Thursday, August 11, 2016

Mark Driscoll's art of narrative omissions, looking at a 1992 op-ed for the Daily Evergreen in which Driscoll recounts his conversion to Christianity in a way that completely omits his girlfriend
October 19, 1992
page 4 of The daily Evergreen, Opinions section
The makings of a lunatic
On the Mark, by Mark Driscoll.

You'll have to go follow the link and read it for yourself.

Driscoll described how he was not raised a fundamentalist in a fundamentalist Christian home. He wasn't always this nuts, his jocular account had it. He had views that were different from his parents. 
He went on to explain them.  His claim was that he did not own or a read a Bible until his first year in college.

He wrote that in high school he considered a woman's right to choose abortion to be a supreme value. He respected organized religion, he said, but felt church had no business meddling in public or private matters.  He prayed at meals, went to church, believed there was a god, but also considered other religions to be legitimate and claims he hated Bible-thumpers. He didn't approve of homosexual acts but had gay friends and concluded that sexuality should be a personal matter and that premarital sex was okay in monogamous contexts.

Now for those who already know how Driscoll's talked about himself over the last twenty years none of that is particularly surprising. No, what was surprising was his conversion narrative.
Driscoll wrote that he funded his own way through college and came to WSU because his scholarships were only good for in-state schools.  What out of Washington schools he considered he didn't mention, just that he felt at liberty to tell everyone at Wazoo that he went with the one in front of him, so to speak. 

Driscoll, by his account, ended up in a residence hall with a rabid Bible thumper with whom he'd disagree.  One day, Driscoll wrote, he got fed up with the man and said he was a Christian and hoped that would lead the man to stop trying to convert him.  Driscoll said to note quote the Bible because the Bible had issues.  The man, in the account, dared Driscoll to prove it.  Driscoll then describes how he met the bet by reading the New Testament to shut the guy up.  He was sure he'd prove the guy wrong. Of course, Driscoll concluded that HE was wrong.  Driscoll described how he researched the Bible and began to conclude the Bible was true, after all and that maybe he'd never known God like he previously thought. 

Now for those who followed the link and read Driscoll's op-ed piece, one of the things to note is that Driscoll weighed everything on "fundamentalist".  He didn't say he wasn't raised in a religious family or that he wasn't raised in a Christian family, he emphasized he wasn't raised a fundamentalist.  He also didn't say he was a jack Catholic. 

After all, by his own accounts he was an altar boy for a while when attending a Catholic elementary school.
September 30, 2013
An arty, jock, altar boy

I was raised Catholic and served for a few years as an altar boy while attending Catholic grade school.  I've got an artistic bent. I like architecture, interior design, music, visual arts, etc. Growing up I was an odd mix: a jock who played a lot of sports, a fighter who got in more than a few brawls, and an artist who liked to sketch, draw, and experiment in various mediums. I appreciated the artistry of the Catholic Church. Stained glass, paintings, colors, icons, statues, candles--it was all quite beautiful.

Some Catholics are born-again, Jesus-loving Christians. I was not one of them.  I was a spiritual religious guy until Jesus saved me at the age of 19.  ...

Aren't there some stipulations that altar servers have received their first communion and have a grasp of the foundations of the rites of Mass?  Isn't there some requirement that in order to be considered for service an altar server would be a regular recipient of eucharist?

Something like ...

Driscoll's accounts of how he was spiritual but not religious might apply at some gestalt level to the sum of his life lived up until the time he considered himself a Protestant Christian convert ... but the altar boy stuff makes it hard to presume that he was some kind of American panentheistic Pelagian type.  Irish Catholicism has not historically overlapped with Seattle SeaTac chill ... or has it?

So there's that.  But the most glaring omission in Mark Driscoll's story is Grace.  He didn't read or own a Bible, he noted in 1992, until his first year in college.  He was given a Bible by Grace, as he's shared for years.  But in this Daily Evergreen editorial the story is he read the Bible to prove to some guy in a residence hall it was not true.  Okay, it's just interesting that for as central as Grace has been to Mark Driscoll's decades of stories of how he became a Christian it's interesting that in one of the earliest accounts he gave for his own conversion history he managed to never mention her once. 

