Not everything is about you," Clary said furiously.
"Possibly," Jace said, "but you do have to admit that the majority of things are.” ― Cassandra Clare, City of Glass link
This is a quick post to update you on a growing scandal. At this time, Driscoll has not responded. The sources for this information are credible.
Yesterday, March 5, World Magazine reported that
Seattle’s Mars Hill Church paid a California-based marketing company at least $210,000 in 2011 and 2012 to ensure that Real Marriage, a book written by Mark Driscoll, the church’s founding pastor, and his wife Grace, made the New York Times best-seller list.
According to a document obtained by WORLD, Result Source Inc. (RSI) contracted with Mars Hill “to conduct a bestseller campaign for your book, Real Marriage on the week of January 2, 2012. The bestseller campaign is intended to place Real Marriage on The New York Times bestseller list for the Advice How-To list.”
The marketing company also promised to help place Real Marriage on the Wall Street Journal Business,USA Today Money, BN.com (Barnes & Noble), and Amazon.com best-seller lists.
Let's go through this. TWW reported on the controversies surrounding this book here. This book is also under scrutiny for citation errors which has been well documented by Dr. Warren Throckmorton here. This book had been under fire because Driscoll appears to lay the blame on his wife, Grace, for marital issues here.
Real Marriage was apparently on the best seller list for 1 week. One big, fat week. Today Janet Mefferd found an interesting tweet from Driscoll at the time his book hit the bestseller list.
Yeah, right….like he didn't know it was going to happen! I find this statement somewhat odd in light of what we know about Driscoll's lifestyle and now the allegations surrounding this book. Questions are being raised and, except for the following statement, Mars Hill is not responding. (No big surprise there).
From the above linked World Magazine article
Repeated phone calls to Result Source by WORLD went unreturned. When WORLD contacted Mars Hill about its relationship with Result Source, church spokesman Justin Dean responded via email, saying, “Mars Hill has made marketing investments for book releases and sermon series, along with album releases, events, and church plants, much like many other churches, authors, and publishers who want to reach a large audience.
Both Matthew Paul Turner and Dr Warren Throckmorton have posted the contract with Result Source. From Dr Throckmorton:
I have a copy of the contract signed by Mars Hill executive pastor Sutton Turner and Mat Miller at RSI. In 2013, Jeffrey Tractenberg investigated RSI for the Wall Street Journal and interviewed various people who had worked with RSI.
…Note that RSI uses “over a thousand different payment types” to evade detection. Somehow RSI knows that the NYT bestseller list “requires a minimum of 90 geographically disperse (sic) addresses.”
Apparently, the publisher must be on board with this arrangement as well since the contract requires the publisher to supply the proper number of books. I have asked Harper Collins Christian for comment but they have not replied as yet.
Here is a particularly interesting comment from Dr Throckmorton:
I spoke to a former Mars Hill pastor last night who told me that some MHC locations had hundreds of books just gathering dust.
So, while Pastor Marks was "saving" money at The Dollar Store, it appears that Result Source may have been spending someone's money to make Driscoll's book become a bestseller. It appears that even his own church members don't want to read this "bestseller."
Dr Throckmorton, quoting from Warren Cole Smith's article in World Magazine show us how its all done. Be sure to read his full article.
“RSI [ResultSource] will be purchasing at least 11,000 total orders in one-week.” The contract called for the “author” to “provide a minimum of 6,000 names and addresses for the individual orders and at least 90 names and address [sic] for the remaining 5,000 bulk orders. Please note that it is important that the make up of the 6,000 individual orders include at least 1,000 different addresses with no more than 350 per state.”
Let me repeat a quote from the World Magazine article.
Seattle’s Mars Hill Church paid a California-based marketing company at least $210,000 in 2011 and 2012
Where did the money come from? Mars Hill ain't talkin'. This little game appears to show what happens when a man with a big ego needs to have it stroked. The sales are rigged and the game keeps getting played. And this is how he role models how real men act? No wonder people are fleeing the faith. We are living in Fantasyland.
Keep an eye out for posts regarding Steve Furtick. Questions are being raised there as well. TWW salutes Dr Warren Throckmorton, Dr James Duncan and Warren Cole Smith for pursuing the truth.
Finally, I wonder… What could a church do with $200,000 if they didn't have to pump up someone's ego?
@ Nick Bulbeck:
We’ll send you a copy of Real Marriage…the dusty ones.
Atheists, phffft. Clowns like Driscoll and Furtick prove there’s more than one way to mock the Gospel.
Well, in corporate America (and, perhaps, among the youngsters in the City of London) that might be how real men act – at least, “real” as opposed to imaginary, not “real” as opposed to “failed”.
Fiscal famously derided British christendom for not having any famous young preachers. The trouble is that a preacher who cultivates fame in the way Fiscal does is an extremely negative role-model, however much he may misuse-by-assertion the word “godly”.
That’ll teach me.
Off topic, but wanted to alert folks that the Recovering Grace team has called for this to be a day of prayer for the events surrounding Bill Gothard and IBLP/ATI. More info on their website.
Apologies if this has been announced already; I now have a two year old and no time to keep up with all the comments.
That is so true!
Nick Bulbeck wrote:
Uhh … Nick … I hope it won’t. [It = the book, of course.]
Using $200,000 to get a vanity NYT best-seller placement is absolutely what the Bible means by good stewardship.
I heard about this! Janet Mefferd talked about it on her show.
It isn’t, of course, illegal strictly speaking, but I think you could make the argument that it’s unethical. For one thing, it isn’t exactly in line with any goal that strengthens the church or helps the church reach more people, or disciple people, etc. etc. It’s only goal is to make Mark’s ministry look good outwardly, so you have to ask if it’s wise to spend money on it. Or fair, or honest…people do form impressions based on lists like that. I would think that a pastor, of all people, would understand that it’s crucial for a ministry success to be based on Godly results and not impressions.
The other question is, of course, where the money came from. It’s probably even more unethical if it turns out that this money was spent from church funds without telling parishioners. Because I doubt that many of them would see that as a worthy goal.
I don’t think this is just about ego. It is also about money. He can market future books on the number of times he was on the NYT list, thus increasing his bank account. Furtick made it there for one week too. I wonder if he used the same company? Hmm.
Turner is one of Driscoll’s two handpicked “Executive Elders” (the three comprise the Mars Hill leadership trinity of Prophet (Driscoll), Priest (David Bruskas), and King (Sutton Turner). It sounds bizarre and sick, I know. But true.
Dee: Will you ask your neighbor, Warren Cole Smith, over at World Magazine, when we will be able to view the Mars Hill “gag order” he claims to have in his possession?
No indeed. I meant that being presented with a pile of Fiscal’s “content” will teach me not to be the first poster.
I’m reminded of a semi-humorous competition run by some local newspaper or other in England in which the first prize was a week in Felixstowe. And the second prize was two weeks in Felixstowe.
@ sad observer:
“It isn’t, of course, illegal strictly speaking,..”
I suppose. But this much is true: it is not above reproach. (a message for Justin Dean, and the ones who told you to say it)
Just sent him a message about it.
