I Don’t Have Time To Maintain These Regrets When I Think About The Way He Loves Us

Recently, Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill in Seattle posted this on Facebook.
The post has been rebutted:

The rebuttals have been rebutted:

The viewpoint has been clarified:

And the post has been removed.

None of that, though, is what’s prompting me to come out of my blog coma and post. I’d like to take this opportunity to say STOP. Everyone. JUST STOP.

Was the post out of line? Yes. Was it in poor taste? Absolutely. Was it inappropriate for anyone calling himself a Christian, let alone a Christian leader? Probably. Is the internet the place to call him out on that? No.

I know, I know, Driscoll started the whole thing by posting online. You’re right. The Jesus we follow absolutely said to do unto others as they have done to you. Wait. That’s not what he said at all. It’s kind of the opposite of that, actually. Yes, I know, we’re supposed to discipline sin before the church. The thing is, though, that (a) public accountability should only come AFTER a private confrontation (according to Jesus in Matthew 18) and (b) the internet isn’t the church.

It’s probably no secret that I’m not a Driscoll fan. We’ve got some philosophical and ideological differences that have little to do with ministry and nothing to do with salvation. I’m ok with that. I’m wholly convinced that Jesus loves me in spite of myself & the same is true for Pastor Mark. I respect his ministry & the fact that God’s given him an amazing platform.  In general, I feel like this is just another instance of his being needlessly divisive. As a former leader in the Emergent church, he’s been uniquely gifted with the opportunity to unite emerging and traditional congregations. Instead, he’s a pulpit shock jock. This is not new information. It’s who he is and his ministry doesn’t seem to be suffering from it. Any umbrage I may have (and I’m not alone given the reaction on the internet) is my problem, not his.

The beauty of the church is that we don’t have to agree with one another about anything other than Jesus. We have to love each other. We have to hold one another accountable (side note: anyone claiming any of this has been about accountability is kidding themselves), but we don’t have to agree. Unless you’re married to Mark Driscoll or attend Mars Hill, you don’t have to defer to him as a spiritual leader. You can choose to do so, but it’s not Biblically mandated. I feel like it’s not a surprise to anyone that I’m not a Driscoll fan. To be fair, since I’m a feminist woman called to ministry, Driscoll’s probably not a fan of mine. That’s ok. Peter and Paul weren’t BFFs either. Their ministries each thrived.

If you know me at all, you’ve probably heard me express the opinion that if the church would act like we love each other, the world might start to think we love them, too. All this back and forth is making a whole lot more of us, and a whole lot less of Jesus. The world isn’t seeing Jesus in the posts, or the rebuttals, or the rebuttals of the rebuttals.  They’re seeing Christians tear each other apart. I’ll say it again (in all caps, both for emphasis and in case you missed it the first time), IF THE CHURCH WOULD ACT LIKE WE LOVE EACH OTHER, THE WORLD MIGHT START TO THINK WE LOVE THEM, TOO. That’s the challenge, isn’t it? Why are we letting this ridiculousness get in the way of that?


12 thoughts on “I Don’t Have Time To Maintain These Regrets When I Think About The Way He Loves Us

  1. Nelson Romo says:

    Agree. Wholeheartedly. Thanks for being smart, sensitive, and Christ-like in your encouragement to pursue Christ-likeness. Love the way He’s using your talent & His calling on your life to make more of Him.

    Remember to take your anti-coma medication .. the Church (who, I agree, isn’t ‘the Church’ on the Internet) as well as others who appreciate insightful, Christ-shaped, loving thoughts .. we/they could use more of you

    • I’ve started tkanig yoga class recently and the workout is perfect for me right now. The instructor’s patter about introducing my self to my self and saluting the sun within me…. whatever. For me it’s easily adapted to thinking about the Holy Spirit living in me, or meditating on Jesus instead of on my own belly. I don’t find anything about yoga inherently evil.I do admire the gentle, unassuming way the instructor talks about the “yoga” view of the world. Makes me wonder how Christians became such control freaks. God will do what He will do, so why is it not simple for us to simply speak what we know and let God work in people’s hearts however He will?*sigh*mp

  2. But what about this: Driscoll’s internet rhetoric is a steady stream of vitriol against anybody who doesn’t fit his rigid conceptions of gender binarism. It causes tangible pain to real human beings. He uses the rubric of “truth” to grant himself free rein to mock and bully men he regards as effeminate and women whom he feels are not sufficiently feminine. He’s not going to stop, no matter how many times well-intentioned Christian bloggers politely invoke Christ’s transcendent love for all people.

    At the end of the day, I have to place the suffering of real people ahead of any abstract NT notions of church polity. It is my conviction that there must be a clear counter-discourse to Driscoll’s venom, and it must exist in the same media where he appears, in order to reach out to people who might be hurt or misled by him. So it is in fact wholly appropriate to call him out in the internet.

    As a Scriptural defense of this position, I can invoke the example you cite, of Peter and Paul. Paul explicitly called Peter out in an open epistle to an entire church–the closest thing to the internet that existed in the Roman world.

    I appreciate what you’ve done here, and I think it’s vital for Christian bloggers/tweepts/etc to remember their collective salvation while they talk. While Christ’s love must permeate that discourse (however messy and contentious it becomes), I do not see Christ’s love as a substitute for such discourse. It IS necessary because real people are at stake in it.

    • Chris, ordinarily, I’d agree with you, but not in this instance.

      Here’s where I see things differently:

      1) Paul’s calling out of Peter, while public in the church, was not public to the rest of the Roman world. Everyone who had access to the criticism also had access to the context. The same can’t be said about this situation. Once it goes public on the internet it’s not a matter of church discipline, but a matter of gossip and infighting. In addition, Paul’s critique of Peter was to edify the church. There’s very little of that going on here.

      2) Driscoll didn’t say these particular comments on his public blog, or in an interview, or in a podcast, or in any other internet forum, but on his facebook page: a page that you have to “like” in order to see. If you don’t like Mark Driscoll or what he says/does/stands for, don’t “like” him. That’s a choice. I do not understand this brand of masochism. People initially offended in this situation are actively participating in something that’s making them miserable. The rest of us, those with the good sense not to subject ourselves to his nonsense, have been drawn into this situation by those who chose NOT to dispute Driscoll on his page. It’s not as if he restricted comments. Hundreds of people posted more than 600 comments before he took it down.

      I agree that Christian discourse is essential. Without it, we’d be all Jerusalem and no Antioch (and most likely none of us would be having this conversation). It’s the discourse that helps us to grow, change & formulate what we believe and why. When engage in discourse, though, we should be able to discern between someone challenging our faith and the playground pest in our face annoying us with taunts of “I’m not touching you! I’m not touching you.” We also need to be aware that being a “city on a hill” means the rest of the world sees both the light we shine & when we set each other on fire.

      • Here’s where we agree: discourse needs to remain civil, and it’s true that many of Driscoll’s detractors have not been civil, and this needs to stop. It’s even true that I have not been adequately civil, and I am grateful to you for reminding me of the need to focus on higher ideals. Character assassination is unacceptable. Coy jokes that Driscoll is a repressed homosexual are unacceptable (cough Tony Jones). Scoffing and derision is unacceptable (cough ME).

        We’re going to disagree, however, on the public nature of this conversation. In lieu of flogging a dead horse, let me just add this to explain why I feel an obligation to criticize people like Driscoll for their perpetuation of homophobic stereotypes. I am a Christian who has taken a vocal stand in favor of LGBT rights. I have friends in the LGBT community (both Christian and non-Christian). Silence implies assent. If a Christian perpetuates homophobic speech/behavior in public, I MUST speak to it or MY light fails to shine before the people around me. There is a middle ground between church discipline and gossip wherein I must reserve the right to sharply criticize the rhetoric of a public figure who, in my opinion, perpetuates a hurtful and destructive way of thinking.

        I’m happy to agree to disagree on this. If the church is big enough for me and Pastor Mark, it’s big enough for me and you (you feminist).

      • Chris, I don’t think we have to agree to disagree on this. I’m all for people holding him accountable, or for speaking up for Truth. I’ve yet to see a retort in this whole mess, though, that attempts to accomplish those things without resorting to name calling. If that’s the best we can do then our example may as well be PeeWee Herman (“I know you are, but what am I?”). It certainly isn’t Christ.

