13 September 2011

PastorMark.tv: A One-Stop Driscoll Shop

Mars Hill Church. The Resurgence. Acts 29. Churches Helping Churches. And now…PastorMark.tv. These are all websites representing the various intertwining ministries of Mark Driscoll. Now, no one can fault him for having multiple websites. If that’s what he wants to do and he has the time, the people and the means to maintain them, then go for it.

Driscoll has been flaunting the launch of this website for days, and now that it’s here we can finally all see why he’s been so excited. The “About” page is less about the site and more about Mark Driscoll. Let’s hope Driscoll didn’t write this spiel himself, as we read in the final paragraph:
“With a skillful mix of bold presentation, clear biblical teaching, and compassion for those who are hurting the most—in particular, women who are victims of sexual and physical abuse and assault—Driscoll has taken biblical Christianity into cultural corners previously unexplored by evangelicals. In the same year that he spoke at a Gospel Coalition conference with notable contemporary theologians like John Piper and Tim Keller, he also discussed biblical sexuality as a guest on Loveline with Dr. Drew, was featured on Nightline, and preached for Rick Warren at Saddleback Community Church.”
Hm, I’m not sure I’d be boasting about all of those, especially that last point, Pastor Mark. But that’s just me.

Back to the homepage, right away we can guess by the first picture that appears that there will be some mention of and involvement by Driscoll’s family:

Indeed, it seems that Driscoll’s wife and daughter will be contributing to the content of the site. On the Welcome page, we read:
"I’m happy to have my family join me. Grace, my wife of 19 years, will be writing here as well. She will be focusing on issues related to being a Godly woman, wife, mother, and friend—things she’s particularly passionate about. She is very sweet and helpful, and will help balance out my occasional moods.   
And, our oldest daughter Ashley, who is now entering high school, will be writing as well. She’ll be doing book reviews for young girls and talking about practical ways to grow spiritually as a teenage girl. Her heart is to encourage young women to follow Jesus. As our other four children get older, they may write some too—we’ll have to wait and see."
Well that’s nice, it’s a family affair. Nothing wrong with that. But, why do we need another Mark Driscoll website? All of his resources can be found on one or more of his other sites so what makes “PastorMark.tv” so special?
“The site will serve to provide more personal information such as what I’m doing with my family and how the Holy Spirit is changing me by the grace of God to be more like Jesus.Through various posts, I’ll cover the theological and the practical, doctrine and life, what Christians believe and how Christians behave, and the text of Scripture and context of life. The big idea is that we need both a theology of something (e.g., marriage, parenting, sex, joy, suffering) and a reality of that thing.”
It seems, then, that this site will serve as a great Driscoll catch-all where we can find everything he ever does or says:

·       Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and more
·       Media interviews
·       Washington Post and Newsweek blogs
·       Mars Hill Church, Resurgence, Leadership Coaching, and Acts 29 church planting 
·       My speaking schedule 
·       Books I’m reading and writing, and books I’ve published
·       Prize giveaways
·       Free ebooks I’ve written
·       and more

All Mark Driscoll, all the time. Super. But hey, for the Driscoll fan this is good news. A one-stop shop for all of his sermon series, Driscoll waxing eloquent on current events and sports (kind of), resources on one of Driscoll’s favorite topics, masculinity, and of course a link to one of his latest books, Real Marriage.


Speaking of books, when you click the “Books” tab at the top of the website, you are immediately brought to a page littered with “Books by Pastor Mark.” That’s great, but I’m more interested in the books that have influenced Mark Driscoll, so let’s take a look at the “Recommended” tab. Several books here are perfectly fine pieces of literature. Things become concerning, however, when we see names such as Donald Whitney appear.

In his well-written and well-researched article, “Donald Whitney and Spiritual Disciplines,” Bob DeWaay points us to some of the dangers of Whitney’s book.
“I am very alarmed about Donald Whitney bringing spiritual disciplines and implied human ability into Reformed theology. If the trend for syncretistic spiritual disciplines and spiritual formation takes over the Reformed versions of evangelical education there will be very few options for young people who want an education grounded in the solas of the Reformation. Scripture alone and grace alone are compromised—if not rejected outright—when spiritual disciplines are adopted.”
As Apprising Ministries has adeptly pointed out in articles such as “Calvinist Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism?” and “Mark Driscoll and Neo-Reformed New Calvinist Contemplative Spirituality” this teaching of the “spiritual disciplines” and all of the baggage that comes with it (i.e., contemplative/centering prayer and the like) has already permeated today’s so-called “Reformed” circles, especially Driscoll's Acts 29 Network, and thus is having a great impact on the young people who have found themselves following after leaders like Mark Driscoll, Matt Chandler, and John Piper.

Also on the Recommended Reading page of MarkDriscoll.tv is Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas. Promotion of this book ought to concern us because, as this article points out, Gary Thomas is an advocate of the unbiblical practice of mantra meditation. 

These aren’t the only two instances of promotion of contemplative spirituality on Driscoll’s site, however. Being that this newest website is intricately linked with all of Driscoll’s other ministries, a quick type of “Richard Foster” into the search bar leads one to this article at The Resurgence entitled “Spiritual Disciplines: Solitude & Fellowship, Part 2,” wherein Driscoll recommends the work of 4 quasi-contemplative mystics:
The same books (with the exception of Bonhoeffer's Life Together) are recommended by Driscoll in this article about Christian obedience. The obedience called for by Scripture, however, and the “disciplines” set forth in these books are not equal. As Bob DeWaay states in the article referenced above, “Since Scripture alone reveals how we come to God and grow in God, then Scripture alone must reveal sanctifying practices. Unless God said (through Scripture), "If you come to me in faith according to these terms and means, I will meet you," then we cannot proceed validly in faith by any particular practice (online source).”

Again, as previously stated, Driscoll’s newest website easily links to all content from his other sites. A veritable Driscoll vending machine, you can easily find links to everything he has written, including his Resurgence blog post on “Helpful books on the History of Atonement Theology” where he lists Jürgen Moltmann’s The Crucified God: The Cross of Christ as the Foundation and Criticism of Christian Theology among others. In 2009, Emergent Village hosted an event, “The Moltmann Conversation.” It was attended by Christian apologist Chris Rosebrough and Bob DeWaay. Their discussion of the event can be found here (Part 1) and here (Part 2). In short, it would be an understatement to say that Jürgen Moltmann has had a profound impact upon the Emergent Church and various areas of their [bad] doctrine.

In addition to promoting contemplative spirituality through teaching and books, this new site has become a resource for Mars Hill Church campaigns.


Just what will this offer?
“With Campaigns, we'll make available to any church—free of charge—access to the materials, notes, and research for future Mars Hill sermon series. Think of it as a free marketing and research staff for your church and as if I was a volunteer for your ministry.
 What you get
  • Sermon Research BriefAccess to hundreds of pages of top-level research from Docent Research Group
  • Preaching Strategies: My personal preaching suggestions and research to help you prepare your own sermons
  • Full Marketing and Branding: Branding, design, and marketing plans that you can edit for your local church
  • DVD Sermon Downloads: Free use of my sermons for the series via DVD download if you want a week off
  • Counseling Guide: Helpful strategies and research specific to the sermon content to help your pastors and volunteers help hurting people
  • Worship Guide: Suggestions and tips on how to prepare every aspect of your worship service to compliment—not compete—with the sermons
In addition to these free resources, extra resources will be available for purchase from time to time: 
  • Book: A major trade book published in advance for the larger campaigns, launching every January
  • Small Group Curriculum: A comprehensive DVD and written curriculum for your small groups”
Sounds like a great way to create “mini-Mars Hills” across the country and, perhaps an even more daunting thought, “mini-Mark Driscolls.” The spirit behind this offering is perhaps commendable, offering free help and resources to those who simply do not have the time to turn their church into an entertainment venue for each new sermon series. After all, it takes a lot of time and energy to “cast your vision” while at the same time developing sermons and corresponding decorations. Something has to give somewhere. Yet, God has not gifted each preacher the same. Have you ever tried to deliver a speech or presentation that somebody else wrote? I have (no, I didn’t steal it, I was asked to deliver a presentation in a colleague’s absence) and it is difficult to effectively deliver information that somebody else has compiled and organized according to their own way of thinking. Considering the newest campaign being offered is Real Marriage, to coincide with the above-mentioned book, I sincerely hope that nobody buys into this! The last thing we need is another blast of “perfect marriage, perfect love, perfect sex” sermon series to sweep this country!

