Oh, Mark Driscoll!


Mark Driscoll, you never fail to stir controversy!

With the release of his new book “Real Marriage” Pastor Mark Driscoll- lead teaching pastor at MarsHill church here in Seattle- has elicited a whole new batch of scathing criticisms.

The genesis of this blog post came from a friend who asked me my opinion of Driscoll and specifically his book Real Marriage. My friend has a few friends that are big fans of Driscoll and are going through the book in a small group format. My friend read through about 4 chapters of the book and found them to be “a piece of trash.” My friend is not a Christian and is gay, so naturally Driscoll would not speak to his/her experience too much.

First of all, I need to commend my friend for being willing to read through 4 chapters of a book on sexuality by Driscoll who is very vocally opposed to the lifestyle he/she lives. I am always pleased to find people who aren’t so entrenched in their own world that they refuse to research a differing opinion.

I need to come clean- I have yet to read his book and probably will not make time to do so for a few months. My reading time is jam-packed with school/ministry related reading. That being said, I am fairly familiar with Driscoll’s theology of sexuality, having read a few of his resources on the topic.

So, here goes!

My relationship with Driscoll goes back a number of years. My first introduction to him was in my junior year of high school.

As a Christian guy in high school one of the major issues you deal with is sexuality and how to reign it in in a healthy fashion. I attended a number of small groups that dealt with sexuality and how to properly handle it. I read through one book called “Every Young Man’s Battle,” which was, in my humble opinion, terribad. Then my roommates and I read through a free e-book published by RE:lit, the publishing section of Driscoll’s ministry The Resurgence, called “Porn-Again Christian.”

The booklet was everything that EYMB wasn’t. Frank, honest, insightful, and helpful. He didn’t just say, “the Bible says no, so that means no.” He gave solid psychological, medical, and relational reasons for his positions, grounded in the theology in the Bible. It changed my life for the better.

Before becoming a Christian I held a very poor view of women. My friends and I had a very detailed rating system for how attractive women were, based on categorical areas (butt, boobs, etc.) and an overall ranking. No semi-attractive girl escaped our scrutiny. This was an incredibly destructive view that robbed women of their status as a human being made in the image of God. It took me a long time to rid myself of this view- it required a lot of close friends being willing to walk down a difficult road and me yelling at myself quite regularly. Driscoll’s teaching in this area seriously helped me make sense of what I was experiencing. Driscoll has always been extremely good at speaking to young men, especially ones who are lost in a world that is increasingly hostile to traditionally masculine views of men. I know that statement alone is enough to frustrate some people, but bear with me.

One of the strongest criticisms leveled against Driscoll is that he subjugates women to a pre-feminism era. Driscoll holds what Christians call a “complementarian” position. For those who aren’t familiar with Christian positions on sexuality and gender roles, it is a very diverse “field” if you will. In terms of gender roles there are 3 major areas: 1.) Hierarchical 2.) Complementarian 3.) Egalitarian. In terms of sexuality there are pretty much 3 categories regarding homosexuality as well: 1.) Reparative (no better way to describe this, basically it’s the idea that you can become “ex-gay”, i.e. Exodus International) 2.) Semi Gay Affirming 3.) Gay affirming. The gender-roles debate has much more concrete terminology and is a much more developed field. The Christian gay debate is much younger and doesn’t have particularly well developed groups just yet- in fact my nomenclature is sort of made up for it, so don’t hold on too tightly to it.

This is an incredibly deep topic. Far far too deep for me to attempt to address in a single blog post. The topic of gender-roles/sexuality is so intimately related to the human experience that it has massive implications for a variety of areas. I will try to give a brief overview of the whole topic and hopefully provide some resources for further study. I’m also willing to write further posts expanding my views if anyone is interested.

I don’t have time to outline each of the 3 positions for both gender-roles and homosexuality, so I will pick the ones I think Driscoll fits best. He is a self-identifying “Complementarian” and is a regular contributor to that conversation. I would also say Driscoll likely holds a semi gay affirming position, but I’m not going to hang my hat on it.

