Saturday, March 22, 2014

Spiritual Warfare series Driscoll gave in 2008 is now down, too, along with Peasant Princess

As if scrubbing away all the sermons from before 2008 weren't enough, as if wiping out the 1 & 2 Peter series weren't enough, the Spiritual Warfare series is also gone now.

What happened to the man who took up the pseudonym William Wallace II to published the thread "Pussified Nation" on the old Midrash years ago, to lament how weak and cowardly men had become? 

Just a few days ago Wenatchee The Hatchet published this post.
Mark Driscoll on bitterness as a context for what he says about his past bitterness toward Grace.

As I've noted already, if we take the narrative of Real Marriage at face value, even if we don't ask whether there may be a "synoptic problem" in which Driscoll's 2006 published account of a vomit-inducing nightmare resembles the 2012 published account of Mark Driscoll's nightmare in the 2012 book,  then if we take Mark Driscoll's own teaching about bitterness as a demonic foothold he has to account for how his bitterness for years against Grace Driscoll over the lack of sex in the marriage ended up being an issue over which he may have let a demonic foothold of bitterness build up in his life.  It seems to be easier for Mars Hill Church to quietly erase all traces of that Spiritual Warfare series than to even think about answering a simple question.

Why?  Well, this is just a speculative personal opinion, but it's easier to erase any evidence the Spiritual Warfare series was out there for half a decade than to concede that if Driscoll applied the teaching he's applied to others to himself he might have to question his own qualification for ministry.

Let's bear in mind, those of us who have the series and listened to it, that Mark Driscoll's discourse on the "ordinary demonic" back in 2008 began with not-enough-sex-in-marriage.  We've already discussed in the past how Mark Driscoll wrote that when he figured out that the cure for his depression and moodiness was more frequent sex with the wife that this is a cure for depression that no evangelical would advise a single person to endorse.  Steadily scheduled orgasms as a cure for depression as a self-prescribed cure chosen by a husband sounds like something that would have landed a rank-and-file Mars Hill Church husband in a Redemption Group or maybe a church disciplinary scenario. 

Not Mark Driscoll.  By 2012 Mark Driscoll had already articulated in the Spiritual Warfare series (now quite removed) that if husbands and wives aren't having enough sex (whatever that means) it's like Satan is in bed between them. And once Mark Driscoll was able to convince his wife that more sex could remedy his depression this was apparently pursued. 

But let's think about that a bit, Mark Driscoll's first category of "ordinary demonic" was not enough sex?  Let's bear in mind that in February 2008 this wasn't too far off from when, the previous year, Bill Clem was instructing single guys on the reality that there could be months at a time in marriage when sex might not be possible and that a good husband would find ways to love his wife that didn't necessitate sex.

So let's remember Mark Driscoll has not publicly acknowledged the plagiarism in seven books, he has not only not publicly acknowledged anything about Result Source but the Board of Advisors and Accountability declared it unreservedly stood by the executive elders Mark Driscoll, Dave Bruskas and Sutton Turner despite admitting to the basic reality of non-disclosure agreements and to the use of Result Source via contract to buy Real Marriage on to the NYT bestseller list and even admitting in general what Wenatchee The Hatchet has been slowly and steadily documenting for two years, the vast turnover rate in staff, which the BOAA has lately admitted was not an entirely amicable process. 

One of the things about the now-removed Spiritual Warfare series I've meant to write about for a while is that Driscoll discussed lies.  He discussed mainly lies that counselees believe and how this harms people.  It was a puzzling thing because if spiritual warfare consists in part of confronting counselees about the lies they believe why didn't Mark Driscoll focus on lies in a way that the Bible more commonly addresses, warnings to people who lie to other people?  If people who believe lies open themselves up to some kind of spiritual attack then why not go an extra step and propose that those who lie are tools of Satan? It was an element of the 2008 teaching in which Driscoll did not seem to have the courage or principle to follow through on the implications of some of his teaching.  And, of course, since Mars Hill has yanked all that content down they apparently don't care that much that nobody's in a position to go listen to that stuff now.

Let me get back to the first category of "ordinary demonic" because if Mark Driscoll by February 2008 had told pastors and staff at Mars Hill that not enough sex was Satanic and if in the 2012 Real Marriage book Driscoll claimed that more frequent sex was a cure for his depression then, well, not only was more sex something Driscoll had over time claimed was necessary for curing his depression he had also developed a diabology of "ordinary demonic" in which not getting enough sex could be construed as giving the devil a foothold.  Yet at the start of the whole series Driscoll had pointed out that most of the time devils don't have to pay attention to ordinary Christians.  So was not-enough-sex a demonic foothold only in cases of pastors like Driscoll?  I don't remember Bill Clem ever once saying that not being able to have sex with his wife who was dying of cancer was somehow setting up a demonic foothold.  What special dispensation gave Mark Driscoll the occasion to say that not-enough-sex was Satanic in his estimation, the first ordinary demonic category of spiritual warfare, while his Ballard lead campus pastor in-waiting went without sex?

This, dear readers, is one of the most striking cases of double standards not just within Mars Hill Church on its leadership culture vs its congregational regulars, but it could even be a demonstrable double standard within the leadership culture of Mars Hill itself.  If this surmise has any merit then it's little wonder Mars Hill Church and, by extension, Mark Driscoll, has now found it easier to just remove the entire Spiritual Warfare series. 

But if you've got part 2 of Spiritual Warfare, "the Devil", go to minute 10, roughly, and start listening from there. You'll get to hear Mark Driscoll explain how withholding sex in marriage is demonic. About 15:30 in you'll get to hear him explain that sex between a believer and a non-deliver is Satanic (even though you'd think that Paul's instructions to those in Corinth to not divorce unbelievers would be a canonically unavoidable caveat to this).

About 52:200 into part 2 you may hear something like this, "In the history of Mars Hill I have had to put a firewall, a moat, guard dogs and a high wall with barbed wire on top and snipers behind it around my wife." 

Later in 2008 in the Peasant Princess series Mark Driscoll would again describe the lengths to which he went over the years to protect Grace, including threatening assault to men in a dorms he lives in and, circa 2008, screening her emails.
It would start about 33:40
About 2:01 into the YouTube clip, assuming it'll still be available:

... and this is an ENORMOUS part of my relationship with Grace.  I mean I still remember when I first started seeing her she, uh, she went off to college, I was still in high school and they ran out of housing so they put her in a guys' dorm. And I was like, "What!?" so I got in the car and I drove to the university and I knocked on all the doors of all the guys on her floor. "Hi. My name is Mark. I love this woman. Anyone talks to her, touches her,  thinks about talking about touching her I will beat them. Literally I threatened twenty guys. Just knocked on every door. No way she's gonna get messed with. No way.

[to go by the audience laughter Mark Driscoll threatening twenty guys with assault was both chivalrous and funny, disappointing, to put it nicely]

Later on when she transferred to another university, WSU, she's five hours away. And she moved out there and her phone wasn't hooked up yet and we didn't have cell phones. And I told her, "When you get there, go to a pay phone. Call me. Let me know you got there safe."  Well she ... didn't call so I got in the car and I drove there. Five hours.  The day I had to work. And I knocked on the door. She answered it and I said, "Whu, you didn't call." She said, "I forgot." I said, "Are you okay?" She said, "I'm okay." So, okay, good, I got in the car and I drove home. Just checking. Six hundred miles.  Who cares? It's Grace.

[this has been commented on by others and so it's merely worth noting that a cumulative ten hour road trip because Grace didn't call him sounds weird]

... even emotionally, people send her nasty emails, text messages, talk trash about me, leave the church and want to take parting shots at her. She has nothing to do with any of it. So I even put a white/black list on her email and some people so some people can email her and the rest come to me. Delete. Delete. Delete. Delete. Delete. Delete. Delete. So that she doesn't have to feel bad because people are taking shots at her. That's my girl. No shots. That's the rule.

