Thursday, August 23, 2012

spiritual authority, accountability--Driscoll and Brierley 8 months on


This year's series of incidents with a Martian theme have not just included Curiosity.  A few significant changes have happened at Mars Hill.  Earlier this year the following document showed up online.  I will quote from it at length.  The question of the basis and nature of spiritual authority in the pastorate is not a minor one.  The nature of spiritual authority as a claim to power and how it ought to be used will be a subject for discussion and debate for as long as anyone claims that mantle.

http://marshill.com/governance

What is an elder/pastor?

At Mars Hill, we use the term elder and pastor interchangeably. Elders are the male leaders of the church chosen for their ministry according to clear biblical requirements after a sufficient season of testing in the church (1 Tim. 2:11–3:7; Titus 1:5–9). Elders are nearly always spoken of in plurality because God intends for more than one man to lead and rule over the church, as a safeguard for both the church and the man. This is illustrated by Paul when he speaks of a council of multiple elders ruling in a local church (1 Tim. 4:14; Titus 1:5). Currently there are more than 50 elders and another 50 men being trained and examined for that role. Some elders are paid, and some are unpaid.

What are the qualifications for of an elder?

The Bible defines the qualifications of elder in two primary places in 1 Timothy 3:1–7 and Titus 1:5–9, and the lists are virtually identical.

From 1 Timothy 3:1–7

The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.

From Titus 1:5–9:

This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you—if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

So a pastor must not be arrogant or quick-tempered.  Progress Driscoll made on that seems to have come years after he already started being a pastor. Even as late as March 2008 Grace Driscoll could describe her husband as "a short-fused drama queen".  If you listen to the relatively recently circumcised presentation "The Man" Driscoll camps out a lot on the idea that pastors should get angry at sin.  Ergo, should get angry.  Now that is true but that is not, strictly speaking, any exegesis of the passage from Driscoll was ostensibly teaching.  It sort of gets overshadowed by jokes like saying the Baptists would be okay with Driscoll being gay so long as he didn't have a beer in his hand.  Or at least it used to include that joke.

Whatever improvement Driscoll's made on being less arrogant or quick-tempered, it would appear that in Driscoll's understanding of pastoral conduct as of 2012 pre-emptive strikes on British journalists are okay.

http://pastormark.tv/2012/01/12/a-blog-for-the-brits
January 12, 2012

There is reportedly an article coming out in a British Christian publication that features an interview with me. As is often the case, to stoke the fires of controversy, thereby increasing readership, which generates advertising revenue, a few quotes of mine have been taken completely out of context and sent into the Twittersphere. So, I thought I would put a bit of water on the fire by providing context.

...

 I have a degree in communications from one of the top programs in the United States. So does my wife, Grace. We are used to reporters with agendas and selective editing of long interviews. Running into reporters with agendas and being selectively edited so that you are presented as someone that is perhaps not entirely accurate is the risk one takes when trying to get their message out through the media.

With the release of our book, Real Marriage, we have now done literally dozens of interviews with Christians and non-Christians. But the one that culminated in the forthcoming article was, in my opinion, the most disrespectful, adversarial, and subjective. As a result, we’ve since changed how we receive, process, and moderate media interviews.  

The interview in question had nearly nothing to do with the book or its subject matter, which in my understanding was supposed to be the point of the interview. My wife, Grace, was almost entirely ignored in the interview, and I felt she was overall treated disrespectfully. The only questions asked were about any controversial thing I’ve ever said in the past 15 years with a host of questions that were adversarial and antagonistic. It felt like a personally offended critic had finally gotten his chance to exercise some authority over me.

Things got particularly strange near the end of the interview. I was asked a question about, if a woman was the pastor of a church which that pastor’s husband attended, would that be emasculating to him. The question was asked in such a pointed way that it was odd.

At the end of the interview, I started asking questions of the interviewer. He admitted that his last questions were really about himself and his wife. Apparently his wife is the pastor of their church, he’s strongly committed to women as pastors, disagrees strongly with our complementarian position, and takes it to some degree personally.

This not only became more significant with Elephant Room 2's result and Driscoll's reflections on important lessons from it, it also took on significance when people had a chance to hear the interview Driscoll was blogging about for the Brits.

