God Isn’t Punishing Mark Driscoll

driscollThis week has been a rough one for Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle. Following one scandal after another, the Acts 29 Network – which he helped found – removed his standing and his church’s standing within the network. They also encouraged him to step down as the leader of Mars Hill.

To add to that, Lifeway Bookstores, which is one of the biggest faith-based book chains around, decided to stop carrying all of Driscoll’s books. Basically this just means he can join me and all of us progressive Christian authors who have been edged out by Lifeway. You’ll get used to it, Mark.

All of this is good for Christianity as a whole. For starters, it demonstrates the autonomy of the Acts 29 Network from their founder. And despite their many misguided policies regarding women and their proclivity for hyper-calvinism overall, it shows that they, too, have their limits.

As for Lifeway, I can’t really tell if their decision to drop Driscoll is an ethical one, or a matter of mitigating further PR risk by having his titles in their stores. Either way, props for getting his face off the shelves, regardless.

I’d not be surprised, too, if Driscoll chooses to step down from Mars Hill in the near future. At some point, even he will recognize his leadership as untenable.

In the midst of all of this, I’m conflicted. Yes, I’ve been as vocal of a champion as anyone else for removing his authority as voice advocating for the Gospel in the world. His actions, words and general demeanor are hurtful toward women, non-Christians or pretty much anyone who doesn’t agree with him or conform to his mandates for what it means to be a man or a follower of Jesus.

So where’s the conflict? Frankly, I hate that it comes to this. There are plenty of ways his voice could have been attenuated or silenced without the drama and humiliation. Granted, he’s done it to himself by continuing down these many self-destructive paths, but it doesn’t make it pleasant to watch.

I’m also saddened when I see anyone – especially someone who calls themselves a Christian – rejoicing in his humiliation or suffering. Yes, we can find hope and encouragement in him being held accountable, but to revel in his public shaming is not Christ-like.

Finally, anyone who suggests this is God’s way of dishing back to Driscoll what he deserves, shame on you. First, Do we honestly believe a God of infinite love, mercy and compassion plays such games, keeping tabs and then pulling the proverbial trigger right at the moment when one’s fall will be the hardest? That’s not the God of my understanding. Second, so help us if any of us gets everything we deserve. Think, just for a moment, of the sum total of your own sins and shortcoming; now, imagine “getting what’s coming to you.” Is that “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth,” sort of justice really what we want from God and for ourselves?

Or do we really believe the things Jesus said about responding to hate with love, about loving our enemies, and about finding creative, divinely inspired ways for grace and beauty to emerge even from the shit-piles we make of our lives sometimes, Mark Driscoll included?

Driscoll has an opportunity here to re-invent himself into someone who embodies resilience, grace and humility? Will he do it? Only God and he know. Whatever his course of action, it should be done out from behind the public microphone he’s had the privilege of dominating for so long.

But as for you, Mark Driscoll the man, I’ll be doing my best to pray for you. I don’t want to, but that’s exactly why I need to.

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About Christian Piatt

Christian Piatt is the creator and editor of BANNED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE BIBLE and BANNED QUESTIONS ABOUT JESUS. He co-created and co-edits the “WTF: Where’s the Faith?” young adult series with Chalice Press, and he has a memoir on faith, family and parenting being published in early 2012 called PREGMANCY: A Dad, a Little Dude and a Due Date.

  • Occupy Christianity

    Thanks for saying what many of us are feeling, Christian. Driscoll has certainly become yet another tragic figure in Evangelicalism, but none of us should rejoice in his humiliation. You’re right…were I to get what I deserve, I’d probably be even worse off than Driscoll. Thankfully, God is not that way, and Jesus called us to follow that example. I pray Driscoll finds his way and his voice (though I do pray that the opinions he voices will be much less reprehensible). I pray that he makes amends to all of those who he has damaged (just as I do for myself). But mostly I pray that he finds Jesus’ way in this world – we all need to recommit ourselves to that, everyday.

    • louismoreaugottschalk

      i pray he doesn’t drink the poison koolaid & doesn’t require others to drink it either.

  • DCFem

    Was there any other way than public humiliation to stop Mark Driscoll? I have never seen an arrogant person stop their awful behavior because they had some sort of epiphany or really took the time to read God’s word. Unfortunately, it is always public humiliation that gets them to stop their wretched behavior. Should people gloat about that? Of course not. But it is a relief to know that he will no longer be in a position to harm people the way he has harmed so many in the past.

