What Would Jesus Delete? On Mark Driscoll, RICO, Mars Hill, and Lawyers

Desperation is like stealing from the Mafia: you stand a good chance of attracting the wrong attention.-Douglas Horton link

http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=72186&picture=scales-of-justiceScales of Justice

Late last week there was explosion of activity within and without Mars Hill.  It is the opinion of TWW that a lawsuit is inevitable. The Deebs also believe that it is justified. (Yes, we do know what the Bible says.) We also adamantly state that all of this could have been prevented by humble men and women who should have been in positions of influence in this church. Humility, unfortunately has been replaced by another word that starts with "hu" and that is hubris. Bombastic arrogance is not a quality that is found in the New Testament. 

We are going to assume that our readers are aware of the issues of plagiarism, the purchase of a New York Times bestseller position and Driscoll's decision to leave social media for awhile. He can hide but social media will continue to find him. Mars Hill has more holes than Swiss cheese. Yet, it is high time that the repetitive Mars Hill narrative sees the light of day.

So, onto the developments.

Email Destruction to Commence at Mars Hill

On April 2, Dr Warren Throckmorton posted Megachurch Methods: Mars Hill Email Retention Policy

As of this Friday,(ed. 4/4) emails and church related documents may only be stored for 90 days before being deleted. Also, staff must delete any Mars Hill related documents from personal computers or other storage.

If you visit Dr Throckmorton's site, you can see the actual wording of this new policy. This jumped out at me.

Thank you for helping us improve our stewardship and reduce the risk of storing old emails unnecessarily.

It seems that there is quite a lot of scrubbing going on Mars Hill these days. Some sermons, once available online, are disappearing at the blink of an eye. Now why would Driscoll scrub sermons? 

Does anyone find the statement about "improving our stewardship" by deleting old emails a bit weird? Are they saying that email deletion is now in the category of stewardship just like tithing? That one I can do!

Why is it "risky" to store old emails? What in the world is in those emails? Also, why start deleting at this particular juncture? Do these guys realize just how suspicious this all looks?  Is Mars Hill trying to hide something?  How stupid is it to do this while they are under the microscope? Maybe they should all wear bracelets with WWJD: "What would Jesus delete?"

Salon presents Christian right mega-church minister faces mega-mutiny for alleged abusive behavior.

It seems like just about everyone except certain Neo-Calvinist leaders, current Mars Hill employees and Mars Hill members believe that Driscoll is in real trouble. This lengthy article, written by Valerie Tarico, a former evangelical and a critic of abusive behavior by churches, opines that Mark Driscoll's empire is crumbling.

Members who decide to leave are pushed to debrief with leaders, knowing full well that disagreements may be framed as rebellion against not only Driscoll but against God. Simultaneously, they are expected to abstain from talking with other members about the issues that have become deal-breakers. Membership materials frame audible dissent as divisiveness, creating a more subtle, psychological version of Firstenberg’s gag order. Those who leave often simply disappear.

When church leaders go, they too tend to disappear abruptly, and questions are met with a pious smokescreen. Per Firstenberg, a departure typically is described as God having called the disappeared leader elsewhere, which helps to explain why it has taken years for things to reach a boiling point. That four former pastors—including one co-founder—have now banded together to expose their concerns to the congregation and general public speaks volumes about their depth of frustration and conviction. Given the combined years they poured into the Mars Hill franchise, it may say something also about their sense of loss.

The Repentant Pastors

A group of former Mars Hill pastors started a website in which they movingly confess their participation in the hurt caused by Mars Hill.

We acknowledge the hurts that Mars Hill Church has caused. These are our individual confessions, stories, letters and apologies.

This was a particularly interesting development. TWW contends that Mark Driscoll should have humbled himself and asked for forgiveness a long time ago. We also believe that had he done so, Mars Hill would not be where it is today. We believe he should take a clue from his former pastors.

When we read this website, we knew that Mark Driscoll was in deep trouble. These men know where the "bodies thrown under the bus" are buried and they are now telling the truth, starting with themselves.

REPEAL THE BYLAWS – EXONERATE PASTORS PETRY & MEYER

Here is how the founders describe themselves. It is well worth the read.

Welcome! The people here are mostly former Elders, Deacons, Members and attendees of Mars Hill Church who do not feel that MH and its leadership are living up to the standards set forth by the Bible and are actively abusing their authority. We endeavor to bring sin into the light in hopes that those who have been sinned against or have seen others sinned against would understand that they are not alone. Many of us also feel that we have sinned by turning a blind eye to the sin in front of us.

We are not looking to destroy a church for the sake of destroying a church. While some of us may have some theological differences with MHC, we overall agree with the core theology that MHC has preached from the pulpit since inception. In short, that Jesus is Lord, died for our sins, and that there is no hope apart from him. We feel that MHC has diluted this core theology with their sins.

The sins we are here to bring into the light include:

* The firing and subsequent shunning of Pastors Paul Petry and Bent Meyer in 2007 for protesting the drafting of new bylaws that concentrated power in a few individuals and in practice have limited the accountability of Mark Driscoll as well as others. These bylaws stand in stark contrast to what has been preached from the pulpit and they are responsible for allowing much of the sin that has followed. For this reason they must be repealed.

* The ends-justify-the-means attitude of church leadership that promoted numerical growth over spiritual growth and has resulted in building a mansion upon the sand around the personality of one individual.

* The mistreatment and abuse of church staff. This includes, but is certainly not limited to poor planning on the leadership's part that have resulted in frequent cycles of layoff-rehire-layoff as well as forcing laid off employees to sign non-disclosure and non-compete agreements in order to receive severance packages.

* Ordering at least one pastor to break multiple government laws for a period of months in order to falsely claim "religious discrimination."

* The misuse of hundreds of thousands of dollars in church money to pay a marketing company to cheat the system and get Mark and Grace Driscoll's book on the New York Times best seller list.

* The theft of many authors work in the form of plagiarism in multiple books authored by Mark Driscoll.

* The revision of the church's history in its publications and on its website that leaves out the work of many people in order to make others look better.

We are hoping and praying for the repentance of everyone involved in these sins and a return of Mars Hill to a sustainable Biblical model. We believe that true repentance would include bringing these sins into the light by naming them as well as making demonstrable actions to reconcile with those who have been sinned against.

We do not believe that these sins are an "internal matter" and that bringing it out publicly will harm the reputation of Jesus or his church. Public repentance can only bring glory to Jesus. With this public repentance we are also hoping that the thousands who have been discarded, sinned against, and lied to would find peace.

The accusations in this statement are made by those who know Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll very well. TWW believes that Mark Driscoll should have contacted the folks on this website as quickly as possible. Instead, from what we can tell, it has been very silent. In fact, the "let's scrub our emails" mandate came out well after this Facebook page began. Coincidence? We think not. 

Bent Meyer calls for Mark Driscoll to step down.

Last week, in a post at TWW, Bent Meyer: How to Prepare for and Handle Your Meeting With Mark Driscoll, Bent, a recipient of "The Wrath of Mark" had this to say:

There is expected behavior.  He must resign from all positions that provide him with power and control. Because he employs power and control to shame others and his future, he must not be allowed to avail himself of it.
Make the following perfectly clear. He must remove himself from all public and leadership influence immediately. Others must deal with an orderly succession process.

This is startling. Bent is saying that Driscoll needs to step down. If he is saying this, others are as well. This spells trouble for Driscoll.

Mars Hill receives a visit from the lawyer, gets a preservation letter and gets to learn all about RICO.

On Friday, Dr Warren Throckmorton posted Text of Letter From Former Mars Hill Members to Mars Hill Church Asking to Delay Email Deletion

Yesterday, World Magazine reported that 16 former Mars Hill members hired an attorney to send a letter to Mars Hill Church demanding that the church stop the implementation of the new email deletion policy. The attorney, Brian Fahling, requested that Mars Hill preserve the stored data in anticipation of litigation

Here is a link to the letter purportedly presented to Mars Hill. The letter clearly states its purpose.

Re: Anticipated litigation: RICO, Fraud, Conspiracy, Libel, Slander, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress- Data Preservation Request

In other words, get ready…. we are fixin' to sue you.

What is RICO? This is something we didn't see coming. Think… evangelical Mafia. According to Wikipedia:

Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, commonly referred to as the RICO Act or simply RICO, is a United States federal law that provides for extended criminal penalties and a civil cause of action for acts performed as part of an ongoing criminal organization. The RICO Act focuses specifically on racketeering, and it allows the leaders of a syndicate to be tried for the crimes which they ordered others to do or assisted them, closing a perceived loophole that allowed someone who told a man to, for example, murder, to be exempt from the trial because he did not actually commit the crime personally.

This letter of preservation, which was presented by the attorney to Mars Hill, actually has some standing if this case should go to trial. Courts apparently frown on individuals or companies who destroy documents after being informed that there is a possibility of a lawsuit. Once again, we wonder why Mars Hill was planning on destroying the emails? If they should choose to disregard the letter from the attorney (a foolhardy course of action IMO) why? They will be shooting themselves in the foot.

Summary

TWW believes a lawsuit is inevitable unless Mark Driscoll steps down from his pastorate with no expectation of returning to the pulpit. Frankly, it is not such a bad solution. Driscoll, unlike many of the men he fired, has plenty of money and a really, really great house. Our guess, however, is that Driscoll will not go silently into the night. He is too much of a fan of cage fighting. If he chooses to fight, he will cause further damage to the church.

Also, the T4G conference is occurring this week. We think it is about time that this gathering of supposed Christian leaders begins to figure out how they have contributed to the development of the Christian celebrity network. Without them (John Piper, etc.) Mark Driscoll would not have had so many devotees to excuse his antics.

Lydia's Corner: Ezekiel 1:1-3:15 Hebrews 3:1-19 Psalm 104:1-23 Proverbs 26:24-26

Comments

What Would Jesus Delete? On Mark Driscoll, RICO, Mars Hill, and Lawyers — 341 Comments

  1. Yes, the plot does thicken, here…..From what I have seen from these people already, they will likely just approach the conference as business as usual, with a few side references to gossips and slanderers….Unless they decide to have an emergency session on how to find just the right lawyer:

    Also, the T4G conference is occurring this week. We think it is about time that this gathering of supposed Christian leaders begins to figure out how they have contributed to the development of the Christian celebrity network. Without them (John Piper, etc.) Mark Driscoll would not have had so many devotees to excuse his antics.

  2. @ Dee:

    Does anyone find the statement about “improving our stewardship” by deleting old emails a bit weird?”

    Yes, especially since $210,000 would have paid for plenty of storage for a long time.

  3. If they keep deleting old sermons, they should have plenty of storage capacity for email… A sermon recording is only probably around, oh, one billion times larger than one email, according to my rough[ly nonexistent] back of the envelope calculations.

    😉

  4. Deb wrote:

    So how many T4G attendees will be registering for this conference?

    How ever many, it is “By invitation only” (scam) and the cost?
    “Admission to R14 is only $299 and will be by invite only.”

    Why is Terry Virgo allowing his decent reputation to be sullied by appearing on stage as a shill for these scandal-ridden pastors (Driscoll & McDonald) who are under a cloud of allegations by former church elders and members of unrepented abuse and financial improprieties? Has Virgo sold out?

  5. What the h*all are they talking about re. requiring an employee to break laws in order to claim “religious discrimination”? That is absolutely nuts!

  6. Excellent post Dee! You summed up the recent happenings perfectly. I live in the midst of the Mars Hill machine and have been painfully hurt by their antics. It is only recently that the power of God has reunited my family.

  7. @ Anon:

    Yes, I saw the "By invitation only" blurb.

    Since you brought up one of the speakers for this upcoming conference, I'll mention the others.

    Dr. Crawford Loritts, a pastor who is on the Board of Directors for Cru (Campus Crusade) will be speaking alongside Mark Driscoll, as will Dr. Paul Tripp, who makes the rounds with the Neo-Cal crowd.  Oh, and let's not forget James MaDonald, who used to be a Council Member of The Gospel Coalition, along with Driscoll.

  8. a quote from the blog above: “. Driscoll, unlike many of the men he fired, has plenty of money and a really, really great house. Our guess, however, is that Driscoll will not go silently into the night. He is too much of a fan of cage fighting. If he chooses to fight, he will cause further damage to the church.”

    My fear also,is that Mark will fight, and that people like him who do fight nearly always take others down with them. Given Mr. Driscoll’s problems with violent abuse & anger from his childhood, in addition to his well-documented use of anger, violence and blaming others for his problems, I think there is a real fear that he will hurt others as he implodes.

    I fear this hurt could include physical assault on his family or close associates.

    Mr. Driscoll needs an immediate Damascus road experience to stop this train wreck before people get injured any worse.

    I will start praying for that, but certainly don’t think he should continue to lead even if some huge Damascus light miracle happens.

  9. Deb wrote:

    Dr. Paul Tripp, who makes the rounds with the Neo-Cal crowd.

    Very interesting. Tripp. He is on the board of Driscoll's Board of Advisors and Accountability (BOAA), along with Driscoll and Driscoll's handpicked executives. So Tripp is supposedly holding Driscoll accountable? Ostensibly, the BOAA is not supposed to have conflicts of interests. Wonder how much Tripp is getting paid for his appearance at the Regurgence conference? How much in book sales will he glean? And how is it that the ECFA gives their stamp of approval to Driscoll's organization when his BOAA has directors with a questionable financial interest? Something sure smells fishy. Have you asked ECFA why they are so actively promoting Driscoll and his organization, given what appears to be a clear violation of their own standards?

  10. Deb wrote:

    Oh, and let’s not forget James MaDonald

    Yes, let’s not forget him.
    He also sits on Driscoll’s BOAA keeping Driscoll “accountable.”

  11. Direction for MD from Jesus, in Luke 12:
    57“Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right? 58 As you are going with your adversary to the magistrate, try hard to be reconciled on the way, or your adversary may drag you off to the judge, and the judge turn you over to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison. 59 I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.”

  12. If a tree falls in the woods, and there’s no one to hear it, does it make a sound?
    If a Driscoll speaks in an arena, and there’s no one to hear it, does he still exist?

    The reason Driscoll will fight tooth and nail, is most likely because he doesn’t feel alive unless he’s on the stage calling the shots.

  13. Crawford Loritts!!! 😯 I heard that name a lot in Campus Crusade years ago. But I heard Bryan Loritts speak in person. Last year I felt compelled to write Brian Loritts about my thoughts about modern reformed theology. His response was priceless!!

    I can’t believe I once listened to this guy talk about getting off the fence when he straddles it!

    Bryan-

    I want to discuss with you a heartfelt issue that I believe needs
    attention. You will not remember me but I sure remember you. I heard
    you preach in Campus Crusade for Christ’s Christmas conference in San
    Diego in 2000 and Minneapolis a couple of years later. When I was in
    Crusade I was introduced to John Piper and became influenced by modern
    reformed theology. But I very well remember you teaching how important
    it was “to get off the fence” and make a decision for the Lord, and
    not be lukewarm.

    A lot has changed in the following years and after going through a
    faith crisis I’m slowly putting together another faith in the Lord.
    However this faith is separate from modern reformed theology. One of
    the things that contributed to my crisis was following the teaching of
    John Piper. It led me to make some career decisions I would not have
    otherwise made.

    After being away from the faith for a few years and outside it I
    became astounded by
    what I was seeing take place in reformed theology. This is but a sampling…

    1. Teaching by John Piper that women in marriage submit to physical
    abuse and “being smacked around for the night” followed by a clumsy attempt to
    re-explain it that really made the situation worse.
    2. The ugly affair of how Mark Driscoll treated his Elders at Mars
    Hill – Paul Petry and Bent Meyer which Jonna Petry wrote about at her
    website Joyful Exiles.
    3. The ugly affair at Capitol Hill Baptist Church where despite Mark
    Dever teaching about the “9 Marks” to include discipline, membership,
    Biblical teaching, etc…you had Mark Dever practice hypocrisy in
    letting CJ Mahaney flee Covenant Life Church and take refuge at
    Capitol Baptist Church. Mahaney thereby avoided the discipline,
    violated membership, etc… and showed that that “Biblical theology”
    really depends upon who you are, and that you can get a pass by being
    in the inner circle.
    4. Then you have the Sovereign Grace lawsuit. You have documented
    cases of domestic abuse, childhood sexual abuse, and child
    molestation having occurred. You have a theology system that
    protected pedophiles and refused to cooperate with local law
    enforcement while hammering the families of those who were sexually
    abused. You also have “cases” where a child – a three year old – was
    forced to forgive her molester, and dragged out from her chair against
    her will. I say “cases” because in this type of culture I refuse to
    believe that this was an isolated incident, and with the class action
    lawsuit still growing; I believe we’ll hear more.
    5. Against the backdrop of the Sovereign Grace lawsuit you have many
    people who have
    embraced CJ Mahaney and encouraged him onward. John Piper recently
    spoke at Sovereign Grace Louisville and The Gospel Coalition is having
    Mahaney scheduled to speak at their upcoming conferences. No one is
    questioning if he is even fit to led or teach with a growing class action
    lawsuit hovering in the background. The only person who has spoken out about
    his concerns on this situation is Matt Redmond at his blog. The rest of the
    community has responded in silence.

    As I move back into faith I must ask you…what happened to a
    Christianity that stood up for the helpless, and the powerless against
    the powerful? What happened to a Christianity that was concerned for
    the marginalized and the hurting? I write this because I stumbled
    across your blog and was encouraged by what you wrote about Doug
    Wilson’s “Black and Tan”. Correct me if I am wrong but to my
    recollection no one has really called to account what Doug Wilson has
    written.

    I write this because I want to remind you of what you taught me. 13
    years ago in a darkened ballroom in San Diego, California you
    challenged a 25 year old kid to “get off the fence” and make a stand.
    With all the hypocrisy going on with Sovereign Grace, Mark Driscoll,
    John Piper, CJ Mahaney and The Gospel Coalition can I challenge you to
    take a stand? Will you “get off the fence” and not be lukewarm when it
    comes to child abuse, child molestation, domestic battery and physical
    abuse? Really Bryan…for many Christians this should be a no brainer,
    people should recognize this as being evil. It’s like slavery…Christians
    should be outraged about slavery as much as they should be outraged
    about child abuse.I hope you’ll respond to my challenge.

    Sincerely,

    Eagle

    And his response….

    Eagle

    thanks for your note…i found parts of it to be deeply encouraging to me personally! thanks again!

    you mentioned some very troubling things about leaders in the Christian community…i’m careful, very careful to comment on these things because for the most part i don’t know about them…and the bible also is clear to not receive an accusation against an elder except from the testimony of 2-3 witnesses- those who were actually there to witness what happened…in no way am i saying that you are not telling the truth, i just don’t know about the 2-3 witnesses part…

    to be honest, eagle, much of your note felt “gossipy” to me…i want to encourage you to be very careful how you talk about these men, and who you share what information you have with whom…i don’t have a “dog in this fight”…i’m not trying to defend them…how could i, especially with what you shared was brand new to me. so i think the Christ-exalting thing for me to do in this moment is to not comment.

    grace to your spirit,

    pastor bryan

  14. @ Anon:

    Paul Tripp speaks a lot at Cru. He spoke at the midwest Christmas Conference last year I think in Indianapolis.

  15. And here is the ECFA’s announcement about Mars Hill becoming a member.

    http://www.ecfa.org/Content/Mars-Hill-Church-Most-Recently-Accredited-Church

    With the addition of Seattle-based Mars Hill Church as its newest church, ECFA now numbers a record-breaking 1,700 churches and Christ-centered nonprofits in its accreditation. ECFA has grown from 1,500 accredited organizations in only 18 months.

    “We are pleased to welcome Mars Hill Church as ECFA’s 1,700th member,” said Dan Busby, ECFA president. “By meeting the stringent criteria ECFA applies to all applicants, this certifies to supporters of the church and the public that Mars Hill meets the highest standards of financial ethics, faithfulness and accountability.”

    “At Mars Hill, we are dedicated to utilizing the resources entrusted to us in faithful adherence to our mission to make disciples and plant churches in the name of Jesus,” said Pastor Mark Driscoll. “In proactively submitting ourselves to the scrutiny of ECFA, we openly state our commitment to proclaim Jesus to our communities with utmost ethical honor.”

    Driscoll, founding pastor of Mars Hill Church (www.marshill.com), is one of the world’s most quoted and downloaded pastors. He was named among the “25 Most Influential Pastors of the Past 25 Years” by Preaching Magazine. Founded in Seattle, Mars Hill is the third fastest-growing and 28th largest church in the United States. It is composed of 14 smaller congregations that meet in four states, each led by elders and deacons and dedicated to serving Jesus and people in the context of their local community.

    Every organization privileged to display the ECFA seal of approval agrees to operate on the foundation of God-honoring, biblical principles. ECFA Seven Standards of Responsible Stewardship™ include transparency in all fiscal matters, acting on the intent of givers and in their best interests, sound governance, responsible use of resources and compliance with laws. Adherence by all members is verified by an annual review process.

    The rapid addition of 200 new ECFA accredited organizations since March 2011 is a clear indicator of the rising need for confidence among donors to place their trust in worthy organizations. The increasing diversity of ministry size and mission among member organizations is demonstrating ECFA’s assistance in assuring fiscal responsibility globally among the body of Christ.

  16. @ Eagle:

    Crawford Loritts spoke at a Cru gathering at N.C. State several years ago. I know because my daughter was there. At that time, I had never heard of him…

  17. We may also ask, “Who would Driscoll delete?”
    Sermons, emails, human beings– all — deleted!
    Co-founders Moi and Gunn? unpersons! Munson? Roasting coffee. Beltz and House? Sojourning in that underchurched metropolis– Louisville. Thomas? Planting even more churches in underchurched Nashville, last I checked. Around a hundred more employees, just in the last couple years. Then all the deleted members!
    One of the saddest things to read is the explanation Kyle Firstenberg originally gave (under threat of nondisclosure agreement) when he and his family were deleted. http://wenatcheethehatchet.blogspot.com/2012/11/mars-hills-in-california-2011-2012.html

  18. @ Deb:
    Did ECFA have a good rep at one time? Giving approval to such a blatantly opaque organization as MHC, show a strange blindness and lack diligence.

  19. @ Eagle:

    Thanks for sharing, even though it makes my stomach hurt. “I have no idea! And instead of addressing the things I claim not to know, let me take a moment to shame you for telling me. See how neatly I did that? Whether I know or dont know, I will never feel responsible to do anything about it, no matter how criminal the act or how close the personal connection to me.”

  20. @ Patrice:

    I thought so. Now I am left wondering if it's just a numbers game.  They seem really proud of how many churches they have added (in the quoted excerpt above).