A short excerpt from the interview included the following:

http://cognitivediscopants.wordpress.com/2012/01/15/driscoll-brierley-on-women-in-leadership/

Driscoll: No, no, you don’t want to sit in my seat, I understand. So does your wife do counseling with men? Sexual counseling? Does she talk about masturbation, pornography, the stuff that I do?

Brierley: Well no, she doesn’t.

Driscoll: Well, who does talk to the men about those things, especially the young men?

Brierley: Well there are other people that she can pass them on to. We have male elders in our church who, you know, would be able to tackle those kinds of questions. I mean, but would you speak with those kinds of issues to a female in your church?

Driscoll: Uh no. If they’re a married couple we might meet with them as a couple. But if it’s a woman, we would have women leaders meet with them.

Brierley: Sure, well it’s the same scenario in our church really.

Driscoll: Well except for who’s in charge.

Well, there's no difference at all about who's in charge if Grace is Mark's "functional pastor", is there?

As for the Brits, one of the responses to Driscoll's comments about the Brits came from Don Carson, a member of The Gospel Coalition from which Driscoll politely dropped out earlier this year:

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/01/29/reflections-on-the-church-in-great-britain/


(2) The phenomenon of the state church colors much of what is going on. Whether we like it or not, in England itself (the situation is different in Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales) the Church of England is the source of most heterodoxy and of much of the orthodoxy, as well as of everything in between. It has produced men like Don Cupitt and men like Dick Lucas. Exactly what courage looks like for the most orthodox evangelicals in that world is a bit different from what courage looks like in the leadership of the independent churches: their temptations are different, their sufferings are different. Although I have found cowardice in both circles, I have found remarkable courage in both circles, and the proportion of each has not been very different from what I've found on this side of the Atlantic.

(3) As for young men with both courage and national reach: I suppose I'd start with Richard Cunningham, currently director of UCCF. He has preached fearlessly in most of the universities and colleges in the UK, and is training others to do so; he has been lampooned in the press, faced court cases over the UCCF stance on homosexuality, and attracted newspaper headlines. Then there's Vaughan Roberts, rector of St Ebbe's, Oxford, in constant demand for his Bible teaching around the country. I could name many more. In Scotland one thinks of men like Willie Philip (and he's not the only one). Similar names could be mentioned in Wales and Northern Ireland.

Now mere weeks after the Justin Brierley interview and Driscoll's pre-emptive strike Elephant Room 2 took place in which T. D. Jakes was presented as on the same team as Driscoll and this despite questions from some Gospel Coalition associates about 1) whether Jakes had really repudiated modalism and 2) whether Jakes had repudiated any aspects of any Word-Faith style teaching.

http://pastormark.tv/2012/01/31/10-reflections-on-the-elephant-room

Even on the count of women as pastors and teachers Driscoll gave Jakes a pass despite Jakes' role in the career of, for instance, Paula White.

http://wenatcheethehatchet.blogspot.com/2012/03/driscoll-in-2012-pragmatism-as.html

We seem to have been tipped off far back by the distinction between Driscoll hammering The Shack in 2008 and his late 2011 admonition that nobody make any final judgment about Jakes until Driscoll got on a plane for Jesus.  

If Brierley was a guy whose wife was a pastor and this was a problem was there no problem with T. D. Jakes having played a role in backing the career in ministry of Paula White in any way?  Or does T. D. Jakes get a pass because his church is bigger than Driscoll's for the time being?

The thing about Driscoll's treatment of Brierley is that unless Tim Challies is hugely mistaken in his reading of Real Marriage Driscoll comes off like a first-class hypocrite. Now maybe Challies just misread the book but here's what he wrote:

http://www.challies.com/book-reviews/book-review-real-marriage

The highlight of what the Driscolls teach on marriage is probably the importance of friendship. This is, indeed, an overlooked topic and experience shows that many of the best marriages are the ones in which the spouses are fast friends. A strange mis-step in this chapter is Mark’s statement that he has asked Grace to be his “functional pastor,” Because he is a pastor and he does not have anyone to pastor him, he has asked Grace to fill that role. [emphasis added] This must speak as much to his church’s leadership structure as to the Driscoll’s marriage; it is an unusual position and not one I would want others to emulate.

