Mark Driscoll Smacks Down Rebellious Evangelicals!

Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church, recently read his congregation the opening lines of Ephesians 5:22-33 and then stopped to interject:

“What does that mean in the Greek, Pastor Mark?” You can always tell a rebellious Evangelical. They do word studies. They try to go to the Greek and figure out if it perhaps means something else. I’ll just read, OK. (Here’s the full transcript.)

Not only does that sound odd coming from a pastor, but its very presence in the middle of his Scripture reading is ironic in light of what he said to them just before he began the passage:

… should we be God’s messengers or should we be God’s editors?

Going by the number of times he interrupts the Scripture reading to give what he considers to be necessary insights, clarifications and emphases, I’d say he thinks the passage needs a lot of editorializing. And apparently figuring out what the Bible means takes nothing more than listening to him tell you what it means.

But back to the original excerpt:

You can always tell a rebellious Evangelical. They do word studies.

Luke had another word to describe such people: noble. You see, one day Paul came into the town of Berea to preach the gospel. The Bereans listened carefully to him, but then they did something that, according to Mark Driscoll, is tantamount to rebellion. They checked up on Paul’s teaching:

Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. (Acts 17:11.)

So while no one should ask “What does that mean, Pastor Mark?”, an entire congregation was commended for examining Scripture daily (and perhaps even engaging in a word study or two!) to see if what the Apostle Paul said squared with the Bible.

Should anyone ask me if I will follow the example of the Berean congregation or the position promoted by the pastor of Mars Hill, I think I’ll go with those rebellious Bereans.


[Here’s another article about the sermon, written by Dan over at Cooling Twilight. He does a better job than I did.]

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90 Responses to Mark Driscoll Smacks Down Rebellious Evangelicals!

  1. Auntie Em says:

    One of our pastors always said, “Don’t take everything I say blindly– check it out yourself!”

  2. We must study for ourselves! We must check and re-check. No one is immune to getting it wrong with God, with His Word. We have to help each other stay centered in Jesus Christ.

  3. michellevl says:

    My first, sassy response: I wonder if Driscoll ever refers to commentaries written by women. (Oh wait! That’s John Piper!)

    OK. Sass over. 🙂 The Jewish model of learning has more to do with asking questions, debating and discussing in community. The Greek model is a more passive approach – the audience listens to and trusts the Expert dispensing wisdom. Though most of us settle into a Greek model when it comes to Sunday morning sermon listening, that questioning, investigatory mindset of the Jewish people (the model under which Paul himself learned) can be a blessing when it comes to approaching Scripture. Paul recognized the eager learners among the Bereans in part because they were so non-Greek/Roman in their intellectual approach to information.

    • Tim says:

      Sass is welcome, Michelle!

      Great insight on the Berean school of thought, too. Thanks for sharing that. When it comes to learning by discussion, it reminds me of my days at Sussex when we’d cram into a professor’s small office for a few hours to talk over what everyone had picked up from the reading that week. Fun sessions!

    • Adriana says:

      Michelle, I love it when you leave a sassy comment! 🙂

  4. Deanna Ratz says:

    Wow-that quotation is a bit scary! I’ve always loved doing word studies; silly me, I thought I was just a geek, I never realized I was being rebellious!! And it makes me appreciate my pastor’s humility even more!

    • Tim says:

      Deanna, I don’t think reading the linked transcript would alleviate the fright either. Scary shepherding going on there. But your pastor sounds like my kind of teacher!

  5. Jeannie says:

    In my early 20’s I became part of Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship and joined a small group by an amazing leader who helped us dig into the passages and understand individual words and sentences and stories more deeply than I’d ever thought possible. Nearly 30 years later I can say that approach to the Scriptures changed me radically and I’m so grateful. So I totally agree with you.

  6. I find that when we have tough questions to answer in our journey, the best thing to do is hunt through scripture to see what God says to us. I’ve studied privately and in a discipleship setting, but nothing really prepares us, I think, for individual situations that arise in our journey. By staying humble (that seems to be a recurring comment) and probing the scriptures, we find God’s revelation. His word never changes but our understanding deepens as we walk this walk. That’s what I’ve found anyway. So, yes, I agree with you Tim. Unless we hunt answers for ourselves we risk walking out other people’s answers instead of God’s answers for us.

