Some Thoughts About Mark Driscoll

There were a couple things that I couldn’t avoid, even with my self-imposed internet sabbatical. One was the ice-bucket challenge. The other was the ongoing saga of Mark Driscoll.

I’ve written about Mark plenty here, and I’ve detailed his early involvement with the emergent movement in one of my books. Mark and I never knew each other all that well. I got the impression that he looked down on me because in our “Group of 20,” I was the lone youth pastor. Just about everyone else had planted a church of their own.

Those were heady days. Cover articles on Christianity Today and Christian Century within a year of each other — that’s rare. Television coverage on ABC and PBS. Articles in the New York Times. Speaking gigs, book contracts, conferences. That shit can go to your head.

Let’s be honest. It did.

But we began to garner a reputation of being the “young assholes of evangelicalism.” We took no prisoners, and we refused to follow the rules of civility that had been established by the seeker-sensitive Baby Boomer pastors who preceded us. That approach garnered us early attention, but it wore thin rather quickly. And we knew it.

So, we ratcheted things back. We collectively decided to play nicer. And, as I wrote in the book, that’s about when we parted ways with Mark — or he parted ways with us. That story depends on whether you believe his book or mine.

Probably what was most disconcerting to those Baby Boomer pastors was that many of my peers, Mark included, were the heirs apparent to their megachurch kingdoms. But most of them have spurned that. Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt, Chris Seay, Danielle Shroyer, Brad Cecil — each of them pastored or pastors a small or mid-sized church. Of the original emergent group, only Mark went on to megachurch superstardom.

And now he has news helicopters flying over his “million dollar” house and TV reporters buzzing on his intercom.

My point is this: It could have happened to any of us.

Sure, Mark had personality traits that all of us saw even in 1998 that would lead him eventually to a very reified and right wing theology. He was also brilliant, hilarious, and an egomaniac. He loved the spotlight and hogged the mic. But he wasn’t evil. He was passionate. We all were.

But somewhere it spun out of control.

I’ve reached out to Mark recently, as I have many times over the past decade. I rarely hear back from him. I want the best for him, and I surely do not think he is beyond redemption. As I said, he is extremely smart, and I’m hoping that he can see his way out of this. I hope that he can see that the version of theology he embraced is toxic. Others have turned from that theology. I hope he will.

And I hope that all those from his church and the Act 29 Network who are breaking with him now will see that it’s not Mark they should abandon. It’s his theology.

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You can find all of Tony’s books HERE, and you can sign up to be the first to know about his next book, Did God Kill Jesus? HERE.

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  • Orton1227

    “And I hope that all those from his church and the Act 29 Network who are breaking with him now will see that it’s not Mark they should abandon. It’s his theology.”

    Tony, do you see his theology being much different from Acts 29 though? (Was that your point?) Having been in Acts 29 churches for the past 10 years, I’ve seen and heard a number of things very similar to Mark Driscoll’s theology. Curious if you see him almost as a partial victim in a cult-like church planting network (and I really, really don’t mean to sound insulting by using “cult-like”, I just mean that it’s structure and methods are very rigid and they pump out cookie cutter churches and impress the same theology to be held across the board; I just couldn’t think of a better word.)

    • Silva Helmer

      How is this different from some of the major denominations? Does the catholic church not demand that all their satalite churches share the same theology?

  • John D’Elia

    That is such a gracious offering, Tony. I’m really glad you wrote it. It’s been easy over the past few years to lob stones at Driscoll–for his sexism, for his catastrophic misunderstanding of the personality of Jesus, and for the ways he abused his staff and lay leaders. Your piece circles us back to the brokenness that draws us to the gospel in the first place, and for those of us in church leadership, the dangers of believing our own press. Thanks for writing this!

  • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

    This is exactly how I feel. The ongoing fiasco is engendered by a toxic theology. While in this case it has led to hyper-masculine emotional abuse of other men, in other places it has too often led to the physical, emotional and sexual abuse of women.

    The harm won’t end until we abandon harmful theology.