[it's worth noting that this particular thing didn't get mentioned in the 2007 Scotland sermon, which was in later 2007 around the time the controversial firings had not completely wrapped up, by the next year something had transpired where Mark Driscoll took to screening emails Grace got so she didn't get nasty emails or nasty emails about him.  About 1,000 members left in the wake of the 2007 firings and by-law changes and so the most logical guess for why by 2008 Mark Driscoll suddenly saw the necessity of screening his wife's emails was that former members may have broached the subject of the firings to her enough that Mark Driscoll didn't want her connected to that]

But that's Mark Driscoll's opinion about how much Grace Driscoll needed to be protected from nasty emails sent her way about him.  And there's the moat, guard dogs and all that.  But a question that can be raised in light of Driscoll's own preaching is how badly Grace Driscoll needed to be defended from people who might have negative things to say about Mark Driscoll given what he said from the pulpit she was willing to tell him to his face.
January 7, 2007
Redeeming Ruth
Part 1: God's Hand in Our Suffering
Ruth 1:1-1:22

Let me wrap all of this up. As your pastor, who loves you very much – I say that sincerely – would you be as honest as Naomi today, and would you acknowledge that your life and mine are like Naomi and Ruth’s stories in which the providential hand of God is at work, in which he calls us to be honest and to run to him and one another as God’s people, to work out those parts of our life that we consider afflictions, but not yet have received them as sanctified? And would you identify yourself with someone in the story – who are you? How many of you, you’re Elimelech-ish? You’re Elimelech-ish. Elimelech is the guy – Everything falls apart. It looks dark. It looks bad. He takes a poll. He makes a plan. He decides Moab has a lower cost of living. Moab has more vocational opportunity. Moab has food on the table – I will make a plan. I will be the sovereign. I will take care of everything. Trust me, I know what I’m doing. He leads well. He plans well. He tries to be the sovereign. Everybody dies anyways.

I am Elimelech. I asked my wife, “Which one am I?” Oh, my wife – she didn’t even breathe. Didn’t even take a breath. “Oh, you’re Elimelech.” And his name means what? My God is King! That was me. If you ask me, Jesus, sovereign, Lord, King, God, and if I ever need ‘em, I’ll call, but I don’t think I do ‘cause I got this all taken care of. Elimelech-ish.
Of course that whole series has been scrubbed away, too.  As has the 2004 stuff and it's worth consulting that material for this:

Part 6:1 Timothy 3:1-7
Preached February 08, 2004

...I love my wife. I’ve been totally faithful to her. I’m a one-woman man. I met her at 17. I married her at 21. I’ve been chasing her ever since. I’m quicker than she is, so I’m happily married. You know, things are good. I just am. I love my wife. I adore my wife. I enjoy my wife, you know? I – I’m so glad I married the woman that I did. She makes it easy to love her. It says that he has to be a one-woman man. Some women make that easier than other women. Some women are like Kryptonite. You know? They’re hard, but you still gotta love them. I was blessed with a lovely, sweet, nice, enjoyable, great, glorious woman that I completely adore. ...

...  When a guy goes into ministry, his wife and is children are going into fulltime ministry with him as a team, right? My wife is my partner, my friend, my confidant. Every stupid decision I ever made is because I didn’t ask my wife, literally. She has discernment.

So in 2004 Driscoll was willing to say every stupid decision he ever made was because he didn't ask Grace for her opinion and she had discernment.  Then four years later things seem to be more about screening emails so she's protected from nasty comments about Mark even though in 2007 Mark Driscoll said she compared him to Elimelech without a moment's hesitation.

Who, exactly, was really feeling a need to be protected in all that? 

Which may just get back to the question of why Mars Hill Church has seen fit to pull the vast majority of Mark Driscoll's sermons off their website.  It's too late for that to do any good, Wenatchee The Hatchet and dozens of other bloggers have quoted from the primary source material enough times that the stuff's out there.  The Spiritual Warfare series was sitting out for anyone to go listen to for six years until recently.  Justin Dean even apparently referred Matthew Paul Turner to the content when Turner contacted Dean about the story of "Amy".  Where is it now?  Where's Peasant Princess and those stories Mark Driscoll repeated about all the various ways in which he protected Grace over the years?

And now?  It's gone.  Years ago when I was taking journalism classes a professor once said that the biggest story is frequently not what everyone is already talking about but the one nobody's talking about.  Since others are covering the BOAA and the open letter leaked from The City then Wenatchee The Hatchet's most productive activity is documenting a media purge unprecedented in the history of Mars Hill Church.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

some more thoughts on what some call watchblogging, being able to see yourself as a symptom of the disease rather than its cure

When I stopped being part of Mars Hill I shared with a friend that I had come to observe things I felt were unhealthy about Mars Hill as a community and a leadership culture.  I've outlined them extensively at this blog, obviously. 

But what I shared with the friend was that I came to realize that the reason I could fit in so easily into such a culture is that we all had sins in common.  The arrogance at imagining that we were actually doing something new could be corrected with some humility that comes with a modicum of church history and theological training ...but the mentality is not so easily cast off. 

This is why repentance of pride and insularity in a setting like Mars Hill Church may not be happening among those who are still questing for whatever they consider to be God's "new thing" or "fresh move".  Bear with me here, I am an EX-Pentecostal for a lot of reasons, even if I still respect the work of Gordon Fee. 

What I'm trying to get at briefly is that if someone is going to critique Mars Hill as someone who once called the place home you simply cannot afford to not see yourself as a symptom of the disease.  If you don't see yourself as complicit in all that has been said and done then you won't be in a position to provide a corrective that is able to offer an actual alternative because you haven't repented of the things you thought and did and said while in that culture yourself.  You imagine that simply because you removed yourself, perhaps, that you have shown you're not like those people.  You didn't drink the Kool-aid. 

But of course you had to have to have ever become a member to begin with, didn't you?  And yet having put it that way, if for a tenth of a second you look down on all people who have come and gone through Mars Hill as kool-aid drinkers you're probably even worse than them.  We all will "drink the Kool-aid" for something or someone.  That's how people are.  In fact a grounded understanding of the nature of human depravity would suggest that we should be as humble as possible when we realize how prone we are to conflate whatever we admire or seek to be part of with the divine will.  And, make no mistake, that's what tens of thousands of people have done with Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll over the last seventeen years and yet there's no chance you are somehow exempt from the same impulse or temptation, whomever you are.

If you cannot see how you are yourself a symptom of the disease you should avoid diagnosing the disease.  This isn't to say, as fans of Mars Hill and Driscoll might, that people are hypocrites and therefore as chief hypocrite so-and-so gets to tell you what's what.  That could be paradoxically using a confession of generic guilt as a pretext to display pride or malice to an even greater degree than whoever it is you think deserves to be taken down a peg. 

So, yeah, even for a lazy and inattentive reader, I used to attend Mars Hill Church.  The process of realizing I couldn't keep going there took longer than it should have.  Finding out that the church spent $1.5 million on a piece of real estate that wasn't even zoned for the uses Driscoll advertised in his 2006 book was more infuriating to me than the controversial 2007 firings.  If this church leadership culture could spend $1.5 million of the congregation's donated monies to buy a piece of real estate that wasn't even zoned for church/campus use in a basically industrial area then what was to stop them from squandering money in other ridiculous ways?  I came to have doubts about the good will and competence of all the counseling pastors at Mars Hill, too.

But the thing was I'd already given plenty of my money to the church.  Rather than say that I was, say, defrauded, I would say I was a sucker because I convinced myself that the flaws that Driscoll seemed to display as far back as 1999 and 2000 were going to get better because he had accountability.  Sure, he was a miscreant and a blowhard online as William Wallace II but he was putting that behind him.  I had to con myself into these ideas when, as just about anybody could see in the formerly available sermon transcripts, that Driscoll stayed pretty much steady in tone and substance about a lot of things for more than a decade.

So it's not possible to speak abstractly about the failings of Mars Hill as a community or a leadership culture without realizing how much I contributed to that, indirect though it often was.  In a sense blogging about the history of the place is part of a process of repentance.  I can't write about all the things that have been said and done without thinking to myself, "I gave of my time, money, and interest to this thing."  An honest "watchblog" from someone who has left a church movement has to be a form of confession and a form of self-examination or it just becomes self-righteous stupidity.  If there's no Romans 2 informing how you write about a church that you used to call home then you're just as bad as anyone who may be presumed to have "drunk the kool-aid". 

And if you presume in that sort of way, if you presume that you've got nothing to confess to then when you think you're shining a light on things you'll come across as self-righteous for the simple reason that, very probably, you are.  If you attempt through a consideration of the scriptures, prayer, and an awareness that even something that seems as acrimonious as "watchblogging" should be motivated by love of neighbor, then you can blog in a way where you write as though you were yourself the one to whom you're trying to make your appeal.  The golden rule should still be the way a Christian writes and handles a watchblog whether or not certain fans of this or that preacher or this or that church want to concede that such an approach is possible. 

If you can't take ownership of yourself as a symptom of the disease you're diagnosing try to refrain from telling everyone else they're symptoms of the disease.  Watchblogging doesn't have to be, "Look at how wrong you are."  It can be, "Look at how wrong we've been.  Let's confess our sins together to the Lord and find a way to speak the truth in love." Or at least that's what I hope the goal is.  You and I are symptoms of the disease, most likely, because if we're Christians we have commonly accepted who the cure for what ails us is, and it's not us.

Mars Hill Church and Resurgence Training Center's Master in Missional Leadership, what happened?

Back on June 18, 2009 the Christian Post announced that Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church planned to announce the launch of a new school.

Now all this stuff, for all of the purging Mars Hill has been doing in the last week, may only truly be visible by way of a visit to a cached site.  But here's something from the ramp-up and launch phase.

Mars Hill Church has started a school to serve as the leadership development engine for our global vision. As of August, the inaugural year of The Resurgence Training Center (Re:Train) is well underway.

What is Re:Train?

The purpose of the school is to train missional leaders to lead churches to transform cultures for Jesus. Our goal as a church is to start 100 new campuses and 1,000 new churches (in partnership with Acts 29) by 2019. In order to achieve this vision, we need as many men—trained and equipped—to be pastors and leaders within the movement. Pastor Mark Driscoll began The Resurgence a few years ago as a website with lots of free theological resources for missional leaders and the broader church in general. Re:Train is a further extension of this idea, offering premier missional leadership training and education.

What sort of classes does Re:Train offer?

Currently, Re:Train students participate in a yearlong graduate program that culminates in a Master of Missional Leadership. Participants are divided into "cohorts" based on area of interest. Once a month, all 75 students spend a weekend under the teaching of a nationally recognized professor. These classes are taught by men including John Piper, Bruce Ware, Gregg Allison, Ed Stetzer, Sam Storms, and Mars Hill Church Pastors Mark Driscoll and Bill Clem [emphasis added]. Lord willing, beginning in the Fall of 2010, Re:Train will also offer university-style courses to equip the Mars Hill Church body in theology, biblical studies, missions, counseling, worship, biblical living, and other areas.

Who can attend Re:Train?

Re:Train participants come from all around the US and Canada. International students are expected next year, and our current student body includes a lot of Mars Hill leaders and members; we hope that many more will step up from within our community. Are you a future campus pastor? A future church planter? A faithful member who will be sent out as part of a core group to help start a new work? If you're interested in attending Re:Train in order to better prepare, we'll soon begin accepting applications for next year's graduate program (info at

This got a roll out in the Christian Post, a website, and there was even some discussion of the project from the pulpit.  This is a sermon that never got a transcript and we've linked to it in the past when discussing how in 2009 Mark Driscoll said he didn't have a side company for book royalties at that point.  Of course by 2011 he'd done a complete 180 degree turn on precisely that issue and set up On Mission LLC and eventually Lasting Legacy LLC and OMCRU Investments LLC.  But the sermon that never got transcribed from the 1 & 2 Peter series is also interesting for the history it brings to light about the acquisition of Mars Hill Albuquerque and, particularly germane to the upcoming Mars Hill Schools project, a blast form the past on previous efforts to set up a seminary-style educational program.
Prophets, Priests and Kings
Trial: 8 witnesses from 1 & 2 Peter
May 3, 2009
1 Peter 5:1-5

... Leading this is Pastor Rick Melson, one of our executive elders. He's a great guy.  We stole him from John Piper in Minneapolis. I'll rephrase that, we borrowed for a long time, to the glory of God, from John Piper in Minneapolis.  And he is also running the Resurgence Training Center.  It is a school that will open in the fall so that we can have a leadership engine to train more campus pastors, church planters and potential elders. We're seeking 50 students for the fall term.

For all of this we will need to raise $4 million above and beyond budget. And Pastor Jamie [Munson] has a really smart idea to take microgifts from a lot of our fans online. There's upwards of 20 million downloads of our sermon and content every year. Asking those people who enjoy all that we give away to give some small gifts to help fund this global expansion and initiative. Many have asked--it's cool. We recently got checks as large as $10,000--people are saying, "We love you. We've listened a lot of things. Here. How can we help?" So we're going to open that opportunity up. We invite you to give as well above and beyond your general tithes and offerings.

And, amazingly enough, a generous donor stepped forward and said, "I'll do a million-dollar matching fund. For everyone who gives any amount I'll match that up to the first million dollars. And so that's the great kick-off. We praise God for that.
So, uh, what exactly happened to the Resurgence Training Center and the Masters in Missional Leadership?

What exactly happened to Capstone Institute?  There wasn't enough space for that and while Gary Shavey ran that it didn't last longer than a couple of years.  The Resurgence Training Center seems to have been similarly short-lived but had the distinction of being a cause for which Mark Driscoll said from the pulpit needed giving of $4,000,000.0 above and beyond normal budget.

And is there a Masters of Missional Leadership available to be earned now or did this program functionally produce only one or "maybe" two academic years' worth of student activity?

Scott Thomas used to list having a Masters in Missional Leadership from the Re:Train program.  Possibly doesn't list that lately.  There have been people who have graduated from the program but since the program didn't seem to have any accreditation and was designed to raise up a new generation of MH and A29 leaders what was it, in the end? 

It seems that as with music labels so it may have gone with a school.  After a grand announcement that Mars Hill Church was starting a music label a year later Driscoll was excited to mention a partnership with Tooth & Nail. In 2009 there was Driscoll's announcement from the pulpit they were starting this Re:Train thing and the Christian Post covered it and now what's the big, exciting opportunity?  Partnership with Corban University, Western Seminary, and the like.  It's hard to shake the impression that Mars Hill Church has lacked the finances and infrastructural capability of getting several of the things Mark Driscoll envisioned since before the formal launch of Mars Hill Church up and running in a sustainable way. 

There's too much testimony not just in Confessions of a Reformission Rev but also in God's Work, Our Witness to the effect that Driscoll had envisioned launching a record label and establishing a Bible institute since before Mars Hill was official for anyone to seriously believe the recent claim that MHC as it is now is not even close to what Driscoll originally imagined would or could happen.  Given the speed and thoroughness with which Mars Hill Church has been obliterating content why don't they just take down the entirety of the God's Work, Our Witness material seeing as several key people in the film have since left Mars Hill Church and in a couple of cases have made public statements?  In light of the Result Source contract controversy the end of God's Work, Our Witness, where Driscoll regales the viewer (probably envisioned as a contracted member of Mars Hill Church) about how much the church has historically stunk at giving let's bear in mind that was a 2011 fundraising film that was connected to the annual report for the fiscal year 2011.  Now we have a clearer idea what some of those expenses entailed for which Driscoll gently chided the whole church on its need to be more generous.

For that matter over at this post we've discussed how during the 2012 period Mark Driscoll asked people to give more and more and in May bought a million-dollar house in Snohomish county and in June conceded that Mars Hill Church was running systemic deficits at every campus and a mass layoff had happened and it wasn't because anybody sinned but because Mars Hill Church had a financial model that was not sustainable for the long-term future.  When Driscoll told the church "You're the money fairy." it seems to have been meant as some kind of gentle and humorous rebuke about the flock not getting that THEY are the money fairy that pays for stuff.  That Driscoll bought a million-dollar house outside of the city of Seattle by itself is scarcely problematic, it seems weird, though, in light of his at times condescending words about how the people in the trenches seemed to imagine money would just show up. 

