(Photo: The Elephant Room/Alyssa Armour)
Mars Hill Church founding pastor Mark Driscoll responded to controversy over being chosen as a guest speaker at Liberty University in Virginia by poking fun at the apparent inaccuracy of a blogger who claimed the megachurch pastor was not welcome at the campus.
Driscoll is scheduled to speak at the campus on the topic of "The Rebellious and the Religious" during the daytime on Friday. On Friday evening and on Saturday, he and his wife will teach from their book, Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, and Life Together, as part of their ongoing tour to help promote the book.
"The trouble started with a Southern Baptist blogger . . . yes, you should have seen that one coming," Driscoll wrote in his blog post on Monday titled, "An Official Response to The Kerfuffle At Liberty University."
"Now, to be fair, the blogger quoted an anonymous 'source.' And, we all know that almost everything bloggers say is true. But, when they have something as solid as an anonymous 'source,' then you can rest assured that when Jesus talked about the truth over and over in John, this is precisely what he was referring to."
Blogger Peter Lumpkins, who regularly covers the Southern Baptist denomination, wrote in a post published April 4, that "Sources say trustees took a vote, and the vote was unanimous indicating that Mark Driscoll is not welcome at Liberty University. In addition to Driscoll's 'potty mouth' approach to pulpit etiquette playing a role in their decision, his 'Reformed' theology, Acts 29 Network, and the provocative hedonistic understanding of a___ s__ came up as well. (...) Trustees were apparently flabbergasted that Driscoll was considered for an invitation in the first place."
There was enough controversy surrounding Driscoll's appearance and the promotion of his bestselling book on marriage that an online petition began that asked school officials to drop the charismatic pastor. Real Marriage is considered risqué by some conservative Christians, who claim the couple is revealing way too many details about their sexual life. One critic has gone so far as to claim Driscoll is "obsessed" with sex.
"Lately, I've been busy with something you may have heard of called Easter. So, I've not been on the Internet much but instead busy with church and family. However, rumor has it there is a bit of mushroom cloud of controversy over my planned trip," Driscoll writes. "So, I asked our community relations manager, who gets to enjoy reading blogs about me while eating breakfast every day (it's amazing he holds anything down), to give me a summary of this kerfuffle. (Henceforth, we will officially refer to this situation as 'The Kerfuffle.')"
Driscoll continues, "I have a degree from Washington State's Edward R. Murrow College of Communication and worked professionally as a journalist, and I can assure you that The Kerfuffle is a very serious matter to be taken with the utmost sobriety and propriety. In fact, one anonymous 'source' I spoke to said that Watergate pales in comparison.
"This particular blogger's anonymous 'source' says that the Liberty University Board of Trustees met and voted unanimously to not to allow the harmless, ruddy, pleasant, and often gregariously enjoyable Pastor Mark to speak at the university," wrote Driscoll, continuing to have fun with the controversy.
Liberty University denied Lumpkins' reports and sent him a cease-and-desist order.
"On April 4, 2012, a Southern Baptist blogger, Peter Lumpkins, wrote an inaccurate account of Liberty's recent Board of Trustees meeting as it relates to the university's invitation to Mark Driscoll to speak in Convocation," a statement from LU reads. "Lumpkins' recent blog contains information that is defamatory and portrays Liberty University in a false light." The board did not unanimously vote against Driscoll's visit, the school said.
Liberty University's legal counsel demanded the immediate removal of Lumpkins' post, according to the statement. However, Lumpkins claims that when he asked the school to correct factually inaccurate information in his post, the university declined.
Lumpkins continued to quote other Driscoll critics in subsequent blog posts.
Driscoll went on in his post to praise Liberty University and school officials for their "love, grace, and kindness."
He also appeared to have more fun with the issue.
"For the record, kerfuffles are nothing new. The first kerfuffle started when Jesus rose from death. He left Christianity in his wake and told us to love one another like brothers and sisters."