After more than a decade of controversial comments and behaviors, mega-church pastor Mark Driscoll has taken a leave of absence. But should Christians celebrate the news? - Image courtesy of Mars Hill Church (http://bit.ly/1woCMpR)

After more than a decade of controversial comments and behaviors, mega-church pastor Mark Driscoll has taken a leave of absence. But should Christians celebrate the news? – Image courtesy of Mars Hill Church (http://bit.ly/1woCMpR)

The high in Seattle today was 75 degrees and balmy, but you can’t help feeling that winter is coming early for Mars Hill Church and its founder, Mark Driscoll. The beleaguered pastor announced to his congregation during their 8:30 am service via video that he would be stepping down for at least six weeks while Mars Hill reviews formal charges against him made by 21 former ministers. A round of applause rose in the main auditorium following the announcement.

As I consider this development in light of the shifting tide of public opinion toward Driscoll and the barrage of scandals that he has endured this year alone, I arrive at only one conclusion: The hyper-masculine minister, Mark Driscoll, has been effectively neutered.  He will likely never write another book, and if he does, far fewer will read its words. He will likely never again jet set around the country speaking to tens of thousands week after week. And even if he returns to the pastorate–which I imagine is likely–he’ll ascend the stage a shadow of his former self. The glory days of Mars Hill and its celebrity founder are irrevocably behind them both.

In the aftermath of the unraveling, even Driscoll’s most longsuffering friends seem to have deserted him. Several prominent church board members resigned, and the Acts29 church planting network that Driscoll founded kicked out Mars Hill Church and called on him to resign. Even the normally even-tempered Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, spoke harshly of Driscoll in a New York Times cover story this week, chiding him for “the brashness and the arrogance and the rudeness in personal relationships.”

So how should Christians respond to such a spectacle?

Part of me, I admit, wants to pump my fist and dance ‘round the kitchen. For more than a decade, Driscoll has angered the masses by  spewing offensive, misogynistic, and homophobic comments. And in the past year, his ministry morphed into an all-out grease fire amid charges of plagiarizing in booksbullying and shunning former staff members, and spending $210,000 in ministry money for personal gain.

So, yes, part of me wants to pop bottles and strike up the band. I want to rejoice like one person in my twitterfeed who responded to the announcement, “Good riddance, Mark Driscoll”. But as I’ve given it more thought, I cannot celebrate the demise of Mark Driscoll, and I don’t think Christians should either.

This may seem like a precarious opinion in light of such a long history of ministerial malfeasance. But I recall Solomon’s words in Proverbs 24:17: “Don’t rejoice when your enemies fall; don’t be happy when they stumble.” As the son of a warlord-king, Solomon had witnessed more fallen foes than he could count on his fingers and toes. Each defeat meant more wealth for his country, more security for his people. Even still, Solomon says that wise people resist the urge to celebrate in such moments.

Why?

Perhaps Solomon knew that releasing the animosity we harbor towards others is the only way the offended can be truly liberated. Maybe he knew, as Henri Nouwen said, “Joy and resentment cannot coexist.” Too often we forfeit all manner of joy, like the elder brother in Jesus’ powerful parable of the prodigal, because we want those who’ve hurt us or others to pay, pay, pay. But what we often find when we thirst for retribution is that the pain of the offender never fully quenches. We pant for more payment, more pain, more shame to satisfy our anger, hurt, disappointment. As the root of bitterness grows deep, its sour fruit hangs heavy.

There is no doubt that Driscoll should have stepped down–and for a lot longer than six measly weeks, if you ask me. I say this not because I believe in the myth of the perfect preacher who resides in an ivory tower and lives more righteously than others. But rather, because his patterns of behavior seem to illustrate instability of his emotional state and have resulted in the harm of others. I hope he receives help from a professional. (I know firsthand the difference that counseling can make.)

So in the wake of this news, I find myself relieved but not gleeful. I’m relieved the spiritual abuse is beginning to end. I’m relieved that I won’t have to wake to another one of Mark’s hurtful comments trickling down my twitterfeed. I’m relieved that I won’t have to tell another non-Christian friend, “He doesn’t speak for most of us.” I’m relieved, even as I grieve that the story did not have a happier ending.

Yes, I am relieved but I cannot rejoice. For when we celebrate the demise of another, we wake to realize we are also celebrating our own.

79 Comments

  1. Stephen Wheeley

    I heartily agree with all the sentiments expressed in this post. I’ve always found Driscoll’s macho attitude both offensive and not in sync with Christ’s teachings and life. But as Christians we can’t rejoice in the tragedies that befall others, even when they seem well deserved and overdue . Rather, as Jesus did teach, we must love our enemies and pray for them. Perhaps Mark Driscoll will emerge from this a changed man, one who can help bring unity to the Church instead of division.

  2. How can mark driscoll be an enemy of the church when so many people have met Jesus through his words? For all the criticism that he gets there are barely any commendation for the fact that thousands have become Christians through his church and ministry. Yes mistakes have been made but how can you call yourselves christians and be rejoicing when a voice that shouts Jesus (and people are listening) gets silenced? Isn’t Jesus the whole point of Christianity? I’m not a Mars Hill member or die hard driscoll fan, I totally get the crisitism from non Christians but I’m really baffled by the christian community having a heyday with this

    • Hi Tara,
      I think the problem is that, as Paul says, without love we are nothing. Driscoll’s often rude and alienating tactics were quite unloving and, unfortunately, hindered many in their desire for Christ, and I don’t blame them.
      God can and has worked through Mark Driscoll, yes, but neither Mark Driscoll, me, nor you are necessary* for the gospel to change lives.
      Many [not all, I admit] aren’t having a heyday over his demise. I’d rather it never have happened. Many are, however, relieved that his apparently abusive tactics are losing their power.

