August 12, 2020

Goodbye, Angry Young Prophet?


In the last year or two, I have been deeply convicted by God that my angry-young-prophet days are over, to be replaced by a helpful, Bible-teaching spiritual father. Those closest to me have said they recognize a deep change, which has been encouraging because I hope to continually be sanctified by God’s grace. I understand that people who saw or experienced my sin during this season are hurt and in some cases have not yet come to a place of peace or resolution. I have been burdened by this for the past year and have had private meetings one at a time to learn from, apologize to, and reconcile with people. Many of those meetings were among the most encouraging moments in my time at our church. Sadly, not all of those relationships are yet mended, but I am praying that God is gracious to get us to that place of grace. Now that others have come forward, my desire is to have similar meetings with those who are willing.

– from Mark Driscoll Addresses Mars Hill Church

* * *

Mark Driscoll has written a frank letter to his congregation. In it he confesses that he has been an unhealthy and immature leader. He acknowledges his own shortcomings in knowing what to do about fulfilling his responsibilities and admits that there have been times when he acted sinfully in his anger.

Driscoll then outlines some of the changes that have made in leadership structure at Mars Hill to allow for more wise counsel and accountability. However, he confesses that changes were not always made in good ways, and that many people were hurt in the process.

He addresses the recent controversy about using the company ResultSource to market his book Real Marriage. Driscoll claims no bad intent in using them, but now regrets the choice. He says he won’t do it again, and he has asked his publicist to stop using references to the NY Times bestseller list in publications.

What got my attention the most was the next part of Mark Driscoll’s letter:

Second, in recent years, some have used the language of “celebrity pastor” to describe me and some other Christian leaders. In my experience, celebrity pastors eventually get enough speaking and writing opportunities outside the church that their focus on the church is compromised, until eventually they decide to leave and go do other things. Without judging any of those who have done this, let me be clear that my desires are exactly the opposite. I want to be under pastoral authority, in community, and a Bible-teaching pastor who grows as a loving spiritual father at home and in our church home for years to come. I don’t see how I can be both a celebrity and a pastor, and so I am happy to give up the former so that I can focus on the latter.

When I was a new Christian at the age of 19, God spoke to me and told me to do four things. Today, I see that calling as:

Love Grace and our family — Preach the Bible — Train leaders (especially men) — Plant churches. Other things may be good, but I do not have the time or energy for them right now. My family and our church family need me focused and energized, and that is my deep desire. Therefore, I will be spending my energies growing in Christ-like character by grace, staying connected to Grace and our kids, loving and serving Mars Hill Church which continues to grow, teaching the Bible, and serving Christian leaders through such things as blogs and podcasts at Resurgence. Starting this fall, I will also be teaching at Corban University and Western Seminary in Bellevue to invest in young leaders. For a season, I want to pull back from many things in order for us to focus on the most important things: glorifying Jesus by making disciples and planting churches as a healthy, loving, and unified church, with our hands on the Bible and our eyes on Jesus.

In order to focus on his most important callings, Driscoll has committed to taking a break from using social media, cutting back on speaking and travel, doing fewer interviews, and working with his publisher to figure out a less intense writing schedule. He calls this a “relief” and says he wants to use this important season in his life to invest in matters of highest priority.

These decisions have been worked out, says Mark Driscoll, with his “Senior Pastor” Jesus Christ, his wife Grace, and his Board of Advisors and Accountability.

* * *

My take?

Good letter. Right things said and said well.

Some of my fundamental opinions haven’t changed. I still think the ecclesiologies and systems in which pastors like Mark Driscoll function are deeply flawed and I can’t see myself ever recommending a church like Mars Hill. I also continue to have a number of disagreements with Driscoll’s teaching and theology. I wonder if we will see any changes there.

But with regard to this letter, it is not my place to question Mark Driscoll’s sincerity, or indeed, express any opinion on something he wrote personally to his congregation.

Others will not be so reticent. Some will take a cynical view and see this as pure damage control. Others will automatically reject the possibility of change because they wouldn’t believe anything good could come from Driscoll even if a dove descended from heaven and God spoke his approval out loud. Loyal supporters will cheer and urge the haters to stop hating.

I try to be as fair as I know how to be in a situation like this. The guy wrote a good letter. I hope he follows up on it. I hope he becomes a better pastor. I hope the church becomes more healthy and mature. I hope in forgiveness, reconciliation, and peace.

I hope great grace will be upon us all.


  1. Where would we be without forgiveness, reconciliation, and peace. So glad God, through His Holy Spirit, is still doing His refining work in all of us.

  2. It occurs to me that this tendency of ours to rush to forgive makes the church the perfect backdrop for abusers to prey upon and groom victims. I am not sure that going from the role of angry young prophet to the self-described Bible-teaching Spiritual father is any improvement at all.

    • Final Anonymous says


      CM, I had a similar reaction. And then I re-read it.

      Total damage control, no acknowledgement of any wrongdoing other than those publicly known for years now, no real apology, no loosening the reigns of power or improving accountability, no acknowledgement that any of the peons around him are capable of holding him accountable, the list goes on and on.

      I’ve been aggravated by stuff he’s written in the past, but this one points a more authentic picture of MD than we’ve seen before, and it is scarier. He truly seems to believe himself more similar to God than to us mere mortals.

      • Karen and FA, people have every reason to doubt. Me too. And like I said, I don’t think the theology and ecclesiology are there to give much support. I’m not giving him a pass or rushing to forgive. All I said was that the guy wrote a good letter. That’s all.

        It will be the people in his life and congregation that make the important judgments about Mark Driscoll. For now, I defer to them. If credible reports from Mars Hill surface that this is all a sham or if he goes back on his word and starts promoting himself on a bigger stage again, you can be sure we’ll talk about it here.

        • What did Jesus say to the disciple about selling everything he had and come follow? I don’t follow these type of cult of personality things too closely, but from what I understand from this recent book sales fiasco he got his hand caught in the cookie jar and this seems to be too soon afterward to have this change of heart. It seems more like he is performing damage control on his image. I could be wrong but again it seems the right move from a business sense and that makes me leery.

          Now if he were to walk away from the empire and start anew with this new outlook maybe….. but I don’t want to throw rocks since we have our own issues in my tradition….

          • But on the other hand, real repentance is often the result of “getting caught with your hand in the cookie jar.” David is a good example. You shall know them by their fruit, and I am willing to wait and see what develops.

        • His Rea eated public humiliation of his wife – insermons, books and in interviews – should have had people calling for his resignation a long, long time ago.

          Ditto for his ouster of people who he claimed were “sinning through questioning.”

          And his graphic recounting of “visions” of adultery, kids being molested, etc.

          And his severe twisting of texts like the book of Esther and Song of Songs.

          And his mocking of “effeminate anatomically male worship leaders” on FB, which was promptly scrubbed when public outcry grew, and for which he issued an “apology” that was anything but.

          And for the sermon in which he recounted how he told a woman that she should perform oral sex because “Christ commands it.” Video of said sermon promptly deleted fromYouTube when people started getting vocal in objecting to his brand of marriage “counseling.” there are transcripts and some downloaded copies of the video outthere, though – please check The Wartburg Watch for more info. (Fwiw, i saw the vid while it was still on MH’s YouTube channel.)

          And.. There’s so much more i could cite, but you get the point. And the info is available elsewhere, with copious documentation.

          If he is truly sincere *this* time, he should voluntarily step down, find another job and get help. Since he seems not to be doing any of that, i find it hard to believe that a single word of this latest press releade is genuine.

          A survivor of abusive churches

          • Not sure how those weird stray syllables got into my ladt comment, but hey… Virtual keyboards have a will of their own!

        • You give his people too much creed. The reason he’s been able to do what he does is because his people put their critical thinking skills on the back burner in favor of hero worship.

          • You may be right Karen. In any case, I won’t do too much commenting about the situation unless he starts speaking outside the context of the church or we get further revelations about abusive practices that should be exposed.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        And the show of Repentance (TM — which I have seen sociopaths click on and off like a light switch) now makes him The Wronged Victim and his accusers the Sinners. In the words of one Wartburg Watch comment:

        “His repentance just pulled the rug out from underneath all the Driscoll-haters out there. He shifted the moral burden to them.”

        This sort of gaslighting blame-shift is one of the bullet points in the Sociopath’s Handbook. In a study cited on a spiritual abuse blog (they all blur together over time), one of the surest signs of a sociopath is how they can get others to Feel So Sorry Poor Me when caught.

        “Does your soul crave center stage?
        Have you heard about the latest rage?
        Read your Bible by lightning flash
        Get ordained at the thunder crash

        Build a Kingdom with a cattle prod
        Tell the masses, it’s a message from God
        Where the innocent congregate —
        I MANIPULATE.”
        — Steve Taylor

        • HUG, Chaplain Mike said,

          Some will take a cynical view and see this as pure damage control. Others will automatically reject the possibility of change because they wouldn’t believe anything good could come from Driscoll even if a dove descended from heaven and God spoke his approval out loud.

          Mike may have been anticipating your comment about Mark Driscoll:

          This sort of gaslighting blame-shift is one of the bullet points in the Sociopath’s Handbook. In a study cited on a spiritual abuse blog (they all blur together over time), one of the surest signs of a sociopath is how they can get others to Feel So Sorry Poor Me when caught.

          It’s sometimes hard to tell who’s a cynic and who’s a sociopath. If Driscoll is sincere, then you and I are cynics and he’s no sociopath. On the other hand, if this is really nothing but damage control (and I suspect it is) then you and I are not cynics. We’ve merely been right all along.

          I won’t comment on whether Driscoll is a sociopath. But I read some of the same books and blogs that you do.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            I grew up with a probable sociopath. (Undiagnosed, of course.)

          • They are all undiagnosed. Until it’s too late.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            Remember this, Ted:

            We only hear about the ones dumb enough to slip up and get caught.

            Otherwise, it’s “Satan himself can transform himself into an Angel of Light.”

          • @ Ted
            Look at Driscoll’s track record. Man has pattern of abusing people, acting inappropriately, being a bully and egotistical jerk. That has been going on for years

            Also see:
            Déjà Vu All Over Again: Mark Driscoll’s 2007 Apology

          • Daisy,

            I think you’ve misinterpreted what I said above. I’ve been following Driscoll for a few years now, bookmarks and all, and you and I are on the same page, along with HUG.

            I saw your comment below, and although I too have called MD a wolf in sheep’s clothing (to a fanboy of his in my church who resented my critique of MD in a video) I’m reluctant to suggest on this blog that he’s not a Christian. You may be correct, but only God knows and I think it’s a bridge too far to come right and say that. Careful out there.

    • It occurs to me that this tendency of ours to rush to forgive makes the church the perfect backdrop for abusers to prey upon and groom victims.

      This is so, so true. I’m not saying it’s true about Driscoll, because I haven’t paid much attention to him (or, frankly, cared much about what he says or does) for a while. But it is profoundly true. And it makes me sad.

    • Observational Ginger says

      Fair point, Karen, about the rush to forgive. I think I said this in a comment below, but forgiveness doesn’t have to mean immediate trust. We can forgive someone (and hope they’re sincere) but still insist that they not be in positions of power until they’ve proven that there’s action behind their words. We can also forgive but allow someone to reap the consequences they’ve sown. That is not unloving or grudge-holding, it’s prudence.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      > It occurs to me that this tendency of ours to rush to forgive makes the
      > church the perfect backdrop

      +1. Repent, then shut-up and prove it.

  3. I hope this is sincere. If it is and is followed through, we should also be hearing good reports as time passes. I’m sure a good many people have been praying towards this end. Hopefully it will rub off to others in his circles.

  4. Christiane says

    “The guy wrote a good letter.”

    sadly, people will now always wonder if he actually did his own writing for what he produces as ‘his’,
    . . . it’s a shame he is now under this cloud, but there it is

    and someday, perhaps he will have genuinely earned the gravitas to overcome the reputation he has currently made for himself and we can wish him well if he is sincerely repenting his poor choices . . .

    personally, I am wondering myself if his recent choices involving paying others for doing his writing is not the result of a poor self-esteem rather than the strange ‘macho man’ image he tries to project . . . ?

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Let’s see, ghost-writing scandal, plagiarism scandal, book-juicing scandal, no-prisoners-no-mercy cage-fight fanboy attitude, “I Can Beat You Up!” hypermasculine attitude, Big Brother on all the telescreens of his “franchise campuses”, shall we say erotically-interesting takes on Song of Songs, Esther, and juiced book on marriage…

      This guy has been the poster child for several Spiritual Abuse watchblogs. I’ve always wondered what an FBI-style psych profile on him would be like. Funny thing was, I fully expected him to go down in a sex scandal a la Jim Bakker.

      • “Funny thing was, I fully expected him to go down in a sex scandal a la Jim Bakker.”

        It still wouldn’t surprise me.

      • So Mark Driscoll writes a letter saying “my anger was sinful” and your response (In the comments I have read so far) has been along the lines of “now I hate him even more.” Bravo, HUG, bravo.

        • Dee Parsons says

          That is not what HUG was saying. HUG is expressing concerns that many of us have when it comes to Driscoll. Many of us, myself included, are not impressed with the so called apology. Driscoll has written these apologies before as aptly demonstrated by Warren Throckmorton.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          And another sock puppet rings in against Teh Haterz…

          • Yup. The “sock puppet” hopes that you’ll identify/deal with the source of that contempt you so often express and maybe even outgrow your own little “angry prophet” phase.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            Note the standard reverse blame-shift.

            Remember: I’M the one with the problem! I’M the one with the contempt! IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT! IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT! IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT!

            Grow up with the Sweet Little Angel from The Bad Seed sometime. (The original B&W movie, without the eugenics psychobabble backstory or the Deus Ex Machina ending the Hays Office tacked on.) If you survive without suicide or institutionalization, you end up very good at spotting all the signs.

          • You caught me. But I count it a better approach than yours of offering a 20th century slogan from some “ism” in place of a reasoned argument and then framing anyone who disagrees with you in the most extreme stereotype you can construct.

        • Nah, it’s not about hate, it’s about Driscoll hasn’t earned anyone’s trust.

      • @ HUG.

        I know. Dude has a never ending, weekly track record, new scandal every week or month, so I’m not quite understanding the out pouring of sympathy or “lets give him a break” mentality.

        Does Driscoll have to stomp the living day lights out of a live baby on stage during a sermon before folks get the picture? There’s a fine line between being forgiving and being naive.

  5. My first thought is good luck you wimp – but then I remember all that I went through. Your path will not be an easy one, but we all hope that we will learn from it. Prayers are with you. Will miss you. May God bless you and all you touch.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Assuming this isn’t just another narcissist/sociopath invoking his Mutant Power of Induce Guilt and Pity for Poor Poor Victim ME.

      • That Other Jean says

        Indeed. It will be interesting to see if this represents a sea change, or just a wriggling off the hook.

      • @ HUG.
        Has it not crossed anyone’s minds that maybe Driscoll is not actually a Christian?

        I don’t think he is. He fails the majority of “what qualities to look for in a preacher” tests / lists laid down in the NT, as well as fruits of the Holy Spirit. He has an unhealthy, regular, smarmy, fixation on all things sex, and in a tawdry way, and has some deep-seated problems against women that come out in his books, sermons, videos.

        Jesus said you will know a tree by its fruit. Paul warned of false teachers.

        I seriously doubt if Driscoll is an actual Christian. He may be a false teacher, a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and the Bible says to have nothing to do with such guys. Christians are not supposed to sit around giving false teachers pass after pass after pass for years on end, which is what has been going on with Driscoll. I don’t think anyone has been holding this guy accountable.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says


          > Has it not crossed anyone’s minds that maybe Driscoll is not actually a Christian?

          I certainly see no practical common ground with the guy [or his tribe]. So maybe he is, and I’m not, or I am and he’s not. But he [and his tribe] ain’t what/where I am. I love a big tent, but even a big tent is set in a bigger field comprised of much that is not under the tent. I know I am very very tired of ‘let’s all stand together with our “brothers” who happen to claim the same label’ when those brother’s would merrily throw me under the bus the moment enough people weren’t looking.

  6. There are two poignant parts of this story at this point: that such a letter was written at all, and that it is unlikely to change many people’s opinion. I think the most gracious reading of the letter is the one offered here by CM (namely, one that might be characterized as cautious optimism) even though I struggle with the skepticism (and, potentially, cynicism) of not being able to see this as anything other than a publicity stunt of sorts.

    In the end, “love hopes all things” and I hope this marks the beginning of many more similar letters (and even stronger in confession and repentance) from Driscoll. But in the end, time (and behavior) will tell much more than a single letter. There’s a lot of mess for him to undo…

    • I don’t think my approach is “cautious optimism.” I’m simply declining to pass judgment.

      • Christiane says

        I do admire your optimism, Chaplain Mike, but mostly I admire your caution.

        it is always interesting to see someone with ego dis-function acting out their problems in a Christian setting, but there are times when the acting out is more recognizably pitiable than it is contemptibly disgusting;
        and maybe that is because all of us know too well our own weaknesses and dis-functional qualities not to hope for signs of improvement in those we have placed ‘out there’ and detached from our own circle of acceptance.

        first we may gloat at the downfall of a perceived villain, then due to some gift of grace we stop gloating and are made strangely uncomfortable,
        and we examine our own selves and our own reactions,
        then we have cause to cautiously approach Christian hope for someone Our Lord Himself would see as in need of a Physician . . .

        all kinds of ‘healing’ are possible in circumstances like this

      • Final Anonymous says

        And that’s good and admirable and I agree… except when it comes to, for lack of a better term, “con men.” As HUG has so aptly and repeatedly described, this “apology” is right out of the playbook. We could have written it word for word. It’s not even particular to Christianity; read any sleazy politician’s biography and you see the same steps on the downward slide.

        I don’t agree with giving the benefit of the doubt in these cases. It does not seem benevolent to believe the liar who says he has changed over the victims, past and future, who say he hasn’t.

        CM, biblically I’m sure you are right. I don’t have a biblical defense at all. After years of experience with this kind of person, it just doesn’t sit right with me anymore.

  7. this adds a bit to it I think:
    and I keep thinking of the difference between who a person is among his own family and his own church family, versus what we can see and judge from the outside.

  8. Well, we standing on the outside cannot tell if this letter is based on a sincere change of heart. Logically speaking, either it is, or it is not.

    If it is not, then – in the broadest, best sense of the phrase – may God have mercy on him.

    If it is, then God go with him, because the road out of “angry young prophetdom” can be a long, hard, bitter one. I know. And I expect it would be even harder for him, who has gathered a following of other “angry young prophets” who will no doubt electronically crucify him should his repentance be shown to be genuine.

    • Richard Hershberger says

      “Well, we standing on the outside cannot tell if this letter is based on a sincere change of heart. Logically speaking, either it is, or it is not.”

      The additional question is whether, assuming that the change of heart is sincere, it will stick. Many an alcoholic has repented, only to head to the liquor store moments later. That is why we provide support groups, and why it is important that the alcoholic break from his old group. Assuming that Driscoll stays in the church he built as an angry young prophet, surrounded by the people who were attracted to that, the analogy does not bode well.

    • I am reminded of the scene in one of the Lord of the Rings movies where Gollum is internally fighting with Smeagol. Smeagol responds to the kindness of Frodo but the harshness of Sam pushes him back into the Gollum personality. We need to be wise as serpents but harmless as doves: welcome the signs of repentance (acts, not words) and yet not respond with bitterness if it turns out this isn’t genuine.

      Eeyore, your last paragraph brings to mind of James 3:1: “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.”

      • That is my issue too: James 3:1. People act as if someone who repents of a sin in Leadership should just be forgiven and the sin ignored. The problem is, Driscoll has fed a generation of young guys his garbage. His “beat you up” attitude is the farthest thing from Christ’s turn your other cheek/ die for others attitude. He confessed in his ‘Real Marriage’ book his own personal (wife-blaming) problems led to a decade of poor teaching. He has gone on to make further poor decisions around fame and money (plagiarism, uncredited co-writers, buying one’s way onto the bestseller lists).

        Sure he can repent. But that doesn’t mean he should teach. He’s made a mess and shown everyone he can’t handle the roles and duties of a teacher. Sure, he will continue (that alone is a sign of no repentance). Consider the story of King Saul, who once was anointed, but then God was done with him. He clung on to power for years and years afterwards, but his gifting was gone. Repenting doesn’t mean consequence-free. The consequence should be Driscoll is discredited as a writer and teacher. Sure, he will cling on to his roles. The church keeps giving him the green light. But his writing and teaching will just be human effort, more PR firms, more business strategy decisions, more conference gigs (perhaps after a year) with those who admire his worldly success. More research firms/ghost writers will be hired, more marketing techniques will be applied. But spiritually? Can the Holy Sprit really be manipulated to return with an apology, no matter how sincere?

        Oh, and that apology letter? It feels like it was recycled from a 2007 apology. It deals with earlier garbage where he was very cruel to former elders, so he says his “angry young prophet” days are over, but … what has anger got to do with all the lies (plagiarism, ghost writers) and deception (RSI firm contract) he just got caught in? That is why I suspect it is recycled, it doesn’t really address the issues at hand. I guess when you have as many things to apologize publicly for as he does, it gets confusing which one you are currently apologizing for, especially if you aren’t that sincere. Not saying he is or isn’t, just looking objectively at the evidence and noticing that a) it is vague, b) it is likely recycled and c) if it were heartfelt, it would make more sense to the current crisis.

        It would be great if I were wrong, but, and I will say this as a thought to keep in the back of your head while you judge sincerity, sociopaths are the most likely to get out on parole, despite hardened parole officers having their horrific histories listed on the sheet in front of them, because they are the most convincing inmates.

        I am not saying Driscoll is a sociopath, but I am suggesting we analyze his words rather than allow ourselves just to feel convinced. The letter was convincing, I thought so, but the rap sheet we know about him was not, so I re-evaluated the letter, and noticed it’s content didn’t fit this crisis in a thoroughly convincing way, others, wiser than me, have also pointed this out.

  9. Why, oh why, would anybody look out on the ecclesiastical scene 20 years ago and come to the conclusion that what we needed were more angry young prophets?

    Yeah, I went through that stage too, but somebody should have pulled me aside and read me the riot act. thank God I was never in a position to do any damage.

    Maybe Mr. Driscoll should become a Benedictine oblate. The Cathodox methods of spiritual formation may be unspectacular, but they work.

    • +1

      I am also troubled by the use of the term “senior pastor” to refer to Jesus. Making the Son of God, One Person of the Holy Trinity, and co-creator of the Universe and all in it one’s own “senior pastor” is self absorbed hubris, and smacks of immaturity. Of course, it does fit with Driscoll’s world view and theology, I suppose….

      • I don’t really see the trouble of calling Jesus your senior pastor. The only time the phrase pastor can be found in most New Testament translations is Ephesians 4:11, and the Greek word it is translated from is most often translated as shepherd. 1 Peter 2:25 says that we have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls. And Jesus calls himself the good shepherd. So he is everyone’s senior pastor.

        • Pastor I can get from the scriptures. But “senior pastor?” That is unique to contemporary culture, and quite silly to read it into the scriptures. Most “senior pastors” are anything but shepherds and overseers of souls. They’re more like spiritualized CEO’s. Any shepherd of my soul knows my name.

      • The idea in using that term is that the “lead pastor” is not in charge, nor the focus, of the church. Jesus is.

      • Marcus Johnson says

        I kinda understand the intent behind the “senior pastor” label; it’s a way to explain a church’s relationship to Jesus in relatable terms. We can add “senior pastor” to the list of terms used to define Jesus as we relate to Him: Savior, Rock, Friend, Brother, King, High Priest, etc. In and of themselves, I don’t find the labels inherently problematic.

        However, I think it is possible to get too carried away with the metaphors, to the point in which we confuse folks into thinking that the comfort of our relationship, both individually and communally, with Jesus is tantamount to a casual, diminished relationship. The concept of Jesus as a “senior pastor,” also, is relatively new and, I suspect, a product of a generation that doesn’t get the old labels anymore. I certainly don’t condemn the term, but I’m quite cautious of it as well.

      • Maybe instead they should call the regular pastor a “Junior Jesus.”

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Why, oh why, would anybody look out on the ecclesiastical scene 20 years ago and come to the conclusion that what we needed were more angry young prophets?

      Fallout from The Sixties(TM) — “STICK IT TO THE MAN(TM)!!!!!”

    • Why, oh why, would anybody look out on the ecclesiastical scene 20 years ago and come to the conclusion that what we needed were more angry young prophets?

      Same reason they do now, I suppose. There are People who are Wrong about Things!

    • Dee Parsons says

      I want to know why he used the word “prophet” and how many people actually think he is a prophet.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Haven’t you heard of his visions?
        He SEES Things…

      • He is a prophet because he is a visionary leader. He had a series a while back about “prophet, priest, and king,” a biblical concept that is supposed to be about Christ, which he instead applied to pastoral ministry showing how some clergy are good visionaries, others have a sensitive personal touch, and others should stick to administrative duties. Or something like that. Oh, and apparently God speaks directly to him. Just like Steve Furtick.

        • Clay Crouch says

          Hey, that’s New York Times Bestselling Author Pastor Steven, and don’t forget it.

      • Josh in FW says

        way too many

  10. On the link you posted this letter from, it does say at the bottom it’s for the exclusive use of Mars Hill members on their “The City” website and that any reproduction is not permitted. So is it appropriate for us to discuss it in a wider context here?

    • Anything let out into the WWW is fair game…..Driscoll of all people knows how this works.

    • Ah yes. Here’s a question: who leaked this letter?

      This is likely to lead to all kinds of conspiratorial theories.

      One of the reasons I wrote this post was to show a different way of responding than that. But one thing is sure: this won’t be treated as a personal letter from a pastor to his congregation now that it’s out there. CT and other commentators picked it up right away and there will be much talk.

      I guess one of my main questions in bringing this up is not about Mark Driscoll at all. It’s about how we handle this kind of information when it comes to us like it does today?

      • IndianaMike says

        Christianity Today [] credits Warren Throckmorton [].

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Ah yes. Here’s a question: who leaked this letter?

        Dezinformatsia, Da?

    • If I tell something to one trusted confidente, I might expect it to remain confidential. If I tell it to 10, then much less so. If I tell it to 10,000, then as much as I might say the information is confidential, I should have no expectation that it will remain so. In fact, my expectation should be that it will not remain confidential, so I expect that this was Driscoll’s intent all along.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says


        So my answer to the question “It’s about how we handle this kind of information when it comes to us like it does today?” is simple. If this kind of information comes to us in this way, then it is almost certainly bogus. The WWW is not a confessional, a confessional is private. If you are confessing loudly on the street corner then you are putting on a show; Driscoll’s platform is a very busy street corner.

        Of course there is the 0.56% chance that this is a real change of heart. That would be beautiful. And it might even be so… now…. but can it stick without a change of scenery? That is even doubly more so hard to believe. If it is true, he needs to resign.

  11. When someone says “God told me” (or anything resembling that), you know their thinking if fundamentally flawed and dangerous.

    Driscoll is still doing that — it is his ticket to power, a perverse ticket.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      When someone says “God told me” (or anything resembling that), you know their thinking if fundamentally flawed and dangerous.

      Second Commandment (“Taking God’s Name in Vain”) right there. Convenient how that commandment was redefined into cussing and only cussing, eh My Dear Wormwood?

      • The original meaning was using God’s name in an oath such as the cherished finish to being sworn in “So help me God!” Invoking the God to bolster your oath is to use his name in vain.. Jesus taught us not to swear an oath on anyone or anything.

        Invoking God as the person behind the letter, is to me, to take God’s name in vain.

    • If God doesn’t speak to us, then the God portrayed in the Bible is a fiction.

      If we affirm an experience that God does speak to us, then our thinking is fundamentally flawed and dangerous.

      • cermak_rd says

        I think that thinking is too binary. I have never been spoken to by the Divine. Nor do I believe deities speak with others literally. In fact, when others tell me that the Divine has spoken to me I have three options. 1. Believe that they believe it and that it supports some view they want to get across. 2. Believe that they believe it and are psychologically disturbed. 3. Don’t believe that they believe it and that they are a fraud.

        Did the Divine actually, in a journalistic sense, speak to Moses in a burning bush? I’m dubious about that one. But did people sense something special about Moses or a Moses like figure and did he, in fact, start to codify rules of the community and did people generations hence determine that he must have had an experience of the Divine and did a mythos develop regarding him and his relationship with the Divine?

        So does that make of the Torah (obviously I don’t accept the NT so not referring to it) a fiction?

        • It seems to me that the Bible is full of incidents in which God speaks directly to people (as well as indirectly through dreams and signs, etc.) and gives them knowledge and/or words to proclaim. One could almost say that the Bible is predicated on this idea.

          If God doesn’t speak to people and tell them what to say, then it seems to me that most of what the Old Testament prophets said and wrote, claiming “Thus says YHWH,” would have to be called presumption for falsely ascribing their words to God. The calling of Israel would also be presumptuous, being based as it is on YHWH speaking to Abraham and telling him to “Go,” etc.

          One can’t relegate these divine communications to the Old Testament. Paul says that the Lord appeared to him and said certain things, and in his epistles he claims to speak for God, differentiating between what God says and his own opinion at times.

          You already mentioned Moses. If YHWH didn’t speak to Moses, then I think the inspiration of the Torah would have to be seriously questioned, as well as Jesus’ view of it (which raises questions about Jesus’ sanity or gullibility).

          • EricW, I agree that God can and does speak to people today, through the gift of prophecy. Part of this discussion, though, is whether Mark Driscoll has the gift of prophecy or whether he’s a fraud and now practicing damage control to hide that.

            Interestingly, Driscoll calls his gift—if it is a gift—“discernment”—not prophecy—in the video that I’ll link below:

            Some people actually see things. This may be gift of discernment. On occasion, I see things. I see things. Uh, like I was meeting with one person and they—they didn’t know this, but they were abused when they were a child. And I said, “When you were a child you were abused. This person did this to you, physically touched you this way.”

            He said, “How do you know?”

