An unpopular opinion on Mark Driscoll
It is with a lot of prayer and thought I post this article as I have no great desire to stick “my head into the breech” in the chat about the man who founded the Mars Hill Church network and Acts 29.
Personally I am not surprised by Tuesdays announcement that he was stepping down as lead Pastor of Mars Hill, I was hoping that he would be able to “stick it out” as I genuinely believe he is a man who has been used dynamically by God and is a very talented preacher.
So why is he criticized?
For me Mark was criticized by three camps
1) People who did not like his “tactics”
2) People who did not like his history
3) People who were mad at him
Mark has courted controversial methods to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. Let’s look at two times that he is critiqued for doing so.
The 1-2-3-4 letter sermon!
Yup, you heard it right folks, he swore in the pulpit!
(Give you a few lines to get over that concept)
Before you begin to think that he is the only Pastor who has let a word like.that slip over his lips, let me shatter that misnomer right away. In my numerous conversations with Pastors I know that he is not the only one to have ever uttered a profanity.
If you have read my previous blog “a potty mind” you will understand that there is little between “thinking it” and “saying it”, although I personally have little issue controlling saying it, but despite my heart of repentance I still think it.
Pastor Mark called it correctly when he stated that “The sermon will be remembered more for those few words than anything else”
I will go further into this later on in the article, however there are folks that have made it their life’s work to expose Driscoll and his flaws and put under the microscope every little thing he says. More of that later though.
The MacArthur eviction debacle
Another criticizing group are fans of John MacArthur, and also fans of the “Grace to You” network of ministries.
Pastor John and Pastor Mark have had a long running public “war of words” they have called each other out from the pulpit and Mark caused controversy when he arrived at MacArthur’s “Strange Fire” conference giving out free copies of his latest book, he was told he couldn’t do so and after a storm of social media information and disinformation was widely and written about with both admiration and criticism. (Dependent on your bias)
The only part of the conference I have spoken about is MacArthur’s criticism of the movement I am involved in when he painted Calvary Chapel as “the movement born out of LSD” and commented that “out went the suits & hymns and in came the contemporary music”.
I will touch on the nature of God in the section “Am I criticizing…” but both things that MacArthur mentions are window dressing. I mean how dare a church make itself available to someone who has sinned (have we not all sinned and fallen short of Gods glory – Romans 6:23 – not my ideas but God’s! ) who cares what the flavour the sin was, drugs, alcohol, adultery whatever? I am more concerned with is the repentance true and where is fruit?
As for suits and hymns, I love the deep vein of theology in the hymns, but also have a high regard for good biblical God glorifying contemporary songs. God cares not so much with the performer and performance as much as he cares about whether that heart is truly in a state of drawing closer to him. I have seen worship times be times if beauty; times of great joy and times of awesome prayer, repentance and rededication to God. I would swap lives changed for everyone looking neat and tidy any day of the week. I digress however.
Basically I will not criticize MacArthur as I have a lot of respect for a seasoned pastor and I have quite a few of his commentaries in my library, but the argument is similar when Paul states the problem in His 1st letter to the church in Corinth when he states “not of Paul or not of Apollos” we see the same arguments play out by people who regard their branch of Christianity more of an identity than calling themselves a “Christian” (they will state Calvinist, Presbyterian, Baptist, Catholic or whatever first)
Tragic as it is Christ and his sacrifice not denominationalism that saves us! I doubt that there will be sections in heaven based on where we were worshipping and what day we used.
A lot has been said about sermons preached, former stances that he chose when he was a young pastor (such as embracing the emergent church and then when they started to preach the stranger doctrine he got out of that.)
Then there is the whole “williamwallace2” Internet deal, unfortunately the internet is not anonymous and I pray that you have never made any mistakes online and become well known, as you may well get the “Driscoll treatment”.
I am not going to debate whether what he said was right or wrong, but it really goes into the realms of character assassination digging up something that is over a decade old to make someone look bad.
Folks that are mad at him
Some were mad at him for many other reasons, some good, some not so good. If you go to any popular Web search engine and type in say “Mark Driscoll false teaching” (or anything similar) you will find many websites dedicated to bashing this man and telling stories in order to blacken the name of the ministry that God has called this man too.
And really that is my point! Personally I have no ties or friendship with this man, I have never actually met him, I have n3ver visited his church and we do not move in the same circles. However, he was called of God for a season to plant a church in the state of Washington that has blossomed into a movement of God and God has blessed that movement. The church that was planted has brought so many people closer to God.
This is why I am critiquing the slings and arrows that are flying towards him from the “Christian camp” despite stylistic differences he is still one of our own.
Am I criticizing him?
Here is the funny thing, I will let you draw your own conclusions on that one! Pro-Driscoll people will say I am being hard on him and Driscoll-haters will say that I am defending him.
I find the idea of “celebrity pastors” somewhat uneasy to swallow as we are all vessels to be used of God. I always worry that people will begin to follow the man rather than God.
I also worry and pray for the individual themselves in that they do not get hit too heavily with the sin of pride. That they retain their reliance on God, that the do not start to believe it is from themselves.
And lastly and what is happening in this case that they remain “above reproach” so they cannot be accused. Look at the accusations thrown towards Jesus by the religious people of the day. These are the guys that were meant to be making worship to God easier but in fact they were making it more difficult. Jesus called the like of these “whitewashed tombs”.
If it happened to Christ then what makes you think it will not happen to those who are called to minister for Christ?
We have to be careful we are not being too Pharisee-like; we can quite easily examine others with standards that we would never apply to ourselves. We can think we know someone because they are in the spotlight and more personal information is readily available about them than others.
Impact to aspiring pastors
I wouldn’t call myself an “aspiring pastor” as you are called to such, but what message does this send to those in bible college/seminary? If your fellowship gets too big will you be under attack from your fellow laborers in the gospel?
Make no mistake about it, anyone who thinks pastors have an easy life is mainly mistaken. There is a reason why James states “let not many of you become teachers” It is the one occupation where you will not get away with being a jerk. You are examined with a microscope and it is a heavy task.
The pastors I have seen that have been the most successful in impacting lives have been the humble, the ones who know they are flawed men and had an open and honest dialogue with their congregations. Congregations tend to be forgiving if they know the facts.
My prayer is that it will not drive gifted men away from their calling.
We are called to be beyond reproach, but we are given certain guidelines to allow people to be restored into ministry, as far as I am aware, Driscoll left amid allegations of abuse of power, there was no heresy, there were no affairs, and there were no financial irregularities.
It is sad as like I said previously, he did a lot of good for the kingdom of God, so I find him sad. I have only ever heard about 12 of his messages (his 10 commandment series and another random 2 I listened too) but I have found him to be a funny, relevant teacher who exalted his Savior.
Lastly I would encourage us all to remove the mote from our own eye before we try to take the speck out of Driscolls. We are called to love one another guys! Let us not forget that! I believe that based on what I have seen and heard, he has repented. Only time will tell how deep that repentance is.
I do hope it is not the last we have heard of Mark Driscoll.
As always, if you want to continue the conversation with us then please if the LORD leads you then please comment, share or like below.