And as apologetics polemics go, it would make sense for Mark Driscoll to have skipped over that he may have been a nominal Catholic minus his altar boys years; or to skip over getting a Bible from his girlfriend who was a pastor's daughter; or to skip over getting a divine commission to marry Grace, teach the Bible, reach young men, and go plant churches.  Had Driscoll opened with all of that in early 1992 he might have tipped his hand.  It seems odd, for as many years as Mark Driscoll's talked about loving Grace, that he couldn't even muster up the drive in an op-ed piece in 1992 to mention his lady love giving him the Bible he read, but op ed pieces have their own logic and method.

This year Driscoll's shared how it was a storm that led the Driscoll family to the Phoenix area.
During his sermon Sunday in Scottsdale, Driscoll told the audience at one point, "Our family is here because of a storm.  A storm in our own life and in the middle of it, we prayed and God gave of his word to my wife and myself... We surrendered to the Lord in the midst of our storm so that God could do work in us and move us to this place for his mission."
There have been six available accounts of how and why Mark Driscoll resigned from Mars Hill.

We laid them out in order at the post linked above.  One of the earliest accounts was from one Robert Morris who said he advised Driscoll to take a break and heal up.  That was in later 2014 just a few days after Mark Driscoll's resignation was news.  It wasn't until 2015 that the "God told me I was released" was shared, on the road.  While Mark Driscoll mentioned his bona fides in media and his wife Grace's background in public relations over the years, this was not part of the tour stories in 2015 as a variable to consider in the "God released us from ministry" narrative.

A few notable aspects of the six stories are the frequency with which the kids are trotted out for sympathy, particularly about the youngest boy being afraid that a news helicopter was "bad guys" who would hurt the family. That the same kid was either the oldest or youngest boy within a single continuous narrative might just be one of those mistakes speakers make in an inspired moment.

There was so much stuff to unpack from just the Thrive conference performance there's a series of tagged posts dealing with that.

It was at the Thrive conference that Driscoll shared that he heard God audibly release him from ministry.

This talk about how God audibly released Mark and Grace Driscoll from ministry on the 2015 conference scene is remarkable if you stop a moment to consider that this was not something that Mark Driscoll considered important enough to mention having happened in his actual resignation letter.
 October 14, 2014
Michael Van Skaik
Chairman, Board of Advisors and Accountability
Mars Hill Church
Dear Michael:
That is why, after seeking the face and will of God, and seeking godly counsel from men and women across the country, we have concluded it would be best for the health of our family, and for the Mars Hill family, that we step aside from further ministry at the church we helped launch in 1996. I will gladly work with you in the coming days on any details related to our separation.

And this despite the fact that, based on what timeline can be understood from Mark Driscoll's interview with Brian Houston ...

that allegedly God told Mark Driscoll he was released from ministry the night before Driscoll wrote his resignation letter.  So if you're the founder and president of a company do you neglect to mention that you, as a pastor, got this late-breaking word from God in contradiction to the restoration plan you said you agreed to that was provided by the Mars Hill board, why neglect to mention this?  Was it beause Driscoll preached that same year to not just trust guys who say "God told me" as if it were carte blance?  Or can we even be 100% certain that this story occurred?  The story was shared, t be sure, but nobody is in a position to falsify or prove what two people trained in public speaking and public relations have had to say on camera.

Given that Mark Driscoll shared how there were no kids at the start of Mars Hill in his Malachi sermon series, despite having shared that he liked that co-founding pastors Mike Gunn and Lief Moi were good dads, it's difficult to take Mark Driscoll's narratives at face value.  It's not so much that there generally provably wrong statements, it's that Mark Driscoll has a history of sharing narratives that turn out to have gigantic gaps, gaps that can, over time, begin to seem strategic. 


There were other things Driscoll wrote in his days as a  .... he says he was a journalist, but provocateur might be more accurate, that could have been referenced.  His polemic against the adult entertainment industry was ... wow, it made the worst excesses of Pussified Nation seem dignified.

But it might be a needed supplemental post in the series tagged Mark Driscoll and the influence of porn. 

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