            I said, “I don’t know. It’s like I got a TV right here. I’m seeing it.”

            He said, “No that never happened.”

            I said, “Go ask him. Go ask him if they actually did what I think they did and I see that they did.”

            They went and asked this person, “When I was a little kid did you do this?”

            And the person said, “Yyyyeah, but you were only like a year or two old. How do you remember that?”

            He said, “Well, pastor Mark told me.”

            I’m not a guru. I’m not a freak. I don’t talk about this. If I did talk about it everybody’d want to meet with me and I’d end up like one of those guys on TV. But some of you have this visual ability to see things.


            Is this prophecy? The video goes on for five minutes and it’s sexually explicit. Or is it spiritual abuse? Whatever it is, it doesn’t qualify as the gift of discernment, as Driscoll calls it. That gift discerns between spirits, rather than telling people their past sins or victimization from abuse (as he claims to have seen on a spiritual “TV screen.”

            Nevertheless, the gift of discernment may be very appropriate in regard to Mark Driscoll. Is he for real? Or is he a fraud?

            A lot of prayer is needed here.

          • If God doesn’t speak to us, then the God portrayed in the Bible is a fiction.

            One could almost say that the Bible is predicated on this idea.

            I’m sorry, Eric, but that is a ridiculous and highly charismatic misunderstanding of the Bible. God spoke audibly to Moses, Elijah, and Paul, and therefore I should expect him to interact the exact same way with me? What about Hebrews 1:1-2? You and I aren’t the apostles and prophets. God doesn’t impart divine revelation directly to our cranium. What God spoke to the men in scripture became a part of holy writ. The canon is closed.

            The church has always understood this, and God’s voice has always been sought in the Word revealed through scripture and sacrament, the means by which Jesus speaks to us today. As soon as you begin seeking His voice elsewhere, you fling the door wide open for crazy. I’m not saying God CAN’T impart divine revelation directly to your cranium, but on what basis am I to believe you? “Trust me, God told me this.” That’s a recipe for abuse.

            If Christian faith is expectant of God speaking directly to us, then nobody should reasonably be a Christian because the vast majority of us have had no such experience as Abraham and Moses. And I assert that those claiming to are either deceived or deceptive. I realize what this implies about a good number of decent charismatic folk. I think their doctrine is dangerous and opens the door for farm more abuse to continue happening that it will ever provide of healing. God has given us what we need to know, we don’t need to keep straining our ears for something new. He isn’t changing his mind on anything. Anytime somebody demands us to believe them that God has said something to them personally, they are demanding that you not question their good intentions. Fool me once, shame on you. I’m done being fooled by that kind of malarky, I have yet to EVER see ANY good come of it.

          • @ Miguel

            I’m no charismatic, but I agree with some of what Eric said.

            The Bible simply does not address every last life choice or situation a person can find herself in, so I do believe the Holy Spirit may say something inwardly to a believer who is earnestly praying for a response that cannot be easily found in the Bible, e.g.,
            what career should one pursue, should I go to college/ what major should I pick, whom do I marry, etc.

            One has to pray and seek guidance for that stuff because the Bible does not explicitly address it.

            And God did speak to folks in the Old and New Testaments, if not directly, he sent angels to deliver messages. God spoke to Moses from a burning bush, and used a donkey to speak to some guy.

            I don’t think the bit from the book of Timothy about “all Scripture being God- breathed and useful for…” negates that God can and does speak to folks today outside the written word (but never in contradiction to the written word). (And no, I am not a supporter of the Roman Catholic tendency to use Church Tradition in addition to the written Word, either.)

            I’m kind of tired of the exaggerated view of sola scriptura that denies the speaking and leading of the Holy Spirit.

          • P.S. @ Miguel

            Even the Bible does not adhere to such a strict view of sola sciptura as some Protestants understand it,
            Romans 1.20,
            For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

        • So what about Moses up Mt. Sianai? Did he talk to God then, or make it all up to convince his wayward people?

        • @cermak_rd:
          I agree. When people say “God told me” they aren’t hearing a god, but using the expression to:
          (1) Add authority to their opinion in either convincing themselves
          (2) Adding authority to convince others (either deceitfully or honest, but with self deceit)
          (3) Mentally unhealthy

          All three of these are unhealthy.
          I think “God told me” is a favorite of Protestants more than Catholics and certainly not used by Jews hardly at all.

          Pretending to have a private conduit to the divine would be a joke if it weren’t such a deadly tool.

          [PS: There is no way to follow comments on this blog by email.]

        • Clay Crouch says

          Just curious why you find the NT less credulous than the Jewish scriptures. I realize that is probably not a short answer and that I’m assuming you find your scriptures “believable”.

          • It’s not that I find the NT less credulous, it’s just that I don’t accept the NT. It has a lot to do with the culture of Christianity in the US. Also, the NT makes some very specific claims, that Jesus was born of a Virgin; that his mother was conceived without Original Sin; that there is Original Sin and therefore the Fall has to be a reality; that Lazarus was raised from the tomb and that Jesus was resurrected. I’m not sure how many of those specific events you can claim to be mythical and still be Christian, though Spong does it (and Rowan might, but it’s hard to tell given his rhetoric) and he is one of my favorite Christian authors.

            When it comes to how I interpret the Torah, it’s just about all mythical. It’s a story told by a hurting people that explained their existential angst, that set out their hopes and dreams. That loftily told of their aspirations and what made them different from other peoples around them. I don’t really expect that there was a literal exodus out of Egypt, at least not on the scale presented in Torah. I don’t believe there was a talking snake or waters in a firmament or any of that stuff, at least not in a journalistic sense.

          • Clay Crouch says

            Thank you for the response. I love the way you think. In a different forum we could have some wonderful discussions.

          • Clay Crouch says:

            Also, the NT makes some very specific claims, 1. that Jesus was born of a Virgin; 2. that his mother was conceived without Original Sin; 3. that there is Original Sin and 4. therefore the Fall has to be a reality; 5. that Lazarus was raised from the tomb and 6. that Jesus was resurrected.

            The NT doesn’t teach 2. You may be right about 3. and 4., though theistic evolutionists would I think argue against having to accept the traditional understanding of a singular and historical Adam and Eve or that the NT teaches or insists on such.

          • Clay Crouch says

            @ EricW

            Actually what you quoted was cermak_rd’s response to my question. Though I do like what you wrote.

      • Marcus Johnson says

        Gotta go with cermak_rd on this one. With all due respect to your faith, this dualistic type of thought is very dangerous, and has led many people to think they are dealing with human conduits for divine instruction when they are dealing with, at best, people with personal motives and flawed interpretive lenses (and, at worst, charlatans who devastate their followers’ lives).

        Far be it from me to rule out the possibility that real-life people had real-life encounters and conversations with the divine. However, these experiences are issues of faith, not fact, and should be held to the highest level of scrutiny. Bear in mind that the need to have events empirically confirmed is a very new concept, one which is only a few hundred years old, and which would have had no impact on either on the writing or compiling of what we recognize as the Bible today.

        • Just because a handful of people in the biblical narratives had such experiences does *not* automatically mean that it is anything other than rare, highly unusual and only occurring at certain pivotal moments.

          I spent many years in charismatic circles where we all though God was speaking to us every day. It’s a dangerous and highly unhealthy way to live, and im so glad to be out of there!

      • “If God doesn’t speak to us, then the God portrayed in the Bible is a fiction.”

        I intensely dislike this type of thinking, because it rarely means the same thing between two parties. And the last 100+ years since Azuza has only effed up the thinking even more.

        And really, that word “speak” can be replaced with any number of other terms, almost all of which lead down heretical crazy paths. “heals”. “provides”. “guides”. The list just goes on…

        It’s a terrible statement. Properly defined, no one will really deny it. Badly defined, it just creates heresies and divisions.

      • Whether binary or dualistic or whatever, I find it difficult to deny that God speaks to people or that the Bible intends to portray God as being one who “literally” speaks to people (and if this is the God that people are supposed to worship and know, then to tell people to worship and know a God who doesn’t speak to people is, ISTM, to tell them to worship and know a different God), and I also find it difficult to affirm that the thinking (and motivation) of everyone who says that God has spoken to them is fundamentally flawed and dangerous.

        To throw out the “God Who Speaks” baby with the “Crazy or Dangerous Thinking of Those Who Say God Told Them” bathwater is I think to undermine the authority and inspiration and relevance of the Bible.

        • Dana Ames says

          Eric, this is why in the Orthodox tradition, as I’m sure you know, one is encouraged to seek out a real live person who demonstrates holiness in and through his/her life, and check in with that person about what “God told me” – whether it is truly God, my own fear, or wishful thinking, or whatever. The bible is authoritative and inspired and relevant. It is also text, and can, as any text, be interpreted in more than one way. The life of an honest, holy person – whether God has “spoken to them” or not – is its own interpretation. A life observed over time is seen to be either in accord with all Jesus was and is – truly good news – or not. Such a person would have God-given wisdom, and if I truly had heard from God, that would be confirmed. The mark of such a of person is that he/she takes pains to not advance him/herself; real gerondas tend to hide and shoo people away. It’s not about whether such a person sins – we all do; but rather, What is the overall tenor of a person’s life, and is he/she trustworthy and exhibiting self-sacrificing love? Against such, there is no law… Also, part of the safety that being in the continuity of classical Christianity gives is that if what I am given is of God, it will not be something that departs from that continuity.

          Sure, it’s easy for people to abjure the process of maturity and taking responsibility for their own stuff, and go chasing after gerondas, just like some of us go chasing after celebrity pastors. Part of that is, I think, a search for a real relationship, which we know deep down can only be had with a person. I love the bible – through it God has revealed some things about himself, and through it I have experienced God’s guidance and comfort. And even it came to us through persons. I really do believe that we are all saved together – God wants a whole people, not simply a collection of individuals. And it is not scripture that saves (whatever one’s definition of “salvation” is), it is being in Christ Jesus. It is in him that we live and move and have our being – and he is gracious to provide therapy he knows we need through the love and kindness and prayer of persons.

          Peace to you, my friend. I am sure we want the same things.

          • ha! Dana, I was about to say the same thing — that in orthodoxy, the true clairvoyants avoid the limelight and are skeptical of it. I have heard an orthodox proverb go like this — It is better to reject an Angel than to welcome a Demon.

          • Private revelation does not mean that the putative recipient ought to go around talking about it.

          • Dana:

            I agree that mature spiritual advisors are needed, both individually and for the body.

            On the other hand, I can’t and we shouldn’t decide that God can’t or won’t or doesn’t speak through people who haven’t lived a long life of holiness and discipline and fruit inspection. Paul didn’t seem to expect or require lengthy catharsis or askêsis of a person before they could manifest the charismata, including the “God speaks” kind – prophecy, revelation, interpretation of tongues, word of wisdom or knowledge, etc. Such words and claims to speak for God were to be tested and judged, of course, but the manifestations of the Spirit for the common good and the building up of the body were the Spirit’s doing in response to faith, as he told both the Corinthians and the Galatians.

            That’s why I believe there needs to be room in the services for all to be open to receiving from and giving forth from the Spirit in these ways. That is one way the early church was built up. That the Spirit of prophesy would be poured out on all flesh was a promise and sign of the New Creation. One reason my godfather left the Orthodox Church was that in writing his dissertation on disproving the claim made by Pentecostals and others that the organization and hierarchicalization of the church led to the diminishment of the charismata among the laity and in the body, he saw his thesis “fall apart in his hands,” as he put it. The evidence too strongly pointed to the fact that the clericalization of the church and the institutionalization of the religion was indeed a major dampening factor on the work and activity of the Holy Spirit among the people.

            Peace to you, too, my friend. Jesus is Lord.

          • And the Catholic church may spend decades or centuries researching, praying, and deciding whether a “revelation” is genuine or not — and even then, no revelation since the Bible is dogma; in other words, no one is required to believe that Mary appeared at Guadalupe, for example. Who does the research and prayer for Driscoll and other independent pastors? And are the members of their flocks required to accept the new revelations?

    • You said,
      “When someone says “God told me” (or anything resembling that), you know their thinking if fundamentally flawed and dangerous.Driscoll is still doing that — it is his ticket to power, a perverse ticket.”

      Welllllll. It’s not so much I doubt that God speaks personally to people – the Bible teaches the Holy Spirit indwells each person. If what the person says they heard from God does not contradict the written word, I don’t have a huge problem with it.

      I think, though, that the big mega church preacher guys, such as Driscoll, may be prone to abusing this idea… usually, when “God speaks to them” it’s something that benefits them in some way or excuses their behavior.

  12. I’m with CM on this one.

    MD’s ecclesiology is at odds with meaningful change, but we’ll see. I’m sure there will be many relapses….

    • You are almost hoping for a fellow believers fall. I’d check your heart.

      • Isaac (or possibly Obed) says

        Not so much hope for a fall as skepticism at the potential for meaningful change.

        Here’s the problem, as I see it: Driscoll is ultimately accountable to no one. His ecclesiology puts him at the top. He’s not “first among equals” with his elder board or leadership board or whatever. As such, the only one that can keep him to this is, well, him. And the very things he’s repenting of in this letter make that unlikely.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          He’s a Third World Dictator, with his face larger-than-life on all the Telescreens of his “franchise campuses” (not-churches) of his not-a-denomination.

          I wonder if he grew up always on the bottom of the heap, and now he’s found an angle where he’s Top Dog and can throw his weight around.

          “You can’t stop me now
          I’m Strong now,
          Stronger than your law…”
          — Al Stewart, “The First Day of June, 1934”

        • Yup. A “first among equals” is truly more of a Pope than a council member. Driscoll, like all celebrity preachers, is accountable only to his fans and supporters who pay the bills. As long as people will buy what he’s selling, he can continue on his way doing it. Most celebrity leaders streamline their organization, as Driscoll has, to protect the figurehead from bureaucratic processes that would cramp their style. But the bureaucratic process in ecclesial institutions are created specifically for the purpose of protecting believers from each other’s sin. Not that we can prevent ourselves from hurting one another, but we should at least attempt to limit the amount of damage that we institutionalize that the organization itself would not hinder the cause of Christ. I hope Driscoll goes that direction, but I’m not holding my breath. People who REALLY want accountability are already part of this ancient thing called a “denomination.” Church polity and the red tape that comes with it went really out of style with the church growth movement. Now that we have, as Driscoll himself has said, a pile of bodies underneath the bus, perhaps we can go back and rediscover the wisdom of our spiritual fathers that we too hastily discarded.

          Either the church learns how to draw lines, or she looses her identity.

    • @ Tom aka Volkmar

      Driscoll has been called out before in public by various people for YEARS, for various crummy behavior.

      I remember Rachel Held Evans took Driscoll to task a couple of years ago for his obnoxious post about picking on “effeminate male worship” leaders, or wanting to punch people in the nose, or whatever.

      How many more scandals, and how many more years of poor behavior by Driscoll, are Christians going to keep brushing under the carpet, or saying, “Aw, we all make mistakes, so let’s give him a hug and move on?”

      If Driscoll worked for a secular employer, his rear end would have been fired years ago. He would not have received pass after pass.

