The Tony Jones Blog at Patheos
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KOMO TV 11 — Seattle’s news leader — ran a story on Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church last night:
Please note that this is Mars Hill in Seattle and not Grand Rapids-completely separate and unrelated. I wish to add this as a disclaimer due to confusion many friends have asked with recent attention on Driscoll and Mars Hill (Seattle).
We have seen that noted several times on this website, Rob. Several Mars Hills to be exact.
Because of the ease of duplicating digital information, the church should not have put it in a letter. But again, people can leave that church if they want, Mars Hill has a right to make up its own communal rules.
having a “right” to do things and actually doing them are two very very different things. I have a right to verbally berate my wife, but I never ever would
Driscoll has not chained any of his members to the pews. He has a right to do what he wants. It sounds like you emergies want to crucify him.
It seems to me we are all missing the point that is scripture 1 cor 13 and 1 John 4:8. I someone in the church sins (and for the record we all do tah every single day at least once) then it affects our relationship with God and each other and also effects the mission of the church. That being said hovever I must disagree with the process that Mars Hill (Seattle) used to correct that church member. They publically embarrased him and his fiancee and now they will probably not be back to that church or any other (which i hope is not the case but it often happens). The church is supposed to correct members if they are unrepentant but it must do so in love and give the member an opportunity for repentace and restoration.
He certainly d0es. But it seems that those of us who care about our faith would want to stand up against him in his nonsense. This is a good example of the harm he does, but I think at a basic level he’s a heretic. Think about his claims that Jesus was a cage fighter, a ripped construction worker. That’s such a massive distortion that it’s hard to see how anyone could call his “ministry” Christian. Just saying.
They shall know us by our love…
Wow, just wow. The comment that it is like an abusive relationship sounds accurate. Its sad that there is no real way to discipline the leaders of Mars Hill for their actions.
“Its sad that there is no real way to discipline the leaders of Mars Hill for their actions.”
Well, Driscoll is not accountable to any elders at the church because he had the bylaws changed to give himself a lifetime job and he has the power to hire and fire pastors at will, so for starters, people could stop feeding the monster and stop giving the organization money. The non-celebrity-pastor worshipping pastors of the Acts 29 Network could remove themselves from that denomination headed by Driscoll. The pastors of the Gospel Coalition could disassociate with him. Jon Piper could call him to public repentance. Wait. I must be dreaming.
It is sad.
Yes, it’s very sad. Fundamentalism is very scary, imo.
Matthew 18: 15-16
15 “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16 But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
These are the words of Jesus. And who’s to know what steps were taken before this letter what written.. or the specific circumstances.. or the attitude of the ones confronted.. but church discipline IS biblical, and when people are willing.. and open.. and honest.. it changes lives for the better. There’s a chance.. even if a small one.. that this is being spun the wrong way. They interviewed 2 people out of 19,000. I do not attend Mars Hill but I listen to Driscoll preach regularly, and I have never come up against something that made me wary of his teaching, he seems to be incredibly committed to what is ACTUALLY there in the word.. and I make sure to do my research.
Yes, Nikkol, those were the words of Jesus, now show me where Jesus shunned anybody, especially “sinners”.
the region of the Gerasenes.
Luke 8:37 Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left.
Jesus never went back.
I have always wondered what this passage was really aiming to accomplish. It concludes by teaching that we are to treat the unrepentant as a “sinner and tax collector.” And how does Jesus treat such people? Not by shunning, but with compassion and by undertaking a special effort to evangelize. I am not saying whether the Mars Hill targets did anything wrong, (I have my own salvation to work) but the Mars Hill community and it’s leadership clearly abused them – and in so doing revealed itself for the cult which it apparently is.
And how exactly did Jesus treat Gentiles & tax collectors? With controversially embracing love.
I’m not sure the being shunned by Mars Hill members would be a bad thing. If I stilled lived in Seattle I think I would _want_ to be on that list.
Like an abusive husband dumping one victim and looking for a new target.
Christ also had the power to forgive sins, and when sin was confronted by Him He consistently said “go and sin no more”. Not, “ahhhh its alrighhhtt, I told you how I feel.. now do what suits you best”.
I don’t believe that Christ would give his disciples a clear command that He Himself opposed. I believe that He meant what He said.
On top of this, if you understand the immense social/cultural division between Jews and Gentiles during this time, it is easy to see that they ARE being directed to severely limit their contact with the person who will not turn from their sin after 3 separate instances of constructive confrontation. This instruction is confirmed again in Corinthians, Paul writes:
1 Corinthians 5: 9-13
9 I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; 10 I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world.11 But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler-not even to eat with such a one.12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? 13 But those who are outside, God judges. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES.
Maybe if more churches practiced this there would be less people screaming that the church was full of unregenerate hypocrites that play nice on Sunday’s and look just like the rest of the world from Monday to Saturday.
This is not the same as excommunication.. there is (should always be) forgiveness, comfort, guidance, and sincere help waiting for the person who decides to come back to the church with repentant heart..