Here are a couple of resources regarding the gender-roles debate. The hierarchical position honestly isn’t held very often and in my opinion is not Biblically tenable in any way, shape, or form. For transparency’s sake, I will come out that I am a complementarian in the area of family. Not sure about ministry just yet. Anyway, here are the resources:

Complementarian position:


Egalitarian position:


Driscoll’s theology of marriage and family would no doubt start in Genesis 1 and 2. Since this part of the Bible deals with original creation, it is the place to find out what the ideal is. Creation was made perfect (in the most sense that perfect can describe finite things like creation), so for the Christian it is the place to find the original plan for humanity.

Genesis 1:25 tells of God’s plan to make mankind to “rule” over creation- the implication is that “ruling” is to be done together. Then in v. 26 it says God created man (humanity) and he created them “male” and “female.” Driscoll and complementarians would look to this passage as an example of “equality in essence.” What that means is that male and female are equal in created worth. Meaning that men and women are equally valuable in the sight of God and each are made uniquely by God. Later on, in Chapter 2 we find a more detailed record of how man and woman were created. God formed man out of some dust and placed him in the Garden of Eden. God then decided it wasn’t good for man to be alone so he performed surgery on man, took a rib and made a woman out of it. Then man saw her and named her “woman.”

This naming bit is important, because in ancient near east culture, the ability to name someone/something designated authority over him/her/it. This is why God changes Abram’s name to Abraham, Jacob’s to Israel, Saul to Paul and plenty others. An egalitarian would say that this hierarchy only existed because of the Fall, but the naming occurred both before (man names her woman) and after the fall (Adam names her Eve). This would mean that the ability to name, and thus have some measure of “authority” is given to man in the ideal condition.

Woman is also said to have been given as a “helper” to man. This word, in the original Hebrew is etzer. It is the same word used to describe God as “helper” later, so it shouldn’t be interpreted as a helper from a position of inequality. This part of the text has been used in the past to abuse women and tell them they’re lesser- this is flat-out wrong and extremely damaging to women. It does give some measure of justification for Driscoll’s position of women sacrificing some of their own ambitions for the goals of the family/ marriage. This is not a popular position in society anymore, especially given the rise of second/third wave feminism that has had a very heavy emphasis on women climbing the work-place ladder. Christians have to be careful not to anachronize their interpretation of the Bible, however, so Driscoll and complementarians would argue that it is short-sighted and misplaced to assume that women’s sole role is to be in the workplace.

Furthermore, Driscoll would probably look at Gen 3:8-9, after the eating of the fruit by man and woman as an example of man’s responsibility to his wife. After they ate the forbidden fruit, God came looking for man. God who already knew what they did came asking for man, “where are you?” Even though woman ate first, God expects man to give an account of their actions, meaning that he was responsible for his wife’s actions. This is where complementarians would see men as completely responsible for the well being of their families- not women. Later, woman was punished for her misdeeds, but man was ultimately held responsible for her actions.

Later, in the New Testament Driscoll would look to Ephesians 5:21-33 as another example of where gender roles are clearly outlined in the Bible. Verse 21 starts out, “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” This is really important to keep in mind, especially for you Christian men out there. You are to submit also to your wives. It’s not like you get to have all the say and she has to just follow along like a sheep. You are responsible for your family’s well being- that means when you screw up, you are held to account for it.

Then it goes on to tell wives to submit to their husbands like the church submits to Christ. This one is pretty clear. Neither Driscoll nor I will make apologies for the Bible. Christian wives are to submit to their husbands “in everything.” Doesn’t sound good to our modern, progressive ears but it’s there and I won’t make any bones about it. More importantly though, especially since Paul spends a lot more time talking about it, husbands must love their wives like Christ loved the church… which last time I checked required an incredible amount of sacrifice and finally death. That’s the funny thing about the complementarian position: it gets marked as being misogynistic, but really it places far more responsibility and weight on man’s roles. Men are supposed to sacrifice their own lives for the good of their brides and families. That means putting down your controllers, stop watching porn, get a job and take care of your family (wow… I feel like Driscoll right now… but he’s right on this).

This is where Driscoll would get a lot of his theology from. It’s not progressive in any sense and may not even be conclusive. The Bible can often be taken out of context, but I’ve tried to give the clearest Biblical reasons for his position. Since I hold this position myself, I don’t think it’s exactly a straw man.