    • Tara, he is an enemy of the Church, many of his teachings are heretical and lead to cult of personality worship, so he should be not allowed to lead. Just because people have come to Jesus as a result of the work of the Holy Spirit, in his presence, or at his Church does not validate his leadership for two reasons. First, it is God that calls to people and it is the Holy Spirit who persuades them, not us, we are merely the vessels. The problem with many of the mega-church pastors and others in the Church is that they assign the results to an individual (it is also fascinating that many of these pastors detest Christian leaders like the Pope but are more arrogant than the Pope). Second, if the Christian faith they have become part of is not the true Gospel of grace, then what have they gained, and yes I do not see the Gospel of Grace in the words of Driscoll, I see a gospel of hate and judgement.

      • I could say right back at ya .. the gospel of hate and judgement is throughout all of your words. Like I said, I’m not a follower of his or a church member but how many times can a man say sorry?! Even the apostle Paul didn’t care about peoples sinful motives in preaching Jesus .. just that Jesus was being preached. I kind of thought that was the whole point of your religion?! If people are meeting Jesus how could he be an enemy of the church?! its a total contradiction. how can you see all the lives that have been changed through his ministry (yes I know its the power of the holy spirit .. but the holy spirit has chosen to use him) and say that he is an enemy?! Shouldn’t you just rejoice that thousands of lives are changed for the better in the name of Jesus?!

      • You are wrong. I have listened to Mark Driscoll’s sermons for years now and his preaching has greatly enhanced my walk with Christ. Be careful how you accuse the brethren. Mark is one of God’s children who has served Him faithfully. And please tell me what Mark Driscoll has preached that is heretical?

        • Traci Rowland

          You asked what Mark Driscoll said that is heretical. Here is just one thing. There are many, many more.
          “… [In order to be a real Christian] you need to know who the real God is, and how the real God feels. Some of you … God hates you. Some of you, God is sick of you. God is frustrated with you. God is wearied by you. God has suffered long enough with you. He doesn’t think you’re cute. He doesn’t think it’s funny. He doesn’t think your excuse is “meritous” [meritorious]. He doesn’t care if you compare yourself to someone worse than you, He hates them too. God hates, right now, personally, objectively hates some of you. He has had enough …”

          The God I serve, the God of Love, doesn’t hate anyone.

          • It’s not helpful to pull a quote out of context like that. I’m sure this was part of a sermon or a book which would of included God’s love in it. Sometimes we need to be aware of God hating the sin that envelops our lives, before we can come to a realisation that we need forgiveness through God’s loving sacrifice of His son. I’ve watched many of Mark’s sermons and never found him to be heretical. In fact, he’s been very helpful in my walk with God.

    • Johnny Hutchinson

      Tara:

      I too am not a Mars Hill member or die hard driscoll fan. But I know some males, who are and are inspired by him. He may be too “hyper-masculine”, which appeals to the factory floor heterosexual male and the males, who are culturally and legally beat up in this ostensibly feminized society (there is an subterranean undercurrent going hyper-masculine underway that concerns me for my daughter and granddaughter).

      He will mature and sheath a little of his hard edge. The Passion is in him. But contrary to Jonathan Merritt’s prophecy, he is not neutered. He will arise and write books and be an even more formidable servant of Christ. “Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” (John 15:2)

      You say:

      “How can mark driscoll be an enemy of the church when so many people have met Jesus through his words?”

      The reason why the criticism from within the churches is because the churches are full of unregenerated conservative, Pharisaic moralists. They are greater enemies of Christ than the secularists, just as in Christ’s day. Why do you think he yields such enormous opposition?

      It is in bad times, that we prove our mettle and loyalty. Read Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens. I have been here myself (but not as any preacher)

      “For the righteous falls seven times and rises again.”
      Proverbs 24:16

      • Jonny: you cite a good verse“Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” (John 15:2), but I am not sure if you imply that Mark was fruit bearing? I thought all the issues about him about the lack of fruit in HIS life? To me he taught the right doctrine, yet the bible says “watch you life and doctrine carefully”. His life was a “mess”. His language…”out of the abundance of the heart, a mouth speaketh”…

      • Scott Johnson

        You said

        The reason why the criticism from within the churches is because the churches are full of unregenerated conservative, Pharisaic moralists. They are greater enemies of Christ than the secularists, just as in Christ’s day. Why do you think he yields such enormous opposition?

        It is demonstrably, self evidently false that all of the criticism coming from within the churches is coming from the unregenerate, from conservatives, from moralists who are enemies of Christ. How in the world do you justify making such sweeping generalizations? Interviewed them all, have you?

        Do you REALLY mean to say that generating opposition is proof that someone is a relatively more formidable servant of Christ than someone who generates less opposition?

    • Tara: two quick points;
      1. some of what Mark made were sins and not mere mistakes that could be corrected;
      2. as Acts 29 said, most of those mistakes (sins) were ungodly and leadership disqualifying.

      I guess for some of us, the real issue was that Mark was an under-Shepard in the Lord’s church was the big-deal.

