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NY Times on Mark Driscoll

John on January 12, 2009 at 3:11 pm

The NY Times has a long piece on Mark Driscoll. It’s a mixed bag. It begins with the requisite tone of bemusement the Times reserves for nearly all stories on Christianity. Pages two and three offer some context and even some grudging respect. They save the worst for last:

Nowhere is the connection between Driscoll’s hypermasculinity and his Calvinist theology clearer than in his refusal to tolerate opposition at Mars Hill. The Reformed tradition’s resistance to compromise and emphasis on the purity of the worshipping community has always contained the seeds of authoritarianism: John Calvin had heretics burned at the stake and made a man who casually criticized him at a dinner party march through the streets of Geneva, kneeling at every intersection to beg forgiveness. Mars Hill is not 16th-century Geneva, but Driscoll has little patience for dissent. In 2007, two elders protested a plan to reorganize the church that, according to critics, consolidated power in the hands of Driscoll and his closest aides. Driscoll told the congregation that he asked advice on how to handle stubborn subordinates from a “mixed martial artist and Ultimate Fighter, good guy” who attends Mars Hill. “His answer was brilliant,” Driscoll reported. “He said, ‘I break their nose.’ ” When one of the renegade elders refused to repent, the church leadership ordered members to shun him. One member complained on an online message board and instantly found his membership privileges suspended. “They are sinning through questioning,” Driscoll preached.

Frankly, this gives me the creeps. Having just come out of a church which treated people in exactly this way, this is a little too close to home. I also recall a series of sermons on Calvinist themes that went hand in hand with firings and authoritarian behavior.

But questions are not sins. Anyone who says otherwise, including Mark Driscoll, is preaching a different Gospel. [Note: I've defended Driscoll in the past, so this is nothing personal. He's just wrong.]

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Category: Religion & Faith |

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