Now the next part is far, far, trickier. The debate on how Christians ought to address the issues brought up by the queer community is a very delicate one. The thing about these theological positions is that they aren’t simply mental assents to doctrinal positions- they intimately effect every aspect of people’s lives. Brian McLaren put it best when somebody asked him where he stood on the issue of homosexuality when he said, “No matter how I answer this question, someone will end up being hurt.” This question deeply affects many people, many of whom are my close friends. When addressing this question, a grace-filled heart and understanding mind are the best tools to dialog without offending.

First off, I cannot apologize enough for how the church at large has treated the queer community. We have isolated homosexuality in particular and it’s been detrimental and harmful at best. I have a great number of friends who have been so turned off from faith because of how Christians have treated them or others they know who are gay, so to them I apologize. Also, there is a lot of language that needs to be learned to adequately engage in this dialog. I find that’s the most difficult thing for me. Political correctness is probably one of my least favorite things on the planet, yet I know the impact that language has on people, so I really try to make sure I’m not saying anything flippantly or without thought. If I offend anyone I apologize. If Driscoll offends anyone… well, let’s face it, offending is what he does best, but I apologize for him too.

Now, on to this issue, and hopefully painting Driscoll’s position the best I can. In places where I’m not sure about his position I’ll give my opinion.

This debate about how Christians approach this topic has often been sidetracked by stupid side debates that are absolutely unhelpful. I always try to be careful about which hills I’m willing to die on as a Christian. I hate culture wars. I think they’re so stupid and I think Christians waste valuable time engaging in culture war that they could be spending ministering to the poor, broken, disenchanted, or the hurting. That being said, one of the biggest and most ridiculous of all parts of the culture war of this debate is the “born/not born gay.”

I cannot tell you how ridiculous this is. For the Christian, absolutely NOTHING rests on proving this. In fact, it actually works against us. The logic for many Christians is this: God would never create someone in such a way that they would be gay, therefore it must be a choice, therefore gays are all choosing to be in sin.

This logic, frankly, sucks. It won’t work in any other area of people sinning. ALL have sinned! Not a single person is without it. God created us all and we are all sinful. God’s original plan for us was not to be sinful, but we screwed it up. Adam sinned and we have all chosen to walk in his footsteps. So Biblically speaking, you should have no problem accepting that gays are born with the natural predisposition to sin in such a manner (if you hold that it’s a sin), just like teenage boys are more likely to sin sexually in general. Also, psychology is pretty much conclusive that homosexual feelings are not behavioral/chosen, but are feelings that cannot be stopped. Gay folks cannot escape those feelings- they are often genetic even. I have a number of family members who are gay or bisexual at the least, genetics can play into the equation.

That being said, Driscoll would argue that any sexual activity that is outside God’s original design pre-fall is sinful. This means lustfully looking at people, fantasizing, viewing pornography, homosexuality, premarital sex ,and adultery. It is essential to view homosexuality in light of what the Bible says about sexuality as a whole. This is why it can’t be isolated. That means that homosexuality is absolutely no different, Biblically speaking, than checking out a woman and thinking about her sexually. That being said, Driscoll would say that homosexual activity is not permitted by the Bible (I would agree). Similarly, however, that doesn’t mean that those who have same-sex attractions cannot be Christian. I hate that so much. Christians talk about how we are saved by grace and not by works all the time- if you have lied, cheated, stolen, slept around, whatever it may be, then Jesus is enough. If you do it while you’re a Christian, just repent, get some accountability and keep going. But if you’re gay, you’re pretty much lost. I HATE this so much.

Anyway, this is still extremely difficult for the queer community especially because it leaves you with two choices, really. You can find a completely gay affirming church and pray that God sees your heart, or you have to basically live a celibate life. I can’t imagine what that must look like. I truly feel for those of my friends who have faith in Christ but are unable to engage in relationships with people they are attracted to.

That being said once again Driscoll and I can’t apologize for what the Bible has to say on this topic. Obviously there can be a difference of opinion on interpretation, and I’m totally up for debate on that subject. I’ve earnestly reviewed gay affirming interpretations, yet I cannot see how the position can be held with any consistency on how the Bible is interpreted.

