If there's nothing wrong with me… maybe there's something wrong with the universe!" — Dr. Crusher (Remember Me) link
For those of us who follow the "goings on" in the Christian community, this has been a busy couple of weeks. There is so much that we don't want to miss that we have decided to go with an overview of a bunch of posts. We received this email yesterday.
Did any of you ever read the book of James? Especially chapter 3. No matter what has happened, this blog is nothing but complaining and rumor mongering. I question everyone on this blogs motives and your relationship with Jesus.
Whenever we discuss a particular individual or ministry, we often get emails like this. When that happens, we know we have stepped on someone's sacred cow. So, I am sure this post will cause this individual further angst. Remember: we are never, ever supposed to discuss icky things that go on in the Kingdom-especially if it involves really, super-respected pastors and ministries. Now, onto the icky things…
There is too much here to read in one setting unless you are gluttons for punishment. I have given only some brief overviews of the situations and links to the articles. I look forward to hearing your perspectives. I get rather bored of mine.
UPDATE: Mars Hill Responds 3/7 10:25 PM
Enjoy the read. Gag orders, acrimonious ex employees and Mark is just peachy.
Mark Driscoll and Revisionist History: He Won't Remember You…
Warren Throckmorton wrote a fascinating post called How to Revise History the Mark Driscoll Way and presented another post Becky Garrison: Mark Driscoll's Revisionist History. The theme of both was quite simple. As time goes on, Driscoll ceases to remember those who helped him start Mars Hill and grow the ministry.
It is my opinion that this is a concerted effort by Driscoll to make himself the only Beloved Leader of his paltry empire. This is reminiscent of old Soviet leaders who executed rivals and wiped them from Russian history. Then, they threatened any and all who might "remember them." I once traveled on the Trans Siberian Railroad to Novosibirsk in Siberia. I spent a lot of time contemplating the fate of those who disobeyed this commandment. Bent, Paul-we think of you often.
This routine reminds me of an old Star Trek TNG episode called "Remember Me" in which Dr Beverly Crusher finds herself on an Enterprise on which crew members and parts of the ship disappear and no one, even the computer, remembers the way things used to be But she does. Here is an excerpt from that episode. Some of the dialogue is eerily funny if you think about the Mars Hill situation.
Wenatchee the Hatchet Weighs in on the Now Infamous Driscoll Contract
Please read this entire post to get details on the background. Wenatchee is the world's leading expert on all things Mars Hill (certified by TWW). You might find some of his information quite relevant.
Here are a few excerpts
…..Let's just say Wenatchee The Hatchet has enough eyes and ears that Turner's signature is a match for other publicly available documents featuring the same signature and the formal name certainly matches that on the Washington State Secretary of State listings for the Secretary/Treasurer of Mars Hill.
…..But let's get back to the detail about the trust instrument being set up in February 2011. Whatever the reasons for moving the Driscoll household the intent to buy a house looks like it began at the start of 2011. Given Driscoll's public statements about how the hardest part of ministry is the threats to the safety of his family we'll keep that in mind. There are other questions that can be raised about the particular tales Driscoll shared and whether or not his role as William Wallace II may have catalyzed one of those incidents but we'll set that aside for the time being.
The contract John Sutton Turner signed is dated October 13, 2011 and we've established that On Mission LLC was set up in January 2011 and Future Hope Revocable Living Trust, the instrument used to buy the million-dollar home for the Driscolls, dates to February 2011. People can't just go around buying million dollar homes without some planning. Driscoll had shared extensively in his 2009 sermon that he hoped one of his books popped so that, ideally, he could make enough money of royalties to not draw a salary and to preach for free at Mars Hill.
….Wasn't Turner introduced on November 23, 2011? Turner inked the deal with Result Source, it seems, before he was formally installed/introduced as an executive elder. He was apparently, in some sense, a general manager up until that point but LinkedIn profiles for people associated with Mars Hill have proven mercurial enough that one can't be 100% certain. It's worth noting, at least, that Turner inked the deal with RSI a couple of months before he was even introduced publicly as a pastor at MHC in November 2011 and the month after it was publicly announced Jamie Munson was stepping down.
79 and Single, Resigns
3/8-Thanks to singleman, I have changed my post. This has nothing to do with his singleness. It has to do with alleged perversion.
Well, it looks like the ever increasing reports surrounding Gothard and his overt interest in his bevy of carefully selected, very young, pretty female assistants has reached a critical level. Religion News Service reports on Gothard's resignation here.
I find the reasons given by his ministry a bit under whelming. Also, I sure would like to know why a guy, who "appreciated" young women so much, never married and yet allegedly felt it was his responsibility to give these young women advice on the types of bras to wear. (You cannot make this stuff up.)
