Last week we were having dinner with friends, and they asked me why I hadn’t said anything about Mark Driscoll’s ill-advised comment about pastors” wives “letting themselves go” in the wake of the Ted Haggard scandal.

I had a couple of different responses to this… the first being that I didn’t really want to talk about Ted Haggard (this is the first time I’ve mentioned it, now see what I’ve gone and done?). The second was an off-the-cuff quip that Mark Driscoll is a young man with a young wife, and I’d be curious to see what he says in 10 or 15 years’ time.

Really, the best response would have been something different, and might have had to do with my “Mark Driscoll grid.” You see, I’ve always figured that prior to reacting to something that anyone says, you should pause and pass it through the personal “grid” that you’ve created for that person. Everything you know about someone, about what they’ve said and done and what they stand for act like points on grid, together with the observations you can make about the person. If the new information can’t pass through your grid because it’s incongruous with the rest of what you know about the person, you have to question it. If it’s proved to be accurate, you’ll have to fit it into your grid, which may realign or displace previous points, but it must be an informed process.

Now, truth be told, I don’t have a very well-developed “Mark Driscoll grid” yet. I don’t know him personally, only by reputation, and I haven’t read his work or listened to him preaching that extensively. I do know he’s not a wing-nut, even though I might not disagree with him on every point. I also know that his theology is considerably more reformed than most of the emerging church set, which means that on some level, Mark and I need to stick together… so I have to like him at least a little bit. Suffice to say that something didn’t add up with the comment, which sounded over-simplistic.

I think the comment itself was jumped on a bit harshly — we needed public clarification on it before coming down too strongly, and the blogosphere didn’t have it before responding. Loudly. Some people needed to push Mark for a public clarification, but I don’t know him and did not do so. Maybe I should have. Thankfully, whether resulting from public or private urging on the matter, Mark Driscoll has now responded with a clarification of his intent with his comment. The response is gracious, thoughtful, and a touch McLarenesque, humbly thanking his critics.

There you have it. If one of my favorite proverbs is true, “wisdom is proved right by all her children,” which means I’m glad I said nothing until now. And now I’ve got a good bit of new information to add to my “Mark Driscoll grid,” and his stock just went up in my view.

Thanks, Mark.

Brian McLaren, Mark Driscoll, Ted Haggard, response to critics

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