I don’t know Mark Driscoll. Nor, for that matter, do those who make up the disturbingly enthusiastic crowd of stone-bearers who wait in the wings, apparently hoping for his downfall. They’re calling him a thug, alleging that he suffers from mental illness, calling him a slime ball, a heretic, an “ass,” a “jerk,” and worse, including utterly bizarre comparisons to cult leaders who literally told followers to kill themselves.
Genuinely committed evangelicals, as well as scores of “progressives” who in other contexts would actively condemn hatred and vilification (and would probably never think of themselves as taking part in the like) are lining up on social media websites and blogs to insult, ridicule, belittle and attack Mark Driscoll, and to basically give a pat on the back to their friends who do likewise.
Mark’s purported sins are these: First, he is a “hypercalvinist.” That’s how many non-Calvinists say that he is a Calvinist, which he is. “Hyper” just means “this view is really dumb,” or “I don’t personally understand why people accept this view and boy isn’t it different from mine!” Second, he’s a “complementarian.” This means that he believes that men and women have an equal status in God’s eyes but that there are such things as proper gender roles that manifest themselves in such ways as men taking the role of pastor and women not doing so, and men have a greater responsibility to serve as protector and provider for their family. They’re traditional views that many people regard as outdated. And thirdly, he believes that churches should practice “church discipline.” That’s a big subject, but in brief it means that churches have a responsibility before God to take an active interest in the moral wellbeing of its members to the point where if a member starts to live in a way that contravenes important moral principles held by the church, sanctions will be taken. The member would be counselled to cease from such behaviour, and if they don’t, they end up losing their standing as a member of the church until such time as they change their ways.
These things, apparently, make it open season on this man.
I have read accounts of some people’s experiences with Mars Hill Church, supplied as evidence that it’s a terrible church. I frankly disagree with what is said for a variety of reasons, but that’s not my point here. I don’t want to draw attention to individual cases and issues, because that would enable people to falsely conclude that I agree with Mark’s side on all of those cases. Part of the problem in those cases is that people have latched onto what seem like reasonable concerns about Mark and Mars Hill, and have on that basis concluded that this justifies taking their side against him whatever they might be talking about, including their own questionable behaviour or views in regard to Mars Hill.
Mars Hill Church, Mark’s congregation in Seattle, Washington, has grown very large, and there are a number of other Mars Hill congregations. Mark’s ministry has had an impact that is felt far afield. As far as churches go, you could say that it’s a successful church. That makes Mark a target. It shouldn’t, but it does. Of course, Mark is only human. He’s not perfect. Recently he was interviewed on the Unbelievable radio show in the UK, and the host Justin Brierly didn’t share some of Mark’s views (in particular when it comes to the role of women in ministry). Mark didn’t react well to that, suggesting that the interviewer had an “agenda.” But the outpouring of scorn and rage from so many Christians at Mark’s reaction was simply out of all sensible and charitable proportion. It was as though there was a massive pack of wild dogs that had been just sitting there, waiting for weeks on end for the weakest excuse to rush forward and draw blood, and now they would. Now Mark could be loudly branded as foolish, childish, for some reason his Calvinism got dragged into the mix (go figure), and this one event served as the catalyst for a slew of barely related attacks to surface on Mark and Mars Hill Church in general.
I don’t fully understand the strength of the vitriol that I am now seeing, and I think that is partly because it cannot be fully rationally explained. Mark has become the whipping boy of theological conservatism. Some of you may not follow such things in online discussions, and you may simply have no idea what I’m referring to. That’s OK – you’ve been spared!
Whether or not you agree with Mark and Mars Hill Church on these points – and whether or not Mark and Mars Hill gets everything right in general – is of no interest to me here. My point is really here: So many of Mark’s most vocal and unkind attackers are among those who deem themselves to be “progressive” Christians, who among other things see themselves as part of a movement stressing the love of God for others. And yet, while they love to tell others that Jesus said that we should love our enemies, they throw stones at their brother and genuinely appear to hate him.
You might think that Mark is honestly mistaken about the three doctrinal issues I outlined above. You might, for whatever reason, not personally like him. Maybe he’s not somebody you could see yourself being buddies with. That’s fine. Maybe you don’t always think much of the way he expresses himself. OK, no biggie. But I want to challenge you to do something. Let’s see whether or not we can move beyond talking about loving those we don’t get along with, agree with, like, or even approve of all the time. Let’s see if we can move into a demonstration of that love. I’d really like you to join me in doing this. In fact, if you’re a Christian who disagrees with mark on the doctrinal issues I raised above, I would especially like you to do this.
Here’s what I want you to do. Contact Mars Hill Church. Contact details are at their website here. It would actually be best if you send a physical letter in the mail rather than an email. Address it to Mark Driscoll. In that letter, I’d like you to tell him a few things, and I’d really like you to mean it:
- Tell him that he does not deserve the ungracious, vulgar, and sometimes downright bizarre attacks that are being made against him, and that they are not helpful to him or Mars Hill Church, whether the authors of those attacks agree with Mark or not. Tell him that it pains you [because it should] to see Mark’s own self-professed brothers and sister in the Lord making such an ugly spectacle of their venom directed towards him, and that you will pray for him because of what is being done to him.
- If you disagree with him on the issues raised above, point out that you do, but don’t even hint that you are offering him reasons to change his mind. Just note that you disagree with him, but that you are still moved to say what you’re saying in that letter.
- Tell him that you’re going to pray for him personally and for Mars Hill Church, asking that God would bless him and that church, even if that means God will bring about significant change at Mars Hill. Perhaps it is needed! Tell him you’ll pray that through Mars Hill Church God would do wonderful, life changing things in Seattle and in the cities where the Mars Hill congregations are located.
- Tell him that you really do want the good of Mars Hill Church, that you wholeheartedly support his personal passion to reach the lost and to nurture believers in Christ, and that you hope many more people come to know the transforming power of the Holy Spirit through what Mars Hill Church is doing.
In short: I want you to tell Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church that the Christian faith does not condone the tactics that people are using to attack him, that you do not condone them, that it grieves you to see it going on, and that you really want the best for him and Mars Hill, and that you… shock horror… actually have love for them.
If at this point you find yourself squirming about me “enabling” a church that you fundamentally disagree with both in doctrine and in practice, then you’re missing it. All of the above should resonate with you if you’re a committed Christian entirely apart from whether you agree with this guy! Nothing in the above requires agreement or approval. It’s about being willing to step out and actually do something to demonstrate love whether you want to like or agree with someone or not (and I am not at all implying that I do not want to).
Take on board C. S. Lewis’s advice: “Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbour; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.”
I’m writing my letter tomorrow. How about you?
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69 thoughts on “In (qualified) Support of Mark Driscoll”
I’v written my e-mail
I am interested in participating in more online discussions about theology. Any suggestions on good websites?
I like Mark Driscoll. I haven’t decided what I think about some of the issues you raised in this post but he strikes me as a real believer. Jesus says to love your enemy and it seems some people can’t manage their own brothers and sisters.
