Driscoll's two faces: God loves you, God hates you

JanusWhich does Pastor Mark Driscoll believe? That God loves everyone, or that God hates most people? Like the Roman God Janus he seems to have two different faces, and he can’t make his mind up which to present to the public.

Scott Bailey has quoted from a video by Driscoll, which was formerly posted at his church’s website but has since been taken down (annotations apparently by Zack):

Some of you, God hates you. Some of you, God is sick of you. God is frustrated with you. God is wearied by you. God has suffered long enough with you. He doesn’t think you’re cute. He doesn’t think it’s funny. He doesn’t think your excuse is “meritous” [the word he’s looking for here is “meritorious”]. He doesn’t care if you compare yourself to someone worse than you, He hates them too. God hates, right now, personally, objectively hates some of you.

The sermon this is taken from is new, but there is nothing new in Driscoll’s sentiments. Here at Gentle Wisdom I reported him saying much the same in 2007, in my post What Driscoll really said about God and hate, which included


The whole “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life” — that’s the wrong place to start. “God hates you and its going to go really really bad forever!” – hey now that is true…

But a completely different face of Driscoll is seen in his response when Fred Phelps and his family threatened to picket his church, a blog post from June this year with the long title Westboro Baptist Church, This False Prophet and His Blind Lemmings Welcome You to Our Whore House for God’s Grace and Free Donuts. (Thanks to Jeff commenting on Scott’s post for the link.) In this post when Driscoll writes:

God does not love everyone—in fact, He hates the majority of mankind, and has purposed to send them to hell when they die.

he is quoting, and then rejecting, the teaching of Westboro Baptist Church. Driscoll continues:

The whole ”read-the-words” of the Bible thingy is actually pretty good advice. And in reading the Bible, we see that it says everyone is loved by God, and though not everyone is saved, anyone who turns from sin and trusts in Jesus will receive eternal life. Additionally, we know that it’s not God’s hatred that leads people to repentance but instead his kindness (Romans 2:4). Here are some Scriptures that speak plainly about God’s love for people:

  • John 1:29: “John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’”
  • John 3:16–17: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
  • 1 Tim. 2:3–6: “God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men…”
  • 2 Peter 3:9: “He [God] is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

Good teaching! Here Driscoll sounds almost like an Arminian, choosing to quote the Bible verses most commonly used to refute Calvinism.

Driscoll offers a more nuanced presentation in his recent FAQ: Predestination and Election. Much of this is a fair presentation of the issues between Calvinists and Arminians. In it he mostly avoids the “hate” word. But the generally Calvinist tendency becomes clear in the section “Answers To Common Questions About Predestination & Election”, which omits from its long list of Bible verses discussed the “Arminian” verses Driscoll chose to quote to the Westboro Baptists. Just before he confirms that his own position is more or less Calvinist (although he calls it Augustinian), Driscoll writes:

Does God love the non-elect?

Yes, he does, and does so with common grace (Matt. 5:45). Yet he also has a special affection for the elect. So, God loves everyone in a general way, and also loves the elect in a saving way.

In other words, as 4xiom interprets this in a comment on Scott’s post,

God brings a person into the world to be tortured endlessly as an object of his vindictive hatred, but his love for said person is clearly demonstrated by a brief period of ‘common grace’?

If Driscoll really believes what he wrote to the Westboro Baptists, why isn’t this material included in his FAQ? And why is there no explanation of how he apparently believes in two contradictory things, that God hates many people and predestines them to hell, and that God loves everyone and wants them all to be saved?

So why the contradiction? Could it be that Driscoll is just so naturally combative that he always takes the contrary position to anyone he is discussing these matters with? Perhaps more probably he does in fact take the moderate Calvinist position outlined in his FAQ, but sometimes in his preaching he gets carried away with “God hates you” type language and so goes against his own theology. That would explain why the offending video was taken down.

But what does it say about Driscoll as a preacher if he is so little in control of what he says that he makes unintentional public statements like this? With this hate speech he is not only denying his own theology, he is bringing the Christian faith into disrepute. At least Fred Phelps is consistent in how he spews out hatred. If Mark Driscoll really doesn’t have the same beliefs, why does he sometimes say the same things?

8 thoughts on “Driscoll's two faces: God loves you, God hates you

  1. Matthew, thank you for the response and the links. I agree with you, and perhaps I should have made more of the “out of context” point. John 3:16 is overused in some circles, but often ignored by Calvinists.

  2. Pingback: Mark Driscoll and the Hatred of God? « Thoughts in the Dark

  3. Pingback: Buying your way into the family of God | Living the Life You Were Made For

  4. Thank you for the blog post, Peter. I have an off-topic question about 1 Tim 2:3-6 and 2 Peter 3:9. In Francis’ Chan book “Erasing Hell,” he says that the Greek word for “want” is the same as in 1 Thess 4:3-5:

    “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God;”

    He argued that since Christians certainly don’t always avoid sexual immorality, we can’t argue that 1 Tim 2:3-6 and 2 Peter 3:9 mean that everyone will be saved. Is that argument valid? I realize this isn’t related to what Mark Driscoll said, but I’m genuinely curious about those two verses.

  5. Jeff, I agree with you, and Francis Chan, on this one. There are things that God wants but which don’t happen. So one can’t argue from these verses that everyone actually is saved.

    The real divide is over why these things don’t happen. The Calvinist position seems to be that God is somehow schizophrenic, or like Paul in Romans 7, wanting to do something good but in fact not doing it. A more satisfying position to me is that these things don’t happen because they are out of God’s hands, that he allows other people to choose to frustrate his will, refuse to be holy, and ultimately reject his salvation.

  6. Mark should, and may other ‘teachers’ of the faith should, read Acts 28:30 and see where he, they, fit in. To use the Word for your own agenda is more than wrong, it is evil.

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