What do you think about Mark Driscoll’s preaching on the eternal subordination of Jesus the Son to the Father in the Trinity?

I was sent a link to a conference that Mark Driscoll spoke at recently (June 2009). The speakers were John Piper, Mark Driscoll, Matt Chandler, and Ed Stetzer. The audio link of Mark Driscoll’s teaching, provided by Desiring God Ministries (Piper’s ministry) is here.

My opinion differs from him on this very important matter in the Personhood and equality of the Son of God, Jesus to the Father in the Trinity.

I’ll quote some of the audio here and continue it in the blog comments, as it is long:

“Qualified leadership: All right … There are leaders here even in the early chapters of Acts. The Apostles and who stands up? Peter. And why? Because he’s first among equals. His name is always listed first in the list of Apostles. —- Even in the Trinity there is ontological subordination, there is, there’s, there’s ontological equality … [he seems to stumble over his meaning here] okay, let me get this right so I don’t have to declare myself a heretic in public. There’s ontological equality and there’s functional subordination. The Father, Son and Spirit are all equal and share all the divine attributes. But when Jesus comes He says the Father sent Me and I do what He asks Me to do and I say what He asks Me to say. Jesus submits Himself to the Father. So, the way it works in the church, all of God’s people are equally God’s image bearers, they’re all equally loved by God. If they belong to Jesus they’re equally saved by God, but there are leaders, there are those who are IN authority. There is functional subordination.”

continuing in the blog comment section to save space


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35 Responses to “What do you think about Mark Driscoll’s preaching on the eternal subordination of Jesus the Son to the Father in the Trinity?”

  1. Kathleen Says:

    [For $75 to $125 per person to attend for this 2 day conference, I guess what they teach ought to be pretty biblical, huh?]

    Here’s continuing from the audio:

    “… There are those who have greater responsibility for the oversight. 1 Peter 5 says, “of the flock, the shepherding of God’s people”. Our “day” hates that. [modern culture = hating God’s Word] “We’re all the same”, well in one sense, because of God’s grace, we are all equally saved. But in another sense, dad’s need to take responsibility [what about mom’s?] for their families and pastors have to take responsibility for their flocks and leaders have to give an account for those who are in their oversight. That’s what the Bible says.

    Some of you, particulary those of you who are young, either because of worldliness from the culture, or cowardice, will not want to be in authority. Or you’ll want to diminish and not USE your authority. Some of you will wrongly use your authority; you’ll become dictatorial and you’ll become autocratic. 1st Peter 5 says to use your authority but not lording it over people; not being harsh mean-spirited and a dictator. And so qualified leadership is ultimately humble leadership. Qualified leadership is male elders: 1 Timothy, Titus 1, as well as deacons. Some of you will have woman deacons; some of you will have men and women deacons. We have men and women deacons; some of you will fight on that point. Qualified leadership 1 timothy, titus 1 — meeting certain criteria of character and competency and courage and Christlikeness. Let me say this: the big problems that you’re having in your church probably start with the fact that you may not have qualified leadership and regenerated members. If the people don’t know Jesus and the leaders are not qualified, you have to start there. You have to evangelize your people and get rid of those leaders who are not qualified. Not qualified.

    [Mark Driscoll goes on to talk about not letting our beliefs that are secondary to the teachings on the Person of Jesus Christ — the pre trib rapture, leadership, etc. — divide us as believers. This is precisely why I challenge his teaching on the eternal subordination of the Son Jesus to the Father]:

    Number 5: Unified by the Spirit … this means that we agree to disagree agreeably. It means that we distinguish, what I like to say, is the closed hand and the open hand. We’re gonna fight for these things; we’re gonna discuss and disagree and debate but not divide over these things. Single-issue voters, legalists, moralists, religious folks — they want to argue over what goes in what hand. As leadership, you need not only make a statement of what you believe, but what you don’t believe. You also need to prioritize them. Okay, if you’re one of those guys
    and your doctrinal statement says, “We believe in the verbal plenary inerrancy of Scripture, the sinless life, the substitutionary death and bodily resurrection of Jesus and the Pre-trib rapture of the Church” — you may want to rethink the order of priority. You may want to say, “You know what guys, we will die for the Bible and Jesus. We will suffer paper cuts for the Rapture. That’s about as far as we’re willing to go.” [audience laughter] “Not deep ones.” [audience laughter] Right? But what can happen is if you even put out your doctrinal statements in such a way that it appears everything is of equal priority, it’s hard to maintain unity, ’cause your unity is AROUND THE PERSON OF JESUS AND THE PROCLAMATION OF THE GOSPEL [emphasis mine]. Other things you should hold and have opinions and perspectives on, but to hold unity you’ve got to make sure that which is essential and the central remains central and essential.”