    • Tim says:

      Thanks, Sarah. We can certainly learn from the answers others have found, but the psalmist is clear that there is great joy in studying God’s word ourselves. Otherwise why bother writing Psalm 119?

  7. SJBeals says:

    Frightening. It sounds as though they should just trust him? My FIL was the founding Pastor of our church and he tells the congregation, “If I contradict the Bible, you STICK with the Bible! Search the scriptures, to see whether these things are so.”

  8. Mary Anne says:

    Two things:

    1. “Study to show yourself approved . . .”

    2. Whenever tangles like this come up, I’m more sympathetic toward Paul’s resolve to know only “Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” I find myself asking, “Is this a salvation issue?” If it seems like it is, I delve in. But so many things are NOT and I’d rather not find myself straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel. Camel gives me indigestion. 😉

  9. Erica says:

    I knew my mom was raising me to be a rebel. I have fond memories of coming home from church and sitting down to dinner with Mom pulling out Strong’s while we discussed the sermon.

    I wonder though…does the rebelliousness count if you’re attending a Greek Orthodox church and the Bibles are already in Greek…?

    • Tim says:

      Ha, good one Erica! Or what about a Messianic Jew who reads Isaiah in Hebrew?

      It sounds like your Mom was quite a study partner. I’ve only started using Strong over the past few years. Great resource.

      • Mary Anne says:

        If you want a good arm workout, pick up Strong’s in one hand and Matthew Henry’s Commentary in the other. Oooof. Now I know why those things are called “exhaustive.”

  10. Great article Tim, I agree with you, call me a rebel!

    Regarding the NT, one cannot even stop with a Greek word study. While the copies we have are in Greek, the teachings are from a Hebraic perspective, and like any translation, there isn’t always an equivalent in the target language. For example the Hebrew word “Torah” obviously wouldn’t have an equivalent in Greek, so nomos (law) is how it’s rendered. However Torah, although containing law, actually means “teaching”. Words are important, and shape our understanding.

  11. Kathleen says:

    Wow, Mars Hill is a huge church with lots of branches. Can we join together to pray for this Shepherd and his large flock? Satan would like nothing more than to stifle and confuse believers in the Seattle area, where he already has a strong foothold.

    • Tim says:

      I agree, Kathleen. My wife and I pray for a number of local pastors here where we live. Prayer for him and the congregation and the leadership is in order too.


  12. I certainly didn’t do a better job than you on this subject … I just had a slightly different (and harsher) take on it all. Your reference to the Bereans gets to the crux of the issue: should we carefully examine Scripture and test what we are being taught? Or should we just accept what we’re being taught as being God’s message?

    • Tim says:

      Thanks Dan. I’m so glad you stopped by!

      Did you also notice in his sermon that when he got to the complementarian/egalitarian part – the part he said was an “open-handed” (his phrase) issue that Christians could differ on – he told his listeners at length that the right understanding of the passage was complementarian and skipped an egalitarian analysis entirely?

      I’m glad people in the Body of Christ actually are able to think for themselves under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I hope and pray that his congregants do the same.


      • I certainly did notice his not-so-delicate handling of the complimentarian/egalitarian divide! For an issue that in large part hinges upon “perhaps the most hotly contested, heatedly debated section in all of Ephesians, if not the entire New Testament” (in the words of Driscoll), wouldn’t it be appropriate to acknowledge the legitimate egalitarian interpretations of that passage? Egalitarianism isn’t necessarily a rebellious position: F.F. Bruce, Gordon Fee, Craig Keener and N.T. Wright aren’t exactly at the forefront of liberal theology! But for Driscoll it seems to be a very black and white issue that contains no room for nuance or charitable acceptance of differing viewpoints.

        • Jeannie says:

          This is so interesting — as a side note, I just thought I’d share that my church (which Sarah, below, also attends) addressed the egalitarian/complementarian issue last year as part of its “Hot Topics for a Cold Month” series which occurs every January. (It gets cold up here, people!) Our pastor addressed the egalitarian side, which he espouses; another speaker (male) addressed the complementarian; and our church administrator, who is female, talked about how she is able to work within a church/denomination that is quite conservative in its view of female leadership. Really thoughtfully done — it made me happy that I go to the church I do!

