Friday, June 15, 2012

An interesting story about a self-appointed king


Judges 8:28-35

28 Thus Midian was subdued before the Israelites and did not raise its head again. During Gideon’s lifetime, the land had peace forty years.

29 Jerub-Baal son of Joash went back home to live. 30 He had seventy sons of his own, for he had many wives. 31 His concubine, who lived in Shechem, also bore him a son, whom he named Abimelek. 32 Gideon son of Joash died at a good old age and was buried in the tomb of his father Joash in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.

33 No sooner had Gideon died than the Israelites again prostituted themselves to the Baals. They set up Baal-Berith as their god 34 and did not remember the Lord their God, who had rescued them from the hands of all their enemies on every side. 35 They also failed to show any loyalty to the family of Jerub-Baal (that is, Gideon) in spite of all the good things he had done for them. 

Judges 9

1 Abimelek son of Jerub-Baal went to his mother’s brothers in Shechem and said to them and to all his mother’s clan, 2 “Ask all the citizens of Shechem, ‘Which is better for you: to have all seventy of Jerub-Baal’s sons rule over you, or just one man?’ Remember, I am your flesh and blood. ”

3 When the brothers repeated all this to the citizens of Shechem, they were inclined to follow Abimelek, for they said, “He is related to us.” 4 They gave him seventy shekels of silver from the temple of Baal-Berith, and Abimelek used it to hire reckless scoundrels, who became his followers. 5 He went to his father’s home in Ophrah and on one stone murdered his seventy brothers, the sons of Jerub-Baal. But Jotham, the youngest son of Jerub-Baal, escaped by hiding. 6 Then all the citizens of Shechem and Beth Millo gathered beside the great tree at the pillar in Shechem to crown Abimelek king.

7 When Jotham was told about this, he climbed up on the top of Mount Gerizim and shouted to them, “Listen to me, citizens of Shechem, so that God may listen to you. 8 One day the trees went out to anoint a king for themselves. They said to the olive tree, ‘Be our king.’

9 “But the olive tree answered, ‘Should I give up my oil, by which both gods and humans are honored, to hold sway over the trees?’

10 “Next, the trees said to the fig tree, ‘Come and be our king.’

11 “But the fig tree replied, ‘Should I give up my fruit, so good and sweet, to hold sway over the trees?’

12 “Then the trees said to the vine, ‘Come and be our king.’

13 “But the vine answered, ‘Should I give up my wine, which cheers both gods and humans, to hold sway over the trees?’

14 “Finally all the trees said to the thornbush, ‘Come and be our king.’

15 “The thornbush said to the trees, ‘If you really want to anoint me king over you, come and take refuge in my shade; but if not, then let fire come out of the thornbush and consume the cedars of Lebanon!’ 

16 “Have you acted honorably and in good faith by making Abimelek king? Have you been fair to Jerub-Baal and his family? Have you treated him as he deserves? 17 Remember that my father fought for you and risked his life to rescue you from the hand of Midian. 18 But today you have revolted against my father’s family. You have murdered his seventy sons on a single stone and have made Abimelek, the son of his female slave, king over the citizens of Shechem because he is related to you. 19 So have you acted honorably and in good faith toward Jerub-Baal and his family today? If you have, may Abimelek be your joy, and may you be his, too! 20 But if you have not, let fire come out from Abimelek and consume you, the citizens of Shechem and Beth Millo, and let fire come out from you, the citizens of Shechem and Beth Millo, and consume Abimelek!”

21 Then Jotham fled, escaping to Beer, and he lived there because he was afraid of his brother Abimelek.

22 After Abimelek had governed Israel three years, 23 God stirred up animosity between Abimelek and the citizens of Shechem so that they acted treacherously against Abimelek. 24 God did this in order that the crime against Jerub-Baal’s seventy sons, the shedding of their blood, might be avenged on their brother Abimelek and on the citizens of Shechem, who had helped him murder his brothers. 25 In opposition to him these citizens of Shechem set men on the hilltops to ambush and rob everyone who passed by, and this was reported to Abimelek.

26 Now Gaal son of Ebed moved with his clan into Shechem, and its citizens put their confidence in him. 27 After they had gone out into the fields and gathered the grapes and trodden them, they held a festival in the temple of their god. While they were eating and drinking, they cursed Abimelek. 28 Then Gaal son of Ebed said, “Who is Abimelek, and why should we Shechemites be subject to him? Isn’t he Jerub-Baal’s son, and isn’t Zebul his deputy? Serve the family of Hamor, Shechem’s father! Why should we serve Abimelek? 29 If only this people were under my command! Then I would get rid of him. I would say to Abimelek, ‘Call out your whole army!’” 