  • http://tracimsmith.wordpress.com/ Traci

    There is deep compassion in this post, and I am so appreciative of that. I’m appreciative of the reminder that Mark Driscoll (who I have never met personally but know via a lot of writings and speaking) is a real human being. I appreciate the idea that it might not be the person who has wounded us but his or her theology. On the other hand, isn’t it true that it’s impossible to separate the person from the theology? If my theology leads me to actions that wound and hurt, it’s *me* that is the hurter, the abuser. This is why our theology is so important, no? It changes *us.* If my theology is hate (true *hate* not just a-holery and jerkishness) then I might need to change not just my *beliefs* but also my*self* — is this making sense?

    • http://tracimsmith.wordpress.com/ Traci

      PS when I clicked on the link to read past posts about him, I got ”
      Sorry, this page is currently unavailable.” — don’t know if it’s just my computer.

    • KentonS

      I think that’s right, Traci. It’s impossible to separate one’s theology from one’s actions. In other words, faith and works can’t be divorced from each other in spite of the way some folks have read Luther. MD’s hurtful actions are a product of his hurtful theology. But like Tony said, MD (the person) is not beyond redemption, and changes in his theology could lead to changes in his behavior that could benefit a lot of folks (including the ones he’s hurt in the past).

  • Ringo Leaves

    “But he wasn’t evil. He was passionate. We all were.”
    “I hope that he can see that the version of theology he embraced is toxic.”

    thanks tony, and well said, and your humble admission, “It could have happened to any of us” is so true. none of us are above Mark’s flaws and i know i share a number of them. i hope forgiveness finds it’s way to him and i hope he experiences it, and i hope he stands up again, changed by it all.

    your comments, tho, also alert us to perhaps the greater hurt in all this, the things beyond mark’s character brokenness… and that’s the theology one makes his or her stand on. that’s the greater hurt going on here. for me it is, anyway.

    mark’s fall didn’t result from what he believed with passion or professed with talent, his fall played out like a classic Shakespearean-tragedy – caught by his own weaknesses. But there are still many pastors & congregations, and ACTS 29, and the Gospel Coalition who have hijacked Christianity with a hurtful belief. they may have abandoned mark when he was brazen and wanted distance from his behavior, but they still hoist a flag up and shout from their pulpits that “their truth is thee truth.” it’s like “their truth” became more important than the hurt & brokenness of one of their chief priests so they ran from him. that part make me sad.

    as you said, “I hope that all those from his church and the Act 29 Network who are breaking with him now will see that it’s not Mark they should abandon. It’s his theology”. so i hope the examination soon leaves Mark. let’s cut-a-man-a-break and easily forgive him, but like you, i hope the examination is put upon a hurtful theology, this neo-reformed view, and a loving jesus, and accepting jesus comes forth. thanks tony and thanks for telling us a bit of that story.

  • http://ericsenglish.com/ Eric English

    Excellent and gracious. Thank you.

  • Jennifer Ellen

    And yet it is so often the people we abandon for the sake of the “message” (theology).

  • CJ

    “As I said, he is extremely smart, and I’m hoping that he can see his way out of this.” – I think the only way he will see himself out of this is repentance, which is not in any way tied to his intellect. He became the megachurch superstar out of the emergent pack because of the structure of his personality. It is because of this troublesome, deeply entrenched personality structure that he remains in power and has worked so hard at prohibiting others from keeping him accountable. He is a narcissist. I don’t say that to be inflammatory, I say it because it is becoming abundantly clear to many of the mental health professionals watching this debacle from the sidelines, including myself. I’m not talking about “narcissist” in the pop psychology sense of the word, I mean it in the DSM diagnostic sense. As former MH pastor and now psychotherapist Bent Meyer pointed out recently, Mark can’t tolerate shame without employing denial and minimization. This, tragically, keeps him from repentance. It’s the tragedy of the narcissist. Unfortunately, it’s rare for this breed to seek out treatment, since treatment/accountability = exposure to intolerable shame. I don’t have much hope for Mark, but I have some. It would be beautiful to see him lay down his narcissistic defenses and repent. It would be the beginning of a very, very long and arduous road towards healing for him.

