Pastor_Mark_Driscoll

Driscoll and Britain

I must apologise upfront, I am blogging while incensed which is dangerous. I have asked friends to check over this post as a buffer, but all the mistakes and feelings are mine I do not speak for anyone else but me in this post. Part of me wonders if it is worth trying to engage with Mark Driscoll, there’s been a lot of blogging relating to his ministry and sometimes its not worth responding to someone’s outspoken comments as it gives them more airtime than they deserve. On the other hand if we don’t engage in conversation nothing will change. Judging by this conversation that took place with Mark Dever who dares to take a different view to Driscoll on satellite church plants, even though they are both on the same page with reformed theology, role of women etc, it is unlikely we will see a change in heart – but you never know. So here I go…

I was incensed by the first quotation leaked from his upcoming interview in Christianity magazine.

“Let’s just say this: right now, name for me the one young, good Bible teacher that is known across Great Britain. You don’t have one – that’s the problem. There are a bunch of cowards who aren’t telling the truth.” (source)

The church does need people who are able to speak bluntly, I am sure the apostle Paul knew how to be blunt and direct. But there is no doubt he knew about humility, partnership, working together despite not being on the same page on every detail.

15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Philippians 1:15-18

It doesn’t sound like Driscoll is rejoicing the ministry of Mike Pilavaci, Andy Croft, Jo Saxton and the impact these preachers are having on tens of thousands of young people each summer at Soul Survivor. Doesn’t sound like he’s particularly appreciative of Rico Tice coming from the other end of the theological spectrum whose course is being used by hundreds of churches. We can’t call Nicky Gumbel young anymore but I haven’t heard a lot of love coming from Mars Hill for Alpha either. Apparently he hasn’t got anything good to say about Karl Martin in Edinburgh nor Pete Greig at HTB or Ness Wilson in Loughborough. (I know the women preacher thing is going to be a problem for him but I am just saying…) With one dismissive comment he writes off all of their ministries and many other fine preachers too many to mention here.

To write off a whole nations worth of preachers based on the criteria that they need to be “well known” is unhelpful anyway. It plays to the celebrity culture that Driscoll has become enmeshed in. Its one of my problems with the satellite church model – why beam yourself to campuses where you are not physically present so that people can watch you – why not raise up local pastors who know their sheep. So how Driscoll can say that we don’t have any young preachers that are any good without looking at the ministry week by week by young pastors in some very difficult places is arrogant and self absorbed.

There is lots to commend about Pastor Mark’s ministry – there is an evangelistic fervour, a cultural connectedness to their praise and worship that i have not seen anywhere else and passion for church planting which I can rejoice in. But please Mr Driscoll its time not just to “Man up” but “Grace up” your brothers and sisters in the UK need less judgmentalism and more encouragement.

 

I am fully prepared to eat my words if the rest of the interview shows the gracious and encouraging side of Mr Driscoll – so we await the full script.

POST SCRIPT

I have been sent an audio version of the interview from Justin Brierley who presents the “Unbelievable” radio show which focusses on apologetics issue.
Pastor Mark has said that we may have taken his quotes out of context. So you might want to listen for yourself from 34 minutes in. Mark does make some helpful points in his interview – but I don’t think we have taken his quotation out of context.

 

 

135 thoughts on “Driscoll and Britain”

  1. I actually have found myself more and more paying attention to pastors and especially evangelists from the UK in recent years as opposed to America, precisely because those in the UK know how to speak to non-Christians.

    I get the feeling that a lot of pastors and evangelists in the US know how to preach to those who “get” church. But very few know how to speak to those who don’t really fit in at church. Most of those that do tend to be located in less evangelical parts of the US, such as New York, San Francisco and Seattle.

    Mark Driscoll may be an example of someone who can communicate to those people, but as you say, it looks like he needs a good dose of humility, because it ain’t “his way or the highway”. One need only look carefully and they can find many who don’t follow his pattern reaching the lost.

    1. No, as a Seattle-ite I can safely say that Mark seems pretty even-handed in his ability to alienate both Christians and non-Christians alike. He’s a source of shame and righteous anger for those of us who follow Christ and the perfect example of why non-Christians don’t want to try Christianity. *sigh* Lord, have mercy!

  2. The road to favour (rather than fame) is a bit different in my Bible . . . 1 Thessalonians 4 11 – 12 (Now, if only some would mind their own business . . . and live a quiet life)

    We are “eating ourselves” when it comes to who is listened to, who we are “shocked by”, who we chase after . . . that give our itching ears what we want to hear . . . whether it be “you are all damned” (how outrageous) or “don’t worry you will all go to be with Jesus eventually” (how outrageous) . . .

    I am encouraged that God knows ME (Rather than M.D. . . . or for that matter, any other “famous” dude) as one of our “failures” would put it, we live for an “audience of one” (Thanks Mike P, for all you have done for the UK Church by the way . . . )

  3. While at times i like mark i have to say on this occassion its enough to switch a person off and he is on very dangerous ground if that is the view to which he intends holding, two words ,’God complex’

  4. Surely the idea is to make Jesus famous rather than the preacher? It would actually seem that the UK has a much better idea of what it is to preach Jesus than the US does!

    1. Just out of curiousity, I was wondering what your evidence of this is? I’m all for lively discourse and diverse views, I just prefer mine with some substance as well.

  5. New from the man who brought you ‘The cage fighting Jesus’ – it’s ‘Those cowardly Brits and their womanly ways!’ Expect more astounding cultural insights soon, from this master of the mouth-fart.

  6. It’s fair to say that this might not be the most helpful thing Mark has said, but let’s not forget we weren’t at the interview and just as Krish has very wisely said it might be that we have to eat our words once we read the whole interview.

    I have spent the last few years watching, reading and listening to Mark Driscoll and I find his teaching and insights very challenging – but also very helpful. In proverbs there is a very helpful verse ‘better are the wounds of a friend than the many kisses of flattery from an enemy.’ If someone says something we don’t like it might be worth stopping and pausing for a moment and questioning if there is any validity in what’s being said. Rather than getting outraged why not as young men stop and think to ourselves – you know what maybe I need to respond to this challenge.

    I don’t agree with Mark on this one I think there are plenty of great young bible teachers, but there is still a void in terms of how much impact they are having in our culture – Mark Driscoll, like it or not has an impact in his culture – surely we want to rise to that challenge? Surely our response should be to pray – God gives us favour in our postmodern society, God give us influence, give us an opportunity to preach your gospel effectively to the millions!

    For everyone who is inferring that Driscoll is only after his own fame I can only infer myself that you just haven’t done your research. How ironic that people have the audacity to accuse Mark of being too judgemental when there are doing the very same thing.

    Krish’s blog has been helpful and quite balanced, which might surprise him given how angry he feels – good job mate!

