Mark Driscoll Pointing out the Bad Guys

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I normally wouldn’t take on a superstar like Mark Driscoll, but I thought that this article was pointless and ridiculous. It’s easier to call out local people and people who aren’t loved by so many people, but this article hit a spot and I couldn’t resist. I was reading an article on The Resurgence website where Mark Driscoll was one of the writers and as I was reading I was hoping it wasn’t written by him, but I was wrong. The article is called To Hell with Hell, by Mark Driscoll, so you can read it if you want before continuing on, cause it won’t make much sense if you don’t.

Driscoll’s article starts about telling of a man named Carlton Pearson who was successful in all sorts of the word. He was ordained at eighteen, he was preaching at fifteen, his church grew to six thousands members and things were looking up for him. Then he tells about a story that Dateline did on him where he eventually got kicked out of his church, his church dwindled to a few hundred. Pearson is telling a story of when he was watching poor kids in Africa and he heard God tell him that “can’t you see these people are already in hell.” He continued to say that maybe hell is different than the church has understood it and it’s a place now and here that is happening around us and that in the end all people will be reunited to God.

I’m not a universalist. I don’t understand it well to make an educated decision, but I will tell you that I am universalist sympathizer. Anyone who loves people so much as to see a loving God not bear to send them to an eternal punishment loves people more than I do and seems to have a better grip on the love that Jesus was talking about than most people I know who almost seem blood thirsty to see all the sinners burn in judgement. I don’t understand the need of Driscoll to rip on a guy like Pearson. I’ve never heard of him before this article, but I like him already. Here is the quote from the beginning of his story.

“these African people-mostly women and children walking slowly back trying to come home. There was no light or life in their eyes. It was a horrible thing for me to see. Swollen bellies and skeletal bodies, emaciated… and then the babies looking at the mom and the mama looking out in space. It was sad. And I’m sitting there with my little fat-cheeked baby and my plateful of food, watching my big screen TV. A man of God, a preacher of the Gospel, an Evangelist, and I’m looking at those people assuming that they’re probably Muslim and going to Hell.”

Anyone who has that realization, who is awoken to such a crazy reality, and that to realize that their existence right now is at the very least as bad as hell, should be applauded and supported. A man who has a church of six thousand to realize how bad the world really is and to realize the bubble he is in is a major achievement and a massive step in the right direction. Praise God that people are realizing the injustices that are around us everyday, praise God for people that are willing to preach it.

But no, Mark Driscoll thinks that Pearson was led astray by a demon. His church shrunk and he ended up preaching to a small group of people on a Sunday afternoon. Sounds to me a lot like Jesus when he started taking people out of their comfort zones, except he died after. His money also dried up and their building had to be sold, what a horrible thing. You know Mark Driscoll, one day you won’t be the pastor of your big church. Maybe one day you’ll only be preaching to a small group of people on a Sunday afternoon without your following. If it happens, I won’t call you a failure. Hopefully you’ll be faithful to your calling and you will preach to three people for the rest of your life if that’s what God is calling you to. Hopefully you will preach love and justice in the ways that Jesus did that may possibly stretch you outside of your heretical boundaries that you have set around yourself. Maybe you will realize that the size of your church doesn’t equal the size of your obedience to God but could just as well reflect your disobedience. Having money, people following you and a great building isn’t a sign of a successful person or not. I would like to think the scriptures almost point to the opposite of that.

To Pearson, thank-you for being faithful. Thank-you for seeing the injustices, being convicted buy them and risking your successfulness as a pastor to try and do something about it. Even if you went about it the right way or not, we’ve all done it, but at least your motives were pure. Don’t listen to Driscoll, he’s just a mega-church pastor meanie that likes to pick on the little ones when their down.

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19 Comments

  • I think the obvious point is being missed here. Rev. Pearson crafted a false theology of hell and began preaching it to his congregation and that is what led people to leave.

    It’s admirable to want to help in third world poverty; many Christian organizations do, but to circumvent the Word of God and re-craft hell into your own image and then preach it as scripture is wrong.

    Driscoll never slammed Rev. Pearson, only his theology of hell. Jesus spoke of hell more than anyone in the Bible and we need not try to re-form it in our image.

    I think your comments here are a bit off base. Sorry.

  • Personally I would have supported any effort to eject this person from the pulpit. The fact that the Scriptures speak so clearly about Hell and all three of the Ecumenical Creeds make reference to Hell would suggest very strongly that any person who would deny the existance of Hell as a place of eternal torment is outside the pale of orthodoxy. I think the only lamentable thing is that the people in this church left and didn’t deal with their errant minister.

    Moreover to “preach like Jesus” is to preach a strong message concerning judgement as 13% of his teaching is on Hell.

  • Hell is complete absence from the influence of God. The very fact that people like you speak of God and Love at all means that you have some sort of connection or influence from God. You therefore are not in hell, which means that neither am I and neither is Pearson and neither is Driscoll.

    Hell is a place where people nullify the effect of the cross by promulgating a false gospel of feel-good faith. In a loving manner I hope that you will open the Bible, read it, and reconsider your position.

  • Nathan, I thought only postmodern Brian McLaren supporters read your blog. Have you guys read “The last word and the word after that” by Brian McLaren? After reading that Im not even a Christian anymore….

    Damn, I hate this debate on hell. We spend so much time talking about a place no one knows about and its implications on. It really spoils things.

    We could be doing more important things like playing settlers of catan at our place.

