War erupted late Thursday evening amongst various groups of conservative reformed churches around the country citing like or dislike of Mark Driscoll as the primary cause. Churches from California to New York found themselves taking up arms over the issue with groups identifying themselves as either in favor of Driscoll or in favor of abolishing Driscoll.
Driscoll, whose name has become associated with a moment called "The New Calvinism," has been a controversial figure since starting Mars Hill Church in Seattle in 1996. He is criticized by many for his style of preaching and unwillingness to shy away from difficult subjects, often using strong and sometimes blunt language.
So for the war has divided families, denominations and even small towns throughout the United States. Already the little town of Lakeview, Arkansas has seen its share of struggles.
"We are not going to support any man who calls himself a preacher and wears blue jeans and t-shirts in the pulpit," said pastor Larry Porter of First Presbyterian Church in Lakeview. "A preacher wears a tie and a coat when he preaches and that's that. This guy has been infecting our congregation. People are listening to him and watching his hip little podcasts. There are some things worth fighting for and we are not going to put up with this."
But others take a different view.
"So what that he uses strong language every now and then" said pastor Peter Lee of Ninth Presbyterian Church in Lakeview. "So what that he's blunt. Sometimes we need that, and I think we should just overlook some things for the sake of the cause. We love Mark here at our church, and we're willing to fight to keep him preaching."
So far the "war" has been confined to merely threats and nasty emails, but both sides are currently preparing for an all out war with some churches threatening to withdraw from their respective denominations. But in the midst of the chaos some church leaders are frantically trying to step in and resolve the situation peacefully.
"I think we need to be careful here" said pastor Elvin Smith of Grace Reformed Baptist church in Tacoma, Washington. "I really like a lot of what Mark says and some things I don't like. I think we have to be careful not to throw out the baby with the bath water and be balanced. This is not worth fighting a war over."