Driscoll on Hell and a Manly God

Here is a part of Mark Driscoll's now infamous interview with Justin Brierly on Premier Radio. They were in the process of discussing women in church leadership.

The whole final section of the interview was not Mark Driscoll's finest hour. Most of the online discussion since has been on his macho view of men and women and his insight into modern British preachers (i.e., there are no courageous young preachers in Britain — they are all cowards: girly men not manly men). I won't comment on those issues (though I could!)

The following little comment did surprise me a little:

Driscoll: Do you believe in a conscious literal eternal torment of hell?

Brierley: What has that got to do with the issue of women in leadership, if you don’t mind me asking?

Driscoll: It does. It depends on your view of God. Is God like a mom who just embraces everyone? Or is he like a father who also protects, and defends, and disciplines? If you won’t answer the question, I think I know the answer.
Mark Driscoll has a manly God not a girly God. Apparently, if one thinks of God in "masculine" ways (as opposed to pink and girly ways) then you must believe in eternal, conscious torment.

I beg your pardon!

If tormenting people forever and ever is a "masculine" way to behave then I am very concerned for what Driscoll thinks it is for "men to be men." It sounds like being masculine is about being a violent brute!

But perhaps that's not fair. Driscoll goes on to explain that the reason why a manly God torments sinners forever is that he is a "father who also protects, and defends, and disciplines." Now I am much more sympathetic to "masculine" understood in these ways.

Oh . . . hold on . . . now I'm confused.

God torments sinners in hell because he is protecting them? eh?
Defending them? huh?
Disciplining them? urm? Disciplining them . . . forever . . . with no chance to improve? How is this discipline?

I think — I hope — that Mark Driscoll has not thought this through clearly and that it was simply an offhand remark; that he put the phone down and thought, "Man! Why did I say that dumb stuff!"

As a theological argument it is vacuous. If Mark would prefer that in more manly terms: it's utter bollocks!


Alex Smith said…
Yes, his comments in the interview were very disappointing and his follow up blog post (more thought through??) made it worse by blaming & slandering Justin.

No only that but Driscoll in the blog post says, "please do not deny the reality of a literal, conscious, eternal torment in hell, because people are going there and lying to them it not loving them!" Lying!?
James Goetz said…
Hmm, I met some women who would send their enemies to hell forever with no chance of liberation. Would Driscoll call these women manly? :-)
Anonymous said…
Thanks Robin for drawing my attention to this.
It sounds like M Driscol is part of the American "Evangelical Complimentarian" idea.

As Roger E Olson says:
...“evangelical complementarianism” holds that women, though created in God’s image, are meant by God to be permanently subordinate to men at least in the church and the family. From there complementarians go off in somewhat different directions, but on that they all agree. (Personally, I think “complementarian” is a misnomer because it does not sufficiently describe what these people really believe. The emphasis is not on males and females complementing each other but on females being submissive to males. Therefore, whenever I hear the label “complementarian” in an evangelical context I think of it as an example of “newspeak” as in George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Casper said…
And yet people still persist in giving him a platform.
Robin Parry said…
I ought to add that MD does a lot of good stuff and that he has a good ministry. I simply wish that he was more gracious and tolerant towards Christians who take different views from him.

At least his blog post showed a more considered understanding (of why British ministries struggle more than American ones) than the radio interview did. To some extent his comments were not thought out and were his frustration talking rather than his reason. His objections were really off target. I think he'd be less off target if he offerent a more prepared comment.

This is me trying to be sympathetic . . .
Anonymous said…
I attended Mars Hill in Seattle for 5 years. My parents are heavily involved there and so are most of my friends. I now attend an Acts 29 Mars Hill church plant. I respect Mark for many things. This is not one of them. He's under a lot of pressure right now and taking a lot of heat from fundamentalists and liberals who hate his marriage book. So there may be some real underlying stress here...I hope. Sadly, these rants are becoming more and more characteristic of him.

Oh well, I'd just like to say that my wife (who is definitely a woman) believes firmly in ECT. I am, in fact, a convinced Universalist. So there's that. Not all men get off on the idea of Calvinist notion of cosmic justice.
Robin Parry said…
Thanks anonymous,

That is very interesting.

I should also add that Driscoll's reasoning in defence of ECT is primarily that he thinks the Bible teaches it. The argument presented here is not his main argument. So we ought to appreciate that this was a single off-hand comment, spoken in frustration.

I have no doubt that he believes that the drift towards feminizing God is connected to the drift away from ECT, and perhaps he could build a better version of this argument here. It would still be a poor argument but I can imagine less poor versions of it.
Claire Ashurst said…
'Is God like a mom who just embraces everyone? Or is he like a father who also protects, and defends, and disciplines?'

Um... can't God be both? Does he have to be characterized as a man or a woman, by our blinkered understanding of what those terms mean? I thought he created both men and women in his image and so he has both masculine and feminine qualities.
Sonia said…
Interesting the dichotomy Driscoll perceives between mothers and fathers. I think most moms discipline, defend, and protect their children, and a good father will embrace all his children. But as you say, likely the remark was spoken in frustration and was not well thought through.
jflyhigh6 said…
God doesn't torment anyone, we torment ourselves, they will be in the presence of the Lamb Revelation 20? why, because a lamb isn't violent

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