Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Should Christians Give Mark Driscoll the Middle Finger?

Some years ago I watched a nature series entitled Life that depicted the life of, well, life. One of the episodes included never-before-captured footage of a pack of Komodo dragons hunting a water buffalo. The event was unique because no one thought that a reptile would pursue a mammal, but the food situation was so dire that the Komodo dragons went outside of their normal hunting routines.

The hunt started with what seemed like an insignificant bite, but the dragon’s bite was, as the narrator says, “a lethal concoction of bacteria and venom” that eventually took the life of the buffalo. Once the buffalo died, the pack of Komodo dragons, like a haunting clan of flash dancers, emerged from the woods and feasted on the corpse of what was usually the more prominent beast.

The Komodo dragons had flipped the script. No longer were they the prey, but the predator. No longer the cattle, but the butcher. And in terms of the nature of this post, no longer the crucified, but the crucifier.

It reminds me of a modern day parable where one man says to another man, “We should go kill all the abortion doctors!,” to which the other man responds, “So you want to enact the same harm to your enemies that made them your enemies to begin with?”

This is the scene that comes to mind as I watch the continuing saga of Mars Hill Church’s collapse. As many Christians are aware, Mars Hill is a megachurch on the path to closing its doors. This is largely the result of its founder, Mark Driscoll, whom Wikipedia describes as a “controversial pastor.” This, however, is putting it lightly. In recent months a volley of reports have surfaced describing Driscoll’s leadership as, for lack of a better description, psychologically abusive. Driscoll is accused of being more of a tyrant than a pastor, and anyone who crossed him experienced acrimonious consequences. The allegations against Driscoll suggest that he dispassionately sterilized any opposition towards him, and that he did so in exceptionally calumniating ways.

The provocative character that often surfaced on Sunday’s stage, it seems, was only the tip of the iceberg as to what was happening Monday through Saturday. And perhaps even on Sunday afternoons and evenings.

But now that Driscoll has resigned and that Mars Hill is on its way to shutting its doors (along with its multi-site campuses that stretch across 15 cities in five states), proper accountability might finally be taking its course. If Driscoll really was as brutally tyrannical as even half of the reports say that he was, then his resignation was long overdue. Those wronged by Driscoll should be grateful for his resignation, pray for his genuine repentance, and hope that Mars Hill Church could somehow rise from the ashes of this blast to continue ministering to their respective cities.

In many cases, however, this is not what is happening at all. Instead, the cattle has become the butcher, and it’s lunch time.

This of course isn’t the nature of everyone wronged by Driscoll, but social media outlets reveal that there is a large group of people that won’t rest until they see Driscoll and Mars Hill’s head on a platter. It’s not enough that he resigned and that the church is closing its doors. Driscoll needs to feel the same pain he so viciously caused others.

What’s interesting to me is that some who sought to remove Driscoll are mirroring, in their accountability of him, many of the same attitudes that caused him to be removed in the first place. Granted, I cannot pretend to act as if I know what happened behind closed doors, but I do know that in saying things like, “You [Mark Driscoll] are the reason God gave me a middle finger,” as one influential man said, and calling Driscoll and his posse explicit and insulting things, as I’ve seen many others do on social media, isn’t the best way to hold Driscoll accountable.

It’s continuing the unfortunate legacy that he left in the wake of his leadership.

The situation is certainly dire, but we should retain our humanity. Or even better, our Christianity.

If the goal is to dissolve the harmful legacy of Driscoll and Mars Hill Church, then fighting it with the same provocative behavior that caused one to initially want to fight it in the first place isn’t the right way to do it. It’s actually quite the wrong way to do it. And more importantly, the ungodly way to do it.

I can’t imagine Jesus, after walking out of the grave, walking back into Jerusalem and crucifying everyone who desired to hang him on a cross. He instead prayed, while hanging on that cross, for God to forgive them. And what’s more is that he died for those that crucified him.
But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23:34).
Jesus realized that crucifying people for crucifying him would never solve the problem. He needed to fight evil with good, and show the world that there is a better way. A way that resembles the love God has for sinners.

What’s eerie is that, at the time of the writing of this blog, the first slide on Mars Hill’s website is of their final sermon series–perhaps ever–which is/was “Love one another” from 1 John. It’s unfortunate that the series was never completed, because people on all sides of the situation would do well to hear it.


Mike said...

Well said, brother. I think you hit the nail on the head.

There is a program I listen to via Podcast that has a FB page, and both have slammed Driscoll for this or that reason, but especially for what transpired at the Strange Fire conference. The comments from believers on the page were filled with vitriol that I would only expect to read from the world.

It is odd how our humanity can turn from hunted to hunter and feast on each other, rather than restore sinners.

Well written!

Jared C. Wellman said...

Thanks Mike. Just now seeing your comment.