Yeah, I was originally angry at Driscoll after the Unbeleivable interview,(AND after reading one of those alleged accounts of church discipline on the net). I posted on their wall that I found Driscoll a bit crazy and embarrassing. But I thought more about it afterwards and deleted my comment because as wrong as I think Driscoll is on a few topics, I figured that the guy’s heart is in the right place; he is trying to keep the church pure, taking holiness and responsibility seriously. He attracts blokes who would never previously have gone to church and he’s trying hard to be honest and address the heated topics people want to know about.
Pastors never get all their theology right. Nor are they (nor we) fault free. Being a pastor is a bastard of a job — one of the hardest/most stressful jobs there is in my view! So I reckon that if he is bringing people in, trying hard, making decisive choices/not being an indecisive procrastinator who is too scared to make decisions or say bold things, then give credit where it’s due.
Additionally, we cant expect all pastors to appeal to every person: From John Macarthur to Tim Keller, John Polkinghorne, John Stott (dead now) and John Piper to Driscoll, or even Catholic Bishops/Popes and priests, they all have their deficiencies, eccentricities, oddities and mistakes. I think we cannot expect one guy to tick all the boxes; as long as these guys hold to the core beliefs of ‘mere Christianity’, that’s all that matters.
We need to understand the church is very large and diverse and thus NEEDS such differences so as to appeal to a wider range of people, as odd as we may find them, this help the church to survive the changing times. I view it kind of like all the different denominations; as my minister says, it’s not all bad because what the differences actually provide is a kind of survival mechanism so that when one ‘batch’ goes bad the whole lot doesn’t go off. So for example, some denominations go heretical for a time (like the Australian Presbyterian church once was, and like the Australian uniting church still is), but the other denominations are not affected because of their boundaries of difference — our differences and quirks kind of keep us safe from ALL falling into error. So as unpalatable as some of Driscoll’s comments are, i see what he is trying to do, and I respect that. I shall email him too.
You’re a good man.
Why don’t you take this thought a step further and suggest that every person who ever condemned a gay person or a Muslim or a non-believer in the name of “love” do the same?
Okay, I’ll bite.
I’ll take your larger point– that some people don’t write carefully, don’t think through their anger, and don’t do their own points justice. Fair enough.
I’ve never said I hated Driscoll, never swore at him or about him. But I will say I am furious about some of the things he says, which I see as destructive to the reputation of the entire Christian Church. I think many of his statements are cruel- towards gay people, and will cause more suffering –for women. (I’m not going to take the time to cite them here.) And I would say that there is an evangelical tendency to fail to engage, emotionally, with the suffering of victims of cruelty in the name of always being “nice.” (Which is not what Jesus told us to do, he told us to love.) I know that all kinds of self-righteousness have been set loose by that story of Jesus overturning the money tables — but it is hard to read the Gospels and not see the gut level anger Jesus felt towards those who taught things, in the name of God, that brought suffering on others. Driscoll would agree with me. But the way we would see this anger work out — is not the same. Read a Martin Luther King speech, when he’s worked up about injustice, about racism. Now read Driscoll, worked up about something. Not the same.
I’m also one of those people who has wondered about Driscoll’s mental health, though knowing I am nowhere near close enough (nor licensed!) to make that diagnosis. But I have to say, I’ve been informed by history. We’ve seen Driscoll’s “type” before — the grandiosity, the charisma, the recklessness — and it has often ended very, very badly. Evangelicals should have their antennae up. (And notice here, I’m not talking about, for example, Driscoll’s belief that homosexuality is wrong. Tony Campolo believes it is as well, but he does not carry the message the same way.) And that matters.
So I would hope that those writing Driscoll nice letters would also ask him who he answers to, who he meets with, who he considers an authroity in his own life. We all need people to call us on our stuff — I wonder who is doing that for Driscoll. If it is members of his own church,– I’m not sure that is enough.
I think many of the “attacks” against Driscoll aren’t really about his theology but are more about his attitude. There are many Calvinists and complementarians who hold those beliefs with grace and humility, but Driscoll’s advancements of his positions often seem to be driven more by ego than by Christ-like love. Anytime a Christian ministry becomes more about an individual leader than about Christ and the Gospel, we need to ask ourselves what went wrong. In Driscoll’s case, I think his brash enthusiasm for his particular understanding of Bible and his over-zealous desire to get that message out may have outpaced his maturity and wisdom as a pastor and teacher.
I guess there’s a difference between vitriol and rebuke, and what Driscoll has been doing deserves heavy rebuke.
This may sound harsh but his twisting of Jesus into the ‘prize fighter’ is the same steps that Germans took to make the ‘Deutsche Christen’. I think the image of ‘pale nazarene who has greyed the world with his breath’ is also horribly wrong, but flying to the other extreme is just as erroneous. Why is being a man throwing punches and not taking crap, and venting testosterone? I think it takes more guts to get scourged and crucified and forgive even still.
It’s not unloving calling out this sort of behavior. It’s more than not agreeing with Driscoll, it’s what he’s doing to people. I can still love him and still resist him, and perhaps we’ll both see eachother on the otherside of glory.
I don’t think it’s a right argument that he’s bringing people that wouldn’t normally look at Christianity. He’s no Benny Hinn, but prosperity preachers bring in large crowds for “Christ” and they’re the blind leading the blind until they both fall in a hole. I must resist them as well, though I don’t know where they’ll stand in the Judgment.
Amen, I disagree with someone like DeYoung theologically, but he’s not taking the same attitude tactics as Driscoll!
Glenn, very thoughtful post, thank you so much for this. I’ve been mildly participating in the social networking and blogging realm in the midst of all the hubbub, and was trying to point out exactly what you are getting at. You’ve put this into much more effective words than I ever could have.
In addition to the basic idea you are trying to communicate here, I think hypocrisy is something else to be aware of. Lots of self-righteousness and emotional rhetoric being shot around.
Some of the more humorous criticisms usually start with something like one of these:
“I’ve never heard of Mark Driscoll until today, but…”
“I only read the first chapter, but…”
“I could only stand to listen to 5 minute of this…and”
“I’ve never read the book, but…”
I don’t even take those people seriously, but others might, and they certainly take themselves seriously. This response should be a wake-up call to us all as we interact with fellow image bearers of God.
I have never criticized Driscoll because he leads a big church. I dislike megachurches, but its not as if I’m forced to be a part of them. If I lived in Seattle, I might feel differently.
I’ve never criticized Driscoll for his Calvinism. I don’t think I’ve even directly criticized his view of gender, but I think calling him “complimentarian” is *bit* of a generous term. I have recently criticized his church discipline, but that’s really only a subset of larger problem with him: that I believe that is hateful.
Glenn, you’re right that it is easy for his detractors to reply with spite. I admit: it wouldn’t be bad if disappeared from public life. It is important not to be hateful when criticizing Driscoll, which is why (with the exception of today’s post) I waited over a week between drafting and posting the last two things I said about him.
That said, this is guy who screams at his congregation. He’s the dude you uses the doctrine of hell to intimidate people who disagree with it, and has said at least twice, that he can’t worship a guy he could beat up.
