While I do not subscribe to the implication in the foregoing meme that Christianity is inherently anti-social, my own observation is that Christianity is not an inoculation against shameful conduct. I am reminded of this on the order of once a week.
Last week, leaders of the church planting network Acts 29 removed [pastor Mark] Driscoll and his churches from the group he helped found and asked that he “step down from ministry for an extended time and seek help.”
Driscoll has been an influential but edgy pastor within conservative evangelical circles for several years. His Mars Hill Church attracts some 14,000 people at 15 locations across five states. He has been provocative, occasionally profane and has faced allegations of plagiarism and inflating book sales.
I have to admit. As keen as I presume to be on these matters, Mark Driscoll has been completely off my radar until now:
Mark A. Driscoll (born October 11, 1970) is an evangelical Christian pastor and author, and current preaching pastor of Mars Hill Church, a megachurch in Seattle, Washington. In 1996, Driscoll co-founded Mars Hill Church, which as of 2014 has grown to 14,000 members in five states and fifteen locations. He also founded The Resurgence, a theological cooperative, and co-founded several other parachurch organizations: Churches Helping Churches, the church planting Acts 29 Network, and The Gospel Coalition. He has written for the “Faith and Values” section of the Seattle Times, OnFaith, and the Fox News website. Driscoll has also authored a number of popular Christian books. Described as “hip yet hard-line”, he is known for promoting “culturally relevant” yet theologically conservative Christianity. He favors “vintage” aesthetics and a “down to earth”, yet at times “aggressive” preaching style.
In 2011, Preaching magazine named Driscoll one of the 25 most influential [English-speaking] pastors of the past 25 years. His influence is polarizing; he is described in a profile by Salon as being the center of a cult of personality, and using controversy to increase his visibility. The New York Times Magazine called him “one of the most admired—and reviled—figures among evangelicals nationwide.” Controversy has often surrounded his complementarian view of gender roles, Calvinist theology, perceived misogyny, plagiarism accusations and culture of fear that allegedly supports his ministerial authority.
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I note here that Mark Driscoll has taken lessons from the Bible, particularly with regard to “research:”
Let no one else’s work evade your eyes,
Remember why the good Lord made your eyes,
So don’t shade your eyes,
But plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize –
The Patheos.com blog hosts a post by Warren Throckmorton that provides some analysis of Driscoll’s phrase lifting. In two of his books, The Radical Reformission: Reaching Out Without Selling Out and Confessions of a Reformission Rev: Hard Lessons from an Emerging Missional Church, Driscoll outlines his approach to ministry. Throckmorton comments on Driscoll’s lack of originality:
Driscoll’s formula has been cited by other church planters and authors since then. However, according to a former close colleague, Ron Wheeler, Driscoll lifted those concepts from work Wheeler did while developing the first Acts29 Network church plant in Mt. Vernon, WA — The Gathering. Wheeler was in the room when the Acts29 Network was organized and spent much time with Driscoll in the early days of Mars Hill Church. From Wheeler, I obtained the following page taken from an in-house church document. See especially the bottom of the page where the relationship between church, culture and the Gospel are outlined.
In addition to preaching the good news (gospel) Driscoll has talents of business promotion that are to be appreciated:
According to an online story posted March 5 and a follow-up story on Christianitytoday.com, Mars Hill contracted with ResultSource Inc. (RSI) to create a campaign to get Real Marriage onto the New York Times bestseller list. Mars Hill, not the publisher, reportedly paid $210,000 in the deal, which the L.A. Times reported on March 6 as an example of how authors can game bestsellers lists.
The book appeared at #1 on the Times Advice, How-To list for Jan. 22, 2012. It did not appear on the list at all for the week before or the week after. It also did not appear on anyPublishers Weekly bestseller lists.
It is not only his business practices that disturb fellow Christians. I was trying to find out what some of the other fuss was about and came across this:
We live in a completely pussified nation.
We could get every man, real man as opposed to pussified James Dobson knock-off crying Promise Keeping homoerotic worship loving mama’s boy sensitive emasculated neutered exact male replica evangellyfish, and have a conference in a phone booth. It all began with Adam, the first of the pussified nation, who kept his mouth shut and watched everything fall headlong down the slippery slide of hell/feminism when he shut his mouth and listened to his wife who thought Satan was a good theologian when he should have lead her and exercised his delegated authority as king of the planet. As a result, he was cursed for listening to his wife and every man since has been his pussified sit quietly by and watch a nation of men be raised by bitter penis envying burned feministed single mothers who make sure that Johnny grows up to be a very nice woman who sits down to pee.
This was posted by “William Wallace II,” apparently a pseudonym for Mark Driscoll. Of course, William Wallace was one of the 13th century leaders for Scottish independence, also featured in the motion picture Braveheart with staunch Catholic Mel Gibson in the title role. If you are seeing a connection between the Wallace pseudonym and Mark Driscoll’s Calvinist leanings, then you are getting dangerously close to the truth.
Conservative Christians are not noted for promoting sexual equality, but Driscoll’s remarks proved over the top even for this church teetering on the brink of cult hood. How far down the road was Driscoll’s Mars Hill Church from Jonestown we may never learn.