    • Scott Johnson

      Jesus gets the glory, the credit for all who have met Him, not Mr. Driscoll. Mr. Driscoll can be an enemy of the church by dragging it’s name through the mud, or by being an unbalanced loose canon of an ambassador for Christ, which harms both the enemy of the church as well as the church itself, for example.
      If you had read the article, perhaps you will appreciate the fact that Jonathan and all the commentators are NOT rejoicing. One of the problems with Mr. Driscoll is that he was shouting other things besides Jesus. A worthy, obedient ambassador only proclaims the will of his sovereign publicly.
      Fellow followers of the Way should not rejoice, as Jonathan points out. Yet I understand feeling relieved that the cause of Christ will be getting fewer black eyes as a result of this undisciplined, possibly emotionally disturbed pastor, taking the time he needs to get his house in order.

    • Amen Tara. Is there not enough silencing of the christian voice from the secular world to satisfy us? To rejoice that a christian voice that has brought so many to the Lord is being silenced and by the christian community itself is mind boggling. Do we assist in our own extinction?

  3. I cannot speak about the allegations as I have only met the man once. However in that short time he showed an incredible love for Jesus his family and the church.

    My prayers are that God will work a miracle through this and turn it into something that glorifies the name of Jesus.

    Today our culture cherry picks the Bible for verses that confirm our beliefs. The Word of God is challenging and it provokes unease when it shows areas in our lives that are counter to it.

    I believe that God allows us to encounter different seasons in order for us to get closer to Him and become more like His son.

    Many people are a part of the Mars Hill family I can only imagine how hard this must be for them. Now is the time to love them as well as the 21 former ministers and their familes. Jesus said to love one another as I have loved you. John 13:34
    If He can forgive us then we must then with that same grace forgive each other. Matthew 18:21 shows Gods heart for forgiveness.

    In ending this I encourage others to remember that not one of us is sinless. Yet each of us looks to God for forgiveness let us pray and fast for all those involved.

    Romans 8:1

    • “I cannot speak about the allegations as I have only met the man once. ”

      You don’t have to meet him to read the hateful things he has said, particularly about people like me.

      The following is one of the most spiritually abusive, destructive, hateful, just outright nasty things I’ve ever heard, or read from a pastor.

      “Some of you, God hates you. Some of you, God is sick of you. God is frustrated with you. God is wearied by you. God has suffered long enough with you. He doesn’t think you’re cute. He doesn’t think it’s funny. He doesn’t think your excuse is meritous [sic]. He doesn’t care if you compare yourself to someone worse than you. He hates them too. God hates, right now, personally, objectively hates some of you.”
      –Mark Driscoll

      I’ll tell you something, Diane. And read this carefully. It’s things like this said to me that drove me to attempt suicide. Not just once. Several times.

      • Anastasia, I am so sorry you were the subject of an attack like that. Mr. Driscoll and others who say such things are certainly not preaching the gospel of peace. I cannot imagine Paul, who wrote at length of wrath and the need for repentance, expressing himself with such vitriol. As Paul showed, there are gentler ways to express these things, and that it is kindness that leads to repentance, not diatribes. Diatribes have no place in the mouth of a preacher of Christ’s gospel.

        • I started to attend Mars Hill while Driscoll was preaching a long series on the gospel of Luke. The quote from the sermon where Mark says that God hates you is from Luke 39-46 (sermon 93: Jesus sweats blood), where Jesus is praying in the garden of Gethsemane. Specifically, the reference is to the cup that Jesus asks God to remove… All throughout my walk as a Christian, I knew of the passage that Jesus died to take away your sins… It wasn’t until I heard this sermon that it finally made sense. This is horribly removed from context, but essentially, is explaining how much God hates sin. It was a really rough sermon (and was prefaced as being a really rough sermon to listen to by our campus pastor before Driscoll gave it), but one with deep meaning, namely to stop sinning… Yes, Driscoll can be rough at times, but ultimately he loves his church and Jesus, a conclusion that one will come to while listening to his sermons.

          I no longer attend Mars Hill church, but would if I still lived in the area. The situation breaks my heart, and I pray that Mark is seeking repentance. I pray that Dr. Tripp’s advice is followed so that Mars Hill will become healthy again.

          Incidentally, the sermon hasn’t been removed and can be found at the following link:

          marshill.com/media/luke/jesus-sweats-blood

      • Dear Anastasia,

        I would like to take a moment and address what you say here first “I’ll tell you something, Diane. And read this carefully. It’s things like this said to me that drove me to attempt suicide. Not just once. Several times”

        I lost my best friend to suicide and I went to more funerals before I turned twenty than at any other time since. Recently I have lost another friend to suicide so I understand first-hand the trauma that occurs through suicide. If you have suicide on the table as a means of answering the struggles of life then I would take this time to remind you that there are other less permanent options. Ones that will not devastate permanently those you leave behind as they struggle to cope with your loss and will question for the rest of their lives if they could have done something/anything to prevent it. Suicide is not an answer that should be taken lightly, if you are ever in such pain that it seems the only way out. Then I would ask that you seek the help that you need and let those around you catch you before you fall. If you feel that there is no one then let those around you become your support there are lots of organisations willing and wanting to be there to catch you.

        I would now like to address the quote you gave that causes you so much pain.
        “Some of you, God hates you. Some of you, God is sick of you. God is frustrated with you. God is wearied by you. God has suffered long enough with you. He doesn’t think you’re cute. He doesn’t think it’s funny. He doesn’t think your excuse is meritous [sic]. He doesn’t care if you compare yourself to someone worse than you. He hates them too. God hates, right now, personally, objectively hates some of you.”
        –Mark Driscoll

        The sermon where this was taken has been removed but I have done some digging and I would like to give my take on what I think Mark is trying to say.

        God has been very angry and I think continues sometimes to be angry with us His children.

        I would like to take a journey with you through the Bible to discuss three occasions when God’s angry. Though in truth there are many occasions when we can witness God’s anger.

        Genesis 6:1-8
        6 Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose.
        3 And the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.
        5 Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the LORD said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.

        God spared Noah because he turned from sin and repented. Recently this has been explored in the movie Noah which showed how God destroyed everything on the planet except Noah and his family and the animals within the ark. http://creation.com/noahs-flood-why

        In Exodus we witness God saving His chosen people from a brutal life of slavery in Egypt. It then goes on to share how whilst Moses was absent spending time with God: that the people turned away from worshipping God and that they created new gods to worship in His place.
        32:7 And the LORD said to Moses, “Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves.8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They have made for themselves a golden calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’” And the LORD said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people. Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you.”
        Both of these passages relate to God’s anger towards His people but in them we can also see His Grace towards us. In Genesis it is because of the way the people are leading their lives and have forgotten God. You could argue that is how society lives its lives today. The slogan for our generations could be summed up into if it feels good do it, as long as you don’t harm anyone else. However God has higher expectations from his people and it grieved his heart to see what He had made. In Exodus His anger is directed at his chosen people who have fallen away from worshipping God alone. However let us read what the Bible says happens next as Moses implored the LORD his God and said, “O LORD, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘With evil intent did he bring them out, to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people.13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your offspring, and they shall inherit it forever.’” 14 And the LORD relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people. Reading further you will discover that God did in fact punish his people and many died for what they did.

        In the book of Malachi we see God challenging the hearts and minds of his people as their actions betrayed issues that were not honouring to God.

        400 years later God then sent His son Jesus to set us free the curse of sin and death which has been created as a consequence of our sin/mistakes. Jesus created a path to forgiveness and to God. However Jesus himself said Matthew. 5:17-19. “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfil. “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.” http://www.letusreason.org/7thAd26.htm

        So yes God is angry with us His children and He has on many occasions punished His children if you read the Torah/Old Testament you will read of how His people turned back on his Will and walked there on way. There actions always had consequences just as our actions do today.

        Jesus was known for loving those that society marginalised in those days it talks about tax collectors, drunks, prostitutes. I believe that Jesus would have loved the person but not what they did. The Torah/Old Testament is clear through the Ten Commandments what God expects of his people.

        Sometimes we forget the Holy anger of God and that one day we will all need to give account for our actions I will be asked the same questions. I think some of what Mark was trying to address is the hypocrisy in the church that we are so eager to point at others that we are not addressing the sin/mistakes in our own lives. Yes the Bible is challenging and it asks its followers to live a different lifestyle to those who do not believe. Which is why being a believer is a choice that each is given to make for themselves.

        Today it is no longer socially acceptable to disagree with how a person lives their lives. I would prefer an open society that allows each individual to have their own opinions whether they are socially acceptable or not. That provides the opportunity for debate and encourages the freedom of thought.

        You said that “You don’t have to meet him to read the hateful things he has said, particularly about people like me.”

        I do not know who your people are? You could be living with your partner and having sex outside of marriage or in a same sex relationship? Or any of the other sexual sins mentioned in the Bible that God has very firm standards on.

        Paul an apostle of Jesus makes a clear stand in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10

        9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.

        I believe that God has given each of us the free will to follow His commandments or not. It would be very wrong for anyone to force their beliefs onto anyone especially since God has Himself not done so.

        However opening up debate to discuss it should be encouraged even if the end result is to agree to disagree. It is when the talking stops that mistrust and hatred are allowed to brew disabling us from seeing the person and instead focusing on the action.

        Jesus taught John 13:34-35

        34 A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

        35 By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.

        This is said to His believers on how to treat those within the church. However I believe we are to treat everyone with this level of love, though at times it is very difficult. I would like to stress that Jesus never said we had to agree with each other.

        I think that Mark was sharing about God’s anger so that His people do not become complacent whilst waiting for Jesus to return. That we all will be judged according to our actions. I will one day have to give account for what I am saying to you today.

        We are all accountable for our actions and will have to give an account for them when we face judgement. Mark is a follower of Christ he is not perfect as he himself has said on many occasions however he does speak the truth. It is your right to disagree with what he says as it is mine to agree. The opportunity to have the right to decide is a constitutional right that should be protected.

        http://www.findlaw.co.uk/law/government/constitutional_law/fundamental_rights/500149.html

        http://www.constitution.org/powright.htm

  4. “Neutered”…really? I have to say the tone of the article, such as the use of the word above, demonstrates using the same type of one liner witty rudeness Driscoll is accused of.

  5. Jonathan,

    He’s already written another book and has only agreed to delay it’s publication, not halt it. I’d also like to know who you think is celebrating his vacation with the PR experts?

    Did you do any research for this piece or just knock it out after reading a couple of tweets?

      • I’m not asking for deep research, a little evidence to back up the implication would be nice. One person said good riddance — are we to assume John Piper is celebrating as well every time he says good-bye to a Rachel Evans, etc?

  6. Before you wax eloquent about Solomon, read the next verse. Solomon tells you why you shouldn’t rejoice.

    Proverbs 24:18 lest the Lord see it and be displeased,and turn away his anger from him.

  7. I’m curious why Merrit keeps trying to make us feel sorry for Driscoll and trying to shame anyone critical of Driscoll. He did this before when he decided to play God and demand we all forgive Driscoll.

