... Indeed, it is a sign of marked political weakness in any commonwealth if the people tend to be carried away by mere oratory, if they tend to value words in and for themselves, as divorced from the deeds for which they are supposed to stand. The phrase-maker, the phrase-monger, the ready talker, however great his power, whose speech does not make for courage, sobriety, and right understanding, is simply a noxious element in the body politic, and it speaks ill for the public if he has influence over them. To admire the gift of oratory without regard to the moral quality behind the gift is to do wrong to the republic [emphasis added]
But if a man's efficiency is not guided and regulated by a moral sense, then the more efficient he is the worse he is, the more dangerous to the body politic. Courage, intellect, all the masterful qualities, serve but to make a man more evil if they are merely used for that man's own advancement, with brutal indifference to the rights of others. It speaks ill for the community if the community worships these qualities and treats their possessors as heroes regardless of whether the qualities are used rightly or wrongly. It makes no difference as to the precise way in which this sinister efficiency is shown. [emphases added] It makes no difference whether such a man's force and ability betray themselves in a career of money-maker or politician, soldier or orator, journalist or popular leader. ...
... or pastor?
Perhaps we could extrapolate from Roosevelt's observation that it hardly matters how lofty the ideals a man may say he stands for from a podium or a pulpit, we must see and hear how speaks to and treats those under him behind closed doors to get a fuller estimate of his character. The phrase-maker, the phrase-monger, the ready talker, whatever powers this sort of person has can be considered vices rather than virtues. A man can say "It's all about Jesus" all he wants but that should remind us that it is all the more important which Jesus this man claims to stand for. Or as N. T. Wright has put it, he's had to remind himself that the Jesus presented in the Gospels is not an Anglican bishop.
There's reason enough to wonder whether or not the Jesus Mark Driscoll has told us it's all about has turned out to be a Jesus as much Mark Driscoll as a Jesus who may be found in the Synoptics and an anonymously authored gospel attributed to John. In light of what former pastors from Mars Hill have began to share within the last year even Driscoll's most ardent fans must pause a moment to consider whether being the "great man" is enough, because Roosevelt went on in his speech to say that the qualities of greatness unbounded by a moral sense becomes vice, greatness in potential does not preclude what he described as "sinister efficiency" and it should be considered whether testimony from former leaders of Mars Hill haven't been testifying to a culture of "sinister efficiency" within the still dissolving corporation.
And for all of this, let's consider whether the unaided and un-branded Mark Driscoll has been a great man. A devoted husband and father, sure, let's grant that because unlike Tony Jones Mark Driscoll's still married to Grace. But being married to the same person for decades is not in itself a qualification for pastoral ministry, is it?
So take away Mark Driscoll's Docent Group research help, take away any ghost writers, take away Barna polls, take away everything but what the man himself can bring to the table and what will we have? We may be able to find out but for the moment we should not forget that for those who would quote Roosevelt as if the Roosevelt quote were an endorsement of a Mark Driscoll, it seems more likely one could argue that the kind of trumped up and ultimately fraudulent "success" Mark Driscoll had bought for himself via Result Source Inc would be the kind of bought status Roosevelt would say is a sign of the times in a bad way, were Roosevelt alive to comment on it.
Between the substance of what was brought to light in the plagiarism controversy; and the substance of what was admitted to by Mars Hill leadership with respect to Result Source, it's difficult to shake at least the possibility that Mark Driscoll's ministry, however meteoric its rise, was bedeviled with what might be considered a "false standard of success", whether in making use of ideas that weren't his own without properly crediting them, or whether in having had his leadership crew contract with a company to get him a status he had not otherwise attained. By these measures alone it would seem hard to equate Mark Driscoll with Roosevelt's "man in the arena", and to go by the growing testimony of former elders who served under Driscoll and the other executive leaders, it can seem like there was a "sinister efficiency" in how decisions were made and for whose benefit those decisions got made.
Nevertheless, Clem says, the structure of Mars Hill—which over time consolidated power and financial decisions in the central organization—did play a role. "As the structure became more refined, the driving motive became efficiency and growth, and those two factors began dictating church policy."
Clem went on to explain further:
"Here's an example of what happens, then: When Driscoll quit preaching at my Ballard campus and went to Bellevue, I immediately lost 1,000 people. At $10 per head, that's $10,000 per Sunday that went out the door. And yet my people who stayed continued to give to the same budget; they actually started to give more.
"But because my attendance dropped, Central says my budget needs to drop, and that means that I have to fire a youth pastor.
"People don't want to lose the youth pastor and start asking, 'How much more will it take to keep Mitch?' And I'm saying, 'No matter how much more you give, we can't use a penny. It just goes to Central.' And they start going, 'This is communism!'"
And here Sutton Turner was saying this week local leadership was the problem? Yet Clem's account suggests that at the local level pastors could feel Central Operations was so fixated on growth and efficiency that it began to take on pernicious effects. Sadly, in his recent posts about Result Source Sutton Turner has never mentioned that the biggest reason to have been against it was that it constituted a false standard of success.
As more former pastors have come forth sharing what they saw and heard there seems to be a case made by those who worked with and for Mark Driscoll that the culture he presided over had slipped into something like Roosevelt's "sinister efficiency". As Roosevelt put it, "Courage, intellect, all the masterful qualities, serve but to make a man more evil if they are merely used for that man's own advancement, with brutal indifference to the rights of others." There were voices within Mars Hill before the roll-out of Real Marriage that raised the question of whether what was going to be beneficial for Mark Driscoll's reputation might potentially harm the well-being of the church.
Consider the two statements from the memo quoted at Warren Throckmorton's blog
* If this information was ever made public it could be viewed by the IRS or someone muckraking that a large giving campaign was set up for the personal profit of Mark Driscoll.
* As a result of this giving campaign you will make a royalty of everyone of the books that is given away. So in a sense it could be conjectured that you're making money directly off of a Mars Hill fundraiser
It might be tempting for some of Driscoll's supporters to invoke Roosevelt's quote about "the man in the arena" but if we were to consult the full text of the speech this attempt seems utterly dubious. These words from Roosevelt's speech, however, seem necessary to consider as Mark Driscoll appears to be regrouping for a return to the public scene and a return to public ministry. In place of "the body politic" you could substitute "the Christian community", if you like.
But if a man's efficiency is not guided and regulated by a moral sense, then the more efficient he is the worse he is, the more dangerous to the body politic. Courage, intellect, all the masterful qualities, serve but to make a man more evil if they are merely used for that man's own advancement, with brutal indifference to the rights of others. It speaks ill for the community if the community worships these qualities and treats their possessors as heroes regardless of whether the qualities are used rightly or wrongly. It makes no difference as to the precise way in which this sinister efficiency is shown.