      The sexism, the lewdness, verbal abuse, copying other people’s work, buying his way on to the NYT best seller list, etc. etc. etc. Secular employers would not have put up with even half of that, but the Christian thresh hold for sin and misbehavior seems ten times greater.

  13. This is ~6-1/3 years between sermons/letters. So can we expect the next one in ~July 2020?

  14. Sincere? Maybe start with pulling the POS book “Real Marriage” off the market.

    • rebeccalynn says

      Well if we had them pull that POS book Real Marriage off the markets, several more would follow….There are many of the books he has written with other’s content in them. I am however all for a big darn bonfire with all of his stuff written in it, call it a funeral pyre for his pride and avarice and I will bring the marshmallows. I am sure some of you would join me in roasting a wienie too.

  15. Just when I thought I couldn’t like Mark Driscoll any more, he shows his raw, imperfection, and growth. I say if the left is trying to take you down, you must be doing something right. He drives liberal Christians mad because he’s able to stick to conviction, be relevant without compromising, and love people and his church is growing (in a very liberal place) while liberal Christians are trying to win people by being ‘relevant’ by having no conviction other than being politically active for democrats and demonizing conservatives(and there numbers are dwindling.)

    • Zach, IMO blind loyalty doesn’t serve any good purpose either. Especially when you ramp up the political rhetoric.

      • Just because you don’t like Mark Driscoll, doesn’t mean his supporters have ‘blind loyalty’ to him. I acknowledged his shortcomings, but he is still a forgiven believer doing great things in the Seattle area and bringing people to Christ. His church is thriving because of his heart and sincerity. It’s sad that some of the comments on here are almost hoping for his demise. If the left would examine the lives of their own leaders as closely as they do conservative leaders, maybe they would have growing “churches”. I could say liberal Christians have a blind loyalty for the extremely flawed and misguided Jim Wallis or Brian McLaren.

        • Zach, this is not about whether or not I “like” Mark Driscoll. Nor is it about “liberals” bashing conservatives. I said in the post that I decline to have any opinion about a personal letter written by a pastor to his congregation.

          But even toward those who are critical of MD, I wish you would give a little more credit. MD has set himself up for suspicion by his own behavior and words.

          There is no necessary correlation between a mans character and the size and “success” of his ministry.

    • Oh dear. I’ll let someone more patient and well-spoken than me answer this.

      • I’m waiting for why people are so eager to see Driscoll fall. Anyone who has done a1% of what his church has done for the poor in Seattle is alright in my book.

        • We don’t want to see him fall. We want to see him repent and be restored. I still believe he can be a great pastor, a great leader, and he was in the past, but he really hasn’t been since 2006 or so.

          And the attitudes of his followers is troublesome, as well. I used to be one of them, convinced he could do no wrong, but post Luke series things changed drastically. His success is no excuse for his actions. But there will always be those who only look at the ends while glossing over the means.

        • Want to list financial stats by the city of Seattle on Mars Hill’s efforts here? I’d like proof.

        • …cult of personality…..

    • Marcus Johnson says

      He drives liberal Christians mad because he’s able to stick to conviction, be relevant without compromising, and love people and his church is growing (in a very liberal place) while liberal Christians are trying to win people by being ‘relevant’ by having no conviction other than being politically active for democrats and demonizing conservatives(and there numbers are dwindling.

      If that’s why you think he’s facing so much criticism, I have a Nigerian prince who is desperately looking for someone like you to send him money. Let me know, and I’ll get you two in touch.

      Zach, you’re engaging in a rhetorical strategy called outgroup homogeneity, in which you assume that everyone who is like you (i.e., everyone who criticized Driscoll’s ministry) are all the same. It’s a foolish strategy, one with inherent logical fallacies. Driscoll’s critics span the gamut from conservative to liberal, complementarian to egalitarian, Republican to Democrat. But why should you care, right?

      • Marcus Johnson says

        Actually, that definition of outgroup homogeneity means that everyone who is not like you is the same. My apologies for the mistype.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says

          > outgroup homogeneity means that everyone who is not like you is the same

          Would the test of that be that everyone on the Left can get along… and since that SO does NOT happen; that should really sink such thinking.

      • Everyone is going to have critics from all sides. That’s not that profound. But it’s the majority of the critics that I’m referring to(which are liberals.) Most conservatives see the amazing things Driscoll has done(which for some reason angers a lot of people) and appreciate the love and change he brings into people lives. I have friends in Seattle who wouldn’t have stepped foot in a church until they discovered Mars Hill. I find in a discussion when people start to bring in psychoanalysis, although interesting and makes you feel intelligent(I used to do it all the time) its a great way to avoid the real issues of the discussion. I also realize I could just say ‘critics’ and not call out that a majority of his critics are liberal as it does bring out the tribal/attack mentality of those who identify as liberals.

        • Zach, it’s not the amazing things Driscoll has done in his community that’ angers anyone, liberal or otherwise. He’s helped out a lot of people, unquestionably, and lives indeed have been changed. Just because you find these positive qualities to be the real Driscoll does not mean anyone else hates him on that basis.

          What people object to, in a very succinct form, is what Driscoll wrote *about himself* in the letter:

          “In the last year or two, I have been deeply convicted by God that my angry-young-prophet days are over, to be replaced by a helpful, Bible-teaching spiritual father.”

          What, precisely, he means by “angry young prophet” remains to be seen of course. He has railed many times over aspects of modern culture he considers to be effeminate, and seems to in general give off a “just suck it up” kind of vibe. So maybe he intends to become a more compassionate, less abrasive leader, and/or maybe he will soft-pedal historically important themes such as male headship of families, etc. I don’t know. But whatever ill will there is towards Driscoll, some (but certainly not all) must be deserved, or he wouldn’t have been writing this letter to begin with.

          Our collective task is thus to support him in prayer while we look for those fruits of repentance. Not praying would mean we want him to fail, yet not looking for change would mean we expect our prayers to fail.

        • Marcus Johnson says

          Most conservatives see the amazing things Driscoll has done(which for some reason angers a lot of people) and appreciate the love and change he brings into people lives.

          I’m sure that, as a fan of Driscoll, you have naturally gravitated towards the opinions of writers and authors whom you would both label “conservative” (whether they would or not) and have highlighted great things about Driscoll’s ministry. I am sure that praise is valid, and that his work with the poor deserves commendation. I’m also willing to accept that Driscoll’s apology is the start to something better, and reserve judgment on what it means until I see what he becomes. However, that praise cannot overshadow glaring errors in his theology, or the misogynistic rhetoric in his messages, or the skewing of the image of Jesus into something that looks more like the Brawny paper towel guy than the crucified Christ. If he feeds the poor, that’s great, but Jesus is the center of the church and the faith, not good works. If my critique of Driscoll’s skewed image of Jesus makes me a “liberal,” then I’ll take that hit, but it’s a label you assign to me, not one I claim for myself or which most people who really know me would assign to me.

          Also, outgroup homogeneity is not a psychoanalytical term; it is a sociological/rhetorical studies one, and an appropriate one to use when someone feels compelled to generalize indiscriminately.

    • Zach, +1. Mike, thank you for a thoughtful and fair post. I am pleased to read that you, as one of the principals of this site, believe in the Spirit’s power to continuously reform His people. Not that I doubted that that was the case, but it’s refreshing to read fair and positive comments about someone who is this site’s favorite whipping boy.

      We would all benefit from reading the Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican (Luke 18.9-14) and also be reminded that “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3.17) When I read passages like these and meditate on my own depravity I somehow lose a desire to criticize other believers and instead to pray for their restoration.

      But I also found this post encouraging for another reason. My daughter attends a Mars Hill Church and is very much involved in their Redemption Group ministry. Reading some of Mark Driscoll’s faux pas of late and especially Carll Trueman’s “Mark Driscoll’s Problems, and Ours: The Crisis of Leadership in American Evangelicalism” post (linked from this page) gave me cause for concern for my daughter in particular but also for Mark, his family, and Mars Hill Church. Over the past couple of weeks I have been praying for Mark. Today I see a glimmer of hope that God is answering my prayer.

      Again, good comments, Zack; great post, Mike!

      • No, favorite whipping boy would be Ken Ham. ; ))

        We’ve actually been pretty low key with regard to MD in our posts. I have no control over how our readers and those who comment feel about him.

        • Yes, you do not control what others comment on and you yourself have been very fair to Mark.

          As for Ken Ham, well, I no longer agree with his literal interpretations of Genesis. But you do do have to admire his faith, no?

          • Umm… No.

            A faith which is based on a litereal reading of Genesis is a faith that is built upon a shaky foundation.

          • My point was as you yourself stated, namely that being so adamant about a literal six-day creation necessitates a great deal of faith. I considered putting quotes on the word “faith” for purposes of emphasis but felt that doing so would be demeaning to him. In spite of any disagreements I might have with him his faith in a hyper-literal reading of Genesis is not heresy. I just wish he and other ultra-literalists wouldn’t be so adamant about it, and at the very least they would make some room for the possibility of other possibilities which would be more congruent with science.

          • Ken Ham’ “faith” is, imo, based on taking people for a ride, both emotionally and financially. He insists that a person’s eternal state is dependent on whether they belive in his particular brand of creationism. His denial of the validity of science has driven many young peoples’ crisis of faith – and you better believe he has material to sell to parents on ways to get their kids back on the straight and narrow. Ive heard him hawking it in radio.


            As for Driscoll, there is SO much amiss that i will leave it to others to point out. He is manipulative, abusive and should have gotten out of the ministry a *long* time ago.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      And the sock puppets and Driscolljugend now surface to Defend their God in Spontaneous People’s Demonstrations against the Evil bloggers in their mommies’ basements.

      • Daniel Jepsen says

        HUG, I love you, and you have some great things to say, but calling people names doesn’t help anything

    • @ Zach.
      I’m right wing, and a conservative and don’t buy most of what Driscoll is selling.

      Driscoll, I take it, is all about him and making money for himself. He doesn’t really care about the church, or anything else.

  16. One thing that concerned me in his letter was his use of the term “father” in speaking about himself. God is our Father and we are all (MD included) brothers and sisters in Christ. I wonder if this shows he still sees himself as above other Christians?

    • @ Amy.

      Matt 23.9
      And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven.

  17. Patrick Kyle says

    Wow! God help the errant shepherd that stumbles among the ‘sheep,’ He will be torn asunder. This thread is a hateful dog pile of ill will towards a guy whom most of you don’t personally know and who have never even visited his church or sat under his preaching. All based on second or third hand internet accounts, not first hand knowledge of the people or situations. What business is it of yours to denigrate this guy in some comment thread? Are you doing the unwary among us a favor?

    I don’t know Driscoll, neither do I care one way or another. It’s not my business. Hey, maybe the guy is crooked and his apology is fake. Since when is it your business to judge motives? Don’t like him? Then don’t go to his church. Think his apology is spin? Quietly warn your friends away from his church. However, don’t engage in public backbiting and gossip on your favorite blog forums. Or does your righteous indignation based on what you read exempt you from such considerations? Or maybe its the magnitude of his crimes that gives you lease to further assassinate his character?

    This type of reaction is the reason I and many others avoided the ministry. The sheep demand grace from the Pastor, but God help the shepherd who needs grace from the sheep.

    • amen brother. Whats sad is people are hoping he falls. And it’s mostly people upset because he’s so successful in a liberal place without being a liberal democrat.

      • Zach,

        He’s already fallen. The cards are on the table. The evidence is clear. This is about how much ownership and responsibility a leader is willing to take for the damage he has done.

        I contend that you are the one doing the work of polarizing and seprating on this thread, with all of the “liberal” talk. Those who are concerned about the man’s words and actions are concerned because of the impact that they have on real people with real souls.

        Ministry “success” does not cancel out damage. I wonder if you realize how “seeker sensitive” you sound; that is, in your mind, it seems like the ends justify the means.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Ministry “success” does not cancel out damage.

          When Cornerstone exposed Mike Warnke as a total fraud, his fanboys rallied to his defense. Their rallying cry (besides denouncing Cornerstone as part of the Vast Satanic Conspiracy)? “BUT HE SAVED LOTS OF SOULS THRU HIS MINISTRY!!!!!”

          • Taylor Joy says

            Headless Unicorn Guy,

            This has nothing to do w/ Mark Driscoll–sorry. 😀

            I’ve been reading Spiritual Abuse survivor blogs for about a year now.
            You’re on ALL of them. 😀
            I just wanted to let you know that I love what you write, and you’ve been a big encouragement to me.
            I’ve been angry too. I was also raised w/ a personality disordered set of parents. I truly think having PD’d parents makes us soooooo susceptible to Spiritual Abuse, because we just want ANSWERS to how this life is supposed to work, and our parents gave us so much inconsistency that we are looking for an anchor.
            So, thanks for all you do and write.
            Taylor Joy [a random woman trying to come out of the pain of the past and focus on Christ.]

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            Thing is, Taylor Joy, my parents weren’t so much “disordered” as more clueless than anything else. (To this day, I still have “What Were They Thinking?” moments.) The disordered one in my family was my younger brother.

            What’s funny is I was NOT raised in any sort of Christian environment (parents were completely non-practicing) but I ended up acquiring all the tropes of Christianese Purity Culture — I just came about them in a different way. Probably from the isolation of being a Kid Genius; I know I got the social/emotional retardation side effect pretty bad. Even now at 58, my personality development is somewhere around 20-25.

            The spiritual abuse part dates back from the disaster that was high school, where I got guilted and witnessed and then involved in a “fellowship” with cultic leanings. And an End-of-the-World obsession; this was the heyday of Hal Lindsay. I finally broke ties with them in my college years (when I discovered Dungeons & Dragons), but after you’ve been Assimilated into the Borg, it’s a long way back.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        And Driscoll’s sock puppets are ringing in, Defending The Faith.

        Maybe if they Defend Him enough, he’ll pat them on the head.
        “Good Boy (pat pat pat) here’s a treat!”

        • You offend my daughter (read my comments not too far above) when you say things like that. Please make an attempt to be more charitable to others.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            I did when I was growing up. With a sociopath, any “attempt to be more charitable” is just an opening to counterattack. I’m pushing 60 and the damage is still there.

          • Final Anonymous says

            It makes me sad that your daughter worships in a place that considers her a second class citizen because of her gender. Very sad.

          • Final Anonymous – very much agreed.

          • FA, I assure you that my daughter is not sad and certainly not hurt. There is a wide range of opinions, beliefs and likes and dislikes in this world and even within Christianity. No, I’m not happy with some of the things Mark Driscoll has done, but she herself has not been a victim of anything mentioned here or elsewhere. Quite the contrary. And she has many friends the who appear to believe the same way. These kids (anyone under 30 is a kid to me, no offensive or patronizing intended) are not minions or blind followers; the were looking for Christ and found Him at Mars Hill.

        • Patrick Kyle says

          HUG, Clever. However you are gravely mistaken if you think I am anybody’s lap dog.

      • Who exactly is hoping Driscoll fails? I haven’t seen that sentiment expressed anywhere.

        • He’s already fallen, there is no hoping here, only facts. Plagiarism. Using other writers to get his books written. Buying his way onto bestseller lists. That won’t help his future sales. It has drawn national attention. In a bad way.

