Mark Driscoll is a very divisive figure in modern Christianity; most people seem to have strong opinions about him one way or the other, myself included. This post is not about the validity of his teaching, per se, and instead focuses on a bigger picture; I hope that regardless of how you feel about Mr. Driscoll, you will be challenged to think about the truths laid out below. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this–comment, reach out on social media, or email me! (email@example.com) Peace. –Michael
I don’t particularly like Mark Driscoll. I have nothing personal against the man, but I think that his views on women are frightening, his picture of God seems to be crammed into a very particular view of men and warriors, etc. To be fair, I’ve never gotten around to an extensive reading of his teachings; every time I start, I get turned off by aforementioned things. With some of the recent controversy surrounding him, he was back on my radar. As I was thinking about Driscoll, a startling thought popped into my head: Mark Driscoll looks a lot like one of Jesus’ disciples.
Peter (one of the 12 disciples) was an angry, temperamental, proud, and argumentative man who was quick to draw his sword and attack; even after being with Jesus, he still tried to kill a man in order to ‘save’ himself and Jesus. When Paul was teaching others that circumcision was simply an old analogy that wasn’t required for a relationship with God, Peter opposed him so much that Paul had to call Peter out in front of everybody for him to listen. Peter’s mindset was so set against non-Jews that God had to give him a vision before he would minister to a non-Jewish family. This guy does not sound like a high-caliber Christian! If it had been up to me, I would have chosen a bunch of people like Paul to be my disciples: sure they had crazy pasts, but once they saw the light, they were committed! After a couple of short encounters, Paul pulled a 180 and went around teaching others about love and grace, struggle and forgiveness, and God’s power and His care. He was open about struggles the he had in his life, and how that affected him and his relationship with God.
But which of these men did God choose to live with day in and day out for years? Who did Jesus say was the rock on which the church would be built? Peter! Knowing Peter’s flaws full well, God entrusted Peter with the task of helping guide the fledgling Christian community.
Peter and Paul had their fair share of theological differences, and they called each other out on inaccuracies, but they did not do it as a personal attack. They didn’t hate each other or react with disgust or disdain when the other was mentioned; they didn’t call the other one names or doggedly follow the other man’s teaching with the intent of challenging every point made.
All of this hit me at once, and I was ashamed. How often has my attitude towards Mark lined up with Peter and Paul’s approach to each other, and how many times has it more closely resembled a flame war in the comment section or an outright attack? I haven’t published many of my thoughts about Mark Driscoll, but I thought them either way. I am that guy in the comments, whether I left one or not, and it is not edifying. I have friends who go to his church or subscribe to his podcasts who have been blessed by his ministry. He has managed to gather people together in God’s name in an environment that historically is not partial to Christians. Do I agree with everything the man teaches? By no means! I still feel there are some severe problems with his mentality and teaching, at least as far as I have understood it. What I am saying is simply that Mark Driscoll has done good, and I need to recognize that and not just the things I disagree with him on.
I do want to address my fellow Christians, bloggers, and social media-ites who share in my dislike for some of Mark’s teachings. I agree that Mark has some things extremely wrong and those teachings should be corrected. I simply ask that we each look at ourselves and our reactions and keep them edifying. Proverbs has much to say about this:
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit. The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil. Wisdom’s instruction is to fear the Lord, and humility comes before honor. –excerpts from Prov. 15
It does no good to anyone for us to fly off the handle or let our emotions (however valid) dictate what we say: we should never attack a person, even when we challenge their beliefs. The question that I have found myself asking is “Why am I writing this? Why am I upset?” Many times it is because my honor has been hurt through a marginalization of my beliefs and I don’t want to take that. We should speak out about falsehood wherever it may lie, but do so in a soothing tongue, not a harsh condemnation.
If I was God, I would never have chosen Driscoll to spread my name, but I also wouldn’t have chosen a person who spent half their life pushing away from God and dealing with depression, porn, and self-hatred (me). I have no stone to throw. I’ve thrown too many that I didn’t have a right to. I don’t think that Mark Driscoll will ever read this, but I’m sorry for contributing to those who attacked you. I’d love to talk about why you believe certain things, but even if that never happens, let’s work together, not against each other.
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