First off, let's lead with a statement Mark Driscoll made in 2006
Confessions of a Reformission Rev
Mark Driscoll, Zondervan 2006
Why is no one speaking in tongues during the church service?The issue of tongues is very controversial. and divisive in many churches, and thankfully it has never been so at Mars Hill. The elders do not believe the gift of tongues has ceased but believe tht it is often not done in a biblical way. Mars Hill has leaders and members who speak in tongues, as well as leaders and members who do not. What Paul does forbid regarding tongues, however, is speaking in tongues out loud during a church service because visitors and non-Christians will not know what is being said, will think we are nutjobs, and would be better served by convicting Bible teaching so they can get saved (1 Cor 14:12-25)
It's important to establish as deep background for the current situation that Mark Driscoll himself said that nobody speaks in tongues out loud in services at Mars Hill because it is considered an unbiblical use of tongues. This means that MacArthur's polemic against charismatic/continuationist teaching and church practice is all but irrelevant to how an actual Mars Hill Church service probably still operates. Whether or not Driscoll can be said to have properly or adequately exegeted 1 Corinthians 14 is interesting but currently irrelevant.
So just a couple of days ago Mark Driscoll made a very public invitation to one John MacArthur
That's the Christian Post link for you there.
.. As a Bible preacher, I rejoice in that. I actually considered attending your school myself after I finished my undergraduate work, but I was newly married and could not afford any seminary at the time. [
As Bible teachers, we both know that people often arrive at the wrong conclusion when they extract a line out of an ongoing discussion, ignoring the context, and then wrongly impugn someone’s character. I am guessing the security team and pastoral team were not entirely rowing in the same direction, and that security thought they were just doing their job.
Mistakes happen. I understand. And since no one owes me anything, I am grateful I got to hang out for a bit and meet some of the pastoral staff and your son. I would’ve been glad to have met you as well.
Maybe that can still happen?
At this point, I believe what would honor Jesus is for us to sit down and talk. So, I am formally inviting you to Seattle to join me on stage for our national Resurgence Conference on November 5–6.
I will pay for your travel. I will give an honorarium to you or any ministry you choose. And, I will cover the travel costs of any of your pastoral staff you’d like join us, as I would actually like to see them again.
Originally, I was going to have a company live stream our conference online for people who paid an access fee, but I recently tore up that contract. We’re now going to show the conference free online for the world in an effort to open up our important discussion to as many people as possible. I would also post our discussion in its entirely—without any editing—for free online.
I am working as an unpaid volunteer for this event, and I believe the loss of live stream revenue is worth it for an investment in the Kingdom. I assure you, I will be very kind and gracious and respectful. Ours will be a dialogue on very important issues, and I pray by the Spirit’s power we can model some graciousness and clarify terms while striving to state what we believe to be biblical truth.
I believe this could be a very profitable discussion—especially for young leaders who will be tuning in to learn as we model how to handle disagreement. In our day when online misquoting and Internet flame throwing hinder real progress, I truly believe we have a great opportunity to model a different way of dealing with important issues for God’s glory.
So now there's a public invitation of an all expenses paid visit from Mark Driscoll to John MacArthur. As usual Driscoll talks about how single lines taken out of context can be used to impugn someone's character. But the thing about John MacArthur and Mark Driscoll is that the breach between Mark Driscoll and John MacArthur has been close to a decade in forming and when the shoe was on the other foot MacArthur has already publicly informed us that when it was his idea to get in touch with Driscoll to talk about disagreements Mark Driscoll had no interest.
There's nothing about MacArthur's criticism of the November 18, 2007 sermon in Scotland from Song of Songs that seemed to take any lines or even entire sermons of Mark Driscoll out of context. In fact Mark Driscoll mentioned somewhere or other that in light of criticisms of the sermon it seemed wise to take the sermon down. But let's let MacArthur speak for himself a bit.
April 17, 2009
7. Why did you single out Driscoll and connect him with the "sex challenges"? Why call him out publicly? He has already repented of his unguarded speech, and he is being privately discipled by men like John Piper and C. J. Mahaney, who keep him accountable. Did you consult them before calling Driscoll out by name? If the problem is as serious as you claim, why haven't they said something publicly about it?
