Yesterday, Mark Driscoll make some rather unfortunate remarks on Twitter during the Presidential inauguration:
“Praying for our president, who today will place his hand on a Bible he does not believe to take an oath to a God he likely does not know.”
I would expect a fellow pastor to model respect and honor for the president whether he was in agreement with him or not. There is no reasonable basis to doubt the President’s faith. Rather than to question his faith in the Bible, it would be enough to acknowledge that his reading to scripture might be different from his.
I wish I was able to feel surprise and betrayal in Driscoll’s words, but I’m afraid that ship has sailed a long time ago.
This is the man who claimed The Twilight book series promoted vampirism in teens. He said that Avatar was the most demonic movie he’d ever seen. Through his slander of William Paul Young he did his part to make The Shack one of the 100 top selling books in human history.
This is the man who claimed that if Ted Haggard’s wife hadn’t let herself go, that Haggard might not have turned to homosexuality.
This is the man who wrote ”I cannot worship the hippie, diaper, halo Christ because I cannot worship a guy I can beat up.” (To which Greg Boyd responded: “I frankly have trouble understanding how a follower of Jesus could find himself unable to worship a guy he could ‘beat up’ when he already crucified him.”) Thanks, John Pattison for this paragraph.
And then you add his long history of promoting chauvinism and sexism in the church and in marriages.
What do you do with someone like this?
John Pattison asked the question on Facebook last night and suggested that some from of creative protest be organized. My first reaction is to shy away from it. I get the sense Driscoll feeds off the attention. Critics are labeled and are then offered as proof that he facing opposition for Jesus. My first, second, and third instinct is too keep his name out of my mouth for fear of accidentally empowering him.
And then on the other end of the spectrum, there’s Matthew Paul Turner’s response. On Facebook he offered this:
How should we respond? Should we say nothing because addressing/challenging his Tweets only adds fuel to his flaming ego? Should we bash him once again and call him out as wrong and arrogant and remind him that he isn’t God? Or should we simply suggest in a humble way that people need to pray for him because he’s obviously losing touch with reality? Honestly, I don’t know what the proper response should be. But I do know this: I don’t challenge Mark Driscoll in hopes that Mark Driscoll will change. I think Mark is a narcissist. Words will never change Mark or get him to “see the light”. I challenge Mark and Mark’s words and Mark’s brand in hopes that people will hear of his actions and resist becoming involved in the cult-like community that he has manufactured in Seattle. Yes, I know you know where I stand on most things related to “Mark Driscoll”. I’m sure I sound like a broken record. But so do the stories of pain and abuse that continue to come out of Mars Hill. And as long as that’s happening, I will not stop challenging this man’s evil. He will like never care or listen. But those who leave his fold broken and lost do listen. And they’re relieved to know that somebody knows the truth about Mark and is willing to listen to their truth about Mark.
This is not just a Tweet from Mark. This Tweet is a part of a bigger brand. And that brand hurts people. That brand is dishonest. That brand continues to spiritually harm thousands. Sure, the brand is likely too big to stop. But that should not keep us from warning people in hopes that they won’t get sucked in by Mark’s brand and putting our arms around people and loving and caring for them when Mark’s brand spits them out.”
I’m not sure what the response is. I do know there is no good one. The Book of Proverbs warns that tangling with a fool is a no-win proposition:
Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
or you yourself will be just like him.
Answer a fool according to his folly,
or he will be wise in his own eyes.
If I’m reading this passage correctly, the danger of engaging a fool on his terms is that the fool offers you a set of rules of engagement that makes you just like he is. However, if you don’t confront the fool, he’ll continue in his foolish ways and feel good about it.
So what would a creative protest look like, John? I’m not sure, other that to suggest that it involves addressing his foolishness from a position of calm and compassion. I’ve never witnesses a powermonger who didn’t find himself ensnared and entrapped by his own machinery. He’s the Wizard of Oz in over his head. A creative response would include pity, compassion, calm, and an utter lack of fear.
I agree with Turner, from time to time, its probably necessary to enter the fray for the sake of those enthralled or injured by or his brand of authoritarianism. If the Book of Proverbs is right, any such efforts are doomed to be no-win propositions. And perhaps its necessary to lose for the sake of those who need to be reassured that he is not embodying or describing the abundant life that Jesus offers when he makes statements such as the one he made yesterday.