          Some are saying his apology means these charges are irrelevant. Others are saying it is already over for MD. But, you are correct, no one is hoping he falls.

        • Taylor Joy says

          There’s a big difference between “hoping he falls” and “hoping that the flocks open their eyes to see how they’re being fleeced.”

      • @ Zach,
        said, “amen brother. Whats sad is people are hoping he falls.”

        No, I think Driscoll is a false teacher and should have been removed from the pulpit years ago.

    • Why should we visit his church? Or be forced to sit under his teaching? He’s a very well known national leader who influences hundreds of thousands. That gives each and every one of us the right to assess his teachings and ministry. And many of us have sat under his teachings. I’ve listened to everything he published from 2002 through the end of the Luke series in 2010 (2011?), as well as reading all this books published through that time. Physical proximity doesn’t increase teaching.

      And who is tearing him asunder? We’d rather see him repent as a fellow brother and be restored. He himself in his letter just admitted he needs to repent, just as he did back in Rebel’s Guide to Joy – Humility. We rejoice and say amen and will pray for him. He’s my brother too.

      One final comment. There is a lot more than hearsay and third hand internet accounts. There are testimonies from principles players, former pastors, former leaders, all online and waiting for you to seek and find and read if you have the eyes and ears. Again, Driscoll alludes to this in letter.

      And Zach? Just drop the liberal schtick. It’s getting old. You are the only one who has brought that up here. Quit looking for some secret gnostic reason why we all “hate” Driscoll. We don’t need you to discern the hidden truth behind it all.

      • rebeccalynn says

        I sat under his teachings in my Acts 29 church. We changed pastors after many years and the new younger, cooler, and hipper guy introduced us to Driscoll’s teachings. We had long been an established independant christian church in our town. We were healthy, and had ministries we supported, and outreach going on. Our church of thirty years was a large part of the community. Our hipster pastor thought it would be great if we joined in with Mark and his network. The first year I noticed our older folks were missing, many felt they were not a part of this new young ministry, they felt disinfranchised, and they left. The books were studied were from Mar Hill and Acts 29. The small groups that had bible studies were fazed out and new ones were started just to study the pastor’s sermon from the week before. If you questioned, you were watched. We started our involvement with over 600 people in church, and eventually we lost our building, our outreaches, and our identity. My personal story is that I was given paperwork accidentally when I asked for a church budget, it detailed huge financial abuses by our Pastor with the church credit card. He even charged the card for beer he bought on the way to one of the pastor’s seminars hosted by Mars Hill. Meanwhile we were being told we had no money to pay our bills. So because I am me I stood up. And because I am also a woman they broke their necks trying to get my husband to control me. Calling him out for his lack of leadership in the home. All because he went with me and would not stop me from asking the hard questions. At first I was terrified, and then I got angry. Very angry. Each meeting would begin with a listing of all my supposed sins, with no one in sight who actually accused me or saw me doing anything. When we brought up Mathew 18, we were told they were walking it with us for those people who did not want to come forward? HUH? We made many attempts to stay and work it through, but eventually this ended with my family, with my handicapped son walked out by an officer on a nice spring sunday morning. My story is not so different from many who have had the misfortune to serve in a church with a pastor influenced by Driscoll’s teachings. I watched my church home destroyed by Mark Driscoll’s teachings, and those whose desire to be like him trumped any compassion in their hearts for those they had hurt. I was so hurt and damaged I did not drive for four years or more, I only left my home when I was with my family or a close friend and that was not often. I struggled with panic attacks and being in crowds for three years. The letter they sent was a carbon copy of what Mars Hill uses when breaking relationship with anyone they deem unfit. That letter went out to our whole church of members past or present. To this day some folks see me and turn around. They treat me as a leper. My kids lost their church friends, their pastor and for a long time their mother. I was afraid if I went out with them they would see how people treated me and be hurt all over again. There are days I wish I could leave my town and never look back. The problem is this “slop bucket” theology he preaches will follow me anywhere. Women have been hurt, abused, and denigrated by this man, and his infection has spread throughout our country. I pray that this will be the end of an abusive ministry ran by a power hungry, angry, man. My fear however is that this is the beginning of the same theology just repackaged into something that might look a little different but is in fact the same.

        • rebeccalynn, thanks for sharing that.

          I don’t know why this slop-bucket theology is popular in churches, it’s so self-destructive. But you’re right, it’s everywhere. I’m fending it off in my otherwise-godly church.

          The wives-submit, loyalty-oath-among-leaders, don’t criticize, blame-the-victim tactics seem to go together. I’m sorry to hear that you were so damaged by that church.

          Lots of web resources out there for the rest of us who need to prevent a replay of what you went through. If you can’t bear to see any more, others might benefit. For a start:

          Memo to Jesus: come back soon.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            I don’t know why this slop-bucket theology is popular in churches, it’s so self-destructive.

            Because those instituting it and enforcing it personally benefit from it, and that’s what’s important.

        • Final Anonymous says

          RebeccaLynn, what a horrible thing to have happen. I am so sorry you had to go through that.

        • rebeccalynn — Bless you for your courage. I’m sorry it has cost you so much. My family and I went through something similar with a mission agency. Just remember — as the wheels of the bus go over you, at least do your best to puncture the tires on their way! 🙂

          • rebeccalynn says

            It is ok now Damaris. I am on the other side of this mess. My husband and I have gotten some great counsel, and we are planted in a wonderful church now. We rolled up that infamous Sunday with tears on our faces and have never left. I really feel that God lead us out of Egypt and into the promised land. My pastor is a gentle and humble man, who really loves his sheep. The church has been patient with me personally and allowed me to hang back a couple of years. My deep distrust of authority made me afraid to connect. But I get better each day. My new friends include the pastor’s wife (gasp) it that really blows my mind. My kids are better, though my older daughter has never been back to church since. That above all else breaks my heart. But how can I blame her? The doctrine of Driscoll does not allow for strong women with education, for it to work you have to not think or have any opinion other than your husbands or boyfriend. And that is just not acceptable to her. She is in her third year at Purdue on her way to her Masters in English Lit, she is already too smart for this kind of church. I pray that one day she will meet a christian man that will celebrate her for all that she is and that will turn her back to Christ. But I can still say that no matter what happened to us that God is good and deserving of my praise.

          • Small world, rebeccalynn! I also have a daughter who is a junior at Purdue, studying horticulture. Her (Catholic) boyfriend delights in her intelligence and competence. I’m very grateful for him.

            I’m glad you’ve found a better place to be.

    • This thread is a hateful dog pile of ill will towards a guy whom most of you don’t personally know and who have never even visited his church or sat under his preaching.

      That is quite a judgement you are rendering there. Are you so certain of either our motives or exposure to his teaching? Some of us actually did podcast him for a few years.

      All based on second or third hand internet accounts, not first hand knowledge of the people or situations.

      Are you so sure of that? There has been an incredible amount of documentation behind Driscoll’s behavior. None of it has been done secretly. Heck, most of it is openly admitted to. Where exactly is the speculation you accuse us of?

      What business is it of yours to denigrate this guy in some comment thread? Are you doing the unwary among us a favor?

      He claims the name of Christ and does very unchristian things quite publicly. You better believe we’re doing the unwary a favor. Do you have any idea how many people see these kind of stunts and decide, “If that’s Christianity, count me out.”? If no Christians speak against this, they rightly conclude our complicity. There are other, better ways to follow Christ than through celebrity driven Evangelical culture.

      The sheep demand grace from the Pastor, but God help the shepherd who needs grace from the sheep.

      Driscoll is not exactly a fountain of grace. You are objecting to us not giving him enough grace? We are objecting to the grace he did not give to others. Should this not ever be done?

    • @ Patrick Kyle

      I don’t have to know Driscoll personally to arrive at conclusions based off his very public life and actions. He’s had on going scandals and poor behavior for about five or more years now, and based on his admissions in some of his books (I’ve read excerpts on line) his poor behavior goes back to his teens and college years.

  18. It seems to me that while Driscoll is apologizing for acting in certain ways, the underlying cause for his actions is still there. The hyper-masculine, female-blaming, top-down, pastor-controlling, core of what he believes is still there and has not been repented of. So maybe he doesn’t spout off as much or pull teenage pranks like crashing other people’s conferences. But unless he changes what has been a central component of his ministry, it will just come out in other ways.

  19. Interesting. all the awful and slanderous comments about Driscoll stay up, but if you support him it gets taken down. The writer really should search his heart.

  20. ThE BoiLer Man says

    So, now that he is secure financially and got what he wanted, an author’s claim to fame in America, he is sorry.
    Why is it that the contrition, sorrow, and repentance toward others arrives just in time on the coat tails of financial success masked as moral failure?

  21. David Cornwell says

    Given the type of church culture he represents, where “leadership” is a magic word, and damage control is a black art, I have my doubts. However, who knows, I may be wrong. These days, when someone professes to be a changed person, my gut feeling is that “time will tell.” Wait a year, then see where things stand. Better yet, wait ten years. By that time, if change is real, then the world will know, and doubts will disappear.

    However, if he were to make a major change, like giving up his church, and becoming Catholic or Orthodox, then my gut feeling might change for the better, and I wouldn’t need anymore Pepto Bismol afterward. Or, as Mule says above “Maybe Mr. Driscoll should become a Benedictine oblate.”

  22. Ryan Mahoney says

    When I was young my mom baked a batch of cookies, and she left them on the counter to cool. She told me these were for the whole family, and I was to wait until after dinner and share them with others. I didn’t. I ate them all. Enraged at my flagrant disobedience and selfishness, my mom let me have it. Even though I had no remorse or regrets during the hours between eating the cookies and getting caught, I now had a sudden confession and reporting of remorse. All fine and good. I got my cookies and grace that day. But, what of my consequences? But, what of the lack of trust I engendered between me and my mom. Only a fool would not have sat me down, taken away some prized privilege and trusted me again with a counter full of cookies. Fortunately, my mom was not a fool.

  23. I got my cookies and grace that day. But, what of my consequences? But, what of the lack of trust I engendered between me and my mom.

    Not that this remotely relevant to the conversation, but asking myself these questions is why I started believing in purgatory.

  24. As I understand it this letter was written to Mars Hill Church, NOT to the Body of Christ in general, NOR to Internet Monk in particular. Whether it was “leaked” intentionally, and by whom, is NOT the issue, although that question feeds the god-like tendencies of some to express to divine maleficent intentions where none may be intended.

    Further, it seems that MD is saying that he is apologizing to those he offended when the issues are made apparent to him. Good for him. He is required to do that if he is a believer. But when it comes to forgiveness only those who have been hurt or offended by MD and his “ministry” have the obligation to forgive the man. We, who do not attend his church, and who do not read his books, have no obligation to forgive him because we have not been personally hurt by him or his words.

    But what we DO have an obligation to do is to ask for for God’s forgiveness, OURSELVES, if we detect a cynical or judgmental attitude to Driscoll’s “apology”. Let the man’s future words and actions speak to whether he is sincere or not and let God and Mars Hill Church be the judge. To do otherwise would be to do commerce in gossip and evil saying.

    • Hear, hear!

    • Dee Parsons says


      Perhaps you do not know how Mark Driscoll ‘s words have hurt others who are not members of his church. His books have been adopted by a number of churches who have instituted top down hierarchical leadership which have hurt many people. We have published a number of their stories at another website.

      Driscoll has put himself out there- buying position on a best seller list, appearing on the View and other talk shows. He insulted British Christians in a public arena. He gave a sermon in England that was so graphic that it was pulled down from that church’s website. If you have not heard about this, please educate yourself.

      He is a publicity hound and has done many, many things to get noticed by the general population. In so doing, he has opened himself up to the criticism by others outside of his church. I frankly do not care what his supposed accountability board has to say. They are another story. Instead, I think it is wise to look t what he had done in public and be Bereans. In other words, we have just as much right to an opinion on him as his church.

      • Doesn’t change what I said. If he has not personally offended you then you have no need, nor obligation, to “forgive him”. If you HAVE been counted amongst the offended then you are also under obligation to take him at his word, At least until he has been proved to be insincere in his “apology”. Again, God is the judge of the heart.

    • Final Anonymous says

      “To do otherwise would be to do commerce in gossip and evil saying.”

      Which is exactly how con men in ministry get so far. Phillips, Gothard, Driscoll, all promoted “gossip” as the Evilest of Sins to shame the “victims” into silence.

      I’ll take the chance of God shaming me for my gossip, if it helps someone vulnerable avoid harm. There are lots of other pastors besides Mark Driscoll, there are lots of other churches besides Mars Hill.

  25. In engineering, we have an axiom that whenever solving a new problem, you should expect to throw your first design away. Because you really don’t understand what you’re doing as you build it, it will be overly complicated, fragile, and poorly designed. But, you can’t reach the point of being able to build a good, solid system without that first step of building an ugly one and tossing it out.

    I think growth in faith works the same way, except that since our knowledge of God is never perfect, we have to keep scrapping the system we’ve “built” and starting from the ground up over and over again. For a layperson, that’s relatively easy to do. The problem with being a pastor, especially a celebrity pastor, would be that you’re much more invested in a certain way of approaching and explaining God – I imagine it’d be much harder to scrap everything and start over when you need to. That might be part of why so many pastors, especially the celebrity ones, are so spiritually and emotionally immature.

    Another interesting question, though, is whether young, immature pastors and churches might in fact be a very necessary part of God’s Kingdom. When someone is new to faith, they want everything to be black and white and easy and clear; they can’t really handle nuance or uncertainty or ambiguity or doubt. This is something that gets mentioned on Internet Monk all the time: how people seem to “grow out of” traditional evangelicalism – and yet without evangelicalism, they might never come to faith in the first place. In Driscoll’s case, what happens if he is trying to grow into a more mature adult, but his ability to connect with his largely “adolescent” congregation is diminished as a result? If the congregation doesn’t want a more mature pastor, how is the pastor supposed to “grow up”?

    • There is wisdom here.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      In engineering, we have an axiom that whenever solving a new problem, you should expect to throw your first design away. Because you really don’t understand what you’re doing as you build it, it will be overly complicated, fragile, and poorly designed. But, you can’t reach the point of being able to build a good, solid system without that first step of building an ugly one and tossing it out.

      But in a shop whose SOP is Run Around In Circles Screaming “IS IT DONE YET? IS IT DONE YET? IS IT DONE YET?”, you usually wind up shipping that first design out to all your customers.

  26. Remember everyone, any criticism or dislike of Driscoll just means you are bitter.


    • that would be the IBLP/bill g. kool-aid…..didn’t know they had that up there in the northwest

  27. A faithful letter, an exemplary response from Chaplain Mike, and some comments that reveal the need we all have to stop, look in the mirror, and ask Jesus what He sees.

  28. Jesse Reese says

    OK, now I’m not going to question the sincerity of Driscoll’s letter. Lets get that out of the way first.