    • Brother Jonathan has not fallen for the seculer attempts to destroy Christianity from within by going after strong Christian leaders like Pastor Driscoll.

      He remembers the command of God: “Love thy tribesman”:(not neighbor as it is sometimes translated). Brother Mark is within the tribe and we must support him. Judgment is reserved for those OUTSIDE the tribe who seek to destroy it.

  8. I don’t celebrate this at all, but I certainly view it as a cautionary tale regarding the trappings of success and fame. Hopefully this will cause all of us to examine ourselves to see whether hubris dwells in us. Experience may be he best teacher, but it doesn’t have to be your own experience that you learn from.

  9. Jonathan – Ii is always heartbreaking to see believers using public forums to air their grievances with other believers, rather than dealing with conflict in a Biblical manner. The attacks on Mark Driscoll have been very strong and very public over this past year, with some bloggers devoting hundreds of posts to criticizing him. I don’t agree with Mark Driscoll’s leadership abuses, and I believe that he may have, in fact, lost his right to lead. But I am equally troubled by the public nature of the criticism that has been leveled against him by other believers. It has damaged the cause of the Gospel in the eyes of a watching world.

    • Leslie Howard

      Unfortunately for those of us who are Christian and live in Seattle, the ongoing specter of misogyny, homophobia, and rampant macho bullying that has been the decade long hallmark of Driscoll’s so-called ministry has been halted mostly by the public criticism. Mars Hill refugees abound here, rendered powerless and shunned for questioning.

      The cause of the Gospel is not furthered by hiding abusive behavior behind a facade of unity. It was the sunlight that has finally put at least a temporary halt to Mark Driscoll’s posturing, and many of us are reluctant to believe in a his pastoral demise just yet. Evangelical Christianity has a way of allowing all sorts of misbehaving pastors back into the pulpit after they’ve “repented” tearfully enough.

      There was an excellent series on the dangers of placing the appearance of unity over the pain of the abused on Rachel Held Evans’ site, which you might find illuminating: http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/kristen-rosser-spiritual-abuse

      • Leslie, I’m not given to commenting on blogs, but I resonated with your comment and wanted to second it. I serve at an Anglican church just down the road from the big Mars Hill Bellevue campus. I highly doubt this will be the end of Mark’s ministry at MH and beyond. And while I can appreciate some of his recent statement, there are some disturbing absences in it as well.

        Call me overly optimistic, but I still hold onto hope that Mark can come to a healthier perspective, heal, grow, change. I don’t see much significant change honestly over the past decade and a half, but I’m hopeful still.

        But my concern–my “dog in the fight” as one other commenter said–isn’t about Mark’s sins or offenses. I’m not looking for him to make a list of every time he erred and publicly “own it,” as he has often done. At times that has seemed to me a distraction even from what actually needs to be done–changes in policy, restoration of those wronged, self-initiated critique and empathy.

        What *I’m* anxious for is the nurturing, restoring, re-pastoring, of the Mars Hill refugees who you rightly said abound here. Mark has preached a lot of good truth over the years; that’s a fact. He has also preached a lot of damaging distortions of truth; also a fact. Some people have been able to ingest the good with a certain immunity to the bad. Many, however, have not. I’m eager for the spiritual triage to begin for these people.

        If I’m doing any “dance” as Merritt says, it surely isn’t with regard to Driscoll taking a leave of absence. It is instead a celebration that some people who have been messed up by the church are perhaps a big step closer to believing that they’ve been injured and seeking new health outside Mars Hill among the many other churches that are, I believe, much healthier and similarly “all about Jesus.”

        Thanks for your comment. Stay hopeful. We need that out here.

    • “Ii is always heartbreaking to see believers using public forums to air their grievances with other believers, rather than dealing with conflict in a Biblical manner. The attacks on Mark Driscoll have been very strong and very public over this past year, with some bloggers devoting hundreds of posts to criticizing him. ”

      We did:

      “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.

      But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’

      If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”

      Matthew 18:15-17.

  10. 21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times. Matthew 18

    I am so thankful that God forgives my multitude of sins, even the repetitive ones. I think of Paul when he writes how the things he wills not to, he still falls short just like all of us born again believers. Thank you Jesus for reconciling me to my father!

  11. Great perspective. I think Driscoll has shown some great maturity here and I’m prayerful the accountability and investigation provided by his elders will be fruitful. Whatever anyone thinks of Driscoll, positive or negative, at this point, we have to keep in mind what the goal might be. Do we not want to see him restored to the church (perhaps as a leader, perhaps not), to restore those relationships he may have broken, and to be effective in whatever the next phase of his life/ministry, etc. might be? So he steps down–then what? We should not bury our wounded (even if those wounds are self-inflicted). If he is our brother in Christ, do we not want to see him be effective and whole in whatever role he plays next?

  12. No, we definitely shouldn’t celebrate. I don’t believe Jesus is celebrating. This is all a sad state of affairs. Like you, six weeks to me seems well too short for any significant restoration for Mark, his family (in particular), and his church. But the statement he read seemed to be read with significant remorse.

    I’m not so sure about your assessment of Mark’s future, Jonathan. There will almost certainly be more books and speaking engagements in the future. But we should all learn that a break in ministry is so important to keep our hearts and souls right. In this case, it seems that break has come too late and the result has been chaos. Personally, this lesson is one of the most important I think I can take from the event.

