Fight Church: Are Christianity and Cage Fights Compatible?

'Fight Church'
‘Fight Church’

I find it a fascinating coincidence that Fight Church, a new documentary about preachers who hold “fight clubs” at their houses of worship, was released on Netflix less than 24 hours after controversial pastor Mark Driscoll resigned from Mars Hill Church.

Driscoll had drawn criticism for his loose tongue and penchant for tough talk, including revelations that, while trolling online as “William Wallace II,” he complained that America is a “pussified” nation because its Christian men aren’t manly enough.

Christianity Today referred to Driscoll as “Pastor Provocateur” in a 2007 profile, and noted (metaphorically) that “he’s still brawling today.” His comments in a 2009 documentary called Fighting Politics kept that reputation intact: “I don’t think there’s anything purer than two guys in a cage—no balls, no sticks, no bats, no help, no team—and just see which man is better,” Driscoll says in this clip. “As a pastor and Bible teacher, I think God made men masculine. . . . Men are made for combat, men are made for conflict, men are made for dominion.” He argues for letting “men be men, and do what men do. And let other fat lazy men sit around and criticize them while watching.”

Such machismo is echoed by some of the pastors in Fight Church, a compelling look at the world of cage fighting “ministries” and the preachers who engage in it. Exhibit A is John Renken, aka The Fighting Preacher. A former MMA (mixed martial arts) professional enamored with The Crusades, Renken believes he is “literally fighting the good fight and teaching our youth a radical and fulfilling new life where feet, fists and faith collide.”

In one particularly disturbing scene, where Renken takes his young sons to a shooting range, he might as well be channeling Driscoll when he says, “Western Christianity has feminized men. We’ve taken away their God-given attributes of aggressiveness, of competitiveness. We expect men to be prim and proper, to be polite all the time. And to never respond with aggression and force—almost like they act like females.”

He’s just getting warmed up.

“The vast majority of problems we have in our culture today are because we don’t have a warrior ethos. We have a bunch of cowards. A warrior ethos, if properly developed, will help our society.”

While spouting off, he’s also teaching his sons how to shoot guns. When one of his boys, maybe eight years old, fires a pistol, he gets hit in the mouth by a shell, splitting a lip. When it bleeds, Renken laughs at his son. When the boy bravely asks for another round with the pistol, Renken refuses, “because you stopped when you got hit in the mouth and started crying about it.” He laughs at his son again; the boy walks away in tears.

I found myself wishing one of Renken’s high-caliber guns would kick back and break his nose.

Renken is hardly alone in preaching this gospel of violence. All of the fighting pastors in this film believe that Scripture, including the teaching of Christ, is on their side.

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SOURCE: Christianity Today
Mark Moring