God’s love is not a pampering, coddling love. It is a perfecting love. He loves us too much to leave us the way we are, and the church is a manifestation of that love in the world. Once a person puts their faith in Christ God is consistently working within them to sanctify them.. to conform them gradually to the image of His Son. “Repentance” means changing your mind.. changing your direction.. agreeing with God. And it is an essential part of the Christian life, growth (fruit-bearing) is a proof of genuine faith.. and sometimes that process hurts. But its for our good.
I am not saying that we don’t ALL sin daily. We ARE sinners, admitting that is the first step in coming to Christ.. we will be in this state until this life is over. But, an unrepentant LIFESTYLE of sin lived in direct and rebellious contradiction to God’s word is not something that should be ignored/neglected. Turning a blind eye to these things is NOT love.
The word of God is sharper than a double edged sword.. its not something you cuddle up to, or shape to suit your picture of what it should be. It cuts to the heart, and our first reaction is generally, “how offensive!”. Its in opposition to our proud nature. Just make sure you know what it is you are taking issue with before you let KOMO whisk you away with their propaganda.
This is clearly an internal church matter. But given that the letter was given out electronically, and now has spread through the interwebs, it brings into question what “internal church matter” means in the context of a internet-based church. If a church bases its ministry on the internet, and all of its communication on the internet, it fundamentally changes the nature of what church is. There is no longer internal secrets — everything is potential public knowledge. It is like having an open-source church, where anyone is free to dig through the source code if they want to.
That is the new church of the digital age. It is interesting to see how open communication can build a church up and then come back to bite a church at the same time.
The article says the letter was posted on an internal church community website. I would take this to mean you would have to be a member to have a login to even see the content. It wasn’t just out there for anyone on the interwebs to see;).
Well, we don’t know the full story behind the origins of the letter. I’ve heard conflicting accounts, one person said it was sent to a small group, the other said hundreds had access to it.
Either way, in a more traditional church, this would be handled face-to-face or in a letter written on dead trees. Much more difficult for it to spread that way. Once your church moves to electronic communication, even if it is some kind of restricted intranet, the information will easily be spread by anyone with a mouseclick, and it can never be retrieved.
Open communication makes it easier to grow a church, but it also, by nature, makes the church more open to external scrutiny. An internet-based church changes the nature of what church is.
You would think that Mars Hill would be tech savvy enough to know that anything they put out on electronic media such as a pdf could easily be shared with anyone else, though.
I read the letter when this whole thing first came to light, and my impression is that it’s along the lines of using a bazooka to kill a fly. Which, upon further reflection, doesn’t seem to be too bad of an analogy for Driscoll’s whole ministry model.
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Why did you post this Tony?
Seems bellow you to spread this kind of slander (even if it is correct….).
Nikoli, I can try to find the article that went over what happened here in general… Or you could try and look it up before assuming this was no big deal, but from what I read it sounded more like control issues than seeking loving reconciliation. I am not sure if this is reporting on the same person, but the man I read about confessed and was repentant long before being forced the meet with church elders and compelled to be subject to church discipline or else be shunned. If they were following Jesus’ model than when someone says “I did this, I know it was wrong and I’m really sorry.” they would say something as simple as go and sin no more, perhaps asking how to help. It wouldn’t immediately go to church leaders. It wouldn’t require going through months of interviews with elders, and it would not require a church document demanding more meetings and disciplining the person. It was only at this point where the guy said that he wasn’t going through the process anymore. This is after repenting and experiencing shame and embarrassment for months.
Mars Hill Is a crazy cult and anyone who cant see that has fallen blind to a power monger posing as a pastor.
Sadley I agree
I am grateful for the Holy Spirit. It is God’s spirit that draws me to repentance. What a mysterious process this is to live in the tension between his holiness and our flesh! I am grateful for my faith community, that accepts our humanity, speaks truth into my healing and walks with me, not apart from me, on this journey of purpose and free will.
There is no condemnation for me. I have to remind myself of this daily. I belong to him. And thank goodness … I can’t imagine how many letters would have been written on my behalf through the years. If God handled me like that after the many times I have fallen devastatingly short, I don’t think I would ever want to go back to him. The GREAT thing about this, is we’re all talking about it! Many wounds the church has created. When it’s human beings that run them, that’s what happens. May God speak here. May our hearts be open to his voice.
Thanks Komo for running this story.
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Hebrew 12:4 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, 6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”
7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. 12 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13 “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.
This is nothing new. Abusive churches are everywhere. The people that go to them, support them, give their money to them, it’s their fault as much as it is the leaderships fault. If there were no members, there would be no church. As I have always believed “don’t support idiots and idiots don’t happen”, plain and simple.
For a great blog on this topic check out: http://www.citybusinesschurch.org/blog/ It is one of the best websites I have ever seen.
I hate to say it but this is common among New Calvinist churches: you either fall in line or you are forced out. I understand the point made above by AD and others that if you don’t like then don’t support it, but I do not completely agree for the simple reason that not everybody knows what they are getting into when they join a church like Mars Hill. Quite often people are drawn in by the fellowship — the heavy handed dogmatism is not always obvious. People will find out soon enough though. As sad as this story is I have no doubt that it will eventually lead to the demise of this church. The first sign of a church in trouble is when people are worshiping a ministry instead of worshiping the Lord; anyone who gives a pastor that much authority will sadly end up learning the hard way.
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