It appears Mark Driscoll keeps getting in the news for (mostly true) accusations of plagiarism, misogyny, sneaky use of funds, and being an overall poopy-face who needs a good spanking from John Piper.
Usually with these kinds of public lightning rod meltdowns, the followers emphasize all the great things their leader has done, while the bashers keep bringing up the terrible awful stuff — and so you have one side that’s blind to the obvious flaws, and the other side blind to obvious grace.
Yet the one thing I don’t understand is how Mark Driscoll’s church members get labeled “idolaters” or that they’re “idolizing” him. Because all this online bashing of Driscoll and blasting other flawed celebrity pastors already points to a problem of idolatry and pedestal-platforms, whether it’s positive or negative, and anti-idolatry is still idolatry.
There is zero difference between either the blindness of fanboy-ism or the blindness of tacky tabloid cheap shots.
This obsessive fascination with Driscoll’s personal shortcomings, whether you’re attacking him or defending him, points to a pre-existing issue with our encroaching celebrity culture. The second you jump a Driscoll-defender for protecting him, you yourself have elevated Driscoll to the poster-boy for everything that’s wrong with Christianity, which means you’re legitimizing his pedestal from the other side of the fence. Just think of how crazy this is. It’s completely nuts that we’re even able to know about some random pastor in Seattle who messed up a few times and we have a voice to share our opinion.
I can’t be the only one who thinks we’ve done a terrible job of speaking about this with any kind of thoughtful, productive discussion.
I just wonder what Pastor Mark is going through right now. He has five kids and a wife. He’s a fellow brother in Christ, no matter how much we disagree with him. He’s in a position that no one could ever possibly understand. His ministry will be tainted forever. He’s been looking half-dead. He tried to fess up and apologize, but both the church and the outside world ate him alive. I wish I could just label him and be done with it: but I can’t. I can’t so casually dismiss a father and a husband and a fellow pastor with a black-and-white judgment.
I’m not defending his actions. I’m not saying plagiarism and misogyny are okay (and if you even thought I was endorsing them, then that’s part of the problem of our presumptuous blogosphere). I just believe that if we think Driscoll is this bad, then this ought to drive us to our knees to pray for him. It ought to move us to grief and grace, by both acknowledging his wrong and rooting for his restoration. It ought to bring us to question ourselves:
Why do we place such a spotlight on big-name pastors with big churches and big platforms? Why am I adding this one more voice to a sea of mad voices? How can I contribute constructively to a dying church culture that needs grace more than ever?
At times I think we’re so intoxicated with the romantic idea of grace that we forget it actually takes a real grit to hang in there with a messed-up brother, and it’s not only for the pretty people worthy of our social redemption.
If you criticize but do nothing, you sort of revoke your own right to criticize. Anyone can blog from a basement; the true fighter brings love to the trenches. While we’re all having arguments online to questions that no one is asking: there’s a real world dying out there who needs the hands and feet of Christ.
I could type angry on a keyboard and preach to a blogging choir. Many bloggers build their fanbase this way. It’s easy to jump a hater-bandwagon, even if your motives are right. It’s easy to find something wrong with everything. But until we are offering a way forward with our sleeves rolled up and our minds full of Christ-driven truth, then we’re only adding to the darkness of a directionless world. We would only be tightening the strangle-hold of our strange celebrity voyeurism instead of remembering that people are just people, and anyone can lift them up or tear them down, but it takes a special heart to get in there side-by-side in the dirt. I have failed so often at this too, and I only hope I can examine myself before I throw down the gauntlet on anyone else. I would hope you do the same for me. And maybe then we can turn this all around.