Pastors / Pursuing Wisdom / August 8, 2014

A Fall From Grace And A Need For Grace

I have watched the slide of Mark Driscoll from a distance. Once upon a time Driscoll played a significant role in my faith and my understanding of Jesus. I am thankful for that. While I haven’t thrown away everything I gained from him, I have a difficult time reconciling it with what he has become in the years since. I’ve kept my distance and haven’t written much about his “fall from grace.”

Most of the responses to him seems to fall into the categories of spite, anger, using him as an object lesson, or gossip and sensationalism. I don’t want to be part of any of that, though at times I likely have been. I hope what follows isn’t any of that. Because what I have come to see is something in me as much as in Mark Driscoll. I’m reminded of a time in my life when I fell and what God used to restore me, a restoration I hope God will work for Driscoll too.

Today I read the statement from Acts 29 announcing the removal of Driscoll and Mars Hill from their network. I am thankful for their decision and saddened by it. They made the right decision from a biblical standpoint and for the good of a church network that genuinely seeks to represent Jesus well. But I found no satisfaction that Driscoll “got what was coming to him.” I remember when he started A29. I was there when he began to gain a following as an author. For it to come to this is awful. I hope he responds. I hope his recent apologies are the beginning to real transformation, real repentance. Maybe this statement by men he once served alongside will be what God uses to shake him from his stupor.

Today I was reminded that a “fall from grace” is a public display of a need for grace.

He needs to be shown the grace of discipline – not retribution, but discipline. People doing and saying the hard, right things to help him see his sins and repent of them. The scary part of this aspect of grace is what happens if someone doesn’t respond. I have been there. In the end God may reach down and rip everything away or he may let the unresponsive one go on his miserable way. The first hurts like fire but leaves one humbled and ready to change. The second leaves one at the mercy of his own blindness.

He needs the grace of people who will stand by him, not as yes-men or flunkies but as sentinels and guides. I know from my own life that when a person is lost in sin what is up looks down and what is right looks left. It takes gracious, strong people to say what is truly up and truly right. And it takes the grace of humility in a sinner’s heart to trust in and respond to such sentinels.

He needs the grace of forgiveness. Most of us don’t need to forgive Driscoll because he didn’t hurt us, though he may have offended us. We just need to move on. But he did hurt many. And he needs their forgiveness. Rather, he needs them to stand ready to forgive when he is at the place when he can admit his need of it. Nobody needs to “let bygones be bygones.” In time, though, I hope they can hand over their hurts to God, release the anger and burden, and find healing in the grace of forgiveness. That forgiveness, the kind we experienced through Jesus, is one of the greatest displays of God’s grace the culture around us can ever see.

Each of these expressions of grace is a reflection of God’s great grace – the grace that breaks and heals, corrects and restores. That is ultimately the grace Mark Driscoll needs. And he needs it no more than I need it or you need it. Just because his fall was from a high and public place does not make his need greater, just more visible. I hope Mark Driscoll’s fall from grace will be a fall into grace.




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27 Comments

Aug 08, 2014

As a former member of Mars Hill, thank you Barnabas. I’ve interacted with both a lot of former members and outsiders lately. While there is certainly some bitterness from former members, most of us are not only grieved for the pain that Driscoll has caused us, but also for Driscoll himself and his family. There would be much rejoicing from us to see Driscoll come out of this, not destroyed, but humbled and strengthened in the love of Christ.


    Aug 14, 2014

    Hi brother Dwayne – Long time no see. I have been a former MH member for the past 3 years. I left because the music was too loud for our “old ears” rather than any perceived grievance with staff, policy or doctrine. Anyway, your brief comments express exactly the way I feel. I really hope Mark comes out of this a new man that God can continue to use. I have read his apology of last March several times. Many have dismissed it as not sincere. My prayer is that it is sincere and he will live it out. My 7 years at MH were so beneficial to me and my family. I grew more in those 7 years than I had in 25 previous years in other ministries combined. Therefore, I am grateful and not bitter or resentful. Whatever happens I plan to try to continue living out Paul’s advice in Philippians chapter 4, especially verses 4 through 13.


Aug 08, 2014

“God is in control when He raises up a work. God is in control when He tears down a work.”


Aug 08, 2014

Amen to that, and hopefully he will resign and refrain from public ministry. A pastor must be above reproach, and our brother has not been for a long time.


Aug 08, 2014

Thanks for sharing : )

(Also, in the last paragraph, 4th sentence – “does” is spelt “doe”)


Aug 08, 2014

[…] is a good blog post from Barnabas Piper, son of John Piper, about the “fall from grace” of Mark Driscoll […]


Aug 08, 2014

I have seen Mark teach and I believe he is an awesome teacher. I also believe that the mistakes he has made deserve forgiveness if he is repentant and desires forgiveness. This should not go unaddressed, but done with love. May we all stand firm in he faith, be of courage, act mature in the faith and do all things in love. We have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. We can lean on this, that while we were still sinners Christ came and died for us, so that we might be reconciled with God. I keep an open mind and heart and pray for everyone involved.


    Aug 10, 2014

    I don’t believe that his teaching is awesome if his walk does not match his talk. He needs to be removed from a leadership position as he does not have the biblical qualifications of elder or pastor, which above all state that he must be above reproach. We are all sinners and need to repent – and true repentance is shown in one’s life – “you will know them by their fruit.” So forgive him & pray for him but do not allow him to be in a position where he will infect the rest of the body of Christ


Aug 08, 2014

Hey Barnabas;
Many people have many opinions or thoughts regarding the decision of Acts 29 to renounce Mark Driscoll, but your blog is the most gracious one I’ve read. Thanks brother.

And for all of us Christ-followers, let us pray……


Aug 08, 2014

Well said.


Aug 08, 2014

I may be splitting hairs, but I hate when “fall from grace” is used in this way. Falling from grace in Ephesians 5:4 is a reference to not clinging to grace for your salvation, but instead “falling” to trying to justify yourself with ceremonial cleansing and works. You don’t “fall” from grace into sin, but into self-righteousness and self-justification. If anything, Driscoll has always been the epitome of erring on the side of grace, which is what has gotten him into trouble in the past.


    Aug 10, 2014

    The passage to which you were referring is Galatians 5:4…just for clarification.


Aug 08, 2014

Thank you for this article. There is a problem with a lot of churches and denominations that want to end someones call in their lives due to a fall into sin. But they don’t want to let the public know and the church doesn’t seem to help the fallen minister draw close to God. Instead he is given a stipend and sent on his merry way:) Yes there are some that don’t repent but what about those who try to?


Aug 08, 2014

Years of abusing his authority and hurting others with his private and public speech… it’s not ok for him just to say “I’m sorry I get angry” and everyone move on. I have yet to hear him repent of some of his hateful and derogatory views of woman, gays, liberals, men who aren’t “manly” enough for him, and people of other faiths. Until he can radically demonstrate love over judgement in his sermons, writings, and actions, I don’t want to hear it. He has misrepresented the faith for long enough. It’s time to go, Mark Driscoll.


Aug 09, 2014

Barnabas, you said, “While I haven’t thrown away everything I gained from him, I have a difficult time reconciling it with what he has become in the years since. I’ve kept my distance and haven’t written much about his “fall from grace.”

Most of the responses to him seems to fall into the categories of spite, anger, using him as an object lesson, or gossip and sensationalism. I don’t want to be part of any of that”
++++++++++++++

you make it clear that you’ve been aware of his “fall from grace” (shall we say abusive nature, hatefulness, controlling…. many truthful statements apply here) for some years now.

ok, you want to steer clear of spite, anger, etc. when it comes to Mark Driscoll.

couldn’t you at least have said, “This is wrong”? and said it long ago? I imagine you have some influence.

as it is, so-called Christian leaders of influence have chosen to not rock the boat in the face of inconvenient truth. meanwhile, multiple hundreds have been destroyed to varying degrees by the influence of Mark Driscoll which has been left unchecked.


    Aug 09, 2014

    And thousands have been led closer to Christ, because even though Driscoll is human and falls into sin, the Lord has given him an amazing sense to communicate His truth. You can’t deny that thousands of people have grown in their walk with the Lord through gaining a deeper knowledge of the Lord/feeling convicted through Driscoll’s messages. Doctrinally, the dude’s solid. He’s messed up a lot, but we can’t forget the fact that he sincerely loves the Lord and is going to fall into sin on a regular basis just like the rest of us. Only his problems are on a larger scale because he is the pastor of a mega-church.

    I think it would be wise for him to re-leave himself from his pastoral duties — maybe even just temporarily — to spend time growing closer with the Lord and probably getting counseling/taking this opportunity to learn from others. It is not uncommon for pastors/directors of ministry to have to take a step out of their role due to developing varying degrees of arrogance, pride, etc within their heart. That’s a huge reason why people in ministry are encouraged to take sabbaticals. That doesn’t mean they can’t serve the Lord tremendously elsewhere though.


