The conversation remains ongoing on my post from over a year ago entitled I Love/can’t stand Mark Driscoll, and I’d encourage any and all to hop over and see each person’s contribution. A person named R. Schmale just entered the conversation and raised a good question for consideration on the topic of repentance and whether Mark knows what that means in a deeper sense. Here’s the question;
Is just saying “I repent” equal repentance? Do we just accept that when someone says “I repent” that they have truly repented?
I think that’s a great question; one to chew on for a lifetime as we seek transformation as disciples of Jesus. I responded to R. Schmale’s comment, and my thinking evolved enough in that comment that I felt it deserved another post here. My comment (pasted into this post) basically focuses on how the method of Driscoll’s “up-front” ministry lends itself to him making the same destructive mistakes time and time again that cause pain and, in a relational sense, stain the integrity of the larger body of Christ.
Here’s my further thoughts:
I would agree with you (R Schmale) that Driscoll’s repentance(s) don’t come off as legitimate when he keeps saying the same destructive stuff over and over again. He does seem to have a watered-down approach to repentance. If it’s worth anything, I’d say part of his method that leads to such missteps is two-fold;
1) preaching for over and hour on a regular basis.
It’s extremely hard, on a weekly basis, to come up with a sermon that is intentional, faithful, interesting, and contributes to the larger picture of faithfulness. Mine tend to be about 35 to 40 minutes, because I respect Mark’s point that to respect the Bible, we can’t de-emphasize (or you could say “Guidepostize”) the sermon to the point of it offering no real guts. But I don’t think it’s wise to take it over an hour as a habit, especially when much of that hour is spent in free-flowing thoughts. Knowing people’s attention spans are shorter leads Mark to “spice up” his sermons with quips that keep people on their toes and attentive; and the compulsive need for such quips can lead to dangerous territory. Especially when one has developed a reputation for overstepping boundaries in the past.
That being said, I don’t think the length of time is necessarily the full issue, because I know of any number of pastors who speak for long periods of time, yet are deeply intentional about every word that comes out of their mouth. If they’re going to offend, they offend well and are committed to letting the gospel offend rather than their personality; they are deeply intentional in their public presence. It seems Driscoll doesn’t value intentionality.
Ariah Fine just posted on Driscoll the other day saying something along these same lines;
“(John) Piper, someone who is brilliant and extremely intentional with his choice of language, seems to have blinders on to the dehumanizing and sexist attitude and choice of words that Driscoll seems to promote. It breaks my heart that Piper hasn’t spoke up on this (Piper, if you’re out there listening, I’d love to hear you speak up on this).”
Fine highlights that the Reformed community’s leaders need to speak up and call Driscoll to account instead of silently standing by (while inviting him to leadership at conferences); they’re enabling his unwise behavior. Basically, while Mark doesn’t care about what others have to say, if Piper spoke up, Driscoll would listen.
2) In “Confessions,” Driscoll admitted he styles much of his “stage presence” after stand-up comedians like Chris Rock.
Now, Chris Rock can be funny, but Chris Rock is not someone that a pastor should be emulating their communication after, in my book. Church is not a place where we go to be entertained or “oohed” and “ahed” as one charismatic personality keeps us hopping from issue to issue. Church, Biblically speaking, is the gathered community of Jesus’ disciples offering their gifts to God in humility and commitment. Worship gatherings, then, should reflect a commitment to letting the church family express their worship in a communal, authentic way to who they are as a group. When Chris Rock as a stage entertainer becomes the focus for Mark rather than leading his family to express their worship in a uniquely Mars Hill way, then something is fundamentally missing.
But that’s just the way I see it.
Feel free to offer your thoughts either on this post or the original. I promise to commit myself to weighing your words rather than seeing how I can destroy your approach through ridiculing you and exalting myself with witty humor.