[This is a reply I wrote to an email asking me “why do you hate Mark Driscoll so much?” Driscoll is a prominent Evangelical pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle. He is controversial for his outspoken views on women, sex, homosexuals, men, church government, church culture, biblical interpretation, and theology. In other words, he can’t seem but to attract attention. In the particular circles I run in, his name and views often come up, so I felt it warranted some discussion.]
I “hate” Driscoll like Luther and Calvin hated the Catholic Church: maybe too much, but not without very, very good reason. So, in other words, I don’t actually hate him. I love him dearly, but my heart breaks over some things about how he conducts himself and his ministry.
The “New Reformed” need a new reformation, in my opinion, and my problem is mainly with individuals that happen to be put up as the main faces of this “movement”: Mark Driscoll, Justin Taylor, Carl Trueman, Al Mohler, and Douglas Wilson (at times). My problem is with these particular people, more than it is with the movement itself. They just happen to “define” much of that movement.
I will never discourage people to not listen to Matt Chandler (as I also said here), John Piper, Francis Chan, or even D.A. Carson, even though, theologically, I disagree with them on a lot (mainly on very secondary issues–even though they wouldn’t think they’re very secondary–and that’s another problem I have).
Driscoll was good and served a purpose (like the Pope), but it’s time to move on. There’s (now) little he has to offer as a preacher, teacher, writer, leader, “theologian”, or “pastor” that isn’t present in many other men that are far more qualified in education, theology, wisdom, sensitivity, and love.
Could he grow in these things? Yes, I pray he does, but he repeatedly errs on the side of doubling-down rather than reconsideration.
I can’t tell you how weird it was going to the one Acts 29 conference I went to a few years ago with my old church (which is all about Acts 29 teaching, ethos, and theology). Seriously, everyone was dressed exactly the same–including me. They talked the same, threw the same names out, thought the same, and had read the same books. It was huge wake-up call for me.
The point is this: I think Driscoll is good at creating a culture more than disciples. We need to cultivate both of those things in our people, but I think the priority should be reversed.
The beginning of Mark Knoll’s Scandal of the Evangelical Mind begins with him saying “this is an epistle by a wounded lover”. That’s how I feel. In the end, I really don’t actually “hate” these men. I see how much good they have done. But I also see how much more they could do and how they have made secondary things into things of such primary importance, while becoming so insensitive to others.
With where I’ve gone in my journey since leaving college, I could never teach anything at my old church. Driscoll would definitely never let me teach anything at his church, under the banner of “trying to maintain doctrinal purity”. I wouldn’t be allowed to lead a home group at those churches. They wouldn’t let me do any campus ministry. Heck, I don’t even know if they’d let me be a member. And it’s because they wouldn’t trust me to be “biblical”.
These things hurt, but not because of anything having to do with me. It’s because of what that says about them, what they believe, and what it says is in them. Namely, this tendency to put every “pet” doctrine and idea under the heading of “the Gospel”, therefore making it non-negotiable, necessary for sound thinking, and un-challenge-able lest the Gospel itself be defiled and fall.
If everything is justified as part of “the Gospel”, then it loses its power, meaning, and purpose.
And that is something that is ultimately damaging to the church, and anything that is ultimately damaging to Christ’s bride is something that should not be embraced, but be actively discouraged against.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures
–Paul the Apostle in his letter to the Corinthians