A “gift” of teaching, a gift of pastor and a gift of apostleship as church planter. And now is being shown the unknown. A convergence? Or a man who has discovered that he isn’t just a pastors (sic) or a shepherd or a teacher or an apostle, no he is a prophet as well. This is the slippery slope that men find themselves standing on when surrounded by worshipers and admirers and when they are lifted up to idolatrous levels by their congregations. Certain species of pride radically magnify into something dangerous.
from “Re.Generation: My Experience Inside the Cult of Mars Hill”
For months now, I’ve been wanting to blog about Mark Driscoll. When he invited people on his Facebook page to mock “effeminate” worship pastors, I wanted to blog. But I didn’t. When he preached about God hating people, I wanted to blog, but I didn’t. When he and his wife, Grace, released their book “Real Marriage”, I wanted to blog, but I didn’t. Then were were the excerpts from a radio interview he did in the U.K., in which Driscoll went on the attack, not against the interviewer, but against the entire Christian community in England. I wanted to blog about that, but still, I kept quiet. When the full interview was released online, unedited – oh, I really wanted to blog. Especially in light of Driscoll’s clumsy attempts to discredit the interviewer before the audio of the interview came out.
Still, I didn’t blog. You know why? Because every time I write critically about a Christian leader, I hear that I’m in the wrong. “That’s your Christian brother, and he’s doing great work, and souls are being saved, and who are you, by the way? You’re a tiny no one with an ax grind.” Okay, they don’t actually say that last part. That was poetic license.
Well, now we’ve had a grim look at the inside of Mars Hill Church; at their disciplinary procedures (aka spiritual abuse) involving harrassment, public shaming and alarming amounts of control. The church is very good at quoting Scripture, but I happen to think they’re misusing it, to weigh people down with burdens they can hardly carry (See? Anyone can quote Scripture).
Matthew Paul Turner has to get some credit for being willing to take on the bombastic, locker room bully that Mark Driscoll has shown himself to be (over, and over, and over again). Naturally, he’s hearing some of what I’ve heard in the past, from commenters eager to defend a Christian celebrity. But one of my favorite comments came from the other side, from a commenter frustrated over what we let our leaders get away with: “In the name of love, should we just keep silent?” I read it and thought I could almost hear the voice behind that question. How long, oh, Lord, how long do we let someone spread their toxins unchecked because they’re “successful” as the world defines success? How long do we pretend that they matter more than the people they demean, abuse, manipulate and control? How long do we pretend that it’s okay for them to corrupt the gospel, little by little, if they’re still bringing in big numbers? Should we speak? Or should we remain silent? I know, some of you are reading this and thinking, “Well, Sharon, in your case, the answer to that question is obvious. You speak. You always speak. Have you ever not spoken?” Yes, I get that. I’m always tilting at some windmill or another. But Mark Driscoll has years and years of this behavior behind him, and the situation calls for more than righteous indignation from an infinitesimal blogger
It’s time to speak, church. Mark Driscoll is enormously influential. His church is planting offshoot congregations all over the country, and while I’d like to be happy about that, not every church plant is good news for the gospel. Not if “another gospel” is being preached, one that emphasizes power and control over the way of Jesus (Mark 10:42-45). Driscoll is also involved in leading the Acts 29 Network and The Resurgence, shaping countless other church leaders. For the love of God (seriously!), it’s time that wise, mature leaders in the Reformed movement exercised some discipline in Mark Driscoll’s life. For too long people have assumed that his main problem was youthful immaturity. Well, guess what? He’s in his 40’s now and he doesn’t seem to be making any headway.
I have agonized over this post. Even if only 9 people read it, at least one of them will think I’m a complete jerk because of what I’ve written. And, oh, I do so like to be liked. But I am heart sick over the state of the church in the U.S., where as long as you keep “biggering and biggering” you get a pass for whatever you say and do as a pastor.
And now I commend you to other bloggers who wrote the posts I chose not to write, and did a better job of it than I would have, anyway.
For insight on what it’s like “on the ground” in a Mars Hill church plant, consider reading this post
Note: I’ve just realized that my link to the radio interview was the wrong one. Apologies to anyone I confused, but I think I’ve got the right link in place now.