    1. JEZ, your moderate comments encouraging a fair hearing of Mark Driscoll are appreciated.

      However, as someone who has traveled in Driscoll’s circles, and ministered in the same city, I can say that your statement that “Mark Driscoll . . . has an impact on his culture” is true, in both positive and negative ways. He has, indeed, drawn many to Christ, and has called them to a serious level of discipleship. But his frequent and public inflammatory statements (this one is quite tame by comparison), and his heavy handed, authoritarian rule at his home church DO suggest that he is seeking his own fame, at least at some level. He has left a wake of damage in the Christian community in Seattle as a result. With all due respect, I HAVE done my research.

      He is an incredibly gifted speaker. He loves Jesus. He is broken, as are we all. I just wish he would keep his judgments about the UK (among other things) to himself.

    2. Jez, I agree with you and really appreciated your comment. We don’t have to agree with Mark, or even like what he said, but we should take a moment and try to figure out why someone would be given the impression that he has. Let’s give everyone a fair shake, especially when we’ve just berated them for not doing so for us!

  7. Thanks for the post Krish. As a US expat most recently from Seattle (where Driscoll is based), I feel like I should offer an apology on behalf of non-delusional American Christians. His comments are based on obvious ignorance and his well-known arrogance. Just because few British preachers are household names in the States doesn’t mean anything – perhaps other than they’ve had the good wisdom to focus on their own cities and country, where they understand the culture and can speak without too much ignorance.

    How ironic is it that another quote from the post you’ve cited is this: “I think the problem in the church is there has been a one-size-fits-all approach”? Driscoll thinks one size (Mars Hill Church’s) fits all in his satellite church locations. Driscoll thinks one size (the macho, misogynist size) fits all for what counts as a godly man. Driscoll thinks one size (the fundamentalist, neo-Reformed size) fits all when it comes to theology.

    He’s out of his league. I’m grateful for the many people I’ve already met in the UK that are genuine, courageous, effective contradictions to the ravings of this self-appointed prophet.

  8. What an interesting and good post.

    I have taken an interest in Driscoll as it is hard not too of someone who has had 30m sermons downloaded. Whenever I blog about him (not too often) it always causes comment. He suffers of course from the cult of personality and too often I fear plays to it. He has also a habit of saying inflammatory statements of which this simply adds to the list.

    The idea that there are no significant bible teachers in the UK is as you suggest poppy cock. Mike P and Andy Croft are, as you say, two incredibly courageous preachers having untold impact on the nations youth. Nicky Gumbel too is having global impact- it’s just he is personally shy of the limelight. I might add in Kenny Borthwick, Mike Breen, John Peters, Simon Ponsonby, Dick Lucas (still preaching), John Lennox, Andy Hawthorne and Vaughan Roberts. Oh and Tom Wright is quite handy with the Bible…

    Is it not too the case that the US has far more media vehicles to distribute their bible teachers and create ‘big names’through. This patently is not the environment we operate in the UK media.

  9. Okay so this might be a bit controversial, but I think there is some truth in Driscoll’s comment.

    On the one hand I think his language is unhelpful and overly aggressive, and I totally disagree with the whole celebrity culture vibe.

    However, I can’t help but think there is a grain of truth and it is this; are the problems UK (and Western evangelicalism) facing – such as the missing generation, the lack of Biblical literacy, and a disconnect between church attendance and lifestyle – a result of being afraid to preach the whole of Scripture and the challenge of discipleship?

    I look back on my recent experiences at a really well known UK megachurch. Over the few years I was there the sermons were mostly extremely basic, topical messages like ‘How to be successful’ with some bible texts thrown in. I rarely heard any solid exegesis (of the type that characterised John Stott for example), the Old Testament was rarely engaged with and even some of the more challenging/weighty books of the NT were left out. There were only two preachers who went deep into scripture and embraced challenging topics and scriptures and they were rarely allowed to preach (one preached twice in the years I was there and the other a few more).

    I wonder if this attack from Driscoll might spur us to be more courageous in our handling of Scripture and in the call to radical, challenging, Jesus-shaped discipleship…

      1. When he says “young” I think he was referring more to a generational issue than an ageist issue. I think it is more likely that his comment, thus, had more to do with the up-and-coming generation of British Christians. I would guess he’s looking at the future for the British church, not necessarily the present. It might also be suggested that “well known” and “famous” are terms that are vastly different. It can be dangerous to replace words and/or phrases when controversy is involved; especially when the terms that are being switched can carry so much baggage with them.
        But, then again, that’s just my two pence.

  10. Equally incensed, Krish. I’ve interviewed Mark before. As others have said, there is much about his ministry to be grateful for. But harsh, somewhat careless comments like these, sadly, don’t seem to be decreasing, despite numerous requests from fellow Christians to think twice and ‘grace up’.

  11. I understand that his comments may have been very offensive to people here in the UK, but I would challenge your response to them. If you disagree with his harsh, unkind, and possibly unfounded (due to a lack of contextual knowledge and understanding) comments then you may want to rethink what you have said as it may just be the same sort of thing.

    I mean no offense by my comment, I’m merely trying to bring a bit of levelheadedness to the discussion.

  12. As for his comments on women pastors and women preachers. If he was drowning and someone jumped in to save him I wonder if he would look and say ‘You’re a woman, I don’t want you saving me, I want a man.’ Same with our spiritual life. I have a woman friend in England and she and her husband are both ordained priests. Even her husband admits she’s a much better preacher than he is. When Jesus spoke to Mark after his resurrection he told her to go and tell the Good News (today recognised as preaching the Gospel) to the disciples and Peter. If it’s good enough for Jesus to tell a woman to do it, it’s good enough for me. I preach sometimes (shock horror I’m a woman), but don’t pretend I’m brilliant at it, but I know plenty of women who are.

    1. Pat, Mark would positively encourage women in his church to serve and evangelise. He’d want you to offer Christ’s salvation to those who are drowning. But it’s his view that church eldership is outlined as a male role rather than a neutral role. He draws his view primarily from the conditions for Eldership that Paul outlines in his pastoral epistles, and in my view he understands those passages correctly.

      The point is that offering pictures like the one above only helps to illustrate what you believe but it does nothing to justify it. 1 Timothy 2:12 says that Paul does “not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man” and doesn’t ground that in the cultural milieu but in the design of God in creation. In context that’s referring to the role of eldership. Now, Mark & I may have completely misunderstood what Paul meant here, but the point is that we’re trying to honour what we believe to be God’s instruction. We’re not trying to be hideous chauvinists, though I appreciate it may sound that way.

      Aside from that, I think Mark’s comments were rather close to the bone. But defending myself aside from being prideful and unhelpful goes against my pacifist leanings (Mark wouldn’t appreciate them!) so I’ll see if there’s anything from God in it then I’ll move on.

      1. Sorry, but is Paul God? Is Paul Jesus? If the answer to either question is “no”, why are you quoting Paul when Jesus empowered women and put them on an equal footing with men?