    To those of you who act appalled that people are criticizing Mark Driscoll, please stop repeating the fantasy that he is being criticized from a distance. He isn’t some faraway pastor in some faraway congregation. He is indeed a “celebrity pastor” in a celebrity culture. He has utilized capitalistic marketing schemes to plaster his face and spread his ideas across the nation and urge their widespread acceptance and implementation. Absolutely NO ONE needs to go to Mars Hill, or live under his pastoral care, in order to assess his ministry and public persona AS THEY ARE PRESENT to the wider world. He has the incredible influence of celebrity status, and at that point you revoke many rights when it comes to immunity to criticism. Mars Hill has done good work in Seattle? Good for them. What the REST of the country gets are his books, his videos, his social networking, etc. and they have EVERY right to critique the very strong influence of the public persona that he has crafted.

    So if you want to defend Mark Driscoll, then ACTUALLY DEFEND HIM rather than trying to claim that his critics have no right to criticize him; i.e., to simply point out a fallacy, “Mars Hill does great work in Seattle” is NOT a defense for “MD has distorted the image of Jesus in his preaching and teaching.”

    • I’ll be praying for MD to come to true repentance and reconciliation with those whom he has sinned against. It will take a long time for any real fruit to ripen, so I suppose we must be as patient as he is diligent. However, my experience with authoritarian leaders has taught me that more often than not they care more about their own kingdoms than they do about the Kingdom, and they never stick to their promised repentance for long.

      Jesus taught us, saying: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ ” Matt. 7: 21-23

    • I agree. Some Christian blogs and sites, such as The Christian Post, were running stories about Driscoll on the front page daily or weekly, even long before the scandals broke. Driscoll was also on The View, and I think Piers Morgan (or some other CNN cable show), and the like.

      Driscoll is like a movie actor or rock singer who goes out and gets on TV shows and is in the media all the time, usually bloviating in public, but then his fans tell us we are not permitted to form opinions about him or his views?

    • No one is twisting your arm to read or purchase his books, nor to read his social networking. If you don’t like what you hear then quit listening. It’s as simple as that!

  29. Anonymous Thomas says

    I am trying to think the best of Mark Driscoll and his letter; however, I found it to be underwhelming.

    In the letter, he mentioned something about resetting his life by staying off of social media and canceling some speaking engagements (some of which will likely cancel him). Is that really a big deal? Does that really take courage and humility? Sacrifice? And just because he might be repentant does not mean he meets the qualifications of an elder. I am increasingly concerned that he does not according to 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. Being above reproach? Not seeking dishonest gain? Being well thought of by outsiders? Are “loving fathers” a source of embarrassment and drama to their children? People at MH often spend more time defending Mark or MH than perhaps they should. Is that really healthy? Good?

    If he were caught in adultery it would be a no brainer, wouldn’t it? But engage in a very costly and deceptive marketing campaign that destroys credibility and brings reproach on him and his church? Well, as long as he says he’s sorry for the “mistake” than it’s all good.

    I’m not sure that he should be removed outright, but a break from the pulpit seems as though it might be appropriate. Yes, let’s take the contents of his letter sincerely, but does he have the character required of the office? That’s the big question.

  30. Like others, I’m trying to check my heart and fight off a negative response to this letter, because it raises my own junk. At the same time, I’m trying to be objective in what this says about the ekklesia and authority and accountability and other important things.

    Here’s what I would like to see discussed: all of those who are calling for Mark’s repentance are voices coming from the outside. It seems to me like many of these voices are valid, those being ex-members, ex-leaders, or people in positions of ministry leadership who are attempting to reach Mark on a peer level.

    What is missing, it seems, are strong dissenting voices from within the Mars Hill culture (and this could perhaps be extended to A29 and TGC, even if the formal ties are no longer there). How much do we know of what is happening on the ground floor, on the front lines? Is the congregation 100% supportive of Mark? Are there enough mature believers who would be able to discern if something was going wrong? Are they empowered to have voices? If there are concerns, does a member have a safe space to make those concerns known without fear of reprisal? Or is it true that all dissenting voices are eventually condemned, labeled as ‘divisive,’ and ostracized?

    These are my questions. The data from ex-members & leaders suggests that dissenting voices get the boot (up to the point of shunning?), and that is VERY scary. But I’d love to hear someone in the thick of it explain things, as objectively as could be, from the inside. I wonder what reports we would get?

    • >”What is missing, it seems, are strong dissenting voices from within the Mars Hill culture…”

      Yes. But I’m wondering if (hoping that?) part of the reason behind Mark Driscoll’s letter is him (finally) listening to some of the folks around him who maybe have been whispering in his ear about these things.

  31. I wonder sometimes how the apostles would be treated by some of the commentators on this post had they been around today. Let’s see, you have “mouth first, brain second” Peter, “here’s my mommy’s request to sit at your left & right-hand sides; the others can wait in the lobby” John & James, “collaborator with Herod and/or Caesar, our oppressor & occupiers” Matthew, “terrorist or tea party member, whichever” Simon the Zealot, “faithless” Thomas, and who knows what other faults plagued the other half (sans, Judas Iscariot.

    And yet, these are the guys that Jesus hand-picked to lead the nascent church. And somehow they managed to go from 120 to 3,120 (please forgive my literal interpretation just this once) on the grand opening day! Go figure!

    Or then again, perhaps He was thinking along the lines of 1 Corinthians 1.26-29, “For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.”

    I resemble that remark, sounds as though Mark Driscoll is arriving at that same place of recognition, also. At the very least, he deserves the benefit of the doubt. At at higher level he and Mars Hill need the prayers of the saints.

    • An honest, wholehearted question for you CC:

      Do the alleged victims of spiritual abuse, false labeling, shunning, etc. at the hands of Mars Hill get the same benefit of the doubt that you advocate we extend to Mark?

      • As I wrote further down below, “… my daughter was healed in Mars Hill church and is now laboring to bring the Christ’s healing love to others in that same environment.” She has been attending and ministering there for over three years now and has nothing but praise for Driscoll and the local pastors and deacons. And yes, this is anecdotal, I would agree, but very real and personal to me all the same.

        Now, I assume that there are genuine victims of Mars Hill. But frankly, I hear the same things of many churches, including Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, Evangelical of all flavors…you name it. Has someone been robbed at gun point at Mars Hill? Sexually abused? Blatantly defrauded? Are there thugs at the church doors robbing widows of their social security checks?

        Goodness gracious, one of IM’s favorite whipping boys (CM jokingly says that Ken Ham is #1) makes a heart-felt confession (yes, I will give the man the benefit of the doubt) and many take advantage of the opportunity and paint longer horns and tail on the guy! Methinks we’re being waaaaay too picky here.

        • David Cornwell says

          “I hear the same things of many churches, including Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist,”

          True, but the thing is, most of these bodies have procedures in place that handle these things. They do not work perfectly, and mistakes are made. But at least they try. I know because I’ve worked in one case toward the eventual defrocking of an ordained pastor. I won’t go into details, but it was a case that ended up in the newspapers. He refused all attempts made by the church body to bring a resolution that would have been healing to himself and the church.

          Independent congregations seldom have procedures that work because they are top down organizations, without checks and balances in place. I’m sure there are exceptions, but I know about case after case where this has been true.

          There are plenty of ways to hurt someone without thugs being at the doors.

        • Clay Crouch says

          Obviously we all rejoice with you for your daughter’s healing. How does that mitigate his confessed bad behavior? Has he not presented himself as a public figure and a leader in Christ’s church. Have you read/watched/listened to Mark Driscoll? How do you define defrauded and does it have to be blatant? Shouldn’t pastors be held to the same or higher standard as their congregation? Shouldn’t they be above reproach?

          • I’m not sure that your estimation of how much better some traditions are than others about addressing sin in the church is altogether accurate. I do not mean to be cynical, but the truth is that some churches hide their skeletons better than others. Guys like Mark Driscoll tend to be fairly overt and thereby draw more attention to themselves than others. I am not justifying anything he has done nor am I saying that he has come clean on everything; I suspect he has more to say. At least I hope so.

            Rather, my plea is for fairness and charity. I would hope that having made some attempt at confessing something, however small, would draw more praise than criticism. And in effect, that’s the aggregate of what I’m saying.

          • Clay, my daughter’s positive experiences at Mars Hill are on the one hand anecdotal, but on the other hand personal and refreshing. That’s all it means, but it is enough to be meaningful to me as a father.

            And it mitigates little in the overall scheme of things, I would agree. Yes, he is a public figure, yes, he sinned, yes, he shouldn’t have done it, yes, he should be held to a higher standard. But he confessed, some, at any rate, he has shown some level of repentance. Shall we then continue to castigate our brother or should we show him a little love and grace by way of being more encouraging to him and less derisive.

            That’s all.

        • SottoVoce says

          I am personally acquainted with someone who was slandered and had his friends ordered to shun him by the Mars Hill leadership for daring to disagree with Driscoll. Is that the behavior of a church that is following Christ? How does your daughter’s positive experience discount an abuse of power of that magnitude in any way?

          The fact that there are victims of spiritual abuse everywhere does not make it okay that such abuse happened in a particular place. Abuse should be called out and condemned wherever it occurs, regardless of how much you may like a particular preacher or church. Ostracism and slander are abusive and wrong, and they are happening at this church. So yes, there is abuse there. Your blatant attempt to derail the question you were asked by listing only acts of physical violence as possible “abuses” has been duly noted.

          No one is saying that it is wrong for your daughter to have had a positive experience at this church. God can and does work everywhere. It is wonderful that she was able to find what she found there. What we are saying is that Mars Hill’s structure and Mark Driscoll’s behavioral patterns have led to bad things in the past and lead us to suspect that more bad things may happen in the future if radical changes are not made. If he does in fact exhibit a changed attitude, then much of this criticism will be retracted. All we want is proof.

          • I might add that some folks have probably had positive experiences at Westboro Baptist and some probably had positive experiences in Jim Jones’ church, but I’d be concerned if my daughter was one of them.

    • Clay Crouch says

      Peter received his very public rebukes writ large in the scriptures. I’m fairly certain that the 1 Corinthians verse is not an apologetic for obfuscation or a lack of transparency or just plain meanness.

      At the risk of making some of the MD supporters’ heads explode, here is an interesting piece from James Duncan’s blog regarding Driscoll’s book money.

      • Clay Crouch says
      • Please see my response to Sean above.

        As for the link you provided, I normally read this stuff but I will decline this time. By now I have read a landfill’s worth of refuse on Driscoll, et al. Unless there is something new here (e.g., “This just in: Driscoll humors himself by pulling wings off of flies. Details at ten.”) I’d rather pass.

        • Clay Crouch says

          Calvin, thank you for your responses. In them I read about a father who loves his daughter and is grateful for the healing she has experienced. As a father of grown men (one also lives in Seattle), I share in your rejoicing. I also share in the conflicted concern you expressed in an earlier post regarding your daughter’s involvement in the Mars Hill Redemption Groups. I pray God’s peace and wisdom for you in this trying time.

          • I’m with Clay on this, too. As a father of a daughter myself, I imagine there’s great joy in knowing your daughter has experienced healing and reconnection with God. Given some of the stuff reported regarding Driscoll, though, just keep your radar on in case the Driscoll machine pulls the rug out from under her, be ready to point her toward Jesus and away from a charismatic, authoritative man.

            I say this as a father who has the radar on regarding my daughter, too My fear with her is years of blind obedience and then one day coming to me and saying, “I don’t believe any more.” I tell her all the time that it’s okay to question, it’s okay to challenge. After all, the Bible is full of people who questioned even God (perfect Jesus being one of them), and God seemed to be okay with being asked. Beware the person who doesn’t allow questioning, especially if that person is a leader.

    • @ CalvinCuban.

      I’m not sure if you are attributing your daughter’s great experience to Driscoll personally or only indirectly (ie, are you crediting Driscoll himself or the people in his church)?

      Regardless, I’ve read that Adolph Hitler liked dogs.

      From Wiki,

      In the BBC series The Nazis: A Warning from History, an eyewitness account tells of Hitler watching movies (which he did very often). If ever a scene showed (even fictional) cruelty to or death of an animal, Hitler would cover his eyes and look away until someone alerted him the scene was over. The documentary also commented on the German animal welfare laws that the Nazis introduced, which were unparalleled at the time.

      Even an otherwise horrible person can have his or her good points.

      • Not sure how bringing Hitler into this is helpful. Driscoll may or may not like animals, I have no idea. For sure he hasn’t sent anyone to the gas chambers.

        All I know is that Mars Hill’s theology is orthodox. I understand that Lutherans and others who form the majority of contributors to this site will disagree, but I do not.

        The other thing know is that she was accepted there, taught good things, welcomed into fellowship, and invited into their redemption group ministry, which is helping many overcome addictions and other forms of issues in their lives. She lives at home and we speak frequently, I have also visited their services on several occasions. I haveto tell you that I have found nothing but positive things there.

        • Monergism is not orthodox. Neither is penal substitution. Justification as understood by the new perspectives in Paul is the Orthodox view, which is really the old view so how it got the name new perspectives is, in guessing, because the reformed idea is the old perspective. So no, reformed theology is not Orthodox.

          • This is your opinion, and not a very charitable or cogent one at that. You may disagree with Reformed Theology, penal substitution and such, but to say we are not orthodox is way over the top. Please rethink your thoughts.

            I believe that we must begin by defining what orthodoxy is and then go from there. If orthodoxy means that we all have to agree to a particularly long list of doctrines then everyone would be unorthodox in the eyes of the “orthodox.” If on the other hand, orthodoxy simply means believing the basic tenets of the Christian faith (please refer to the early creeds, Nicene through Athanasian should suffice) then I would argue that Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Anglicanism, and all branches of Protestantism who adhere to these creeds are in fact orthodox.

            I should be thankful for the protection afforded me by the Fist Amendment to the Constitution or I would be crispy critter by now!

          • Luther could argue a very strong case for monergism from Augustine alone, so I wouldn’t be so fast to put it completely out of bounds. Penal Sub and Christus Victor are not and have not ever been considered mutually exclusive at all. Apart from PS there are large quantities of scripture that make absolutely no sense. Neither PS nor monergism are exclusive to Reformed theology. In fact, the vast majority of Christendom accepts the former.

            And Cal, speaking of creeds, what do you Reformed do with the line “one baptism for the remission of sins?”

          • That’s a good one, Miguel. Thing is, ever since John Smyth, English separatist living in Amsterdan, determined sometime around 1609 that credobaptism was more orthodox (OK, bad choice of a word, given the arguments I’ve been making about orthodoxy; couldn’t help myself) than paedobaptism, the Calvinist side of Protestantism has been in a tizzy. At first these guys were outcasts but later gained ground in England and in America under Roger William. And then, of course, Spurgeon, the “Prince of Preachers” legitimized that one can be a Calvinist and a credobaptist. So, Calvinists are not a monolith when it comes to baptism.

            But… Regardless of paedo or credo, the Reformed line is that the Nicene Creed refers to baptism in its ideal, not actual, consideration, that is to say “one baptism” as a work of the Spirit and as spiritually connected to the church. Water is the essential component of baptism, but it cannot wash away sins. In the church, however, undergoing baptism is making a statement about what God is doing in the inner man through Jesus Christ and through faith in Him.

            And yes, some would argue that the intent of the Nicene Creed framers was more akin to the Roman, Anglican, and Lutheran perspective. I won’t argue with that. To me the greater point is that baptism, whether considered a sacrament or an ordinance, is an outward manifestation of what took place in the sinner at the moment s/he believed and became a saint.

