Saturday, October 19, 2013

City of God: Andrew asks whether cessationism paved the way for David Hume's categorical rejection of all miracles
For an earlier post from Andrew go over here.

The principle question that is rather broadly answer with "probably" is whether the cessationist position taken by Protestants against Catholic miracles and the arguments made for that polemical position weren't foundational to the development and trajectory of Hume's arguments against miracles altogether. 

Bill Watterson actually talks ... to Jake Rossen at Mental Floss

Watterson is known for not talking to journalists and being very private. In an age of Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace (that still exists, right?), and other social and broadcast media platforms Watterson has not gotten on board with just about any of that, it seems.  Which makes Watterson's privacy that of a normal person from before the internet era. 

Of note, while he says that the visual sophistication of Pixar blows him away he still would not let anyone animate Calvin & Hobbes.  And that is absolutely the right decision. 

There's the documentary Dear Mr. Watterson coming up in mid-November, after all. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Mark Driscoll shows up at John MacArthur's Strange Fire Conference with his new book to give out

For folks who listen to Fighting for the Faith Chris Rosebrough has a podcast up discussing this apparent happening over here.

There's no indication that despite iPad Mini give-away offers that Driscoll's Ephesians study Who Do You Think You Are managed to get on the NYT bestsellers list. That even the theme of Christian identity and discipleship were themes explored by former MH leaders Wendy Alsup and Bill Clem a few years before Driscoll published his own book might be even easier to miss.  Well, if gift give-aways don't spike sales then perhaps crashing a conference affiliated with one of your most prominent, vocal and public critics can get you some airtime.

Driscoll considered MacArthur to be an important formative influence on his early Christian life so for those who don't know that not-insignificant detail it does make some sense that Driscoll might still hope to win the approval or at least a lessened censure from MacArthur, who has obviously become one of Mark Driscoll's most publicly recognizable critics over the last seven years. 

Maybe Mark Driscoll deigned to talk with MacArthur about Song of Songs?  Wouldn't bet on it myself.

Sutton Turner interview in Church Executive from Sep 2013, a little history on someone who says he had the job before other people officially said he had it

It's worth noting the budget is currently listed as $30 million for MHC in the interview "quick facts" section.  It's also weird to read Sutton Turner compare himself to Joseph from the Old Testament in response to a question that presumes the comparison of Turner to Joseph has been made elsewhere.  Here's a question, who made that comparison to begin with?  Turner himself?  Why would there need to be a clarification in the question in a publication called Church Executive stating that the Joseph to whom Sutton Turner is said to have been compared is the OT figure?  Who in their right mind would say he's like Jesus' surrogate father? 

Apparently Sutton Turner updated the bylaws, implicit in his observation that Mark Driscoll doesn't like to do spreadsheets, draft budgets, do meetings, recruit new staff, assemble policy and procedure or update bylaws.  Turner says that's what he does.

For sake of review, Sutton Turner was formally introduced as an elder back in November 2011.  As Mark Driscoll put it himself:

Earlier this year, the Turner family moved around the world just to be a part of Mars Hill Church. They’d been listening to the podcast for many years, and when the opportunity arose to join the ministry, Sutton left a lucrative job in the Middle East to use his gifts to serve the church.

Pastor Sutton’s experience has already been a huge benefit. He has a degree from Harvard Business School, led multibillion-dollar organizations, and even worked as an executive pastor for a number of years at a large church in Texas. More importantly, he is a godly man with a delightful family.

By God’s grace, Mars Hill Church is in an amazing season of growth. With that comes significantly more complexities, however. We need help and we’ve been searching for a leader of Sutton’s caliber for awhile. God is faithful and brought the right man at the right time.

Sutton Turner got a mention in a letter Mark Driscoll published on September 9, 2011 that referred to Sutton Turner as on staff but not as an executive elder.  This is worth quoting at some length, actually for a reason we'll get to before too long:

Pastor Dave and I both believe Pastor Scott is the best choice for this role in this season. Pastor Scott [Thomas] has been very clear in his love and commitment to Mars Hill and has said he will gladly serve wherever he is needed, which we deeply appreciate. Administratively, Pastor Jamie was our senior "king" and his departure requires very competent leadership to cover his many responsibilities. Thankfully, Pastor Jamie was a great leader and humble man. He surrounded himself with great people. This allows us to not have the kind of crisis that could otherwise ensue. Pastor Dave and I agree that Sutton Turner should function as our highest-ranking "king." Sutton is new to staff, but not to ministry. He is a former executive pastor of a large church. Educationally, he is a graduate of Texas A&M, the SMU Cox School of Business, and Harvard Business School. Professionally, he has recently served as the CEO of a company that has nearly 1,600 employees. Prior to that he served as the CEO of another company that under his leadership grew from 0 to 500 employees in the first year. He and his family moved to Seattle sensing a call to serve at Mars Hill, and we believe he is a gift from God to us for our future. He is currently well into the eldership process so be in prayer for that as well as his many duties at the church.

Then there's Driscoll following statement:
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 [emphasis added, watch for this number], just like the experts predicted. At 10,000 we are there again. 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.
Okay, so ... how far along into the eldership process was Sutton Turner by September 9, 2011?  By his own account, he already had the job!

Executive Pastor & Executive Elder

Mars Hill Church

Nonprofit; 51-200 employees; Religious Institutions industry
April 2011 [emphasis added]Present (2 years 7 months) Seattle, Washington
Sutton currently serves Mars Hill Church as Executive Elder and Executive Pastor. Mars Hill is a multi-site church with 14 current churches across the states of Washington, California, New Mexico, and Oregon. Mars Hill has planted over 400 churches through its and trains disciples through As Executive Pastor, Sutton oversees all centralized functions for all 14 Mars Hill Churches,, Mars Hill Global, Mars Hill Network, Resurgence Books, and Resurgence Conference, all external Campaigns, as well as serving Pastor Mark Driscoll as his Executive Pastor.

Seeing as Jamie Munson's LinkedIn Profile lists him as Executive Pastor from 1999 to 2011 even when any detailed survey of Mark Driscoll's own publications reveals that Munson was an intern in 1999, it may simply be that Sutton Turner is carrying on some Munsonian tradition of retroactively imputing to himself the full powers and leadership of a role that either didn't exist yet or had not been formally conferred to him.  After all, literally everything Mark Driscoll publicly wrote or said about Turner up until November 2011 indicated that Turner was not an elder yet as far as Mars Hill Church was concerned. 

Apparently, according to Driscoll himself, Mars Hill hit a ceiling of complexity that necessitated some new changes.  Munson publicly announced that he was stepping down and Driscoll took the occasion to announce that Scott Thomas was stepping into Munson's place.  But the introduction to Turner mentioned how his gifts and abilities were needed and how, by Driscoll's account, had been sought for for a while.  Thomas, in this case, would have at most been an interim leader until Turner could be formally vetted within the parameters of whatever bylaws were in place at the time.  But Turner's mention of his role including the revision of bylaws opens up the possibility that Turner drafted a completely new set of bylaws in a way comparable to what Munson did in 2007.  Where Munson's bylaws made himself, as Lead Pastor, president of Mars Hill, the bylaws that Turner drafted would appear to have made Mark Driscoll legal president of Mars Hill.  The vast about face on legal presidency for Driscoll at this point would have to be a whole post unto itself that we won't bother writing at this point. 

So Turner describes himself as having an executive pastor job before he was formally introduced?  Well, Munson has done the same thing so it's not like the executive elders differ from each other in terms of that detail.

What's interesting in this little feature on Turner is that Sutton Turner is credited as saying

“Mars Hill really did not grow until 2007, from 1 location and 2,000 in attendance.”

Really? How sure is David Fletcher about that quote from Turner?  Because according to Mark Driscoll there were about 6,000 people at MH circa 2007.—and-whether-or-not-the-new-calvinist-coalition-will-hold-together/

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 [emphasis added in both types] and I preached the Doctrine series for thirteen weeks. 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 [emphasis added, and let's keep in mind that this was to become the standard memberization process through which ... Andrew Lamb ended up at Mars Hill Church, WtH]. 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. [emphasis added] We then rebounded over the next few years to ten thousand people a week and as many as thirteen thousand on our peak weekend. 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.

If the way things played out in 2007 played out again in 2011 then when Mars Hill hit a new ceiling of complexity the giftings of certain men could no longer match the competencies required to sustain the organization.  Out with Munson, in with Turner, perhaps?

HT Jim West: The Forgotten Kingdom: The Archaelogy and History of Northern Israel, now available as a free e-book

Scott Bailey over at Scotteriology linked to the free downloadable e-book version.  West refers to the paperback version and commends the book (though he commended (perhaps sarcastically, a book by Douglas Campbell that I thought was ultimately an annoying waste of time just 100 pages in because Campbell seemed to willfully forget that Deuteronomy exists and didn't even seem to be reading the same Adolf Schlatter commentary on Romans I've been working on reading through ... but I digress). 

Anyway, free e-book version means that all it will cost you is your time.

opening: Leadership Development Director at ... you know where, and some other job openings of late

Posted October 15, 2013
This role will be responsible for overseeing all aspects of Leadership Development, including but not limited to the Lead Pastor Residency Program, Executive Pastor Residency Program, Eldership assessments and processes, church membership and deaconship processes, and Re:Train candidacy and programming. This person will work closely with the local church leaders and elders in the development and plan implementation of leadership programs.

Dear readers, keep your eyes set on whoever gets this job when the job gets filled.  That will be interesting to observe. 

Also posted on October 15

Work with the Mars Hill Church content team to develop, edit, and/or produce written materials based on the work of Pastor Mark Driscoll for a variety of mediums, including Resurgence, trade publications, ebooks, social media, curriculum, and more.

Say ... Wenatchee The Hatchet kinda does that already. 

There's also an opening for an assistant executive pastor at Bellevue that opened up at the start of October

Maybe there's been some growth in numbers since the Ten Commandments series began or MH has rebounded from losing a couple thousand people in the last year during a dip period. 

For those who cast about in the job search for less direct means, there's a CRM Integration Project Manager, posted to about ten days ago

It's been a while since Dr. John A Catanzaro has contributed to The Resurgence 

Clearly Mark Driscoll has thought enough of Catanzaro to commend him on a couple of occasions and Catanzaro has also written at least a dozen pieces for The Resurgence (about ten of which could have been consolidated into something more cohesive and sustained but that's just a matter of Wenatchee's reading preferences). 

While Driscoll's public stances against yoga are famous enough his endorsement of naturopathic medicine has not gotten as much attention from pretty much any of his self-designated critics that can be readily found.  There may be people who think Driscoll's endorsement of naturopathic medicine is probably dubious but they probably do not know that Driscoll has ever endorsed any sort of naturopathic anything, perhaps.

So it would be worth noting that despite the famous bits about yoga it must be said that Mark Driscoll's endorsement of mixed martial arts for both practice and entertainment, as well as letting his naturopathic doctor publish articles at The Resurgence, cannot be construed by his more erstwhile critics as a blanket condemnation of "Eastern" anything and everything.

You're welcome to read through Catanzaro's contributions to The Resurgence at your leisure. Wenatchee has other things that sound more fun to read, like a commentary by Barry Webb on the book of Judges, for instance. 

The speed of change at Mars Hill. Steve Fogg published an interview with Jake Johnson from MHC and discovers Johnson was gone by the time he published the interview

Due to the somewhat inexplicable but relatively great popularity of this older post about the BAJI group Wenatchee The Hatchet is going to shine a bit more light on the people formerly associated with the entity formerly known as the BAJI Group.  And in an observation of how fast things have changed at Mars Hill we'll highlight an interview Steve Fogg published with Jake Johnson,
who was a founding partner of BAJI, and who was formerly Chief Copywriter and Content Strategist at Mars Hill Church from, well, you'll se here.

Chief Copywriter and Content Strategist

Mars Hill Church

Nonprofit; 51-200 employees; Religious Institutions industry
June 2011August 2012 (1 year 3 months) Greater Seattle Area
Directed the content strategy, copywriting, and messaging for Mars Hill Church, a 15,000-member church in 14 locations and 4 states; Resurgence, a church leadership website with over 6 million visitors annually; and Pastor Mark Driscoll, a New York Times best-selling author and international speaker.

Steve Fogg's interview is published here and he notes that he took so long to publish the interview with Johnson that Johnson was no longer even working at Mars Hill in October 2012 at the date of publication.  The speed of change at Mars Hill Church ... .

A few excerpts:

How did you start working in church communications and content strategy?
I was working as a freelance writer and editor while running point on acquisitions for a commercial real estate firm in Phoenix, Arizona. We were attending an Acts 29 church, which was called Praxis at the time. It was a fast-growing church that needed help and was looking for elders. I nominated myself for eldership, and part of the process was prayerfully discovering how I could best serve the church. I gave the elders a presentation on where I thought we could improve as a church in communications. At the end, they said, “Congrats, you just created a job for yourself.”

I worked as a volunteer Director of Communications and then later as the Pastor over communications as a lay elder. A couple of years later, the opportunity for a merger happened and I was brought on staff to oversee the efforts on the branding, design, copywriting, and communications side. The new church was Redemption Church and went from 1,200 to about 6,000. I was retained as the Communications Pastor for that church. From there the opportunity at Mars Hill opened up and I came to serve here about a year ago.

 What kind of work do you do at Mars Hill Church? 
I oversee the teams that run,, and, which include content strategy planning, writing, editing, design, and distribution, our social media strategy and the teams that run those accounts, and the content side of our publishing efforts. Additionally, I work with our excellent creative department on planning and branding for our sermon series, conferences, and more.

Each month, my team processes around 120 blog posts and 600 to 700 social media posts through our three channels. We put a lot of effort into building a great writing network and structuring content plans around our sermon series and various topics on Resurgence.

What does a typical day look like for you Jake?
I’m in a lot of meetings! My primary role is one of planning and management, so I have the opportunity to be in decision and planning meetings with our senior leadership and then help execute our decisions through my team.

I also spend some time touching base with my four team members to get updates on the status of their projects.

In between that, I squeeze in some copywriting for the various materials we’re producing to promote events, ministries, etc., as well as some writing for our blogs.

Most importantly, I try to stay on top of trends, plan out initiatives for the next couple months, and do audits of the content that’s going out, including analytics analysis.

Then of particular note is the question about particular achievements:

What is the best piece/favourite work you’ve been involved in?
Couple projects standout. We completely redid the site this year. It’s well designed and responsive. I was involved in planning for UI/UX and wrote the copy for the site. That was fun.
I also loved our God’s Work, Our Witness series, and was blessed to be a part of the team that worked on it. Jesse Bryan, our Creative Director, spearheaded that effort and did a fabulous job with it.

Some of you may remember the fundraising film God's Work, Our Witness and the associated series of sermons connected to it.  The film is notable for being a fundraising film, whether or not anyone else but Wenatchee The Hatchet would be comfortable calling it that is moot since the film was distributed along with an annual report by the same title and the film culminates in Driscoll talking about people giving money.  There's no alternate universe in which any of that adds up to a film that isn't a fundraising tool. 

The complete overhaul of the web presence was noted and seemed to be part of a massive rebranding/refocusing project.  That along the way it permitted a massive information overhaul that purged Mars Hill of most references to departed former pastor James Noriega in the wake of Andrew Lamb's story becoming a news item was coincidental but a convenient coincidence, it seems.  If a team was already overhauling the entire MH web presence then scrubbing away any evidence that could let the press identify who Andrew was connected to at Ballard inside of twenty seconds would simply be a fringe benefit. 

The ghost-writing company Johnson owns is an interesting detail.  There have been a few guys over the years who have listed that they did ghostwriting while serving in various capacities with elders at Mars Hill.  Not all of them STILL list ghostwriting as among their responsibilities but at one point a couple of them did say they were ghostwriting in LinkedIn profiles. 

Since reader activity seems to keep highlighting the now formerly BAJI group people then Wenatchee The Hatchet can oblige that curiosity.  It's not difficult to go look up what the people are doing now but for the sake of the history of Mars Hill it wouldn't hurt to go back and look up what they did.  After all, Mars Hill has such a strong and energetic web presence and so saturates the internet with its brand it makes finding things relatively easy.   And, as mentioned, some writing about the film God's Work, Our Witness is eventually in order.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Of course I'm linking to this: Practical Theology for Women, Though He Slay Me

And what, really, would there be to add? 

a revision of a poem from a few years ago

i want to go to the beach,
feed seagulls alkaseltzer,
and feel sand between my toes;
to run along the tide pools
and think of brian eno.
i see the seagulls flying
and i hear my spirit laugh
i think of oysters singing
underneath the sand and sea
close my eyes and imagine
their sweet alkaseltzer drams

If you'd like to read the earlier, sweeter version of this poem, go here.

You may have forgotten that Wenatchee The Hatchet is sometimes a poet of modest competency.  Recent poetic efforts (which merely means in the last two years) have been short, as noted here and here. And about once every election cycle I tend to bring back this sonnet. In fact most poems I've jotted down since roughly 2006 have tended to be on the short side, such as this one.

Anyway, there's a stroll down memory lane with a poem or two.