A Progressive Christian Blog

Pastor Mark Driscoll Scares Me

There are many, many reasons I could list why Mark Driscoll scares me.

I could talk about the outlandish things he’s said from the pulpit or the gross things he’s said online. I could link to all the different blogs and articles that point out his awful views toward women, toward gays (or even effeminate men), toward God and the people God hates, toward movies like Avatar (the most demonic movie ever, by the way), toward books like The Shack, etc. I could outline why I think he is so entrenched in the power and influence he has garnered over the past 15 years of leading Mars Hill in Seattle, and how it is slowly destroying him and will eventually significantly damage the 10,000 person community he has created.

And maybe someday I will. If for no other reason than to demonstrate that I have real, valid reasons for my concerns. They are not just baseless claims, jumping on the anti-Driscoll band wagon.

But at the moment, let me share this with you.

There is a site that was recently created called JoyfulExiles.com, and it exists to help the public see just a glimpse of how off track Driscoll and his church have gotten. It’s created by a pastor who was fired from there a couple years back, and it documents his strange journey of what led to his firing. And if you have time, I implore you to read the narrative account written by his wife. It is incredible. And because of my own experience, I believe every word of it. (Don’t misread me and think that The Grove is like Mars Hill. It’s not.)

Perhaps you’ve heard about or read other such stories coming out lately.

And it scares me.

It should scare you, too.

Why anybody continues to follow this guy, or look up to him, or for heaven’s sake MODEL THEIR church after his, is beyond me.

That being said, I’m reminded of Paul’s words to the Philippian church, wherein he acknowledged that some people where preaching Christ out of envy, or rivalry, or selfish ambition. And what was Paul’s take? “What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.” (Phil 1:18)

Hmmm… It makes me wonder, then, what Paul’s take would be on a guy like Driscoll. A guy who, in my opinion, has done significant damage to the message of the Gospel, the message of Christ, and the good news about the Love of God. Are people still coming to know Christ through his ministry? It would appear so (even if the “Christ” they are coming to know might ultimately be a distorted version… but couldn’t that be said for many of us, myself included?)

I don’t know. Maybe I’m way too judgmental on Driscoll. Maybe sites like joyfulexiles.com are unhelpful (although I do love one of the quotes on their page, “If you don’t say it’s wrong, then that says it’s right”). Maybe we should all just stop criticizing pastors like Driscoll for what they say and what they do.

I don’t know.

What do you think?

Do you think it’s okay, or good, or needed, to call out influential people like this, and to raise awareness when you think they are totally in error? Or do you think it’s mean and should not be done? (I know some people feel this way about me. They feel the need to tell me and tell others that I am wrong. Meh… doesn’t bother me if they want to do that).

7 Responses to “Pastor Mark Driscoll Scares Me”

  1. Andy Allen

    I think it may be a fine line between jumping on the internet bandwagon of “let’s hate on Driscoll” and calling out spiritual abuse and misconduct. Over the past year or so I have read many online blogs and articles detailing the increasingly public drama surrounding Mark Driscoll. I’ve also had the interesting opportunity to connect with a few people who know Driscoll personally.

    I completely agree with your take…this guy and his influence scare me.

    For me, it’s kind of summed up this way…power and money are the crazy mans elixir. Combined with a sense of spiritual authority, the results can be devastating.

    Once you’ve been the victim of spiritual abuse and misconduct, it becomes easy to identify. I’ve experienced this on several occasions in my life and professional Christian career…the wounding is always deep and the scars last a lifetime.

    I’ve read repeated accounts of the spiritual abuse perpetuated by Mars Hill. My heart has been broken for the people who have been abused, shunned and discarded. When I came across the joyfulexiles website earlier this week, I read through most everything there and was again heartbroken for these pastors and the many people that were subjected to unconscionable emotional and spiritual abusers…led by Mark Driscoll.

    While Driscoll’s patterned behavior continues to devastate the lives of individuals in his church, I find myself stunned at the number of people I meet who idolize this guy and are trying to emulate his church growth tactics as well as his jacked-up theology. It befuddles me.

    So, for now…I’m praying for Driscoll. I’m praying that the abusive culture he’s designed at Mars Hill will correct itself and make reparations with the people they’ve wronged along the way. It’s difficult for me to pray for this guy because I’m angry to know he’s left far too many wounded people in his wake…but I believe in a God that even loves a guy like Mark when he’s getting so many things wrong.

  2. Kiel Porter

    Interesting. I just spend 2.5 hours thoroughly reading through nearly everything on both sites you linked to and I found: An older gentlemen unwilling to submit to spiritual leadership; his wife coming under the pain and consequences of that failure; a young gentlemen unwilling to submit to spiritual leadership; and a well-known pastor who willingly submits to spiritual leadership.

    • colbymartin

      Whelp, that is certainly one way to interpret what happened. Just another example of how our own biases affect (or is it ‘e’ffect… Can’t remember) how we feel about situations. Not knowing you, I would wager that you already, in some form or another, are a fan of, or support, or follow, or have much regard for Pastor Mark. And I’d also wager (again, totally making blind assumptions), that your theological grid involves a slant towards a very “Sovereign” God who is after His own Glory, and one of our primary (if not sole?) purposes is to obey and glorify and honor an submit to this supreme Being who is in control. I make that assumption because in my experience a natural outcome of such theological positions is a bizarre emphasis on “authority” (usually granted to “man”, not woman), and a strong emphasis on the “authority” of the spiritual leadership in a church. And THAT becomes more important than things like the concerns of people in these stories. It’s all about, as you say, being willing to submit to spiritual leadership. While I don’t deny the principle of such a thing (spiritual leadership), I think it is too easily used and abused to control and shame and manipulate people. I’ve seen it before firsthand, and I think it is easy to see in the stories coming out of mars hill. Anyways, my point (if I have one??) is that our theological assumptions about the nature and person of God directly and greatly affect/effect our view on issues like this, and I believe the way someone would read what you read and conclude what you did is if they also had either a high appreciation for Driscoll and/or (but probably AND) a view of God that elevates things like Sovereignty, Power, Control, Glory, etc..

      Interesting indeed…

  3. Kiel Porter

    I’m afraid you and I may not worship the same God. And you seem to be trying to provoke me. In any case, since you asked a question in your post, my opinion is that you should follow your heart. If you feel compelled to speak out against what Mars Hill is all about, then you should do it.

    • colbymartin

      I apologize if I came across as “trying to provoke you.” I was merely trying to work out how a person might read all of that about Driscoll/Mars Hill and come to the conclusion you did. So if that sounded like provoking, I do apologize.

      Do we worship the same God?

      I think you have a point.
      On one hand, we probably do not worship the same “g”od.
      But I’m certain that we worship the same “G”od.

      My distinction is thus: there is one “G”od, and we both (I’m assuming) have invested some of our life and energies in to discerning who or what that God is. And depending on our influences, culture, mentors, families, experiences, education, etc, we no doubt have come to different conclusions as to who that God is like, what that God does/doesn’t do, how the Bible tells the story of that God, and so on. So my distinction of lower-case “g” god is to articulate our human attempts at knowing the true “G”od. It can be a way to demonstrate that our views of “G”od are vastly different, but still come as a result of pursuing the SAME “G”od.

      No one (probably not even people like Peter, Paul or Mary) have completely come to know everything correctly about “G”od. Granted, they most likely got closer to a fuller picture of “G”od than you or I could, or will. And I’m okay with that. And I believe God is okay with that, too.

      The “g”od you worship is, probably, pretty different than the “g”od I worship (if you, like me, allow for the space to understand that we all have different understandings on who “G”od is.).

      However, I believe that the “G”od you worship is precisely the same “G”od that I worship. To say otherwise would be quite strange indeed.

  4. Kiel Porter

    I came to the conclusion I did after reading through each of the documents at joyfulexiles.com including the former pastor’s wife’s testimony and the entirety of the large report released by the elders of that church, with particular attention to the areas that address the former pastor’s activities. Also, I read all of the blog posts on the other site you linked to, including the church’s response. I don’t have a dog in this hunt or anything to prove, but I do have an opinion after reading through all this.

    After I read your initial response to my post, I realized that I do believe in a very “sovereign” God who is after His own Glory, was confused about why sovereign was in quotes, and I do have a view of God that elevates things like sovereignty, power, glory, etc., although I took control out of that list for me since I believe sovereignty is a more accurate and nuanced way to describe the control that God wields.

    For you to suggest that this is not a proper partial description of exactly who God is as revealed in the Bible threw me for a loop, and has me left wondering what other living gods do not have these qualities.

  5. Y.

    It’s funny how people see what they want to see. I describe MD’s relationship with his church as a very sick and large systematic co-dependency. The followers need to be told how to think/live/believe and interpret scripture based on the Gospel according to MD, and MD needs people to worship his theology. Plain and simple classic narcissism. There’s no other way to explain it. I’ve been there, seen how it changes people, close friends I’ve had for years who just become entranced by the charismatic leader, and tried to turn their spiritual abuse on me but I wasn’t having it. I had to move on and pray that God will lead them out!


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