Monday, June 20, 2016

update/newsletter from Mark Driscoll Ministries ... a kind of reminder of warnings from Driscoll past, back in an earlier decade.

the stuff about the father wound influencing Christians to have a problematic view of God as Father because they have themselves had a fraught relationship with a father or an absentee father is ... well ... it's kind of pedestrian as it goes.  Over time Driscoll's picked up the capacity to say the same thing through ... the nice way of putting this would be levels of synthetic parallelism that reach redundancy levels quickly.  The less nice way of putting it is that his speech mannerisms have tilted away from Reformed pastor more in the domain of Mojo Jojo's triple-speak ... only without being funny.

The proposal around minute 5 Driscoll makes that idolizing spiritual fathers actually happens in evangelicalism ... okay, actually, can agree with that point.  That is, if anything, the problem with anyone who at this point could take Mark Driscoll seriously as a pastor.  I've been pretty clear that had Mark Driscoll sought to change paths from his earlier ways that removing himself from ministry for half a decade and submitting to being a nameless rank and file member of a church he wasn't a founder or co-founder of would be helpful for his spiritual health.  That's not what Mark Driscoll has opted to do.  In spite of Mark Driscoll having warned a decade ago that ... (dead link, though, alas)
Part 3 of 1st Corinthians
Pastor Mark Driscoll
1 Corinthians 1:10-17
January 22, 2006

Some of you have teams that you consider yourself to be on, theologically or philosophically insofar as how church should be done. And what happens is that certain Christians get elevated like rock stars, and it’s not good. It’s not good at all. I know one church the pastor’s name is the domain for the church website. That’s not good. Like if it was and that was our website, you’d go, “You know that’s a little much.” That’s a little much, because if he gets hit by a car do we gotta get a new name? That seems that the church should be more than a focus on one person. That’s why to be honest with this church I try not to show up and speak at every event.
It’s amazing how few Christians have a pastor and have a church that they actually are connected to, involved in, and growing in. There is a growing number of people who profess to be Christians and just claim to be on Team Jesus. “I don’t need a church. Just me and Jesus, we hang.” These are people who have no respect for spiritual authority. They don’t have any real heart to show up and contribute to and benefit their church. They just tend to be people who are very – quite frankly – arrogant and proud. They’re so close to Jesus and they’re so much like him that they don’t need anybody else

Driscoll has Mark Driscoll Ministries these days.  He bailed on a restorative disciplinary plan that, by his account, the board of Mars Hill set up for him.  In 2014 the explanation was heeding wise counsel and having concerns about family safety.  By 2015 the story had been supplemented with claims of divine permission to leave Mars Hill, basically. 

The long-term trouble with this is that if Mark Driscoll wants to keep on being a father figure it's going to be tough to live down the appearance that when it comes to submission to church discipline and roughly two decades worth of instruction in the public sphere about how Christians ought to lovingly and faithfully submit to spiritual discipline as church members that the pending launch of Mark Driscoll's next church project can seem, even predicated on the precedent of Driscoll's own teaching, on a distressing double standard. 

Also note how he talks about the Reformed movement, that he would share much in common with and have many friends in.  He's starting to let go of the Reformed label.  This is to be expected.  If anything he could have been more aggressive and assertive in abandoning any formal associations with Reformed Christianity.  Even though he might be right that some folks in the Reformed scene idolize their heroes this was a guy who in the midst of Dead Men sessions said there was the Calvinist way to interpret the Bible and then everyone else.  Driscoll himself has been more than just a little guilty of conflating his own interpretation of any given biblical text with what he takes to be the plain meaning of the text. 

At this point if anyone were to say on Mark Driscoll's behalf that discussing him is beating a dead horse the problem is simply this, Mark Driscoll insists on remaining a public figure in some kind of ministry who is continuing to wield mass media and social media tools to keep his brand going.  There are any number of guys who were in leadership at Mars Hill who, after Mars Hill collapsed, left formal ministry.  Others remained in vocational ministry but have become part of traditional denominations, whether evangelical denominations or even in some cases more mainline. 

When Driscoll promoted his "limited unlimited atonement" he announced he was what's sometimes called Amyraldian.  The short version is "not historically Reformed in terms of vocational ministerial views".  So Driscoll has, despite the benefit from the association with the label, never been demonstrably all that Reformed in the end.  So it's hardly a surprise that he's begun to speak more and more as though he weren't really part of that team because, finally, he's being a bit more forthright about his Reformed connections being Reformed connections more than what might called convictions.

So when Driscoll ambles through minute 6ish about how bad some of the venerated saints of evangelicalism were though still mightily used of God ... think of that as a halo effect.  Should it turn out, by a kind of implication, that Mark Driscoll had research help to assemble his books; should it have turned out he let Mars Hill church contract with Result Source to rig the New York Times bestseller list for a marriage book that lacked some citation credits the first time around; if it turned out that Mark Driscoll was maybe guilty of being arrogant and angry in ways he'd described as being demonic and satanic for others in the abstract circa 2008 ... but not ultimately disqualifying HIM from vocational ministry in 2014 ... it might be worth remembering that for Mark Driscoll to be vodcasting on how guys venerated as heroes to some evangelicals have feat of clay can come off like a double standard and special pleading at the same time.

