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On Monday Darren Wiebe, a graduate of Moody Bible Institute and a current M.Div. student at The Master’s Seminary, posted My Open Letter to Mark Driscoll. In it he publicly confronted Mark Driscoll for having lied concerning what actually took place when Driscoll showed up at the Strange Fire Conference with James MacDonald to pass out copies of one of his books in the parking lot.

Darren was attending the conference and spoke with Driscoll in the parking lot and witnessed what actually took place when Driscoll was asked to leave by security. Here is the heart of Darren’s post, which contains the charge against Driscoll:

Instead, by your own admission, you were met graciously by the Grace Community Church staff and security. You told the Christian Post that you thought it was “Gracious that they let me on campus at all.” Adding that, “they don’t owe me anything and I didn’t go through an official process. I wasn’t planning on it. I just happened to be in town.” Pastor Mark, this statement tells me two things:
1. You were looking to pick a fight

    . By your own words you claim that you did not expect to have a good meeting when you arrived on campus. You came to cause a scene and maybe gain some status as a martyr in the promotion of your upcoming book, in which you ironically call for unity within the church and a ceasefire on what you’ve labeled as “tribalism.” Honestly, if your arrival had gone according to how you envisioned and anticipated, it would have been a perfect illustration. I have to wonder though, were you were seeking to start a civil war for promotional reasons?

2. You schemed

    . Be honest Pastor Mark, you did not happen to be in town. You were in Long Beach… A trip of over 40 miles on one of America’s most congested freeways. You did not just happen to be in the neighborhood with a reporter and photographer. The only time I see scheming in the scriptures, it does not have positive connotations. Those that are associated with scheming are not ones with which we want to be aligning ourselves. But again, this is my interpretation of what was going on. Please correct me if I’m wrong. Maybe you always have a reporter and photographer with you.

So many people have asked me about the few minutes that we talked. I tell them about how nice you were…very cordial and gracious. It was a pleasant exchange about church planting, ministry and the last time you were in my homeland of Canada. While you were here, it was rather nice. There’s plenty that we do not agree upon, but that does not mean we have to throw away civility. When it was time for you to leave, I watched some of the staff of Grace Community Church walk back with you to your car, even offering to carry the box of books you brought. The box of books you returned to them, insisting they were a gift.  And I heard friendly conversation and even joking banter between you and the head of security.

Honestly, I and many others were impressed by how well you conducted yourself on campus, even though it seemed like you were pulling a Kanye West inspired move. That is why I was so shocked, when you drove off campus and immediately sent out this tweet:

Darren goes on to say:

I still am shocked at seeing my picture float around Facebook and the various Christian news outlets. I never realized my 15 minutes of fame would come with so much baggage attached. In all honesty, I walk away unscathed. I just have to put up with getting teased by friends and family over the fact that they’re seeing me everywhere online. However, I was not the brunt of a lie and I do hurt for my dear friend who you falsely accused in a public arena and presented in a way that is far from accurate. I cannot understand how you feel justified in presenting someone who was gracious to you, someone who offered to help you carry things, someone who treated you like a gentleman…as a villain. You threw this man under a bus as he was carrying your things.

Thankfully, his upright character is so well-known to those at Grace Community Church that most people were surprised to see him portrayed as such. This is a real man, one who acts like a man. He’s strong, noble and does his job as head of security with excellence. I have also watched him on numerous occasions, share the gospel passionately with those he is having to contain and discipline. I’ve seen him pleading with those he is working with, inviting them to come to church with him. More concerned for their souls, than for the harm they may inflict on the campus. Please, you have an opportunity to clear his name.

This is a pretty serious charge, but it certainly looks like a valid one from an eyewitness who clearly was not alone in what he observed.

For another interesting take on the actions of both Mark Driscoll and James MacDonald in showing up unannounced and uninvited to the Strange Fire Conference, Darren recommends this post.

Update 24 October 2013

Thanks to Marcia Wilwerding for posting a link to this video in the comments below:

That pretty much says it all.

Update 25 October 2013

In all fairness Mark Driscoll has responded to the above accusation in a post entitled See you in Seattle, Pastor John MacArthur? Here is the relevant portion:

The only difficult moments on my visit came during my interactions not with your pastoral staff, but with a few of the apparently staff security personnel. I had been handing out advance copies of my new book for free; the pastoral staff said I was welcome on campus. They were kind, and some of them even asked for photos and books, which I gave them and signed with a pen I borrowed from your son, Mark. He kindly lent it to me, we visited, and he too was very kind, very welcoming, and very gracious.However, there were two security guards who seemed to operate in a manner inconsistent with the permission I received from the pastoral staff. These two men took turns approaching me as I was talking with and praying for people, and things got confusing.

Security said I could not hand the books out, so I stopped. But people started helping themselves to the books that remained in the box, so security said the books had to be removed. One of the security guards said if I did not remove the books, he would “have to take it to the next level.” I asked him what that meant, curious, as his tone was different than the pastoral staff I had encountered. He admitted he did not know what the next level was. The other security guard then approached, saying the books had to be removed. He told me that they were taking them to put them in a Mustang, which they apparently thought was my vehicle. I did not know what Mustang they were referring to. In any case, it was obvious that my gift books were being removed.

It was at this point that I told the security guard that, since they were going to confiscate the books anyway, they could just keep them as a gift from me. Apparently, someone recorded the final words of this conversation on video, but nothing of the prior conversations that led up to it.

As Bible teachers, we both know that people often arrive at the wrong conclusion when they extract a line out of an ongoing discussion, ignoring the context, and then wrongly impugn someone’s character. I am guessing the security team and pastoral team were not entirely rowing in the same direction, and that security thought they were just doing their job.

This sounds reasonable at first glance, but then I again read Darren’s eyewitness account and again watch the video footage, and it looks very clear to me that the security staff were not trying to “confiscate” Driscoll’s books at all but were merely seeking to remove them in order to keep them from being handed out. And it was Driscoll himself who repeatedly insisted that they keep the books a as gift to the church. Why the repeated insistence unless he thought it wasn’t their intention to keep the books? If Driscoll actually thought they were trying to confiscate the books, then why would there have been a need to repeatedly insist that they keep them? One only repeatedly insists that someone keep something as a gift if the person seems reluctant in some way to keep it, right? It just doesn’t look good, does it?

4 thoughts on “An Interesting Open Letter to Mark Driscoll

  1. I have been working on a sermon jam that I made of Matt Chandler talking about confession and repentance https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N82gRxuXqdY – The good thing about a good pastor is that when they do make mistakes they confess and repent. I think Mark is an amazing pastor that has made an amazing contribution to reformed theology. I also think that he likes to push the envelope, but at the end of the day he loves the Gospel, and you will see this resolved professionally between both pastors.

  2. Well, Chad, while I agree that all pastors make mistakes and should acknowledge them when they do — and repent of sin if necessary — Driscoll has had a pattern of doing this, apparently because, as you have said, “he likes to push the envelope.” But there are many who see this kind of consistent (mis)behavior as unfitting for a pastor in the first place. I would count myself among them.

    As for your assertion that Driscoll “has made an amazing contribution to reformed theology,” I have to wonder what on earth you are talking about. What, exactly constitutes the “amazing contribution”? In what way, for example, has he significantly advanced our understanding of Reformed theology? In what way has he even earned a reputation as one of the leading Reformed theologians of our day? Certainly the mere fact that he is a celebrity pastor who claims to be Calvinistic — yet seems not to understand the implications of this for the way he does ministry — doesn't qualify him in this regard.

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