Macho Christ

Mars Hill

The New York Times has a big story on the Mars Hill church in Seattle, led by fiery hipster pastor Mark Driscoll. Driscoll is a born-again evangelical who got way into Calvinism. Apparently, he has struck upon a method to draw crowds of nontraditional Christians in secular Seattle: by painting an image of a Macho Christ!

New members can keep their taste in music, their retro T-shirts and their intimidating facial hair, but they had better abandon their feminism, premarital sex and any “modern” interpretations of the Bible. Driscoll is adamantly not the “weepy worship dude” he associates with liberal and mainstream evangelical churches, “singing prom songs to a Jesus who is presented as a wuss who took a beating and spent a lot of time putting product in his long hair.”

…God called Driscoll to preach to men — particularly young men — to save them from an American Protestantism that has emasculated Christ and driven men from church pews with praise music that sounds more like boy-band ballads crooned to Jesus than “Onward Christian Soldiers.” What bothers Driscoll — and the growing number of evangelical pastors who agree with him — is not the trope of Jesus-as-lover. After all, St. Paul tells us that the Church is the bride of Christ. What really grates is the portrayal of Jesus as a wimp, or worse. Paintings depict a gentle man embracing children and cuddling lambs. Hymns celebrate his patience and tenderness. The mainstream church, Driscoll has written, has transformed Jesus into “a Richard Simmons, hippie, queer Christ,” a “neutered and limp-wristed popular Sky Fairy of pop culture that . . . would never talk about sin or send anyone to hell.”

…Driscoll disdains the prohibitions of traditional evangelical Christianity. Taboos on alcohol, smoking, swearing and violent movies have done much to shape American Protestant culture — a culture that he has called the domain of “chicks and some chickified dudes with limp wrists.”

How cutting-edge! A Christian leader who mocks women and gay people. I love how Driscoll puts down other brands of Christianity by hinting that they are effeminate and queer. Nice one! *High fives Driscoll*

What does this remind me of? Oh yeah, the taunts of a schoolyard bully.

The only reason I can see that the NYT is painting this as something “new” is that the church attendees have tattoos and dyed hair. Or did I miss something profound?

8 thoughts on “Macho Christ

  1. Big yuck on Mars Hill. I’ve had encounters with a few people that go there and their “new” take on Christianity is no different than when stagnant old consumer product get re-branded. Although I do miss Crystal Pepsi, Seattle would be a much better place without Mars Hill. On their surface, their ideas of making Christianity less puritanical are seemingly main stream. Smoking cigarettes does not make you a “bad boy.” Their aim isn’t to progress however, they just want to reach a wider audience so they can pull in more cash. Seriously, I think it all comes down to dollars. Introducing your “new” product to young white kids with expendable incomes is not a new idea, it’s marketing!

  2. Thinking on the issue further I realized that the point of your article wasn’t simply that Christianity is simply being re-branded by Mars Hill, but that it is being re-branded in a Macho homo-phobic way. I’m not really sure why he’s doing this. Maybe he’s giving the kids what they want? In other churches just the Pastors are homo-phobes and Jesus is cool with everyone. Maybe this guy wants Jesus to be a homo-phobe with him? I don’t know, big YUCK on them regardless.

  3. I agree with you, Travis. It seems like it is just creating its own fad – supposedly alt versions of church/worship which involve highlighting certain groups (from the section above, gays, women, and different masculinities) which already get shit on plenty and then making it trendy to continue that negativity and narrow-mindedness. Awesome! What would Jesus do? He would be hateful of difference, apparently! (Wait, I thought he preached acceptance…)

    It definitely seems like rebranding. In these modern times, Jesus needs a modern makeover… as a macho asshole? Hmmm… I would be curious to see what demographic he appeals to and for how long he appeals to them (I am guessing it is a younger, mostly straight white middle-class male crowd).

