Monday, December 14, 2015

a detail that has perhaps gone unobserved, Mark Driscoll's collected accounts of his resignation seem to flatly contradict reports from the "Erma Gauthier" account near the time of the resignation, reviewing the accounts
For their part, the Board of Advisors and Accountability said Driscoll had not disqualified himself but was at times arrogant and domineering. About his resignation, they concluded:
Finally, Mark Driscoll was not asked to resign; indeed, we were surprised to receive his resignation letter. 
There may be more to this story.
After the letters from Driscoll and the BoAA, Driscoll’s sister Melanie Thompson commented on her public Facebook page (under the name Erma Gauthier). Her narrative adds a new wrinkle. According to Thompson, “they” (I presume the BoAA) would not let Driscoll preach. Yesterday, she posted Driscoll’s resignation letter and followed it with comments about the BoAA (image of the thread).
Erma Gauthier They would not let him preach

Erma Gauthier Yeah. I think they really did a number on him. Not biblical or keeping with The Word or process.
Reading between the lines, it sounds like Driscoll’s sister is suggesting that the BoAA was not going to allow Driscoll to preach. She could have been referring to the Board of Elders report, but the simplest explanation is a decision by the BoAA. More about the BoE later. In any case, Thompson is not impressed with the work of those who decided what to do about Driscoll. To reinforce her opinion, she points out that the church has the Ballard campus for sale which to her implies that the leadership would keep Driscoll from preaching again.

Something's been nagging at me.  There's a few things in the cited back and forth Throckmorton documented that can't be reconciled with basic statements from other parties.

For instance, in Mark Driscoll's own resignation statement:
You have shared with us that this committee spent more than 1,000 hours reviewing documents and interviewing some of those who had presented charges against me. You have also shared with me that many of those making charges against me declined to meet with you or participate in the review process at all. Consequently, those conducting the review of charges against me began to interview people who had not even been a party to the charges.
I readily acknowledge I am an imperfect messenger of the gospel of Jesus Christ. There are many things I have confessed and repented of, privately and publicly, as you are well aware. Specifically, I have confessed to past pride, anger and a domineering spirit. As I shared with our church in August, “God has broken me many times in recent years by showing me where I have fallen short, and while my journey, at age 43, is far from over, I believe He has brought me a long way from some days I am not very proud of, and is making me more like Him every day.”

Since the leave of absence was a request made at Mark Driscoll's self-described initiative why could anyone imagine that the board somehow would not let Driscoll preach when Driscoll wanted to preach?  Now for those who want to go through the six strands of narrative surrounding when and why Mark Driscoll resigned go here.

It's hard to square this above quoted version of events with what the Driscolls shared with Brian Houston via video earlier this year.
I never got to say good-bye to the church and the people and so what went public was actually the resignation letter that went to the legal governing board that was in authority over me and so, uh, i uh, I know under the circumstances there wasn't a way to do that that would have been, uh, clean or easy. I don't have any criticism of the board. I think that, for the people, that there wasn't closure and I didn't, we didn't get to say anything.

And we didn't expect to resign. I met with the board. There was a whole list of things that were charged by current and former leaders and there was an internal governance struggle and threats of legal action that it got very complicated. And a lot of it was anonymous through the internet so you don't know who is saying or doing what. And so I invited the board to do a full examination, interview anybody, anything, and we woud submit to whatever verdict that they determined.
... When I think about eight weeks we met Friday and Saturday, October 10 and 11. I remember because the 11th was my birthday and so Grace and I were present with the board and they said: "We see in your history of leadership, less in more recent years but particularly in the past, "pride, anger and a domineering leadership style." That would be the exact words they used.  "We don't see anything disqualifying. These are areas we want you to grow. We want you to leadership at the
church soon." They wanted to do some clean up internally. "We want you back on January 4 in the pulpit, give you time to heal, things to cool down, and for some changes to be made."

We agreed to that. I sent in a go-forward plan and then we went home to have birthday cake with the kids. I think it was on Monday night. I was in the bedroom. Grace was in the living room. And so we told the board and told the kids, you know, we come back and ["will do"? garbled] preaching and try and love and serve and, and fix what was a struggling church and God had provided a way for us to do that as volunteers. And so our plan was to come back as volunteers.

