So when we consider the former Mars Hill we have to consider other things internal to the culture rather than some bromide about hostile press. What was internal to the culture that may have turned members who were formerly loyal away could be Mark Driscoll's flamboyantly punitive sense of defining who was "on mission". But, to be more pointed, Driscoll had between 2005 through 2008 taken steps in which he had explained from the pulpit how he had been willing to pray for the death of someone who was formerly a missionary and eventually made it clear he regarded dissent against or distrust of Mars Hill executive leadership to be demonic. By the last quarter of 2007 Driscoll was wrapping up a sermon series in Nehemiah that culminated in a sermon in which he seemed set on conflating his exposition of what Nehemiah did with what he believed he needed to do within Mars Hill.
It's from here forward we revisit material discussed at these preceding posts.
On September 30, 2007 Mark Driscoll preached his last sermon in a series going through the book of Nehemiah., "Fathers and Fighting." The sermon would turn out to be a fateful one in the history of Mark Driscoll's public preaching and teaching career not so much for what he had to say about the biblical text as for the commentary he made within the sermon about the leadership situation at what was then Mars Hill Church.
But in order to appreciate the handful of remarks in the sermon itself we need to go back to earlier in the month. To do this we have to go back to some correspondence and statements about events from that time. We'll start with a passage from a compilation of documents and summaries made by former pastor Bent Meyer. He described the overall context you need to know in order to read the lengthy document disclosed at Joyful Exiles as follows (bold is original emphasis in red is added):
In May of 2007, the previous elected Executive Teams nominated and voted in by the entire council of elders were told to resign. They did. When I was informed I was shocked. I had confidence in them, because I believed they represented the rest of the elders. They were accountable to all the elders. Resignation without consulting the rest of the elders was in my mind and betrayal of their representative charge and advise-n-consent.
I was prepared to pull the nuclear clause in the then bylaw rules, which permitted any elder to call an all elders meeting to address an action or decision executed by any other elders for review and possible overturn. met with Scott Thomas and AJ Hamilton. Scott admitted he was not party to what lead up to Mike’s discipline, while defend Marks authority and right in doing so. Scott was likely not familiar with the boundaries of the bylaws. AJ told me 4 people had Counceled Mike not to bring the matter up before the elders. This was new information and made me pause and relent from calling the elders together.
From the documents we can also read the following:
[Se]nt: Wednesday, September 05, 2007 4:13 PM
To: Pastor Jamie Munson
Cc: Pastor Bill Clem
Subject: Mars Hill Church - Bylaws - Final - 2-11-06.doc
I have made comments to the only copy of the Bylaws I have. If yours is substantially different, please send me the official one. You will notice I have included Bill in this communication, since I have been instructed that Bill would be my attitude check. I have chosen not to let Mike know my thoughts, though he is my supervisor, since I am responsibly for them and his situation warrants him being outside potential controversy.
I am very concerned about eroding any more authority from the Council of Elders. I will speak to this in more detail during the upcoming elders meeting.
I am also concerned that the more complicated the organized become, the more authoritarian in style and content communication becomes i.e. the Communications Directive. This creates silent contention. None of the elder entertain contention in my hearing. In fact, every effort is make to be objective.
You know through the Whistler feedback, that I am very concerned about the way (the process) Mike was disciplined. I have voiced my concern, been given assurance that I would not have to pull the trigger on Article VII, Section A, giving any elder the right to voice an objection and it be brought before the elders for a potential vote to override the decision, because it would be reconsidered. I have heard nothing. No official communication has been forthcoming, unless it's in one of the EE elder’s minute and I have missed it. The bylaws state there to be a 30 day window for exercising that right. It is not clear whether it is from the time of the decision or the communication of the decision. It is from the time of communication, the window is still open. If something needs to clarity it is this issue. The elders must receive disclosure of all matter related to the misconduct of elders of the church to govern. Scott, and AJ informed me (anecdotal) there was more to the issue than what appeared on the surface, yet we are not informed officially. A significant part of the matter took place in our presence. It's still not clear to me if this falls under the council of elder’s jurisdiction or the exec elders or lead elder, since we don't know the facts. This event and some others has eroded trust and put a heavy handed spin on the whole bylaw issue.
Later in that month, Meyer wrote about concerns he had about the bylaws that were being proposed. We'll look at an extensive excerpt from that correspondence:
Scenario Bylaw testing
What was removed, as best can be ascertained, was preserved at the following wordpress blog post.
Paragraphing, not provided in the original post, is supplemental.
Mark Driscoll TRAINING PASTORS at an Acts 29 session in Raleigh NC, September 20, 2007:
“…not contentious. You ever meet a guy, it doesn’t matter what the issue is, he’s always gonna play the other side. Those guys are the worst elders in the history of the world. And it doesn’t matter what you’re talk,
I had a guy like that; I recently put him in the wood chipper in my church. Seriously. I could say hey, we’re all going to get suckers. He’s be like, what flavor? Whatever flavor you want. Is it sugar free? If you would like. Well, I didn’t say I wanted a sucker. You, you know, you need to die. You know.[emphasis added] He just was the guy, he just, he had to nitpick at everything; he had to resist everything, he to look at the other side, if everyone was for something he felt obligated to be the e-brake pulling everything. And you’d ask him why, he’d be like, well, I just wanted to make sure we’ve looked at everything and everybody is considering all the angles. Its like, dude, you’re playing the devils advocate, which is not good. I don’t want anybody for the devil on my team. You know? But there’s some guys like that. It just, they’re contentious, it doesn’t, they’re always fighting, always arguing.
There’s, I’ve had guys in eldership, where, in the meeting, everything’s going fine, and they’ll say, I got something, I got something I need to say. And everybody’s head does this; everybody looks like they just got kicked in the sack. You know, I mean literally, they just the air comes out of their body, they just fold in half, because you know, here he goes again, here he freaking goes again. You know. That guy on an elder board, robs the board of any joy at all, and you already got enough criticism and people and work, when you get together with your elders, you don’t all men to be yes men, but at the same time, somebody who’s just contentious, and a neatnick and e-brake puller, I mean those guys, I mean all of a sudden you despise your elder’s meetings, and I’ll tell you what, when you despise your elders, at that point you have no safe place in the world from which to do ministry. Elders meetings stink, people are shooting me, everything’s hard, and I go to meet with the guys, and there’s always one guy there who just, he’s just like a fart in an elevator, and its just, you know, I’m just counting the minutes till I can get away from this guy. You can pray for me, you may say, it seems like he’s dealing with this right now, yes, I am. I’m thinking of certain people. If it weren’t for Jesus I would be violent.” [emphases added]
Why this was redacted from "The Man" back in 2012 was not clear but Wenatchee The Hatchet was able to confirm that this content was transcribed from the presentation. It is, in the larger scope of things, a relatively unimportant anecdote compared to what else is available but it helps to illuminate the earlier remarks shared by Bent Meyer we've reviewed.
There were also concerns and meetings amongst Mars Hill elders about whether Bent Meyer and Paul Petry were on board with the proposed bylaws in 2007. Since so much material is available at Joyful Exiles there's little need to rehearse much more of that material as background. We're ready to get to the sermon that was preached, mentioned at the beginning.
Driscoll described Nehemiah as an older man who had worked to restore spiritual and social activity in Jerusalem in a post-exilic context who had heard, after he left for a time and was away from Jerusalem, that things had deteriorated. Driscoll recounted how Nehemiah went back to Jerusalem to rebuke God's people and that had Nehemiah not done so the restorative work on the walls might not have been completed and the message of Jesus after the resurrection would not have been able to ring out from the epicenter of Jerusalem (about 7:00). At about 7:33 Driscoll said that had Nehemiah not fought for that city Jesus would not have had an opportunity to come to that city so that from that city the good news could spread forth so that you and I could become Christians.
Yes, he actually put it like that. Had Nehemiah not gone back to Jerusalem to fight in the way Driscoll described him as having fought, the contention Driscoll made was that none of us who call ourselves Christians might have been able to do so ... as though everything about the prophesied coming of Christ that Christians over the last two millenia understood to have been foreordained by God ever got written down. For a guy in 2007 who described himself as a Calvinist Driscoll sure seemed to use rhetoric that indicated that a lot about the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Christ ... somehow, depended on Nehemiah going back to Jerusalem to kick some tail.
At 8:00 Nehemiah, Driscoll said, was very angry about the state of the Israelite marriages and families. Everything would rise and fall on the basis of the family.
Driscoll talked for a while about marriage and spiritual authority and federal headship and a few things like that. When discussing the need to submit to spiritual authority he remarked:
Some of you will then push back, and say "But I've seen spiritual authority abused." and I would say, "So have I." And what we do is not abandon authority, we appeal to higher authority. If a man is being a bad husband and father he's NOT the highest authority. You can call the cops. You can bring him in for church discipline. We'll pull up some other authority. We'll pull up another authority, of Scripture, and we'll bring God into the equation.
So it was clear Driscoll was saying that if there were leaders in the church that were not acting in accordance with Scripture it was possible to discipline them. This would culminate in the following commentary Driscoll gave about one of the things Nehemiah wrote of doing:
You either enjoy confrontation or you enjoy sin. You get to pick one or the other. If people sin and there's not confrontation then you better enjoy sin because that's what's going to happen.
"Then I confronted them and I cursed them"
He's just cussing guys out.
"and beat some of them." I'll read that again, "and beat SOME of them."
I'm not saying it's okay to beat people up, but I understand.
for a more condensed version ...
Back in 2007 there were questions as to what this was supposed to mean. Who were these guys Driscoll wanted to "go Old Testament" on? Since the dissolution of Mars Hill a few things came to light and we'll be brief about them here since so much is available at this blog for further reading: In short, the intended second Ballard campus Mark Driscoll talked about in Confessions of a Reformission Rev was a boondoggle. The property could not be refitted to serve as a second church campus and was not zoned for such. The elders decided to pursue a multisite approach and Driscoll began to consult toward making a structure that would handle that. Real estate began to get purchased. As the elders explained things in later 2007, the elder board was not conducive to being "nimble" and a number of campus sites were being opened. The newer bylaws were supposed to make it easier to make key decisions. Meyer and Petry voiced objections to the changes that would consolidate a great deal of practical power to a small self-selected group of executive elders. As noted above, Meyer expressed concern that if Driscoll ever left Mars Hill for whatever reason the church would possibly not be able to withstand or survive that departure. So that's the short version.
After Driscoll preached his last sermon on September 30, 2015 there was a meeting of some kind. The meeting can be attested by preservation of an email Paul Petry received from then Lead Pastor Jamie Munson:
Sent: Sunday, September 30, 2007 5:41 PM
To: Pastor Paul Petry
Subject: meeting tonight
Mars Hill Church
1401 NW Leary Way, Seattle, WA 98107
As documented in 2012 by both Joyful Exiles and Chris Rosebrough at Fighting for the Faith/Pirate Christian Radio, on October 1, 2007 Mark Driscoll was discussing preaching and church planting at an Acts 29 leadership event.
Here’s what I’ve learned. You cast vision for your mission; and if people don’t sign up, you move on. You move on. There are people that are gonna to die in the wilderness and there are people that are gonna take the hill. That’s just how it is.
Too many guys waste too much time trying to move stiff-necked, stubborn, obstinate people. (pause) I am all about blessed subtraction. There is a pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus (laughs) and by God’s grace it’ll be a mountain by the time we’re done.
You either get on the bus or you get run over by the bus. Those are the options; but the bus ain’t gonna stop. [emphasis added] And I’m just a—I’m just a guy who is like, “Look, we love ya, but, this is what we’re doing.”
There’s a few kinda people. There’s people who get in the way of the bus. They gotta get run over. There are people who wanna take turns driving the bus. They gotta get thrown off (laughs). ‘Cuz they wanna go somewhere else. There are people who will be on the bus, leaders and helpers and servants, they’re awesome.
There’s also just, sometimes, nice people who sit on the bus and shut up. (pause) They’re not helping or hurting. Just let ‘em ride along. Y’know what I’m saying? But, don’t look at the nice people that are just gonna sit on the bus and shut their mouth and think, “I need you to lead the mission.”
They’re never going to. At the very most you’ll give ’em a job to do and they’ll serve somewhere and help out in a minimal way. If someone can sit in a place that hasn’t been on mission for a really long time they are by definition not a leader. And, so they’re never going to lead.
You need to gather a whole new court. I’ll tell you guys what, too. You don’t do this just for your church planting or replanting. I’m doin’ it right now. I’m doin’ it right now. We just took certain guys and rearranged the seats on the bus.
Yesterday we fired two elders for the first time in the history of Mars Hill last night. They’re off the bus, under the bus. They were off mission so now they’re unemployed. I mean (pause) you—this will be the defining issue as to whether or not you succeed or fail. I've read enough of the New Testament to know that occasionally Paul put someone in the woodchipper, y'know? [emphasis added]
Ironically two of the men Mark Driscoll and designated surrogates may have put through the proverbial woodchipper were men who were tasked with running the counseling ministries. By Driscoll's own account he approached Bent Meyer to take over the counseling load he had been doing:
Confessions of a Reformission Rev
Mark Driscoll, Zondervan 2006
copyright 2006 by Mark Driscoll
To make these transitions, I needed to hand much of my work load to my elders and deacons so that I could continue to concentrate on the future of expansion of our church. In some ways I longed for this day because it meant the weight of the church would be off my shoulders and shared with many leaders. In other ways I lamented not being able to invest in every young couple, experience the joy of officiating at so many weddings, or know everything that was going on in the church.
I asked our newest and oldest elder, Bent, to take over the counseling load that I had been carrying. [emphasis added] He was the first person to join our church who had gray hair, and he and Filipino wife, Joanne, were lock rock stars with groupies since all the young people wanted to hang out with these grandparents that loved Jesus. My problem was I loved our people so much that if I got deeply involved in the pain of too many people's lives, it emotionally killed me, and I needed to do less counseling.
Pastor Bent has launched a number of care and recovery groups for such things as sexual abuse, sexual addiction, and alcoholism. He is also training new elders to help shoulder this burden with him. Among them is Phil, who was the first father to show up in our church when we had less than forty people and who has risen up to become a pastor [most likely Phil Smidt, Jamie Munson's brother-law and currently a biblical counseling pastor at Mars Hill Ballard, WtH]
Paul Petry also had a role in pastoral counseling at Mars Hill in 2007, too. It's possible that the two older men in eldership who were run through the proverbial woodchipper had at some point been recruited by Driscoll himself to consider eldership. Whether that's the case or not would be for the men themselves to confirm or disconfirm however they wish to.
Altogether it now appears that Mark Driscoll was putting a number of guys through that proverbial woodchipper. That was 2007.
2008 began with a series or two of sermons, Ask Mark Anything followed up, if memory serves, by Doctrine. Behind the scenes there were teaching sessions, one of which was a multi-hour marathon in which Mark Driscoll discussed spiritual warfare. This was the session in which Mark Driscoll's "I see things" would eventually become fodder for discussion years later. In the context of early 2008, in the wake of the controversies surrounding governance and firings and trials, the significance of the spiritual warfare teaching may be understood, among other things, as a kind of intra elder manifesto on Mark Driscoll's part. In Part 1, for instance, Mark Driscoll made it clear that he regarded any thought that the executive elders, whether himself or Scott Thomas or Jamie Munson or the others, didn't really love the church was a demonic lie:
February 5, 2008
Pastor Mark Driscoll
Christus Victor (Part 3)
There was one woman I dealt with, she never told her husband that she had committed adultery on him early in the relationship. I said:
"You know (she was sitting there with her husband), you know I think the root of all this is Satan has a foothold in your life because you never told your husband about that really tall blond guy that you met at the bar. And then you went back to the hotel, and you laid on your back, and you undressed yourself, and he climbed on top of you, and you had sex with him, and snuggled up with him for a while, and deep down in your heart (even though you had just met him) you desired him because (secretly) he is the fantasy body type."
"You remember that place, it was that cheap hotel with that certain colored bedspread. You did it--you had sex with the light on because you weren't ashamed and you wanted him to see you and you wanted to see him."
She's just looking at me, like ...
I said, "You know, it was about ten years ago." I see everything.
She looks at her husband. He says, "Is that true?" She says, "Yeah. He was 6'2", blonde hair, blue eyes. Yeah."
Some of you, when you're counseling, you will see things. You will literally get the discernment to see things. I can't even explain it. It doesn't happen all the time.
Sometimes your counselee, they will see things. I found this with people, I'm, okay,-like, "I'm gonna ask the demon questions, you tell me what they say." They don't say anything. I say, "What do you hear?" and they say, "Nothing, but I'm seeing stuff." "What, oh, oh. What's that?"
"I'm seeing, you know, when I was little, my grandpa molested me. I didn't know that."
I said, "Well, let's not assume it's true. Go ask your grandpa." Grandpa says, "Yeah [slowly], when you were little I molested you." Grandpa was assuming they'd be too young to remember so he'd only molest grandkids up until a certain age. But they saw it. Supernatural. It's a whole other realm. It's like the Matrix. You can take the blue pill. You can take the red pill. You can go into this whole other world and that's the way it works.
So I say tell me everything you hear, tell me everything you see and sometimes I see things, too. I see things, too. I've seen women raped.
I've seen children molested. I've seen people abused. I've seen people beaten. I've seen horrible things done. Horrible things done.
I've seen children dedicated in occult groups, and demons come upon them as an infant by invitation and I wasn't present for any of it but I've seen it, visibly.
Upon occasion when I get up to preach I see, just like a [makes "whif" sound] screen in front of me, I'll see somebody get raped or abused and I'll track `em down and say, "Look, I had this vision, let me tell you about it." All true. One I had, I was sitting in my office at the old Earl building. This gal walks by, nice gal, member of the church. This was when the church was small. And there just like a TV was there and I saw the night before her husband threw her up against the wall, had her by the throat, was physically violent with her and she said, "That's it. I'm telling the pastor." And he said, "If you do, I'll kill you." He was a very physically abusive man. She was walking by and I just saw it. Just like a TV. [emphasis added] I said, "Hey! come here for a sec. ... Last night did your husband throw you against the wall and have you by the throat, physically assault you and tell you if you told anyone he would kill you?" She just starts bawling. She says, "How did you know?" I said, "Jesus told me." I call the guy on the phone, "Hey, I need you to come to the office." Didn't give him any clue. [He] comes in. I said, "What did you do to your wife last night? Why'd you this? Why'd you throw her against the wall?" And he gets very angry, they're sitting on the couch, he says, "Why did you tell him?" I said, "She didn't, Jesus did." Jesus did.
There are people who are hyper-spiritual total freaks. They make stuff up. They hear from demons. They pretend to have insight and discernment and there are some people who have real gift of discernment, and I'm not saying I'm 100% always right with it, but some of you are gonna have gift of discernment and you need to, you need to grow to learn in the use of that gift. Sometimes people will hear things. Sometimes people will see things.
What is striking about the above passage is that when Driscoll described all the stuff that he would see it was sexual abuse or physical abuse. The sins were sexy sins, so to speak. Whether Driscoll in his visionary moments saw stuff like wire fraud or embezzlement or ... plagiarism ... we'll never know. But what we do know is that in 2008 Mark Driscoll said that the belief that the executive elders didn't really love the people of Mars Hill was a demonic lie. Of course for the many who left Mars Hill in the 2007-2008 period the question was not really so much "do the executive elders of Mars Hill Church love the people of Mars Hill Church?" because even abusers think they love they people they abuse in many cases. The question was whether or not the level of power that had been consolidated to the executive elders during the controversial course of events in 2007 was proper was the question. It would eventually transpire that the executive eldership team was not, taken as a whole, necessarily being very honest or truthful about the nature of what happened in 2007.
At this point it will be useful to quote earlier writing.
Scott Thomas informed Petry "This is not a witch hunt." He also wrote, "For some reason, unknown clearly at this time, we are to undergo a painful pruning of the eldership to achieve more Christ-like fruit in our lives."
Munson informed Paul Petry that a task force headed by Scott Thomas would be conducting the investigation on 10/02/2007:
Munson formally announced the firings of Petry and Meyer. Munson stated that the firings were not based on any sexual or moral impropriety. No discussion of the firings was permitted on the members forums and speculation and gossip was discouraged.
On 10/10/2007 Scott Thomas explained that the trial date had been moved to 10/15/2007. Vote would be by a show of hands. Thomas declared that all four members of the EIT had adequately heard Petry's response to the charges and that Petry's presence at his trial would not be necessary.
Sometimes in life you have these strange moments of dumb luck. Somebody happens to know someone who never got rid of an email Scott Thomas sent to a member about the firings. That someone managed to get said email to some blogger of no particular significance. On 10/12/2007 Scott Thomas replied to a member enquiry. The member enquiry read as follows and was sent 10/10/2007:
I read Pastor Jamie's announcement last week with some sadness and confusion. I understand the need for courtesy and respect of privacy but as I attempt to understand the following:
1) firing two pastors and announcing this to the church body,
2) the by-laws say a pastor can be suspended on credible charges of moral or doctrinal wrong
3) 1 Timothy 5:19-20 says to not accept accusations against elders without two or three witnesses
4) and says that spiritual leaders rebuker sinners publicly so that the rest may also fear
5) Pastor Jamie has said the fired pastors have not been accused of any moral or doctrinal error at all
This seems to create more rather than less confusion and presents a precedent that confuses me. It seems that firing two pastors; barring them from service in ministry and voting on church issues; and publicly announcing this to the body seem necessary and good if the pastors are guilty of moral or doctrinal error, are not repentant, and an investigation has already been completed establishing their guilt. It seems baffling if they have not been accused of anything but their firing has simply been announced prior to an actual investigation.
It is particularly confounding for me in light of the precedent established by the pastoral announcement about Xxxxxxx Xxxxxxxx two years ago. She was found to be in unrepentant sin, was determined to have never been a Christian, and was allowed to leave the church with an admonition to the Mars Hill body to not ostracize but welcome her back if she chose to return. I trust that once the investigation and disciplinary process is complete we'll hear from the pastors but I wonder if Pastor Jamie's announcement is having the unintended effect of fueling rather than stifling speculation. I will keep praying that the Lord's will be done and that He will guide the church where He wishes and that the Enemy will not sow discord.
Scott Thomas' reply on 10/12/2007 was as follows:
I appreciate your love and concern for these men. My heart is heavy right now as well. A team of elders just concluded a conciliatory process with these two men. [emphasis added] Be patient, trust Jesus and rest in the fact that this is His church. I do not expect you to understand the gravity of the situation with limited information. This is a legal proceeding, is supervised by our lawyer and as a result, is not a familial discussion. It was what Paul and Bent specifically requested. However, we are bound by our own judiciary system to act justly. After due process, the elders will rule according to Bylaw procedure and the members will be informed. This takes the church through a sanctification process—elders and members. It is more painful but at the last bears the needed fruit. You have to endure as well. You have to trust Jesus and His under shepherds to complete the task assigned in the time allotted (Oct 15).
