Thursday, August 21, 2014

on Driscoll's interview with Justin Brierley two years later

As noted earlier tonight, the formal charge that Mark Driscoll has said harsh and bullying things to other leaders behind closed doors has been a topic of discussion recently.  However, it is worth noting that Mark Driscoll has had at least one case in which he went on a pre-emptive strike not long after conducting an interview with Justin Brierley back in 2012.
January 12, 2012

There is reportedly an article coming out in a British Christian publication that features an interview with me. As is often the case, to stoke the fires of controversy, thereby increasing readership, which generates advertising revenue, a few quotes of mine have been taken completely out of context and sent into the Twittersphere. So, I thought I would put a bit of water on the fire by providing context.


 I have a degree in communications from one of the top programs in the United States. So does my wife, Grace. We are used to reporters with agendas and selective editing of long interviews. Running into reporters with agendas and being selectively edited so that you are presented as someone that is perhaps not entirely accurate is the risk one takes when trying to get their message out through the media.

With the release of our book, Real Marriage, we have now done literally dozens of interviews with Christians and non-Christians. But the one that culminated in the forthcoming article was, in my opinion, the most disrespectful, adversarial, and subjective. As a result, we’ve since changed how we receive, process, and moderate media interviews.  

The interview in question had nearly nothing to do with the book or its subject matter, which in my understanding was supposed to be the point of the interview. My wife, Grace, was almost entirely ignored in the interview, and I felt she was overall treated disrespectfully. The only questions asked were about any controversial thing I’ve ever said in the past 15 years with a host of questions that were adversarial and antagonistic. It felt like a personally offended critic had finally gotten his chance to exercise some authority over me.

Things got particularly strange near the end of the interview. I was asked a question about, if a woman was the pastor of a church which that pastor’s husband attended, would that be emasculating to him. The question was asked in such a pointed way that it was odd.

At the end of the interview, I started asking questions of the interviewer. He admitted that his last questions were really about himself and his wife. Apparently his wife is the pastor of their church, he’s strongly committed to women as pastors, disagrees strongly with our complementarian position, and takes it to some degree personally.

This not only became more significant with Elephant Room 2's result and Driscoll's reflections on important lessons from it, it also took on significance when people had a chance to hear the interview Driscoll was blogging about for the Brits.

A short excerpt from the interview included the following:

Driscoll: No, no, you don’t want to sit in my seat, I understand. So does your wife do counseling with men? Sexual counseling? Does she talk about masturbation, pornography, the stuff that I do?

Brierley: Well no, she doesn’t.

Driscoll: Well, who does talk to the men about those things, especially the young men?

Brierley: Well there are other people that she can pass them on to. We have male elders in our church who, you know, would be able to tackle those kinds of questions. I mean, but would you speak with those kinds of issues to a female in your church?

Driscoll: Uh no. If they’re a married couple we might meet with them as a couple. But if it’s a woman, we would have women leaders meet with them.

Brierley: Sure, well it’s the same scenario in our church really.

Driscoll: Well except for who’s in charge.

Now in his 10 Reflections, Driscoll wrote the following opening point:

1. I appreciate godly friends who don’t want to defeat me publicly but rather help me privately

Some years ago when I was leading our megachurch with no formal theological training and having never been a formal member of any church let alone a pastor in any church, I was in a scrum with the emergent church and was completely full of myself. Dr. Gerry Breshears, former president of the Evangelical Theological Society, put an arm around me, built a degree program for me, loved me, served me, and helped me grow theologically. 
He remains to this day a dear friend loved by my family and me. I also appreciate that when many were taking shots, Dr. John Piper came and stood next to me put an arm around me and said he had hope for me and loved me. 
People like this are a gift. I want to grow in becoming a person like that, and though I’ve got a long way to go, I want to not get more angry, narrow, hardened and tribal as I get older but rather grow in grace. I don’t want to be a lonely old man shooting everyone who does not fit on my island. I have close friendships, most of them private, with Christian leaders across the theological spectrum. We share a love for Jesus and a love for each other. Some consider me their theology buddy whom they can call on issues, and I deeply enjoy those friendships and want to serve in any way I can.

So while for T. D. Jakes Driscoll was saying nobody should jump to any firm conclusions until Mark Driscoll had gotten on a plane for Jesus to get to Elephant Room 2 during the same month he decided to do a very public and pre-emptive strike on the character and doctrine of a man who interviewed him.  The transcript of the conversation between Driscoll and Brierley looked curiously like Driscoll was very content to make a point rather than a difference and to win an argument rather than a person. "Well except for who's in charge."  doesn't read like the statement of someone who seems to be in a good place to say at the end of the same month how he appreciated friends who don't want to defeat him publicly while he was willing to do a pre-emptive strike on a journalist.  This was during the major roll-out of Real Marriage and shortly after it had hit #1 on the NYT bestseller list.

For those who might not recall this, Driscoll's pre-emptive remarks about the Justin Brierley interview included enough comments about British evangelicalism they elicited some comments from Don Carson.  A short excerpt:

... (2) The phenomenon of the state church colors much of what is going on. Whether we like it or not, in England itself (the situation is different in Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales) the Church of England is the source of most heterodoxy and of much of the orthodoxy, as well as of everything in between. It has produced men like Don Cupitt and men like Dick Lucas. Exactly what courage looks like for the most orthodox evangelicals in that world is a bit different from what courage looks like in the leadership of the independent churches: their temptations are different, their sufferings are different. Although I have found cowardice in both circles, I have found remarkable courage in both circles, and the proportion of each has not been very different from what I've found on this side of the Atlantic.

(3) As for young men with both courage and national reach: I suppose I'd start with Richard Cunningham, currently director of UCCF. He has preached fearlessly in most of the universities and colleges in the UK, and is training others to do so; he has been lampooned in the press, faced court cases over the UCCF stance on homosexuality, and attracted newspaper headlines. Then there's Vaughan Roberts, rector of St Ebbe's, Oxford, in constant demand for his Bible teaching around the country. I could name many more. In Scotland one thinks of men like Willie Philip (and he's not the only one). Similar names could be mentioned in Wales and Northern Ireland.
Wenatchee The Hatchet got the impression Carson was politely suggesting that Driscoll was a little too ignorant of the history of Christianity in the United Kingdom to have had warrant to make the comments he made in the pre-emptive noticed about the Brierley interview.

A couple months on and Driscoll announced he was bidding farewell to the Gospel Coalition.

A pertinent question to consider in light of the recently discussed formal charges about Driscoll's way of talking about others is to ask whether it would be considered acceptable by either Mark Driscoll, his associates, or public defenders if someone were to pre-emptively question the scholarship, integrity, or teachings of Mark Driscoll.  The colloquial way of putting it is to ask whether there is sufficient evidence to determine whether Driscoll is willing to take what has been publicly documented as willing to dish out.  If Driscoll has changed on this particular issue then the evidence will emerge by way of what doesn't happen when any kind of comparable situation arises.  Conversely, if there are those who wonder if there is any basis for any of the concerns in the formal charges recently aired on the question of whether Driscoll has any history of saying negative things about others, well, the record would seem to be rather straightforward there based just on the reaction to the Brierley interview alone.  Unlike Mark Driscoll's past fusillades regarding Joel Osteen or T. D. Jakes the Brierley content is still available for consultation.

No comments: