Driscoll: God hates some of you (but he also loves you)

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Hot on the heals of my previous post about Mohler’s concerns about Driscoll (worth keeping in mind here) comes the New Calvanist bad-boy again.

The Driscoll piñata is taking a beating over at JNNPR [edit: MPT has posted a quasi update, but I suspect he still hasn't watched the whole thing] following a clip in which Driscoll states that “God hates some of you”. Has he really jumped the orthodox shark as many seem to think? What MPT doesn’t quote is later in the sermon when Driscoll stresses repeatedly that “God loves you”, which leads me to ask what the agenda is in quoting Driscoll at all.

Don Carson, one of the leading New Testament scholars around has an excellent short book entitle The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God (get the ebook free here). In it he writes:

the love of God in our culture has been purged of anything the culture finds uncomfortable. The love of God has been sanitized, democratized, and above all sentimentalized.

Many seem to have mistakenly concluded that Driscoll is denying the love of God. More on that in a moment. There is, as Driscoll and Carson both point out, a danger of misusing the attribute that God is love. Take 1 John 4:

[7] Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. [8] Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. [9] In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.
[10] In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.


[17] By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.

There is a real danger is taking our understanding of love and using that to define who God is, but as John tells us, we must define love by who God is and what he has done: ‘this is love – that he sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins’. That is, God’s love is seen in Jesus taking God’s wrath against our sin. To speak of God being love means we must speak of God’s wrath against sin, lest we sanitise and sentimentalise it as Carson puts it.

Can God hate if he is a God of love? Apart from seeing that John’s definition of God’s love involves issues of judgement and propitiation, see again what Carson writes:

One evangelical cliché has it that God hates the sin but loves the sinner. There is a small elment of truth in these words: God has nothing but hate for the sin, but it would be wrong to conclude that God has nothing but hate for the sinner. A difference must be maintained between God’s view of sin and his view of the sinner. Nevertheless the cliché (God hates the sin but loves the sinner) is false on the face of it and should be abandoned. Fourteen times in the first fifty psalms alone, we are told that God hates the sinner, his wrath is on the liar, and so forth. In the Bible, the wrath of God rests both on the sin (Rom. 1:18ff.) and on the sinner (John 3:36).
Our problem, in part, is that in human experience wrath and love normally abide in mutually exclusive compartments. Love drives wrath out, or wrath drives love out. We come closest to bringing them together, perhaps, in our responses to a wayward act by one of our children, but normally we do not think that a wrathful person is loving.
But this is not the way it is with God. God’s wrath is not an implacable, blind rage. However emotional it may be, it is an entirely reasonable and willed response to offenses against his holiness. But his love, as we saw in the last chapter, wells up amidst his perfections and is not generated by the loveliness of the loved. Thus there is nothing intrinsically impossible about wrath and love being directed toward the same individual or people at the same time. God in his perfections must be wrathful against his rebel image-bearers, for they have offended him; God in his perfections must be loving toward his rebel image-bearers, for he is that kind of God.

God’s holiness, his anger against sin and his love for sinful rebels is all seen in the cross.

There seems to be a real desire to paint Driscoll as a kind of Westboro Baptist kind of preacher, but the comparison is spurious, as anyone who had actually watched the whole sermon would realise.

Driscoll is preaching from Luke 22 - Jesus praying in the garden of Gethsemene. A large portion of the sermon is used to paint a moving picture of Jesus in prayer with the Father, and the anguish of what was about to happen. Jesus talks about the cup of wrath, and so then should anyone preaching through this passage. The wrath of God against sin is not pleasant, but it is the backdrop through which the love of God and good news of the gospels shines so brightly, and Driscoll makes this clear, spending more time talking about the love of God seen in Jesus drinking this cup of wrath on our behalf. How might we understand the full depth of what it means that Jesus takes this cup unless it is explained?

Unfortunately too many seem to think that this excerpt is the whole sermon, and if it was, much of the criticism would be valid. My question would be why Mars Hill Church decided that this section was a good extract to upload without the great big ‘but’ that it is leading up to? Perhaps they erroneously thought it was a provocative teaser that would get people to listen to the whole thing? It does seem rather like the whole Rob Bell affair reversed..

What it amounts to is essentially cherry picking (unfortunately facilitated by Mars Hill themselves!) the part of a gospel sermon which enunciates the problem and ignoring the part of the sermon which focusses on the solution, and then blasting the speaker for being way off course. Perhaps people from all sides of the theological spectrum ought to stop judging people based on extracts?

Watch the whole sermon and make up your own mind.

« « Mohler on Driscoll| Taking stock (again) » »

4 Responses to Driscoll: God hates some of you (but he also loves you)

  1. Ben says:

    I am stating this without any knowledge of what the motives of Mars Hill is but I would think they knew exactly what they were doing. By focusing on the controversial, it drives higher hit rates to their site, videos and overall business (I mean church). It is a smart marketing ploy that keeps on feeding the Driscoll machine.

    If people simply ignored the outlandish comments and manipulations marketed from Mars Hill, they could possibly shrink both in numbers but overall presence.

    Maybe their motives were nothing of the sort but I wanted to point out hypothetically how this church seems to operate. They are not the only one.

  2. stephy says:

    I live in Seattle and have attended Mars Hill and know many people who have been members there. Let's just say it reminds me of Jonestown.

  3. [...] addthis_config = {"data_track_clickback":true};Inevitably, after I weigh in on some online scrap such as I did yesterday, I question why I blog, and whether that’s the kind of thing I really want to be writing [...]

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