Just when the blog had finally settled into having virtually no readers except folks interested in other topics, there's been an eruption of online activity and coverage related to Mark Driscoll and The Trinity Church.
The above site is new and features a lot of material from the former volunteer director of security for The Trinity Church, Chad Freese.
There's a lot of material and it's material that, for longtime readers at least, can be cross-referenced to the mountain range of stuff discussed here at Wenatchee The Hatchet about the former Mars Hill church.
There are some passages that jump out ...
Statements to the effect that Mark Driscoll does not get along with and may not care to get along with in-laws stick out? Why? Well, because back when Grace's dad Gib Martin died I published the news and offered condolences to the Martin and Drsicoll families.
If all you ever heard about "bloggers" who have said stuff about Mark Driscoll that Mark Driscoll thinks you shouldn't pay attention to is they just write bad stuff, let the record show I offered sympathy to the families of the late Gib Martin. But, it also seemed necessary, later, to highlight accounts even within Real Marriage that suggested that Mark Driscoll was at times unhappy with his father-in-law.
If we take as given that Grace Driscoll (and not a ghostwriter) wrote the following, then reports that the family of Mark Driscoll have a distanced and distancing approach to all in-laws is to be expected:
Real Marriage: the truth about sex, friendship and life together
Mark and Grace Driscoll
copyright (c) 2012 by On Mission, LLC
Making issues even worse, I (Grace) realized I hadn’t really followed the Genesis command to leave my family and cleave to Mark as my new family. I still called my mom daily and complained when Mark and I were fighting; we spent all our holidays, birthdays, and vacations with my side of the family, rather than starting some of our own family traditions. My parents had keys to the house and would stop by at any time unannounced, so we lacked privacy and I didn’t see it as a problem. I called them “my family” which made Mark feel as if he and I weren’t family. I had to learn to pray and work through our conflict differently, plan some of our own traditions and memories, set healthy boundaries of privacy, and refer to Mark as “my family” and others as our “extended family.”
Let that sink in a bit. Grace was instructed (had to learn) to refer to her husband (and just her husband) as "my family" and to refer to other relatives, whether parents or siblings as "extended family". This, to be blunt, does not suggest that Mark Driscoll even seemed to think particularly highly of the Martins if Grace (or someone writing on her behalf) wrote the above.
And yet, for all that, Driscoll claimed he had to put a fire wall and a moat with guard dogs around his wife to keep her away from a bunch of women who wanted to befriend her. This is still the Mark Driscoll who once compared having women's ministry (at all) to "juggling knives" If you listened to what Mark Driscoll said in 2008 about other people, especially women, you'd think that gossip and slander were purely womanly vices and not a weapon of casual use in Mark Driscoll's own arsenal, as more and more seem to be testifying (see the above site). I was once on the Mars Hill Church Theology Response Team, volunteering to field questions on theology and the Bible on behalf of the Mars Hill pastors. I eventually stopped doing that as a matter of conscience, because I don't feel I have any pastoral calling or gifts and was bothered by the number of people who were asking Mark anything when they could have been asking other pastors with demonstrable training in the biblical languages.
Freese also mentions:
At Mars Hill, your elders were mostly local. I remember sitting in your office with you discussing some security issues and how the church is structured. You said something along the lines of
But did Driscoll go down? Not really. Sure, the Board of Elders found him disqualified from ministry but the Board of Overseers didn't and it was in the midst of that gridlock Mark Driscoll became the Richard Nixon of megachurch pastors and resigned."I learned a lot of lessons from my last church. I set this one up differently on purpose. We have a solid defense strategy. Don't forget; I am the one in charge. If things go south this time, I won't go down the way I did last time".What exactly did you mean by this?
Two men who are on the board of The Trinity Church are Jimmy Evans, who was documented offering a prophecy about Driscoll. The promise was that Mark had led as an older brother figure and would lead even more people as a father figure. Why such a man would be in a position to hold Driscoll accountable can't really get a simple explanation. Robert Morris, for his part, claimed to have advised Mark Driscoll "step away" from ministry to "heal up". If these were two men who were part of the "wise counsel" Driscoll mentioned getting advice from when he decided to resign, their "wise counsel" seemed to be to re:sign and re:boot.
