Conversations, VOLUME 7

LifeWay Bookstores Drops Mark Driscoll’s Books.

LifeWay Bookstores Drops Mark Driscoll's Books

Christianity Today has just reported that LifeWay Bookstores has pulled 37 titles authored or contributed to by Mark Driscoll from it’s bookstores:

“LifeWay Stores and are not selling Mark Driscoll’s books while we assess the situation regarding his ministry,” Marty King, LifeWay’s communications director, told CT. Earlier this month, LifeWay offered 42 products authored by or connected to Driscoll. Now, only five books that Driscoll contributed to remain.

The article notes LifeWay’s history of banning books from its stores, including Rachel Held Evans’s book [easyazon_link asin=”1595553673″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”douloschristo-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”default”]A Year of Biblical Womanhood[/easyazon_link], which was allegedly banned because it included the word “vagina.”  Oddly enough, Mark Driscoll’s book [easyazon_link asin=”1400205387″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”douloschristo-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”default”]Real Marriage[/easyazon_link] — which was recently in the news for the controversy about Driscoll’s buying its way onto the NY Times Bestseller list — uses the word “vagina” five times, and remained in LifeWay’s inventory… until now.

This news raises many questions about the standards bookstores set — or should set — for their inventory.  As one Twitter user responded, LifeWay still carries the books of many authors whose theology and practice is questionable at best:


Should bookstores like LifeWay censor the books they carry?  And if so, what by what criteria? Theology?  Life witness of the author?  And to what extent? 

Is controversy, like that surrounding Mark Driscoll, sufficient reason for books to be banned?


IMAGE CREDIT: Creative Commons License via WikiMedia Commons.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Revised to add in the word allegedly in regard to LifeWay’s dropping of RHE’s book.


C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at:

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  1. Jedidiah Slaboda

    Lifeway bookstores shouldn’t exist.

    • I agree with that sentiment, but banning their existence would simply be following in their footsteps, no?

  2. I think this (pretty long discussion) of John Howard Yoder’s legacy is relevant here.

    I have found myself on two different sides of this in the last week or so. I think Gungor has been unfairly targeted and has suffered at least some to his reputation because he has some theological positions that are not held by some of those that are fans.

    At the same time, I believe that some censuring of Driscoll is the only thing that is really going to bring about long term healing to Mars Hill (and hopefully Driscoll and his family and those around him.)

    In my mind the difference is a couple of things. One, Gungor’s issues are primarily about differences in theology in a realm that I do not believe is heresy.

    On Driscoll’s side, I think most of his issues are not about theology (although there is some theological implications to some of his teaching that I disagree with.) But the primarily issues with Driscoll seem to be behavioral (sin).

    So I am more concerned with the sin that is harmful to others (as the bullying and abusive behavior seems to be) and the inherent dishonesty of plagiarism and buying his way onto the bestseller list.

    In the long term, I don’t think all of Driscoll’s work should be censured and dismissed. But I do think it in the short term removing books might be appropriate.

    Personally, I intentionally included Driscoll’s books in my lists of books on sale or free at because I wanted to maintain theological diversity there. But I stopped posting his book links about six months ago (around the plagiarism revelations) because I thought it was appropriate to stop recommending his work while there was a cloud around his name.

    As a side note, I have been disturbed by the ways that Matt 18 has been used to oppress the weak and protect Driscoll, especially among low information commenters on Facebook and blogs. I thought the linked article above had some interesting discussion about that in regard to Yoder.

  3. Sandy Schaeffer Bergeson

    …because God didn’t realize that he/she had created vaginas.

  4. I’m not a big fan of lifeway, but I absolutely think that a bookstore like this ought to have editorial control over what books they sell. Just because a book claims to be about Jesus doesn’t mean it’s worth reading, or in line with the theology of the bookstore. They can absolutely ban whatever books they want, for whatever reason they want.