  • I never wrote this trying to say hell exists or not or even if he shouldn’t have been taking off the pulpit. I wrote this to show how ridiculous Driscoll on how he uses buildings, cash and attendance to either lift people up or rip into them. He doesn’t look at all at the amazing step in the right direction Pearson was taking except points out how his bad doctrine must have caused his life to go down the tubes. Seems like retribution theolgy to me which the Book of Job is pretty strong against.

  • Another person commenting about Mr. Pearson on another site:

    “While it is commendable that Mr. Pearson has become sensitive and
    sympathetic toward the plight of Africa’s perennial poor, I find it
    interesting that the action he takes does NOTHING to actually help them.
    Instead of starting some kind of charity in order to finance the delivery of food and clothing to these people (or something along those lines), all he does is embrace unorthodox theology (that he claims his source of revelation is directly from God is nothing short of disturbing) that completely ignores divine justice by pronouncing these people redeemed regardless of their response to the gospel. In other words, while they may be living in Hell right now, God will take care of them in the afterlife because He’s good and loving (this of course, is based in turn on how WE define “good” and “loving”).

    As an aside, tt is nothing less than an intriguing coindence that this man
    has thereby rationalized himself out of actually having to DO anything to
    help these people. (After all, if God’s going to take care of them in heaven for all eternity, what’s a few years of Hell on Earth?) However, he may actually have something in the works right now so I say this tentatively.

    Another interesting point is the double standard held by universalists.
    Their theology focuses exclusively on those who they deem “innocent”. What
    about people like Stalin who get away with bloody murder? If you suggest
    that the supposedly “innocent” will face Hell if they reject Christ, they’ll whine about how that’s “not fair”, but if you retort by stating that it’s equally unfair if people like Stalin get off the hook, they’ll respond by saying, “God is God. Who are you to whine about fairness and answer back to
    him?”

    Anyway, I think I’ve said enough. Consider that my two cents (less
    inflation).

  • Tom that was a great quote. Where did you find that?

  • Nathan if you really have a problem with Driscoll on this, use some scripture to back yourself up.

    As far as your critique of Driscoll and his numbers go, those numbers are people, souls. If Driscoll continues to point people to Jesus and save them from Hell, we should all support his numbers. And if people like Pearson are going to feed people BS and half truths about God’s love, but not his justice, then we should all pray that the numbers at those churches go down.

  • You might want to look into Pearson’s theology a little deeper. He believes that everyone is saved, “they just don’t know it yet.”

    Carlton Pearson is a huge name in Pentecostal circles and even larger in the COGIC specifically.

    It would be as if John Mcarthur began preaching a false gospel. People all over the range would have to chime in, his influence dictates it.

    Beware, all his supporters are likely to try and push universalism in this post.

  • ha so i just got finished explaining to one of my best-friends that i get tired of the whole blogosphere bit…and here i am commenting on my other best-friends blog haha…anyways…

    i think its interesting that when we want to point out God’s justice we juxtapose it to God’s love, as though they were polar opposites. its also interesting that the quote that Tom posted highlighted that:

    “(this of course, is based in turn on how WE define “good” and “loving”).” this i think is a very good point and well worth noting

    but then isn’t it also true that we look at “divine justice” the way WE define justice?

    i wonder if justice has more to do with God restoring His creation to it’s right state, redeeming it and reconciling all things to Himself than it does punishing the guilty party?…just a thought.

    i know that Jesus Christ has the last word…and i think He’ll surprise us all i mean the first time He came they all expected Him to become a victorious warrior…and…He died.

  • Darryl, did they really all expect him to be a victorious warrior? Seems to me, that early Jewish Christians weren’t suprised at all. They saw no disconnect between what they expected from Judaism and what Christ gave them…

  • hey Jon, im not really sure what you mean. the Jews definitely did not expect Messiah to die, hence, they are still waiting for Him to this day…a dead Messiah to them was an oxymoron… and im not really sure what you mean by early Jewish Christians…as far as i knew they didn’t really exist before Christ died and rose again?

  • Jon – if you’re going to comment on Nathan’s post and then on Darryl’s comment, “use some scripture to back yourself up”. And be sure and not post a web link or e-mail so no one knows who you are and can’t get in touch with you.

  • Oh Pernell, you community builder you.

  • i thought it was interesting that this rebuttal was longer than the actual post by Driscoll.

    i’m not sure he was trying to look down on the little guy (being the big meany he is) — in fact, i have a feeling Driscoll voiced the same critiques when Mars Hill was struggling to survive in the early days.

    applauding bad theology, no matter the intention, can be a more dangerous slippery slope than being to quick to critique.

  • No one is applauding bad theology, only appreciating a heart that sees injustice.

  • I find it strange that not one person commented on how Driscoll compared Pearson to Grimace (that happy go luck purple bastard). Because you know what? That made all the difference to me. Now I understand. Gosh…no one in my family is ever going to wear purple again…. sure sign that someone is on the road to Hell.
    Sheesh. What was that about? That just seemed incredibly juvenile to me.
    Good work Driscoll. Way to put Pearson in his place. You sure showed him.

    After reading the A New Kind of Christian series, Im unsure what I think about Hell. But that shouldnt be the focus anywayIts about now.

  • Darryl I think this is a fantastic thought (and true)”i wonder if justice has more to do with God restoring His creation to it’s right state, redeeming it and reconciling all things to Himself than it does punishing the guilty party?…just a thought.”
    Also Driscoll seems to be sympathetic to Pearson as a person.”In reading the various interviews with Pearson, he seems to be a decent enough guy who means well.”
    I think the point is less about buildings and church size and more didactic about learning to test spirits. A good lesson me thinks.

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