Mark Driscoll is to Ray Rice . . .

what Tim Keller is to Roger Goodell.

At least that’s how TKNY’s quotation in the New York Times story about Driscoll occurred to me:

A front-page story in The New York Times on August 23 had suggested that Driscoll’s empire was “imploding.”

“He was really important—in the Internet age, Mark Driscoll definitely built up the evangelical movement enormously,” Timothy Keller, the senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York, told the Times. “But the brashness and the arrogance and the rudeness in personal relationships—which he himself has confessed repeatedly—was obvious to many from the earliest days, and he has definitely now disillusioned quite a lot of people.”

So like the NFL with Ray Rice, the gospel allies knew about Driscoll’s antics well before his pseudonymous comments went public. I know I have blogged about this before, but where was Kathy Keller with her b-s detector on this one? Why didn’t the most gospelly guys in the room warn the rest of the Christian world about Driscoll’s problems?

Maybe they need to take a page out of their savior’s playbook and call people (especially religious leaders) “fool” or “hypocrite” once in a while. If they want to start with me, their move.

38 thoughts on “Mark Driscoll is to Ray Rice . . .

  1. And someone’s going to have to come up with a program to treat those suffering from Post-Traumatic Driscoll Disorder aka Pastor in a Mickey Mouse Shirt Syndrome. Goodell has similar problems with concussions, no?


  2. Could it be that none dared criticizing Driscoll for fear of looking like an Old, Hidebound, Backward Thinking, Young Earth Creationist, Fundamentalist Republican Christian. The Gospel Coalition wanted to serious Cultural Engagement with the Artistic Creatives and the Jerry Falwell/Pat Robertson/James Dobson Paradigm had to go. And Driscoll was the tip of the spear – their ambassador to the Starbucks and Whole Foods Loving Millennial Hipsters.

    Alas! Alas! Alas! Will the Gospel Coalition ever persuade their Cultural Betters in The City that Christians can also do Real Serious Art – and not just Left Behind Movies and Thomas Kinkade paintings?


  3. Hard to redeem “every square inch” without a few skeletons in the closet… err.. dead bodies behind the bus.. hrmph.


  4. I guess Mark’s ego on top of the Mars Hill bus pile of dead bodies officially makes it a mountain.

    Will he sell his collection of skull t-shirts, sermon worn?


  5. Let’s face it — the evangelicals view church government and church order as being of second or third order of importance. The scandal is that alleged P&R types didn’t press structural issues and boring stuff with their cool kid NewCal friends. News flash: neither Driscoll or Spurgeon were ever ordained. Our smart guys new this, they just didn’t care enough. They were happy to dance with the NewCal chick when she was slender and fresh. When she put on twenty pounds and developed halitosis — “I was never that crazy about her. She was never that great. I had my doubts. It was just a fling…”


  6. Reformed = The churches that, at the Reformation on the basis of Scripture alone reformed from the deformed Roman church in doctrine, worship and government. Mark the last two.
    While the gospel is necessary for the being of the church, proper worship, govt. and discipline are necessary for the well being of the church. You can have the one without the others, but it is not the desideratum.
    In that a lot of folks, both inside and out the reformed church don’t get the distinctions, they either ignore or downplay them with the pragmatic results we are now seeing with Mars Hill.


  7. I was surprised that my local Mars Hill (the flagship one) closed and the building is being sold, among others in the Seattle area. Can’t they get Rob Bell back? Where will the rock band dream team praise musicians go? Who gets to take the candles home? How will this affect Trader Joe’s across the street? (answer: They’ll have more parking now) Actually this might be a chance to get the Mars’ sheep into real churches.

    Chortles and Kent – y’all is highlarious.

    Driscoll got his bus wish ‘cept now he’s on top of the pile.


  8. Holy smokes, I want TGC gig. How do you beat a vocation, paycheck, supplement to regular income, where you get to ride everything on the way up and sidestep everything on the way down. “Yep, yep, a few of us saw it from the beginning…..damn shame that. By the way, my new book is available on Kindle now, and for this week only we’re discounting the Redeemer franch….errr…church planting materials by 25% after an additional markup of 30%. And God bless you, too.”


  9. MPS – Who gets to take the candles home?

    Maybe all Driscoll needs is the candles, the paddleball set, and the remote control.

    Zrim will get that.

    Other than his disdain for the RPW I didn’t mind his sermons that much back when I used to listen to him. Hopefully he gets straightened out and maybe pastors again with some better oversight. He’s got to decide if he wants to be a pastor or a star, though. I don’t think his sins were by any means unforgivable.

    Apparently I’m in a forgiving mood this week, though.