Yes, Tim, it does speak as much to the church leadership structure at Driscoll's church as to Driscoll's marriage.  Driscoll can't very well use the punchline "Except for who's in charge" if Grace is his "functional pastor".  Driscoll's teaching on headship is well-known and, perhaps, has evolved a bit.  Driscoll's comments on spiritual authority as relates to church discipline (and the husband is the head of the wife and "pastor dad" to his children) may be worth revisiting, even from some older material.


Driscoll addressed the topic of spiritual authority and church discipline a bit in April 2006.

Church Discipline
Pastor Mark Driscoll April 11, 2006

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=2869488958920803538
http://www.acts29network.org/sermon/church-discipline-biblical-responses-to-various-sins--errors/

In discussing spiritual leaders given authority, in a discussion on Hebrews 13:17 Driscoll mentions at about the 1:21 mark:

"... I always like to say `It's not really submission until you disagree.' Up until that point two people can agree and there is no such thing as submission, there's agreement. Submission is required when there is disagreement. That's when it is required."

Later Driscoll explains about 2:08 through about 3:09:

What he [the author of Hebrews] essentially says is this: that, as a leader, if people respect your authority and follow your leadership, then they are joyous people. It makes things so much easier, and life is happy in the church. Subsequently, conversely, if people do not respect your authority, if people do not follow your leadership, if people do not have ANY regard for the spiritual authority that God has given you then what he's saying [the author of Hebrews] is that such people are burdensome. They are exhausting. 

These are the type of people where, in the middle of the night, rather than sleeping, you're laying in bed thinking about them, talking to your wife about [them]. These are the people, when you go to the church as a leader, you're not wanting to see. You avoid eye contact. When the phone rings you're hoping your caller ID identifies them because you just don't WANT to talk to them and they're email comes into your inbox you are just stricken with some sort of stress because here we go again. And such people are a burden. 

Driscoll then shares an interesting, if obvious point--theological error and moral sin will occur in even the best of churches.  It's what we see in the biblical texts and it's what we'll see in every church. The questions at hand, Driscoll proposed, were 1) if sin would get dealt with and 2) get dealt with in a biblical way.  This is a salient way of addressing what will be problems in every church.  If Driscoll's right, and I think here that he is, that it is inevitable that every church will be faced with theological error as well as behavioral sin then this will appear in every church.

Driscoll went on to explain that a significant risk in church discipline is to show partiality or favoritism.  You have a friend in sin and you are apt to take a more lenient approach in disciplining them than might be appropriate for the reputation of the Gospel in an area. You end up sacrificing the reputation of the Gospel (i.e of Christ by showing partiality in dealing with someone who should be disciplined for sins. (around minute 7)

It's in minute 7 that Driscoll says leaders must not abuse their authority by lording it over people. Authority is not to be used to be heavy-handed, to be dictatorial, to be authoritarian, to be mean-spirited. The use of church discipline is to be just and to do what is right.   I agree!  Whether or not that is how church discipline has actually been used within Mars Hill is something I'm going to set off to the side for a while.  The broader principle Driscoll articulated is "It's not submission until you disagree." This means that whether as applied to the spiritual authority of a pastor or as the spiritual authority by virtue of being the man, husband and head of the home, for Driscoll to make Grace his "functional pastor" is to invert the very doctrinal and gender value of masculinity he has become famous for championing.  Now if he were an egalitarian I don't think this theological conundrum would exist at all.  The point, however, is that we know Driscoll is not, in fact, an egalitarian about anything.

Then again considering how Driscoll fields the question of how the role of the founding pastor changes as a church grows:

http://theresurgence.com/2008/04/07/question-and-answer-with-mark-driscoll-video

Driscoll makes it clear that the whole nature of the sport changes every time the church reaches newer levels of complexity through larger numbers.  People who are not willing to play the new game can't stay on the team and the game changes depending on how big the church is.  Now it would appear that as Mars Hill hits particular ceilings of complexity and growth a bunch of guys can lose their jobs because Mark Driscoll (and whomever he consults) has decided that the whole nature of the game has changed.  Once there was basketball, now there's football.  That analogy was in place in 2008.  Perhaps the distinction now that football is played out would be to mark the delineation between junior varsity and varsity.  Sure, Driscoll spent his first ten years saying that distinction was inaccurate and kinda unfair but if he's going to keep using sports analogies it would appear Driscoll's gotten to football and the goal is to get past what appears to be junior varsity if I understand the sports-obsessed metaphors and analogies.