And yet Driscoll has also had a history of claiming that Mars Hill Church is not a wealthy church.  That post is, without doubt, the most viewed post in the history of this blog.  Renting the city of Ephesus for a day to do some "epic" filming may not make a church exceptionally rich (Greece's economy has pretty much been in the toilet for a while now) but that Driscoll could casually toss off in a little forgettable sentence "We even rented the city of Ephesus for a day" was worth a post.

So where does all this sort of money go?  What happened to the Resurgence Training Center that Driscoll announced so confidently from the pulpit in 2009?  For that matter what happened to the sermon and series in which the announcement about Re:Train was made go?  If Mars Hill can't get its own homegrown attempts at music labels and Bible institutes to work then, well, they can at least assimilate the actually successful projects started by others.  But if that's how these things have worked out in the history of Mars Hill then it makes the entire organization seem to have ... at the risk of putting this indelicately and as the opinion of Wenatchee The Hatchet, a basically parasitic relationship to the outside world. 

If Capstone Institute fizzled and the Resurgence Training Center seems to be no more what's the reason Mars Hill Schools is going to work at all?  The assimilation of functioning and self-sustaining entities so that "Mars Hill" can be put in front of some real estate and some academic programs is not exactly a stamp of success at this point.  Driscoll's never issued a public apology for the Result Source contract or for the seven books featuring plagiarism and simply letting the press and bloggers erroneously believe that a leaked and nebulous open letter to Mars Hill members posted to The City count as if it were a public confession won't suffice. 

That does not exactly instill confidence in Mark Driscoll as an academic or a pedagogue.  If the Resurgence Training Center that Driscoll so happily mentioned in 2009 was successful then wouldn't the bold-type big names have made more of a point of mentioning this thing in their CVs? 

Stuff to consider as Mark Driscoll and company ask people to give big and make sacrifices for what may actually be the THIRD attempt at getting that Bible institute Mark wanted started in the wake of his movement going along. 

Bryan Zug: It's time to evacuate @marshill

A few very brief notes, such as they are.

First, Anchor was a church plant that was sent out from the Lake City Campus that was closed back around 2010ish.  It has also been reported the church has perhaps withdrawn its affiliation with Acts 29 Network.  Purely personal opinion, a lot of the best people in the history of Mars Hill had Lake City Campus affiliations at different points and so Anchor seems like a plausible option for people who like many things about Mars Hill but consider its current ecclesiology too insular and toxic. 

Regarding 4 and 5, it was occasionally heard that Mars Hill pastors joked that these seemed to be the two places a lot of the exiles or resigning members went to in the 2007-2008 exodus when the firing of Meyer and Petry led to highly controversial trials and the by-laws were met with less than joy.  Wenatchee's been to both places and has had positive experiences but alert readers will have surmised which I lean more toward. :)

Anyone who can verify more details about the "I am the brand" speech, which sounds like something Driscoll would actually say, is welcome to share details if they wish.

The concentric LLCs involved in the ownership of the copyright in Real Marriage have been discussed in detail here at Wenatchee The Hatchet.  James Duncan did a better and more concise job, but if you want to go through this blog on the topics of On Mission LLC, Lasting Legacy LLC, or Future Hope Revocable Living Trust you're welcome to.

Bryan is about as old school in the history of Mars Hill Church as anyone gets.  He's old school enough that it would not surprise me if he guessed within a range of one or two people the identity of Wenatchee The Hatchet.  I mention this to say that in the past I've semi-cryptically blogged about Obadiahs in the court of Ahab as a way to refer to men and women inside the culture of Mars Hill Church I trust and respect despite serious disagreement with the leadership culture, particularly its executive level, about the entire mentality and basis for leadership.  To build on this past statement, the more time goes by and the more the leaders have turn-over and get replaced with people who have no problem with Mark Driscoll conflating his will with the will of Jesus, the fewer Obadiahs there are in the metaphorical court of Ahab.

OR maybe to just be more blunt, it seems like pretty much nearly all the men and women I actually trust and respect have left Mars Hill.  Maybe not literally every last one of them but the people who have been leaving since Turner became an executive elder and Driscoll began referring to T. D. Jakes as his friend have been the sorts of people who, twelve years ago, Mark Driscoll shared words with at stuff like Dead Men.  The words were, as best as can be paraphrased, if Mark or the other elders go so far off the rails in doctrine or ethics that you have concerns then the absolute best thing for the health of the church you can do is just leave.

Well, Driscoll may not remember that he ever said such a thing but it looks like Bryan Zug may have remembered it.  So if anyone's tempted to be skeptical about Zug's proposal, it's actually entirely consonant with what 2000-2001 era Driscoll was actively advising that people do.  So if you're thinking of leaving Mars Hill Church, in a way, you have past-Mark-Driscoll's permission and urging to do so whether he remembers ever saying so or not.

And Zug's observations about what those who stay should challenge the leaders to be honest about is worth reading.


there's an ama thing (let the reader understand).  Post a comment when the thing's wrapped up, whoever feels so inspired.  :)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Mars Hill Church, scaling back the homiletic menu

If you go to the above link today you're likely to see something that looks like this.

That's an interesting selection of sermons on the menu there because as recently as a few screen captures from somewhere we can see that the menu of downloadable sermon content from Mars Hill Church (almost invariably featuring Mark Driscoll) looked more like this:
And here's a composite capture for the slightly less-than-techie Wenatchee The Hatchet featuring an earlier capture.
click on this to get a sense of how much bigger the scrollable menu was

So ... where'd all that stuff go?  While the press and blogging cycle focused attention on the open letter leaked from The City and what that might mean, Wenatchee The Hatchet noticed that basically all pre-2008 preaching content from Mark Driscoll seems to have been wiped off the menu of stuff.  Sure, you might be able to find all this stuff online somewhere but the point is to emphasize that about eight years of stuff isn't on the menu today like it was mere weeks ago.
If Mark Driscoll wants to apologize for angry stuff he's said and done in the past obliterating the extensive audio and video evidence for what his preaching has been like over about seventeen years hardly seems like a persuasive way to get that job done.  If anything it seems dishonest and cowardly to erase any trace of practically the man's entire pastoral career. 
If this is supposed to be a sign of getting rid of material from Mark Driscoll's angry young prophet phase 1) Driscoll wasn't exactly a spring chicken even in 2008 and 2) obliterating 70% of Driscoll's preached content over the course of a week is quite a purge, possibly the single largest purge of media content from Mars Hill Church websites in its history. 
Well, for those curious to read content from sermons in the 1 Corinthians series from 2006 or from the Phillipians and Ruth sermons from 2007, or from the 1 & 2 Peter series that has also been pulled, it seems, Wenatchee The Hatchet has a few posts sitting around. 

Suspended naturopath John Catanzaro has made appeal/response over license suspension

He's cleared his name or gotten past accusations at least once before so it's conceivable he could do it again.  Meanwhile, it's been a while since we checked whether Driscoll or Resurgence have decided to restore Catanzaro's 18-some posts that were at the Resurgence blog.  After all, if Catanzaro's name turns out to get cleared what was the point of removing references to Mark Driscoll's doctor? 

Of course more than just Catanzaro guest posts have been getting scrubbed lately.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Reformation 21: Todd Pruitt and Carl Trueman refer to the recent apology and controversy surrounding Driscoll

Some will wonder why these stories swirling around Mark Driscoll are matters for public discussion in the first place. I understand that. The whole thing is embarrassing to the church. These controversies reinforce the widely held notions that ministers are not honest and are primarily interested in financial gain and fame. I wish it weren't happening. But it should also be understood that men with highly public ministries must welcome public critique. How many public controversies must one pastor be allowed before someone raises the inevitable question of qualification?