        I’d like to reclarify, as well, that I might (nay, would) feel differently had the original affront not taken place on his facebook wall. One had to go looking in order to be offended; can we not please find more constructive things to do?

        The problem I have with Mark, and with most of the people who have “stood up to him” is the same problem I have with many politicians: they’re not willing to tell me what they believe, they tell me what they’re against. If you want me to follow you, listen to you, believe you’re a person of passion, DON’T tell me what you’re against – tell me what you’re for.

  3. greatscottbaker says:

    Loni, I’m completely on board with you here. I think moving forward, and doing so quickly, is the strongest message that the Church writ large can send right now. But I will say a brief word in support of the discussion and conversation that has taken place. (Some might say “argument,” and that’s okay with me too.) Given that each individual congregation is representative of the Church as a whole, and given the interconnectedness of our world via technology, when someone in the faith’s mouth is as big as Driscoll’s is, the rest of us cannot afford to allow our silence to be mistaken for consent or complicity.

    To say it another way, far too many people outside the Church pay attention to Driscoll. I’m no fan of mega-pastors; I think a pastor is called to serve a congregation, not the world. (I could parse that out in much greater detail, but please assume I’m aware of all the logical extensions of the statement for now.) Given that those outside the church are not always aware of that distinction, and that many assume that all Christians think and act and believe alike, I think it would be a mistake for there to not be a visible resistance made to flippant, hurtful, small-minded thinking such as Driscoll exhibits time and time again lest we allow ourselves to be painted with the same brush by those outside looking in.

    Does that make sense? I agree that wallowing in this place is wasteful and pointless. And I think the point has been made, and that you’re right, it’s time to move on. But I am also glad and thankful that such a visible and audible outcry was made against Driscoll’s comments.

    • It does make sense, and for the most part I agree. Publicly disagreeing with Christian leaders who are hurtful is constructive. Name calling, which is where this landed (and just sinks to his level), is not. See my response to Chris above – I feel like the same retort applies.

      • Maurice-This is a great article. I think your pnoits are well articulated and correct. My question for you is why does your current view make you any different from any church that has authentically pursued God in the past? Their is nothing new or fresh in any of your ideas as to our purpose or identity. These thoughts have been in mainstream god fearing Churches for a long time.You began with a question: “As a faith community, is our chief responsibility to focus on how to teach and transmit faith?” That’s a false representation of what “modern” churches have been about based off of a seminary teaching paradigm to create critical thinking. No true church has ever thought that about itself. Presenting a false argument for the other side of the conversation is a terrible way to start a worldview discussion. Again, your words are spot on, but there is nothing new in what you are presenting, this is the core of many godfearing, “evangelistic churches today. Why are “emergents” (inclusive) trying to make this look new, and why are abstract teaching paradigms being used to insinuate a common concensus as to the problem of modern day churches that aren’t emergent?

  4. My favorite thoughts I’ve heard on all of this so far.

    “The Jesus we follow absolutely said to do unto others as they have done to you. Wait…..” I’m totally gonna quote you on this!


    • How exactly can such an argmeunt be helpful?Rather, I recommend believers recognize that our world view is very offensive to the world, and note that anyone who should chose to accept it does so at a certain loss of personal volition. I’ve taken to saying that it is completely unreasonable to accept Christianity apart from a personal experience with God. To accept Christianity requires adoption of a set of peculiar behaviors, among which are personal sacrifice for invalids and praying for one’s enemies, abstinence from certain temporal pleasures, rejection of opportunities to manipulate politics to our own advantage at the expense of others, relinquishment of privileges afforded to us by accidents of birth, and vulnerability to other’s about our shameful faults.

  5. Oh, Loni, I love this. As someone who lives in Seattle and has been a part of the Christian community here for seven years, I think this is dead on. I worked at a Christian college just across the water from Mars Hill, and the two institutions were ALWAYS fighting, sometimes even drawing attention from local news outlets. It became so tiresome.

    But you know what? I know plenty of people who go to Mars Hill, even a pastor or two, and I know without a doubt that they love Jesus as much as I do. I might not be a fan of Mark’s, and I might hate the way he communicates, but it doesn’t help a thing for me to start arguing and blasting him the way he might be blasting others.

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