So, all that is to suggest that perhaps with new ceilings of complexity Driscoll can make his wife his "functional pastor".  Driscoll can rip apart Justin Brierley's theology and character because Brierley's wife is his pastor but it's official and is a spiritual subordination recognized by other people in the church.  Maybe Driscoll can have his wife as his spiritual authority informally just so long as other people don't recognize her as the spiritual head over Mark Driscoll and ... well, except that if you announce that in a best-selling book that becomes the basis for a series of sermons at your own church ... .

Now setting aside the question of whether by Driscoll's own doctrinal understanding Grace even "can" be his "functional pastor" without his sinfully abdicating his role as the spiritual authority over his house (it's conceivable, though difficult, to imagine that Driscoll could mount such a defense) there's another simple question.  Before we get to that let's get back to Challies for the sake of review.


http://www.challies.com/book-reviews/book-review-real-marriage

The highlight of what the Driscolls teach on marriage is probably the importance of friendship. This is, indeed, an overlooked topic and experience shows that many of the best marriages are the ones in which the spouses are fast friends. A strange mis-step in this chapter is Mark’s statement that he has asked Grace to be his “functional pastor,” Because he is a pastor and he does not have anyone to pastor him, he has asked Grace to fill that role. [emphasis added] This must speak as much to his church’s leadership structure as to the Driscoll’s marriage; it is an unusual position and not one I would want others to emulate.


Because he does not have anyone to pastor him ... ?  Since when!?  Does Mark Driscoll have absolutely no comprehension at all as to what "on the record" actually means?


Let's do a quick review of some men that Driscoll has said were or are pastors to him in publicly accessible settings.  How about we start with David Nicholas, co-founder of the Acts 29 Network?

http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2000/fall/6.44.html
http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2000/fall/6.44.html?start=2


How do you do this over such long distance?

Driscoll: We talk all the time. David is my pastor.[emphasis added] He prays for me. He invests in me. He doesn't tell me what to do, but when he sees things in my character or theology that need to be challenged, he speaks to that very directly. I desperately need that. I tend to be stubborn and aggressive. I need someone strong speaking into my life, saying, "Think about this." But it has to be predicated on friendship and love.

http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2000/fall/6.44.html?start=3
http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2000/fall/6.44.html?start=4
http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2000/fall/6.44.html?start=5

So David Nicholas was Mark Driscoll's pastor in a tag-team interview the two did with Christianity today more than a decade back when Acts 29 Network was just getting started.  So if Challies believes Driscoll said he made Grace his 'functional pastor' because he didn't have anyone playing that role then was the above interview with David Nicholas for show?

In the February 2008 at a Q&A Driscoll also said the following:


http://theresurgence.com/2008/04/07/question-and-answer-with-mark-driscoll-video
http://www.theresurgence.com/mark_driscoll_2008-02-27_video_tnc_qa
http://www.acts29network.org/sermon/qa-with-mark-driscoll/

Some of my dearest friends today are not at Mars Hill. They're also pastors at other churches.  Darrin Patrick is here. He's the vice-president of Acts 29. I love him. He's a brother. He's the guy I call. ... He's a pastor to me, you know? [emphasis added[

Now "He's a pastor to me, you know?" suggests that Driscoll considered the guy a pastor.  What Driscoll thinks pastors are supposed to do for him is a question that may be tough to answer.  Darrin Patrick was then vice-president of Acts 29.  For a time Mark Driscoll reinserted himself as president of Acts 29.  So was there some kind of spiritual authority/submission thing for Driscoll to Patrick?  Not sure.  But if Darrin Patrick was a pastor to Mark Driscoll why was there any need for Grace to be Mark Driscoll's "functional pastor" given Driscoll's nearly continual statements about the need to respect spiritual authority and the need for the man to be respected and be "pastor dad"?  There's at least two guys mentioned by Driscoll by name as being pastors to him who were .  "He's my pastor" and "He's a pastor to me, you know?" Are not statements that can be taken out of context.  They're flat categorical declarations that are either true or not true.  Now maybe NOW Driscoll may say he's got nobody to be a pastor to him besides Grace but if that's true what was wrong with Patrick or Nicholas? They were good enough to get name-dropped.


