I have been following this whole Mark Driscoll situation at a distance for sometime. Mark’s ministry has meant a lot to me personally. (Google “Mark Driscoll” if you don’t know what I am talking about or check out WARREN THROCKMORTON’S BLOG). A couple of his early books were used by God as I was called to ministry. I am saddened by this. I am saddened for the hurt this has been for Mark’s family (see THIS VIDEO). I am saddened by the fall of Mars Hill Church. (See THIS BLOG by Christ Brown from Pittsburgh Seminary as to why this may be a really good thing) I am especially saddened that his book Call to Resurgence is going to get lost in the shuffle. It is one of the clearest and most accessible look at the current state of the church and call to action that I have read.
Mark Driscoll is being vilified. He has done nothing done illegal. He did not have an affair or a kill anyone. That is not to say I can defend his actions or attitudes. He has been a polarizing figure and seems to have created an unhealthy culture at Mars Hill Church. He has done a number of questionable things that have hurt others. But he has also done a lot of good. My grandmother has a metaphor for a story like his. “A cow that gives you a good bucket of milk and then steps in it.” He did a lot of good things. A lot of things now seem soiled.
How did he step in it? What was the problem? I think that this quote from Bonhoeffer speaks to the moment:
“Whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister” (Mark 10:43). Jesus made authority in the fellowship dependent on brotherly service. Genuine spiritual authority is to be found only where the ministry of hearing, helping, bearing, and proclaiming is carried out. Every cult of personality that emphasizes the distinguished qualities, virtues, and talents of another person, even though these be of an altogether spiritual nature, is worldly and has no place in the Christian community; indeed, it poisons the Christianity community. The desire we so often hear expressed today for “episcopal figures,” “priestly men,” “authoritative personalities” springs frequently enough from a spiritually sick need for the admiration of men, for the establishment of visible human authority, because the genuine authority of service appears to be so unimpressive. There is nothing that so sharply contradicts such a desire as the New Testament itself in its description of a bishop (I Tim. 3:1 ff.). One finds there nothing whatsoever with respect to worldly charm and the brilliant attributes of a spiritual personality. The bishop is the simple, faithful man, sound in faith and life, who rightly discharges his duties to the Church. His authority lies in the exercise of his ministry. In the man himself there is nothing to admire (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together pg 108)
As my friend Chris says, Bonhoeffer continues to be a time traveler for the church. I think Mark’s ministry was one of a “spiritual nature” in Bonhoeffer’s lingo. I don’t think that Mark Driscoll is the evil and unforgiveable person that he is being portrayed. I do not think that for Mark Driscoll or for Mars Hill Church it became all about Mark and not at all about Jesus. I don’t think it is that black and white. I think the reality of the situation that it was more fuzzy than that. It was Jesus AND Mark Driscoll. It was a shared spotlight at times. This is probably even more dangerous.
The scary thing is that my own ministry is sometimes Jesus AND Jordan Rimmer. I feel the temptation of leading with personality. I feel the challenge of equating God’s blessing of my ministry with my own effort. The truth is that it is not my ministry–it is Christ’s ministry. The gospel of grace is in direct opposition to it being my grace or being build on my faithfulness.
The Gospel of Grace is such good news because God redeems and uses broken people like you and I. When we fall apart God can still use us again. I am always amazed when Christians who follow a faith of grace have no grace for one another. So many are writing and speaking trash against Mark Driscoll. I cheer for Mark Driscoll as I cheer for Michael Vick and so many others who have made mistakes. I have to believe that people can come back from mistakes. I make mistakes too. I have to believe that God can use imperfect people to accomplish His will. I am far from perfect.
Are those who fall and fail beyond God’s redemption? I pray not, because then I have no hope. Paul wasn’t beyond God’s saving work. Neither were Peter or the other Disciples. Neither were Abraham, Jacob, or David. The list could go on an on. The only perfect character in the whole Bible is Jesus, but that is enough to cover the imperfection of the rest of us.
To Mark Driscoll, I pray for your family. And I pray for you. May you go through a great time of healing and maturity, and may God bring you to the next place of your ministry ready to serve if that be God’s will.