The 'Cultish' Rhetoric of Mark Driscoll

The 'Cultish' Rhetoric of Mark Driscoll



Phillip Cicero


Presentation: 2:40-3:00 p.m., Kennedy Union 310



This project focuses on the rhetoric utilized by Mark Driscoll in a series of blog posts that appeared on the Mars Hill Church website in late 2001 to early 2002. Using Amanda Montell’s theorization of the rhetorical characteristics of a discourse she calls “Cultish” in her book, Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism, this project identifies the various ways Driscoll’s rhetoric fits within her theorization of “Cultish.” The core of this project is a rhetorical analysis of Driscoll’s blog posts that seeks to demonstrate that his rhetoric mobilizes key characteristics of “Cultish.” Then, using Stuart Hall’s theorization of desire, identification, and investment in popular culture texts along with Judith Butler’s notion of subjectivation (the process by which we are always being constructed as subjects by the rhetoric within which we are immersed), this project will aim to explain how Driscoll’s “Cultish” rhetoric attracts and retains audiences one might expect would reject Driscoll. More specifically, this project will argue that Driscoll’s “Cultish” rhetoric has attracted white men who have felt emasculated and disempowered by neoliberal (and other dominant discourses) during late 20th and early 21st-century American culture by constructing a “Cultish” form of “Christian” identity that aims to give these men a sense of masculine identity, power, and belonging. Driscoll’s rhetoric does this by constructing a homophobic and misogynistic form of “Christian” masculinity that he aggressively advances as the only form of “Christian” masculinity that is “good.” Thus, his rhetoric gives his reader two options: be actively and explicitly homophobic and misogynistic or admit that you have been “pussified” – that is, completely emasculated.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Honors Thesis

Primary Advisor

Susan Trollinger

Primary Advisor's Department



Stander Symposium, College of Arts and Sciences

Institutional Learning Goals


The 'Cultish' Rhetoric of Mark Driscoll