Over the last few days there has been a fair amount of discussion online about the interview I link to below. It is a conversation between two people whom I both consider to be my friends.
Mark Driscoll, the sometimes controversial pastor of Mars Hill Church, Seattle has done much to advance the cause of Christ, and for that I am very grateful to God.
Justin Brierley’s Unbelievable? radio show and podcast provides a unique opportunity for people from different wings of the church, and also those outside of Christianity altogether to actually listen to what one another believes. It is so important to do this rather than constructing straw men. Justin’s show has proved to be an invaluable evangelistic forum, and one on which I have appeared twice, a debate with Rob Bell and on the resurrection with a liberal pastor.
I should therefore begin by saying that I love both men involved. I do feel that the interview is well worth listening to for the following reasons:
- The interview covers much more than just the segment that has sparked controversy, and there are helpful sections on Driscoll’s recent book (the first twenty minutes or so), the growth of Mars Hill Church, and a number of doctrinal questions. These two men come from different worlds, and it is perhaps not surprising that the meeting of those worlds results in interesting radio. I am sure that both men, although different in their approaches, came to the interview with good intentions.
- It is vital that we hear the main point that Driscoll is making, that British preachers should be more bold. It is never nice when people make generalizations, but Driscoll is right that we in the UK have too many apologetic preachers. Driscoll is angry at times largely because he has been gripped by the cause of Christ. I sometimes think we would loose more than we would gain if Driscoll was to become more measured in what he says.
- It is good to hear the whole context of something before passing judgement. So for example later in the interview Driscoll is very kind about British Christians, and in particular Newfrontiers (around 40 mins in). But then I suppose “Driscoll says British Christian group is doing a great job” doesn’t make such a good headline, does it?
My conclusion is that both men involved are a gift to the Church, and as I have often said before, you do not have to agree on everything someone believes or says to benefit from listening to them.
As Driscoll himself put it, “I go too far sometimes, almost every other pastor I know doesn’t go far enough.”