Friday, November 7, 2014

Ecumenism: some thoughts on Mark Driscoll

When it comes to Evangelical pastor Mark Driscoll, who recently resigned, rather than be reinstated after an investigation cleared him of anything really serious, as head of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, it is time for the Christian circular firing squad to call a ceasefire. He's been scrutinized, criticized, and berated more than enough. Sure, Driscoll, who was borne and raised Catholic and who abandoned the Church for the same reason many have over the past several decades, namely that post-conciliar Catholicism is often watered-down and vapid, if not in its essence then often in its presentation, said and wrote a number of outrageous and cringe-worthy things. All of which, I might add, he has owned and for which he has apologized. When it comes matters sexual, Driscoll, like many men raised in the era dominated by the baby-boom generation, remained very rooted in an adolescent mindset.

Mark Driscoll

For those of us who have been critical of Driscoll and who are his age, or older (he's 44), I think it bears asking ourselves the question, What was I doing when I was in my mid-twenties and early thirties? Chances are you were not pastoring a church that took off and grew beyond your wildest dreams. Please stop for a moment and consider what kinds of half-formed, half-baked opinions you were spouting. You've never been called to account for them simply because nobody cares what you said back then. You are likely among those who don't care.

Former Mars Hill deacon Seth MacGillivray, who has been publicly critical of Driscoll in the past, recently put all of this into some perspective, not just any perspective, but what I see as a Christian perspective.

First, how did Driscoll draw people? Here's what Seth recalls: "I was a new Christian, and had a view of most Jesus-followers as a cross between Ned Flanders and high school girls who listened to DC Talk. Here was something new: an ultra-orthodox view of the bible combined with a liberal view of the world."

Seth then goes positive:
I loved Mark's bold preaching style, and his call for men to act like men according to Scripture... One of the things he always stressed was our need to willingly place ourselves under authority: authority of Scripture, authority of our elders, authority of friends we trusted. When the time came for him to model what that looked like in a real-life scenario - the elders of Mars Hill found him disqualified for leadership, and put in place a discipline and restoration plan - he resigned rather than submit, and squandered an opportunity to show men all over the world what it looks like to humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, and to allow Him to lift you back up. How beautiful that would have been
It would've been beautiful. I still hope for a beautiful ending, albeit mine would differ from Seth's and would see Driscoll come home to Rome. Hey, stranger things have happened.

I don't want to end this post by violating my call for a ceasefire. So, I will simply note, as a minister who preaches, it is much easier to preach the Gospel than to live it. This is true even for those of us who take preaching the Gospel seriously and work hard at it. It's easy to develop a myopic way of seeing, which is why we need to be accountable in just the way Mark Driscoll preached it. There is a petition prayed during Evening Prayer for Monday, Week IV of the Psalter: "Watch over the priests and ministers of your Church, so that after they have preached to others, they themselves may remain faithful in your service."

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