Mark Driscoll vs. The Internet

Spoiler Alert: Mark Driscoll is losing.

I don’t have a TV – but after a bit of googling and searching around, I haven’t found much about Pastor Mark outside of the Internet. It seems now that every week, Mark Driscoll is apologizing. There was his open letter apology that went viral on reddit, there was a nuanced sort of apology in a sermon, the recent video in which was his most straight forward apology.

Oh and then there’s the plagiarizing debaclethe William Wallace II trolling apology, and then Driscoll blames Haggard’s affair with a male escort not on the former pastor’s homosexuality. As if this were not enough, there are seemingly dozens of stories of abuse online: Bizzare reports of patriarchal abuse and exorcism, traumatizing reports from fellow employees, and long time friends of his re-sigining.

People are pissed. People are dismayed. Most of all, I think people are hurt. Now it seems like these very people are calling for his resignation, well – at least Matthew Paul Turner is

I haven’t really talked about Mark Driscoll at length, here. Mainly because 1) I don’t know him, 2) I don’t feel right using him as a means to drive traffic [this is not to say that everyone who mentions him is doing that], 3) It’s one thing to put down an institution, it’s another thing to come at an individual [i.e. Rob Bell, Neo-Calvinist’s alike went from disagreeing with his theology, to making it personal by calling him a heretic].

I want to be sensitive to Driscoll as a person despite how much I might disagree with his theology as a leader. Having said that, I’m not against calling out people or individuals, just never at the cost of their humanity.

It’s no secret that I despise his theology and that I want to live to see the end of his patriarchal-misogynistic-racist institution, but again, I do not want to see the end of Mark Driscoll. I 100% agree with Jonathan Merrit, we must accept Driscoll’s apology, though this does not mean we permit his abuses [Which Merrit, also says in his article].

From a Christ-like perspective, forgiveness must always be an option, no matter how deplorable one’s action might be. Be against any institution, but we must always love our enemies.

As tough as it can be to admit, I have no qualm’s with Driscoll, but I have a problem with what Driscoll symbolizes, preaches, represents, and therefore perpetuates. This being an abusive institution responsible for the wounding of generations, and quite literally, millions of lives.

For a majority of us, the question should not be, “Does Mark Driscoll deserve all that is happening to him?” but rather, “How much longer should we be victimized by this theology, and subjected to oppressive teachings and institutions such as his?” The problem is not Mark Driscoll, the problem is a cultivated and continued authoritarianistic-culture found within evangelicalism[1]. It’s a malignant tumor that needs to be removed as soon as possible.

Sometimes, as reality has it, in order to build up, we need to take out. Right now, the information age has allowed the beginnings of this “taking out” to happen.

The worst part of this, is that it seems like Driscoll, and his various other counterparts do not even realize or fully understand why their not liked, or what exactly they’ve done wrong, kind of like the pastors who email me and berate me. Driscoll is claiming that his “angry young prophet days” are over, and that he is taking up the role of a pastor, but I greatly question if his days as a prophet ever truly began. Rachel Held Evans puts it quite well saying in a recent article:

But let’s be clear: There is nothing “prophetic” about degrading women… and using hateful slurs to talk about LGBT people.”

In scripture, both old and new testament, I never see a prophet continuing to push the downtrodden further down. There words of a prophet were always geared towards the powerful and privileged, yes to even God’s chosen people, Israel. I’m disgusted by patriarchy, misogyny, racism, and any other form of oppression, I want to see neo-Calvinism  [which is just calvinism in skinny jeans marketed to millennials], and fundamental conservatism go away.

I want people to have room enough for healing without having to daily face a re-traumatizing imposition from the moral-right. This is including enough space for Driscoll and his current or former leadership to also grow and heal. But at no point should the feelings of the oppressor take precedence over the healing of the oppressed. A bully is not being bullied when they’re being called out for their bullying, meaning a victim of bullying, cannot immediately turn around and then bully her/his oppressor.