And then on that Monday night I was in the bedroom, Grace was in the living room and he spoke to me and he spoke to her in a supernatural way that neither of anticipated or expected. Ah, and so Grace walked in and she said, "I feel like the Lord just spoke to me and said what we're supposed to do." and I said "I feel like the Lord spoke to me and said what we're supposed to do." It's not what we wanted; it's not what we agreed to; it's not what we've planned for. And so I asked her, "Well, what did the Lord say to you?" cuz I didn't wanna influence and she said, uh, she said we're [Grace Driscoll speaks but it's low and indistinct, Driscoll pauses a moment and is urged to continue by Houston] "The Lord revealed to me that , you know, a trap has been set, there's, there's no way, chance we can return to leadership" and I didn't know what that meant or what was going on at the time.  And I'm, I said, [garbled] "We need to resign". So this is not what we anticipated
and a lot of people've thought, you know, "maybe he's another plan" but we didn't. We didn't know what we were doing.

And Grace fell to the floor and she was just sobbing uncontrollably and I'd never seen my wife like that. She was devastated. So we prayed and slept on it and decided we would make sure we got this right. Talked to pastors, those that we trust and sent in our resignation then on, it would have been Tuesday. ...
That's a long stretch of quote.  There are a variety of assertions that could be contested, like how anonymous the criticism was.  For now, the salient detail is that Driscoll said he agreed to submit to the restoration plan.  If by Mark Driscoll's account to Brian Houston he was willing to submit to the restoration plan then the assertion from the previous year that the board would not let Driscoll preach even though he wanted to seems as though it cannot possibly be true. Either that or what Driscoll told Brian Houston was not true. It's conceivable that neither the Gauthier account of events nor the Mark Driscoll account of events is accurate but that's impossible to prove.  In lieu of the likelihood that Mark Driscoll's various accounts are more coherent and explicable, it is most probably with the evidence at hand that it's the Gauthier version that is not accurate.  If it "is" accurate that would cast doubt on the veracity of Mark Driscoll's interview with Brian Houston by asserting that the Mars Hill board was preventing Mark Driscoll from preaching even when he wished to. That does not seem to fit with any accounts from any actual past Mars Hill leaders.
According to this statement made at Sammamish location, the BoE concluded their investigation and wanted to provide a restoration plan for Driscoll. However, instead Driscoll resigned.
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.
Now the tension isn't between what the Board is reported to have concluded and the Gauthier account of "they would not let him preach".  All of that sounds consistent.  A board decided there was some sin in Driscoll's life that, while not disqualifying, needed to be dealt with.  If you've read all the accounts from Driscoll himself and leaders of Mars Hill the story seems pretty unified that they had suggestions and he agreed with them right up to the point where he claims God said he got to quit.

The gap is in the accounts in which Mark Driscoll claimed to Brian Houston he agreed to submit to the restoration plan and the Gauthier account that seemed to present the board as doing something that was unexpected or unfair.  Since that implication or understanding was so directly and categorically contradicted by the Driscolls' interview with Brian Houston it could conceivably be that the Erma Gauthier account was just wildly inaccurate and contradicted by both reports from the Mars Hill leadership boards generally and Mark Driscoll in particular.  Stranger things have happened. If the Gauthier account "is" accurate, however, then Mark Driscoll's accounts must be brought into question.  Unfortunately given the categorical nature of the assertions in the narratives only one of these two seems to be able to convey an accurate account as things stand.

Erma Gauthier If they were going to let him come back …ever…then why would they sell mars hill Ballard behind his back.
possibly a reference to this news reported by Throckmorton

that the "big box" Ballard was on the market, although the corporate HQ had been on the market as far back as March 2014.

There were reports here and there that MH was looking to move its corporate HQ to Bellevue and the plans to open Mars Hill Schools were widely announced within the Mars Hill scene.  Offloading a piece of property and moving the whole church to a new central location was how Mars Hill ended up at what was once the Ballard site to begin with so it would not seem odd for history to have repeated itself there.  What does seem odd was that anyone could construe a decision to sell Ballard big box in whole or in part as any sign that Driscoll might not be allowed to come back and preach or as a sign of board divergence from whatever Driscoll hoped for.  Driscoll repeatedly talked about how he let certain guys make the big tough or boring decisions so he didn't have to.  If Driscoll was, by his own accounts, already delegating a lot of stuff so as to not end up doing prison ministry from the inside, then a board decision to sell real estate while Driscoll was in a self-imposed break period would not have been "that" odd, would it?

So with respect to the restoration/disciplinary process that may have been initiated by the board, Mars Hill's history of trying to sell real estate is seeming immaterial to the matter of Drsicoll's resignation.

As a final caveat, considering how drastically Mark Driscoll's accounting of basic points about the history of Mars Hill changed over the last decade ... such as whether there were any kids in the early days of Mars Hill or not

... even in the case of Driscoll we an't be 100% certain his narratives can be corroborated.  It's not entirely clear that either the Mark Driscoll accounts, which only introduce divine oracles this calendar year, or the Erma Guathier account about the resignation season are accounts that can be taken without any reservation at face value. This may just be one of those Rashomon things.