        1. Mark: sorry, I thought it was clear: I’m an evangelical. I don’t think Paul’s epistles are the work of some bloke. I think it is the inspired word of God, revealing his will for the church. I don’t believe for a second that Jesus is contradicted by the spirits word delivered through Paul’s writings.

          1. How cryptic of you… I believe Jesus is God. He’s changeless. Jesus appeared first to Mary Magdalene and the other women, he said Mary had chosen the better portion to sit and receive teaching at his feet. He was radically inclusive and so was Paul: “there is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, man or woman” (or words to that effect). But that didn’t change his teaching on gender roles. Jesus was equal to the father in value, Jesus submitted to the father in ministry. Likewise Men & Women are equal in value (made in the image of God) and distinct in ministry. Women corrected men, women funded the church, often churches met in women’s houses, but women didn’t lead the church. Jesus doesn’t say they should, Paul actively says that they shouldn’t. No contradiction.

          2. I repeat, Paul said I. He did not say God. He made it personal. By your reasoning the animals and plants should be over man as they were made first.

          3. Junia or Junianus (Grk has Ἰουνιᾶν – could be male Junianus or female Junia – either way is fine). Well regarded among the apostles. Obviously not included in the 12 (read the lists) so here apostle (ἀποστόλοις) probably has the usual Grk meaning of messenger or possibly the technical sense of church planter like Barnabas. No objection to a female being a messenger or church-planter (not sent on her own, by my understanding). Great stuff.

          4. Don’t get the strawman thing. Maybe you just think there’s more responsibility that goes with apostles outside the 12 than planting churches or being a messenger? Didn’t mean to misrepresent you. What do you reckon and what is it based on?

          5. What it help if I just said “you win”?

            I left fundamentalism and religious high control a few years ago and I no longer speak the same language as you.

            Have fun!

      2. Paul says ‘I do not allow’ He does not say ‘God does not allow’. He was a Pharasee brought up in the tradition of the Jewish people of the times and women were not allowed to have allowed to do almost anything to do with the Temple. Paul did end up having Deaconesses eventually.

          1. I assumed you were looking to be offended at us woman haters only having one deaconess (a whole one!). She’s our only deacon of either gender. Point is, Bible says deaconess ok, we say ok (considerably more than ok. She verges on omniscience and is unfathomably gifted). Bible says women don’t teach with elderly authority over men, we say ok.

        1. And why does he not allow it? Because Adam came first. It’s based on God’s work in creation. He’s not making stuff up, he’s teaching the Bible, and as an apostle I believe his teaching is inspired by God.

          1. I think he just stops quoting Jesus in 1 Cor 7 and speaks with the authority that God has given him directly?

          2. I think it makes more sense to say that he just stops quoting Jesus in 1 Cor 7 and speaks with the authority that God has given him directly rather than say that he’s ditched God and is just talking for the sake of it for a couple of sentences, considering how frequently he emphasises his apostolic credentials.

          3. James, Jesus himself told Mary to go and tell the good news to the disciples and Peter. Does anything over ride what He said. Paul said I, not God.

          4. I never meant to suggest that women shouldn’t tell people the good news – they would be disobedient if they didn’t. I’m not a leader, but I tell people the good news. I’m just referring to leading a church. Paul couldn’t and doesn’t override Christ, he gives us more detail.

          5. James, Of course He allows it. That passage has been exegeted and translated very badly for a thousand years. Think logically. Think of the Joel Prophecy at Pentecost. Why would women prophesying be proscribed at Pentecost for the church age but not in Epehesus?

            Pauls comment on creation order has to do with what was taught at the temple of Aretemus and the fertility cult of Diana which said that Eve was created first. If your interpretation is correct, then it means I am “saved” in childbearing. Which makes salvation a ‘work’ for women. (There are not roles mentioned here) After all, creation order is a silly argument since cows were created before Adam.

            The Greek grammar in that passage is singular. A woman. The “childbearing” is referring to an event: Birth of Messiah. The woman was a false teacher. Keep in mind “authenteo” is only used once in the NT. It is not authority over. We know this because Chrysostom wrote in 300 AD a ‘husband should not authenteo his wife’. WE know it is a bad thing that men can do to women. And we know Chrysostom was not egalitarian! Jerome translated authenteo as “domineer”.

            Paul is saying, ‘Let her learn’. This goes back to the reason for the entire book of Timothy. 1st chp covers those who are deceived out of ignorance (Paul uses himself as an example) and those who deceive on purpose–Hy and Al are named). Paul has compassion and mercy on those deceieved out of ignorance….like himself. His solution? Let her learn.

            Many women died in childbirth in those days and the Temple had a cult that promised they would live if following cult teachings. If this cultural context is understood, including the Greek Grammar and word usage, it makes much more sense than trying to sell a translation that only makes childbearing a “work” of salvation or sanctification for women only. How silly and it mocks Christ sacrifice on the cross. And it makes God a cruel God to those believing women who are barren.

            Blessings

          6. “If your interpretation is correct, then it means I am “saved” in childbearing. Which makes salvation a ‘work’ for women. (There are not roles mentioned here) After all, creation order is a silly argument since cows were created before Adam.”

            You guessed my interpretation wrong…. I’m not sure why you guessed at all – you could have just asked me! I don’t think Paul’s talking about justification in that verse but rather salvation in the broader sense, i.e. inclusive of sanctification, perseverance etc – basically saying that she will be saved regardless of gender through faith, love, holiness and self-control, just like men are.

            Anywho, regarding creation order being a poor argument: do you agree that the “γάρ” in v13 should be translated for/because? I think it should be, so I think it’s the basis given for his argument, in which case if you understand it in such a way that you think is silly, wouldn’t it be more likely that you’ve misunderstood it than that scripture misspoke?

            I think the account in Genesis is carefully structured in such a way that we see the world prepared for humanity (in the Biblical sense) to dwell there. It then starts with Adam and moves on to Eve. Adam names Eve. He is also called by God first after the fall to give an account. There’s no ambiguity. God doesn’t mix it up. In his creation before the first exile Adam is meant to prepare for Eve, to have authority over Eve and to bear responsibility for sin before Eve.

            Paul doesn’t think this feature is accidental. Nor do I.

          7. So now I am past child bearing age, I have to sit back and do nothing. I don’t think so. God gives us gifts, men or women, if we don’t use them we are throwing His gifts in His face. Yes, agreed if we’re married our husbands have dominion over us, that is why in the Anglican church a husband and wife don’t work in the same church. The couple I spoke of in an earlier posting don’t work in the same church, He has his own parish, she works covering for surrounding parishes when the main priest is away. When I was in England we had another husband and wife who were both priests, he had the parish on one side of mine, she had the parish on the other side. It doesn’t mean that she mustn’t lead a church. As I said with Paul, he said ‘I do not allow’ not ‘God does not allow.’ Some of the judges in the Old Testement were women. When Sheeba went back to her own country I don’t think it says anything in the Bible about taking a Rabbi back with her. Does that mean because she was a women she never said anything about the one true God. YOU are the one ‘interpreting’ the Bible your way. I’ve found it straight forward and it doesn’t need twisting.

          8. Pat,

            I desire that you use every gift that God leaves you. I am not now, nor do I think I am likely to be, an Elder. Absolutely everything I am permitted to do with my gifts and life situation is open to men & women without distinction. I do not believe that God gifts or calls women (or the vast, vast majority of men) to lead a church, because I think scripture specifically teaches otherwise. If you think I’m demeaning you, you presumably think I’m demeaning every male he isn’t leading a church. I don’t think Eldership is the thing to draw your value from and I don’t think you should say that if you can’t lead you may as well give up! Saying you won’t serve if you can’t lead is antithetical to the Christian life.

          9. James you are saying that women can’t lead a church, you’re not saying men can’t. you also went babbling on about women bearing children. Perhaps in the summer we should shut our church so that I don’t have to lead services and preach as most of the other’s go back to their home country so there are no men to lead. I can use my gifts as long as it isn’t for leading a church. You don’t believe God gives us those gifts. Well I’m sorry, but I KNOW He does and I also believe He has given me those gifts, even if in a small portion. A few other women on here have been given those gifts in much bigger portions that He has given me. Len says he couldn’t do it, but by Mark’s Driscoll’s standards that makes him less of a man. I would rather have one like him than 20 like Mark.

  13. I remember many years ago when the American evangelist Jimmy Swaggart said that God had told him that He had no one like him (Jimmy) who could rise up and serve Him. Not long afterward, Jimmy Swaggart fell colossally and publicly and his great ministry ceased to exist… God obviously hadn’t realised that Jimmy had a prediliction for prostitutes and pornography when He called him to be the ‘man of power for the hour’.

    Having been in ministry for over thirty years now, I’ve observed that the more aggressively judgemental leaders become about other leaders and churches, the more they are setting themselves up for a major fall. We all know the scripture… pride goes before a fall and a haughty spirit before destruction.

    When someone sets themselves up as the measure by which all of their peers are to be measured, they’re setting themselves up for a major fall. I’m sorry for the guy but like Krish, I don’t want to interact with him because he wants to generate the kind of publicity that discussion brings, in order to propagate his sometimes very toxic ideals.

    I know SO many young and not so young, brave and strong leaders in the UK. I’m privileged to work with many of them, both male and female, although I realise Mr. Driscoll won’t count the second group at all. God has raised up and continues to raise up some of the most amazing people, young and old, to speak his word with courage and strength into this nation… and it’s working.

    Bless Driscoll, cause that’s all we can do and stay faithful to Biblical tenets, but it would be even better if we could just ignore his immature and arrogant opinionating and just get on with the work.

  14. Hi Krish,
    as you say, let’s wait for the full article to come out, but I think the quote, (if indicative of the rest of the interview) is symptomatic of a celebrity bible teacher/worship leader culture that seems prevelant in the U.S. Mark dismisses all those faithful unknown bible teachers who serve in British churches week in week out. Also I suspect that outspokeness and bluntness of this kind is really just arrogance and lack of humility.

  15. Attempting to see past his intention to confront and provoke discussion, I wonder if he’s been misunderstood.

    Is it possible that he’s misunderstood English culture – the main point of his statement being the ‘known across Great Britain’ factor being a sign of their recognition – something which happens in the States but not over here as the Church scene is very different here?

    There are indeed dozens of people such as he is talking about, and they are known across the country but only within particular spheres – Stroud, Virgo etc in NFI; Greig, Croft in HTB etc. In the States, however, the scene is very different – think how Bell is widely known even amongst the Southern Baptists and amongst the Reformed Charismatics, and likewise how Driscoll is known and referred to amongst the more theologically progressive and ‘emergent’ spheres; whereas, over here, most of the Anglican sphere have never heard of folk like Virgo and Stroud, and in the more reformed spheres many people haven’t heard of the Soul Survivor names.

    I wonder if he’s misunderstood our culture, which is the main mistake here, but in doing so he’s said something which we’ve subsequently misunderstood.

    I may indeed be wrong, but I do want to encourage us all to wait for the full story and wait for a response from him. I was there when he was over in May and he did indeed encourage and rebuke, but totally without arrogance. Of course, he has been wrong in the past about things and has apologised for it, so we should wait to see how he responds to this. Let’s not respond out of offence and hurt before we know what his intentions were!

    1. I think you have this absolutely right. I think American culture in general (obviously not ALL Americans) is a lot blunter than British culture. Sometimes I think that as Brits we don’t realise how our understated, slightly ironic way of speaking comes across to other cultures. We think we’re being polite, others think we’re being wimpy. And vice versa, what might seem bland to an American seems rude to us. And if Mr Driscoll is on the bluntest end of a blunt spectrum, it’s no wonder he seems offensive this side of the pond.

      I often find myself set on edge by Mark Dsriscoll, but it’s usually a matter of approach and style rather than content. Guess I can be thankful for that!

  16. I think we need to be really careful here. No one has read the full interview and we don’t know what preceded the comments made. I thank God for Driscoll, yes he’s outspoken sometimes, but he preaches Christ, he seems to really love Christ and he’s seen many come to Christ through his church’s outreach. I think in the UK we could learn from this guy and we should wait and read the full article!! Let’s celebrate what Christ has done through our brother rather than calling him a fool.

    1. I think it’s the other way round, this guy could learn from the UK. I know a female priest who has been in South Sudan for 12 years. You’ve probably never heard of her as she doesn’t go on social network groups or TV shouting from the roof tops ‘Look how great I am.’ Another man I know died last year while working in China, again you’ll never have heard of him as he also didn’t shout from the roof tops how great he was. People in UK just get on with the job that God has sent them to do and don’t expect everyone to tell them how great they are. Most American’s outreach and missionaries expect everyone to keep telling them how great they are (not all, but most).

  17. I also think Christian Today have done an atrocious job of giving a headline – not helpful to either ‘party’ (as they’ve set it up) in this situation. Did it not raise your defences up before you’d even read the article?

    1. Mark’s blog post actually worse than anything he said in the original interview. He has launched a pre-emptive strike against Justin Brierley anticipating that he is going to be shredded in the article. What he says amounts to character assassination.

      If he is so thin-skinned that he needs to demonize someone because they “might” criticize him, he shouldn’t be writing books or pastoring.

  18. Hi Krish
    Thanks for responding. As a British woman minister I am too hurt to respond in any kind of helpful way so your strong but gracious response helps a great deal.

  19. Great post. There are so many churches here in the states that are driven by the pastor’s desire to be famous/influential/the next big thing. It is quite aggravating because so much of their messages and church experiences they seek to build tend to ultimately become about them rather than the Kingdom of God.

