Mark Driscoll’s Christian Theology v. Critical Theory is Awful and Needs Footnotes

I don’t know what else to say about this “book.” Driscoll has taken lots of well deserved criticism on Twitter about it and I want to point out another great source: Wenatchie the Hatchet. Go check out WtH.

WtH is a hatchet for sure. In his new post: “Mark Driscoll’s Christian Theology vs Critical Theory could probably use at least one footnote giving credit to Stephen Eric Bronner’s primer on critical theory,” WtH shows how Driscoll is up to his old tricks of using other people’s material as if it is his own.

Beyond this, the book is just bad and nearly incoherent. I am going out on a limb to say Driscoll isn’t using ghostwriters anymore. At least he didn’t on this one. Here is WtH’s comment after 40 pages of it:

40 pages in and this is perhaps the most breath-takingly dubious and egregiously bad faith ranting I’ve ever seen Driscoll do, even compared to his William Wallace II rants from 21 years ago. I’ll eventually have to write about this dumpster fire of pamphleteering incompetence but I’ll want to go back and revisit how much Driscoll’s stated views seem indebted to systems of patronage.

He is being kind. It is that bad.

I intially thought I would critique it but I don’t know if it is worth it. Here is just one section:

Those Jews and their theories; brought the Holocaust on themselves.

There may be serious critiques of CRT; this has never been and will never be one.

28 thoughts on “Mark Driscoll’s Christian Theology v. Critical Theory is Awful and Needs Footnotes”

  1. Not O/T: I highly recommend a listen to last week’s Veteran of Culture Wars podcast with Zach and Dave interviewing Dr. Jessica Johnson. The show fits perfectly with Warren’s discussion here. We also learn that maybe Mike Cosper on the CT Rise and Fall show is telling us more about Mike Cosper than about Mark Driscoll. I found it fascinating.

    Here’s their intro:

    Dr. Jessica Johnson (author of Biblical Porn: Affect, Labor, and Pastor Mark Driscoll’s Evangelical Empire) returns to talk about her new piece in Religion Dispatches critiquing Christianity Today’s “The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill” podcast. We also discuss Driscoll’s recent pamphlet “Christian Theology Vs Critical Theory”.

    Read her article here:

  2. Driscoll writes to an audience who have no idea what Critical Theory actually is. But Driscoll’s intellectual (and spiritual) sloth won’t work on educated and discerning readers who have no need for such childish fear-mongering.

    First U.S. Evangelicals throw temper tantrums about Critical Race Theory which they clearly don’t comprehend, and here comes Driscoll unleashing even more ignorance and fear. Thank you Dr. Throckmorton for once again offering a voice of clarity and reason.

    1. Most people writing criticisms of CRT are writing for audiences who have no idea what it is. Driscoll is just jumping on the anti-CRT bandwagon.

      And quite possibly Driscoll is using it as a distraction from his other bad behaviour. i.e. if everyone is talking about how Driscoll is misrepresenting CRT, then maybe they will talk less about his other abuses.

      1. yep. Conservative evangelicals have recently shown far too much willingness to avoid worrying about character as long as you say the ‘right’ words about hot topics. One can definitely imagine a scenario where he is given a pass on previous behaviors by some people because now he’s flying the anti-CRT flag

        1. Ah yes, that old problem: Christians saying what they think Christians ought to say. And, to be fair, this is not limited to the evangelical tradition. It is just another form of what is often called “political correctness” (remembering that what is deemed “politically correct” depends on the milieu in which it is said).

          I’m interested by your suggestion that MD’s literary move is calculated to win allies at what could be tricky time for his business interests … err, I mean, ministry! Sounds like a feasible notion …

    2. Is critical theory distinct from critical race theory, either in reality or in Driscoll’s interpretation?

  3. Oh my… that first quoted passage is breathtaking… He’s just plugging our present vocabulary words into a madlib that’s talking about Nazis… If he were to go back in time and actually talk to a Nazi and use terms like “social justice” and “critical theory” (translated of course) the Nazi wouldn’t know what he’s talking about, even after explanation… None of those words he’s using would have any meaning back then, especially not to a real Nazi. Their reasons ran along the lines of racial hierarchy and superiority and a demonic notion that God gave them the right to purify the earth of anybody they deemed inferior… how critical theory or social justice fits into that, I have no idea…

    This is little schoolboy tactics… where a gang of kindergartners seize on some derogatory slang word and hurl it at anybody or any situation… just to be stupid jerks.