Because one of the axioms of the new church is "if you engage, you will enrage" the likelihood that Team Driscoll will respond publicly seems remote. Responding publicly was not even the way things got handled at Mars Hill. When I got a certified letter from former Mars Hill Ballard campus pastor Thomas Hurst asking to talk with me about what I was blogging about Mars Hill in the wake of Mark Driscoll's fateful interview with Janet Mefferd that kicked off Driscoll's plagiarism controversy, the letter showed that Mars Hill leadership was trying to privately contact at least one blogger despite everything Mark was saying about how bloggers in their mama's basements don't have anything significant to say.
Not even when a blogger discloses the size of Mark Driscoll's financial compensation circa 2013? Or the writings of William Wallace II, including "Pussified Nation" and "Using Your Penis"?
It's one thing for Driscoll's associates and supporters here and now to say that "crazy" follows Driscoll and another thing to consider that his provocative approach and provocations could play a significant role in "crazy" seeking out confrontations with him. It happened at Mars Hill Church during the William Wallace II days. Did Mark Driscoll really thinking that posting what he posted as William Wallace II wasn't going to even potentially provoke the emotionally unstable? If you don't want people waking you up at 3 a.m looking for a fight then don't post stuff like "Pussified Nation" to begin with. Don't complain about the crazy of other people if you're doing your level best to drive people crazy trying to be Douglas Wilson 2.0 on steroids.
Mark Driscoll has mastered the art of the sob story. Despite Driscoll's emphasis on "real men" and masculinity there's a long-form case to be made that the evolution of markulinity is not masculinity. Driscoll talks more "air war" than "ground war", which reveals how historically incompetent he is to employ martial metaphors of any kind. I never enlisted but I have enough friends and family who have served in the armed forces to know that air wars never win wars, period. If I wanted an example of a "clean" and "masculine" evangelical Christianity I'd go more with Chaplain M. S. Evers than Mark Driscoll. I have written in the past about "Mark Driscoll and the Gospel of (Escaping) White Trash" and though that will seem long and abstract there's a point in mentioning it. Driscoll has a church in Scottsdale, Arizona. Scottsdale, Arizona is, in socioeconomic terms, at a far remove geographically and economically from the SeaTac region Driscoll has said he grew up in, by a Deja Vu. That Driscoll growing up near a strip club may have influenced a lot of his ideas about men and women and sex was the topic of another series here. Driscoll, by his own account, wanted to get as far away as possible from the urban white trash existence he saw around him in his childhood and youth.
Though he leveraged white trash for humor in his Mars Hill years his endgame was to cultivate higher brow and whiter collar donors, and this, I proposed, ultimately was not something he could reconcile with his Mars Hill era homiletic methods. That Mark Driscoll planted a church in Scottsdale, Arizona rather than, oh, Kent, Washington, seems to add some weight to my earlier hypothesis about his ambitions to cultivate white collar rather than blue collar donor bases. That may be relevant to understanding the following statement by Freese:
The relevant term from the non-profit sector would be "donor cultivation" or even "major gift cultivation". I have enough years in non-profit development work to know what these terms mean and this allegation tells us something significant about Mark Driscoll's approach. In other words, if people at The Trinity Church came to worry that Driscoll and company were not especially attentive to people who were not considered high-stakes high-roller donors that pattern likely began to emerge in Team Driscoll during the Mars Hill years. Would Team Driscoll be willing to admit in any context what the lower limit is for bothering to focus on people might be? $500+ single gifts a month? Pledges of annual tithes no less than $5,000 per year? Now in my experience a responsible non-profit does something to treat any and all donors, even if they give just $4 a year, as people committed to the mission of the non-profit, but Chad Freese's statement above suggests that one of the key take-aways of "Mark Driscoll and the Gospel of (Escaping) White Trash" remains the problem of Mark Driscoll's folksy gimmick getting betrayed by an increasingly mercenary interest in cultivating white collar donors. To put it more bluntly, it has seemed like Driscoll is a respecter of persons who favors wealthy supporters and seems obsessed with status and Mammon. On those issues Driscoll seems to have gotten much worse rather than better.