30 When Zebul the governor of the city heard what Gaal son of Ebed said, he was very angry. 31 Under cover he sent messengers to Abimelek, saying, “Gaal son of Ebed and his clan have come to Shechem and are stirring up the city against you. 32 Now then, during the night you and your men should come and lie in wait in the fields. 33 In the morning at sunrise, advance against the city. When Gaal and his men come out against you, seize the opportunity to attack them. ”

34 So Abimelek and all his troops set out by night and took up concealed positions near Shechem in four companies. 35 Now Gaal son of Ebed had gone out and was standing at the entrance of the city gate just as Abimelek and his troops came out from their hiding place. 

36 When Gaal saw them, he said to Zebul, “Look, people are coming down from the tops of the mountains!”

Zebul replied, “You mistake the shadows of the mountains for men.”

37 But Gaal spoke up again: “Look, people are coming down from the central hill, and a company is coming from the direction of the diviners’ tree.”

38 Then Zebul said to him, “Where is your big talk now, you who said, ‘Who is Abimelek that we should be subject to him?’ Aren’t these the men you ridiculed? Go out and fight them!”

39 So Gaal led out the citizens of Shechem and fought Abimelek. 40 Abimelek chased him all the way to the entrance of the gate, and many were killed as they fled. 41 Then Abimelek stayed in Arumah, and Zebul drove Gaal and his clan out of Shechem.

42 The next day the people of Shechem went out to the fields, and this was reported to Abimelek. 43 So he took his men, divided them into three companies and set an ambush in the fields. When he saw the people coming out of the city, he rose to attack them. 44 Abimelek and the companies with him rushed forward to a position at the entrance of the city gate. Then two companies attacked those in the fields and struck them down. 45 All that day Abimelek pressed his attack against the city until he had captured it and killed its people. Then he destroyed the city and scattered salt over it.

46 On hearing this, the citizens in the tower of Shechem went into the stronghold of the temple of El-Berith. 47 When Abimelek heard that they had assembled there, 48 he and all his men went up Mount Zalmon. He took an ax and cut off some branches, which he lifted to his shoulders. He ordered the men with him, “Quick! Do what you have seen me do!” 49 So all the men cut branches and followed Abimelek. They piled them against the stronghold and set it on fire with the people still inside. So all the people in the tower of Shechem, about a thousand men and women, also died.

50 Next Abimelek went to Thebez and besieged it and captured it. 51 Inside the city, however, was a strong tower, to which all the men and women—all the people of the city—had fled. They had locked themselves in and climbed up on the tower roof. 52 Abimelek went to the tower and attacked it. But as he approached the entrance to the tower to set it on fire, 53 a woman dropped an upper millstone on his head and cracked his skull. 

54 Hurriedly he called to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and kill me, so that they can’t say, ‘A woman killed him.’” So his servant ran him through, and he died. 55 When the Israelites saw that Abimelek was dead, they went home.

56 Thus God repaid the wickedness that Abimelek had done to his father by murdering his seventy brothers. 57 God also made the people of Shechem pay for all their wickedness. The curse of Jotham son of Jerub-Baal came on them.

"Joy in Anxiety"--Driscoll's gloss on Euodia and Syntyche with curious asides

Joy in Anxiety
Part 9 of The Rebel's Guiide to Joy
Pastor Mark Driscoll
Phillipians 4:2-9
December 9 2007

So when there is something going on, Paul's not shy about pointing out. He doesn't mention sin. He doesn't mention ehresy. Then the question that all the commentators wrestle over is, "Well what's the reason that they have this division?" The answer is, "It doesn't matter." If it did matter, the Bible would tell us. But it doesn't tell us because it doesn't matter. Sometimes the issue really isn't a big deal, or sometimes the issue isn't the issue. The division is the bigger issue. I don't know what the issue was. Maybe they had new bylaws. Maybe somebody was opposed to the Belltown campus. Maybe somebody just took a pay cut. Maybe somebody was leading the worship team, Euodia and then Syntyche, took over and then she had to sing backup and she's all bent out of shape and blogged about it, and then other people commented about it. Then they sent a press release to The Stranger, and then the Seattle Times called and then KOMO 4 got involved, and next thing you know, it was mars Hill Church Phillipi. I don't ,know. Right?

Now the timing and content of this paragraph is interesting.

"Maybe they had new bylaws"

Like the new bylaws over which Bent Meyer and Paul Petry got fired because they didn't agree with the bylaws?

"Maybe somebody was opposed to the Belltown campus."

Like the Belltown campus that was bid on in September 2007 by the Mars Hill executive elders (the only ones who were authorized by the bylaws to make purchases of real estate? The Belltown campus that was purchased in October 2007 for $3.95 million without having necessarily notified members of the church of such a massive purchase until the deal had gone through? 

"Maybe somebody just took a pay cut."

Like co-founding pastor Lief Moi who wrote to Mars Hill and mentioned that his salary was cut by nearly 40 percent? That Moi was asked to step down from leading the Ballard campus because he lacked the kingly gifts for the job?  Meanwhile Bill Clem was drawing a full salary to care for his dying wife?  Had Clem demonstrated the kingly gifts to manage a campus the size of ballard by that point?  Driscoll established in "Joy in Humility" earlier in the sermon series that he had approached Bill Clem and James Noriega and suggested they give him Doxa with no promises of any job, power, rank or prestige. 

It may be worth noting that by Lief Moi's account he was asked to step down from leading Mars Hill Ballard because he lacked the kingly gifts for the job. Whether Bill Clem had the kingly gifts for the job does not seem to have come up that I'm aware of.  How large was Doxa, by Driscoll's account, when Bill Clem and James Noriega gave it to Mars Hill?  A couple hundred people at most. Driscoll had mentioned in a 2006 sermon he had wanted the property that was Doxa since 1996.  As Driscoll related the transaction in "One Body, Many Parts" and "Joy in Humility" he approached Clem and Noriega about use of Doxa and they agreed to give the property to Mars Hill.  Mark Driscoll, it should be noted, was legal president at this time because he had not yet resigned being legal president of the organization.
One to One with mark Driscoll
Joel Virgo

New Frontiers magazine online
Vol 3:07 Apri-June 2008

JV: You’ve achieved an unusual writing and teaching output while leading Mars Hill and Acts 29 – how? You must have a remarkable crowd of leaders around you. How does that work?

MD: We recently rewrote the bylaws of our church and reorganised everything. I resigned as the legal president of the church, head of the elder board and lead pastor [emphasis added]. Much of my power is now entrusted to other godly men with a good structure to ensure health and growth simultaneously. I feel very relieved at the outcome, encouraged for our future, and have deep trust with our elders. They are doing a good job and do love Jesus and our church very deeply.

Consider the phrasing in one of those sentences, "Much of my power is now entrusted to other godly men ... ."  Does this mean that Driscoll reserved or reserves the right to take back his power later?  Doesn't this suggest at least the possibility that Driscoll was thinking in terms of his power rather than the power of the executive elders as a group or the board of directors or the elder board?  It's a peculiar phrase to have used.  

Now eventually, for some reason, Bill Clem was made campus pastor at Ballard "when he was ready" as Driscoll would later describe it, and James Noriega was promoted to the Board of Directors and later made co-leader of what have become the Redemption Groups.  

To bring things back to the talking point from the Driscoll sermon, it's not a sure thing that Driscoll was talking about Lief Moi when he said "Maybe somebody took a pay cut" but since the earlier examples Driscoll used seemed to refer to real and recent situations Mars Hill was dealing with it seems  plausible to suggest that Driscoll may have been referring to Moi's paycut, which was documented in the 145 document. 

"Maybe somebody was leading the worship team ... ."

I admit, nothing springs to mind here for this one.  Was there someone who was leading a popular worship team that was taken out of play that may have required the band to reorganize?  Team Strike Force disbanded somewhere around that time and some people were sad about that. There wasn't a lot of explanation as to why that was so perhaps Driscoll was cryptically alluding to that?  I don't know, I admit my memory on that is a bit fuzzy.. 

I propose, however, that the most intriguing aspect of how Driscoll interprets the text of Phillipians 4:29 is what he presupposes without explanation.  What is that?  That Euodia and Syntyche are leaders in the church.  Leaders?  Really?  If women can't be elders then were these women deacons?  Wouldn't this sermon have been a great opportunity to revisit the question of women in leadership within the church to clarify Mars Hill teaching on that point?  If as Driscoll claimed the first problem for which Paul made a point of writing the letter to the church in Phillipi was a division in the leaders then wouldn't it warrant an entire sermon to explain and expound upon how women came to be such prominent leaders within this church?  This appears to have taken no interest for Driscoll at all.  Instead he said the passage was timely because it was like Mars Hill.  An exegetical bypass jumping straight into an applicatory "This is just like Mars Hill" was unfortunately common in Driscoll sermons in 2007 and this may well have been one such occasion. 

Sometimes on the earth, we also need a mediator to do a little of the work that's a little bit like Jesus. you try to work it out, you try to talk it out. You try to sort it out, and it gets worse. The more you talk, the worse it gets. The more the gossip, the hurt, the bitterness, the frustration, the division, and so you bring in a mediator--a godly third party. Maybe this is a community group leader, godly person who loves the Lord, an older Christian couple, biblical councilor, deacon, pastor, whatever it is. The two sides who can't agree have to agree on two things. One, we will meet.  Sometimes people refuse to meet. They refuse to even work toward unity. Secondly, when we meet, we will submit ourselves to the mediator and we'll let that person call the balls and strikes and see what is true, what is false. But the mediator then needs to hear both sides. This is what happens in Proverbs. Proverbs says, "Everyone seems right til the other side of the case is heard."
So we do tend to omit certain facts. What that means is for you, never come to a conclusion until you've heard both sides. That's a good mediator. 

