It appears Mark Driscoll’s “theology” of manliness is not a new thing. It also appears that it has been discredited before, in the late 1800’s.
In the article below, the author criticizes the beliefs of a Rev. Brockhurst who beat up an acquaintance who did not say Jesus’ name in a prayer. It appears the Rev. was a supporter of a “theology” called Muscular Christianity that sounds an awful lot like Mark Driscoll’s bad thinking on men. Brockhurst, like Driscoll, apparently thought, “Divine Truth is a poor weak thing, like a woman, requiring the arm of flesh to be raised in its defence (sic.).”
The author explains the symptoms of said Muscular Christianity (which echoes strongly of the New Masculinity movement of Driscoll and Eldredge). “When men are fed high, and encouraged to feel strongly- that is, when they have plenty of blood-their blood must get up. And then what remains but a Brockhurst scene?” By Brockhurst scene, he means, an act of violence and attack. Sounds an awful lot like Chekhov’s Gun doesn’t it? Or maybe an apocryphal version of He Who Lives By The Sword… When we create a system that praises aggression, strength and potential violence, we must understand that aggression will occur. We cannot create a system that praises potential violence while also worshipping a God of Peace who commands us to turn the other cheek.
Not to mention that Muscular Christianity, during its development and heyday in the late 1800s and early 1900s was used as a propaganda for colonialism and Empire. It becomes easy to see the strength of individuals reflected in the strength of nations. “If asked what out Muscular Christianity has done,” says Minchin in 1901, “we point to the British Empire. Our empire would never have been built by a nation of idealists and logicians.” It takes brawn, he is saying. However, as we have seen in the century plus since then, that brawn was enacted upon others. It created subservience, destruction and oppression. The Muscular Christianity was used as a modus operandi for subjugation. When one promotes strength and aggression, one must see that there is a person being subdued and made weaker. The “theology” of empire is bankrupt as it undermines itself, by creating slaves and others to sustain itself. There can be no Christianity in this system. For Driscoll and others of his ilk, their must be a receiver of this strength. Who is having this strength enacted upon them? Who becomes the “other”? So far women, gays, effeminate worship leaders, and others have been on the attacking end of the arm. Chekhov stated, “One must not put a loaded rifle on the stage if no one is thinking of firing it.” Driscoll creates a similar system. If one praises strength and aggression, we must know it against another. Someone will feel the other end of the punch, maybe not like Brockhurst but definitely in the flesh.