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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Christian Blogosphere Says the Real Problem with the Mark Driscoll Plagiarism Scandal Is "Idolatry"

Posted by on Thu, Dec 12, 2013 at 12:34 PM

The Christian media is now buzzing over the Mark Driscoll plagiarism scandal. Most notably, Andy Crouch published a great essay at Christianity Today about the whole mess that gets to the root of Driscoll's real problem:

Mark Driscoll is a human being, created in the image of God, with great gifts, real limits, and very likely a genuine calling to ministry. But "Pastor Mark Driscoll," the author of "literally thousands of pages of content a year," the purveyor of hundreds of hours of preaching, is in grave danger of becoming a false image. No human being could do what "Pastor Mark Driscoll" does—the celebrity is actually a complex creation of a whole community of people who sustain the illusion of an impossibly productive, knowledgeable, omnicompetent superhuman.

The real danger here is not plagiarism—it is idolatry.

Patheos noted that prominent Christian John Piper agreed with Crouch on Twitter. I don't think this scandal is going away just because Mars Hill now blames the whole thing on a "research assistant." I think a lot of Christians have become very nervous about what Driscoll has built himself into, and this plagiarism scandal simply gives them the opportunity to talk about their unease with Driscoll's self-aggrandizement. It'll be interesting to see how Driscoll responds to criticism from within the Christian community. He's not a humble guy, and he's prone to taking his persecution complex out for a spin at any opportunity. This could get messy.

(Thanks to ace Slog tipper Shawna for the links.)

 

Comments (14) RSS

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rob! 1
Religion, based as it is on the unknowable and untestable, is forever dogged by the problem of who is qualified to lead—"a genuine calling to the ministry," as above, or "discernment of a vocation," as the Catholic church pompously phrases it.

But at least the major branches and denominations have some kind of hierarchy with lots of hidebound, moss-covered tradition and lots of frowning elders to keep up a certain level of decorum.

All these proliferating lifestyle megachurches seem to have only tenuous affiliations at best, leaving the people at their helms largely free to float whatever bullshit their congregations can be browbeaten to swallow.
Posted by rob! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZBdUceCL5U on December 12, 2013 at 1:00 PM · Report this
rob! 2
(Not to imply that hidebound moss-covered tradition is necessarily less damaging. Just more predictable, and less isolating.)
Posted by rob! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZBdUceCL5U on December 12, 2013 at 1:05 PM · Report this
briantrice 3
Wow, @2, that is an interesting framing: that organized religion makes the damage to culture more predictable. Or conversely [by how I read @1], that evangelicals make themselves vulnerable to manipulation or incompetence. I'll have to think about that.
Posted by briantrice http://www.briantrice.com on December 12, 2013 at 1:13 PM · Report this
COMTE 4
Is it because they are truly concerned with the level of demagogy Driscoll exhibits, or simply that they fear the increasing scrutiny of Mars Hill & its practices by the media & social critics will be bad for business?

I'd feel more inclined towards the former if they were expressing general trepidation regarding other megachurch pastors like Driscoll (and hoo-boy are there a LOT of them!), but the little cynical voice in the back of my head is saying, "naw, not so much - unless they get caught doing something that likewise reflects poorly on the brand."
Posted by COMTE on December 12, 2013 at 1:13 PM · Report this
venomlash 5
When Christian churches stop emphasizing crucifixes and icons, then they can start talking about idolatry.
Posted by venomlash on December 12, 2013 at 1:19 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 6
@ 5, the Catholics at least are against icons. And most Protestant denominations use just a cross, and never a crucifix. "Four walls and a pulpit," as the saying goes.
Posted by Matt from Denver on December 12, 2013 at 1:42 PM · Report this
skidmark 7
Sounds like Mike "the omnicompetent superhuman" Driscoll needs to spend of quality time with Capable Woman.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHwu1Kpmy…
Posted by skidmark on December 12, 2013 at 2:09 PM · Report this
8
I bet that research assistant doesn't even get a living wage. Worked with a fellow who came from out of state to work for Mars Hill, they asked him to work a 30+ hour work week without pay and then just chalked up the rest that "god would provide for him". Dude struggled all year to make ends meet and had to work 2 extra jobs, so he could run lights or do free graphic design for this golden-calf of a preacher.
Posted by MassOpiate on December 12, 2013 at 2:25 PM · Report this
rob! 9
@5/6, Catholics are theoretically opposed to idolatry. The crucifixes and life-size plaster statues of Mary, Joseph, and other saints are used as evidence to the contrary.

I've told the story several times of the middle-aged, middle-class woman in Buenos Aires openly caressing the crotch of the Virgin Mary statue.
Posted by rob! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZBdUceCL5U on December 12, 2013 at 2:57 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 10
@ 9, and an entertaining read it's been. And yeah, a case can be made for Catholic idolatry for sure. I think they're less so than religions where idolatry is fully A-OK, but the particulars of that debate don't interest me much.
Posted by Matt from Denver on December 12, 2013 at 3:12 PM · Report this
Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In 11
I think this shows the limits fundies & evangelicals have in operating in today's culture, and why religion is dropping in popularity. They don't have the language to accurately describe and define what it is they are dealing with. All they can do is call it "idolatry," liken it to a physical object. What they are trying to do is describe an issue that has extensive psychological language in which to discuss it. Except they're not using that language, and so they are stunted in talking about it, like trying to have a conversation w/ a Frenchman and all you know how to do is count to ten in French.

There are several things going on: narcissism, inflated ego, hero worship, probably instances of stockholm syndrome, etc. The psychologist can describe this situation fluently and with precision. But for the church-goers, they only have words that are "Bible-approved." That is why their reality has little if any relationship to what is actually going on in the world, and why they have nothing of value to contribute to our culture or society.
Posted by Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In on December 12, 2013 at 3:57 PM · Report this
Fnarf 12
@9, the idolatry is what makes Catholicism interesting. The cult of La Virgen de Guadalupe is ten times cooler than any snorefest your average evangelical could come up with.
Posted by Fnarf http://www.facebook.com/fnarf on December 12, 2013 at 4:05 PM · Report this
13
The worst of it is that it is not even proper pagan-heathen idolatry. Has idolatry gotten so easy that anyone can copy it?
Posted by Zander on December 12, 2013 at 10:21 PM · Report this
Skye Blu 14
wow, so I guess that whole "thou shall not steal" and the one about "bearing false witness" are just guidelines then?
Posted by Skye Blu on December 13, 2013 at 7:24 PM · Report this

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