        • Jeannie says:

          sorry, maybe the word “side” sounds a bit polarized — “interpretation” maybe …

    • I wonder if it isn’t a little bit of both… always to test, check what we hear but not to be too suspicious that we aren’t getting God’s heart through the pastor’s sermon. What do others think?

      • I agree that balance is in order … but when it comes to Driscoll I don’t have much patience for trying to hear something positive in his sermons…

      • Tim says:

        I’d eschew suspicion, Sarah. Preaching is a gift, and should be respected. Respect, happily, does not mean blind acceptance though. Nowhere are New Covenant preachers equated with Old Covenant prophets.

  13. I will have to listen to the whole sermon for myself because I have actually listened to dozens of his messages and he tends to say to double check things for ourselves and to read it and will often quote how “It’s scripture! It’s right there! It’s useful to correct, rebuke, . . . .” so I am confused a bit. I know that Mark Driscoll sometimes will say things snarky to poke at how people usually say things but he brings it to how we should be according to scripture.

    Regardless, he is a man who can sometimes do things wrong. I have listened to him apologize for things that he’s gotten wrong in the past and I appreciate that he is pretty humble, when a lot of pastors don’t seem to want to admit when they mislead or taught something off at one point. I think Mr. Driscoll allows for correction and allows God to teach him.

    Not saying you’re opinion on it is off base, just saying that I haven’t heard his whole message. Usually he’ll say what things mean in the Greek, so I’m just confused in reading this whole post.

    • Tim says:

      Your description of past messages is heartening, Victoria. I read the entire transcript of this sermon and he really gives the impression that he is ridiculing those who ask how to go deeper than a 40 minute sermon might provide. Ridicule is not an effective teaching tool, and that’s why I think the topic should be discussed. This isn’t about a particular preacher in Seattle, of course; it’s about our responsibility to study the Word and that our pastors should be encouraging and equipping us to carry out that responsibility.

      • This I do indeed agree with you on. It is wrong for him to ridicule people who want to learn a more in-depth understanding of God’s Word for their lives.

      • Mary Ann says:

        “….Ridicule is not an effective teaching tool….”

        Agreed, Tim. And that’s the method I hear from Mark’s teachings….ridicule, insults, sarcasm, etc. Way too difficult to digest.

      • ChrisM says:

        I disagree with your analysis. In the context of his message and the context of his calling of reaching “boys who can shave”, it was clear to me that he is talking about the type of people who are smart enough to know the scripture, but twist it into their image rather than vice versa. I took it as referring to people who twist scripture into supporting gay marriage or that “love wins” and there is no hell.

    • John says:

      Ya mean like Driscoll apologizing if he unintentionally copied Peter Jones book?

      I’m not interested in Im sorry. Neither is God. He desires
      Repentance not a revisiting of the PR station.

      • Tim says:

        I discuss what an apology might look like tomorrow, John. Hope you come back to take a look!

        P.S. Had to edit you comment slightly for getting political, sorry.

  14. This is so excellent! And one is obliged to wonder if, when he prepares for his so-called “sermons,” whether he constructs word studies in Greek (or Aramaic and Hebrew). [edited content]

    • Tim says:

      Thanks, William. From what I understand he spends a lot of time telling people that word studies are important. That’s what makes this comment so bizarre, because even Driscoll would recognize he is really speaking nonsense. Unfortunately, the context of his statement does not lend itself to an ironic or facetious interpretation.

  15. lanamhobbs says:

    Two thumbs up for rebellious evangelicals!!

  16. Sheep-Bitten Shepherd says:

    My comment is not about Driscoll’s sermon, but about the use of the “Berean” verse (Acts 17:11). Toward the end of his time at our church, a former congregant (FC) was attending only occasionally, and almost every time he did come, he would take the time to question, criticize, disagree with, or mock something in each sermon or lesson I gave. When he didn’t find fault with the message, he criticized the hymn we sang! His justification was Acts 17:11, which he paraphrased to say he was being a “good Berean, searching the Scriptures to see if these things were so.” He left out the middle (“they eagerly received the message”), and when I had him read the verse and challenged him about it, he retorted, “You’re no apostle.” I managed to restrain my tongue from saying, “And you’re no Berean.”
    My FC is by no means the only Evangelical to leave out the middle of Acts 17:11 (witness most of the comments above). Would Evangelicals also leave out the middle of John 3:16? The modern American church seems to delight in fault-finding, in straining out gnats and swallowing camels. In doing so, we are not being “good Bereans” or for that matter “good Samaritans.” Perhaps we’re being “good Corinthians” (For they say, “His letters are weighty and strong, but his personal presence is unimpressive and his speech contemptible.” 2 Cor 10:10), or just “good Missourians” (living in the “Show-Me State).

