How [Not] to Speak of Mark Driscoll

But if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but to some extent – not to exaggerate it – to all of you. This punishment by the majority is enough for such a person; so now instead you should forgive and console him, so that he may not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. – 2 Corinthians 2:5-11

This week, Mars Hill Church released a video of Mark Driscoll getting real about the current “season” of the church.

As one friend remarked, Driscoll appears weathered.

Specifically, Mark put this video together as a belated, official response to controversies surrounding the Mars Hill Global Fund (which, it appears, was not all that global) and the executive elders’ recent agreement to meet with former leaders of the church for mediated reconciliation. While there is, I am sure, much to dissect about this video (and the fund and the reconciliation process), and many people who feel it lacks authenticity or truthfulness, I am not going to dive into any of that in this post. Or in any post going forward.

And here’s why.

Recently I’ve had an experience with God that I can only describe as a kind of conversion. It was something deep and total, but it has ramifications for my writing. Namely, there has been a shift that pertains to issues like this, and how they tend to drown out the potential for ideas.

It is not that these issues are unimportant or not worth speaking about, but it matters how we speak about them. It matters how we speak about Mark Driscoll. Perhaps now more than ever, as much has been disclosed about the internal goings-on at Mars Hill, leading to this obviously difficult “season” for everyone involved, we are at an impasse in how we ought to speak about all of this.

In my opinion, this is a stage in which prophetic speech can easily transition to vindictive, injurious speech. Whether Driscoll has officially and sufficiently “repented” or not (and that is, frankly, for those closest to this situation to decide), the dangers of his and Mars Hill’s theology and ideology have been effectively uncovered. Again, that doesn’t mean there may not be more to say – but it does mean that the force we bring to this conversation must be turned down, mitigated, scaled back, to make room for those closest to the situation and show respect to everyone who is working through this at a personal level.

As for me, I will likely not speak of Mark Driscoll much at all. But if you must speak of him, consider all parties involved. Now – whether we like it or not – Mars Hill Church is itself a maturing, weathered church. While many have been hurt, many also remain, and because of this exposure, changes will have to be made. The root theology may not fully change – but we will see changes in leadership, membership, and management practices. There is discipline happening here that has done, and is continuing to do, its job, at least to a degree. And it is entirely possible that MHC may become a livable church again, and Driscoll a bearable (and even beloved, by some) preaching pastor.

Another way of saying this is that once the abuse and dysfunction of a part has been uncovered, the safety and health of the whole must be considered. Mark Driscoll and his family likely have a ministry future. Mars Hill Church more than likely has a future. And if they do not, if the discipline is to be so severe as to produce a drastic end of some kind (an end to Mark’s ministry, an end to that church as we know it, or other relational/familial fallout), then that is something to which we should all respond with grieving.

And consolation too: that all of those involved “not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.”

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About Zach Hoag

Zach J. Hoag is a writer and missional minister from notoriously non-religious New England. His book, Nothing but the Blood: The Gospel According to Dexter was released in 2012. Twitter & Facebook.


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