Mark Driscoll's Apology: Blogging means sometimes having to say "I'm sorry"

In January, Out of Ur ran an editorial written by Brian McLaren on a pastoral response to homosexuality. Hundreds of readers posted comments either supporting or condemning McLaren's perspective. But none caused as much uproar as the rant written by Mark Driscoll.

Driscoll, who is pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, now regrets the tone of his remarks as well as taking what he calls "cheap shots" at Brian McLaren and Emergent pastor Doug Pagitt. On Monday, Mark Driscoll issued an apology to McLaren, Pagitt, and readers offended by his comments. You may read his full apology at his blog, Resurgence. Driscoll writes:

And after listening to the concerns of the board members of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network that I lead, and of some of the elders and deacons at Mars Hill Church that I pastor, I have come to see that my comments were sinful and in poor taste.
Therefore, I am publicly asking for forgiveness from both Brian and Doug because I was wrong for attacking them personally and I was wrong for the way in which I confronted positions with which I still disagree. I also ask forgiveness from those who were justifiably offended at the way I chose to address the disagreement.

Jay Rosen declared in 2004 that blogging has shifted the media from a lecture to a conversation. The problem with conversation, both the old fashioned and the new digital variety, is the likelihood that eventually we'll say something we regret. That likelihood only increases when the subject of conversation is controversial and passionately debated.

Dr. Craig Blomberg from Denver Seminary wrote a piece for Out of Ur questioning the benefit of blogging for Christians. "With unprecedented ease of access comes the temptation to ?shoot from the hip' and respond with little thought or care for how one comes across." Dr. Blomberg reminds us that the blogosphere is a dangerous realm where temptation lurks behind every "submit" button, and we must rely upon the Spirit of Christ not only to control our tongues but also our keyboards.

One visitor to Out of Ur during January described the experience as like being in a foxhole during a gun battle - he was hesitant to post a comment fearing he'd get hit in the crossfire. Others disturbed by the conversation disengaged entirely. But Mark Driscoll's apology reveals there may be a redemptive blessing to remaining engaged. Sure, blogging can lead to regretful or even harmful dialogue, but within failure is always the opportunity for growth.

Henri Nouwen said that, "Community is the place where the person you least want to live with always lives." This observation takes on new meaning when applied to a Christian blog. We are guaranteed to encounter brothers and sisters online with divergent opinions, theologies, and perspectives, and passionate conversation is unavoidable. Some of what we read may bother us, some things may infuriate us. Still, engaging in dialogue with a diverse community, although challenging, provides us the opportunity to grow in tolerance, patience, and even humility by apologizing when necessary.

March 28, 2006