Former Mars Hill Church pastor Mark Driscoll, who was removed from the agenda of the Hillsong conference last month, made an appearance in a pre-recorded interview at the event to admit that he has not always operated as a "healthy person working from a godly place."
As previously reported by the Gospel Herald, Driscoll was originally set to be interviewed on stage at the annual Hillsong conferences in Sydney, Australia, and London. However, in June, Hillsong founder Brian Houston announced that the pastor's scheduled appearance was cancelled, stating, "I do not want unnecessary distractions during our conference." The decision followed intense criticism regarding Driscoll's planned appearance and a petition calling for his removal.
However, Patheos blogger Warren Throckmorton reported on Monday that despite the alleged cancellation of his appearance, Driscoll and his wife, Grace, appeared on a big screen at the Sydney conference and discussed love, family, leadership, and past pastoral ministry.
"I don't believe that every day I was a combative, maybe a loud-mouthed person, but certainly, sadly, that was part of my ministry and I think that can be confusing for people," Driscoll admitted in the video.
"Some people have seen me primarily as a loving, gracious person and others have seen me as more short-tempered or careless with words, and harmful, and so that contributes to the confusion," he continued.
Last summer, Driscoll, who was accused of plagiarism, bullying, and an unhealthy ego during his time at Mars Hill, was dismissed from church-planting Acts 29 Network, which he co-founded, and his books pulled from LifeWay's 180 Christian bookstores across the states.
Later in 2014, he confessed and repented specifically to "past pride, anger and a domineering spirit" and requested to take a minimum of six week leave of absence from the pulpit. In October, Driscoll announced his resignation as senior pastor of the megachurch. The subsequent fallout from the implosion of his leadership and ministry at Mars Hall eventually led to the church's closure, with its satellite campuses closing, merging with other churches or becoming stand-alone congregations.
In Monday's video recording, Driscoll described coming to terms with the criticism he has faced as a result of his ministerial mistakes, and the love and kindness he has received from many in the Christian community.
"The whole Bible is ultimately about the personal love of Jesus, and when it comes to salvation, it is the work that God does and we respond to that but we don't participate in that," he said.
Driscoll also addressed the controversial "pussified nation" comments he made in 2000 under the pseudonym "William Wallace," explaining that he was "horrified" when his online pronouncements resurfaced in 2014.
"It is one of my greatest regrets in life," he said. "I can't read some of the things I said in text . . . I feel horrified that I shared some of this sentiment . . . that perception of what I think about women is entirely my own fault, I have no one to blame but myself."
He added, "Looking back on that, that was not a healthy person working from a godly place."
While some have applauded Driscoll for his "contrite sentiments" at the Hillsong conference, others have criticized Houston for "betraying the trust of both church insiders and outsiders" by by going ahead with the video interview despite leading everyone to believe Driscoll's appearance had been cancelled.
Brian Wheeler, the leader of the Hillsong protest, issued a statement on Tuesday morning addressing the incident:
"Today Brian Houston made Christianity look really bad. After having very much led everyone to believe he was cancelling Mr. Driscoll's appearance at Hillsong Conference, and thereby escaping the gigantic pressure and negative repercussions and protests at the conference, Mr. Houston went ahead with a videotaped interview anyway, thereby in some weasely, conniving way sticking to the letter of what he'd said although clearly intentionally he blatantly lied. This is one if the more outrageous things I've seen from a very powerful Christian pastor."