  13. You write: “Perhaps Solomon knew that releasing the animosity we harbor towards others is the only way the offended can be truly liberated. Maybe he knew, as Henri Nouwen said, “Joy and resentment cannot coexist.” Too often we forfeit all manner of joy, like the elder brother in Jesus’ powerful parable of the prodigal, because we want those who’ve hurt us or others to pay, pay, pay. But what we often find when we thirst for retribution is that the pain of the offender never fully quenches. We pant for more payment, more pain, more shame to satisfy our anger, hurt, disappointment.”
    It’s too bad that your description of why we shouldn’t rejoice centers so much on the self, as in, “I won’t have joy unless I forgive and let go.” Here’s a thought: how about you avoid rejoicing over Mark Driscoll’s fiasco-ridden ministry because it’s just plain sad that a minister of the gospel would so often be in error and hurt people? How about people just feel grief over the brokenness that we see in not only the world, but the Church? I don’t really follow the Driscoll news except in passing, so maybe I’m not tuned in to how invested people are in these developments, but I’ve always been turned off by how vulture-like many bloggers, etc., have seemed in all of this. It’s like some people are hovering around just waiting for more dirt, more gossip. It’s unbecoming a Christian to express anything other than sadness and to offer anything other than forgiveness.

    • Well said, Steve. I don’t know Mark Driscoll and have never read one of his books, and I don’t know any of the people he’s hurt. Therefore, I don’t have a dog in this fight. It just bothers me deeply that so many “Christians” are using this painful season at Mars Hill as fodder for conjecture and gossip – especially bloggers. I think it grieves the heart of God to see believers use a public forum to criticize one another in front of a watching world.

  14. where there’s smoke there’s fire….I came out of such an environment…the number of people willing to defend the indefensible is amazing…

    We need to ask God what He would have us do…not assume that Driscoll is innocent or guilty, since most of us don’t know anything about the situation…I only know his nasty quotations ridiculing women and that told me that he does not have a shepherd’s heart…

    Men who look down on women need to get out of the Christian walk for they do not belong there….pretending to follow the Christ…when their actions prove they are not telling the truth.

    Here is a quote from Driscoll that proves he doesn’t even know how women will be saved:

    “Women will be saved by going back to that role that God has chosen for them. Ladies, if the hair on the back of your neck stands up it is because you are fighting your role in the scripture. –Mark Driscoll, founder of Mars Hill nondenominational mega-church franchise. (1970-)

    (where does the Bible say ANYWHERE that we are saved by playing a role?)

    Then there are some of his other words:

    “Without blushing, Paul is simply stating that when it comes to leading in the church, women are unfit because they are more gullible and easier to deceive than men. While many irate women have disagreed with his assessment through the years, it does appear from this that such women who fail to trust his instruction and follow his teaching are much like their mother Eve and are well-intended but ill-informed. . . Before you get all emotional like a woman in hearing this, please consider the content of the women’s magazines at your local grocery store that encourages liberated women in our day to watch porno with their boyfriends, master oral sex for men who have no intention of marrying them, pay for their own dates in the name of equality, spend an average of three-fourths of their childbearing years having sex but trying not to get pregnant, and abort 1/3 of all babies. . . and ask yourself if it doesn’t look like the Serpent is still trolling the garden and that the daughters of Eve aren’t gullible in pronouncing progress, liberation, and equality (p. 43).”

    First off—what has this quote got to do with Christian women? This shallow self-serving understanding of scripture will not satisfy an older or more knowledgeable Christian. One has only to look at the founders/leaders of the World’s largest cults to see the most deceived are not only these founders, but also their followers, both male and female…I speak of Islam, Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Roman Catholicism… powerful male deceivers and men being deceived.

    Many men are easily deceived…even more so than women…practical knowledge of the world tells us this…just look at the stock market!

    Emotionalism in women is from the extreme frustration of living with lies and errors such as the above…and having no power to open people’s eyes to our culture’s blindness…because of men greedy of power and control…God is bringing this to an end because He will not tolerate injustice…let Him finish this as He Wills it…Driscoll has to answer to God…that is where the justice will lie…

  15. The demise of Driscoll has been greatly exaggerated. He will be back.

    Either way much of what he teaches is the truth and that will never change. Others will simply fill in the vacuum.

  16. First I want to say that I agree, we shouldn’t rejoice when our own brother or sister stumbles and falls.

    However, I think the author of this article is narrow minded, sold out to the culture, and really isn’t concerned with being true to Christianity. One thing one cannot critique Driscoll for is being a bad thinker or theologically Christian.

    To call him “misogynistic, and homophobic” is to demonstrate that one doesn’t truly understand the proper definition of those words nor Driscoll’s position. Look I am no Driscoll fan, not because of his beliefs, but because of his personality.

    Lets get one thing right he isn’t, nor are Christians who agree with him, misogynistic nor homophobic. One Driscoll doesn’t teach we should hate, mistreat, or dislike women, so he cannot be misogynistic. If you think not letting women lead in the church is a “mistreatment” of them, I think you need to visit our hardcore muslim neighbors to see what “mistreatment” of women really looks like. Not letting a woman lead might be wrong if it is anything, but it isn’t mistreatment, no woman has to go to his church and if they feel called to lead, they can go elsewhere.

    He is definitely not afraid of homosexuals, he may believe they are in sin and sick, but that isn’t the same as being afraid of them, which is the definition of homophobic. Look I may think Cancer is sickness (and may be caused by “sin” – an overindulgence in chemicals like cigarettes or booze, or may not be), but that doesn’t mean that I am afraid of people with cancer.