What seems to be the case with Patrick is that, at least according to Scott Thomas, Scott Thomas has gotten a job at The Journey now that Scott Thomas is no longer a pastor at Mars Hill or functioning in leadership at Acts 29. 

So if Driscoll publicly announces that at least two different guys fit the role of "pastor" for him then what would be the point of making Grace his "functional pastor"? As the wife she's supposed to respect the spiritual authority of the husband and regarding spiritual authority Driscoll "may" still feel that it's not real submission until you disagree.  On theological and practical grounds how does Mark Driscoll avoid putting his wife into an impossible double-bind? Maybe because I'm not married I don't know how this paradox can work.  I'll just grant that up front.

I admit, again, those confessions of the Driscolls in their marriage book rattled me.  Maybe they rattled me because somewhere in the back of my mind I remembered hearing this:

http://marshill.com/media/1-timothy/1-timothy-5-17-25#transcript

I promise you before the Lord Jesus Christ I'm not a perfect man, but I'm a qualified man. I don't have any secret thing going on. [emphasis added] But should there ever be, do not--if we ever have to discipline an elder--do not ever see it as a bad thing, because you know what? God the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ and the holy angels are watching because the reputation of God is at stake.

Driscoll has at times explained that he and his wife had an unhappy marriage but not a marriage that disqualified them from ministry.  It was, however, a marriage that Driscoll did consider bad enough that if any Christian counselors had a marriage as bad as he felt his was that person wasn't qualified to counsel them through their trouble, possibly even to the point where these people were not even qualified for ministry.  Now it would seem that if you feel that way about your own marriage you should avoid counseling young married couples yourself. Not Driscoll.  He even went so far in his best-seller Real Marriage to state that he needed, basically, to stay in the game because young people were depending on him (like he wasn't one of those young people himself?):

http://www.scribd.com/doc/75155553/Real-Marriage-Chapter-1

Real Marriage by Mark and Grace Driscoll
Chapter 1
page 12

Had I known about this sin, I would not have married her. But God told me to marry Grace, I loved her, I had married her as a Christian, we were pregnant, and I was a pastor with a  church plant filled with young people who were depending on me. 

In other words Driscoll couldn't very well stop counseling people in their marriages even though his marriage was often bitter and miserable.  Publicly we'd occasionally hear things like "We're closer than ever" and "I'm faster than she is so we're happy" or some sentiment like that.  Privately, however, things were not quite so happy, at least according to Real Marriage.  The retroactive light this sheds on maybe half a decade of Driscoll sermons would take too long to discuss. While on the subject of "young people who were depending on me" a lot of us were not drawn to Mark Driscoll's teaching as such but the dynamic of Driscoll, Gunn and Moi as a team.

Mark and Grace Driscoll's story in their best-seller, taken at face value, raises a question about sovereignty and providence. God told Mark to marry Grace.  Mark wouldn't have married Grace if he'd known about her single moment of sexual infidelity in the earlier stage of their dating period, prior to marriage.  God knew, however, that Mark Driscoll wouldn't marry Grace if he knew the truth, therefore God providentially permitted Grace to hide this because nothing is beyond God's control.  God dispatched a lying spirit to the prophets of Ahab to entice the king to his death.  God also sent an evil spirit to afflict Saul.  God can and does use evil to accomplish His purpose and in the two aforementioned cases can even use demons.  Judges 9 mentions a case where a man publicly rebukes the men of Shechem and, we are told, God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem. Judges 9 details the rest.  In other words, Grace not telling the full truth about her sexual history could have been necessary for God's will to be accomplished through Mark Driscoll as Driscoll has kept telling his story.