  2. Kathleen Says:

    So, my question for Mark Driscoll and those who agree with his view on the eternal subordination of the Son of God – Jesus, to the Father in the Trinity is this: Has Mr. Driscoll diminished the PERSON and DEITY of Jesus in the Trinity of God?

  3. Kathleen Says:

    Wow. just wow. Mark Driscoll at the Crystal Cathedral.


    I guess it takes a lot to maintain celebrity these days.

  4. Kathleen Says:

    I found another blog that voices some serious concerns about Mark Driscoll’s damaging teachings:


  5. Kathleen Says:

    This is what freedom4captives blog mentioned that made me remember what Mark just taught in his Advance 09 speech:

    “[If Mark Driscoll is as verbally/emotionally abusive as he appears at times to be, especially in his stage presence and his alleged interactions with several members, then for those who know Mark up close and personal–perhaps the elders who were apparently unjustly fired because they dared to question him and his new By-Laws, perhaps his wife, Grace, and/or perhaps those who are his “friends” and subordinate pastors, etc… –some of this might fit when you think of Mark]:

    Control, control, control. Overtly, and/or covertly. The Passive Aggressive Abuser emotionally and verbally abuses by using sarcasm, ignoring, giving the silent treatment. His tactics are invalidating, “I never said that. You’re perceptions are wrong.” He uses minimizing and countering. It doesn’t matter what the truth is. Truth is disregarded. What’s true is what he says is true, period. He gets you with the passive dagger. It’s all about his efforts to obtain and maintain control and he’ll do whatever it takes to get that. He is a master of manipulation.

    And remember he said this:

    “Some of you will wrongly use your authority; you’ll become dictatorial and you’ll become autocratic. 1st Peter 5 says to use your authority but not lording it over people; not being harsh mean-spirited and a dictator. And so qualified leadership is ultimately humble leadership.

    I guess those elders who questioned Mark’s new By-laws that were fired, were not qualified leaders, according to Mark’s definition.

    Not so among you, said Jesus to his jockeying-for-position disciples.

  6. Kathleen Says:

    Okay, someone needs to tell me why Mark Driscoll is considered worth listening to AT ALL, after this fiasco of a “sermon”:


    He is just fixated on sexuality. Could you imagine the Apostle Paul? or Barnabas? or John the Apostle saying things such as Driscoll drools out?

    I am astounded that so many men I know love to hear this guy preach!!! He is a christian shock jock!

    This sermon took place recently, and I’m concerned that I was still given a link by friends to listen to his sermon “What is church?” at the Advance 09 conference. Give it 10 years, tops, then the stories will come out of the woodwork.

  7. talialovesyou Says:

    Well, he preaches male power to men who, I guess, have been indoctrinated into believing that they deserve power.

    About the trinity thing, in my opinion, there’s a greater case for saying there’s no trinity at all than there is for saying there is a trinity, but the persons involved aren’t at an equal level. I think he’s just typically full of ridiculousness, but he’s got so many people fooled because he thumps his Bible around and screams about biblical authority.

  8. Kathleen Says:

    I found this youtube video of Mark Driscoll on Freedom4captives blog:

    It highlights the manipulative, controlling behavior of this pastor toward those who question the leadership.

  9. Kathleen Says:

    Freedom4captives blog


  10. Kathleen Says:

    And here’s another person’s perspective and comment section dealing with the experiences and teachings of Mark Driscoll:




  11. Kathleen Says:

    This blog post, “Speaking of Oppression” is a thought-provoking and insightful look into more of Driscoll’s teachings and rants:


    Rose is referencing another blogger’s post, http://kingdomgrace.wordpress.com/2008/04/08/driscolls-doctrine-versus-the-shack/#comments

    It seems that there are enough people who have some serious concerns about Mark Driscoll’s teachings to warrant a closer look, mixed with prayer and knowing what our Bibles actually have written in them.

  12. Ed Says:

    If readers are shock-proof, then I invite them to read “Pretrib Rapture Diehards” on Google and also “Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty” on the “Powered by Christ Ministries” site. Anyone reading these will never be the same again!

