This weekend Reddit user monkeybutt83 (!!) posted a letter that was allegedly written by Pastor Mark Driscoll, in which Driscoll addresses members of the controversial Mars Hill church and asks for their forgiveness. He says "my angry-young-prophet days are over" and, without getting too specific, he acknowledges "people who saw or experienced my sin during this season are hurt" and he hopes to mend those relationships. Driscoll and the church are changing, the letter says. And he’s sorry.
The letter has not been publicly posted on any official Mars Hill site, so we can’t verify whether or not it was actually written by the Cool Dad himself, but let’s assume it’s real. It does, after all, perfectly capture Driscoll’s tedious turns of phrase and thinly veiled attempts at not sounding like an egotistical monster. So maybe Driscoll really is finally addressing the growing amount of controversy both he and Mars Hill have been receiving and, gasp, making a change for the better!
The letter says:
As the church grew over the years, it was clear that both the church and I were unhealthy in some ways, despite some wonderful people and amazing things that the Holy Spirit was doing in and through them. For years, I felt a joy in teaching the Bible and love for the people, but frankly was overwhelmed on how to organize and lead all that was happening. I felt the crushing weight of responsibility but did not know what to do, and I lacked the abilities to figure it out. I was frustrated at my shortcomings, but needed help from people who were more experienced and mature. In my worst moments, I was angry in a sinful way. For those occasions, I am sorry. As I’ve expressed in several sermons, I needed to mature as a leader, and we needed to mature as a church.
Unfortunately, while the long-winded letter is filled with what could be interpreted as humble admissions, Driscoll (if it is Driscoll) fails to deliver any real substance. Especially considering he's said similar words before, years ago.
The two main points the letter addresses are the accusations that Driscoll bought his way onto the New York Times bestseller list (via a company called ResultSource), and the claims that he is a “celebrity pastor.” (#HUMBLEBRAG)
To correct these wrongs, the letter-writer claims he's going to remove the “New York Times Bestseller” tag from past and present publications and try to stay off social media for the rest of the year. (No more Q&As? Dammit!) But compared to the avalanche of criticism against Mars Hill, Driscoll’s celebrity status is about 0.0078% of the problem. What has been far more damaging than his recent plagiarism scandal, the possibility that he paid to earn bestseller status, and his obnoxiously martyrized online presence is the fact that he’s an attention-addicted bigot who has, and, one can assume, will continue to compare wives to water torture and make fun of "effeminate" men, and also continue representing a church that has been accused of equating being gay to having AIDS, shunning those who are brave enough to walk away from Mars Hill’s bullshit, and bully those who dare to stay.
The letter says nothing about whether or not he still believes in sex demons, requires that his wife ask permission before cutting her hair, plans to uphold Mars Hill's "church discipline," or why he, as a grown man, wears a Mickey Mouse shirt.
In fact, to ensure the good ol' Mark Driscoll we know and loathe still exists, in the middle of the letter that is meant to introduce a less hurtful character, the letter-writer makes an extra little effort to take women down a notch.
When I was a new Christian at the age of 19, God spoke to me and told me to do four things. Today, I see that calling as:
Love Grace and our family
Preach the Bible
Train leaders (especially men)
Other things may be good, but I do not have the time or energy for them right now.
The person who wrote this letter no longer has time for fame, bejeweled jeans, and Twitter. But don't worry! He does have time to ensure that men are valued more than women because even when he's trying to be a better, more loving human being, he seems to still believe women are still worthless.
Of course, this letter could be a well-written hoax, created by someone capable of perfectly mimicking Driscoll's bloviating, and if that’s the case, then bravo to whoever is behind it. But given that the letter appears to contain a lot of empty promises that no one will be able to hold him accountable for ("I promise to love my wife more—it's an anniversary present!") I’m guessing it’s legit. And in true Mark Driscoll fashion, even when he tries to be sincere, it comes off as a calculated PR move to feed his fame-hungry ego.
(UPDATE 3/18 11:25 AM: Last night, we reached out to Mars Hill via e-mail and Twitter to confirm or deny Driscoll's authorship of the letter. They have yet to comment. We'll let you know if they get back to us.)