Friday, October 31, 2014

The News Tribune quotes Justin Dean, the spin-offs cannot use "Mars Hill"

Staff writer
October 31, 2014 
That means the Tacoma congregation would have to assume its loan or sell the church, a historic building near Wright Park.
 All centralized staff for the Seattle-based church will be terminated and any remaining funds will be given to the independent churches, Bruskas said. After those steps, “the existing Mars Hill Church organization will be dissolved,” Bruskas said
Justin Dean is quoted as saying whatever the congregations become in 2015 they can't use the Mars Hill name.
Church spokesman Justin Dean said congregations won’t continue under the Mars Hill name.
“They must become their own churches, create their own 501c3, governance, leadership, etc.,” Dean said. “We will provide seed money if we have it, but they are free to start independent and cannot use the Mars Hill name.”

Mars Hill expanded to Tacoma in late 2012 when it purchased the historic First Congregational Church for $1.9 million.
The sale was concluded and First Congregational was paid. Mars Hill Tacoma has a mortgage with Bank of America.

Mars Hill completed a $1 million renovation of the church and started having services in the 107-year-old sanctuary last December.

Read more here:
Let's recall that Mars Hill Tacoma had the great big shout-out to Mars Hill Global earlier this year
Unsurprisingly nobody at Mars Hill Tacoma had any comment:
The Rev. Bubba Jennings, lead pastor of Mars Hill Tacoma, did not immediately address questions Friday about the future of Mars Hill Tacoma. An executive pastor that works under Jennings declined comment. Several members of the Tacoma congregation also would not comment Friday.

Read more here:
For those who may not remember this, Bubba Jennings was one of the executive elders in place in 2007 when the firings and trials of Bent Meyer and Paul Petry happened.  If former EIT member Steve Tompkins has made a point of publicly express regret over and repudiating the ethics of the 2007 process recently, then Bubba might want to decide whether he's going to address that along with the other significant transitions afoot in the realm of Mars Hill.

in wake of closure announcement BoAA/BoO member Matt Rogers has already registered Bellevue Church

While the official news today is the announced closure of Mars Hill Church the thing to observe for a possible future is that Matt Rogers has already registered a UBI #.  But first, we need to review what Matt Rogers has said in the year so far.

Rogers described those attending a summer protest at Mars Hill as leaving a bit of trash and slandering good men.

From Pastor Matt Rogers:

This past Sunday outside our building about 60 professing Christians led a protest, left a bit of trash, and slandered good men. Inside the building our church family worshipped Jesus. Let that image be what defines us. Others will cast aspersions, but we will worship Jesus.

Where, exactly, are those good men these days?  Didn't Sutton Turner and Mark Driscoll both quit? 

But let's continue observing what Matt Rogers has had to say whether as an individual or as part of a group.

First, it's important to note that Matt Rogers was on the Board of Elders

So if the Board of Elders was reaching a conclusion that Mark Driscoll had a disqualifying sin issue in his life Matt Rogers was simultaneously on the Board of Overseers as well as on the Board of Elders.
What did the Board of Overseers conclude?


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.

One member of the Board of Overseers would be Matt Rogers, it seems.  So the names from the BoO/BoAA side feature:

Mars Hill Board of Overseers
Michael Van Skaik
Larry Osborne
Jon Phelps
Matt Rogers

So Rogers was part of the BoO that concluded that Driscoll may have sinned but not in a way that disqualified him from ministry and that Driscoll was never charged with any serious stuff and that they were surprised he chose to step down.

But ... as reported by Warren Throckmorton campus pastors later read a statement that reads as follows:

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. [emphsais added] 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. [emphasis added] 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.

Recall that Wenatchee The Hatchet has pointed out the BoAA (of which the BoO is a part) has the power to authorize the dissolution of the corporation and the sale of assets.  Go over here for a discussion of the bylaws.  It's important to bear in mind that Matt Rogers has a spot on the BoO/BoAA and was also on the BoE.  Rogers was on the team that has the power to authorize real estate sales and the dissolution of the corporation so, necessarily, Rogers had some involvement in the two processes that have been news.  Rogers was also part of the group that stated Driscoll wasn't unfit for ministry. 

But in the last week Mars Hill Pastor Steve Tompkins has made public statements expressing regret over the 2007 firings and trials.  Tompkins has also made statements that seem to indicate that the Board of Elders as a group did find Mark Driscoll to have disqualifying sins with respect to ministry.

So that casts doubt, or should cast doubt, on Matt Rogers' claims that allegations about Driscoll's leadership style could be understood as slander if even he, as a member of the BoO/BoAA signed off on a letter that acknowledged that the sins Driscoll has been accused of are basically probably true--Rogers just didn't seem eager to accept the possibility that the sins were in any ones that disqualified for ministry.

So the BoE statement and more recent statements by Tompkins cast doubt on the veracity of the claims made by the BoO.  Matt Rogers was the only person who was both on the BoO/BoAA on the one hand and on the BoE on the other.  Well, as word gets around, Throckmorton has observed that Matt Rogers has ALREADY REGISTERED Bellevue Church.

UBI Number603448198
State Of IncorporationWA
WA Filing Date10/29/2014
Expiration Date10/31/2015
Inactive Date

Agent NameMatthew Rogers
Address620 106th Ave NE
Governing Persons
ChairmanRogers, Matthew620 106th Ave. NE
Bellevue, WA 98004
DirectorHurst, Thomas620 106th Ave. NE
Bellevue, WA 98004
DirectorSkelton, Jason620 106th Ave. NE
Bellevue, WA 98004
DirectorMolvar, Roger620 106th Ave. NE
Bellevue, WA 98004
So as of today, when Bruskas announced that the corporation known as Mars Hill Church is going to be closed, Matt Rogers is already the registered agent for Bellevue Church and its Chairman, with Thomas Hurst, Jason Skelton, and Roger Molvar as directors.  Already registered.  Matt Rogers was on all the boards and was part of the investigation which may or may not have actually been completed and part of the Board of Overseers deciding what happens to Mars Hill and amidst all that he found the time to register Bellevue Church with the Washington secretary of state, huh?  As in, registered it before Bruskas made today's headline-making announcement.

There may need to be several spotlights on Rogers these days. 

If you're the sort to send thank you letters to someone for the dissolution of the corporation known as Mars Hill Church don't thank a Warren Throckmorton or a Wenatchee The Hatchet.  Thank Matt Rogers, since he was one of the guys who had the power and evidently seems to have used that power, to authorize the voluntary dissolution of the corporation.

Bruskas announces corporation known as Mars Hill Church dissolving

Back on October 17, 2014 Wenatchee The Hatchet took some time to look not at Mark Driscoll's resignation as such but at what Mark Driscoll's act of vacating the legal office of president for the corporation amidst a financial crisis might entail of the remaining organization.  After all, if the president and the secretary both bailed within a short span the way Sutton Turner and Mark Driscoll did and if the finances were spiraling down the drain how might the BoAA be empowered to respond?


Section 7.16. Powers
In addition to those powers required to be exercised by the board of advisors & accoutnability under the Act, the board of advisors & accountability possesses the following enumerated powers:

(a) Alter, amend, or repeal and adopt new Articles of Incorporation or Bylaws;
(b) Oversee an evaluation of the performance of the executive elder team and approve the annual compensation for each member of the executive elder team;
(c) Appoint, retain, compensate, evaluate and terminate the Church's independent auditors;
(d) Establish the annual budget for the Church;
(e) Alter, amend, or repeal and adopt a new Conflict of Interest Policy for the Church;
(f) Indemnify an officer (or former officer), or make any other indemnification other than as authorized in the Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws in accordance with the Act;
(g) Adopt a plan of merger or adopt a plan of consolidation with another corporation;
(h) Authorize the sale, lease, or exchange of all or substantially all of the property and assets of the Church not in the ordinary course of business;

(i) Authorize the voluntary dissolution of the Church or revoke proceedings therefor;
(j) Adopt a plan for the distribution of the assets of the Church; or
(k) Make a material tax election under the INternal Revenue Code affecting the Church.

Any power not reserved for the full council of elders pursuant to Section 6.9 or the board of advisors & accountability pursuant to this Section 7.16 shall be reserved for and be decided by the executive elder team.

What seemed to happen in the last couple of months was Mars Hill put four pieces of real estate on the market.  Given that the president and secretary of Mars Hill had been no-shows in that season of sale the only way the activity of Mars Hill could be explained within the bylaws on record was that the BoAA might have been exercising some emergency powers.  And if the BoAA was authorizing sale of four pieces of real estate then the question of when, rather than if, the BoAA would also authorize was floating in the air.

Or at least it was.

By: Pastor Dave Bruskas
Posted: Oct 31, 2014

Mars Hill,
Historically, our mission has always been clear - to make disciples and plant churches. In keeping with that mission you have always been excited about new life and new birth. Last week I shared three values that are the driving goals during this transition period at Mars Hill.
Today, I am excited to share with you important decisions recently made about the future of the congregations of Mars Hill Church that we believe will work to accomplish these goals.
Following much prayer and lengthy discussion with Mars Hill’s leadership, the board of Mars Hill has concluded that rather than remaining a centralized multi-site church with video-led teaching distributed to multiple locations, the best future for each of our existing local churches is for them to become autonomous self-governed entities. This means that each of our locations has an opportunity to become a new church, rooted in the best of what Mars Hill has been in the past, and independently led and run by its own local elder teams.
We recognize this reorganization plan is a significant and complex undertaking on many fronts; however, our goal is to have the process completed by January 1st, 2015.

Local Decisions

Please be in prayer for your local elder teams as they contemplate the following options in the next few weeks: (1) becoming an independent, self-governed church; (2) merging with an existing church to create one independent, self-governed church; or (3) disbanding as a church and shepherding current members to find other local church homes. This decision will be made by your local church’s Lead Pastor and elder team.

Local Churches

The decision to plant independent, self-governed churches has significant ramifications for the existing Mars Hill Church entity. Our central staff members, who have served and labored so faithfully, have already begun work on establishing many of the details to enact this plan, under the following general priorities:
(1) All of Mars Hill’s existing church properties will either be sold, or the loans on the individual properties will be assumed by the independent churches, subject to approval by the lender; (2) all central staff will be compensated for their work, and then released from their employment; (3) if any funds remain after the winding down and satisfaction of Mars Hill business affairs, they will be gifted as seed money to the newly independent churches, then, (4) the existing Mars Hill Church organization will be dissolved.
Ultimately, the success of this plan, and the future viability of each of these new local churches rest solely on all of us continuing to be faithful in supporting Jesus’ mission through our attendance and continued giving.

Local Mission

Mars Hill Church has never been about a building or even an organization. Mars Hill is a people on mission with Jesus, and that singular focus continues as these newly independent churches are launched. It’s still all about Jesus!
As you consider next steps for you and your family, let me encourage you to join us in three critical pursuits:
  1. Stay with your church family as we embark on a new expression of the same mission.  
  2. Pray for Jesus to be honored in everything we do as we begin this season of transition.
  3. Give generously, as your gifts in November and December of this year will make a critically important difference in our desire for 13 churches being healthy and sustainable from launch-day and thereafter.
Thank you so much for your prayers and patience with us as we work out the details of this transition. We are thankful that God has a plan that is bigger than we can imagine and we are thankful that he has always been in control of our future. It has always been his mission, and he still has work for each of us to do–for his glory and our good.
Pastor Dave Bruskas

This decision must no doubt be difficult but in light of the circumstances was probably one of the only options.  This might explain Justin Dean explaining to Throckmorton that Mars Hill did not plan to file for bankruptcy.  Why file bankruptcy for the corporation if the plan all along may have been to dissolve the corporation? 

For those who were never inside Mars Hill it would be difficult, though not impossible, to explain how Mars Hill went from a small church with a an elder-led government system to the megachurch that became a multi-site venue.  In ten years Mark Driscoll managed to become pretty much everything he preached against from the pulpit circa 2000-2004.  How and why this happened may be explored and unpacked later on.  Whether the individual churches that have been constituents of Mars Hill can survive remains to be seen.  A number of them may and we'll just have to see.

But Mars Hill Global is still a morass of unanswered questions; the report by the BoE regarding Driscoll's sin isn't necessarily published or complete and this will need to be addressed since the more that comes to light the more it seems that Mars Hill leadership is mixed on whether Driscoll is fit for ministry; Mars Hill has still made no statement of apology to those who in the initial wake of Mefferd's plagiarism accusations were passive aggressively made scapegoats over plagiarism that had only Mark Driscoll's name on it; and the fact that Mark Driscoll was allowed to resign his membership from the church rather than deal with Driscoll the way Mars Hill dealt with Andrew Lamb reveals that the Mars Hill leadership culture has a cloud over it, the cloud of double standards and preferential treatment regarding leaders.  If Mars Hill no longer exists then the constituent churches that survive the dissolution of the corporation need to be exceptionally wary about the leadership cultures that evolve in the wake of the dissolution.

And while Mark Driscoll and Sutton Turner have abandoned Mars Hill they cannot escape their words and actions within Mars Hill as their legacy. 


Those who have wondered whether Driscoll might head down to California might want to remember that the Orange County eviction involves claims that the executive elders in 2012 (which would have included Driscoll and Turner) KNEW of zoning issues and allegedly played chicken with a city on ordinances.  Driscoll might not want to go near California for a while. 

It's not clear whether Driscoll and Turner will even stay in the state at this point, in the long run.  California is probably not a good place of refuge with the 2012 Orange County eviction situation having been broached in public, particularly with claims that the executive elders (i.e. including Driscoll and Turner) knew there were ordinance issues but were claimed to be willing to play chicken over eviction.  But Driscoll's appearance at a Texas conference ... well ... maybe Driscoll might move east.  But, of course, no one knows what the future holds.  Still, after the OC eviction debacle and the unanswered questions it seems imprudent for Driscoll to get near OC.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

another linkathon with a theme and some variations

Why middle-class Americans can't afford to live in liberal cities.  From the Atlantic

From the Guardian (a reprint, actually) "we need to talk about TED" Not the most warm and fuzzy take on TED talks but it was an interesting read.

Even older but somewhat thematically related, a piece from Wired called "When it comes to security we're back to feudalism", a piece about how the feudal lords of our age are information gateway companies whose conduct and methodologies we don't really understand and don't have much impact on.

From JazzWax, a blog WtH only recently came across, a musing on how even The New Yorker is guilty of what is dubbed "jackass culture", in which brazen and provocative attempts at humor put outrageous claims out on the net under the rubric of "satire" without necessarily explaining or giving a complete context for the joke.  In this case the musing from a couple of months ago was about how a raft of quotes attributed to but never uttered by Sonny Rollins was in bad taste.

There's a question from the piece that seems worth quoting so here we go:

Why would The New Yorker, one of the country's finest and most esteemed print magazines, wade into the jackass morass? The only reasonable answer is ivory-tower insensitivity or ignorance. In the case of the Sonny Rollins spoof, there's a disturbing subtext. Boiled down, the fun at Sonny's expense seems to be saying something more—that jazz is a joke and a futile endeavor, that Sonny is a fool and a laughing stock who has been wasting his time with that saxophone of his, that jazz's struggle to remain relevant in an age of nihilistic pop is side-splitting funny—like videos of an injured giraffe repeatedly struggling to get to its feet. This message alone is below a magazine that prides itself on its arts coverage

Having seen more than just a handful of incompetent and unfunny attempts at "sarcasm" on the net, usually in the form of one or two line remarks this little excerpt seems pertinent about impertinence:

Simply put, passing information along as fact under the assumption that everyone will know it's a joke is poor editorial judgment. But in the new jackass culture, anything goes, and if you feel offended, well, you clearly can't take a joke (I was on the receiving end of a few of these today).

There's a Jewish proverb about how someone is like a man throwing lit firebrands and death about who deceives his neighbor and then when challenged says "I was joking".  There's a point at which the context of a conversartion or a venue is better served by seriousness.  If even The New Yorker took a stab at effrontery then, well, maybe we "do" live in a Pussified Nation where everyone has dreams of being a William Wallace II, even people writing for The New Yorker.  Well, if so, that's our collective loss.

And, just because we're already on a jazz themed linkathon, Do the Math features Ethan Iverson writing some fun stuff about Teachout's biography on Duke Ellington and some curious reactions to ita fascinating discourse on appropriation and mutation within classical and jazz contexts (Ellington and Stravinsky); and some more about Stravinsky's brilliance by way of emotional ambivalence within his music a brutal quote attributed to Stravinsky about Mahler.

Stephen Walsh quotes the young Stravinsky’s derision of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony. “I find that the only quality in this symphony is the inflexibility of utter barefaced platitude... Fancy that for two hours you are made to understand that two times two is four, to the accompaniment of E-flat major performed fffff by 800 people.”

Ow.  Seeing as I can't quite stand Mahler (but respect his influence) I'm not entirely against Stravinsky on Mahler.  But Stravinsky could frequently be, to put it delicately, a jerk.

Because fusion, as the Cuban guitarist/composer Leo Brouwer once put it, has been the musical movement in the last fifty years most ignored and least appreciated by academic musicologists, something Iverson wrote at Do the Math seems worth quoting at some length:

Jazz appropriations work best when they are almost totally sublimated, as in Gould’s Symphony of Spirituals. Literal appropriations are problematic. When walking bass shows up in Gunther Schuller’s Seven Studies on Themes for Paul Klee, it mars an otherwise excellent work. I see Shaw’s Partita and "Improvisation" in exactly the same light: one is vital, the other is flat.

Steve Reich always talks about Kenny Clarke, but he never tried to make some classical percussionist play a swing beat on a ride cymbal. Instead Reich wrote his own rhythms that have become venacular for modern chamber ensembles.

I predict that the path for appropriations of rock and electronica by classical composers will be similar. As always, an echo of folkloric music will inspire new transfigurations from those most inspired by full notation. It’s already happening but the best is surely in the future.

One of my most unshakeable objections to a lot of what has been passed off as crossover on the pop/classical divide has something to do with what Iverson describes as connection to the folklore.  But being the kind of composer/classical guitarist that I am I guess I would say that the failures tend to be of a kind you can bracket in two distinct ways depending on which side of the pop/classical divide you're on.  Pop musicians who try to go classical may demonstrate (rather than discover!) that their musical vocabulary is simply not very well suited to the forms of thought that are common in concert musical forms.  Here we get varying degrees of success from pop musicians and jazz musicians in tackling oratorios or instrumental suites.  On the other hand, classical sorts have the forms often in hand but tend to fail to make a convincing case that the vocabulary of more popular styles is a natural and convincing language they normally use.  The appropriation and affectation is too overt because the musical vocabulary isn't assimilated so much as appropriated.

So what about the cases where we have a Gershwin or an Ellington or maybe some moments from Ravel or Stravinsky?  Well, I'll hazard a guess, however much the crossover ultimately failed, if we're hearing a case where there is at least a rough match of the vocabulary and the form we'll be okay with what we hear.  Sure, Gershwin's jazz vocabulary by itself might not have been convincing and sure his handling of concert forms may be lacking but there's a delicate but for the most part absolutely persuasive balance between the vocabulary and the formal mastery that works.  It works for Gershwin's music and it works for Ellington's music, certainly in the works they have done that have become classics.  Stravinsky found that magical balance of vocabulary and form in Rite of Spring and Petrushka.

There will continue to be crossover but perhaps I'm not the only one who thinks that the end point for these various types of crossovers could be an eventual synthesis.  I've heard it suggested over the years that maybe in a way a sonata is like a pop song.  There's a way to understand that verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-verse-chorus can be understood as an exposition where there is theme 1, a transition, theme 2, and you repeat the exposition and follow it up with a development before getting to the recapitulation.  There is a sense when that charts out as though the two seemingly contrasting forms of a strophic form song and a sonata allegro form could be the same kind of thing.

A                           A                                B                      A
pop song
verse and chorus   verse and chorus       bridge              verse  and chorus 

sonata form
Exposition            Structural Repeat      Development   Recapitulation
1. theme 1             theme 1                     Development   1. theme 1
2. modulating       modulating                                        2. non-modulating transition
transition              transition
3. theme 2/end     theme 2/end                                       3. theme 2 (in tonic key, often)

See, I can chart it out in a way that would make it seems as though something by Ellington and something by Haydn are basically the same overall form.  But there's no way you could listen to "Dusk" and the Fifths string quartet and imagine that the Ellington ballad and the first movement of Haydn's Op. 76, 2: movement 1 are really the same form are present easily comparable musical experiences.

It doesn't just so happen I've gone through most of my life adoring the music of Haydn and Ellington.  And I love counterpoint whether it's counterpoint from Bach or, as I wrote years ago, "Counterpoint According to Stevie Wonder".  Sure, Bach and Wonder are operating in drastically different musical worlds but they're both true to their respective musical languages and they both display a mastery of the forms and vocabularies they developed.  When Wonder uses a simple modal mutation in "Where Were You When I Needed You (Last Winter" (which I blogged about over here) it's an idea so banal in its simplicity it shouldn't work, but Stevie Wonder makes it incredible.  Not too surprisingly to me someone else who could take an idea, subject it to modal mutation and transform happy to sad or sad to happy would be someone like Beethoven, or Haydn, or Brahms ... you probably get the general idea.

But it may have taken a whole century of fragmentation and mutation for musicians in various streams of performing traditions to also have opportunities to play with how these seemingly divergent and contrasting styles may not be entirely separate.  I played with how a Christian quoting Galatians could make a case that in Christ there is no slave or free, Jew or Greek, male or female and that this could be a theological underpinning for the proposal that in Christ there is no high or low, no mainstream or indie, no pop or classical.  It's not to say that these distinctions don't actually exist or that those differences never matter but that as a theological proposal a Christian believes that Christ reconciles all things to Himself and that in that sense what so many have considered irreconcilable styles of music that represent cultural norms and values that have no common ground, that may be our hang-up and the apostle Paul wrote millennia ago to warn the Galatians that that set of expectations and boundaries that were believed to be hard and fast have not only become more permeable with the advent of Christ, those boundaries are destroyed by the blood of Christ on the cross and reconciliation is possible through the resurrection.

And, of course, not everyone is going to go along with that.  But I mention this not merely in passing because in his biography about Ellington Teachout noted that Duke was, in his way, serious about religion and Christianity.  Ellington said and did a lot of stuff that might make people disbelieve the reality and sincerity of his Christian profession ... but as regular readers of Wenatchee The Hatchet may nave noted, I've had some pretty stern things to say about problems with the sayings and actions of Mark Driscoll and leaders at Mars Hill without presuming to question the sincerity of their Christian professions. 

And perhaps that gets us to another little moment.  Over at Wedgewords, Steven Wedgeword sums up a transition I've found in my own life.

As I never tire of saying, “Ideas don’t have consequences. People with ideas do.” And those people often act upon a variety of more or less consistent motivations and impulses, some rational and some visceral. Pretending that this isn’t the case and that we can solve societal problems with ideas is the surest way to never find a solution to any particular problem. We can’t let worldview, whether religious or political, become a new opium for the people.

