Christian apologist Chris Rosebrough, host of the daily radio show Fighting for the Faith, has sounded an impassioned plea for pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle to repent per his own instruction as delivered in this past weekend’s sermon.
Preaching from the book of Esther, Mark Driscoll strongly spoke against abusive leadership in various contexts, including that of the local church. Rosebrough reviewed a portion of this sermon on his 27 September radio show, commending Driscoll for his handling of the biblical text. In this sermon, entitled “Jesus Has a Better Kingdom,” Mark Driscoll preaches the following:
What we need to do is continually ask ourselves, “How am I like Xerxes? How am I self-righteous? How am I stubborn? Where in my life am I unrepentant?” When we’re wrong, we should repent! It doesn’t matter if you’re more powerful, you should repent! It doesn’t matter if you’re the…pastor, you should repent to the congregation! If you’re in charge it doesn’t mean you’re right. Source
At this point, Rosebrough asks the question, “Does Mark Driscoll not preach to himself?” This question stems from an unavoidable contradiction between Driscoll’s admonition in this sermon, and words that he delivered in 2007 to a group of his Acts 29 Network pastors. In that 2007 message to church planters, Driscoll taught the following:
Here’s what I’ve learned. You cast vision for your mission; and if people don’t sign up, you move on. You move on. There are people that are gonna to die in the wilderness and there are people that are gonna take the hill. That’s just how it is.
Too many guys waste too much time trying to move stiff-necked, stubborn, obstinate people. (pause) I am all about blessed subtraction. There is a pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus (laughs) and by God’s grace it’ll be a mountain by the time we’re done.
You either get on the bus or you get run over by the bus. Those are the options; but the bus ain’t gonna stop. And I’m just a—I’m just a guy who is like, “Look, we love ya, but, this is what we’re doing.” There’s a few kinda people. There’s people who get in the way of the bus.
Chris Rosebrough has argued that there is no biblical support for the notion of “vision casting” as it is practiced in many churches today. The idea that a pastor is given a special, unique “vision” from God for his church, and that every member of that church must fall in line with that vision lest he or she stand against God, is utterly without Scriptural basis. Yet, the above transcript reveals that Mark Driscoll proudly has accumulated a “pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus”—bodies of those who were not adequately on board with his vision.
Rosebrough states that he has spoken to many individuals who have been “thrown off the Mars Hill bus” not because they were in unrepentant sin, but because they stood against Mark Driscoll’s “vision.” “Not one of them has struck me as being either an unrepentant sinner, or rank heretic or somebody who denies the Christian faith,” says Rosebrough. He continues:
Each and every one of them, when you listen to their stories has been wrongfully disciplined, wrongfully excommunicated, wrongfully disfellowshipped. There is no excuse for what has happened to them. There is not one biblical ounce of authority given to Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll to do what they did to them. And yet they’ve done it. I’m not hearing Mark Driscoll repenting of this position….These people are still awaiting their apology. These people are still waiting for him to publicly repent of his false doctrine and teaching regarding vision casting. Source
In light of Driscoll’s preaching this past weekend against abuse of power, Chris Rosebrough naturally raised the point that Driscoll himself, in “throwing people off of the bus” for merely disagreeing with his vision has wrongfully abused his own power as a pastor and leader. With that, the talk show host has issued a spirited call for the megachurch pastor to publicly repent of his false teaching and his mistreatment of these individuals. This segment of Fighting for the Faith can be heard in its entirety below.