Mark Driscoll, the president of Acts 29 Network, became part of the original Emergent team that Leadership Network brought together. In a Criswell Theological Seminary article, Driscoll stated: “In the mid-1990s I was a young church planter trying to establish a church in the city of Seattle when I got a call to speak at my first conference. It was hosted by Leadership Network and focused on the subject of Generation X. … Out of that conference a small team was formed to continue conversing about postmodernism …” This original team included Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt, Dan Kimball, Tony Jones, and Driscoll.
However, in more recent days, Driscoll has made public comments that he has distanced himself from some of these Emergent leaders and aspects of the movement itself. The question therefore has been put to us, is Driscoll a promoter of contemplative spirituality and the emerging church movement? Perhaps one of the best places to look for this answer is Driscoll’s ministry, Acts 29 Network (incidentally, there is no Acts 29 in the Bible).
Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington, is also founder and president of Acts 29 Network, a “network of pastors from around the nation and world whose dream is to help qualified leaders called by God plant new churches and replant declining churches.” But in examining the Acts 29 Network, there is no question that the “network of pastors from around the nation and world” who visit this website are going to be introduced to a spirituality that is contrary to Scripture and one which negates the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Under the “A29 Recommended Reading List” is a selection of what is referred to as “worthy literature.” The list includes books by Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, and a book called The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Other books on the list include those by panentheist St. John of the Cross, and a collection of books about Celtic Spirituality (i.e., contemplative spirituality) as well as books by Thomas Merton, Teresa of Avila, Eugene Peterson, and Larry Crabb (AACC). Act 29’s recommendation of Thomas Merton (who said he was impregnated with Sufism: Islamic mysticism)is perhaps the most telling of all. One of the books Driscoll recommends by Merton is Wisdom of the Desert (referring to the desert fathers).
For Driscoll to say he has distanced himself from some aspects of the emerging church (or the Emergent leaders) but then advocate Merton and this line up of other avid mystics is an oxymoron.
The point is, Mark Driscoll is promoting contemplative spirituality, and for someone to say they don’t promote the emerging church but then promote contemplative is faulty thinking because the latter is so much worse – it is contemplative spirituality that makes the emerging church so heretical. Remember, the premise of contemplative is that all paths lead to God and God is within all creation.