I find that I cannot let the latest chapter in Mark Driscoll’s story unfold without comment.
I come from a fairly conservative family of faith and attend and serve a fairly conservative church. Driscoll’s sermon series covering the book of Luke played a major role in my maturation, transformation, and living as a Christian. I fall easily in love with his vision, passion, and strength. However, the growth I have experienced as a student at George Fox Evangelical Seminary over the last three years has given me a much broader perspective.
Most of the people I love and learn with at school hold Driscoll up as the ultimate modern example of how to pastor wrong, and for good reason. There can be no question that Driscoll’s success has come at great cost to those he hurts and oppresses. I do not defend him as a perfect pastor.
I do not ask for forgiveness. Driscoll has done that himself. I do not ask for tolerance. I believe Driscoll has exceeded the tolerance the Church should provide. Instead, I ask that we all do our best to see Mark Driscoll within the larger framework of church history. I cannot, for the life of me, hold names, dates, or even the proper sequence of historical events in my mind. However, years of careful study under excellent professors and alongside brilliant peers has shown me generation after generation of women and men who accomplished great good and great harm in the process of growing our theology and ecclesiology.[i] Time and time again people have reacted to clear deficiencies in the Church, and that reaction has taken them into battle. Always the innocent are harmed as the misguided are corrected. Never does it seem that the perfect path is unveiled. Always the faith of the church is moved toward perfection.
I am thankful that all of those women and men, including Driscoll, did not sit on their couches and wait until they were perfect to act. I am willing to accept the inevitable pain that comes with the need for constant evolution and to trust God to suffer with the afflicted and redeem their sacrifice for the overall good of God’s people. It’s messy. Christianity is messy. I am messy. I pray that you have the courage to get messy and make mistakes as well.
[i] All examples are arguable, but some might include: Christendom allowing people to worship openly and fostering corruption; Luther speaking out against works based salvation and corruption at the expense of countless upright local Roman Catholic priests; Augustine teaching people to examine their own weaknesses with the result that many lost track of God’s power and grace; Arius encouraging people to embrace the humanity of Jesus and leading many to water down his divinity.