A video has emerged of Mars Hill Church Pastor Mark Driscoll offering copies of his new book, A Call to Resurgence: Will Christianity Have a Funeral or a Future?, as "a gift" to John MacArthur's Grace Community Church, after the Seattle megachurch pastor stated online last week during the latter's controversial Strange Fire conference that "security confiscated" the books.
Driscoll's Oct. 18 tweet stating that his books were confiscated by security at the Strange Fire conference, which he also mentioned on Instragram as shown in the image below, has caused a debate among others who attended the conference or observed its happenings via the Internet.
Darren Wiebe, a Moody Bible Institute graduate and current student at MacArthur's The Master's Seminary, spoke briefly with Driscoll outside of Grace Community Church. Wiebe alleged in an open letter that the "cordial and gracious" megachurch pastor "lied" about his exchange with the security team regarding copies of A Call to Resurgence, while pointing to Driscoll's social network statement regarding his "confiscated" books.
However, Justin Dean, a Mars Hill Church deacon who oversees public relations, social media and communications for the Seattle, Wash., megachurch, told The Christian Post Tuesday that the video supports Pastor Driscoll's statement that "security confiscated my books."
"It seems pretty clear, even from this edited video, that security said they needed to take the books away so Pastor Mark told them they can just keep them as a gift," Dean told CP via email after watching the video.
The Christian Post pointed out to the senior communications director that, according to the video published on YouTube, the identified head of security who spoke with Pastor Driscoll appeared initially to specify that his team wanted to place the books "back in the Mustang."
"James MacDonald's over there waiting for you," another conference security team member is heard saying in the clip. At that point, Pastor Driscoll says, "Why don't you guys just take them and do whatever you want with them."
Restating that they "want to give (the books) back" to Driscoll, the Mars Hill Church pastor eventually states, "I'd like to give them as a gift to Grace. So just take them as a gift." The conference security team appears to accept Driscoll's offer, with the head of security shaking the pastor's hand.
Austin Duncan, a college pastor at Grace Community Church, tweeted last week what appeared to be a playful photo of Pastor MacDonald, of Harvest Bible Chapel, and Pastor Driscoll "confiscating" his phone.
Driscoll, who was in California co-hosting the Act Like Men Conference in Long Beach on Friday, Oct. 18, along with Pastor MacDonald and others, made a stop at MacArthur's church in nearby Sun Valley, which served as the venue for the anti-Charismatic Strange Fire conference, before kicking off his own conference.
Driscoll told CP last week that he visited MacArthur's church, also home to The Master's Seminary, to "meet with seminary students and leaders of associated organizations." Driscoll had shared via social media prior to his arrival at Grace Community Church that he would be "handing out free copies of my new book, A Call To Resurgence …"
The Mars Hill Church pastor said he thought it was gracious that he was even allowed to be on the Grace Community Church campus. "They don't owe me anything and I didn't go through an official process. I wasn't planning on it. I just happened to be in town," Driscoll told CP.
As reported in "Mark Driscoll Stokes John MacArthur's Strange Fire Conference With Impromptu Book Signing" last week by CP:
After setting a box of his books on a patio table near the back side of the church property, he began signing while meeting people in a line that was starting to grow. After signing a few books, he was told by church and conference organizers that he was not allowed to pass out the books. At this point, Driscoll continued to talk and shake the hands of people in line, after which they helped themselves to his book from the box on the table.
Moments later, organizers said they would like to take the books away and Driscoll responded by saying that he had no problem with the action and to consider the books as a gift to the church and conference staff. The box of books was then taken away.
"It wasn't that we were trying to stir up trouble with Pastor Mark, we just removed them because we have a lot of different publishing partners that are here on campus already and all of their books all the way down the line, everything they are selling has already gone through a pre-approval process," Pastor Rich Gregory, who is MacArthur's assistant, told CP. "I don't think anybody, Mark included, would probably allow their conference just to be opened to whatever private editors wanted to step onto campus and distribute anything that they wanted to. So, that's a policy that would be consistent with any church or conference."
Gregory, Pastor MacArthur's assistant, who reportedly denied that Driscoll's books were confiscated, told the Religious News Service: "If you hear from him and he wants them back, we can send those back if he wants them. We were not looking at him like, 'Boy you're trying to stir up controversy.' I don't want to judge his motives for what he wasn't trying to do. I wish they had actually stayed for the actual content of the conference."
Both Pastors Driscoll and MacArthur prescribe to some form of Calvinism, or Reformed theology — with the former being noted as part of the "New Calvinism" movement. The ministers, who both carry great influence in the Christian community, are at odds, however on the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as glossolalia. Driscoll, a continuationist, believes these Holy Spirit-inspired gifts are still available to Christians today, while MacArthur, a cessationist, believes such gifts ceased with Jesus' first-century apostles.
MacArthur's Strange Fire conference was billed as a corrective stance against the "false worship" he perceives coming out of the Charismatic movement. The minister reportedly stated, among other things during the three-day conference, that the Charismatic movement "continually dishonors God" by attributing to the Holy Spirit "works that have actually been generated by Satan."
Addressing "attacks" made in response to the Strange Fire conference, Pastor MacArthur stated during the event, "This is for the true church, so that they can discern; so that they can be protected from error; and so that they can be a source of truth for others outside the church."
MacArthur's new book, Strange Fire: The Danger of Offending the Holy Spirit With Counterfeit Worship, covers the very same topics presented at the conference. Pastor Driscoll's book, A Call to Resurgence: Will Christianity Have a Funeral or a Future?, includes a chapter on pneumatology titled, "The Holy Spirit: Empowering the Church for Mission." Both books have a November release date.