Tag Archives: spirituality

is mark driscoll the problem with christianity

Is Mark Driscoll the Problem with Christianity?

Or is the problem “Christianity” itself?

As I wrote in a previous post, I’ve become hooked on The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill, a podcast by Christianity Today that is currently on Apple.

I’m nine episodes in, so I’ve had a good chance to hear many of the incidents that happened at Mars Hill and to discern my own feelings.

Church itself is a bit of a trigger for me, seeing as how it destroyed my parents’ marriage.

So I’ve been interested in what went down at Mars Hill between the lead pastor, Mark Driscoll, and his congregants.

Mark Driscoll - Wikipedia
mark driscoll- wikipedia.com

I keep thinking as I listen that I’ll hear something Mark said or did and find it abhorrent, considering that seems to be the point.

However, I have to admit, I haven’t heard anything that Mark said or did that has shocked me.

In fact, I’ve visited/attended a total of ten Southern Baptist Churches, two Methodist, two Catholic, one non-denominational and have listened to more than a dozen preachers on the World Wide Web, and I have yet to hear Mark say anything that sits in stark contrast to anything preached by any man I’ve heard in any of these churches.

Most Christian churches, at least mainstream ones, preach along this sort of wavelength:

Bible= perfect and literal (unless it’s verses like not gossiping, giving to the poor, or forsaking all for Christ)

Women= less than man and under their headship (also: stay thin and beautiful, be quiet and submissive, and give your man whatever he wants, whenever he wants)

Jesus= our Savior (EXCEPT for those already damned to hell by God because they weren’t part of the “elect,” and those who do not “repent,” i.e., stop being homosexual, liberal, or feminist)

Church and church leaders= always right, always in control, always to be obeyed (not those lgbtq affirming or universal churches, though- Jesus most certainly didn’t die for all and he most definitely didn’t reach out to all)

I’m exaggerating here (or am I?), but it seems to me that nothing Mark Driscoll said or did was outside the boundaries of what almost every preacher across the country, and maybe even the world, has said or done.

  • Mark discussed sex at length, namely that a woman should please her man in the bedroom. Heard that before. Read that before.
  • Mark talked about women keeping children and home and making that the first and highest priority of her life. Heard that before. Read that before.
  • He said that the members of his church should come under the authority of the elders and obey them no matter what. Heard that before. Read that before.

And, according to the episode I’m listening to now, he even went so far as to say he held power and authority to exorcise demons and saw visions of sins that were hidden among his congregation.

The podcaster acted as if that was the craziest thing he’d ever heard- demons? Visions? Spiritual warfare? What?

Except, I just opened a book I’m reading by well-known Christian speaker and leader. And what would you imagine I found before I even arrived at page 30?

An encounter with a demon possessed woman at one of the author’s speaking engagements.

Here’s the deal, my Christian friends. At some point, we have to grapple with the whole Christianity thing, what we really believe and what we’re ready to toss out. But we don’t get to decide what’s true and not true based on whether or not we like someone.

We don’t get to destroy a person because it’s now the cool thing to think progressively about women, when not a short time ago, most, if not all, Christian leaders were thinking just like the Mark Driscolls of the world.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m glad that we’re finally deep-diving into what it means to be a Christ-follower in the 21st century.

But let’s parse it out. Let’s not just base our fault-finding on a singular person, like Mark Driscoll, because like it or not, he developed his beliefs from someone somewhere long ago, and there are 100,000 Marks just like him.

Last year I began teaching medieval history and literature.

Our school is a classical Christian school, and unbeknownst to me, this movement towards educating classically was bolstered by a man who I find utterly contemptable based on his personality alone.

His theology is questionable (at least, to me–I am so far from Calvinist it’s not funny), his views on women and slavery are detestable, and to be frankly honest, he isn’t even that smart. His curriculum is loaded with poor sentence structure, typos, and questions meant to guide students towards thinking more like him, as opposed to having them think critically. (And that’s when they can answer them. Most questions have no real answer and thus can’t be answered. Makes for interesting grading!)

But even I am forced to admit that this man’s theology and beliefs line up with many of my denomination, and even the Christian religion as a whole. And many of these beliefs use the Bible as reference.

Instead of quitting my job, however, I’ve come to believe that God placed me in the position he did for just such a time as this.

Had I not been reading medieval history and literature, I wouldn’t have known exactly how we began believing the “truths” about scripture, that they were taught to us by human people interpreting them in human ways that they claimed were divine. (Mark Driscoll, anyone?)

I wouldn’t have known just what a stinking hot mess express the Church has always been, how corrupt and shifty and shady the people shepherding us really were and sometimes still are.

And I wouldn’t have come to see that so much of what we believe isn’t based on a solid understanding of scripture, but on tradition, or, the way it’s always been done.

Finally, having also read so many ancient writings in preparation for my classes, I’ve also learned that nearly every religion and people group have stories almost identical to ours, some written many years before the Bible.

But ironically, instead of causing me to lose my faith, uncovering the history of the Christian church has only made it stronger.

Why?

Because it means that it’s not about humanity. It’s about the thing that fixes humanity, the Greater Power and trusting that when He said He came down to touch my hurt, die for it, and never remember it again, He meant it.

It’s knowing that if all those people throughout history were trying to figure this out but couldn’t, then maybe we won’t figure it out, either, and that’s okay.

I believe that my religion has a basis in the truth. I also believe that lots of other religions are trying to find their truth, too.

If we’re going to take the Pauls and the Peters and the St. Augustines of the world as solid, infallible, undeniable truth, then we can’t toss out the Mark Driscolls just because we don’t like him.

