Mark Driscoll, former pastor of Mars Hill Church, has publicly apologized for criticizing the ministry of pastor Joel Osteen in the past and revealed that he is currently working to make amends.
Driscoll, who resigned from his position as senior pastor of the Seattle-based church last October amid a string of revelations regarding his leadership style, addressed his criticism of Osteen during a recent interview with Hillsong Church founder Brian Houston.
"Joel Osteen is a personal friend of mine and so again, one of the first things I knew about you was that you talked about Joel publicly. So when I first met you I was paranoid because the last thing I wanted was [inaudible] you speaking against me publicly," Houston told Driscoll during the interview.
Driscoll replied, "I think in the providence of God I can honestly say it was a couple of weeks ago that the Lord convicted me of that sin against pastor Joel. And so, through a mutual friend, I have contact with his team and have asked permission to send him a private apology. But in addition to that, I appreciate this opportunity to publicly apologize to him."
"When anyone dies they're going to stand and give an account. It won't be to Mark Driscoll," he added.
Osteen, who leads Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, and preaches to over 43,500 people every weekend, is known for promoting the "Prosperity Gospel" and focusing on the goodness of God in his messages.
In the past, Driscoll claimed Osteen's popularity didn't "bother him," but he took issue with the megachurch pastor reducing the pursuit of God to "lollipops and skipping while singing hymns."
"What I find disconcerting is this whole wave of new Christian thinking that says that joy is to be found in the same place that culture and spirituality tells us. Get rich. Get healthy. Be happy. That's the equation. Health and wealth. Prosperity. Now, in this, what we are saying is that, as Christians, we have nothing to offer that is any different from non-Christians or people in other religions," he said in a sermon preached back in 2007.
In continuing his interview with Houston, Driscoll admitted that he has "lost any right" to criticize any other pastor in light of the "complicated season" he is currently experiencing and is currently working to make amends with the people he offended during his time at Mars Hill Church.
"I feel like I've lost any right to criticize another pastor or leader. I believe that the lack of empathy causes me to think I knew what they were going through or what they should say or what they should do. Having gone through this very complicated season, I don't know what I'm supposed to say, I don't know what I'm supposed to do and I certainly don't feel the right to tell others what they should say or do," said Driscoll.
He continued, "Some of the people I have criticized have been the most loving and kind toward me. It's God's kindness that leads us to repentance and sometimes that kindness comes through others. They have no obligation to be kind and gracious because you have not been with them. So we've seen some remarkable grace and kindness from people that I did not give that to them but they have given that to us."
"And that has been deeply convicting and brought about repentance. There's a list of pastors I have contacted or called to apologize to, to ask forgiveness from, and I don't want to do that publicly because I don't want to cause them more drama or pain, but that has been part of the journey," he added.
As previously reported by the Gospel Herald, Driscoll recently confirmed his move to Phoenix, Arizona, but insisted there are "no concrete plans for ongoing local church ministry as of yet" as he is still seeking counsel from older, more experienced spiritual leaders.
"After meeting with many former church leaders for reconciliation and closure in Seattle, our family is in the midst of a new adventure as we have moved to the Phoenix area," Driscoll wrote in an email to supporters shared by Patheos blogger Warren Throckmorton.
While church ministry "remains a calling and desire," Driscoll emphasized that his plan is not to rush into anything. "Instead, caring for each member of our family, seeking the wise counsel of pastors we are walking with, and building local relationships with Christian leaders to help build churches locally and globally is our focus," he writes. "Beyond that, we will see how the Lord leads."