  13. Kathleen Says:

    Thanks, Ed, I’ll take a look at those.

  14. 43. Driscoll Teaches on Qualified Leadership (Did I Hear Laughter?) « Freedom For Captives Blog Says:

    […] https://kateschosen.wordpress.com/2009/06/28/what-do-you-think-about-mark-driscolls-preaching-on-the-… […]

  15. freedom4captives Says:


    Thank you so much for pointing out Driscoll’s teaching on June 2009, and for mentioning my site. I wanted to let you know I mentioned your site on mine and that you inspired me to post on something that has been heavy on my heart for awhile. I also touch on many of the other things you and some of your commenters have mentioned here.

    The two posts I just did this morning which apply are:
    (you are mentioned in the second one)



    When I get a chance, I’ll look up those other sites you posted.

    God bless you in your stand for truth and holding leaders to accountability.

    Freedom (Gal. 3:28, and 5:1)

  16. Kathleen Says:


    It’s nice to meet you.

    I’m burdened with knowing the truth. Especially when it comes to knowing who to listen to in the Body of Christ.

    When the very nature of my Savior and His authority is questioned and diminished, as in the teachings of the “eternal subordination of the Son to the Father”, then Jesus is not lifted up. That can’t be good.

    The Council in Nicea dealt with some of these same heresies.

    I just don’t understand why some people can’t see that Jesus was subordinated in the flesh to fulfill the Law and was perfect in His sacrifice. The references to Him becoming obedient to death, “even death on a cross”, are in Philippians and speak to His perfect obedience while in the flesh on this earth. His is a risen Savior who rules and reigns — how hard is it to understand His perfect majesty and His standing as equal in the Trinity? Maybe I’m just simplistic, but He is the One we are to look to for salvation. For there is no other name by which we must be saved.

    He sent His own Spirit to guide us; He is the representation of God the Father in the flesh. How can people in these teachings think to diminish Him? Because they can only think in the human construct of hierarchies.

    Mark Driscoll’s Acts 29 church program is the model the new congregation I recently joined is structuring itself on. I already voiced my opinion on it and believe I will be looking for a new place of worship. They’ve already adopted, without congregational input, the Acts 29 doctrines such as:

    “We are not egalitarians and do believe that men should head their homes and male elders should lead their churches with masculine love like Jesus Christ.”

    This statement of belief is mixed in with some other, stark different beliefs that they also don’t subscribe to, and in effect, have placed being an egalitarian as being out of sound biblical doctrine or some fringe belief system. I wasn’t pleased with that because I’m studying the different views of egalitarian beliefs and have found very sound biblical arguments, not some crazy extra-biblical beliefs.

    Anything related to Mark Driscoll makes my skin kinda crawl these days.

    Thanks for the mention on your blog. Your blog really has helped me to sift through some of Driscoll’s teachings.

  17. Kathleen Says:

    This is the Acts 29 Doctrine statement:


  18. freedom4captives Says:

    Hi Kathleen,

    Nice to “meet” you too. Yes, it is often very difficult when we learn of yet more “hard” truth in another arena… that’s how I felt when I stumbled upon all this Mars Hill and Driscoll stuff. It was like, ‘AGH! You have got to be kidding me!’ And then I wept…

    I appreciate how you explain “eternal subordination of the Son to the Father” and what you see wrong with it. And, yes, it would appear the Council of Nicea hammered out these issues. Until getting involved with this issue of gender in Christianity and subjugation of women, I hadn’t had to deal as specifically with it as I am now due to the “Complementarians” (aka: Subjectivists) using this as an excuse for eternal subjugation of women, saying, “Well, since Jesus is equal with the Father and forever subjected to Him in authority, it’s easy to see that women are equal to men, but in different roles and are also subject to men forever.” Pretty messed up.

    If you have not yet already done so, check out CBE, http://www.cbeinternational.org
    this is a wonderful resource for Christians wanting to learn about and be supported in biblical gender equality.

    And personally, I’d run from anything Driscoll, including churches cloned after his in his mammoth Acts29 movement. All these young men following hard after him… because Mark is loud, he’s macho, and he’s got the numbers. They perhaps hope that being so themselves will relieve them of their insecurities. Little do they realize that reliance upon such almost always has deep insecurity at its root.


