Thinking Out Loud

August 8, 2014

Dear Mark Driscoll

Filed under: current events — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:25 am

Out of all the rhetoric bouncing around online this week about Mark Driscoll, Ron Wheeler, part of the Mars Hill story from early days, is probably the most poignant. Two-thirds of the way through, it builds to this crescendo:

You can’t preach Jesus and curse people.

You can’t preach Jesus and threaten people.

You can’t preach Jesus and be sexually vulgar.

You can’t preach Jesus and denigrate women.

You can’t preach Jesus and then shun people.

You can’t preach Jesus and give rich people special privileges.

You can’t preach Jesus and steal people’s material

You can’t preach Jesus and cheat your way onto bestseller lists.

You can’t preach Jesus and then force your people to not compete with you in spreading the gospel.

You can’t preach Jesus and then force people to either stay silent or not be paid.

You can’t preach Jesus and seek to become the “greatest of these”.

You just can’t. You see that right?

This is not the only voice asking for Mark’s resignation. There are many. If Mark Driscoll has any other options at this point, I can’t imagine what they are.

Read the whole letter, posted here.

UPDATE (August 8; 11:50 AM) — via Warren Throckmorton: “In a stunning move, the Acts 29 Network leadership has removed network co-founder and Mars Hill Church lead pastor Mark Driscoll from the organization’s membership…”  Click here to read.   Sample of the Acts 29 letter:

…Ample time has been given for repentance, change, and restitution, with none forthcoming. We now have to take another course of action.

Based on the totality of the circumstances, we are now asking you to please step down from ministry for an extended time and seek help. Consequently, we also feel that we have no alternative but to remove you and Mars Hill from membership in Acts 29. Because you are the founder of Acts 29 and a member, we are naturally associated with you and feel that this association discredits the network and is a major distraction.

We tell you this out of love for you, Mars Hill, Acts 29, and most significantly, the cause of Christ, and we would be irresponsible and deeply unloving not to do so in a clear and unequivocal manner…



  1. I’ve been reading a bit about this Driscoll fellow, following some of the Braxton Caner sadness, as well as listened to a podcast that denigrated a political figure for some outrageous things that person had said (those things were later proved false and stricken from the podcast). While I’m troubled about what Driscoll has allegedly done, the disaster befallen the Caner family and shocked by what the politician had been quoted as having said about particular scientific matters, I also find deeply disturbing the interchanges between people, Christians mostly, on forums or in public protesting these matters.

    Regarding Driscoll, there is the very long letter from his ex-friend, plus, after a search, some pages showing pictures of people holding signs stating what sins Mark Driscoll had committed. And if funds had been stolen to prop his book then aren’t there legal measures that have to be taken? I haven’t seen any. About the Caner situation, the obvious part was the fellow from Montana who decided Twitter was the best way to attack a 15 year old child but add to that a discussion on the topic on a website that had several people constantly attacking each other, going back and forth about personal matters or to responses to the topic. Finally, the podcast. even if the politician had been quoted correctly there seemed little need to denigrate that person and to call into question his/her state of Christianity.

    What am I missing here, Paul? Aren’t there times when these matters should be dealt with in private rather than splashed around the world? And if the topics ought to be made public then what about some restraint? We keep eating our own but never seem to have our hunger sated. I’m a little bummed out here.

    Peace be with you. Janis.

    Comment by Janis Vitolins — August 8, 2014 @ 3:21 pm

    • There’s a catch-22 in any attempt to respond to this, because it’s social media that has brought this thing to its present point of, hopefully, resolution.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — August 8, 2014 @ 3:39 pm

      • I am just hoping for civility from Christians no matter the topic.

        Comment by Janis Vitolins — August 8, 2014 @ 3:59 pm

    • I had to be away for two hours, but now I can respond to this better.

      On one level, bloggers shouldn’t be involved in this. Most of us have never met Mark, never been to his church, and perhaps never read his books. (I’ve read one, and watched one sermon podcast ever.) So there is a very real sense in which none of “us” have the right to speak his situation.

      However, this is a train wreck of spectacular dimensions, and as I said in my shorter reply, it is social media that is in some cases holding some people responsible for their actions; but it is also social media that can needlessly hound someone online and could be a contributing factor in something like the Caner family now faces.

      So it’s interesting that you tie the two stories together in your comment.

      Ron Wheeler’s comments are significant because of who he is and the detail he poured out in his writing. I could have ignored it entirely, or tweeted the link; but I felt it worthy of devoting (another) post to because he really added a personal dimension to the story that no one else could. Choosing the section (above) to excerpt was a no-brainer for me. It summarized so many different aspects of the drama that Mark has created. As I mentioned two Wednesday Link Lists ago, this has now reached the mainstream media; it’s not something that Christians are arguing about in a corner somewhere.

      And who knows if Christian social media had not investigated their own; if Mark might have continued unchecked into something worse? Yes, it’s sad to see this online; but the average person-on-the-street knows nothing about this story because it is being deal with in the Christian quadrant of the internet and not on the front pages of USAToday.

      I know that some of this stuff is hard to read; but it’s hard to write as well; that’s why I created Christianity 201, to balance my own online output with stuff that was more wholesome and uplifting.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — August 8, 2014 @ 5:56 pm

  2. We have been listening to Driscoll/Mars Hill sermons for years. We have an entire shelf of Re:Lit books…but we’re nowhere near Seattle, so we don’t know what’s going on. It completely breaks my heart, though. On one hand, it really seems like this is all internal/politics. But on the other hand, it’s Mark so you gotta figure he’s going to be attacked on something he said or did. He’s just too loud to not upset somebody. Anyway, I can’t see how this is going to end well. The Mars Hill church has been so enormously helpful for us, and I can only see these protests and other things as dividing the church…and that just kills me. My husband and I don’t get along with the suburban churches around us, and Mars Hill has always seemed like a safe haven. We visited once, and fell in love with the atmosphere up there. But…anyway. The whole thing is rather tragic; from Mark’s history to the future of the church. It feels like a family is breaking up.

    Comment by Tamarah Rockwood — August 9, 2014 @ 11:47 am

    • I grew up in a family which, before my birth, had been deeply impacted by the departure from the faith of a spiritual hero. Charles Templeton was a dynamic speaker, in fact, Billy Graham once said that his mandate was that he was only doing what Charles Templeton had started but failed to finished. It’s tougher when you know the people concerned and that they have greatly impacted your journey with Christ. But you look to Christ, not the person. (You can use this blog’s internal search to look for “Charles Templeton.”)

      Keep in mind as well that this story is still being written. It does not have to end badly. This may also be of interest:

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — August 9, 2014 @ 4:04 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Your Response (Value-Added Comments Only)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: