Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Has Mark Driscoll's "The Man" been circumcised?

This year Andy and Wendy Alsup reviewed Mark and Grace Driscoll's book Real Marriage.  In their review Wendy in particular made reference to an Acts29 boot camp teaching held in Raleigh, NC on September 20, 2007, called "The Man".  This teaching was an overview on 1 Timothy 3 and the textual discussion of elder qualifications for church planters.  This sermon is where Wendy Alsup wrote the "woodchipper" anecdote was shared.  That is to say in this sermon Driscoll said he had recently put one of the executive elders through the woodchipper.  It's not clear which executive elder was put through the woodchipper in September 2007.  By October 1, 2007 the executive elders were Mark Driscoll, Jamie Munson, Scott Thomas and Bubba Jennings but it isn't known which executive elder Driscoll put through the woodchipper by September 20, 2007.

For that matter if you download "The Man" now and listen to it you won't be able to find any reference to the wood chipper incident referred to in the Alsup review.


Tuesday February 12, 2012

I recently put (a Mars Hill executive elder who remains at the church) in the wood chipper in my church. ... He was the guy, he had to nitpick at everything; he had to resist everything, he had to look at the other side. … you'd ask him why, he’d be like, well, I just wanted to make sure we've looked at everything, and everybody is considering all the angles. … I'll tell you what, when you despise your elders, at that point you have no safe place in the world from which to do ministry. ... there's always one guy there who's just like a fart in an elevator, and I'm just counting the minutes till I can get away from this guy. You can pray for me. You may say, “It seems like he's dealing with this right now.” Yes, I am. I'm thinking of certain people. If it weren't for Jesus I would be violent.” (Mark Driscoll, “The Man,” Acts 29 Bootcamp, Raleigh, NC, September 20, 2007)

In March 2012 the website Re:Fund went up.  The website has a post dated March 10, 2012 which appears to include an even longer excerpt from "The Man", an excerpt that would appear to have been excised from the sermon as it currently exists.

The excerpt reads as follows and would appear to be a continuation of a thought Driscoll expresses beginning at about 56:39 in the sermon


Mark Driscoll TRAINING PASTORS at an Acts 29 session in Raleigh NC, September 20, 2007:

“…not contentious. You ever meet a guy, it doesn’t matter what the issue is, he’s always gonna play the other side. Those guys are the worst elders in the history of the world. And it doesn’t matter what you’re talk, I had a guy like that; I recently put him in the wood chipper in my church. Seriously. I could say hey, we’re all going to get suckers. He’s be like, what flavor? Whatever flavor you want. Is it sugar free? If you would like. Well, I didn’t say I wanted a sucker. You, you know, you need to die. You know. He just was the guy, he just, he had to nitpick at everything; he had to resist everything, he to look at the other side, if everyone was for something he felt obligated to be the e-brake pulling everything. And you’d ask him why, he’d be like, well, I just wanted to make sure we’ve looked at everything and everybody is considering all the angles. Its like, dude, you’re playing the devils advocate, which is not good. I don’t want anybody for the devil on my team. You know? But there’s some guys like that. It just, they’re contentious, it doesn’t, they’re always fighting, always arguing. There’s, I’ve had guys in eldership, where, in the meeting, everything’s going fine, and they’ll say, I got something, I got something I need to say. And everybody’s head does this; everybody looks like they just got kicked in the sack. You know, I mean literally, they just the air comes out of their body, they just fold in half, because you know, here he goes again, here he freaking goes again. You know. That guy on an elder board, robs the board of any joy at all, and you already got enough criticism and people and work, when you get together with your elders, you don’t all men to be yes men, but at the same time, somebody who’s just contentious, and a neatnick and e-brake puller, I mean those guys, I mean all of a sudden you despise your elder’s meetings, and I’ll tell you what, when you despise your elders, at that point you have no safe place in the world from which to do ministry. Elders meetings stink, people are shooting me, everything’s hard, and I go to meet with the guys, and there’s always one guy there who just, he’s just like a fart in an elevator, and its just, you know, I’m just counting the minutes till I can get away from this guy. You can pray for me, you may say, it seems like he’s dealing with this right now, yes, I am. I’m thinking of certain people. If it weren’t for Jesus I would be violent.”

A person who listens to "The Man" now won't hear any of this in the audio. Yet the Alsups make reference to this segment of the sermon and Re:Fund was apparently able to get access to the sermon and produce an even longer excerpt of words that you won't hear in the sermon if you downloaded it today. It would appear that as sermons go "The Man" got circumcised some time since early March of 2012. For whatever reason, if the sermon cited at both Practical Theology for Women and at Re:Fund originally had the wood chipper anecdote that wood chipper anecdote has been excised from the sermon.

There are however things Driscoll refers to in the sermon as it still is that may be pointers to details from the church leadership in 2007.

From 26:36-28:10 we get the following:

So, in relation to family, husband of one wife.  That means you and the other men you appoint have to be a one woman man. That's literally what it say. This doesn't necessarily mean that a man who was ever divorced is disqualified. One of the elders on my team, he was married young, divorced young, became a Christian years later, married a godly woman and they've got a wonderful marriage. Some would say, "Well, if you got divorced as a non-Christian that disqualifies you." I'm like, "Okay, so what if you got drunk as a non-Christian? What if you were someone who was a lover of money as a non-Christian?" All the other qualifications we also can,you know, disqualify ourselves preconversion. The question is have you had a fruitful long number of years as a person who is faithful to Jesus in these ways. 

Husband one wife.  What that doesn't mean, as well, is just that he's never committed adultery on his wife. It does mean that but it means more than that, that he's a one woman man. Like Job 31:1 says I made a covenant with my eyes not to look on a woman lustfully. This is a guy who's not looking at porn, this a guy who's not flirting with chicks. This is not a guy who, after the sermon is working the floor hoping that nice women come up with flattering comments for his gospel-based sermon on humility. Right? 

This is a guy who is a one woman man. He's not lusting after other women, comparing his wife to them. He's not a man who's telling his wife, "Why can't you be like her?" He's a one woman man. Meaning that his eyes and his heart and his hands and his words and his motives and intentions and dollars and days are focused exclusively on being a good, loving husband to just one woman. And the only way, gentlemen, to really know whether or not  you're purely a one woman man is ask the woman.  

Now when Driscoll referred in the sermon to a man who married young, divorced young, came to faith years later, and married a godly woman was he referring, perhaps, to James Noriega?


This article refers to Noriega's pre-Christian life including felonies and methamphetamine addiction.  Noriega married his high school sweetheart but the marriage ended in divorce, which sent Noriega into a tailspin. He eventually ended up at the Union Gospel Mission and got off drugs. He also eventually met and married a woman through a Christian dating site and the marriage took place, according to the Seattle P-I, on New Year's Eve 2003.  By November 2004 Noriega was an ordained pastor.  By 2006 he was a pastor at the Acts 29 Network church plant Doxa with Pastor Bill Clem.


Now in "The Man" Driscoll noted that there is no minimum length of time after which a man make be considered called to be a pastor. It has remained an open question, given Driscoll's public teaching on the biblical qualifications for eldership exactly how and why a felonin the newlywed years of his second marriage and with a new stepdaughter had demonstrated that he had managed his household well enough to qualify as a pastor in an Acts 29 Network church plant (Doxa) and later in Mars Hill. Driscoll made a point of saying that Acts 29 guys are the best guys around, better than the others.  All right, we'll take that as given and ask how Noriega was demonstrably ready to be a pastor.  Keep in mind that Driscoll played a foundational role in both Acts 29 as well as Mars Hill.  In "The Man" Driscoll describes Acts 29 as coming out of Mars Hill church.  This means the question of who assessed how qualified Noriega was begins and ends with the leadership culture and structure Driscoll has spearheaded in ministry over the last fifteen years, wouldn't it?  Driscoll has said that headship means its your responsibility even if it isn't your fault?  Did Driscoll know about Noriega's felonies and recently new marriage in 2004 and 2006?

Was Noriega the pastor on staff in 2007 that Driscoll had in mind when he explained in "The Man" that a man who was divorced in his pre-Christian life is not necessarily disqualified from ministry?

What is apparent was that Noriega seemed to play an increasingly significant role:


Then some time in later 2011 Noriega vanished from the leadership rosters in Mars Hill.  It admittedly took the Mars Hill clarification on church discipline to jolt into my mind the reality that after years of being referred to in various ways Noriega had stopped being mentioned and was apparently no longer a pastor. In one of those paradoxes Mars Hill's PR team attempting to explain why what happened to Andrew wasn't unfair included an apparently irrelevant reference to staff being let go months earlier for overstepping spiritual authority.

As I have noted elsewhere at this blog references to Lief Moi have been scrubbed out. References to family members and spouses of many Mars Hill pastors have been scrubbed out.  The campus blogs and associated archives have been suspended, likely indefinitely. A week after I documented Pastor Tim Beltz' reference to Noriega's biblical counseling materials on February 28, 2012 in a post about Noriega it turned out that Beltz was moved from Mars Hill West Seattle to Mars Hill Downtown. Why, frankly, is not particularly something I could figure out nor is it relevant to my observations here.  When Driscoll made reference in 2007 to a man on pastoral staff at Mars Hill who was divorced as a non-Christian the best case to be made from external coverage in tandem with Driscoll's own preaching would be James Noriega. Should you at some point download "The Man" and find there is no reference to a man who was pastor on staff at Mars Hill who was divorced as an unbeliever then, well, "The Man" will have been further circumcised. It seems to have been trimmed a bit already if the quotes from Practical Theology for Women and Re:Fund are accurate.

It is evident from the pulling of the Edinburg 2007 sermon on Song of Songs Driscoll preached in November 2007 that Driscoll has had sermons from 2007 pulled completely.  It's not beyond consideration that Mars Hill and Driscoll's associates could have decided to excise from "The Man" the parts cited by Practical Theology for Women and Re:Fund.  It is also possible that Acts 29 leadership could have pulled or never recorded a talk that, somehow, got into the hands of Pirate Christian Radio.

So if "The Man" was circumcised (which seems at least plausible given the separate documentation of Practical Theology for Women and Re:Fund what was the incentive to cut the woodchipper anecdote? Was that more troublesome than the joke Driscoll made that Baptists would probably be fine with him if he was gay just as long as he didn't have beer?

POSTSCRIPT:  It wasn't Noriega, just took a little bit of remembering the other guys to recall who it was.

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