  10. The TGC guys are like Charles Jefferson in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”. “Wow, I thought he only flew in for games!”. Something tells me they are relieved by subordinates of the drudgery of ministry — stuff like administering the sacraments, visiting the sick, counseling the wayward, catechizing the youth — you know, the boring stuff.

    Now Conferences and things involving TV cameras, that’s another matter entirely.


  11. A disdaining of the RPW is a sin….but I’m still sinning even when I’m adhering to the RPW.

    I thought Driscoll started out good those many years ago but then flew away.

    He needs the RPW – let Jesus take a guitar solo this time.


  12. “The Gospel Coalition wanted to serious Cultural Engagement with the Artistic Creatives….”

    LOL. TGC is a bunch of folks who are pretending to engage the culture so that older evangelicals won’t realize that Evangelicalism Inc. is culturally irrelevant and a few years from bankruptcy. It’s just warmed-over Henry-style evangelicalism with younger, fresher faces. Driscoll rose to prominence because older evangelicals are desperate to believe that someone under the age of 50 cares about the institution they built. Peter Leithart gets more attention at elite levels that all of TGC guys combined. Pete Enns and Jamie Smith do as well. Mark Dever…not so much.


  13. Having been a former member of Mars Hill who got to meet the three co-founding elders long, long ago. A lot changed. The more people from the church go on record the more it seems that the gap between the public/presentable face and the internal reality could be jaw-dropping. I was at Mars Hill for ten years and didn’t burn any bridges on my way out so when things went from bad to worse sources started to send things my way.

    What’s striking about the Driscoll controversies is that nothing about the theology or style of Driscoll seemed to be met with more than eye rolls. What blew the lid off of things with Driscoll were issues about intellectual property, real estate, and behind-the-scenes sales rigging. Those are the things that Driscoll’s supporters are swift to dismiss but Mars Hill has been bleeding out leaders and members in the last four years at an astonishing rate. A lot of what has come to light about Driscoll and Mars Hill has been stuff so carefully protected that even campus pastors within Mars Hill didn’t necessarily always seem to know what was going on.


  14. Interesting point, Hatchet. Al Capone goes away on tax charges and Driscoll gets taken down by petty plagiarism. So for all his substantial character deficiencies and oddball views he would still be in the pulpit if not for a “gotcha” culture that caught him stealing cookies a few times.

    I believe he was voted most likely to succeed in high school. That speaks of ambition and charisma, and that stuff will continue to sell in evangelical culture; no real lessons will be learned here.


  15. Erik, it was never easy for me. I was born a poor black child. I remember days sitting on the porch with my family, singing and dancing down in Mississippi.

    TGC culture is to Christianity what Navin Johnson was to being white.


  16. WTH – Having been a former member of Mars Hill who got to meet the three co-founding elders long, long ago.

    That’s awesome you got to actually meet those guys. I’ll bet you didn’t wash your hand for a month! Nothing like when the elders come out from behind the velvet ropes!


  17. the plagiarism wasn’t exactly petty, it spanned his writing career and the church’s initial reaction in later 2013 was to try to shift blame to the research assistance. There are enough Christians these days who argue that intellectual property shouldn’t exist to begin with that Driscoll plagiarizing in six to nine of his published works would be hard to describe as petty. And, to be technical, the plagiarism I spotted was in the chapter that’s said to have been written by Grace Driscoll rather than Mark Driscoll. A pastor plagiarizing isn’t good but a pastor having his wife co-write (if she even did that) a book with plagiarism in it adds his wife to the plagiarism train. Not good.

    Back when all three were still around Mark had such a bad credit rating he had to lease his house and rent every spare room to single guys so he could cover his mortgage. The house was and is a dump, the one in Montlake anyway. When I had dinner with Driscoll more than a decade ago it was at a Denny’s. The dot com bubble had burst in Seattle in the early `00s and we were all on budgets. 😉


  18. The larger point, Hatchet: if he had never plagiarized and never bought his own books to get on the bestseller list, the man should not have been in the pulpit. His character is not pastoral, his doctrine is unsound, and he has some personal issues about sex that he should really work out with a counselor instead of doing speaking tours and – good grief – teaching others about relationships.

    But you had a close look. Would he still be safe in the pulpit if he had never plagiarized and bought his own books?

    And if you don’t mind sticking around, I’d be interested in knowing the profile of a “typical” Mars Hill member if there is one. Where would that person go if the church closes down altogether?


  19. The background of all three former co-founding pastors was working class nominal Catholic, if memory serves. They all met at Antioch Bible Church which, as best I can recall, doesn’t really have any denominational ties.

