Warlocks and Mark Driscoll

Mark Driscoll is a man, preacher, and pastor who I appreciate. I am thankful for his preaching which I have benefitted from via podcast on occasion and I am thankful for his work in creating a growing church planting network (Acts 29).

But oftentimes, Driscoll makes my brow furrow and one eyebrow raise. The tweet/Facebook post above is a recent example. A few thoughts cane to mind when I first read it.

1) Warlocks? Yowza. I hope they have robes and/or a sweet cloak. Are they modern-day Jedis? Ok, on a serious note, I was a little surprised to hear about a man identifying himself as a male who practices magic arts. I was only a little surprised because I have been in a bookstore with books that focus on the etymology of angelic languages and so the weird and wacky (and likely dark and demonic) things people involve themselves in don't really surprise me. Nevertheless, you don't meet someone who dabbles in the "magic" and demonic every day.

2) Amen and hallelujah for God's powerful, saving grace that transforms dead men and frees captives from sin and death! New life and repentance is most definitely something to rejoice in. I don't want the glorious miracle of new birth and indelible love of God to be overshadowed in any way by my words here.

3) Here's my point of contention: Driscoll claims that God said to him, "This one is mine and I love him." Regardless of the mode of supposed communication from God, be it an audible voice or a "mental TV", I have an extremely hard time accepting this type of spirituality according to my understanding of Scripture. If God were to tell me who he loves and/or who he conversely does not love, this could create some real problems within the body of Christ. If we were able to hear God's voice in such a unique manner as Driscoll has described God communicating to himself in the past, then why aren't we all flocking to Seattle to find out who God loves? Wouldn't Christians who have a strong burden for a lost person they care for want to hear such words?

When a church leader makes these kind of statements, he is implicitly expressing a level of authority granted to him that may not be available to other Christians. I mean, I have never experienced God  communicating to me in such a way, so I should logically go and receive a word from God from those who God speaks to in such a unique manner.

The issue boils down to authority. If God is speaking to Christians in the manner that Driscoll describes, this elevates the recipient of this direct revelation to a greater level authority than the normal Christian who does not hear from God in this special way and effectually erodes the authority of Scripture and the normal, everyday means of grace that God has given to us in the precious gift of the complete, inspired Bible.

That said, it is very important for Christians to be careful what they say, especially those given responsibility and influence in the Church. The tiniest phrase can ignite a firestorm (James 3). We must carefully evaluate our words at all times and guard against irresponsible statements.

I guess that's all I have to say about that.

UPDATE: There was some clarification Driscoll put out on his original tweet. You can find it here. It seems I was wrong in interpreting what Driscoll was saying, but nevertheless I still have a big bone to pick about God directly speaking to people in this manner.


  1. When it comes to Driscoll, I share an identical mindset to yours. I greatly admire many of his sermons and hard preaching of the Gospel, and all of his work in A29. But all the recent controversy about his "revelation from God" and what not has sort of bothered me. I still highly regard him as an excellent preacher and man of God, but I find trouble with statements of such matter.

    The content that most urgently troubled me was the brief clip that's been circulated among all of the blogs exploding about him, and one you posted a link to not too long ago. But this particular tweet, I didn't really find any fault with.

    I think that for the purpose of being succinct in a tweet, he called the man a Warlock; which is merely referring to a man who practices witchcraft, or Wicca.

    As far as his quote from God, I wasn't sure if I was just reading too heavily into it (it being a tweet, a tiny piece of a public forum unable to fully convey what one might be saying). I think perhaps you pulled out implications from what wasn't there (i. e. the hypothetical that God would conversely tell you who He does not love). Also, maybe this is just his manner of saying "God spoke to me," as we all unarguably hear from God. I don't know, I'm probably just trying to be too defensive of Mark, as I hold much respect for much of his other work. These are just my thoughts on the Driscoll controversy.

    In Christ,

  2. Matt,

    The content that circulated recently (his comments about cessationism and the seeing others' sins on a mental TV) are definitely more troubling.

    I may have well read into this too far, I would not eliminate that possibility. Given Driscoll's recent track record, I extrapolated his previously explicit views to this tweet. I read it as a clear "God told me" statement.