I agree.  Both sides should be heard in a difficult dispute. It is also easy to agree that people tend to omit certain facts.  A mediator should be able to account for the fact that everyone has some incentive to omit certain facts.

So how about the mediation of Pastor Wayne Taylor?
email from Pastor Jamie Munson to Paul Petry
Wednesday January 30, 2008

Dear Paul,

After I sent my email resposne to you yesterday, Pastor Wayne Taylor contacted us to let us know that given the escalated nature of your communication with us that he probably would not be the best mediator to serve us. I wanted to communicate that to you as soon as possible so you could have that information as you prepare your response to us. We are still fully committed and open to meeting with you and using a third party mediator to facilitate such a meeting.

Well, looks like that didn't work out. Is the offer still good now that Jamie Munson has resigned and been replaced with Sutton Turner?  Turner wasn't the one who formulated the charges to have Petry and Meyer fired, Pastor Jamie Munson formulated the charges, so is it possible a door could be open to hear things out now?  The Lead Pastor and president of the organization said the door was still open in 2008, is it possible the current Lead Pastor could move things forward?  Or has Mars Hill taken a policy of assuming Petry has to still be in unrepentant sin?  

Do they hold this position despite what has come to light in the documents at Joyful Exiles about Scott Thomas' role in heading the EIT?  If Scott Thomas isn't even employed by Mars Hill or Acts 29 and this a week after Joyful Exiles went up why is that?  Munson explained to Petry that they believed Petry was in unrepentant sin. Do they still think that now?  If Petry was considered to be in unrepentant sin for voicing his concerns about the bylaws and about things like Article VIII has the way in which Andrew's story made national headlines offered any new perspective on this situation?  After all, anyone who has read Petry's concerns about the bylaws Munson presented for review would notice Petry's concern that there was not an appeals process for members under church discipline.  That sure seem like that could have ameliorated the Andrew situation a tiny bit. 

When Driscoll finally gets to the anxiety part of the sermon he ends up spending a bit of time in what seems intended to have been a comedy routine about ways to know whether you deal with anxiety:

How do you know you're stressed? Here's what experts say. Number one, you pastor Mars Hill Church. That was number one on their list. Number two, unusual mood swings. No reason, you're crying. You're a huge man crying for no reason. "Why are you crying?" "I don't know. I just need a good cry." Wow, soemthing is wrong.

Anger. You're angry all the time or you're just depressed. 

Exhaustion. You're just emotionally done.

How about this one? I get a nervous eye twitch. It looks like I'm hitting on people. I know it's gonna end up in the news eventually. "Pastor Mark is a habitual flirter." No he's not. he's just stressed out over the budget, so he does this all the time. He doesn't mean to, but he can't stop winking and he says sorry. So I'm probably gonna have to go with a pirate eye patch until we pull out of the budget crunch.

Angry all the time or depressed?  Mood swings?  Like the mood swings referenced in the book Real Marriage? Were these mood swings the sort that could only be ameliorated by more sex? If so couldn't that have been considered "self-medication" in recovery group parlance?  Just wondering about that.

And that budget crunch? 

So by December 10, 2007 there's a budget crunch.  What happened to the faithful givers and members? Did a few of them read every single page of this, maybe, and decide to not renew membership?

The budget crunch was reported here by The Stranger:

West Seattle Blog spotted *this* under “Pastor Prayers” on a Mars Hill blog…

Multiple pastors request prayers for our financial state. With the deep deficit, it is a test for all the staff to choose Jesus over anxiety when ministry funds are cut short and the possibility of lay-offs and additional budget cuts is on the horizon. Please pray for repentance by those who are disobeying God in their giving …

So it would seem like the majority of asides Driscoll made in the sermon referred to then current events and states. Some members were upset about the purchase of Tabella to the tune of $3.95 million. Others were upset to discover that the 50th street property couldn't be zoned or get permits for use for the grand vision Driscoll outlined in Confessions of a Reformission Rev. Many were upset that Bent Meyer and Paul Petry got fired by elders who stonewalled them for a month about why the firings took place.  Driscoll for some reason indicated to a member named Moira Bugler that without realizing it that by asking about the bylaws she was pressing on the issue that was the cause of the then current crisis. So it would appear that by Driscoll's own account in a php discussion forum he confirmed that Meyer and Petry had been fired in connection to the new bylaws.  Munson had explained that the firings were necessary and inevitable (for those who have read that documentation). 

If Mars Hill was facing a budget crunch in late 2007 was it because, as the leaders at one time put it, people were disobeying God in their giving?  Was it because, as a later amendation put it, people struggling with financial stewardship issues needed to have people come alongside them to help them? 

As Driscoll would explain things to Justin Taylor in 2010:

Why, at this stage in your life and given your calling, did you feel led to put together an introduction to theology?
Like all of my writing, this project was born out of my work as one of the elders at Mars Hill. We have enjoyed an ocean of God’s grace at our church. As we expand to more campuses, states, and possibly even nations, I wanted to do all I could to ensure doctrinal fidelity and clarity for our church. As the tree grows and the fruit increases, the roots need to sink deep as well. So, when our attendance was at about six thousand people a few years ago, we did something unprecedented. We canceled out the membership of everyone in our church and I preached the Doctrine series for thirteen weeks.(emphasis added) Each sermon was well over an hour and included me answering text-messaged questions from our people.
Those who made it through the entire series were interviewed, and those who evidenced true faith in Christ and signed our membership covenant were installed as new members. We had always had a high bar for membership, but I wanted to raise that bar higher as we pursued our goal of becoming, by God’s grace, a church of fifty thousand. In so doing, we lost about a thousand people, dropped to five thousand total, and missed budget for the first time in our church’s history. We then rebounded over the next few years to ten thousand people a week and as many as thirteen thousand on our peak weekend. (emphasis added) We had pruned, which hurt, but then we harvested, which was healing. It’s not all about the numbers, and we were willing to lose a lot of people, but God proved that there is power in the gospel and that a people united around core biblical doctrine can be used by God to bear much fruit by grace. We now use the book and its small group questions as our membership process for Mars Hill.

Hmm ... so Mars Hill failed to make budget for the first time in its history just after the re-org? Did real estate purchases have any role in that? Did the various things Driscoll mentioned in the "Joy in Anxiety" sermon have any connection to that? 

If the bar was always high for membership then the bar would have been even higher for elders, right? Does Driscoll feel like fielding questions about his recruiting James Noriega into the eldership team at Mars Hill? In Driscoll's account to Justin Taylor Mars Hill lost about a thousand people during the re-org.  Driscoll spelled out that the goal was to grow Mars Hill to a church of 50,000.  

Here's some questions, amid all those things Driscoll mentioned in "Joy in Anxiety" that caused anxiety for him and Mars Hill how many of those things may have involved decisions he and other executive elders made at the time? Was there a crisis about new bylaws?  What was that about? In case you didn't read this earlier post, here's a citation from a document distributed at Mars Hill explaining a reason why the re-org was necessary. Did the newer bylaws actually address the issues for which they were said to be necessary?

Additionally, Driscoll referred to someone opposing the Belltown campus.  Was that internal opposition as well as external? Who was opposed to the Belltown campus and why? Was there concern that the bid was made without informing members of the church?  Did all the elders actually know about the bid on Tabella made in September 2007 that was reported by The Stranger? Who took that paycut?  Was it Lief Moi, co-founding elder of Mars Hill who by Driscoll's account in reply to a member in late 2007 was in constant pain due to back problems? Was a team leader of a worship team moved to being second fiddle?  Who made that call?  

As an actual expository series on Phillipians The Rebel's Guide to Joy may seem dated and inadequate but as a testament on Driscoll's part to organizational strife, property acquisitions, and asset development at Mars Hill the series seems surprisingly informative. That he specifically says "Maybe someone was opposed to the Belltown campus" and "Maybe somebody took a paycut" strongly suggests that Driscoll was alluding to actual controversies within the church at the time.  Or it could be I'm just overanalyzing things a bit. 

Regrouping for Jesus' Fame: An explanation of the need for the re-org in 2007

The root of our problem is that our ecclesiological model was established for the governance of a single church. We have gone from a single church to a network of campuses requiring multiple levels of authority and leadership, each with defined jurisdiction. In light of this we are quickly moving to move to a greater number of leadership teams with defined scopes of responsibility and oversight. We believe that these teams built at the campus level will allow us to both care for our church and its leaders most effectively and allow us to remain a lean and nimble organization that can adapt to change quickly.

Now if this was the root problem and the need for drafting new bylaws in 2007 how did the new bylaws address that problem? I've looked through the newer bylaws and have had trouble finding indications that the newer bylaws actually established governance of a network of campuses.  There was a lot of attention to the Full Council of Elders, the Board of Directors, and the Executive Elder Board.

