Sometimes I really, really hope I'm wrong. Now, for instance.
Big news came from Seattle this week: Mark Driscoll is stepping down as pastor of Mars Hill. Well, for six weeks, anyway. Serious charges have been brought against him, and he will go on vacation or something while the Mars Hill elders weigh the charges.
Now it should go without saying that we all hope this is a true church discipline process resulting in his repentance. Unfortunately, I suspect the whole thing is a traveshamockery. My prediction I seriously hope is wrong is this: no positive change will come out of this, and in fact I believe this will only make things worse.
Why do I think that? Start with his positively Clintonian statement, carefully crafted to give a façade of faux-repentance without actually repenting, twisting the facts, and making sure everyone knows the real villains are the people who have an issue with him.
Now consider the upcoming process and who will be administering it. Over the last few years, Driscoll has systematically eliminated elders who dare to disagree with him, smeared them as "divisive" per Titus 3:10-11, and stacked the elder board with personally-chosen sycophants. Now this collection of yes-men will choose between these "divisive" former brothers and their meal ticket. Pardon me for being a wee bit skeptical of the legitimacy of this process.
My prediction is that they will function like a "Blue Ribbon Panel" in Washington. Their primary job is to look like the issue is being taken seriously, give the aggrieved a chance to vent and 'be heard', and make sure no real consequences hit anyone important. They will issue a report vaguely acknowledging "mistakes were made", assuring us all that Pastor Mark is really, really sorry and truly, madly, deeply repentant for his minor imperfections (but reminding us again that those who said anything publicly are a million times worse), making vague claims of continued efforts towards restitution, and then reinstating him without consequence.
But it won't just be without consequence, you see. Now there will be cover as well. When the same things keep happening, and we go through this yet again, the Kool-Aid drinkers will point to this as indisputable, brave, humble repentance, and scold those who dare doubt it. Already instead of thanking those who warned them, the "don't you dare question him now!" scoldings and selective amnesia about their own culpability have flown freely. Next time we go through this, the chorus shouting that we have to pretend nothing before September 2014 ever happened will be deafening.
Again, I hope I'm completely wrong on every part of this. I hope there is genuine repentance, that elders hand-picked specifically for their ability to be spineless yes-men will suddenly become vertebrates and rule justly, and that true restitution is made. But nothing we've seen so far in over a decade of Driscoll makes any of that remotely likely.
37 minutes ago