  19. Kathleen Says:


    You have a great way of putting into words exactly what I’m thinking!

    I’ve also read cbeinternational and had my ideas challenged and changed. The comforting thing is, I’m not alone, as I have a great support at home and across the world of people who are seeing Jesus with their eyes of understanding being enlightened. It’s a great age to be alive, hallelujah!

  20. Laura Says:

    So are you saying that Jesus should not have laid down His life for us, or that the Father should never have suggested it??

  21. Kathleen Says:

    No, Laura, that is NOT what I’m saying at all. How did you get that idea from my all of my writings here, and all throughout my blog? I think your question is ridiculous, because IF you have read ANYTHING I have ever written about my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Who came down from the Father of Lights, Who called Himself One with the Father in the gospel of John and Who comes back in power and authority as the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End to put an end to ALL evil and every vain imagination, praise God! — then you would know that I believe Jesus is God and no man, woman, child or created being of any kind has any authority except the Name of Jesus, the name of my God Who saved me. Any more questions, Laura?

  22. Laura Says:

    It struck me as odd that you would think Christ’s obedience to the Father would diminish who He is…Jesus said “If it be possible, take this cup from me…never the less – Thy will be done.” In a nutshell; Christ was obedient to the father. If I obey a policeman, am I less than Him? No. Neither is Christ less than the Father if He submits His, will to Him. In fact, I think it reveals a much greater God that He would lay aside what is rightfully His, and become a man.
    Egalitarian theology replaces the word ‘head’ with ‘source’ in order to make the bible more culturally correct. The word source – besides not making literal sense- also changes what the Trinity looks like. God – in egalitarian theology- was not three persons, but rather Christ’s ‘source’ was the Father…Therefore in egalitarian theology, God was originally incomplete.
    The problem lies in this new hermanuetic which ultimately leads to any changes the next theologian can conjure up, because it is culturally based, not biblically based in historical context, and if the bible is not your authority, then who is? Your self?? We have a propensity towards sin, how can we rely on our self – or any man’s 40 page musings – to explain away what Paul says in 9 verses. This reminds me very much of “The Emporer has No Clothers”…people are buying it hook line and sinker, because it is ‘more comfortable’, rather than dying to self and allowing Christ to fill them with His wisdom.They are placing their faith in a thesis, rather than what God clearly reveals in scripture.

  23. Kathleen Says:

    I believe your understanding of what some egalitarians believe about the trinity, according to a reliable source called cbe international http://www.cbeinternational.org/ is flawed. Many within that organization, as well as other thoughtful individual theologians, would disagree with your assessment of a general agreement in the teachings on the Trinity.

    Go there to find out what they believe about the trinity, because they are more knowledgeable than me. The bible, as shown to me through God’s Holy Spirit to me, is my authority, which is to say, God is my authority, Who illuminates the scriptures for me.

    I’m not sure I understand your reference to “what Paul says in 9 verses”.

    Also, I hope you have the same words and thoughts towards those that it seems you may be getting your teaching from: the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW). Please use the same measure of caution and discernment towards their teachings as you have toward a Holy Spirit-filled believer in Jesus Christ such as myself.

  24. Laura Says:

    From the bible. Although I have to add, I came to a point of brokenness in my life in my mid thirties, and through that whole process went from confusion, to confidence. Brokenness is what I needed. I was too full of my ‘self’ to receive any thing. We have to be empy, in order to be filled. Just like we come to Him empty of righteousness in order to have His. We also need to come to Him empty of wisdom, in order to have His.
    “If any of you lack wisdom, let Him ask of God, who gives to all liberally.” (however…notice the word lack…that is a necessary componant…knowing our lack….)

  25. Laura Says:

    There is both truth and deception in the website you posted, Just to name one…They refer to some difficult verses, and gloss it over with…but rest of scripture -without any direct references…Take the verse below;
    1Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.
    2 Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you. 3 But I want you to understand that [a]Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of [b]Christ.

    They infer that this does not apply. There is tradition in these verses, and Paul agrees in verse 2(…it goes on to talk about hair,and head coverings.) He said “I’m glad you carry on the traditions” but then goes on to point out the very clear doctrine; “But I want you to understand that [a]Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of [b]Christ.” You cannot throw that doctrine out, or you would also remove Christ as head of the church.
    What it comes down to is placing your faith in His word. There is a lot of deception out there…we have to be discerning.