About minute 8 Driscoll gets to how sometimes we can demonize fathers and father figures.  He keeps it abstract.  This doesn't sound like the way Driscoll was ten years ago or more.  Has Driscoll idolized or demonized any father figures?  There was once a time ... before this millennium started, where Driscoll might sometimes talk about how he had dropped the ball on these kinds of things. 

So by 8:40 he's talking about forgiveness and how forgiving your father releases the father wound and releases you ...  and there's a bit about how you can end up emulating the failures of your fathers by lashing out at them and ... 

Driscoll spent years describing himself as being a kind of father to Mars Hill.  Driscoll's abandonment of Mars Hill could be compared to a dad bailing on his kids.  It's possible for a person to get the sense that there's a subtext in all of this Father's Day stuff about father wounds and forgiving fathers physical and spiritual regardless of whether or not they've displayed any repentance.  By 10:13ish in this recent vodcast Driscoll's talking about how when we forgive those fathers physical and spiritual that releases us to have a relationship with God the Father. 

But, see, that's all on you. 

This is still the Driscoll who screamed "How dare you!?" a few years back?

Driscoll has to know by now that one of the key motivational approaches he's used to motivate guys, in particular, to become more responsible is to use a combination of rage and shame. Where he may have gotten the idea that screaming appeals to a sense of rage and shame would work in motivating guys to become more responsible would be a matter of some speculation.  Meanwhile, 2016 Mark Driscoll seems eager to share that if you forgive your fathers physical or spiritual then that releases you to be able to relate to God your Father. 

He gets to minute 12 and shares how for twenty years it's all about Jesus and he believes Jesus is the point of the whole Bible (although ... we'll get back to how much he thinks Jesus is really the point of Song of Songs).  But he says Jesus came to reveal the Father.  So, after decades of "It's all about Jesus" Driscoll remembers the first person of the Trinity.  Oh, and have you forgiven your earthly father?  Your heavenly Father?  If you haven't forgiven your earthly father that becomes a demonic root.  We'll perhaps get back to Driscoll's diabology later.  Learning to forgive fathers gives you the relationship with God the Father so that you men can be fathers. 

But ... back in 1998 there was this past Mark Driscoll who said, well ... :

By setting themselves up against their elders, postmoderns are ingeniously adding an anti-establishment spirit to their movement. "I really preach; it's not just three points to a better self-esteem," Driscoll says. "Megachurches have perfect services with perfect lighting. We're a friggin' mess." Driscoll delivers his sermons largely off-the- cuff, and refuses to follow a point-by-point outline like most pastors at megachurches do. "I'm very confrontational," he says, "not some pansy-ass therapist."

Has the new Mark Driscoll begun to sound, a little bit, like what the old Mark Driscoll would have called some pansy-ass therapist? 

As Driscoll's counsel recently filed a motion for the dismissal of the civil RICO suit Driscoll's Father's Day rumination, having spent so many years presenting himself as a spiritual father figure and a pastor of pastors ... might come across to some people who were once at Mars Hill as coming off a bit like ... "possibly" self-serving special pleading that employs a double standard.  It was screams of "How dare you!?" when Driscoll was publicly ripping on abusive men and guys who were lazy circa 2009.  By 2016, after a year or so of controversies that swirled around the credibility of his published books and the credibility and ethics of one of the ways one of those books was promoted, Driscoll has sought to cultivate a kinder and gentler image.  But if he were as committed to being a local church pastor at Mars Hill as he so often used to say he was ... what's he doing down in the Phoenix area?  What's he doing with a ministry that's named after himself?  Now if he can't for the life of him do any other work than recycle his old sermon talking points from a decade ago ... life happens.  It's just that about ten years ago he was still preaching to those of us who were at Mars Hill to be on guard against the kind of guy he seems to have become. 

And his fatherly counsel for father's day?  Forgive your father so you will be released to have a great relationship with God the Father.  Not that that isn't a valuable moral lesson to impart .... it's just that the insistence with which Mark Driscoll keeps hammering away at that point it comes across as something slightly less than traditional Christian ethical teaching about forgiving those who have sinned against us and have repented than a kind of sympathetic magic.  Did Christ teach that when your father sins against you that you should forgive your earthly father in order to have a fuller relationship with your heavenly Father?  Not saying it can't possibly be in there, just that for a guy who said he teaches the Bible there was a bit of a shortage on suitable prooftexts for that specific point.

And it's hard to shake the sense that the Mark Driscoll of 1998 would say this guy is some pansy-ass therapist. 


Driscoll seems so eager to insist upon "forgive your fathers" that he glides over cases where, say, a physically abusive father had died and never repented.  Not that Jim West would keep tabs on Driscoll but his pastorly assessment of the "forgive even if there's no repentance" has been to warn that forgiveness offered when there are no signs of repentance is giving permission, and it's a "forgiveness" you're offering to feel better about yourself rather than to bless someone else.

So ... Driscoll's recently plugged teaching about forgiveness can smell a bit like something that would be embraced by a spiritual father figure who abandoned the church he founded.

No comments: