Contend Earnestly: Mark Driscoll - My Stance

Friday, May 18, 2007

Mark Driscoll - My Stance

After you read the following article I would request that you watch this video, which is a preaching that Mark Driscoll gave at the reFocus Conference last month at Willingdon Church in Barnaby BC Canada.

I want to start that this post is completely the opinion of this writer, Seth McBee, and is not necessarily the opinion of my church or other pastors in my church. The reason I say this is because I don't know where they stand completely, even though I think they would agree with most of my post here. This, also, in no way, is to diminish the view I have on my own church. This is merely a "run down" of Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill because of all the attention he/they are getting.

I also want to make sure that everyone knows this. I live up here in the Seattle area (40 min from Mars Hill) and right out of college I attended Mars Hill for a little while. When I attended it was back in the day (2000-2001) when Mars Hill met in an old church that was way too small on a hill in Ballard. Most Sundays that I attended we got there really early so we didn't have to sit in the side room or downstairs and watch him on TV. The church seemed to be literally busting at the seams. I only attended Sunday services and never served in any way, neither did I do anything for that church, I was merely a leach. I also do not know Mark Driscoll personally, I only know him through the books that I have read, the sermons I have heard (which are many, both live and on MP3), the conference (Resurgence 2007) I attended and through his congregants that I personally know. So, am I a "great" source to speak on his ministry? Probably not, but I believe I can give a pretty good opinion because of my involvement, but still not a thorough one, so please bear with me.

I believe that Mars Hill is one of the best involved churches that I have ever seen. When you go to Mars Hill or get to know the congregants (which I know many personally), the fire in their heart to see people changed for Christ is like gas to a flame. They are truly explosive. Most are young, in their 20's and 30's, but that is probably just a reflection on where the church is (location) and the age of Mark. But, the conversion of these individuals is as radical as I have ever seen. All churches can boast about the handful of people in the congregation who had "Saul of Tarsus like conversions" but at Mars Hill it seems to be the norm. People being converted out of a deep life in drugs, sex and rock and roll into a life where they no longer strip for a living, but have a small group in their home and feed the homeless to preach the Gospel. Mars Hill focuses their people on reaching the lost by being like Christ: going out to the sinners and not waiting for them to walk through the doors of the church. When we recently attended the Resurgence 2007 conference the people were great, they greeted us, served us, and then worshiped with us. Would their worship freak out RPW convictions and the traditional reformed faith? uhhh...yeah! But, so would my church's worship, so to me, not a big deal. From what I see and have seen from Mars Hill, the church itself is a God honoring church that sincerely preaches the Cross to the regenerate and unregenerate alike, so that those who are regenerate will continue to deepen their understanding of the cross, and the unregenerate, so that they will be converted.

Now, on to Mark Driscoll. Pastor Mark's church is really a reflection of his desire to engage culture (in a good way for the most part) because the culture is where the sinners are. It's not that he cares more about culture than the church, but the culture is where the sinners are, so that is why he engages. Notice I said "engages" and not "conforms" for he does not. Does he water down the Gospel? Absolutely not. He is a charismatic Calvinist and a reformer and is an expositor of the word of God, week in and week out. The hard thing for people to take in with Mark, in my opinion, is that is actually HONEST about his struggles. He is not a Pharisee in his practice or preaching and understands his calling from God. Does this get him in trouble with contemporary Christendom? Of course, religious people don't like honestly, they like to hide their sin, they like to look better than they are. I am guilty of this, I am guilty of trying to look better than I am, which I have recently repented of to my wife, pastors and youth group and asked for their forgiveness.

I believe that Pastor Mark is someone who traditional pastors don't like from a distance but would love if they were to visit his church and see the radical change that his people are experiencing. Some, always point to his language. Does this bother me? Yes. I do not enjoy when his language is coarse and unusually harsh. But, I have also seen preachers that are unusually dull and seem to have no excitement that they have been saved from their sin in the cross! So for me, this is not a "deal breaker." Another thing to understand about Mark is that he is not, again, is not emergent. He actually speaks strongly against Doug Pagitt and Brian McClaren and their false beliefs on Scripture and the atonement. In the end, he will probably be to the emergents (this could be an overstatement) like Machen was to the modernists. So, we need to applaud Pastor Driscoll for this and not continue to barade him on other things. He is standing up against some of his very close friends for the sake of the purity of the Gospel.

There are also some other ministries that Mars Hill has that I don't know enough about, but still have me "concerned" (maybe concerned is too harsh of a word). One of the ministries that I truly don't understand is why they allow "secular" bands to come in and have concerts at their church that are unpredictable (read Mark's book, Confessions of a Reformissional Rev, for a better understanding). Another that I don't understand, but don't have first hand knowledge of is their "Theology and Film" ministry. This is where people meet to watch film and speak about it and how it relates to culture and theology. Again, just don't see how this is beneficial.

I hope that if you read this, and are from Mars Hill, understand that I completely respect what your church is doing and welcome any comments from you...I actually encourage you to comment. If you are not from Mars Hill and have only read about Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill, understand that this church is not growing because of anything besides the word of God. The church has grown from 8 people in Mark's house to over 6000 in a mere 10 years. Pastor Mark said that they did a series on the atonement that was 12 weeks (which I listened to), every sermon was almost if not well over an hour, and every sermon was very much deep in theology and focused on Christ's atonement on the cross. Their attendance DOUBLED because of the understanding of the atonement that the Spirit yielded in the hearts of the people and many people were weeping in their seats. I know what you are saying, "Experience doesn't guide whether something is true!" You also must note though, that the Word is being preached and people are not just attending Mars Hill they are being radically changed.

Am I completely "sold" on Mars Hill? No, but I am not completely sold on Reformed Baptists, Presbyterians, Southern Baptists or Charismatics either. Do I believe that Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill are doing things for the glory of God? Absolutely. Do I think there are some things that they could do better? I must first change myself, before I could offer any help in this area. All I know, is that from Mark's preaching and the service and change I see in the people of Mars Hill it seems to be straight from God.

I think that others agree with my thoughts as well, as we can see John Piper, Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan and D.A. Carson starting to "join hands" with him in some respects. If you would like to read my reviews on Mark's books click here.

May we all be careful before we judge someone that we have never met, or somewhere we have never been.


Anonymous said...

Amen brother. It does my heart good to see someone give an honest opinion about Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll. One of the things I like about Mark is that he is in a constant learning curve. He has admitted that he is still learning how to pastor a church and you can see it in his eyes and hear it in his voice that he loves the flock.

BTW are you still going out with the cop tonight? I am praying for you brother.

Seth McBee said... usual, thanks for your encouragement...and what a memory you have!

Yes...I am going out tonight with the cop from 7pm to 3am...

please pray for the Word to go forth!

Anonymous said...

I didn't know until very recently that so many find Mark Driscoll so controversial. I was greatly surprised.

I've only been to Mars-Hill a few times (I live an hour and a half away), but have listened to Driscoll several times online. I find nothing doctrinally wrong with his sermons. Sure his language can be crass at times, but given who his audience is, he fits right in.

As a married Christian guy with two kids who couldn't stand the culture in Seattle, I would probably never be a regular attendee of Mars-Hill (the music, etc. is just not my style), but then again I don't exactly fit the demographic Mark and Mars-Hill is going after.

Your post was awesome and spot on.

Anonymous said...

the things you mentioned as a concern for you are the ones that are a concern for me as well. I really don't see in Scripture where it says that each believer has to be perfect before pointing out each others sins...we will never be perfect this side of heaven and Scripture does tell us that we are to hold each other accountable before God. This pastor needs to be held accountable for these issues and someone who loves him in Christ needs to do so for the sake of Christ's name. I certainly depend on my brothers and sisters to keep me walking the line. No church is perfect, but we are always to strive for perfection and be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect. Alittle sin which is tolerated eventually grows out of control. We show each other love by holding each other accountable in humility.

Anonymous said...

Great post there brother. Like you, I don't personally know him. I am, however, familiar with him through his books and podcasts which I seem to consume.

I'm from Australia and watch what goes on in the US from a distance. And I must admit, it's pretty scary what you guys all look like from down here!

Not anyone in particular - well apart from McLaren et al. But the debates among the kingdom are thick and fast.

The one area which bothers me is the emergent movement. Most conversations/debates I've had with these people make me conclude that they are truly freaky in their understanding of scripture.

One said to me the other day something along the lines of "you believe in the God says it and so it must be it "crap".."

I'm not a violent peson, but I could have easily thrown this guy through my window!

And that's what I like about Driscoll - he's rough as guts and pushes the boundaries all the time. He's funny as. But the most important is that he's sold out to the authority of scipture.

SaintRAV said...

I appreciate you stopping by my blog and for directing me to your comments on Pastor Mark. I discovered him while listening to an episode of the White Horse Inn and was intrigued. I have been listening to some of his sermons and watching these Desiring God videos and have found many areas in which he has challenged me. Thanks again.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Seth McBee said...

Ron S.

Sorry I am not interested in allowing you to spread an open letter to your elder and pastor. That is an internal church matter that has no precedence in the open forum of the blogosphere.

I believe what you are doing, whether or not it is true, is sin, and I would pray about how you are handling yourself in this matter.

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