Eight months ago popular preacher and writer Mark Driscoll reigned from Seattle's megachurch the now dysfunctional Mars Hill Church, he was initially scheduled to be interviewed by Hillsong Church's senior pastor Brian Houston at their Sydney and London Conferences. Due to Driscoll's domineering leadership style, accusations of palgarism, and his misappropriation of his former church's funds, many have petitioned against Hillsong Church to drop Driscoll from the conference. On Sunday, Brian Houston via the church's website, has announced that the Australian church has dropped Driscoll from being interviewed.
"The teachings of Christ are based on love and forgiveness, and I will not write off Mark as a person simply because of the things that people have said about him ... for which he has since repeatedly apologized," wrote Houston on Hillsong's website.
"However, I do not want unnecessary distractions during our conference," he wrote. "... It was clear to me that Mark's attendance had the potential to divert attention from the real purpose of Hillsong Conference, which is to see people leave encouraged in their own spiritual journey."
A petition asking for Driscoll to be removed had garnered more than 3,000 signatures.
Earlier, Houston had explained why Driscoll was invited for an interview:
So why am I using our platform to interview Mark? We come from different backgrounds, theological positions, and church expressions. I genuinely want to know! Did he really say those things? Does he believe those things? Does he have any regrets? Has he been misrepresented? What has he learned and what can we all learn? And where to from here?
A lot has been said. There's lessons to be learned. I'm looking forward to asking the questions and hearing from Mark directly. Will we agree afterwards or agree to disagree? Time will tell. I doubt we will agree on everything, but everyone deserves an opportunity to be heard. ... Let's see what he has to say.