There could be more that could be written, since as someone once put it of the writing of books there is no end, but this might suffice for a night.

There's another MH/MD related blogging project incubating but it will take some time.  There are a couple of bits for posterity that seem worth discussing but it won't be a small task.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

something for Tompkins to follow up on, if possible, more details of his role in the EIT of 2007

While Mars Hill Pastor Steve Tompkins' recently public letter is a positive step and a giant step dealing with 2007 on the part of a current Mars Hill elder with respect to 2007 (certainly a bigger step than the one Driscoll took in August with his vague references to 2006-2007) there is an extra detail that must be borne in mind about Tompkins.

Namely, his role as part of the Elder Investigative Taskforce of 2007 alongside Scott Thomas, Gary Shavey, and Dave Kraft.

Tompkins now joins Kraft for the ranks of men who have in some way publicly expressed regret over the 2007 firing and trial process but since Tompkins was actually on the EIT perhaps he can elucidate what evidence (if any?) was accumulated during the month of October 2007.  Perhaps Tompkins can also explain what was described as an already completed "conciliatory process", too, if that's possible.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

a few links for perusing

From Terry Teachout on the dismal reality of book blurbs and what they're "really" for.
... Not that multiple requests for blurbs clutter my mailbox each morning, but I am asked to supply quotes fairly frequently, occasionally from friends and colleagues, more often from publicists and authors I don’t know. Every time I open such a letter, I remember the wise words of an editor of mine who once assured me in a moment of candor that blurbs don’t sell books. “You know who they’re really for?” she added. “Our own salespeople. We use blurbs to convince them that our books are worth selling.”

A sobering thought, that.

Then there's this fascinating piece on a band that did a note for note reproduction of Kind of Blue without any bit of swing whatsoever.

The joke sounds brutally but wonderfully meta, if jazz is the American classical music then if you just play all the notes perfectly but without any swing then, there you go.  In the wake of Teachout's biography on Ellington last year there have been some fascinating debates on whether Ellington's tendency to use the riffs of his sidemen constituted plagiarism or not and that got into and gets into questions about creative activity as an individual or social process.  We don't seem to expect jazz to be a one-person process the way we would expect a symphony to be the result of one person rather than a committee project.  Why is it easier to imagine jazz as the creative result of multiple minds while we tend to want a sonnet to be the result of anything but a committee, preferably just a single person?

According to at least one new poll (HT Phoenix Preacher), evangelicals are not particularly picky about doctrine.

So that might explain why Mark Driscoll still has a shot at a future career as a public ministry figure?  He's already said enough stuff about things like the Targum Neofiti that biblical scholars left, right and center have said he's a failure with commenting about rabbinical commentaries (and didn't Driscoll once say a Christian couldn't learn anything from a Jew about Jesus?)

Keeping somewhat with the motif of markulinity, in a post-2008 recession setting what if generation Y has avoided buying cars and throwing money into real estate because they just don't want that stuff?  It might be tough to tell the new generation of men to "man up" and invest in those things if the economic incentives to buy those things are dwindling.  What if the adulthood a guy like Driscoll has been pushing for is really just a particular form of consumer identity that is taken as the status indicator of responsible adulthood rather than actually responsible adulthood?

Steve Tompkins publishes open letter--asks forgiveness confesses that he now sees his role/decision in 2007 as wrong

Warren Throckmorton has noted that Pastor Steve Tompkins has issued an open letter regarding his participation in Mars Hill leadership and sins and mistakes he wants to address.  Normally the open letter, particularly in any kind of neo-Calvinist scene, tends to overflow with pious bromides of superiority (at least in the experience of Wenatchee The Hatchtet).  This open letter does not quite look like that.

Letter from Pastor Steve Tompkins
Updated Oct 28th, 2014

Dear Former Members and Attenders of Mars Hill Church, especially those of you for whom I have had shepherding responsibility at Mars Hill Shoreline.

I am deeply sorry that so many people have experienced profound hurt over the years at Mars Hill. It breaks my heart that many continue to live with deep emotional and spiritual wounds, even long after leaving the church. I also realize that in my role as an elder, including as Lead Pastor at Shoreline, I share responsibility and complicity in some of the ways you have been hurt, disappointed, and sinned against at Mars Hill. For me this has been an ongoing process in which the depth of conviction and realization of my own sin seems to grow almost daily as does my sorrow over how people have been hurt. This has especially been so as I have had opportunity to sit down and hear people’s stories directly. My purpose in this letter is to share some of the ways my perspective has changed, to confess my sin, to spell out my ongoing process of repentance, and perhaps—should God allow—play some role in his work of healing. Let me tell you a bit about the journey bringing me to write this letter.

Eight or nine months ago as I was reflecting on Revelation 2-3 (the letters to the seven churches), I began to feel that Jesus was placing Mars Hill under discipline and calling us to repent. Over the course of these past months this text of scripture, especially the first and last letters (those to Ephesus and Laodicea), have consistently formed the paradigm through which I have come to view events, attitudes, and decisions at Mars Hill. In these letters we see Jesus walking among his churches. He knows what is happening. He speaks his words of commendation as well as rebuke. He calls the churches to have ears to hear. He calls them to repent, and puts them on a timeline of his choosing. If they prove to have ears to hear, choose to humble themselves, confess their sins and repent, then the corporate outcome is joy and fruitfulness. If however, they fail to repent then the consequences are serious and severe, including the removal of the lampstand of his presence and his light. What strikes me as significant is that our sovereign King places the outcome in the hands of the church itself. This has profound implications.

First of all it means that what has been happening at Mars Hill is the work of Jesus in our midst. It means that the root of the problem is not satanic opposition or attack, nor is it social media or vocal online critics, nor is it the members or attenders of the church (past or present). Nor is it elders, deacons, staff and leaders who have called for change from within. In fact the root of the problem has been the leadership of the church who have been blindly committed to maintaining the status quo as if we simply need to push through what has so frequently been referred to as a “difficult season.” All such attempts at crisis management and damage control are futile, foolish, and in fact create more harm since they are the polar opposite of repentance. I am convinced that Jesus is bringing his word of rebuke to the leadership (including me) through the Spirit. This is his word of loving discipline. In Rev 3:19 Jesus says, “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.” I personally must have ears to hear and a heart to respond.

I have been at Mars Hill for over twelve years, on full time staff for more than eleven, a pastor for ten, and served as Lead Pastor of MH Shoreline for more than eight years. Jesus’ call to repentance therefore is spoken to me as much as anyone at Mars Hill, for I have helped to build and perpetuate the culture of this church. Through sins both of commission and omission at various times I have been complicit. Recognizing this, I have been seeking over the last eight months to respond diligently and humbly. I have been asking Jesus to reveal my sin and show me where we have gone wrong as a church. He has proven faithful, progressively removing blinders and exposing my own MH-specific blind spots. He has been giving me new eyes and I now look back on my years at MH very differently. I see my sin in ways that previously I simply did not. It has been simultaneously painful and good.

For example, if the leadership and ministry culture at Mars Hill has been marked by arrogance (and it has), then I am coming to see how I have been marked by that same arrogance, and how I was blind to it, both in others and in myself. I now see how my own sin of arrogance within our arrogant culture therefore went unrecognized and unchallenged. In saying this, I am in no way blaming my sin on others or on the culture. On the contrary, my sin is my own sin which I freely confess. That is what I am now seeing with painful clarity. The same is true with the sin of domineering leadership. In fact, if you mix ministry arrogance together with top-down domineering leadership along with idolatry of church growth and numbers, then inevitably you create a ministry culture where many end up hurt, burned out, feeling used. I see this now, and I see how I helped to build such a culture. In fact, I am now beginning to see how my own idolatry of performance and ministry “success” played so well at Mars Hill. Again, I do not blame my sin on others or our culture. Rather, I am now seeing how I contributed to the hurt of faithful and trusting members, attenders and leaders. Please forgive me.

But there is another—and related—area of great sin and blindness that I need to address. In fact, I would say I consider this to be the darkest, most destructive and most hurtful aspect of Mars Hill’s ministry culture by far. I call it the “ad hominem” narrative. Ad hominem is the Latin term for a tactic used when facing off with an opponent over an issue, whereby one seeks to win by attacking and discrediting their opponent rather that honestly debating the issue at hand. In one form or another ad hominem narrative (which can sound very reasonable, especially because it can contain elements of truth), has been consistently used for years to discredit voices of dissent and to silence accusation of wrongdoing and sin. What I have seen on multiple occasions is that when a leader raises an issue with Mars Hill or Mars Hill leadership, they themselves soon become the issue rather than the issue they raised. What they said, for example, is invalidated by how they said it, or because they did not follow proper procedure or protocol. Then, almost inevitably it is not long before they are gone from their position, their job, or the church itself. Often, their integrity was then slandered and their character maligned. Resorting to ad hominem narrative as a response to conflict is horrible and devastating in the extreme. Ad hominem narrative is essentially to defensive one’s own righteousness rather than to trust the righteousness of Another. It never confesses or takes responsibility for sin. It is inconsistent with humility. It resists repentance at any cost. It is therefore antithetical to the gospel. [emphases added]

Sadly, I confess that I bought into this narrative in many ways and for too long. I trusted our leadership and sincerely believed their words. I sincerely led others to believe their words. Perhaps our leadership believed their own words, but this consistent narrative over the years became woven into the core of the culture of the church. [emphasis added] It is profoundly dark and ugly. I see that now, but for a long time I was blind to it. I am so sorry. I have frequently chosen, when things get hard, to put my head down with my eyes forward, and simply to work hard. As a result I have had almost no rear view mirror, which I now realize contributed to my blindness. There are so many things I frankly did not see. Looking back prayerfully however, I now realize there were also a few situations where I did see but did not speak up or stand up when I should have. My silence in those situations was sinful and cowardly. In our coercive culture of fear I gave in to fear of man. I am so sorry. Please forgive me. May God have mercy on us. With blind Bartimaeus I continue to call out, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” (see Mark 10:46-52). May God bring true repentance, redemption and healing to me, the church, and indeed all of us.

Some may wonder why I have stayed at Mars Hill if indeed these are my convictions. The answer is quite simple and brings me back to Revelation 2-3 where Jesus calls—not just individuals—but entire churches to repentance. And if Jesus is calling Mars Hill to repent, then it is incumbent upon the elders to lead the way as those who must give an account. Therefore, I must repent as an elder in the office of elder taking responsibility for my sin as an elder. I must also seek to lead repentance and call others—especially among the elders—to join me every chance I get. This is what I am doing within Mars Hill as Jesus graciously continues opening my eyes. In addition, I have felt conviction before Jesus that I need to apologize and repent personally, face to face when possible, to former members, leaders and staff. I have therefore been revisiting situations that are years old as well as recent. I have been seeing them with new eyes and coming face to face with my own sin. This includes, for example, the events in 2007 ensuing from the (what I now believe to be the unjust and unfair) firing of pastors Paul Petry and Bent Meyer. I was involved in the subsequent events which included the official investigation process, the trial conducted by the elders, and the official shunning of the Petry family which followed. These events were profoundly devastating and damaging to both the Petry and Meyer families. I deeply regret my actions. I sinned against them through my participation as an elder, and desire to publicly redress these wrongs. I have recently reached out and apologized, repenting to them and seeking the beginning of reconciliation. From them I have received only grace and forgiveness. I am so grateful and humbled.

In many ways I feel like I am late to the table, but I am grateful to be here now. I have been reaching out to and meeting with a number of other former members, leaders, and staff as part of this ongoing process. God’s grace has been profoundly present each time. Recently, I had the chance to stand on the stage at MH Shoreline, shoulder to shoulder with my fellow elders in front of gathered members as we each expressed our own repentance. I therefore intend to continue as an elder at Mars Hill as long as the process of repentance continues moving forward, and as long as there is hope for a more biblical and healthy plurality of elders to arise. In light of Mark Driscoll’s resignation I believe this is a crucial time, representing an opportunity to truthfully acknowledge the destructive elements of the legacy of Mars Hill’s leadership. Leaders need to confess sin specifically, taking full responsibility. Apologies need to be given in person where possible. Now is the time for genuine open-hearted face-to-face repentance. I would love to see healing come to thousands of former and present members, attenders and leaders so that we can all embrace a more healthy and joyful future. We have hope for this through him alone who is our loving and risen Savior. For this reason I intend to continue down this road inviting others to join me. It is because this is so important that I have decided to put my thoughts in writing at this time.

I intend to personally send this letter to as many people as I can. I freely give you permission to forward this to other former members and attenders of Mars Hill.

Brothers and sisters, I humbly ask your forgiveness for my sin in my role as a Mars Hill elder. I am deeply sorry for your suffering, and pray that Jesus will grant emotional, spiritual, and relational healing. I do realize that this letter represents a blanket confession, which in and of itself is inadequate. I do realize that confession and repentance needs to be specific and personal. So, I want you to know that I am not simply asking for blanket forgiveness from a distance as if that will result in the healing grace you need and long for. I do hope to reach out personally to as many as I can, but please know that you are welcome to contact me directly, or through someone you trust (just drop me a line on Facebook). I would be happy to speak with you or meet with you as soon as our schedules allow.

Steve Tompkins
October 27, 2014

Not too much to write at the moment about the letter but it is worth noting what has been highlighted in red.  And other emphases that were added.  Way back in September 2008 Wenatchee The Hatchet wrote the following
...  However, if he gets in over his head or loses his temper (both of those things happen), he will get sloppy and resort to one of two (or both) tactics to discredit the other side.

Reductio ad absurdum

Ad hominem

The first generally amounts to knocking down a straw man or taking what may be a nuanced argument down by means of an extremist version of the same. The second really needs no explanation. Both of these approaches were manifest abundantly in his career as William Wallace II, not least on the old discussion thread Pussified Nation. Understandably Driscoll doesn't want anyone actually reading what was on Pussifed Nation because he acted like an asshole. Period. At that time he operated under the suppostion that the ends justified the means so he would say whatever he thought needed to be said in order to make his point. Except when someone actually took his rhetoric at face value and wanted to fight him at 3am (Reformission Rev, Zondervan 2006, page 129)

What Driscoll conveniently omits from his account was that he spent so much time making vitriolic statements about anyone who disagreed with him while using a pseudonym that he was setting an example for the young men to follow, the very young men he held in his book were getting out of line. Well, duh. If the lead pastor writes a lengthy screed called Pussified Nation and claims that people who disagree with him must be guys who live in their mama's basements downloading porn from the internet then why be surprised if a bunch of young men who are baby Christians and look up to him as their role model start doing the same?

When, as William Wallace II, Driscoll dismissed an argument from some people as coming from guys who probably lived in their momma's basements and were downloading porn on the internet the recipients of these comments argued as though the comments weren't relevant. William Wallace II then wrote to the effect of "notice that they didn't refute a single thing I said" as though that settled the argument in his favor. Making a personal attack on the character of your opponent and then deciding that settles the argument isn't great debate form even in high school.

So with these things in mind it is more accurate to say that Driscoll will declare a position on something to be "the" biblical position. Anyone who disagrees strongly and cannot be persuaded gets labeled not necessarily always a heretic but as someone who is not "on mission" or, per Reformission Rev "dead weight". This can employ either reducing the counterpoint to a parody or simply impugning the character of whomever disagrees with Driscoll. This approach has been present in the public sphere in various forms since 2001 so it's not like this is news.