    • Tim says:

      Thanks for coming by, S-BS. I’m not sure why you think the other commenters are leaving out the middle of the verse; each of them seems to me to have quite eagerly received the message of Good News, the Gospel. Your former congregant on the other hand, whether having accepted teh Gospel eagerly or not, was just making things difficult from what you relate here. No one on this page has done that.


      • Sheep-Bitten Shepherd says:

        I was wondering if that would be your take. If it’s fair to take the end of Acts 17:11 and apply it not to the Gospel, but to sermon critiques, then it also seems fair to take the middle and apply it to the (non-Gospel) sermon, too.

        I’m not saying your commentators (or FC) are lost, but that many in the American church do a lot of fault-finding, and some use the end of Acts 17:11 to justify it.

        Since my salvation in 1980, I have heard at least a couple thousand sermons and studies–some great, some terrible and most in between. I take note of things which aren’t accurate (in my opinion), and will usually talk to the person about it if it’s important. But I make it a point as I listen to find something I can agree with and apply to my life. That’s how the middle of Acts 17:11 could be applied in the case of Driscoll’s sermon, and that’s also the “doughnut hole” that I find missing above.

        Are we eager to receive, or just eager to critique? If you’ll re-read Acts 17:11 afresh, you might find that eager reception is the main commendation, especially in contrast to those Thessalonian Jews who were not persuaded and formed a mob (17:5).

        • Tim says:

          Thanks again, S-BS. I don’t think anyone here has exhibited an eagerness to critique, but if that’s how you see the comments then you won’t find me arguing against your perceptions.


        • John says:

          Romans 12

  17. Lesley says:

    I’ve been meaning to come back to this post when I had more time. It’s 10:21pm and I’m exhausted so I can’t say I have anything new and enlightening to say except for this is a great post, Tim. Your best line is, “an entire congregation was commended for examining Scripture daily (and perhaps even engaging in a word study or two!) to see if what the Apostle Paul said squared with the Bible”

    • Tim says:

      Thanks, Lesley. I know that your days are exhausting and the fact you made the effort to come back to comment is such an encouragement. I hope you have slept well and that you and the family have a wonderful weekend!

  18. Pingback: Mark Driscoll: Only Rebel Christians Do Word Studies | The Wartburg Watch 2013

  19. Paul says:

    Tim, to be fair to Mr. Driscoll, it needs to be pointed out that he is only against those who are “sinning through questioning.” He said so himself:

    • Tim says:

      And to be fair to the thousands of people who heard the sermon this month and have not read that newspaper article from over four years ago, Mr. Driscoll never should have said the comment. It is irresponsible, irrelevant to his message that morning, and played for nothing but cheap laughs. Sorry, but the NYT article doesn’t fix any of that, Paul.


  20. Matt says:

    I disagree with this assessment. It misses the point of what Pastor Mark was trying to convey. You have every right to critique a message, but be fair, or think through what he might be saying before bashing a brother publicly. There seems to be no consideration that you simply didn’t understand what he wanted to convey when he was saying what he did. I am going to assume you never thought of this particular perspective on what Pastor Mark was saying, as I don’t want to assume that you would have an agenda against a Christian pastor. Is there any chance that he was insinuating that the bible will say things that we don’t want to hear, either because they are hard things or they go against the culture at large? Is it possible that we want to go hunting for a possibility that the verse doesn’t mean what it says in plain text? I’ve done this. Obeying at times goes against what we want as sinful people. Pastor Mark’s point seems to be that sometimes we need to stop just looking into things and simply obey the words breathed by our God. To be doers and not hears only as James would say. I haven’t listened to anything from Pastor Mark in a couple of years, and I don’t think he is perfect. But if he felt his people had a tendency to hear the word and then not obey, and he wanted to stress this point, then I think he has the freedom to do that. No one who is a part of Mars Hill would have taken from that message what this post insinuates. This post doesn’t seem necessary and it definitely gives a horrible picture of Pastor Mark, who is a brother. As a brother in Christ I don’t think it is edifying to the body the way you approached this.

