Pastors of America: Remember Mark Driscoll

If this sort of thing is your bag, then by now you’re probably aware of Mark Driscoll’s latest “D’oh!” moment as, Homer-style, he continues bouncing his excruciating way down the rocky mountain (or down the Hill of Mars, as it were) of his own making.

If you haven’t heard the latest, see this post on the blog of Warren Throckmorton, perhaps our most intrepid Driscoll watchdog. (The short of it: Driscoll’s tush has been handed to him by the 500-plus network of churches that he co-founded: he’s been kicked out, in other words, of his own club. Adding insult to their injury the group publicly wrote to their erstwhile hero: “Based on the totality of the circumstances, we are now asking you to please step down from ministry for an extended time and seek help.” D’oh!)

And now I’d like to offer this:

Dear Every Fundie Pastor in America:

Hi there! So, have you heard the latest about Mark Driscoll? Ha, ha! I kid. Of course you have.

Are you wondering today what lesson about your own life and ministry that you might learn from this latest development in the life of pastor Driscoll? If not, allow me humbly suggest that you do.

And what might that important life lesson be? It might be this: Endeavor wholeheartedly to resist becoming a complete dinkwad. Do not, for instance, intimidate people. Do not base your ministry on bullying everyone who doesn’t blindly agree with everything you say. Do not use your pulpit to rain down insults upon your detractors. Do not preach that women are naturally inferior to men. Do not preach that gay people are a moral affront to God. Do not lie about your church’s finances. Do not use your church’s money to buy your book a spot on the New York Times bestseller list. Do not snort coke and then spend all night under a fake ID name raving about manliness in online forums. Do not spend so much time intruding yourself into the personal lives of others that your own personal life becomes a disaster.

Just don’t do stuff like that.

Driscoll made the horrendous mistake of assuming that he could wield absolute power. And he could have, too—except for one teeny, tiny little thing called the Internet.

Remember, pastor, what Driscoll, in his fervor, forgot: We are watching. All of us are watching. All of us have the Internet. All of us have the power to instantly share with the world everything we know, think, believe, suspect, question, or are fully prepared to prove.

You do not exist in a vacuum, pastor. The days when you could—the days when pastors were able to close tight the doors of their churches and proceed in just about any way they wanted as long as they had deeply enough intimidated their congregants into submission and silence—are over.

That’s why Bob Jones University is collapsing. That’s why First Baptist of Hammond, Indiana, the original fundamentalist megachurch, is now a hollow shell. That’s why the whole of the fundamentally toxic Christianity is floundering like a harpooned whale. That’s why every single day more and more churches are voting to quit teaching or believing that homosexuality is a sin.

What’s right in the eyes of God is also right in the eyes of everyday people—who, after all, are made in his very image. And everyday people are exquisitely sensitive to when a pastor is preaching or doing what’s wrong instead of what’s right, what’s evil instead of good, what healthy instead of dangerous. And they will speak out against that now, because now they can.

Thank you, Internet.

So remember, pastor: Don’t be a dick. Or, if you must, do. But as you are giving in to that powerful attraction remember, if you can, Mark Driscoll, and never say that you weren’t warned.

I’m the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question:

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Darren Conley

    All my favorite posts about pastoring make use of the word “dinkwad”.

  • Brilliant!

  • Ben! Ur the best.

  • HAR! Me too.

  • Julie

    My husband and I were, for a time, associated with Intervarsiy Christian Fellowship. While it did not ascribe to fundie Christianity, there were a few male leaders who preceded Driscoll down the path that he now treads of bullying and intimidation among other damaging behaviors. There is something about religious power in particular seems to be very intoxicating. We severed our ties with one leader in particular much to the consternation of many mutual friends. Over the years they have come to see what we did but much damage had been done.

  • Happy2BGay

    I just did the happy dance in my home office. Thanks for the update, John!

  • BarbaraR

    The Complete Dinkwads would be a great band name.

  • ErikaBeseda

    i love this. forever and ever a-person.

  • Julie Rodriguez Green

    This. Perfection

  • Bones

    Seems churches are more about being disciples of a personality. My church is on the internet where I can find a range of views on a subject instead of being told just one.

