The brutality with which the Church is responding to Mark Driscoll is far more damaging to the gospel message than anything he ever did.
Dear Church, please remember your identity as the Bride of Christ, and then please, I implore you, STOP tearing down Mark Driscoll! Not only are you behaving in the same manner you’re accusing Driscoll of, but you’re also presenting a completely distorted delivery of the Gospel.
The cross holds an unrestrictive jurisdiction. Our sin alone towards God is an offense that cannot be matched. But in God’s grace and love for his children he has provided the cross to cover our sin…ALL of it. To say that Driscoll’s sin is greater than anyone else’s or that it deserves public slander from both media and Christians alike…is really to say that the cross fell short and that grace is only so sufficient. And THAT is a theological foundation for a complete mess.
Consider the following points in respect to how the Church has responded to Pastor Mark and remember them the next time you want to post a comment or article about him.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ
If you feel so inclined to expose Driscoll’s downfall in the name of defending the Gospel, then make sure your delivery reflects the Gospel, too. That is, if you’re going to reveal the wrong, make sure you saturate it in grace, forgiveness, and a hope of restoration. If your delivery does not reflect the aforementioned traits, then you are either highly misinformed on the magnitude of the message of the Gospel, or you do know the Gospel message and are thus a textbook hypocrite. Remember the woman caught in adultery? Jesus, the ONLY one who was justified to kill her, was not in the business of tearing her down or exposing her sin; her sin was already out there.
And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” -John 8:7-11 (ESV)
He looked on her with love, extended grace to her, and after rebuking the crowd, he gave her a hope of restoration by simply telling her to go and sin no more. Jesus would not command of her something she was unable to do, so we see His grace coming to fruition in her sanctification. This is the hope of restoration. I would think that we have more reason to have hope for Driscoll than a prostitute, but Jesus restored even a woman such as her.
“But John, it’s biblical to hold pastors to a higher standard!”
I know, and he is being held accountable. But posting defamatory rhetoric is by no means a form of accountability…especially if he isn’t going to see it. It’s not accountability if the one being held accountable isn’t present.
Subtle defamation is defamation still.
Whether you tweet that Driscoll is a misogynist swine or you simply post a biased Huffington Post article about the allegations set forth against him, you are still guilty of tearing him down. Many left-leaning Christians have posted articles about Driscoll in the name of “informing the public” on Driscoll’s actions- leaving out any of their own defamatory commentary in order to support their informative agenda. However, I highly doubt that these Christian leftists would be so informative if, say, Rachel Held Evans was so indicted. Held Evans, who is notarized for being a Christian feminist, self-proclaimed proponent of the emergent church, and in many ways a biblical progressive, is, appropriately, one of the leading heroines of the Christian leftist movement.* The timeline of her notoriety is peppered with adverse published material about Driscoll.
Before you post anything about Driscoll, think of his five children. His kids are no strangers to the Internet or mainstream media. It’s bad enough that the secular media is throwing their father under the bus while saturating the accusations with manipulative dishonesties. But for them to see the Church, the Bride of Christ who they’ve grown up with, respond so callously…I can’t imagine their pain and feelings of betrayal, nor do I wish to be a contributor to it.
“But John, as much compassion as we have on Driscoll’s kids, it is paramount for them to know that despite their father’s pastoral status he cannot get away with sin!”
True, but as I stated before, defamation, no matter how subtle, is no means of accountability nor is it anybody’s place, outside of his circle of accountability, to correct him.
Of all the Christians who have delivered adverse comments about Mark Driscoll, I wonder how many of them have prayed for him. Is your wisdom so much greater than the power of God’s grace?
God’s peace and grace be with Driscoll’s children and their parents.
*This description of Rachel Held Evans is not a manipulative opinion. She unapologetically identifies with this community using the same vernacular as I used to describe it.
There is much to be said on this topic, but I imagine all Christians understand it to be a humble act of confession met with evident closure towards the confessed sin. It’s a sincere desire to turn from sin while taking practical steps to ensure the sin remains in the past all along while walking in grace.
Pastor Mark has repented and has done so on a much more humbling platform than most of us ever will on this earth.
How should Christians respond to their siblings in Christ when they repent? They should celebrate! The prodigal has come home and learned from his ways! God rejoices with this, shouldn’t we!?
