Mark Driscoll: Now just another fundie, but it still hurts


Let not those who hope in you be put to
shame through me, O lord God of Hosts;
let not those who seek you be brought to
dishonor through me, O God of Israel.
Psalm 51

I have written before how much I enjoy my own ignorance of the Christian blogosphere. Things happen in evangelical corners of the world, that I have no idea about. I am happy to know more about the Ukrainian crisis than whatever crisis some mega church or celebrity pastor is going through.

And yet, somehow (usually Facebook), I always seem to keep up with whatever is going on with Mark Driscoll. He has lots of critics, and I am certainly one of them, and many of them seem to be grasping at whatever they can to “bring him down”. There seem to be so many Driscoll obsessions out there, be it plagiarism, making fun of “effeminate” church leaders, extreme church discipline, messy staff turnovers, un-credited ghost writing, or buying his way onto best seller lists. (If you care about those “scandals”, just Google them.)

I have big problems with how a lot of folks criticize Driscoll and the glee they seem to feel in each new thing we all find out. Lore Ferguson has the best and most beautiful articulation I’ve read of the unhelpful ways people levy these criticisms his way.

Personally, my problem has been less these things, and more his attitude, his tone, his dogmatic way of authoritatively declaring what is “biblical” and what is not. It is his lack of wisdom, care, and grace he extends to sensitive topics and sensitive people. It is the fact that he seems to be a celebrity, better at creating a culture than serving a Church. It is that he doesn’t seem to be “pastoral” in any real sense of the word. Sure, he “leads”, but how does he “serve”?

Yes, I disagree with him on almost every major secondary and tertiary doctrinal issue out there. And yet I feel that way about lots of evangelicals and I don’t spend much, if any, mental energy thinking or talking about them.

Driscoll, though, has put himself front and center, bashing others, mocking critics, ignoring pleas, giving little care for who gets caught in his wake. This is why, especially in my personal non-blog life, I’ve felt free to address what I feel are his irresponsible ways.

But some things might be changing. Which means I might have to change.

In light of his most recent brouhaha in which he was caught (legally) paying some company to game the bestseller list system for his own “marriage” book, Dirscoll wrote a long apology letter to his church on their own internal social network. It wasn’t meant as an “open letter”, so I haven’t read it, though you can find it online if you really want to. I read one article about it that gave the highlights, including Driscoll saying that his angry prophet days are over, he’s taking a year off from social media, is taking more time to focus on his church, will be doing lots less writing and speaking, and will be trying to reconcile with others who have been hurt by him.

The responses have been expectedly broad, from what I hear. The people that already didn’t like him don’t accept this letter; those who like him are applauding him.

I don’t know his heart, so I can’t judge his intention. I still disagree with him on lots of things (apparently he even makes a point to say he will be equipping only “men” for church leadership. Grrr…), but if this letter is true, it addresses many of the issues that made me see him as a uniquely unhelpful force in American Christianity.

If this letter is genuine (and I have no reason to think it’s not), then it means that Driscoll is now just another evangelical fundamentalist out there in the world. He is just another brother in Christ with whom I disagree on non-essential things. He deserves no “extra” scrutiny or criticism on my part. In fact, as part of the broader family of God, I must feel and express a kinship and gladness for his presence in the Church.

And yet, something in me doesn’t like that. I still feel the drive to nit-pick what he does and shine the light of day on it. I feel the desire to “protect” others and “convert” them away from his teaching.

In my response to this, I realized that my heart has been hurt by the works and words of Mark Driscoll. I never thought I had been. And “Church hurt” is one of the oddest kinds of hurt there is. It lingers, sticks with you, and festers. It’s really hard to shake or get past. It goes down deep.

I don’t know what that means exactly or what process I should go through to address that, but I do know that if Driscoll is stepping off center stage for a bit, I have no right to speak of him with any less grace than any other conservative evangelical down the street. I should love himpray for him, and speak tenderly of him.

And hopefully, maybe, we can all get some space to heal as well.

5 thoughts on “Mark Driscoll: Now just another fundie, but it still hurts

  1. Good riddance, I say.

    Driscoll: O
    Internet: 1

    I would perhaps take small contention with this part of your piece:

    “He is just another brother in Christ with whom I disagree on non-essential things.”

    If heaping loads of emotional harm on men he finds too “effeminate” and castigating homosexuals in a fireball of scorn and rage are “non-essential”, then I would question the fundamentals of your faith. If the essentials of your faith rest more on beliefs as opposed to values, I would, again, strongly question the purpose and practicality of your faith. How you treat other people, how you comport yourself day to day when in the presence of others, love, compassion, empathy, loyalty, fidelity, trustworthiness, sincerity, a passion for truth and beauty–these are the virtues any faith worth having should be built upon.


  2. What I think is… I wish I never heard of Mars Hill Church. We attended for over a year after moving from another state. We wanted to be with our son and daughter who found Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll, so we attended with them. My son saw the hypocrisy, same as I and my husband. But, our daughter thinks Mark can do no wrong, so much so, that she will not speak to us ever again, for we stopped attending Mark’s church. Pastor Phil Smidt told my daughter and her husband to cut us off. We have tried for years now to reconcile, but, Phil is always instructing (we have proof) to not talk to us or read any of our emails or answer any of our calls. We became grandparents last year through our daughter… she never told us she was pregnant nor did she give any one on our side of the family a birth announcement. Last we heard from my daughter’s husband, who is a deacon at MHC, was that they did not want any more communication between us to our daughter ever again. (This was when our daughter was pregnant, which we did not know,( around Christmas 2012 ) and we wanted to see her for the holidays.) The silent treatment is killing us. We have begged even up till this last February for some way to reconcile… Phil instructs them against reconciling. Mars Hill Church destroyed our family!


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