That being said, here is another good resource for people with questions regarding this topic:


All in all, this topic is very delicate and I pray that everyone can talk about this with gentleness, love, and humility.

Regarding that… Driscoll recently was interviewed by a British journalist and made quite the fool of himself. Granted, the blogger clearly had an agenda and was badgering Driscoll to the point of losing his temper. I don’t think the way Driscoll handled himself was Biblical, since I was asked to give my opinion of him. Too many people idolize Driscoll and think he is practically divine. Driscoll is often wrong. He’s often right though. I try to take both the good and the bad from people. 🙂 Anyway, here’s the link to a small excerpt from the interview.


Okay, I’m closing this up. This is waaaaay too long. I’m pretty sure nobody will actually have finished this, so I apologize for the incredible length of this post.

I would love to hear opinions! If you would like me to write some more on this topic, please let me know and I will try my best. I hope that this has helped clear up some of Driscoll’s positions. I pray that everyone can be encouraged by this dialog, even if you may disagree with me. I love when people can disagree without getting too offended. That being said I know the highly personal nature of this post may stir some strong emotions. I apologize if I have offended anyone, and if I have please let me know. My goal is to show Christ like love to everyone, regardless of lifestyle, beliefs, or values.

In His grace,

Maxwell Mooney

7 thoughts on “Oh, Mark Driscoll!

  1. Oh Max…

    I can appreciate an intelligent discourse and I can appreciate that you are trying to approach this with sensitivity. Unfortunately, and I’m sure as you know by now, that there is no way I could come close to agreeing with you.

    I won’t pretend to be able to go head to head with you on theological protocols, but I don’t believe that is necessary.

    Driscoll is hardly doing anything new. He is just dressing it up to make it cool for the alterna- cultures. You shouldn’t have to apologize for him. His bizarre take on what it means to be a man, isn’t even blue collar. It’s just more of the rampant machismo that already rules the modern christian church. Driscoll’s preoccupation with kinky sex is just part of that package, a component in the subculture he identifies with. I don’t get too upset about his language. He shouldn’t be allowed into the pulpit talking like he does, but that is a problem with the church. If the church is sic, it will let loose canons into the pulpit. That’s hardly news. Seattle has had a whole string of loud mouth mega-pastors, some of them have been sexual deviants. The judgement from the “mother’s board”: And speaking from incredible experience we these ”men” and I use that term loosely – “When the pastor is always talking sex, you can be sure he is doing more than just talking.”

    Sadly, for me, it still appears that we cannot have a logical discourse on these topics. When trying to talk with christians it generally turns into this round-robin volley of scripture verses and ‘the bible says this.. so I can’t do anything’… there is no logic there. It is just pointless subterfuge… and makes no sense.

    You cannot defend someone who speaks no better than the average shock-jock. These mega-churches and their ‘sheeples’ are astonishingly embarrassing and I would implore with any one even trying a little bit to act like a christian to at least turn your back on what you know is indefensible.

    Christians should at best be able to know their own truths and the desire to be heard and to feel that you are making an impact, is nothing short of an idol to self!

    He fails on every level to make an impact on intelligent, strong independent beings…

    The only other thing I would have to debate you on is, of course, homosexuality. The idea that a god loving gay person cannot love fully with the same sex is an abomination. As a born gay female, and one who was sent to exorcisms, state hospitals, get-straight camps etc… I have zero tolerance for christians who still choose the bible over reality. I, too would feel for your gay friends who are still trying to be straight… there is no bigger myth in the christian church than this. It’s abhorrent to CHOOSE TO BELIEVE that being gay is somehow a deviancy. I will pose this question to you or anyone who wants to talk about this… How on earth, could you possibly speak to or about if you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about? If you are not gay, you are NOT gay and have no ground to be jawwing about this. And gays in the christian church trying to ‘straight’ it up are delusional and they know it. They will always be gay and that is how they/myself were created. There is no argument here. There is no book, no prayer on earth that can change that and there never was and there never will be.

    You clearly know your way around the big book and I don’t have to tell you that there are multiple arguments about the way this has been interpreted… to me you have something that I will never have… A CHOICE.