“But John, there hasn’t been enough time to see if Driscoll has repented- he only recently apologized.”
Good point. After all, in the parable of the prodigal son, the father, representing God, waited a period of three weeks to see if the son’s repentance was legitimate, right? WRONG! He didn’t even wait for the son to get to the door! He saw his son returning and HE, the father (God), ran (pursued) the son, wrapped his arms around him, and threw him a party!
Now I get it, there has been a list of allegations surfacing about Driscoll, which may indicate that his apology was merely a public relations move and he is continuing in his ways. However, to put that theory to rest, many of the allegations are manipulative and the accusers are simply looking for an opportunity to burn Driscoll. More on that in the following (and final) point. So, is it hasty to assume that he is legitimately repentant? I think not. I am very confident that he recognizes the errors of his ways and is truly pursuing restoration. Why? Because as one of the most prominent pastors in the Christian community (not even isolated to evangelicalism) he has taken a tremendous fall and thus has endured much humiliation. The man is broken. Not only has he expressed his desire for restoration, but he has also taken practical steps to hold him accountable to this pursuit. Driscoll recently sanctioned six seasoned Christians who are bold enough to call him out to hold him accountable.
This is enough for me to celebrate. But if one is still skeptical, that’s fine; however, it is not justification to continue in sin by tearing him down.
As I alluded to above, there are groups within the Christian community who have been waiting for an opportunity to attack Pastor Mark. This reaction is both immature and unbiblical. These vindictive behaviors neglect every ounce of the Gospel message. I highly encourage any signatories of this behavior to seek repentance themselves before they call upon Pastor Mark.
So who are these communities?
Anyone who knows Pastor Mark’s ministry knows that two primary theological cognates that he pushes are Calvinism and Complementarianism. Calvinism is a scriptural interpretation of salvation that has for long been a controversial topic in the Church. I won’t go into details about it, but if you, my readers, want to research it, I rejoice with that. Complementarianism is the traditional stance on gender roles that holds to male hierarchy. This does not equate to male oppression over women. I won’t go into detail on this topic either.
Many who have lashed out towards Driscoll in the recent weeks staunchly oppose these two theologies and would likely identify themselves within the Christian feminist community (not because of Calvinism, though). Driscoll has said some terrible things about women in the past (far in the past) and has apologized for these statements (the apologies are way in the past as well).
So why are they surfacing now?
Because those who are unwilling to accept Driscoll’s apology would see it as a defeat for them, as they would no longer have a “misogynist swine” to call out as an ad hominem assault to lift up their own agenda.
“John, that’s a very bold claim.”
Perhaps, but let me say that I too have a beef with both Calvinism and Complementarianism. I identify more with Arminianism (the opposing view of Calvinism) and I’m fine with women as pastors…yes, even lead pastors (though I’m always wrestling with this one.) This gives my bold claim credibility because I know many within these opposing communities, and I have seen firsthand the tenacity with which they will defame Driscoll. It’s not theological; it’s a personal agenda. If it were theological then their approaches would be delivered with a Gospel dialect…and they are not, not by a long shot. I understand that Driscoll’s opposition isn’t isolated to those who I’m describing here, but they are a prominent percentage.
In conclusion I want to challenge the Church, the beautiful Bride of Christ, to ask themselves what type of gospel advocacy are we showing if we have no room for grace in response to Driscoll’s repentance? We all have sin. The cross was good enough for yours, mine and Driscoll’s sin. Work towards restoring him, not tearing him down.
Friends, I pray that this message penetrates the hardness that our hearts often become and that conviction may set in where necessary as it has for me on a number of occasions where I have hastily called someone out in a manner unreflecting of the very grace that has so scandalously been lavished on me. Walk in love, walk in grace.
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About the Author
Hi, my name is John and I love coffee. As I write this I’m sitting in a local brewery sipping a “mudslide” espresso with cream and two and a half sugars. There are few things in life that I feel merit precise orchestration with no room for error, coffee is one of them. My life belongs to Jesus. I am his son and he is my King. His work in my life is reason enough for my faith to be made complete. He lived to die for me so that I may be credited righteous thus I will live for him. I don’t hold any radical theological views, other than I serve a radical God. I affirm scriptural inerrancy, infallibility and the Bible as God’s final authority in text. See full bio here