Thursday, June 21, 2012

a word about coming attractions

Despite the realization that probably 90% of people who read this blog are only reading for one general topic I am looking forward to blogging about other things for a while.  I'm much closer to finishing the  engrossing and informative book Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. I have not been in a position to splurge on things like books most of the time and so I borrow.

I admit I did splurge and spent a small sum of money on Martin Shields' commentary on Ecclesiastes because Jim West plugged for it the week there was a fantastic sale on the book at Eisenbrauns.  So I've starting reading Shields' commentary on Ecclesiastes.

Longtime readers who actually care about the writings of Adolf Schlatter will understandably be annoyed I have done no blogging about his daunting and amazing commentary on Romans. I admit I'm still back somewhere around page 40 or so and rereading the first 100 pages.  I hope to comment more on Schlatter in the future but confess that as a layman who's never gone to seminar and only studied the most rudimentary elements of koine Greek this is a book that puts me at the outer limits of my reading abilities.  I'm able to work things out by slow and careful reading where as I blitzed through Moby Dick in about a month. I read Heart of Darkness in a single night between midnight and 7am, which was arguably the perfect time to read Joseph Conrad's bleak little masterpiece.

And for all four of you who bothered to read everything in Chamber Music Week there are plans for Chamber Music Week 2.  I'll admit now what I didn't let slip then, I liked the idea of doing a Chamber Music Week series for the impudence of it.  I'd begun to notice all my traffic was about things Martian.  Honestly, that's pretty lame.  I write about a lot of other things. That this blog got known as some kind of blog that's an "other side" blog is the result of some misinformation.  :)  Really, go look at that Ruth Graham Slate article, come back and actually read what was linked to here at Wenatchee The Hatchet and establish whether or not I ever actually talked about Driscoll in that post.

In fact if Graham hadn't been so sloppy in her work I might not have felt nearly so inspired to dig up so much.  Call it getting upset at the failure of mainstream media to cover religion in an informed or thoughtful way.  Now whether or not anyone at Mars Hill appreciates all the blogging I've done to correct misrepresentations of my writing or inaccuracies that I detected in Slate's coverage is not something I can divine.  But my point for this post is that that stuff gets boring.

So I have more stuff I hope to blog about music by Ferdinand Rebay and Castelnuovo-Tedesco.  I realize I didn't get around to providing an overview of the recordings of the d'Amore Duo, either.

I have sometimes blogged about comics and cartoons and that has not happened for a while  I admit that offline realities have thrown a monkey wrench in my plans but a good kind of monkey wrench.  Still, I've been overdue to get more of Part 5 done for the Mockingbird series.  Part of me isn't sure if I want to just knock out Part 5 or wait until The Dark Knight Rises because if at night all cats are gray the newest cat may be something to consider. There's also that new Spiderman movie coming out and a Pixar movie opening this weekend. Wenatchee The Hatchet has been overdue to write about films and cartoons, hasn't he?

In other brief news I have finished a couple of giant musical projects this year.  By giant I mean that just one of them is at least two hours long.  Yes, the giant contrapuntal cycle for guitar is done and now there's yet more work to be done in mapping it out for more than one instrument.  I also finished a number of chamber works this year.

On top of that I have been working on preparing a number of works for filmed performance, which is not easy.

So perhaps this weekend I may manage to write at least a little bit about some cartoons.  We'll see.

I found the podcast of a pastor I used to be taught by decades ago.  He's still able to go through the Bible and share things I didn't know before.  I appreciate that in a pastor.  It's nice to be able to hear things from a pastor from the Scriptures you didn't know before even for passages you know.  I like that better than knowing in advance what a pastor is going to say about a text because the sermon is really about a bunch of hobby horses.

But I have to stop right there because that's going into topics I don't feel like blogging about.  Cartoons, on to cartoons.  And music.

some context for "a call for reconciliation", "there's a pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus"

Andrew's disciplinary case within Mars Hill made headlines at the start of 2012.  The subsequent blogging and coverage eventually inspired Mars Hill to publish this.

Mars Hill has not reported how many (if any) people took up that call for reconciliation or if Mars Hill conceded that they had done or said anything harmful.  Many people interpreted the Call for Reconciliation as a desire to get people to stop going public with stories that make the church look bad.   The same weekend that the "Call" went up Driscontinuity went down, not exactly the most encouraging coincidence even if it is quite likely it was just a coincidence.

If there are people at Mars Hill who sincerely want reconciliation that's nice, really, but the institution has been purging information and excising anecdotes from Driscoll sermons that have been points of controversy in 2012.  You're not going to find that woodchipper anecdote Driscoll shared about an executive elder from the September 2007 sermon "the Man" over at Acts 29.  It's tough for Mars Hill to look like their primary goal is reconciliation if they're purging their audio archives of asides and comments Driscoll has made from various pulpits that make him sound bad.  It's tough for Mars Hill to be taken seriously about reconciliation when they've been purging anything that makes the president of Mars Hill sound bad.  Despite all the talk over the years of the "kingly gifts" of men like Jamie Munson or Sutton Turner in terms of a legal statement of presidency, Driscoll is the real king, the real president.

Or at least someone told the Secretary of State of Washington State that Mark Driscoll is president (so much for talk of Sutton Turner's "kingly gifts" seeing as he's listed as treasurer and secretary):

If Mars Hill tells the public and its members that Sutton Turner has "kingly gifts" and has a kingly role then how does that fit with Driscoll being the president in the eyes of Washington state?  Doesn't this seem like a discrepancy?

Could there be a discrepancy between what is publicly stated by Mars Hill leadership about disagreements and what has privately been shared with the in group? It may be so, to put it mildly. This week Chris Rosebrough at Fighting for the Faith posted this:

Not that former members and attendees don't already know this is how things went, they got thrown off the bus or were run over by the bus already.  If Driscoll could joke that there's a pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus and that by God's grace it will be a mountain by the time they're done; if the options are get on the bus or get run over by the bus; then Mars Hill leadership can't feign ignorance of how many people were thrown off the bus or run over by the bus.  Joking about a pile of dead bodies becoming a mountain "by God's grace" may give us an alarming insight into what god and by whose grace the bus may be driving. It could suggest that the president of Mars Hill is in the driver's seat and was not necessarily interested in sharing the steering wheel.

But the president of Mars Hill's chuckle also suggests something else, something that Mars Hill leaders are probably either all too aware of or cannot concede.  The chuckle sounds like a warning that in Mark Driscoll no real or sincere interest in reconciliation may have ever existed.  The truth is no one may  know beyond all doubt if that's the case but that chuckle and those words don't provide encouragement to anyone who has been thrown off of or under the Mars Hill bus.  

A call for reconciliation that does not concede just how many people were thrown off of the bus and under the bus is not an attempt at reconciliation at all.  A call for reconciliation that does not concede that the chuckle happened is not a call for reconciliation, is it? At one point I had hoped a shot at reconciliation was actually possible.  Hearing the "Mars Hill bus" audio I realize it may be that no real opportunity for reconciliation ever existed. If that audio was really the day after Meyer and Petry were fired there's no sound in Driscoll's voice that suggests there was any possibility of reconciliation.  The finality with which Driscoll said " ... now they're unemployed" seems to predate by more than a week the words of Scott Thomas to a member saying a "conciliatory process" had just been completed with Petry and Meyer.  That sounds like a firing that was never going to be undone.

That Mark Driscoll could chuckle as he talked about the pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus no one at Mars Hill should be so naive as to think that people who have been thrown off and under the bus, who have been villified as being divisive, were only ever people who couldn't respect spiritual authority.  Some of the people who were thrown off the bus said those same kinds of things about other people before them. You don't know, Mars Hill reader, whether you might get thrown off or under the bus this year yourself. All it takes is not being on mission, whatever that may be, and you can be off and under the bus, too.  You don't know what may happen. All it takes is yet another ceiling of complexity and you, too, may be out of a job or be told you lack the kingly gifts to move Jesus' church to the next level.  There may be a painful period of pruning but you have to take it. It would seem that in October 2007 Driscoll made things clear, you're either on the bus or get run over by the bus.

Piles of dead bodies emerge after slaughter and conquest.  Piles of dead bodies also appear outside temples where sacrifices are made to gods.  If Jesus really offered Himself as a sacrifice so no more sacrifices needed to be made exactly why does there need to be a pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus?  Why does it need to grow into a mountain?  If Driscoll chuckled talking about a pile of dead bodies why should Mars Hill be surprised that people who have been run over by the bus doubt the sincerity of the call for reconciliation?

"The Man" and Driscoll's insistence on the inward desire to be an elder as a qualification

From the Raleigh, NC sermon on 1 Timothy 3, "The Man" Driscoll remarked on how it was necessary for a man to sense an inward calling toward ministry.  The man needed to want to be an elder or he wouldn't be qualified.

Driscoll even went so far as to say that "we" will know men are called to be elders because they desire to be one. It's not just someone who is qualified and meets needs in a local church.  He has to be someone who wants to be an elder. However that desire comes forth that desire has to be there.  Within an Acts 29 or Mars Hill context this may mean that guys nominate themselves and if they don't nominate themselves they may not want to be elders and thus lack an important qualification for ministry as Driscoll interprets 1 Timothy 3.