So what Steve Tompkins has of late observed was something Wenatchee The Hatchet noticed specifically was the case about Mark Driscoll and most notably in the old thread "Pussified Nation" on the old Midrash.

The narrative relying on ad hominem is an interesting and important observation about the leadership culture at Mars Hill and readers may fairly wonder where and how such a narrative could have been formulated.  For those who weren't busy fixating on "I see things" the most concentrated single teaching session in which this kind of ad hominem narrative may have cemented into the leadership culture of Mars Hill was the February 5, 2008 teaching seminar on spiritual warfare. 

We'll get to that after some kind of interlude because if you've heard of the four-hour beast you know presenting it will not be a quickie project.

Regarding Tompkins' letter about the most Wenatchee can think to add at this point is, "Better late than never, Steve."

Monday, October 27, 2014

Justin Dean has informed Throckmorton Mars Hill is not and will not file for bankruptcy protection

While people have been given reason to doubt the accuracy and timeliness of thing written by Justin Dean in the past if Mars Hill were to actually end up bankrupt that'd be a hard thing to quell.  There's no indication the BoAA has moved to authorize the dissolution of the corporation or that the corporation has or is filing for bankruptcy.  If Mars Hill can consolidate and redraft its entire infrastructure and culture maybe it can soldier on.  In Driscoll's taxonomy of the life cycle of organizations this would still probably get dubbed the death stage but if hints of admissions that Mars Hill's domineering/authoritarian culture brought about its troubles expand into full disclosure and a decentralization of governance ... well ... who knows? Given the conflicted messages from the BoO and the BoE in the weeks around Driscoll's resignation it seems nobody even inside the corporation known as Mars Hill Church is sure so we can hardly be certain about anything on the outside. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

if the MH situation is as precarious as it seems "beginning again" may just be dying.

Second, in recent years, some have used the language of “celebrity pastor” to describe me and some other Christian leaders. In my experience, celebrity pastors eventually get enough speaking and writing opportunities outside the church that their focus on the church is compromised, until eventually they decide to leave and go do other things. Without judging any of those who have done this, let me be clear that my desires are exactly the opposite. I want to be under pastoral authority, in community, and a Bible-teaching pastor who grows as a loving spiritual father at home and in our church home for years to come. I don’t see how I can be both a celebrity and a pastor, and so I am happy to give up the former so that I can focus on the latter. [emphasis added]

But Mark Driscoll hasn't been a pastor for about a week and what happens?  He gets on a stage and regales the crowd with stories about his family.  It seems that at this point that maybe Mark Driscoll has opted to be a celebrity rather than a pastor.  It would seem after ripping on word-faith/prosperity teachers seven years ago and singling out T. D. Jakes, the announcing Jakes a Trinitarian,  it would appear that Mark Driscoll has never really been Reformed so much as aligned with whomever has the team that could be convinced to back him.  If Mark Driscoll could change his mind about Jakes he could shift to a word-faith team and maybe convince himself he's not really embracing views he considered heretical.  A question people may need to wrestle with is whether Mark Driscoll's personality is going to be fit for ministry if he suddenly announce he's become a word-faith egalitarian. 

But let's get back to the question--is Mark Driscoll still that local church pastor who's glad to give up celebrity to be a pastor?  Let's look back on some other things Driscoll said amid this year's controversies and see whether he's still in the same place now.

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. [emphasis added]

Right, because Mars Hill working with Result Source Inc. to rig a spot for Real Marriage on the NYT bestseller list was just the kind of thing that a local church pastor does and his posse is uniformly okay about that? So far most of the primary document evidence about Driscoll's ministry suggests that normal local church pastors don't do any of that stuff and don't see any need to write and publish books because if they're fairly normal Christian pastors they ALREADY HAVE A BOOK to reference or promote from the pulpit on Sundays called ... the Bible. Perhaps Driscoll has missed the big E on the eye chart, to borrow one of his preferred phrases (whether or not he originated it).

And now ... now Mark Driscoll will be remembered as a quitter.

The Board of Overseers seems to have decided that Driscoll was not disqualified from ministry while the Board of Elders announced that Mark Driscoll resigned rather than comply with a restoration plan that indicated he needed time away from ministry.  So the leadership of Mars Hill seems split on whether Driscoll had disqualified himself for ministry with the BoO seeming to say "no" and the BoE seeming to say "yes" but without publicly repudiating the statements of the BoO.  Regardless, it has seemed, then, that Mark Driscoll has gone and quit rather than comply with a restoration plan in the same way Andrew did in 2012 ... but no one at Mars Hill seems willing to say Mark Driscoll may have qualified himself as a wolf?

Think about it, if Andrew was a wolf for declining to agree to Martian discipline in 2011-2012 and his leaving the church and ending membership was considered grounds for "escalated communication", then why hasn't Mars Hill's Board of Elders done something like this "escalated communication" about both Mark Driscoll and the Board of Overseers?

Well, one possibility is that the Board of Advisors & Accountability has the power to authorize the voluntary dissolution of the corporation known as Mars Hill Church.  How do you call out a misrepresentation from the BoO/BoAA if doing so could risk them dissolving the entire church at a stroke?  For that matter, given Turner's concerns in 2012 that Mars Hill would be in breach of loan covenants back then, here in 2014 Mars Hill may already be at a point where they need to declare bankruptcy and/or dissolve the corporation. 

Driscoll and Turner left amidst controversy and the corporation Driscoll set up may be dying and now is not the time for quitters in the executive elder team that included a man who told quitters to neither ask for nor expect to receive severance pay to get any severance at all.  Turner can figure out how to scrounge up some money without Mars Hill.  Then again, if Turner's already got his severance package there's no reason Driscoll should necessarily have to get one, and in any case Mars Hill might not be fiscally solvent enough to provide much of a severance package anyway.

Dissolving the corporation may actually be necessary and inevitable, unlike a controversial firing/trial process instigated in 2007. It's unfortunate for Jamie Munson his externally documented legacy as a leader in the history of Mars Hill may end up being documents at Joyful Exiles because with a leadership legacy like that it might be tough to do leadership consulting.  With the 50th St corporate headquarters on the market it's just nine years after the building purchase and the grand legacy and vision that Driscoll touted in Confessions of a Reformission Rev in 2006 seems teetering on the edge of an abyss.

If Mars Hill files for bankruptcy or the corporation is dissolved then this could be taken as a providential cue that God never told Mark Driscoll anything at all.  Driscoll may have just convinced himself and a whole bunch of other people God told him stuff.  Driscoll has made no secret about success being an idol and for the spiritual health of Mark Driscoll he may need this corporation to die so he can see the long-term fruits of his legacy.  After all, he was legal president and the founder of the corporation.  Mars Hill Church may need to die as the last and best thing that can happen.  Driscoll seems to have been able to go his whole ministerial life without having to face the significance of unmitigated failure.  To this day he has not addressed the sheer scale of the citation problems in his published works as documented by Warren Throckmorton, Janet Mefferd or Wenatchee The Hatchet.  Publishers were busy changing material behind the scenes.  If Driscoll wants his intellectual property at this point Mars Hill might benefit from opening up all the books and records to show to what degree the intellectual property of Mark Driscoll was actually generated by the infrastructure of Mars Hill. 

Mars Hill, if they feel brave, should avoid giving Mark Driscoll his intellectual property until he's willing to admit the extent of the citation errors in his published works.  Mars Hill should also consider issuing a public apology for the passive aggressive way in which they tried to blame plagiarism with Driscoll's name on it (The Trial Study guide) on research assistance.