Yet if the stated goal was to draft a set of bylaws that provided for a network of campuses requiring multiple levels of authority and leadership, each with defined jurisdiction it looks to this possibly uninformed and ill-informed reader that the old bylaws actually provided for that possibility in Article V.  Where is the Article V equivalent in the newer bylaws? Article V in the old bylaws stipulated Site pastors and their jurisdiction to at least some degree.  The newer bylaws don't even seem to do that.  If someone can point to the article and wording from the newer bylaws that clearly defines the jurisdiction and levels of authority and leadership relating to the network of campuses feel free to point them out in comments.

And after all that and the associated firings and so on then in 2011 this gets published.
Pastor Jamie Munson
August 8, 2011

Last month we decided to put an end to the word “campus” in the Mars Hill vocabulary. It’s been a long time coming, and now, with new locations in the works from Everett to Orange County, the timing is right to make the change.

During our June meeting, the Mars Hill Board of Directors agreed to replace “Mars Hill campuses” with “Mars Hill churches.” This is more than a shift in semantics. The adjustment is the product of a lot of discussion, study, and deliberation involving the entire Mars Hill eldership and experienced theologians like Gregg Allison and James MacDonald.

Referring to our locations as churches rather than campuses helps articulate our theology (what we believe about God and his Word), our ecclesiology (what we believe about church), our ministry, and our mission.

That's informative. Where in the bylaws drafted in 2007 did campuses get discussed again?  Article and sections if readers can spot them.

Though by definition we may be many different churches, the Mars Hill Network of churches remains a single, united church. We share a common infrastructure, a common mission, common teaching, and a common belief that we can reach more people by working together rather than existing separately.

Wouldn't the traditional nomenclature for this group of churches united by infrastructure, mission, teaching, and belief be a "denomination"?

Wasn't the big re-org needed because the old governance system was that of a single church and what was needed was a system that better reflected a network of campuses?  Okay ... but then in 2011 the whole campus thing was tossed out and replaced with churches.  Munson assured readers this was not a purely semantic distinction.  All right then, but it's not entirely clear from the bylaws passed in 2007 that the new bylaws ever addressed campus network concerns that much to begin with but perhaps someone more versed in those things can post some helpful information here. Again, it seems pertinent to ask, didn't Article V of the old bylaws actually cover Site pastors? If someone can spot where in the bylaws drafted in 2007 that campus or site pastors actually got discussed feel free to point out the article and section.

On September 6, 2011 Munson announced his resignation.

Driscoll provided a leadership vision for Mars Hill in the wake of the announcement which included the following:


Pastor Mark Driscoll
September 6, 2011

While we celebrate the past and honor the present, we also need to prepare for the future by God’s grace. We’ve been here before, many times before, in fact. As our church grows, we encounter obstacles and hit ceilings of complexity and need to adjust as necessary to get through the next size barrier. This was true at 200, 800, 2,000, and 6,000, just like the experts predicted. At 10,000 we are there again. (emphasis added) I’ve been working on the beginnings of a comprehensive plan, as I can see into the future to 25,000 people a week, Lord willing. A finished version of that document will be released once it is revised with input and change from various leaders in the church, as well as wise counsel from leaders of churches larger than ours who have become friends. 

Now if I remember clearly one of these friends may now include:

T. D. Jakes (see Elephant Room 2)

Steven Furtick

In just over six years, Elevation Church has grown to more than 10,000 in attendance each week meeting at six locations. Since our launch, we've seen thousands of people give their lives to Christ and be baptized. Elevation has been named one of the "10 fastest growing churches in America" by Outreach Magazine for the past six years.

In the above tweet Driscoll expresses gratitude for being able to teach at Furtick's church.

Then there's James MacDonald, with whom Driscoll extended hands to Jakes at Elephant Room 2

So back in 2007 Mars Hill seemed to have hit a ceiling of complexity that required a re-org. In 2011 Munson mentioned that campuses were no longer the preferred nomenclature, churches were, and that this change was to reflect what had been reality for a while and to make sure terminology fit theology and ecclesiology. Then a month later Munson resigns and he and Driscoll share a few kind words about each other.

Then Driscoll, for reasons I admit I don't quite get, spends a lengthy amount of time talking about growing Mars Hill to the next level and about ceilings of complexity.  When was the last time celings of complexity came up?  Attendance of 6000?  There were about 6000 attending regularly in 2007 during the re-org and when the firings happened because two pastors had substantial reservations about the bylaws revisions, right? Munson, whose educational background has not tended to come up in discussions of his kingly gifts, stepped down and has been replaced by Sutton Turner, whose academic and corporate experience involves companies and churches besides Mars Hill.

