Wednesday, 24 March 2010
Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, writes frequently for newspapers. Think of him as a Billy Graham you don't want to piss off, because he just might knock you out. According to his most recent Facebook status update, here is the question the Washington Post wants him to address in an upcoming piece.
What should pastors do if they no longer hold the defining beliefs of their denomination? Do clergy have a moral obligation not to challenge the sincere faith of parishioners? If this requires them to dissemble from the pulpit, doesn’t this create systematic hypocrisy at the center of religion? What would you want your pastor to do with his or her personal doubts or loss of faith?
I think this is a fascinating question, for a few reasons.
First, it is interesting that the question makes the leap from a pastor doubting denominational distinctives to a pastor losing faith altogether. This hardly follows, and I think that even most denominational thinkers would agree that a convert from, say, the United Methodist church to the Presbyterian church isn't necessarily doubting or losing faith.
This question is also interesting because it looks so different depending on our perspective. Most Evangelicals would cheer on a Mormon pastor who began to doubt his LDS perspective and to question those tenants in public service. For that matter, Mark Driscoll would love to hear Rob Bell begin to recant his more emergent ideas and fall back into a more traditional teaching program. He (probably?) would not call for Bell to step down.
And then there is the core question. What should the pastor do when he or she has lost faith entirely? Trudge through, as Mother Theresa confessd to doing most of her life? Step down? This is made more complicated when the pastor has a family to support?
What do you think of the question the Times posed to Driscoll? Do you see problems with the question as asked? How would you begin to answer it?