    I have finally made peace with myself long ago and have found myself to live a fairly spiritual (do not confuse that with christian) life… a very good life. An honest life. I do no harm to myself or others and for the first time I know peace. I respect a handful of christians and they are few to be sure… they are the ones that seem to understand that to be a christian is to have a personal relationship with their god. They draw no lines in the sand and use the bible as it was probably intended… a book with so many interpretations by MEN that it is just that… a book.

    My two cents… Driscoll and his wife can suck it.

    Still… thanks for taking the time to write the piece:)


    • Hey Tanya,

      Thanks for commenting on my blog. I will respond to your comment first, then your friend’s comment on another reply thread. I appreciate that you and your friend were willing to bring some push back.

      I absolutely know you won’t agree with me, and that’s totally fair. I was trying to show where Driscoll is coming from: agreement is not required.

      In regards to Driscoll’s machoism, I’m completely with you, actually. He talks as if the only expression of manliness has to be in the 50’s esque macho man, and I disagree. I think manliness is not found simply in looking like a traditional macho man- I think if Jesus was on earth today, Driscoll would probably miss him for being a “limp-wristed, latte sipping hippie.”

      That being said, Driscoll’s main demographic is young guys like myself who feel disenfranchised by modern preconceptions that assume that any sort of macho is bad. The generation of guys that I live in are apathetic, disenchanted guys who are content to just sit around and let the world pass them by. Most of them are perfectly alright with just sitting around in their parent’s houses and never getting a job. Straight women are having a tough time finding guys that are considered marriage material. This is something Driscoll tries to address, though sometimes very wrongly.

      The answer is not to push machoism but to address these issues individually, while still allowing for guys whose masculinity looks different than others. Driscoll’s view of machoism is not helpful to guys who would be more “effeminate” (for lack of a better word), nor is it Biblical.

      In regards to machoism being rampant in the Christian church, I would have to respectfully disagree with you on that. Men from 18-30 are the least likely demographic to attend Christian churches because they don’t find Christianity particularly engaging. That’s not an excuse to shy away from the parts of Jesus that aren’t exactly attractive to macho men, but I get why Driscoll does what he does.

      In regards to Christian’s appealing to Scriptural authority, I can understand why it’s frustrating to engage with those who hold Scripture in such a light. I found that to be annoying before I became a Christian too. As a Christian though, I don’t believe that my authority on what is acceptable should come from myself, but rather from the Bible. I will address a little more on the Biblical criticism field in response to your friend’s comment. That being said, I don’t want to just slam you with Bible verses and I will try to engage with your arguments as much as possible on your grounds as well. That being said, in having an intelligent discourse, I would also ask that you would engage on my grounds at some level too.

      In regards to your past experiences with the church in forcing you to go to get-straight camps, exorcisms, etc. I cannot apologize enough. My heart hurts when I hear of things like this. I cannot imagine what that must be like, for people telling you that a part of your nature is demonic, and my heart hurts for you.

      I totally understand how you feel regarding God-loving gay folks not being able to love their same-sex partner. A fairly convincing argument to me is that God is a God of love, so why would He oppose any form of love? I think a lot of that comes down to how you view God, and what you do with New Testament texts like Romans 1, 1 Corinthians 6:9, etc. Either way, I don’t think you have to drop being gay to be a Christian- I do think that a part of being a Christian is to live a lifestyle consistent with what the Bible teaches. It is in this area that I am still in a lot of discussion with. Like I said, gaychristian.net is probably the best option for someone who is gay, Christian, and struggling to reconcile their feelings with their faith. Gaychristian.net pretty much outlines two choices Option A- which believes that the Bible doesn’t ban same-sex committed relationships and Option B- which believes that the Bible doesn’t allow for same-sex relationships, but calls for celibacy for those who have same-sex attractions.

      I endorse Option B, obviously, but I still have room for discussion. I do not think that same-sex attractions can simply be wished away. I have met people who were gay but are now in heterosexual relationships, but I highly doubt that they don’t struggle with same-sex attractions anymore.