    Again, thanks for the charitable comment.

  3. lol. I read that original tweet completely different.

    I read it as the former warlock was the one who heard God say, as if about him, "This one is mine & I love him" - Driscoll was therefore saying, because he now has faith (I'm assuming, although it doesn't actually say he's now a christian...just not a warlock anymore) he is obviously elect.

    I wonder if he meant it that way...just a thought...if he didn't, then I pretty much agree with you ;)

  4. Just for the record, I have met warlocks -- that is by a longshot not the weirdest thing in this tweet. Guys who say they are warlocks are weirdos, but they are more common, in my experience, than Brazilians.

    The weird thing needs massive clarification: the voice of God is now governing Mark Driscoll's evangelism?

    Wait: that gets the cart before the horse. Here's what I read in that tweet: "[I] Met a former warlock today who was near death on a drug OD & [I] heard God say, 'This one is mine & I love him'. Yup. He's elect." But I think, having lived in the internet neighborhood for enough time to know that his fans will say anything, might say he meant "[I] Met a former warlock today who was near death on a drug OD & [he] heard God say, 'This one [PastorMark] is mine & I love him'. Yup. He's elect."

    I am certain the second interpolation is not any better than the first. But at some point, Driscoll's going to have to man up in his claims and talk to someone who is not his fan, not his cohort, someone without an investment in making sure other people believe what he says, and come clean on his new trip as the Guy God speaks to with words not in the Bible.

  5. "When a church leader makes these kind of statements, he is implicitly expressing a level of authority granted to him that may not be available to other Christians. "

    It's technically not authority granted to ANY Christian. Attributing a direct quote to God other than something in Scripture is heresy. It makes me sad because like you, I've been blessed a lot by Mark Driscoll. I actually do believe that prophetic gifts are still for today's church, however, in the type of prophesy we receive today is not on the authoritative level of Scripture since the Bible explicitly lets us know our canon is closed.

    In a situation like this it would be more appropriate to state he felt impressed upon by God after speaking to this man that he was being called into a saving knowledge of Jesus, NOT that God told Mark that this man was one of the elect. Only God knows who are his.

  6. @Frank Turk - would you deem it possible that it was meant to read: "[I] Met a former warlock today who was near death on a drug OD & [he] heard God say, 'This one is mine & I love him'. [So I say] Yup. He's elect."? I'm not defending his prophetic 'gifts' he's starting to proclaim lately, but I'm just wondering if we're misunderstanding him.

    @Louis - I'm confused on what you said. If you believe prophecy is still a viable gift why would you say that would be heresy? Isn't a prophecy a word directly from God?

  7. @elohimito - I believe prophesy for the church today is fundamentally different from what it was during the period God was inspiring Scripture. Before the canon was closed, prophesy represented "a word directly from God," as you said. Prophesy became part of the Bible.

    Today, however, I believe prophesy serves a different function. For today's Christians, I believe prophesy takes the form of Scripture intersecting with situations in daily life. Scriptural truths are illuminated in situations either through God using His Word to give guidance in a situation, or providing Christians with words of knowledge and wisdom to edify themselves or other members of the body.

    The impression Mark Driscoll received regarding this man could have been prophetic if his confession demonstrated God drawing Him to salvation, but attributing a direct quote to God is a big mistake.

    Maybe instead of using the word prophesy as a noun, using the words prophetic knowledge and wisdom would be better?

  8. @Louis - hmmm. I guess I'd disagree.

    The Greek 'profeteia' (Matthew 13:14; Romans 12:6; 1 Cor 12:10 13:2, 13:8, 14:6, 14:22; 1 Thes 5:20; etc...) refers to a discourse from God. The root is 'prophetes' which refers to a spokesman for God.

    What reasons do you have (scripturally) to believe prophesy is different from OT and NT?

  9. Just wanted to post this so you can now know what he meant:

  10. Trevor, I was cleaning out/sorting my Favorites folder for religion/theology blogs and realized I must have added yours a while back. Interesting post! Hope you're doing well in school/Syracuse.

    1. Marta, great to hear from you! Yeah, this was somewhat of a strange post. Things are well here. Be sure to say hi when you are in town!