Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Julie Roys mentions that Mark Driscoll slated to speak at Larry Osborne conference, sponsors drop

This has come up recently and while Wenatchee The Hatchet isn't necessarily writing much about what's been going on at The Village Church (connections being Matt Chandler and Dave Bruskas) it doesn't mean I don't keep any tabs on those kinds of developments.  Tim Smith did end up listed on staff at Door of Hope in Portland, for instance, after what used to be Mars Hill Portland shuttered.

Of former MHC associated leadership James MacDonald was a bit more newsworthy in the last year on account of, among a number of things, reporting done by Julie Roys.  The latest bit of news connecting to Driscoll is Roys has reported that Driscoll is scheduled as a speaker at a Larry Osborne connected conference on healthy, thriving ministries, and some named sponsors are no longer sponsors or have not yet made decisions.

What is of significance with respect to both Driscoll and Osborne is the degree to which I've documented Mark Driscoll saying that a meeting with Osborne proved fateful for inspiring him to reorganize Mars Hill, something he announced in the closing chapters of Confessions of a Reformission Rev which was undertaken in the period from roughly 2006 to 2007.  Along the way there were substantial revisions to the governing documents that consolidated and centralized power from a two-dozen elder board to anywhere between three to five executive elders who were given the power to decide to acquire real estate, for instance.  

I reviewed some history between Mark Driscoll and Larry Osborne in the following series of posts.

Something that is worth mentioning is that, you'll need to plug this into the Wayback Machine or find a corrresponding link at, Osborne was listed as a member of the Mars Hill BoAA in 2013.  This notice was made around the time of the fateful late 2013 interview with Janet Mefferd in which Mefferd accused Mark Driscoll of being a plagiarist on air and shortly thereafter provided documentation establishing the credibility of the accusation.  Eventually Warren Throckmorton would chronicle the ways in which books spanning what was up until 2013 Mark Driscoll's catalog of books turned out to have citation errors. Those citation errors have since been fixed in second editions and some books are in the process of revision, most notably Doctrine, which Mark Driscoll said he's rewriting this year.

Osborne and MacDonald were both on the BoAA during the plagiarism controversy of late 2013

Paul Tripp
Michael Van Skaik
James MacDonald
Larry Osborne
Mark Driscoll
Dave Bruskas
Sutton Turner


According to the Wayback Machine, as far back as May 2012 the following were listed as part of a committee that would investigate allegations against Mark Driscoll.
In the event that a formal charge and/or accusation is made against Pastor Mark that, if investigated and found to be true, would disqualify him from his position as an elder in Mars Hill Church, a group of five men consisting of both elders within Mars Hill Church and Christian leaders outside of Mars Hill Church, will investigate the charge or accusation and determine if it is true. This group currently consists of Jamie Munson, Dave Bruskas, James MacDonald, Darrin Patrick, and Larry Osborne. If the charge or accusation is found to be true, this group can rebuke Pastor Mark or, if warranted, remove him as an elder at Mars Hill Church. If Pastor Mark is removed as an elder, he automatically ceases to serve on the Board of Elders, on the Executive Elder Team, and as president of Mars Hill Church.
Jamie Munson doesn't seem to be listing anything of his executive elder days with Mars Hill in his resume lately.  If you didn't know from being at Mars Hill from about 2000 to 2013 that Jamie Munson was one of the fixtures of Mars Hill leadership you might not be able to guess he had anything to do with any ministry Mark Driscoll was ever connected to this year.  

Dave Bruskas is quoted by Roys in her recent coverage.
Driscoll resigned from Mars Hill in 2014 after an internal investigation at the church found Driscoll guilty of “arrogance, responding to conflict with a quick temper and harsh speech, and leading . . . in a domineering manner.” But prior to his resignation, Driscoll had already publicly been accused of plagiarism. His church had also admitted that it had used more than $210,000 of church funds to buy Driscoll’s 2013 book, Real Marriage, to put the book at the top the New York Times best-seller’s list.
Driscoll, known by some as the “cussing pastor,” was also known for degrading talk about women and vulgarity. (He once said women were created to be “homes” for men’s penises and that oral sex was biblical.) And in 2016, several former members brought a class-action suit against Driscoll, accusing him of running Mars Hill like an organized crime syndicate—systematically soliciting donations for one purpose, but then using them for another. (This suit was later dismissed because the plaintiffs said they didn’t have the money to pursue the suit.)
Yesterday, I talked with Dave Bruskas, one of three former executive elders at Mars Hill, who now serves as campus pastor at The Village Church Fort Worth. Bruskas said Driscoll refused to go through the restoration plan that Mars Hill had suggested in 2014. And to Bruskas’ knowledge, Driscoll has not gone through any restoration plan since. In addition, Bruskas said that he knows people whom Driscoll has hurt who are not reconciled with him.
Let's take a digression on the penis homes material.  There may be those in 2019 who might be skeptical that Mark Driscoll could have written that a penis needs a home and that he would have ever described a woman as a fit home for a penis.  