However, there's no persuasive textual basis for reasoning that simply because it is good to desire the office of overseer/bishop/pastor/shepherd that one is thereby qualified for the role.  After all false teachers will want the role even though they are not fit for it.  A person might meet most of the qualifications for pastoral office in 1 Timothy 3 yet still be a Pelagian or an Arian, if you stop and think it through for a few seconds.

For instance, did Augustine of Hippo want to be a priest or a bishop?

A little summary here--

If Driscoll's exegesis and application have any validity at all (and I'm not suggesting they do) the Augustine of Hippo, one of the most legendary and celebrated Christian thinkers, pastors and theologians of the Western church, has to be called unqualified.  Almost everything about Augustine's ordination could be seen as a counterexample of what Driscoll proposed 1 Timothy 3 said.  A more careful reading of the text shows that on a few points Driscoll's reading of 1 Timothy 3 in "The Man" doesn't really hold up on textual grounds and there are counterexamples of important Christian leaders who ended up in jobs for which they did not nominate themselves.

If your sermon leads you to a conclusion that requires you to say Augustine shouldn't and couldn't have been a pastor if you consistently apply the principles you outline from your text that may suggest that the interpretation of the text itself is problematic and that it flies in the face of how the early Church understood the text.

It's one thing for Driscoll to approvingly cite Chuck Smith's axiom that it is better to train the called than to call the trained but it is no sure thing that these two things are necessarily in opposition.  It's strange if you think about it because if Driscoll applied his own explication of 1 Timothy 3 to one of his theological heroes he'd have to say Augustine wasn't qualified because he didn't nominate himself.  Of course that was five years ago that this sermon got preached.

Given the controversies that seem to have brewed up in Chuck Smith's neck of the woods in the last few years maybe there are flaws to the practice of "training the called", too.

If the Holy Spirit moves in ways we truly cannot perceive or identify then it's not a sure thing that just because a man nominates himself that he's fit for eldership.  Now if that were actually true, if it were true that the Holy Spirit calls and reveals who is fit for ministry, and they need to nominate themselves, then if the Spirit gifted pastors in this way (and Mars Hill only ever hired people who demonstrated they were called, correct?) then why have pastors been fired from Mars Hill at all?  If you believe the Holy Spirit calls and gifts men for ministry and that central to this is that the man must nominate himself or he's not qualfiied how can you justify firing anyone?  Obvious sin, obviously, but what constitutes obvious sin?  An implication in this ecclesiology is a problem, if you fire a pastor who is self-nominated (as he must be) and was only installed because he demonstrated the Spirit's calling and gifting then if you fire him for something that isn't an indisputable sin you're second-guessing the Holy Spirit, aren't you? Do you want to be in a position to declare that against previous demonstations of calling and gifting that the Holy Spirit was wrong?  And if that could be the case about one pastor at Mars Hill it could very easily be the case about all of them, couldn't it?

I'd propose hopefully that this sermon "The Man" was five years ago.  Maybe things have changed.  I'm not sure if a Q school is a change for the better or not but it is, at any rate, a change.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Fighting for the Faith discusses Driscoll's "Blessed Subtraction"

Chris Rosebrough at Pirate Christian Radio has found an audio clip of an October 2007 Acts 29 event of some kind in which Mark Driscoll said:

"I'm all about blessed subtraction. There is a pile of dead bodies under the Mars Hill bus [chuckles] and by God's grace it'll be a mountain by the time we're done. You either get on the bus or get run over by the bus. Those are the two options. But the bus ain't gonna stop. And, uh, I'm just a guy who's like, "Look, we love you. But this is what we're doing."

"There's a few kind of people. There's people who get in the way of the bus. They gotta get run over. There are people who want to take turns driving the bus. They gotta get thrown off, because they want to go somewhere else. ...

... I'm doing it right now. I'm doing it right now. We just took certain guys and rearranged the seats on the bus. Yesterday we fired two elders for the first time in the history of Mars Hill last night. They're off the bus, under the bus. They were off mission so now they're unemployed."

I notice that this audio is mentioned as something in early October 2007.  Driscoll says in the audio that two pastors were fired "last night" but this audio, if it's in any way affiliated with Acts 29, doesn't correspond to anything you can download at the actual Acts 29 Network site.

Which October 2007 event was this?  Well if the event was "yesterday" that Driscoll was referring to in early October 2007 there's this sermon that was preached at the end of September 2007.

from "Fathers and Fighting" in the Nehemiah series.

But if those two guys getting fired was the first time pastors had been fired in the history of Mars Hill then who is this other guy Driscoll is referring to at minute 40 in Q&A with Mark Driscoll from February 2008?

Who were the "we" Driscoll refers to in the audio clip Rosebrough makes reference to?  Well, if this email signed by then Lead Pastor Jamie Munson can inform us "we" seems to have been Mark Driscoll, Jamie Munson, Bubba Jennings and Mark Driscoll.

So it sure seems like the event referenced was the firings of Paul Petry and Bent Meyer.  But was that the first time elders were fired at Mars Hill?  Driscoll said it was the first time such a thing had happened but the audio for that event doesn't leap out of the Acts 29 Network website. You're not going to find a whole lot of Driscoll audio connected to Acts 29 for October 2007 these days.

You can, however, find a Q&A from February 2008 where Driscoll describes the first guy he had to fire from pastoral work at these two places.

(starts at 00:31:52)

Q. How do you lead staff who are your best friends?Do you want the honest answer or should I punt? 

... You can't. ... you can't.

I hate to tell you that. ... Deep down in your gut you know if you're best friends and someone works for you that changes the relationship. Right? Because you can fire them. Of course you want to be friends with your elders and the people you work with. I mean, we're a church. I mean you wanna, you NEED to love the people you work with. But one of the hardest things, and only the lead guy gets this. Nobody else on staff even understands what I'm talking about. When you're the lead guy you wear multiple hats. Say it's someone who works with you and they're a good friend. You wear the "Hey, we're buddies" hat. We're friends. We go on vacation. We hang out. We do 
dinner. We're friends.

But you also wear the "I'm your boss" hat "You need to do your job or I might have to fire you" hat, and you also wear the "I'm your pastor. I love you, care for you, and I'm looking out for your well-being" hat. Those three hats are in absolute collision. Because how do you fire your friend and then pastor them through it? Right? I mean that is very complicated. I love you, you're fired, can I pray for you? That is a very .. what are we doing? I think if you're going to have your best friends working with you they need to be somewhere else on the team but not under you or the friendship really needs to change.

And what happens is when people are your friend ... I don't think that many do this intentionally but they want you to wear whatever hat is at their best interest at the time. So they didn't do their job, they're falling down on their responsibility, and you talk to them and say, "Look, you're not getting this done." They put on the "hey buddy. Yeah, I've been kinda sick lately and my wife and I are going through a hard time." and they want the friend hat on. And as a friend you're like, "Oh, I'm so sorry, dude." But then you put your boss hat back on and you're like "Yeah, but we pay you and we need you to get the job done." 

And then they want you to put the friend hat back on and keep sympathizing. 
And you're totally conflicted. ...

I have very good friends in this church. I have elders that are very dear friends, but when you have to do their performance review, when you have to decide what their wage is, when you have to decide whether they get promoted, demoted or terminated it's impossible to do that because you can't wear all three hats at the same time.

First guy I fired, he was a dear friend. A godly man, no moral or doctrinal sin whatsoever, he just wasn't keeping up with what we needed him to do. And it wasn't `cause he didn't try and wasn't working hard. And he had a wonderful wife and a great family and to this day I think the world of this guy.  And if my sons grew up to be like him, I'd be proud. And I'm not critical of this man at all. 

But I remember sitting down at that first termination. First I put on the friend hat. I said, "I love you, I appreciate you. I value you." Then I put on the boss hat, "I'm gonna have to let you go. Here's why." And then I put on the pastor hat, "How are you feeling? How are you doing?" And he was really gracious with me and he said, "This is just the weirdest conversation I've ever had." And I said, "Me too, `cause I'm not sure what hat I'm supposed to wear." 

Does that make any sense? The best thing is if you have a best friend maybe the best thing to do is not have them work with you.  Or if they do have them work under someone else. And to also pursue good friendships with people outside of your church. Some of my dearest friends today are not at Mars Hill, they're also pastors of other churches. Darrin Patrick is here, Vice-President of Acts 29. I love him. He's a brother. He's the guy I call. ... He's a pastor to me, you know?  Matt Chandler is here. I count as a friend. By God's Grace, C. J. Mahaney, I count as a friend. ...


Driscoll went on to explain how and why it was beneficial to resign as legal president and has head of the elder board and to give those jobs to Jamie Munson.  Driscoll explained that in so doing he no longer had "all those conflicts of interest".

Joyful Exiles has presented enough documentary and audio evidence to establish beyond all doubt that Bent Meyer and Paul Petry were fired at the end of September 2007.  Thousands of members were notified of the firings.  Who was this unnamed other guy Driscoll referred to in the February 2008 Q&A? If he was the first person to get fired then why did Driscoll use the wording he used about the two men who got fired? There's no question about the "off the bus" or "under the bus" part. It's the "first time" part that is a puzzle.

