Here is a relatively balanced post on Mark Driscoll at Joel Watts’ blog, Unsettled Christianity. It’s by Josh, a doctoral student in sociology. I am definitely a part of the anti-Driscoll crowd that Josh discusses (even though I have occasionally written positive things about Mark Driscoll). Some of that is based on things that I have seen or read Mark Driscoll say, which comes across to me as pompous, narrow-minded, dogmatic, and controlling. Some of that comes from my own negative experiences with evangelicalism, which have nothing to do with Mark Driscoll specifically, but which come to my mind whenever I see Mark Driscoll perpetuate his macho brand of Christianity, or tell people to believe such-and-such, or promote accountability within small groups.
I agree with Josh that Mars Hill church, broadly speaking, is probably not a cult. It’s most likely like a lot of evangelical megachurches. If I were to go to Seattle and to visit the services, I seriously doubt that I would be pressured to do anything—-or that people there would notice me at all. Consequently, I should not judge people who go to Mars Hill—-and I won’t, as long as they don’t get in my face telling me what I should do.
Moreover, perhaps not every small group at Mars Hill is bad. People can probably have rewarding experiences at Mars Hill’s small groups. And yet, even though Josh is correct that we have only read Andrew’s side of the story (for background, see the links here), and that there’s a likelihood that a miscommunication was going on (and I’d say what tips me off to that is that Andrew feels that he repented, whereas the church officials get the impression that he has not), the controlling tone of the repentance contract and the notice to the church’s social community that Andrew is being disciplined turn me off from wanting to be a part of a church like Mars Hill, or any evangelical church that stresses small groups and accountability. Sure, I do not have to judge the entire movement. But I can decide for myself where I want to go when it comes to church.
Josh had good advice, both for those who are anti-Driscoll, and also for those who are pro-Driscoll (perhaps because they go to his church). The post is worth the read.