  21. Deb wrote:

    @ Patrice: I thought so. Now I am left wondering if it's just a numbers game.  They seem really proud of how many churches they have added (in the quoted excerpt above).  

    That was exactly my thought, Deb.

  22. @ nwhiker:
    I am happy to hear that your family is once again together. I have heard a number of stories in which families are split because of Mars Hill. How very sad. We need to keep praying the truth comes out and that arrogant pastors lose their jobs.

    BTW, I love your name. I have spent a few vacations in your beautiful state and have hiked on some of the most beautiful trails. I have some wonderful memories of my time there.

  23. Great letter, Eagle. Poor response from Bryan. As if we need 2-3 witnesses of a man sexually molesting a child in secret. Way to empower the pedophiles. In Scripture we look to all the scriptures, not just one verse, to decide what action we are to take. To camp on just one verse, ignoring the others about defending the weak, the oppressed, etc… is not sound hermeneutics.

  24. Deb wrote:

    @ Deb:
    The ECFA needs to take a closer look at Mars Hill… Their reputation is on the line IMHO.

    I’ve been waiting with bated breath till someone started looking into ECFA. Nearly 25 years ago, they were the stamp of approval of financial integrity to most. Even back then I would run into just a few lone voices who said that stamp of approval was just a ruse, not worth the paper the seal was inked on. I was young and didn’t really understand the significance of that statement, but I get it now.

    I’m wondering who writes the first blog post that begins the leaking of ECFA’s tires? If they let Driscoll use church money to purchase a place on the NYT’s Bestseller List, and let Driscoll keep his board members who have a conflict of interest because they make money off of him, yet still call Mars Hill a church of financial integrity, then I have no confidence left in what the seal of ECFA stands for.

  25. Anon wrote:

    @ Dee:

    Does anyone find the statement about “improving our stewardship” by deleting old emails a bit weird?”

    The most obvious thing that strikes me on this… Is that they say to also delete emails from personal computers or any other device. So…. It’s blatantly not about storage then. Or am I missing something?

    The only word of caution to all is to not find too much pleasure in seeing someone fall – or best – no pleasure at all. I have to honestly say that this blog often sounds that way, however good your reporting is. (And it is very good). It’s sad to me when so many people who are seeking see this type of thing in any church. It does so much damage. There are people who I love deeply and know that their lives would be transformed by the love of Christ. They cannot see…

    Having said that, it is good to expose things that are not good and right -just let us be vigilant that we search our own heart on our own walk and behavior and do not get sloppy while we call out someone else. Lest we push seekers away as well. In His love & grace.

    Last thing I must share since his name is mentioned, is that I have heard James McDonald preach in person several times. It is my opinion that though he is human and may struggle in areas, he is a man of intense faith and devotion to God. I don’t know him personally, but it is my guess that he has rubbed too closely with Driscoll in an effort to mentor. Lets not start a thread about McDonald- I have read all of it. I do believe he is devout and his sermons have helped me at times when I really needed them.

  26. This isn’t a church. This is a business, as are all the mega-churches.

    These celebrity preachers are not only financially raping their members, but damaging them spiritually.
    I wonder how many leave the faith altogether because of this heresy.

    When Driscoll and his ilk meet their Maker, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near the blast radius.

  27. Katie wrote:

    @ Deb:
    The ECFA needs to take a closer look at Mars Hill… Their reputation is on the line IMHO.

    I’ve been waiting with bated breath till someone started looking into ECFA.

    There’s a post from earlier today Mars Hill and the ECFA, on Warren Throckmorton’s blog.

    Also, the validity and viability of ECFA has been an ongoing subject at the “Repeal the Bylaws” Facebook group since at least April 4. To date, I’ve noted at least 5 posts and quite a few comments. People from that group have been contacting ECFA to express concerns over what ECFA’s stance HAS been and whether they intend NOW to do anything about such issues as (1) accountability board members’ alleged “independence,” (2) whether there is true financial transparency in the organization, (3) alleged misuse of church funds for promoting *Real Marriage*, and such like.

    It appears that people who are getting responses receive what is pretty much a boilerplate email that seems to indicate — as best I can read between the lines — that ECFA merely takes members’ documents and press releases at full face value and do not seem to conduct their own investigations. Group link:

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/266599816842988/

    There has been at least one suggestion in that Facebook group that it’s time to find alternatives to ECFA that are not funded by its members. (After all, doesn’t that seems to be a conflict of interest by an organization that is supposed to be watchdogging for conflict of interests among its members?) Is there really any incentive for ECFA to do more than see if documents tend to line up with their standards? Will they be as much a part of the systems problems here, or not?

    In my opinion, the ongoing perpetrators of spiritual abuse will continue corrupting the Kingdom and its citizens until their enabling systems are dismantled, won’t they?

    I have been wondering for a couple years now whether/when all the “support industries” like publishing houses and conference planners and certification boards and associational networks would start getting called to account for the roles they play in keeping allegedly spiritually abusive celebrities, pastors, churches, ministries, and christianized non-profits afloat with their publications, contracts, speaking engagements, evangelical-imprimaturs, and such like.

    Maybe what we’re seeing is the beginning of dismantling, where restoration of these sibling organizations could still be for the good instead of to their ultimate destruction. For instance, at least a few of the publishing houses have taken the issues of plagiarism and faulty/lack of attribution and citation seriously and changed the publications to reflect a more morally and ethically true ownership of materials used. Also, another online Christian media outlet removed the identity of a victim of abuse from a story after receiving appeals from spiritual abuse survivor bloggers imploring them to do so.

    Change is still possible. I hope it happens.

  28. So, some guys who helped start MH got fired (the reason doesn’t really matter), they can’t get over it and move on, and so we’re all supposed to read poor intent into everything that MH says and does?

    Seems legit.

  29. Oh the minute I saw the header about the emails I thought ‘the game is a foot’. Just how stupid do they think the rest of the church is?

  30. I followed a couple of the above links this morning, and found some interesting comments on the Repentant Pastors site. One in particular; the commenter believes Fiscal should step down for multiple reasons, but that Pastormark’s heart is basically good.

    I am noting, not criticising, that comment; the sentiment is one you read often. There is a deep and wide willingness to believe the best… of certain kinds of people. If I’m honest, we here (TWW regulars) tend to side with the little person if in doubt. Though please understand that I’m not expressing doubt about the well-documented, amply-witnessed and reliably-established issues at Mars Hill.

    Something will have been achieved when we, the Body of Christ generally (accepting that not all regular lurkers/workers at TWW consider themselves Christians) lose our partiality on this. That is, when the same grace, and willingness to believe the best, is extended to all believers regardless of fame or ecclesiastical office. In other words, when a little, rank-and-file member is accused of sin, we start from the assumption that their heart is not less good than Pastormark’s just because Pastormark is more famous than them.

  31. @ that one guy” may or may not be a chatbot or troll, but of course, the reasons behind elders being fired matter a great deal.

    “That one guy” is obviously not a supporter/member of MH himself, otherwise he/she wouldn’t be concerned about criticism of MH, but would get over it and move on.

  32. that one guy wrote:

    So, some guys who helped start MH got fired (the reason doesn’t really matter),

    So…everytime you get wrongfully fired from a job you’ve invested heavily in, you just roll over and move on? Let me introduce you to the biblical concepts of justice, fairness, and righteousness.

    Trolls–what would the Internet be without them. Research shows they aren’t well-meaning or seeking truth, they really are sadists.

    http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/climate_desk/2014/02/internet_troll_personality_study_machiavellianism_narcissism_psychopathy.html

  33. Beakerj wrote:

    Oh the minute I saw the header about the emails I thought ‘the game is a foot’. Just how stupid do they think the rest of the church is?

    This is about limiting damages. As a tactic, companies – some Fortune 100 – have policies like this in place. If they get rid of documents while under a legal proceeding it is called spoiliation; the judicial system takes an extremely dim view of this (for example, look up the history of the Silicon Valley company Rambus – they lost the major parts of their decade plus lawsuit because they were found to have destroyed hundreds if not thousands of pounds of paper documents). Once in a proceeding, most company documents are placed in a legal hold and may not be destroyed.

    While I agree with how this looks (bad), it is understandable why companies have policies like this. An email is a document that can be subpoenaed, but is frequently treated casually because most of us think of it like a conversation in the break room. It isn’t like that. So companies have tried to limit damage by incorporating these policies (at least in the past they have; my last few employers haven’t done this but issued rules about what we can or cannot discuss via email). Given the nature of email, speculation and conjecture aren’t the wisest things to do in them. A good example is saying “I wonder if we are violating patent X” in an email. That’s a speculative discussion that needs to be held with company attorneys under attorney-client privilege; that’s where you hash out the details and make a determination and then decide what action to take (nothing if no infringement, or perhaps negotiate a license agreement if something was missed).

    I think the timing of this policy at MH will go against them in court. On the other hand, they likely view this as the lesser of two evils once this gets to court. It is sickening to once again see this type of behavior in churches and individuals connected with them.

  34. Deb wrote:

    @ Deb:
    The ECFA needs to take a closer look at Mars Hill… Their reputation is on the line IMHO.

    Agreed. They won’t have any wiggle room on this high profile case. In meant more in the 80’s than it does today.

  35. Deb wrote:

    Dan Busby, ECFA president, “By meeting the stringent criteria ECFA applies to all applicants, this certifies to supporters of the church and the public that Mars Hill meets the highest standards of financial ethics, faithfulness and accountability.”

    Hogwash.

  36. @ Eagle:

    Interesting correspondence, Eagle!

    I’d like, if I may, to chuck into the general conversational melée an observation on the “don’t entertain an accusation against an elder without two or three witnesses” Thing.

    That instruction, from 1 Timothy, does of course exist. But the equally-beloved passage from Matthew 18, among others, make it clear to my mind that we aren’t supposed to entertain accusations against anyone without two or three witnesses. And of course, the passage from 1 Timothy immediately goes on to state that elders who sin should be rebuked publicly so that others will take note and learn. In other words, Paul is instructing Timothy: when you are dealing with an elder’s alleged sin, do it fairly and justly so that those who shoulder the burdens of leadership are protected from false allegations. But do it, because an elder should set an example in all things, including repentance.

    So Paul is not conferring special diplomatic immunity on the guy in the pulpit; if anything, the opposite is true. As I understand it, Bryan Loritts is quite right not to entertain an accusation against Fiscal, Piper or anyone else without witnesses. But by the same token, I would expect him to require that Fiscal, Piper or anyone else in similarly high-profile eldership be rebuked as publicly as they are celebrated if the evidence does indeed warrant it.

  37. Sabrae wrote:

    This isn’t a church. This is a business, as are all the mega-churches.
    These celebrity preachers are not only financially raping their members, but damaging them spiritually.
    I wonder how many leave the faith altogether because of this heresy.
    When Driscoll and his ilk meet their Maker, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near the blast radius.

    It is a business.
    As I have said, I worked for a radio station owner who wanted to go to Hell, just so he could see the ministers he knew personally in the “fiery lake.” And we are talking small town America…..sadly, it makes me wonder how many bad pastors are out there…..

  38. Jackie wrote:

    The only word of caution to all is to not find too much pleasure in seeing someone fall – or best – no pleasure at all. I have to honestly say that this blog often sounds that way

    I fixed your block quote. I hope that is OK.

    Let me ask you a question. When a criminal who has hurt somebody is arrested and convicted, do you feel some form of pleasure? I am not speaking happiness here. I am speaking of the deep pleasure that comes with justice being accomplished. When you see the family members of the one who was hurt, crying and hugging one another after the verdict, are you glad for them? I know I am.