That Bad Dog wrote:
It’s called “juicing the book” and though legal is definitely a shady business practice.
sad observer wrote:
But if any of them were to speak up about it, they get denounced for their Bitterness(TM), punched in the nose, and thrown under the bus.
Thanks for letting us know. I am praying.
I wonder if this would have been allowed to happen if Bent Myer and Paul Petry were still elders at Mars Hill. I wonder if the people at Mars Hill know what they truly lost when they were thrown under the bus.
Sad…$200,000 could be used for a lot of different purposes that prop up a book that also includes a disscussion on anal sex on the NYT best seller list. Think of the homeless in Seattle that could have been helped? Those who huge medical bills who are struggling with the finances? Think of the people who could have been helped with alcohol and drug addictions and job placement. This is really disgusting.
And I would like to ask…where is John Piper in all this? He looooooooooooooooooooves Mark Driscoll’s theology (accoridng to Youtube Desiring God video). Why is piper silent? Deebs…I think we need to start a countdown to see how long it takes John Piper to respond to Mark Driscoll’s latest scandal. Granted he’s not CJ Mahaney but Piper and Driscoll are still bunk mates!
I used to work in marketing and this practice seems really shady. Just really shady. Again this is why I think of words like – corruption, decadance, waste, etc.. when it comes to hyper-reformed theology. There are many atheists who have more integrity and exhibit Galatians 5:22 better than Mark Driscoll.
At least 1000 different addresses, no more than 350 per state, with no more than six orders to the same address. Mix of individual and bulk orders, simulating individual buyers and legit bookstore distributors.
Wanna bet that’s to get around the threshold alarms of the best-seller list tabulators? And if they changed their thresholds, the ResultSource requirements would change to match?
After all, ResultSource DOES claim they can get you on the best-seller lists and that requires dodging around the alarms and not looking suspicious.
And anyway, the REAL master of juicing a book was L Ron Hubbard:
1) Elron writes (or has ghost-written) his next bestseller, pubbed in-house by Scientology-owned Bridge Publications.
2) Command Intention LRH goes out from Flag to all Scientology Orgs: All Pre-Clears, Clears, and Operating Thetans are to buy the book. Maybe a couple copies, but not a large number per Scientologist.
3) Pre-Clears, Clears, and Operating Thetans turn in their extra copies at their Orgs, who ship them back to Bridge Publications.
4) After inspection at Bridge, mint-condition copies (maybe replacing damaged dust jackets) are shipped to bookstores.
5) Repeat (2) through (4) until Elron once more tops the best-seller lists.
Now THAT’s Juicing a Book! But you DO need a Cult with an in-house publishing house to really pull it off. Apparently Mars Hill isn’t as big as Scientology.
The point of reading books on the NYT’s Bestseller List is because lots of other people found the book of value. Paying to give that impression is tantamount to lying.
I suspect if this info circulates widely enough, that Fiscal just did his last successful dance with that trick.
sad observer wrote:
Unethical? Yes. Common sense tells us that.
Doable and legal? Depending on how he changed the power structure when he effectively neutered his board and elders, it may well be.
Seems Fiscal took a page of operational strategies out of the Calvary Chapel playbook. If he did, then he would also have found a way to neuter any say from the congregation. Though, admittedly, since Mars Hill has a membership, that would be much harder to pull off. Calvary Chapel avoids any pesky accountability questions from the congregation by not having memberships.
That might explain the large stacks of hard back Real Marriage books I saw recently in Ollie’s Bargain Outlet at a deep discount. I guess some poor vendor got stuck with them and had to unload them to an overstock liquidator.
M. Joy wrote:
… or, is it possible that old pre-citation-and-plagiarism-allegations versions are being offloaded in view of a new corrected-and-compliant edition is being release? What is the *Real Marriage* publisher doing with tainted copies and have they finalized what they are doing with revised ones?
That is an intriguing question in light of the overlapping controversies with *Real Marriage* …
@ M. Joy: they’re probably just remainders. Books get remaindered when the paperback edition comes out, for example, and then later, paperback copies get remaindered.
See your local Barnes & Noble; they make a good deal on the sale of remaindered books.
@ brad/futuristguy: they probably came from a”jobber” – company that keeps large quantities of many titles in stock (think warehouses) to sell to bookstores that run short of a title and need more copies.
See my previous post on remaindered books. (I worked in bookstores for a number of years, fwiw.)
sad observer wrote:
And you’re quite right, of course. The least person in the Kingdom of heaven would understand that. Perhaps Park Fiscal also does, deep down. I honestly don’t know. I am in [fame] stepped in so far that, should I wade no more, returning were as tedious as go o’er.
sad observer continued:
I hope with you, Sad Observer. But it may not be true; past a certain point, simply to be a parishioner in such a business is to believe that what’s good for Park Fiscal is good for Jesus.
Nick Bulbeck wrote:
Sorry – meant to say that this is (as many of you will recognise) from Macbeth. The original says blood, not fame, of course; I don’t think anyone seriously attributes bloodshed to Fiscal, but the addiction works the same.
I wonder if the New York Times will comment on this matter. The NYT Best Seller list is legondary, and known for publishing the top books that are movers and shakers. It’s prestigious and I can’t imagine the NYT is going to be thrilled that they were frauded also. I wonder if this will affect others in the publishing world – secular and “Christian” 😛
Mark Driscoll just made the Los Angeles Times with teh question, “Can best seller lists be bought?” Isn’t Neo-Calvinist sanctification beautiful?
The Friendly Atheist is on to this story!! I really hope more atheists bite into this topic and like like a Mutt riding a French Poodle that they ride this story for all it is!! 😛
LOOK at this!!! Screen shot everyone! 😛 How much longer do you think Crossway will still be touting Real Marriage as being a “New York Times” best seller?
That article answers lots of questions. How deceptive!
I can’t sit back and watch Pastor Mark be slandered like this anymore. He is my Pastor and is a true man of God. He preaches straight out of the Bible and does not mince any words, he gives us the full counsel of God.
I am so mad about this!!
WE DON’T CARE IF HE BOUGHT HIS WAY TO THE NY TIMES BEST SELLERS LIST.
Everyone else does it so what is the big deal???
I think its time for us Christians to have the biggest movies, books, and tv shows. I am glad he did it…because Pastor Mark only did it for Jesus!
Having a NY Times best seller glorifies Jesus!
Anything we do to glorify Jesus is okay by me!
Bill Gothard resigns from IBLP
@ Seth Lowery:
Welcome to TWW. Have you met Mr. Rogers and friends from Elevation? You guys must get together.
@ Seth Lowery:
Then he should assign every nickel of money from his book, and all but $50,000 of his salary and housing allowance, to feed the poor, etc., as Jesus directed in Matthew 25.
@ An Attorney:
And sell that huge monster of a house and give the proceeds to the poor.
sad observer wrote:
It’s possible it’s unjust enrichment to the benefit of Mark and Grace Driscoll. I’d argue that the $210K spent to do this should be considered as taxable income to the Driscolls, as their reputations (at the very minimum) benefitted from the best seller list designation. If Mars Hill had benefitted, that would have been a slightly different story (and harder to contest from a tax perspective), but it’s not Mars Hill that’s on the front of the book, and Mars Hill doesn’t hold the copyright to the book either.
