pumpsandgarters asked this question:
I’m lost on what’s happened recently to Pastor Mark Driscoll and his removal from the Acts 29 church planting network, can you give me a brief summary of what’s going on or send me a link to a reliable source so I can understand what’s going on? Love this blog by the way it helps in the most arduous of moments!
Hey my dear friend, thank you for your very kind words. Though I might not be the best source on this, I won’t pretend that I haven’t been reading on it.
If you don’t know Mark Driscoll, he’s a “famous” megachurch pastor in Seattle, which is the second most unchurched city in America. He’s written a ton of books, is a very strong speaker, and is especially geared towards young men. He’s an unapologetic Reformed Calvinist with an encyclopedic memory and a sharp sense of humor.
In the last few years, he’s been accused of: plagiarism, verbally bullying other pastors and staff, paying $210,000 to get on the New York Times bestseller list, posing as a commenter on his message boards to make purposeful misogynistic statements, and misappropriating a charity fund to an unknown place. I’m sad to say that many of these accusations have turned out true or worse, most by his own admission. He has apologized numerous times, but I suppose most people want to crucify him.
Here are a few things to consider.
- The only reason the general public discuss Mark Driscoll is because of our current state of celebrity culture. If this happened in the 1980s, we’d laugh him off as another Jimmy Swaggart or Benny Hinn, and it would be a footnote in history. While I really endorse social media, it’s also made an unnecessary circus out of dang near everything. To be truthful, I’m a bit embarrassed to be writing about this. The fact that we even put Driscoll on a level to attack in public really speaks volumes about our insane voyeuristic blogosphere. It’s a drunken idolatry that’s gripped the Western church, while our faithful brothers and sisters are getting killed for their faith overseas and have never even heard of a podcast.
- The Christian commenters on every online post about Pastor Mark is unsettling and disturbing. Of course, Christians love to shoot our wounded and devour our own. The church doesn’t look any different than the world when it comes to the internet: we’re just as much an orgy of hate, whining, name-calling, and immature butt-hurt slander.
- But the truth is: I’m no better than these commenters. I’m no better than Mark Driscoll. I’m no better than Adam and Eve. If any one of us were given the immense power and under the same pressure as Pastor Mark, there’s no telling how awful we would become. That’s not to absolve his behavior, but that’s to say I understand.
- I have zero authority in disciplining Pastor Mark. I only have authority over what I myself say and do: and I’m unqualified even for that about half the time. All these pastors and bloggers calling for “repentance” and “stepping down” are probably correct, but that’s like going over to my next door neighbor’s house and trying to spank their kids. So really the Christianese internet needs to sit down, close their laptops, and eat a cake or something. All of Driscoll’s woes need to be handled internally, and it seems like steps are being made (especially by Acts 29, the network he founded) to keep him in check. Some of these protest groups are probably justified, but if he’s broken the law, they can go through the appropriate channels and press charges.
- I’m 99% certain that “Christian watchdog bloggers” are going to hell. I’m not kidding, and it hurts my heart. Every Christian blogger who writes a TMZ-like column to be the “gatekeepers” of faith are wasting their damn lives. You know who I’m talking about (just Google any famous megachurch pastor, and you’ll find the critics). What the hell do these people even do? Do they even care about truth? Or site views and ad clicks? I’m sorry to sound so harsh, and I’m normally not this way. But it doesn’t matter if they serve their church or love their kids and have “a heart of gold” — they’re absolutely destroying the church from the inside, and they know exactly what they’re doing with the controversy. They make Jesus look like an idiot: and anyone who does that is like messing with my mama. I’m sort of defeating my own point here, except really I’m just heartbroken about it. They have no idea how much they’re hurting the body of Christ with all this blatant innuendo and trashy classless garbage. Before we call out some megachurch pastor, let’s call out the so-called watchdogs. Unless you’re okay with one of them bullying a pastor’s 15 year old son to suicide.
- Instant forgiveness is cheap and pointless. Half the online world is jumping to Pastor Mark’s defense (including me sometimes), but the truth is that he’s done some terrible things. Forgiving someone must always directly acknowledge what they’ve done wrong, or else it cheapens the forgiveness. So yes, Pastor Mark needs to be held accountable for what he’s done.
- But we need more grace and prayer and unity, and not less. In the long run, whether he steps down or not, Pastor Mark still needs his brothers and sisters to love on him. I’ve really been blessed by Pastor Mark’s ministry. He’s one of the first podcasts I ever really listened to regularly. I’ve heard him preach in person and I grew to like him. He has a wife and kids. He’s very gifted. So I’m rather grieved over the whole thing, and if even half the accusations are true, it’s disappointing. All this is more reason he needs our prayers. Our faith is about restoring the losers and bums and bad guys. To the degree which we receive them: that’s the degree to which we understand what Jesus has done for us on the cross. Plain and simple.
- I’m a little more interested in alleviating poverty, human trafficking, and addictions in my own community. I don’t mean to diminish those very real hurts that were suffered by members of Pastor Mark’s church. Certainly there needs to be justice there. But eyes on the mission. There’s a bigger story here. Our tight little Western ghetto subculture of Churchianity is not the only thing happening.