    I am a deeply empathetic person. When people get hurt, especially in the context of the church, I feel it. There are times I have trouble falling asleep as I think over the pain that many have suffered. There are people who have been shunned, cut off from their families, etc.

    So, when there is finally movement in the area of justice, I do feel pleasure. I am so, so grateful that some people are finally having their stories heard. That does not mean that I do not feel sorrow for those on the other side of the fence. So, I am going to disagree with you on this one.

    Jackie wrote:

    Lets not start a thread about McDonald- I have read all of it. I do believe he is devout and his sermons have helped me at times when I really needed them.

    I note that you are new to this blog. Perhaps you have not heard about the Elephant Debt? Perhaps you have not read the stories of those who have been wounded by MacDonald? I, too have listened to his sermons just like I have listened to Driscoll. Sometimes, people can preach really well but still be jerks.

    I do not excuse MacDonald because of Driscoll. MacDonald was doing his own thing for a long time and his chickens are coming home to roost as well.

    http://theelephantsdebt.com

    We have been blogging for about 5 years. In that time we have collected reams of information. A college professor in New York told us that he has used this blog to gather information about the current issues in the evangelical movement because we have covered so many stories. Apparently he will be crediting us in a forward to a textbook. Hmm, Professor Dee-it has a ring.

    So, when you come here, you will often see us tying together various ministries and personalities. Not only do we look at the little picture, we look at the big picture. When you say not to start a thread, you do not seem to understand that this entire blog is a thread of connections which have led to today’s church and the difficult issues that we face. It is those threads which define the underlying problem.

    Men like MacDonald and Piper, along with a number of the gospel© boys have propped up Driscoll because they believed his bombastic arrogance fit really well into their theology of hierarchy. It is this sort of thing that fascinates us while at the same time allowing us to reach out to those hurt by this nonsense.

    No, we don’t exist merely to report an incident. Threads are important.

  39. @ Katie:
    @ TedS.:
    TWW did a story on EFCA when it was reported that Franklin Graham was receiving a $1.2 million salary. Busby told us that EFCA does not care what people make so long as their board and auditing meet some sort of criteria that they set. Here is a post in which we show the email that we received from Busby. We were deeply disappointed that this organization that we had heard so much about is not what we think it is.

    YOU CAN TRUST THE ECFA SEAL OF APPROVAL…
    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2009/10/13/you-can-trust-the-ecfa-seal-of-approval…/

  40. that one guy wrote:

    So, some guys who helped start MH got fired (the reason doesn’t really matter), they can’t get over it and move on, and so we’re all supposed to read poor intent into everything that MH says and does?
    Seems legit.

    We don’t need to read poor intent into Driscoll’s words and actions – he telegraphs it from on high

  41. Katie wrote:

    Great letter, Eagle. Poor response from Bryan. As if we need 2-3 witnesses of a man sexually molesting a child in secret. Way to empower the pedophiles. In Scripture we look to all the scriptures, not just one verse, to decide what action we are to take. To camp on just one verse, ignoring the others about defending the weak, the oppressed, etc… is not sound hermeneutics.

    The other thing he’s forgetting (ignoring?) is how radically Jesus himself challenged that very idea. Back then the 2 or 3 witnesses would have had to be male, and almost certainly of at least reasonable standing in the community to be properly reliable witnesses. Yet who saw Jesus first when he was resurrected? Women. We don’t need to judge the ‘worthiness’ of any witness – we just need to see if what they say is true or not.

  42. Based on my long experience observing the cult of greed and power (that’d be Scientology), I don’t put much stock in lawsuits resolving anything to anyone’s satisfaction. And, in fact, I’m kind of hard-pressed to see what causes of action might be in play here, particularly if Driscoll had people signing no-talk agreements to get their severance. As for civil RICO? I understand why attorneys like to bring it up (triple damages is very enticing) but the reality is that plaintiffs going for civil RICO usually, invariably, inevitably lose. This doesn’t mean I don’t believe that the letter from the attorney to MH was misplaced–in fact, I think it’s a good thing to warn the Martians up front that if they try to destroy evidence, there could be consequences. Just warning that civil RICO is not all it’s cut out to be.

    As for the ECFA, its gold seal of approval was set up as a way to head off government snooping into religious organizations’ finances that came up in the wake of the televangelist scandals of the mid-80s. “Hey, we have a self-governing mechanism–we’re so much better than those sleazy televangelists.” And for the most part, it’s worked. However, you really have to question how legitimate the ECFA approval is when the approval for Mars Hill came mere months after MH engaged Result Source to buy Driscoll a spot on the NYTimes bestseller list. It makes you wonder how closely ECFA checks, or if it’s more of a “well, a CPA has signed off on their balance sheets, therefore it must be OK” type of deal. I don’t know why I get the feeling that it’s more of the latter–and I must remind people that Bernie Madoff’s business had certified public accountants signing off on it every year and look at what happened there.

  43. @ Nick Bulbeck:
    I agree, Nick. I think the Matt passage has been happily misinterpreted to mean that we need 2-3 witnesses-to-sin in order to go forward, but that produces the very problems we are now seeing: not addressing wrongs done in private (child sexual abuse as raw eg), encouraging institutional opaqueness (secret decisions made only with a complicit one or two), encouraging stances of “innocence through deliberate ignorance”, etc.

    “Witnesses” are observers of the confrontation, not the sin (to prevent private vendettas and to help maintain honesty). It’s a proposal for a mini-intervention.

    I love how, in that section of Matt 18, vs 19 is the cap: “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

    This section purposely uses the “2-3” throughout. Authority lies with the people, in the groups, because that is where/how God moves.

  44. Email Destruction to Commence at Mars Hill

    This reminds me of a news item from when the real estate bubble was about to pop. A mortgage company under scrutiny backed up a semitrailer-sized industrial shredder to their office and ran wheelbarrow loads of records for hours — the day before the subpoena and search warrant came down. “Where’s Your Evidence? You Can’t Prove a Thing! And everything we did was LEGAL! Talk to our Attorneys!”

  45. Pam wrote:

    We don’t need to read poor intent into Driscoll’s words and actions – he telegraphs it from on high

    From the giant telescreens in the “Franchise Campuses” every Sunday.

  46. Eagle, thanks for sharing your letter. It sums up many of my thoughts and experiences as well. It is encouraging to know that I’m not the only one who feels this way. So sad to read such a pitiful reply, tho. @ Eagle:

  47. Anon wrote:

    Deb wrote:

    Oh, and let’s not forget James MaDonald

    Yes, let’s not forget him.
    He also sits on Driscoll’s BOAA keeping Driscoll “accountable.”

    “One Hand Washes The Other…”

  48. You’d think I’d stop being surprised by people and organizations like Mars Hill acting the way they do, but it still gets me.

  49. @ Nick Bulbeck:
    ” Bryan Loritts is quite right not to entertain an accusation against Fiscal, Piper or anyone else without witnesses.”
    There is NO excuse for Mr. Lorritts ignorance in any of these matters. He can find plenty of witnesses if he wanted to see them. He wants to quote the Matthew passage, well I give you Phillipians 2:4 Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. In this passage “look out” in the Greek means to spy out, give attention to, contemplate and suggests an active seeking out. So to Mr. Loritts I say, “time for you to spy out, give attention to and contemplate this matter!

  50. @Nick
    ” Bryan Loritts is quite right not to entertain an accusation against Fiscal, Piper or anyone else without witnesses.”
    There is NO excuse for Mr. Lorritts ignorance in any of these matters. He can find plenty of witnesses if he wanted to see them. He wants to quote the Matthew passage, well I give you Phillipians 2:4 Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. In this passage “look out” in the Greek means to spy out, give attention to, contemplate and suggests an active seeking out. So to Mr. Loritts I say, “time for you to spy out, give attention to and contemplate this matter!

  51. dee wrote:

    Men like MacDonald and Piper, along with a number of the gospel© boys have propped up Driscoll because they believed his bombastic arrogance fit really well into their theology of hierarchy. It is this sort of thing that fascinates us while at the same time allowing us to reach out to those hurt by this nonsense.

    It is because of your specific&broad (and very human) approach that I have been able to re-enter the church community. I am glad!

    I quite often hear this accusation of “being too happy” about wrongs exposed. But who wouldn’t feel immense relief when destructiveness is exposed? Particularly when it is deep-set and has gone unmentioned for decades. It makes me wonder about the accusers’ priorities.

    We mourn for those wronged. If we know the sinner, we will grieve that he/she has been denying God’s good purposes. But when sunlight arrives and destruction is exposed, healing can finally occur and that means celebration.

    I wish we had ceremonies for institutional restorations.

  52. Patrice wrote:

    I think the Matt passage has been happily misinterpreted to mean that we need 2-3 witnesses-to-sin in order to go forward, but that produces the very problems we are now seeing: not addressing wrongs done in private

    Their use of Mt 18 and other passages is a farce. They have no interest at all in spiritual reconciliation. They use it strictly as an instrument of oppression to silence and isolate those who would dare to raise any questions about their actions or beliefs.

  53. JP wrote:

    I think the timing of this policy at MH will go against them in court. On the other hand, they likely view this as the lesser of two evils once this gets to court. It is sickening to once again see this type of behavior in churches and individuals connected with them.

    Sometimes, arrogance works against an organization. When people have a vested interest in the organization (stocks, etc) they tend to watch over their investments like a hawk. The problem with a church like Mars Hill is that the only ones truly invested in the outcome are those that benefit by that investment. Who benefitted by Mars Hill? Driscoll: he lives a very, very nice lifestyle. It appears like everyone else existed to serve him.

    Then if you add to that a certain arrogance of being the untouchable captain of the ship (?NPD) with no one to truly hold “captain” accountable, you find an organization heading for a shipwreck. For example, why didn’t Driscoll ever think that emails could hurt him? Perhaps he thought he was in control and above all that.

    He kept getting rid of people who were trying to tell him he was going down the wrong path. But they had no power. Then, when you have an outsider like John Piper giving his pope-like blessing on Driscoll, you create a fictitious sense of untouchability. Eventually, arrogance without good counsel will catch up with you.

  54. Eagle wrote:

    i just don’t know about the 2-3 witnesses part…

    What he means by witnesses is that John Piper didn’t say anything about it. The myriad of reports of witnesses from the other side of the pulpit do not add add up to one John Piper or Al Mohler, etc. He is beholden to the leaders. The little guy does not matter.

  55. Patrice wrote:

    We mourn for those wronged. If we know the sinner, we will grieve that he/she has been denying God’s good purposes. But when sunlight arrives and destruction is exposed, healing can finally occur and that means celebration.

    Thank you for your kind comment.

    I have heard the “don’t be so happy about the fall of an individual” one too many times. This is a subtle form of believing that a church leader is more important than the little guy who got hurt. I continue to assess what happens through the eyes of those abused by the church. It is amazing how that gives me clarity almost every time.

    People like Driscoll have had their day in the sun: big houses, travel, recognition and a never ending supply of sycophants kissing up to them on a daily basis. They have had their fair share of “happiness.”

    Very few wonder about the lives of those like Meyer and Petry. They lost friends. I am sure they have dealt with financial issues, etc. I am so pleased that they are having their say and even possibly receiving vindication. I do not think that it is a sin.

    Also, we should be happy when truth is revealed. Driscoll strutted around the media like the conquering king of Christian literature because he was on the best seller list. It was all a lie and it impresses me that Driscoll, who knew that it was baloney, preferred to live off of the lie. I am happy that deception has been been uncovered. I rejoice in the truth.

  56. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    I’d like, if I may, to chuck into the general conversational melée an observation on the “don’t entertain an accusation against an elder without two or three witnesses” Thing.
    That instruction, from 1 Timothy, does of course exist. But the equally-beloved passage from Matthew 18, among others, make it clear to my mind that we aren’t supposed to entertain accusations against anyone without two or three witnesses. And of course, the passage from 1 Timothy immediately goes on to state that elders who sin should be rebuked publicly so that others will take note and learn. In other words, Paul is instructing Timothy: when you are dealing with an elder’s alleged sin, do it fairly and justly so that those who shoulder the burdens of leadership are protected from false allegations. But do it, because an elder should set an example in all things, including repentance.
    So Paul is not conferring special diplomatic immunity on the guy in the pulpit; if anything, the opposite is true. As I understand it, Bryan Loritts is quite right not to entertain an accusation against Fiscal, Piper or anyone else without witnesses. But by the same token, I would expect him to require that Fiscal, Piper or anyone else in similarly high-profile eldership be rebuked as publicly as they are celebrated if the evidence does indeed warrant it.

    Galatians 3:11-15 NIV
    “When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.
    When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?”

    Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary:

    “Notwithstanding Peter’s character, yet, when Paul saw him acting so as to hurt the truth of the gospel and the peace of the church, he was not afraid to reprove him. When he saw that Peter and the others did not live up to that principle which the gospel taught, and which they professed, namely, That by the death of Christ the partition wall between Jew and Gentile was taken down, and the observance of the law of Moses was no longer in force; as Peter’s offence was public, he publicly reproved him. ”

    I am wondering why this account is not mentioned by the chaps who are quick to quote 1Timothy.

  57. Dave A A wrote:

    We may also ask, “Who would Driscoll delete?”
    Sermons, emails, human beings– all — deleted!

    Sounds like Cybermen from Doctor Who — “DELETE! DELETE! DELETE!”

  58. dee wrote:

    Then if you add to that a certain arrogance of being the untouchable captain of the ship (?NPD) with no one to truly hold “captain” accountable, you find an organization heading for a shipwreck.

    Like “Commodore” L Ron Hubbard? (That was his self-awarded title when he was cruising the high seas on a Sea Org-manned ship, “Clearing the Planet”.)

  59. Funny having Amazon tracking my every move, or um, past orders, lol. I just got this book recommendation….Maybe something to give out, for free, to victims of MD, after the lawsuit is all over, as part of the compensation for his myriad victims???

    Looks like an interesting book:

    Freedom of Mind: Helping Loved Ones Leave Controlling People, Cults, and Beliefs [Kindle Edition]
    Steven Hassan (Author)
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008HAIWIW/ref=pe_512840_115445580_em_1p_0_im
    In the post 911 world, people are more susceptible than ever to charismatic figures who offer simple, black v. white, us v. them, good v. evil, formulaic solutions. The rise of the Internet; increasingly sophisticated knowledge about how to influence and manipulate others; and the growing vulnerabilities of people across the planet—make for a dangerous, potentially devastating combination. Steven Hassan’s new book Freedom of Mind provides the knowledge and awareness needed to help yourself and loved ones avoid or escape from such dangerous people and situations.

  60. Lisa wrote:

    @ Nick Bulbeck:
    ” Bryan Loritts is quite right not to entertain an accusation against Fiscal, Piper or anyone else without witnesses.”

    “I KNOW NOTHINK! NOTHINK!”
    — Sgt Schultz

  61. dee wrote:

    I continue to assess what happens through the eyes of those abused by the church. It is amazing how that gives me clarity almost every time.

    Not to be a complete suck up here, but I greatly appreciate the time you are putting into doing this much-needed activity.

    Funny thing, I heard that in the time of Deborah the Judge, in the Old Testament, multiple opportunities were given to men to do some judging, leading, standing up for the little guy, etc. In the stories, many times, men turned these opportunities down, so a woman had to stand up.

    I don’t believe in all of this mumbo jumbo about only men can do certain things, but I do think that there are likely many people who have had the opportunity to stand up for the little guy, and turned that opportunity down, perhaps for good reasons, perhaps not.

    But thank you again and again, and everyone here, for bringing the truth to the light. I often don’t think I have much to contribute in terms of news or learned experience, but I do appreciate all of the perspectives shared, even the Soccer sports results. 🙂

  62. dee wrote:

    YOU CAN TRUST THE ECFA SEAL OF APPROVAL…

    It’s a racket. So you are a “church.” You set up a puppet board. You pay your membership fee, and voila! – you get the ECFA Seal of Approval.

  63. Marie2 wrote:

    Funny thing, I heard that in the time of Deborah the Judge, in the Old Testament, multiple opportunities were given to men to do some judging, leading, standing up for the little guy, etc. In the stories, many times, men turned these opportunities down, so a woman had to stand up.

    Sounds like a comp concession to a female judge. But in fact, scripture says that they were raised up by God Himself. Judges 2:16 This scripture twisting implies that God wasn’t quite up to the task of choosing one who He knew would accept the challenge and was qualified to do so. He just couldn’t find someone and had to choose the “second best.” What a joke!

  64. Victorious wrote:

    He just couldn’t find someone and had to choose the “second best.” What a joke!

    We are Avis, I mean women, and second, so we try harder, doesn’t work for you as a slogan??? LOL.

  65. “for the anger of Man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” James 1:20.

    Period. End of sentence. These leaders are not of God. Can’t figure how so many stick with these angry ungodly men.

  66. Marie2 wrote:

    Not to be a complete suck up here, but I greatly appreciate the time you are putting into doing this much-needed activity.

    It’s nice, every once in a blue moon, to have a “suck up.” It may be our very first!

  67. @ TedS.:
    Did you read the email in that post that we got from the head of CBMW? We were deeply concerned back then. In fact, at the time, nobody else seemed to be too concerned.

    Here is the problem inherent in this group as well as groups like AOR, Peacemakers, etc. It costs something. Therefore, it behooves groups to market to the churches and organizations with the money. You can’t miff them off or nobody will participate.

    The system is gamed toward those who have the most to lose.

  68. dee wrote:

    It may be our very first!

    Whooo HOO!! I did it!!! I did it!!! And I have all of you guys here, including the little people who don’t post, and could be a suck up themselves, to thank!!!

    Maybe I can have a second career in handing out certificates in suck up i tude???

    Someone asked me in choir why I was not a soloist, and I responded that I am a very bad suck up to choir directors…at which point, the current soloist in the back responded, “oops, maybe I am a suck up” to which I silently thought, “well if the shoe fits, please, by all means, wear it with pride.” 🙂

    Just wanted to register my supreme appreciation for all of your hard work, here, and behind the scenes. I am sure there are days when you open your email inbox, and just want to escape to Bali, lol. Wounded people are sometimes not a picnic to deal with. I should know, because I have been that annoying wounded person many times, Hahaha.

  69. @ dee:

    I really liked your comment. You point to an angle I hadn’t thought of, or how to put it into words, namely that there is a big difference between gloating over the fall of criminals and getting what’s just for victims.

  70. @ Muff Potter:
    Thanks, Muff. It really boils down to my prime directive. Look at the victims and their families and care about them. When I do that, I see things more clearly.

    Today, I read an article about the fall of Pastor Coy in Florida.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/07/bob-coy-calvary-chapel_n_5105873.html

    I then read a post by some guy who is already talking about the restoration of this pastor. I must admit, I got a bit ticked off.

    At TWW we have had testimony after testimony of people thrown out of church for disagreeing with their pastor. They call it church discipline, etc. No one in the church gives them a further thought.

    This guy has allegedly had numerous affairs and is addicted to pornography. The depth of the problem hasn’t even been uncovered and there is talk of restoration. Why? Probably because he can fill a church and bucks and noses are the currency of this crowd.

  71. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Dave A A wrote:
    We may also ask, “Who would Driscoll delete?”
    Sermons, emails, human beings– all — deleted!
    Sounds like Cybermen from Doctor Who — “DELETE! DELETE! DELETE!”

    Just as I read your comment, a Star Trek episode was playing. A fellow I’ll call “Boss” was deleting a species called “The Zahl” from history:
    Minion: Calculations indicate a 98 percent restoration! 🙂
    Boss: Kyana prime — that was restored as well? 
    Minion: No sir… 🙁
    Boss: Then our mission has failed — begin calculations for the next incursion!!
    My conclusion– you can never delete enough!

  72. dee wrote:

    I am a deeply empathetic person. When people get hurt, especially in the context of the church, I feel it. There are times I have trouble falling asleep as I think over the pain that many have suffered. There are people who have been shunned, cut off from their families, etc.

    Jackie, I could speak for days on end about the “counseling” that these pastors (our experience is Mark Driscoll and his counseling minions) have given members of my family and many others whom I have spoken with. This is not Christianity. This is not a loving way to assist people in their faith journey. It is a narcissistic power trip. The pain still stings even though we are all healing – and it is not over yet. Am I thrilled that Mars Hill is imploding? Yes, to stop further pain for others.

  73. dee wrote:

    I then read a post by some guy who is already talking about the restoration of this pastor. I must admit, I got a bit ticked off.
    At TWW we have had testimony after testimony of people thrown out of church for disagreeing with their pastor. They call it church discipline, etc. No one in the church gives them a further thought.

    The alien “Boss” on Star Trek was all about “restoration” as well. To accomplish this, he needed to “break a few eggs” (species) along the way. 🙁

  74. dee wrote:

    I have heard the “don’t be so happy about the fall of an individual” one too many times. This is a subtle form of believing that a church leader is more important than the little guy who got hurt. I continue to assess what happens through the eyes of those abused by the church. It is amazing how that gives me clarity almost every time.
    People like Driscoll have had their day in the sun: big houses, travel, recognition and a never ending supply of sycophants kissing up to them on a daily basis. They have had their fair share of “happiness.”
    Very few wonder about the lives of those like Meyer and Petry. They lost friends. I am sure they have dealt with financial issues, etc. I am so pleased that they are having their say and even possibly receiving vindication. I do not think that it is a sin.
    Also, we should be happy when truth is revealed. Driscoll strutted around the media like the conquering king of Christian literature because he was on the best seller list. It was all a lie and it impresses me that Driscoll, who knew that it was baloney, preferred to live off of the lie. I am happy that deception has been been uncovered. I rejoice in the truth.

    Dee,
    It could not be said better. Your words speak for a large, silent, growing number of people. Thanks.

    Off topic, but curious if TWW ever discussed the 2009 appearance by Piper at the American Assoc. of Christian Counselors meeting?

  75. dee wrote:

    Did you read the email in that post that we got from the head of CBMW?

    Yes.

    ECFA standards are based on the principles of good governance, accountability, integrity and transparency…

    Blessings!

    Dan Busby

    President

    Bwah-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!

  76. Have people seen this before, and discussed it already???

    http://storylineblog.com/2013/09/19/how-to-spot-a-manipulative-church-leader/
    How To Spot a Manipulative Church Leader

    Here’s how to smell out a manipulator in a religious setting:

    A Christian leader who is manipulative will:

    • Never be truly vulnerable. They will never tell stories about their weaknesses. If they do, those stories will be about how they are too strong, too devout and too many other things that are more or less humble brags.
    • Always have the true answer, and truth is truth because they said it. The truth is the Bible is complex, but a manipulator knows they can’t get you to submit if they don’t have ALL the answers. Certainly trained pastors have answers, but nobody has all the answers. Manipulators do. They want to tell you how to live.