    • djfree79

      Indeed. I’m a mental health professional as well, and have been saying for years that I believe Mark has Narcissistic Personality Disorder. As such, I’m not sure there is anything compelling enough in this world to save him from his self-destruction, but I do hold out hope nonetheless.

  • http://www.knightopia.com/blog Steve Knight

    “It’s not Mark they should abandon. It’s his theology.” Amen and amen! Scapegoating Driscoll is not the answer. What you’ve said nails it, Tony. Redemption for Mark and rethinking things theologically for the Calvinist/neo-Reformed movement that followed him. Thank you.

    • Benjamin Martin

      “I can never join Calvin in addressing his god. He was indeed an Atheist, which I can never be; or rather his religion was Daemonism. If ever man worshipped a false god, he did.” ~Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, April 11, 1823

      Luckily that fellow foresaw the power-hungry nature of bad theology, and helped built a Wall of Separation between Driscoll-land and State.

      Not that the scheming Driscolls of the day liked much that their “tyranny over the mind of man” was opposed.

      “The returning good sense of our country threatens abortion to their hopes, & they [the clergy] believe that any portion of power confided to me, will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly; for I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. But this is all they have to fear from me: & enough too in their opinion, & this is the cause of their printing lying pamphlets against me…” ~Thomas Jefferson, letter to Benjamin Rush, September 23, 1800

  • Guest

    I just do not think MD will come to the light until every last brick of his self-made kingdom is torn from him. All of it, and maybe even his wife too if she’d open her eyes. It’s clear the leadership patterns going on even to this minute over there (and i’m skeptical that he’s not still on the clock playing puppet master) are not just about theology – if you believe that you haven’t been reading what people who are even recently leaving and abandoning ship are reporting. Those patterns are what happens when you have a megalomanic stamping Jesus on stuff for more power and control. It’s sick. He needs to be held accountable. In the 80s people like him in lesser contexts (think PTL club) went to prison. I say lesser contexts because of social media’s outreach. Bless the pastors / elders and members who are brave enough to leave and speak out.

  • Rebecca Trotter

    The thing I find fascinating about this situation the way that the error in the theology Driscoll embraced is so thoroughly embedded in the entirety of the enterprise which, in turn, is driving its downfall. The theology is fundamentally abusive. The God of this theology is abusive. The praxis taught is an excellent incubator for abusive dynamics. And – surprise, surprise – the accusations against the church consistently entail abusive, manipulative behavior. It’s all of one cloth and Mark, given his particular personality and wounding, just happens to be the conduit by which we’re being shown what this theology looks like in action. I sincerely pray the best for him as that’s got to be a tough position to be in. But I also trust that God is through all of this, also leading Mark to his true identity in Christ.

  • http://www.blackcoffeereflections.com/ Tim Ghali

    Amen – the self-awareness, the vulnerability, the reaching out. You’ll probably get crap for posturing but this is the authentic stuff that makes so many of us appreciate you and the many in this conversation.

    Like many others who have differed from Mark, I am hoping the best for him, his family and all involved as well. I’m also praying for the many hurt over the years (my posts can be found for the curious but not feeling it appropriate to link here today).

    Just want to say – yes, thanks for sharing, it makes a difference coming from you in light of your personal history, and a bunch of us resonate with this.

  • Benjamin Martin

    The theology that needs abandoned is hierarchical Pauline doctrine. The problem starts right in the Bible itself, with Paul conflicting with values Jesus taught. I’d say things went to Paul’s head too.

    But hey, a guy has to make a living somehow.

    Jesus: Call no man your father. [MT 23.9]
    Paul: You have only one spiritual father. For I became your father… [1CO 4.15]

    Jesus: Rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. [MK 10.42]
    Paul: So even if I boast somewhat freely about the authority the Lord gave us… [1CO 10.8]

    Jesus: Follow me. [MT 9.9, MK 2.14, LK 9.59, JN 1.43]
    Paul: Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me… [1CO 4.16]

    Jesus: You have received without payment, so give without payment. [MT 10.8]
    Paul: Those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel. [1CO 9.14]

    • Ric Shewell

      Boo. I’m bored with people putting the Gospels against Paul. The Pauline epistles are a faithful witness of the Christ event, an earlier witness than the Gospels, and affirmed by the early churches and councils to be in agreement with the trajectory of the whole of Scripture. It’s a particular reading of Paul that needs to go, not Paul.

