October 20, 2014

Did Good Theology Result in Mark Driscoll's Downfall?

Mark Driscoll recently resigned as pastor of Mars Hill (apparently in order to avoid being disciplined by his fellow elders, see here).

How did it come to this? There seems to be no shortage of corrupt megachurch CEOs guilty of the same sins as Driscoll (like Stephen Furtick and Perry Noble, just to name two). Why, then, is Driscoll the only one to resign in shame? It seems that, in most cases, the only thing that can derail one of these megachurch moguls is a sex scandal. Not Driscoll, though. He was brought down by the same sins (pride, quarrelsomeness, greed) that seem to be routine among the megachurch set.

So, what made the difference? I believe theology made the difference. Unlike most of his peers, Driscoll wears his theological commitments on his sleeve. And those commitments are, by and large, quite orthodox. Driscoll is neither a prosperity gospel charlatan nor a shallow, seeker-sensitive Pelagian. He doesn’t believe in downplaying doctrine because he knows that theology matters. And, obviously, Driscoll’s commitment to sound doctrine trickles down to the members of his church. Consequently, the average member of Mars Hill is much more biblically and theologically literate than the average member of most other multisite megachurches. So, ironically, there are many discerning Mars Hill members who know the Bible well enough to know that something is terribly wrong with the leadership culture at their church.

I’m speculating, obviously. But it seems to me that Driscoll’s greatest strength is the very thing that resulted in his downfall. Yes, theology matters. Driscoll got that part right. But, somewhere along the way, he seems to have forgotten that character matters, too.

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