Thursday, January 7, 2016

#1563: Mark Driscoll

Mark Driscoll is the disgraced founder and former head of the Seattle-based Mars Hill Church, a megachurch with distinct cult-like traits. He’s also the founder of The Resurgence, which sought to train church leaders in conservative reformed theology, co-founder of several other organizations, author of several books, and writer e.g. for the “Faith and Values” section of the Seattle Times and the Fox News website.

Among his books, Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship & Life Together, written with his wife Grace, raised some controversy (also because the sales figures were manipulated to get the book onto bestseller lists). Fundies missed the point and criticized it for describing sex; more enlightened critics (including some evangelicals) rather highlighted its rank misogynism. Driscoll is a “complementarian” about gender roles and accordingly endorses “male headship of the home and church”. According to Driscoll many modern spiritual and social problems are to blame on the emergence of female leadership and feminism, which is a doctrine originating in the serpent’s temptation of Eve – her eating the fruit was “the first exercising of a woman’s role in leadership in the home and in the church in the history of the world. It does not go well.” Not only that, but Christianity has been “feminized”: “The problem with the church today, it’s just a bunch of nice, soft, tender, ’chickified’ church boys. Sixty percent of Christians are chicks, and the forty percent that are dudes are still sort of chicks … The whole architecture and the whole aesthetic [of church buildings and services] is really feminine.” By contrast, Biblical figures like Jesus, Paul the Apostle, and King David, “... these guys were dudes. Heterosexual, win-a-fight, punch-you-in-the-nose, dudes.” There’s some serious theology going on there. Driscoll doesn’t like gays either, obviously. Nor masturbation: According to Driscoll, if you engage in such acts you’re gay.

When Ted Haggard fell from grace Driscoll went after his wife, arguing that a “wife who lets herself go and is not sexually available to her husband in the ways that the Song of Songs is so frank about is not responsible for her husband’s sin, but she may not be helping him either.”

He is, of course, also a Biblical literalist and inerrantist, and hence also a creationist according to whom Christians are not free to assent to evolution; that is, “the yet unproven and highly suspect thesis of macro-evolution” – no, he really doesn’t get neither evolution nor science, but what did you expect? An equal sensitivity to science, reality and evidence was demonstrated in 2014, when the Mars Hill Church announced that it would cure mental illness through “demon trials”. Driscoll is also a defender of the doctrine that Christianity is not a religion (“religion” only encompasses superstitious belief systems) and presumably hence not encompassed by any sort of separation between church and state.

In 2014, The NY Times wrote that Driscoll’s empire appears to be imploding” under public criticism and formal complaints from Mars Hill staff members and congregants, and in October Driscoll announced his resignation from the cult. Two weeks later it was announced that Mars Hill Church would be dissolving by January 1, 2015. Among the factors leading up to the decision was (none other than) Janet Mefferd accusing Driscoll of plagiarism – 14 pages of Driscoll’s A Call to Resurgence quoted “extensively and without citation” two books by crazy fundie Peter Jones, including Gospel Truth/Pagan Lies: Can You Tell the Difference? (do we need to comment on the intellectual bankruptcy of someone who resorts to plagiarizing Peter Jones?) – Mefferd later apologized for catching Driscoll plagiarizing and the interview in which the issue was raised was deleted from Salem Radio’s webpage since Salem Radio unsurprisingly doesn’t possess a single shred of intellectual honesty. More plagiarism accusations soon followed.

Diagnosis: Deranged madman, hopefully to an extent neutralized by now.