Sept. 6, 2009
Lately God has been challenging me with Micah 6:8
“He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.”
Sometimes I get so wrapped up in ensuring there is justice for those who are oppressed, that I forget to walk in mercy even toward those who are enslaving and oppressing and abusing. The humility piece is another aspect I am seeking the Lord about. At times I have been so angry at Driscoll that I am sure I “monsterize” him, that is, make him “all bad.” I think he does in fact do MANY things that are bad and even very bad, but he probably isn’t “all bad.” I think a lot of what drives him is probably his own brokenness. I need to have pity on him and pray for him more fervently, as I recognize my own unhealed broken places and how I have hurt others from that place as well.
I’ve begun reading a highly recommended book called The Leadership Heresies, by Bruce Fleming (with his wife, Dr. Fleming who did most of the research of the Hebraic meanings of Gen 1-3). In the beginning of his book, he discusses “heresy” which is any lie about spiritual truth. For a Christian a heresy is any lie which contradicts, omits, adds to, or exaggerates biblical truth. ALL heresy is poison and is deadly whether it be an issue of salvation (i.e., if one believes the heresy one cannot be a Christian, for example: a heresy such as “one does NOT need to repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ in order to be saved”), or an issue about biblical doctrine and teaching wherein the believing of such heresy would not affect one’s salvation (such as a Christian’s holding to what I believe is the heresy of subjecting women to men, removing the freedom that Christ came to give ALL believers and oppressing women so that they cannot obey the calling and giftings of the Holy Spirit in their lives). Those that are not salvation issues would nevertheless, as all heresies do, cause much pain, sorrow, sickness and bondage in the Body of Christ.
So, when I see in Driscoll’s teachings what looks to me like various “heresies,” as defined by Fleming, I am compelled, yes, even commanded, to sound the warning bell. And for those of you who are more familiar with this blog, the gender issue is not the only “heresy” I see in Driscoll’s teachings, but rather primarily, it is his extreme control and authoritarianism which completely fly in the face of Jesus’ and Paul’s teachings on leadership. Driscoll’s efforts at controlling “his flock” can be seen in his unbiblical demand that members sign a membership covenant, one wherein they agree they MUST give a certain amount of money and time to the church, and wherein they sign away their rights to legal representation if a church dispute arises and wherein they sign away their rights to confidentiality, that is, privacy in ALL their mental health counseling. These are only to name a few. I see much evidence of what looks to me like church/spiritual abuse in Driscoll’s Mars Hill system.
Regarding Driscoll’s “intents” or purposes of his heart… Of course I cannot know these. According to Scripture it is only the spirit of a person that searches out the heart of the person, and it is also God’s Spirit, “Search me O God, and know my heart…” and “God looks at the heart.” Nevertheless, Scripture also gives us some helpful means for weighing a person’s character: Jesus said, “You will know them by their fruit…” and Proverbs attests, “out of the heart the mouth speaks.” We are also given a thorough description of what it looks like when one is walking in the Spirit (the fruit of the Spirit, love, joy, peace…). All of these give me some clues as to what may be MD’s intents and what might be going on in his heart… and going by MD’s external behavior and words, well, these don’t always look so pretty. But regardless of his intents, the qualifications of biblical leadership are spelled out in actions and externally evident characteristics in 1 Tim 3 and Titus 1. My point in post #42, Is Driscoll Qualified to Pastor?, is that he appears to NOT meet these biblical qualifications.
The reality of the world of Driscoll and Mars Hill are relatively new to me–I bumped into all this in Feb 2009. It is also true that since then I have participated in much research comprised of: listening to or reading transcripts of Driscoll’s various (and often shocking) sermons, some interviews (also shockingly disturbing), read Vintage Church and some snippets of Vintage Jesus, read many accounts from former Mars Hillians, read the 2007 By-Laws and Nielson’s notes on them, visited Driscoll’s Ballard campus church and one of their home groups (admittedly, once each, but it did give me a bit of a feel for them—see the page “Discoveries” and post #3, Our Experience of MH Community Group), and have studied spiritual/church abuse and abusive systems and abuse in general for quite some time. I think all of that qualifies me to at least raise some questions and to state honestly what I am seeing in MD and in MH and comparing that to Scripture. Of course we all need to continue to learn more about whatever it is that we are studying/researching, which is why I’m planning on checking out more of his recent sermons as I have done intermittently (this is often times a painful, very troubling endeavor, but I keep hoping I’ll see some major changes).
Despite Driscoll’s intellectual knowledge of Scripture, despite how many verses or chapters he can quote, despite the 4000+ books he frequently claims to have read, it is important to remember the limitations of mental knowledge of Scripture and of memorized Bible verses in and of themselves, for the accomplishment of these things are not enough to test and prove a person’s character and relationship with God. A commenter (Mara) wrote what I think is a good warning to all of us: “Some preachers make the mistake of thinking what is in their own heart is in the heart of God. But His ways are so much higher than our ways.” Amen!