Aug 09, 2014

I didn’t know him, but I have watched a few of his sermons online. I sensed a kind of arrogance in how he presented his messages. That concerned me. I hope and pray that he is gently restored, because we can all fall into sin. Amen? Galations 6:1


Aug 09, 2014

[…] article from Barnabas Piper, he treats this sensitive but explosive issue with what is needed – grace.  Few will do […]


Aug 09, 2014

Barnabas,

Help me understand a few things:

1. it appears you are stating that man’s version of discipline is an act of “grace.” Could you expound on that further? My gut reaction is that none of us should play the role of the Holy Spirit in another because we will just “bit and devour one another…” As if he doesn’t respond “our way” then he is wrong?

“He needs to be shown the grace of discipline – not retribution, but discipline. People doing and saying the hard, right things to help him see his sins and repent of them. The scary part of this aspect of grace is what happens if someone doesn’t respond. I have been there. In the end God may reach down and rip everything away or he may let the unresponsive one go on his miserable way. The first hurts like fire but leaves one humbled and ready to change. The second leaves one at the mercy of his own blindness”

2. Forgiveness. Where exactly (outside of fundamental/legalistic church circles…) does it talk about repentance being a pre-requisite for forgiveness?

“…Rather, he needs them to stand ready to forgive when he is at the place when he can admit his need of it…”

I am no defender of Driscoll (in fact far from it…) I have never found his dogmatic thinking helpful to the body of Christ, nor the culture. However, what I’m questioning here from your post, is in fact what seems to be the prevailing tone within American churchianity of swim with the majority or get crucified for your opinions. The very same tone that continues to make the church irrelevant and contradict the application and message of grace the church preaches. Driscoll founded his church, he can run it however he sees fit, even if the rest of us disagree with his theology and practice.

Thank you ahead of time for your response.

Travis


    Aug 10, 2014

    Travis,

    I realize you didn’t address me with this, but I’ve been dealing with issue #2 lately and came upon this helpful article quoting a number of notable Christians on the topic of conditional forgiveness:

    http://gotpreaching.wordpress.com/2008/02/18/others-on-conditional-forgiveness/

    As for scriptures, I think re-reading Lk 17:3-4 might bring it to light. I have not seen this aspect of forgiveness taught in churches, for some reason. Even though God requires repentance before forgiveness, people seem to expect that we should be able to forgive without any type of acknowledgement or repentance on the other’s part…which seems it can only lead to stuffed bitterness and a sense of injustice. However, we need to be ready to forgive as soon as possible after the offender repents; this may not be instantaneous, but it should be urgent and sincere.

    Another resource that is good regarding reconciliation and forgiveness is Ken Sande’s book, The Peace Maker. Here also is an article from his ministry’s website:

    http://www.peacemakers.net/peace/resolving.htm

    Hope that helps!


Aug 10, 2014

[…] What they are they doing that is illegal? In regards to the OP, I thought Barnabas Piper had a very charitable post about Driscoll. I think grace for him is needed for him to understand his failings just as we all […]


Aug 13, 2014

[…] by the Acts 29 network to remove Mark Driscoll and the Mars Hill church, Barnabas Piper wrote about the need for grace in a time like […]


Aug 14, 2014

[…] what does one pastor’s “fall from grace” mean in the midst of it […]


Aug 14, 2014

[…] year for the Seattle pastor. People responded. Some protested and called for his resignation. Others suggested responding in a more forgiving, albeit firm, way. Still others came to his […]


Aug 17, 2014

My wife, once being Mars Hill attendee’s, have followed this situation closely. We’ve seen a group of “haters”, if you will, want his head & blood led by one man. You have a group of older, 20 ex pastors that have approached the situation with love & grace, wanting to follow the word of God to bring Pastor Mark to a clear reconciliation with everyone. Though Pastor Mark is held to a higher level of accountability within the book of Timothy & Titus, I am still reminded of John 8:7 which says, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” That is a strong statement by Jesus and it applies to all of us!

People that Mark has sinned against may or may not ever get a direct apology from Him so where does that leave us? Do we continue to attack in public forums and otherwise or do we forgive though he may not feel the need to ask for forgiveness? With all of the anger and bitterness shooting towards him, how is their victory in ones own life? With any bitterness in our hearts, how does that help the Kingdom and the part that Jesus wants of us? Should we forgive now and move on, seeking the work that God has for us? Though Pastor Mark has never sinned against us personally, I say forgive and let Jesus finish what has been started here. Let Jesus now work in Pastor Marks heart bringing restoration to all.

I agree with what Mike Odea said and the article by Barnabas is quite good.

Blesssing’s to all and may GRACE abound.


Aug 31, 2014

[…] of those and that kind of posting helps no one. One last thing I want to say is that I think we all should stop and pray for Mark and his family.  If you are reading this and are not caught up on the Driscoll news then please feel free to […]


Sep 02, 2014

[…] A Fall From Grace And A Need For Grace […]



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