  • Richard McCullen

    As usual John, you hit the nail on the head! Perfect!

  • Rich McCullen! Thanks!

  • DC Rambler

    As long as people are willing to trade away their freedom to seek their own spiritual path to another who promises a safe and easy road if you will only follow him we will always have plenty of Mark Driscolls.

  • OhmyAlice

    Excellent letter, Mr. Shore. Glad to see this charlatan brought down. I truly hope he does get the help he needs. There’s a power-hungry, Driscoll-wanna-be pastor in Sumter, South Carolina who really needs to read and heed your advice as well.

  • paganheart

    I call dibs!!! 🙂

  • What’s right in the eyes of God is also right in the eyes of everyday people—who, after all, are made in his very image. And everyday people are exquisitely sensitive to when a pastor is preaching or doing what’s wrong instead of what’s right, what’s evil instead of good, what healthy instead of dangerous. And they will speak out against that now, because now they can.

    I love this, John. I so hope you’re correct. I’m a little more pessimistic.

    Driscoll is being called to account for ethical breaches, abuses of power, and an outrageous expression of his beliefs. It’s the third that has brought scrutiny to the first two.

    It is the patriarchal, exclusive theology that enabled the Driscoll empire. It elevates men, and clearly defines in-groups and out-groups. This theology enables the abuse of power (and too often the sexual abuse of women). It creates cult-like dynamics. No one is criticizing Driscoll’s theology.

    Acts 29, unsurprisingly, shares Driscoll’s beliefs – the ones that bore the rotten fruit they now condemn. I find it impossible to believe that there aren’t similar abuses of power and ethical breaches in the empires of other celebrity pastors – especially those who are in the neo-Calvinist crowd.

    I’m sick to death of the “it’s not what you believe, it’s how you hold your beliefs that’s harmful” mantra. It’s bullshit. There are harmful beliefs. These patriarchal beliefs are harmful to women. These exclusionary beliefs are harmful to communities. The theology has to change if the abuses are going to end.

    So, in this moment when the victims of one empire are being vindicated, I’m thinking of the truly anonymous victims of other empires and hoping they have their moment someday soon.

  • I think it’s power in any form that’s intoxicating. Religious power is special because it uses Divine authority. You can control others through orthodoxy and claim it’s not your will but God’s. This power is the fuel that sustains toxic theology like that of the reformed movement.

  • Agreed. And who can forget the grand slam “rump chapeau”?!? Brilliant.

  • AtalantaBethulia

    And, at its heart, is unhealthy psychology. Theology built on unhealthy psychology is unhealthy theology. Unhealthy theology becomes not merely a symptom of the problem, but the cause. They feed on each other and perpetuate the other.

    Any theology that is ego-enhancing rather than ego-diminishing is the crack that is needed to allow this kind of pathology the light necessary to grow.

  • So perfectly said.

  • Chas Frechette

    Wow, that was the best gloating jerk reaction I’ve ever seen. You just lost someone who was willing to listen to you.

  • Get a sense of humor.

  • I hope you’ve already forwarded it to him … emails are easy to find, let us know if you need assistance.

  • Brilliant. Just. Damn. Brilliant.

  • Mike Moore! (And thank you.)

  • Your dead on with your take on the role of the Internet, but I kind of wish it didn’t give charlatans a platform, too. Unfortunately, the Internet is not a cure-all. Anyone with an opinion can say stuff, and unless we have the discernment to sort good from bad, the Internet can be plain confusing.

    Kind of tangential, I know, but just be careful what you read! Even in progressive Christian circles, there is oftentimes enough of a circle jerk to let bad info pass without scrutiny.

  • Really? Gee, I hadn’t ever noticed a Progressive Christian circle jerk before. I’ll keep an eye out for it.

  • You’re so right, David; and this is so perfectly said. Let me make this the “featured comment” of this post so it always rides just beneath it. Insightful as always, brother.

  • Haha, indeed…

  • hi John! you’re welcome. Back from my 2 month “vacation” … Hades is lovely this time of year.