Well, it's tough to know for sure who this person Driscoll fired might actually be.  Driscoll had referred to Lief Moi as a good friend but the thing is was Moi fired?  By Moi's account he was asked to step down and told he lacked the kingly gifts for running a campus the size of Ballard.

Page 7 of 145

A letter from Pastor Lief Moi

November 9, 2007

Dear Mars Hill Members

The following is a brief account and explanation of what has transpired with me and Mars Hill Church over the past few months. I hope this gives comfort and answers to those of you who have been concerned.

In June of this year I was asked to step down from the executive team and the role of campus pastor at Ballard.  The primary reason, and I believe a valid one, was that I do not have the administrative skills to run a campus the size of Ballard. Although I agreed with the assessment of my lack of Kingly skills, I felt that I was being removed from a role that God had called me to and as a result I resigned from the elder board. There were many elders who spoke with me and asked me to reconsider, but at the time my heart was hard and I was not interested. After much contemplation, prayer and speaking with Pastor Mark, I asked to be reinstated as an elder and the vote was unanimous with one abstention to reinstate me.

Because of a major role change and the re-org, it was determined that my salary was to be cut by almost 40%. At that time I told Pastor Jamie that I would not be able to stay on full time would consider a part time position so I could work on other means of providing for my family.

So as of today I am working 20 hours a week in Ballard counseling on Sundays and Wednesday evenings. I need you all to know and I ask your forgiveness for times during this process that I have not thought about the gospel first but considered my feelings most important and therefore have sinned. This has been one of the most difficult times of my life but am now looking to the future with my hope in Jesus and trust in the elders of Mars Hill to leada us into what Jesus would have us do and be. And it is this that I would ask you to do as well. These men love Jesus and they love you. We might not always agree on the method but we can always agree on Jesus.


Pastor Lief

There is a summary of Lief Moi's time at Mars Hill in 2007 that can also be found here, later in the same document:

From Appendix B (page 115 of 145) 

Mars Hill Re-organization document, previously sent to members on June 23, 2007


Initially, Pastor Lief Moi was uncomfortable with the transition plans and uncertain that his conscience would allow him to continue as an Elder of Mars Hill Church. This precipitated several tense and difficult meetings for us as an Elder team, striving for unity but also the most effective way to organize and lead our church. After a few weeks off with his family to think and pray, Lief Moi resigned from his position on staff as well as his office as Elder of Mars hill Church. Loving our brother and unwilling to olet this matter go without every possbile effort for reconciliation Pastor Mark, and Pastor Bill Clem spent hours laboring over Lief's concerns and frustrations. Following the extremely fruitful meeting with Pastors Mark and Bill, Lief sought reconciliation with several pastors who felt they had been wronged in the matter by him, and submitted himself humbly for restoration as an Elder of the church. The Elders assembled, discussed the matter soberly, and after much prayer and discussion voted to restore Lief as an Elder of Mars Hill Church and a member of the Ballard Campus team. Lief will continue to employ his unique gifts, which many of our members have been blessed by for years, to strength faith, fortify marriages, and equip the saints for acts of service as we love our city with Jesus.  This process put many of our men's faith, endurance, constitution, and their trust in Jesus to the test.  It drove many men deep into God's Word for wisdom, seeking His discernment and leading through prayer.  Despite sleepless nights and frayed nerves, we are a truly a stronger Elder body because of this incredible labor God has shephered us through. In His wisdom, He has made us bear this weighty issue as we move to a structure that distributes and delegates authority and mandates more trust and confidence in one another. Praying together as 24 men united by our love of Jesus and His great commission, it is evident He has uniquely tempered us for the coming season as a lovingly unified yet honest and effective team. 

Here is an answer Driscoll gave a member who had questions about when Moi might preach again.

page 23-24/145

This is from the section Pulpit and Preaching 

responses submitted by Pastor Mark Driscoll

Q. Will we get to hear Pastor Lief preach again some time soon?  I haven't heard him preach since the Mother's Day sermon and while I can understand why that sermon got pulled I hope he gets to preach some more in teh future if he's in better health (I read the prayer request that said he was in bad shape and his wife was not in good health, either). My hope is that we get to hear at least a little preaching from all our pastors at some point. I haven't heard a sermon from Pastor Tim Smith in a while or from Pastor Bubba at all and Pastor Bill's sermons on Jude were fantastic.

A. First, please do pray for the health of my friend and brother Pastor Lief. He has had very painful back problems for many years and he still stuffers from constant pain. ... 

Back problems for many years, suffers from constant pain?  Told he did not have the kingly gifts to manage a campus the size of Ballard? Was this the man Driscoll was talking about in the Acts 29 February 2008?  If the first guy Driscoll fired (per his Q&A on February 2008) was someone he considered a dear friend then what is the meaning of the audio of Driscoll Chris Rosebrough found from October 2007 explaining how "Yesterday we fired two guys for the first time in the history of Mars Hill."  Was the first firing of the one man just a firing from a specific job and not from pastoral work at Mars Hill altogether?  Was that the first pastor Driscoll really fired?  What about the two pastors (who seem nearly beyond all doubt to have been Bent Meyer and Paul Petry) who Driscoll said were the first pastors fired in the history of Mars Hill in October 2007, apparently an address Driscoll gave the day after the firings happened?  Was that the first time pastors had been fired in the history of Mars Hill?  In what sense? If Moi resigned then that doesn't seem like it would count as a firing, would it? 

The February 2008 story Driscoll shared about the first time had to fire a guy sounds pretty different from the first time pastors had to be fired that Driscoll recounts in the October 2007 Acts 29 event, whichever one it was, Rosebrough has found audio for. Perhaps the best way to account for this or, to put it a bit more starkly, reconcile these two accounts is to say that the first guy Driscoll fired maybe wasn't a pastor, but the question Driscoll answered was how you could work with friends in ministry, the sort of question which would presuppose, you would think, the condition that a man like Mark Driscoll was working in ministry with his best friends.  It was blogger Jared C. Wilson who first alerted me to this video/audio talk and mentioned some things about it he found troubling over at his blog. 

Joyful Exiles has presented enough documentary and audio evidence to establish beyond all doubt that Bent Meyer and Paul Petry were fired.  Thousands of members were notified of the firings.  Who was this unnamed other guy Driscoll referred to in the February 2008 Q&A? If he was the first person to get fired then why did Driscoll use the wording he used about the two men who got fired? There's no question about the "off the bus" or "under the bus" part. It's the "first time" part that is a puzzle. How can the first time a pastor (or two) got fired at Mars Hill alternately be a story about just one man Driscoll considered a dear friend in February 2008 when asked about how he led friends in ministry, and yet earlier in October 2007 the first firings in the history of Mars Hill mentioned were that of two guys who ended up under the bus because "they weren't on mission"?

I don't know where Rosebrough found that audio from early October 2007 where Driscoll said that "yesterday" two guys were off and under the bus but however he found it I can't help but have questions about how that account from Driscoll doesn't quite fit the February 2008 story of the first guy he fired, and vice versa. It is a puzzle.

Has Mark Driscoll's "The Man" been circumcised?

This year Andy and Wendy Alsup reviewed Mark and Grace Driscoll's book Real Marriage.  In their review Wendy in particular made reference to an Acts29 boot camp teaching held in Raleigh, NC on September 20, 2007, called "The Man".  This teaching was an overview on 1 Timothy 3 and the textual discussion of elder qualifications for church planters.  This sermon is where Wendy Alsup wrote the "woodchipper" anecdote was shared.  That is to say in this sermon Driscoll said he had recently put one of the executive elders through the woodchipper.  It's not clear which executive elder was put through the woodchipper in September 2007.  By October 1, 2007 the executive elders were Mark Driscoll, Jamie Munson, Scott Thomas and Bubba Jennings but it isn't known which executive elder Driscoll put through the woodchipper by September 20, 2007.

For that matter if you download "The Man" now and listen to it you won't be able to find any reference to the wood chipper incident referred to in the Alsup review.

Tuesday February 12, 2012

I recently put (a Mars Hill executive elder who remains at the church) in the wood chipper in my church. ... He was the guy, he had to nitpick at everything; he had to resist everything, he had to look at the other side. … you'd ask him why, he’d be like, well, I just wanted to make sure we've looked at everything, and everybody is considering all the angles. … I'll tell you what, when you despise your elders, at that point you have no safe place in the world from which to do ministry. ... there's always one guy there who's just like a fart in an elevator, and I'm just counting the minutes till I can get away from this guy. You can pray for me. You may say, “It seems like he's dealing with this right now.” Yes, I am. I'm thinking of certain people. If it weren't for Jesus I would be violent.” (Mark Driscoll, “The Man,” Acts 29 Bootcamp, Raleigh, NC, September 20, 2007)

In March 2012 the website Re:Fund went up.  The website has a post dated March 10, 2012 which appears to include an even longer excerpt from "The Man", an excerpt that would appear to have been excised from the sermon as it currently exists.

