John MacArthur has started the current wave of criticism against Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church, Seattle.
Paleoevangelical appreciates and qualifies MacArthur’s criticism in two posts.
Chris Anderson posted his two cents’ worth.
Bob Bixby jumps into the fray with a dismantling of one Driscoll sermon that he heard.
Dave Doran deals with Driscoll’s doctrine.
Scott Aniol comments with a summary of previous posts.
And of course, I’m certain that there are others.
The substance of the criticisms is not hard to identify. They accuse Driscoll of distracting people from the Bible’s message by filling his sermons with humor. Some criticize the edgy/crass/lewd character of some of Driscoll’s language, jokes and content. Others claim that his doctrine is shallow, odd or wrong. He even gets picked on for his wardrobe and other aspects of his attempt at contextualization. All those criticisms can be backed up with varied levels of evidence and are, to some degree, true.
But why has this situation arisen? Why is Driscoll committing these errors? Ben at Paleoevangelical posts a quotation from a Driscoll sermon in which Mark Driscoll himself shares (with statements I’ve heard him make in other messages) what I believe is the root of all the areas that are being attacked:
I should’ve waited to plant this church. I had never been a pastor in a church before I started my own church…
I had not even been a member of a church when I started my own…
Had I to do it over again, I would have become a member of a church, I would have worked through the eldership process at a church, I would have subjected myself to the elders. I would have received rebuke and correction and exhortation. They would have talked to me about my pride and my anger and my bitterness, my short temper, my self-sufficiency–a whole list of things that needed work, and I would have humbled myself. And then when they confirmed that it was time, God could have lifted me up to go start Mars Hill.
That’s the heart of this issue, I’m convinced. I’d suspect that each and every criticism against Driscoll is a criticism of some expression of ministry immaturity. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Driscoll sees this problem and, with his usual frankness, admits this with a humble apology some time down the road.
God saw this situation coming and gave us a word about it in advance: “He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil” (I Tim. 3.6). Mark Driscoll echoed what Paul wrote about the qualifications for a pastor when he said, “If I could do it over differently, I would.” Paul would tell him, “Yes, you should have waited and matured before becoming a pastor – it’s dangerous for people who are so young in faith to be church leaders.”
Paul warned would-be pastors about becoming “puffed up with conceit;” Driscoll regrets that his “arrogance, braggadociosness, pride, self-sufficiency… hurt the health of Mars Hill early on.”
The fact that Pastor Driscoll recognizes that his ministry immaturity allowed his pride to damage his church is a sign that he is growing. He wishes he could start over and spend time under the corrective authority of mature Christians; I hope that he listens to Dr. MacArthur’s well-reasoned and Scriptural rebuke with a teachable attitude.
I also hope that every blogger who “warns his readers” about Mark Driscoll’s preaching and ministry (a-hem, let’s hope that “warnings” aren’t a guise for attacks, gossip and slander) will also pray that Driscoll will grow in grace, mature in ministry and escape “the condemnation of the devil” (I Tim. 3.6). He is our brother, not our enemy, and any criticism written or typed should be washed in love and prayer. Don’t forget how Samuel rebuked Saul : “it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the LORD all night” (I Sam. 15 KJV)!
May God give Pastor Driscoll grace to hear and live Peter’s pastoral exhortation: Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (I Pet. 5.5).