According to this page, the idea for offering these “campaigns” came upon the realization that:
“At Mars Hill, our desire is to see people come, meet Jesus, and grow as disciples. In the past, we didn’t do this as well as we should. We had growth numerically, but not spiritually.  Through much prayer and planning, we realized that we were not doing a good job discipling our people in every aspect of life. We were relying too much on good music and sermons from the pulpit. The message wasn’t translating.”
It’s laudable that they recognized a deficiency and are seeking to correct it. However, I’m not sure that the end result of campaigns as more than a sermon series. Rather, it’s linking your entire church up to your pulpit and pushing one big idea through every aspect of your church” is necessarily the answer. Preach the Word. Teach your congregation how to study the Word for themselves. Posters and flyers and catchy small-group themes may bring cohesiveness to your church’s culture, but is it ultimately going to make your people more learned in God’s Word? Are you creating disciples of Mars Hill Church or disciples of Jesus Christ? Driscoll states that the proof that campaigns work is:

“Last year alone, we saw over a thousand people baptized and 14% of our growth was due to conversions. Additionally, we’re seeing many people grow as disciples, join as members, start serving the church, and join our Community Groups—over 80% of our church is involved one.”
Okay, so “campaigns work.” Work how? What do they accomplish? Can the people in your church articulate the Gospel clearly? Do they speak it loudly, boldly and often? Or do they invite friends to church because the sermon series and accompanying campaign are so catchy and cool? I hope the proof is in the former.

As I said at the outset, I’m not trying to bash Mark Driscoll for having another website (a fifth website, to be exact). The existence of such a website, however, simply speaks to this man’s influence in the “evangelical” community. In yesterday’s post, Is “God” Still Talking to Mark Driscoll? I pointed out that Driscoll is a current member of The Gospel Coalition (in fact, Driscoll links to TGC from his site), a group of men whose supposed conservative approach to Scripture should not align with much of what Driscoll advocates. There is no room for extra-biblical revelation (especially of an X-rated nature) or the promotion of contemplative spirituality (which is nothing more than Eastern mysticism in a chintzy Christian costume) among a group that supposedly adheres to the Reformation cry of sola Scriptura. It would not be unfounded or over reactive of us to fear that the launch of this latest website will serve to propagate further some of the dangerous teachings that we have heard from Driscoll. Do we really need yet more resources from the man who thinks that the “gift of discernment” means that he has a television in his head playing out other people’s violent sins? But then, who am I? After all, I must confess, I am still waiting for that first voicemail from God.

6 comments:

  1. Wow following Christ sure has gotten complicated. It was a lot easier when all I had to do was take up my cross daily.

    ReplyDelete
  2. You sure like to bash Driscoll in your posts. Makes sense, followers of MacArthur being uninformed and haphazardly bashing the next generation instead of reaching out in a Christ-like way to bring alongside the thousands of youngsters who need and are looking for theological direction.

    Please find something better to do than to have a blog that merely bashes those who are actually doing something large scale like Driscoll. Or at least visit with those who his ministry has been tremendously beneficial to. Don't just think about your affluent, gospel-fertile context, but maybe consider others who come to know the Lord through someone other than a proper, well-educated white male from the suburbs.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Anonymous #2,

    On the contrary, the intent of this post, or of any others regarding Mark Driscoll, is not to "bash" him as you say. Rather, it is meant to inform of some deeply concerning, unbiblical teaching and promotion that is coming from his ministry. If you would look back through this blog, you would notice that out of the hundreds of posts, very few have actually been about Mark Driscoll. He just happens to be "in the news" this week and I believe that people need to be warned about some of these things.

    I'm not sure why you chose to bring John MacArthur into your complaint, as he is mentioned nowhere in this post. Let me say that I would be warning against these things regardless of whether or not Dr. MacArthur had offered his advice to the YRR crowd last month. And those "youngsters who need and are looking for theological direction" are precisely the reason why posts like this are necessary - as a warning. How sad it would be for them to be led astray by some of these quasi-contemplative books simply because they are endorsed by their favorite preacher!

    The focus needs to come back to the Gospel and to God's Word. It's my opinion that coarse and explicit language, extra-biblical voices and visions, and unbiblical "disciplines" need to be cast aside in favor of simply preaching the Word that has been so graciously given to us by our God. 2 Timothy 4:2-4.

    Blessings.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Well, I thought it was an excellent post and will be linking to this one and the previous one in my next "Random" items post.

    Driscoll is dangerous because, while he actually has some good teachings, he has too much bad junk among them and propagates stuff you mention here, let alone his locker-room jock behavior which is totally unbecoming of any teacher of God's Word.

    His water is laced with cyanide - no one should drink it.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks for linking, Glenn - always appreciated!

    You're absolutely right - Driscoll is dangerous precisely because of his truth mixed with error. If he (and so many others) would just stick with the Gospel, that would be fantastic. Leave the special revelation, inappropriate language/jokes, and visions and just preach the Word.

    ReplyDelete
  6. The current, in-vogue, operative word: "Branding."

    Has a nice scriptural ring, doesn't it?

    ReplyDelete

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