Mark Driscoll is promoting his new book, in which he is calling out Christian leaders for being too confrontational and fostering too much infighting… What the what? It gets better. Driscoll’s big publicity stunt to promote his book on being less confrontational, was to show up uninvited at rival-Calvinist preacher John MacArthur’s “Strange Fire Conference” and confront him for being too exclusionary.
Driscoll isn’t serious. Driscoll is just trying to sell books.
Jonathan Merritt wrote an interesting piece on Mark Driscoll at RNS – it’s worth reading. He chronicles Driscoll’s divisive past. Honestly, Mark Driscoll is one of the most divisive Christian leaders I’ve ever seen. His bombastic tweets and flippant comments are well known. Personally I think the low point was his Twitter post reading, “So, what story do you have about the most effeminate anatomically male worship leader you’ve ever personally witnessed.” Who says something like that? You know exactly who, because you went to Jr. High… which means you learned to spot the bully.
I was a pretty scrawny kid when I was growing up. I weighed 82 pounds in seventh grade (not kidding). I was an easy target, so I have a finely honed radar for this behavior. The truth is that I feel so, so sorry for Mark Driscoll. I really do. He seems miserable to me. He is in so much pain and he doesn’t even know it. So, he just goes around getting his pain all over everybody else. It must be exhausting to try to keep up his brand of tough, cool, always right, always in control, everyone who disagrees with me is going to hell, confrontational narcissism.
Merritt catalogs a few other Driscoll-isms:
When it comes to non-Protestants, Driscoll has joked thusly:
– About Jews / Catholics: “I don’t get the hats.”
– About a Jew: “I saw a man that I will now refer to as Mr. Goldilocks because he had these sideburns that were Goldilock-esque.”
– About Catholics: “there are weird rules like priests cannot get married, which has not worked out so well”
– On LDS and Muslims: “The Muslims. It got so quiet. Everybody’s like, ‘Oh, man. Can’t we do the Mormons and the under britches, can’t we do anything else?’ No, that’s too easy. We won’t talk about the burkas.”
– On students in religious schools trying to keep the rules: “And you know there was some little Nazi walking around checking. That kid, like, ‘Oh, I’m gonna be a deacon, that’s what I’m gonna be.’”
This same Mark Driscoll who has spent years dividing Christians and insulting almost every kind of people group imaginable now wants to put the kibosh on infighting? I know exactly how to respond. I cannot take it seriously. I think he just trying to sell books.
One of the most dangerous parts of this whole discussion is the fact that Driscoll, like many rock star pastors, has set up his life in such a way that he has no accountability. Merritt again:
The backlash from fellow Christians was so intense that Mars Hill Church’s elders sat Driscoll down to discuss the issue. [the effeminate worship pastor tweet] He later issued a statement saying the comment was “flippant”.
Driscoll’s list of divisive comments run much deeper than these isolated incidents. He has attacked emergent Christians, called yoga “demonic,” said stay-at-home dads are “worse than unbelievers,” compared nagging wives to water torture, and offended egalitarian Christians when he argued that women shouldn’t hold leadership positions in churches because they are “more gullible and easier to deceive than men.”He famously rules Mars Hill Church with an iron fist, preaching against “sinning through questioning” and once remarked that he wants to “go Old Testament” on dissenters.
Honestly, I look at Driscoll and all I can see is a scared little boy who thrives on power and control, and who doesn’t care who he hurts while he builds his tower. I can’t figure out how people still follow this guy, but they do. His influence is enormous.
However, I think it is inevitable that Driscoll’s influence will not last, and here’s why: Eventually all of the people who follow Driscoll will grow up. When they do they will tire of being scolded and yelled at by a forty-year old with a faux hawk. When all of the twenty and thirty-somethings who thrived under his dualistic, black and white, in and out leadership finally hit mid-life they will hit eject. Honestly I think this will happen to many of the men (I say men because they don’t allow women), who are leading within the neo-Reformed/neo-Puritan cabal.
Driscoll can only work within the very early immature stages of Christian discipleship, where rules, dualistic black and white thinking rule the day. Defiant about his immature behavior, Driscoll will continue to shun accountability and control people through fear and intimidation. Without the capacity for self-criticism, his glaring issues become will only become more pronounced over time. Those who follow him will see that his only mode of building community is to force community by erecting rigid boundary markers enforced through intimidation and fear. It’s simply not enough for us as we grow older and begin to crave wisdom and sacrifice. Any Driscoll devotees who grow beyond that narrative of dominance, dualism, and control will see that conformity is not the same thing as transformation. When that happens Driscoll’s influence will immediately melt.
So why even bring it up? Why give it any play? Because, I think that what Mark Driscoll is doing, and what he represents, is truly dangerous, and because “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” I’m trying to be a good person, so I’m saying something. I’m thankful that Merritt is as well. If you have a moment, read the last few paragraphs of his article.