  • This is on Mars Hill reddit page.

    Its gonna get ugly before its all over with in the denomination that a non-existent verse in the bible as its title.

  • Jill Teer

    I am SO behind! What did MD do?

  • BarbaraR

    Nothing new that he hadn’t been doing; it’s just that it finally caught up with him. See Allegro63’s Reddit link below.

  • Al Cruise

    Excellent. I hope the young pastors who were influenced by Driscoll take careful note of all of this. What is really sad is these leaders find out that they have certain personality traits that can effect people in a real way and unfortunately use those traits in a negative way. They are without fail, great communicators. They find out, often by accident, that they have personality traits that when used in a certain manner, they can intimidate people and install fear very easily. They quickly see that certain people will desire to be close to them and protect them. They continue to refine those personality traits to a high level to control everything and everyone in their lives. The story usually always ends with the kind experience that Driscoll is going through. Yes pastors, study this closely and choose your path carefully, especially if you have a gifted personality. Driscoll’s story should be taught in all Bible Institutions to all young people who are going into leadership roles.

  • Unah

    What? Was he caught snorting coke? Not that I would be surprised. It would actually explain a lot.

  • I love the Homer jumping the Gorge reference!

  • Frank6548

    Keep speaking the truth Mark though you could be more gentle.

  • which truth? his own words? the words he stole from others and claimed as his own? or, perhaps, the crude “truths” he wrote as “William Wallace II” because he was too chickenshit to sign his name to what he really thinks?

  • Where do you think I should have been more gentle, Frank?

  • Frank6548

    John I was speaking to Mark. Telling him he needs to be more gentle.

  • Frank6548

    Biblical truth.

  • now, would that Biblical truth as defined by the Presbyterians, the Southern Baptists, the Methodists, by Mars Hill, the Episcopalians, the Lutherans, the Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses, or the Mormons? KJV? NAS? NIV?

    I suspect your god is pretty darn small.

  • There is noone named Mark who is discussing the topic at hand. If you are telling this to the person this topic is about, you’ll get a better chance at a response from him, if you speak to him directly. Otherwise, its rather a waste of time.

  • Oh, here we go.

  • don’t worry Allegro, just couldn’t resist making the point … now, I’m outta here.

  • Frank6548

    Hardly a waste of time to stand up for biblical truth by recognizing a very flawed person who speaks it. Your comment however….

  • What is considered “biblical truth” varies widely according to whom you may ask. So, again, why are you here and not attempting to contact Mr. Driscoll to give him your undying support?

  • Jeff Preuss

    This conversation takes on a certain surreal quality with all of Frank’s blather blocked. 🙂

  • Jill

    The book that launched roughly 41,000 denominations.

  • Guy Norred

    So tell me about this killfile thing. I am starting to think this is the ONLY thing he has in his life, and perhaps because of this, I should just let him go on, as Adolph Loos allowed his cobbler to ornament his shoes, but I think it would be much simpler (and healthier) if I just don’t have to see it all.

  • Jeff Preuss

    I would Google search the word killfile, disqus and the name of the internet browser you use. There’s generally an extension one can download to add to your browser. Then on every page with Disqus comments, [hush] and [hide comment] will appear next to commenters.

    Though it is not foolproof, [hush] next to Frank’s name will thereafter silence most of his blather. Instead it says “Comment by Frank6548 blocked.” It does not stop his comment from showing up in the right side list of most recent comments, but even if you click on it, it will take you to the “blocked” message.

    Beyond that, since Disqus doesn’t have a blocking feature, you should go into your email settings and create a filter to weed out updates from Disqus containing his screen name. Otherwise, you’d still be able to see his impressive showings of a lack of love in full force in your emails.

    I’ve used this trick for a few people now, and mostly it prevents me from getting too worked up over people with whom there’s no reasoning. Because, admittedly, I like kicking hate-trolls, but I realize it’s ultimately not that productive or conducive to reasonable adult discussion.

    And, I don’t want to derail the intent of these blogs too much.

  • Guy Norred

    Thanks! I feel more peaceful already.