Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Now is not the time for self-congratulation, now is the time to discover what repentance actually is

In the wake of Mark Driscoll's resignation Carl Trueman wrote a blog post and from that blog post this particular paragraph stood out.


It is interesting that the crisis finally came only when the aesthetics flipped the other way, when Driscoll and his antics became more distasteful than the words of his critics.  It is important to notice that it was not the embrace of a Unitarian prosperity teacher and that decision's obvious doctrinal significance which brought things to a head.  Rather, it was the numerous allegations of bullying and loutish behaviour which finished him off -- things that are aesthetically displeasing in the current climate.  The whistleblowers, however, are still not regarded as vindicated, despite having spoken the truth.  I suspect they can -- pardon the pun -- whistle for an apology from the Top Men or for rehabilitation by the mainstream of YRR evangelicalism.  For they can even now still be dismissed as smug (an aesthetic word if ever there was one)  or simply forgotten because, whatever the truth they spoke, they were nonetheless engaged in the activity at a point in time when the aesthetics of the marketplace made their criticisms easy to characterize as unloving and thus distasteful. 

Maybe, if only in the sense of public rhetoric, but critics to the "left" of Driscoll and critics to the "right" of Driscoll had been steadfast, largely, in their condemnation of his views about gays and women on the one hand and his cavalier talk about charismata and continuationism as indisputably true for him but not necessarily others on the other. 

The crisis finally came when intellectual property, donor designations, and real estate acquisitions came under examination.  It wasn't until Driscoll was accused on air of being a plagiarist that the box was opened.  It wasn't until it turned out that, in addition to Mark Driscoll's books featuring citation problems (a euphemism for plagiarism for our time if there has to be one), Real Marriage was gamed a #1 spot on the New York Times' bestseller list with the aid of Result Source Inc. and the Mars Hill Board of Advisors & Accountability defended the decision as "unwise" but still technically legal. 

But to the extent that Trueman's point holds (and it does, though in a limited sense) it wasn't until people got some insight into how Mark Driscoll was capable of addressing those he considered his relational or ideological adversaries or even those he considered merely obstacles that the aesthetic inversion happened.

But in a way this gets us to something else, the thing about the news coverage.

As important and needful as the contributions of Janet Mefferd and World Magazine were in highlighting the plagiarism issue and the sales rigging issue, these were pretty late developments in the history of Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill as part of the public sphere.  There had been plenty of people informally discussing various issues about Driscoll and Mars Hill for years.  The blogs are not hard to find but blogs are dismissed for many reasons, foremost being that very few bloggers practice anything like journalistic ethics (setting aside for the moment questions about how many journalists may follow journalistic ethics). 

Yet it would be hard to credit the Christian press for being late to an investigative party that had been taken up by bloggers for years and the publishing industry that either overlooked or failed to observe the citation errors rampant in Driscoll books since, it turns out, the dawn of his publishing career bear blame as well as credit.  It does no good for Christian media and journalism to have highlighted the citation problems in Mark Driscoll's books if the media empire was a vital part of what made him a star to begin with.  If Driscoll sinned the Christian publishing industry must take ownership of letting those sins happen and if some Christian journalists have proven exceptions to the rule the rule does not seem changed for it. 

But the formal press could at least be said to have striven to have verified things, to have sought official documentation.  A major reason blogs could be dismissed that Trueman seems to have picked up on is that there was always the "sour grapes" ad hominem.  It was always possible to dismiss the blogs as nothing but the work of cranks and creeps. It was possible to dismiss blogs as unofficial and generally written by those envious of a ministry success, or those antagonistic toward a particular team, or for pettiness.  It could certainly be guessed that some blogs and blog readers and commenters would seize any occasion to remark on the evils of Mark Driscoll.  If he so much as farted on stage there'd be an outcry ... and outrage is probably the cheapest emotion on the internet.

Turning to a bit more troubling potential reference points, we may very well live in a culture in which the nature of victimhood has to be parsed before we accept allegations.  Many of those who were "thrown under the bus" were participants in the culture at Mars Hill that intimidated and bullied or browbeat people into conformity.  It's tempting for people to suppose, since we'd never be that way ourselves, to look askance on some critiques from some people because, well, you know, they were kind of asking for it.  They should have known what was likely to happen.

And soldiers who voluntarily enlisted circa 2001-2004 should have somehow known what was going to happen?  Something over at Slate might tangentially illuminate one of the difficulties of requiring a spotless victim.  It gets at the difference between the allegations of sexual assault leveled against Woody Allen on the one hand and Bill Cosby on the other.

When I asked Newsweek’s Baker why she felt that the victims she spoke with had been ignored, she told me: “I think it's because they were imperfect victims, as victims so often are,” Baker told me. The two women Baker interviewed were young at the time of the assaults, but over the age of 18. More importantly, “they were ambitious aspiring actresses and models who were hanging out with an older man who said he'd make them famous.” Maybe we take their age and ambition—their self-determination, really—as an excuse to withhold our support.

That ethos of supposing that someone was "asking for it" may be a bit of a problem across the board.  There may be a way to distinguish between some foolish decisions and the colloquial working definition of "asking for it", whether we're talking about those who have been raped; those who have been traumatized by participating in a military effort they volunteered for but did not fully understand; or for those who have "drunk the kool-aid".  Wenatchee The Hatchet has come to the possibly grim theory that humans are inherently drinkers of kool-aid.  It's what we do, particularly when we most protest otherwise.  Spending a decade at Mars Hill and possibly having not imbibed enough of the "beverage" to have fatally toxic effects (yet?) doesn't really entitle a person to look down on others.  A disposition of grace should not exactly be counting what this or that person "deserves" or "had coming to them", does it? 

If we're going to discuss abuse and victims with respect to Mars Hill or other settings we will have to set aside any mythology of "perfect victims", not because there aren't perfect victims of some kind, but because we should refrain from looking down on those who, though they may have been run over by the bus, took a hand in driving the bus in some way. 

Or, to be both more tangential and more direct, now is not the time to congratulate ourselves if Mark Driscoll has proven to be a quitter and has left Mars Hill Church.  "We" didn't do anything for more than a decade.  "We" tolerated Driscoll within evangelicalism because while he may have been a "jerk" he was "our" jerk.  Progressives can't really congratulate themselves either because a mountain of controversy about intellectual property and donor designation issues weren't even on their radar.  They were busy wanting to find Mark Driscoll guilty of thought crimes that are, technically, still defended by the First Amendment than by copyright infringement.  The temptation for us, irrespective of camp, to congratulate ourselves is far too high.  If there's a time to express remorse and regret that we let things get this far to begin with that's what we should do.

There are a whole lot of men in the history of Mars Hill who not only let all of these things happened they actively voted for it, and not just in 2007.  There was 2005 when that boondoggle at 50th street was bought without having done due diligence on the zoning issues.  To some degree the whole idiotic courtship fad circa 2002-2007 was a trial run.  If a church leadership culture could cultivate a culture of self-enforcing conformity on something as silly as the courtship fad then it would be a simple matter to expect that conformity for things like bylaws.  Dissenters could be shamed, attacked, dismissed, blackballed, or otherwise argued with and then it was just a matter of the social economy of scale.  As the saying goes, the frog doesn't know the water's reached the boiling point until its too late, or something like that.  We were all the frog.

Maybe not every last one of us.  It is to the credit of at least some progressives they saw in Mark Driscoll someone who was aiming to wage the same old culture war battles through slightly modified tactics.  Whereas the old Religious Right aimed for overt and directly politicized action Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill arguably developed a more guerrilla approach, cultivating individual cels of culture warriors.  If the old Religious Right could be described as like the AIM Sidewinder or Phoenix missile system, where the missile and the tracking apparatus had to be in tandem, then perhaps the post-Driscollian approach to the culture war could be likened more to the AMRAAM system. We witnessed the development, if you will, of a kind of fire-and-forget weaponry in the culture war and that may be one of the innovations of Mars Hill within the context of Puget Sound.  Jessica Johnson has described this Mars Hillian ethos as that of the "citizen soldier".  Go read the piece because it is one of the more accurate and prescient articles written on the ethos of masculinity that was cultivated in Mars Hill Wenatchee the Hatchet has read.

While Driscoll went to Gateway as a guest it is worth bearing in mind that in the end he seems to have declined to accept the restoration/disciplinary arrangement he was offered by the church he founded.  In this respect it would seem that the most striking thing about Mark Driscoll is that so long as he gets to dish out he's fine but as soon as he has to take even a thimble-full he ... leaves.  It has been this pervasive double standard in the leadership culture of Mars Hill that has been one of the most toxic parts of the culture.  Should Mark Driscoll and Sutton Turner receive any compensation on their way out at all then they will have added a special level of hypocrisy in having spoken against "consumerism" from the rank and file while taking severance packages of the sort Sutton Turner told underlings to neither ask for nor expect to receive if THEY quit.

Jesus warned that though you should do everything the Pharisees told you to do because they have Moses' seat that you should not follow their example.  After years of preaching against Pharisees and "religious people" the sobering observation for this moment is that Mark Driscoll and Sutton Turner may have revealed themselves to be Pharisees of Pharisees.

And yet for all of us who have ever called Mars Hill home ... we're the ones who put those people there.  We're responsible, all of us.  We let it happen. We didn't just let it happen, we came to an often spirited defense of those men who by now have abandoned the church called Mars Hill, whether Driscoll or others.  Sure, we can talk now about "drinking the kool-aid" or the snake oil but for those of us who bought it what were we buying? 

It's not hard to review the ways in which Mark Driscoll got sloppy as an author, lazy as a theologian, and aggressive as a self-appointed social pundit who clearly and actively sought to become a public figure.  Now he's gone outside of Washington to regale a sea of people about the jeopardy his family has been without once considering the role his willfully inflammatory persona played in inspiring less than stable people to confront him.  Driscoll used to teach that headship means it's your responsibility even if it's not your fault and clearly Driscoll no longer seems to believe that to the extant that he's willing to shift all the blame for the disturbance of his family not on his own inflammatory persona but on people who he used to say were the sorts of people who didn't get what "playing a character" was.

But "we" need to ask ourselves why it took so long for any of the controversies of the last year to emerge.  Why did the plagiarism scandal only erupt when Janet Mefferd made an on-air accusation?  Perhaps because until established Christian media ran stories it wasn't official and it wasn't "real".  Wenatchee The Hatchet presented a back to back comparison of Real Marriage to The Wounded Heart in September 2013 and broached the possibility of copyright infringement in Driscollian work as far back as July 4, 2013.  The reactions at the time ranged from yawning indifference to "so what?" a fairly narrow spectrum.  It seems many a Christian these days refuses to even grant that intellectual property exists except as a legal fiction and an immoral one at that. 

If Driscoll was selling something (and most assuredly he's selling something) what is it?  What did we buy?  The simplest answer would be he's selling "legacy". The invitation was to be part of a legacy that positively influenced the world for Jesus.  Over time this legacy began to look less and less like the work of a community united by a common Christian confession and more and more like a community whose narrative was increasingly defined by the personal narrative of Mark Driscoll, a narrative that has collapsed into incoherence when Driscoll's public account has changed basic details he'd previously been clear about.  Additionally, Driscoll has increasingly changed both the tone and substance of the narrative in the wake of a variety of controversies

That Driscoll was selling a legacy isn't hard to prove.  Malachi made it explicit.  The end of God's Work, Our Witness (the fundraising film) also made it explicit.

People are getting saved more than ever. Churches are getting planted more than ever. Leaders are rising up more than ever. Opportunities are surfacing more than ever. And this is the best possible time to get onboard, to pray, give, serve, because I promise you, what comes next is the kind of thing that you’re going to tell your grandkids about.

Mars Hill has had a long history of saying "It's all about Jesus" but as N. T. Wright used to put it, it matters a great deal which Jesus we're actually talking about and that, in turn, invites everyone who currently or previously called Mars Hill home "Which Jesus are we talking about?" Were we following Christ as revealed in the scriptures? (Wenatchee The Hatchet is anything but a mythicist, so there) Or were we following a Jesus who was essentially mediated by Driscoll and markulinity?  It increasingly seems the latter was the case. 

Romans: The Righteousness of God
Adolf Schlatter, Hendrickson Publisers (c) 1995
page 40

The individual is godless if he fabricates religion in his own interest, for the sake of his own happiness. God must be worshipped for the sake of God. ... Paul emphasizes the absurdity of idolatry. It is absurd to put the individual, under the law of death, in the place of God, because in doing so it is not even the human and the animal that are worshipped, but only their likeness. This likeness is no reproduction of living beings at all, it is merely able to copy the outline of the form, the lines shaping their figure.

page 43

... it is a lie arising from selfish covetousness, if the individual makes his image to be God's image and his lust to be God's will. 
The ideal of masculinity and legacy that Mark Driscoll has made the sales pitch for his public persona and ministry has turned out to be more image than reality and that this was the case was revealed at length in the 2012 book Real Marriage. It doesn't matter whether or not the Driscoll marriage is now closer to the ideal than it was in the first decade of Mars Hill, what matters was that for the season in which the Driscolls presented themselves as happily married it now seems as though that happiness was an idol and a sham.  But then for those of us who called Mars Hill the same must also be said about the many things we considered good. 

There were real, positive goods to be had, of course, but as Christians are wont to say, idols are generally good things that are valued about the one true God. It's easy to say that about other people but for those of us who can only confess by dint of the investment of our lives that we bought what Mark Driscoll was selling we need to ask ourselves what we were buying in for.  We also need to refrain from congratulating ourselves for anything at all.  Now is not the time for self-congratulation.  While it is a shame that Mark Driscoll seems too unscrupulous and cowardly to participate and has chosen to abandon the church he took so much credit in founding, the process of repenting of being part of and contributing to what Mars Hill has become has only just begun. 

And that goes for each and every one of us who has called that community home. Wenatchee's role is relatively small and insignificant, attempting to document the history here and there.  But there needs to be more "our" to "our witness".  Wenatchee is not and doesn't desire to be any kind of leader but if there's a way to lead it's by example.  As has been said before, Wenatchee The Hatchet isn't telling anyone they "have" to leave Mars Hill, just to re:consider the narrative.  That narrative may be our collective idol. If in the end the legacy of Mars Hill were to be founded on Mark's personality and was a legacy we were building to be able to tell our grandkids about then that would make the entire legacy of Mars Hill a narrative that in itself would be an idol.  Now that Driscoll has behaved like a hired hand we need to ask ourselves why, in so many ways, we paid him for so many years.  That's not an easy or pleasant question to answer but it's one we must deal with. 

Taxable Total on Driscoll Montlake property for Tax Year 2015=$666.000

Here's hoping no one in the Driscoll house has any issues with certain numbers because the total appraised value for the Montlake property (which the Driscolls still own is ...

Valued Year
Tax Year
Appraised Land Value ($)
Appraised Imps Value ($)
Appraised Total ($)
Taxable Land Value ($)
Taxable Imps Value ($)
Taxable Total ($)

So there you go.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Mark Driscoll no longer on The City--i.e resignation of membership/leaving Mars Hill seems confirmed

As longtime readers will know Wenatchee The Hatchet documented what were once the publicly available City profile user numbers on Mars Hill

For those who might not recall Mark Driscoll's user profile was listed as follows:


Well, in light of the BoE announcement that Mark Driscoll opted to resign rather than continue with or accept the restoration process offered to him Wenatchee The Hatchet has received some confirmation from more than one avenue that if you were to try to look for Mark Driscoll's profile on The City these days you're going to (briefly) get this:

Of course maybe there's a technical glitch going on and Driscoll's profile may not really be gone ... but it's not showing up as of today.  When the BoE said Driscoll had left Mars Hill it looks like they were telling the truth.

As noted earlier this week, when we look at the history of Mars Hill who else have we heard about that was a guy presented with a discipline contract or restoration plan dealing with a pattern of persistent sin who declined to comply with the agreement and resigned from Mars Hill Church?

Andrew, that's who.



Mark Driscoll and Andrew turned out to have the same basic story with respect to restoration/discipline at Mars Hill just a couple of years apart.  The irony in that is ... fascinating.

Driscoll at conference today after leaving MH as elder and member? Throckmorton notes Charles Campbell tweet

From the March 2014 statement ...
To reset my life, I will not be on social media for at least the remainder of the year. The distractions it can cause for my family and our church family are not fruitful or helpful at this time. At the end of the year, I will consider if and when to reappear on social media, and I will seek the counsel of my pastors on this matter. In the meantime, Mars Hill and Resurgence will continue to post blogs, sermons, and podcasts on my social media accounts, but otherwise I’m going offline.

I will also be doing much less travel and speaking in the next season. In recent years, I have cut back significantly, but I will now cut back even more. I have cancelled some speaking events, and I am still determining the best course of action for a few that I’ve committed to, as they are evangelistic opportunities to invite people to salvation in Jesus Christ, which is something I care about deeply. I will be doing very few media interviews, if any. Also, I’m communicating with my publisher to determine how to meet my existing obligations and have a much less intense writing schedule.

Does not being on social media mean not appearing on social media via third parties because ...



The person does look vaguely familiar.  image over at WT

So has Driscoll resigned eldership at MH after rejecting the restoration plan and left the church and has ... already showed up at a conference in Dallas Fort Worth? 

CharlesCampbell @charl3scampbell
Since someone's already been crucified for him, let's restore him with a spirit of gentleness @PsRobertMorris introing Mark Driscoll

 ·  1 hour ago
Watching love on pastors everyone else has shunned and misrepresented is amazing! I love my church
Driscoll ... a  pastor everyone else has shunned and misrepresented?  If Driscoll simply applied his axioms on spiritual warfare, bitterness and sex in marriage that he applied to others to himself the burden of proof is on Mark Driscoll to explain why he wasn't demonized in some fashion if he said that bitterness and a lack of sex in marriage were both satanic footholds in the category of the "ordinary demonic". That's not misrepresenting Driscoll, it's just quoting him accurately, in context, and proposing that that what's good for the goose must also be good for the gander.


If Mark hadn't taught what he's taught about those things none of this would be a matter for the record, but he taught the stuff he's taught and never repudiated it.  So just in case someone gets the idea that "everyone else" has shunned Driscoll there's a lot of people at Mars Hill who probably want him back and didn't want him to resign and leave the church as the BoE recently announced he has done.

Sutton Turner memo recommended raise for Driscoll for FY2013 to 650k salary, retain 200k housing allowance for CY2013

Presented without comment after the break.  In actual size, scroll down a bit.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

a quick survey of the situation, WtH guesses Matt Rogers "might" shift from BoO to EE to fill one of the two vacancies in the EE. Any other guesses?

Sutton Turner (secretary/treasurer) resigned in September.
Mark Driscoll, who was on leave since August, resigned this last week in the middle of some kind of disciplinary/review/restoration process. 

This left the presidency vacated, which is in the interim being filled by Dave Bruskas. 

The problem is there still needs to be a secretary and two of three executive elder roles are vacant.

The executive elders "seem" to have to be selected from the Board of Advisors and Accountability and the executives must also be employees of Mars Hill Church.

Right now of the BoO Matt Rogers seems like a plausible guess as someone to take on one of the executive elder roles.  Since the secretary is not specified by the bylaws as necessarily having to be an executive elder that role could be fulfilled by a non-executive elder, perhaps.  But Jon Phelps won't quit what he's doing to become any kind of elder at Mars Hill.  Michael Van Skaik is the chair and Larry Osborne has his own thing.  By process of elimination Matt Rogers might be the only one on the BoAA who could even be selected from their number to take on an executive elder role. 

If Bruskas is turning from "priest" into "prophet" for a while then someone's gotta take over the "priest" role and someone has to take care of the "king" role.  The bylaws require at least three executive elders and also require two officers.  The president is the primary teaching and vision pastor who is also the president, that much seems set in stone. 

In light of what has been published today regarding Mark Driscoll's alleged departure from Mars Hill Church this makes the putting of real estate on the market look much less like an ordinary business decision that would have been made by absentee executive elders Driscoll and Turner and more like an emergency move undertaken by the Board of Advisors & Accountability, at least based on the news and associated evidence available so far.

But the thing is Matt Rogers is not (yet) an employee of Mars Hill so "if" Rogers were to become an EE the bylaws would have to be revised (could have been done by now if the BoAA met recently) or Rogers could have been accepted as an employee by the EE branch and added as an employee but "if" any or all of that has happened some kind of announcement confirming any new changes would have to show up.  At this point this whole post is just some guesswork based on what is available in the news and Wenatchee The Hatchet is not necessarily awesome at guessing things in details.

Sure, Wenatchee The Hatchet called the closure of campuses and was about half right about which campuses were going to close but anyone with access to the numbers made available via Throckmorton half a year ago could have made a comparable call.

It remains to be seen who the secretary will be and who the other two executive elders are going to be but if Wenatchee The Hatchet understands the bylaws and their requirements about the selection of executive elders correctly then Matt Rogers seems like a likely candidate for an EE role.

WT: Mars Hill Church Board of Elders: Mark Driscoll Resigned Instead of Entering a Restoration Plan


looks like there's an update with a longer statement reproduced at Throckmorton's blog/post

The investigation of formal charges against Mark Driscoll has revealed patterns of persistent sin in the three areas disclosed in the previous letter by the Board of Overseers. In I Tim 5:20, it requires that an elder be rebuked for persistent sin. Our intention was to do this while providing a plan for his eventual restoration to leadership. The Board of Elders in agreement with the Board of Overseers are grieved, deeply grieved, that any process like that was lost to us when Mark Driscoll resigned in position and left the church. Now is the time to move on and consider what God is calling us to next as a church as we participate in Jesus’ mission to make disciples in His name. Today begins a new chapter in the history of our church which has proceeded in one direction under one leadership for many years now, but I want you to understand this, God is our Father. That does not change. Jesus is the chief shepherd of the church and that has not changed.

The elders of Mars Hill Church acknowledge as we’ve gone through all of this investigation, and heard all of these stories, we acknowledge that we have personally led in some of the same ways that demonstrate some of the same ways that Pastor Mark had. And those things require repentance and forgiveness and restoration. We realize that there are ways that we have led as elders in ways that have been domineering, sometimes arrogant and sometimes boastful and at least for my part, I want to say I deeply regret those sins and I ask for your forgiveness.  We want to lead you into the future in a way that displays more grace, more love as we speak the truth to each of you. If there are people that I have offended in ways I have pastored this church, I would welcome that you come to me and speak with me to allow me the opportunity to reconcile with you.

At this time Mars Hill Church is going to move ahead under the Board of Overseers established plan for transition. Pastor Dave Bruskas will serve as the teaching and preaching pastor during an interim period of time until we establish a direction we are going as a church. The Board of Advisors are going to be working in the weeks to come on a plan for moving forward and for how that will unfold, what the next steps are, there are a lot of things to consider. As we discover what those things are, what the spirit shows us, then we want to communicate clearly to you and transparently to you what’s happening, the directions and the changes that will be taking place.

The first thing to note is the statement claims Mark Driscoll has "left the church", which makes it sound like he resigned his membership from Mars Hill.  Wenatchee The Hatchet was under the impression that church members who were under some kind of disciplinary review weren't allowed to do that.