Then again, if Mark Driscoll wants his intellectual property back Mars Hill may be better off giving it to him.  After all, as Warren Throckmorton has managed to comprehensively document, Mark Driscoll's intellectual property has some problems.  The evidence accumulated so far suggests to Wenatchee The Hatchet that Driscoll's intellectual property is second-hand and tainted goods.  Why bother with Death By Love if you could just go read John Stott's Christ on the Cross?

Driscoll has to date done little more than demonstrate that the few ideas he's shared that were any good weren't even his and that the ideas that were uniquely his weren't much good.  He may be a brilliant parrot, able to replicate and recycle the good ideas of others in ways that people can find beneficial but when he set out to draft a marriage manual he seems to have betrayed everything he used to stand for. 

And now Mark Driscoll isn't a local church pastor. He isn't a pastor at any church at all, and he's not a member of any church in light of the absence of having a profile on The City.  People came for Mark Driscoll and now that he's gone what's worth coming for?  To put it another way, after so many years of Mark Driscoll and his team shaping a Mars Hill that depends on Driscoll as a brand, the brand has been shown to be more hype than substance.  Driscoll's assurances that he wasn't going anywhere have turned out, it seems, to be wishful thinking.  The way in which he has quit, in light of what the BoE has said, makes him seem to be an unscrupulous coward.  If Driscoll were to ask for his intellectual property back this would just further highlight whether or not Driscoll will even concede that thanks to the plagiarism controversy he also managed to drag his wife's name into the mess, since it was Grace Driscoll's Chapter 7 of Real Marriage (if she even wrote it) that so prominently featured material so obviously indebted to Dan Allender's work.   As Mark Driscoll used to say from the pulpit when you sin against me I want justice but when I sin against you I want mercy.  Funny how Mark Driscoll may live that out in a way that could sink his reputation still further.  We'll just have to see.

But whatever may happen, Mars Hill has some who are trying to hold on to some possibility for a new beginning.

What seems more likely is the death of the corporation through dissolution and bankruptcy. 
December 01, 2013
Pastor Mark Driscoll
...Mars Hill, I am convinced, utterly convinced that we are poised for the biggest year we’ve ever had. [emphasis added] And we’ve got some great leaders, and I’ve got a great honor today of sharing some of them with you. I want you to see who we’re talking about, and what they’re doing, and where they’re leading. We’ve pulled up their giving. They’re all giving, OK? They’re all serving, they’re all working, they’re all caring, they’re all trying. And you are helping them by giving generously and praying faithfully.

Oh, it sure was a big year alright. 

It increasingly seems impossible that Mars Hill Church can or should survive and if it fails then that means that the legacy Mark Driscoll built will not only have not outlived Driscoll but couldn't survive with him into middle age.  His legacy has also become reversing in his life the things he declared from the pulpit, whether starting a side company in 2011 of the sort he condemned in 2009, or letting Mars Hill have its bylaws rewritten so that a remote God box of executive leaders who never really interact with local leadership call all the shorts about who owns and sells the real estate, Mark Driscoll has turned out to have betrayed pretty much everything he said he stood for in one way or another. 

And now Mars Hill Church seems to be on the brink of death and if it dies that will show us something of what Mark Driscoll's legacy as a church planter may really be.  He's certainly a celebrity now but a pastor?  Hardly.  And if by some miracle Mars Hill survives Driscoll won't deserve any credit for abandoning it.  He'll still have the legacy of a quitter and the lose-lose scenario he put himself and Mars Hill that reached the point of his resignation will still be what it's been.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Matthew Lee Anderson: The Fatal Tensions of the Fight Churches--WtH considers the overlap between this and Markulinity

You know it's been so long since Wenatchee The Hatchet has linked to something at Mere Orthodoxy consider this a bit of, um, penance?  :)  Along the way Anderson references this, probably the touchstone of discussing "fight church" stuff.
... So let me write the obituary now, if only for posterity:  at the heart of the fight churches were both the strengths and weaknesses of the evangelical world. Its best and most reasonable proponents (which are featured in this film) were motivated by an interested seriousness to reach their neighbor with a message that has captivated them, yet were simultaneously unrestrained by any form of moral reasoning other than that which lies on the surface of the Bible and so unable to untangle their own praiseworthy motivations from the problematic and troubling practices which they took shape within.  The Christianity of the fight churches deluded itself into thinking it was strong, while it was actually weak, and into believing that in its battle for the world it had managed to overcome its brittle frailties. -

There's a form of manliness but the substance of it may be missing in the long run.  This has at length been one of Wenatchee The Hatchet's core critiques of Mark Driscoll's soapbox about masculinity.  Even if we somehow set aside the burgeoning reality that Driscoll preached a vision of masculinity that implicitly and at times explicitly set him up as the ideal of the masculine those immersed in the history of Mars Hill have had an opportunity to discover how woefully short of his own ideals of masculinity Driscoll has repeatedly fallen.

But beyond that, a thorough examination of Mark Driscoll's invocation of all martial metaphors and analogies has begun to open up a disturbing possibility, that Driscoll's concept of mixed martial arts or of the conduct of war in general are so impoverished they fall short not just of any actual soldier or athlete's understanding of what fighting may be as an art or a discipline; Driscoll's vision of manliness can't even account for things so basic that an interested civilian couldn't find them out.

Whether it's Matt Morin at The Other Journal explaining why Driscoll's concept of MMA shows he's got no grasp of how the sport works, or Wenatchee The Hatchet noting that Driscoll's use of the distinction between air war and ground war clearly indicates a man who has lacked the knowledge that no military campaigns in the history of humanity have ever been "won" by the air war; or Wenatchee The Hatchet's same post discussing how the clean manly evangelical faith Driscoll purported to stand for tends to only work if it's practiced by a pastor who is quite literally in the trenches with soldiers; it begins to seem more and more that Mark Driscoll has not given us a vision of masculinity that is more than the outline of a thing, a thing he has not necessarily lived up to for much of his time as a public figure.

The reason the gap between image and substance is not just as simple as the gap between reality and image, there can be said to be a more striking possibility about this gap. Cue an Adolf Schlatter quote.

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.
Schlatter wrote that the folly of idolatry was that the idol is not the thing that is made an idol but the image or likeness thereof.  Thus, perhaps, we can propose that the masculinity Mark Driscoll proposes men follow is not really masculinity so much as markulinity, an outline of the form of a type of masculinity that not only does not withstand scrutiny by evangelical critique, it turns out more and more to have been a version of masculinity Mark Driscoll himself may have continually failed to live out as he berated others for failing to meet its standards.

Becky Garrison interview with Randall Balmer on Driscoll resignation

Of particular interest to Wenatchee The Hatchet is the observation that the mainline Protestant groups (i.e. denominations) don't have as much room for cults of personality to emerge.  It may be worth noting that evangelicalism as defined via practice in the United States is not necessarily a confessional identity or a set of denominational structures (though denominations most certainly exist within the spectrum of what may be called evangelicalism) but by a culture. From Alastair Roberts' piece "Evangelicalism's Poor Form":

There is a sort of evangelical folk religion, most of which is largely unauthorized by pastors or elders, a folk religion driven and populated by TV preachers, purity culture, uninformed theological speculations in democratic Bible studies, Chick tracts, evangelistic bumper stickers and T-shirts, Thomas Kinkade paintings, VeggieTales, Kirk Cameron movies, Amish romance novels, the Left Behind series, Focus on the Family literature, Christian bloggers, CCM, Christian dating guides, Answers in Genesis books, sappy mass-produced devotional literature, study Bibles for every conceivable niche market, and much else besides. Unsurprisingly, many presume that this all passed quality control and received the imprimatur of Evangelical Central Headquarters.

