Saturday, January 03, 2015

Trevin Wax provides a Mars Hill postmortem that's better than average, citing that character of leadership and polity can make or break a church culture

In contrast to the bloviation of Vanderbloemen in the last four months, Trevin Wax over at The Gospel Coalition has gotten closer to nailing down what lessons there may be to learn.  He also seems to have an idea that the four points were things people were trying to articulate from within Mars Hill before its dissolution.  The four points are summarily:

1. Leadership Matters

Wax notes "This situation marks the first time I recall a pastor resigning from a church for a reason other than marital infidelity or embezzlement. There were moral issues and financial impropriety involved in the Mars Hill controversy, of course, but the presenting reason for Mark’s resignation is an abusive form of leadership that revealed significant character flaws."

For the many people who have gotten the impression that a conservative Protestant pastor couldn't possibly end up out of ministry for any other reasons than sexual sin, this theoretically opens the playing field. A cursory survey of the synoptics and John suggest the possibility that Jesus hammered Pharisees and other self-selected religious leaders for their corrupt uses of money and power.  It's not that Jesus didn't address sexual conduct along the way (as in his teaching on divorce), it's that his critical remarks about the religious leaders of his day was often over money and power. 

2. Church Polity Matters

Here Wax notes that the last thing he heard from Driscoll was years ago, and Driscoll was mocking congregational government in church.  Driscoll spent nearly the entirety of his ministry mocking congregational government by way of ripping on democratic populism or by saying that congregational church polity was like letting the inmates run the insane asylum.  When this analogy is used to describe the community of Christians who would, in theory, possess the Spirit and be providentially given gifts that might aid the body of Christ, then there might have been some Christians around the history of Mars Hill who could have advised against buying a 1.5 million dollar piece of real estate because they (and not Mark Driscoll or Jamie Munson) actually knew about the zoning issues in land use within King County.

Wax doesn't have that kind of inside observation about Mars Hill history But observing that polity in Mars Hill did not help the earlier issue of Driscoll's character get addressed is worth restating.  That becomes the formal concern in ..

3. Character Matters as Much as Doctrine

4. The Celebrity Culture Hinders Our Witness

These two could conceivably be bracketed together, and there are other things that seem more interesting to get to this weekend.  Still, as post-mortems of Mars Hill go, this one was a little better than average because Wax zeroed in on the concerns that were expressed from the inside and from informed critics about what could have changed.  Unfortunately, since the propensity within Driscoll's orbit was to define critics and criticism largely in pejorative terms there weren't any lessons learned in the long run, were there?

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