      In regards to Driscoll in general, I understand if he isn’t your cup of tea. There are many people from all walks of life and faiths that really don’t like him. He’s not Jesus, so I don’t really care if you like him or not. God has used him in my life in a number of ways though, so I will always have some affection for his teaching at some level.

      However, I have been getting increasingly frustrated with him and how he is running MarsHill. It feels like he is using the church to get money a lot more now than he used to. It seems like there is a lot of MarsHill pride-fest going on too. The new series they’ve been doing is called “God’s work Our witness” but it more feels like, “Look at how great our church is- we had people tithing cigarettes and now we have one of the fastest growing churches on the planet!” To that end, I totally understand where the frustration comes in.

      Like I said, I haven’t read the book, and probably won’t for a time. In regards to Driscoll and his wife sucking it, I’m sure they will.

      Thanks for the time to respond. I really appreciate your engagement with me on these issues. 🙂


  2. Hey again,

    I shared your blog with someone who is a little more of your intellectual equal. He basically says some of the same things as myself but was more able to debate you on the theological points.

    I am not editing it, just copying and pasting.

    Andrew Dell’Antonio
    Tanya – thanks – there’s a lot in this and I *am* a bit slammed, but as a starter I think the “complementarian” approach is bullshit masquerading as accommodation. A problem/issue as I see it is that the writer is accepting the Bible as flawless and God’s word, and I don’t accept it as such — I see it as a document created by humans trying to shape codes of morals by which they might usefully live.

    So for example I see the “dual narrative” of creation in the early chapters of Genesis as two competing and incompatible narratives (first YHWH creates humans male and female, then the story starts again and YHWH creates a male “earth-person” — well, which is it???). I read it as “story by committee”, that at some point people agreed to disagree, put both stories in, and left us to figure out which one to deal with. So the writer of the blog sees the adam/eve story as “more detailed” (and thus in a sense superseding, creating authority of man over woman) while I see it as a story that contradicts the first narrative of creation-of-humans. (And that further emphasizes that the bible is a human struggle to create narratives and images to help us sort out morals.)

    There’s no question that Judaism is a patriarchal social institution. Therefore, duh that their Big Book of Morals is patriarchal. (And I’m a Jew-by-choice, so I’ve learned a fair amount about judaism, though the flavor that I practice is very much egalitarian and based on the principle that YHWH is a verb-of-creating, not some guy-with-a-beard LORD or whatevs. But that’s a whole other story.)

    Did JC intend to perpetuate that patriarchal organization? His apostles were all men… so maybe yes, though I’ve heard progressive xtians argue convincingly that the “all male apostles” story is really shaped by the highly-male-hierarchical Christian history of the couple centuries following JC’s death, as the Christian church took form… that one of the potential disruptive messages of JC’s teachings is a greater equality between men and women (that being one of the things he wanted to reject of the Jewish teachings he had learned).

    But the bottom line for me is that as soon as you believe that ALL the bible is The Word of God (of course, people then decide to ignore the part about shellfish and mixed-weave clothing being as abomination as homosexual acts, but whatevs) then you lose the opportunity to think of it as socially created. And then you’re gonna do all sorts of somersaults to rationalize why you’re *not* an asshole for thinking that gays, and women, etc etc should “stay in their place”. But if you do, you are IMHO.

    OK, more later. Need to get work done. THANKS for this…


    • Thanks Tanya for sharing with your friend. This post will be much more suited to the field of Biblical criticism, so I apologize if I lose you or anyone else reading this. Wikipedia can help clear up some of these topics, if there is any confusion. Unfortunately, you’ll have to wait till tomorrow (stopping SOPA like a bawws).

      Andrew, thank you for your response. Your analysis of my view of the Bible is spot on. I do believe that it is God’s inspired word, thus I make no apologies for it.

      Your view is pretty common and I totally get where you’re coming from. It’s easy to anachronize our modern understandings and post-Enlightenment era presuppositions onto the Bible. The view that the Bible, and sacred texts in general, are simply people trying to make sense of the world is a very common one, and it’s attractive to modern people. Personally, I find it to be rather elitist that we assume that we are so much more intelligent and well learned than people of ancient times, but I can understand where you come from.

