Sunday, September 28, 2014

Mark Driscoll tweets on forgiveness from the weekend of June 17, 2013 "Forgiveness is not covering up sin ... . If a crime is committed, you can forgive someone & still call the cops."

One of the things that has been proposed regarding Mark Driscoll is that he made some mistakes and he may have even sinned a bit but Jesus died for those sins and there's forgiveness for them.  But let us consider what Mark Driscoll's own tweets on forgiveness from days past might share with us about the nature of forgiveness.  Driscoll seems too practical and concrete to have twittered about forgiveness that weekend without some context and it may be worth revisiting what Driscoll had to say about forgiveness then. No, Wenatchee The Hatchet isn't going to explain anything at all about what may or may not have happened at that stage in Mars Hill history and comments are disabled so don't bother with trying to make comments.

On Monday, June 17, 2013, Mark Driscoll posted a few tweets on forgiveness amid thoughts about
things like Father's Day.
Forgiveness is not covering up sin committed against us. If a crime is committed, you can
forgive someone & still call the cops.
10:38 AM - 17 Jun 13
Healthy transitions in relays & leadership come down to the handoff. Train up your successor.
Don't chuck the baton & storm off the track.
1:20 PM - 17 Jun 13
Forgiveness is a gift to your offender...and to yourself, freeing you up to move on with your
5:25 PM - 16 Jun 13

Whatever happened in mid-June 2013 that inspired Mark Driscoll to tweet about forgiveness in the way he did is probably best saved for internal discussion, assuming that whatever inspired those tweets was something that should have inspired any tweets to begin with.

If you are a member of Mars Hill Church you may or may not have asked what on earth these tweets could have been about.

But what is striking about that first tweet is the forceful simplicity of saying that forgiveness does not mean covering up sins committed against us.  If a crime was committed we can forgive someone yet still call the cops.  Fascinating.  The tweet about transitions is just opaque and insider and not possible to interpret as having any meaningful context at all, though perhaps Mars Hill members past and present might be able to divine a reason for it.  That forgiveness is a gift to your offender and ... to yourself (?) is interesting.  Could that be construed as a type of moral therapeutic deism of some kind?  You don't forgive people to give yourself freedom to move on with your life you forgive someone who is contrite to restore relationship, don't you?  If the forgiveness Jesus modeled on the cross was forgiving all us sinners and then moving on with His life via resurrection how miserable it would be for us if moving on with His life was all He did.  No, Christians clearly affirm that Jesus didn't just forgive us our sins so He could move on with His life. 

This sort of reduction ad absurdum beloved by Driscoll is pertinent because it is a useful way to show the severe limits of "twitter theology".  Jim West has a whole set of posts on twitter theology that makes him sigh for the curious but go look that up yourself.  :)  Here the relevant observation is that Driscollian bromides on forgiveness seem geared toward someone who shares thoughts on forgiveness from the standpoint of someone who "forgives" in a way that severed a relationship and "moved on" without reconciliation, even though it might seem that a reconciled relationship would be the aim of Christian forgiveness. 

So if forgiveness does not necessarily entail or require reconciliation (go read the twitter responses for that); and if forgiveness doesn't preclude covering up sins; then a few possibilities may emerge from this.  First, if Mark Driscoll has sinned then forgiving Mark Driscoll does not, even according to the tweets of Mark Driscoll, involve covering up or ignoring that sins have been committed.  Second, since Driscoll made a point of saying you can forgive an offender and still call the cops would Mark Driscoll have wanted editors at Intervarsity Press to have dealt with him and Mars Hill Church according to that particularly Driscollian application of forgiveness?  After all, the citation problems in the Trial study guide weren't defensible under Fair Use and what would have "calling the cops" have been on an occasion of a citation error?  Something to consider   mid-2013 was, of course, months before the plagiarism and Result Source Inc. controversies.  It's worth asking whether Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church may be comfortable having a forgiveness that doesn't preclude a calling of cops.