I know of a guy named Ronald Weinland, who is the “prophet” and leader of one of the zillions of Worldwide Church of God splinters. (In this case it is the Church of God–Preparing for the Kingdom of God.) Currently, Mr. Weinland is a guest of the Federal Bureau of Prisons for failing to report monies spent on all sorts of luxuries as his income *and paying taxes on those monies*. Weinland would NOT have been in prison had he reported and paid taxes, but instead, he reported his income as $32,000 and proceeded to scoop up tithing income to buy cars for his kids, vacations, massages, expensive suits, etc. As I said, he’s in prison.
So the IRS DOES take an interest in making sure that income is properly reported. In this case, where it appears for all the world like Mark and Grace Driscoll benefitted from the $210K expenditure, I certainly HOPE that the monies expended were properly reported as taxable income on the Driscolls’ 2011 or 2012 taxes. If not, I hope Driscoll is either paying Mars Hill back with interest, or filing amended returns and including a check payable to “Internal Revenue Service” for this income.
Both Wartburg Watch and Pajama Pages have previously posted how Steven Furtick did something similar. To see the Wartburg post check the Steven Furtick category title “How Steven Furtick Turns Mediocre Books Into Mansions” I wonder how common this is among mega church authors?
I had to stick my head outside to see if there were pigs flying around.
“Everyone does it so what’s the big deal?” That never worked with my mother growing up so I’m kinda thinking I wouldn’t want to try it with God either.
Probably more common than you’d think. The Wall Street Journal did a story about three books that appear to have used similar gaming techniques in 2012.
It’d be interesting to look through the NYTimes best seller lists for the last three or four years, particularly the “Advice and Self-Help” list, and see how many pastor books appeared there for one week and then dropped off into oblivion.
Mr. Seth sounds almost like a parody post. But I can’t quite tell.
Oh yeah, Seattle, you had to come to California for this!!! (Wait, this isn’t something to be celebrated…?)
spending $200,000 to juice the charts is glorifying Jesus how?@ Seth Lowery:
@ That Bad Dog:
That’s why Driscoll doesn’t use interlinear Greek Bibles, so he can force the Bible to mean what he wants it to mean.
One thing bugging me about the entire Bill Gothard thing is the following.
Evangelicals aren’t repenting of it. I was hoping Gothard’s organization would repent public-ally and then close itself down to show its remorse. All the churches and Christians over the years who used Gothard would have repented for doing so. Evangelicals son’t know what repentance is…I would suggest that the celebrity culture is corrupting the church.
Tony Jones of Theoblogy also mentions how Rick Warren did something similar with Purpose Driven Life in a post today about Mark Driscoll.
Yeah, I agree. If he’s a parody, then I’ll sit back and enjoy the show.
If he’s real?
Then I must address this:
Seth Lowery: “(1) He is my Pastor and (2)is a true man of God. (3) He preaches straight out of the Bible and (4)does not mince any words, (5)he gives us the full counsel of God.”
(1) I can’t deny this part.
(2) This part is completely debatable.
(3) This part is completely false.
(4) This may be true, but those words have very little to do with the Gospel.
(5) Nope, nope, nope. Mark Driscoll gives us the full counsel of Mark Driscoll and claims that God agrees with him.
So Seth, if you are doing parody, rock on dude.
Seth, if you are for real, then get a clue. Driscoll is a sinking ship that will take you down with him if you continue to cling to him like he’s God or something.
Yep. They think the types of things you repent from involve drugs, alcohol, music, sex, you know the routine. They haven’t a clue how to truly repent from anything else.
@ Eagle: well, what it really is is a list of the top *selling* books. People assume it is about worth (good content), but that isn’t its actual purpose.
Many apologies if this has already been linked here.
Seth Lowery wrote:
And, by the way, I absolutely will not shut up.
Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
What could a church do with $200,000 if they didn’t have to pump up someone’s ego?
$200,000 is more than the annual budget of some small churches, although it’s probably a drop in the bucket at a place like Mars Hill.
Weee, two down, a bunch more to go! Maybe we’ll get lucky and Piper, Driscoll, and Michael Pearl will all also resign.
(I am referring to Gothard and Doug Philips above.)
So Fiscall did some financial deal and got his book on the NYT best seller list. Uh uh. Was he just playing the game like other authors have done? Yeah, maybe.
But he KNEW that the book was not a best seller and he built a scenario to make it look like it was. He lied. He lied to convince people to buy his book. He deceived people into believing he was something he was not – the NYT best-selling author of that book. He led people to believe his book was something it was not. This was not playing the publishing game. This was deceit. Game over.
I do not care a whit how many people know him, what a manly guy he is in person or what great results he has achieved. His behaviour is what counts.
Seth Lowery wrote:
I thought living a totally sinless life and being raised from the dead glorified Jesus and was pretty amazing.
But you’re saying having a book that plaigiarized stuff and only mentions Jesus in passing and also promotes kinky sex is more glorifying? Conquering death can be topped by having a book about kinky sex appear on the NYT best seller list. Okay.
Like on the last thread (Susa Lanskey from the Furtick thread), is this poster serious, or is this a poe, a parody?
The NYT Best Seller list is about quantity, not quality. Read the NYT Sunday book review sections for their critics’ takes on quality.
It’s not just mega-church evangelicals like Fiscal, Warren, Furtick, and Osteen who gig the system (and it IS legal) to get themselves listed as a “best-seller.” Most books written by politicians pump up their sales and market themselves as “NYT Best Sellers” in this exact way.
It really makes one wonder why the NYT doesn’t reform its process, as this practice is widespread and the tag “NYT Best Seller” is rendered meaningless. I guess the tag does retain its marketing cachet, however and everyone – author, publisher, distributors, retailers, NYT – wins when it comes to the cha-ching.
Seth said a NYT Best Seller glorifies Jesus? Are you kidding me?! You must be.
However, don’t take my recognition of this ubiquitous practice as condoning it in any way – particularly regarding its use by Christians. I do believe its deceptive and Christian authors and, for the love of God, Christian publishers ought to take the narrow path.
Juicing book numbers is the equivalent of Furtick’s baptismal “plants,” YEC’s citations of “secular scientists”, and nouthetic counselor’s touting of psychiatric M.D.’s who utilize their methods. All phony mechanisms for building up the individual or institution’s image; all designed to give the illusion of mainstream acceptability when really – the Emperor has no clothes.
@ Rafiki: I worked in bookstores (large, small, independent and chains; also used) for a number of years, so this is familiar territory to me. Buyers and library patrons are very much influenced by best seller lists, but that’s because retailers and libraries make use of this sales data to pump up interest in what’s on the lists.
Retailers obviously do it to increase sales, while library folks are just trying to get more people to read.
@ Rafiki: also, I think the ethics involved in getting this book on the best seller list are questionable at best. And if the list can be manipulated in this way, its actual purpose hard been undermined completely.