      • Benjamin Martin

        I’m bored with people who have shit stuck under their nose, and they still call it Shinola, just because some self-styled “authority” tells them that because it’s wet and shiny, it just has to be Shinola. Well, my sniffer still works, whether yours does or not.

        • Ric Shewell

          clever. So you’re arguing that I don’t recognize what shit the pauline epistles are because I’m an ignorant sheep? Well, so many things, but I’ll just ignore them because you are clearly projecting something on to me that you could not know about me.

          But my argument is this: the pauline epistles predate the gospels, and those who canonized the NT (who knew the Scriptures better than us) agreed that Paul and the Gospels were faithful witnesses to what God was doing in Christ. Do you think those that canonized the Scriptures are not as enlightened as you?

          • Benjamin Martin

            > I’m an ignorant sheep?

            Thou hast said it yourself.

            Without the slightest help from me. Next time, try not dishonestly putting words in my mouth, ok?

            You started right off being a smartass, and the smartass retort from me you’ve earned fair and square. That is all.

            All the while you obfuscate and appeal to authority, you cannot even touch with a 10 foot pole the obvious contradictions in values that I brought up.

            • Ric Shewell

              Okay. I’ll address your contradictions. Since it’s my day off.

              1. 1 Cor 4.15. “I became your father” is a terrible translation of ἐν γὰρ Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ διὰ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου ἐγὼ ὑμᾶς ἐγέννησα. A better translation is, “for in Christ Jesus through the gospel I gave birth to you.” No contradiction.

              2. You are putting value on “authority” that is not implicit in the text. It’s one way to interpret it, but it’s not the only way. Paul does not assert that he is “greater” than anyone. He does just the opposite in many other texts. Saying that he is the worst of all sinners. Paul is simply owning up to the authority that he believes God has given him in the church. Paul is not vying for the greatest position in the coming kingdom of God like the disciples are doing in Mark 10. The disciples there are not asking for authority, but prestige. Paul is owning up to authority. It’s your interpretation that reads prestige into it.

              3. This is not an either/or. Paul is not saying, “Follow me, not Christ.” Paul often encourages the churches to follow his example, like any pastor should be able to say. But it’s clear in Philippians, Paul exhorts everyone to imitate Christ in his sacrificial nature. Then Paul writes about how he has sacrificed. Then Paul encourages them to be like him. Paul leads by example (imitating Christ), and then encourages his congregations to follow his example. But once again, you got a translation error, μιμηταί μου γίνεσθε (1 Cor 4:16) is not Ἀκολούθει μοι (Matt 9:9). Paul is saying, “Take my example.” But he is not say, “Follow me, not Christ.”

              4. So, Paul lifts up a fact that preachers are permitted to take a salary, but Paul chooses not to. You take the verse (9:14) out of context. Paul is setting up the argument, that it is common practice for preachers to take salaries, yet he does not (9:15-18). If you read further, Paul is completely in line with these words from Christ. Absolutely no contradiction.

              My first suggestion would be that you buck the KJV and NIV for some better translations. Or at least admit that every translation is an interpretation of the original text. I’d suggest using the NRSV or CEB, but you know, that’s because I’m a mainline liberal Methodist.

              But look, we could do this all day. This is the text that has been handed down to us. If we want to take Jesus seriously, then we can’t dismiss Paul’s letters, our earliest documentation of Christian faith, regardless of how we feel about him as a person. His letters articulate the faith of Christians within a decade or two of the crucifixion. You know the Gospels come later than that. It’s not as though the Gospels were written by Jesus. The Gospels have authors with their own agendas as well. If you don’t think the Pauline Epistles give a pure vision of Jesus, well why do you think the Gospels do? Just because they are a different kind of literature? They are just as touched by their contexts and authors. Both the Gospels and Pauline Epistles need to be interpreted in light of each other. The church would be lazy in it’s devotion to Christ to forgo either.