    Using politically charged words like homophobe doesn’t help the conversation, and seems to create an air of fist pumping that the author claims to not be participating in. Tisk tisk.

    • Scott Johnson

      Ryan,
      Which dictionaries are you using? I have found definitions of both misogynistic and homophobic with which Mr Driscolls behavior, attitudes and pronouncements are well in accord.

      If you used dictionaries which are old, you would be well advised that the meaning of most words are constantly evolving ie “gay”. It may appropriate to question the author on his tone vis a vis vocabulary choices, buy not on the basis of dictionary definition.

      You said “I think you need to visit our hardcore Muslim neighbors to see what “mistreatment” of women really looks like” which implies that no treatment of a woman can really be labeled as mistreatment unless it rises to the level of the “hardcore Muslim” mistreatment, but then you just leave it up to our imaginations as to which “hardcore Muslim” treatments you are referring to. It is hard to know exactly where you draw the line between what “real mistreatment” and “maybe just wrong” treatment is.

      I will say that advising women to leave the local church where they are being treated wrongly is probably good advice in many cases, but it doesn’t absolve the ones guilty of the “wrong treatment”.

  17. Daniel Berry, NYC

    we’ve seen it over and over and over – for many, many years: persons in places like the one occupied by Driscoll are heady–very heady. Few of us are prepared to occupy such intoxicating positions without beginning to believe the aggrandizing stories others tell us about ourselves. And not just believe the baloney we want to believe about ourselves, but to abuse the vulnerability of the credulous. It often – perhaps even usually – results in misuse of power, prestige and mammon – to say nothing of the misuse of the bodies of those easily seduced by such power. Anyone who reads the gospels cannot but notice the contradiction, but find it easily to compartmentalize it out of our consciousness. I find very little in such so-called churches that resonate with how I read and hear the call of Jesus to love, humility and service – the son of man who declined trappings of prestige and power and had nowhere to lay his head.

  18. Driscoll’s actions will be judged by time and the Word. He’s responsible for his actions (James 3:1), but it seems to me there’s a certain kind of glee in piling on Driscoll. Merritt is a young man raised in the home of a pastor who has used the ‘clay feet’ (is there any among us without sin?) of some of God’s men in order to discredit their ministry, redfine the ministry of church in general, and as an opportunity to redefine certain aspects of biblical truth, i.e. human sexuality, the nature and structure of the family. How gracious and merciful of Mr. Merritt to condescend to us mere mortals by saying that while he wants to be gleeful he’d better not for fear of exposing his glee over the fall of another Bible-thumping minister who would speak truth about various issues from a decidedly biblical view. And I’m not necessarily a Driscoll fan. It seems that Merritt wants a Christianity without edges or sharp points and he’s going to hide behind Driscoll to say, ‘See, I told you what happens when you hold to a certain kind of biblical Christianity.’

  19. how about we stop multiplying words and pray for a man that has stumbled and humbled himself?

    If you want to start rejoicing about a man being humbled, do it by yourself before God.

    • Well said. I am dismayed at the unhealthy fascination that so many Christians have with the failings of a clay-footed leader. I’m sure The Apostle Paul is rejoicing that he lived a couple thousands years before bloggers.

  20. This blog is very rude to Mark Driscoll, and very misleading to it’s readers. Jonathan twisted words to make Mark sound strongly opposed by his church, but the truth is that the congregation supports Mark as their pastor. The round of applause did not come after Mark announced his leave of absence. It came after Mark said God told him to do two things during this time. Love his family, and church family, and to teach the Bible.
    Also the 21 “former ministers” are almost entirely made up of former staff members of Mars Hill that were not ministers.
    To Jonathan Merrit: God has put you in a position where you can speak to many people, express your opinion, and provide details about important things. Please do not use this gift from God, to lie or exaggerate in order to attract more readers.

    • The link to Pastor Mark’s video is: http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2014/august/mark-driscoll-steps-down-while-mars-hill-investigates-charg.html

  21. I am someone who has appreciated Mark’s ministry for several years- albeit his online ministry. I am not claiming to come from a neutral position (if that is possible), however, I would like to caution against the jubilant tone of this article that undermines the point it is purporting to make of not celebrating his demise. Please, when writing from a professional point of view, adhere to the same Christian values that you are saying you cherish. We must pray for Mark and ask God that he returns to faithfully preach the gospel and undertake any reconciliation that is required.

  22. Jake Kirkwood

    Be careful Jonathan Merritt.

    Saying things like, he will be a shadow of his former self, and he will never write another book are very unforgiving and just make you sound immature. This article is full of strong statements and buzz words that I’m sure you hope start trending and put you on the map for having written something that sounds intelligent.

    I am glad Jesus didn’t leave me as I was, and this article leaves little grace for Mark and frankly no faith in the author and finisher of our faith. I don’t only take this article to be offensive but uninformed. You are attacking the very ability of God to work in and through his people.

  23. We should pray for him to be repetitive for the abusive words and behavior he has used. For years he twisted Gods word to fit his view of how he thought things should be.To place guilt, not to question and fear in to people, he’s aggressive and verbally abusive . we need to pray that he would see what he has done not only to this church but his only family. God help his wife, God help her !. His arrogance’s ,pride & entitlement, this is what has brought him down.We must forgive but repentance must be followed by actions ,and a humbled spirit a broken spirit and only time will tell this.If he cant except the boundaries what will have to be put in place to protect everyone around him and help him ,everyone will know. because he will go right back to the arrogance’s,pride & entitlement. “how dare you/ they do me like this. ” . God will always let people show themselves. It’s just up to us not to be fooled ,Christians are so afraid to be called unforgiving that we refuse to hold people accountable and will even help them cover their sin.there must be TRUE repentance ! it must be followed by a broken spirit and only time will show it .And in aggressive spirited people it can take years if it even happens at all.God I hope and pray for he and his wife .