    This would be like… Mark D hurling these words and isms at the watch bloggers and former Mars Hill parishners for their criticism of him… (Anybody wanna bet he might sink to this someday? … MD: “those evil bloggers, using their critical theory and social justice ideas are the ones trying to take me down!” … um no little man. You’re an egotistical nut who shouldn’t be a pastor – I can know that with some confidence just based on a straight reading of the NT, the gospels and Paul’s instructions to Timothy… no “critical theory” or “social justice” ideas necessary.

    1. Driscoll will never produce peer-reviewed publications, as he’s too invested in his little schoolboy tactics, as you correctly describe it. Obviously his congregants aren’t the demographic for reading Critical Theory, so what’s Driscoll’s motivation?

      1. Fame, Mammon and feeling like a somebody not on anything internal but because someone is foolish enough to buy whatever he puts out. Narcissists are validation addict’s. The worse thing that can happen is for everyone to ignore them treating them like they are just like everyone else. The majority of books that have been written have been bought only a dozen or less times.

        1. So true. If Driscoll was genuinely interested in Critical Theory, why wouldn’t he apply to a program at his nearest accredited university, spend the time necessary to study Critical Theory and the Frankfurt School, learn how to do actual research, and earn his credentials?

          No scholars who actually publish on Critical Theory are thinking to themselves, “Hey, I really need to know what an uneducated pastor thinks about scholarship he’s never read.” Furthermore, no congregants at Driscoll’s Trinity Church are going up to Driscoll commenting “Hey, I’m really into all this Critical Theory and need to know what you think about it.”

          Driscoll is living in his own navel-gazing, narcissistic bubble that serves no one but himself.

  4. Maybe it is just me, but as I read the passage about Hitler’s rise to power, Driscoll seems jealous.

  5. A different comment – I was confused the first time round!

    Critical Theory is an evolving branch of thought about individuals and society. I’m far from convinced that rhetorical comparisons with Nazism are in any way appropriate, especially when it comes to the ways in which the Theory is currently understood.

    People like MD are essentially ‘individualists’ (and we see this very clearly in the self-serving manner in which he runs his ‘religious’ business ventures), and ‘individualism’ poses serous problems for Christianity, just as not giving a proper place to personal responsibility poses problems. After all, the Church is a corporate (and thus social) construct (cf. I Cor 12 : 27 et al). MD’s gripe with CT is, I suspect, based on that fact that it threatens the basis of his MO, so he engages in that tired old trick of comparing what he doesn’t like with Nazism.

  6. But I bet he probably read every book on the topic!
    (or…maybe just the ones that support the pre-formed opinion he already had more likely)

      1. (it’s a reference to claims he’s made in the past – you can hear an eyewitness account in the latest “Rise of Mars Hill” podcast episode)

      2. It’s possible that he reads the work of his ghostwriters, I suppose. Then again …

    1. When an ego gets as big as his, who needs books? Other than the obvious need to plagiarize because preachers do not make professional writers. Two very different personalities and skill sets. This guy thinks he is god and that all of his thoughts are worthy of a god. The real question in my mind is who buys these books? Everything the man wrote is only good for kindling for a fire. Though I am waiting for William Wallace II to show up again under a new fake name and make bizarre comments again. Somethings never change…

      1. Wasn’t it shown that the answer to “who is buying these?”, last time, was “Mars Hill”? Perhaps he is doing that again.

  7. If Mark Driscoll thinks that it is the Frankfurt School that launched the Nazis into seizing Jewish Property and persecuting them, then he needs to read “On the Jews and their lies” by the one and only Martin Luther.

    1. Or any number of the late 19th century anti-Semitic screeds that were floating around Vienna while Hitler was living there.

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