At some point, we have to acknowledge that all of it might just be a little wrong, at the very least, our interpretation of it, even if that interpretation is centuries old.

And you know what? I think that’s my most favorite thing about Jesus and his religion, after all.

He came to do a new thing. And his Word is alive today.

Living things evolve. They change and stretch and grow.

Thank goodness for that.

Full-Length Trailer: The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill | Christianity Today
rise and fall of mars hill on apple podcast by christianity today

Have you listened to The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill? If not, are there any good religious podcasts you would suggest? I’d love to hear from you.

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is mark driscoll the problem with christianity

For the Love of the Game

We took a trip this weekend to watch a minor league baseball team.

Biloxi Shuckers
No Better Place to Be

We have a family friend playing, a sweet boy who is living out his dream, a dream that my thirteen-year-old son also has hidden in his heart.

Many boys and girls dream of the one day when they will…

Play ball.

Dance professionally.

Run a company.

Write a book.

What dreams did you dream when you were young?

I thought about my own childhood dreams on the way home today. The five hour drive left me with plenty of time to reminisce on days gone by.

There was the street we passed that reminded me of the weekend I stayed there at fourteen, just a year or so older than my son is now.

Barely knowing the young woman who owned the house, a friend and I spent that weekend with her getting drunk and kissing older boys, making decisions that someone as young as I was should not have been allowed to make.

There were times that choices like that were placed on my shoulders, and, not understanding future consequences, I will admit to making the wrong decision almost every time.

Where does blame get placed when there’s nowhere for it to go?

Does responsibility disappear with forgiveness?

Can bad choices eventually be seen as God’s Providence?

Does God’s Providence erase horrific hurt?

I don’t know.

I’ve found myself saying I don’t know a lot lately.

I don’t know the answer to your question about Creation.

I don’t know the reason why things happen the way they do.

I don’t know what I think about certainty when it comes to a mysterious God.

I don’t know.

I don’t.

What I’m seeing is that the I don’t knows of life drive many to say, “I don’t believe.”

They give up on any kind of something because their answers turn up nothing.

That kind of despair is not only disheartening, it’s terrifying.

Where there is disillusionment, there is trouble…right?

Except…

What if there’s not?

What if it’s not only okay, but completely normal, to question God?

What if He’s big enough to handle my human concern?

What if He’s already built within the framework of humanity, the capacity to seek and find?

And when finding doesn’t come easily, to lie in wait–and, even with that discomfort–to be okay? Content, even?

What if He really is love? What if He really is joy and peace and blessing and all those many things we so desperately need Him to be?

Track with me here, but what if our faith-walk was like the baseball game I watched last night?

Seven innings, some slow, some flying. Some confusing and some perfectly clear.

Some innings filled with monotony, and some filled with action.

The fans are cheering and jeering. The players are succeeding and failing.

The umpires, ruling the game, make some good calls and some bad ones. They are human, after all.

But the overall game is sweet. There is joy in the journey from first inning to seven.

And in the end, the players are okay. Some are battered and bruised, some have lost that particular game.

But deep down, they’re all winning because they have a love for the game.

What matters more than anything in those hours they play is that they all work together. If one stumbles, the others lift that one up. No one takes too much credit, even if in one particular game, some do more work than others.

They love each other because they love the game.

Milwaukee Brewers Double-A team Biloxi Shuckers ready to embark on 55-game  road trip
espn.com

The last few days I’ve been listening to “The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill,” a podcast by Christianity Today.

For me, it’s one more link to the chain I’ve been wrapping around my heart when it comes to blocking out Evangelical Christianity.

I’ve known the fruit is rotten on the dying tree for some time, but I haven’t been able to fully understand why I thought that or what was causing me to all of a sudden speak out about it.

As I’ve said in a previous post, when I saw the January 6 insurrection on the Capitol, I saw every belief I’d known was wrong my whole life crumble before my eyes.

It was then that I realized it was time to stand up and speak up for what I knew to be true about my Creator.

He’s either loves what He created or not. It doesn’t go both ways.

He either forgives fully on the cross or He doesn’t forgive at all. It doesn’t go both ways.

He’s either a Creator or a Destroyer. But I’ve never known a Perfect Creator find a need to Destroy what He’s created. There’s something about that belief that all of us know inherently just can’t be right.

At some point in humanity, the “He gets to do what He wants” answer stopped working. We either had to start coming up with excuses about God, or we had to start questioning why we thought what we thought about Him in the first place.

My own questioning grew deeper as I began to teach medieval history. I’ll share more about that at a later date.

Father, I am seeking: I am hesitant and uncertain, but will you, O God, watch over each step of mine and guide me. - Saint Augustine
azquote

But suffice it to say, my faith blew up. And much like the people at Mars Hill, my deconversion from Evangelicalism was swift and slow, all at the same time.

Like a baseball game, my faith journey has had highs and lows. I’ve both screamed at God and begged Him to choose me. I’ve thought of myself as a Vessel of Truth and a Vessel of Wrath. I’ve hated myself and loved myself.

I’ve hit home runs and struck out.

The best action I’ve ever taken in my life was to stay in the game. To change some positions (my thoughts about God and who He is), to give up some things that were holding me back (drinking, judging, and distracting), and to commit to finishing.

It’s a privilege we have to be able to choose to love the game.

I won’t take that privilege lightly. I won’t fake my beliefs, stop asking questions, or refuse to love the earth and all that is in it.

I won’t give up believing.

Like the players on the field, I have important people watching.

And they need to see that it’s okay to not have all the answers…

And to still love the game just the same.

Have you listened to The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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