New York Times Article on Mars Hill Church / Mark Driscoll

Hats off to Molly Worthen for writing an amazingly even-handed article about Mars Hill Church and the various themes and memes that run through it.   The article “Who Would Jesus Smack Down?” appeared in The New York Times “Magazine” section on Sunday, January 12, 2009.  MH/Driscoll admirers will consider the article very complimentary.  Detractors will find the article to give clear voice to the aspects that grieve them most.

One quote in particular broke PH’s heart:   “At one suburban campus that I visited, a huge yellow cross dominated center stage — until the projection screen unfurled and Driscoll’s face blocked the cross from view.”

Driscoll’s face blocked the cross from view.  In a nutshell: the very reason so many faithful, active, and involved members have departed the hip halls of MHC.

Click HERE to read the full article in the NYT.


14 Responses to New York Times Article on Mars Hill Church / Mark Driscoll

  1. Ian McKay says:

    I attend another A29 church in another state. I often feel embarassed when I see Mark D the head spokesperson and face of A29 saying things the way he does. I got this article sent to me by his ardent fans, and yet it made me cringe– particularly what it said about not allowing dissent. (the punching in the nose bit, and the jesus smackdown machoisma also are cringers for me) Many of us who are not interested in consumer oriented feel good megachurch are also not interested in hipster hard core calvinism which can tend to treat its congregation as it tends to treat its women– as children to be patronized. I think there is scripture which supports the spirit working through the lives and decisions of lay people as a congregation. It has traditionally been the catholic church which has the extreme hierarchy which patronizes the illiterate masses who can’t think or lead. My protestantism is rooted in a kierkegaardianism which is suspicious of church hierarchy. I thank God for the ways A29 has pioneered some new open areas for Christian evangelicals who are more theologically conservative than the emergent church. Hopefully those of us who feel somewhat stimied in our spiritual leadership growth at A29 churches will find the place God wants us to be. God bless MH and MD and may they produce much fruit and be shaped into exactly what God needs them to be.

  2. Anon says:

    It’s interesting that the “Mars Hill Press Room” (over at the Vision and Mission pastor’s blog at voxpopnetwork) hasn’t mentioned this article at all yet. MHC gets a fair and even mention in the nation’s most respected newspaper and… nothing is mentioned.

  3. Shogun of the South says:

    I struggle to see how this article was fair and balanced, when the writer didnt take the time to actually site with Mark D, offer him the opportunity to explain these accusations. Please also keep in mind the job of the writer is to sell PRESS not inform you, somewhere between 40-60% of this article is sensationalized for your reading pleasure……if you going to state what he and his church believes you may want get your quotes from his mouth no the net.

  4. Ian McKay says:

    Molly who wrote the article is a very articulate person, and very fair minded from all that I’ve seen of her publications on other Christian endeavors (check her out and see for yourself) and my personal interaction with her. I wouldn’t blame her for being biased here. My friends from my church who are strong mark supporters and 5 point calvinists think that the article was fairminded and unbiased, so I don’t agree with you shogun…to write off this article as pure sensationalism is itself not fair.

  5. George says:

    Even handed or unbiased are the last two words I would use to describe the NY Times article. You can see several factual inaccuracies in the article just by comparing its description of MHC doctrine contained in it to any published doctrine MHC has put out currently or in the past. For instance, the article literally states that MHC believes “God has already mapped out their lives” and “there is no point in missions to the unsaved or in leading a godly life” which are obvious contradictions to the missiology at the heart of MHC’s “What We Believe” statement.

    Interestingly enough, the site recently posted an unsolicited rebuttal of Molly Worthen’s article noting the factual inaccuracies contained within. Coming from someone who does not even attend MHC, it is obvious that the piece is highly biased even though it’s in the NY Times. It’s no wonder that the MHC blog wouldn’t post a link to this one.

  6. Ian McKay says:


    I went back and looked to see why I didn’t see that in the article. Here is the quote you are referring to:

    “While John Calvin’s 16th-century doctrines have deep roots in Christian tradition, they strike many modern evangelicals as nonsensical and even un-Christian. If predestination is true, they argue, then there is no point in missions to the unsaved or in leading a godly life.”

    I don’t think Molly was saying that Calivinists say that if predestination is true then there is no point in missions to the unsaved or in leading a godly life– rather– those modern evangelicals who find the Calvinist position nonsensical think that if predestination is true then missions is pointless, etc. As a non-calvinist, I tend to think the calvinist position does beg the question “what is the point of all of this trying to get people to believe when the predestined will be saved either way”…so Molly seems to be right. Of course Calvinists wouldn’t say that there is no point to missions or leading a Godly life– but non-calvinists think that the calvinist is trying to have his cake and eat it too.

    At any rate, I think your criticism is misdirected maybe, if you take a close look at that quote above.


  7. Randy says:

    How is this edifying? If salvation is being preached effectively, what reason is there to tear down our brothers and sisters. We are all members of the body of Christ. Can we please let our words, thoughts and attitudes reflect this?

  8. Percy says:

    Randy. Perhaps we should say this about any preacher such as Ted Haggard for example despite their actions. Driscoll has a style of brutalizing those that he has used and then discards them. He willingly tears down members of the body of Christ. This is especially true of many that sacrificed much for Mars Hill Church. That is why this site was put up. To highlight the unfair dismissal and subsequent shunning of good men. To this date the matter has not been dealt with.

    The man is a talented brute who does not tolerate dissent. He is a mean bully. But he gets a pass while people like you call on those who stand up to him to not tear down our brothers and sisters.


  9. Mike says:

    Just passing by.Btw, you website have great content!

    Making Money $150 An Hour

  10. I appreciate what you’re doing here. There needs to be more places where people are FREE to speak about harmful church experiences, no matter how MEGA that church and church leader are!

    I have been doing much research on MHC for several months and I’m putting it all together, using quotes from your site here as well, so that people can see at a glance either what they’re getting into at MHC as they begin attending or consider joining as members. Also, I hope my blog will be a place of validation and healing for those who have escaped the abuse of such an over-controlling system and leader at MHC. Perhaps Praying Heart will post the address of my blog; it’s exclusively about Mars Hill Church Abuse.

    As a mental health counselor and a survivor of spiritual abuse, I perceive many signs of cult like control/spiritual abuse: Controlling Pastor with “Yes Men” Elders; No Talk Rule; No Dissent; Emphasis on Submission/Obedience; Shunning of “Unrepentant” Former Members; Dis-fellowshipping Questioners/Critical Thinkers; By-Laws Removing Accountability of Pastor/Elders; Mind/Thought Control; Membership Covenant and Financial Giving Pledge Required; “Biblical” Counseling Only, if Referred Out, Must Sign Release Form (no confidentiality allowed); Kangaroo Court Firing of Two Elders Who Dared to Question; Extreme Gender Role Enforcement; Members Must Attend Accountability/”Community” Groups… Scary!

    Preaching the Gospel is one thing, but abusing God’s sheep is NEVER acceptable, (see Ezek 34), despite some occasional good preaching (I say occasional b/c MD is very good at “beating the sheep,” laying heavy burdens on them that he himself, like the Pharisees of old, is unwilling to lift with his smallest finger!)

    In Him Always,
    Truth and Grace

  11. As a follow up to my post above, dated 4/18/09, I have since moved to a newer site. You can find me at

    A site for those who seek healing, freedom and understanding regarding churches and church leaders that appear to have abusive traits, and sadly, I think this includes Mars Hill.

    In Him Always,

  12. PS. My old site user name was Truth & Grace, one I still use occasionally.


  13. Mark Dunford says:

    I’m really saddened that the quote about the screen struck such a cord with you. At each Mars Hill campus that I’ve personally visited, the cross is at the center of the stage. It is logical, that with some of those services showing video that the video would also be shown at the front and center of the stage as opposed to the sides.

    Pastor Mark has both in word and in print reiterated that Mars Hill Church is “all about Jesus.” I don’t think he, nor those who worship at Mars Hill services are under any sort of delusion that the church is somehow centered on Pastor Mark.

    What saddens me about this and similar articles (and their comments) is the continued concern about a church that so clearly finds its convictions in Scripture and preach so exclusively from it.

    I think it would be worth the critic’s time to watch a selection of sermons (any selection) or visit a service before condemning a pastor based on an article or the “witness” of other concerned Christians who likewise have never been to Mars Hill.

    God bless.

  14. Free Offer says:

    Free Offer…

    […]New York Times Article on Mars Hill Church / Mark Driscoll « Seeking Justice & Reconciliation at Mars Hill Church[…]…

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