  20. “Pastor” Mark closes his blog post with this:

    “Subsequently, I am not surprised that after a very long interview, which took the better part of an hour, that I may be selectively edited and presented in a way that is not entirely accurate.

    In particular, the quote about cowardice may not fit all British men, but for men who misuse their authority to advance their agenda, it seems applicable.”

    That last sentence is about him, right?

    “but for men who misuse their authority to advance their agenda, it seems applicable”

    1. Phew! It’s only aimed at British MEN! British women can sit back, drink our tea in peace, abdicate responsibility and stop feeling guilty. Cheers ‘Pastor’ Mark D!

  21. I’d like to praise Mark Driscoll for his sincerity. He obviously cares. I’d heard of him but never looked into what he has to say, his teaching or his work until a friend highlighted this page to me.

    Evidently, there are good bible teachers in the UK, as have been listed by the author of this blog and further comments. His comments come from passion and frustration. He doesn’t say what he has said with the intention to offend or anger. Instead of criticising specific comments, I prefer to take the view that Jesus loves him and Jesus loves his passion and heart. I think as he continues his walk with God he will continue to mature, and fewer quotes like the one above will be seen. It’s all part of a beautiful (and sometimes for us; tough to deal with, accept and witness) journey.

    He puts it best on his blog: “I was not born of a virgin, have not lived without sin, and am not going to judge the living and the dead. Jesus is all that matters.”

    1. He doesn’t say what he has said with the intention to offend or anger. Of course not, he comes to show how great America is and in particular him and how terrible Uk is because we don’t do it the American way.

  22. I have read Driscoll’s personal blog of this, and I feel we should let the man speak for himself before over reacting. I am not saying he’s right on every count, but I haven’t heard of half the people you list, which somewhat reinforces his point. Of those I have heard of, I think he said Young Bible teachers not middle aged Christian celebrities – I struggle to remember last time I heard a main speaker at a major conference seek to seriously expound the word of God rather than offer a barrage of spiritual hype, loosely based on their favourite Bible verse. I fear that Mr Driscoll, like the British Church is the victim of a Christian culture that is media rather than theologically and Biblically driven. Look no further than that embarrassing “Christmas starts with Christ” poster. We are in a bad way when the BBC puts on a more theologically informed presentation of Christmas than evangelical Christians can manage. I often complain within my own denomination that we stack out our major conferences with Christian celebrities rather than developing the ministry of those who are so gifted among us. The response I get is that people won’t pay up and turn up without the big names. I think we need to be careful before we accuse Mr Driscoll of only being interested in fame – perhaps we should at least ask whether he is simply holding a mirror up to us.

  23. Although I think that Driscoll was mistaken on the substantive issue for various reasons it seems to me that the various commentators who call him a “fool” (a REALLY bad Bible word!) on the basis of one comment are a) overreacting and b) judging a brother in a way they would not want to be judged themselves.

    Just because he’s famous doesn’t mean the guy can’t make a mistake.

    http://bit.ly/AhnXnz

    1. so he can call Brits cowards, cold etc but we mustn’t call him a fool. Someone else said about judging Americans. In both counts why does everyone have to do it the American way. Why can the UK be criticised and not America? We are not and have never been an American state. We are British and do it the British way, not shouting from the roof tops, not saying how great we are, but, for the most part getting on with the job.

      1. No he shouldn’t call us cowards if it isn’t true. For exactly the same reason we shouldn’t call him a fool. Just because he did something that’s not ok doesn’t mean we can retaliate!

  24. Driscoll’s response does put some context about the interview, and we all know that some editing and poor headlining can pour more fuel on the fire. Both he and I “desire to see [British Christians] be exceedingly fruitful as they contend for the gospel of Jesus in their country.”

    But – he didn’t deny saying it.

    He has amended his original comments, no longer saying that “all british preachers were cowards” but instead, “the quote about cowardice may not fit all British men”

    He has misunderstood the british scene – there are still many courageous young preachers who may not be well known but are working away in their own contexts. Sure, we need more, let’s pray for more, but you cannot deny there are some.

    However… and crucially for me, there is still no apology. His article is of the type “you misunderstood me a little”, not “sorry for what I said”.

    He made a lot of good points in the interview from which the quote was taken. However, he also said in “Sometimes I go too far!” Yup. And whenw e do that we need to apologise, often not for the motive behind the comment, but for the comment itself.

  25. As an American church planter living in the Western Europe Context and the UK for many years, I hope I can help with some of the issues surrounding this.

    First, I think the Driscoll comments are superficial but have some points to consider when the cultural context he speaks from is understood. So for him saying “well known” doesn’t necessarily indicate a deep seated sinful desire for fame (though I can certainly allow that it could). Rather it means that for American culture being well known is still used as a thermometer of sorts in regards to if the gospel is having a wider cultural impact. British Christians certainly make similar judgements in their own communities all the time.

    Obviously I agree it’s hard to hear those things from an outsider, but I have learned over time that often it has helped me immensely to be able to do that (especially as an American ex-pat since it is clearly always the Americans fault!)

    At the same time, I’m grieved that someone like Mark (who I actually regard as a very good missiologist), would not guard his words whilst in this context, considering the long term possible ramifications of anything said.

    btw….It is equally sad to see people take similarly superficial and inane jabs at male led theologies and churches as if the stereotypes used are any less offensive than the way Driscoll’s comments might be viewed….

    Perhaps all us hold our cultures / nations / theologies a little to close to heart and idolize them more than we think….

    btw Krish, I met you at the recording of the “Big Questions” in Bolton and I was so grateful that you were one of the only ones speaking sense that day!

  26. Thanks for the post Krish.
    I like some on this blog do read and listen to Mark Driscoll sermon’s and I have read a few of his books. I do on the whole appreciate his honesty and sometimes this is tough to take by people. I heard Mark speak last year at a conference in Birmingham and he did say the same thing there so for me I have had time to reflect on this and now it has been brought back to my attention with this interview.
    I agree there are some great preachers who have been mentioned in previous posts which are well known to us but may not be to people in the states. I was in the US over Christmas and a youth pastor friend of mine had never heard of Soul Survivor so had never heard of Mike P for example. I am not excusing Mark’s comments, I think they are a little close to the bone and maybe he should do his research on the UK before addressing this issue but when you think that the UK is smaller than some states you begin to see it may be diffcult for people (maybe not Driscoll) to have heard some of the people, I do know that in a few sermon’s Mark has mentioned NT Wright for example.

    We need to remember that we are all fallen and sometimes we do say things which irritate others, it just happens to cause more offence when someone like Mark says it rather then me saying something to a friend which they may not agree with (which others may not agree with).

    My prayer is that we don’t turn this into another Rob Bell scenario where we all attack each other….we need unity not arguments….even more so when we disagree with people. Pray for them…remember we have all fallen short and need to repent!!