... But the problem in the YRR movement is not that its leaders are well-known.  'Celebrity' applied in that context is a far more complicated issue.  It involves fame, certainly.  But it also involves cultivating, via twitter and other social media, that false friendliness, that intimacy of strangers, which one finds in Hollywood culture, where the consumer thinks that they know 'Brad' or Anjelina' without having any real relationship with them.  It involves a careful system of branding and marketing, supported by formal and informal mechanisms, from literary agents to PR departments to promotional agencies, all geared towards the marketing, promotion, and protection of the brand. The result is that a pastor's power and influence are intentionally enhanced and expanded while accountability is in practice detached from a proper ecclesiastical body.   In this sense, I appreciate Kevin's concern about the term but I think 'celebrity pastor' remains a very useful concept because it highlights a particular category of person who currently holds influence in sectors of the evangelical church.

In communications class parlance the term might be called a "constructed mediated reality". It might also be described as an image in the form of something like a man.  Trueman continues:

Second, the criticism of the silence of the leadership of the YRR (certainly in the form I have made it) is not a claim that nobody in the YRR has spoken up.  Nor is it merely a claim that none seem to speak up in a timely fashion, though I believe that claim, if made, would be fairly easy to defend.  It is a claim that none of the very top leaders, the really big movers and shakers in the Reformed evangelical world, the men who are known for their strong opinions and who are typically very quick to speak, have spoken up in a clear, transparent, timely, specific, and decisive manner on the big issues and the big personalities that have challenged the movement internally, from the Jakes fiasco to more recent events.   That claim seems to me to be perfectly reasonable and, indeed, incontestable.

I.e. the people that matter most, have the most public profiles, and who have a history of sounding off as pundits on various things of significantly lesser importance than primary doctrines frequently don't seem to think there's been anything to see here.  Trueman closes with the following:

I am grateful to Kevin DeYoung for the timely reminder that we must all examine our hearts when offering criticism of others. That is a convicting point.  I would submit, however, that the YRR does not at this point look sleazy to outsiders because of the sinful motives of the critics of celebrity pastors but because of the sinful behavior of celebrity pastors.  Until the movement accepts that and does something to change its own culture, more and more scandals are likely to follow.

It may be worth noting that when I went over to see some reactions to a post I published back on July 4, 2013 one reaction to even the possibility of plagiarism in Real Marriage was "so what?"  All the identity politics to the theological or political left or right were more important, apparently.  Plagiarism?  Well, let's not even bother with that if discussing Mark Driscoll's views on homosexuals or women or on speaking in tongues or on postmillennialism can be discussed instead.  Partisans for and against were frequently content to run with the idea that Driscoll's real problem had something to do with the identity politics of particular groups.  What has also not helped at all in public discussion of the ministry of Mark Driscoll and of Mars Hill is what I've come to call imputing comprehensive guilt by tangential association.  So-and-so knows so-and-so who was at some point an apologist for so-and-so, ergo, the first so-and-so and the second so-and-so are bad, bad people.  That may be but let it be for what they say and do, not for a guilt by second or third hand association, or even first-hand association.  Wasn't Jesus Himself denounced as a friend of sinners? 

If the movement as a whole, this young, restless Reformed crowd that features a lot of guys who have entered middle-age, will not concede there are things to confess not merely as "mistakes" or as "unwise" but as "sin" then this may not speak to simple hypocrisy but to a double standard, particularly if what is permissible or must be swiftly forgiven in a celebrity cannot be excused by the rank and file church member. 

What controversies surrounding celebrity pastors who, these days, may balk at the name of the status they have so ardently sought for themselves, may point out is that the young, restless and Reformed have not even thought through the implications of a peppy axiom they have sometimes circulated, "What you win them with is what you win them to."  This seems to be an axiom that can be applied to just about anyone but the people most likely to have used it, and perhaps it's time to consider that this might be because what they've been winning people with has not been Christ so much as a mediated version of Christ.  For as often as Mars Hill may employ the phrase "for Jesus' fame" it necessitates the question of "which Jesus?" or, more bluntly, "whose Jesus?" When Driscoll began talking about his friend T. D. Jakes and referring to Osteen being a piñata for the Reformed when was Driscoll going to remind people that Osteen was a piñata for Driscoll himself in the Phillipians series at one point.

And up until a couple of weeks ago you could have downloaded that sermon for listening.

on the leaked open letter, some of Driscoll's public critics have inadvertantly given him his best PR

It's not as though Mars Hill has been unaware of how fluid the boundary between The City and the rest of the internet has turned out to be.  Andrew Lamb's disciplinary case would have stayed a private matter of the content of the disciplinary escalation letter hadn't gotten on The City.  Now historically Andrew's disciplinary situation is not all that important compared to the 2007 by-laws and firings controversy, which was also the period around which 1,000 members left or did not renew membership. 

All that to say The City has been a social media platform susceptible to leaks for a couple of years now.  And by leaks this would mean people who have access to it leak content to others, sometimes bloggers. 

So it's worth bearing in mind that what was posted in Mark Driscoll's name to The City was posted with a historical setting and context.  The leaders of Mars Hill have been reported to have had concerns about how to lock down The City and make it leak proof over the last seven months, clearly to no avail. 

Now it wasn't the plan of Wenatchee The Hatchet to explain this but in light of observations about how Driscoll's letter to members of Mars Hill included wording prohibiting redistribution we can bear in mind that Stephanie Drury posted the December 18, 2013 statement Mark Driscoll posted to The City on New Year's Eve of 2013.  Driscoll's statement didn't even reference that the controversy he was embroiled in at the time involved allegations that he plagiarized the work of others and there's no sign that Driscoll will concede that point now even as publishers continue to revise already published works.  While those who have come to Driscoll's defense have at times questioned the legitimacy of intellectual property altogether or proposed that intent is necessary for someone to be guilty of plagiarism, the non-disclosure agreement of the sort the BOAA stands by includes language that prohibits even unintentional breach of confidential information where former staff are concerned. 

But when the shoe was on the other foot a great deal of "citation errors" happened in books with Mark Driscoll's name on them and so far there's been a Tyndale defense of a Call to Resurgence and Mark Driscoll taking responsibility for errors in the retracted Trial study guide after Mars Hill PR took pains to explain that that book was assembled by a team of researchers that included a research assistant.  If Mark Driscoll wants to show some convincing fruit of repentance a public apology to Justin Holcomb for MH PR passive aggressively implicating him and Crystal Griffin and Brad House, who were the research help for the Trial study guide, as not being responsible for the citation errors, might be a graceful gesture. Wiping out the open letter in which Driscoll boasted about Holcomb's skill in research and how he was sent to Mars Hill from the Docent group doesn't change the historically verifiable facts from the Mars Hill media presence.  Let's propose for sake of public discourse that some anonymous PR sort decided to imply that the research help was possibly guilty of the citation errors.  If Mark Driscoll wanted to make sure the right thing was done in the right way total silence on the part of Mars Hill until a clarifying statement was made would have been better.

While Mark Driscoll has issued a general apology about the use of Result Source and has said he thought it was a way to maximize sales but now sees it as a wrong decision, this seems somewhat like those anonymous people who asked Mark Driscoll if he knew where babies came from when they saw how many kids he and Grace had and his rebuttal was "a hot wife", more or less.  Similar level of overlooking the obvious seems to be in play with the use of Result Source.  Considering the decision wrong in hindsight after journalists have broken the news and a blogger has published a copy of the contract John Sutton Turner signed, if Mars Hill were considering this as a case study in confession and it involved someone having sex before marriage it might look like "mere confession". 

Asking that all his publishers remove the phrase "NYT bestselling author" is a start.  Of course the troubling and disappointing thing is that this only came up after Driscoll and Mars Hill leadership got caught and after no less than seven books had been shown to have "citation errors".  This is not necessarily to the credit of any progressive evangelicals, who spent 2012 disagreeing with Driscoll on complementarianism and calling him a bully rather than say, I don't know, spotting that Allender's work had been plagiarized.  If Rachel Held Evans and Matthew Paul Turner had hoped to break a huge story the disciplinary case of Andrew Lamb was nothing compared to plagiarism.  Now it's true that the harm done to countless people in the name of spiritual authority is a bigger deal in the long run but an organization and leadership culture that can turn a blind eye to copying the works of others without adequate citation might have a weakness for that.  It might simply be, as the axiom has it, the tip of an iceberg.

As for general statements to the effect that some people haven't found peace yet, people who have been harmed by the leadership culture Mark Driscoll and others have cultivated and promoted in the last seventeen years might get the impression that they are being told that the burden of finding peace is entirely on them. 

Meanwhile, in some sense never mind all that.  The facts seem to be that Mark Driscoll posted an open letter to members of Mars Hill Church on to the City and it got leaked to bloggers who then posted it online for everyone to read.

Wenatchee The Hatchet was not one of those bloggers.  It seemed like an imprudent move to me.  Why?  Well, perhaps, at the risk of giving you a list of things, this can be explained by content that at some point showed up on The City that ended up appearing at Wenatchee The Hatchet.

For those bloggers who may have been excited to have content from The City sent their way ... well ... it's old news. There are reasons Mars Hill Church, at this point, might have a basis for posting content to The City they wouldn't be ashamed to have leaked to outsiders.  Whether or not any of the content that was posted to The City that was passed along to Wenatchee The Hatchet that showed up in these posts qualified as that sort of content can't really be answered.  But, in case any readers got the impression that content from The City being leaked on to a blog or media platform is actually unusual or special, these links with content sent along from The City may serve as a contrary education.

So that's to point out that by March 2014 Mars Hill was aware not just that Stephanie Drury had posted content from The City but also that Warren Throckmorton had gotten ahold of stuff from former staff such as a separation and release agreement as well as 2011 bylaws.  And over here at Wenatchee the Hatchet, well, you've just seen the links.  
But Wenatchee The Hatchet has made a point of not just posting any old leaked content sent along.  It had to have some actually important content for the history of the community and have some numbers.  Given that Driscoll was willing to say in the face of a roughly $30 million budget "We're not a wealthy church" even content posted to The City cannot be taken entirely at face value.  The amount of money Mars Hill Church contracted to pay Result Source is as big or bigger than the annual budgets of smaller churches.  
Wenatchee The Hatchet has not and will not divulge how content from The City has been presented for consideration as possible blog content or avenues for research.  There's a matter of journalistic ethics in protecting sources.  If someone were to attempt to contact Wenatchee The Hatchet imagining it were even possible to broach the subject of revealing sources that would be a complete and utter waste of effort.  
In the wake of the observation that sources have not been discovered, it's not impossible Mars Hill has opted to include language prohibiting redistribution of privileged content.  The enforceability of such an edict seems to be wanting and so an adaptive gesture would be to compose something that would be known to get leaked, likely to blogs considered very critical of Mars Hill in general and Mark Driscoll in particular.  Wenatchee The Hatchet did not bite in this particular case about the open letter.  An open letter to Mars Hill members posted to The City simply does not count as a public acknowledgment to the press and academics that citation errors in no less than seven books and contracting to buy a #1 spot on the NYT bestseller list should raise issues about the priorities and ethics of the leadership culture at Mars Hill.  It doesn't matter what Driscoll wrote in an open letter if it had been kept inside of Mars Hill circles.
But thanks to blogs that have been critical of Driscoll, what was ostensibly presented as an open letter not to be redistributed was transformed into what amounts to a press release.
It almost comes off as though it could have been one of the only actually brilliant PR moves in the last three years of Mars Hill Church.  By the happenstance of critical bloggers publishing and then opining on a letter posted to The City with an exclusionary prohibition, the critical bloggers look like they don't care about the confidentiality of the information (which, let's face it, they didn't).  Furthermore, in an attempt to keep up with whatever was leaked (even though it said virtually nothing that would fit even a Mars Hill definition of real confession and repentance on the citation error issues) bloggers can be thought of as unwitting emissaries of the kind of leaked content that has convinced a whole ton of people Driscoll's really sorry and is turning over a new leaf.  Driscoll actually defended the development and installation of the leadership system that has, it seems, alienated nearly all the campus-level leadership over the last two years.  
So if you were a megachurch with a controversial leader and you realized that for well over a year your social media platform was not leak free because a "communication error" led someone taking content dealing with a disciplinary case and sent it to the discipline subject who then went to Matthew Paul Turner then after two years of not being able to stop leaks what would be reasonable?  Crafting statements that could be leaked and still serve some purpose, this would seem particularly reasonable in the wake of months of controversy about the number of Driscoll books that feature plagiarism, one of which turns out to have been bought a spot on the NYT bestseller list in addition to its plagiarism issues. No actual public statements or apologies have been made.
And now, thanks to bloggers deciding to leak things that seemed juicy, Mark Driscoll may never even need to issue a public apology if bloggers and journalists report the leaked open letter posted to The City in a way that vets it as a public apology that was never made. 
Congratulations eager beavers who have blogged critically of Mark Driscoll recently and decided to leak that open letter posted to The City and/or comment on it, you may well have just been played by what might be the most impressive PR recovery in the history of MH and, arguably, it all depended on you.
Without meaning to sound as condescending as this is going to sound anyway, there's a proverb that says "Only a fool blurts out everything he knows".  This might have been one of those times.
Just a speculative theory, take it or leave it. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Mark Driscoll on bitterness as a context for what he says about his past bitterness toward Grace.

There are plenty of people willing to sound off on Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church but too many of them simply do not have the capacity or, perhaps, the interest to take the ultra-long, full-history-of-the-ministry view to appreciate certain questions that can emerge in the wake of the 2012 book Real Marriage.  When I got to chapter 7 I was disturbed by the realization that Grace Driscoll (if she wrote this entirely on her own) was making use of concepts and phrases Dan Allender had written in a book from 1990. 

But chapter 1 was particularly depressing to read because in it the entire narrative of the happily married Driscolls seemed as though it turned out to be a sham. Now I had stopped attending the church for a few years by the time the book was published but I still remembered statements from the pulpit.
Part 6:1 Timothy 3:1-7
Preached February 08, 2004

... I love my wife. I've been totally faithful to her. I'm a one-woman man. I met her at 17. I married her at 21. I've been chasing her ever since.  I'm quicker than she is, so I'm happily married.  You know, things are good. I just am. I love my wife. I adore my wife. I enjoy my wife, you know? ...

There were potential hints that not everything was ideal.
[roughly one hour in]

...Elimelech is the guy--everything falls apart. It looks dark, it looks bad. He takes a poll he makes a plan. He decides Moab has a lower cost of living. Moab has more vocational opportunity. Moab has food on the table. I will make a plan, I will be the sovereign. I will take care of everything. Trust me. I know what I'm doing. He leads well. He plans well. He tries to be the sovereign (they're all going to die anyways). I am Elimelech.

I asked my wife, "Which one am I?" ... She didn't even breath, didn't even take a breath, "Oh, you're Elimelech." And his name means what? MY GOD IS KING! That was me. If you asked me, Jesus, sovereign, lord, king, God! And if I ever need Him I'll call him but I don't think I do because I've got all this taken care of.
But it wasn't until the publication of Real Marriage in 2012 and the sermon series associated kicked off that things like this came along.

Real Marriage: the truth about sex, friendship and life together
Mark and Grace Driscoll
Thomas Nelson
copyright (c) 2012 by On Mission, LLC
ISBN 978-1-4041-8352-0

PAGE 9-10
Before long I was bitter agaisnt God and Grace. It seemed to me as if they had conspired to trap me. I had always been the "good guy" who turned down women for sex. In my twisted logic, since I had only slept with a couple of women I was in relationships with, I had been holy enough, and God owed me. I felt God had conned me by telling me to marry Grace, and allowed Grace to rule over me since she was controlling our sex life. 

PAGES 14-15
Although I loved our people and my wife, this only added to my bitterness. I had a church filled with single women who were asking me how they could stop being sexually ravenous and wait for a Christian husband; then I'd go home to a wife whom I was not sexually enjoying. 

... We still disagree on how often we had sex (I [Mark Driscoll] was bitter, and she [Grace Driscoll] was in denial, which skews the perspective), but we both agree it wasn't a healthy amount to support a loving marriage.

