MARK DRICOLL’S BADASS JESUS or the CHRIST of the GOSPELS

Mark Driscoll, the attention grabbing minister of the Mars Hill megachurch, is at it again. He’s pushing his badass Jesus who has, as he put it a few years ago, “a commitment to make someone bleed.” Driscoll has a personal need for a sacred tough guy because he has some sort of theological kink or character twist or… whatever, that leads him to declare, “I cannot worship a guy I can beat up.” It sounds to me like he’s looking for a swaggering gang leader to follow, not One who said, “I am among you as one who serves” (Luke 22:27).

In a recent blog piece based on one of his sermons, Driscoll asks, “Is God a Pacifist?” From there he turns his attention to the sixth commandment. Now we might ask what bearing the sixth commandment has on whether God is a pacifist. After all, the commandment was for us creatures, not for the Creator. Someone remarked, “Only God is wise enough and good enough to use violence.” Whether God is or is not a pacifist doesn’t necessarily suggest what humans should be or do.

Regardless, Driscoll argues for a restrictive understanding of the commandment, noting that “Thou shall not kill,” in the King James Version and other older versions of the Bible is a questionable translation. Most newer versions use the English word “murder” instead of “kill.” He engages in a bit of word study to bolster his point, that being, the commandment doesn’t forbid killing in self-defense, capital punishment and in war. Hebrew scripture scholars like Wilma Bailey would take issue with him regarding the meaning of the commandment. But I don’t think his take on never told to take up arms but to fight by means of the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony (Revelation 12:11).

And never mind that when faced with the threat of death and imprisonment the followers of Jesus were not told to clash with the enemy in a show of deadly force but were instructed, “If you are to be taken captive, into captivity you go; if you kill with the sword, with the sword you must be killed. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints” (Revelation 13:10). The command here sounds strikingly like to words of Jesus to Peter when he fought back when the Lord was being taken captive: “”Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword” (Matthew 26:52).

Following Jesus has nothing to do with emulating the Christ symbolically depicted in the role of judge. Not one time in the New Testament are Christians instructed to follow Jesus in ways of judgment or look to the example of the apocalyptic Christ in righting wrongs with deadly force. However, we are told, “If you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps. He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.’ When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten” (1 Peter 2:20-23). It is the Christ of the Gospels who we are to follow in ways of radical nonviolent love.

So Mark Driscoll can keep his badass Jesus. I’m going to encourage people to follow the amazing Jesus of the Gospels, the real Prince of Peace.

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