Are people like Rachel Held Evans really that out of line when they charge him with bulliness? By contrast, which behavior strikes you as bit more uncharitable?
Joel, even if all of that is true, do you think the attacks are justified or appropriate?
Barnmaven , that’s not a step further.
Paula, what do you think is more damaging to the faith – People seeing someone with Mark’s strong conservative and vocal bent, or people seeing the scores of “concerned brothers and sisters” who basically reduce to a horde of executioners in an ugly and public display like the ones we;ve seen lately?
Have a look at the things I suggested should go in the letter. Do you really disagree with any of them?
Soujouners might owe him an apology, but most of the other blogs that are critical of him usually aren’t nakedly belittling. I am sure that there is someone out there who as written something very mean, like “Mark Driscoll is a complete misogynist. May his daughters become feminists, the same day he finally admits that he’s gay.” So I guess, no, I don’t think ALL the attacks against him are justified.
But the blogs I’ve read that criticize him -even if they are polemical- usually demonstrate Driscoll’s poor behavior, rather than just hurl accusations and call him names. That’s different. I feel that Driscoll deserves to be called out for the things he has said and done. Maybe we’re not being as brotherly as we should, but I don’t think we’re being a horde of executioners either.
And Cal and Dean, you I agree with both of you too. Kevin DeYoung’s theology is overly reformed for my tastes, but he has never implied that I’m less of a man because I took music lessons instead of athletics in high school and college.
Joel, take this article for example – http://matthewpaulturner.net/jesus-needs-new-pr/mark-driscolls-church-discipline-contract-looking-for-true-repentance-at-mars-hill-church-sign-on-the-dotted-line/
If you read that, you can see the emotionally charged rhetoric and unspoken presuppositions just oozing out all over the page. Notice the colorful and creative adjectives used to describe the views and practices of Mark’s church and his theological convictions. Its very very personal, very emotional. Like Mark said in the unbelievable interview, “This is where excuses come and not verses”.
If someone has a disagreement with another person, it should be handled in a charitable way. Ideally coming at the issues from a point of knowledge and sound arguments for debate. It never seems very productive or Christ-like to base a response to someone’s viewpoints and behaviors in a way that is completely composed of emotion and “like or don’t like” types of statements.
I have already what Matthew Paul Tuner wrote and have commented on it my own blog.
Yes, he was polemical. Yes, he had an ax to grind. Yes, there was a lot of rhetoric there. Yes, it was emotional, but I last checked being passionate about a position doesn’t make it wrong (or right).
MPT still demonstrated what Driscoll was doing wrong wasn’t he? He showed you the letters and e-mails (albeit, edited for privacy). Maybe he could’ve have argued against Driscoll’s treatment of Matthew 18:17 more thoroughly. Maybe he could’ve given more specific examples of what he meant by “cult-like” behavior.
But he still demonstrated something.
Besides, if MPT is as close to “andrew” as he says he says, I have a feeling that entire post was restrained.
What we have here is a guy who messed up and initially tried to do the right thing. He “suffered” initial steps of church discipline for a whopping 4 weeks before he walked out and away from the situation. Do recipients of church discipline get to decide what is appropriate or excessive?
As a father, I can tell you that I would probably not respond as well as the leadership at MHC, my natural tendency would be go on the war path. These people tried to work with Andrew and he bailed on the process becuase he felt bad and because he would have to be completely honest with the leadership. Hmmm…
Also, whether or not Andrew agreed with the policies at MHC, he did nevertheless agree to be bound by them by becomming a member. From my understanding MHC has a fairly extensive membership process where he would have been informed of these policies and procedures. What we see with Andrew here is that he wasn’t willing to follow through to his church commitment/covenant, and did leave behind a mess for the girl and their family and their church community to deal with.
Go loves Andrew and yes God is love and we are to love others, but that does not mean there aren’t consquences to our sin. There is a process for reconciliation and the offender does not get to dictate the terms of the reconciliation.
Glenn, my apologies for getting off topic.
I do not think the supplicants can decide what is excessive discipline, but neither can church leadership decide what constitutes “true repentance.” I am a bystander in this story and I still think that the leadership abused their authority in this matter.
I do not know how confession/absolution/reconciliation work in Calvinist traditions, but for me nothing other than the sinner’s own conscience can accuse them of sin. The pardon of sin is prior to discipline, and not on the condition of it.
Furthermore, the real kicker for me was how he was treated *after* he left the church. That entire letter did feel a bit cult-like to me, as it was trying to extend control over an “apostate.” Think about the penultimate letter Andrew received. Are you sure it wasn’t blackmail?
And we are getting off topic here, so I’ll let this be the last comment.
Perhaps we’re starting on the wrong foot. How about this question: Where in the Scriptures does such an extensive process of ‘recovery’ with all sorts of contracts and covenants fit in? Where did Paul talk about this?
In fact, where does ‘membership’ come from? I don’t recall that being in the New Testament either.
This is innovation and should be subject to devastating critique. Like Joel, I don’t like ‘megachurches’ but I don’t think they’re in-and-of-themselves bad. However this tangled web of power politics with Andrew is an example of how this happens.
Sure I don’t want my daughter cheated on, but the man told her in repentance. It’s like he was caught with his pants down and fled the scene.
The Mars Hill episode sounds more like Medieval catholic penitence than it repentance vis. the words of Jesus and His apostles.
Driscoll is awesome; he says stuff that badly needs to be said, and as usual the people most offended are the people who most need to hear it. Interestingly, much of the criticism I’ve read about him recently stems from his one-sided critique of male (but not female) immaturity and irresponsibility – which only goes to show that when you speak the truth, haters are gonna hate from every angle.
Strangely, I think I’ve heard more criticism of Driscoll recently from his own side – theological conservatives – than from the more “progressive” folks, e.g., egalitarians and feminists. After his most recent book on sex came out, a whole bunch of his fellow Calvinians were in a social media uproar about how he is a pervert who relishes graphic descriptions of sexual practices. So, whether he’s right or he’s wrong, he’s fighting a battle on multiple fronts.
I thought about it and I honestly don’t think I could write your letter. Yep, I’m that concerned about Driscoll and his church. I see a train wreck on the horizon, and I’m old enough to remember Jim Jones.
To write your letter I’d have to believe that Driscoll had been a little off-base– not off the map. I wish no harm to him, and I will pray for him, as you’ve reminded me to do — but quite honestly, I can’t wish him success when I hope God shuts down his project — soon. I sincerely believe there are better pastors and better churches, and Seattle would be better for the loss of his voice and his church. Call me wrong, but that’s what I think. Don’t we all wish somebody would have pulled the plug on a few tv evangelists? That’s how I feel about Driscoll. It’s also how I felt about Schuller, when his star was rising, and his church was spending millions and millions on the “Crystal Cathedral,” to cite just one other example. Yep, thousands of people were going there and giving their money — and I’m convinced they built a huge monument to one man’s ego.