  24. Our society is not FEMINIZED! We are just moved slightly out of a Patriarchal society into a more fair society….where women who head single parent families still don’t make the same money as a man for the same work.

    If fairness is too much for you…you need to study the Bible some more

  25. While I do concede that it is wrong to rejoice in the defeat of our enemies I also have to voice what a great relief it is to see the “ministry” of someone so abusive as Mark Driscoll finally be exposed. I come from a severely abusive church background but by the grace of God am now in a loving biblically sound church. I find great solace in knowing that fewer people will be hurt, led astray, or even have their earthly lives destroyed by this self deceived man. Let the healing begin.

    • I am very gratefull for pastor Mark Driscoll’s teaching ministry and have greatly benefited from the truth and clarity.I think he is just too frank for too many people who prefer to live comfortably in hippocrisy.That’s the real source of all this tide of stone throwing against him.Pastor Mark if you ever see this comment thank you and God bless you, keep teaching the truth.I am positive God is with you and will help you endure this time of trial and persecution.Those who are ashamed of the truth before the world, Jesus will also be ashamed of them on that day.

  26. Why are people so invested in seeing a pastor of a church they no longer attend or never did attend fall? Jealousy and hate. I think this witch hunt is wicked. I don’t think Mark Driscoll is without fault, but not a single one of us are. I have grown from listening to Driscoll’s podcast and I believe that God has called him to preach and given him a gift as a teacher. I am really disappointed that people who don’t want to work on the hate in their heart or confront him personally are causing me and thousands of others like me to miss out. The Apostle Paul was brash. God uses those personality types to do great things for Him too, not just the types who shoot off petty blog posts throwing God’s name around to back up their point. (Great, now I need to work on my heart too.)

  27. Jonathan, I am sure you mean well, and your argument is well presented, but I simply can’t agree. We can certainly hope that Mr. Driscoll achieves some kind of reconciliation with his God and peace with himself, but yes, I do believe think Christians should “celebrate” having such a snake out of a leadership position (distinct from celebrating the fall of Mr Driscoll himself). His statements and the trail of damaged lives he left in his wake deserve nothing but contempt. Many of his remarks have done nothing but portray Christians as whole, and those who identify as “fundamentalist” in particular, as the biggest loons this side of the Peoples Temple. There is room for disagreement on issues, but do Christians all want to be tarred with Driscoll’s brush? Your heart is in the right place. Driscoll’s was not.

  28. Traci:

    It’s always important to provide context. Without context, what you say or convey becomes pretext, and that does no one any good.

    The God of Love, which I assume you are speaking the Triune God of the Bible, is a God of Love. But be careful. When you say he doesn’t hate anyone, the way you state this is potentially on shifting sand.

    Prior to each of us coming to know Christ because He made Himself known to us, we were indeed enemies of God. A good read for you tonight may be the first eight chapter of Romans, but see what Paul says in Romans 5:

    “…For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

    For those of us in Christ, God does not and will never hate us. But this is only because the Father sees His Son when He sees us, it has nothing to do with what we have done. For it is Jesus who has stepped in on our behalf, but the key is that He had to step in.

    There was indeed enmity between us and God. For to deny this will be to deny the very reason Jesus came to live, die, and rise again. So there was enmity. We were enemies. But by His grace, for those who believe, we are enemies no more. There is no more enmity. And this is why God is love. Because love is the supreme ethic, and this love is embodied by Christ’s work on the cross.

    My family and I will be praying for Mark, because it is God who truly sees the heart. Each of us is broken and let us not revel in each others brokenness. Pray for his family as they will walk this road as well, even if it is Mark’s doing. Pray for Mars Hill, as many have been affected. And pray that somehow this will bring God glory, as it’s usually in ugly situations like this that we can see God’s grace juxtaposed with our own depravity. And God’s grace always wins:)

    • Hi Peter,

      You made this statement about the enmity of God and man.

      For those of us in Christ, God does not and will never hate us. But this is only because the Father sees His Son when He sees us, it has nothing to do with what we have done. For it is Jesus who has stepped in on our behalf, but the key is that He had to step in.

      There was indeed enmity between us and God.”

      Which is true, but enmity does not equal hatred.

      Christ instruncts us to love our enemies.
      Matthew 5: 43-45
      “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.’ “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

      I would think that if Christ said this, God agrees and loves His enemies as well.

  29. I disagree with this post.Mark Driscoll is not a terrible pastor or bad man and just because everyone has jumped on the band wagon to slander him does not make it right.All the folks casting these stones at him should look at their own life and the sins they are harboring… Your judgments are lame and have done nothing more then hurt the church. Why are all you folks forcing Mark Driscoll to become a cookie cutter Mark.. Judging him on how he should speak, what tone to use and how to give his message.Maybe his calling is not to come across as a boring golden boy like so many other pastors.Maybe he was not called to be a ear tickler like so many of the other pastors.I am totally disgusted on how this whole situation with Mark was handled.The very own church Mark started including Acts 29, throws him under the bus and hammers him to the point of resignation.Mark made mistakes, but good grief he was NOT the only one. HOW DISAPPOINTING

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