If Driscoll was found in persistent sin as a member of the church he shouldn't have been allowed to resign his membership, should he?  Letting Driscoll leave the church and having Mars Hill "move on" would just mean Mars Hill refused to enforce its own bylaws regarding member discipline with regard to persistent sin on its former legal president.

The threefold purpose of church discipline is to glorify God by maintaining purity in the local church, to edify and protect believers by deterring sin, and to promote the spiritual welfare of the offending believer by calling him or her to return to a biblical standard of doctrine and conduct.(a) Members of the Church and all other professing Christians who regularly attend or fellowship with the Church who err in doctrine, or who engage in conduct that violates Scripture as determined by any two or more elders, shall be subject to church discipline. Each potential case of discipline will be weighed on its own merits and dealt with according to Scripture.

So Mark Driscoll was found to have a pattern of "persistent sin"? What is church discipline for again?
So it takes two or more elders to make the call regarding whether a member engaged in conduct violating scripture?  The Board of Elders easily fits that 2+ numbering, doesn't it?

Then there's this:

(e) Each member of the Church and every other professing Christian who regularly attends or fellowships with the Church agrees that there shall be no appeal to any court because of a discipline process or dismissal. A member who is under discipline by the Church, as defined in the previous paragraphs, forfeits and waives the right to resign from the Church.  Resignation is possibly only be a member of the Church who is in good standing and who is not under any disciplinary action. 

So Driscoll was found to have been in persistent sin and a restoration plan was drawn up (where have we read about Mars Hill restoration plans before?)

But there have are apparently executive exceptions seeing as Scott Thomas was allowed to retain membership on The City in spite of having accepted a job at Darrin Patrick's church.  An overview of that is over here. It is easily documented that when the executive leadership of Mars Hill disappears they seem to have the option of severance packages other staff don't get and to be permitted to retain membership at Mars Hill for a time after accepting positions at other churches in spite of the breach of covenant this has constituted.

Since Bruskas is the only executive elder who DIDN'T quit this announcement was virtually inevitable.  Bruskas will be teaching and preaching pastor during the interim, which according to the bylaws makes Bruskas legal president of Mars Hill Church for the time being.  Who the secretary will be remains to be seen but since the secretary is not required by the bylaws to be an executive elder that role could already be filled by a financial or administrative employee of some kind.

Let's compare the recent report to the older one from the Mars Hill Board of Overseers


Pastor Mark Driscoll’s Resignation
Mars Hill Church
From Mars Hill Church:
On Tuesday, October 14, Pastor Mark Driscoll submitted his resignation as an elder and lead pastor of Mars Hill Church. The Board of Overseers has accepted that resignation and is moving forward with planning for pastoral transition, recognizing the challenge of such a task in a church that has only known one pastor since its founding. We ask for prayer for the journey ahead.
As is well known, inside and outside of Mars Hill, Pastor Mark has been on a leave of absence for nearly two months while a group of elders investigated a series of formal charges brought against him. This investigation had only recently been concluded, following some 1,000 hours of research, interviewing more than 50 people and preparing 200 pages of information. This process was conducted in accordance with our church Bylaws and with Pastor Mark’s support and cooperation.
While a group of seven elders plus one member of the Board of Overseers was charged with conducting this investigation, the full Board of Overseers is charged with reaching any conclusions and issuing any findings. In that capacity, we believe it appropriate to publicly mention the following:
  1. We concluded that Pastor Mark has, at times, been guilty of arrogance, responding to conflict with a quick temper and harsh speech, and leading the staff and elders in a domineering manner. While we believe Mark needs to continue to address these areas in his life, we do not believe him to be disqualified from pastoral ministry.
  2. Pastor Mark has never been charged with any immorality, illegality or heresy. Most of the charges involved attitudes and behaviors reflected by a domineering style of leadership.
  3. We found some of the accusations against Pastor Mark to be altogether unfair or untrue.
  4. Other charges had been previously been addressed by Pastor Mark, privately and publicly. Indeed, he had publicly confessed and apologized for a number of the charges against him, some of which occurred as long as 14 years ago.
  5. We commend Mark for acting upon the vision God gave him to start Mars Hill Church and for his ministry of faithfully teaching the Word of God for the past 18 years. We commit to pray for him, for Grace, and for their children as they transition from ministry at Mars Hill Church.
We would ask for patience as we now make plans for the first transition of pastoral leadership in the history of Mars Hill Church. We have asked Pastor Dave Bruskas to serve as the primary teaching pastor while we work on long-term plans and decisions. Our elders and board members will work closely with the church staff to support the ongoing operations of Mars Hill in the days and months ahead.

Finally, Mark Driscoll was not asked to resign; indeed, we were surprised to receive his resignation letter. While he can speak to his decision as he chooses, we would point to just two things from his letter. He noted that he had concluded “it would be best for the health of our family, and for the Mars Hill family, that we step aside from further ministry at the church.” Secondly, he specifically wanted to convey “to the wonderful members of the Mars Hill family, how deeply my family and I love them, thank them, and point them to their Senior Pastor, Jesus Christ, who has always been only good to us.”

Mars Hill Board of Overseers
Michael Van Skaik
Larry Osborne
Jon Phelps
Matt Rogers
So it's starting to look like the patterns the Board of Overseers consider to be ultimately not problematic the Board of Elders considered sinful.  It "looks" as though the Board of Overseers decided to "interpret" material presented by the Board of Elders in a way that didn't find Driscoll disqualified.  We'd have to be able to see the actual report to know what was in it but so far the statements by the BoO and the BoE seem difficult to reconcile.
With Bruskas as president now might be a time to recall that Bruskas was involved in some fashion with the 2012 A Call for Reconciliation process.

It's been a couple of years, after all, and what was the result of that call for reconciliation?  Nothing much, apparently, and since people who worked to participate in that process have indicated an involvement on the part of Bruskas and his associates now would be a time to revisit how much Dave Bruskas heard about concerns from former members about Mark Driscoll's speech, conduct and overall fitness for ministry.

Finally, let's keep in mind Paul Tripp's resignation from the BoAA

Mars Hill BoAA Statement

I love the gospel of Jesus Christ. I love the church of Jesus Christ. I love pastors. I love working with churches to help them form a leadership culture that is shaped by the same grace that is at the center of the message that they preach.

It's because of this love that I accepted the position on Mars Hill Church's BoAA. But it became clear to me that a distant, external accountability board can never work well because it isn't a firsthand witness to the ongoing life and ministry of the church.

Such a board at best can provide financial accountability, but it will find it very difficult to provide the kind of hands-on spiritual direction and protection that every Christian pastor needs. Unwittingly what happens is that the external accountability board becomes an inadequate replacement for a biblically functioning internal elder board that is the way God designed his church to be lead and pastors to be guided and protected.

So, since I knew that I could not be the kind of help that I would like to be through the vehicle of the BoAA, I resigned from that position.

I would still love to see the leadership community of Mars Hill Church become itself a culture of grace and I am still willing to help, but not through the means of a board that will never be able to do what it was designed to do.

Tripp's resignation has since highlighted that the Mars Hill Board of Advisors & Accountability and its apparent constituent parts of the Board of Overseers and the Executive Elders have their own set of credibility crises to deal with.  If the BoO decided the patterns were not disqualifying why did the BoE summary indicate "sin"?  Why did the BoE statement seem to indicate that Mark Driscoll has not only resigned from leadership but actually left Mars Hill?  Meanwhile, Paul Tripp's resignation and announcement constituted what looks like a public vote of no confidence in the basic nature of the BoAA. 

If all the recent reports are accurate then the Board of Overseers misrepresented the findings of the Board of Elders which seems to have lacked the nerve to just say so and the summation of things is that even though Mars Hill leadership found Mark Driscoll to have a pattern of persistent sin that basically disqualified him from ministry they let him resign his membership in defiance of the bylaws and the member participation procedures they have enforced on others in church disciplinary settings in the past.