      Regarding your analysis of the bifurcation of the creation narrative present in Genesis 1 and 2 I have a few thoughts. Primarily, we must analyze the purpose and scope of the Genesis creation narrative and its main function as a piece of literature. I’m sure you would agree with me on this, since it is a pretty standard approach of Biblical critics.

      When looking at Genesis 1, specifically, it tends to have the feel of “elevated prose” or a section of narrative literature that has poetic/mythological elements. By myth I do not mean, “untrue story” I mean it in the classical sense that a myth is meant to derive meaning for a people group. The difference in our views would be that you see it as a myth of the people group trying to find meaning in their world, whereas I would see it as myth in that God is providing a narrative history for His people to see their place in. Regardless, you are right that Genesis 1 details creation in total and Genesis 2 switches gears in describing creation, specifically the creation of humanity, in a more detailed form. Some, like Gunkel have posited that the difference comes because Genesis 1 and 2 are actually from different “sources.” This is the commonly held Documentary Hypothesis that analyze lexical and syntactic usage of words in the text and derives a hypothesis from usage. Gunkel believed there were 4 different sources, the JEDP- J is the “Yahwistic source”, the E is the “Elohistic source”, the D is the “Dueteronomic sounce” and the P is the “priestly source.”

      The primary name used for God in Genesis 1 is “Elohim” which is the term translated God in English and Genesis 2 uses the combo, “YHVH Elohim” which is translated LORD God. Gunkel and other adherents look at this and say, “Ha! They must have been composed from different sources, since they use words a little differently, so an editor just put them together!” This is the popular view amongst Biblical scholars.

      I oppose this view for a number of reasons. Firstly, there is not a single shred of evidence supporting the view that different sources existed from which a Biblical editor composed our current Bible. Secondly, I believe this view was developed to support preconceived ideas denying Divine authorship, rather than as a legitimate hypothesis to explain lexical and syntactic variations. Thirdly, I believe there are much better options to “explain” usages of different words than assuming that a single writer wouldn’t have found some words to serve different purposes.

      So, your view of “story by committee” is following along the lines of scholars who support documentary hypothesis- that is, the assumption is that there was either a specific editor or a group of editors who composed the book of Genesis. Your assumption is that there was a community of scholars/priests that were in disagreement as to what to include in the text of Genesis, so they just slapped them both in there since they couldn’t come to an agreement. I would disagree with this hypothesis because it has no credible evidence to suggest that this actually occurred.

      You might say, “hey, we’ve got no solid evidence that Moses wrote Genesis either. And the language is different so it makes sense that a couple people or even a committee got together to write Genesis.” I would point to early oral traditions supporting Mosaic authorship as well as Targumic and Midrashic support for Mosaic authorship. I also think that there is a perfectly logical explanation that is simpler than Documentary hypothesis. I would appeal to Okham’s razor, the principle that when two hypotheses exist to answer the same question, the simpler one is most likely to be the correct one. So, looking at other Ancient Near Eastern creation myths the Enuma Elish we can see a general structure for how creation narratives were composed, as well as a legitimate reason for the Israelite people to respond with their own account of creation via YHVH.

      The first chapter then, is a section of elevated prose. It’s like the prologue of a book in that it sets the tone for the rest of the book, and provides an overarching narrative of how creation occurred. Moses was likely showing that God was the creator of ALL things, in opposition to other creation narratives that claim that other Canaanite gods created different parts of creation. The argument then, from Moses’ perspective, is actually that YHVH created all, not these other gods. Thus, Genesis 1 is not a competing narrative of creation with Genesis 2, but it is the framework in which Genesis 2 exists. The creation of humanity in Genesis 1:25ff doesn’t oppose the more detailed account of creation present in Genesis 2, but encompasses all of that creation in a couple of short verses. Thus, Genesis 1 paints with broad brush strokes regarding creation, and Genesis 2 paints with a more detailed ornate brush explaining the creation of man and woman and the original design for male/female interaction both with creation and with each other.