Gothard told the Board of Directors he wanted to follow the New Testament command to listen to those who made accusations against him, according to an email sent from David Waller, administrative director of the Advanced Training Institute to families involved in the ministry.
“To give his full attention to this objective, Mr. Gothard has resigned as president of the Institutes in Basic Life Principles, its Board of Directors, and its affiliated entities,” Waller’s email said.
Why didn't he listen to complaints in the past? Never, ever underestimate the power of bloggers. TWW salutes Recovering Grace for their tenacity. Maybe this is the reason our emailer was upset. This stuff cannot be swept under the carpet of "don't give bad reports" any longer.
SBC Insider, Baptist 21, Expresses Concerns About Steven Furtick and Elevation Church
Well, this is interesting. Except for churches which accept women pastors and elders, many SBC leaders studiously avoid criticizing their fellow brethren. This even involves churches with issues in dealing with pedophilia but that is a rant for another day. Heck, the SBC even avoids critiquing outsiders who give money to the SBC like CJ Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries.
So, when the Reformed Baptist group, Baptist 21, openly critiques Steven Furtick, we take notice. It is interesting that the two of the signees of this letter are Jonathan and Nathan Akin, sons of Danny Akin, President of Southeastern Baptist Seminary.
Elevation Church is a member of the Southern Baptist Convention although TWW bets a number of members have no idea that they are "Baptist." Most "hipster" Baptist churches are eliminating Baptist from their name. Could it be that Furtick, once semi-aligned with the Neo-Calvinist crowd, is perceived as having drifted from the fold?
Please read the full statement. You will have to click on the link within that post. Here is a brief excerpt:
Note: Before we released this article we sent it to Elevation church with the hope of opening dialogue about these concerns and learning from Elevation church and Pastor Furtick more about the things of which we were concerned. It has now been nearly a week and we have not heard back from them.)
The evangelical world is buzzing with concerns about the practices of Elevation Church and Pastor Steven Furtick (Click here for one article). Let us begin by saying that we are grateful for every good thing that God has done through Pastor Furtick and Elevation Church. Their zeal to see lost people saved is truly wonderful.
Repeated statements about the authority of pastor Furtick’s vision from God seems to communicate a pope-like role for the pastor (contra 1 Peter 5). The Elevation Code seems to have no place for the Priesthood of the Believers; instead, the priesthood seems to lie with the Visionary alone. Elevation Code 4 states, “We are united under one vision: Elevation is built on the vision God gave Pastor Steven. We will aggressively defend our unity and that vision.” This is quite problematic for two reasons among others: 1) The Scriptures indicate that all Christians can hear from God and know his plans for the church as outlined in the Bible. 2) We don’t need a priest to mediate these things to us because there is One Mediator (1 Tim 2:5).
Is Steven Furtick a Cult Leader?
I love it when someone else asks this question since we get into trouble when we do. In a post, Why is Steven Furtick Acting Like a Cult Leader, Kelly Givens at Crosswalk explores the issue. Here is an excerpt.
Of this, Matthew Paul Turner writes, “While the grownups are listening to Pastor Steven preach, the little ones are in Sunday school learning about “unity.” I actually cringed when I saw this. Not even the fundamentalist church I was raised in featured coloring pictures of our pastor. There’s nothing good or holy or trustworthy about this kind of b.s. It’s dangerous religion. It’s the kind of evangelical brainwashing that all of us should be calling out. This should make us angry. Because its wrong. And because it’s not Christianity.”
Several bloggers are also sharing this info-graphic produced by Elevation Church that includes the following statements:
1. We serve a Lead Pastor who seeks and hears from God.
3. We serve a Lead Pastor we can trust.
7. We serve a Lead Pastor who pours into us spiritually and professionally.
16. We serve a Lead Pastor who goes first.
Pruitt writes, “This is frightening stuff. We have a Lord who came not to be served but to serve (Matt 20:28). And yet at Elevation it is plain that "Pastor Steven" is the boss who expects to be served…I have not read language like that since the last thing I read about North Korea. Why would a church allow such cult-like manipulation?
The Authority of the Local Church Coming Soon to a Parachurch Group Near You
The Deebs want to be the first to issue an "observation and warning." A number of the "Right Type™" of local churches (in this case, those who endorse 9 Marks) are advocating that parachurch ministries need to be "under the authority" of the local church. Oddly, some of this thinking was first advocated by Bill Gothard which is a bit embarrassing given the recent dustup….
So, being the adorable prophets™ that we are, we make the following prediction. Local parachurch groups such as CRU, InterVarsity, Bible Study Fellowship, Precepts, etc. will be pressured to align their groups with a "particular local church." Those who refuse to do so will find themselves on the wrong end of competition and, as we have demonstrated, some of these megas have dollars to throw around.
Now, what might that look like? Take CRU. Suppose they have a Bible study night on college campuses. The Right Type of Local Church™ may start Bible studies on the campus on the exact same night. Remember, you read it here first. (Now, we are not saying that we have gotten reports of this happening or anything like that…)
Keri Folmar, wife of John Folmar, the pastor of the 9 Marks church in Dubai (UCCD) wrote a TGC post on women's Bible studies. Just in case you have forgotten, this is the church featured in this TWW post My, My Dubai which should help you to get what is going on at Hotel Dubai. We are sitting on other stories from this region. Dee is chomping at the bit to do all sorts of posts with titles like "Jai Alai in Dubai," "The Guys From Dubai," and "Bye, Bye Dubai" but alas we must wait.
Here is an excerpt.
Not all Bible study is church-based. Outreach-oriented Bible studies in a neighborhood, school, or workplace can bear much fruit. However, if you want to see exponential spiritual growth in women, keep your Bible study under the authority of a local church. Women in a local church sit under the same preaching of God's Word, so they are already becoming united in their theology. When a difficult question arises they come at it from the same foundation and can check their conclusions with pastors and elders. Those elders also provide oversight and advice about materials and leadership, as they care for women's souls.
Note carefully an assumption with no statistics. Exponential spiritual growth is only seen in context of the local church. Now, let's watch the right™ blogs. It will now become the standard to say "exponential growth only happens in the context of the local church sponsored Bible studies". This mantra will be taught and disseminated.
The other interesting assumption is that you, woman, need your pastors and elders to help you with difficult questions. This is code for "no women will be allowed" to help you with difficult questions because women are "not allowed" to answer" difficult questions."™ They can't "care for women's souls"™ either. Good night!
Is the New Legalism called the "Freedom to Obey?"
At TGC, Jen Wilkin penned Has Failure Become a Virtue? In this post, she posits that people are rejoicing in their sin when they discuss it in a certain manner. She seems to imply that when Jesus said to "Go and sin no more," He must have believed that it was possible. Of course, the earliest manuscripts do not contain this portion of Scripture. But even if they did, it is evident to me that Jesus knew that she would go and sin more.
Wilkins claims that
“My life strategy for today: fail, repent, repeat.”
Sounds good, doesn’t it? These sorts of statements comprise a growing body of commentary that finds the Law of the Bible to be a crushing burden, not just for the unbeliever, but for the believer as well.
She claims the following
The gospel sets us free from sin, but it does more than that. It sets us free to obey (Rom 6:16). And what are we to obey? The Law, that once gave death but now gives freedom. So, don’t miss this: behavior modification should absolutely follow salvation. It just occurs for a different reason than it does in the life of the unbeliever, as the outworking of a changed heart.
When Peter says we have spent enough time living as the pagans do, surely he means that it is time to stop disobeying and begin obeying. Paul tells us that grace teaches us to say no to ungodly passions, not merely to repent when we fail to say no. He goes on to say that we are redeemed, not from the Law, but from lawlessness (disregard for the Law).
If, as John attests, all sin is lawlessness (disregard for the Law), ought we not to love the Law and meditate on it day and night, as those who desire deeply to cease sinning? When Jesus says “Go, and sin no more,” don’t we think he means it?
She is correct when she says that we should not live a life of ecstatic disobedience. But, she also failed to discuss Paul who viewed his sins in this way in Romans 7:19 (NIV-Gateway)
For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do–this I keep on doing.
Paul got it. We will continue to sin and we will continue to seek forgiveness. I do not believe that most Christians are ecstatic over their sin and disobedience. They are ecstatic over the great grace which has resulted in the forgiveness of sins. We do not need to live like many people in certain ministries loved by Calvinistas. Such people live in constant condemnation. Their sins are dissected and pointed out by both pastors and sin hounds who relish "making observations."
I am ecstatic but I do not rejoice in my sin. I rejoice in a God who knew I would continue to sin and provided me a means for forgiveness and a way to go forward. It's called grace, a word which is getting bad press in certain circles these days. I am free. I want to do what is right but I know that many times I will fail. And I can be at rest in His grace and this gives me great joy.
Many self righteous leaders point out the sins of others; sins with which they do not struggle or with which they struggle and no one knows. I am concerned that there will be a new teaching that goes something like this.
"You are free to obey and you will obey if you are truly a Christian. And if you fail in the sins that I, well known leader claim are bad, then you may not be saved. If you are really regenerate,™ you are free to obey, so obey."
This sounds like warmed over legalism to me. Give me the freedom of grace any day.
Well, had enough? I think I have done enough talking for one day. In fact these dogs seem to agree.
Lydia's Corner: Jeremiah 33:1-34:22 1 Timothy 4:1-16 Psalm 89:1-13 Proverbs 25:23-24