That said — I believe Driscoll is deserving of pastoral care, I just don’t think I am the one to offer it. I hope someone is in a position to offer it. But letters from strangers? — I dunno, I feel like it contributes to the celebrity thing. After all, I don’t pull out my pen to address a letter to every pastor or public figure who receives a public scolding. Me: I’ll pray he’s getting plenty of love from the people in a position to actually love him, –they know him. I can neither apologize for abusing him (since I haven’t) nor offer him a sustained relationship. A letter like the one you suggest — sorry, doesn’t feel like real love. It feels like a pale immitation.
I’m sorry to say this, but it feels kinda cheap and cheesy too. Like that thing evangelicals do — say, “peace, peace” when there is no peace.” Smooth feathers before they ought to be smoothed, and smile because they are uncomfortable about the tension in the room. There’s tension in the room — and quite frankly, I think it belongs in here.
Oh, you asked me which I thought more damaging — Driscoll’s comments or our arguing about them? Good question. I dunno, but here’s my guess. In the short run, I think people will want to stick their fingers in their ears and not listen to any of us. But in the long run — I think publicly distancing ourselves from his recklessness will be for the best. Ever had somebody say, “but what about the Crusades?!” when you are trying to talk to them about Jesus? The reputation for cruelty lasts a long, long time. Boy do I wish we had a few people to point to who said, “That’s just wrong. Cut it out!” All those bystanders who went along or kept quiet — didn’t do us any good.
I wrote a post about Driscoll today. I think he’s dangerous and out of control and is doing genuine harm to the Kingdom of God. But it has almost nothing to do with the “reasons” you give. It’s not because he’s a Calvinist and a complimentarian; so is Tim Keller, and I have no problem with him. It’s also not because Driscoll believes in church discipline. I also believe in church discipline, and believe it’s too often neglected in the evangelical church. Don’t dismiss the concerns so quickly; read, listen, pay attention to the full body of Driscoll public ministry. Don’t just brush this off as “progressive” Christians disagreeing with his theology.
The real problem with all this venom is that it only adds to the embarrassment that Driscoll’s behavior has allegedly produced, and it is entirely irrational in that it will not achieve any real end other than a rather petty catharsis. However, I hardly think that a dismissive ‘nobody’s perfect’ attitude toward Driscoll is any more appropriate than those vitriolic attacks leveled against him. It seems to me to be very much a moral issue, and not simply a ‘strong conservative and vocal bent’. Many people are not lamenting his doctrinal stance but the way in which he promotes himself, puts others down, puts complementarian beliefs in a way that does actually seem demeaning to women, talks to others in a manner that precludes repsectful, rational discourse, etc. etc. etc. While it may be difficult to agree on where the line is regarding abuse of the pulpit or prominence, it seems intuitively obvious that Driscoll lives on the wrong side of that line. We certainly wouldn’t want to dismiss Benny Hinn’s apparent greed or Pat Robertson’s embarrassing gaffes on the basis of the vocal reaction of a small minority of self-righteous folks. On a more personal note, you have lamented much milder animus than Driscoll expresses toward the less mainstream doctrines that you espouse. I also think it is important to ask whether or not you listened to the Brierley interview?
Of course, this has little to do with whether or not a person should write a letter to Mars Hill, but I would encourage people to make a point of disagreeing with certain aspects of Driscoll’s ministry, if only to overwhelm him with kind and loving correction in the wake of so much self-important vitriol.
Sharon, I have seen the concerns. But – as I continually find myself thinking each time a read a new set of comments about Mark, the concerns do not justify the attacks.
Have a look in this very thread. Mark Driscoll is being compared to Jim Jones, who led his church to commit mass suicide.
My mind boggles at what I’m seeing.
And Joel – you appear far too hasty to jump on the bandwagon of someone who has presented one person’s side of a story where he has an interest in defending himself, and chose to go to the public as one might go to a tabloid.
People say “I have never said that I hate him, but…” Now of course people aren’t going to see their own actions as hateful. Who would? But the sheer enjoyment of flaying a man in the way that I have seen really bothers me. Disagreeing with your brother and criticism his beliefs and the tactics of his church are fine. Nobody has seen or heard me say otherwise, and I didn’t say anything against that in this blog post. But what I see time and time again is Christians who frankly embarrass me by being to vicious about someone who, ironically, they think embarrasses Christians. What I have called for here is for some Christians who – whether they agree with Mark or not – are willing to provide contrast, and who can bring themselves – whether they like Mark or not – to tell him that they do not approve of they way his case is being handled by the court of public opinion.
Just a further comment (in case people make assumptions about where I stand on everything mark believes and does). I have not said here that I agree with Mark’s beliefs or that I do not.
[And I’m sorry if this offends, but people who are not Calvinists, not complementarians, and who regard strong church discipline as “controlling” are fooling themselves if they think those things are not factors in the way that they react to Mark. We like to think of ourselves as cool headed and rational, but our loyalties and emotions play a much larger role in our fact judgements than most of us would be comfortable admitting. I absolutely guarantee those people that those things magnify the perceived faults of another.]
People have responded here trying to explain that they really do think that Mark’s beliefs and practices and those of Mars Hill Church really are wide of the mark. I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on just how wide all of those beliefs and practices are, but I’ll grant that some of them are. But to reply, thinking that this is the point, is to simply miss the point. Even if this is true, people should not be encouraging those who go public as defenders of the faith and call him an ass, a douchebag, and worse. That’s just not how followers of Christ publicly offer criticism of the position of another.
No doubt – me being just as emotional as anyone else – I am influenced by the fact that I agree with Mark more than his attackers do – but not entirely, mind you. I think the way he reduces so many legitimate exegetical disagreements to some men just being too girly to handle the truth is frankly silly, for example, and I intend to follow up with a post about that. But as I read through the proposed letter in this blog post, I can think of no reason for Mark’s brothers and sisters in the faith not to endorse everything in it.
Part of what Glenn seems to be saying is even if you disagree with Driscoll’s theology, does he deserve the type of response he is getting? There are times for firm words, but be careful of your motivation.
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
…Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Eph 4)
Okay Glenn, so I didn’t refresh before commenting after reading this earlier today.
This is where excuses come and not verses”.//
How is that comment not belittling to Justin Joe?
Glenn. Please can you just put yourself in the mocassins of a woman in a complementarian situation and tell us that you would not be emotional.
You are told that, despite your love of theology, your experience, your passion, your intellectual gifts for philosophy and teaching and communication, that your role is to support your wife and not be allowed to share any of this with the church.
I have heard your sermon and your podcasts and I love them but you are not supposed to share them with a mixed audience.
Jesus felt things in his splanchnic nerve….
Emotion is good, though hateful words innappropriate.
I dont hate him at all but I am very passionate about the issue of complementarianism . I hate it .
PS But I did the e mail.x
re church discipline being ‘controlling’, it’s worth pointing out that there are many certain instances where ‘controlling’, or rather, a strong hand is exactly whats needed and very helpful! Think of situations where a person is into an addiction or a sexual relationship where they cant stop themselves meeting up with a person and having sex with them. They lack self control. It is therefore helpful to them to have a strong christian who loves them, that they can lean on, and help hold them up while they lack the ability/desire to do it themselves. Getting the balance right is hard, but the desire to not see a person self destruct is a good thing. Thus putting up external supports of accountability is exactly whats needed at times until the person can stand on their own. The important thing is that the person consents to submit to the church discipline. The church should respect privacy and confidentiality–which churches dont do a great job of sadly.
