Sunday, February 5, 2012

Mars Hill Responds on Church Discipline

Mark Driscoll’s Mars Hill Church has responded to the controversy about its church discipline policy. See here. It has chosen not to discuss Andrew’s specific situation, “as this is a private matter between church leadership and members, all of whom have voluntarily agreed to this prior to becoming members.“ But it does include a chapter on church discipline from Mark Driscoll’s book, Vintage Church.

To be honest, I read parts of the chapter, while I merely scanned other parts. That being the case, I probably would not become a member of Mars Hill Church if I had to live under this church discipline policy, for there are parts of the chapter about waiving confidentiality and being disciplined for “heeding solely false teachers”. The former can open to door to blackmail or gossip. The latter strikes me as an attempt at mind-control.

But I did find that I sympathized with some of what Mark Driscoll was saying. If a member is an adulterer and comes to a church service with his Christian girlfriend, when his wife and kids are at the very same service (which Mark Driscoll says happened in a church that he attended), then that is a problem. If a church member is abusing kids in the church, then the legal authorities should be notified. I also appreciated Driscoll’s distinction between sin that should be confronted and sin that can be overlooked in love (i.e., getting irritable with one’s spouse on a few occasions may not justify bringing church discipline into the equation).


  1. Driscoll's discipline practices are quite common in reformed, Calvinistic circles. Every place I am familiar with abuses the church discipline procedure. One woman I know was disciplined because she took a new job in Ohio and planned to move away. The elders told her It wasn't God's will and they disciplined her when she ignored their view of God's will. If I gave you the name of the church you would know the pastor/church. Very well known.

  2. That is horrible. I used to attend one well-known Reformed church. I have a hard time imagining it as authoritarian, since it emphasized grace and also the pastor struck me as a reasonable person who dialogued with different perspectives. At the same time, I didn't become a member, so I don't know what went on behind the scenes.


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