Interrupting the teacher

It started in 2006. We were attending suburban evangelical churches, and we were aware there was something more. We decided to look elsewhere after we were told we had “soul ties” and a “spirit of whoredom” both of which are not in the Bible. We were told we had to have a special prayer ritual performed to “deliver” us from these unclean spirits, also not in the Bible. Plus, it’s weird seeing a negative connotation of deliver-I like it when things are delivered to me, like the occasional pizza or things I buy from Amazon.

We began to ask about war, and what Christian’s engagement in it can be.  We started asking about the environment, the poor, the sick.  We were told to not worry about it and deal with our dirty whore ghosts. We went elsewhere.

This is also when I started listening to Christian/worship music again without rolling my eyes at it for the first time since joining the military. It was, and still is, difficult for me to justify listening to music for it’s spiritual benefit when it is such AWFUL art. The music got better, and I got a little less hard-hearted. I discovered the music of David Crowder after hearing it on the college radio station, and we quickly added mewithoutYou and Sufjan Stevens to the rotation.

I read books like Irresistible Revolution and Blue Like Jazz, and was energized. I took up the mantra “Another World Is Possible”.  I read Tolstoy’s The Kingdom of God is Within You. I tried to read Kierkegaard, and failed, but I tried.

In 2008, I got an ipod for Christmas, and loaded up on podcasts, because I am a cheapskate.  I  started listening to Mars Hill Church in Seattle’s sermon podcasts by Mark Driscoll. A lot. He was articulate, funny.  He seemed approachable, but intolerant of BS. I read a few of his books. He helped keep me going when I was ready to throw in the towel and walk away from any sort of religious thought.  The podcast ministry was incredibly beneficial to me.

I knew he was a polarizing figure.  At the time, it seemed the criticisms were not the sort of things that concerned me: he wore T-shirts, raised his voice, welcomed people with tattoos. He had the courage to speak out against porn, and I liked that.

Eventually his hyper-inflexible Calvinism and shouting put me off, and I listened to him less. I saw blog posts and articles calling him misogynistic and homophobic. I shrugged it off, assuming those leveling the claims were being over-sensitive.

In late July, Rachel Held Evans wrote the following post about Driscoll:, and I had no apology for it.

The language Driscoll used is representative of all the nasty things outsiders claim Christians to espouse. It’s damaging, filthy talk. He also misappropriated funds to cheat. And although I believe in repentance and redemption, it will take a long time before he’s even eligible to be a Deacon!  From scripture:

1 Timothy 3:1-7 (NIV)

Qualifications for Overseers and Deacons

Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full<sup class="footnote" data-fn="#fen-NIV-29736a" data-link="[a]”>[a] respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.

He’s left the pulpit, and was kicked out of the Acts29 church network Driscoll helped found. I believe these to not only be rational responses to what’s happened, but a good example of biblical church discipline.  Here is an piece about church discipline Driscoll wrote in Vintage Church. It seems pretty okay, right?  That’s what I thought when I read it, when I bought the book. No homophobic slurs to be found. For the non-believers, those in the Church are held to a higher level of scrutiny, and pastors a much higher standard.

 I’m not going to smear Driscoll.  I’ve made mistakes, too.  I  am however, raising my hand and saying “hey, that’s not okay. You can’t do that.  As a result of your repeated, ongoing sinful behavior, I no longer consider you a teacher deserving of my ear. I will be praying for you.”

And I’m sure he’d have some choice words for me.

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