    • Tim says:

      Thanks for the gentle push-back, Matt.

      As far as what people understood, when you take into account the thousands of people who hear Mr. Drsicoll’s messages every week it is hard to know what they all think as they listen to him. But to toss off a one-liner like this in such a dismissive manner is not edifying to the body. The defense that it was a joke also fails on two points: first, it’s not funny; second, it’s not a joking matter.

      Mr. Driscoll cannot have it both ways, as he tries to in this sermon. He tells people to let the word speak and not try to go behind it to figure out if it means something beyond the text, and then he interrupts reading the word repeatedly in order to tell his listeners what he says the text means.

      I stand by the conclusion reached in the post here, Mark. The Bereans gave us the right example, and Mr. Driscoll distracts his listeners from that. If he has encountered problems with people not studying the Bible correctly, there are other ways to get to it.

      I also understand that he is a brother and teacher of the Gospel. He has also become a very public figure, a position he has not tried to get out of. Conversations among the Body of Christ are the way to address these concerns about his statements. That’s what this post is about. It has not been gratuitous, nor is there any name-calling. Merely a fair evaluation of a small portion but unfortuantely important misstep in his sermon.


      • Matt says:

        I’m just a guy who stumbled onto a link, so what do I know. That being said, you mention that this was a fair evaluation. I don’t know how fair it is to take a couple of lines from a sermon, make a claim that this is his position on a topic he wasn’t directly addressing, and say that you’ll stick with scripture. I’m not sure that I would call this fair. Blessings to you and your readers.

        • Tim says:

          I’ve not said it represents his position on the subject, not in the least. I’m saying it was a reckless comment, and not at all edifying for the Body. In fact, when you have as large a listenership as Mr. Driscoll these statements are harmful to the Body.

          As for it being just a couple of lines from the sermon, it’s not like he continued speaking on the subject of word study. I fairly represented the entire comment and sum of what he said about reading God’s word. Like I said above, if a preacher wants to address an issue about Bible study there are less dismissive ways to do so.

  21. ““What does that mean in the Greek, Pastor Mark?” You can always tell a rebellious Evangelical. They do word studies. They try to go to the Greek and figure out if it perhaps means something else. I’ll just read, OK.”

    [Deleted text] I will draw your attention to similar admonitions that Paul made to Timothy and Paul.

    2 Timothy 2:14
    Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen.

    1 Timothy 6:4
    they are conceited and understand nothing. They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions

    Titus 3:9
    But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless.

    He is talking about the “gay Christian” who will belabor with the word or in 1 Corinthians 6:9 to reconfigure it to only apply to temple prostitutes and get into all types of historical reinterpretation to show how this translations without an axe to grind because the times were not particularly inundated with the issue, was biased; while his/hers isn’t. And these people show an evident agenda.

    That type of Greek scholarly exegesis is time consuming and wasteful to overcome. No modern can claim a perfect understanding of the ancient Greek/Hebrew text. The listener has no professional competence of the ancient texts by which to judge the truth. It is why the Spirit leads us to all truth and overcome the inexactitude of language. Contextual and comparing Scriptures with Scriptures is probably a better check.

    There is no indication that Mark Driscoll is talking about not studying the Word; only a Jesuitical or sophistic manner and intention to twist it.

    I think that this is an unfair critique made by a person who is invested in denigrating Driscoll, that he has his sense of justice and equity.

    • Tim says:

      Thanks for coming by Johnny. All those passages you cite are great examples of how we can correct one another – and ourselves – so as to understand God’s word and its authority in our lives all under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. If that’s what a pastor preaches, right on. It’s the dismissive phrase “rebellious evangelical” that caught my eye, though. That’s not a very constructive rhetorical device and it’s that device I denigrate, not Mr. Driscoll himself.

      Peace and blessings to you and to Mr. Driscoll both, Johnny.


    • Johnny … do you find it at all ironic that the texts you cite were all originally written in Greek? Do you think the “Spirit lead[ing] us to all truth” obviates the need for careful exegesis in the original languages? And if that exegesis conflicts with your “plain meaning” understanding of your English text, is that necessarily evidence of an intentionally rebellious “agenda”?