              • Benjamin Martin

                You have been weighed in the scales and found wanting.

                1. Both MT 23.9 and 1CO 4:15 uses πατέρας, Strongs 3962, for the word translated into “father.”

                Contradiction still stands. Did you imagine I didn’t have a concordance?

                2. You are denying the plain meaning of the word “authority” that is implicit in the text, simply to maintain a hierarchical relationship in which you can Lord over others. “Not so with you” becomes an “I’ll damn well do it anyway.” Hey, it’s a living, right?

                3. Why did Paul insert himself as a middleman to follow? Because he wanted people not to follow Jesus, but Paul’s Greco-Roman mystery religion version of Jesus he invented as a syncretism.

                Jesus would have been aghast at what Paul taught. Let’s compare their teachings here:

                Jesus: He is not the God of the dead, but of the living… [LK 20.38]
                Paul: “…Lord of the dead and the living.” [RO 14.9]

                Here, Paul rejects Jesus and follows after pagan Sacrifice/Reedemer religions of the day, that had developed long before Jesus.

                […] they perform their ritual, and persuade not only individuals, but whole cities, that expiations and atonements for sin may be made by sacrifices and amusements which fill a vacant hour, and are equally at the service of the living and the dead; the latter sort they call mysteries, and they redeem us from the pains of hell, but if we neglect them no one knows what awaits us.
                Plato (4th century BC) The Republic. Book II.
                classics.mit.edu/Plato/republic.html

                4. I realize Paul was a tentmaker and supported himself as such, to some extent. Good for him. Follow his example and Jesus teaching, not what either he or a forger wrote to excuse doing good as a money making opportunity, which goes so often astray from even fairly good intentions.

                Oh, and when you use context, please use it in the academic sense, not as a magic wand to wave over contradictions while assuming the bible is some monolithic and inerrant magical book. Your use of “context” makes a mockery of the word.
                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK7P7uZFf5o

                • Ric Shewell

                  Well, it is my day off, but I’ll probably let this be my last post on this.

                  1. sure, whatever, paul says ἀλλ’ οὐ πολλοὺς πατέρας – but not many fathers. You understand that Paul didn’t read the Gospels right? Do you think that Matthew means to say that Paul is like the pharisees, and that Matthew is out to undo Paul’s letters or arguments? No one has ever thought that, but you are welcome to that point of view. Is it possible that Paul is simply saying, “Hey, I started this church, in Jesus Christ through the Gospel, I have a right to be heard. Listen up.” ? And is that really all that bad?

                  2. Like I said, you are interpreting prestige into authority, which is fine if you want to. That interpretation certainly casts a negative light on Paul today, but like I said, it’s not necessary. Paul nowhere says that he’ll be the greatest in the Kingdom, in fact he says the opposite most of the time.

                  3. Paul is not putting himself between the people and Jesus. Philippians 2 is pretty clear when he says, be imitators of Christ. He is simply saying, I follow my own teachings, you can use my example. Really, is that so bad? Shouldn’t every preacher be able to say this? Paul is certainly not saying, follow me, not Christ. Again, the churches Paul is preaching to have no Gospels to learn about Jesus, they only have teachers and preachers. This is why authority is important. They don’t have the Gospels yet, they only have the community and their preachers.

                  4. So you give me #4, yeah?

                  (side note, context? seriously? I tell you to look at the context of Paul’s argument, where you found your “contradiction,” and showed you according to the surrounding verses that Paul means the opposite of what you were trying to say? And if you think those verses are a forgery, then you miss the entire argument of chapters 8 – 11, where sacrificing what you may rightfully have is better for the sake of the community and other believers. Chapter 9 and issues about salary are simply an analogy to support this larger argument about sacrificing your right to meat-eating. That’s the context of the text and the argument. You want context of socio-historical setting? Okay, meat eating was typically a part of pagan festivals. Pagans would sacrifice meat to idols first and then distribute it to the people. The Gentiles knew that the Jews were forbidden to eat this kind of meat, so they started sacrificing all the meat in the market to idols before selling it. Essentially, making it so that Jews could not eat meat. This Christian community in Corinth was asking for permission to eat meat, since they knew that the idols were really nothing. Chapter 9 is part of his reply to this dilemma. Is that the context you were looking for?)