“It is a basic premise of activism in general that the feelings of those victimized and hurt take precedence over the feelings of those that have done the victimizing and hurting. Abusers, bullies, and harassers frequently argue that they shouldn’t be punished, or publicly scorned, or suffer various other consequences, because it would hurt them—hurt their feelings, their reputations, their careers. But we [Christians] acknowledge that, even if this is true, it’s not as important as ensuring that their victims are represented, and supported, and receive justice insofar as we are able.”

In other words: My concern is for the victims, not for Mark Driscoll or his institutions[3]. We must remember that victims of abuse are not “dividing the Church” simply by expressing their hurt. They were pushed to the outskirts of this so-called Church, so if we want unity, then we must go to the oppressed, marginalized, and abused becoming part of their community. Is this not what Jesus did?

I don’t want Driscoll to resign, nor do I want him to cease to exist. What I’d like to see is Mars Hill close their doors. I don’t think the church needs another reform, I think the church is in need of a revolution. Too many of us have lost our ability to trust a reformed set of beliefs that have lead to a misogynistic leadership.

The issue is not Mark Driscoll, the issue is what Mark Driscoll represents. This is as a warning shot being fired into the air notifying the reformed that their set status quo will not be tolerated. Robbing people of the basic human rights, inciting  institutionalized violence, discrimination because of gender/race/sexuality… all of this is unacceptable. Driscoll is the frontman, but quasi-prosperity preacher Steven Furtick, Financial “guru” Dave Ramsey, and numerous others are all in and on the same sinking ship.

Having the freedom to believe what you want to believe verses imposing what you believe onto other people are two separate, and completely different things.

With all of this being said, Christians or not, the questions must be considered: What does it look like for us to love our “enemies”? Is it possible to love our enemies without being subjected to their abuses? How can we love Mark Driscoll or anyone who holds such theology that one might so adamantly disagree with and be hurt by? What does love in this case look like without it becoming a cheapened grace justifying abuse…?

[1] by “evangelicalism” I mean the fundamental-right, conservatism portion of Christianity.

[2] I think we need to also be well aware of the fact that many will take advantage of us this.

[3] This is not to say that Driscoll’s humanity should be ignored.

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About Andy Gill

Andy Gill has studied theology for two years in Princeton and graduating from Eastern University stepped into pastoral ministry in southern California. His passion is to communicate on topics such as the pursuit of justice, equality, and how that interacts with one’s faith and theology. Currently he resides in Philadelphia and works with youth. He consults and utilizes social media as medium to share these messages. Andy has been featured on sites such as RELEVANT Magazine, Red Letter Christians, ThoughtCatalog, and various other platforms. You can find him tweeting daily, and writing weekly at his personal blog - feel free to follow along by liking his Facebook page.

  • Kevin Garcia

    I still don’t even see how you connect his theology to the abuses? And this is the problem with most ‘progressive’ people who study theology. Always bashing neo-calvinism or whatever you disagree with in as much passion as you claim they have to disagree with your side. So many ‘progressives’ I know or hear from are just a bunch of white hipsters gentrifying the urban areas then claiming things in regards to racial injustice or womens’ rights. http://www.humblebeast.com/gentrification-impact-local-church/

    Meanwhile in the stream of Reformed teachings we have MANY Acts 29 churches in the hood (including mine) or the Rebuild Network which is primarily led by African-American/Hispanic men & women. I am not even a fan anymore of Mark Driscoll & have many of the same reserves as you do. However when I’ve been in the urban areas of various cities the ones I see are almost 98% orthodox, theologically conservative Christians living out the grace they feel has so deeply affected their lives. To paint a broad brush over many people who have come into a loving, saving relationship with Christ through these churches is very ‘intolerant’ and a very much similar type of bullying I hear from many of the so called progressives.

  • http://www.www.patheos.com/blogs/andygill/ Andy Gill

    You do know I’m not white… I stopped reading after that. I think it’s comments like these that I need a commenting policy.

  • Janni Roy

    Thank you Andy. I love what you are saying and how you say it.