It's just that the theological implications of this with respect to the Driscoll marriage and Driscoll's approach to pastoral ministry and biblical instruction may be troubling.  Still, it's not as though David stopped being king over Israel despite having killed many non-combatants, having married many wives, having committed adultery, having a few concubines, failing to punish one of his sons who was an incestuous rapist, and being played (perhaps) into installing Solomon on the throne in a story of royal impotence at every possible level.  Nonetheless David did not stop being king.  So it's possible, I grant, that when God told Mark Driscoll to marry Grace, plant a church, and do all that that may all be the case.

And yet this does not stop being a puzzle  ...

page 14

We didn't know how to talk through these extremely hard issues without hurting each other even more, so we didn't talk about them at all. I just got more bitter, and Grace just felt more condemned and broken, like a failure. Occasionally we'd meet a Christian pastor or counselor who was supposed to be an expert in these areas, but we never spoke with them in much detail, because in time we found out they either had marriages as bad as ours [emphasis added] or they had been committing adultery and were disqualified for ministry. We felt very alone and stuck. 

But overall all those years didn't Mark Driscoll make statements on record that he had guys like David Nicholas, Mike Gunn, and Lief Moi who could speak into his life?  We've reviewed just a small snippet of public statements in which Driscoll said which guys were his pastors. Where were these guys when the Driscoll marriage was at its nadir?  Not at Mars Hill?  Was Driscoll not talking with these guys? If not why not? A pastor leads by explicit teaching and also by example.  What example through his life did Driscoll teach on these issues?  What failures in these men or in Driscoll existed that Driscoll of late has wrote, in Challies' reading at least, that Grace became Mark Driscoll's "functional pastor"? This example seems to contradict almost everything in "The Man".  It also makes Driscoll a hypocrite if he sticks to his guns about Justin Brierley.  It even makes him a bit of a hypocrite for not calling out Jakes on the subject of Paula White or women in ministry, doesn't it?

Even if there weren't a pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus this would seem like something that complementarians who take that teaching should remain concerned about.  Of course by now Driscoll has extracted himself from The Gospel Coalition and whatever accountability he has, if Grace is really his "functional pastor" is a woman who, in Driscoll's interpretation of the Bible, seems to have to submit to him.  If the "functional pastor" Driscoll has chosen is obliged to submit to his authority and not the other way around then how could it get any clearer that the ideal form of accountability Driscoll seems to be seeking is pretty much an accountability that is accountable to him?  In that case Grace has been given a role that is incoherent and unacceptable given Driscoll's teaching on spiritual authority and submission in marriage. It's a relational double bind in which she has to submit to him and he submits to her ...

unless they just admit they have an egalitarian marriage and a complementarian church polity. Who knows, maybe the Driscolls have announced that already and I just didn't notice it?

Otherwise Driscoll and Brierley seem to be living in the same glass house in which Driscoll threw a very hefty stone.  The question of what forms of accountability are in place is a subject that we plan to return to.  There are some committees to eventually get to and a comparison of two sets of by-laws to the governmental structure indicated in 2012's announcement.  That, as you can well imagine, will take some time.  This is not bad because in the time it's taken to get to this a few people on the committees are not listed as employees or associates of the church.  Others who are still present will be familiar names.

3 comments:

Rebecca Kvenvolden said...

This whole situation is discouraging isn't it? I think the reason (if i might project a bit) that you are sick of traffic going to posts about a certain topic, and, why readers, such as myself, always flock to those particular topics is that there's just something about being a part of this church- then seeing the inconsistancies- then being out of the church and instead of having any way of reconciling those issues, everyone just acts as if you don't exist, and the problems continue, the pride continues, the contempt of people who aren't on board exudes from the persona of the particular person and the train wreck careens on... seemingly unchecked. And that's hard to take. there's no resolution, there's only the growth of a church which will eventually be forced to confront its own inconsistancies- but it seems like that time almost comes, but then slips away. Its discouraging and disheartening. I hate to think of how many bodies are piling up behind that bus. Its what makes me unable to shut up about this issue and at the same time, unable to speak. I'm glad you have the abilty and willingness to speak for those of us who want to, but don't know how.

The Blog bites better than the Bullet. said...

