Mark Driscoll’s Lies About the Apostles Creed

I haven’t watched a Mark Driscoll video in so long because it’s like a drinking game: take a sip each time he makes something up, adds to history, or condemns another Christian denomination because they disagree with his interpretation.

Here’s a quote from one of his videos.

“The Apostles creed was a summary doctrinal statement put together by early Church Bible teachers and the original version did not say that Jesus went to “hell”. There was an edited version that came out in 400 A.D.”

Mark Driscoll is the pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA. He’s a know-it-all, though he wouldn’t ever say it in those words. Instead he makes it his weekly routine to convince his audience that nobody is right except for him – and yet condemns the Catholic Church for claiming papal infallibility.

Out of the many videos on the internet of him picking apart doctrines, one will be hard pressed to locate one statement where he praises another for their interpretation and correct articulation of scripture/doctrine. His style is attractive to many. Having majored in Communication, he knows how to make people listen, and it works. Even though we might get mad at him, he is an effective voice.

But no matter the effective level of communication, it’s all a wash if it isn’t true. If the opposite were the case, Moses was in trouble.

This video of his is no exception. He takes a topic as easy to understand as “descended into hell” and turns it into a smug attack on the Apostles creed. It starts when he says that some of his audience recited the Apostles creed as children and were taught that Jesus went to “hell”.

Yes, the creed does say that “he descended into hell”. He thinks, though, based on recent teachers (e.g., “on TV”) that Jesus was going to the hell, as in the hell where damned people go.

That’s not what early Christians meant. To return the sarcasm to Mr. Driscoll, I am not sure if he knows this, but the Apostles didn’t speak English nor did any of the early Christians. Therefore, no matter what, none of the professors of the Apostles creed wrote or aurally confessed “he descended into ‘hell’”.

The Latin reads descendit ad inferos. In early English translations, inferos was “hell”, but it actually means the “place of the dead” or better yet, describes the place one is when buried. The Creed is only saying that Jesus was buried in the earth when it reads “was buried, he descended into hell.”

But Driscoll complicates this. For being such a “scholar” and having the responsibility of being a pastor, he clearly does little to dig into the understanding of this single line.

“Early Bible teachers”?

Were there such things as “early Bible teachers” when the creed was in use? Well, people couldn’t be teaching from a Bible that did not exist, yet. People like Mark Driscoll simply think or assume that the Bible was in use since the beginning of the Church. That is contrary to history and logic.

The FedEx van didn’t back up to the Upper Room on Pentecost and deliver copies of the Bible. The Bible was written over the course of decades and it took even longer for Christians to start discussing which books should be read during Mass or in a church at all. Further, it took a couple more centuries in order for the Church to determine which books would be included.

The Apostles Creed was replaced by the Nicene Creed, a product of the Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325, while the Bible was canonized in the later part of the 4th century. Therefore, when Mark Driscoll says that “early Bible scholars” were saying the Apostles creed, he ignores history. The Bible simply didn’t exist when the Apostles Creed was in use.

Further on Creeds, they were used in early Christianity for two purposes: interrogatory, and a profession of faith. As a tool of interrogation, early Christians would repeat one part of the creed, and the other would finish the sentence. It was like a password against infiltrators who sought the demise of Christians. For example:

Inquirer: “Do you believe in God?”
Seeker: “I believe in God the Father, who is almighty and creator of heaven and earth.”

Edited version that came out in 400A.D.?

He really has me confused here. By A.D. 400 the Church would have been in the preference of using the (then) 75 year old Nicene Creed. Not leaving it up to my own understanding, I sought to find what he was talking about to no avail. History books and internet searches of trusted sites provided nothing. I didn’t find anything close, trusted site or not.

“Edited”? If he has his dates wrong and is referring to the Nicene Creed, I still do not agree with him referring to it as an “edit”. Edits are used to make small corrections. While the general content of the two Creeds, Apostles and Nicene, are the same (Father, then Son, Spirit, the Church, and the Last Things), it hardly gets by to say one is an “edit” of the other. The Nicene Creed is comprehensive, where the Apostles Creed is very basic. One is like a draft document, the other being the full report.

People attack the Catholic Church for “making things up” all too frequently when here is a popular figure amongst their own, conjuring “facts”. Not to correct him, because he won’t read this, but for you, the reader, make sure you don’t fall for everything people say about the Church. Remember this is Christ’s bride and last time I checked He is faithful and would not lead His bride into heresy.