Theologian John Piper has weighed in on the scandal surrounding former Mars Hill pastor Mark Driscoll, calling it a "colossal Satanic victory" but encouraging Christians to take comfort in the fact that God has historically used "tactical defeats" to further the Gospel.
In a brief interview shared on the 'Desiring God' YouTube channel, Piper said that he first heard Driscoll's preaching and thought it "very, very good" but that he "didn't like everything about Mars Hill."
"I wasn't blown away by Mark Driscoll, but I was blown away but what I was hearing," the Desiring God author explained. "We met, we talked, he talked of me as a mentor, an admired older guy," said Piper. "But I didn't have as much influence as I wished I could.
Driscoll resigned from his position as senior pastor of the Seattle-based church last October amid widely-publicized accusations of plagiarism, bullying, and an unhealthy ego.
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 continuing his comments, Piper, who also the chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary in Minneapolis, Minnesota, urged Christians to refrain from judgement, as every Christian continually fails and lets Jesus down.
"[The Mars Hill situaiton] is not a unique situation, in history or in our day. Christians are failing...every day, and bringing reproach on the Gospel, individually and in the office," he contended. "When you are known as a Christian and then you do something out of character, it brings reproach on the Gospel. Who has not let Jesus down...it's not unique to leaders, or to Mark, or ot Mars Hill...we are letting Jesus down regularly, and we should be slow to judge."
The pastor explained that the public nature of the Mars Hill scandal proves "God must be the kind of General over His army that willingly accepts tactical defeats for strategic victories."
"The debacle in Seattle is a tragedy, from untold angles," said Piper. "It was a defeat for the gospel, it was a defeat for Mark, it was a defeat for evangelicalism, for Reformed Theology, for complementarianism...It was a colossal Satanic victory.
However, the pastor encouraged Christians to remember that God is "totally in charge of this war," no matter how devastating it seems.
"He permitted a tactical defeat for the Gospel. The entire swath of North Africa used to be pervasively Christian, it's totally Muslim. Almost the entire Middle East has Christianity that went way back before Muslims came on the scene... I'm totally convinced God is in charge, He knows what he is doing."
Piper also encouraged people not to walk away from their faith because of the actions of people such as Driscoll. "Don't throw the baby of truth out of the bathwater of sin. To walk away from Jesus because Jesus' representatives are failures is to make an absurd choice... Jesus is the one person in the whole universe who has no defects, no failures."
As previously reported by the Gospel Herald, Driscoll recently confirmed his move to Phoenix, Arizona, but has 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.