If you aren’t familiar with the controversy with Mark Driscoll you might just be living under a rock. He has done things wrong, some would say he has done a lot of things wrong. His sin was ammunition for a lot of bloggers and pod-casters. It was a big deal, he is/was one of the biggest names in evangelical circles. I think it was right for these things to be talked about. I have no issue with that. The thing I felt was missing was any sort of grace from these ‘discernment’ types. Their message came across that if he repents they’ll show him grace, then when he did repent in an open letters that wasn’t enough (that’s not how grace works by the way). They said he didn’t repent about everything (as if they know completely Marks heart and mind). So now that Mark is planting a new church in Phoenix his past sins are being dredged up again.
I wouldn’t label myself a Mark Driscoll defender. I used to listen to him a lot, but I didn’t follow him as much in the few years that led up to the closing of Mars Hill Church. So I may be a bit out of touch with his teaching but in the years I did listen to him I can’t recall him mishandling the word of God from the pulpit. That’s the thing that always stood out in my mind. I always had the questions, ‘How did Mars Hill grow so large when they preach sin and the gospel?’ They didn’t preach prosperity, they didn’t preach your best life now. On multiple occasions I heard Mark say things like “you are not a good person”, “that’s why you need Jesus”, “that’s why Jesus is good news”. He taught that their message was we don’t add anything to or take anything away from Jesus; the message isn’t Jesus + Conservatism or Jesus + Feminism, or Jesus – Hell, Jesus – Conviction, the message is just Jesus. Those are some of the things that stood out to me about Mark Driscoll’s teaching. Even some of the ‘discernment’ podcasts I listened to never directly took issue with Mark’s teaching from the pulpit. I remember listening to one episode and the only issue the podcaster took with the sermon was that he felt Mark was a hypocrite by not applying what he was teaching to his own life. That’s a strong claim and could have been a valid claim but the podcaster never accused Mark of directly mishandling the text.
I have recently come to Mark’s defense on Facebook few times, but more to correct the poster and it just happens to work in Mark’s defense. Mark has been named in a RICO lawsuit as a co-conspirator by a couple of former members of Mars Hill. I simply posted 1 Corinthians 6:7 because I do believe there are other ways for the church to handle these issues, I think that is what Paul was getting at. A lady was quick to post that 1 Corinthians 6:7 only applies when the lawsuit is between Christians and since Mark hadn’t repented it was ok to sue him. My response was:
“I’m not comfortable saying Mark Driscoll is going to hell. If Mark is a non-believer isn’t the Christian thing to do is forgive him, pray for him, and love him. But I also think you are terribly wrong to say ‘Christians have to hire lawyers to right wrongs done them by wicked non-believers.’ Matthew 18:23-35, Romans 12:18-19”
She has since deleted her comments, and rightly so I think. But of course someone else jumped on the “he hasn’t repented” bandwagon with “One can’t be forgiven if there is no repentance…” and my response was “just because he hasn’t publicly said what we think he should say doesn’t mean he hasn’t repented.”
With all of that said I will come to Mark Driscoll’s defense but not because it’s Mark Driscoll but because I think he has been wrongly treated in certain ways, and I would come to the defense of anybody else in the same type of situation.
We always need to be reminded of grace. We need to remember that God Loves Bad People, and we are to love those bad people as well. We are supposed to show the love of God to people who have done much worse things than Mark Driscoll.