Color me cynical and saddened, but not really surprised. Competition in publishing is pretty cutthroat…
Definitely you have the insider’s experience in this area, numo, so your feedback is appreciated. I feel rather cynical about the publishing industry, too.
That said, the LA Times article gave me some new information about Book Scan, for example, and how their process attempts to transparently measure actual consumer sales (though clearly there is a “work around” for this too).
And 1000x yes, the ethics are dodgy – “undermining” the system is a good descriptor.
Rachel Held Evans and others on Tony’s comment thread have more to say on this. Emmaline posted his site earlier:
Tony and commenters made the point that after Warren’s approach on “The Purpose-driven Life”, NYT disallowed bulk sales and also created a new self-help category. But the company Driscoll hired knew a way around it, by making it look like there were thousands of small sales from across the country, even to using gift cards to keep it hidden. So NYT will need to make yet another adjustment.
It is shenanigans like this that make every single public activity a twisted ball of rules. Add to that the big publishing house take-overs and the chance for a poor but good writer getting on that list is very small.
It’s sad and frustrating.
I think you all are missing something, here, when you use the term “evangelical.” Fundamentalist and evangelical are not the same thing. In fact, one reason that the designation “evangelical” spread to groups which had not called themselves that in the past, like the SBC of a few decades back, was in order to be more “conservative” in doctrine and life style while still differentiating themselves from fundamentalism.
Gothardites are hard core fundamentalists.
Now, there may be some individuals who call themselves evangelicals which are closet hard core fundamentalists, and there may be some individuals in evangelical identified churches which are there for other reasons (like maybe to keep family members “in church”) while they themselves have closet hard core fundy ideas, but that is not characteristic of evangelical style faith and practice.
It is not accurate to make sweeping statements about evangelicals while actually referencing ideas or behaviors which are identifiers of hard core fundamentalism.
@ That Bad Dog:
That comment made me laugh. Considering the huge house Driscoll lives in and all the other stuff, he has been a good steward for Driscoll. Well done, Pastor. You’re just like every other schlock out there.
I think the guys like Piper thing that their version of “gospel” doctrine will lead to good behavior. I plan to discuss this briefly today on the blog in which I look at a bunch of news items.
Piper probably admired Driscoll’s ability to attract attention to what Piper believes is the “gospel.” Look at all those people listening to the complementarian message which, in Piperville, is the gospel. Remember, in his world, Driscoll is on Piper’s side of the brick wall. However, I believe that Piper is deceived by his own devotion to “proper” doctrine.
These guys have trapped themselves in a world defined, not by the Gospel, but by a version of Calvinism which was, after all, invented by a man, who also used it to rule with an iron hand (only 6 courses are permitted at dinner, etc).
They refuse to see that their theology, although within the pale of orthodoxy, does NOT lead to a superior practice of the faith. In fact, it leads to authoritarianism, arrogance, and self absorption. These men are capable of great sin and frequent sin despite their protestation of their “freedom to obey.” (I’ll get to that today.)
Now I can make similar (yet different) comments about other theological structures as well so this is not a tirade on just Neo-Calvinism.
That is why I prefer to push the concept of grace because I see the sin that is inherent in all systems. No one has the “leg up” on the basic issue that affects all of us. And that is why we have Driscoll, Mahaney, Furtick and others on the scene and their “theological” compatriots scrambling for a way to defend their behavior.
Of course not but that is not what Driscoll wanted. Mars Hill is Driscoll-plain and simple.
Of course. But never forget that making lots of money and a big ego often skip merrily down the path together.
Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
The cat is coming out of the bag. Now, it will be interesting if the NYTimes can figure out a way to stop his manipulation. They have been losing money and struggling to find a way for the future. if their vaunted list becomes known as a crock, it could hurt them further.
Plagiarism, manipulation oh yeah, and blaming Grace for Mark’s problems….What is “real” about “Real Marriage.”
@ Southwestern Discomfort:
I guarantee you that Driscoll and company have all sorts of lawyers who are setting things up in such a way that he will get away with it legally. However, Driscoll’s star is becoming tarnished. My guess is that others will distance themselves from him.
But, no worries-the good people of Mars Hill and a bunch of people in other churches, especially those in the Neo-Calvinist circles, have been sold a bill of goods and have contributed a great deal to Mark and Grace Driscoll’s lifestyle, all in the name of “good theology.”
@ Headless Unicorn Guy:
I have got to read more about Scientology. Now there is one creepy organization.
And as I’m sure you’re aware, even “fundamentalist” was not coined as a pejorative term, but as a self-identifier for a loose-knit group of Christians who were concerned to affirm certain credal statements that they considered fundamental to the Christian life.
Slightly off-topic now (but hopefully still interesting)… There’s always a risk in setting up a movement-within-a-movement like “emergent”, “fundamentalist”, or even some of the relatively mainstream denominations. You’d usually do this (obviously I don’t mean you personally, Nancy!) because you wanted to re-emphasise some neglected truth or characteristic but, inevitably, you soon become associated with that characteristic alone. Then you begin to attract increasingly extreme or single-issue followers and you eventually become a parody of what you intended.
This can happen on a small scale, like the zillion Worldwide Church of God splinters whereof Southwestern discomfort spake. Or on a large scale like, in many respects, the Reformation.
Personally, I take this as a stern warning. Proverbs 18 states that He who separates himself seeks his own desire; he quarrels against all sound wisdom. There’s a right context and use for this truth, of course, but ISTM that those who distance themselves too much from everybody else end up sliding further and further away into their own little world of self-delusion and irrelevance. This is a great challenge for Nones. On the one hand, dividing the local church into isolated units is sinful and wrong. The fact that “everyone does it” is no more an excuse than it is for Fiscal’s buying his way into a bestseller list. On the other hand, I’ve no wish to become just another micro-denomination!
I believe Seth is a god child of Mr. Rogers. Mars HIll is now launching its own parody company.
Is Fiscal a friend of Creflo Dollar?
Remember the Scientology episode of South Park?
The one where Scientologist Tom Cruse used his clout to prevent Comedy Central from rerunning it until the South Park crew called his bluff with a guerilla marketing campaign?
They DIDN’T make anything up.
Here’s the main clearinghouse site critical of Scientology, “Operation Clambake”:
(That is, if Scientology hasn’t taken them over by lawsuit like it did the Cult Awareness Network.)
And if you can find a used copy of a book titled L Ron Hubbard: Messiah or Madman?, check it out. It’s one wild and crazy (and completely unauthorized) bio of Elron.
Dee, may I recommend “Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief” by Pulitzer Prize winner Lawrence Wright?
He won the Pulitzer for “The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11” which is a must-read.
Driscoll is also mentioned today on The Blaze (Glenn Beck, who, ironically, has more integrity than Driscoll despite the fact he is a Mormon). If you are going to have a public stage, such as MD craves, you have to deal with the fact that your sins are going to find you out in a public way as well. You can’t have it both ways…fame, and then anonymity when you sin. The bigger issue….is that when you are an alleged servant of God, you also make GOD – the creator of the universe – look bad as well. That is why if you can’t stand the spiritual heat, you had better get out of the Christian Kitchen. God created sex to be a blessed and natural event between husband and wife. Note, between husband and wife…not online, not in the bestseller books, but PRIVATE. Not for vouyers. Mark has been exposed, and the people following him had better start following CHRIST…not MD, or their house of cards will fall. And then they won’t want to play the game anymore….because they were playing the MD game, not the real thing.
“(Glenn Beck, who, ironically, has more integrity than Driscoll despite the fact he is a Mormon).”
The idea of “total depravity” or
“There is none righteous, no, not one;
There is none who understands;
There is none who seeks after God.
They have all turned aside;
They have together become unprofitable;
There is none who does good, no, not one.” (Romans 3…)
…rings too loudly in the collective Christian conscience. has become too much of a party line.
the fact of the matter is that human beings are good. in the sense that most people would stop to help a stranger in distress or even who needs a helping hand in picking up something they’ve dropped. Most would not dream of leaving a restaurant without paying their bill. Most have great inner conflict with dishonesty and cheating.
I have been blown away with the integrity of all the people I’ve come to know who either have no religion or a religion other than Christianity.
I think Seth’s comment is pretty illustrative and damning, in how unimpressive Christians are when it comes to integrity. in how easy it can be for Christians to champion their self-aggrandized mission & human figurehead more than what is honest and true and decent and integrous. In how “taking the high road” now means the ends justify the means, no matter how murky, deceptive or corrupt.
@ Nick Bulbeck:
Words of wisdom there, Nick. Words of wisdom.
footnote (what I really meant to say):
“….In how “above reproach” now means the ends justify the means, no matter how murky, deceptive or corrupt.
The loudmouths of my faith subculture make me ashamed of my faith subculture as a whole.
I, too, have a yen to know this.
Seth Lowery wrote:
Well, that’s alright then isn’t it? I’m assuming you’ll be just as supportive if Mark cheats on his wife, hides paedophilia in the church, has a colouring book of himself preaching & rakes in a ridiculous wage…for starters. That’s the kind of the thing the ‘everyone’ you are discussing (very limited group by the way) are doing. So that’s alright then. I’m sure Jesus takes that into consideration.
I checked out the article on World Magazine’s site as soon as I saw the link (before Dee’s post). There were a lot of comments already — boy, the Driscollites got there quick to defend their guru.
What’s up with that? They all do it out of their love for Pastor Frat Boy? Or does Driscoll actually have his own personal cadre of ‘net goons, pegged to sniff out critical articles and attempt to discredit them? Even their tactics (ad hominem, deflection, etc.) are disturbingly similar to those of Scientology’s Office of Special Affairs.
(♪ cue Twilight Zone theme ♪)
I’m not too bothered about keeping terminology like total depravity – often misunderstood – but the verses you quote are God’s judgment of the human condition, and one of the reasons I continue to believe, as no-one else has a better one. It doesn’t mean all people are as bad as they could potentially be, nor that no-one ever does good, as they are made in the image of God. Compared with God though, not one of us is remotely righteous, we have become worthless.
But if you take out this universal tendency to sin, there is nothing to be saved from and no need for a gospel. Jesus didn’t die to make good a few rough edges on otherwise wonderful people.
The mere fact that a blog like this has to exist to expose the sinfulness even amongst those who claim to be Christians only goes to show just how deep rooted this problem is, and the very depths from which we all need to be ‘saved’. My wife has just read a book about a true story of abuse in the catholic church, and the sheer unadulterated evil of what went on beggars belief, unless you hold these actions up to the searching light of scripture and its honesty in exposing what we are really like.
What do these men and nuns – and the egotistical celebrity culture of parts of protestantism etc etc – think is going to happen to then after they have died? ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’, with a blind eye turned to extra curricular activities? More like ‘Depart from me you cursed, I never knew you’, surely. Their religious ceremonies they think award them salvation credits, fame and fortune, reputation, worldwide ‘ministries’ (which actually only minister to Self) will not save them from the wrath that is to come for those whose works indicate an absence of faith rather than its presence.
Serving Kids in Japan wrote:
Remember “The Lure of the Inner Ring”, strutting around as the Big Man’s Speshul Court Favorites. Tabaqui the Jackal, flattering Shere Khan for the scraps from the tiger’s kill.
One of the best journalistic sources (with an amazing online community) is Tony Ortega’s blog. He’s incredibly thorough and knowledgeable. You can check out tonyortega.org for the most recent developments in the slow demise of the Co$.
FAIR WARNING: The Co$ a rabbit hole unto itself, and Ortega’s Underground Bunker can be habit-forming. We’d hate to lose you, Dee. 😉
Last time I had “Everybody’s Doing It” played on me was by a sexual predator trying to groom his way into my pants. (He failed.) In that case, the “It” everybody was doing was Homosexuality.
Parallels to Christian complementarianism:
From Mormon Women, a Flood of Requests and Questions on Their Role in the Church
yes, surely in light of “God” human beings don’t score well. But I am bothered when Christians fail to see the inherent goodness in human beings. I see wonderful things in people everywhere — kindness, compassion, honesty, etc.
what is so striking to me is how Christians have such a bad reputation in the character department. It is very founded (as demonstrated by this latest alleged Mars Hill shadiness, and people coming out to cheer “Rah Rah Ree, it doesn’t matter to me!”)
why is it that the hindus, Buddhists, and moslems I know place a higher value on things like kindness, honesty, and integrity than many Christians? I believe that God & holy spirit enter in to the life of an individual upon the invitation. So, why the inferior behavior & morality?
it really makes me question the Christianity’s product which Christians are selling, when the performance is so lousy. it’s embarrassing.
I know God makes a difference in the here & now… but I really wonder why Christians are sometimes the lousiest people of all.
That’s really hard punishment, just for being first. I wonder if it’s even constitutional in the U.S. – you know, cruel and unusual punishments, …
It seems that it doesn’t take a lot to have more integrity than MD, then. I don’t much like Mormonism, but I’d say “despite the fact that he is a conspiracy nutter”. Mormonism in itself does not make a man dishonest or lack integrity.
I think there’s enough overlap in attitudes and practices with some that it’s a distinction without a huge difference.
The parts of that page that gets really interesting and instructive is after the remark, “The distinctive hallmarks of post-1925 fundamentalism are” and “How did the postfundamentalist evangelicals differ from them?”
@ Rafiki: I can’t understand why this kind of thing isn’t viewed as fraud – that said, maybe it is, now. It certainly seems like the epitome of sharp practice.
As for bookstore work, it has been awhile, but some things haven’t changed all that much. Others have.
Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
True. I learned in Calvary Chapel that you can’t underestimate what people will do to be seen by the pastor (and those who might tell the pastor) as one who is clearly devoted and will defend him at all costs. Blind loyalty is one of the keys actually taught to anyone wanting to be involved at a serious level.
Even men who were totally loyal to their fellow soldiers in war, had to choose between continuing that loyalty back home or transferring it to their pastor. Transfer was the choice, which the pastor then tested in a most heinous way. I still see these people as lemmings, people who wanted to be cool in high school but didn’t quite get into the inner circle. So now they work and sacrifice with the one desperate need to be “somebody” in the eyes of their pastor.
We can’t serve two masters. Followers have to choose between the pastor and God. Leaders often choose between pride (which is fed by prestige/power & money) and God. I see hoards of people and whole church systems that are filled with people who have broken choosers.
That is wishful thinking. The men in that religion will never concede an ounce of power unless forced to. My fiance lives and works in the heart of mormon-land and I have experienced more chauvinism while visiting him than I ever encountered in the backwards region of East Texas. They take complementarianism to a new level that our evangelical friends can only dream of.
@Eagle, do you have any tips on dealing with mormons? Are there any code words or tactics I need to watch out for? My fiance grew up in the area so he seems immune to them and doesn’t even notice their odd behavior anymore.
I see God moving against this elitism on a macro and micro level. He is exposing much pride, deception, avarice and immorality among those who claim special anointed authority within His Church and among their ardent admirers. Their façade is crumbling and they are being exposed for who they really are – common, everyday sinners just like the rest of us. Kyrie eleison. Lord, have mercy upon us.
Thanks for adding the clarification Doc. Historically, a pretty signficant difference between self described fundamentalists and self described Evangelicals.
The FIVE FUNDAMENTALS:
1. The inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture
2. The deity of Jesus Christ
3. The virgin birth of Christ
4. The substitutionary, atoning work of Christ on the cross
5. The physical resurrection and the personal bodily return of Christ to the earth.
Mock Arrests of Ohio Pastors Create Confusion
The preachers had real life police arrest them during church services as a publicity stunt. The people in the pews didn’t know what was going on.
I wonder why the New Testament says that, when in the OT, we find verses such as,
“Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God.” (Genesis 6:9)
Because many Christians treat their religion as a “Get Out of Jail Free” card.
Smile, nod, and move on?
From the NYT:
Because “faith in God” was his righteousnes, which he then lived out in his life . . .
@ Seneca “j” Griggs.:
And evangelicals believe in those fundamentals as well.
As I said in a post above, there is actually quite a bit of overlap these days in beliefs and attitudes between fundies and conservative evangelicals.
Seneca “j” Griggs. wrote:
That’s not what 1 John 4 says and I hope your inerrancy stuff before Christ is just a flub.
I would say 2,3,5 and part of 4.
We’re so persecuted by the gubmint that we had to ask the gubmint to fake our persecution. Do these guys ever think anything through?
It’s just sickening how some ‘Christians’ need to create some sort of martyr complex for themselves in the United States when THEY are the ones doing the persecuting, of women, gays, whistleblowers, etc. Their claim to martyrdom is, first, a bald-faced lie, and second, it mocks those Christians in other parts of the world whose lives really are on the line because of their faith.
By “heart of Mormon-land” I assume you mean Utah?
Even among Mormons, Utah Mormons have the rep of being the most hard-assed strict and California Mormons the most mellow.
And there’s never been a hard dividing line between the two.
It’s always been an overlap where one shades into the other.
I don’t know if this is what you’re looking for, but it looks promising: http://tinyurl.com/l8oksqt
The woman in the article is a non-Mormon who moved to Utah, and wrote a book titled “To Mormons with Love: A little something from the new girl in Utah.” She also writes a blog which is mentioned in the article. There’s a contact button on the blog. Maybe she would be willing to answer some of your questions?
Good luck. Married life is an adjustment all on its own without having to adapt to an entirely different religious culture.
In that case, NO.
And it could be a matter of getting blindsided; before smartphone cams and YouTube, you could pull a stunt like that to make a point and it would pretty much stay within the congregation.
@ Headless Unicorn Guy:
Did you see the post he was referencing? It was mine, where I gave a link to this:
Mock Arrests of Ohio Pastors Create Confusion
The preachers had real life police arrest them during church services as a publicity stunt. The people in the pews didn’t know what was going on.
So how would you characterize the approximate half of the SBC folks who are not calvinist? Outsiders are won’t to call them all “evangelicals” but they are nothing like the “evangelicals” who people write about on this blog. IMO, the calvinists are fundamentalists but the others do not deserve to be lumped in that category.
And yes, I was a baptist back before anybody that I knew about called them/us evangelicals, And no, I am not any kind of baptist now. But I still know an awful lot of baptists who are not anything like fundamentalists and do not merit such categorization. And, the current battle in the SBC is exactly about this–the fundamentalization of the SBC.
To be fair, Dee didn’t say I had to read it. With a bit of petrol, I’m sure it would start a nice garden bonfire.
The word “evangelical” actually means one who believes that they have an obligation to share the message of Christ, to evangelize — that sharing that message is the primary function of the church, to seek “conversion” of those who have not made a Christian faith commitment. The individual can do this by direct action, by supporting others who do it. Examples are preaching or staffing revivals, donating money to support evangelists, etc. Many Baptists are considered evangelicals. Fundamentalists are, in general, evangelicals, but a large portion of evangelicals, perhaps a majority, are not fundamentalists. Over the years, the fundamentalists have become more strict and many evangelicals have moved toward the fundamentalist positions on issues like the “inerrancy” of scripture. The Fundies generally believe that the KJV is inerrant, while many evangelicals believe that only the original “autographs” were inerrant. So there are differences.
I guess it would depend on the individuals. Some Non Cal SBCs may be like conservative evangelicals, while other may be like fundies. I’m not sure why the labeling is so important to you in this.
@ Seneca “j” Griggs.:
Yeah, I think “self described” is the key here. Which raises the issue of who gets to define whom. I’m not going there right now. We had sleet and more sleet last night, school was cancelled, and I just want it all to melt so we can get on with better weather.
Preach it sister!
Because we live in a society of labels which are often mere stereotypes. I see this as a really bad thing. Like saying that all RCC priests molest children, or all Irish are drunks, or all farm workers are illiterate or, or, or. Or all evangelicals are fundamentalists? Or all preachers are con men and all lawyers are scum bags. We need to not do that. Labels matter, for better or worse.
@ An Attorney: it actually goes further abroad than that, but I think an adequate explanation or definition would require going back to the Greek.
However, I can tell you for sure that the word “Evangelical” used in the name of my Lutheran synod (Evangelical Lutheran Church of America) has nothing to do with evangelicalism per se. Yes I think it is still a quiet, persistent (if sometimes confused and faltering) witness to Christ’s love. However, revivalism and the whole lot plus church language used by evangelicals are just not on our radar. I can speak the lingo because of my decades in evangelical/charismatic land. But I no longer use the jargon, because it alienates people who aren’t part of the club, plus I think it is phony as hell.
I can only second this recommendation for Wrights book. Wright got information out of people…and if you do read it, make sure to read all the way to the end so you can get the full scope of Hubbard’s crazy.
(I met Wright while he was doing interviews for the book, but I was not an interviewee. I was, however, a gushy fan girl over “The Looming Tower”.)
Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
I grew up in a traditional Mormon community in East Texas. I never had any problems with any Mormons. Played on teams with Mormons, fished with Mormons….that said, we’ve had some pretty heated theological debates and East Texas Mormons really don’t care for Utah Mormons. They always talk about the Utah ones all wanting blue eyed blonde wives, and here, we have a pretty good strain of Cajun French injected into our Mormons making many with dark hair and brown eyes….
