Thursday, August 28, 2014

Warren Throckmorton: 9 current elders at Mars Hill Church take a stand, link to letter, and a few observations


The media has been inundated, especially in the last two years and increasingly in the past six months, with controversies surrounding Mars Hill and Pastor Mark. While some of these accusations may be groundless or exaggerated, we believe that in many cases we have invited these controversies upon ourselves by not seeking the truth and not seeking to be in the light.

Where there is nothing to hide, there is no fear of being exposed. But, rather than seeking clarity, we have cloaked ourselves in non-disclosure agreements. We have become masters of spin in how we communicate the transition of a high volume of people off staff. We have taken refuge behind official statements that might not technically be lies on the surface, but in truth are deeply misleading.

At the retreat this week, Pastor Dave spoke about our church’s credibility problem. Brothers, this credibility problem is directly linked to the fact that we have not loved the light. [emphasis added]

This is not the fault of one person, or even a just a small group of people. We all share in responsibility for this in one way or another, and we must all repent of it together, together calling for our church to step into the light.

One of the things Wenatchee The Hatchet was writing about earlier this week:

In other words, Mars Hill may have an opportunity to see the public crisis as a sign of inner crisis and there are at least some indications that at least some within Mars Hill are beginning to get a sense of the gravity of the situation.  If their first impulse is to quell dissent and quell a push for transparency then a complete re-run of 2007 is what they're going to get.

It would appear that within the last few weeks Mars Hill elders have identified that the church has a credibility problem. 

The two subjects broached by the nine involve claims made by Michael Van Skaik about the BOAA with respect to formal charges made by Dave Kraft and the lack of contact between the boards of Acts 29 and the BOAA in the run up to the resignation of Paul Tripp.  In summary, Van Skaik appears to have decided that he would not even open a case until the names of the parties with claims to make were divulged and because the parties were not willing to be named unless given the assurance and protection of a formal investigation they remained anonymous, it seems, and Van Skaik never even opened a case.  With respect to the claims made by Michael Van Skaik and possibly also Larry Osborne (since there was a letter that, though written in the first person singular was signed by two people) it turns out, according to the nine, that Tripp had been in contact with a number of individuals on the A29 board and that Van Skaik's statement that no one from Acts 29 had been in contact with him could be true in the sense that there were no board-to-board meetings but that this would not accurately represent the number of individual interactions taking place in the last year or so.  In other words, while Van Skaik was not directly lying, the nine seem to be alleging, his selective telling of the truth was so misleading as to warrant some correction or censure.

At the end of the document the nine make reference to a sermon Mark Driscoll preached back in 2006.

Part 3 of 1st Corinthians
1 Corinthians 1:10-17
Pastor Mark Driscoll
January 22, 2006:

...That’s what Paul’s saying. “I don’t remember atoning for the sins of the world. I don’t remember living a sinless life and dying as a substitute in your place and rising to forgive your sins. Was I crucified for you? No!” And his third question: “Were you baptized in the name of Paul?” Is your ultimate allegiance to me, or Jesus? This is so important. I want you guys to respect me, the pastors and the leaders in this church. I don’t want you to have too low a view of leadership, too high a view of leadership – the extremes that we see in the church in Corinth. At the same time, your primary and ultimate allegiance is not to me, and it is not to the pastors in this church. I will say this publicly: I am one of the pastors. They can out-vote me and fire me. They have total freedom to do so.

And if at any time in the history of this church the elders discipline me, do not be loyal to me. Be loyal to them; be loyal to Jesus. And if at any point – God forbid – I should say or do something that would disqualify me from being your pastor – and I have no intentions of, and I do live a life above reproach. And I’m not a sinless man, but I do love Jesus and I do love my family and I do love
you. And if by – I just shudder to say this, but if I should ever say or do anything that the elders would need to fire me, do not be loyal to me. Be loyal to Jesus; be loyal to your elders. Be loyal to the pastors in your church. Trust them. Follow them.

And if you forget, this’ll be archived. Pull it down and listen to it again, and say, “Mark, you told us to ignore you and follow the leaders in the church and Jesus.” Do that – because at the end of the day, you’re not baptized in my name. You’re not ultimately loyal to me. You are not ultimately devoted to me. My job is to point you to Jesus. He was crucified for your sins. He forgives your sins. He is
your God and Savior. He’s the one when you are buried in baptism and raised in newness of life that you are celebrating and honoring – that the focus and heart and the devotion and commitment and the passion in the church must be for Jesus; no one else; no one else.

Of course what is striking about this sermon is no one outside of Mars Hill is going to have an easy time finding it to listen to it because it is not publicly accessible from any Mars Hill archives.  Wenatchee The Hatchet has been documenting for much of this year (so far) how here and there, mainly quietly, Mars Hill has been purging the very content that Mark Driscoll at one point in his career said would be archived for future reference.  The church (or the corporation) has also introduced robots.txt so that tools like The WayBack Machine cannot even be used to consult what was formerly publicly available for millions to read for themselves.

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