Helen, I wouldn’t have us not be emotional. We couldn’t reason without it, in spite of some might think. I just think we need to recognise the directions those emotions pull us in.
As for the issue of complementarianism itself, that’s a whole other issue.
Uh Glenn, just for clarification: I mentioned Jim Jones and Robert Schuller — yes, one became a mass murderer. Another presided over a monstrosity that went belly-up — wasting lots of time and money and becoming a laughing stock for the rest of the world.
What I said was (and I’ll try to be clearer this time) is that there were signs, early on in the ministry of these guys, that something was amiss. How many people pointed to their “success” as a reason to leave them alone? And look the other way when they showed odd tendencies.
I think your most recent comment is finally the most clarifying. Driscoll doesn’t really both you because you mostly agree withhim, and his “girly man” comments strike you as “silly.”
Therein lies the problem. Some of us see them as far worse than silly. We see them as destructive and poisonous. But that is just one example of the behavior that disturbs us.
The person here who said “Tim Killer shares the same theology” offered a very helpful point. Driscoll’s basic beliefs may be mainstream evangelical, but his behavior points to something far darker. The same could be said about other celebrity pastors who went kablooie.
Over the course of your post and comments you’ve made a few points that I want to pull together, in hopes that you’ll understand me. You’ve said that those who publicly disagree with/criticize M.D.
1) Are doing it because of theological disagreements
2) Enjoy attacking him and seeing him attacked
3) Are defending those who call him a douche, ass, whatever.
So what do you do with the exceptions to your assumptions? I’m telling you, there are plenty of leaders who share M.D.’s same basic theological assumptions who I have never written about publicly (negatively), and probably never will. Those essential beliefs are widespread and mainstream.
As for #2 on the list, it’s an insult and an ugly assumption about everyone who is disagreeing with YOU to say that we “enjoy” attacking Mark Driscoll. I only wrote my own post after agonizing over it. I always get blow back when I write something like that – and I did, on Facebook – and selfishly, I’d rather just say “peace, peace” myself.
#3 – I’m not defending anyone who calls him names, or wishes terrible things on him. He’s a brother in Christ with a family and a church and tremendous sphere of influence. He doesn’t need attack or defense, really – he needs mature, godly Christians from the Reformed camp to step in and help him. That’s what I said in my post. It is not helpful to anyone to blow it all off as silliness.
Sorry, one more and I’ll zip it. Someone on FB asked why people aren’t being more gracious in their approach to Mark Driscoll. You do realize, I’m sure, that being “gentle” in not especially valued by him. He’s a master of the same kind of abusive language you’ve been decrying here. It doesn’t excuse it from others, but I wonder why it’s silliness when he insults others, and “viciousness” when he is insulted.
Thanks for letting me vent, Glenn. And please feel free to read my post and call me on it, if I’ve fallen short of what I’m presenting here.
Not my intention to but in, but I wanted to point out that on point #3 all of this is already being done, just not the way you want. Driscoll does have other well known reformed guys who mentor and befriend him and hold him accountable. People such as John Piper, not to mention other well known pastors like Matt Chandler. Rick Warren also acts as a mentor and a fatherly figure towards him. He gets lots of support and guidance and input from many people. Not of all of which are critics as you would like to see.
There are plenty of names to add to the “haters” list, such as John McArther who was very outspoken and in my opinion inappropriate in a very uncharitable to Mark Driscoll.
My point is that your concern in #3 is a non issue. I think you would just rather see the opposition as the winning team instead of all those who support Driscoll and want to see him succeed.
I also wonder if you are aware of how Mark approaching his “tone” when speaking to the different genders. With the guys he is tough, talking to them more in the way a father would or perhaps a drill sergent. He is very intetional with this and it has a direct impact on the men, they respond well to this in general (yes there are exceptions). His mission is for modern, young, irresponsible men cought in the age of perpetual adolescence. So some of the things he says are pointedly aimed at the men in a specific way for a specific purpose.
From a female perspective, some of these sound very macho and abusive and many other adjectives I could quote from his feminist critics. I think that many times what they are missing is that he isn’t talking to them. He’s talking to to the men, a very specific type of man. What can easily happen is you can take Mark Driscoll out of his context and quite mine to paint a very dark picture but its not based on reality, its just bits and pieces with no context and blown out of proportion by the media and other internet critics.
I’ve said this before in other attempts to debate with Driscoll haters, but I think Augustine hit the nail on the head when he said “In the essentials, unity. In the non-essentials, liberty. In all things, charity”.
That seems to me a very solid and mature view of interactions between Christians at a minimum. Do you disagree with his theology on the essentials? Do you disagree on some of the non-essentials? Are you responding to him in charity/love? Are others doing so? What do the non-Christians looking in from the outside see when they look at all the nasty criticism and attacks on Mark Driscoll?
Mark Driscoll does have a way to get people thinking that tends to get some groups fired up. Asking about effeminate worship leaders, old men in dresses preaching to grandmas. Upsetting and nasty to some becuase he’s making a point that offends their ideology, there is a deeper issue behind what he is saying than just his choice of words. There are real and very serious issues of feminized christianity, post-modernism, relativism and the like. Personally I would like to see people push past the fog on the mirror, look at a little deeper at whats going on and deal with the real issues.
So what if you don’t like Driscoll, move on. But instead of attacking him personally, joinging other “haters” and calling for boycots, asking for him to step down from the pulpit – or worse, questioning his salvation, how about we take Glenn’s approach and think a little more deeply, respond with a little more charity and love. Pray for Mark Driscoll, its really hard to stay angry and bitter at someone you are praying for.
Oh, hey, Joe Church, I didn’t realize you were in on this conversation when I responded at my blog.
Essentially, what I hear you saying early in this comment is: I don’t “get him” because I’m a woman. And my husband doesn’t get him because….what, he’s feminized? Sorry, “chickified” would be the preferred appellation for M.D. Or is it because my husband’s not a Calvinist? You do a fantastic job of not engaging seriously with people’s concerns with all of this. Disagreeing with someone doesn’t make you incapable of processing their argument, understanding the point they’re trying to make. I understand that Driscoll is often trying to get men to “man up”; he does it at the expense not only of women (in his use of language, esp.) but at the expense of men who don’t fit his stereotype of masculinity. But of course, that wasn’t what prompted me to finally write about him. It’s the experience more and more people are sharing of Mars Hill as a church with “a high level of accountability in the congregation, and almost none in the leadership”. That’s what makes abuse of power possible. As for Piper & company, I think they’ve served more as apologists than anything else.
Sharon, thats not quite my point, but I do think at some level you don’t fully understand Mark Driscoll in his context and based on his mission. I could be wrong, but I think Glenn in onto something when he talks about our emotions and viewpoints/convictions influencing our understanding and reactions to things. I find it no surprise that you are a negative critic of Mark Driscoll since you hold views that are completely opposite to his. And those issues, those viewpoint differences probably play a larger role in this discussion than we are admitting to.