Okay, so people get bitter over stuff, right?  That in itself is actually no big surprise.  No, the surprise came in hearing and reading that Mark Driscoll was talking at considerable length about how bitter he was toward his wife over how little sex he felt he was having?  Now why would this be?  Well, the answer, in a way, may be in what Mark Driscoll taught in February 2008 in his spiritual warfare lecture series.
February 5, 2005
Mark Driscoll
Part 2, The Devil

about 34:10
The way bitterness works, as well, is bitter people are prone to blame their bitterness on the person that they perceive offended them. Amy Carmichael. she's a missionary, her little book If, she gives this great analogy she says:

If I have a glass filled with sweet water and I bump it, what comes out? Sweet water. She says if I have a glass of bitter water and I bump it, what comes out?  Bitter water.

All that sin against us, perceived sin against us, or bitter envy and selfish ambition by us reveal is what's already in our heart. The bitterness is IN there, and someone or some thing spilled it. And bitter people will say, "Look what you made me do. You made me sin, you made me gossip, you made me angry, you made me bitter, you made me fight, you made me run into conflict, you made me sin in my anger. Look what you made me do." And the answer is, "I didn't make you do anything. That was what was in your heart." I just bumped you.

about 45:00
What he says is, if you're a Christian and God, through Jesus Christ, is not bitter with you but forgives you then you must use the Gospel in your relationships to forgive other people. You have no reason to be bitter with them. In being bitter with them what you are saying is, "I refuse to use the Gospel for my relationships. I refuse to allow Jesus to do anything." And when you say that you ARE saying, "I am inviting Satan instead."

You see, if Mark Driscoll's teaching that bitterness is an "ordinary demonic" thing, and that choosing bitterness when you're a Christian you're saying you refuse to use the Gospel for your relationships and are inviting Satan instead then ... what exactly can a person do with this?  What is a person to make of this instruction about bitterness as giving a demonic foothold?  About a root of bitterness growing up and defiling many?  If Mark Driscoll was bitter against his wife and God for about a decade on the issue of how much sex he was having and by Mark Driscoll's own teaching to staff and elders in 2008 he was saying that bitter people are inviting Satan to define relationships instead of the gospel of Jesus, then, well ... how exactly doesn't Mark Driscoll become someone who in his bitterness about a lack of sex invited Satan rather than Jesus to define the nature of the sexual relationship with his wife?  Let's bear in mind that during the period in which Mark Driscoll seems to have been bitter against his wife, another Mars Hill pastor circa 2006 to 2008, Bill Clem, was figuring out how to love his wife in a way that didn't involve sexual intercourse because she was dying of cancer and going through chemotherapy. 

When people sometimes wonder why I am cautious about what Driscoll says or is said to have said it's not because I think there's no possibility for improvement, it's more that I was at the church long enough to have heard enough of Driscoll's teaching that I can wonder whether Mark Driscoll has thought through the implications of his teaching that bitter people have bitterness inside that circumstance merely brings out; that bitterness is something they may blame others for but which is ultimately a reflection of their own bitterness; that bitterness is wrong because people don't have a right to be bitter and that bitterness is an ordinary demonic foothold or attack; and after all that simply ask, "So how does this connect to Mark Driscoll's statement that he was bitter for years against Grace about how little sex he thought he was having?"  Did Driscoll at some point consider the enormity of the demonic foothold he was giving to the devil, here?  The degree to which a root of bitterness over something such as a lack of married sex might defile many, i.e. potentially all the people at Mars Hill Church over the years, in ways that might be impossible to detect? 

Now if Driscoll has repented of all that stuff, as no doubt advocates have been thinking of typing if they've read any sentences in this post, that's great.  This post does not propose to provide answers so much as to pose a question.  As a former attender and member of Mars Hill Church the Driscoll narrative went from idyllic marriage circa 2004 to the 2012 "We were miserable, really".  Mark Driscoll's emphatic statements about how bitter he was against his wife about a lack of sex is impossible to hear WITHOUT the context of the 2008 spiritual warfare instruction because I heard the 2008 stuff back in the year it was taught.  It was one of many reasons I decided I could not in good conscious renew membership. It was starting to sound like Driscoll was embracing all the fad spiritual warfare stuff from the 1980s and 1990s that were reasons I stopped being Pentecostal (though I still appreciate the work of Gordon fee). Not that you care about those last details.

So when people have asked in some contexts what the deal is and why Wenatchee The Hatchet seems so skeptical that the recently divulged open letter may not be a sign of real change.  It's both complex and simple.  The complex thing might not be explicable but the simple thing might come down to this, when you hear enough of what someone has taught over the years to realize there are some things that should naturally be connected that nobody connects it just makes sense to ask about these things.  If Driscoll taught that bitterness is a reflection of your own refusal to apply the Gospel in your relationships and that bitterness is an ordinary demonic foothold back in 2008, and then in 2012 explained how bitter he was about a lack of sex, then someone should be able and willing to ask what the most natural application of Mark Driscoll's own teaching to others about bitterness and the demonic would be toward his own confession about his own bitterness.

Or is there an executive elder exemption so that Mark Driscoll taught on bitterness as demonic in a way that doesn't automatically make him party to something demonic?  This isn't about "Well, Mark repented".  This is about, when Mark wasn't repenting, was his bitterness demonic or not based on his own teaching on the subject?   If it wasn't then this casts into doubt the entirety of his teaching on bitterness (which people are more than welcome to raise doubts about, really).  If it was, then, well, Mark Driscoll has left unexplained the implication that his own teaching about bitterness as demonic coupled with his 2012 confession of how he was bitter for years at his wife and at God would require that all those years he embraced bitterness in that area became some kind of root of bitterness that defiled many. 

This is not what Wenatchee The Hatchet thinks is necessarily what happened, and Wenatchee The Hatchet doesn't necessarily care what actually happened since husbands and wives have things just between them if they're not writing books that end up on the NYT listings with help from Result Source.  This is about thinking through what the implications of the complete narrative and the complete propositional teaching would make necessary.  If Mark Driscoll's going to be consistent in applying his teaching on bitterness from 2008 as demonic to himself the way he's applied it to others then his having invited Satan to define his relationships with at least some people in the history of Mars Hill Church has to be taken as a given.  This isn't about somehow misquoting him or taking him out of context, it's about taking the cumulative narrative and propositional teaching at face value and recognizing that this will entail some disturbing gaps between how Mark Driscoll has historically talked about the bitterness of others and about his own bitterness, a gap in which his bitterness rarely ever gets framed in terms of giving Satan a foothold.

But if he's reportedly turning over a new leaf there's time for a change.

On Driscoll stating the angry young man days are over

So an open letter from Mark Driscoll got posted to The City which then got posted on the internet and has been reported about.

What there was to report was not too much.  Driscoll expressed regret about using Result Source to buy a #1 spot for Real Marriage on the NYT bestseller list.  He also expressed some regret about leading from anger and stuff, which he says is going to change.  Well, there's a difficulty with the phrase itself of "angry young", because it's arguable from Mark Driscoll's most recent promotion for A Call to Resurgence that he's certainly past 40 by now and anger has been part of his appeal and approach for just about the entirety of his ministry.  If he wishes to put away anger as the prime mover in his whole approach then, great, he can be like Prince Zuko and learn an approach to fire-bending that's not based on anger.  :) 

But it remains to be seen just how recently (and it was pretty recently) he leaned on anger as part of a sales pitch for a book.

1:36 into the book trailer for A Call to Resurgence, replete with electric guitar riffs in the background:

"The average person doesn't do anything until they're really ticked off. You gotta just get to a certain point where you're frustrated, annoyed by it. It's gotten under your skin. You're sick of it. You can't do it anymore and something needs to change and then, all of a sudden, you move to action. That's the point of the book. 

Now at the end of the trailer there's that bit about the #1 NYT bestselling author Mark Driscoll. We're confident that will get excised or blacked out at some point.

But the main thing about the quote for the book that was published just late last year is that Driscoll regaled the viewer with the axiom that the average person doesn't do anything until they're really ticked off, that you have to basically get angry enough about something to catalyze a change.

If Driscoll's going to start putting the angry young man thing behind him he's got to realize that angry man is his shtick, his public persona he's been cultivating through essentially the entirety of his ministry.  It's not like we can entirely forget "How Dare You!?" back in 2009.

And, of course, significantly further back around 2001 or so, William Wallace II.

It's not that it's completely impossible for Driscoll to have a homiletic approach that isn't motivated by anger, it's that as recently as, well, the promotional campaign for A Call to Resurgence, he's been going for the angry guy telling it like it is approach.  Neither Mark Driscoll nor Mars Hill Church as a community may realize what words saying Driscoll's angry young prophet days are over will actually have to entail.  His entire approach to humor could be summed up as basically laughing at people rather than with them.  That's not an entirely unfair categorization if you've managed to hear ten years of his sermons. 

And Driscoll has issued apologies in the past, like in the sermon "The Rebel's Guide to Joy in Humiliity" (which you may or may not be able to easily find these days). 

But there's a step back to be taken here.  Mark Driscoll has shared, it seems, that Mars Hill Church now is not close to what he was envisioning in the earlier days.  Driscoll's own words testify otherwise and we have seen over the years that he's cast a vision for Mars Hill that Mars Hill Church is actually only just now starting to resemble in reality and practice.  It's not that people thought he was crazy, it's that they agreed that these things were ideals to bring into being, dreams to engineer into reality. 

And for a long time we assumed that Mark and Grace Driscoll were, pretty much the whole way through, happily married.  For the long-time, old-school and now often former attenders of Mars Hill Church the narrative in Real Marriage was a lot of ice water to the face. It forced some of us to drastically rethink the entire narrative and for reasons that no outsider can even begin to imagine.  But we can turn to an element of that in a subsequent post.

POSTSCRIPT 03.20.2014

It would appear that Mars Hill Church leadership got the idea that obliterating the sermons preached prior to 2008's Doctrine series should also include obliterating Trial: 8 studies from 1 & Peter while they were at it.  How this provides a role model for young men to follow is hard to explain.  Young men on the internet may often make foolish statements they may later come to regret where as old guys have media empires, it seems, that permit entire decades of potentially embarrassing media content to be removed by fiat?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Warren Throckmorton: Mark Driscoll addresses Mars Hill via The City and mentions something about the early days of MHC

Apparently on March 14, 2014 one Mark Driscoll posted a letter on The City to Mars Hill Church, which Warren Throckmorton has linked to via two different avenues.

Well, perhaps we can discuss this matter in reverse order of content on one particular point:

This communication is for the exclusive use on the Mars Hill Church version of The City, and contains proprietary, confidential or privileged information intended for a limited audience. Any disclosure, use, copying, dissemination, or distribution is strictly prohibited. Thank you.

So much for that if Throckmorton can link to it at two different points.

As we can see, including a prohibition seems to have made it impossible, by virtue of fiat itself, for content published under Mark Driscoll's name to The City to make it to the outside world.  Regular readers of Wenatchee The Hatchet may already know which of the roughly seventeen posts since the start of about 2013 feature content that might possibly have originated in contents published to The City.  If Mars Hill Church wanted something to stay under wraps a letter on a social media network like The City that's been hemorrhaging informational leaks for a bit more than a year wasn't the way to go.  Traditional snail mail might have been wiser.  But the Mars Hill history of thinking social and broadcast media are vital to getting messages out isn't likely to change overnight.

Let's get to something that came up early in the letter that was apparently by Mark Driscoll apparently posted to The City (Throckmorton's wording seems to suggest this):

For those of you who have been around for a while, it is amazing for us to see all that Jesus has done. People often ask if our church today resembles what I had originally planned. Not even close. The smallest location of a Mars Hill Church is bigger than what my total vision was for the whole church when we started.

Depends on what "when we started" means.

And I had big vision for more. I put together a forty-page vision statement. I said, “We’re going to start a school. We’re going to plant churches. We’re going to do a record label.” I had this whole vision, and I handed it out to, like, fifteen people, and they’re like, “Are you kidding me?”
So I had big dreams. But to be honest with you, man, if we could just get up to two hundred, I thought that would be amazing.

So about when was this?

Well, let's first get to the part where we remember when the official launch happened.
From "Seasons of Grace" by Mark Driscoll

In the fourth season, we launched the church in October 1996 at 6pm with an attendance around 200, which included many friends and supporters. The attendance leveled off shortly thereafter, somewhere around 100 adults, and we continued meeting until the Christmas season.

That period starts getting discussed in Chapter Two of Confessions of a Reformission Rev.  So let's compare notes to an earlier book Mark Driscoll has published, the aforementioned book, and see If there's any reference to such a grand plan.

Confessions of a Reformission Rev
Mark Driscoll
Copyright (c) 2006 by Mark Driscoll
ISBN-13: 978-0-310-27016-4
ISBN-10: 0-310-27016-2

CHAPTER ONE: Jesus, Our Offering was $137 and I Want to Use it to Buy Bullets
0-45 people

from pages 53-54
So in an effort to clarify our mission, I wrote down on paper the first of what would eventually be many strategic plans. I shot for the moon rather foolishly and decided that our church that was not big enough to fill a bus would plant multiple churches, run a concert venue, start a Bible institute, write books, host conferences, and change the city for Jesus. I started handing out these goals printed on boring white paper without any graphics, colors, or cool fonts, naively assuming that it would all happen eventually just because it was what Jesus wanted.

To get leaders in place for world domination, I also spent time trying to articulate the vision in my head to good men who would be qualified to rise up as fellow elders-pastors. So, as Jesus did, I spent time in prayer asking the Father which of his sons should be trained for leadership. The church started as an idea I shared with Lief Moi and Mike Gunn. Lief is a descendant of Genghis Khan and his dad was a murderer, and Mike is a former football player. They proved to be invaluable, except for the occasional moments when they would stand toe-to-toe in a leadership meeting, threatening to beat the Holy Spirit out of each other. Both men were older than I and had years of ministry experience, and they were good fathers, loving husbands, and tough. ...

Well, look at that.  To go by chapter references to chronology based on numerical growth this big vision-cast may not only have predated the official launch of Mars Hill Church it may even have preceeded the selection of Mike Gunn and Lief Moi as men Mark Driscoll wanted to help him co-found Mars Hill in any formal sense to begin with.

So the only sense in which "not even close" might seem to apply is that Mars Hill Church started a seminary program of some kind but the Resurgence Training Center Masters in Missional Leadership program no longer seems to exist.  For that matter what ever happened to Tim Smith's Re:Sound?  Or to Mars Hill Music, the label that was announced a couple of years ago and seems to exist in the form of a partnership with Tooth & Nail?  The multiple church plants and churches thing came about, though. 

It's worth repeating and emphasizing that by Mark Driscoll's own account he was envisioning that the church he was planning to plant with others was going to plant multiple churches, start a concert venue, start a Bible institute, write books, host conferences, and change the city for Jesus. It is also worth noting that by Mark Driscoll's own account in his 2006 book that he cast this vision before the official 1996 launch of the church.

It seems impossible for Driscoll to honestly have written "not even close" when he's testified in one of his own books and in the 2011 fundraising film God's Work, Our Witness that he had big plans and dreams for what the church plant that became Mars Hill Church was intended to establish. If anything it is only seventeen years along that the church is starting to resemble, kind of, what Driscoll was casting as the vision for Mars Hill influence and activity before it was even officially launched.

So ... we don't even get as far as paragraph two and a claim is made that is so swiftly and readily disproven by Mark Driscoll's own testimony in one of his books and a 2011 fundraising film it would be advisable that readers proceed with caution.  Let's keep in mind that at this stage in the history of Mars Hill Mark Driscoll has been claiming there were no kids at the start of Mars Hill Church and that's why there was no kids' ministry even though Mike Gunn and Lief Moi being good fathers was, by Mark Driscoll's own account, crucial reasons for selecting them as men to help co-found Mars Hill Church.

So that's one topic for consideration for the reported letter.