Astray Today (CT) had put up a series of podcasts on The Rise and Fall of Mars Hills quite some time back. On the surface, the series does highlight problems with the defunct Mars Hill Church and especially its founder Mark Driscoll. The toxic "hyper-masculinity" and pornification of religion promoted by Driscoll is indeed contrary to true Christianity. The podcasts promote egalitarian views, but that should be expected of the broad evangelicalism that is CT, so the podcasts should be fine, or are they?
The problems with the podcasts come about when you consider the timing and context of the podcasts. First, consider that Evangelicalism had no problems with Driscoll back in 2009 when Driscoll was all the rage. When John MacArthur, a complementarian pastor by the way, criticized Driscoll for his degradation of the Songs of Songs, he was criticized by Evangelicals. Evangelicals had no problems with Driscoll back then, and the reason why CT can run this series of podcasts now is because Driscoll has been disgraced and out of mainstream Evangelicalism for a long time. "After all, who are you to judge Pastor Mark Driscoll?" Where was CT when MacArthur criticized Driscoll for his disgusting treatment of the Songs of Songs? Nowhere! CT only attacks people when they are out of power and influence in Evangelical circles, kicking them when they are down. This is not a defence of Driscoll, but rather a statement that shows how Evangelicalism (Big Eva) deals with people they disagree with. CT applies "judge not" to those in power and influence even if they disagree with them, but go after them when they are out of power and influence.
Second, consider that in episode 5 entitled "The Things We Do to Women," feminists are brought in to critique Driscoll, while those who had criticized him before like MacArthur were overlooked. Here, we see CT has an agenda in mind when it comes to the timing of these podcasts. American society had its #MeToo movement and the airing of former President Donald Trump's past misogynistic remarks. It is clear that CT is using this to push egalitarianism, noting that it has the Americo-centric social "historian" Kristin Du Mez in the podcast commenting on the evolution of the emphasis on men and male headship in the American church. I say "historian" because Du Mez does not actually do history. She starts with a conclusion and reads her thesis into history, since it is clear from Reformation writings and even patristic sources that patriarchy (understood in its neutral sense) of some form is the historic Christian view of gender relations. CT is capitalizing on the current social moment (celebration of victimhood and the dismantling of "hegemony" and oppressive systems of power) and bashing Driscoll (who does deserves to be bashed, but that's not the point of contention) in order to stealthily promote egalitarianism. Instead of dealing with Driscoll's error, complementarianism is tarred by association with Driscoll, such that anyone defending complementarianism is seen as a misogynist who promotes porn and "rape culture" by default. The worst thing is that CT is right in its exposé on Driscoll, but its narrative poisons the well against complementarianism, and all this by appeal to emotions without any appeal to the mind.
To go deeper into the tactics of Big Eva, we see here the way Big Eva deals with those they disagree and/or dislike. Many Evangelicals today prefer to be non-confrontational. Calling people heretics is considered socially unacceptable. Talking frankly about disagreements, disagreeing and fighting openly — these are rejected by Evangelicals. But it is not as if Evangelicals are all about love and fun and roses. The human heart does not change, and disagreements still happen. But instead of the open confrontations of the past, today's Evangelicals engage in passive aggression and other forms of scheming and politicking as a way of dealing with their problems and disagreements. Instead of openly and honestly confronting Driscoll in 2009, CT waited until 2021 to bash Driscoll, when it is more or less socially acceptable to do so. Instead of openly discussing the debate between complementarianism versus egalitarianism, they underhandedly used their podcast to create a visceral antagonism against complementarianism, all under the banner of caring for women. Does anyone seriously think that the passive aggressive posturing, the scheming, the conniving, is way better than open confrontation and disagreement?
Much has been said against the bad and horrible "white conservative evangelical men." While certainly "white conservative evangelical men" are not perfect, I prefer their company over the schemers and passive-aggressors where pretense is everything and backstabbing is laudable. Better a straight talker than one of those politicians.