This weekend Mark Driscoll, pastor of the NW mega-church Mars Hill, came right out and said exactly what he thinks that g-d thinks about you…”G-d hates you“. Watch here (quote starts @ 4:25)…
Those who know me might be surprised by this, but I have a slight problem with that. It isn’t just that I find his approach rough or his words lacking in tact, even though I certainly do. My criticism goes beyond the shocking phrases he spews with such malice in this video. If you have an hour, man he loves to hear himself talk, you can watch the full sermon here.
In the full sermon, Mark goes to great lengths to explain to us how evil we are. He thinks it is incredibly important that we all realize just how sh*tty we really are and how much his g-d righteously despises everything about us. We must come to the realization that g-d’s wrath is boiling over and his “justice” eagerly calls out for our blood. Mark thinks saying all that is okay because it highlights just how great g-d’s “love” is when he finds a way to redirect his wrath onto a substitutionary scapegoat. The only way we could possibly understand the love of g-d is if it comes in contrast to wrath-filled hatred and the threat of eternal torture performed by our beloved.
Forgive me for being as blunt as Driscoll usually is, but Mark’s gospel is bullsh*t. I usually wouldn’t be so forceful in this venue, but this kind of theology is severely psychologically and spiritually dangerous. His message, given with authority to an audience of over 10K, paints g-d with the following characteristics:
- Jealous & Possessive
- Sets Unattainable Standards
- Prone to Mood Swings
- Conflicting Actions and Words – Like saying he loves the world then eternally tortures most of it
- Punishes For Not Meeting Unreasonable Expectations
- Disrespectful – devalues who you are
- Historically Violent
The real problem here is that these are the warning signs psychologists, psychiatrists, and counselors have identified of abusive relationships. The analogy of a husband and wife are often used by Christians to symbolize our relationship with g-d. If Mark Driscoll’s g-d is like our husband, then we are the victims of domestic abuse. His g-d tells us that we are worthless according to his standards. We weren’t able to live up to the rules that he made for us, as a result his anger is boiling over. Every time we fail to reach perfection seething words escape through our holy spouse’s clenched teeth promising, “One of these days…one of these days my wrath will reign down on you with unrelenting fury.”
Maybe one day we might work up the courage to respond to such threats by saying, “Remember when I did that thing you asked me to do yesterday, did that not mean anything to you?”. He, of course, would respond with an open hand raised and impatience in his tone, “Unless you do everything perfectly, whatever good you think you do is complete and utter garbage!”.
After such an interaction we might cower before him and ask “I really do try to be a good person. You wouldn’t really hurt me just because I fail sometimes, would y…”. A booming growl cuts off our words, “I AM THE DESTROYER OF SODOM, OF GOMORRAH, OF UZZAH, OF ANANIAS AND SAPPHIRA, OF THE WORLD IN THE FLOOD! DO YOU THINK FOR A MOMENT I WOULD TREAT YOU DIFFERENTLY?” His voice lowers a few decibels as he continues, “I’ll tell you what, because I am such a merciful and generous g-d I might spare you from my righteous punishment…I could torture and kill somebody who is innocent instead. You should feel like crap, you made me do it. You made me torture Jesus, you made me kill him…his blood is on your hands. Live with that guilt for the rest of your existence. Now get down on your knees! Tell me how horrible and sinful you are. Acknowledge before me and everybody else that you are nothing without me…a complete waste of human existence. Say that you deserve my unending torment as retribution for your inability to be perfect, then beg for forgiveness. Vow to change your disgusting ways. Admit that it was all your fault that a righteous man died. SAY IT OR BURN!”
As his voice crescendos, we find ourselves instinctively whimpering the confessions we were instructed to say. As we do, he continues, “Good…now realize what has happened here. I must love you incredibly to even accept trash like you into my presence. I ferociously despise you, but my love is greater than my hate…which is saying a lot. Can you see that?”
“Yes sir” we murmur without making eye contact.
“Very well. Then perhaps I might be able to do something useful with you. Go and tell others that they too are worthless sinners. My wrath burns against them as well, but perhaps they might be able to work out a deal like I graciously extended to you…because if I can forgive and love a P.O.S. like you surely I can do it for anybody.”
The last dig hurt. For a moment we think to ourselves, “maybe we could just leave, find somebody who didn’t make such threats, find somebody who didn’t set unreasonable expectations, who loved us for us and not despite of us” As quickly as the thought occurred, fear pulls it back. If we run he will catch us and we will surely be punished. If there is one thing we know about g-d, he will follow through with his violent threats…Mark Driscoll told us he would.
- A follow up post can be viewed here: Satan and Christus Victor in the 21st Century