And if Mark Driscoll declined participating in a restoration plan offered by Mars Hill leadership doesn't that make him kinda like ... Andrew?



What did Andrew write on his way out after declining the discipline contract?

After extensive prayer and careful consideration, I have come to the conclusion that Mars Hill is not the place that God has for me to be right now. Therefore, I respectfully decline your help in this next stage of my life. I will not be returning to [name of community group leader's] CG, and will not be attending Mars Hill anymore. Thank you for your continued prayers.

So if Driscoll has in fact resigned rather than face the Mars Hill restoration plan being offered to him then Mark Driscoll and Andrew "look" like they've started walking on parallel paths, kinda.  If Andrew was dubbed a "wolf" after refusing to submit to a disciplinary process how much more should Mark Driscoll be considered a wolf of wolves if he voluntarily resigned rather than submit to a restoration plan?

And the veracity of statements made by the BoO and BoAA seem in question.  If Mars Hill lets Justin Dean say anything at this point it is the opinion of Wenatchee The Hatchet that that might throw three gallons of jet fuel on an existing fire.

Throckmorton seems to have heard/seen the same thing BoE had restoration plan, MD was in sin, but MD cut the process short via resignation, official verification/dispute still pending


So apparently Throckmorton has heard the same things Wenatchee The Hatchet has heard about.  The BoE found a persistent pattern of sin in Driscoll; formulated a restoration/care plan; but the possibility of this restoration plan was cut short when Driscoll resigned.  Throckmorton quotes a statement that is reproduced below:  Since Wenatchee The Hatchet has seen/heard things to this effect it seems plausible but as yet no official confirmation of this or other statements from anyone at Mars Hill is possible just yet.
The investigation of formal charges against Mark Driscoll has revealed patterns of persistent sin in the three areas disclosed in the previous letter by the Board of Overseers. In I Tim 5:20, it requires that an elder be rebuked for persistent sin. Our intention was to do this while providing a plan for his eventual restoration to leadership. The Board of Elders in agreement with the Board of Overseers are grieved, deeply grieved, that any process like that was lost to us when Mark Driscoll resigned in position and left the church. Now is the time to move on and consider what God is calling us to next as a church as we participate in Jesus’ mission to make disciples in His name. Today begins a new chapter in the history of our church which has proceeded in one direction under one leadership for many years now.
Interesting as this statement is, and interesting as it is that this story seems to be getting confirmed from people who have been at services this morning, it's still not official confirmation.   We'll need access to the report of the BoE or a vetted summation of the report through some reliable source.  The journalistic paradox of vetting sources, though, is that on the one hand you need to vet sources in a way that establishes their veracity while knowing that the avenues and authorities by which such stories and claims could be vetted might not be entirely honest or forthcoming.  That's been one of the key problems in assessing nearly any statement made by the Mars Hill Board of Advisors & Accountability this year, actually.  Michael Van Skaik's account of Sutton Turner's time and plans within Mars Hill ministry doesn't seem to make any sense with what Driscoll told everyone via media and what Sutton Turner himself seemed to be saying or allowed to be said about him in the press right up to about the time of his resignation.

So, again, this all awaits some more confirmation but breaking news is kind of like that.

story to confirm or refute--BoE reported found sin issues with MD, wanted restoration plan, MD declined

Wenatchee The Hatchet has read and heard reports comparable to the following comment by a "former Mars Hill elder"


The BOE wanted Mark to submit to a spiritual care plan which would have included him not preaching for an extended period of time. Some on the BOAA felt that was too harsh. If Mark would have come back he would have been able to do so according to the bylaws (because the boaa approved it), but he would've been doing so against the wishes and recommendation of his BOE. This is part of the reason Mark said he was divisive. His LP's and the BOAA did not agree about the course Mark needed to take.

Michael Van Skaik spoke as he was allowed to as the chairman of the BOAA, but his statement does not accurately reflect the findings of the BOE. Many on the BOE are angry with Van Skaik because his statement forces the BOE to either publicly disagree with him (and leave the church confused) or move on to other things.

Make no mistake- Mark left because he still refuses to submit to his elders and he no longer has the credibility or power to bully them into submitting to him.

There are also statements circulating that the Board of Elders concluded that Drsicoll has had persistent sin in the areas of arrogance, domineering leadership, and short temper.  The Board of Elders was reported to have had plans to have Driscoll submit to a restoration plan before a potential future restoration to pulpit activity but that Mark Driscoll cut the process short by resignation.  Wenatchee The Hatchet has been hearing reports of this sort in the days since the official announcement of resignation but confirmation or rebuttal has not yet been documented.  It honestly seemed unlikely given the history of Mars Hill leadership but this rumor has been gaining enough traction from enough different directions among people who have retained ties to Mars Hill it seemed worth mentioning.  Any confirmation or rebuttal that can be produced is certainly welcome.

If these reports are true then it drastically calls into question at least some statements made by the Board of Advisors & Accountability, doesn't it?

At this point, however, confirmation is still pending.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

William Vanderbloemen has a captain obvious op-ed on "3 reasons why Mark Driscoll's resignation changes everything", which won't change things

William Vanderbloemen has an op-ed piece in the New York Observer that has a few Captain Obvious axioms that seem to traffic in some ignorance of the history of Mars Hill Church and some of the public discussion about it.


Let's take the first Captain Obvious bromide.

1. Social media is a powerful, dual-edged sword.

... Daily blogs from across the country criticized the church, the board, and/or Pastor Driscoll. Some of the most popular posts were from people who have never even attended Mars Hill.

Yes, social media is a powerful dual-edged sword.  The problem in the case of Mars Hill is not necessarily that "critics" made a point of using social media to criticize Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll.  It was never that simple.  Mars Hill Church was filled with leaders and members who managed to tweet and blog away any shred of privacy they could have had that allowed Wenatchee The Hatchet, a ten year veteran of the culture of Mars Hill, to assemble the data to identify that Andrew Lamb and the Noriega family were close to or at the center of the 2012 disciplinary controversy based not just on social media activity but on Mark Driscoll's own sermons.

Wenatchee The Hatchet seems to have gotten a reputation as being a Mark Driscoll critic but this would be to misunderstand what Wenatchee The Hatchet does.  Preserving for the public record a history of Mars Hill according to leaders while the history has been adjusted and updated is not always the same as being a "critic".  If quoting Driscoll accurately, in context, and in a way that reveals that Mark Driscoll has changed or betrayed the basic principles he articulated about pastoral ministry from the pulpit ten years ago constitutes being a "critic" then Mark Driscoll has lowered the bar by betraying everything he once stood for.  That's not Wenatchee The Hatchet's problem as such. 

Now it is true that the vast majority who have seen fit to opine on Mars Hill are frequently ill-informed and have not even participated in life at Mars Hill.  That's not in doubt. 

Vanderbloemen correctly points out that Mars Hill dove headfirst into using and embracing social media and internet communication.  Wenatchee The Hatchet has already written about how what Mars Hill culture did was essentially idolize social media and that what an idol promises is given in exchange for some kid of sacrifice. 

The sacrifice offered to social media to expand and promote a brand is what ... ?  We get to point 2.

2. Privacy is dead and words live forever.

... In the digital age, there is little or no privacy, and words live on forever and everywhere. The fishbowl is no longer the local community. It is the entire world.

No one says you have to opt in to this.  Those that don't opt in and haven't opted in except in a limited way might be seen as reclusive.  But Wenatchee The Hatchet suggests that Bill Watterson is not  a recluse. Bill Watterson has simply retained a pre-internet conception of the individual having a private life.

The problem here is that Mars Hill culture so saturated itself with social media and broadcast media that they didn't realize in the midst of all this that there aren't exactly take-backs in this kingdom. And yet paradoxically this new kingdom of internet literacy seems full of people who don't know how to read and can't remember things that were said or how they were said.  Take this, for instance.

Much of the criticism Pastor Driscoll has faced centers around comments he made nearly 15 years ago, which he apologized for in a book and before his church. Yet in the digital age, words live forever, and even if they have been retracted by the author, they can be resurrected to create new friction for pastors and leaders.

No, the plagiarism controversy was not about the writings of William Wallace II.  The Result Source Inc. controversy was not about the writings of Mark Driscoll in 2000, either.  The criticism about the lack of transparency and honesty surrounding the nature of Mars Hill Global and how monies donated to it and through it were actually spent is also irrelevant to the rants of William Wallace II.  Anyone who attempts to frame the criticisms of Mark Driscoll in the last two and a half years as "much of the criticism ... centers around comments he made nearly 15 years ago" is a complete idiot at best or a duplicitous tool at worst. 

What is more, as Wenatchee The Hatchet has discussed at some length Mark Driscoll presented his writings as William Wallace II as a rant against emergent and liberals. 

Mark Driscoll,  Zondervan
copyright (c) 2006 by Mark Driscoll
ISBN-13: 978-0-310-27016-4
350-1,000 people

At this time, our church also started an unmoderated discussion board on our website, called Midrash, and it was being inundated with postings by emerging-church type feminists and liberals. I went onto the site and posted as William Wallace II, after the great Scottish man portrayed in the movie Braveheart, and attacked those who were posting. [emphasis added] It got insane, and thousands of posts were being made each day until it was discovered that it was me raging like a madman under the guise of a movie character. One guy got so mad that he actually showed up at my house to fight me one night around 3 a.m.
Driscoll's own words stated that he saw Midrash inundated with postings by emerging-church type feminists and liberals and that Driscoll went on and posted as William Wallace II, attacking those who were posting.  Okay, and one guy got so mad he showed up at the house wanting to fight at 3.am.  But let's go back and look at what the opening fusillade of "Pussified Nation" started with.
This not only wasn't the case, the rants of WW2 were most vitriolic against fellow evangelicals such as James Dobson or the Promise Keepers set.  Let's revisit the opening salvo of Pussified Nation.

James Dobson instantly springs to everyone's mind as an emergent church feminist type, right?
Ditto for Promise Keepers?

Wenatchee The Hatchet has already written extensively on the historical, social and economic background of Mark Driscoll taking up the pen name William Wallace II and publishing "Pussified Nation".  Here.  And here. And here. And here.  And here.  The most important thing to state for those who actually know what Mark Driscoll did and did not write in his 2006 book is that he expressed regret about some unspecified things he did and said in anger but that he did not actually explicitly repudiate the substance of what he said as William Wallace II.  In fact the substance of what he said as William Wallace II in "Pussified Nation" was pretty much the same message he had for Justin Brierley in 2012.  Driscoll expressing regret about doing something and saying something in a stupid and ill-advised way simply raises anew the question of what he was sorry about.  In the 2006 book he stated he developed the pen name.  If he couldn't even keep straight who he was attacking on Midrash and why six years after the fact what reason is there to trust that Driscoll saying he's apologized for stuff from fourteen years ago means much now?  After all, in the last year it seems Driscoll can't even seem to recall that there were kids in the earliest years of Mars Hill these days and has managed to inadvertently testify against his own accuracy.

Vanderbloemen can assert if he likes that Mark Driscoll said he apologized for William Wallace II rantings in the 2006 book.  The apology came later, more like 2014. 

Privacy isn't dead in the same way all across the board and if you choose to use social media you need to come to grips with the reality of what you're doing, committing things to a broadcast medium for the public record that will stick around.  You would think that this should be the easiest thing in the world for a pastor to consider since pastors have been instructed on how the words they say and preach speak of eternal things and of a life to come and the ever-living Christ.  But there are men in ministry who apparently didn't get the memo about how by your words you will be acquitted and by your words condemned or didn't read that part that carefully. 

Matthew 12:33-37 (NIV)
“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

So maybe thanks to the internet some of that age to come stuff has shown up a bit early.  But wouldn't a Christian pastor, before ever embarking on a life of ministry, have some awareness of the gravity of this warning before taking up the pen name William Wallace II to begin with?

As Wenatchee The Hatchet has been pointing out over the last few months the reason republishing the sum of Mark Driscoll's writings as William Wallace II is because informing the public about what Driscoll actually wrote is a journalistic service to the public.  What is more, doing so permits people to read what Mark Driscoll actually wrote and assess for themselves how persuasive his enumerated public apologies might seem.  But there is a more important reason to publish what Mark Driscoll wrote in 2000 and to compare it to things Driscoll has said and done in the 2011 to 2013 period.


It gives us an opportunity to see whether the substance of Mark Driscoll's ideas about men, women, gender, sex and marriage have actually matured, grown or changed.  The substance of Mark Driscoll's ideas remained steady between 2000 and 2012.  Driscoll has expressed regret about his "tone" plenty but has not repudiated the substance of his views and even for conservative evangelicals the substance of a number of things he has taught can be considered problematic.  He's confessed that what he did as William Wallace II was wrong but critics have objected not just to the tone in which he's said his more famous ideas but also the substance.  It won't cut it any longer now that Acts 29 has shown him the door and evangelicals like Heath Lambert have critiqued Real Marriage to claim that Driscoll critics are uniformly secular/left. 

The reason merely quoting Mark Driscoll accurately and in context in 2000 could create a stir in 2014 is because the substance of Mark Driscoll's views on sex, genders and marriage haven't changed.  When a person expresses regret, has a change of heart, and proceeds to live and speak a life in which they walk a new path we get, you know, the apostle Paul writing epistles to churches.  Darth Vader revealed his change of heart by throwing the Emperor over a precipice.  John the Baptist said something about bearing fruits as evidence of repentance.  If Driscoll had actually borne the fruit of repentance on any of these issues about what he said as William Wallace II compared to the Justin Brierley interview then we'd have a more convincing case for "Mark repented" or "Mark apologized".  Mark Driscoll told Brierley that maybe he went too far but everyone else didn't go far enough, which sounds curiously self-rationalizing to Wenatchee The Hatchet.

Let's spell this out again, if you've repented of what you said in the past and it's clear to everyone then reviving what was said in the past shouldn't even necessitate a renewal of an apology.  If Driscoll had made a point of leaving everything of William Wallace II up AND ALSO issued a more specific apology for what he said republishing the writings of Driscoll under the pen name wouldn't have created any stir. 

But republishing the writings of Mark Driscoll as William Wallace II wasn't just about the words themselves but about what they signaled.  They gave people an opportunity to retroactively consider doubts about Mark Driscoll's basic fitness and competence for Christian ministry. 

As for the popular posts including work by people who never attended Mars Hill, well, yes, that's pretty unfortunate.  But talking about social media should not be limited to just those posts or those blogs.  Wenatchee The Hatchet was at Mars Hill for about a decade as an attender and a member.  Wenatchee was recruited to a number of ministries and helped start a couple but without any particular interest in running those ministries.  Wenatchee was recruited to field theological questions on behalf of Mars Hill elders so it couldn't be said that Wenatchee The Hatchet wasn't on the same page as the Mars Hill pastors if the pastors recruited him to field questions on their behalf.  Wenatchee The Hatchet is still a moderately conservative evangelical with a Calvinistic soteriology and an interest in ecumenical discussions.  It would be possible to dismiss a lot of blogs and bloggers as those who have never been part of Mars Hill but that can't be said about Wenatchee The Hatchet. 

And it can't be said about Wendy Alsup.  It can't be said about a number of blogs and websites.  As Jared Wilson's open letter to Driscoll more or less showed


the problem in the last year is that Mark Driscoll's speech and conduct has not just offended secularists or progressives but also his own former base. 