In the sermon that prompted this series, Mark Driscoll (speaking specifically to wives in the congregation) made several comments that were far, far worse than the seamiest sex challenges. Furthermore, Driscoll's edicts to married women were not mere "challenges" but directives buttressed with the claim that "Jesus Christ commands you to do [this]." That material has been online and freely circulated for more than a year. But you’ll be hard pressed to find even a single Web forum where anyone has demanded that Driscoll explain why he feels free to say such things publicly.
Nevertheless, I have written Mark privately with my concerns. He rejected my counsel. As a matter of fact, he preached the sermon I have been quoting from seven weeks after receiving my private letter encouraging him to take seriously the standard of holiness Scripture holds pastors to. Here is a small selection from the six-page letter I sent him ... [emphasis added]
So MacArthur has explained that he wrote to Mark Driscoll regarding some concerns and that, it seems on a plain reading, that Mark Driscoll preached the November 18, 2007 Scotland sermon on Song of Songs seven weeks AFTER receiving MacArthur's letter. Not only did Driscoll not have any interest in responding to MacArthur in 2007 he preached one of his racier sermons just a couple of months after getting the letter.
Currently Mars Hill has thrown down the gauntlet to Sound Transit over real estate Sound Transit has already bought that Mars Hill would like to use to, among other things, start a Bible college and to relocate its central headquarters. Mark Driscoll also has a new book out that includes him musing on how he keeps taking potshots for things people assume he said that he didn't say or that were taken out of context.
MacArthur simply isn't one of those people about whom it could be said "he took Driscoll out of context". If a rejoinder to MacArthur's criticism were that simple why did Driscoll's team take down the Scotland sermon? For that matter what was the reason Mars Hill excised the woodchipper anecdote from "The Man" after Wendy Alsup quoted from it in her review of Real Marriage in early 2012? Precisely what was Driscoll referring to in the "Fathers and Fighting" sermon if not to elders?
Chris Rosebrough broadcast an audio clip of Mark Driscoll talking about "a pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus" from an Acts 29 event of some sort that was quite possibly never made publicly available. We've visited this topic earlier. At this point there is documentable evidence that Mark Driscoll and his team have suppressed or withheld statements about some of his controversial decisions and stances in the past. MacArthur may have ideas or views that are disagreeable to some but he has, it seems, been pretty public about what and why he dissents from Mark Driscoll's teaching and conduct.
As we've seen this includes MacArthur's public statement that Mark Driscoll not only refused to respond to him years ago but that the Scotland sermon postdated MacArthur's private efforts to talk with Driscoll. Mark Driscoll, for his part, opens his recent open invitation with some profession of admiration for MacArthur, mentioning that he considered going to MacArthur's seminary at one point, and saying that he's never publicly said anything bad about MacArthur despite some differences. Well, so what? "There's a pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus ... " wasn't broadcast to the world and that doesn't mean it was misquoted or taken out of context. It also makes it hard to dispute the claim that Mark Driscoll is a person who will have it his way or people get thrown off and under the bus.
The big question Driscoll has to answer at this point is why he only deigns to offer a public all-expenses paid invitation to John MacArthur NOW when MacArthur was privately contacting him years ago. Let Driscoll's team put the November 18, 2007 Scotland sermon back online where anyone and everyone can listen to it and find out what MacArthur was even responding to and then "maybe" the new invitation will have something to it. Until then it could be alleged by critics of Mars Hill in general and Mark Driscoll in particular that Mark Driscoll only wants to respond to or recognize MacArthur's criticisms of Driscoll's character and textual interpretation on Mark Driscoll's terms.
The blogger linked to above suspects the whole thing smells like a PR stunt and points out some practical reasons why the offer couldn't be accepted and that Driscoll probably already knew the offer couldn't/wouldn't be accepted. But making the public offer is great PR and looks sincere to people who haven't been paying attention. Even if it is sincere the blogger's case that the timing of the invitation is pretty stupid remains.