What is particularly interesting to Wenatchee The Hatchet is the following observation Roberts  makes:

...  Evangelical churches are often distinguished by such features as their use of contemporary musical styles, modes of dress, conspicuous use of state-of-the-art audio-visual technologies, their colloquial manner of speech, heavy online presence, and their ecclesiastical architecture that breaks with tradition to adopt the pattern of modern auditoriums. Evangelical identity is also widely expressed through the forms of a consumer society: through corporate models of Christian leadership, through the production, marketing, advertising, and selling of a Christianity that functions like a “brand” on everything from mints to keyrings. Few pause to question whether these forms of expression might be shaping us in unhealthy ways, assimilating us into culturally prevailing habits, dynamics, and ways of life and perception, all beneath the cover of a thin veneer of Christianity.

In the blog post "Mars Hill and the idol of social media" Wenatchee the Hatchet observed that embracing social media and saturating the internet with content became a double-edged sword for Mars Hill, particularly in the wake of the Andrew situation in 2012.

In an American setting in which any kind of liturgy recognized as liturgy is considered "dead religion" or "legalism" American evangelicals are primed to accept personality-anchored alternatives.  Yet the bureaucracies and institutional/cultural norms of denominations and confessional traditions may potentially be the most potent countervailing force that would be needed to curb the rise of someone like a Mark Driscoll into a media-centric empire.  It's not too surprising that a variety of Mars Hill members who left gravitated toward Presbyterian, Baptist, Orthodox and in some cases Catholic settings.  The kind of institutional/bureaucratic braking system that so many of us thought we didn't particularly need in the heady early days of Mars Hill has paradoxically turned into something many of us appreciate quite a bit more now!

"former mars hill elder" lays out things to watch for at Throckmorton's blog
former mars hill elder

A few interesting things to note that may help people understand why so many contrary reports are coming out, and why any change is going so slow:

1.Mark owns the rights to many things at Mars Hill including his sermons. He's insistent they take them down (and they're more than happy to oblige). But a complication is that Mars Hill will now have to do a whole redesign of the Web page while also recognizing there will most likely be more redesigns in the near future.

In the wake of the plagiarism controversy and the fact that the Driscolls used Dan Allender's work without any credit in the first edition, may be an unusual case in which Driscoll claiming his intellectual property could help the public image of Mars Hill.  Mefferd never rescinded her public accusation that Mark Driscoll was a plagiarist and the evidence in the books spoke for itself and even more so through the fact that publishers quietly amended the offending passages. 

But that Driscoll rather than Mars Hill owns the copyright to a lot of material that has been distributed by Mars Hill highlights that Driscoll's now revealed to be a recycler and re-brander of the ideas of others.  He's also prone to recycling his own material.  If Driscoll does insist Mars Hill take down his material then Mars Hill should publicly disclose the degree to which Mark Driscoll may have relied on ghost writers and research assistant to cobble together his lazily written books. 

2. They're seriously considering filing bankruptcy because of the amount of debt facing the church.

Mars Hill may be incapable of surviving without a draw like Driscoll and if Mars Hill as a social system doesn't realize this, the BoAA has the enumerated power to dissolve the corporation whether the rank and file want this or not.

3. Ballard may become the "hub" once again. In fact, it might be the only church left with the name and legal ownership of Mars Hill.

Assuming Mars Hill can financially survive Driscoll's departure.  Driscoll and Turner shouldn't be getting a severance package if they were leaving by the rules Sutton Turner laid out for the rank and file but at this point the rank hypocrisy of Driscoll and Turner may be nearly impossible to dispute.

4. Several of the LP's on the BOE felt mark was disqualified. In fact, they felt it was obvious once they heard the stories. Unfortunately, they chose to "submit" (read: cowardice) to the overseers and read the collective statement. They violated their own consciences in doing so, but many of them are still submitting to the false view of "submission" to leaders that Mark taught.

5. Several more elders are set to resign. They are disheartened with the cowardice they see displayed by the Lp's.

Per Leviticus 5:1 a public repudiation of how things were handled as far back as 2007 would be valuable from the few left at Mars Hill who were party to that.  Given the degree to which Mars Hill has bled information the resignations that come will probably not be too hard to eventually document.

6. Lastly, people should insist- INSIST the BOE release their findings. Every CG leader at every sync should insist on this. Every member should demand this. Every LP (but specifically those on the BOE MUST be asked why they did NOT declare Mark DQ'd. They are violating their own consciences and most of these men will not be able to stand up and answer pointed questions about something they themselves do not believe. In particular talk to Ed Choi, Alex Ghioni, Miles Rhode, AAron Gray, and even (surprisingly) Tim Smith and AJ Hamilton.

This is VERY important. Especially if you are a cg leader. They cannot handle more people leaving and they realize that now more than ever they are going to be held accountable by the members. So stay. Pray. And don't stop demanding transparency and answers. It is having an effect.

The Board of Elders report should be made public.  That the Board of Overseers and the Board of Elders seem to have reached very different conclusions about Driscoll's current fitness for ministry needs further discussion.  That Driscoll resigned rather than face the restoration process prepared for him reinforces that Mars Hill let Mark Driscoll resign membership while a disciplinary review/restoration process was still in place.  Given that Driscoll's plagiarism is not mere accusation but documentable occurrence, and given that Driscoll resigned rather than face a restoration/disciplinary process no one can say Andrew's resignation was proof he was a wolf without having to say double applies to Driscoll.

If Driscoll was found disqualified against accumulated evidence the most and best the church can do is publish the complete findings. 

As for Driscoll the father-figure-pastor-of-pastors, he's revealed his deadbeat dad coward colors by resigning.  But in fact there's more to discuss about Driscoll's teaching and theology that Wenatchee intends to get to.  The vast majority of the 2008 spiritual warfare series has only been touched upon by bloggers.  Too many have looked at the notorious "I see things" bit and not at the larger presentation as a whole.  Time permitting Wenatchee intends to get to this. 

Meanwhile, Mars Hill, if it hopes to both salvage what little remains and to shed light on what has been kept from the public regarding Mars Hill's ways with intellectual property and particularly Mark Driscoll, should become more transparent not just about finances but about how it approaches intellectual property.  A Mark Driscoll who would insist on keeping control over his intellectual property at the expense of the church he founded doesn't deserve much clemency now that he's been shown to have had such a cavalier way with the intellectual property of others. 

Mark Driscoll can never escape that he not only published a book that cribbed the work of Dan Allender without credit but that in plagiarizing the works of others he also got his wife's name involved in the plagiarism controversy by dint of chapter 7 of Real Marriage.  So in addition to parading his wife's failings in a book that was rigged to be a best-seller that had citation errors in it, Mark Driscoll also got his wife's name besmirched in the controversy by way of her name being credited as the author of chapter 7, a chapter 7 that conspicuously recycled the ideas and phrases of Allender without attribution.

While Mark Driscoll regales people via media of the troubles his family has gone through there will be no concession on the part of Mark Driscoll that his wife has been dragged into the plagiarism controversy simply by having gotten a co-credit on the 2012 book. 

It will be interesting to see how things play out at Mars Hill and the likelihood of Driscoll changing theological teams seems high.  While we're on the subject of Driscoll's affiliations and associations, it would be handy if someone could establish whether Mark Driscoll has ever actually studied the biblical languages because if he tries to sell the "navel" as vagina trope again ask him about Proverbs 3.
For someone who has touted his masters in exegetical theology Mark Driscoll has not shown any competence in biblical Hebrew to convince even a layman he knows what he's talking about. 

And if Mars Hill wants to be transparent it might be good to shed some light on how much of Driscoll's content generation was delegated.  If Driscoll had Mars Hill work with Docent Group and had ghostwriters and research assistants then Mars Hill the corporation might have a potential case to make for Mark Driscoll, as an individual, not having a completely airtight case for sole ownership of his intellectual property, perhaps?  The way Mars Hill has handled the intellectual property of people who aren't Mark Driscoll vs the intellectual property of Mark Driscoll is something Wenatchee The Hatchet may try to keep some track of, if possible.