For a few references to Sutton Turner a few links may help referencing previous research:

So campuses are out and churches are in.  So if the re-org of 2007 was needed so that campus teams could make decisions more effectively will the bylaws get revised to better reflect the reality that the campuses are churches? Would there need to be new bylaws if Mars Hill has become Mars Hill Network as Munson seemed to describe it? Did the ceiling of complexity reach a level where Munson didn't have the kingly gifts to tackle it and someone else did?  I'm not sure.  Meanwhile, if someone could elucidate how those 2007 bylaws addressed campus jurisdiction that'd be helpful.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

big things have small beginnings,

A while back I heard my brother relate that he came across something funny. Now I wouldn't expect any of you to know that I have a brother or anything about him but he happens to be interested in World War I as a subject for reading. Dropping by a discussion forum he noticed an amusing discussion about the role different nations played in the conflict. Relatively easy point for discussion, right? Everyone agrees the main parties were England, Germany, France, Italy, Russia and the United States to cover the biggest players.  Well ...

Let's just say that someone had a question about what role lesser know nations had in the war.  Anyone who has read their history knows that the major players who made the war famous were not necessarily the nations that started it. Many people today may not be aware that the nations that started the First World War were not actually Germany or England. Bosnia and Serbia don't tend to come up in many discussions.

My brother mentioned a memorable question. A question that came up was, "What role did Bosnia and Serbia play in the First World War?" Related by my brother was this cheeky rejoinder, "You mean other than starting it? Nothing." Kinda funny, isn't it?

Definitely funny that the two nations that sparked the first global military conflict did not themselves end up playing any significant role in the war once it exploded. Really, you'd think that this kind of thing wouldn't happen so much. I know, that's sarcasm of a dry sort but humor me. Sometimes a writer wishes to be indulgent and play with language a bit, to riff on seemingly unrelated actions that synergistically add up to more than first appears. Could it be the two small nations had any idea that their little feud could spark a global bloodbath?  Obviously we must realize that no one is able to fully guess at those things. Let's remember that in many cases a short-term decision that seems wonderful has a disastrous end.  Let's remember that when the short term rewards glow in the present that sometimes miserable disasters and darkness may shortly follow.

Just because two points can eventually be connected doesn't mean the connections are always easy to make.  Anyone can connect dots that are obviously, closely associated. Many people are content to just connect the dots most easily seen as connectable.  Even though this may not always prove to be the most helpful way of approaching things people rely on mental shortcuts that we often don't realize exist.  "Stupid is as stupid does" is not quite the right way to put it because we are all capable of this kind of thing..

Nobody wants to admit that we can take mental shortcuts.  Only morons take mental shortcuts in which they assume everything from a part, right?  Really, though, we are all guilty of the same kinds of failings other people are, aren't we?  I am not any more likely to think clearly on everything even when I know what the weaknesses and shortcuts of my own brain are.  As embarrassing as this is for me to admit it must be admitted, because admitting this weakness is a step toward change.  Generally people don't want to boast in weaknesses, whether physically weaknesses, emotional weaknesses or cognitive weaknesses.  All of us would like to be known and praised for strengths and what may demonstrate a cognitive bias that hinders our judgment we may be tempted to spin as "going for the bottom line" or, in more pious-talking circles, "discernment".

Kinda strange that we keep fooling ourselves and each other about this.  As much as I find this troubling I have to admit it's a temptation I face, too. I don't have to be comfortable with this to realize it's something I must remember.  To quote an old author "The heart is deceitful above all things, who can understand it?" Like it or not people haven't changed that much since those words were written. You can't get around that. Nope, but perhaps realizing that the human condition is a puzzle we can never fully solve can give us a modicum of humility about not only our weakness but the weakness of others.

HT Phoenix Preacher: "If You're Selling Scorn for Conservative Christians The Market is Hot"

From this week's Linkathon

Psychology Today: In the Name of Love [a discussion of attachment theory]

From my point of view, attachment theory also redefines the place of sexual behavior. For the past 50 years, we seem to have come to believe that sex is the essence of love relationships. That is not my experience in working with couples. Sex per sex is often but a small part of adult intimacy. Attachment theory tells us that the basic security in life is contact with other people. We need to be held, to be emotionally connected. I think that the most basic human experience of relatedness is two people—mother and child, father and child, two adults—seeing and holding each other, providing the safety, security, and feeling of human connectedness that for most, in the end, makes life meaningful. Many people use sex as a way to create or substitute for the sense of connection they are needing. I would guess that many a man or woman has engaged in sex just to meet a need for being held.

Just a short excerpt of what is an interesting and long article. 

Prelude and Fugue in C minor for solo guitar
Prelude in C minor
Fugue in C minor


Hollywood has gotten into prequels, obviously. Explaining how things came about never stops being interesting ... in theory. In some cases a prequel works out okay> I actually mostly enjoyed X-Men: First Class and it was because Michael Fassbender is a great entertainer (more on this, inevitably).  This mutant prequel worked because it got back to the core conflict between Magneto and Professor X and showed how their paths diverged despite a sincere friendship.

