Mark Driscoll, Al Mohler, and CJ Mahaney Are Smart and You Are So Dumb!

“One hundred religious persons knit into a unity by careful organizations do not constitute a church any more than eleven dead men make a football team. The first requisite is life, always.” AW Tozier

                                         Al Mohler-Public Domain by Timmy Brister

Today, we are going to attempt to tie the problem with membership covenants to authoritarian or inflated views of the role of pastors. We also believe that such a view of leadership is connected with the current controversy at Mars Hill. Once again, we stress that written and signed membership covenants were not developed to encourage the faith of the member but to protect a given church entity from lawsuits. They have been devised and drawn up by attorneys.

We have had several TWW commenters fussing at us about unfair lawsuits against churches and church leaders. Well, we have news for everyone. There are often highly suspect and abusive tactics used against members, and even, in some cases, non-members who attend a church.

Why is this? TWW believes that certain theological models have been developed that stress a highly centralized, autocratic leadership system that actively seeks to mold members into the image of some pastors' theology "du jour." We believe that one of these groups is the Calvinistas, a term coined by this blog. Please visit this link to a page of TWW's definitions. We hasten to add that we have no difficulty with those who adhere to Reformed theology. We merely despise the “militaristic, our way or you will most likely go to hell because you really can't be a Christian and not see it our way” demeanor. This sort of belief system is not limited to today’s Calvnistas but is seen in many groups that those on the Internet Monk have aptly termed the “fundagelicals.”

For example, Ken Ham regularly posits that those who do not believe in a Young Earth are potentially denying the “doctrine of the atonement.” This is theologicalese for “you ain’t saved, baby.” Others use this lingo for those who don’t baptize in their approved way, don’t pray in tongues, do drink alcohol, or, as we have seen in the strange case of the Driscollites, are not fond of discussing oral sex in church on a regular basis.

Since my conversion, I have always been around those who believe in “A” issues and “B” issues. “A” issues are the things of the creeds (Virgin birth, Resurrection, etc). “B” issues might include the age of the earth, charismatic gifts, etc. With the advent of the new “sex” pastors, we believe their needs to be a third category called “E” issues meaning “Enough is enough, Lord have mercy."

We have seen a creeping autocracy in today’s churches which has been pushed by well-known and highly admired pastors. There is practically a whole school of apologetics that has sprung up to help the acolytes of such pastors defend their very utterances. And, unfortunately, these image pastors seem to believe their own press. Recently, we have discussed the ridiculous bash here thrown to honor Head Apostle Mahaney (his self-dubbed moniker when that event was held).

When church membership covenants force you to submit to these sorts of leaders, you may be in for a devastating experience. It is one of our goals to help our readers determine if they are in the presence of such leaders. These guys are drunk on their authority, seldom understanding that they are merely admirals in rowboats and should behave accordingly.

Trust me, we are not talking about heinous sins such as the one Paul spoke of when he chose to address discpline. (A man who flaunted sleeping with his mother in law). Nope, nosiree. This crowd gets to decide what is subject to serious discipline and, for many, it is simply asking a question. Mark Driscoll calls it the “sin of having a questioning spirit.” And let me tell you, he will enforce his viewpoint because, after all, he is a pastor and he has the “authority” to do so. Yep, you, too, could be shunned for asking a question.

This sort of punishment is not simply getting irritated at you and not inviting you to the next men's leadership brunch.This is big time, video making,”punch you in the nose” punishment.

Today we have an excellent example from one of the biggest leaders in the Reformed Baptist movement, Al Mohler. Dr. Mohler was invited to speak at the FBC Jacksonville Preacher’s Conference 2 /2011/.

The following is from Tom Rich’s excellent blog FBC Jax Watchdog here.

We thank Tom for letting us reprint some of his post. It is vital for our readers to understand that Dr Mohler was speaking to a roomful of eager pastors. I think it is fascinating to hear what topic this Reformed leader addressed when given the opportunity. As you read this, imagine how these thoughts might influence discipline in a church.

“But Mohler is preaching primarily to preachers at the conference, and when you hear preachers preaching to other preachers, you might expect to learn some things about how they view themselves and their profession and their role in Christianity – especially when it is one of their premier scholars doing the preaching.

In his summary at the end, Mohler offers three important "understandings" for the pastors on this matter of endurance of the Christian mind.

The first one on the list, and presumably the most important one is that the main way that God keeps Christian people from slipping into sin and ignorance is the preachers' sermons. He says:

"The main means by which God saves his people from ignorance is the preaching and teaching of the word of God. That's why a conference like this is so important. It's not just because we think of the pastorate as a profession set along side other professions so that we can gather together for a little professional encouragement to go out a be a little better at what we do.

No, we're here because we believe that those who teach and preach the word of God are God-appointed agents to save God's people from ignorance. "

This sort of thinking by one of the premier Christian thinkers in modern evangelicalism helps lay people like us understand why pastors view themselves as specially-anointed Christians, with extra insights into scripture because they have been assigned by God to holding an "office" that gives them special rule and authority over other Christians.

The premise: we lay folk are woefully ignorant and we tend to move toward ignorance, but the pastors, the "pastorate" – they are wise and anointed. We are stupid sheep, they are learned scholars whose feet we must sit at to fully understand the Bible and what it means to be a Christian.

I thought that the one time "pastor" was used in the New Testament in Ephesians 4:11 (where it is used in plural form, to indicate that it is not an office but a gift that multiple people in a church exercise) it meant "shepherd" – now I know it means "saver of the plebe from their own ignorance". Notice Mohler describes it as a "profession" – it never was intended as that in the Bible, as even Paul was not a professional pastor. Mohler even uses the word "pastorate" making "pastor" an office, and it just ain't so. It ain't even in da Greek.

But Mohler continues…

"So don't stand in the pulpit if you're not going to preach and teach the word of God. Life and death, heaven and hell, hang in the balance. "

Yes, to be in the pulpit and teach sound doctrine is important. But one of the problems in modern Christianity is that we tend to put TOO MUCH weight on the words of a guy in a robe or a suit (or a Hawaiian shirt) with a bible in his hand. No, heaven and hell don't hang in the balance when you're in the pulpit, pastor. Get over yourself and your sermons. The message should be to pastors: stop telling fantastic flowery stories of yourself and your life in the pulpit. Stop the exaggerations (Caner). Stop misusing scripture and stop brow-beating people into doing what you want from the pulpit – like giving money to build your building or support your ministry. Just teach the Bible, and be honest in the pulpit and don't lie and don't use your pulpit for your own selfish interests or to promote your family or your Holy Land trips or to go after your critics.

But Mohler ratchets it up…

"If you do not preach and teach the word of God, if you do not faithfully teach the word of God such that your people hear it and understand it and grow upon it they are consigned to unfaithfulness and many will be consigned to hell.

"We ought to be yearning to get from sermon to sermon preaching with such vigor and such energy and such faithfullness and such convinction that the people who hear our preaching also can't wait to get back sermon from sermon to sermon. God's people are those who recognize THEY CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT THIS! "

Ironically, God's people are those who are in increasing numbers realizing they CAN live without "this", – the preacher's sermons and bible interpretations and brow-beatings and in some cases spiritual abuse. Many church members are leaving churches with pastors who hold to this view of themselves, and they are finding churches where the pastor is a humble shepherd. Many people are starting home churches where they meet with other believers who exercise their gifts of being pastors and teachers to help people live the Christian life. They realize they can live without forking over 10% of their income to a church system that exists primarily to pay professional ministers and to build and maintain buildings.”

There is no reason that an ordinary lay person can't learn as much, and even more, than one who has gone to seminary. Lay people minister to non-believers in their secular jobs, often reaching far more people than a pastor who is limited by his congregation. A pastor should be in the business of equipping and supporting the saints to do the work of the Lord. Instead, the saints are relegated to ignorant status and are perceived by these individuals as being in serious danger of hell unless they listen to the appointed shepherd.

These shepherds are as flawed as the "ignorant" masses they serve. One only has to look at a number of statements from Al Mohler, Mark Driscoll and CJ Mahaney to understand that they have no magic bullet to protect themselves from the very ignorance with which they accuse the sheep.We have gone from servant leaders to kings who rule in mini-fiefdoms.Their subjects are ignorant, dumb sheep who, without these pastors, would go to hell!! Good night! Where is the Holy Spirit in all of this? And better yet, where is the love for those that they serve? From this blogger's perspective, this faith appears cold and mean.

It is vital that unsuspecting church attendees spend a lot of time assessing a church and the pastors and leaders before ever contemplating signing a membership covenant. We also advise that such a potential member show such an agreement to an attorney before waving any rights to confidentiality. In fact, here is a link to a post we did called “Hurt, Wary? Do Not Join a Local Church." We highly recommend you think about the points made in this post.

Ignore us at your own risk. One day you might end up like the following people. KOMO News (Seattle) did a short story on the Mars Hill debacle. We highly recommend that you take these stories into account before you sign any agreements with a church which has a pastor who believes that you are ignorant and that he is your vehicle for illumination. Funny, Dr Mohler never once mentions the role of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the people. But, then again, he never has been big on the priesthood of the believer and calls the concept “dangerous" here.

So, in the interest of illuminating our readership, here is the news segment. Kevin Potts speaks on camera. We featured him in this post on 2/3/12. Kevin and Kaelee, our thoughts and prayers are with you. Please let us know if we can be of any assistance as you heal from this despicable treatment at the hands of a church.

 

Lydia's Corner: Jeremiah 10:1-11:23 Colossians 3:18-4:18 Psalm 78:56-72 Proverbs 24:28-29

Comments

Mark Driscoll, Al Mohler, and CJ Mahaney Are Smart and You Are So Dumb! — 151 Comments

  1. Mohler said: “But Mohler continues…

    “So don’t stand in the pulpit if you’re not going to preach and teach the word of God. Life and death, heaven and hell, hang in the balance.”

    That doesn’t actually sound very Calvinistic. Hmmm.

  2. Read or listen to any of Mohler’s commencement addresses on his website. I notice two things. First, he seems to always be the one giving the address (not a guest or theologian), and they always talk of authority or convey the idea that pastors (due to their training at his university) are smarter than the people in the pews.

    Jimmy is correct also, Mohler isn’t consistently Calvinist (in the historical sense), he just likes the Calvinista practices of authority.

  3. If I remember my high school Latin, the word pastor means shepherd. Why is it that I never heard of a shepherd refusing to protect a sheep or throwing him out of the flock for not being “sheepy” enough or “sheepy” the right way?

  4. The “sin of having a questioning spirit?!

    How did I miss that one?

    Not that for a moment I would doubt for a moment, ladies, that you have thoroughly documented this; yet, having recently predicted Pastor Driscoll’s downfall–albeit in a satirical venue–I feel I must request, for my own protection, the citation for this diamond-in-the-rough-house.

    Much thanks,

    SMG

  5. Dee,

    Did Jesus or Paul have a marketing director?

    Mars Hill does…

    Justin Dean – Mars Hill Marketing Director

  6. Sergius
    Tch, tch…to disbelieve your humble, yet always glamorous, blog queens… Actually, this has been bandied about at SGM as well. It is one of the latest tactics of the authoritarians. Perhaps, during the obtaining of your rhetoric degree you could address that along with “gullible and easily deceived” women.

  7. The gift of teaching is surely mentioned in New Testament Scripture. I assume we all agree that God ordained some to be teachers? Others not? Godly teachers have a gift.

  8. A gift from the wilderness Rev 12:6…truth:

    God will not put any child created in his image no matter what their sins or religion into a hell fire, It never entered God’s heart or mind to ever do such a thing Jer 7:31, Jer 19:5. Satan has deceived the whole world Rev 12:9 until the woman of Rev 12 exposes his lies.

    I would like to invite you to read http://thegoodtale.blogspot.com where the true word John 1:1 is delivered Rev 12 and proven. Those who in their pride of righteousness refuse to hear Acts 3:22-23 what God has commanded me to write cannot turn their hearts to ALL the children of God Luke 1:17. God has all power. Prove all things.

  9. “Godly teachers have a gift.”

    Yes. But that does not anoint them with ecclesiastical authority over others.

  10. Anon
    Oh, darn, I have always wanted ecclesiastical authority over others. It sounds so religiously cool! Hence, I am liking the latest title with which I am dabbling-Mother Superior. Doesn’t it make me sound spiritually above the riff raff?

  11. Oh I always see it your way Dee.

    I also think God gave the gift of leadership, gift of administration and my gift; folding up chairs after the service.

    There will, in every church, be people who excercise authority.

  12. D&D:

    You know I hate to trot out the English-is-not-my-first-language card, but I did at least attempt an introductory clause disclaiming any doubt I might have had that these words did not flow directly from the mouth of the Bad-Ass Patriarch himself.

    Regarding gender-based gullibility, I am presuming you have seen the blog piece by now–and you know that I did address the “gullible and easily deceived” fairer sex, even though it was in regard to the Steven Furtick prediction (#3) and not the Mark Driscoll prediction {#7). (…And while we’re at it I hoped you liked #10, as it was clearly “Wartburg-inspired.”)

  13. I’m kind of stunned by Mohler’s high view of “super-preaching” – it’s a lot like being a rock star and getting the fans wild for the next performance.

    Oh, did I say something odd?

    You mean, that word “performance”? ;)

  14. Mr. Mohler thinks very highly of what preachers ought to do and it amazes me that if they (preacher) fail to get the message across, the sheeple will be the ones that suffer – hmm . . . something wrong there. And that’s beside the fact that God is left out if his picture altogether. He also forgets that most of the people sitting in pews are already saved and sealed by the blood of Christ. But pump those preachers up by all means.

  15. Funny thing, when I read the Psalms, I see a questioning spirit exhibited all the time. One of the things that really helped me in my own healing was to see some of the attitudes (anger, questioning etc) that David displays in psalms that specifically have his name on them, and then put that side by side with the fact that David is called a man after God’s own heart.

    But, of course, . David was only questioning God, not the pastor, and it is self-evident that these pastors rank higher than God, since they are able to pronounce on all kinds of subjects that God didn’t tell us about!!

    Seriously, I have been a Christian for 40 years, and I am racking my brains to think of a single occasion when a sermon protected me from sin — and I have heard some fine preachers in amongst the not-so-fine. There are sermons that have warmed my heart and encouraged me, sermons that have given me tidbits of information I’d never heard before (and which I’m a nerd enough to enjoy)and sermons (especially from strong Calvinists) which have left me self-doubting and depressed. On the other hand, the still, small voice of the Spirit has often corrected me.

    But what would I know? I’m an egalitarian, feminist Christian, a continuationist, a non-calvinist, and bored by the whole creation/evolution debate. In their eyes i am only eligible for the left boot of fellowship anyway

  16. If I were ever to preach, I would hope that the result would be this: people thinking for themselves, doing some research on their own, coming to their own conclusions.

    It seems to me that adulation would be a bad result, not a good one!

  17. … But maybe that’s because I would like to see the skills involved in critical thinking be a very important part of peoples’ lives.

    As is, there are far too many xtian “teachers” who get into the pulpit and tell people how to think and how to live their lives and somehow believe that they are “teaching.”

    Nothing could be further from the truth.

  18. numo,

    Sounds like you are suggesting that we should be Bereans…

    The hyper-authoritarian leaders probably think it’s a B-A-A-A-D idea for the flock to think for themselves, do their own research, and come to their own conclusions.

    A very B-A-A-A-A-A-A=A-D idea!!!

  19. It’s amazing how sexual themes continually come up with Driscoll and Mars Hill. They wanted Kevin Potts to detail his sexual history as part of the church discipline contract! This type of exploitation is much like rape. The power and control Driscoll achieves from sexually exploiting and abusing others creates sexual arousal and compulusions. I’m sure Driscoll and his underlings would justify why that is part of the contract, but it screams of Driscoll’s sexual obsessions. Driscoll’s sexual exploitation and abuse of his congregants and his wife is scary. I think Driscoll is hiding (or TRYING to) some serious problems of a sexual nature.

  20. “There will, in every church, be people who excercise authority.”

    Jesus is the authority in a real church. Jesus did not send us layers between Him and us for “authority” in the Body. There is no Christian caste system, Jimmy.

  21. “Paul established elders at churches”

    Name the elders at the church in Corinth. Philippi? You are taking a few instances and presenting it as if a literal law for polity.

    And if the “elders” are in “authority” then it would only follow that he write every single Epistle to the elders of each church to carry out his instructions. Why write most of them to the entire church?

  22. To our readers who need a laugh

    Please go Sergius’s new blog and read yesterday’s funny post

    Leap Day Predictions

    And I concur. #10 was inspired. Anyone who thinks Furtick is bizarre is a friend of mine, even though we may have a few theological quibbles!

  23. Lynne
    When the boot comes, make sure they aim it in our direction. We have a collection of the booted faithful.

  24. I agree that there are people with the gift of teaching.

    I also believe that there should be elders in churches.

    The NT has plenty to say about this.

    Elders can overstate or abuse their roles.

  25. Didn’t Paul tell the churches to choose from among themselves elders? And what is the purpose of the gifts and the gifted ones? I don’t think it was to have authority “over” the church (people).

  26. Anonymous
    If Mohler is so smart, then why would he protect Mahaney? Why wouldn’t he investigate the many claims of abuse in SGM? Why wouldn’t he investigate the claims of child sexual abuse? If he is so smart, why does he actively promote Mahaney? He may be smart, Anonymous, but he is not wise. I know lots of “smart” people but they are stupid in many areas of life. But, then again, why would I think Mohler might care about the pain of child sexual abuse? He certainly cares far more about the evils of women pastors than he does the evils of pedophilia in the SBC. Come to think of it, maybe he and Mahaney are cut from the same cloth.

    And why would your pastor spend money, some of which will go to Mahaney, to go to this conference which is set up for fully exonerating this embarrassment to the pastoral profession? It’s easier NOT to investigate so he doesn’t feel uncomfortable taking part in a charade. Yep, I feel strongly on this one. People should hang their heads in shame as they ignore the pain of those who were harmed by this ministry.

  27. Dee,

    Did you see this post by Sergius? :P

    Cheetos and Christian Bloggers

    Here’s an excerpt:

    “Cheetos used to be associated with wholesome good fun, and was one of the first comfort foods—an essential component of American culture during the Cold War,” says Robert J. Thompson of Syracuse University, an expert in popular cutlure. “But now too many people hear ‘Cheetos’ and think ‘middle-aged man blogging in his mom’s basement in a profoundly casual state of attire.’”

    As blogging has become more popular, in recent years, Cheetos has become less so. Insiders say that this inverse relationship has much to do with a cultural narrative that associates Cheetos with troublesome Christian discernment bloggers.

    “It sends a message that Cheetos is for losers, and we don’t want that, said Frito-Lay national PR representative Marla Pinckett. “We want Cheetos to be for ‘closers.’” Relying on the fairly recent idea that corporations are, in the legal sense, persons—and can just as easily have their feelings hurt as individual human beings—the corporate giant is pursuing a novel legal remedy: suing Christian bloggers.”

  28. val
    Your blog is definitely different. Personally i prefer the NIV which probably means I am going to hell from what I can tell . I am not so sure you will find this blog edifying…

  29. Barbara

    The only sheep some of these guys like to discuss is “dumb” sheep something else that is not found in the Bible.

  30. Allen
    Mohler is always billed as the “smartest” guy in the room. This title was given to him by Mahaney and now everyone is supposed to acknowledge his superior intellect. He has chosen Mahaney as his best buddy. So, how does that reflect on his “smart” choices.

  31. Deb
    Sergius is flat out funny and that is why I added him to our blog roll. I love crunchy Cheetos. No road trip is complete without them.

  32. sigh….I hate to burst the pastors’ bubbles, but I really didn’t hear what you said.

    I only process a small portion of what is said in a sermon. 10 minutes afterwards I can’t recall any of it, really. Sitting and listening is not how I learn. Many, many people fall into this category.

    Truth be told, I just enjoy sitting there and being off duty. It’s the only time in the entire week I can sit still with no one talking to me or touching me, and with no tasks in my midst.

    There are many ways to learn about God and the bible. A pastor’s sermon is simply not all that effective.

  33. “We ought to be yearning to get from sermon to sermon preaching with such vigor and such energy and such faithfullness and such conviction.”

    There you have it… notice the emotion words in this sentence, vigor and energy. Why does it always come back to our passion? If I am not “passionate” enough then am I not one of the elect? How does one gauge enough vigor, energy, faithfulness, or conviction? This is why I run from these guys. I actually believe that when you peel the many layered onion of the T4G the Gospel is there but, it is much too exhausting to pull back all the layers of your needed emotional response in order to hear Christ crucified for the forgiveness of your sins. The day it becomes about Christ’s one sided rescue that doesn’t depend on our energies; rather his raising a dead, non energetic, unfaithful, person without convictions to life, I will be knocking down the doors of T4G but, I am not so sure that that will happen anytime soon. I think first we need some actual church polity that gives the proper checks and balance to authority that no SBCer has ever had so… I won’t hold my breath.

  34. Deb – I think that critical thinking skills have taken a real nose-dive (in terms of being taught in schools) over the past couple of decades, and that really needs to change.

    So… not just “being a Berean,” but learning how to ask questions and think, regardless of what’s being read. (Bible, textbook, nonfiction, fiction, etc.)

  35. numo,

    Agreed!

    On a personal note, my hubby says I ask more questions than anyone he knows…

    I guess you could say it’s one of my spiritual gifts. :-)

  36. Anon said: “I agree that there are people with the gift of teaching.

    I also believe that there should be elders in churches.

    The NT has plenty to say about this.

    Elders can overstate or abuse their roles.”

    [ I think Anon got it right. ]

  37. New International Version (©1984) Hebrew 13:7
    Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.

    New Living Translation (©2007)
    Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.

    English Standard Version (©2001)
    Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

    New American Standard Bible (©1995)
    Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.

  38. I suppose hypothesis testing would condemn me to the sinful questioning spirit type of hopeless sinner.

    The whole teaching thing is the nail in the coffin.

    I just won’t worry my pretty little head about it but I’ll go cook something and make dh happy in bed and pretend I don’t understand words that have more than 7 letters.

  39. Dee:

    Mohler is smart but has not made the right decision with respect to Mahaney. Many smart people do things that cause us to scratch our heads.

    My pastor is like 99% of the people who enjoy T4G. They are so far removed from the various SGM congregational stories and how those were handled. They are just in the dark, really. They may be hear about unrest, but do not have the time to investigate other people or situations to that extent. T4G takes 2 days out of his life a year, and that’s all the investment he makes. Investigating Mohler, Dever, Duncan, Mahaney, Sproul or others is not something these folks do.

    I suppose if a big Christian publisher picked this up (book or magazine) that ended up roundly condemning folks, not a two sided expose – these guys say this, these guys say that, it would have an impact.

    Anything short of that often requires a personal connection to the people or issues involved.

    The Youtube post of Driscoll’s visions made a huge impression, I can tell you that. That was Driscoll in his own words. Makes quite an impression to anyone with half a brain.

  40. As one puts it:

    “If pastors — were free of disease and immune to death, then there might be some basis for the claim of the religionists. But these “men of God” are victims of the natural course of life, “even as you and I.” They enjoy no exemptions. They suffer the same ills; they feel the same sensations; they are subject to the same passions of the body, the same frailties of the mind, are victims of circumstances and misfortune, and they meet inevitable death just as every other person. They commit the same kind of crimes as other mortals, and especially, because of their “calling,” many are notoriously involved in the embezzlement of church funds. Nor does their calling protect them from the “passions of the flesh.” The scandalous conduct of many “men of the cloth,” in the realm of moral turpitude, often ends in murder. That is why there are so many “men of God” in our jails, and why so many have paid the supreme penalty in the death chair.”

    Especially that Preacher , Steve Gaines who says everyone who is not tithing is cursed, but yet he is cursed with Myasthenia Gravis Disease (takes thousand of pills to keep on his feet).

    PS, His son (Dr Grant Gaines) graduated from SBTS and his now son-in-law (Gentry Hill) is now attending SBTS, while his wife works in the school office where they even celebrate a christian Mardi Gras.

  41. Pingback: Mark Driscoll, Al Mohler, and CJ Mahaney Are Smart and You Are … – Charismatic Feeds

  42. Jimmy
    We know those Bible verses. Surely you understand that? So, if we believe the Bible, and still say what we do, then the real question is why? Here is the bottom line. I get to choose my leaders. They don’t get to choose me. And when they get into “authority”, I get to leave. And you bet they will be accountable. From what I can see, from those who come here, there will be a heckuvalot explaining to do.

  43. Anonymous
    Such a video does make an impact. But what happens when a whole group of people pay money to see and extoll the virtues of Mahaney. There are people who have been deeply hurt by this man and his theology. I believe that that all pastors must investigate those whom they pay money to hear. It is called being wise. Unfortunately, it is far easier to stick our heads in the sand and ignore the pain. And CJ was smart enough not to have videos made of him hurting people.

  44. SBTS
    Thank you for keeping us up on Steve Gaines. His teaching of tithing and cursing shows a sublime ignorance of the Scriptures. Maybe he will learn from his own words that one can get a horrible illness and still be a tither.I don’t get how these pastors can preach such a punishing God after reading the words of Jesus. Such men place horrible burdens on the people.

    You know, it sure would be nice if Al Mohler reached out to some poor people who want to go through seminary and give their wives a cushy job in his office instead of the bless me club he is running over there.

  45. Mohler’s most shockingly “unreformed” statement, “If you (pastors) do not preach and teach the word of God, if you do not faithfully teach the word of God such that your people hear it and understand it and grow upon it they are consigned to unfaithfulness and many will be consigned to hell.”
    The sovereignty of God neatly replaced with the sovereignty of pastors. If the pastor doesn’t preach great sermons in the (much-emphasized-in-the-bible) pulpit, HIS (pastor’s) sheeple get CONSIGNED! If pastor likes to go fishing or golfing at the expense of sermon prep, HIS (pastor’s) loving and merciful gOd will take HIM (pastor) straight to the bliss of heaven, but torture some of HIS (pastor’s) sheeple eternally and creatively for HIS (pastor’s) unfaithfulness. And the sheeple aren’t even free to resign from the unfaithful pastor’s church– they signed an eternal covenant with pastor, doncha know.

  46. DIALECTIC–(n.) “The process or art of reasoning by discussion of conflicting ideas.”

    It seems to me there is always to be a dialectic atmosphere within the body of Christ. It is true that unanimity of opinion about issues or truth can be gained in a local body, but it is never a pressed uniformity. That will inevitably destroy true fellowship. TRUE unanimity is, however, NEVER destructive to the fellowship of a body of believers. Two or three ideas follow for me..