      • Dan:

        Careful exegesis is good and I do it myself. For instance, just lately I looked at that bugaboo for women about ‘keeping silent in the church’ (1 Cor 14:34). Going back to the Greek, it uses the standard ecclesia (or a derivative thereof). And I have enough understanding of the Greek to know that that means a generic assembly. The same word is used for political assemblies or assemblies of every kind. In other words, Paul was complaining about female chatterboxes while proceedings were going on. However, we have misconstrued the word to make it mean something than its intention. I am not taking sides in the egalitarian v complementarian debate although I am soft latter. My concern was that a common understanding contradicted other places in Scriptures. For me, it is about intellectual integrity, which is sorely lacking in this age in general and in Christendom. And intellectual integrity, no matter where it takes you, leads to clarity of understanding (somewhere in Isaiah 55)

        So I appreciate that issue. However, we are warned (verses above) and I observe it profusely from all sides, people who wrest the Scriptures. And one of the favorite tactics is to take an obscure Greek term and attempt to make it out to be something that it is not in order to validate a personal and pre-existing agenda. I gave an example of the LGBT. But I see it in the Pharisaic moralist crowd just as well. It is painful to watch and makes me want to despise the ‘Christians’. How does an outsider feel?

        When somebody says, “what does the Greek say” to something which almost all English translations says one thing, it is indicative of the disingenuous spirit in the inquirer.

        It is that to which Driscoll referenced in the sermon. And in the words before and after, he shows that he is as much a Berean as any other.

        I am not so much a Driscoll fan. I am more a Paul Washer fan. However, I do see the work of God in him and in Seattle. He is just as much as the rest of us, a Work In Progress. But he has provided a needed tonic to an Evangelical Church that is going the way of the Romanists in their increasing ascetic super-spirituality or a similar tendency toward effeminization (i.e. God is love but forget that God is also necessarily just, principled and holy because of such love).

        And I just get aroused by the knee-jerk, unfair and sometimes slanderous comments that are emanating from so-called Christians. You cannot take a 12,000 word sermon (1.25 hours) and just take a sliver of it out of context and the spirit of the sermon. It is the devilish thing that was done to Christ in the 2nd Temptation (where Satan quotes a truncated version of an O.T. promise).

        • Tim says:

          Asserting that “God is love but forget that God is also necessarily just, principled and holy because of such love” certainly truncates the character of God, but to call it effeminate? Hmm, I don’t see it as effeminate since I know a lot of manly-men who would mischaracterize God like that.

  22. Charis says:

    How did I get an e-mail subscription when you didn’t publish my comment? What’s up with the censorship?

    Deleting subscription.

  23. Tim:

    A spiritual effeminacy is to gender effeminacy what spiritual whoredom is to marital whoredom. A spiritual effeminate is one who cowers before the harder and ‘harder to sell’ elements of the Gospel and Full Counsel of God; who retreats from principle on the basis of a nebulous sentiment of “love” and niceness and the seeking of a superficial peace; who falls for legalist sophistries about not being a stumbling block for one’s brother being used to oppressively encroach on Christian liberty and liberty of conscience; who fails to discipline errant church members (while not going too overboard like in the Ted Haggard case). It is an apt phrase in the context of a God of metaphors (parables, anthropomorphisms).

    I can see in your comment, and have seen elsewhere, this trend amongst Evangelicals that we must utter things in the most syrupy of ways. However, the Scriptures has no problem with a bit of tough love (Matthew 23, Jude, James, Galatians 1). These were polemical warnings, after syrup no longer works.

    Temperance means moderation; neither too hot nor too cold; neither too harsh nor too wimpy.

    • Tim says:

      Sorry, but I’m not buying it, Johnny. Effeminacy (according to is the state of being effeminate, which in turn (also according to is derived from a Latin word meaning “make a woman of”. The modern definition in English is”displaying characteristics regarded as typical of a woman; not manly”.

      Those other things you said – cowering, retreating, falling for legal sophistries – are not typical of women. They are typical of people. Using the word “effeminacy” is a needless distraction.

      And I don’t “utter things in … syrupy ways”, although that might be how you see my refusal to use sex/gender terms. I see it as calling things as I see them by choosing language that gets directly to the point. But perhaps this is in the eye of the beholder.


  24. I am a flummoxed why I even have to debate this. However…

    If you are offended by Driscoll’s comments “You can always tell a rebellious Evangelical. They do word studies” or my labeling of spiritual effeminacy, the level of hypersensitivity or taking offence or even the syruping of the truth has reached unbecoming levels. One lacks historical literacy to not realize how syruppy the Evangelical church has become. We pile on potty mouth Driscoll for his language, while heretical notions pervade unaware. Long before Rob Bell was questioning the virtue and validity of Hell, his NOOMA videos were pontificating on liberal theological assertions. I left the church because they didn’t realize the danger of a Kierkegaardian subjectivity. And the language of Luther, one of the most enduringly effective man of God was legendary.

    Being somewhat of a scholar in Roman history, I can tell you that the dictionary understanding that you cite is grotesquely inadequate. Yes, there are the effete elements that you seem to understand. The Old Guard of Roman Republicanism would complain about the Greek aesthetic that invaded their land, the silks, the preening, the exchanging of martial arts for culinary arts, the depilation (removal of body hair), the soft life etc. However, effeminate in the Roman (Latin) sense of Roman Republicanism (when such terms originated) also referred to failing to standing one’s ground in the face of danger, flinching from disciplining one’s men (Cato the Elder’s complaint against Scipio about not disciplining his soldiers in the 2nd Punic War), lack of fortitude for hardship (i.e. softness – an extremely dangerous epithet in Roman Republican society).

    This cultural understanding, pretty well universal since the beginning in the world, is demonstrated in Scriptures. Quick perusal comes up with

    “Be strong, Philistines! Be men, or you will be subject to the Hebrews, as they have been to you. Be men, and fight!” (1 Samuel 4:9)

    “Watch you, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men [gender specific], be strong.” (1 Corinthians 16:13)

    “In that day shall Egypt be like women: and it shall be afraid and fear because of the shaking of the hand of the LORD of hosts, which he shakes over it.” (Isaiah 19:16)

    “And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.” (1 Timothy 2:14)

    One of the undercurrents behind women rulers (Judges, Abigail) in the O.T. (“As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them” (Isaiah 3:12), was as an intentioned galling to galvanize the men of the society.

    National and spiritual whoredom (alliance with Egypt), as noted in Scriptures was often a result of effeminacy (lack of courage to face the Babylonians without hope of assistance from Egypt, because of lack of genuine faith in God).

    The fact that men can be just as deceived, cowardly or lacking fortitude is not the point. As a metaphorical motif, the God of Scriptures deploys such language. Now you might suggest a historical relativism; these were Biblical ideas based on the author’s prejudices despite 2 Timothy 3:16. However, if you start down that road, there is no Scriptures safe from hermeneutical shaping like wax.

    What bothers me is the whole premise of your blog entry. You claim that Driscoll just wishes to do a proper exegesis, despite the text saying otherwise.

    Driscoll says…

    “Read with me in Ephesians 5:22–33. We’re just going to read it and then talk about it. “Wives”—what’s the word, ladies? Boy, it didn’t take long, did it? One woman quietly said, “Submit.” So, not arousing, enthusiastic, joy-filled response. “Wives, submit.” “What does that mean in the Greek, Pastor Mark?” You can always tell a rebellious Evangelical. They do word studies. They try to go to the Greek and figure out if it perhaps means something else. I’ll just read, OK. “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the”—men, what’s it say?—“head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything”—seems like a lot—“to their husbands.”

    If women are to submit to men in like manner that the Church is to Christ; that is His counsel ultimately governs; why do we need to go to the Greek. The explanation is already illustrated (more a deference to the office, than Doug Wilson’s Roman-style submission).

    Sanctification for men and women different in that they start from a different starting point. Christian men are supposed to temper from harshness (i.e. Colossian 3:19, 21). Christian women are supposed to be fair but tough minded.

    • Tim says:

      Thanks for taking the time to write that comment, Johnny. Of course, you don’t have to debate anything here. You could instead read my post from yesterday on football eschatology, or the day before that on biblical flatulence.