The excerpt reads as follows and would appear to be a continuation of a thought Driscoll expresses beginning at about 56:39 in the sermon

Mark Driscoll TRAINING PASTORS at an Acts 29 session in Raleigh NC, September 20, 2007:

“…not contentious. You ever meet a guy, it doesn’t matter what the issue is, he’s always gonna play the other side. Those guys are the worst elders in the history of the world. And it doesn’t matter what you’re talk, I had a guy like that; I recently put him in the wood chipper in my church. Seriously. I could say hey, we’re all going to get suckers. He’s be like, what flavor? Whatever flavor you want. Is it sugar free? If you would like. Well, I didn’t say I wanted a sucker. You, you know, you need to die. You know. He just was the guy, he just, he had to nitpick at everything; he had to resist everything, he to look at the other side, if everyone was for something he felt obligated to be the e-brake pulling everything. And you’d ask him why, he’d be like, well, I just wanted to make sure we’ve looked at everything and everybody is considering all the angles. Its like, dude, you’re playing the devils advocate, which is not good. I don’t want anybody for the devil on my team. You know? But there’s some guys like that. It just, they’re contentious, it doesn’t, they’re always fighting, always arguing. There’s, I’ve had guys in eldership, where, in the meeting, everything’s going fine, and they’ll say, I got something, I got something I need to say. And everybody’s head does this; everybody looks like they just got kicked in the sack. You know, I mean literally, they just the air comes out of their body, they just fold in half, because you know, here he goes again, here he freaking goes again. You know. That guy on an elder board, robs the board of any joy at all, and you already got enough criticism and people and work, when you get together with your elders, you don’t all men to be yes men, but at the same time, somebody who’s just contentious, and a neatnick and e-brake puller, I mean those guys, I mean all of a sudden you despise your elder’s meetings, and I’ll tell you what, when you despise your elders, at that point you have no safe place in the world from which to do ministry. Elders meetings stink, people are shooting me, everything’s hard, and I go to meet with the guys, and there’s always one guy there who just, he’s just like a fart in an elevator, and its just, you know, I’m just counting the minutes till I can get away from this guy. You can pray for me, you may say, it seems like he’s dealing with this right now, yes, I am. I’m thinking of certain people. If it weren’t for Jesus I would be violent.”

A person who listens to "The Man" now won't hear any of this in the audio. Yet the Alsups make reference to this segment of the sermon and Re:Fund was apparently able to get access to the sermon and produce an even longer excerpt of words that you won't hear in the sermon if you downloaded it today. It would appear that as sermons go "The Man" got circumcised some time since early March of 2012. For whatever reason, if the sermon cited at both Practical Theology for Women and at Re:Fund originally had the wood chipper anecdote that wood chipper anecdote has been excised from the sermon.

There are however things Driscoll refers to in the sermon as it still is that may be pointers to details from the church leadership in 2007.

From 26:36-28:10 we get the following:

So, in relation to family, husband of one wife.  That means you and the other men you appoint have to be a one woman man. That's literally what it say. This doesn't necessarily mean that a man who was ever divorced is disqualified. One of the elders on my team, he was married young, divorced young, became a Christian years later, married a godly woman and they've got a wonderful marriage. Some would say, "Well, if you got divorced as a non-Christian that disqualifies you." I'm like, "Okay, so what if you got drunk as a non-Christian? What if you were someone who was a lover of money as a non-Christian?" All the other qualifications we also can,you know, disqualify ourselves preconversion. The question is have you had a fruitful long number of years as a person who is faithful to Jesus in these ways. 

Husband one wife.  What that doesn't mean, as well, is just that he's never committed adultery on his wife. It does mean that but it means more than that, that he's a one woman man. Like Job 31:1 says I made a covenant with my eyes not to look on a woman lustfully. This is a guy who's not looking at porn, this a guy who's not flirting with chicks. This is not a guy who, after the sermon is working the floor hoping that nice women come up with flattering comments for his gospel-based sermon on humility. Right? 

This is a guy who is a one woman man. He's not lusting after other women, comparing his wife to them. He's not a man who's telling his wife, "Why can't you be like her?" He's a one woman man. Meaning that his eyes and his heart and his hands and his words and his motives and intentions and dollars and days are focused exclusively on being a good, loving husband to just one woman. And the only way, gentlemen, to really know whether or not  you're purely a one woman man is ask the woman.  

Now when Driscoll referred in the sermon to a man who married young, divorced young, came to faith years later, and married a godly woman was he referring, perhaps, to James Noriega?

This article refers to Noriega's pre-Christian life including felonies and methamphetamine addiction.  Noriega married his high school sweetheart but the marriage ended in divorce, which sent Noriega into a tailspin. He eventually ended up at the Union Gospel Mission and got off drugs. He also eventually met and married a woman through a Christian dating site and the marriage took place, according to the Seattle P-I, on New Year's Eve 2003.  By November 2004 Noriega was an ordained pastor.  By 2006 he was a pastor at the Acts 29 Network church plant Doxa with Pastor Bill Clem.

Now in "The Man" Driscoll noted that there is no minimum length of time after which a man make be considered called to be a pastor. It has remained an open question, given Driscoll's public teaching on the biblical qualifications for eldership exactly how and why a felonin the newlywed years of his second marriage and with a new stepdaughter had demonstrated that he had managed his household well enough to qualify as a pastor in an Acts 29 Network church plant (Doxa) and later in Mars Hill. Driscoll made a point of saying that Acts 29 guys are the best guys around, better than the others.  All right, we'll take that as given and ask how Noriega was demonstrably ready to be a pastor.  Keep in mind that Driscoll played a foundational role in both Acts 29 as well as Mars Hill.  In "The Man" Driscoll describes Acts 29 as coming out of Mars Hill church.  This means the question of who assessed how qualified Noriega was begins and ends with the leadership culture and structure Driscoll has spearheaded in ministry over the last fifteen years, wouldn't it?  Driscoll has said that headship means its your responsibility even if it isn't your fault?  Did Driscoll know about Noriega's felonies and recently new marriage in 2004 and 2006?

Was Noriega the pastor on staff in 2007 that Driscoll had in mind when he explained in "The Man" that a man who was divorced in his pre-Christian life is not necessarily disqualified from ministry?

What is apparent was that Noriega seemed to play an increasingly significant role:

Then some time in later 2011 Noriega vanished from the leadership rosters in Mars Hill.  It admittedly took the Mars Hill clarification on church discipline to jolt into my mind the reality that after years of being referred to in various ways Noriega had stopped being mentioned and was apparently no longer a pastor. In one of those paradoxes Mars Hill's PR team attempting to explain why what happened to Andrew wasn't unfair included an apparently irrelevant reference to staff being let go months earlier for overstepping spiritual authority.

As I have noted elsewhere at this blog references to Lief Moi have been scrubbed out. References to family members and spouses of many Mars Hill pastors have been scrubbed out.  The campus blogs and associated archives have been suspended, likely indefinitely. A week after I documented Pastor Tim Beltz' reference to Noriega's biblical counseling materials on February 28, 2012 in a post about Noriega it turned out that Beltz was moved from Mars Hill West Seattle to Mars Hill Downtown. Why, frankly, is not particularly something I could figure out nor is it relevant to my observations here.  When Driscoll made reference in 2007 to a man on pastoral staff at Mars Hill who was divorced as a non-Christian the best case to be made from external coverage in tandem with Driscoll's own preaching would be James Noriega. Should you at some point download "The Man" and find there is no reference to a man who was pastor on staff at Mars Hill who was divorced as an unbeliever then, well, "The Man" will have been further circumcised. It seems to have been trimmed a bit already if the quotes from Practical Theology for Women and Re:Fund are accurate.

It is evident from the pulling of the Edinburg 2007 sermon on Song of Songs Driscoll preached in November 2007 that Driscoll has had sermons from 2007 pulled completely.  It's not beyond consideration that Mars Hill and Driscoll's associates could have decided to excise from "The Man" the parts cited by Practical Theology for Women and Re:Fund.  It is also possible that Acts 29 leadership could have pulled or never recorded a talk that, somehow, got into the hands of Pirate Christian Radio.

So if "The Man" was circumcised (which seems at least plausible given the separate documentation of Practical Theology for Women and Re:Fund what was the incentive to cut the woodchipper anecdote? Was that more troublesome than the joke Driscoll made that Baptists would probably be fine with him if he was gay just as long as he didn't have beer?

POSTSCRIPT:  It wasn't Noriega, just took a little bit of remembering the other guys to recall who it was.

Monday, June 18, 2012

HT Mockingbird: Why Smart People are Stupid

Although Kahneman is now widely recognized as one of the most influential psychologists of the twentieth century, his work was dismissed for years. Kahneman recounts how one eminent American philosopher, after hearing about his research, quickly turned away, saying, “I am not interested in the psychology of stupidity.”

The philosopher, it turns out, got it backward. A new study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology led by Richard West at James Madison University and Keith Stanovich at the University of Toronto suggests that, in many instances, smarter people are more vulnerable to these thinking errors. Although we assume that intelligence is a buffer against bias—that’s why those with higher S.A.T. scores think they are less prone to these universal thinking mistakes—it can actually be a subtle curse.

Read more

The results were quite disturbing. For one thing, self-awareness was not particularly useful: as the scientists note, “people who were aware of their own biases were not better able to overcome them.” This finding wouldn’t surprise Kahneman, who admits in “Thinking, Fast and Slow” that his decades of groundbreaking research have failed to significantly improve his own mental performance. “My intuitive thinking is just as prone to overconfidence, extreme predictions, and the planning fallacy”—a tendency to underestimate how long it will take to complete a task—“as it was before I made a study of these issues,” he writes.

Perhaps our most dangerous bias is that we naturally assume that everyone else is more susceptible to thinking errors, a tendency known as the “bias blind spot.” This “meta-bias” is rooted in our ability to spot systematic mistakes in the decisions of others—we excel at noticing the flaws of friends—and inability to spot those same mistakes in ourselves. Although the bias blind spot itself isn’t a new concept, West’s latest paper demonstrates that it applies to every single bias under consideration, from anchoring to so-called “framing effects.” In each instance, we readily forgive our own minds but look harshly upon the minds of other people.

Read more

Contributors to scripture were apparently aware of this bias.  Trust in the Lord and lean not on your own understanding, eh? The heart is deceitful above all things and who can understand it? Though the truth about God can be known it is distorted by those who do not wish to see it, maybe?  Now of course unbelievers will point out that these reflect biases, and they would be right, and yet the sad truth about humans is that merely being able to identify the cognitive biases in others does not make us any better at identifying them in ourselves.

There's a proverb that may cover these points, too--do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There's more hope for a fool than for him. It may well be that the quips of certain minor celebrities withstanding it is either impossible to be educated beyond your intelligence or you're just as likely to have the same stupid mental shortcuts as the people who you assume have been educated beyond their intelligence. No matter how smart we may think we are we are all capable of being spectacularly dumb and the smarter we think we are the less likely we are to realize just how dumb we can be.

HT Mockingbird: The make of VeggieTales repents

A fascinating piece on Phil Vischer, the creator of VeggieTales. The company that made the films has since gone bankrupt and Vischer talks with WORLD magazine about what he believes he did and thought wrongly over the last ten years.

The lead is telling ans intriguing, "Make no small plans" was Vischer's motto.  Big Ideas went bankrupt in 2003. When budgeting began to be based on projected revenues rather than actual revenue things began to tip southward.

Vischer's observation that in ten years he taught moralism than Christianity is striking.  He sounds like a man who wishes he could take back what he invested his life in both in terms of what films he made and how he went about pursuing that vision. When he speaks about how Christians have co-opted a Disney style "follow your dream" praxis he sounds like a man who has seen that fail and seen that pursuit cause him to lose the thread of core elements of Christian life. What is striking and (to me) encouraging is that he's able and willing to talk to someone at WORLD magazine about this.  He's willing to talk about failure.  Anyone else sense a resonance in this theme of failure as process of discovery with, say, Conan O'Brien's 2011 commencement address at Dartmouth?  Maybe it's just me.

When Vischer talks about how Americans are a people who walk away from marriages and abandon children to pursue dreams I think he's got his finger on the pulse of something problematic in American culture and yet it is something he describes Christians being able to do.  They may not do this in the same way but sacrificing people and principles for the sake of a vision and a dream can certainly be something Christians do. Vischer touches on something obliquely that I have been thinking about directly that as Christians vision casting and pursuit of a dream or goal should not be predicated on human sacrifice.  We're too modern and sophisticated and too well-fit with our Christian American practice to admit that human sacrifice is something we're capable of, but we're more than capable of it.

Wanting, as Vischer put it, to develop the Coca-Cola or McDonald's of evangelicalism to create something so big and sure that it can't fail is not necessarily Christian even if it can be highly effective. Vischer nearly seems to phrase things that the Oprah sort of god is to pursue impact, of following your dream and being the right kind of Christian so God will bring about your awesome dream. In a time when certain Christians sincerely believe that ambition needs to be rescued or something that will inevitably appear it is useful that people like Vischer can speak so plainly about failure.  A failure to realize your ambitions in their substance or to realize that the success you attained was at the expense of pursuing what you originally set out to do is not an easy thing to discuss even privately, let alone with a newspaper. I never really watched VeggieTales.  It didn't catch or keep my attention and I was not in a situation to have any incentive to seek it out.  Some people have remarked on problems in VeggieTales in the past and I have no wish to rehash those observations.  Vischer's own confession that seeking impact was part of how he veered off course fascinates me. At this point this blog entry may be longer than the interview itself.  Take a gander at the article if you're so inclined.

Mars Hill selling The City an overview of the role of Zack Hubert in Mars Hill

November 4, 2007
Pastor Mark Driscoll

Third man I’ll tell you about is Zack Hubert. He’s working at I think he has a master’s degree in physics and a master’s degree in theology. He’s smart. He was making very significant money writing code and doing programming for the website. Loves Jesus. We approached him. He was an Elder candidate. Said, “Would you take over all of our web development at Mars Hill Church? To do that, you would need to finish the eldership process. You would need to resign your job. You need to take a significant pay cut. And Mars Hill has a nice website, but it’s not nearly as cool on your resume at And it will come to you and your family at the expense of your life’s earnings. Millions of dollars – you will give up millions of dollars.”

Here’s what he said. “It’s best for Mars Hill Church. That’s my church. I love that church. I’d love to do that.” Resigned, walked away from a prominent job, millions of dollars, to humbly serve at Mars Hill. We make him an Elder at the level of Director. Why? Because God opposes the proud and he gives grace to the humble. That’s how he works.

Zack Hubert designed what is now The City.

Zack Hubert's Experience 

The City 

Public Company; 11-50 employees; NWS; Computer Software industry 
November 2008 – April 2011 (2 years 6 months) Greater Seattle Area 

Founded and built The City (, a social network for churches. Built part of every aspect of a Facebook-like social network with hundreds of thousands of active users.

The City was acquired by Zondervan/HarperCollins/NewsCorp in 2008 and I remained through 2011 leading product development and as a VP within Zondervan. I spent about 80% of my time actively writing code.

The City has continued to grow and remains number one in this social networking niche.

Pastor of Technology 

Mars Hill Church 

Nonprofit; 51-200 employees; Religious Institutions industry 

March 2007 – November 2008 (1 year 9 months) Greater Seattle Area 

Following the incredible experience at Amazon, I wanted to take a position where I could dedicate my background towards the common good. Mars Hill was a great fit as it's similar to Amazon in it's high rate of change and innovative drive, being ranked as one of the fastest growing and most innovative churches in the country for several years running.

In my time there, I led a multidisciplinary team through many technology projects ranging from IT to Software Engineering while also serving on the Board of Directors.

You can go read up the rest at his profile if you like.  Now when he stopped being a pastor was in November 2008.  For those who didn't hear the news at the time, this was because Mars Hill sold The City to Zondervan and Hubert left to join Zondervan.  The sale of The City
Zondervan Takes On The City
By Pastor Jamie Munson
November 24, 2008

The City began last spring when we introduced the custom online network to Mars Hill members. Pastor Zack Hubert built The City as a resource for our church community, a way to enhance the real relationships within our ministries, staff, and congregation. Last week, Zondervan purchased The City and plans to make it available to churches throughout the world. On Thursday I sent out a letter to the Mars Hill Church congregation (PDF) to announce the news and explain some of the details. In addition, Zondervan distributed a press release that has been published by many news outlets, including MarketWatch and Yahoo! Finance. At Mars Hill, we’re excited that The City now belongs to somebody who will be able to improve this useful resource for the benefit of the greater church. Visit for more information about the vision and purpose of The City.

Driscoll mentioned that the 2008 year was the year they didn't make budget.

According to the FY09 Annual Report total income were $10,788,624 and total expenses were $10,880,067. That's a negative $91,443.  So they didn't make budget but in a budget in the zone of $10.78 million failing by 90k might not be too bad, would it? Given all the controversies about firings and leadership decisions and property purchases that wasn't much more than a drop in the bucket.

In the 2008-2009 numbers from the FY09 report, even discounting revenue from the sale of The City, things seemed to be looking fine.

Still, it seemed that the sale of The City to Zondervan was considered a helpful thing.
Part 4 Generous (Part 2B)
December 21, 2008

Pastor Munson:

So, a couple things I want to hit. You guys are all familiar with The City. Anyone not familiar with The City? That’s our custom, social, online network that Pastor Zack Hubert developed. This is real exciting. We were able to build this in-house. It’s a custom network for Mars Hill. It allows us to communicate. To interact as a community. To reinforce the community that is Mars Hill Church – the daily life of the church.

We set out to build this, ‘cause some of our old systems were just not working for us.[emphasis added] And never set out to sell the thing, but in God’s grace, a couple months ago, as we’ve been using this, a bunch of people have taken interest. Zondervan, a big company, a big Christian media company, came to us and said, “Hey, we’d like to buy that.”

What problems those were Munson doesn't explain.  There was that press release sent off by someone to The Stranger but The City was getting brainstormed before any of that came up. It may simply have been that entrepreneurial spirit carried the day for Hubert, who had also made a fantastic site called Re:Greek. If there were problems with the old platforms known as Midrash, a php discussion forum, it was often that virtually none of the moderators seemed all that genuinely interested in moderating discussions that sometimes got out of hand.  At least one pastor at the time would know I thought this because I told that pastor this was what I considered to be the problem.  Rather than have pastors take more initiative to moderate on a php setting perhaps it just worked better to have a top down access point.  Okay, fair enough.

If one of the problems was a belief that documents were getting leaked and that The City was going to be a way to tamp down on that then Andrew's disciplinary case in 2012 showed us that didn't work.

For that matter ...
Jeremy Echols says:
October 18, 2008 at 2:50am

Just go read it.  If this guy was a Mars Hill member in 2008 what he wrote should feel a bit awkward to read.  If this guy was a real person I hope he's become a different sort of person than the sort of guy he was when he made that comment.  If it was posted on The City rather than announced in some other Mars Hill associated setting that "might" have been a tip-off that they wanted that news to remain undiscussed.

Now with that out of the way, back to Munson explaining the sale of The City.

So, we started working with them, negotiating with them, figuring out, “Okay, what would this look like? How do we make this work?” Tons of details. We wanted to make sure that the church is protected in it. That it’s not something where we’re selling our data, or anything like that, but that they want to take the tool and leverage it for other churches to go use.

This is one of the coolest things I’ve seen in terms of a church developing a piece of technology that a for-profit company is then coming in and purchasing.

We get to continue to use it free as a church. It’ll continue to be private. Our data is not being sold, nothing like that. We’re not gonna have banner ads.

It’ll exist how it is, plus they’re putting a lot more staff into it than we were able to. We had Zack and another part-time – or a couple employees that were working very part-time on The City.

They’re gonna build a staff in Seattle of about 15 people that Zack’ll go and oversee and work with. And they’ll make the tool even better. So, we get to use it. In that, we’ve been given $4 million to steward. It’s a gift that’s come to Mars Hill Church, and we want to share with you what we’re going to do with those funds.

So, we’ll walk through this quickly. The escrow and potential taxes – 1.6 million. There’s a chance the proceeds will be taxed. Our accountant doesn’t think so, but we want to be sure. We want to be safe. We want to put some money in the bank that can just earn interest, that can protect us. In case it is, we’ll have that money set aside.

So, we’ll know that in the next few months. But for – in the meantime, we’re just gonna safeguard and put that in the bank. In addition, we’re gonna bolster up our cash reserves. We always have a cash reserve to float us in times of lean giving. To float us in times of seasonal giving, when the summer’s down or the winter’s up. It allows us just to continue to operate.

Later in the presentation Munson mentioned:

Next piece--what is our economic plan for 2009? We want to finish 2008 as close to being on budget as possible. We had a $200,000.00 deficit going into December. We'd like to make that up if possible. Given the weather, given the economy, we're not sure that we will, but we'd like to. That's what we're praying for.

If we don't, and regardless of we're reducing our budget and scaling back for 2009, just running as lean, as tight, as nimble as we possibly can, Ballard is going to take the biggest hit on that. And so, you guys are gonna have to step up more than ever to serve, to get involved, to give, to just be a part of what's going on.

Our base budget will be about $210,00 a week. And in that, we'll continue to give 10 percent of the money away to church planting and Vision Nationals, which is the orphanage minsitry and church planting ministry in India. 

I don't know if any of you were ever actually on The City in 2008 but it honestly was not that cool.  Compared to the Re:Greek website Hubert had been working on around the time he seemed to be working on The City, The City was just an insider Christian hybrid variant of MySpace and Facebook. Its bells and whistles were that it was invitation only and allowed for top-down information access and control.  If Hubert had fun designing it and it's useful to churches that's great. I found it to be mostly useless and of virtually no value.  If one of the big disciplinary moves regarding Andrew was to block him from The City he didn't lose anything of the slightest value.

To go by the annual reports the financial pinch of `08 wasn't a disaster if you just look at income over expenses.  Why I'd end up hearing reports of layoffs and so on in subsequent years is a puzzle to me.  What exactly were people at Mars Hill doing that people would get laid off as soon as eight to ten months after being hired? For those who have read about how Mars Hill prepares video relay preaching red cameras are not exactly cheap, are they?  The sale of The City was a boon for Mars Hill but I admit I'm not sure what was so big about the financial crunch Mars Hill faced just going by annual reports.  Was it possible they were just expanding faster than they had budgeted for or something?  I don't know.

In case readers may have wondered about how I manage to dig up so much information, no, The City isn't of any relevance to the research I've done. For instance, I figured out Noriega stopped being employed by looking at publicly accessible campus pastor listings and the general pastor listing (which some may have noticed can't be linked to from some in-process MH sites). A great deal can be found out simply by considering transcripts of Driscoll sermons; some consultation (in the past) of the now-suspended campus blog archives; and a lot of digging around the internet for external coverage; much of which can make reference to primary sources.  That and Mars Hill pastors love to blog and tweet.  They can't help themselves apparently.  If you have the interest and patience for a lengthy discussion of that topic ...

Now Hubert doesn't seem to be a pastor anywhere and he doesn't even seem to be employed.  The economy has been rough so I hope he's gainfully employed somewhere or at least not in bad financial straits. Yes, people may think that this is a blog that writes critical this and that but I don't want fellow believers in financially bad spots.  I don't get why anyone would have thought The City was actually cool but I have written a lot of stuff that a lot of people don't find interesting so different strokes.

Zack Hubert, like James Noriega, appears to be one of the men Driscoll mentions in the "Joy in Humility" sermon who doesn't appear to be employed in any way by Mars Hill and whose whereabouts are largely of no concern for public discussions and presentations by Mars Hill leadership.  When he designed The City and the sale of The City got Mars Hill a substantial sum of money there was some mention of him.  But how's he doing now?  How's Noriega doing now?

With this post I have covered three of the four men mentioned in "Joy in Humility" from 2007.  I don't know much of anything about Steve Tompkins. He's still pastor at the Shoreline site and that for a surprisingly long time, maybe five or six years? Each of the four men were described by Driscoll as men who were seeking humility.  It seemed that seeking humility meant doing things for Mars Hill at the expense of their previous careers, at least the way Driscoll seemed to tell it.  I can only guess as to whether or not Zack Hubert, James Noriega, Steve Tompkins and Tim Beltz can all look back on the last five years and say everything they did was totally worth it and what was best for Jesus was exactly what Driscoll and Mars Hill leadership suggested it was.  Was it?  Honestly I don't really know.

I'm sure there are plenty of stories people would like to share. Hubert played an apparently tiny role in the story of Paul Petry's firing mentioned over at Joyful Exiles.  I'm aware of people who ended up afoul of him.  This post is mainly about The City and Zack Hubert's role in that and handling website stuff for Mars Hill, apparently at the request of Mark Driscoll and others.  "Joy in Humility" is another sermon from "The Rebel's Guide to Joy" that doesn't seem to offer a whole lot of exegesis or even much application.  On the other hand, as a testament to the life and times and anxieties and boasts of Mark Driscoll the Phillipians series remains a fascinating and highly informative excerpt of Mars Hill history if you're willing to cross reference a few sentences in sermons to correspondence, documents and testimony from Mars Hill members from that time.

Well, where ever Zack Hubert may be I hope he's gainfully employed or is so soon. It's a miserable job market out there.  Just because I have had had a few concerns I'm willing to blog about doesn't mean I want fellow Christians or just fellow humans in general stuck in a jobless rut.  It's not a good place to be.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Link: The Atlantic--The Religious Right turns 33, what have we learned?

Sometimes I have read articles in The Atlantic.  This one is quite short.

Trueman reviews Chapman on Stott

There you go, that's about as inviting a title as oatmeal baked and presented with no ornamentation, eh?  Well, I found the review Trueman wrote of Chapman's biography of Stott interesting.

This brings me to my final point: Chapman tries to put this as delicately as he can but it is clear from his narrative that Stott was very ambitious. One might even say he was ruthlessly ambitious at times. Chapman indicates that Stott saw a tension here: godly ambition is of course good ambition; but sinful human nature means that such is also at the same time ungodly. This is where the historian too faces a dilemma: to place an historical agent's own self-understanding at the centre of the narrative is good and proper. For example, how could one write a biography of, say, Winston Churchill without giving a central place to the fact he was a self-conscious politician? But when it comes to ambition, the problem of self-deception is real and pressing. Post-structuralist history, taking its cue from Nietzsche, Freud and Marx, raised spotting self-deception to an art form. In the process, it made self-understanding a meaningless category, at best a pious mask for the agent's hidden, darker and even unconscious motives and intentions.

In a strange, almost counter-intuitive way, the Christian who understands depravity must stand shoulder to shoulder with these Masters of Suspicion. Thus, Chapman does a great job of demonstrating that Stott was ambitious; but it would have been interesting, both in terms of the narrative and for the insights it would have given into historical method, to have had a little more exploration of the ungodliness of this godly ambition. This book is no hagiography but I doubt that a little more time spent on his ungodly ambition would have reduced Stott: after all, as Alexander Pope tells us, ambition is the glorious fault of angels and of gods.

It does seem to be a cottage industry among some brands of Reformed and new Calvinists to rescue ambition. Ambition can be good   While ambition can be good and sacrifice can be admirable a Christian should bear in mind that considering others better than yourselves means that if someone is going to consider sacrifice it should be you considering what you can sacrifice to serve others before you tell them that Jesus expects them to bite the bullet and sacrifice for Jesus.  

I have written elsewhere about how conquerors these days are not necessarily shedding blood as directly as they once did in battle.  Yet it is not a foregone conclusion that today's conquerors thereby destroy fewer lives. It is also not really a given that we have all cast off a theology that could be summed up as the divine right of kings. 

Having made that little aside Stott's ambition in the wake of a failure (which Trueman discusses a bit) reminds me more than a little bit of Conan O'Brien's address to Dartmouth College graduates from 2011-Let the reader understand. 

Mars Hill Church, incorporated 12/22/1995 ... planted October 1996

UBI Number: 601677819
Category: REG
Profit/Nonprofit: Nonprofit
Active/Inactive: Active
State of Incorporation: WA
Date of Incorporation 12/22/1995
Expiration Date 12/31/2012

Register Agent Information
John Sutton Turner
1411 NW 50th St
Seattle, WA 98107

Governing Persons:
President: Driscoll, Mark
Vice President: Bruskas, Dave
Treasurer: Turner, Sutton
Secretary: Turner, Sutton

So Mars Hill Church was incorporated 12/22/1995 and it's President is Mark Driscoll. This date is significantly earlier than the given date for the planting of Mars Hill.  In fact it's ten months earlier than the start date attested to by none other than co-founding elder Mike Gunn. Maybe incorporation is important enough that it had to be done before the church was planted and that by nearly a year?  

As to the more commonly attested date of the year 1996, here's Mike Gunn's account:

The Harambee story is a bit wrapped up in my (Mike Gunn’s) story. The vision began around 1992 as I began to feel the need to plant a church that represented the diversity of God’s creation, as well as a gospel that centered on God’s glory and not our own needs. I was prompted by the Spirit to engage the culture in a more meaningful and direct way, so God decided to send me and my family on an unknown journey to Seattle to begin a campus ministry for athletes at the University of Washington. This began to hone our skills in apologetics, evangelism, and discipleship, creating a desire to reach the next generation with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

At that point, Antioch Bible Church in Kirkland and Mark Driscoll entered our lives. My family began attending Antioch in January of 1994, and we started helping the college group, which was run by Mark Driscoll, at that time, a 23-year-old intern recently graduated from Washington State University. [emphasis added]. It became obvious that we had similar backgrounds and ministry callings, so we began to explore the possibilities of our vision (reaching truly postmodern, post-Christian people for Christ), and it became abundantly clear that we were to begin a new work in the city of Seattle.

With the blessing of Antioch and the exodus of about 30 of the students, Mark, Lief Moi, and I began Mars Hill Church in October of 1996. [emphasis added] We watched God work His mosaic miracle as He began to put together the matrix that became Mars Hill Church. The church grew to more than 1,200 people in five years, and because of facility limitations at the time, we were running seven services at three different locations in the Seattle area. One of these was Mars Hill South, which began as an evening service in October of 2001 with about 40 people. During that time it became evident that God was calling us to a different work, and that we needed to plant as an autonomous church. Subsequently, as of October 6, 2002, we became Harambee Church and began meeting at the Tukwila Community Center. [emphasis added]

Driscoll's account of how Gunn sensed a calling to a different work than what Mars Hill was aiming for was recounted here in Mark Driscoll's 2006 book. . 

Confessions of a Reformission Rev
Mark Driscoll, Zondervan 2006

pages 147-148

I began writing out how I envisioned our church at 3,000-plus people. I chose this number because roughly half of all megachurches have between 2,000 and 3,000 people, and the other half have over 3,000 people, according to a conversation with John Vaughan of Church Growth Today. This means that the 3,000 barrier is the most difficult of any church size to overcome. Therefore, it seemed prudent to push for that goal with plans to reorganize if and when we got over the 3,000 mark.

So I began to reverse-engineer a plan for our church to grow to more than three-thousand people with help from Jamie [Munson?] and Tim [Smith?]. In the end, we decided that what was in the best interests of our our mission to the city was not in the best interests of each of our elders. [emphasis added] I knew God was compelling me to state the vision to the elders. And I knew that the vision would quite possibly split the church three ways between the founders--Lief, Mike, and me.  Nonetheless, I met with our elders to seek their input on the recommended changes, knowing it could undo all that we had worked so hard to accomplish. We spent a lengthy day going over the proposal, and things were tense.

Mike and two elders chose to take their church service out as a separate church plant.  The decision was tough because I genuinely loved Mike, and still do.  He was an older man who had faithfully encouraged and supported me through the toughest times in our church.  But he wanted his own pulpit and felt called to a mission in a different part of the city and would need to be released so that we could each follow the mission Jesus had called us to. Many of our people loved Mike and would leave with him, which meant we might take a hit in terms of leaders and dollars. But it was the right thing to do for the gospel.

Let's get back to Gunn's explanation of what kind of work he believes Harambee was called to.

According to a study published in The Seattle Times (May 2002), the area we are trying to reach has the most diverse demographic of any other region in Washington state. Because of the gentrification of the Central District in Central Seattle, it is predicted that this area will become increasingly an area of color and low-income families. I believe that God has called us to this work; the Bible confirms the need to work amongst the poor and disenfranchised in the world.

Two years later and it is still well worth reading

If the resurrection doesn't sound like the Gospel, you haven't really considered how great and powerful death is. 

If that doesn't spark your interest to read the rest you're probably not going to read it anyway, are you? 

friends and the wounds they give and receive

A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity.

One of the things that seems to be a trope in contemporary fiction and cinema is that a brother is born for adversity by being the cause of adversity.  Garrison Keillor wrote a wonderful little piece years ago called "The Poetry Judge" where his character read many poems about bad daddies and a couple of mean mommies.  The culture in which it is presupposed that our troubles have been caused by the sins of our fathers even seems to run rampant within evangelical circles that, pardon the expression, focus on the family.

I was in a setting where I had some difficulty with family and people in my church advised me that the family members were in obviously unrepentant sin and let `em go.  It is to the credit of a number of people who gave such counsel that a few months later they felt absolutely awful that they had counseled me that way, asked me to forgive them, and were glad to hear there was significant progress made in a resolution of the problems.  I'd explain more but I'm going to just assume that information is irrelevant to this post.  My point is that even within a conservative, evangelical church the supposition that family could be a cause or source of adversity was assumed to a degree that if some family members withdrew from a church as members members of that church advised me to sorta forget about them.  Not all members--in fact I know several were praying for a year or so that reconciliation would happen and a pastor stepped in and was able to help reconciliation happen.  But it was an unfortunate testament to the culture that even some people could decide that if membership was quit the relationship wasn't legit.

I have seen through many difficult months (32 to count `em) in the last few years.  The economy has not been so good and the job market has not been so good and I have been acutely aware of that!  During that time friends and family have helped me in ways big and small.  One of the things about providential care from the Lord is He often chooses to do this through others and not all of them would be what American evangelicals would recognize as Christian or good.

I have been indebted to the kindness of many people and I am able to see because of the kindness and skill of certain doctors.  I live in a city where a specialist has a practice and this practice is such that he is one of a very tiny number of people in the whole state with the skills and experience to be my specialist. That is a great deal of blessing for which I am grateful!  I am grateful that I have been able to rely on the help of many people.  Would that I did not need to rely on their help but I am thankful to God and to them for their continual kindness, a kindness I cannot possibly repay. I have been helped in generous ways by people at my current and former church.  Alert readers who have read more than a single post will understand what that means. ;-)

There are, as many readers will note, more than just a handful of posts where I write things that may be construed as critical.  It has been proposed quite recently that this seems to have as its goal division.  That is not the case.  There are critical investigations and questions and expressions of concern that presuppose unity rather than seek division. It would be incomplete and inaccurate to suppose that any and all criticism is only destructive in intent even if some observations seem harsh or unpleasant or seem expressed in harsh ways.  A certain man has liked to say that soft words produce hard people and hard words produce soft people.  If this is true then what is good for the goose shall be good and even necessary for the gander, correct?

A friend and a brother, if I may risk a generalization, will not speak in a way that begins with "I love you but ... ."  I say this because that 'but" becomes the modifier that blunts love.  A friend and a brother may say "I love you and because I love you ... ."  Of course I'm speaking broadly for the sake of illustration. There are disagreements that are better proof of friendship than agreement.  There is a proverb that is often cited which is presented as "faithful are the blows of a friend but the kisses of an enemy are profuse".  Over time I have come to realize this is one way of rendering the proverb, which can also be rendered in another way, "The wounds of a friend are long-lasting but the kisses of the enemy are profuse."  Meditate on that a bit.  A wound from a friend is long-lasting but the kisses of an enemy are profuse.  Setting aside the conventional lovey-dovey idea that kissing lasts for however long we know that kisses do not normally last very long.

The contrast here may not simply be that wounds from a friend are faithful in contrast to the kisses of an enemy.  The contrast may also be that when a friend hurts you it takes a very long time to recover from that wound.  The kisses of an enemy you already know to specious or fraudulent. An enemy you expect to betray you at the nearest opportunity, not so a friend. To put this in nerd terms Megatron does not really have to wonder "if" but how soon Starscream will shriek out:


And when the inevitable treachery arrives Megatron can see to it Starscream ever so momentarily regrets being alive.  By contrast, Optimus Prime would feel deeply hurt if Ironhide betrayed him to the Decepticons, wouldn't he? Digression into nerd-land momentarily over.

The wounds of friends hurt and when the wound is a betrayal to death that is literal or metaphorical or emotional or whatever that wound does not go away.  Jesus know this.  After all, He still bears the wounds inflicted upon Him from Judas' betrayal, doesn't He? When your friend who you used to dine with and share great conversations together lifts up his hand against you and crushes you; when that friend betrays you and berates you and belittles you; when that friend sells you out for money that he then uses to buy some real estate and sells his soul for material prosperity even at the expense of eternal life Jesus understands.  He can say "I know what that feels like."

But Jesus Himself is not that kind of friend. He is the friend who does not leave us or forsake us even at times when we forsake Him. How often we do forsake Him.  Though we are faithless He is faithful for He cannot betray Himself. We have all been the enemies who have profusely kissed Christ and who wounded Him deeply. How fortunate that Christ Himself has not chosen to respond in the same way toward us. There are many who claim to be friends and there are friends who are closer than family.
We are often the friends who do not love at all times and we are siblings who in the hour of adversity often abandon. I am blessed to be able to say my friends and family have not abandoned me in my hours and months of suffering.  This, too, Jesus understands.

When Thomas said he would not believe unless he touched the wounds of Christ Christ came to him and invited him to touch the wounds.  Thomas replied "My Lord and my God".  Thomas was allowed to touch the wounds his faithlessness and unbelief had brought upon Christ.  Christ allowed Thomas to touch the wounds that Thomas' own sin and unbelief had afflicted on Jesus Himself. These are wounds that have lasted a long time indeed since the Lord rose from the dead. Jesus chose to bear those wounds for us and through those wounds we are healed. In Christ we can be and are being healed of being the kinds of friends who put Jesus on the cross.

Mars Hill Fellowship? What's that?

Longtime readers of this blog may have noticed I have referred to the Bylaws of Mars Hill Fellowship from 2007, the ones over which Bent Meyer and Paul Petry did not agree and got fired.  If you were to go looking for Mars Hill Fellowship you might have some trouble finding it.

There's a Mars Hill Church, though (which we know already).  The upshot here is that whatever bylaws I referred to earlier in connection to Mars Hill Fellowship, well, they may be irrelevant because if Mars Hill Fellowship isn't the same as Mars Hill Church then the bylaws Munson apparently drafted in 2007 may not apply. Mars Hill Fellowship and Mars Hill Church may not, strictly speaking, be the same thing. Or they might be but I don't know for sure.

Now it has been commonplace with Mars Hill to describe Driscoll as the prophet sort, some other pastor (it almost doesn't seem to matter who) as the priest, and the executive type as king.  That was the nomenclature.  So we'd get the impression officially, it seems, that Driscoll is the prophet, Bruskas is the priest, and Turner is the king (as was Munson before him). Turner is described as bringing kingly gifts but who does the State of Washington Secretary of State records list as the top person at Mars Hill?

ubi Number: 601677819
Category: REG
Profit/Nonprofit: Nonprofit
Active/Inactive: Active
State of Incorporation: WA
Date of Incorporation 12/22/1995
Expiration Date 12/31/2012

Register Agent Information
John Sutton Turner
1411 NW 50th St
Seattle, WA 98107

Governing Persons:
President: Driscoll, Mark
Vice President: Bruskas, Dave
Treasurer: Turner, Sutton
Secretary: Turner, Sutton

Interesting, yes?  .

Date of incorporation is December 22, 1995? That goes way back to before the church even existed if the conventional narrative presented so far has been accepted. Anyone able to explain that date of incorporation?

That Driscoll is President is pretty obvious.  But if Driscoll is the President then this means we have to consult the bylaws Jamie Munson was apparently working on in 2007, those bylaws pastors Bent Meyer and Paul Petry had concerns about.

from the Bylaws of Mars Hill Fellowship
A Nonprofit Corporation With Members
Article VI, Section H

The lead elder described in Section G shall be the President, chair the meetings of the Executive Elder Team, the Board of Directors, and the Full Council of Elders. The preaching elder shall be the Vice-President and serve the role of president during the absence of the president. The treasurer shall maintain proper books of account for the church. The secretary (who shall not also be president) will ensure official minutes of each meeting with the Executive Elder Team, Board of Directors or Full Council of Elders are kept and will keep on file and authenticate all pertinent minutes and other appropriate documentation used in making decisions and/or taking action. An office may be removed as such by the Board of Directors without regard to such person's status on the Executive Elder Team. ...

So in the 2007 bylaws the lead pastor was the president.  Driscoll said in 2008 that making Jamie Munson the lead pastor was the best thing he could have done.  But it would seem that now according to the records of the Washington Secretary of State Mark Driscoll is the President (again). Dave Bruskas is listed as Vice President and Sutton Turner is the Treasurer and the Secretary.

So Turner is listed as Executive Elder but for the Secretary of State of Washington State Turner is the Secretary and Treasurer and Driscoll is the President.

So in legal terms Driscoll is the President for the sake of Washington State.  That means that under the bylaws Munson drafted he would not also be the Lead Pastor.  The preaching elder was to be Vice-President and serve as president during the absence of the president. Munson stepped down and there was a bit of an announcement about that.  So is Munson coming BACK to be president later?  Or does Mars Hill Church have a whole new set of bylaws that are not necessarily the same as Mars Hill Fellowship?  Speaking of Mars Hill corporations ... you may no longer find any Mars Hill Fellowship anywhere.  You can find these, though.

Mars Hill Properties - 49th LLC


UBI Number: 602486142
Category: LLC
Profit/Nonprofit: Profit
Active/Inactive: Inactive
State Of Incorporation

Date of Incorporation

Expiration Date

Dissolution Date

Registered Agent Information

Agent Name

SEATTLE, WA 98103 

Governing Persons

Title: Member
Name: Mars Hill Feilowship
Address: Seattle, WA

Mars Hill Properties - Lynnwood LLC
UBI Number 602594462
Category LLC

UBI Number-- 602594462

Category -- LLC

Active/Inactive--  Inactive
State Of Incorporation  WA

Date of Incorporation

Expiration Date

Dissolution Date


Registered Agent Information
Agent Name
999 3RD AVE STE 3000 
SEATTLE WA 98104-4088

Governing Persons
Fellowship, Mars Hill

1401 NW Leary Way

UBI 602738658

State Of Incorporation WA
Date of Incorporation

Expiration Date

Dissolution Date

Registered Agent Information
Agent Name


Governing Persons:


UBI 602486138
Incorporated in WA
Date of incorporation 3/24/2005
Expiration Date 03/31/2012
Dissolution Date 3/14/2012

Registered Agent Information
John J Houlihan Jr
3401 Evanston Ave N Ste C
Seattle WA 98103

Governing Persons:
Title: Member
Address: SEATTLE , WA 

That's a few corporations that were members of a Mars Hill Fellowship I can't manage to find in the Secretary of State listings. You search for it and the result is that there are no such things.  Well, what happened to Mars Hill Fellowship?  Did it turn into Mars Hill Church?  Was it Mars Hill Fellowship at one time and did the leadership file for a legal name change of some kind? If so then those bylaws from 2007 that Munson apparently spent time working on are bylaws for an organization that may not really exist from a strictly current legal standing.  Maybe someone can flesh that out for me.

Now if Munson resigned from Lead Pastor and Driscoll is now President then maybe there was another bylaws revision.  Driscoll mentioned that Mars Hill had once again reached another ceiling of complexity in late 2011.  The bylaws Munson had drafted couldn't permit Driscoll to be the legal president of the organization so wouldn't that necessitate new bylaws?

Whether or not Mars Hill has new bylaws it is at least clear Mark Driscoll is President of whatever Mars Hill Church is.  Munson, let's recall, formulated the charges that became the basis for firing Bent Meyer and Paul Petry. Here's a link for the sake of review:

Now John J. Houlihan, Jr. shows up a lot in these.  Is it this person?

Houlihan comes up in searches for Real Estate Law in Fremont Seattle here

John J Houlihan Jr
3401 Evanston N Ave Ste C
Seattle, WA98103

I can't say I'm entirely sure what all this stuff means but it's interesting to read that Mars Hill Church was incorporated in December 1995 and that it's President is Mark Driscoll.  So if that's the case what was going on in 2008-2011 when Munson, according to those bylaws Meyer and Petry got fired for not backing, was supposed to be considered Lead Pastor?  Hadn't Driscoll said he'd resigned from being legal president several times? Maybe the Secretary of State records for Washington State leave some things out? Did Driscoll have regrets about resigning the presidency and giving that role to Munson? He has assured us Munson has always and ever been above reproach.  Okay, so Driscoll's president now even though Munson didn't say or do anything amiss?  Did Driscoll just want to be President again or something?  Why?  He'd said in early 2008 that resigning the legal presidency was the best thing he could have done.

For those who may be curious about those various LLCs associated with Mars Hill, perhaps Houlihan is the man to contact here.