doctrine. It’s about a *relationship* with a God who loves us greatly.


    wk3131 Reply:

    relationship with God yes, but what about those children of God who do not believe that the Messiah has come as yet because of the family and the faith they were raised in?

    Comment by crosscribe — January 12, 2009 #

  2. [...] this link is interesting, and so is this [...]

    Pingback by Got no oomph, sorry | The Anchoress — January 12, 2009 #

  3. I’m a regular Anchoress reader then followed the link to yours. Was listening to this video with my 23 yr. old son in the room – he loved it! I completely agree with you – while some parents may chafe at their older/grown kids finding a different church, I find it a miracle – it means they have embraced the faith and now own it. Thanks for a great site – will be back.


    admin Reply:

    Glad you found my blog and are enjoying it, Dee!


    Comment by Dee — January 12, 2009 #

  4. >”I do not agree with the doctrine of predestination”

    Um, you may have confused the doctrine of predestination with Calvin’s doctrine of double predestination.

    All Christian churches believe in some form of predestination, because the Bible uses the term, [See Rom. 8:29-30, Eph. 1:5, 11].

    Calvin’s “doctrine of predestination” is in actuality a doctrine of double predestination, which is considered heresy by most of the world’s Christians.

    God bless… +Timothy


    Comment by Timothy — January 15, 2009 #

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