    I am not up for an argument, I know a lot of you disagree with a lot of Mark’s views. A united church is a strong church! Bless you all

  27. This makes me sad … I’m no theologian, just someone trying to follow Jesus, I fail and fall all the time, but aren’t we supposed to love one another? I’m off to read I Corinthians 13 …..

  28. Man Mark Driscoll is such a douche bag (edit response)

    name one young, good Bible teacher that is known across America

    If known across america has to included known by more than just young (slightly/ trendy/wannabe) evangelical Christians certainly not Mark Driscoll (is Mark even young any more isn’t he middle aged)

    I’m not even sure America has a young, good Bible teacher that is known across America you can’t apply the same criteria to America, look at the top 25 most influential evangelicals in America. How many are ‘Bible teachers’, how many are ‘good Bible teachers and how many are under 50 (which mark can’t be far off now)

    Let’s ignore the whole cult of celebrity deal America has going on with superstar ‘bible teachers’ (IE pastors with big churches, trendy pulpits and haircuts who jet round the conference circuit building their bible teacher profile) and it’s suspect validity

    All we learn from this is Mark hang’s out with allot of Young American Preachers groupies and doesn’t pay much attention to the UK.

  29. I take back “fool” and certainly never intended it in a Psalm 14 kind of way (just a ‘silly man’ kind of way). Sorry Mark.

    I’ve got no problem with him speaking provocatively. I just think he should be held to account when he’s off target. And btw his blog response does nothing to address what I and others are concerned about and it unfairly represents Justin Brierly.

    1. I thank you for the retraction and agree with you that Mark, along with everyone else, should be called to account for his words when he’s off base.

      I am curious what you mean when you say that he, “Unfairly represents” the reporter though? I know a lot of different people were further incensed by Mark’s post in reply to the controversy and so I’m not disputing the right or even correctness of that. Rather I’m trying to figure out what exactly you’re saying as I’ve been hearing so many diverse views on why/how Mark has done the man injustice.

      I’m just interested in your view on the subject Mr. Scrivener.

        1. Can you provide full context of quote on this Glen?

          Some of us do not have Twitter!

          Am quite interested because I have some links with Christianity magazine and thus background would be helpful before giving them any thoughts.

          Thanks,

          David

          PS btw, if asked to name two good younger Bible teachers in the UK I personally would nominate your good self and also Andrew Wilson from Eastbourne NFI as two to start with!…

  30. I wonder if the reason this has touched a nerve for you, Krish, is because it’s so close to home. After all you are a gifted bible teacher from the UK, who speaks in many different contexts. So in dismissing all British Bible teachers, Driscoll is dismissing your gifts, calling and to some extent your identity. I wonder then if this experience can help you understand better why women like me respond in a similar way to complementarians who say that we should not be leading and speaking and thus dismiss our gifts, calling and identity. I’m interested that you’re prepared to make a stand and call out someone like Driscoll for his comments about British bible teachers, and you’re not prepared to do the same for his and others’ comments on women in leadership.

    1. Aw, Jenny… Your identity is that you are a child of the living God. If you replace that with your role in ministry, then it will crush you.

      1. Hi James
        I suppose it depends on your theology of ministry; despite being a baptist I have a somewhat ontological view of ministry, i.e. that what God calls us to is who we are rather than a role we play or a task we do.

        I think this is the point of what Jenny is saying; complementarianism hurts so much because I believe that I am an ordained minister in obedience to the call of God on my life and this causes a fundamental change in my identity. Of course my worth isn’t measured by success or otherwise in ministry (see my blog http://sarahfegredo.blogspot.com/2012/01/another-numbers-game.html) but if you negate a significant part of my identity you do me serious damage. It the same damage Driscoll does when he says that someone isn’t a man unless they do manliness the way he says it should be done.

      2. James, don’t talk down to us. We women are a lot stronger than you men think. After all you are also a child of God, does doing any other sort of ministry crush you?

        1. No, because I don’t put my value and identity in my ministry. If I did, there have been times where I would have despaired. I’m able to stand because God upholds me. I didn’t mean to talk down. I’m really sorry if that’s how it came across. But if I said that my identity is destroyed by not being an elder (and again, I’m not – I work with kids and sound equipment when I’m on serving teams. My day job is at a bank), I’ve missed the hope Christ has given me. I find myself in him.

          1. I don’t either James, my main ministry is with disadvantaged children in Ukraine and we foster four, but you have written it as if we can’t do both, but a man can. There are five of us running the church until we can get a full time priest (we’ve only been trying for at least four years). Many women do run their church full time, what’s the difference between having a full time ministry in the church and having a full time job outside the church. Yes the hours are very flexible (meaning anything up to 24 hours a day sometimes), but at least your working from home.

    2. Jenny, let it go over you head. You know what you’re doing is right and so does God. What anybody else thinks doesn’t matter. Len and I run a Christian charity in Ukraine and when we were filling in the forms we were asked who was going to be in charge and the lawyer went to put Len’s name down until he said ‘Pat is.’ We got a very funny look, but Len didn’t bother explaining that he can hardly read and write and can’t handle money, whereas I could. The church we attend doesn’t have a full time priest so I sometimes preach (twice finding out that there wasn’t anyone else to do it when we got there), we have had one American family leave over this, but the rest of the church is quite happy about it (I will admit I’m not the best of preachers, but manage to get my message across). Our dear friend on here don’t seem to realise that if it wasn’t for women priests half the Anglican churches would close. Where I come from in England at least 1/3rd of the churches are run by women. We know we can do it, God knows we can do it and that’s all that matters.

      1. Pat, I’m prepared to let it go over my head for myself and often do, but I’m sick to death of meeting young women whose gifts and abilities are crushed by the complementarian view of the Bible, and who don’t know that there’s a different way to understand the scripture.

        1. I know what you mean, but we have to let them know by our actions and our words that God would not give us a calling or the gifts to use if He didn’t want us to accept it. I haven’t managed to change many men’s minds on this, but have managed to make some women see that if God has called them they should go.

  31. To my British brothers and sisters,

    Please understand that there are many of us believers here who are extremely embarassed by the celebrity culture of Christianity in the US. Mark Driscoll has a business. Not a ministry.

    He is always claiming to be taken out of context (when the backlash is bad) OR he “repents”…a lot. But then he gets worse and repents again. Years ago, at a conference he said every word he speaks on stage is from the Holy Spirit. If that is not scary enough then understand what is even more scary is that a lot of well known preachers and leaders here did not call him on that. He gets a pass because they want his followers, too.

    The worst part is that he has influenced many young men here in the states and their arrogance, brashness and pomposity is their “brand”. It reeks in their Acts 29 churches.

    If he has alienated the Brits then consider that a good thing. I am praying he will have less and less influence here, too. But ignore his insults. Remember, it is about Mark. Not Christ. If not preaching, Mark would have found a stage somewhere.