Wenatchee the Hatchet published the raw text of Mark Driscoll's "Using Your Penis", published under the pseudonym William Wallace II, on July 29, 2014.  Somebody kept a text file of the whole thing for years and gave it to Wenatchee The Hatchet. Eventually an html file was provided and a jpeg of that was added.

There was an interesting trajectory comparing Mark Driscoll in his William Wallace II days to his WSU Evergreen op ed days.

To get into the full extent of Driscoll's writings about Song of Songs and what Jessica Johnson has called "biblical porn" you can read through an extensive amount of material over here:

As Roys has reported, James MacDonald got himself in some trouble, and also gave some assistance to Driscoll, which we've discussed a bit here.  Where the man is of note for Wenatchee The Hatchet is because MacDonald was with Mark Driscoll when Mark Driscoll decided to crash the Strange Fire conference.

Darrin Patrick ... he was the guy of whom Mark Driscoll said "He's my pastor, you know?" back in 2008.  That's a theme we'll have to come back to later in light of Mark Driscoll saying that there are guys with father wounds who surround themselves with older brother figures rather than father figures because if we go back and look at Mark Driscoll having Jamie Munson being executive pastor and president of the corporation that was once known as Mars Hill a person could be forgiven for having an impression that Mark Driscoll didn't necessarily even want "older brother" figures keeping him accountable if "younger brother" figures could work.  Darrin Patrick was born the month after Driscoll was, after all.  

Larry Osborne has stuck by Mark Driscoll.  MacDonald may or may not still be connected and it may or may not be that Patrick and Driscoll have stayed in touch.  For that matter it's not known whether Driscoll and Munson have spoken in years.  There could be any number of leaders from the Mars Hill days with whom Driscoll hasn't said much of anything.  Based on what Roys has reported Dave Bruskas has said to her, it could be there are any number of people with whom Driscoll is not observably in restored relationship, or relationship of any sort.

When the last time was that Mark Driscoll talked to the co-founders of Mars Hill Church would only be knowable, perhaps, to Mark Driscoll, Mike Gunn and Lief Moi.  

What's noteworthy about Osborne is not just his persistence on the MHC BOAA but that he was on the BOAA during the period in which it presented an explanation of the use of ResultSource to secure a No. 1 place on the New York Times bestseller list for Real Marriage.

Result Source
In 2011, outside counsel advised our marketing team to use Result Source to market the Real Marriage book and attain placement on the New York Times Bestseller list. While not uncommon or illegal, this unwise strategy is not one we had used before or since, and not one we will use again. The true cost of this endeavor was much less than what has been reported, and to be clear, all of the books purchased through this campaign have been given away or sold through normal channels. All monies from the sale of Pastor Mark’s books at Mars Hill bookstores have always gone to the church and Pastor Mark did not profit from the Real Marriage books sold either at the church or through the Result Source marketing campaign.

It wasn't illegal or unethical but it was unwise. 

Osborne was part of the BoAA at the time the statement was provided. All of that may be necessary to keep in mind when Roys quotes Bruskas regarding Mark Driscoll in the present:

I asked Bruskas if he believed Driscoll was fit to serve in ministry and he replied, “Do I believe Mark is permanently disqualified, no—but presently, yes. If he hasn’t gone through a restoration process, then he should not be serving.”
Bruskas added that he’s heard Driscoll confess and express remorse for the things he did at Mars Hill. Yet to date, Bruskas says he hasn’t seen evidence of repentance and change. When asked what he thinks about Larry Osborne’s continued partnership with Driscoll, Bruskas said, “That’s perplexing to me.”...

In terms of connections to Leadership Network Driscoll's connection may go as far back as the late 1990s even if he may not have been personally interacting with Osborne much in those days.  

Driscoll and Osborne discussed governance and how power goes from the throne down not the pew up.  We looked at some length at that philosophy regarding power and looked at the governing document of the former Mars Hill Church.  In sum, Mark Driscoll had either complete formal corporate power over the church he was a member of or, should he have resigned his leadership role, he'd not be a member of Mars Hill Church.

When Driscoll talks in more recent days about how there are guys with father wounds who want older brother figures and to not have to be accountable to real father figures Driscoll has, for those who wade deeply into the history of the governance of Mars Hill Church in corporate terms, arguably been the best case study of such a weakness regarding accountability.  Driscoll claimed that he agreed to the restoration plan the board came up with but then received some kind of oracle saying he was "released".  Despite the fact that Driscoll had said he wouldn't leave and wasn't going anywhere, by late 2014 he was "released" but he did not share this account until 2015.  Osborne, who was part of the BOAA possibly as far as its dissolution, could at least be in a position to clarify to Roys for the record if Mark Driscoll's account of agreeing with the restoration plan proposed by the board is accurate.  