  26. Kathleen Says:

    Laura, you responded with: “From the bible.” — I still don’t know what your sentence fragment is referring to here, unless you’re trying to say Paul has 9 verses in the bible, or what?

    Yes, thank you for your testimony. I have had encounters with God in my brokenness as well.

  27. Kathleen Says:

    I think we have talked about this as much as we can, but perhaps we will just have to agree to disagree about these verses and their meaning, especially since I have plenty of verses to share my convictions and you have yours. I also have a feeling that if I was a Christian man you wouldn’t be able to openly disagree with me, according to your teaching on perceived traditions you believe the Apostle Paul was teaching in those passages.

    We will have to agree to disagree, because I agree with people who write here:

    A friend of mine here:



    Carolyn Custis James here:


    An article on “ezer kenegdo” (Old Testament Hebrew) here:

    Some articles on women in church here:

    Should a pastor rule over you? here:

    The forums here:

    Ways to identify a cult here:

    A Baptist pastor’s blog here:

    Spiritual abuse discussion here:

    An article here by Margaret Mowzcko:

    The many discussions I participated in over the years on this blog:

    How I came to more fully understand authoritarian power and abuse here:

    And here:

    I also spent years of my life crying out to God for understanding and wisdom from His Word and Holy Spirit. I spent untold hours, late into the night, devouring the Scriptures, reading the Gospel of John, Acts, Paul’s letters to the early church, a fascinating study in Philippians (one of the first new testament churches started by WOMEN, a prayer group with Lydia, as described in the book of Acts). I also studied Ephesians, Galatians, Revelation and all those Old Testament verses dealing with females, including Eve.

    It would do me no good to lay out all my understanding to you here, as better people than I have done the marvelous work already, as listed in just a sampling of the resources I have listed above.

    You will have to do your own legwork with prayer to understand where I’m coming from. I once believed like you do, and tried to live according to “traditions”, but failed miserably and cried out to Jesus to show me the way. He showed me the Cross and what He did on it for me, and that I needed to rest in Him. Then He began to slowly bring these resources into my life and gave me peace.

    That is what I have gone through to get where I’m at now. I won’t ever go back.

    Thank you for your thoughts and comments.

  28. Laura Says:

    Relying on man’s understanding/thesis etc. is the problem, you should not place your faith in man (and his many words…). We must lay aside our will – a feisty thing – and ask God to fill us with Himself. Christ WILLINGLY laid Himself down for us…this reveals the beauty of who He is. We ought also to lay ourselves down for others. This is true essence of Christianity. Both men and women lay aside their will, and allow Christ to be formed in them…daily.

  29. Kathleen Says:

    Laura, you have the gift of preaching. 🙂

  30. Kathleen Says:

    And teaching. 🙂

  31. Laura Says:


  32. Laura Says:

    Why do you think it makes Jesus less because He serves? Does this not make Him in fact the greatest? The greatest among you is your servant. This is the beauty of the Trinity…

    • Kathleen Says:

      Quote: “Why do you think it makes Jesus less because He serves?”

      I never said this, nor do I believe it.

      Quote: “Does this not make Him in fact the greatest? The greatest among you is your servant. This is the beauty of the Trinity.”

      Yes, that is what the Bible teaches us about what Jesus taught.

      Let me restate what I tried to state 3 years ago in this post: I do not believe in the eternal subordination of our lord and savior Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as some of the teachers affiliated and listed with the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. They do not represent a full understanding of the deity of Jesus Christ and even present the Son of God as a perpetual servant to the Father in the Trinity, which, I believe and many others do as well, that it is a heretical teaching dealt with early on within the early church.

      Do yourself a favor and get educated from all the links and many others out there that I listed instead of coming here to argue. You haven’t brought me one question that hasn’t been dealt with thoroughly at those other links.

      I educated myself and prayed about it and so should you.

  33. Laura Says:

    Education can be helpful, but the ONLY thing that stands in the way of the knowledge of the truth is will. God says “if any of you lack wisdom, Let him ask of God.” It is not wise to rely on, or place your faith in any theologan. God promises that HE Himself will reveal truth, but we have to be willling to receive it, even if it is contrary to our will, otherwise He does not reveal, because He sees that you have placed your faith in something other than Him.

  34. Laura Says:

    (Not intending to argue, but rather care enough to challenge your thinking….but I will leave you alone if that is what you want.)

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