toward reconciliation 2.0

On this the first Sunday of Advent when followers of “the Way” join in a liturgy of anticipation for the coming of Emmanuel – God with us – we are reminded that in the face of separation God offered God’s own presence in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ. God’s incarnation has startling implications for Christian life and ministry practice.

This past week I was reminded of the practical importance of encounter and presence in the process of reconciliation. A small group of Seattle-area Christian leaders, (Rose & Rich Swetman, Nancy & Tom Murphy, Sandy Brown, Paul Chapman, and myself) gathered together with pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church and Lief Moi one of the church’s founding elders to inquire of God as we explored the damage caused by the harsh and at times demeaning tone of some comments by Mark, and the public protest that was being organized in response to his comments.

If we had simply met and nothing tangible would have resulted I still would have been thrilled by the fact that we met face-to-face as our Scriptures invite. But as further evidence of the grace of God, I’m delighted to report that the meeting was a time of frank and honest discussion, where everyone had opportunity to hear, to speak and inquire.

Mark demonstrated a desire to hear and to learn, and told a number of stories of the impact of the response to his language that illustrated his need for change. He told the story of his contact with a member of the Haggard family after his comments went public and how as a result of that conversation Mars Hill Church will have a female researcher read his blog posts prior to publication. With tears in his eyes Mark spoke of his fear for his family’s safety as a result of the public response to his language . . . threats of violence must stop. Please, if you or anyone you know has responded to Mark or (anyone) with such threats of violence please, for the sake of Christ and the love of humanity explore your heart and repent of your sin. Violence is not the Way of Christ. Also, Mark’s pastoral heart was evidenced as he spoke clearly about the need to model humble leadership which appropriately acknowledges failure; he even confessed his need for wisdom as he wasn’t sure how best to proceed.

Although the primary focus of our conversation was the tenor of Mark’s comments in recent years, he wasn’t the alone in making movement during the course of this conversation. Paul, the organizer of the protest, asked Mark’s forgiveness for labeling him, “Mark the Misogynist.” Not only that, the protest was called off. Further, for those in that conversation who had seen Mark as something of an an adversary prior to our meeting there was movement toward being advocates one for the other. I left that meeting with greater hope for a reconciled church in Seattle, and beyond. For all of us the proof will be in the pudding. How will Mark use his wit and prophetic platform in the future time only will reveal, but I do believe that he loves God and is desirous to serve Christ and to finish well the race he has been called to run.

We all know that actuating lasting change is difficult and slow as our greatest strengths are often our greatest weaknesses. And so the very things that brought us together for this meeting may bring people together again around future matters; and this is the nature of human experience. It is also the hope of Christian reconciliation that our differences and disagreements can bring us together at the foot of the cross. Our goal is not to agree on points of theology, as clearly we don’t, rather our goal is to grow in love and to move toward reconciled union because of God.

This is just one of the many reasons why Trinitarian theology has such practical application in our lives. Three Divine differentiated persons in humble service of one another, and simultaneously one God: genuine plurality/genuine oneness. As followers of Christ we must disagree with another and we can still move toward one another in grace, love, humility and curiosity while recognizing that our oneness does not rest in our creeds but in our Creator.

Peace, dwight

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16 comments
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  1. Thank you Dwight. The impact of this meeting has transcended the walls of the room you met in. Read more <li>here</li>

  2. I’m happy to read this report and reflection. It’s good to see this kind of efforts “modeled” by people who keep the focus on the essentials. My prayer is that meetings like this will move the overall witness of the Church in a particular location forward. And I trust the blessings from there will overflow beyond that.

  3. dwight, i was delighted to hear that you and nancy were present at the alleged meeting of local pastors with driscoll. it really sounds as if the Holy Spirit was a uniting force and the repentant tone of things is in the direction of redemption. i’m grateful the protest was called off.
    peace, phil.

  4. dwight, i’m so glad to hear about the meeting and its outcome. we happened to drive past hars hill church this morning and saw several people there with the banner thanking mark for his apology. as you say, <i>the proof will be in the pudding.</i> i’m so glad you were present, and i look forward to hearing more.

  5. hi dwight!

    its so great to hear that something good came from something with the potential to be so disastrous for Jesus-followers and those who watch us carefully from the fringes of unbelief. thanks for offering your thoughts and for being a part of an effort to bring restoration. maybe i will see you in the fall at mhgs (you may remember me from the preview weekend, i’m the one from nashville but currently residing in vancouver, bc… we talked about my experience as a female theology student at a southern baptist university for a bit one of the evenings.)

    blessings to you as we prepare to celebrate the coming of our Lord 🙂

  6. Dwight – I was reading Mark´s latest thoughts earlier this morning and came across the part where he met with a group of pastors and other leaders from the Christian community in Seattle – and i thought “I bet Dwight Friesen was there!” I was right.

    You crazy guy! God bless you and may his grace rest on Seattle, may these kind of gatherings shape reconcilliation in others cities. Thanks for your leadership! You´re awsome!

    Jacob

  7. peace on earth, good will towards all men and women… awesomely and seasonly modelled. thank you for your grace!

  8. Dear Dwight – Your correlation of Trinity to reconciliation is beautiful – something I’ll not forget. So glad this didn’t intensify but resulted in humility all around. Sometimes I wish I had an “appropriateness editor” who read my writing before going public. Mark will only be strengthened by all that’s transpired. Peace to you and your household over the holiday season. jl.

  9. I am so thrilled to hear this amazing and beautiful news. How many times have I been challenged and challenged others to meet face to face (especially over a meal…there is a reason why Christ chose a supper to redefine)! Matthew 18:15-20 is one of the few parts of Scripture that gives a step by step account on how to live and of course especially how to handle conflict within the body…and yet all too often people think a letter, email, or even phone cal will work to “get their point across”, when there is a reason that Christ says to go to them in person!

    It is still amazing how so many take verse 20 out of context and use it, “Where two or more are gathered in my name (for worship) I am there also”… but in reality the parentheses I added above to stay in context should read…. “Where two or more are gathered in my name (in conflict) I am there also”.

    Thank you again for this wonderful news…and our prayers are with yall always!

    BTW: Did you ever get a chance to check out the digg.com “swarm”? Just wondering what you thought. Take care and God bless!

  10. Blessed are the peaemakers. Thank you, brother.

  11. This did my heart good. Peace in the kingdom! It is curious to see God at work, mysterious to see how he protects and challenges his own. And certainly humbling to be reminded how none of us sit in judgment over each other.

  12. <b><i>Thought Police?</b></i>

    Here is a link to the KIRO News radio interview of the instigator of the protest against Pastor Driscoll. You be the judge:

  13. Thought Police?

    Here is a link to the KIRO News radio interview of the instigator of the protest against Pastor Driscoll. You be the judge:
    http://kiro.radiotown.com/audio/dorihour1.mp3

  14. what a beautiful day for the kingdom of God. I celebrate with you and the rest of the men and woman that met with Mark. Undoubtedly, the story will continue to unfold as time passes. But as a participant in the communal church of Seattle I am grateful for both the invitation extended and the invitation accepted. Blessings on all those who dare tread the road toward reconciliation.

    joel

  15. I am humbled and taught much about grace through the way you call people to continue engaging and seeking out relationship. It has been fascinating to watch and experience my own anger at how Mark’s words and influence continue to perpetuate low values of the feminine and of women. If Mark fears violence, does he not fear the ideologies that perpetuate it? Being offensive or brash is hardly the most significant injustice when it comes to his use of power. I hope that as the relationships are formed (and hope there will be another gathering) that conversations will call each other to a greater understanding and repentance that would surprise us all. I’m aware of my own suspscions but I believe them to be merited. There just isn’t anything new about a group of people (especially the women) being left in a space of their own oppression where the attention gets drawn to the leader that others want to help save. What if this whole thing wasn’t about Mark? Just wondering…

  16. Hey,

    Is Driscoll going to give up the two stone club? Or the red tent for the ladies during their time each cycle? Yeah, maybe with tears in his eyes. Remember Bill Clinton when he senses the spotlight …