  4. Amazing!

    This asswipe has managed to squeeze my least-favorite aspects of hipster culture and Christianity into one organization.

    I mean, clearly the only values he carried over from our little subculture are the costumes and accoutrement. He also managed to glean the mysoginy from Calvinism, with none of the humility or self-reflection.

    BRAVO, You Fucking DOLT!

  5. I can’t believe that someone found a way to put a new face on old-fashioned misogyny and homophobia. I guess that’s what I marvel at. Isn’t that all that’s “new” about this church? Appearances?

    I’m interested that Driscoll feels “called by God” to save young men from emasculation. Apparently, as I gather from the article, emasculation includes equality for women and gay people, patience, kindness, caring for chidlren, and refraining from telling everyone they are damned to hell. Interesting definition of masculinity Driscoll’s got there.

    I wish the article described Driscoll’s ideal image of a macho Christ, because he mostly just talks about the images of Christ he doesn’t like. Which are kind of based on descriptions of Jesus’ actions in the Bible: his respectful treatment of women, his love for children, his care for the ill, the whole “turn the other cheek” thing. Of course, at times he got angry, or was hard on his followers… perhaps it’s angry Jesus that Driscoll empathizes with?

  6. Man, it works on so many levels…

    After reading the full article, I think the glue holding this together is the negative aspect hipsterdom shares so thoroughly with Calvinism
    — Unearned Exclusive privelege and moral superiority!

    Predestination is the most hilarious of Doctrines. Only a select few are chosen, and how do i know that I’m chosen; because I’m here at the church where God’s chosen go, see?? Without Humility it is a ridiculous, circular Farce.

  7. I have a friend who gave Mars Hill a try a few years ago. He said it was repulsive – like watching Frank T.J. Mackey on Christ.

  8. I agree with Scorn’s last post, that the doctrine of Calvinism refutes some very basic ideas of enlightenment (that frequently came from believers in Christ). There is a general theme in the bible, not one quote but many, that your belief in Christ is salvation. Salvation means eternal peace, leaving behind the misery of earth.

    Calvinism ends up, though it takes a leap of logic, somewhat reversing Descartes’ phrase: I am (or I have) therefore I believe (I am chosen). Basically, in Calvin’s day, God doesn’t waste riches and prosperity on those who aren’t going to heaven. If you’re doing well on earth, and an active member of the church, chances are God has blessed you in Heaven as well. Camel through a needle’s eye? That scripture doesn’t quite jibe with Calvinism.

    To me, Calvinism makes more sense in John Calvin’s world than ours. I don’t care who you are, I don’t care the disadvantages, if you’re in the US you’re able to make some serious desicions to change your life. The conflicts in Western Europe (especially the 30 Year’s War) and the Black Plague probably left believers feeling like their choices were frequently made for them. What’s the number one killer today? Heart Disease, often caused and exacerbated by personal choice that we as a society know better, unlike the knowledge of fleas and rats spreading the plague.

    They don’t call it the dark ages for nothing, and it’s not like someone snapped their fingers and Europe glowed at 35 watts!!!

    So, yes, I agree too that he’s trying to BUILD his church with $$$ from parishoners. Churches that are doing the right thing are pretty easy to see: as the membership increases, so do the services to its members and the community. Board meetings are welcome to all, and parishoners are not ‘shunned.’

    As far as his homophobia and masculine issues, these are false sources of strength. I can think of a greater source of strength, his name starts with “J”. The parallels are directly drawn to churches who don’t welcome and seek members of other ethnicities, races, or sexual identities.

    (Though I’m not up on how Christianity reconciles homosexuality with the laws in Leviticus. I’m not Christian, I’m just talking scripture. If I had to stab at it, I would say that, in a generalized way, Jesus’ teachings of love and acceptance overrule Old Testament teachings. For example: Eye for an Eye, which would contradict Turn the other Cheek. Christians are to turn the other cheek.)

    OK, enough for me. Good post, Czech.

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