Monday, August 08, 2016

revisiting the Erma Gauthier (aka Driscoll sibling) account reported by Throckmorton about how the Mars Hill Board had barred Driscoll from preaching (though he wanted to preach) prior to his resignation

This has been examined before, but it's worth examining again the day after Mark Driscoll re:launched his career as a pastor in the Phoenix area--
For their part, the Board of Advisors and Accountability said Driscoll had not disqualified himself but was at times arrogant and domineering. About his resignation, they concluded:
Finally, Mark Driscoll was not asked to resign; indeed, we were surprised to receive his resignation letter. 
There may be more to this story.
After the letters from Driscoll and the BoAA, Driscoll’s sister Melanie Thompson commented on her public Facebook page (under the name Erma Gauthier). Her narrative adds a new wrinkle. According to Thompson, “they” (I presume the BoAA) would not let Driscoll preach. Yesterday, she posted Driscoll’s resignation letter and followed it with comments about the BoAA (image of the thread).
Erma Gauthier They would not let him preach

Erma Gauthier Yeah. I think they really did a number on him. Not biblical or keeping with The Word or process.
Reading between the lines, it sounds like Driscoll’s sister is suggesting that the BoAA was not going to allow Driscoll to preach. She could have been referring to the Board of Elders report, but the simplest explanation is a decision by the BoAA. More about the BoE later. In any case, Thompson is not impressed with the work of those who decided what to do about Driscoll. To reinforce her opinion, she points out that the church has the Ballard campus for sale which to her implies that the leadership would keep Driscoll from preaching again.

The Erma Gauthier narrative so flatly contradicts the Mark Driscoll and the Mars Hill Board narrative at a few key points the stories seem to end up in a Driscoll vs Driscoll account.  Mark Driscoll repeatedly said the Board came up with a restoration plan that he agreed to right up t the point where he says he got an oracle.  The Gauthier account had it that the Board was barring Mark Driscoll from preaching though he wanted to, so either Mark Driscoll was fudging when he said on the road he was on board with that board ordered restoration plan or the Gauthier account is completely wrong.  The contradiction evaporates, however, if we propose the Gauthier interpretation is just fundamentally wrong.  The events recounted--that the BOAA proposed Driscoll take a break from preaching and enter a restoration process pending a return to the pulpit, fits easily with Mark Driscoll's different accounts, it would just be the Erma Guathier account that adds the incredible element that contradicts every version of Driscoll's resignation that Driscoll shared between 2014 up until recently.

Back in August 2014 when Driscoll said "we're not entirely sure who they are" it turns out they apparently knew exactly who they were dealing with, thanks to Sutton Turner's clarifying posts from 2015 and more recently.  But then, it's worth stressing that so far as can be determined, Sutton Turner was never documented saying that he wasn't sure who he was dealing with the way Mark Driscoll broached the topic of possible legal actions taken in connection to the church leadership of Mars Hill. 

One of Gauthier's possibly rhetorical questions documented by Throckmorton would be easy to answer, even if the BoAA was going to let Mark Driscoll come back, by the time Mark Driscoll resigned the fiscal situation at Mars Hill was getting precarious.  Too many people were already bailing out of the bus and because Mars Hill had too much real estate as operating expenses to survive the kind of bleeding out of members it was facing, the job of the BoAA was to liquidate assets in the event of a problem, not least being the resignation of the president of the company.  It would take an uncompromising Mark Driscoll loyalist of the purist sort to not get how easy the decision would be for the BoAA to start selling off real estate that could actually be sold.  As we observed over the last year and a half since the dissolution of Mars Hill began, not all the real estate even could be sold off, some of it was given back to the applicable lender.

None of this quite settles clearly the conundrum of why, if Mark Driscoll kept repeatedly saying in 2015 that he was totally on board with the restoration plan the MH BoAA had proposed, he bailed on this very restoration plan just a few days (based on his cumulative narratives) after he said he agreed to it.

Since in the 2013-2014 period Mark Driscoll shifted his account of Mars Hill from talking about how Mike and Lief were good dads (circa 2002-2006) to the Malachi declaration that they had no kids' ministry at Mars Hill at the start because there were no kids, it's become difficult to be able to take any Driscoll account at face value about some fairly basic facts about the history of Mars Hill and the Driscollian connection to it.  For a man who spent the better part of 20 years telling young guys to live for a legacy, the new church launch in Phoenix seems to find Mark Driscoll ever so slightly sheepish about the fuller accounting of his legacy in the Puget Sound area.

As I've written before, had Mark Driscoll withdrawn from ministry for five years and been a rank and filing member at some church where nobody knew where he was or, if possible, who he was, and if after being submitted to the kind of spiritual leadership he'd spent decades telling others to submit to in his own living example THEN if they gave a green light "maybe" he could consider a return to ministry.

The trouble is from start to finish that hasn't been how Driscoll handled things.  He got advice from one Robert Morris, by Morris' account, to step away for a while. After having preached against people taking at face value a "God told me" stunt, Driscoll pulled that stunt himself and the surmise from his supporters is that we're supposed to accept this.  When Jesus condemned the Pharisees and the experts in the law He said that we should do what they say we should do because they sit in Moses' seat but to not follow their example, because they lay burdens upon others they don't lift a finger to move themselves.  When Mark Driscoll had an opportunity to live out by his own example the kind of submission to leadership he admonished people from the pulpit to live by for decades, what did he do?  That's the problem, Driscoll has demonstrated by his life that he won't submit to the standards by which he expects others to live.  Until he gets beyond that the legitimacy of his whole approach to ministry will be tainted by the documentable history of how he chose to not live by the standards he enjoined others to live by in submitting to spiritual leadership.

Finding a bunch of new sugar daddies from another faction of American Christianity is not the same thing as submitting to the elders you said you were submitted to.  But in the end his jokes told us more than the official declarations from the Board, the punchline used to be that he needed to move on before he had to fire ... himself.  And by now it seems pretty hard to argue that the day when Mark Driscoll will ever fire himself is ever likely to come.

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