So while there may not be any privacy as we used to define it on the internet let's remember that you can't use broadcast and social media without having an understanding that what you say for the record stays out there.  This is not just a problem facing some recently resigned megachurch pastors.  Take the celebrity nude selfie hack news , though in the case of nude selfie photographs on a networked mobile device that connects to a cloud the problem there is not the same as a Mark Driscoll writing as William Wallace II.  While Christians in the spring of 2014 might have read about Result Source and while some concluded that sales rigging is normal in the secular world and that the plagiarism was no big deal we're in a cultural moment that's a bit larger where there is such a thing as revenge porn.


Mark Driscoll's controversies about what he probably should never have put up on the net to begin with may differ from a celebrity who took nude selfies on a networked device chiefly on the matter of a Christian pastor with a communications degree and a wife with professional training in public relations seem like someone who ought to have known better fourteen years ago.  Only so much could have been done about a blunt force hack on a cloud.   There's no particular reason to feel sorry for Mark Driscoll having ranted as William Wallace II.  Compared to Mark Driscoll standing before God to explain why William Wallace II seemed like a great idea when he was doing it a stew on the internet is nothing.  Or as Mark Driscoll once tweeted, "You deserve Hell. Everything else is a gift."  Okay then ... Mark Driscoll has a chance to take his own bromides to heart.  He really deserves Hell and everything else is a gift, right?

Finally, in light of Driscoll's unanticipated quitter moment of throwing in the towel .... Vanderbloemen writes the third lesson.

3. Every pastor needs to realize that he or she is an interim pastor.

It remains to be seen whether Mark Driscoll's resignation changes anything apart from the corporation known as Mars Hill Church. A lifelong ministry at one church is not a more fragile prospect than ever if you go into it with an understanding of the significance of what a pastoral ministry is.  And for that matter in the internet age the use of the internet is not necessarily some freak-out inspiring thing if you keep in mind a simple axiom, don't publish things on the internet to begin with unless you'd be willing to stand by what you said as what you meant at the time while expecting it to stay up there indefinitely. 

Avoid libel and slander, avoid saying things you think you might regret.  Don't react out of anger.  Be patient.  Be thoughtful.  Resist the temptation to type up the witty retort you think would make you look smart and your conversant/opponent look stupid.  Think like a pastor.  Or, no, wait, just think like a Christian or a reasonable human being if you don't subscribe to Christianity or other religious beliefs.  And if you change your mind and regret what you said say so, say you're sorry and show how and why you've changed.  This is conceptually not very difficult.  These were instructions for how best to love one's neighbor preserved in the Bible and other literary and religious works for millennia before anyone got the idea of inventing something called the internet. 

Perhaps Wenatchee The Hatchet could have a better attitude about Vanderbloemen's op-ed piece but in the end it reads like a trio of Captain Obvious bromides with additional flourishes that suggest a lack of familiarity with the history of Mars Hill and of its culture use of social media.

The reason Mark Driscoll's resignation won't change anything is because the dynamics that let him become a pastor to begin with and stay a pastor for as long as he did haven't changed.  Most of the key controversies surrounding Driscoll in the last year from Result Source Inc to the plagiarism to Mars Hill Global are too unique to Mars Hill on the one hand and too harsh a peek into problems that may plague the Christian broadcast/media empires on the other to get any serious attention.  The only way Mark Driscoll's resignation "might" change anything is if concern about the financial transparency and ethics of Mars Hill reached such a pitch there were some kind of government probe into fiscal ethics. 

Meanwhile, all the publishers and editors and promoters who have profited from making Mark Driscoll into a star and/or being in the industries that made him a star may just get to opine on Mark Driscoll's resignation as though it changes anything while they get to keep their jobs. 

That's not likely to happen but by now atheists could propose that the ministry of Mark Driscoll and the activity of Mars Hill Church could raise some questions as to why churches have tax exempt status in light of everything that seems to be burbling up to the surface in the last two years. 

the problem of markulinity as air war without ground war and an obscure World War 1 chaplain

Now that Driscoll has stepped down and it remains to be seen where he goes and what he chooses to do it is worth revisiting Driscoll's observations about the need for a truly manly evangelical Christianity.  This is nothing particularly new or special but Driscoll became famous for finding various ways to articulate the idea that young men were not growing up either because they were stewed in a culture that did not encourage real manliness or because the young men just liked being boys who could shave.  When the lengthy rants about the evils of culture producing boy-children seemed overdone Driscoll shifted emphasis to blaming the young men.  But whether the emphasis was on the "pussified nation" by way of William Wallace II in 2000 or a concern about "laddism" in 2012 Mark Driscoll's core concerns about men, masculinity and the evangelical Christian did not substantially change.  He has not really changed the substance of his message over time.

But what has changed in the intervening 12 to 14 years is from where he presents that message and the trouble with the type of masculinity that Mark Driscoll presents is that even if we assume for the sake of discussion that kind of masculinity is good and healthy Mark Driscoll has become completely what he used to call "air war".  For a thumbnail sketch of air war and ground war.


or ...

page 3 of 207
The air war is the Sunday pulpit and the preaching series that is tied to the pulpit. At Mars Hill, we generally lead our ministry with the air war of the pulpit. The ground war works in conjunction with the air war so that such things as community groups, redemption groups, training classes, biblical counseling etc. coordinates with the preached Word so as to be effective and unified as possible. Since most of the Community Groups are sermon-based it is imperative that the CG brand and the P&T branch collaborate on every series. This collaboration includes joint branded content online and Pastor Mark pushing CG discussion points and family devotional points each week in the sermon.

While it's basically true that coordinating aerial and terrestrial campaigns will ensure success the Driscollian approach has it all back-asswards.  Air support is for the soldiers fighting the war on the ground.  The footsoldiers don't have the job of making the air war look effective.  The soldiers in the trenches are going for the objectives and the air war ...

You know, since we're at the centennial of the start of World War I anyway now might be a good time to revisit that war.  Aerial combat wasn't even how the "air war" started.  Airplanes assisted in photographing and mapping the terrain so that the ground war could be fought.  It took a while before any pilots in scout planes got the idea of shooting at each other.  It also took a while for guns to be integrated into airplanes by way of interrupter gears and the like for aerial combat to emerge.  And it took a lot of dead people and an observant German for Oswald Boelcke's axioms about aerial combat to emerge. 

We've had just barely under a century to learn that by themselves strategic bombing and tactical bombing don't accomplish anything.  Bombing the daylights out of the enemy doesn't get much done.  Soldiers have to go on the land and do some fighting.  And if we're pressing the military action metaphor where's the naval side?  But I digress.  What have we learned after a century of airborne warfare?  You still only win wars at the ground level in the long run.  Feet have to hit the dirt.  In ecclesial terms Driscoll would be the bishop and the campus pastors would be seargants (maybe) and the regular members would be the foot soldiers.  So there we go.

Now the ethos and metaphor of the soldier becomes even more critical when we have a figure like Driscoll espousing a particular kind of manliness.  It really matters when you say men pay their own way if you are really paying your own way or have convinced others to pay at least some of that expense for youHere's another example. It matters if when you tell men not to take shortcuts if it turns out you've taken shortcuts or allowed shortcuts to be made for you.  The kind of manliness Mark Driscoll seems to want is the kind of manliness that doesn't come across in the air war nearly as clearly as it would in the ground war.  For that matter, assuming all positive possible definitions for Mark Driscoll's ideals about a manly evangelical Christian life and example, we've passed the century point for a chaplain in World War I who was all for a "clean manly" Christian witness and ministry a century ago.

The Cross and the Trenches: Religious Faith and Doubt among British and American Great War Soldiers
Richard Schweitzer
Copyright (c) 2003 by Richard Schweitzer
Praeger Publishers
ISBN: 0-313-31838-7
ISSN: 0883-6884
pages 106-111
Summarized as follows:

Chaplain M. S. Evers advocated a "clean manly"and evangelical Christian faith as a chaplain (first received into chaplaincy in September 2014).  Evers subscribed to the idea that evangelistic activity should not come from any sense of moral superiority but of sharing hope, and that a genuine friendship and position of service was necessary in serving as a chaplain. 

