I have made it clear that I like Mars Hill Church and their pastor Mark Driscoll. I have also made it clear (much clearer, actually) that there are many things taught at Mars Hill that I believe are false and uninformed. Despite these shortcomings, I really do believe that God is at work at Mars Hill Church. So, for the sake of clarity, I want to use this post to help define and clarify exactly how I believe that God is actually working in and through Mars Hill Church.
The reason I want to do this is that there is a temptation among Christians of all types, including Catholics, to believe that they have a monopoly on God’s blessing. I see it as a Catholic all the time. There are many Christians who believe that my Church is “The whore of Babylon,” and that God despises everything that she teaches and does (thankfully, Mark Driscoll isn’t one of these people). Likewise, there are many Catholics who wrongfully believe that since the fullness of the Christian life is found in the Catholic Church all other churches and Christian groups, including Mars Hill, are worthless.
I think all Christians should approach this issue by considering how God has worked in the world throughout history as recorded in the Scriptures. First of all, God blesses people who are not part of his covenant. We see this in Genesis 17. God replied: “Nevertheless, your wife Sarah is to bear you a son, and you shall call him Isaac. I will maintain my covenant with him as an everlasting pact, to be his God and the God of his descendants after him. As for Ishmael, I am heeding you: I hereby bless him. I will make him fertile and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall become the father of twelve chieftains, and I will make of him a great nation. But my covenant I will maintain with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you by this time next year.” The lesson here is that we can’t dismiss God’s blessings on people who are not part of his Church. I will leave it to Mars Hill Church members to determine what this means for them, but I will urge my Catholic brothers and sisters to discern how God is blessing Mars Hill Church members and to rejoice in those blessings, because these blessings are the work of God.
As Catholics we believe that when we gather for prayer on Sundays, Jesus Christ makes himself present in four ways. Through the proclamation of the scriptures, the congregation gathered in his name, the priest who celebrates the Eucharist, and the Eucharist itself. If we really and truly believe that Jesus Christ is present in these four ways there are two obvious implications. One of these implications is that we should feel genuinely sad that members of Mars Hill Church do not possess Christ’s presence in the priest and in the Eucharist. The other is that we should feel genuine joy and we should rejoice that they encounter the living God in the scriptures and in the community gathered in his name.
Mars Hill Church is helping people know Jesus in the scriptures and in the other people who gather with them in prayer. They are also our allies in many of the cultural battles we are fighting, especially regarding rights of the unborn and the fight against pornography. It might be tough to admit, but a lot of what they are doing is cleaning up a mess that many Catholic parishes have created because they turned away from the Gospel. So let’s pray for Mars Hill. Lets pray that they continue to seek Jesus Christ. And let’s pray that one day, very soon, we will be united to them in faith as our Lord desires.