            And in this sense the Calvinist view on baptism is similar to our view on communion, which is to say, we take Christ’s body and blood not in essence but in Spirit.

            I’m curious, are there any credobaptist Lutherans?

  32. After having come under Mark’s preaching and writings over the years, I have gained much and grown in my walk with the Lord immensely. I do not attend MH, but have visited many campuses and know many family memebers and friends that are part of MH. My attitude has not changed. I believe in Mark’s vision, his preaching, and believe that He, the leadership love Jesus and desire to see people come to salvation. people worship God at MH campuses and i’ve always sensed God’s presence at all the services.
    I’m saddened by some of the vitrial spewed forth that I’ve read here. It is not Christian. Period. My job as a follower of Jesus is to follow Jesus. Preachers and teachers are in the same boat as I – sinners saved by grace! We need to give that same perspective to this situation.
    I think that Mark’s ‘Angry prophet” days may truly be over, but in the perversions of “Fremontism” where MH began. There was nothing wrong with that. Israel mocked, scoffed, and killed the prophets God sent to them, I sense some of that here. The journey that Mark and MH are on right now is a process of repentance, confession, and renewal. I should let the Holy Spirit do the teaching and leading. I simply stay where God wants ME. We should all do the same. Is there any of us that has not had to be disciplined and brought back???

    • I’m sorry, but you don’t get to play the “let him without sin cast the first stone” card for Driscoll. You are seriously upset that people would get angry at him? Good grief. What about Matthew 7:15-20? The New Testament gives much more stringent standards and expectations for those who publicly teach on behalf of the church. Their sin is never just between them and the Holy Spirit: they are accountable to the church.

      I’m saddened by some of the vitrial spewed forth that I’ve read here. It is not Christian. Period. My job as a follower of Jesus is to follow Jesus.

      In other words, REAL Christians would never criticize a leader? They should mind their own business and worry about their own sins? The heck with what the New Testament actually says about accountability and proven reliability and character for those would be pastors. No, Driscoll is the prophet of God, and we are the stiff-necked Israel that refuses to listen to him. Is our criticism of Driscoll really a rejection of God and His message? Wow.

      • Miguel, you showed remarkable restraint in not referencing through verse 23. Those are the verses I’ve been thinking of when comments cite the great works MD has done.

  33. Maybe this needs to be stated…

    Those of you here who are critical of the people who are critical of Mark Driscoll need to understand that many of the frequent Internet Monk visitors are folks wandering the post-Evangelical wilderness because they’ve been DAMAGED by pastors/leaders like Mark Driscoll. There is a lot of hurt represented here, hurt caused by unhealthy churches and unhealthy leaders, all in the name of God and Christ. Mark Driscoll’s heavy-handed and authoritative approach to pastoring raises the hairs on the necks of many folks who frequent this place.

    • Not sure who’s being critical of the people who are being critical of Mark Driscoll. Defending him some, perhaps, giving him some credit for admitting his failures, to be sure, but I don’t see any particularly derisive comments towards Mark Driscoll’s critics.

      As for being damaged by Mars Hills Church and other churches like it, my daughter was healed in Mars Hill church and is now laboring to bring the Christ’s healing love to others in that same environment. But as they say, “results may vary.”

      • Marcus Johnson says

        See Zach’s comments.

        • I read them. A bit overly defensive, perhaps, but certainly nothing ad hominem in his comments and certainly way less critical of the critics from the criticisms being written about Driscoll.

  34. Observational Ginger says

    Like you, I don’t want to completely discount his motives in writing this…because it’s impossible to see inside his heart! Hopefully the people who have face-to-face interaction with him will have good discernment on whether he meant what he said. If he did mean it, then good on him, because he did say many of the right things.

    My concern is less about his motivation, and more about his qualifications to pastor. He makes it seem as though being an “angry” young prophet was just a God-sanctioned season, and now he’s ready to move on to the higher “season” of being a settled teacher. Yet many people view his anger as a problem that hurt people. Can one go from having unresolved anger issues to being ready to be a mature mentor?

    To put the question another way, should Driscoll take the revelation of (what sounds like) major pastoral shortcomings but then assume that he is fit to go on pastoring, without any time away from the pulpit to reflect and learn? Cutting back on his schedule may help, but should he not consider taking a season away from teaching altogether, to make sure that he has healed from his mistakes and become healthier?

    From what I’ve seen over the last few years, Driscoll has done a lot of damage (intentional or not) through the things he’s done. Forgiveness should always be made available to anyone who repents, but forgiving someone and trusting them immediately are two different things.

    If Driscoll really is moving past some of his major problems and becoming a healthier teacher, I think a good sign of that would be for him to try to reach out and retract some of the things he has said and taught…not just by writing letters to the congregation, but through wider channels–since, after all, many of his teachings are still out there reaching the masses, teachings that he may now be rethinking. If the damage was wide, the reparations should be wide.

    Just my two cents. At the end of the day, what I really want for Driscoll is for him to receive the same love, grace, and freedom from his own sin nature that each of us cries out to God for.

    And I don’t want us, or the people in his life, to give him such a free pass on any consequences that he can’t learn from them.

    • I completely agree.

      What I would be expecting to see is MD putting himself under some kind of preventative authority structure (that actually has some power) as part of his self-realisation that he isn’t perfect & needs help to get to where he says he wants to go. I have trouble taking him seriously when he still seems to be sitting atop a church structure that demands submission & scrutiny for everyone but him. It seems like a huge blind spot. And it means my warning bells are still ringing.

  35. I tire quickly of this back and forth game of whether we are judging Driscoll. I just don’t care if this is judgmental anymore – Christ was clear that the public teachers of the church are precisely who we are to subject to critical scrutiny. I’m find to let Christ be the judge of his intentions, but I am still gonna have my own damn opinion.

    And here’s what I think: I’ve seen this kind of thing before, way too often, on many different scales. I think Driscoll believes what he said, I believe the apology is sincere to this point: he realizes he has done some wrong things, and that these have hurt people, and for this he feels genuine remorse. That is, for the pain of others. Not for the actions he took. I’ve seen this response from so many pastors: They’re hurt, I don’t want that, so I’m sorry. But there is no recognition of the specific deeds done that were incorrect or a public about face on any particular practices.

    See, Driscoll has heard enough from his critics to reasonably conclude that an apology is due. But I really doubt he actually agrees with his critics. He sees that he has stepped on some people and so he wants to make it up to them. But is he going the full distance to be careful how he treads in the future? I think he is committed to his methods, to his message, and to his goals. He might try to be more sensitive in the future, to avoid hurting people, but the way I think he sees is – since none of the hurting was intentional, keep on plugging ahead with the same course and just be more careful. In other words, the pain I caused was accidental, and not the consequence of the approach used.

    Folks, that’s about as much as you can ask for from somebody in his position, but for most of us, it simply isn’t enough.
    I hope I am wrong, I mean no condemnation of the guy’s inner motives, but I remain skeptical, and for good reason. People this invested in a certain way of doing ministry rarely revamp their entire approach just because some people don’t like it. It has suited them quite well. Pastors who carelessly trample others reveal by their behavior a certain condition of their heart for which criticism is, from my experience and observation, not an effective deterrent. I’ve seen too many clergy be outwardly apologetic when inside they are actually offended that they even have to apologize.

    • I like much of your “damn opinion,” Miguel; it’s pretty “damn good.” Your skepticism is not without cause. I myself have dealt with several leaders in my association who have responded to issues in their lives only when they could no longer provide a rationale for what they were doing. And even then, repentance and confession were just sufficient for the moment and not the long run. On a few occasions there was full restoration. Sadly, more often than not there was an eventual separation. So I reiterate that understand the cynicism.

      Still, we are to be restorative in our dealings with everyone and especially the saints. Many will disagree with what I’m about to say but here it goes anyway. I see two reasons why we need to help Mark Driscoll. First, he is a brother and we are charged with helping him as best we can and to the extent that we can (Scriptures available upon request). Second, helping Mark means helping Mars Hill which means helping the Church everywhere and as a whole (ibid). And yes, I understand that the Church will be victorious regardless of Mark or you or me, but we still have an obligation of love to act in these things.

      If you disagree with what I’ve just said then nothing else I say here matters. If you agree with what I stated, even partially, then we have to ask ourselves what is the best way to about it. I can tell you that simply criticizing him is not helpful (you yourself alluded to this). I believe that Mike said some good things in his post which I find encouraging and helpful in this respect. Since I’m replying to your comment I suppose that I’m asking you for your opinion. Thank you.

      • Cal, I’m all in favor of “if your brother stumbles, restore him gently.” I’m not completely convinced that this is that. Driscoll is not struggling with a sin of weakness, that I am aware of. It may be one of those things where you are completely unaware of some sin. In that case, it often takes something confrontational to bring it to attention. Helping MD, in theory, is nice. But me personally? Assisting him is a bit outside my reach. What kind of “help” is he going to receive from me? We also ought to assist the people he has hurt by affirming that the sins he committed against them were indeed wrong. If we cannot first call a thing what it is, we are no good to anybody.

        It is not our role in this to restore Driscoll to those he has offended. We should hope for this, as many of us have expressed, but what exactly are you suggesting we do to help? Sometimes our ranting on the internet is not so much character assassination as public accountability. Not that he answers to us personally, but he certainly can know that many of his brothers are not OK with certain behaviors, and we applaud any efforts made to correct course. Beyond that, we’re kind of just spectators with a vested interest in the religion being represented through these public affairs.

        • Thank you for your response, Miguel.

          I could argue that all sins are sins of weaknesses, for we are all helpless in our sins for such is our nature. Even after redemption we continue to drag around this body of flesh which continues to entice us to sin (hence the phrase “saint-sinner). But I will save that argument for another time. I would also argue that we are all our brothers’ keeper, and that although you and I have no personal relationship with Mark Driscoll, we need to be careful with our words in order to ensure that the Church is not further damage. And yes, I understand that not everyone agrees with my sentiments in this regard, but I believe it to be true.

          Actually I read your words to be tempered and not vitriolic as is much other stuff spewed out here. So I will simply leave it at that.

  36. I am really trying to understand the Christianity represented in this thread. We have everything from warnings not to judge to his local congregation can only hold him accountable to those accusing others of the sin of wanting him to fail. (The Obama accusation)

    But what is being ignored are the years of bad boy behavior, false teaching and the constant “repentance”. He is most repenting repenter I have ever seen. And then he gets worse! Which brings me to the conclusion that too many don’t knmow what repentence really means. Metanoia. A “From…..To” change. And he would do that somewhere else besides Mars Hill.

    Why don’t we all just go and spit in Paul Petry’s face and save some time?

    Frankly, If Driscoll ever REALLY repented, he would get out of ministry totally and we would never hear from him again the shame would be so great. I mean this ridiculousness goes back as far as the mention of the bad boy cussing pastor in Blue Like Jazz. What year was that?

    I am wondering what the Christians here would think is too often and too far for a professing Christian? Is this the total depravity part where we are reprobates but saved? No new creature? No growing in Holiness? Heck, I don’t need to know motives. I see actions, behaviors, false teaching, etc, etc for years and years. What more do you need?

    Frankly I could care less about the wolves. What I care about are the ignorant lemmings under his kool aid spell. And there is constantly a new crop.

    HUG–you are one of the few who get it. Driscoll has lived out his sociopathic narcissim in public.

    And yes we can judge. Driscoll has spent his time trying to be a celebrity in the public square. He is fair game. I am embarassed to be branded in the same category as him. My message to people is that he has NOTHING at all to do with real Christianity. It looks NOTHING like Driscoll.

    One should be able to actually trust and believe those who call themselves Christians.

    • But what is being ignored are the years of bad boy behavior, false teaching and the constant “repentance”. He is most repenting repenter I have ever seen. And then he gets worse! Which brings me to the conclusion that too many don’t knmow what repentence really means. Metanoia. A “From…..To” change.

      One thing I’ve noticed on this site is that ‘change’ is seen as suspect and difficult to quantify.

      To open a can of worms… What change should we expect? So many here bash even the concept of transformation ‘From… To’ in themselves or others, and yet expect it from Driscoll.

      • “One thing I’ve noticed on this site is that ‘change’ is seen as suspect and difficult to quantify.”

        Not really. “change” would mean he gets out of making money and gaining fame off Jesus’ name. That would not be hard to “quantify”. He would no longer be in paid ministry. Yet, he could do ministry all he wants for free. Now, I am only talking about what would look like “real change”.

        Driscoll has not had any credibily with me for years and I certainly do not worry about him. But I am concerned with all the young people influenced by him. In my area I know of several young men who were rabid Acts 29 church plant YRR who are now rabid athiests.

        And I don’t know how these guys get my email but I get quite a few emails from Acts 29 church planters begging for money because they are destitute. But they have planted NEW churches in the South? Are you kidding me….where there is a church on every corner? So where is Acts 29? Where is the SBC?

        Driscoll led many young men astray and most of them that have not been thrown under his MH bus are still haning on believing the dream he sold. But it was always all about Driscoll.

        “To open a can of worms… What change should we expect? So many here bash even the concept of transformation ‘From… To’ in themselves or others, and yet expect it from Driscoll.”

        I don’t make my living selling my rendition of what constitutes Christianity. I don’t say, follow me, I know truth. Oh and give me money or you are in sin. Sorry, but I hold Driscoll to the standard he- himself- set.

        It is a rude awakening to one day realize you have been supporting and promoting a narcissistic sociopath. They are clever people for a long while but ignoring too many red flags or redefining ethics won’t help alieve the pain one has to face that they were snookered by a charlatan. Might as well get it over with and face it head on instead of making up all sorts of excuses for that we cannot recognize any true repentence. Here is a clue for ya: Stop listening to words and start looking at actions/behavior or a long period of time. When words and actions don’t match, there is your clue.

        Many have been playing the words only game with Driscoll for a long time and he gets worse. But many ahve short memories and discount all the bodies under the MH bus. I am starting to wonder if he will have to murder babies in the public square for some young men to get a clue.

  37. Brothers and sisters in Christ. It doesn’t matter if a person is a public figure, a nobody in terms of a Wikipedia post or in the eyes of the beholder. Or a Christian or any other religion. The truth is we as Christians should never talk negatively about another person when they are not present. It is very popular these days to do this, especially with media, that we are affected by in ways we don’t recognize,BUT, this is what John Wesley called evil speaking. Call it gossip or whatever you like, but it is as big or bigger a mistake than others you can come up with. You have a problem, take it first between you and that person alone , then if not heard take some others to talk with you, then take take it it before the church. Almost no one follows our Lord’s procedure.

    • “Almost no one follows our Lord’s procedure.”

      You mean like Paul “publicly” rebuking Peter?

      John writing about Diotrephes without ever seeing him privately and allowing masses to read it for 2000 years?

      Those sinners!

    • “Call it gossip or whatever you like, but it is as big or bigger a mistake than others you can come up with. You have a problem, take it first between you and that person alone , then if not heard take some others to talk with you, then take take it it before the church. Almost no one follows our Lord’s procedure.”

