Thursday, January 01, 2015

Mars Hill, 1996-2014 and a few short thoughts on the end of an era, sort of

Wenatchee The Hatchet has probably become a little known for having documented and discussed Mars Hill as a former member connected to a variety of leaders.  It has been a years-long project and along the way a few people have had a few lively things to say about the author or former staff or leaders.  Wenatchee The Hatchet was not designed to be a watchblog and eight years ago the disposition would have been to preserve and record the history of the place in a sincere belief that the church and its would-be movement were aiming to make Puget Sound a better place for everyone, Christian or otherwise. 

Somewhere along the way Wenatchee The Hatchet concluded that even if this was the original goal a whole lot of people got dangerously off track, including Wenatchee The Hatchet, and particularly about how this vision of a better Seattle was getting implemented in relational terms.

That said, nowhere has Wenatchee The Hatchet said "You have to leave Mars Hill".  Nowhere has there been a sweeping, blanket statement that anyone who would be part of Mars Hill must be some evil, stupid, kool-aid drinking knuckle-dragger who deserves whatever disaster may befall them.  That seems uncharitable and un-Christian and anyone who at any point called Mars Hill home would be idiotic and a hypocrite to have that kind of sentiment for anyone else who also called Mars Hill home.  We all bear responsibility for contributing to a movement that seemed to become insular, self-seeking, toxic and parasitic. 

But it is possible to express these concerns in a way that avoids belittling or demonizing people.  Whether or not this has always been done successfully that's what Wenatchee The Hatchet has tried to do.  To put it in esoteric but potentially helpful terms, even if one were to see a king Ahab ruling in Israel it is possible to observe that there may be Obadiahs in the court of king Ahab.  There have been plenty of stories in the biblical literature about sincerely and honestly good people serving under the reign of nasty tyrants.  It's helpful to recognize that good people say and do terrible things just as bad people can say and do great or even generous things.  It seems there has to be some way of disagreeing with people without dehumanizing them. 

Here's hoping there's less and less of a need for what Wenatchee The Hatchet has done when it seemed that the mainstream secular and religious press failed to catch up to what was going on.  May we all be more alert moving forward, assuming there's a moving forward going on.  As Driscoll looks likely to try to rebrand and relaunch a career for himself in Texas perhaps other people can keep tabs on that. 

It would probably be easiest to sum up the appeal of Mark Driscoll's appeal by saying he was selling legacy, both to himself and to those to whom he made and had an appeal.  The idea was to make a difference in the world, and that the difference you'd make in the world would be for Jesus and your neighbor.  Over time it seems as though Mark Driscoll began to believe the legacy that was being built was not just "all about Jesus" but that he was aiming to fashion a legacy that he could see take full shape within his own life.  He was, in that sense, walking more and more by sight, more and more by the desire to see the monument to a legacy he had in mind emerge within his life.  Hebrews 11 discusses people of faith having died not seeing the things they were promised and in that sense Mark Driscoll failed as a Christian in the sense that he was laboring to see a legacy he could point to within his own life rather than entrusting legacy to a history that might or might not remember him as having founded whatever legacy he might have. 

We don't even have the foggiest idea what the Driscoll kids might say for the public record in fifteen years.  Ten years ago at the peak of the courtship fad within Mars Hill there was a lot of talk about doing marriage differently and back then it seemed we were counting eggs before they hatched.  How many of those countless marriages are still intact?  Maybe we congratulated ourselves too much in advance for a legacy that was never a foregone conclusion. Whether the rebranded and relaunched campuses formerly known within the umbrella of Mars Hill even survive is an open-ended question but at the moment the outcome of Mark Driscoll's legacy is not looking so good.  Three times in a row a music label failed to survive beyond a year (no surprise there).  Three times in a row the would-have-been Bible college/seminary withered on the vine.  The conferences are gone.  The books got published but ironically became the catalyst for a year's worth of controversies that eventually led to Mark Driscoll resigning in the face of apparent counsel that he enter into a restorative plan to deal with besetting sin issues in his life. 

Driscoll's legacy more and more has, unfortunately, seemed to be him transforming into everything he preached against and warned us against from the pulpit a decade ago.  It's getting to a point where some may wonder whether he really was against all those things or if the seeds of decline weren't already sown.  That's not something Wenatchee The Hatchet is sure can really be answered. 

Anyway, happy new year.  We'll just have to see what happens, won't we?

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