      Also, as far as man writing the Bible, I would agree with you. The Bible was written by men (possibly some women too, Hebrews is possible as well as Ruth and Esther). But it was also written under divine guidance, which I’m sure you have a hang up with. If you don’t believe it was written by divine guidance, I really don’t know how anyone can view the Bible as having any Divine truth to it if you don’t take some measure of Divine intervention. How can a finite mind say anything true about the infinite? It can’t. I love G.K. Chesterton’s quote that “truth is altogether stranger than fiction for fiction is congenial to the mind but truth is outside of it.” Humans cannot say anything true about an infinite being other than, “it’s different than anything we know” unless it has been revealed in some way. I believe the Bible is that way. I think there are plenty of extra-Biblical credentials that lend credence to the Bible being divinely inspired as well. First off, the fact that there is almost absolute unity in a conglomeration of books written by a multitude of authors is astounding. Secondly, in some of the future oriented prophecies like the destruction of Tyre foretold in Ezekiel 26 there were claims made that came true extra-Biblically. Herodatus, the Greek historian, attests tot he historical reality of the sun being blackened on the day of Christ’s death. There are plenty more as well.

      In regards to how Jesus fits into the picture, I believe both complementarians and egalitarians would argue that Jesus actually came to establish ontological unity between male and females. The “hierarchical” position I mentioned would argue that yes, Jesus did come to do that, but like I said, I don’t think that position is tenable Biblically (Christian Bible). Jesus actually came to abolish patriarchal structures.

      Galatians 3:28 is a great example! “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Jesus establishes ontological equality between male and female in this passage. Also, there is a dearth of scholarly research that shows that there were plenty of women who held high offices in early Christendom- Junia is a fantastic example. I highly recommend researching her story for both Andrew and Tanya. Scot McKnight’s article “Junia Is Not Alone” is a great scholarly article articulating the history of her story. Priscilla is also a good example of a woman holding high office in Christendom.

      Where complementarians diverge from egalitarians in Christian theology, because although complementarians would also argue for ontological equality, they would disagree with the assumption that men and women have “equality” in every area of society, i.e. men are created more for certain tasks, like deciding the direction of their family, women are more apt at raising and nurturing children etc. Folks who are involved in gender studies find this sort of position to be abhorrent because similar sounding rhetoric has been used in the past to subjugate women and to keep them down. A complementarian would argue that the burden in this system is actually placed on men, just like the burden was placed on Jesus as He went to the cross. Men are responsible for leading their families and for raising their children, thus when standing before God to give an account for our lives, women will not be held responsible, but men. Feminists would argue that it’s sexist and that women can take just as much responsibility for their actions as men can, and I would agree that women are held personally responsible for their actions- just like Eve was held responsible and punished for her disobedience in the Garden, but I would also argue that it is man’s responsibility to care for and lovingly guide his wife in their marriage.

      I also need to distinguish that this is in marital situations and not in social situations. Complementarian theology would say that women and men are both required to submit to each other in marriage- women deferring and respecting her husband’s decisions in family matters, but women in general are not required to submit to men in any way. It’s also important to recognize that submitting is a voluntary action like sacrificing. Christian relationships are always to be grounded in self-sacrifice. Men and women are both to sacrifice their own wants and desires for the good of others. “There is no greater love than that a man lay down his life for the life of another.” Christian relationships are always to be grounded in sacrifice, just like our relationship with our God.

      Anyway, lots of writing done and I doubt I’ve changed anyone’s mind. This is not an issue simply that exists in the intellect but is a very existential reality. We can make intellectual statements all we want but I would back up Kierkegaard’s assertion that certain aspects of humanity simply cannot be explained by the intellect. There is a chasm of faith that must be crossed. I believe there is nothing intellectual that can disprove Christianity, but I also don’t think there is anything purely rational that can persuade someone to Christianity.

      Thanks for the discussion though! It’s always cool to talk about these big issues. I appreciate the dialog and will continue this discussion, if you like.


    • This broke my heart. Praying for Andrew, that he won’t be so turned off by this that he rejects Christ, as I’ve seen before.

      I hope MarsHill will release an official statement now that MPT has released this story. If they don’t release something soon I will blog about this specifically and clear up my concerns.

  3. Maxwell,

    Great posts. I particularly like your defense of the validity of scripture and pointing out the post-modern’s elitism. Keep it up man.

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