                  Finally, God is the God of the living and the dead. Once again, you know Paul never read Luke or Matthew.

                  I like this kind of stuff, but I’m not sure what you are trying to get Paul to say with that Plato quote. I’ve never seen a commentator try to move these words like you are.

                  In any case, Paul and Jesus are saying the same thing here. Jesus is being questions about marriage and dead people, and Jesus is essentially saying “nobody is dead, God is the God of the living, not the dead.” So even dead people are not dead. Paul would be in full agreement with this statement. In 1 Cor 15 and 1 Thess, Paul calls dead people “sleeping,” essentially saying the same thing: dead people aren’t dead. God is the God of all of them. In Romans 14 (to my initial reading, I haven’t studied it), it seems like Paul is just being literal where Jesus in Luke 20 and Paul in 1 Cor 15 were speaking figuratively. Do you think Jesus really believes that God is not the Lord or God of all the people who have died? Does Jesus mean that God has abandoned all the dead people? Certainly, not. Paul is saying the same thing, just literally calling dead people dead. This again is in line with his thoughts in Philippians 2.

                  So, I’m probably not going to post again today. I still think a responsible commitment to Christ includes a careful reading of Paul and listening to the Spirit in a community of worship. If you really want to excise the Pauline Epistles from the Church’s Scripture, you’re gonna have a tough row to hoe. And it’ll mostly be a lonely one. Good luck.

                  • Benjamin Martin

                    1. Paul writes “I” in the singular. We know what he’s referring to himself as, the same sort of father as Jesus mentioned. And which Jesus prohibited.

                    2. Jesus prohibited hierarchy. Paul encourages it. (And nowhere does Jesus prohibit only being the “greatest” as you purport.)

                    3. The link to Plato’s The Republic, which demonstrates the pagan origins of Paul’s Christ myth. Jesus the Jew would be aghast at what the imposters like Paul have transformed him into. More than a few early Christians realized the Pagan origins of Christ, and tried to say that Satan must have set these religions up before Christianity to confuse. I doubt commentaries are going to be as honest, since they’re interested in protecting the Pagan mythology attached to Jesus.

                    “…I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus, very different from the Platonists, who call me infidel, and themselves Christians and preachers of the gospel, while they draw all their characteristic dogmas from what it’s Author never said nor saw. they have compounded from the heathen mysteries a system beyond the comprehension of man…” ~Thomas Jefferson, letter to Charles Thomson, January 9, 1816

                    Gregory Lawrence Knittel (1993) The Euthanasia of Platonic Christianity: Thomas Jefferson, Plato, Religion and Human Freedom. San Jose State University. scholarworks.sjsu.edu/etd_theses/689/

                    You’re one of those Platonists. It’ll be something to study, now that you have a hint of it.

                    4. Half of New Testament forged, Bible scholar says
                    religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/05/13/half-of-new-testament-forged-bible-scholar-says/

                    And as far as excising Paul from the Bible, it’s already been done. The fellow that did it has a big monument to his memory in our nation’s capital. Has quite a few churches named after him. Yeah, me so lonely.

                    “Of this band of dupes and impostors, Paul was the great Corypheus, and first corrupter of the doctrines of Jesus.” ~Thomas Jefferson (Jefferson’s Works, Vol. ii., p. 217)

    • Camino1

      Plenty of people not Marc Driscoll respect Paul’s contribution. There have been decent, kind, generous and wise preachers for 2k years who know how to balance their Bible understanding and reality.

      • Benjamin Martin

        The same Driscollesque scenarios of abusive authority* happen over and over and over and over and over again, and nobody wants to get to the root.

        I’m sure there were decent, kind, generous, and wise Kommissars in the Soviet Union too. That doesn’t excuse a critique of the contradictions in Marxism that caused the mess.

        Address the contradictions in values that I’ve brought up.

