While you're here, please take a peek at a related post, Wisdom Through the Church? Feel free to look at my other blogs linked in the side bar, too. One other article that seems to be quite relevant is one I wrote in November 2013, Vision Forum and Friends: Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.
I'd love to know your thoughts, so please leave a comment!
Now on to the original post!
If you have read much of this site, you know I have had some experience with what I would consider to be an unhealthy church organization. Unfortunately, that organization is not alone in its troubles. Mark Driscoll is lead pastor of Mars Hill Church and president of the Acts 29 church planting network. [Update: Since I first posted this 10 days ago, he stepped down from leading Acts 29 and is handing over the reins to Matt Chandler. See A Note on Some Transitions. He is also resigning from leadership in The Gospel Coalition. See Driscoll Steps Down from TGC Council.] Driscoll has been in the news (including major secular media outlets) with the recent release of Real Marriage, the book he wrote with this wife Grace, which I do not intend to read. Unfortunately, he has also been facing serious allegations of spiritual abuse for many years.
I first heard of Mark Driscoll either because I saw his books in our former church's bookstore, or because a friend who knew I was researching problems in the Emerging Church movement, sent me a link to an insightful audio that Mr. Driscoll had produced on that subject. My first impressions of Driscoll were favorable, based on that limited exposure. Because of this, when I heard that he had released a free e-book for dads, I downloaded it to pass along to my husband. Browsing through it, I was extremely disheartened (actually rather disgusted) by his attitude toward women. Here is one of the offensive excerpts from Driscoll:
"Proverbs 19:13 further stresses the correlation between the type of mother you choose for your children and the kind of children you will have, saying, “A foolish son is ruin to his father, and a wife’s quarreling is a continual dripping of rain.” These two miseries simply go together. If a wife is a nag who disrespects her husband by chirping at him all the time, then the children in that home will follow her example and become fools who ruin their lives by similarly disobeying and dishonoring their dad. Wicked women not only fail to restrain their tongues in front of their children, but often intentionally attack their husbands in an effort to get their children’s allegiance, undermine the authority of their father, and bring anarchy to the home. Proverbs rightly calls this rottenness in the bones.... Whose responsibility is it? Ultimately, it is men who are responsible because they chose their wives, they let them continue in sin, and they let them destroy their children."Dude! So let me get this straight... If a wife is expressing her discontent to her husband in ways that are unpleasant to him, then the real problem is that she is a wicked woman and he has not corrected her firmly enough? Excuse me? Try again? How about this: if the wife is upset with her husband, he might have a really good reason to ask her what he has done wrong? Maybe he has been crass, demanding, unreasonable, obnoxious, and/or verbally & physically abusive? Or maybe there has been some sort of misunderstanding? Or maybe she has been cooped up with a bunch of noisy, messy kids all day, and she's losing her cool? (And then maybe he came home, took one look around, and asked what she had been doing all day?) But oh no! She's a wicked fool and needs her Knight in Shining Armor (whom she obviously does not deserve) to set her straight. I guess hubby better get some tips from Driscoll on taming his shrew. Oy. Unfortunately this is not just an isolated sound bit pulled out of context. It gets worse, much worse, the more I read on-line about other things he has said. (Later note: You might like to read my related articles If You Expect Real Respect and Follow the Way of Love.)
Not surprisingly, my new impressions of Driscoll's ministry were quickly confirmed as I started to see a plethora of commentary about this very thing on-line, along with the accusations of spiritual abuse at Mars Hill. Much of it echoes the very same things that have happened in our former church organization, including dysfunctional church polity (government), authoritarian leadership, lack of accountability for top leadership, church discipline gone amuck, an overly intense focus on sin, misogynistic views of women, and much more. Oh, and the way Driscoll entirely dismisses preachers in Great Britain with:
Needless to say, when it came time to look for a new church two years ago, I made a point to stay away from the Acts 29 churches in our area. I am seriously not amused.
Rather than me laying it all out from my limited perspective or even hunting up all of the Mark Driscoll quotes that make me shudder, I thought I would provide you with about two dozen web links that I have discovered in the past few years. I hope that this will be helpful to you, even if you don't read his books or participate in his ministry. It is a cautionary tale for Christendom. It's not just SGM or the IFB or Mars Hill, folks. Watch where you go and whom you allow to influence you!
Please note that I am giving you these links to use with your own God-given discretion.
I do not agree with everything you will find at these sites.
Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill
- Mars Hill Refuge
- Joyful Exiles -- includes a huge treasury of documents from Paul Petry a former MH pastor and article My Story by Jonna Petry
- Wartburg Watch posts on Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll (some overlap in these two categories)
- Freedom for Captives
- Who Would Jesus Smack Down? New York Times
- Video clip of Mark Driscoll explaining how to keep elders in line and obedient
- Video clip of Mark Driscoll talking about his pornographic "prophetic" visions (MAKE SURE THERE ARE NO CHILDREN AROUND WHEN YOU WATCH THIS!)
- Video clip of Mark Driscoll: "Shut up and do what you're told!"
- Video clip of Mark Driscoll on the Chick-i-fied Church (If you don't get the young men, you don't get anything? Really? Thanks, bro. As a middle aged chick, I feel so special. Yeah, that's sarcasm. Oh, that's right. My voice doesn't count anyway.)
- Mars Hill Church and Mark Driscoll posts by Danni Moss
- Church or Cult? at The Stranger
- Mark Driscoll is a Bully. Stand Up to Him. by Rachel Held Evans objecting to Driscoll mocking "effeminate" preachers on Facebook.
- Defending/Contending articles about Mark Driscoll
- Theopedia article on Mark Driscoll
- Salon.Com article "Come As You Are" on Mark Driscoll
- Pastor Provocateur at Christianity Today
- Mark Driscoll, Reformed Loose Cannon — I Am Officially Off the Bandwagon
(Some favorable, some not, some mixed...)