Evers also bucked tradition for chaplains in Britain during World War I by sleeping in the barracks with the medical officer.  Evers considered it bad form to not be in the place where the fighting soldiers were and considered the custom of unit chaplains living away from the soldiers to be nonsense. To be a chaplain to men in the trenches you had to actually go be there.  For repeatedly aiding and comforting wounded soldiers in the trenches Evers was given the Military Cross with Bar.

Which is to say that the kind of masculinity Mark Driscoll has aspired to was a concern a century ago.  But whereas Driscoll has by turns and years transformed into a functional archbishop who lives in Snohomish rather than King County and preaches via week-delay video rebroadcast sermons Evers rejected the custom of his time that held that a chaplain live away from the soldiers he served.  Evers stayed where the soldiers were and went out to help them where they were.  Not too surprisingly the soldiers respected him and actually attended his chapel services. 

Now it's understandable no one but maybe military historians would care about Chaplain M. S. Evers but Wenatchee is friends with and related to fans of military history and has some family who have served.  And we're on the centennial, after all.  So it seemed useful to consider that a century ago there was a Christian man who advocated a clean and manly form of evangelical Christian faith and he was willing to go meet the soldiers where they were.  It might be useful to remind readers who aren't into this kind of history that that the vintage of "air war" and "ground war" is remarkably new.  There are military jokes and axioms such as the problem of teams always making the mistake of fighting the last war rather than the one we're facing now.  To apply this set of metaphors to Mark Driscoll the tragedy of Mark Driscoll's ministry with respect to martial metaphors is that he is all air war and no ground war.  He became part of a God box in some place at a remove from the regular tithing members of Mars Hill and that God Box (the BoAA, for short) is probably now deliberating on issues that may be as serious as whether to formally dissolve the corporation.  Who doesn't want men to behave in responsible and socially acceptable and constructive ways?  But the distinction between a health masculinity and what I've come to call markulinity has become too acute for these two definitions of manhood to easily overlap.  If you're only air war all the time you paradoxically become the kinds of middle aged pundits about generational decline that Mark Driscoll ripped on in Confessions of a Reformission Rev.

It might be another reason that Mark Driscoll needs to give up the "air war" for a few years and live in the "trenches" of church life.  No one knows what's going to come along, though, so we'll just have to wait and see what happens.  Meanwhile, we had ourselves a little history review on some elements of military history.

A possible future for Mark Driscoll, just being a member of Mars Hill and not being a pastor for at least five years


Thank you for being a wonderful church family.

Today, we are blessed with lead pastors who love Jesus and the people He gave His life for. These men faithfully serve the Mars Hill family.

While I’m still young, I suspect when I’m old I’ll be known for many things—some good, and some not so good. But I hope that the longer God leaves me on this earth, the more I’ll be known for one thing—that I loved Jesus and His Church, the Church He promised the gates of Hell would not prevail against. I may be an author, a speaker, and a thought-provoker; but in the deepest recesses of my heart, I’m a local church pastor, and that’s what I want to give the rest of my life for.

Nearly two months later Mark Driscoll has resigned from being a pastor at Mars Hill Church. 

Mark Driscoll may believe that resigning is what is best for Mars Hill and it may be, but the problem is that the problems at Mars Hill are more than just Mark Driscoll.  We're looking at an entire corporate culture that needs reform and may simply die.  But it doesn't have to.  Here's a thought experiment, a way for Mark Driscoll to stay out of ministry for a while, get his bearings, and consider a new path.  Stay at Mars Hill ... 

but just as a member. 

Driscoll has said for years that he was never a member of a church before starting Mars Hill Church now might.  If Driscoll knows he may have made an idol of success maybe he should spend some time truly being a nobody within Mars Hill, not just a Nobody Trying to Tell Everybody About Somebody who couldn't even be bothered to credit Denver Moore with the catchphrase. 

It could be amazing, right?  Driscoll could get a clearer sense of what the church he has fashioned is like for the rank and file, for the tithing peon.  Don't go to be a preacher or a teacher or a pastor anywhere else. Maybe get some biblical counseling from one of the biblical living pastors.  Maybe join a Redemption Group.  Take the time to be on the receiving end of what the bottom-dwellers get to be part of. 

If Driscoll doesn't try to transition into leading anything in any fashion for several years and just stays at Mars Hill as a member he can show that he's willing to submit to spiritual authority, and how. 

Spend two or three years (at least) maybe more like five years (since in his reverse-engineering your life phase he was into five year plans like a member of the Politburo!).  Retire altogether from public ministry.  See a therapist, er, biblical counselor.  Don't leave Mars Hill, which could go bankrupt if it's still supposed to pay out severance packages to both Driscoll and Turner. 

Driscoll now has a chance to be a member of a church he's no longer a pastor of.  He'll get a chance to really trust in the Lord and see if Mars Hill survives without him as the legal president.  If Mark Driscoll truly loves Mars Hill as it is and not just as the vision of what it's supposed to be in his head then the surest way to prove his love of Mars Hill would be to stay resigned from ministry and be a regular tithing guy who is just part of a local church. 

John the Baptist said (John 3:30NIV) "He must become greater; I must become less." Driscoll stepping away from ministry for at least five years (if not forever) would be a powerful, sacrificial way of living out this axiom.  It would be powerful because Driscoll would disappear and leave us all an opportunity to see if this thing called Mars Hill Church has really been founded on the rock that is Jesus Christ or on the persona of Mark Driscoll. 

Perhaps we can close with an old tweet from none other than ...

Healthy transitions in relays & leadership come down to the handoff. Train up your successor.
Don't chuck the baton & storm off the track.
1:20 PM - 17 Jun 13
So ... who has Driscoll trained to take his place?

Chris Rosebrough discusses Driscoll resignation at Issues Etc and at Fighting for the Faith

Rosebrough discusses Mark Driscoll's resignation at Issues Etc.

The second half of the discussion gets into the uniqueness of Driscoll's public persona.  The term "bad boy" would be apt, and in more secular discussions of sociology and psychology Mark Driscoll would fit the profile of the "badass".  Appealing to cultural norms of masculinity was something that, say, Luther did.  Driscoll's badass posture would not be a rejection of the Bible as such ... Driscoll's posture of the bad boy would be understood by Driscoll himself as taking a stand for a traditional masculine manly type of manhood.  Remember how much Driscoll fretted about boys who can shave? 

Rosebrough's proposal that Mars Hill cannot financially withstand this resignation and that maybe three churches could weather the storm.  This would seem likely given the financial dynamics of the churches as a whole. 

That Mars Hill was a denomination in all but name was a point Wenatchee The Hatchet made about eight years ago. 

and at Fighting for the Faith

Here Rosebrough discusses at some length the problem of real estate and operational debt.  As longtime readers will know Wenatchee The Hatchet privately expressed reservations about the fiscal solvency of Mars Hill's grow-forever approach. 

Wenatchee has a long history of pointing out that constant growth without donor consolidation was going to be a fiscal disaster.  There's also the matter of quoting something from Jamie Munson, years ago, about 4 reasons to expand the church (even when you shouldn't).  So Rosebrough proposing that the seeker-sensitive church model DEPENDS ON LEVERAGING DEBT is not a big surprise to Wenatchee. 


Rosebrough correctly notes that Driscoll has not been accused of "immorality" in terms of sexual impropriety with someone who is not Mark Driscoll's wife.  As for the "pornographic visions" stuff, let's revisit that some other time.  Too much has been said about the trees and not the forest.  Some discussion of the spiritual warfare series from 2008 as a rhetorical/political gambit might be in order ... later.