    When a healthy dialectic atmosphere is maintained unanimity will be more a thing of loving one another than it is agreeing with one another. ["Owe no man anything..."]

    Strong human authoritarianism destroys that dialectic atmosphere. Holy Spirit authoritarianism develops that dialectic atmosphere. ["But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know." 1 Jn 2:20 NASV]

    Unity forms a totality; uniformity is totalitarian. Leaders promote unity; tyrants impose uniformity.

    Any pastor or person that fails to develop that dialectic atmosphere identifies himself IMHO.

  47. Paul,

    I read your current post Unity versus Uniformity and I really like this portion of your post:

    “You can already tell I do not believe unity is equated with uniformity. What’s the difference? Permit me to use a list someone else put together but illustrates the differences quite well.

    Unity implies diversity; uniformity eliminates it.

    Unity makes us different but one; uniformity makes us the same.

    Unity creates an organism; uniformity craves organization.

    Unity combines and includes; uniformity confines and excludes.

    Unity forms a totality; uniformity is totalitarian.

    Leaders promote unity; tyrants impose uniformity.

    As long as Christians are willing to be in a relationship with only those who agree with each other based on the acceptance of a contrived system of human thought, whether it be theology, politics or even social issues, they will simply be producing and protecting their own sectarian uniformity which is a type of bondage instead of freedom.”

    Thank you for communicating so clearly what many Christians (including Dee and me) believe.

  48. Paul: I love your view on unity. Even before I knew that I didn’t have to work myself to death to gain God’s favor, something inside of me asked the question why. Why do I have to work harder and be more frustrated at my failure than I did before I became a Christian. Frankly I was happier before I became a Christian and I asked why. Because I didn’t have to work to please God before I was a Christian.

    But I couldn’t abandon my faith in Christ, my love for Christ, I just knew that what I had been taught previously was wrong. But the doctrine I heard you and Wade preach was frankly wonderful but scary at the same time. I was scared to believe it because if it wasn’t true, I might end up in hell or God would punish me here in this life. But if it were true….oh my I wanted it to be true. It was the two of you and other teachers in SS class that got me to really reading scripture to find out. And I couldn’t see anything but what you and Wade were teaching. Slowly, I became free. I am still free to this day. Thank you for being faithful to teach what the Bible truly says. Who Christ really is and what He really accomplished for us. I pray more are healed as I was by your words.

  49. Debbie K,

    I’m really looking forward to sharing this weekend’s EChurch post later today.

    Wade’s message is incredible, and I am still overjoyed that he has given us the privilege of sharing his sermons with our readers. May they be truly blessed by his encouraging words.

  50. I love this ministry you and Dee have begun. This is what the Holy Spirit in us can do. He uses people like you guys, ordinary people, and women besides to do some pretty incredible things. :)

    You are the perfect example of what we are talking about. You didn’t have to ask permission to begin this blog, you felt the need, your hearts were broken hearing the stories of abuse from others, and you followed your heart. Look what God is doing with this blog alone. This is the freedom in Christ.

  51. Anonymous, If your pastor is recommending books or sermons by T4G Mahaney, Driscoll, Dever, etc, then he is part of the problem. Yes, there is guilt by association when it comes to Dever, etc. He protected and supported evil behavior in the Name of Jesus.

    I would think YOU of all people would know that “ignorance is no excuse”. It certainly isn’t when it comes to our civil laws. How much more for believers who make a living preaching the Word?

  52. Jimmy, it is a good thing you did not happen to wander into the People’s Temple back in the 60′s. You would be required to “obey” your leader.

    You might want to check the Greek on that passage and look at it from the entire pericope of the NT. There are some opposing passages to your interpretation. I would go there….but I doubt you are open to it so what would be the point? You go on “obeying” men with titles.

  53. “Mohler is smart.

    I do not believe that Mahaney or Driscoll are in the same league.”

    A “smart” man protects and promotes Mahaney? What is your definition of “smart”? Obviously it does not include wisdom or discernment.

  54. Anon 1

    Amen – Seems “The Abusive Religious System” uses Heb 13:17 to prove how us
    un-edjumacated sheep are to submit to “God Ordained Authority” “The Pastor/Reverend.”
    Even though “Pastor,” “Elder,” “Overseer,” is NOT even mentioned in Heb 13 at all.

    “Abusive Leaders” want you to “obey” – But don’t spend a lot of time with…

    1 – Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.

    Now – When someone says they are “God Ordained Authority” “Pastor/Leader”
    and we are to “submit to them” we can ALL check them out according to 1 Thes 5:12…
    And we beseech you, brethren, **to know them** which labour among you,
    and are **over you** in the Lord, and admonish you;

    1 – Are they living examples of – NOT lording it over “Disciples of Christ?” 1Pet 5:3 KJV
    2 – Are they living examples of – lowliness of mind? Php 2:3 KJV
    3 – Are they living examples of – esteeming others better” than themselves? Php 2:3 KJV
    4 – Are they living examples of – submitting “One to Another?” Eph 5:21 KJV, 1 Pet 5:5 KJV
    5 – Are they living examples of – preferring others before themselves? Rom 12:10 KJV
    6 – Are they living examples of – being clothed with humility? 1 Pet 5:5 KJV
    7 – Are they NOT “Exercising Authority” like the gentiles ?” Mark 10:42-45 KJV

    Ever try pointing out these verses to a “Senior Pastor/Leader” who is addicted to
    Power, Profit, Prestige, Honor, Glory, Recognition, and Reputation? Ouch!!! :-(

    In my experience with “Pastor/Leaders”… and having been in “Leadership” shows me…

    No matter how loving, eventually…
    No matter how humble, eventually…
    No matter how much a servant, eventually…

    “Pastor/Leaders” will “exercise authority” and “lord it over” God’s precious sheep. :-(

    That’s always the beginning of “Spiritual Abuse.” :-(

    “Pastor/Leaders” = exercise authority = lord it over = abuse = always

    If an “elder/overseer/shepherd” “Exercises Authority” and “lords it over?”
    Doesn’t that automatically disqualify them from that “Position?”

    Do they ever remove themselves? ;-)

    I’m in agreement with David – The Lord is my Shepherd – Jesus…

  55. Did I read that right, part of the membership contract (Mars Hill) was detailing your sexual activity in the past?

    In my mind, the only reason someone would want to have that much information on you, is to blackmail you if you ever try to wriggle out from under their thumb….

  56. Dee –

    Do you mean when Andrew was disciplined after he had already repented?

    It is not part of the membership agreement? . . . although, it wouldn’t necessarily surprise me if it was.

  57. Eagle — “…draw toward autherterian structure is a by-product of evangelical teaching.”

    So, in christian church culture, there seems to be a constant underlying message that pride is rabid, breeding the suspicion that any motivation one might have at any moment of the day is tainted with it, along with “humility” being constantly pumped into the mix as a superideal (which, granted, is a good thing but even more so very difficult to espouse).

    So, christians immersed in christian church culture are presented with the impossible task of weeding out pride which remains hopelessly invasive, while at the same time being obligated to exert the opposing force of humility.

    Kind of keeps everyone in a state of equilibrium of “don’t dare rock the boat”. For fear of doing something with the whiff of “pridefulness”.

    It all sustains a rigid authoritarian structure quite well.

  58. Eagle-

    It was after I had read a novel about the Mormons, that I began to see that much at SGM mirrored the type of abuses in the LDS.

    As for the discipline thing, what is Mars Hill saying as to why they require such an invasive disclosure from a member?

  59. It does seem that Mohler & Co. have a significantly overstated impression of their own importance. But let’s not respond in kind. “There is no reason that an ordinary lay person can’t learn as much, and even more, than one who has gone to seminary.” Sure, this is theoretically possible, and in many casses it does actually happen. But let’s not be presumptuous: You would never say that to a person with a graduate or advanced degree in chemistry, neuroscience, or Russian literature. Why has being a Pastor or theologian suddenly become the field where everybody is an expert?

    Here’s why: Mohler is wrong. Unlike neuroscience and Russian literature, theology is a discipline all believing Christians need to thrive spiritually, and like the post said, the pastor’s job is to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. The problem with the Mohlerites is that they see themselves as some sort of Magisterium (the irony is catastrophic here) and lay people as projects. I love the phrase “admirals in rowboats.” I nearly fell off my sofa laughing, but it is so true. The admiral in the rowboat may get to point the direction, but he still gets a turn at the oar.

    It’s worth pointing out that Mark Driscoll does NOT have seminary level education (last I heard), and I’m not too entirely certain about Mahaney either. But those who complete an M. Div. program go through a ton of grueling, rigorous, theological academics. The average lay person does not approach this level of study, though some do acquire significant levels of knowledge through a lifetime of study (hint: respect your elders, they have studied the Bible a bit longer). The answer to power-hungry tyrants is not to belittle the accomplishment of the M. Div. We need to encourage MORE pastors to actually get them, and have less entrepreneurial imperialists like Driscoll. And for those with M. Div’s falling into the power trap, we ought to hold them to a higher standard, and point to men who model Christ-like leadership. They should be the ones we admire, and their congregations are usually not that large.

  60. By the same token, all the theological study in the world does not guarantee that someone is a good fit for pastoral ministry – by which I mean that there are skills for that (caring for people, basic pastoral counseling, etc. etc.) that are quite different than the skills needed to be a good theologian.

    My understanding of pastoral ministry (growing up in an ELCA Lutheran church) is that it is supposed to be anything but an autocracy. The words “pastor” and “pastoral” are SO misused by these authoritarian guys, to the point where they’re devoid of their original – and primary (still!) meaning.

    Real pastoral work is not easy… and it is also NOT primarily about the pastor drawing attention to themselves, whether in or out of the pulpit. The sheer hubris of a lot of these guys – like “Pastor” Mark – is absolutely appalling.

    But… it’s like Greek tragedy, where hubris goes precedes an inevitable fall. (I wouldn’t be surprised if Paul had been thinking of Greek theater when he wrote that, since he was well-versed in classical and Hellenistic literature and culture.)

    Hmm.

  61. Meant to say that it people like MD are flaunting their egos – their hubris – by appropriating the title of “pastor” without having a smidgen of understanding as to what it really means.

    (cf. Jesus’ words to Peter at the end of the Gospel of John, and suchlike…)

  62. Miguel -

    You are correct in stating that Mahaney has no degree. He graduated high school.

    I am having a check with your “(hint: respect your elders, they have studied the Bible a bit longer). I have no problem respecting my elders (as in older, wiser, and been around the block a few times). I have a problem with respect my elders (young men with young families who went to seminary; young men with young families who went to a 9-month pastors school; both set in as elders with little life experience – yet told they now have pastoral authority over congragations). THIS is a recipe for disaster . . . especially if they come from listening to the likes of Mohler and others of the same realm.

    I am all for learning, BUT degrees don’t necessarily lead to good leadership OR to wisdom. I find wisdom to be of greater value than degrees. There are wonderful leader/teachers/counselors who never went to seminary. There are faulty ones as well (Mahaney). Likewise, there are wonderful leaders who did go to seminary along with bad ones. Knowledge doesn’t cure everything. A little knowledge in the wrong hands can be disastrous. Love combined with HS inspired wisdom and some knowledge might make a pleasant leader.

    I respect a man more for his character than for his learning.

  63. Bridget2 – yep!

    Especially this: “I respect a man more for his character than for his learning.”

  64. Miguel:

    Great point about education.

    Evangelicals already have a reputation for not valuing education. Let’s not enhance that reputation.

    An example I see pretty frequently are people saying, “The Greek says this…” or “The Greek says that…” and then you find out that they have not even had a standard 2 or 3 years of Greek grammar, which is just enough to get you to where one really understand exegetical commentaries, but not where one can really make authoritative pronouncements.

    The same people would be better off saying, “I have read in this commentary that the Greek here says or means this…”, “what do you think about that?”

    That would be proper.

    But for people to act as if the understand Koine Greek because they have read a couple of commentators takes on it is absurd.

  65. For anyone exercising the “pastor” function, good people skills is at the top of the skill set.

  66. Numo:

    Your point is also well-taken.

    Education does not make a person effective at pastoral ministry.

  67. Bridget said: “I am all for learning, BUT degrees don’t necessarily lead to good leadership OR to wisdom. I find wisdom to be of greater value than degrees.”

    I’d certainly agree with that.

    (But the irony is; we ALL would like to have our children earn a college degree. The more the better.)

  68. Miguel-

    Excellent point about Mohler seeing himself as some sort of Magisterium.

    I have have often said, that while most Protestants decry the idea of the Roman Catholic Pope-they in fact have there own functional pope, in the form of a pastor or Christian author/teacher who they deem as infallible and as having the final say on any issue they confront in Christendom.

    As a side note, it seems that George Clooney could play Al Mohler, if the need ever arises…just enough resemblance.

  69. Bridget2,

    Spot on. By “elder” I definitely meant “older.” I don’t get these kids being given the keys to the kingdom. Sure, youth isn’t an inhibitor to effectiveness, but can you imagine how much grief we would have saved ourselves if we only put PROVEN men into the office of elder? Good grief, you think this would be common sense!

    And you’re right about learning. It is what it is; some seminaries train shepherds, some train motivational speakers, some train ivory tower eggheads. I suppose there’s something to be said for balance in theological education. But a balanced pastor never makes the headlines. And seminary simply can’t manufacture character. But a church ought to know to look for that above all else. Otherwise, they deserve who they settle for.

    Numo, I think we can expect to see a ton of discussion around the world soon about the effectiveness of pastoral training. Fewer people are able to afford seminary programs, and more are dissatisfied with the results. We’re just gonna have to come up with better answers for how to train pastors to do what is needed. Its gonna involve deep ecclesiological debate, because unless we can be certain about exactly what the role, function, and responsibility of a pastor is, we will never effectively train them for it. Today’s culture says pastors are CEO and motivational speaker. The model you experienced growing up seems much more spiritually healthy to me.

    Though I do find it surprising to see that the ELCA didn’t have authoritarian figures. Given the use the episcopal model, it would seem that the power flows top down like in the Roman Catholic or United Methodist church. It must be nice to have an episcopacy with balance.

  70. Anon, re. this -

    The same people would be better off saying, “I have read in this commentary that the Greek here says or means this…”, “what do you think about that?

    I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s not even “I have read…” but “I heard someone else say…” in many, many cases.

    Admitting to that would be an act of humility, though.

  71. Also… I think there is a parallel (which Dee, DB and a few others can likely confirm) between authoritarian “pastors” and MDs who tend to play God.

    Knowledge by itself is just that; it’s what we do with it that counts. We can help (and heal) or harm with what we know – especially when we think we know everything. The only one who is truly (imo) able to say that is God alone.

    Knowing that we don’t know everything is a good thing!

  72. Excellent comments both numo & Miguel!

    On the one hand, a master of arts in divinity should be an essential, it makes possible a much wider world view than a narrow fundagelical one barely 40 yrs. old. But on the other hand, an advanced degree is no guarantor of humanity in the pulpit, or a love for people. I think there needs to be a judiciously placed fulcrum point twixt the two views.

  73. A fresh example of the “know-it-all” mentality of these leaders – This morning my daughter told me that the senior pastor of the SGM church that I recently left (but my adult kids have not left…yet) came to the church’s college ministry meeting last night to deliver a message on “how to get the most out of” an upcoming retreat that the college kids are going on. This is very typical of SGM leadership. They can’t just let people experience things and interpret things for themselves. They have to make sure that they’re “properly prepared” so that their (the leaders’)desired outcome is achieved. To me, it just says that they don’t trust the Holy Spirit to speak and lead their sheep. They’re constantly “giving their perspective” on things to help people “think biblically.” It’s pure manipulation and it really bothers me!

  74. Miguel
    First, thanks for your response on authority. It was good but it makes the guy seem like a common CEO. I still don’t get the spiritual aspect of it. Also, why does someone need to be ordained to baptize a child? Both my husband and myself baptized our kids in a church service at a church.
    Secondly, I keep forgetting that their are new people reading this blog. We have talked about some of the pastors who hold “honorary” degrees and treat them as earned degrees.
    Also, Mahaney only graduated high school. He is the one who invented the Pastors College which is a 9 month seminar that is treated like an M Div by SGM. Rumor has it that it is going to be absorbed by SBTS but we will need to wait on that one.
    Some pastors get alternate degrees such as Christian Education which does not have the same rigor as the MDiv. Also, some M Divs are more rigorous than others. Unlike medicine, etc which has an agreed upon curriculum and multiple standardized testing, MDiv programs can vary widely.
    So, getting back to my comment, i was thinking about the Pastors College as an example.
    BTW, to deflect expected criticism, I do nto believe that one need an MDiv to be a good pastor.
    Hope this helps.

  75. There’s so much jockeying for pew-market-share in these mega-churches built on celebrity pastors. They have to be “hip”, new, engaging, “relevant”, controversial. They feel that is what their Christian-saturated city needs. It is not. Driscoll has managed to enslave 19,000 people in a religion of his doing which adds bondage to the freedom we have in Christ.

  76. Dee -

    I am totally with you on Baptism :)

    Why does he sound like a CEO?

    I imagine the changing relationship with CJM/SGM might be a “merger.”

  77. Miguel – I don’t know how the ELCA’s organizational structure has functioned historically, but I do think it *is* – today – an organizational structure rather than a hierarchical one. Am sure the same is true of the American version of the United Methodist church as well.

    For one thing, we don’t believe in apostolic succession… ;)

    But: being able to appeal to those higher up in the denomination has functioned as a check on authoritarian-type pastors. This is also true of the way in which individual congregations review candidates for filling a pastoral vacancy, and for the way in which pastors are hired (and fired, for that matter, though I don’t know of any cases of this personally).

    One thing that’s vastly different in terms of practice between UM and ELCA is that Lutherans don’t tend to keep moving ministers from church to church after a brief period of time – that’s a given in the UM, though maybe it’s not as rigorously applied as it used to be? (When I was a few decades younger than I am now.)

  78. Miguel, you mentioned (re. the role of pastors and pastoral care) that “The model you experienced growing up seems much more spiritually healthy to me.”

    It’s not just what I grew up with, it’s what I am still seeing, in local ELCA churches, anyway. How much of that is current ELCA practice, how much of it is parish preference, how much of it is cultural (predominantly German Lutheran heritage of congregants where I grew up and am currently living), how much of it comes from the seminary where most of the ELCA pastors that I know have attended (in Gettysburg, PA) and… who knows what all else? – comes into play in this.

    otoh, back in the 70s, the nuns that I spent a lot of time with (RC) had an understanding of pastoral ministry and pastoral care that is *very* much in line with what I saw when I was a kid – and what I’m seeing as an adult – in the ELCA in these parts. (The irony being that a whole lot of nuns are doing pastoral ministry but cannot be ordained… very sad, because it relegates a lot of good women to the bottom of the barrel in the eyes of the hierarchy – though certainly not in God’s eyes, or in the eyes of many who have been helped through their various ministries.)

    OK, now I’m pretty off-topic, though (in the larger scheme of things), likely not, especially in. re. the role of women in the church and how Deb and Dee (and I) feel about it. :)

  79. Very true Dee. I was referring to the liberal schools of thought. But then again not all liberals believe or disbelieve the same things. The same can be said for conservatism.

  80. It must be nice to have an episcopacy with balance.

    I think that in the ELCA, the role is largely administrative these days – am thinking that I’ve read material (from my own diocese) that said as much, but would need some time to rustle up the links.

    Of course, there is a ceremonial aspect, but around here, it’s not treated as a big deal. I remember being astonished by how much more mystique the priesthood – and church hierarchy – had/have among many Roman Catholics when I 1st encountered that, back in the early 70s. Lots more pomp and circumstance – and generally far fancier vestments ;) – than in my neck of the woods.

  81. TedS
    We plan to do more posts on Driscoll. I am still flummoxed why the au courant pastors like him so much. Piper’s statement that he likes Driscoll’s theology is a corker that will go down in the annals of weird and weirder.

  82. I’d rather get an M Div. from a liberal seminary – overall quality of education seems better at most of them. (At least, the ones I’m aware of, though I probably shouldn’t be making blanket statements! ;))

  83. numo,

    I am very much in favor of the ordination of women. And yes, I believe it is to their own detriment that many sects and denominations refuse to fully enfranchise women based on obscure and debateable Pauline texts.

    E.W. Bullinger was perhaps one of the best Bible scholars of the 19th. century and I dare say far more erudite than the current crop of theologians which have sprung up over the last 40 yrs. or so. No liberal (in the present day sense), he had this to say in his work “The Companion Bible”:

    “…To Timothy were given the earliest instructions for orderly arrangement in the church, these instructions being of the simplest nature, and, as Dean Alford well observes with regard to the Pastoral Epistles as a whole, the directions given “are altogether of an ethical, not of an hierarchical kind“. These directions afford no warrant whatever for the widespread organizations of the “churches” as carried on to-day. (Bullinger 1799)…”

  84. Muff
    Nice thing about this blog is Deb and I can pontificate (note the relationship to the word “pontiff”)and some men can pretend that we are not teaching.

  85. How would they ever cope Dee? Some might even fret that they’re not “saved” anymore.

  86. Hi Dee,

    I’m not quite finished reading your entire post, but got to this:

    “But, then again, he never has been big on the priesthood of the believer and calls the concept “dangerous” here.”

    and there is no link. I’d love to read it if you could post the link. Thanks!

    P.S. It’s right above the picture of Mars Hill…. :)

  87. I hope this is relevant. (I’m new here.)

    I’ve been thinking a lot about something Pastor Wade said in last week’s Echurch@Wartburg video. This is a paraphrase, but it was something along the lines of how a pastor should help his people learn to hear the Holy Spirit FOR THEMSELVES, rather than attempting to be the anointed one who hears and interprets the Spirit’s leading on their behalf.

    I have found a few other teachers and pastors who really believe in the priesthood of all believers, and they are inevitably hammered for this belief in terrible ways. And as far as I can tell, each one has in turn been incredibly gracious to their ungracious critics. Could it be that, having a real experience of God’s presence in their own life, they know how trustworthy the Holy Spirit’s leading is in others? They certainly show evidence of the Spirit’s fruit in how they deal with their critics.

  88. Rene
    Awesome comment. We will make sure Wade sees this. He is a most gracious man. PS Most everything is relevant here.

  89. First time post for me (I think) on WW. As someone who lives in the Seattle area it makes me laugh every time MD or MH gets mentioned on here. It’s as if Mars Hill was the only mega church up here. We have a few mega churches with celebrity pastors in the area that are authoritarian – the only difference is that they are also word of faith to one degree or another. Christian Faith Center led by the red headed Casey Treat who takes a helicopter between church campuses (at least he did the last I heard). The City Church, based out of Kirkland, is led by super hip pastor Judah Smith.

  90. I remember Casey Treat. Mark once said that if a pastor had his own domain name that was a bad thing and that there was no plan for MH to go that route. Years later we’ve gotten Pastor Mark TV. Hmm … someone had a big change of heart over ten years.

  91. Anonymous
    Thank you for letting us know about these other megas. Perhaps we could do a story on them. We could have some fun with the helicopter pastor (perhaps comparing it to helicopter parenting.) Any other info would be much appreciated.

  92. WTH
    “Years later we’ve gotten Pastor Mark TV. Hmm … someone had a big change of heart over ten years.” Here’s the thing. I think the heart stayed the same. We get to know who the real man is by two factors: How he is affected with fame and how much he tips a breakfast waitress.

  93. Dee,

    There is a lot of duties that a pastor and a CEO might share that are not necessarily bad, but simply conducive to efficient organization. Believe me, it is better to have the staff answer to one person than to a council. I’ve had it both ways.

    There must be more to a pastor’s job than simply filling the pulpit on weekends. I don’t buy it if they spend the majority of a 40 hr. work-week on a sermon. There’s visitation, pastoral care, counseling, etc… But if they’re gonna take some initiative at organizational leadership (and thus equipping and positioning the saints to do the work of the ministry) he is undertaking managerial type tasks. To do this without the authority to carry it out is an exercise in futility.

    I’m not sure what the spiritual aspect of this is supposed to be. I supposed when somebody starts spiritualizing their authority you can bet you’re in for some abuse.

    Lutherans do not hold that somebody must be ordained to baptize. Our service books have a form for lay baptism on the last page. However, we don’t believe the laity are obligated to perform these rites; many may not feel comfortable doing so or sufficiently prepared. Therefore, the it is the Pastor’s responsibility to carry out these rites. He is not above delegating them, but he is the primary one responsible for it. Just like the sermon; non-ordained can preach, but its part of why we hire a pastor in the first place.

    Honorary degrees aren’t always the worst thing, but when they are treated like regular ones, we have some pretty strong presumption going on. MDiv’s aren’t necessary for effective pastoring nor a guarantee of it, but they are very useful and worth pursuing imo, albiet some seminaries much more than others.

  94. Unity implies diversity; uniformity eliminates it.

    Unity makes us different but one; uniformity makes us the same.

    Unity creates an organism; uniformity craves organization.

    Unity combines and includes; uniformity confines and excludes.

    Unity forms a totality; uniformity is totalitarian.

    Leaders promote unity; tyrants impose uniformity.

    Cited by Deb from Paul Burleson’s blog

    In one of his non-fiction books, Chesterton invokes the image of Christianity as a dynamic balance between opposing doctrines, “any one of which taken in isolation could lay waste a world.”

    And Unity & Diversity are two of those opposing doctrines/traits in that dynamic balance.

    Unity without Diversity gives you the mini-North Koreas exposed over and over on this blog.

    Diversity without Unity gives you Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

  95. Dee -

    “. . . how much he tops a breakfast waitress. ”

    Well – that was a good laugh! Seems there is a bit of smart phone takeover today. Or maybe you had the breastfeeding thread on your mind. Hopefully he does “tip” them well.

  96. Mohler is always billed as the “smartest” guy in the room. This title was given to him by Mahaney and now everyone is supposed to acknowledge his superior intellect.

    Just like President Field Marshal DOCTOR Idi Amin Dada?

    Did I read that right, part of the membership contract (Mars Hill) was detailing your sexual activity in the past?

    In my mind, the only reason someone would want to have that much information on you, is to blackmail you if you ever try to wriggle out from under their thumb….

    Just like Scientology writing down EVERYTHING the Pre-Clear or Clear says in their Auditing Sessions with E-Meter cans in their hands.

    For the record I believe Headless Unicorn Guy (HUG) coined the term fundagelcial. I just blasted it all over the blogosphere and use it alot!! — Eagle

    That’s funny, I thought YOU coined it. After all, it IS an obvious merging of “Fundamentalist” and “Evangelical”, and the two DO overlap IRL.

  97. O.K. Should we say that HUG Eagle coined the term “fundagelical” or should it be Eagle HUG?

    Just let me know. :P

  98. Miguel

    You said “There’s visitation, pastoral care, counseling.” Today’s mega pastors do virtually none of this. They jet in from one conference to give a sermon and jet out to the next one. I am seeing more and more churches with “absent pastor” syndrome. I critiqued one famous pastor’s world speaking engagements and an elder wrote me stating that he wasn’t hired to do pastoring, merely “visioning.”
    Oh good night.

    As for the spiritual side of authority, you can bet there is that aspect according to the authoritarian types. Yet, when I ask them to tell me what is going on with that, I never get replies. They are “in authority” but they cannot tell me what that really is. You do a far better job of defining it but I suspect that is not what they mean.

  99. Well, Dee, let’s be honest; some pastors just have a better bedside manner than others. I quite honestly don’t want some of these celebrities visiting me in the hospital!

    I can understand how, in the context of a larger church with multiple staff, often the different pastoral tasks will be delegated to different staff members based on their strength. Some are better at the corporate end of the job (and if you take an offering at all, there is one, unfortunately), while others are much more talented at the interpersonal stuff, and still others at preaching.

    However, I don’t think then that the “pastor for preaching and vision” should do ONLY that. I understand if an associate does most of the counseling and another one does most of the visitation, but if you are a pastor, I think those should be part of your life BECAUSE of what it does for YOU, not because of what you do for others by it. A “preaching pastor” who is not rooted in multiple levels of relationships with the laity soon begins preaching to his fans and not his congregation.

    In our church, we have two “pastoral staff.” One does the bulk of the pulpit, the other does the bulk of the counseling. It’s quite interesting to see because they are highly complementary towards each other both in skill and personality. But both of them do preach and counsel.

    If your pastor can preach really well, I don’t mind him bouncing around the circuit. But it really ought to be his secondary job and thusly treated. I like Chandler and hold him as an example because, although he makes the rounds, his elder board requires him in their pulpit 40 weeks a year. And they don’t miss a beat on the other 12; the associates cover and do equally good jobs.

  100. “No, we’re here because we believe that those who teach and preach the word of God are God-appointed agents to save God’s people from ignorance.”

    Funny, Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would teach us…

    A Godly man is a vessel, nothing more. Should the Holy Spirit decide to use someone, they must decrease and He must increase.

    However, since most of these guys have thrown out the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer, it is no wonder that they have an inflated sense of self-importance.

  101. randall slack,

    Your last sentence was really important! That describes so much of what is going on with the New Calvinists.

  102. dee, as in Proverbs 27:21?

    The crucible is for silver and the furnace for gold,
    And each is tested by the praise accorded him.

  103. Miguel – Agreed on the actual work, though i guess I would use the word “administrative” to describe the mechanics of dealing with budgets, getting the church bulletins ready to go and all of that. (Though I am totally on board with “corporate” re. megachurches!)

    In our church, we have two “pastoral staff.” One does the bulk of the pulpit, the other does the bulk of the counseling. It’s quite interesting to see because they are highly complementary towards each other both in skill and personality. But both of them do preach and counsel.

    Sounds like an excellent balance!

  104. Miguel – numo – dee – deb

    Was wondering…
    With trying to figure out what “the Pastor” is supposed to do…
    Wouldn’t the Bible be a reasonable place to look?

    A while back, I started to notice that some of what I was taught was “truth”
    from the Word of God was actually “traditions of men” “hand-me-down religion,”
    that makes the Word of God of non effect. ( Mark 7:6-13 )

    I also noticed, that when you start to touch a man’s traditions he gets pretty upset. He rarely takes the time to hear the whole story and take it to God to see if it is truth. It’s often hard to admit that we have believed lies. Or that people we respect, taught us lies. I have been deceived by others, those I loved, and deceived myself.
    Don’t know it all now. So, in some areas, I’m still deceived. Oy vey!

    When we’re deceived, we don’t know we’re deceived,
    we don’t always realize we’re believing a lie. :-(

    When we believe the lie we start to die…

    I think you’ll agree that Jesus wants us to walk in truth.
    I started to notice that what I was taught about **today’s**
    “Pastors/Leaders,” wasn’t lining up with what was found in scripture.

    For starters…

    When searching for what a “Pastor/Leader” does **Today**… in the Bible,
    I had a very rude awakening.

    In the Bible I found…

    NO – Pastors – in Pulpits – Preaching – to People – in Pews.
    …… When folks come together, every one has a psalm, has a doctrine,
    …… has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. 1 Cor 14:26.
    …… Every one can, and is expected to, participate. NOT listen to just one.
    …… The pastor in a pulpit model creates spectators in the pews.
    NO – Pastors, as CEO’s of 501 (c) 3, non-profit, tax deductible, Religious corporations.
    NO “disciple of Christ” “calling” another brethren – Pastor, or “My” Pastor.
    NO “disciple of Christ” “calling” them self – Pastor or Leader.
    ……”ALL” disciples called themselves “Servants of Christ.” Hmmm?
    NO “disciple of Christ” having the “Title”or “Position” – “Pastor/Leader.”
    …… Today that “Title” is written on – Diploma’s on walls, business cards,
    …… office doors, Sunday morning bulletin, street signs, and more.
    …… And everyone knows who the “Pastor/Leader” is. Why?
    …… Jesus, as man, humbled Himself, made Himself of NO reputation,
    ……. took on the form of a “Servant.” Could that “Title” be an “Idol?” Ezek 14:1:11.
    NO “disciple of Christ” “Exercising Authority” over another believer.
    …… I was taught; You submit to me, NOW, your “God Ordained Authority,”
    …… And, one day, when you’re a Pastor, people will submit to you. :-(
    ……. Power. Profit, and Prestige, is highly esteemed among men. Guilty. Oy Vey!
    NO – Pastors, separating themselves from the body, as “Clergy-class.”
    NO – Pastors hired, or fired.
    NO – Pastors counseling anyone.
    NO – Pastors marrying anyone.
    NO – Pastors burying anyone.
    NO – Pastors visiting the sick.
    NO – Pastors wearing special clothes.
    NO – Pastors going from one congregation to another. What’s up with that?
    …… Elders, plural, matured within the group, when, if, appointed, they were known.
    …… Pastor, Paid, Professional, is hired, and fired, NOT known.

    And the list goes on… And on… And…

    IMO – Not of much of what we see **Today,** with “Pastors/Reverend/leaders,”
    has any reference in scripture. But – I coulda missed it… ;-)

    What is popular is not always “Truth.”
    What is “Truth is not always popular.

  105. randall slack

    Amen and Amen…
    “Funny, Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would teach us…”

    John 6:45
    It is written in the prophets, And they shall be ALL *taught of God.*

    John 14:26
    But the Comforter, [which is] the Holy Ghost,
    whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things…

    Deuteronomy 4:36
    Out of heaven he made thee to *hear His voice,*
    that *He might instruct thee:*

    Psalms 32:8
    *I will instruct thee and *teach thee
    in the way which thou shalt go: *I will guide thee with mine eye.

    1 John 2:26-27
    These [things] have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you.
    But the anointing which ye have received of him **abideth in you, **
    and **ye need NOT that any man teach you:**
    but as the same anointing teacheth you of ALL things,
    and is truth, and is no lie…

  106. A. Amos – I do appreciate what you’re saying, but at the same time, I have to (gently) disagree.

    Maybe the things – and people – that you mentioned “shouldn’t” exist, but the fact is that they do and we’re all kinda working with what we’ve got. Personally, I’m fine with the church structure in my denomination. It’s not perfect, but then, *no* setup is.

    And… I think the establishment of a diaconate in Acts shows that there really *is* a need for a practical structure for the church.

    Another point: I use electricity and a vehicle with an internal combustion engine. I drive. I’ve been on plenty of airplanes, and I ***use a computer and internet connection*** to read the Bible and commentary.

    None of those things existed in Jesus’ time.

    Is it “unbiblical” to use these things?

    I kinda think not.

    And after all, you’re using the internet to get your own take on this out to people.

    ??? :)

  107. numo

    Thanks for the response. I think. ;-)

    So, are you saying… The Bible is NOT a standard “Disciples of Christ” should look to…

    And those with Titles – Power – Profit – Prestige – can just make it up as they go along?
    What ever they like? Especially when they don’t like what the Bible says?
    And we un-edjumacated dumb sheep are NOT to be Bereans and check them out?

    They can make up – “Titles” and “Positions” – NOT in the Bible? And I have to agree?
    They can make up – What a “Pastor” looks like and does? And I have to submit to them?

    Even though NOT one “Disciple of Christ” – In the Bible – Had the “Title” Pastor/Reverend?
    And NOT one “Disciple of Christ” was hired, or fired, as a Pastor/Reverend/Leader?