    So there was a lot of a do-it-yourself going on. For whatever reasons Antioch decided Driscoll (at least Driscoll with Gunn and Moi) was ready to go. When I heard about Mars Hill I was a very former Assemblies of God kid in Seattle who knew I leaned more Calvinist than Arminian but was too into anime and avant garde classical music to feel like I was going to fit into the churches I knew about. I’d heard Mars Hill was a place where you could be doctrinally conservative but retain your artistic interests.

    I’d agree Mark should not have been greenlit into ministry to begin with and from the handful of people who had connections to David Nicholas that have been willing to talk to me it sounds like there was an early and abrupt fracture between David Nicholas and Acts 29 about Mark’s fitness for ministry and Nicholas was reportedly shown the door but I’m trying to see if I can find anyone willing to go on record with more details.

    I used to think he was fit for ministry but it turned out that his public face and private face are different. Much of the Mark Driscoll outsiders think they know is more persona. His reputation in the press as “Calvinist” or “Reformed” withstanding my impression has been that he had his Calvinist epiphanies in time to court the financial support of Nicholas. Driscoll can be courteous and deferential enough to win people over who don’t have to deal with him on a regular basis.

    My conclusion is that the reason a lot of people like myself were drawn to MH was Mark was selling legacy. In urban post-industrial college towns where young guys can figure out how disposable and insignificant they can be in a post-bubble economy Driscoll’s message was well timed to appeal to a bunch of younger guys like I was who wanted to make a positive contribution to the community and have some kind of productive identity. The implied promises was that here at Mars Hill you would have a role that mattered contributing to something that would serve the Lord and help the city.

    The wake-up call for me should have been “Pussified Nation” but I convinced myself that was 1) an act and didn’t reflect how Driscoll actually thought about people or 2) that Driscoll put that behind him and would be reined in by accountability. Neither turned out to be true. Some things didn’t become clear until years later. If I had known that Mars Hill accepted the elder candidacy of a convicted felon who was newlywed into his second marriage and had been a Christian for maybe six years I would have objected to such a man even being considered for eldership at Mars Hill, but it turned out he was one of two men who needed to sign off on a real estate transfer for a piece of property Mark Driscoll had wanted for ten years. Because of his stage persona and his way of relating to people it took a while to see that he’d shaped a leadership culture where blatant conflict of interest on the subject of pastoral qualification overturned a serious assessment of elder candidates. Most of us where Christian enough to love studying the scriptures and profess the Christian faith but I’d say that I and others lacked enough church history and more formal theological understanding to catch on to the problems and by the time I heard of Mars Hill Driscoll had already been at it for a couple of years. Compared to the United Methodist churches friends took me to Mars Hill seemed like the better of a range of unpalatable options.


  20. WTH – I’d heard Mars Hill was a place where you could be doctrinally conservative but retain your artistic interests.

    Kind of like the OPC & URCNA as long as by “retain” you mean “enjoy them with complete secrecy.”

    O.K., that’s only in some OPC & URCNA circles…


  21. WTH – Because of his stage persona and his way of relating to people it took a while to see that he’d shaped a leadership culture where blatant conflict of interest on the subject of pastoral qualification overturned a serious assessment of elder candidates.

    Maybe he figured it was safe because they wouldn’t have any real power anyway?

    This wasn’t exactly Presbyterian government from what I’ve read. More evangelicalism of the charismatic, powerful leader variety.


  22. “This wasn’t exactly Presbyterian government from what I’ve read. More evangelicalism of the charismatic, powerful leader variety.This wasn’t exactly Presbyterian government from what I’ve read. More evangelicalism of the charismatic, powerful leader variety.”

    Yes, and while I have friends who claim there was a true plurality of elders at one point I’ve pointed out this was a formality. Mark’s personality still dominated. It looked like a plurality of elders on paper but it wasn’t in practice.


  23. From the Antioch link –

    Healthy worship:
    We believe that our worship should come out of a variety of forms and styles. The issue in worship is not what pleases us personally, but what pleases God. When we are uncomfortable with an unfamiliar worship style, someone else is comfortable, and we please God by setting our own preferences aside.

    God has not commanded a variety of forms and styles so are they really setting their own preferences aside and are they actually pleasing God? When someone is” uncomfortable”, “someone else is comfortable”. This doesn’t address God’s comfort.


  24. I think they mean that God is comfortable with our uncomfortable comforting of the comfortless. More or less.

    It’s like saying a word over and over again until you can no longer recognize it.


  25. Why did we turn a blind eye to Driscoll?
    Because we are fundamentally convinced that success is a blessing from God to those who are doing Christianity right.
    That is why every leader of a large church flies around the world to tell the unsuccessful the secrets to their success. Think Keller, Reader, Driscoll.
    We just need to grow up.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.