I second what Rebecca said- I know how it feels in a different context from a bad experience with a church in my past. It helps to read this and see people speaking out, because I am no longer even in the same country as my old church, so there is little positive input that I can have in that situation, and seeing as the situation was very bad for me, that is for the best!

To comment on some things Mark said to "the Brits":
"In particular, the quote about cowardice may not fit all British men, but for men who misuse their authority to advance their agenda, it seems applicable."

I just want to say having grown up in the UK, the sermon Mark preached in Scotland was culturally inappropriate, and from what I know of the FIEC (Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches), Marks' comments towards the Brits before this blog-post were both disparaging and discouraging.

I know of SEVERAL young guys both in the FIEC and Anglican denominations- I consider myself friends with a few- who are preaching and teaching faithfully, and just because there are no major "megachurches" in the UK led by such men, that doesn't mean that British men are somehow weaker than American. It just means the culture there is post-Christian, as I believe American culture soon will be.

Mark showed a complete lack of understanding of the British context, and to a British mind I think his blogpost still sounds steeped in self-promotion.

His comments were personally VERY offensive (though I am an American married to an American(!), and his arrogant behavior whilst in the UK offends me, because it just drives home a bad impression of swaggering Americans that the British already have from their historical dealings with them in the world wars.

That said, I also wish he would actually listen to what he himself is saying, because though on one level I'm not actually sure- even in context- what point he is trying to make, he comes across as someone who is himself one of those "men who misuse their authority to advance their agenda".

He is NOT pope of Evangelicalism, and he is my brother spiritually, not my or anyone else's superior. I will never put myself under his teaching or authority through Acts 29 or Mars Hill or any other movement/conference unless/until he shows a true humility, and your article just underlines what I have been seeing. I don't think it has been dealt with; I know he is under great pressure, and I can have some compassionate concern for his emotional health, as for any leader in ministry.

Yet dare say anything about your concerns about Marks' potential un-repentance in Acts 29 circles (the church we are stationed near is a part of A29), and I feel you (especially since I am a woman) might get rebuked rather than listened to.

I feel the best thing I personally can do right now is be brutally honest online, and avoid aligning myself with Acts 29, The Resurgence, or Mars Hill stuff until such time as the whole truth is acknowledged by them and dealt with appropriately, without blame and shame on those who raise concerns.

Currently the "don't-talk" rule is in play in evangelicalism, as I see it. Outside of good old-timers like John MacArthur Jr. and Phil Johnson, little is being said out loud! The best way to protect myself from abuse is to sit under the authority of Jesus, and sift anything told me by man. And also to be part of the Body universal without signing on the dotted line of the local church's "covenants".

There's just too much paperwork involved in being part of the local church these days...Anything that limits my freedom of speech - especially where I would not be allowed to talk about problems- must be avoided.

So that's my rant for today. Thanks for keeping us informed, and prayers for the church world-wide, and for Mark to come to his senses, because we love him.

The Blog bites better than the Bullet. said...

ps- thinking through the way Driscoll can interact with TD Jakes and yet be offensive to J Brierly, I would suggest that perhaps it is not just the size of T D Jakes' church that influenced his caution there, but the fact that he knows not to offend people publicly (privately they are probably fair game though) in the American Christian community, because then MD would lose support where it matters to him.

Quite frankly, from what I observed of his attitude in the UK, as someone who grew up there, it just showed the typical ugly (arrogant) American kind of brash behavior that Brits detest. It's like he realized they wouldn't accept his kind of stuff culturally, so he burned his bridges because he could care less about the UK and he cares about his fame in the US. Brits could care less about mega-churches and big leaders, and they DO have several young guys (I am friends with several) who preach and teach- they just don't seek the glory MD thinks is due him!

To me it shows a cliquey self-serving attitude that could care less about truth unless truth can be used to beat someone into submission.

The Brits are a tough crowd, but they sure as heck won't take crap- they see through cults of personality and show more discerning a lot of the times than their American counterparts. And that is why MD could care less about them. IMHO.

For the record, I did think SOME of what MD said in his blog as a challenge to the Brits post-trip was valid, however, I truly question the spirit in which he has spoken to them. MUCH of what he said might have been spot-on, but it also reeked of superiority-complex, as if American Christianity could "teach those Brits a thing or two."