  25. Paul says:

    I think you are taking considerable liberties with the text of Acts if you believe that the Bereans were doing word studies. They were studying the Word but that is very different from a word study. Are you aware of the evangelical scholars who have pointed out the dangers of word studies?

    Driscoll is his usual self and I have no interest in defending him.

    • Tim says:

      Thanks, Paul. I don’t believe the text supports a conclusion that the Bereans were doing word studies. I do think it supports the conclusion they were studying the word for themselves as a way to check whether what Paul said is in line with it.

      And yes, I have seen articles on the dangers of word studies. I haven’t seen any that say not to engage in them, just that it should be done carefully in order to avoid superficiality.


      • Paul Goodfellow says:

        Actually more to do with violating the context.


        • Tim says:

          Tomato, tomahto.

          But you raise another good point, one I was just reading about in Carl Trueman’s Histories and Fallacies. Have you read that one, Paul? His explanation of the importance of context and intent is illuminating, especially in the examples he gives for studying history of thought.

  26. I’ll open a whole new can of worms, maybe one that’s been opened before. In I Cor. 3:b….You are acting like people who don’t belong to the Lord. 4 When one of you says, “I am a follower of Paul,” and another one says, “I prefer Apollos,” aren’t you acting like those who are not Christians?”
    5 Who is Apollos, and who Is Paul, that we should be the cause of such quarrels?” Why, we’re only servants.
    9 We work together as partners who belong to God. You are God’s field, God’s building – not our
    21 So don’t take pride in following a particular leader. Everything belongs to you: 22 Paul and Apollos and Peter; the whole world and life and death; the present and the future, 23 and you belong to CHRIST, and CHRIST belongs to GOD.
    I made this comment referring to what someone said about not following Pastor *, but instead follow Pastor *. I prefer not to follow any person, no matter how popular. I hear the voice of my true Shepherd and I follow him.

    Have you noticed that it’s men who are doing most of the “talking?”

    I like your posts and comments Tim. You try to see things objectively while not allowing anyone to twist things out of perspective. I love that you say talk to me (or don’t).

    • Tim says:

      Thanks for that passage, and for your comments Annette. There sure does seem to be a whole lot of I follow Paul/Apollos/Cephas still going on in the church today. You’d think people would have caught on after Paul spoke so strongly on the subject: Christ is everything, the preachers are not.

      And as for men doing most of the talking, I’d love to see us get to the point that so many women are given the opportunity to voice their faith that it wouldn’t even be notable any longer.


  27. suny says:

    This article and especially the post to follow are about as blatant Gossip as it gets. I don’t fully agree with his statement but his point was that some do word studies to make the Bible say what they want it to say instead of taking it as Gods word.

    Its a shame the church acts this way and calls it righteous.

    • Tim says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Suny! I think you and I have different definitions of the word “gossip”, though. I can see how you read that meaning into Mr. Driscoll’s words, but it’s not the only way to take what he said. And if that is when he meant, he shouldn’t have said it the way he did. It’s not gossip to point this out.


    • What’s your definition of gossip? Thoughtful and critical examination of a public sermon doesn’t qualify as gossip in my book. And more importantly, what does it mean to take the Bible “as Gods [sic] word”? Does that mean Driscoll’s understanding of the English translation is God’s word? Or perhaps the Greek framed in the proper context of the passage is God’s word? Or something else?

    • agrizz says:

      I could not agree more. I am a Christian and I think a lot of Driscoll’s sermons are fantastic. I see this time and time again in Christians, judgement, twisting words and interpretations, etc. It’s very sad – very sad. Pastor Mark – is a human being and has opinions just like everyone else AND he’s broken just like every human on the planet. And therefore, he will make mistakes or mis-word things JUST LIKE EVERY ONE ELSE.

      Please stop this ridiculous stuff against people in the church. – The bottom-line for me is that Mars Hill and Driscoll has lead THOUSANDS of people to be the hand and feet of Jesus Christ. Stop spitting in the guys face every time he slips up a little bit….sickening “Christian” behavior…

      • Tim says:

        Thanks for coming by, agrizz. If only this were an occasional thing. But Mr. Driscoll’s failure to see the harm in his style and how it negatively affects the substance of what he says and preaches is problematic. As for defending him because God has used him, I will just say that God has used us all but that doesn’t mean all of our efforts are necessarily done right.


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