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Driscoll v. Christ’s Body in Seattle

With all the internet buzz surrounding Mark Driscoll, I thought I would weigh in.

the body one churchI trust there’s no need for me to provide gobs of links to the NY Times, or blogs, or crushing expose articles from those who served in his church. There are so many people giving reasons for his resignation from ministry – but it may be short lived as he may only step away for six-weeks.

Lots of people point to a lack of biblical qualifications. Others point to an unwillingness to receive counsel. Others say his problems began when he and a few others changed their church leadership polity from eldership to an executive board model, brought in from the world of business theory.

But the real problem, as defined scripturally, began long before all of these surfaced. Mars Hill started in 1996 in Seattle, even though Christ had planted a body of believers there for generations. He had been gloriously at work saving sinners and forming them into His body of worshippers for over 100 years. For Mark and others to start a church where Christ already has His body is simply condemned in Scripture:

 “Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause
dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which
you learned, and turn away from them.

For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but
of their own appetites; and by their smooth
and flattering speech they deceive
the hearts of the unsuspecting.”
(Rom. 16:17-18)

The apostle of Jesus Christ commands Christians to turn away from those who cause dissensions and hindrances. “Dissensions” are not arguments, like Arminianism vs. Calvinism, but is a ‘standing apart” resulting in division within a community. That community is the body of Christ, of which Christ’s people are to be unified in one church in every locale.

Paul lists “dissensions” among the works of the flesh, coupled along with “factions” to describe actions done apart from the power of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:20). Then he mentions “hindrances, which are the fruit of dissensions. They are stumbling blocks (σκάνδαλα) in actions and teachings that cause people to stumble into sin and suffer loss in their walk with Christ, or, in the case of those without Christ, to be cast into hell.

In other words, men like Driscoll were empowered by a religious culture that applauds what Christ and His apostles detested: schism planting.

When Christians learned that a church had been started in Seattle, where Christ already had His body, they all should have “turned away” from it, and him. Every Christian in Seattle should have said, “HE DID WHAT?,” recognizing the disobedience to Rom. 16:17-18.

Then they could have shared in the apostle’s commendation:

“For the report of your obedience has reached to all;
therefore I am rejoicing over you, but I
want you to be wise in what is good
and innocent in what is evil.”
(Rom. 16:19)


  1. 1
    Eric Peterman says:

    Ted, this is fascinating to me. Driscoll essentially built an organization centered on personality, and driven by marketing data and adjusted with response to that.

    Let’s take your post one step further. In addition to turning away from Mars Hill, what additional things should Christians have done? ie, How should Christians be uniting into one church? How do we get various churches to unite in good doctrine?

    1. 1.1
      Ted says:

      Hey Eric,

      The Mars Hill fiasco is massive. A few months ago tens of thousands attending and worshipping Jesus Christ. Today, zero, and those not utterly disillusioned by the faith are now schismed into who knows how many churches, walking wounded instead of built up in the faith.

      Now, we all want to point our finger at Driscoll and say, “bad man.” And given all we can read from those who worked with him, that appears to be true.

      But as long as we point our finger at the man we’ll miss the sinful doctrine behind the church fiasco and in due season the same thing will happen all over again in Seattle, even as it happens all over the world to this day.

      As I pointed out, he started off with a schismatic theology mentioned in Rom. 16:17-18, but apparently no one in Seattle saw it for what it was. So what do they do when Mars Hill breaks up, unify? No, they do what brought the problem in the first place. They start more churches, all in schism from the local body of Christ in Seattle. Deja vu.

      Until qualified elders in Seattle merge their churches by the dogma of Titus 1:5 (διεταξάµην), we will continue to see tragedies like Mars Hill, and their spin-offs.

      May I suggest you read The High Call of Eldership Churches for an answer to your question?

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