When I started blogging about the former Mars Hill my aim was to encourage reform and to reveal things that pointed to the need for reform. I'm still basically a conservative Presbyterian type and didn't feel any obligation to switch to progressive evangelicalism, the neo-Anabaptist scene or some non-Calvinist evangelical tradition. As I said on my way out of Mars Hill, I love the people of Mars Hill but I felt convicted that I was opposed to the principality of Mars Hill. To put it in less spiritual jargon, I still love the people I got to know there but I regard the brand as bad. I even went so far as to pray that if the Mars Hill leadership was never going to repent of their abuses and graft that God would crush Mars Hill and scatter its people across the land.
Mark once boasted from the pulpit he prayed God would kill a guy and that the guy died. It's not something to boast about but I admit that I most certainly prayed that if Mars Hill leaders weren't ever going to repent of their corruption that God would crush and humiliate Mars Hill and that it at least appears that that prayer was answered when Mark Driscoll resigned in disgrace while claiming God said he was released. Any time I think of a scriptural precedent for God assigning a man a job and then releasing him from said job I always think of King Saul. Saul didn't get any satanic tormenter from the Lord until after he was released from kingship. There might be a lesson in there for the Driscolls if they consider the possibility that demonic attacks they've reported might not be due to an "intense season of ministry".
As I discussed before, if we want a "biblical" demonology that is informed by the Hebrew Bible then pretty much across the board demons are sent by Yahweh to destroy and punish wicked and self-aggrandizing rulers. If you want a more academic treatment of that Loren Stuckenbruck and Archie T Wright have some fantastic books on how skeletal Old Testament diabology really was in contrast to the proliferation of ideas about diabology that emerged in the Enochic literature. But now's not the time to go through a sprawling reading list on those topics when those references are listed elsewhere. Suffice it to say I hope to get to Win Your War and to point out that it's a retread of materials others have done better over the last sixty years and that its sales pitch is, as so many of those kinds of books are, appeals to pure non-verifiable personal experiences. What remains fairly clear is that for Mark Driscoll "demonic" is whatever he doesn't like, whether it's how people talk or act or whether it's some movie he didn't enjoy (in contrast to making characters in stuff he does like Christ types).
But Driscoll has, to date, not seriously engaged any questions about why, if he took his own teachings on demonization seriously, he himself hasn't been demonized at some point in his ministry. Has anyone asked him why he listed a book by John Eckhardt in Win Your War that has chapters on self-deliverance? Doesn't deliverance conventionally mean something like low church Protestant exorcism? James M Collins thought so. Did Mark Driscoll feel a need for self-deliverance? If so, from what? Wouldn't "deliverance" mean being set free from demonic influence and, if so, what demonic influences would Driscoll have thought he needed freedom from to bother reading a book with chapters on self-deliverance for if, indeed, he read the material himself and no research assistants were mediating the material?
Mark used to claim that if you wouldn't be humble God would humiliate you. It seems he has not learned for himself what he tells others to live by. I hesitate to say maybe he can't but after twenty years his heart may be very hardened indeed. This is a man, after all, who openly and publicly said he could easily be like Haman from the Book of Esther, planning the massacre of countless people while convinced he's an okay guy because, hey, he loves his family.
Driscoll sometimes has had moments where it seem as though he testifies against his own fitness for ministry for the record from the pulpit. Consider this:
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.
Maybe not every human heart, perhaps more specifically hearts like Mark Driscoll’s. This may be a show for the public record that it’s possible for a preacher to officially Godwin himself!
Where is Mars Hill Church now? We can remember what happened. We can revisit it. What Driscoll should really consider is that he already is like Haman. When a man over the course of twenty years in ministry compares himself to Haman (see above) or Elimelech from the book of Ruth the burden of proof may not be on those who conclude that such a preacher isn't fit to be a shepherd of Christians, rather, the burden of proof is now on everyone who defends him as to why a man who has publicly likened himself to Haman and Elimelech in terms of his vices is still somehow fit to be in ministry.