Let's recall that as of October 1, 2007 Mark Driscoll had said there were two guys who weren't on mission so they were unemployed and that sometimes you have to put people through the woodchipper. So despite Mark Driscoll's early 2008 insistence that it was a demonic lie to have doubts about the honesty or credibility of the executive leadership it seems like now, here a few years after the collapse and dissolution of Mars Hill Church, that maybe those concerns were more substantial than Driscoll and the other executive elders of 2007 may have wished to believe.
But we are not, in fact, entirely done with a survey of statements published or said by Mark Driscoll in 2008 in the wake of the firings. Back in 2006 Driscoll said he was nearly done with a book that would be called Death By Love. It ended up being published as co-authored with Gerry Breshears, whose contribution to the book was comparatively small, even somewhat an after thought in terms of volume. But it's worth quoting because while completed in 2006 it was published in 2008 and so it presents material from Mark Driscoll worth reading in connection to the February 2008 teaching marathon that included a denunciation of distrust of the executive eldership with Mars Hill and the "I see things" discussion. This is a story Driscoll shared of how he prayed that a man who was in unrepentant sin would be punished by God if the man wouldn't relent.
Death by Love: Letters from the Cross
Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears
Copyright (c) 2008 by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears
Published by Crossway
PDF ISBN 978-1-4335-0423-5
Mobipocket ISBN 978-1-4335-0424-3
ePub ISBN 978-1-4335-2121-8
... For example, I once met with a young man whose father, a pastor, suddenly left his ministry, wife, and teenage sons to have a homosexual affair with a man he had met on the Internet. He told his teenage sons that there is no God, Jesus did not rise from death, and that there is no such thing as punishment for sin. His sons experienced a profound crisis of faith, and since their dad kept saying that he was happy for the first time in his life, they wondered if God existed, and if he did, whether he cared. To make matters worse, the entire church he had been pastoring was experiencing the same sort of faith crisis. I prayed with one of the sons, asking God to either bring their father to repentance or pour out his wrath on the man as an example. Within days, the father died of an unexplainable, sudden explosion of his heart. [emphases added]
While we can't make a definitive connection of this timely death to the wrath of God, it is in keeping with what we see in instances like Genesis 38 where God kills the two sons of Judah because of their wickedness.
Driscoll, so far as can be ascertained, never seems to have ever named this now dead man. So who was it? Why even mention the story at all if it's not possible to make a definitive connection between Mark Driscoll's prayer and the anonymous man's death? Taken together with other statements Driscoll made in early 2008 it's possible to infer that Driscoll had indicated in a number of ways that he had been given spiritual super-powers, more or less, and that when he prayed that people he regarded as in rebellion against God would be objects of God's wrath it was possible they could just straight up die.
JUDAH AND TAMAR
Part 37 of Genesis
Pastor Mark Driscoll | Genesis 38 | June 26, 2005
“Judah got a wife for Er, his firstborn, and her name was Tamar.” We’re gonna deal with her. She is gonna be a very important story. “But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the LORD’s sight;” – so God smoked him – “Put him to death.” What does that mean in Hebrew? He killed him. Metaphor – he killed him literally – metaphysically challenged. The guy is dead, okay. Oh, that’s troubling. That’s the point. Stop whatever you’re doing. He’s gonna kill you. That’s the point. I know some of you have this wrong view of God as a big sky fairy, lavender tights, lemon yellow half shirt, herbal tea. I know you say, “We love that fairy, Jesus, that hippie Christ. We love that guy.”
Look, that’s the god up on Broadway today for the parade. This is the real God, all right. This is the real God. This God gets ticked, and he kills people. And some of you say, “Oh, but that’s the Old Testament – his junior high years. He was immature and emotional. And now we have the New Testament God, and he’s all grown up now.” God kills people in the New Testament too.
I’ll give you two places you can look when you go home, Acts 5, Ananias and Saphira. A married couple go into church. They withhold part of their tithe, and God kills them in the church, right? And it says, “Great fear sees the whole church.” Offering went through the roof. They made budget. It was amazing. People are like, “Put the keys in there, Martha, and the credit cards and whatever. Here, put these shoes in – whatever he wants. He seems to be in a mood today.”
The other is in 1 Corinthians 11 where it says people are taking communion without repenting of sin, so they die in the church. Can you imagine that? You’re coming up for communion, you and your girlfriend who woke up together this morning to come to Mars Hill. And the two of you are walking down the aisle, and you’re like stepping over all your drinking buddies, like, “Who am I?” “What happened?” “They didn’t repent.” Like, “Oh, well, let’s go back to our seat then.” You know, this is – he kills people. He does. He kills them. He gets sick of them. He gets sick of them and says, “You keep sinning. You won’t stop. I’ll stop you. You’re dead.”