  32. “It then starts with Adam and moves on to Eve. Adam names Eve. ”

    James, you are so far into the faux Christian caste system, it is meaningless to continue. I would remind you that “they”, male and female are “created” in chap 1 of Gen. Eve is “formed” in Chap 2. Adam means “human”. There is simply not one single shred of evidence of his “authority” over Eve before the fall. That must be read into the text and many use creation “order” for such silliness. After the fall, that is the sin of patriarchy. It is not a virtue. It is sin. But God works through and around it for His purposes. Also, as God is also referred to as “Ezer”, you have little leg to stand on with Ezer kegnado which is helper comparable.

    In fact, your interpretation makes the sin of patriarchy a virtue. In Gen 3, Eve “turning” (teshuqa) was a turning TO Adam and away from God. As God predicted she would. Check it out. It was translated as “turning” until about the 1300’s when the monk Pagnino changed it to ‘desire’. How you get Eve wanting to rule Adam out of that, I do not know. When the result is that Eve was ruled by Adam because she turned from God. (History bears this out)

    If bearing children is part of sanctification for women as you insist, then I fail to see how it changes things much for barren women. Some call this “the sucks to be you” Gospel from those who love to “lord it over’ others. Your interpretation keeps you in sin, brother.

    If God had meant your interpretation, then Deborah was in sin. So was Joanna in Luke 8. Among many others.

    1. “James, you are so far into the faux Christian caste system, it is meaningless to continue.”

      Again, what does Paul mean by grounding his argument on Adam coming first, then Eve. Until that’s been explained to me, I’m forced to conclude that your disagreement isn’t with me so much as it is with Paul (and the Holy Spirit that inspired his teaching) on this point.

      And again, I’m in the same position regarding church leadership as any Christian woman in my understanding. Serving under a leader is a joy and I cannot fathom the idea that it should be dismissed as second-caste.

      1. Tell you what James, you get a priest (ordained Anglican) to come out and take over our church in Kiev and I might stop taking services. You are saying it is second class for women to be elders, leaders etc. nowhere have we said it is second class for men to be leaders, something you have made up from your own muddled thinking.

    2. Oh, and I adore Deborah & Joanna. I do wish people would stop guessing what my theology would say about a person or text, then telling me off for it!

      I had a friend who was upset with me because she had a dream where I stole her birthday cake, and admitted that she stayed angry with me for a couple of hours. She laughingly admitted it was rather silly to hold me responsible for things I did in her imagination. I hope you can do the same!

      1. But James, you are saying that women couldn’t be leaders or elders, I’m just pointing out that there were women judges. Either women can be leaders or they can’t, you can’t pick and choose.

        1. It’s not healthy for me to speak if the only result is to make people angry, and it’s not healthy for you to get personal in your retorts or assume things of me that I’m not saying.

          If I did reply now, it’d be as much due to a desire to justify myself as much as anything else, and self-justification is antithetical to my faith.

          I don’t want to be disobedient or divisive. It just concerned me that people were assuming that complementarians just arbitrarily decided to demean women, but all we’re trying to do is see churches that follow the teaching of the NT as we interpret it.

          I get that you think I’m wrong. I can deal with you guys thinking I’m stupid. I just don’t want to be thought immoral for following the word of God as I understand it. I have 2 women in authority over me (joyfully in submission to our elders) and they are more gifted than I am. I love them and respect them dearly. But untill I see compelling exegesis, submitting to them as elders would go against my conscience. Does that make sense?

          1. I’m not saying you stupid James, now whose putting words in my mouth that I haven’t said. I did say that the Bible for the most part is straight forward and doesn’t need interpreting, it was written for simple men, not scholars.

          2. Oh, I didn’t mean that you had. You’ve not been harsh, but this is an emotional topic, and I think it’s fairly safe to say I’m in the tiny minority. My aim was basically “don’t write us all off”, and that’s been a shambles by the looks of it.

            People think I’m wrong. Fair enough. But I hold to it because I feel compelled to by my faith. If I’ve misunderstood it I’d rather it was blamed on stupidity than bigotry.

            Honestly, my ecclesiology is a secondary issue. It sounds like you’re doing incredible work and I admire you for it. I have asked some egalitarian friends to recommend the strongest books they can think of for me to look at counter-exegesis of the key passages in dispute and they’re having a think. With that, I’m moving this thread to my spam filter so I can get back to reading again!

    3. Just thought of something Lin, if you named your son, does that mean he can’t be an elder in any church you attend, or any church at all for that matter.

  33. Plenty has been said on the Driscoll interview, but one aspect seems to have been neglected…he also said about the bars & clubs being packed on weekends with men gathered to watch UFC fights. Now, unless the situation has changed markedly in the last 4 years, when have men ever gathered in the UK in their droves to watch UFC fights?!!

    Seriously Mark…we gather in pubs to watch footy (the type where you use your foot), probably never in clubs, and to watch UFC?!!!

    1. Ben, what’s a UFC fight, never heard of it, but I know all my English male friends on face book are always going to the pub to watch the football. A few come back sozzled, but most don’t. But then again, it wouldn’t make us look so bad would it. I bet he didn’t mention the street pastors. i have two friends in Kent who do this. They call themselves street pastors, but they actually go to the pubs and clubs on a Saturday night (they try to make sure it’s half time if soccer’s on, don’t forget Mark idea of football isn’t the proper thing). The people are quite happy to talk to them, they have never been threatened and a lot of the bar staff who now them often have a glass of orange juice for them. They are not SA, they are RC. I wonder if Mark would dare to venture into a crowded bar or club on a Saturday night.

      1. Pat, to be fair to Mark Driscoll, from what I know of him & his ministry, he is connecting with non-churched guys in his church in Seattle, so I suspect the answer to your Q is ‘yes, he probably would’. However, the point I was making was more to do with UFC & his statement about our pubs/clubs being full of men watching it, which I very much doubt.

        1. But Ben, what is UFC fighting. I’ll be honest, but this is a personal opinion from what I’ve seen of televangelists, I don’t think they would go into the pubs and clubs on a Saturday night as they prefer to talk at people, not to them. They might send someone else in from their church, but I don’t think they’d go in themselves.

          1. Pat, to be honest, I didn’t know & had to look it up…maybe that shows my own naievity?

            Don’t tar all evangelists with the same brush! Televangelists are a special case & I’m not sure how many who properly fit in this category really exist any more. By definition, an evangelist is someone who brings the message of Good News, so needs to be interacting with unbelieving people. In all fairness to Driscoll, I get the impression he does interact with unbelieving people fairly regularly.

  34. I don’t like his comments either. We can chew up the fish and spit out the bones. James was right: that tongue of ours is indeed the hardest thing to control, whether to speak up or say less. None of us is immune to such outbursts. Two instances:
    1. Famous expositor G. Campbell Morgan of Westminster Chapel is known to have said during the pentecostal outbreak at the start of the 20th Centruty that it was ‘from the pit’ – or similar words (i.e. hell). Well he obviously got that one wrong.
    2. At the lead up to the election after WWII Churchill compared the opposition party to the Gestapo. (His wife had suggested not use that word).