    • They make you jump through hoops. If you want to get married, you must go through hours of classes so they can approve. If you want to be a member, you must sign a contract or a statement of theological belief. Now many wonderful churches do this sort of thing, but when there is a manipulative leader, you’ll normally find an endless number of hurdles to jump over. They want to test you, over and over, to make sure you’re being submissive.

    • They will never let you off the hook. A manipulative leader can never, ever let you be fully free in Christ. There must always be something wrong with you or else you will no longer need them and will no longer have to submit.

    If you’re in a church with a manipulative leader creating the culture, I believe you should leave. The only way a manipulator stops manipulating is when the manipulation stops working, and by staying, you’re saying to the manipulator that it’s working. If you fight them, you’ll lose.

    For more about dealing with manipulative people, I recommend Harriet Braiker’s book Who’s Pulling Your Strings.

    Don’s new book (still untitled, October 2014) will talk about this phenomenon a bit more. If you’d like to know when the book comes out, sign up on our mailing list. You’ll also get a free copy of Don’s audio book, Through Painted Deserts.

  77. Anon wrote:

    Deb wrote:

    So how many T4G attendees will be registering for this conference?

    How ever many, it is “By invitation only” (scam) and the cost?
    “Admission to R14 is only $299 and will be by invite only.”

    Why is Terry Virgo allowing his decent reputation to be sullied by appearing on stage as a shill for these scandal-ridden pastors (Driscoll & McDonald) who are under a cloud of allegations by former church elders and members of unrepented abuse and financial improprieties? Has Virgo sold out?

    Virgo has not sold out; Virgo had nothing of value (in my personal opinion) to sell. The organization that he formerly led is SGM/Acts 29/MHC on the inside with the outside of the cup polished to look nice. There is a reason why Mr. Virgo is drawn to these groups. Having experienced New Frontiers directly and intimately, as a member, as a member of a leadership team, having experienced the fruits personally as an insider, NF is an ugly, vicious organization, a Mars Hill internally, with the appearance of propriety on the outside.

  78. Hi Dee- yes -absolutely yes to your questions to me about feeling good when justice is served and things are brought into light. In fact, I am so much that way- that’s how I ended up on your blog. (and I assume you want to have more voices here than just a few). That’s why I chimed in on an obvious poor excuse from MH reason for e-purge. I truly appreciate the work that’s been done here and elsewhere gathering and sharing real info. I have indeed thought -thank God for these people! I should have stated that to begin with. And I’ve read many many things in the past including the links you shared. I guess I just sometimes zoom out and feel so sad because the entire subject is so precious (faith in Christ). We are on same page, but rather than just hi five you guys cuz you have plenty of that, which is right and needed I’m sure, It’s not a bad thing to remember that wherever we are, we are witnesses. I know for certain that seekers silently visit this blog. Subtle stuff. It’s easy to forget for all of us. Hope that makes some sense. I’m not a writer 🙂 I’m a visual artist. You might be thinking “whaaateever” right now! Carry on… You do good work. @ dee:

  79. Ah!! One more thought and then I’ll go back to reading, not commenting… My takeaway from all of this- is that’s why we do not worship men, we worship Jesus Christ. That doesn’t help all of the people who have served so faithfully in churches and then been crushed by miniGod leaders, I know. It’s just good to remember.

  80. Off Topic

    I recently heard a sermon where the word “Nones” was defined “as those who no longer have any religious affiliation.” The pastor then went on to express his joy about this because he can now approach these people as unbelievers instead of as those who identify as Christians, but don’t live like Christians. This definition is not the definition that I have seen attributed to “Nones.” I have been under the impression that “Nones” are those who are choosing to stay away from the institutional church, but they do consider themselves Christians. I’m wondering what the prevailing definition of “Nones” actually is.

  81. Eagle wrote:

    Crawford Loritts!!! I heard that name a lot in Campus Crusade years ago. But I heard Bryan Loritts speak in person. Last year I felt compelled to write Brian Loritts about my thoughts about modern reformed theology. His response was priceless!!
    I can’t believe I once listened to this guy talk about getting off the fence when he straddles it!

    Having read your letter and his response carefully, Eagle, I must disagree with you. He is most decidedly not straddling the fence. He’s quite simply and unapologetically on the side of evil. No fence involved.

  82. I’m no expert but my understanding is that nones are those who no longer belong to or regularly attend a denom or any trad church grouping. If they were unbelievers, wouldn’t they be labeled agnostics or atheists? I imagine there are bunches of “uncertains” among them, though.

    Seeing everything as opposites: a common perceptual disability among Christians yah

    It’s offensive to this “none”, who lives like a Christian because I am one. I’d love to disabuse him w00t
    @ Bridget:

  83. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    I followed a couple of the above links this morning, and found some interesting comments on the Repentant Pastors site. One in particular; the commenter believes Fiscal should step down for multiple reasons, but that Pastormark’s heart is basically good.
    I am noting, not criticising, that comment; the sentiment is one you read often. There is a deep and wide willingness to believe the best… of certain kinds of people.

    This is something I’ve noted as well, the Repentant Pastors seem addled by their experiences as Mars Hill insiders and are having a great deal of trouble putting things forthrightly and directly. This is in stark contrast to what we see in the Bible, where everything seems forceful, blunt, honest, unadorned. The Repentants tangle themselves up in so much faux-righteousness and niceties and pious hedging words that they have trouble saying much of anything all that particularly bad about anything anyone has done, including themselves.

    A testimony to the depravity of the Mars Hill-twisted mind.

  84. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    @ Eagle:
    Interesting correspondence, Eagle!
    I’d like, if I may, to chuck into the general conversational melée an observation on the “don’t entertain an accusation against an elder without two or three witnesses” Thing.
    That instruction, from 1 Timothy, does of course exist. But the equally-beloved passage from Matthew 18, among others, make it clear to my mind that we aren’t supposed to entertain accusations against anyone without two or three witnesses. And of course, the passage from 1 Timothy immediately goes on to state that elders who sin should be rebuked publicly so that others will take note and learn. In other words, Paul is instructing Timothy: when you are dealing with an elder’s alleged sin, do it fairly and justly so that those who shoulder the burdens of leadership are protected from false allegations. But do it, because an elder should set an example in all things, including repentance.
    So Paul is not conferring special diplomatic immunity on the guy in the pulpit; if anything, the opposite is true. As I understand it, Bryan Loritts is quite right not to entertain an accusation against Fiscal, Piper or anyone else without witnesses. But by the same token, I would expect him to require that Fiscal, Piper or anyone else in similarly high-profile eldership be rebuked as publicly as they are celebrated if the evidence does indeed warrant it.

    Yes, Loritts’s response is bizarre because it appears as if the testimony for all of these allegations is coming from many, many witnesses: dozens, hundreds maybe. It’s coming from all sides, perhaps thousands lining up to corroborate it. Does Loritts know that by very definition a class action lawsuit–such as that against SGM–requires one heck of a lot more than the two or three required by the Bible for it to be certified or even considered?

    What more do these people want? There is a cacophony of witnesses to these specific allegations of abuse, as well as the overall abuse of these organizations (I am personally one of these witnesses). For Bryan to accuse you of being gossipy in that milieu is sickening. And for that matter, if he is genuine in his claim that he has heard nothing of these allegations, he is incompetent, paying no attention to what is transpiring around him, and thus not qualified to preach anything to anyone; if he was lying to you, playing coy (which I wholeheartedly believe to be the case), then he is similarly unqualified.

  85. Heather wrote:

    Nick Bulbeck wrote:
    I’d like, if I may, to chuck into the general conversational melée an observation on the “don’t entertain an accusation against an elder without two or three witnesses” Thing.
    That instruction, from 1 Timothy, does of course exist. But the equally-beloved passage from Matthew 18, among others, make it clear to my mind that we aren’t supposed to entertain accusations against anyone without two or three witnesses. And of course, the passage from 1 Timothy immediately goes on to state that elders who sin should be rebuked publicly so that others will take note and learn. In other words, Paul is instructing Timothy: when you are dealing with an elder’s alleged sin, do it fairly and justly so that those who shoulder the burdens of leadership are protected from false allegations. But do it, because an elder should set an example in all things, including repentance.
    So Paul is not conferring special diplomatic immunity on the guy in the pulpit; if anything, the opposite is true. As I understand it, Bryan Loritts is quite right not to entertain an accusation against Fiscal, Piper or anyone else without witnesses. But by the same token, I would expect him to require that Fiscal, Piper or anyone else in similarly high-profile eldership be rebuked as publicly as they are celebrated if the evidence does indeed warrant it.
    Galatians 3:11-15 NIV
    “When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.
    When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?”
    Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary:
    “Notwithstanding Peter’s character, yet, when Paul saw him acting so as to hurt the truth of the gospel and the peace of the church, he was not afraid to reprove him. When he saw that Peter and the others did not live up to that principle which the gospel taught, and which they professed, namely, That by the death of Christ the partition wall between Jew and Gentile was taken down, and the observance of the law of Moses was no longer in force; as Peter’s offence was public, he publicly reproved him. ”
    I am wondering why this account is not mentioned by the chaps who are quick to quote 1Timothy.

    it should not be forgotten that Peter’s offense was relatively minor in light of there being no canonized scriptures yet and the whole issue of Jew-Gentile relations being something of a debatable issue at the time (though Peter, the one who’d received the revelation of the animals on the tablecloth, ought to have known better). Peter’s greatest sin was lacking the courage of his own convictions and going along with the pressures being imposed on him–the sort of thing we’d take a friend aside on and gently remind them of the truth. And yet, Peter was thoroughly upbraided and publicly put down by Paul, such that we still discuss it almost 20 centuries later.

    What Peter did which drew such a profound rebuke seems on its face to be nothing on the spectrum of evil compared with what we see coming out about these brutal leaders of the Church so-called. Even the sin of Ananias and Sapphira, for which they paid the ultimate price, seems fairly unsubstantial in comparison.

    And yet, in light of all that, we still receive these accusations of gossip and slander, the “friendly” admonitions to tread lightly, be very very careful. Utter bosh!

  86. LawProf wrote:

    the Repentant Pastors seem addled by their experiences as Mars Hill insiders and are having a great deal of trouble putting things forthrightly and directly…The Repentants tangle themselves up in so much faux-righteousness and niceties and pious hedging words that they have trouble saying much of anything all that particularly bad about anything anyone has done, including themselves.

    So you noticed this too? It really is way beyond just using “christianese.” Frustrating. Although these men are “stepping up to the plate” after their extended silences, they are doing so timidly. Can it be that they are still scared sh*tless of retribution from Driscoll, or that he will remove his sceptre of blessing from them?

  87. Bridget wrote:

    Off Topic

    I recently heard a sermon where the word “Nones” was defined “as those who no longer have any religious affiliation.” The pastor then went on to express his joy about this because he can now approach these people as unbelievers instead of as those who identify as Christians, but don’t live like Christians. This definition is not the definition that I have seen attributed to “Nones.” I have been under the impression that “Nones” are those who are choosing to stay away from the institutional church, but they do consider themselves Christians. I’m wondering what the prevailing definition of “Nones” actually is.

