Mark has been having a few rough days. It would seem that from his meteoric rise as the "cussing pastor" to the recent consolidation of power at Mars Hill Church, Mark is reaping the whirlwind.
Recently, the Acts 29 group, a network Mark formed with a name that essentially adds to the Bible by saying they are the new chapter at the end of Acts (which has 28 chapters), has kicked him out. They state he's demonstrated himself disqualified as a minister and have recommended that he step down as a pastor and "seek help."
This public slap in the face comes along with an uncommon protest by evangelical Christians outside his church in response to his spiritual abuse of members who had joined him to, ostensibly, worship and serve the Living God.
In addition, folks have preserved the rant that Driscoll had posted via pseudonym of William Wallace II. Google the rant and you'll find it. Essentially, this "great thinker" and "theologian" boils Adam's Fall to "listening to his wife," and becoming "pussified." He goes on to outline what he sees as the most evident damage of the Fall being that men are being convinced to "pee sitting down."
There's a site where former elders and members can post their stories about abuse at Mars Hill Church, Joyful Exiles.
The common thread of all the stories I've read so far is this: Authoritarian abuse.
My wife and I encountered this, too. We are dedicated to Christ and have a strong, real faith in God, the Creator of all things. We believe the Bible from start to finish as a matter of faith.
Unfortunately, what we've found in churches is exactly what Mark Driscoll has fostered. The fallout he's experiencing is in direct proportion to the size of his growth. How many smaller little cults of personality and authoritarian sects rise and fall every year, harming the tender souls who have recognized Christ and want to gather to worship God? Yet those little gatherings and "church plants" don't make news.
Driscoll's Mars Hill does.
And that's a good thing.
I remember hearing about Mark when he started up. I'd heard that he was this straight-talking, manly pastor, etc. I listened to some of his sermon's on Youtube and agreed with about 90% of what he said.
But, it's the 10% that makes all the difference.
That's where pastors become inflated and see this "chain of command" with them being higher up than the rank and file. It's there that the notions of some special power of insight into people's sin enters the equation. It's in that 10% that the truth of the 90% is scuttled and made meaningless.
The 10%, or even just 5% error can seriously harm people.
My prayer is that the public exposure of the Mars Hill abuse will underline the issue of abuse that exists in churches everywhere. It may only be 2%, but it's wrong and harmful and unloving.
Those who would be elders, pastors or deacons are to do so in humility, like Moses. They don't vaunt their status, but sacrifice themselves for their Lord in service. They remember that they're not worthy of anything greater than God's Grace, a gift they didn't merit (by virtue of it being called grace!).
Unfortunately, we have men who, like Korah, march up with 90% of truth at their disposal and form a group within God's people, essentially challenging the authority of Moses (who was a type of Christ). These men, like Driscoll, claim the mantle of leadership and declare that God has endorsed them. Then, they trample the love of God with their twisted, fallen ideas. Their ministry is centered around their desires, their goals and not about serving Christ.
Christians should only have one master, Jesus Christ. If your pastor tells you that he is God's authority over you, correct him. Jesus and the Bible are God's authority over anyone. Period. Those who are acting as true elders, pastors and teachers of God will not be boasting of anything other than God's gracious salvation. They won't be elevating themselves up over the sheep. If they do, they're misguided in their own sin. And if they demand that you treat them with respect that you owe only to Christ, they're asking you to sin.