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Much Ado About Mark Driscoll

Jul 15 2011
What do we do when Christian leaders are imperfect?

This week the Christian blogosphere worked itself into a frenzy over a Facebook status posted by Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle. The status, which was later removed, read, "So, what story do you have about the most effeminate anatomically male worship leader you've ever personally witnessed?"

The news of this post quickly drew responses from bloggers like Rachel Held Evans, who called Driscoll a bully, and Tyler Clark, who reflected on his own experience as an oft-labeled effeminate male. These responses consequently elicited counter-responses from writers like Anthony Bradley, who accused Evans of libel, only to be met with counter-counter-responses, such as Brian McLaren's contribution to The Washington Post. The discussion finally culminated with Driscoll issuing his own response, admitting his comment was both "flippant" and failed to address "real issues with real content in a real context."

The biblical author James once described the tongue as a "small spark" that sets a great forest on fire. Watching this debate ignite, I couldn't help wondering whether James penned those words with the Internet in mind. That said, my intent here is not to throw additional kindling onto the flame.

Moving beyond the firestorm catalyzed by Driscoll's words, many evangelicals are not quite sure what to do with him anymore. This is not the first controversial thing he has done, so is it time to draw a line in the sand?

Before I answer that, I should confess my conflicted feelings about Pastor Driscoll. On the one hand, comments like the one cited above are, I believe, harmful for both men and women. On the topic of manhood and womanhood, I disagree with Driscoll often.

However, God is undoubtedly using Driscoll to edify the church and minister to God's people. On the few occasions I have heard Driscoll preach in person, I was inspired in my love for Jesus and challenged to serve the church with greater urgency. In addition to my personal experience, I have heard consistently positive feedback from the members of his church. His congregation clearly loves him, and not in a "they drank the Kool-Aid" kind of way, but in a transformational Jesus community kind of way.

Bearing this in mind, Driscoll's latest controversy raises questions about the appropriate response to Christian leaders with whom we disagree. Whether or not you support Driscoll on this particular issue, most Christians are at some point confronted with a teacher who professes Christ and bears spiritual fruit, yet espouses a misguided idea. In the face of this tension, how should we respond?

Related Topics:Gender; Missions; Pastors
From: July 2011

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