    Actually, it is more likely “on topic” than not. [I’ll say up front that I think the pastor you mentioned hasn’t been paying attention to the nuances from within our cultures of the definition of “nones.” And from the snippet you shared, it seems he may have an odd add-on theology that requires people to attend church in order to prove they are Christians or to maintain their salvation.]

    Okay. So there may be some official research definition of who fits in the “none” category, but like so many terms, you have to look at the definition of the specific person actually using it. (Even Thomas Kuhn, who is credited with popularizing the term “paradigm” acknowledged later that he’d used it with at least 27 to 29 different nuances to it in his groundbreaking book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.]

    The definition I’ve been using for those in the “none” category of religious demographics is: “They consider themselves spiritual but without affiliation to any particular religion or denomination.” So, while it wouldn’t technically include atheists, it could include agnostics. There are a lot of people who have at least some values that overlap with biblical/Kingdom values — like personal morality, social justice, etc. — but aren’t followers of Jesus. Even Jesus talked about some people as being “not far from the Kingdom.” In contemporary Western culture, many who are part of social entrepreneurship fit with the “nones” category and that definition, as one essential aspect of being “spiritual” is about connection and transformation. Social change advocates are typically about constructive transformation while not inflicting harm.

    Here in the U.S., I tend to hear words like “unchurched” or “dechurched” associated with “nones.” And a lot of those who have LEFT church apparently have been because of being victims of spiritual abuse from leaders and/or legalism = “dechurched.” Those who DON’T START going to church = “unchurched” and I’ve typically seen two reasons attached to this.

    First, unchurched people don’t go to church because of the hypocrisy of so many in church. So, while they may (and often do!) like Jesus Christ, they loathe Christians. (For instance, have you seen the bumper sticker that says, “Lord, protect me from your followers!”) This reason of refusing the hypocrisy seems to cut across generations. Hence, mega-church scandals, spiritually abusive leaders, legalistic systems, etc., feed directly into the reasons people gravitate toward “none.”

    The second reason is more specific: they do not like the Church’s stance toward people who are LBGTQ. (So that is typically more about the theologically conservative and evangelical wings of the Church.) I’ve seen this issue mentioned as the #1 reason among the younger generations, especially Millennials (born 1982 and thereafter), for not starting to go to church or for leaving church if they did.

    These terms – nones, unchurched, dechurched – take on different significance in Europe, UK, Australia, and New Zealand where they’re at least a generation ahead in the post-modern, post-Christendom shift, and so many more young adults there have little or no church background. (For 10 years, I’ve worked as part of the virtual U.S. wing to a missional team in the U.K. who work primarily with “nones” there, so this is a demographic we pay attention to.)

    As far as I know, the earliest research work on people “exiting church” was A Churchless Faith: Faith Journeys Beyond the Churches by New Zealand pastor Alan Jamieson (2002). This book was adapted from his doctoral work.

    http://www.amazon.com/Churchless-Faith-Journeys-beyond-Churches/dp/0281054657/

    I’m pretty sure Barb Orlowski, a name many here at TWW will recognize, has also written about “nones” and “church exiters” and “dechurched/unchurched” people. You’ll find more about this on her blog, which you can link to from the TWW blogroll — Church Exiters/Spiritual Abuse Recovery.

    So … these Mars Hill-type fiascoes feed right into some of the main issues that lead people into the “nones” category. But perhaps when they see people standing up for those who’ve been victimized, they’ll at least see a different possibility that will make far more spiritual sense to them for their sense of justice and social change.

  88. LawProf wrote:

    This is something I’ve noted as well, the Repentant Pastors seem addled by their experiences as Mars Hill insiders and are having a great deal of trouble putting things forthrightly and directly. This is in stark contrast to what we see in the Bible, where everything seems forceful, blunt, honest, unadorned.

    Like Mars Hill brainwashing leaves you incapable of thinking and speaking directly? The only way you can think is in the indirect, obscure, Christianese-Spiritual way? Where the closest you can come to naming the evil is “big brother is ungood” because you have no words or ideas beyond that?

  89. @ LawProf:
    @ TedS.:
    Beyond the uncertainty that they must feel after the harsh Mars Hill enviro, I think these men suffer from a lack of modeling on how to confront pastors, where to draw firm lines, the meaning of love in criticism, etc.

    The Evang culture is stuffed full with hierarchical structures, doctrines of obedience and submission, premature forgiveness, emphasis on positivity over accuracy, etc. The Repentant Pastors are breaking from these tightly held misconstructions but who is there to help them learn the better truths?

    Plus almost no one in these circles understands the value of constructive analysis, much less have developed any skill at it. That’s a huge problem and has reduced broad membership to followers who think in extremes. Such people will feel plain awful when confronted by such messiness and will show, as these guys do, confusing flip/flops heavy with platitudes.

    If handled properly by some wise mentors, this experience could become a prime learning ground, not only for these guys but also all Evangelicals. I wish….

  90. This sonnet by Percy Bysshe Shelley seems appropriate:
    Ozymandias

    I met a traveller from an antique land
    Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
    Stand in the desert … Near them, on the sand,
    Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
    And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
    Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
    Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
    The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
    And on the pedestal these words appear:
    ‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
    Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
    Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
    Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
    The lone and level sands stretch far away.

    Obligatory reading for those inclined to get too big for their boots. Wish they would take it to heart, though.

  91. Patrice wrote:

    Such people will feel plain awful when confronted by such messiness and will show, as these guys do, confusing flip/flops heavy with platitudes.
    If handled properly by some wise mentors, this experience could become a prime learning ground, not only for these guys but also all Evangelicals. I wish….

    Amen.

  92. @ brad/futuristguy:
    Excellent, Brad. Thanks so much!

    And I know many people, young/old, including me, for whom this is definitely true: “But perhaps when they see people standing up for those who’ve been victimized, they’ll at least see a different possibility that will make far more spiritual sense to them for their sense of justice and social change.”

  93. @ Patrice:

    One characteristic among a lot of those I know in the “nones” category is a desire for justice and fairness. This seems to be at the core of what Jesus called “people of peace” — and these were the people that He sent His disciples out to the villages to find and stay with and share with about the Kingdom. They are known to be hospitable, welcoming people who are respected in their communities. And I doubt anyone can catalyze true justice if they do not have a welcoming spirit toward others. So, makes sense to me that a lot of people leave church or are repulsed from ever going there, when they see so many churches dominated by such an inhospitable environment and ultimately unwelcoming people.

  94. JeffT wrote:

    Their use of Mt 18 and other passages is a farce. They have no interest at all in spiritual reconciliation. They use it strictly as an instrument of oppression to silence and isolate those who would dare to raise any questions about their actions or beliefs.

    Yep. But their view of this can be easily refuted, using their own so-called literal and non-contextual methodology. These are determining passages for them.

    It’s important to pull all the rugs out from under them; in this case, they do it to themselves and we need only keep pointing it out everywhere.

  95. @ brad/futuristguy:
    @ Patrice:

    Needless to say, I was not happy by what this pastor said. I just left a church that I had been part of for 16 years. This was the second church we had visited since leaving. The discussion about Nones came at the end of a sermon and really didn’t have anything to do with the text he was discussing. It just seemed to be used to make a point without considering the “people” who are the Nones. He is seemingly writing all these Nones off as unbelievers, since that was how he defined them. I would have had a discussion with the man, but that was impossible since he was on a screen 🙁 I may need to send an email.

  96. Just recently posted by Shawn Nickerson in the *Repeal the Bylaws* Facebook Group:

    “I have yet to receive and answer from the ECFA, I encourage you to ask them explain how they are impartial in their findings re MHC when their member orgs are their source of income.”

    https://twitter.com/shawnpnickerson/statuses/452821956195143680

    His tweet reads: “@ecfa would I be correct In assuming all of your revenue comes from member churches?”

    Perhaps the dissent and pressure will begin now on Twitter for ECFA to explain itself and describe what proactive measures they are taking, if any. I wonder how any “certifying agency” can prove sustainable in the digital era if they do not respond to legitimate questions like those being raised about Mars Hill leadership and financial structures.

  97. Steven Troy wrote:

    Off topic, but curious if TWW ever discussed the 2009 appearance by Piper at the American Assoc. of Christian Counselors meeting?

    No but it sounds like we should. What transpired?

  98. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    it’s time to find alternatives to ECFA that are not funded by its members. (After all, doesn’t that seems to be a conflict of interest by an organization that is supposed to be watchdogging for conflict of interests among its members?) Is there really any incentive for ECFA to do more than see if documents tend to line up with their standards?

    I saw the other blog and Facebook discussions. I was glad to see it. There is clearly a conflict of interest here. There own policy lacks integrity.

  99. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    This seems to be at the core of what Jesus called “people of peace” — and these were the people that He sent His disciples out to the villages to find and stay with and share with about the Kingdom. They are known to be hospitable, welcoming people who are respected in their communities. And I doubt anyone can catalyze true justice if they do not have a welcoming spirit toward others. So, makes sense to me that a lot of people leave church or are repulsed from ever going there, when they see so many churches dominated by such an inhospitable environment and ultimately unwelcoming people.

    Yes, indeed. I have met a number of these people over the years and felt more at home with them than I did with most Christians I’ve been with.

    It’s because we share fundamental values of respect, compassion, justice&mercy (a package). To talk about Christ with them is not a strange step but a natural flow. The fact is that they already glimpse and desire the person of Christ, whether they see it clearly or not.

    I have no idea what God will do with these people but I am convinced that there will be more mercy for them than for those Christians in my life who have done all they could to make me feel ugly and inferior, judging me by the horrible secrets I’ve been forced to carry, trying to shut me down “for the sake of the ministry of God”. And unfortunately for me, that has been the majority of Christians I’ve met, not in only one community but in community after community until I gave up.

  100. @ Emmaline:
    I do need to read more about the group. My question for EFCA is why they do not raise a red flag with exorbitant salaries and people using the pulpit as their own cash cow.

  101. dee wrote:

    TWW did a story on EFCA when it was reported that Franklin Graham was receiving a $1.2 million salary. Busby told us that EFCA does not care what people make so long as their board and auditing meet some sort of criteria that they set.

    Thanks, Dee. I need to read this.

  102. TedS. wrote:

    Can it be that they are still scared sh*tless of retribution from Driscoll, or that he will remove his sceptre of blessing from them?

    I think that is probably true. It is really hard to go up against a church. I know. I did so. I started out slow but boy did i escalate when I got my sea legs.

  103. Jackie wrote:

    I know for certain that seekers silently visit this blog. Subtle stuff. It’s easy to forget for all of us. Hope that makes some sense.

    We know. Many of them write us emails, telling us that they are glad that there are finally people calling attention to serious problems. I truly believe that it is Christians who think we are hiding our bad behavior from the world when those who do not believe see it all too well.

    Look up above at the comment from Eagle. Many readers know he appeared on this blog as an angry agnostic, having been pummeled by the evangelical crowd. Due to the ministry of many kind people on this blog and on the Internet Monk, Eagle was baptized in November.

  104. Albuquerque Blue wrote:

    You’d think I’d stop being surprised by people and organizations like Mars Hill acting the way they do, but it still gets me.

    If you are in Albuquerque, then you may have witnessed the Skip Heitzig fiasco of his large CC church that he left and then came back to forcibly took it back over. Talk about a scandal, and he got away with it which was absolutely unbelievable! When Franklin Graham stepped in to save the day and joined Heitzig’s corrupt board, I lost all respect for him; and that was before we knew how much money Franklin was making off little ole ladies giving their last dime.