I’m not claiming to be some kind of expert, but I am very familiar with Mark Driscoll, I’ve listened to hundreds and hundreds of hours of his sermons, read several of his books, listened to interviews with him, follow him on social networks, etc. I do this with many people I find interesting and want to become familiar with. So when it comes to people criticism Mark Driscoll, I do come at this from a large knowledge-base. Not one of personal interaction with Driscoll, we’ve never met and likely never will. I’m just saying that because of my exposure to his teachings and opinions and listening to his heart, I think I can say that I know where is coming from, where his heart is and where he wants to go. I’ve noticed tremendous personal growth in him over the last few years in particular.
Most people want to go back in time and drudge up past controversy and talk about Mark as if he is still exactly the same guy he was 10 or 15 years ago, and thats just not the case.
Mark has said many times that your theological persuasion won’t even effect your ability to be in leadership at Mars Hill Church. Calvinism is not a requirement. And they will partner and work with other churches who hold other views, its not the kind of issue people are making it out to be. Thats one of the open handed issues that Mark also talks a lot about.
I’m sorry if you feel like I’m disengaging from “concerns” relating to your specific issues. However I hope you can see from my perspective you seem to doing just that with the concerns that people like Glenn are raising. I’m also just trying to bring some clarity, dig a little deeper, encourage people to hate their own sin and seek humility and charity. My intention is not to insult or name call or any of that, but to simple reiterate what Glenn is pointing out in his article.
As far as arguments, I still haven’t seen anything in the form of a true argument. Most critics just rant on and on making lots of “I don’t like” kind of statements. Very few are actually engaging with the core issues of theology and doctrine and working on the foundational issues at play here. You seem very focused on the specific words he uses and worry about “offending” someone. I’m just trying to say, there are deeper issues at work, the root of the issue is not the specific words that Mark says, its really a difference of ideologies and doctrines. Those are the things we need to be debating and discussing. With Scripture, sound reason, evidence, logic and dialogue in a charitable way. Thats what I’d like to see.
One comment about your last sentence. I know there is more going on than just “apologetic” resources. I would suggest you look at some of the interviews with John Piper where he described his love for Mark, and their relationship. Mark talks about John Piper frequently, others do the same. Maybe you just haven’t seen this side of it, but I assure you it is there.
Driscoll reminds me a bit of a lot of the personalities I saw venerated in my years growing up in a Pentecostal/Revivalist setting, and now more so in the broader evangelical world. We have what looks like a personality cult (in which a person is an ‘expert’ on a variety of subjects – i.e. theology, sexuality, and the like – by virtue of their popularity and in the absence of any relevant credentials, much like the rest of the celebrity community in the US), a strange understanding of spiritual gifting that grants said personality the ability to perform miracles and ‘read peoples mail’ (Driscoll has talked about rather lurid and literal visions he has had of people’s sexual misdeeds while he counsels them, or is just chatting with them), the Orwellian methods of discipline (even if we grant that Andrew’s story is sensational and biased, it is not clear that it is dishonest in regard to the most upsetting details), the belittling and other-ing of contradicting viewpoints, as well as the very successful ministry which is subsidizing a rather above average life-style for its leadership (not that it is wrong to be comfortable, but some things make ya go ‘hmmm…’). These are not doctrinal issues and they are not simply cute personality ticks. I’ll give you that these sorts of things stick out a bit more if you disagree with a persons philosophical inclinations, but it doesn’t mean a person is overreacting! I think Shannon is correct to point out that the sort of verbal abuse, bellicosity and self-righteousness that is being decried in the OP and in the comments here is just the sort of thing Driscoll engages in (although without the profanity nowadays, he does seem to have quit that).
Now, I realize I bear some burden of proof to demonstrate why Driscoll’s behavior resembles what I have listed above, but I do not wish to take up too much space in a combox (I think I am already wearing out my welcome). Many of the criticisms of Driscoll come with a lot of unjustified and plainly sinful rage, but it doesn’t seem to justify a euphemistic approach to his ministry either. It is mistaken (IMO) as well to write off the rage as misdirected disagreements over theoretical issues.
I should add that I hope Andrew will learn from all the turmoil his hanky panky brought about. He wasn’t behaving himself in a proper way toward a sister in Christ, and it is only natural and good that there should be fallout from that. MH Church has been involved in other controversial acts of discipline, however, that had to do with mere disagreements amongst the church leadership, which does strike me as plainly Orwellian (although I don’t have the inside track on those incidents, I must admit).
You’re right. I only read half of the story and if Driscoll or anyone else from MH wished to respond with equal eloquence, I’d be happy to add that to my blog.
Even emotionally, Driscoll’s calvinism is a non-issue for me. I’ll admit that I have a bias against celebrity ministers and megachurches though.
Where there’s a will there’s a way. As one manifestation of this, some people have focused on the fact that I took one technique of Mark Driscoll (brushing aside exegetical disagreements as the result of men being too girly to handle what the Bible really says) as being frankly silly – which it is – and have somehow managed to construe this as a claim on my part that absolutely everything that Mark has been accused of, even if it is all completely true, could only be described as silly and is nothing worse.
Obviously that’s not what I said, but just as people have rather too much of a will to gang up on Driscoll, they will just as gladly interpret anyone who breathes a word in his support in the worst way possible.
And now we’re seeing, in effect, people assuming that really I’m just being soft on him because I agree with him. But in fact sometimes I don’t agree with him. Can you imagine what Mark would make of my rejection of dualism, my embracing of annihilationism, and possibly my views on many other things (e.g. kenosis)?
When you speak up for someone being stoned by the mob, inevitably a stray pebble will hit you, I guess. But these reactions are not driven by fairness.
It’s also interesting to see people say “No no, it’s got nothing to do with those three points of doctrine,” only to reveal that in fact those same people have real issues with one or more of those three things with a new label (e.g. I’m not against church discipline, but this church controls people. I’m not objecting to his complementarianism, but he belittles women).
Look, this is really a breathtakingly simple issue: People who call themselves Mark’s family are attacking him in a clearly unChristian manner. As people who want to provide contrast to all this ugliness, we should support him against such attacks, and seek to counter this evil being perpetuated.
Yes. Where there is a will there’s a way. Where there is a determination to set up a staw man (any critic is part of a vicious, bloodthirsty, agenda-driven mob), you’ll succeed. Your motives are pure; the motives of everyone who disagrees who you are more than suspect. It’s a little hard to move forward in discussion if those are the assumptions you’re operating under, so I’ll quit trying.
Well hold on Sharon. With respect, you’re not really in a position to complain about straw men at this point. I didn’t say anything about people being bloodthirsty.
What’s more, you are the one who tried to insinuate that I am brushing off all criticism as just progressives disagreeing with his theology. I have clearly stated that this goes well beyond disagreement. This is about moving on to genuinely unrighteous vitriol. You have stated that you don’t approve of those who engage in that. This is good, but why are you now turning on me as though I am misrepresenting things by stating that such vitriol is going on?