  35. I rarely, if ever, find myself writing in disapproval of another ministry. I believe that one of God’s great ideas is diversity; ‘horses for courses’, in that we are all called to different things and we are made differently to accommodate that. The Lord has uniquely designed His church to dazzle the world with the myriad facets of what Church is to look like and be. Ephesians 3:10 sums it up beautifully:

    So that, through the Church, the multi faceted wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.

    However, I’m about to break that habit, having been stirred to action by the highly destructive scattergun tirades emanating from the mouth of Mark Driscoll from Mars Hill Church, USA. Mark has been in the Christian news a lot lately for a variety of reasons, none of which have cast him in a favourable light.

    Senior leader, his choice of name for his church is interesting in that Mars was the Roman god of war. Mark seems bent on vying with Mars for the lead position in terms of pugnacious behaviour. Regardless of the subject matter, his demeanour is combative, seeming to be bent on picking a fight with any viewpoint and expression of Church that differs with his own.

    His church website earnestly states: ‘…we believe Jesus is God so everything we do is all about Him’. I suppose that most churches would like to consider themselves to be operating under the same philosophy. However, in the process of being ‘all about Jesus’, he appears to have forgotten that God so loved the world. Paul, himself a contrary and combative person by nature, had learned by the time he came to write 1 Corinthians 13, that no matter how right you may be, if you are not operating in love, rightness does not have the power to validate unloving and graceless behaviour.

    Mark’s recent remarks about the dearth of ‘young’, ‘male’ leaders in the UK, and the cowardice and ineffectiveness of UK church leaders has not earned him a great deal of good publicity. Quoting from the interview, (http://www.christiantoday.com/article/ mark.driscoll.takes.aim.at.the.cowards.in.the.british.church/29159.htm) Mark says –

    “Let’s just say this: right now, name for me the one young, good Bible teacher that is known across Great Britain. You don’t have one – that’s the problem. There are a bunch of cowards who aren’t telling the truth.”

    With this sweeping generalisation, Mark not only dismisses the effectiveness of all but the youngest and male-est of leaders, (that excludes me on both counts) he also sets himself up as judge and jury of what could be called courageous, honest leadership. Being ‘known’, as in having achieved a celebrity status that reaches across the pond to his bastion of power in Mars Hill, USA seems to be his criterion for evaluating that.

    Apart from being shocked at the temerity of this young guy’s overt and narrow-minded statements, I’m also alarmed for his future. As a veteran of over 30 years of ministry, I’ve seen many great leaders and church celebrities come and go… and for the most part, the reason they tend to go is just this – their total lack of humility and the blatant arrogance with which they purport their own opinions as being the (only) Word of the Lord.

    One of the greatest marks of genuine theological study, and one that I have come to value deeply and which tends to be diligently practiced in the UK where I live and minister, is the willingness to engage in conversation with those of a differing theological standpoint.

    Rich Erickson, professor at Fuller Theological Seminary, wrote a paper entitled ‘Critical Openness’ which is ‘the willingness to listen, to think and to respond with intelligence and grace’. In this paper he advocates the necessity for all serious scholars of the Word to God to be willing to embark on the Grand Theological Conversation that began when God first began to speak to humanity in the Garden of Eden. That conversation has continued down through the millennia, and despite its flaws, the Church has grown and developed because of it.

    All Christians, whether church leaders or scholars or members trying to live in the way God wants, are flawed and broken by their own histories. We tend to see everything through the lens from which we have been taught, either by our own teachers, or by life. When a person gets serious with God, one of the things they can learn, if they are willing, is that they don’t know everything, and that what God speaks to them is only the tiniest fragment of what He knows. He tells some of what He knows to one person and other aspects of what He knows to others… together we can form a great understanding of who God is, complete with all of the seemingly contradictory aspects of theology that we find hard to reconcile with the bit that we heard from Him.

    My concern for Driscoll is this. More times than I want to remember, I have watched great leaders fall badly from their pedestals when they have begun to believe their own publicity. The tenet from Proverbs 16:18 ‘pride goes before a fall and a haughty spirit before destruction’ is unfortunately as much a fact now as it has ever been.

    The Church has lost too many great leaders because of their inability to listen to and respect others, and for this we grieve deeply. David had no joy in the death of Saul, but wept copiously because the mighty had fallen. None of us want to see Driscoll and others who skate so near the abyss of their own prideful deception, fall into it. They need prayer to help them grow past the adolescent thrill of their own successes and into a rich and adult faith in which they value and respect others of different understanding, without having to embrace the same opinions. Maturity is expressed most clearly when people learn to disagree agreeably.

    However, I also suggest that, just as when anyone acts in an attention seeking way, the best option would be to ignore Driscoll’s rants. The quickest way to help people become aware of their lack of wisdom is to go on with what you know to be right and let them conclude from the resulting lack of attention, that it may be time for them to change. That’s how anyone who has successfully made the journey from adolescence to adulthood has accomplished it. I hope Mark can find a way to make this vital transition. He has so many giftings and his loss would be a loss for the Body of Christ, but we all know that gifting isn’t character and it’s for lack of mature character that great leaders fall.

    In the meantime, there’s a world to be reached by people who carry the Kingdom of God selflessly and diligently, despite their gender, their manner, their lack of street-cred as understood by others whose call is different. Let’s move past our irritation and offence at the childish and irrelevant rantings of one young guy who hasn’t learned any better yet. And let’s pray for him, that when the opportunities come for him to learn, as we know they will, that God will enable him to grasp what is being shown to him and that we will see the evidence of that in the changes that take place in his life and ministry.

    1. Like you Bev I fail on both counts, although I’m not ordained, but I am female and not exactly in the prime of life. I do however help at two churches, two different denomination, Anglican and Adventist. Basic Bible teaching is the same in both, but there are some differences, but as you say, we each learn something different and it is SOMETIMES for us to tell others of the differences. As for our English cowards, I wonder how Mark would stand up to working in Sudan as a female, ordained friend does. She has been held up at gun point on more than one occasion. I have photos of her bed, plastered with rubble from her roof after a rocket attack landed near by. That, of course, doesn’t count. She’s a woman, isn’t as old as me, but isn’t young either and doesn’t get her name plastered across the world on TV and newspapers.

  36. Krish why are you writing this in a blog – talk to him not to the public. I know Mark to be someone who apologises when he’s made a mistake (and like me he has to do that a lot). Let’s continue the ministry of reconciliation to which we are called.

  37. Just to say – I very much regret my opening comment above and last year I sought and received the forgiveness of Pastor Mark for it.

    I’d be very happy if it was deleted forever, but barring that, let it be a reminder to us all that everything we say online is instant, global and permanent (think I got those three from Mark himself!).

    God bless

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