Osborne's policy, by way of solidarity with the MHC BOAA during the plagiarism controversy of late 2013 and the Result Source controversy of early 2014 was to stand by his man.  That Driscoll went back and fixed citation errors in his books could be commended if Mark Driscoll could admit that there were so many citation errors in his books that they needed to be corrected.  Adding a note of thanks in Real Marriage regarding the debt Mark and Grace Driscoll have had to the work of Dan Allender, for instance, raises a new problem--if Grace Driscoll (or, if applicable, a ghostwriter) claimed that there were basically no resources at Mars Hill to help victims of sexual abuse then if Dan Allender's work was known and used by Mark and Grace Driscoll then how, exactly, can it be true to say that Mars Hill had no resources?  It's possible to argue, based on statements made by former biblical living pastor James Noriega that there was a philosophy within Mars Hill leadership that aspired to have it so that no one would ever need to make use of resources that were not specifically developed within Mars Hill, but that's not the same thing as saying there were no resources when Grace Driscoll shared with her husband she had been abused.  

Nor can we just ignore that Mark Driscoll claimed that he and Grace were both virgins when they met in an interview with Christianity Today despite the fact that both attested they were not virgins in the text of Real Marriage itself.
Interview by Katelyn Beaty and Marlena Graves/ January 5, 2012
Is there tension in teaching sexual purity before marriage while encouraging frequent and wonderful sex within marriage?

M: No, and for us, we sinned, quite frankly. We were virgins when we met and were sleeping together as high-school boyfriend and girlfriend. Then Grace came back to Christ, and I came to Christ in college, so we had to stop sinning sexually. I'd say if we both could go back and rewrite history and change one thing, that would probably be the thing we would change. [emphasis added] But we did repent and met with our pastor. And then we did get married, between our junior and senior years of college

Real Marriage
Mark and Grace Driscoll
Copyright (c) 2012 by On Mission, LLC
Thomas Nelson
ISBN 978-1-4002-0383-3
ISBN 978-1-4041-8352-0 (IE)

Page 7
Neither Grace nor I was a virgin when we met, and before long we were dating and sleeping together, which continued even after she went off to college while I was finishing high school.
Now it's possible that after giving so many interviews a person can forget something as basic as whether or not one was a virgin at the time of meeting the person who would become one's spouse but the conditions under which such forgetfulness seem most probable involve significant breakdown of mental acuity and function.  Another possibility is that answering interview questions can become a kind of performance art in which the answer is tailored to the recipient, although some might say that risks being deceptive, depending on what answer is given.

Mark Driscoll would at times in his Mars Hill days say "We broke some rules, but God is faithful."  In the wake of the controversies surrounding his leadership style and decisions made on behalf of his brand name recognition in contrast to the reputational welfare of what used to be Mars Hill Church, it can seem as though Mark Driscoll presents a cumulative story in which he's allowed to break rules and there is "grace" for him that has not, was not, and presently unlikely to be extended to others within his orbit.  One of Mark Driscoll's complaints in Real Marriage was that sometimes there would be Christian counselors but they would turn out to have marriages as bad as the one Mark felt he had so they weren't qualified to help.  Yet year after year Mark Driscoll counseled married couples and that gets at one of the core difficulties with Driscoll continuing in ministry that isn't really a thing you can reduce down to a zippy single sentence observation--you can "say" that Mark Driscoll's trouble has been that he operates on the basis of double standardized tests where he receives grace and people who cross him get put in the woodchipper, but it's the sum of the life that has to be observed first.  

Yet a  man who can't consistently establish for the record whether or not he was a virgin when he started dating the woman who would become his wife is someone who we should not trust simply because he says God told him he was supposed to be a pastor or that he's been "released" from ministry at Mars Hill Church.  The trouble with that claim is that even if we take it at face value, the most prominent case of a man being appointed by God to be a leader of God's people who was then "released" from that leadership role would be someone like King Saul.  


Should Roys want to compare notes on what she's found on the James MacDonald side with what Wenatchee The Hatchet has been documenting on the Mars Hill/Mark Driscoll side, comparing notes would be interesting.  Osborne seems to be more significant a figure in the history of Mars Hill than any of us were able to grasp at the time and Osborne's continued support of Driscoll does raise a number of questions as to how much Osborne knows about the 2007 period or about the accuracy of Mark Driscoll's account to Brian Houston that Mark agreed to submit to the restoration plan but was then "released" according to some kind of oracle experience.  Documents from the time of Driscoll's 2014 resignation indicate surprise and disappointment on the part of the boards of Mars Hill.  Was Osborne surprised?  If not, why not?  

With the Result Source contract having been signed by Sutton Turner years ago Osborne, as a former member of the Mars Hill Board of Advisors and Accountability, could perhaps field a statement to Roys about what his thoughts on that decision were.  Turner has stated for the record he had issues with the plan but decided to sign the contract because if he didn't someone else would.  That invites a question as to who that someone else could have or would have been but that's arguably also moot.  

One thing that becomes clearer is that if Mark Driscoll were to decide to make a complete break with everything to do with his past with Mars Hill a break from Osborne might, eventually, be necessary.  Osborne's role on the MHC BOAA in its final years was too readily documented for both men to completely avoid the questions that can come up about Result Source, the plagiarism controversy and how and why they believe or believed Mark Driscoll was not found unqualified to serve in pastoral ministry on the basis of either of those controversies.   

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