Agreement/disagreement with Mark’s theology isn’t the issue, and for you to continually imply that all I am saying is that people shouldn’t do that is clearly a straw man. With all respect, could it be that you’ve got something invested in rejecting my call because you yourself have criticised Mark Driscoll, and you have formed the mistaken impression that I oppose anyone who does that?
“I’ve said this before in other attempts to debate with Driscoll haters, but I think Augustine hit the nail on the head when he said “In the essentials, unity. In the non-essentials, liberty. In all things, charity”.
Joe, this can not be used as a broom to sweep away major problems. To some, Paul’s passion on the issue of circumcision seems ‘unimportant’ and ‘trivial’. Let the Jews worship how they want! No, this is a serious compromise and the celebrity cult is dangerous. Driscoll is not evil, he is merely in error. Though the ignition of the blog-world will do little, I suppose it is necessary as an expression of the voice of the Church.
Also, I don’t know about you, but I was in military school and was going to be a Marine before Christ Jesus saved me from it, and really, I don’t want to be talked to like a drillseargent. It doesn’t help me get it, and I don’t know anyone (especially military) who really wants to either. The concept is fear based and creates an illusion of change, when people are reacting to not being yelled at and feeling a sense of reward when acknowledged or passed over when inspected. It’s how the military works man, it’s sick.
“In the essentials, unity. In the non-essentials, liberty. In all things, charity”
Actually, I think this can be used here: In all things charity.
By all means people should offer responses to Mark and criticism of his approach to things if they think it helpful, as long as they do it in charity. It doesn’t “sweep” anything away, Cal, I agree. But it applies.
“I’ve never criticized Driscoll for his Calvinism. I don’t think I’ve even directly criticized his view of gender, but I think calling him “complimentarian” is *bit* of a generous term. I have recently criticized his church discipline, but that’s really only a subset of larger problem with him: that I believe that is hateful….
“That said, this is guy who screams at his congregation. He’s the dude you uses the doctrine of hell to intimidate people who disagree with it”
Then when responding to a criticism of one of Driscoll’s detractors he said
“Yes, he was polemical. Yes, he had an ax to grind. Yes, there was a lot of rhetoric there. Yes, it was emotional, but I last checked being passionate about a position doesn’t make it wrong (or right).”
Joel said “I do not know how confession/absolution/reconciliation work in Calvinist traditions, but for me nothing other than the sinner’s own conscience can accuse them of sin. The pardon of sin is prior to discipline, and not on the condition of it.”
Strangely Jesus taught otherwise
“If your brother or sister[b] sins,[c] go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’[d] 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
18 “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be[e] bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be[f] loosed in heaven.” Matt 18:15-18,
I agree Church discipline can be poorly executed and applied in a nasty way, but the claim that “its just up to an individuals conscience” is not justified by Christs teaching and reflects relativistic individualistic ideas which are not Christian.
My wife’s a complementarian I guess she has never put herself in a womens shoes.
Paula. After I picked myself up from the floor after seeing you compare Mark Driscoll to the leader of a suicide cult, I noted you saying:
“Oh, you asked me which I thought more damaging — Driscoll’s comments or our arguing about them?”
Slick move, but that’s not what Glenn said. The problem isn’t that people are arguing about Driscoll’s comments, and Glenn never said that was the problem. Here, let me help:
“Paula, what do you think is more damaging to the faith – People seeing someone with Mark’s strong conservative and vocal bent, or people seeing the scores of “concerned brothers and sisters” who basically reduce to a horde of executioners in an ugly and public display like the ones we;ve seen lately?”
No reference to us arguing with each other there. He’s talking about the ugly attacks on Mark. Now, you say you haven’t taken part in the abuse. That’s great. Why then do you feel the need to justify what you have said against mark? Since this was clearly about the vicious attacks that have indeed been going on, should I take it that you agree with Glenn, but that you don’t want God to do good things through Mars Hill Church, and you don’t think we should publicly write to stand against the abuse? After all, that’s what Glenn has called for.
I’ve seen this from a couple of people. Basically, they come across saying: Glenn is wrong wrong wrong wrong and we’ve got to write in such a way as to come across as strongly opposing Glenn… (Oh but by the way, Glenn’s right about the problem of Christians gracelessly attacking Mark…)
I’m so glad I don’t pay attention to this stuff anymore. There’s always someone–somewhere–either on the conservative, liberal, or weird side of Christianity that’s getting tomatoes thrown at them and being vilified. It happens every year, sometimes several times a year. After a while I realized there’s just no point in getting emotionally invested in this kind of behavior. It’s just a big cycle of hate and division that’s pointless and emotionally draining.
A lot of what Glenn says on theology I either have no opinion about either way or disagree with, but I still like listening to what he has to say. Part of the reason is because he doesn’t, generally, tar and feather people on his blog. He treats people he disagrees with, with a level of respect, remembering that they are human beings and are essentially the same as he is… I appreciate that, it’s hard to find on the internet.
So good for you, Glenn, on talking about how we–as Christians–treat each other online. Of course, now you’ve raised the bar and you’ll have to be careful not to do what you’re accusing others of doing. 😉
Over at Matthew Paul Turner’s blog where I saw, basically, a dogpile on Mars Hill Church and Mark Driscoll, I dared to raise the suggestion that the spin put on things by the blog post was unfair.
Swifter than swift, my comment was gone. (Leaving only a much shorter follow up comment that began with “And”)
No Glenn… that can’t be right. That would be a case of them villainizing others with impunity, and removing intelligent dissent as though none existed.
And that couldn’t possibly be what they’re doing. Never.
Interesting…. so even though it looks like Mr Turner’s visitors share his perspective, this might not be true at all.
How sickeningly ironic. he writes a blog series basically trying to expose what an allegedly heavy handed church doesn’t want you to know – and when someone questions him, he removes it so nobody even knows it took place!
In short, the post that Matthew P T deleted was one that cited the facts that he himself presented in his blog post. I then explained how the church might quite understandably see them, then commented that it’s not fair to attack them in the way that was going on and that the person at the centre of this story should not be creating the tabloid style scandal that he is.
This made it all the more strange just now when Matthew replied and justified removing my comment because I had my details wrong – the ones that I lifted right out of his blog post.
And yes Kenneth – most ironic indeed. Shouting the alleged truth from a rooftop to expose everything to the light (unless it is spoken against us, then we delete it). He acknowlegded to me that actually a number of other comments had been removed as well. I’m betting these weren’t comments that joined the angry mob.
What’s interesting, however, is that prior to the anger (real or otherwise), apparent hatred vitriol for Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill church, I had never really paid them much attention. It was the torches and pitchforks that got my attention – albeit not in the way the detractors might have hoped. What drew me to the issue was the smoke and noise, and then my disgust at what I was seeing in the online attacks, and then an appreciation for what Mark and his team are actually trying to do. That’s the order in which things unfolded for me.
Glenn, if I remember correctly, several years ago I was similarly made aware of Driscoll and his church by all the online hubbub in opposition to him and his ministry. Not wanting to judge based on a few nasty blog posts, I decided to look into things for myself and was actually pleasantly surprised by what I found.