    • Christian Piatt

      I don’t know, but I get the feeling Paul was pretty arrogant.

  • Just Me

    “Do we honestly believe a God of infinite love, mercy and compassion
    plays such games, keeping tabs and then pulling the proverbial trigger
    right at the moment when one’s fall will be the hardest?”

    Sure he does. The Bible does not call it games, but God uses the humiliation as part of his discipline or correction for being arrogant and prideful. God resists the proud.

    “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 14:11. Guess who is humbling the one who exalts himself? The Lord himself.

    Proverbs 18:12 Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud, but humility comes before honor. (NIV) This is not God’s game but his general way of handling people according to his sovereignty.

    King Nebuchadnezzar was publicly humiliated by being reduced to a mad man for seven years, eating grass like a cow.

    King David was chased out of his own palace by his own son, Absalom, who later slept with David’s concubines in broad day light.

    These acts don’t make God unloving. No matter how unconventional these corrections may be, or publicly humiliating they may be, God uses them to accomplish his purposes.

    Also, I don’t think it is wrong to rejoice when God humbles the proud, even as followers of Christ. I cannot speak for all people but Christians should rejoice when justice is being served, when the church is being cleansed, when the reputation of the gospel is restored, and the abused are being comforted.

    We don’t rejoice in the failure and the humiliation of another God’s child, but we can rejoice in what that process might bring about.

    So, let’s not paint God one dimensionally and deny his ability to accomplish his will in ways that may appear unconventional to us.

    • Christian Piatt

      There’s a big and important difference between humility and humiliation.

      • Just Me

        I agree, and no one is disagreeing with you here. But those words are related and it is not unbiblical to say that God brings humility through humiliation at times when people refuse to repent.

        After all, the word “humiliate” comes from the Latin word, “humiliāre” which means “to humble.” The word normally means to to lower a person’s pride. So, humiliation can be and has been one of the means which God uses to humble someone who does not humble himself before God. He does that to those who belong to him, like David, and to those who don’t.

        If we see God humiliating the arrogant in order to being utter humility, what’s wrong with saying God is allowing self-inflicted humiliation to humble Driscoll?

        If you don’t humble yourself, he will do it for you. Jeremiah 48:26-27 seem to reaffirm that God uses humiliation to being humility.

        “Make him drunk, for he has become arrogant toward the LORD; so Moab will wallow in his vomit, and he also will become a laughingstock. “Now was not Israel a laughingstock to you? Or was he caught among thieves? For each time you speak about him you shake your head in scorn.”

        By the way, I am not arguing with your main point. So, don’t take this as an attack on your main point. I simply believe that God remains patient until a certain amount of sins build up and acts swiftly when enough is enough, and while we cannot determine when that is, He is more than allowed to do so. And just because he may choose to execute his discipline when one’s fall might appear to be the hardest, I don’t think it contradicts God’s love, mercy, or compassion.

        God is love, but love is not God. So, we should not define what love should look like beforehand and expect God to obey our imagination. God can do whatever he chooses to do and I think he can remain just, loving, and gracious. No?

  • Valerie Van Kooten

    I don’t think God is pulling strings up there, humbling Mark Driscoll. His downfall is simply a result of his actions. If pride goeth before a fall, Driscoll is Exhibit A. And a great warning…it’s very easy to get ourselves puffed up in the name of Jesus. But we will sow what we reap, and when we use Jesus’ name to demean others or to exalt ourselves, there can’t be another outcome.

    • $122284574

      I agree that there is no God up there pulling strings.

  • Daron Medway

    5 Have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,

    ‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
    and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
    6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
    and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.’

    7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined – and everyone undergoes discipline – then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live!

  • http://www.lifebridgeministry.com Keith St Jean

    Thank you for this Christian. While I too have had an ongoing issue with Mark and his teaching I still feel for the man and what he is going through. I have endured the consequences of my actions and decisions and it is never fun. My prayer is that it will be the crucible of learning for Mark and he will grow because of it.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    Hind sight is supposed to be 20/20. I’m trying to remember what I did when the bob Jones mass suicide happened. I didn’t pray. I watched my tv in horror as the event played out. Same thing w/ David koresh & the davidians. Horror. I’ve been in cults & have escaped w/ harm. I watched others suffer tragically & die. I feel like I am watching another trainwreck. I’m still here to help survivors god knows.


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