Over the years I have quietly disagreed with some of Mark Driscoll’s thoughts on God and his approach to ministry. A few months ago I read some of his tweets, they were loud and confrontational in tone, and they caused my heart to fill with compassion for him. To me, he seemed a man trapped by a persona he'd created. In his recent letter of apology he actually gave it a name, “the angry young prophet.”
A few weeks ago I spent a couple of days with some incredible authors who have a voice into the Christian landscape. As we talked about what God is doing in the church today, Driscoll’s name came up. It wasn't really that we talked about the man, not one of us knows him, it’s that we discussed his persona, “the angry young prophet” - and once again my heart filled with compassion for him.
The following day, on a drive to the airport with my new author friend, Driscoll’s name came up again. My author friend, who is a generation behind me, mentioned that for many years he had been a fervent Driscoll follower. When I asked him why, his reason was insightful.
He had grown up with an abusive father. After he got saved, he started on a radical search to know more of God and therefore to know a better representation of a father. For a season, Mark Driscoll filled that void. Why, because Mark was strong, and assertive, and, well, just the right amount of angry. Which was everything he thought a man should be. It also fit his idea of who God was at the time.
That led our conversation into an area that is one of my favorites – the search for a good Father.
I believe the greatest crisis in the world today is Fatherlessness. And while I often speak and write about our Heavenly Father, the role of an earthly father is profoundly significant. Fathers give sons and daughters their identity, and everyone is looking for that.
When it comes to ministry, there is only one true model and its not that of the “an angry young prophet.” It's Jesus. And Jesus had one primary objective – to reveal the Father. Jesus told us that if we really knew Him, we would know the Father as well. (John 14:7).
“God has more names than there are ice cream flavors. He is the Creator, Shepherd, and Deliverer. He is Holy, Majestic, and Righteous. He is our Peace, Provider, Comforter, and Healer. He is Lord, King, Master, and Savior. The list goes on and on. And while Jesus certainly revealed all of these attributes, they weren’t His primary objective. He came for one reason: to reveal the Father.” (Excerpt from Prone To Love)
Because all of humanities questions, longing, insecurity, and identity are forever answered, settled, satisfied, and secured in our revelation of God as a good Father.
Mark Driscoll notes in his letter that he desires to grow as “a loving spiritual father.” Mark seems to have had a revelation and decided to pursue the greatest calling on the planet. Like Jesus he wants to reveal the Father. The world doesn't need “angry young prophets” but “loving spiritual fathers” would transform it!
Mark has written a powerful and humble letter with a clear personal transformative plan of action. I am thrilled for him as he steps away from the soul-crushing burden of the “angry young prophet” persona and into the empowering love of the good Father revelation.
While I don’t know Mark personally, he is my brother. I am going to do what he has asked. I pray grace, and peace, and wisdom, and kindness, and wonder over his journey. And I add my voice to his and encourage you to pray for him and for Mars Hill Church as well.
And if you are a person who has been offended by Mark in any way, forgive him. Not just because he has asked but because Jesus modeled it, He forgave.
That said, Mark did ask, and that’s why Mark Driscoll is my hero. Jason Clark is a singer/songwriter, author, speaker, and pastor. Jason’s passion is to know the love of God more each day. He lives to see a generation step into their identity as sons and daughters of the King and establish His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. He and his wife, Karen, live in North Carolina with their three children. Jason’s new book Prone To Love is available now.