Heroes, Villains & Mark Driscoll

So much of the Christian ‘blogosphere’ seems to be characterised by incessant polemic, that I try to sift through and/or avoid much of the ghastly rhetoric that permeates the fabric of social media these days. Sadly, the endless tirade of venomous, often juvenile nonsense attempting to masquerade itself as intelligent debate, shows no sign of abating any time soon. The extended, cowardly adolescence made possible for so many, by the unfettered anonymity of internet profiles is one of the pitiful ironies of our modern society. We can all hide behind our pseudonyms and screens, and the reality is that many of us do so on a daily basis (much to the detriment of natural, face to face communication). Masks are nothing new, and role playing is a fact of life.

Yet whilst engaging with the technological era we exist within is all but unavoidable, the manner in which we do so is clearly controllable. Many have used the proliferation of global telecommunications, and the onset of a social media obsessed culture as a means of building an online platform for themselves; marketing, brand awareness and celebrity culture cast powerful shadows across the western psyche. The transition from scheduled television programmes and the printing press, to desktop computer and smartphone/tablet screens as a means of acquiring 5 minutes of ‘fame’ or notoriety, has been an astonishingly rapid development. The game is always changing, and the number of players is consistently rising.

Even as I write these words, I am reminded of the opening salvo from Ecclesiastes:

Ecclesiastes 1:2 ESV

“Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity.”

Sobering words indeed. To my mind, the suggestion here and throughout the first few chapters of the book, is that much human endeavour (including this blog) tends to be driven by our insatiable egos. Certainly, humility doesn’t seem to be the driving factor behind our efforts to accomplish ‘great things’, at least not according to the preacher of Ecclesiastes. I’d encourage you to take the time to read the book in its entirety, it certainly casts a new perspective on life.

This Old Testament literature stands in stark contrast to Paul’s admonition in Philippians:

Philippians 2:3 ESV

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”

And furthermore, to the example of Jesus:

Philippians 2:5-8 ESV

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

All of which is to say that Christian living is meant to mirror the humble, servant hearted nature of Jesus Christ. So called Christian “leadership”, therefore, is meant to be a particularly accurate example of Jesus himself, thus enabling others to follow in his footsteps.

All in all, the Bible consistently paints a picture for us: humanity likes to separate itself into heroes & villains, and in so doing remains fundamentally self centred, and prideful. We are consumed by our own vanity.

Jesus paints a different picture for us: he is the hero, and we’re all villains. We desperately need a saviour and he fits the bill perfectly. He shows us what it means to be truly human, as well making it possible for us to be reborn and gradually remade in his image.

The only catch is, we need to repent of our evil ways, renounce our vanities, surrender our lives and believe that he is who he says he is: Risen Messiah, Lord, God incarnate, Saviour, Atoning sacrifice, King of Kings, Creator of all things, and much, much more.

At least, that’s a good place to start the Christian walk.

Which brings me to the second half of my title: Pastor Mark Driscoll. As much as I have, in the past, admired the tenacity, boldness, clarity and persuasiveness of his inimitable style, recent revelations about the inner workings of Mars Hill have been shockingly disappointing, to say the least. Quite what the reality behind various accusations involving Driscoll is, we may never know.

As much as we have considerable (irreconcilable) Theological differences, and I have concerns about the negative slant of many of her posts, I am grateful that Rachel Held Evans has recently compiled some devastating forum material, which was allegedly written by Driscoll under a pseudonym 14 years ago. The picture it paints of someone who is meant to be a pastor is utterly wretched and disgraceful. Granted, these words were written a long time ago. Yet if there is even a shred of this mentality, attitude or rhetoric in Driscoll’s life as I write this today, it is time to sound the alarm.

Now, take it from me, a lot can change in 14 years. Jesus has transformed my life in half of that timespan. Yet considering the growing litany of charges being brought against Driscoll’s character in recent years, even I would say that there is still legitimate cause for concern. It looks like the time has come for Mark Driscoll to step down as pastor of Mars Hill, repent, and get immediate help. I am grateful that he has shown the necessary courage to do this.

For what it’s worth, I still have hope that God can and will use Mark Driscoll for his glory, and the advance of the Gospel. His ‘ministry career’ may be in tatters right now, but that’s ok: it’s all vanity anyway. God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

I hope that Mark takes an indefinite sabbatical, and comes back humbled. Thankfully, Jesus is in the business of making all things new.