Okay, this guy’s about 18 years of age. He’s done. He just got out of high school. He was getting ready to go to Cancun, you know, for his big graduation party. This guy was just gonna go to college; just joined his frat; 18 year old kid – done. He’s thinking, “Oh, you only live once. You’re young. Have fun. Have a good,” – dead.
Okay, now some of you, this bothers you because you’re evil and it scares you. I understand. It’s supposed to. The scary parts are to scare you. It’s crazy how that goes together. You’re supposed to look at it and go, “He kills evil people. I’m an evil person. Oh, no.” That’s the point – supposed to scare you into repentance, go straight. [10:42] Now God still does this. This will sound terrible in addition to many other things I will say. But I still believe that God kills people, and sometimes I pray for it.
I’ll give you an example – and I don’t. High mercy counseling – a gift. I know. If I wasn’t doing this, I’d definitely be in the counseling. So, I’m meeting with this high school kid a few years ago. His mom and dad were Christians. He and his brother were Christians. They went overseas for many years into a foreign culture to preach the Gospel and start and church and have people meet Jesus. And they were there for many years.
Well, the whole time, his dad was having this escalating online sexual relationship with another man here in the United States. And next thing you know it, dad doesn’t say anything to his boys or the mom or to the church or to the ministry – nothing. He just secretly empties the bank account, gets on an airplane, flies to the United States to go be with his gay lover. I think it was in New York City. And then sends a letter or an email or something back to the family saying, “Good luck.” And the boys get it. They’re like, “What happened to dad?” “What? Dad left the family. Dad’s in New York. Dad emptied the bank account. Oh, I thought we belonged to Jesus.”
Now they had a hard time leaving the country. They’re flat broke. They’re totally shocked. The family’s destroyed. All the new converts are wondering is Jesus really God? Does he really change lives? Everything’s thrown into mayhem. I’m meeting with the teenage kid, and he says, “What is all this?” He says, “You know, it’s got me doubting whether or not God pays attention anymore, God cares. We get all these people. They’re getting ready to deny their faith. We’re flat broke. My mom’s heartbroken. My dad’s got all the money, living life, doing what he wants.” He said, “Where’s God in all of this?” [12:21] I said, “Well, here, let’s do this. Let’s pray that he either repents or God kills him – your dad.”
So, we prayed together. I prayed mostly. And I said, “Okay, here’s the deal. Let’s pray that he either repents, and if he’s never gonna repent, then God will just kill him.” So, we prayed. He says, “Okay, now we’ll see what happens.” About a week later, dad dies of an instantaneous massive heart attack. No history of heart disease in his family. He’s in good health. No seeming cause or trigger. His heart literally exploded in his chest cavity. He died instantaneously. [emphasis added] Now all of a sudden all those people go, “Oh, yeah, God does deal with sin.” So the mission gets saved. The churches get saved. You know, everything gets preserved.
You know what? Some people will never change. Not everybody’s going to heaven. Not everybody lives happily ever after. Not everybody makes a turn for the better. Some people just keep going. And God knows their heart, and with certain people, he looks at them and says, “That’s it. You’re only getting worse. You’re never gonna get better. You’re dead. I’m killing you. It’s over.”
Some of you need to realize that it is a terrifying thing, the Bible says, to fall into the hands of the living God. When you’re dealing with a holy, righteous, just God, and you’re just absolutely defying him repeatedly and mocking him, there does come a point with many people where he’s just done because sin leads to death. And if you keep sinning, you’ll either die in your sin, or he’ll kill you for your sin. But one way or another, you’ll die.
It's with all of this in mind that we can finally turn to one of Driscoll's more notorious utterances. Driscoll said back in 2008 about how he was once a cessationist but he began to have all sorts of spiritual experiences and he described them as, among other things, being able to read people's proverbial mail:
SPIRITUAL WARFARE PART 1
February 05, 2008
11:08 or so
Had other people with night terrors. I had people seeing things. I had people that are clairvoyant. I had people that are hearing things. I start getting prophetic dreams, God's showing me the future. A gift of discernment kinda comes to the fore for me. Not all the time but I can see somebody and I just know their story. I remember walking up to people and, one woman, telling her: "You know, last night, did your husband grab you by the throat, throw you up against the wall, threaten you, and tell you that if you told me that he would kill you?" She's crying, she said, "How did YOU know?" I said, "I don't know. I see it. I see it, like a film." [emphasis added]
Go up to another a person and I say, "Hey, I believe that you were sexually abused when you were young. Did so-and-so do this to you, when you were this age? And did a comforting spirit come to you at that point, a demon masquerading as an angel of light?" And they say, "Yeah. How did you know?" I was like, "I saw it."
