Saturday, July 19, 2014

end of fiscal year 2014--"we are excited to report that we beat budget for the year!"

Tucked away in something that may have been distributed to attenders and members of Mars Hill could be something short like this:

End of Fiscal Year 2014
Thank you for your faithfulness! Fiscal year 2014 ended on June 30th and we are excited to report that we beat budget for the year! Thank you to each person in our Mars Hill family across our 15 locations and our Global Family across the world. 

No surprise there.  Whatever the trying season has been for MH lately it has probably had more to do with the plagiarism scandal, the scandal about the use of Result Source, the anxiety and discontent that erupted in volatile employment changes when Sutton Turner joined the Mars Hill executive team in 2011, and perhaps the controversy and questions associated with how much Mars Hill executive leadership did or didn't know about the eviction in Orange County before it happened.  Driscoll claimed to not have any idea what the reason for the eviction of Orange County could have been and mentioned retaining legal counsel ... for those who saw the long-since-scrubbed video. 

Legal counsel has not always been in the best interest of Mars Hill from a PR standpoint, though, since it was a Stokes & Lawrence letter that was arguably responsible for the trademark/logo kerfuffle in late 2011 while Mars Hill was nailing down the final details of promoting Real Marriage with help from Result Source. 

What Mars Hill leadership may or may not fully appreciate is that the controversies in this recent trying season in at least one case literally has the signature of an executive elder all over it.  If Mars Hill wants to move forward perhaps they could follow the advice (but not necessarily the example of pastor Jamie Munson "own it and move on".  Or perhaps they could follow the "cut your losses" path.

... or is Jamie Munson actually no longer a pastor at Mars Hill these days compared to the start of June 2014?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Mark Driscoll's history of flip-flops on TD Jakes from 2007 to 2014--from word-faith heretic to on-our-team trinitarian to no mention of his name lately

Pastor Mark Driscoll
Jan 31, 2012

1. I appreciate godly friends who don’t want to defeat me publicly but rather help me privately. 

Two, I believed it was an important event and rather than talking about Christian leaders, the opportunity to talk with them is important as it models humble but forthright disagreement. In the acrimonious age of the Internet this kind of modeling is important. I know I too have been guilty of talking about people rather than to them, so I do not exclude myself from the need to learn and mature in this area. 


Some years ago when I was leading our megachurch with no formal theological training and having never been a formal member of any church let alone a pastor in any church, I was in a scrum with the emergent church and was completely full of myself. Dr. Gerry Breshears, former president of the Evangelical Theological Society, put an arm around me, built a degree program for me, loved me, served me, and helped me grow theologically. 

 How specifically tailored to Mark Driscoll was that program that Breshears built for Mark Driscoll? Because there's no illusion by now that the signal event at Elephant Room 2 was Mark Driscoll shaking hands with T. D. Jakes as though he were a traditional Trinitarian, is there?  There's also little doubt that Driscoll had made a point of saying that nobody should presume anything about Jakes until a person could get on a plane for Jesus.

Oh, but guess what?  This is a dead link now.

Well, conveniently enough Wenatchee The Hatchet discussed Driscoll's discussion of some of this stuff at the time.

From PastorMarkTV
...Admittedly, sometimes when speaking, a teacher presents a belief in a way that is inaccurate and unclear. So called “discernment” bloggers who are usually not connected to any noteworthy or respected evangelical Christian theologians, schools, denominations, ministries, churches, or pastors make their living taking what people said wrongly, transcribing it, and then falsely—or at least wrongly—accusing them of heresy when it is untrue.

The ear is more forgiving than the eye, and when we say something wrong, people tend to give the benefit of the doubt. But, when what is said is then written down, there is far more scrutiny as a statement is parsed like a Bible verse, which is unfair. ...

In closing, I want to thank Pastor MacDonald for putting together what could be an amazingly insightful event around the Trinity and many other issues that the Church needs to consider. I thank God that I have an opportunity to be involved and ask some questions. I want to encourage folks to wait until the event before making any final judgments about anyone or anything. And, I want to encourage all the men who are signed up to show up. We worship a Jesus who died for what he believed. The least we can do in his name is get on a plane for what we believe.

And it looks like this video content of Driscoll ripping on The Shack from his 2007 sermon series has been taken down, too. 
But there's this, for people who might want to see for themselves Mark Driscoll ripping on The Shack as though its primary goal was discussing the Trinity rather than abuse.  As noted at Wenatchee The Hatchet earlier, if Driscoll had been assessing The Shack as a literary work rather than a catechism he could have pointed out some of the problems in how the doctrine of the Trinity was depicted without treating the book as though it was "about" the Trinity.

In fact all references to The Shack by William Young have been obliterated from even the downloadable transcript.

For a sampling of how at least one member of The Gospel Coalition took all of Driscoll's statements and actions toward Jakes as a sign of a bad trend, here's something to read.

The second lesson Driscoll mentioned from his time at Elephant Room 2 is interesting.

2. I don’t want to just make a point—I want to make a difference by God’s grace. 

At an event hosted by Perry Noble, Andy Stanley gave one of the most helpful and practical leadership talks I’ve ever heard. He said as a leader we have to decide if we mainly want to make a point or to make a difference. 
If we want to make a point, we don’t need to pursue, know, or love someone. We can simply sit back, create a caricature of them, and shoot them. If we want to make a difference, we have to pursue them, get to know them, understand them, love them, and serve them. 
Making a point is easy. Making a point will get you a rabid online fan base who love it when there’s someone else’s blood in the water. Making a difference is hard. Making a difference will get you attacked by a rabid online fan base who love it when your blood is in the water.

7. Winning people is better than winning arguments. 

It appears that in January 2012 in an interview with Justin Brierley that Mark Driscoll was really living out by example the precept he was articulating in the wake of Elephant Room 2, at least as transcribed (it seems) over at cognitive discopants.
Brierley: Well, men. I mean, men come in different shapes and sizes. I mean, yah, both really. Men who are very masculine, men who are, I guess, on a spectrum, more effeminate. But I couldn’t say that there’s been a sort of dearth of men in the church since she’s arrived. I mean, Mark, I don’t want to get into a sort of argument.
Driscoll: No, no, you don’t want to sit in my seat, I understand. So does your wife do counseling with men? Sexual counseling? Does she talk about masturbation, pornography, the stuff that I do?
Brierley: Well no, she doesn’t.
Driscoll: Well, who does talk to the men about those things, especially the young men?
Brierley: Well there are other people that she can pass them on to. We have male elders in our church who, you know, would be able to tackle those kinds of questions. I mean, but would you speak with those kinds of issues to a female in your church?
Driscoll: Uh no. If they’re a married couple we might meet with them as a couple. But if it’s a woman, we would have women leaders meet with them.
Brierley: Sure, well it’s the same scenario in our church really.
Driscoll: Well except for who’s in charge.
Ah, yes, that's making a difference rather than a point, isn't it?  That's winning the person rather than the argument, right?

Then there's this little gem of weirdness.
6. Fear of man is deadly. 
Proverbs 29:25 says that fear of man is a trap or a snare, depending upon your translation. Fear of man causes us to live for the approval of our tribe and to fear criticism or ostracism from our tribe. Fear of man is a form of idolatry—living to please someone other than Jesus Christ. One day I will die and give an account and it won't be to a mirror or a blogger. 
We will all die and give an account, but it won’t be to a blogger or a mirror. Right now I’m working on my next book based on Ephesians, with the big idea of what it means to have our identity rooted “in Christ.” In God’s providence, this season of criticism has been met with a rich and rewarding extended time in God’s Word helping me to do what wise counsel and I believe is right in light of the gospel, regardless of the outcome. I’m more a prophet than a politician. 
Now aside the fact that the link in the quoted content above is dead, the idea that somehow a "prophet" is in any way a contrast to a politician in any sense, whether in biblical literature or even from the standpoint of any judicial/advisory role in the context of the history of biblical literature or even old pagan literature, is completely impossible to sustain.  If you want a fascinating and free monograph on Divination, Politics and Ancient Near Eastern Empires (HT biblioblogger Jim West) read on.  Chapter 5's proposal that Ezekiel's oracle about Gog and Magog subversively redeploys the literary genre of embodied chaos defeated by Marduk to subversively recast Gog as Marduk defeated by YHWH is intriguing, as is the proposal that ancient Hebrew biblical prophecy includes a strikingly high proportion of criticism of kingship and people that is atypical of prophetic oracles and divinatory literature.  If Mark Driscoll really wanted to lean hard on what makes biblical prophecy unique it would be to grant that harsh and even brutal intra-critical writings within the Judeo-Christian faith tradition are the rule rather than the exception and that the canonization process paradoxically made this tradition public and canonical rather than "private", which would all completely fly in the face of his first "lesson" from Elephant Room 2, wouldn't it?
To briefly deploy the kind of argumentation and rhetoric Driscoll might deploy for a statement like this if it had come from someone elsse, the only sorts of people who would set up a contrast been a prophet and a politician on the basis of biblical texts, history and associated archaeology would be a completely ignorant fool or someone who's willing to lie to you.  You can't even begin to discuss the books of Isaiah or Jeremiah without discussing ancient near eastern military campaigns and politics.  And since the Mars Hill taxonomy of prophets, priests and kings has practically referred to ideas and ideology about church governance it's not a huge surprise the link in which Driscoll opined he was "more prophet than a politician" isn't even up any more.  The fact remains that it was ever up to begin with.
Now some of you readers may be wondering why Wenatchee The Hatchet mentioned the date 2007.  That's a fair question.  The answer is that back in that session that is probably only known because it was the one where Mark Driscoll said "there's a pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus ... ."
That was just in the Q&A section of a nearly three-hour session.  Wenatchee The Hatchet has been given the full audio and in addition to the semi-notorious quips about the Mars Hill bus and the woodchipper it turns out Driscoll mentioned none other than T. D. Jakes. If Chris Rosebrough had access to the audio of the Mars Hill bus quip he may likely have this little bit of Driscollian commentary on T. D. Jakes and word faith from the same session.  If not, well, may he have it soon.

Driscoll addresses a question from Tim Smith in an invitation only session from October 1, 2007
on word-faith teachers.

Yeah, those flipping wingnuts, that are word-faith, those are the guys that are on TV. They say that we are essentially little gods and as God spoke reality into existence we, too, with the power of our words, can speak reality into existence. I, I actually pulled up a quote from a T. D. Jakes sermon (I'm putting clips together for Philippians just to, I figure, I might as well criticize everyone) but there's this quote from T. D. Jakes saying (misquoting Proverbs) that the power of life and death is in the tongue and that you can create life by your words. That's a, that's a, that's a false god is what I become. I become God and I can, see, you and I, we don't do, we don't create God's word and we don't invent God's word we simply echo God's word. That's what a good preacher does. He echoes God's word. He says what God says in scripture. And then those guys give themselves permission for creating extra-biblical revelation that's authoritative like scripture--God told me this, God told me that, I got this vision, I got this, you know? All of that is false prophet.  It's all heretekos.
How and why all the content from the 2008 Spiritual Warfare series didn't somehow qualify as extra-biblical revelation is probably not something anyone connected to Mars Hill really wants to field right now seeing as they purged all that content in the last few months, but the main point of this blog post is to show that from 2007 through 2012 and beyond Mark Driscoll has flip-flopped on Jakes on a few things.  Or maybe he hasn't, maybe he's always considered T. D. Jakes to be a word-faith heretic since 2007 and has never waivered in that but decided that Jakes was a Trinitarian rather than a modalist based on some questions asked at Elephant Room 2.  One wonders where you could even find any of that audio or video content this days.

And, after all, the Phillipians series has been pulled.  It's as though after the public dog and pony show of Elephant Room 2 Driscoll and company would just as soon nobody remembered any of that happened. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

on David and Joab in the book of Samuel, planning the death of Uriah the Hittite--a potential application to watchblogging

Thanks to biblioblogger Jim West, Wenatchee The Hatchet has spotted Jacob Wright's book David, King of Israel, and Caleb in Biblical Memory.  Something interesting about Wright's discussion of the Bathsheba affair is to point out how much the narrative sets up a condemnation of David before the "official" sin has even begun.  In the times when kings go off to war, as the text is generally rendered, tips us off as readers that what is about to happen is going to happen because David has dispatched his armies to go fight a battle while he kicks back at the palace at home.  We know about the official scandal but it can be easily forgotten that David and Joab have an exchange or two about how Uriah is to be sent off to his death. 

What Jacob Wright points out is that however literary all this account is it conveys something about the insider correspondence that was involved in David's plan to make sure Uriah died rather than be found out in his sin.  What analogy might we be able to come up with for this sort of thing?  It's like the Bible lets us read the confidential email correspondence between two Judean warlords who are planning on killing off one of their best and most loyal non-Judean proselyte soldiers, if you will.  An evangelical might note here that it's as though God the Holy Spirit inspired people to write down the private and top-secret correspondence of the leaders who arranged for the death of a righteous man. 

That "might" have some potential applications to what some would call watchblogging.  If the folks over at Mars Hill are as Calvinist as they have said in the past then it's "possible" that piles of correspondence dispatched by leaders via The City could have ended up being read by outsiders and this might not merely be because some people shared stuff that Mars Hill top brass hadn't realized they might have wanted to say was top secret, but because, if Mars Hill is really being managed by Calvinists who believe in divine sovereignty and so forth, God foreordained a ream or two of content from The City to be leaked to outsiders for some reason we cannot necessarily immediately discern. 

But there is, strictly speaking, no need to invoke divine providence for any of this stuff. Mars Hill was so utterly committed to distributing its brand and name through broadcast and social media since its foundation that it was only gong to be a matter of time before the media saturation Driscoll and Mars Hill had was going to include content they have since decided they wish no one to currently or presently see.  It's too late for all that.  The reason it is interesting to mention how the Bible includes narratives that feature top secret discussions disclosed to the reader is because Mars Hill generally and Mark Driscoll in particular, has so often of late found ways to transform the Bible into a de facto narrative about his own life and times.  Not that Wenatchee The Hatchet is particularly interested in that sort of self-aggrandizing eisegesis but if Wenatchee The Hatchet wished to, it would not be hugely difficult to suggest that the pile of content leaked from The City to Wenatchee The Hatchet in the last two years could have some divine providence behind it and that there would even be a "biblical" precedent for it in the sense that we've been made privy to the exchanges between David and Joab about how to ensure Uriah the Hittite's death thanks to the scriptures. 

No doubt Mars Hill will find even the possibility of such a thing rather unpleasant.  If Mark Driscoll has been permitted by his executive elder team to transform Acts 6 into the basis for sermons about mistakes are not necessarily sins and that there are alpha wolves then why couldn't Wenatchee The Hatchet consider that in light of the narrative about David arranging for the death of Uriah the Hittite that God could not providentially once again permit insider correspondence and statements to get leaked to the outside world to show that maybe some leaders among some people of faith need to publicly deal with some things they have tried to keep "private" on a social media system that has no less than 22,000 people participating on it. 

By the way, Wright's book is fascinating and will likely become the basis for some more blogging down the road.

Becky Garrison publishes a couple of blog posts addressing Mars Hill

Throckmorton continues to look at Mars Hill Global, was it a fund or a donor type and how does one find out?

A bit of the survey so far. 

The reason it may matter whether Mars Hill Global was a fund or a donor category or both or any combination of the above depends on clearly defining whether donations were 1) solicited or unsolicited donations and 2) whether the fund designated gifts were placed in was a restricted or unrestricted fund.  Solicited gifts come under more stringent accounting requirements than unsolicited ones.  If Mars Hill were to attempt to propose that there was a misunderstanding or that solicitation was in some sense "passive" by saying that all that footage of Ehtiopian kids didn't necessarily imply that money wasn't going to get used for local and United States expansion projects that might well not fly.  For a little overview of solicited vs unsolicited gifts involving restricted designations and unrestricted designations for 501(c)3s ...

This was something WtH had some experience with so it will be .... interesting to see how soon MH decides it is better to present an itemized break-down of all the general ledger codes and revenue/cost amounts associated with all versions and conceptions of Mars Hill Global for public examination than to give vague and not quite apologetic answers about money that by now has probably already been spent.  At this point that would be the fastest, though perhaps not the most pleasant, way to clear the air about any and all misunderstandings.  Just tell everybody exactly where all the money went and things should be fine, right?