Pastor Mark Driscoll (1970-) used to be hailed in the institution I studied theology as the hope for reviving North American evangelical Christianity, and Prof. John Howard Yoder (1927-1997) is my postliberal hero Stanley Hauerwas’ major influence (and hence my own major influence)- I have even spent nine months doing ministry in the neighborhoods where he spent almost the entirety of his teaching career (Notre Dame at South Bend, IN and the closely by Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary at Elkhart, IN- the name changed to Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in 2012).
I listened to Driscoll’s sermons to learn effective preaching, and I read several of Yoder’s works in my pursuit to become a thoughtful and radical Christian. I just did not expect that sometimes learning would involve so much ‘unlearning’ until I was exposed to these two reports about their numerous scandals within a 24-hour span.
- Question Marking Mark Driscoll
- Scandalizing John Howard Yoder
Since these two articles are similar in nature and were presented to me one by another, I could not help but try to compare and do a little synthesis. So I ask first
- What do the Mars Hill despot Driscoll’s scandal and the Mennonite womanizer Yoder’s trial have in common?
then I found
+ they both served God but have abused their powers granted for such services into disservices of God’s cause.
+ they both have people they violated filing complaints to them but they won’t listen and change. So what we have seen here are two lengthy articles cumulatively put their offenses together (suppose they are overall credible accounts).
- and the differences?
– Yoder has his power checked by the denomination and the institution (though they had dealt with his demeanor too softly), while Driscoll’s problem is deeply rooted in how he attempted to make Mars Hill impossible to hold him accountable.
– Yoder has made apology attempts, which unfortunately sounded insincere to the victims, while Driscoll expressed his manhood (muscular Christianity) by being confrontational throughout, which makes him sincerely wrong.
– Yoder has left a rich legacy of theology which can be turned to a measuring stick against his conduct, albeit posthumously, while Driscoll is still living out and preaching a distorted muscular Christianity.
– Lastly, this is what I have noted: since Mark Driscoll’s scandal is more recent and has become a national sensation in the sense, I have heard more or less about the story; the Yoder article, on the other hand, has filled a huge blank in my knowledge bank about the moral life of this postliberal forerunner. I was doubly sad while I read it, because Ronald Thiemann another renown deceased postliberal theologian, then dean of Harvard Divinity School, was forced to resign from that post because of a conduct considered sexually inappropriate, too.
There is just no guarantee that deep and thoughtful theological ethics would suffice to navigate us away far enough from unethical course of life, even though we might be able to hide it long enough. May God help us. May the Holy Spirit personally come to our aide.