I started having dreams. I started seeing things. I start reading people's proverbial mail. [emphasis added] I did not know what to do with any of this because, in my theology, I'm a cessationist. That means I believe that the supernatural essentially ceased in the early Church so we don't have charismatic gifts today, and the demonic activity isn't real, especially for believers. So I needed to know what to do, so I remembered the pastor and I asked him, I said, "What do I do with all of this?" He said, "That's not for today. That was only in the early church." I said, "Why in the early church?" He said, "Well, you know, there was more demonic opposition and there was more spiritual gifts of the divine, supernatural in the early Church to get it started, to get it going." I said, "Well, I'm planting a church. I'm getting it started. I'm getting it going." It's just as pagan as anything in the New Testament." Seattle is so completely dark and completely unchurched, I said, "How could it not be that the same resistance they had in the planting of the early church that I'm experiencing in the planting of this church?" He said, "Naw, don't worry about it. It's not a big deal, it'll be fine."
Well things got worse. I didn't know what to do.
We've covered a lot of material here from roughly ten years ago. We've looked at how by Mark Driscoll's own account guys in leadership who were not on board with his vision needed to be put through the proverbial woodchipper. The termination and trials of Paul Petry and Bent Meyer, documented over at Joyful Exiles, are a testament as to what that "woodchipper" treatment could look like. In the wake of the trials Mark Driscoll spent some time instructing the leadership of Mars Hill on spiritual warfare and explained that distrust of the executive elders constituted a demonic mindset; that he had been given discernment and spiritual insight so as to be able to see terrible things that happened to or that were done by people; that he was able to read people's proverbial mail. Keeping all this in mind and the published story of praying that a guy might be an object of God's wrath being met, apparently, with the answer of the man's death, and it sets the stage for the controversies that would erupt from the 2012 through 2014 period.
Because when so much of what has been quoted here from the 2007 to 2008 period remained in the collective memory of people who attended and served at Mars Hill was remembered in light of the plagiarism controversy that erupted after Janet Mefferd interview Mark Driscoll in late 2013; when this was all remembered in light of the early 2014 news that Mars Hill had contracted Result Source to secure a place for Real Marriage in the New York Times bestseller list; and when the ways the executive leadership really handled the 2007 firings began to be known; all of this suggests that Mark Driscoll might have been dissembling a bit when he was interviewed by Sheila Walsh and Randy Robison earlier this 2017.
from page 3
Randy: Why are they so mad at you?
Mark: Well, it was from one of the police officers, I don't know if he was at Seattle S.P.D. but for high alert Sundays where there was protest or there was danger. And the kids knew on those days come in and out with police escort.
Randy: Why? Why were they so mad at you?
Mark: You know I'm a really lovely guy so I just don't know.
Jesus is a better servant
October 28, 2012
Now, I’ll say this: this is really convicting for me, personally. I’m in a position of influence and leadership, and I know that my heart inclines toward pride, so pray for me and pray for your senior leaders that we would clothe ourselves in humility. This is a haunting reality. I look at Haman and I realize, “Man, I could be like him in an instant,” and at times, I have been. And by God’s grace, I don’t want to be. Haman’s pride is tragic. [emphasis added]
Here’s what kills me about Haman: he wants to be like his king. Wrong king. We all want to be like our king, but he’s got the wrong king. See, his king is proud, not humble. His king uses people, doesn’t love people. His king loves the glory and doesn’t love to glorify God. Who’s your king? Who do you esteem the most? Who do you want to be like? Who do you look up to? If his name isn’t Jesus, wrong king. Wrong king. So, he is the case study for pride.
Chapter 6, verse 12. “But Haman hurried to his house.” He ran home, “Mourning with his head covered.” This is public mourning. “And Haman told his wife Zeresh and all his friends everything that had happened to him.”
Here’s what’s weird: he’s got a better marriage than King Xerxes. [emphasis added] Esther previously said that she hadn’t even seen her husband in thirty days, and they live in the same palace. It’s possible to be a really proud, ruthless, horrible man who’s got a decent marriage. [emphasis added] He goes and talks to his wife, the one thing that the king doesn’t do.
Do you see where, perhaps, even in his own heart, he’d say, “Well, I’m not a ruthless, horrible man. I’m a good family man. You know? I’m good to my wife. I’m good to my friends”? This is how proud people justify their inconsistency. He seems to have a decent marriage and he does have some friends, and he’s going to be a mass murderer. [emphasis added] So is the human heart.