        ______
        * see chapter 7, entitled The Ruler of the Whole World: The Invention of the Totalitarian State by the First Christian Emperor of Rome by Jonathan Kirsch (2004) God Against The Gods: The History of the War Between Monotheism and Polytheism. Viking.

  • http://www.restless-evangelical.blogspot.com Marcus Hübner

    Great relfection, thanks for that. Though I’n not sure whether a evangelical/calvinist theology inevitably leads to that kind of results that Mars Hill now has to struggle with. Anyways, I was wondering, as I was reading your reflection on Mark having a mega church and all the other EC guys not, whether that is really anything you can guide, apart from: This room is filled, there’s not space for anyone more.
    So, would you suggest that it was Marks/Mars Hill ‘fault’ to become a mega church, which is like the archetype of baby boomer christianity?
    Or would you say – what I am kind of reading out of your comment, that it could have happened to anyone of you – that the mega church culture itself produces it’s celebrities, no matter how orthopractic or orthodox they are – just to turn their back on them as soon as they ‘fall out of grace’

  • S_i_m_o_n

    If it’s Mark’s theology as opposed to some personality issue then why aren’t all the neo-Calvanists turning out just like Mark?

  • BradC

    I agree – I hope Marks sees his way through this. After the news about layoffs and closings this weekend – things look bad for Mark and Mars Hill.

    Mark is extremely smart and a gifted communicator. I always hoped he would pour himself into the theological task the “Group of 20” took on … but he didn’t like the trajectory of the work. I guess he was one of those that wanted to “save evangelicalism” and when he realized the rest of us didn’t – he was out. The real surprise to me – Mark introduced me to the work of John Caputo. He sent me the book God, the Gift and Postmoderism – this introduced me to the work that Dr Caputo was doing.

    I doubt the future of Mars Hill and Mark will ever look the same, but I do hope he can see his way through this and come out the other side a different version of himself. I also hopes he re-thinks his theology during all this – neo-calvinism just doesn’t work anymore and now he will really struggle with the idea of “sovereignty” that he holds.

  • Tim McCoy

    I believe if you look at the history of the “Church Growth” movement in the late 70s and early 80s you will find it deeply embedded in marketing and American culture. As I recall, the number one trait on those surveys was charismatic, great, inspiring speaker. The second was great music and the third was cradle to college family ministries. A whole generation of churches was spawned. There have been many Mark Driscolls since then. It is easy to forget the head of the church under those circumstances. It is also easy to forget what the church and gospel are. We created Mark and now as I have seen so many times there are great attempts to kill the monster before our eyes. Let wisdom and love reign here. I have known a number of Marks over the years. Fine human beings really, but human beings.

  • Michael Reaves

    Not sure how you can abandon Driscoll’s theology without distancing yourself from him personally. He has a well deserved and well documented history of narcissistic, intimidating, misogynistic, and abusive behavior. While we should not gloat at his downfall, I am glad he is no longer able to spiritually abuse his staff and parishioners who question him or dare to speak their minds. Then again, I am one of those “seeker-sensitive Baby Boomer pastors” so what do I know? His history of spiritual abuse alone suggests one would be wise to proceed with great caution if/when he resurfaces. And I am sure he will for better or worse.

  • Andrew Dowling

    Few people when you know them personally come across as “evil” but Mark clearly demonstrated through both his public persona and his working with people within his church that he was a major league jerk. Someone drawn to embrace such a twisted theology like Mark did clearly has some pathological issues. Sure the guy was smart . . so what? That to me makes him even worse.

  • poosh1

    If we prayed as much for those who Mark hurt as we do Mark, there wouldn’t be enough time in a day to get through all our prayers.

  • Paul D.

    “But he wasn’t evil. He was passionate.”

    I’d be curious to know how being “passionate” causes a pastor to mandate the shunning and ostracizing of ex-members, to embezzle church funds on marketing campaigns to make his own books bestsellers, or to spend money donated for missions on local administrative costs. This could have happened to any of us? Really?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/tonyjones/ Tony Jones

      I was talking about when I knew him. At that point, he was not abusive (that I knew of).