It turned out that I was delighted to add him to my list of Christian resources that I use for learning and gleaning wisdom. Again, not that Mark is perfect or has everything right, but I glean the good and discard the rest, which if I may point out, is his admonishment in the “Real Marriage” book (for those who bother to read the preface).
I’ll send the nicest e-mail to Driscoll I can. I will also artfully conceal the truth.
I didn’t see your response until just now. I will answer it, and then maybe I should give up, for both our sakes. I’m going to quote you in order to answer you, because, yes, I DO think you’ve made agreement/disagreement with Driscoll the issue – and if you don’t think a mob stoning someone is an image that can be summed up as “bloodthirsty”, my apologies. Apparently you and I use language differently.
In your original post you said: “Mark’s purported sins are these: First, he is a “hypercalvinist.”….Second, he’s a “complementarian.”… And thirdly, he believes that churches should practice “church discipline.”
So, in other words, people have an issue with him over these general areas of theology. I replied by pointing out that I have criticized Driscoll publicly, in what I believe is a responsible manner, and NOT for the reasons you cite.
In another response you wrote:
“Disagreeing with your brother and criticism(of) his beliefs and the tactics of his church are fine.”
Great. If that’s true, we should at least be able to agree on that. But you seem to be making yourself the arbiter of what is legitimate criticism and what is “vitriol” – and I’m not sure you’re living up to whatever standards you’re setting. You STARTED your post by comparing those who are writing against M.D. to a stone-throwing mob. That’s pretty strong rhetoric. Is it vitriol? And who is in the mob? Anyone who has written negatively about M.D.? Me? Tim Challies? Or is only people who express themselves in a certain way?
And then, in your next response to me, it was back to theology:
“It’s also interesting to see people say “No no, it’s got nothing to do with those three points of doctrine,” only to reveal that in fact those same people have real issues with one or more of those three things with a new label (e.g. I’m not against church discipline, but this church controls people. I’m not objecting to his complimentarianism, but he belittles women).”
Oh, c’mon, Glenn. You are clearly a very intelligent guy. I’m sure you understand this better than you’re letting on. Is there really no such thing as excessive or abusive church discipline? I can have “real issues” with where a doctrine has been taken or how it has been applied, without having the same issue with the doctrine in general.
It’s odd how defensive you got about the suggestion that your own convictions might bias your reaction – when you’ve repeatedly made the same claim about those who disagree with you. And to whoever it was who said that I disagree on M.D. with everything – um, no. I suspect he and I agree on the Nicene Creed. Please don’t make disputable issues the heart of the faith.
So, yes, I think this is about theology – at least from your perspective. The fact that don’t agree with M.D. on everything doesn’t change what you’ve said. You perceive that critics have a theological axe to grind. Okay, I do. I think M.D. has lost sight of the theology of leadership expressed by Jesus in Mark 10, and by Paul in Phil. 2. I think if theology is manifested in practice, something is seriously rotten in his theology. Perhaps he could have a sit-down with Tim Keller and receive some instruction.
“And who is in the mob? Anyone who has written negatively about M.D.?”
Sharon, that’s getting really tired. I made it very clear that I do not take issue with people just because they write negatively / criticise. I was explicit. Criticism is fine. The problem, as I have clearly said, is when people aren’t simply offering fair minded criticism, but clearly engaging in abusive and inappropriate behaviour. I can’t interact with that sort of misrepresentation, sorry. You now reveal that yes, it is the practice of church discipline at MHC that you take issue with. Don’t act like I just made that list up, we both know that’s not true. Everyone who takes issue with them practising church discipline does so because they think that what they do is inappropriate, and you’re one of them. You should have simply cut to the chase and said “YES I have a problem with them practicing what they and you are calling church discipline, and here’s why…” But even that would have been beside the point. Even that would not have justified the behaviour that I have called out – behaviour that you also disapprove of. And yet, in spite of agreeing with my concern about the behaviour…. somehow this was an opportunity to disagree with me anyway.
Glenn – Word to the wise: Sharon’s not being straight with you. She claims that she doesn’t find fault with Mark because of his complementarianism. This is the same Sharon who blogged recently about preaching a sermon in church. Let’s see… thinks that women preaching the sermon is OK… doesn’t take issue with complementarianism. Yeah, someone’s not being honest.
What the what? I never claimed to be a complimentarian. In fact, I made a point of using Tim Keller as an example of someone I disagree with theologically but don’t take issue with in the way that I take issue with M.D. AND I welcomed Glenn to check out what I’d written at my blog where, as you point out, evidence is RIGHT THERE that I’m not a complimentarian. Are you actually going to accuse me of deception? Because if so, it’s the sloppiest, least successful deception I’ve ever seen. Good grief…
Sharon…. The impression that I (and apparently others) got from your comments here is that you don’t take issue with complementarianism (not that you necessarily accepted it). Although lacking in tact, I think Kev’s point is that this might not be so, and there’s reason to think that if someone stresses a complementarian view, that is going to be a factor in how you see them. Or at least if that’s his point, I agree.
But I’m just repeating myself when I say that. I think we’ve basically agreed now that a certain type of attack is not appropriate. 🙂
I certainly don’t think you consciously tried to mislead.
Mark Driscoll is a douche. And give me a chance to explain.
In popular culture, outside the realms theological debate and churchy culture… He really does fit the mold. This sounds harsh because it is. May not sound high-minded but really, I think this is one element of his ministry that rubs people the wrong way and it shouldn’t be discarded as simply inflammatory. If you worked with someone like MD in a corporate setting, he’d be the bully that gets his way… but is generally avoided at social functions whenever possible.
If he were a frat president or loud talker at a bar, his actions + manner of speaking would be on the level of what is commonly referred to as a douche.
I think the Tim Keller comparison is always a good one. Same theology, similar approach to ministry (on the most part), but I’d hate to say it, exponentially more likable as a human being. People can scoff the very subjective “likability” rating… that’s fair. But it ignores the reality of why so many get riled up when it comes to MD. So in any discussion of the like, I think it needs to be brought up.
He just doesn’t present himself in a likable way and of course, he doesn’t need to as a grown Christian man. But let’s not be surprised when people respond negatively simply based on his abrasive style.
Maybe he needs such a persona to reach a certain demographic. So be it. Ministers to biker gangs have their own style too (seriously) but inevitably, those ministries become limited in scope. Same for ministers to gang members. Driscoll carries his “tough guy” image to the megachurch masses and this type of pushback is the inevitable fallout.
Christ calls us to love even the unlikable. So that’s what we do… Even when the unlikable are those in the pulpit.
I LIKE Mark Driscoll. I like the way he preaches. The “haters” either wiill not listen to reason, or have read lies about him, or have taken what he said decades earlier, and aren’t going to listen. Their loss.
God gave us free will. Each of us uses it in our own way. We have a choice. Mark Driscoll is Mark Driscoll if you don’t like him or agree with him then don’t choose to have him in your life. It’s that simple.
I love Mark Driscoll and am very thankful for his ministry in my life. God bless you Mark. I don’t believe he needs my letter of support as he has a very close relationship with God.
As far as I am aware we are all entitled to our opinion and to like and respect someone does not mean we agree with all of their opions.
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