      You mean like Paul rebuking Peter publicly instead of going to him privately? Or how about John writing a rebuke (or was it public gossip?) of Diotrephes in a letter we have been reading for thousands of years?

      So, we have 2 examples from scripture of Apostles not following the Lords procedures!!

    • “The truth is we as Christians should never talk negatively about another person when they are not present”

      Probably not true. Certainly not as an absolute.

  38. “Those who, like Peter, set out falteringly to follow Jesus are not guaranteed immunity from failure or even the odd moment of despair. On the contrary, we are promised the possibility of using failure as a road to both self-knowledge and knowledge of God. It can teach us both how far we are capable of falling, but that also our true value lies not in our achievements or successes but in the fact that we are addressed by a God who looks us in the eye, as he did with Peter, and says, regardless of our failure, ‘Follow me.'” –Graham Tomlin [“Looking Through the Cross”: The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent Book 2014]

    In this Holy Lent, Prayers, Forgiveness, Love, Grace, and Peace to all of us here present as well as to Mark Driscoll and Ken Ham. May we each hear Jesus’s call, “Follow me.”

  39. pthurston says

    Guess we’ve pretty much beat that topic to death.

    Let’s face it, There is a great fascination with authority and those that have it or portray it.
    It is central to our faith. WHO do we believe? And are they really speaking with a higher authority.
    Most of us have all been fooled so we are not experts, but the standard is still love, not great speaking or that ever enticing Charisma, that some leaders have, and love is measured by what is given.
    You love your mom, (if she didn’t beat you) because she gave you what she could. We love Jesus because He gave us redemption, and they had to give something up to give us those things, something precious.
    If I’m going to accept authority from a man it won’t be because he writes books or preaches great sermons, it will be because of what he is willing to give up to do those things. We should all be that person to someone we love.

  40. Isn’t it amazing that this discussion puts so much focus and intensity into the pro-and-con discussion about a single pastor of a single church? And isn’t that fact indicative a problem that exists in much of the world of evangelicalism, that a single person acting as pastor in one large church becomes the center of so much attention and discussion? The personalities of people other than Jesus Christ are being projected on too large a screen, and the Crucified One is going unseen, and this because in much of the evangelical world the pastor is considered far more important than he (or she?) should be, and stands in the center where only Jesus Christ should have a place. Even if Driscoll is sincere, and becomes the gentle spiritual father pastor the letter claims he wants to be, the problem of the inordinate importance of pastors to the world of evangelicalism will not have been addressed in the least.

    • great points, Robert.

    • Daniel Jepsen says

      Yes. Exactly.

    • Evangelicalism has always held to the “great man” theory of history. I used to promote this. I remember often using an illustration referencing a book that was titled, “England, Before and After Wesley,” to show what one heroic individual can do. Revivalist preachers have always been entrepreneurs and show-persons who attracted crowds by the force of their personalities. Even preachers who had doctrinal substance, like Charles Spurgeon, were self-promoters. The development of media such as radio and television only exacerbated this tendency, and the church growth movement emphasized the necessity of a charismatic visionary leader at the helm.

    • ++ 1

  41. I may indeed be one of the cynics that Mike mentioned.

    Mark Driscoll has been courting media attention for years, and until days ago bragged about tweeting to 700,000 people. He has sought—and paid for—New York Times Bestseller status and bragged about that status for his [plagiarized] book. Now, when the media attention begins to turn against him he starts to act like the congressman who got caught in the wrong country with the wrong woman.

    I think Mars Hill is not only in defensive mode, it’s in survival mode. Reading Driscoll’s letter reminds me of the conditions imposed on someone caught in an illegal act. While nothing illegal has hit the tabloids yet, his retraction of NYTimes status, his swearing off social media and his vow to spend more time with his family suggest that his board of elders, his handlers, and possibly his lawyers have advised him to back off so the real spaghetti doesn’t hit the fan.

    I think what we’re seeing is only the tip of the iceberg.

  42. Mark Driscoll, as well as Evangelicalism, is a product of Revivalism. Starting with Sola Scriptura, each Christian in essence became his own Pope. With the rise of the Enlightenment and the American Experiment, individualism became one of the pillars of American truth. This is increasingly evident in the offspring of the Revivalist tradition. With the loss of the necessity of the community and the rise of brute individualism (championed by philosophers like Emerson and Thoreau), a flawed ecclesiology developed and now this is what Evangelicals are left with / celebrate (depending on where one stands). I remember the days (2006-8) of the neo-Puritans (particularly Driscoll; whom I was the biggest fan-boy of) casting stones at Rob Bell, Brian Maclaren and the rest of the Emergent movement, declaring them heretics. But with Sola Scriptura as the primary guiding principle, how can anyone be a heretic; what is the standard by with truth is judged? (Bell caught a TON of flak for his teachings on Hell, but they’re actually remarkably Orthodox – capital O). The Creeds, Church Hierarchy and Tradition are unimportant & unnecessary; they may be even considered dirty words in certain circles.

    As long as Evangelicalism rejects any kind of church authority and continues to take anyone at their word that they heard from God, people like Driscoll will continue to take advantage.

  43. Additionally, one of the reasons I came to reject the teachings of Driscoll, Piper, etc was that Calvinism and a lot of Evangelicalism espouses Monergism: God picks you whether you want him or not and he damns you whether you want him to or not. This caused an awful lot of despair for me as I wandered in Reformed circles trying to make sense of it all. The breaking point came when I read “When I don’t Desire God”. In it, Piper harped on Monergistic themes so much that I burned the book. I couldn’t take it. It wasn’t until almost a full year later, when I attended my first Divine Liturgy, that I heard these words in one of our prayers – You are a Good God who loves mankind. It was then that I knew I was home.

    • “You are a Good God who loves mankind,” “Bless those who love the beauty of your house,” and the line about all light “coming down from you, Father of Lights” are my favorite lines in the Liturgy.

    • This is one of those interesting and perplexing things I find about the body of Christ. Here you see that you have issues with Monergism and that such thinking causes you to despair. By contrast, I would agree with Spurgeon that Calvinism is a “beautiful doctrine” which for me brought me out of despair and into a new knowledge and appreciation for the grace of God. Go figure!

      You might consider reading about the struggles between Wesley and Whitefield, and how in the end they came to reconcile their Arminian/Calvinist differences even though Wesley did not cease to be an Arminian and Whitefield remained a Calvinist to the end. I use this illustration to promote Christian charity and unity. I believe you may find it helpful.

      By the way, it was Wesley who was attributed, in writing, at least, to have coined the phrase “agree to disagree.” It was stated with regards his differences with Whitefield.

      • While you say it’s beautiful, it’s not the historical, classical teaching of the church and it makes god into a puppet master. The orthodox view has been and always will be that God respects human free will and invites humans to participate in the divine nature. Synergy is the term for this. Monergism was declared a heresy at some point in the past (I’m fuzzy on those details of when). How is the psychological torment of being told you’re like a spider dangling over hell supposed to inspire love for god? The irony is that even monergists say it’s not possible: piper has taught that frequently.

        • Also, the outcome of Monergism is anti-nomianism. It doesn’t matter what you do if you’re saved cause god picked you. It doesn’t matter what you do cause god damned you. Sucks to be that person.

          • I think you have a very narrow perspective on monergism; I suggest further study, both of its history and theology. I also recommend that you be more charitable towards your brothers and sisters in Christ with whom you may disagree on secondary matters of the faith.

            My association and the local church in which I pastor is neither Arminian nor Calvinist as we have folks from all persuasions (obviously, I fall into the latter). And yet, we get along fine, really. Whereas we are far from ideal in any respect we have at the very least come to grips with the principle that unanimity is essential only in the in the basic tenets of the Christian faith; all other matters which are not absolutely congruent with the gospel do not require unanimity but rather charity and unity.

  44. I make a modest proposal:

    Over the course of this year, everybody keep silent about Mark Driscoll. Let us fast from blogging about Mark Driscoll. Let us refrain from comments and opinions about Mark Driscoll. Let us reserve judgment. Let us keep an open mind. Let us extend the benefit of the doubt to Mark Driscoll. With all magnanimity on our part, let us assume all genuine sincerity on his part. Let us wait and see with all patience. Let us refrain from haste.

    Let all the tumult be still.

    Then after the year has elapsed, let us take a look and see what has changed. If things have indeed changed, then well and good. And we may applaud. If things are as they were before, then we may criticize and justifiably so.

    In other words, let us wait and see.

    • hmmm….

      This has all the marks of a spam-bot.

      But, for what it’s worth, we’ve been trying very hard not to sound off about Mark Driscoll. He’s forced our hand and now we’d like the truth to come out.

      • Quote: “This has all the marks of a spam-bot.”

        Occasionally, I like Spam (and other similar processed meat products) on toast with a dab of mustard, but sir, I can assure you that I am not a bot.

    • What a nice thing for Mark. What a cruel thing for ALL his many victims over the past. But let’s protect Mark with silence! He has a Christianese title… he is more important than those he dumped on. And we would not want others being warned now would we?

      I like what Lincoln said about man’s character. It is not adversity that shows a man’s true character but how he handles power.

      We have been shown Driscoll’s true character over and over for years. But still it is considered “pious” not to mention it.

      Our message should be: RUN. Get out. Get away from him.

  45. The Boiler Guy says

    Let’s see how important he really is. Does he even show up as an influence on the wider Church. Are the Syrian Christians more concerned with doctrines of the Fathers when they aren’t being persecuted, or are they salivating at every book published by all these American Evanjellyfish?

    • I appreciate your broader perspective on this Boiler Guy. Almost 300 comments here on a uniquely US celebrity preacher.

  46. Come to think of it, a second read of Driscoll’s letter strikes me as very insincere. He is still totally trying to justify himself. Check this:

    In my experience, celebrity pastors eventually get enough speaking and writing opportunities outside the church that their focus on the church is compromised, until eventually they decide to leave and go do other things. Without judging any of those who have done this, let me be clear that my desires are exactly the opposite.

    Yes you are. You are totally judging them. Why even bring it up? It’s simple: If you think I’m a bad celebrity, well at least I’m not like Rob Bell and Francis Chan. He might as well have given names, ’cause he named them when they did this. In saying this he reveals that he has completely missed the point of the “celebrity pastor” critique, or maybe he just refuses to acknowledge it. I’ve never heard anybody else complain that the problem with celebrity pastors is that they outgrow their own church and leave it behind. We’re not pointing at them and complaining that they have no loyalty to the local church. Just another proof that Driscoll is either still not listening, or he simply does not agree with his critics. What kind of apology is that?

    • Clay Crouch says

      When I ran his apology through my Apology Translator DeviceTM yesterday, it spit this out: “You think I’m riding off into the sunset like Bell and Chan? I’m not going anywhere because I know what side my bread is buttered on.”

      • It’s clear that the only satisfaction most here have would be if he resigned. I’m convinced based on the critics I read that even if he DID resign, took 5 years off and came back, people would still reject him.

        First time back at IM in a few years……and the chop-licking I’m reading about seeing Driscoll completely collapse (especially the post about essentially hoping to see him fall in a sex scandal) is just as disgusting as anything Driscoll’s ever done wrong.

        I think I’ll just go back to reading Michael’s old article “Our Problem With Grace.”

        P.S. Not a fanboy. Only read 1 book, and heard a sermon or two. Not A29, never been to an A29 church.

        • A refreshing perspective and a much appreciated one. I hope you choose to stick around.

        • Clay Crouch says

          Are you explicitly saying that he shouldn’t resign or, just that those who think he should resign are wrong? By your own admission you don’t know much about Mark Driscoll or the controversies that he has stirred up. Perhaps before you castigate folks for their opinions (some strongly held), it would be wise for you to do a little investigating on your own. You might be surprised what you would learn, or maybe not.

          • I’m saying that posters here won’t be happy UNLESS he resigns. Whether he should or not is between him, his church, and God. None of us have control over that.

            I know enough to understand the controversy. I also know enough after 30+ years in the Evangelical Circus to know that when you can Google and find dirt on just about every nationally known pastor and even some unknown ones.

            I know we all need grace.

            If people hate Driscoll, that’s fine. If they want to plaster it on every website/blog/forum they can find, more power to them. My main concern is that this zeal to see Driscoll fall or suffer justice/vengeance may be actually worse than what the man has actually done wrong, and if we’re the fools for spending hours upon hours blogging for a few tribes inside our own movement to cheer/jeer about.

        • Brian,

          I LOVE it when very bad or tyrannical ideas fail. I love it when greedy charlatans can no longer fool people. I love it when false teachers are exposed. I love it when those who have hurt people horribly and thrown them under the bus are exposed. I think it is good when people are caught doing unethical things. I am seriously flummoxed as to why more folks don’t think this way when it comes to celebrity pastors….of all people! Seems the celebrity pastors get the pass. Cult of personality is alive and well in much of Evangelical Christendom.

          Sunlight is the best disinfectant. What I cannot understand is why Driscoll’s words/actions/behaviors are not despised by most Christians? That is what scares me. What will it take? Is Driscoll our new normal?

          • Do you honestly know enough personally about the man to know he is an “unethical, greedy tyrant charlatan”? Like you’ve been to Seattle, heard both sides and could prove it in court? Really?

            If you can, then John Piper should resign for ever having anything to do with him. Matt Chandler has to go to. So does Tullian tchividjian, Tim Keller, Ed Stetzer, and hundreds of pastors who’ve quoted him, used a video clip, everything. They’ve all enabled him, so let’s TRULY disinfect it and run them all out.

            The seminaries that have invited him to speak should close. Andy Stanley had him at Catalyst, gave him a platform– shut down Catalyst.

            I’ve not said he’s made mistakes– what I said is that the ENJOYMENT of HOPING he FALLS and ruins his family is a kind of vengeance that is incompatible with the Gospel. That’s not justice, that’s revenge.

            So if you think he’s an unregenerate false teacher, then ignore him, advise your church to ignore him, and move on with life. Earnestly hoping that he commits adultery, ruins his marriage and kids is a dark place to go. I could blog about 24/7, but at some point the ad nauseum criticism is for no one but me.

            Last word- IF the letter was a sleazy PR attempt to create more buzz, then all the grandstanding about it’s sincerity/authenticity is EXACTLY what he wanted and you’re playing right into his hands. Have fun.

        • Clay Crouch says


          Your are probably right that some posters, including me, think he should resign. You are also right that we have no vote in the matter. He has presented himself as a public figure and leader in the wider church by writing many books (one was even on church leadership), speaking all around the world, blogging, tweeting, and self promoting ad nauseam. I think that gives the general public a right and a responsibility to judge his character as evidenced by his public words and behavior. Isn’t a leader in the church supposed to be above reproach in his dealings with others? Does being a pastor give you some exemptions on poor behavior? So before you bemoan what you suppose to be unwarranted disgust or perplexity, try to see why the outcry is there. I am far from the evangelical circus (Episcopalian) but I do care about Christ’s church (people) and it saddens and angers me when I see it treated so poorly by those who purport to serve it. To whom much is given, much is required.

          • Brian said, “They’ve all enabled him, so let’s TRULY disinfect it and run them all out.”

            That may not be a bad idea.

  47. Tom Parker says

    Oengus says:

    We are well past the wait and see time. But nice try.