While I was busy ignoring the recent Driscoll furor, having mentioned it only once before, it seems some people decided to hold a protest at Mars Hill’s Sunday service tomorrow. Looks like that’s now been cancelled, after Driscoll met with local christian leaders along with the protest organizers. Driscoll has issued a further statement following the meeting, which was also summarized by Rose Madrid-Swetman, one of the protest organizers. Seriously, this needs to happen more in situations of dispute between christian leaders. We may not need unanimity on many things, but we do need unity and understanding.
The blogosphere response to the meeting summaries and outcome has been very supportive, but I did find one dissenting voice… and oddly, I found myself in the unusual spot of disagreeing with Emerging Grace, who comments here often, whose voice in the conversation I love, and whom I read regularly on her blog. She has posted her response suggesting Mark shouldn’t be let off the hook just yet. My direct comments interacting with her post are in place on her blog, but I want to quote part of the comment here:
You say “rhetoric,” he says “inflamatory language”. Potayto, potahto, imho. I don’t see blame-shifting here… what he said immediately after the comment you cite was, “I was also sad and sorry to hear that various things I have said over the years have been received very personally by some people who felt personally attacked.” This isn’t blame-shifting… taken with the rest of the paragraph which follows, I clearly saw the reflection of a man coming to grips with the wake that his words leave beyond his local Mars Hill context, something he wasn’t fully aware of but is now learning. He even seems to be planning to hire someone to help him understand this in an ongoing way. Good on him for that.
Fundamentally, Mark was misunderstood… but I don’t see any overtone of him whining that he’s “so oft misquoted and misunderstood” in his post. I think you’re insisting that you didn’t misunderstand him, but in general, the judgement for that can only rest with the original transmitter of the message, not the receiver.
Perhaps Mark was misunderstood because he voiced something poorly… but that certainly doesn’t mean he wasn’t in fact misunderstood. Perhaps you can blame him for not speaking clearly, but it’s not appropriate to insist that he did mean what he says he didn’t mean. I’m not quite certain if this is the tack you’re taking though.
At the end of the day, it’s possible that not everyone defines Driscoll’s “offence” the same way. I wasn’t sitting in a living room with any pastors, leaders, protest-organizers, and Mark Driscoll, so I have to defer to them… and following the meeting, those people all have a better understanding of one another and the protest was cancelled. I think it would be naieve to think that the resulting blog posts cover everything that was said, but the end result seems to be that everyone is putting this to rest.
I do recognize that there are some who are going to feel as you do that Driscoll still hasn’t apologized enough… and even if he issued one more statement that satisfied you and half of the other people who want more, there will always be others who won’t let him off the hook, ever. Personally, I think it’s time to move on. I like your list of admirable qualities, but I would add another… “quick to forgive”. Reading Rose’s post, I think it’s fair to say that the whole thing got out of hand on all sides, but in person, wisdom prevailed, and the entire list of admirable qualities, including forgiveness, seems to have been exhibited in that room.
Obviously, I’m not reading Driscoll at all the same way as you are, and I could be wrong… Personally, I’m hoping we can all move on, and hope not to unravel the work that was done in their meeting the other night.
There’s a lot of controversy within Christendom, but for outsiders, a major measure of our faith will be how we deal with it and what we overlook, rightly and wrongly.
At this stage, my comments move off of Driscoll somewhat. Locally, we had some stir with a recent Franklin Graham extravaganza that was in town. A peaceful protest was held to distribute leaflets to conference attenders, ones which urged Graham to retract the anti-Islamic war-mongering rhetoric which is a matter of public record but which he still denies saying. I think Driscoll has responded far more appropriately than FGraham, but some corners of the church have been far less charitable toward Driscoll’s “trespass” than toward FGraham’s, and I don’t quite understand the discrepancy. I’ve mentioned this issue previously,
before and after the event, with considerable discussion and a single final thought.
The Franklin Graham issue, like the Mark Driscoll one, is controversial, and potentially divisive; in many ways I prefer to simply avoid both. Nonetheless, I’m often not smart enough to keep my mouth shut. I think FGraham’s words are far more egregious than Driscoll’s. Driscoll, let’s not forget, is not meeting with the President of the United States and advising him to use nuclear weapons to kill innocent civilians as accptable collatteral damage.
Fundamentally, what I’m observing is Mark Driscoll learning the lesson that Billy Graham learned once upon a time in a post-Watergate world, and which Franklin Graham is refusing to learn in a post-9/11 world. If you follow through my posts which I’ve linked, I think the reasoning for this will be clear, but in essence, Mark is coming to grips with the effect of his words in the wider context which they reach instead of the local context that he’s used to. He’s on a wider stage than he realized, and he’s obviously still working out his understanding of and reaction to this fact. It’s something that Billy Graham learned, and Driscoll is obviously looking to that example. Would that Franklin Graham would do likewise instead of blindly denying words which are a matter of public record. I did suggest cutting FGraham some slack while he learns it, but I’m of uncertain opinion of just how much. Driscoll, on the other hand, deserves some slack: to his credit, is attempting to issue clarifying statements which express his regret for the negative way in which his comments were received.
In any event, I fear I may not get my wish, but I hope this is the last of both subjects, at least in a negative light. I still hope to be able to post a link to Franklin Graham’s eventual retraction someday though.