    And – Whatever happened to 2 Tim 3:16?
    All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable *for doctrine,*
    *for reproof,* *for correction,* *for instruction* in righteousness:

    Can the “Pastors” in your denomination use other texts as “The Word of God?
    Or claim that their Traditions – Mans Traditions – Are as important as the Bible?
    Like Roman Catholicism – Christian Science – Jehovah’s Witnessess – Latter Day Saints?

    Isn’t that why the “reformers” were willing to lay down their lives? And have the Bible only
    As the standard? So believers can check out the bullies? And see if what they say is “Truth.”

    So believers did NOT have to go along with “Traditions of Men” “Traditions of Rome?”
    That were in opposition to the scriptures? As Rome forced the common folks to do?

    If the Bible is NOT the Standard – Then we mere un-edjumacated dumb sheep are at the
    mercy of those with the – Power – Profit – Prestige – Recognition – that comes with “Titles.”

    And those with the “Titles” get to make the rules say what ever they like.
    Just sign this here membership form – You can trust us – We’re Pastors after all.
    Just fill out this here “Church Discipline” form – It’s for your good. Obey your leaders.

    Just like the title of this post says.

    “Mark Driscoll, Al Mohler, and CJ Mahaney Are Smart and You Are So Dumb!”

    No thanks – Think I’ll read the Bible and trust Jesus to “Teach ALL Truth.”

    Jer 50:6
    My people hath been *lost sheep:*
    “their shepherds” have caused them “to go astray,”

    1 Pet 2:25
    For ye were as *sheep going astray;*
    but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

    I’m Blest – I’ve returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of my soul… Jesus…

  108. Eagle

    NO – I wasn’t calling Catholicism a cult.

    What I was calling attention to is how Catholicism, and these others, along with
    “The Abusive Religious System” of today – Mark Driscoll, Al Mohler, and CJ Mahaney.,
    ALL Denominations, over 30,000 of them according to wikipedia, etc. Will…

    ALL will say The Bible is the Word of God – But – They ALL disagree about something…
    ALL will make up “Titles” NOT found in the Bible. And tell you to submit to the “Title.”
    ALL will “Exercise Authority” like the gentiles, when you disagree. (A no, no. Mark 10:42)
    ALL will “Lord it over” God’s heritage, to control the sheep. (A no, no. 1 Pet 5:3)

    ALL adhere to – “Commandments of Men”-”Doctrines of Men”-“Philosophies of Men”
    ‘Traditions of Men” that are NOT found in the Bible.

    IMO – Rome is only one of the many denominations that put “Tradition” over The Bible.

    I was baptised Russian Orthadox, confirmed Lutheran, attended an Episcopal congregation
    during High School, Attended – Church of Christ, Baptist, Non- denominational, and a few
    others. They will tell you – be a Berean – check the scriptures – when you do –
    and you disagree – you get the left foot of fellowship – your soul is NO longer important.

    I left “The Corrupt Religious System” in the early 90’s. Much Pain, Tears, and Abuse.

    Thank you Jesus – the Shepherd and Bishop of my Soul…

  109. Eagle

    Jesus sets the captive free…

    And His Liberty is Glorious…

    2 Cor 3:17
    Now the Lord is that Spirit:
    and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

  110. Nuno, you have figured out what I have been trying to say for a while now! I believe pastors ought to have administrative authority, not “spiritual authority.” Except to forgive sins, of course :P

  111. Miguel – hey, I think I had an inspired brainwave or something! ;)

    More seriously, if you think about businesses, “administrative” = practical, nuts-and-bolts tasks (including day-to-day operation).

    Agreed on the authority to forgive sins in both service and confession, though in that case, I don’t believe that only a pastor can do that, since Scripture says otherwise. (But I suspect we’re in agreement on that topic.)

    A. Amos – I think you’ve set up a straw man in your response to me, and I think there is more than one “right” answer here.

    But maybe it’s best if I bow out of the discussion altogether? I don’t think either of us will be able to convince the other of our respective viewpoints, though I also think that we agree on a a lot of things. (More than might see apparent…)

  112. numo

    You’re probably correct…
    “I also think that we agree on a a lot of things. (More than might see apparent…)”

    BUT – I have to strongly disagree when you write…
    “I use electricity and a vehicle with an internal combustion engine…
    …None of those things existed in Jesus’ time.”

    Well, it seems Lightning (electricity – Good ole Ben Franklin) would light up the skies. ;-)

    Luke 17:24
    For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven,
    shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day.

    And, it seems God might have used a car when He chauffeured Adam out of the garden. ;-)

    Gen 3:24 So he (God) *drove* out the man…

    And the apostles used Japanese and German cars. ;-)

    Acts 5:12
    And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought
    among the people; and they were all with one *Accord* in Solomon’s *Porsche.*

    Jesus loves me this I know…

  113. BIRTH OF THE CALVINISTA BABES

    A twenty-seven year old youth with no theological training and little life experience sat down in hermitic isolation, took pen in hand, and began to apply the rigid deductive reasoning skills he had recently acquired in law school to a project that would alter the course of history.

    The young attorney was drafting neither a will nor a contract. Contemptuous of the recovery of humble inductive reasoning of Aristotle that was sparking the Scientific Revolution, Calvin had set out to construct a literary wall of legalistic logic designed to prevent Christian laymen from using their own God-given minds to freely interpret the Scriptures that Martin Luther had only recently freed from the vaults of the Roman Catholic control.

    He intended to bring order to the chaotic Reformation by erasing all poetry and mystery from the Bible, just as his obedient legions would soon silence pipe organs with axes and shatter priceless stained glass windows with rocks.

    When the hyper-rational young lawyer had finished writing, he called his magnum opus “The Institutes of Christian Religion”, a fitting title for this ponderously florid attempt to rewrite the whole of the Christian tradition according to the dictates of one young mortal mind.

    Shortly thereafter the merchant leaders of a small city state situated on a spit of land between France and Germany, buffeted all about by Wars of Religion, invited the young Calvin to use his callow certitude and legalistic code to bring bring political tranquility to their town of Geneva.
    The Genevan citizenry gathered in the city square and voted to dissolve their traditional democracy, placing their full trust in the erudite but untested judgment of young Calvin.
    Thus began the dismal bloody reign of the brooding scholar who would become known as the Protestant Pope.

    During his time in Geneva, Calvin would elaborate ad infinitum on his Institutes –he was so prolific that no scholar claims to have read his entire body of work–but decades of ministering to living and dying people and applying the civil law, like an eponymous character from the Book of Judges, emended his main themes, the perfect insight into the mind of God and the heart of man developed in a musty library during the days of his youth not one bit.

    Henceforth, and to this day, John Calvin’s Institutes would be the rock under which cowering souls escaping from freedom seek dignified refuge. Moreover, the self-justifying work of “The Reformer”, who stopped cold the democratic impulse of the Reformation for scores of millions–would serve as the steppingstone for Protestant priests ascending to heights of worldly power– usually in concert with the same sort of “elect” wheeler-dealers who had installed Calvin at Geneva.

    –Kent Johnson
    March 7, 2012

  114. Some times I can’t stop myself from commenting before I read everyone’s comments. I have two things to say at the moment:

    John Adams writing to his son John Quincy Adams: “never be too wise to ask a Question”

    What about being accused of being a wolf? Over and over and over again, and never confronted in person with real concern for the sheep they’re supposed to be protecting? The Holy Spirit would be the “wolf,” then, wouldn’t it? Because He and I wrestle with the Word and have GREAT discussions, along with other wolves, I guess… I didn’t even get to be a sheep…

  115. Queen Momma
    Keep asking questions and let those fearful little men who can’t take a question slowly come to the realization that they are a bunch of wusses.

  116. If I were ever to preach, I would hope that the result would be this: people thinking for themselves, doing some research on their own, coming to their own conclusions

    so if a member came to their own conclusion murder was ok, that would be ok? stupid comment. God’s word is truth, you dont come to your own conclusion. You obey it. Period!

  117. “so if a member came to their own conclusion murder was ok, that would be ok? ”
    Well, I’ve known a couple preachers who would say yes– just so long as the member who reached said conclusion was the afformentioned Genevan reformer.

  118. DaveAA

    Bingo “so if a member came to their own conclusion murder was ok, that would be ok? ”
    Well, I’ve known a couple preachers who would say yes– just so long as the member who reached said conclusion was the afformentioned Genevan reformer.”

  119. Just bumping this so Kent will see it when he comes back.
    Sorry ladies, if I have broken any rules

    Kent, can I quote you concerning Calvin on my blog?

  120. Ahhrrggg!
    Kent are you ever coming back?
    I wanted to post your quote on my blog yesterday.
    Anyone else know Kent or how to get a hold of him so I can have his permission for this?
    Thanks.

  121. Mara
    You can post whatever comment you like. Once they hit the blog, they come under our copyright. I know how to get ahold of Kent and will try but feel free.

  122. Stumbled on this article by chance. Too bad it doesn’t have a facebook button for me to recommend to my friends

  123. Too bad it doesn’t have a facebook button for me to recommend to my friends

    We have a system issue behind the scenes which has disabled our like buttons.

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