I’m a woman:) But that story was hilarious.
It appears that Perry Noble’s 2012 book Unleash! only spend one week on the NYT bestsellers list.
How many megachurch pastors have used a marketing firm to buy books to get on this list? This could become one of the biggest scandals in a long time. If true about all the “big dogs,” then what does that say about the endless pursuit of success, fame, and fortune, all under the guise of Jesus by these people?
I can hear the argument now: We need to get the gospel message out and more people will be exposed to it this way. It isn’t illegal. It’s all about Jesus!
Seneca “j” Griggs. wrote:
To which most IFB add “separation”, which can be primary, secondary, and even tertiary.
Southwestern Discomfort wrote:
Oooooooo, as a gushy fan girl of “The Looming Tower” myself I am JEALOUS! 🙂
That’s usually a sign of juicing the book ResultSource style. Especially if it not only goes off the list in a week, but sinks like a stone.
@ Headless Unicorn Guy:
Yes, Utah. My fiance’s office is across the street from the main MTC. I have already aggressively been “evangelized” to or blatantly ignored because I am a non-Mormon even during my one to two week visits. My fiance has told me that he does not want to move down to Utah County due to the fact that our home would have a bullseye on it for love-bombing and practice for the training missionaries. So of course I had to look up love-bombing – not sure if its scary or obnoxious or both but I have a big mouth so it wouldn’t work. Two of his male coworkers wouldn’t even look me in the eye or talk to me until I called them out on their abhorrent behavior. I dress modestly but not Mormon-modest and it seems like a horrible sin if I expose my collarbone in utah county. From an outsiders point of view it seems that the Utah Mormon culture is what our Protestant bigwigs are aspiring to and learning from.
Root word for ‘evangelize’ is ‘angel’ – a Greek word meaning “to give (good) news” Somehow in Greek, the good was implied in the context?/suffix?/prefix? Not sure – but an angel was a news giver and an evangelist was a news bringer.
Actually, it is debatable whether his is the real author. It was one of the books listed by Throckmorton as being plagiarized. He has admitted to ghost-writing other books, but this one had many personal anecdotes so he can't blame a ghost-writer/hired researcher for this book's mistakes. He plagiarized, pumped up the actual sales (for about $210,000), and, likely, hired someone to help put all those ideas down on paper – since he did it with his other books. This is looking really pricey for him (I mean, his congregants).
“Right across the street from the Empty Sea” puts you in Provo. As Utah Mormon as Salt Lake, but NOT as cosmopolitan.
I first came across tales of the Empty Sea on the site of a former Mishie who became a Legend: Bill Shunn, ex-Mishie, ex-Momon, SF writer, and accidental international terrorist.
And an archive of his old site:
And on a lighter note, Parker & Stone mashup with Lauren Faust re the Empty Sea:
“Stupidity is like hydrogen — it’s the basic building block of the Universe.”
— Frank Zappa
Dee, didn’t CJ pay around $200.00 to the sbc for his gig with them? Maybe that’s the amount it takes to get your foot in the door:O.
@ Joy Huff:
Did you mean $200,000? As I recall, SGM gave at least $100,000 and Mahaney gave a cumulative minimum of $100,000 individually.
Both are listed here on page 43.
Mahaney is the only Maryland resident to have given that amount, and SGM is listed in the next category – Businesses, Denominations and Foundations.
@ Headless Unicorn Guy:
A day with a quote from Frank Zappa is a good day indeed. 🙂
Pingback: Did Mars HIll Pay $200K to Get Mark Driscoll's Real Marriage on ... - smart world trade
Yes, that’s what I meant. It’s heartbreaking:-(.
It struck me that getting a book you have written into a best seller list by getting a company to ‘organise’ this is a bit like winning an olympic medal having used performance enhancing drugs. Surely there can be no satisfaction in knowing your ‘achievement’ was not based purely on merit and ability.
speculates that the money and book orders came from
To me, that is not nearly as offensive as outright buying the spot on the best seller list with church funds. Although it is still deceptive since the donaation campaign was for a whole month and not in one week.
It also wasn’t a donation – it was the member purchasing a book at full price when the church had or intended to pay full price for it. No part of that transaction got banked by the church. So, except for the fraud perpetrated on the putative donors and possibly on the federal and state governments, that totally makes it better.
I doubt that the donors would be upset that he used their donation that way. They donated for the book not for the benevolence fund or whatever…
I’m not a MD fan. But it’s hyperbole to accuse him of using “church money” such as the benevolence fund or tithes if the money came from people who purchased the book during a pre-publication drive.
Amazon sells books (and video games) pre-publication. Does anyone know if those pre-publication sale numbers all go into “first week sales” statistics?
When a church or other nonprofit that routinely accepts tax deductible donations from its members solicits money from its congregation as a donation, it knows or should know that its donors will assume they mean a tax deductible donation. It also knows or should know that when they request a donation and call it such, their donors will assume that some portion of those funds will go directly to the church or it’s affiliated charitable endeavours. What allegedly happened here is that the church misled its donors on both counts. Maybe the purchasers/putative donors would have purchased the book at full price from the church if it had been represented honestly. We don’t know, because the church allegedly misrepresented the situation when it induced people to give them money. And we can be pretty darn sure that none of the purchasers/putative donors would have mistakenly filed a false tax return claiming all or a portion of the purchase price as a tax deductible donation.
And that’s without getting into any problems that may or may not exist with the way the chirch recorded and reported these transactions in its books. Hopefully, their accountants are less shady than the development folks.
Someone needs to explain how you can make a “donation” to receive a book?!
A donation receives nothing in return, or maybe I’m too simple . . .
The IRS regulations say that one must deduct the value of any benefit received from making the donation and that the donee (?Mars Hill BC) must provide a statement for tax purposes on the amount of the donation and the actual retail value of the item provided in exchange for the donation.
An Attorney wrote:
What’s the retail value of Real Marriage? #kindling
I’ve served on several non-profit boards but it was a long time back, so my understanding may not be up to date on all things non-profit. But, as best I recall, if a book, DVD, or other kind of “premium” is offered “free” for a particular minimum donation, the non-profit can only issue the donor a tax-deductible receipt for the total of their donation MINUS the reasonable value of the premium the donor receives. So if this book was worth $20, and $25 was the minimum level donation to receive the book, the donor gets the $20-book plus a tax-deductible receipt for $5.
Also, my understanding has been that a non-profit is *required* to use donations for the specific use advertised. (Unless it is clearly specified in solicitations as “general funds” that can be distributed however the governing board of the non-profit so votes.) So, if donations from this campaign were meant to go directly to specific Mars Hill ministries, then they must go to that — as advertised.
These are part of standard practices for transparency and accountability. Use funds for other than the purpose they were solicited for, and — as best I understand — it’s not simply unethical, but breaks IRS rules. So, the ongoing questions and discussions about “inurement” are very relevant, as are the questions on standards and practices at Mars Hill.
If there’s anyone out there who can correct or clarify any of this, please do.
Current full retail value of the hardcover (only edition then available in January 2012) is $22.99.
burnnorton and Bridget,
You must not be in the Evangelical sub culture?
MOST solicitations I get from various christian ministries offer books, dvd’s, etc for a “suggested donation”. In the fine print, they inform you that “FMV of the item in not tax deductible”
I have a Route 66 Bible from David Jeremiah. A KJV study Bible from D. James Kennedy. And and a fabric advent calendar from Focus on the Family. Got them all by donating. (No I did not deduct my donations on my income taxes.)
For MH to offer a book for a suggested donation is not unusual nor unethical IMO.
Correct, as far as it goes, but that’s not the main thrust of the argument against the actions allegedly taken by the leaders of MH. If this were done in the interests of propping up a false and misleading NYT Bestseller designation for which MD would derive a great deal of benefit, increasing his speaking fees and the like, then it’s highly unusual and unethical.
Except that the suggested donation was the exact cost to them of acquiring the book through the marketing contract. That’s not a donation. That’s just a purchase.
I don’t buy much stuff as you describe, and I unsubscribe from advertising emails that want me to buy their products.
I would hope that the print type explaining that receiving a gift limits the amount you can claim forms deduction would be as large as anything else written on the request.
I think that what might be more important to MD than money is the fame of being on the list and the TV interviews he got to do as a result. Some may say, so what, be got to talk about Jesus to millions. The end never justifies the means. Did the “donars” know that the campaign was for the purpose of getting on the NYT bestsellers list?
I don’t consider those items “purchases”. I deducted all of them from my tithe and I never would have spent money on them at a store. (I didn’t deduct them from taxes, however. And nowadays since we are mortgage free, I don’t itemize anymore).
My point was that I’m not sure the donors would be upset that MD did this (whether or not they knew ahead of time)??? If I was a fan of a preacher gung ho to get his message out, I might support the use of pre-sales to get his book on a best seller list.
JFTR I’m NOT an MD fan and there are lots of valid criticisms. YES, it is deceptive to use his pre-sales to put him on NYT BS. However, as scandals go, it’s in the “molehill” class IMO.
That’s a perfectly understandable opinion, and maybe donors were all perfectly fine with how everything was advertised and carried out. However, the only abbreviation that matters here, really, is I.R.S., and the issues over the books, donations, transfers, transparency, accountability, etc., may simply be the tip of the alleged molehill in terms of the largest issue to be examined, which is inurement. Reading the various posts and some reference material on inurement, there may be a mountain of questions on whether any of these actions benefited any individual in the non-profit and therefore went against the US/IRS rules and regulations for non-profits obtaining or maintaining their tax-exempt status.
There’s a pattern of stuff like this with Driscoll and his church. Just a few months ago, there was the plagiarism charges regarding about 3 to 5 of his books, then him being exposed as being friends with Dr Catanzaro, promoting catanzaro’s wares on the MH site, and in years past, the guy had a steady history of making profane, weird, sex related comments in sermons, blogs, videos. Driscoll claimed to have “porn o visions,” basically made Queen Esther of the Old Testament out to be a moral-less tramp.
Driscoll has said some pretty insensitive, incendiary, things about men he deems not manly enough, and very rude and sexist things about women (on a regular basis), but oddly, in a lot of Mars Hill material I’ve seen on his site or touting his products, he claims to be a champion of abused women.
When you take these patterns of behavior and trouble into account, there’s something going on. One drip alone isn’t much, but all these drips are adding up to a lake.
Based on his attitude toward Grace as evidenced in the book in question (such as contempt toward and control over her hairstyle) and his sexual entitlement attitude…
I expect a mountainous scandal at some point. Probably related to abuses toward his wife and family and maybe infidelity.
A mountainous scandal of Biblical proportions would be more effective at invalidating his teaching than “inurement” IMO.
Not wishing it on him, but won’t be the least bit surprised when it happens…
Yes. I hear you. There have been many molehills, some foothills, and I’m afraid the result will be a mountain of pain and anguish. It’s sad.
I’m a professional writer (five commercially-published novels out so far, and my agent is shopping the sixth), and you might be interested to know the largest writing site in the country has weighed in on this.
In short, They Are Not Amused.
John Robinson wrote:
Thank you for sharing that link.
(I hope the guy in the top post of that thread who needs funding for his pet dog who has cancer gets help… I don’t have spare funds to help the guy, otherwise I would donate a few bucks to help his dog.)
Just a bit of clarification, as you are on the right track:
In Greek the verb you are referencing is “euangelidzo.” (Awkward way of typing greek letters phonetically in English characters!). It means “to proclaim good news.” The noun we translate as “gospel” (euangelion; “good news”) is derived from this word.
In the New Testament, this word is a direct translation of the Hebrew verb “basar” (e.g. Luke 4:18, in which Jesus quotes the LXX of Isaiah 61:1). This verb, in its original ancient Near Eastern context, was often used as a technical term to refer to the messengers dispatched by a king/general after a victorious battle to inform his anxiously-awaiting allies (towns, villages, other troop detachments, etc.) of his victory.
This is the context for the beautiful imagery used used by Isaiah. You can also see the verb used in this technical sense a number of times in 1 & 2 Samuel, and a few times in the Psalms (40:9; 68:11; 96:2).
So, all of that to say, when we evangelize, we become the King’s messengers, proclaiming the good news of his ultimate victory over sin and death.
Beautiful. Thank you for this explication.
An Attorney wrote:
I’m just glad that all of that hard work and frustration to learn Greek and Hebrew can benefit others in some way. That’s why I did the work in the first place! 🙂
Seth Lowery wrote:
Face it, Old Son: MD doesn’t even attempt to glorify Jesus; that would require him to take time off from glorifying his reflection in the mirror.
That’s $3 more than I paid for Past Sins…
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The true retail value of Real (dysfunctional) Marriage would likely be next to nothing were it not for publishing manipulation. It would be on the $4 and under shelf at Barnes & Noble. The content of this book is so marginal that I seriously doubt anyone other than complimentarians would even purchase it and they hardly represent the majority of Americans. When I saw Mark and Grace on The View (via youtube), they looked so pathetically out of touch, especially when Whoopie Goldberg was squirming in her chair while they droned on about submission. If you have to phony yourself up via unethical marketing, you’re missing the point of natural selection…not surprising for this crowd of godly manly men who think the world is 7K years old!!
@ Headless Unicorn Guy:
Couldn’t agree more. I often see it explained away as, “we’re still human, just saved”. I think there’s a bumper sticker with words to that effect. In my case, because the performance is so lousy, it has made me question the existence of an alleged originator (and I agree with mirelle aka SWD on the texts)…
Er – you do know Seth is joking?
The late singer/worship-leader Keith Green had a sobering take on this; specifically, I think he was referring to a similar bumper-sticker that said “Christians aren’t perfect – just forgiven”. It was: No, ma’am, you can’t trust my Christian teenage son with your daughter. He’s not perfect – just forgiven.
His point being that if all that cr*p in the Bible about the Holy Spirit living in us (pfsheurgh – as if! Course he/she/it doesn’t…) were true, then it would at some point make a difference to our behaviour.