Tough Love

Mars Hill Church reveled in being Christian the manly way.

Photo of Mark Driscoll by James Gordon via Flickr

I recently started listening to the much-acclaimed podcast on the Rise and Fall of Mars Hill, produced by Mike Cosper. Mars Hill is the Seattle-based church that was founded by hyper-masculine pastor Mark Driscoll. I always found Mark Driscoll to be deeply suspect and wondered where he fit into Christian theology. In many clips I see or hear of him, he’s yelling “who do you think you are???!!!” or “how dare you!!!”1 He sounds like me when I think my wife has eaten the dark chocolate marshmallows from Trader Joe’s.

In audio clips from the podcast, Driscoll goes on about running people at his church over with a bus and there being a pile of dead bodies behind the bus. I could see Driscoll being a drill sergeant or the coach of a sports team, but repping for the Prince of Peace?2 It always puzzled me that someone would actually buy into that.

There are indisputably those who benefit from Driscoll’s message of personal responsibility. It resonates strongly with young men. It can be helpful, but like the teachings of Jordan Peterson, it’s not uniquely Christian in its nature. It could come from any self-help guru. It could come from Matt Foley.

I love Mike Cosper and he does a fantastic job with the production values of his podcasts, but I pretty quickly realized I had no interest hearing about this particular figure and his church. The whole situation is alien to my experience, since the denomination that I am part of, PC(USA), doesn’t have celebrity pastors. You won’t find dudes in thousand dollar sneakers trotting around a stage. Instead, you will find teaching elders (women included) typically preaching in traditional vestments from behind an old fashioned pulpit.



Update: this Twitter thread is illuminating.


  1. I’ve witnessed this behavior in multiple documentaries. [return]
  2. He would be the Bobby Knight kind of coach, throwing chairs and screaming all the time. [return]
Robert Rackley @frostedechoes