But prequels like Star Wars Episodes I-III didn't even deliver on a fan hope for a depiction of the actual clone wars. For that fans would have to wait for the titular Clone Wars cartoon (and not necessarily the slight but eminently watchable Tartakovsky version). I will have a great deal I'd like to say about the distinction between "mythos" and actually mythic narrative function down the road but I am saving that stuff for the sequel and this is not a prequel.

The week before the film came out I wrote this:

Spoiler alert--the Engineer DNA and the human DNA are  the same.  Ergo, we made ourselves. ;-) There are a variety of ways of explaining this and some people explain it one way and others explain it in another way.  The white Engineers and the black goo are curiously blank slates that don't invite a lot of explanation of motive.  To be sure some have provided lengthy and detailed explanations of motive but I propose, in an admittedly uncharitable perspective, that one of the problems of Prometheus is that it merely poses questions that it is not particularly interested in answering. Rather, the answer is summed up in "because we could" at the start of the film when Charlie explains to David why David was created.  David replies, "Imagine how disappointed you will feel when your creators tell you the same thing."

One of the mysteries of the film Prometheus is the question of motive.  "Why?" is a question that abounds in the film. Unfortunately as this is a horror film the question "why?" permeates the actions of characters in ways that can be sent up readily. As Dana Stevens wrote over at Slate "I think they want us to go and meet them" is the first of many lines uttered in such a genre film that telegraph that bad ideas are about to be implemented with disastrous consequences. Elizabeth Shaw, who is some manner of at least nominal Christian, at least has a self-explanatory motive. Her boyfriend Charlie Holloway's motives are to find answers but perhaps in the vein of guys who go along on quests because of the women they want to be with Holloway's motives often seem remarkably secondary or unfocused.  It's Charlie who tells David the android "we made you because we could". Charlie's disdain for artificial life is about the only thing vaguely hinted at from the actor's performance.

The other being that when he upsets Elizabeth by saying it takes no real effort to create life, just a bit of DNA and some dirt Elizabeth takes offense. Elizabeth is infertile and can't have children.  Charlie explains that he didn't mean it like that, it might be worth noting that he never actually says sorry. Perhaps like overly lenient girlfriends in other genre films Elizabeth decides to not hold this against him.

The most memorable scene in the film is where David explains that Elizabeth is three months pregnant. This can't be, Elizabeth says with some alarm, because she is infertile. David politely and calmly remarks that he didn't say it was a human baby. Thus begins Elizabeth's frantic effort to get the thing out of her.  She has a machine cut the infant creature out of her and "gives birth" to a kind of starfish squid (whose resemblence to the face-hugger alien from Ridley Scott's seminal sci-fi horror film is more than just passing). This face-hugging squid seems to absorb nutrients from the air itself and increases to twenty times its original size by the end of the movie in which it is locked in combat with the last Engineer (or so it would seem).

You see the moon with life on it is an abandoned moon, a derelict weapons storage center the Engineers gave up eons ago.

That the Engineers created human life is all too telegraphed in a scene where a lone Engineer commits some kind of ritual suicide and his disintegrating DNA becomes a foundation for humans to discover evidence via pictograms of the Engineers' role in the creation of human life.  The film plays a lot with questions that are not necessarily answered or are answered with answers that can be met with"That's it?" Because we could? In other words the answer is based on possibility and practicality (in sci-fi genre senses of the term) and not in terms of motive, which is precisely the sense in which the big questions are almost only ever asked. In a sense the horror at the heart of Prometheus is that the questions get asked and the answers are violence without an answer (what, prcisely, was David's motive for infecting Charlie with some kind of grub who gave Charlie the ability to impregnate Elizabeth with a monster that eventually kills the final Engineer who plans to go wipe out humanity?) or answers that can be met with "Uh ... that's it?"

"Yes" Michael Fassbender's android David would appear to reply, "that's it. I'm terribly sorry.  You know I don't really feel sorry but I know humans like to hear those words when something disappointing happens to them."

Why, yes, David, that's right.  Thank you.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

i question your commitment to Sparkle Motion

that is all for now.

another one from Matthew Paul Turner

I've got some answers for Matthew
1. Driscoll is making yet another implicit comparison between himself and Jesus, maybe.

2. Driscoll may watch a lot of Scrubs. Let the viewer understand

3. Driscoll teaches from a position of practical wisdom and having learned by doing ... so maybe he knows from experience what it means to be educated beyond his intelligence?

4. Since the second "his" isn't capitalized Driscoll must not be referring to Jesus.

couldn't not link to this one