  105. @ “Tanner Philbeck:

    The weirdest thing… I opened the TWW home page and glanced down the list of recent commenters’ names on the right hand side. As soon as I saw the (probably made-up) name “Tanner Philbeck”, I thought: I bet that’s a chatbot promoting Park Fiscal. So I followed the link, and lo: it was so.

    Nobody’s interested in chatbots promoting Park Fiscal, of course. What is interesting to me, though, is exactly what it is about these pseudonyms that makes them immediately look fake before one so much as glances at their “comments”. I have, of course, a few theories but it’s bedtime.

  106. @ Bridget:
    @ brad/futuristguy:

    “Nones” is a pejorative term if used by people who make a living out of traditional denominational church divisions, and a term of identity to those of us who have rejected those divisions. A bit like “friend of sinners” – first used as a term of abuse, but now a term of worship.

    If a professional clergyman were so shrunken in spirit that his highest goal for me were to convert me to his unbiblical ecclesiology, I would struggle to do more than pity him.

  107. Bridget wrote:

    I may need to send an email.

    If you are willing, that would be tres sweet. It seems to me that continuous pushback every which way is a prerequisite for change, whether only for ourselves (we don’t take it anymore and eventually set up something else) or for the established Evangelical community (they respond and make the changes).

  108. Oh, and one more before it really is bedtime: Lesley and I meet many people in the workplace who are making considerable sacrifices in their pursuit of justice for the poor, among other values we see represented in the life of Jesus. We call them “kingdom people”.

    Some of them identify themselves as Christians, but most don’t. Conversely, some Christians think God is interested in (or, indeed, capable of) creating jobs; but most don’t.

  109. @ Eagle:

    Can I just say, Eagle, I found your letter to Bryan Lorrits (quoted above) to be quietly devastating and profoundly moving. His mealy-mouthed response is disappointing but hardly a surprise. So he’s unaware of all the examples you quoted and accuses you of not having 2 or 3 witnesses? What about hundreds of witnesses – and the evidence being plastered all over the internet? Honestly, some of these people are refusing to face truths.

  110. LawProf wrote:

    This is something I’ve noted as well, the Repentant Pastors seem addled by their experiences as Mars Hill insiders and are having a great deal of trouble putting things forthrightly and directly. This is in stark contrast to what we see in the Bible, where everything seems forceful, blunt, honest, unadorned. The Repentants tangle themselves up in so much faux-righteousness and niceties and pious hedging words that they have trouble saying much of anything all that particularly bad about anything anyone has done, including themselves.
    A testimony to the depravity of the Mars Hill-twisted mind.

    Sadly, exactly this phenomenon is all too familiar to those who’ve followed the SGM debacle. Former pastors who were steeped in the system continue to speak in a flowery, faux-righteous and mealy-mouthed manner which works to reduce any expression of remorse or repentance.

  111. Katie wrote:

    If you are in Albuquerque, then you may have witnessed the Skip Heitzig fiasco of his large CC church that he left and then came back to forcibly took it back over. Talk about a scandal, and he got away with it which was absolutely unbelievable! When Franklin Graham stepped in to save the day and joined Heitzig’s corrupt board, I lost all respect for him; and that was before we knew how much money Franklin was making off little ole ladies giving their last dime.

    Yeah, I heard about that. A friend of mine and I visited that church a few years ago as part of our experimental atheists go to church/religious functions. Some day we’ll finally start blogging our impressions of various places. Heitzig’s service was fairly normal for a large church, though it was really weird how often blood was referenced; bathed in the blood, washed with the blood, blood of Christ. Nothing to outre, just constantly brought up. Sounded weirdly violent to us.

  112. Katie wrote:

    Come to think of it, I think Franklin Graham’s seal of approval is much like the EFCA’s.

    Franklin Graham has been hired to preach the Easter service for Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, since the former pastor Bob Coy resigned a few days ago.

  113. dee wrote:

    No but it sounds like we should. What transpired?

    Dee, I sent you an email with a link to the video. It’s about 5 mins. Would love to know your thoughts.

  114. mirele fka Southwestern Discomfort wrote:

    Katie wrote:
    Come to think of it, I think Franklin Graham’s seal of approval is much like the EFCA’s.
    Franklin Graham has been hired to preach the Easter service for Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, since the former pastor Bob Coy resigned a few days ago.

    Franklin to the rescue once again! I know of three now:

    1. A Vineyard church turned back into a Calvary Chapel (which was a big deal since the pastor was one of the originals from CC,) and Franklin showed up to legitimize the change.
    2. Heitzig’s stealing back the church he gave up, along with lots of cash and more. Franklin joins the board and shows up to preach, to legitimize the return of Heitzig. Ugh!
    3. Coy falls and Franklin shows up to hold together the CC that is currently fractured among the ranks.

    I’ll bet there’s a longer list of Franklin to the rescue. Wonder if he gets paid for these gigs? Wonder if he gets paid well? Wonder if Franklin advertises himself as the wonder boy who can put a stamp of approval, as if it were from his father, on the highest bidder? Just wondering ….

  115. @ Katie:

    Good grief! Does he need more money? I hope that he is not asking for, nor taking by way of gifts, any money for his services.

  116. Katie wrote:

    I’ll bet there’s a longer list of Franklin to the rescue. Wonder if he gets paid for these gigs? Wonder if he gets paid well? Wonder if Franklin advertises himself as the wonder boy who can put a stamp of approval, as if it were from his father, on the highest bidder?

    Anybody got Vlad Putin, Autocrat of All Russia, on speed-dial?

    Need to justify a military landgrab in Crimea?
    FRANKLIN TO THE RESCUE!

  117. @ Nick Bulbeck:
    Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    “Nones” is a pejorative term if used by people who make a living out of traditional denominational church divisions, and a term of identity to those of us who have rejected those divisions. A bit like “friend of sinners” – first used as a term of abuse, but now a term of worship.

    If a professional clergyman were so shrunken in spirit that his highest goal for me were to convert me to his unbiblical ecclesiology, I would struggle to do more than pity him.

    That makes sense to me, Nick.

    One of the things to consider here is that (as far as I know) the term “none” came out of demographic research studies and *MAY* have been part of the U.S. Census detailed information instruments for decades. (A certain percentage of households not only have to complete the general information, but are followed up — by law — with a more in-depth survey that has to be completed with a designated Census worker.)

    Sorry I don’t have much time right now to research and confirm/refute about when the term originated. Just pulling it from memory and from discussions with Census workers who had to get the survey forms completed with respondents.

    Anyway, check page 2 of this report for some basic info on “nones” in U.S. Apparently the term has been in research use for at least 25 years.

    http://b27.cc.trincoll.edu/weblogs/AmericanReligionSurvey-ARIS/reports/ARIS_Report_2008.pdf

    Sad part is that “religious” people in the pulpit and pews have pimped the term into a label instead of reflecting on why an increasing percentage of Americans consider themselves “none” / no religious affiliation, and what that may have to say about the state of the CHURCH and not just the apparent state of their souls.

  118. TedS. wrote:

    LawProf wrote:
    the Repentant Pastors seem addled by their experiences as Mars Hill insiders and are having a great deal of trouble putting things forthrightly and directly…The Repentants tangle themselves up in so much faux-righteousness and niceties and pious hedging words that they have trouble saying much of anything all that particularly bad about anything anyone has done, including themselves.
    So you noticed this too? It really is way beyond just using “christianese.” Frustrating. Although these men are “stepping up to the plate” after their extended silences, they are doing so timidly. Can it be that they are still scared sh*tless of retribution from Driscoll, or that he will remove his sceptre of blessing from them?

    It fairly screams out at me from reading their blog: they are benighted, having some vague notion that things were and are wrong–namely because it affected them rather than one of the little people–but don’t have the vocabulary to quite confront it. I think that got knocked out of them in their days there.

    They are to be pitied and I hope they’re able to get the help that they need to work through this and become functioning human beings able to recognize, much less stand up for the truth, because they still write as though thoroughly brainwashed. But as far as offering any real opposition to a sadistic sociopath–they are little more than squeaking mice.

  119. mirele fka Southwestern Discomfort wrote:

    Franklin Graham has been hired to preach the Easter service for Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, since the former pastor Bob Coy resigned a few days ago.

    Like that one big-bucks criminal defense lawyer who’s name I can’t remember here in LA. Was on OJ’s dream-team under Johnny Cochrane, and hasn’t won a case since.

    “If he’s your attorney, everyone knows you’re guilty!”

  120. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    Perhaps the dissent and pressure will begin now on Twitter for ECFA to explain itself and describe what proactive measures they are taking, if any

    I am so glad that people are seeing what we saw when we looked into this. Sometimes I think, “Am I nuts?’ Thank you all for your input. However, at times I am still nuts! 🙂

  121. dee wrote:

    TedS. wrote:
    Can it be that they are still scared sh*tless of retribution from Driscoll, or that he will remove his sceptre of blessing from them?
    I think that is probably true. It is really hard to go up against a church.

    Because the church (and its pastor/dictator) holds the keys to Where You WILL Spend ETERNITY. And can damn you to Eternal Hell with a turn of that key. Same stunt as the Medieval Church used to pull.
    “Whatever you bind will have been bound in Heaven…”
    (Funny how that’s always a false doctrine when the Pope in Rome claims it…)

  122. And in other news…..

    Any details about the Brave New World of Complementarianism they were set to announce this morning at T4G/CBMW conference?

  123. @ dee:

    Yup, I hear yuh, Dee. Really, I don’t want ECFA to fail. I first heard about ECFA decades ago (maybe even early 1980s) and it was considered a trusted name. But now THEY need to show that the trust was and is deserved, and that it has not been tarnished.

    However, if they (and organizations like them) aren’t going to be particularly rigorous about what “certification” means and refuse to conduct robust investigations when such severe questions are raised as with one of their current members, then they show themselves to be part of the toxicity instead of part of the correctives — co-perpetrators not donor protectors.

  124. @ brad/futuristguy:

    I was thinking that investigating would be overwhelming, which may be why they say they don’t do it. However, why couldn’t they just make their process legally tight. Hand out a package of legal papers that the churches have to sign, and if they violate the agreement then the ECFA will have a public list that can be accesses of those who are in non-compliance.

  125. @ brad/futuristguy:

    It was bugging me about the demographics and the U.S. Census, so I did check out some sources during a break. I did have the Census connection wrong with it coming from the in-depth interview. Check this link:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_religious_demographics_of_the_United_States

    Looks like the Gallup organization, which has been polling Americans annually since 1948, has used the term “none.” (Who knows, other research organizations may have used the term before that.) But the U.S. Census does track number of religious organizations.

  126. dee wrote:

    @ Katie:
    @ TedS.:
    TWW did a story on EFCA when it was reported that Franklin Graham was receiving a $1.2 million salary. Busby told us that EFCA does not care what people make so long as their board and auditing meet some sort of criteria that they set. Here is a post in which we show the email that we received from Busby. We were deeply disappointed that this organization that we had heard so much about is not what we think it is.

    I assume EFCA makes their money from the accreditation fees they charge. If so, then their incentive is to accredit as many churches as possible. It’s what happens all too often – organizations are set up to insure integrity an over time their ‘stamp of approval’ becomes meaningless because those that established it with a commitment to the mission are gone and the successors become focused on the money because they aren’t invested in the mission.

  127. Over at Repeal the Bylaws there is a Will Hofman who posted this. I think this is one of the best descriptions of why we should care about Mars Hill. When you think about it what has happened at mars Hill effects a lot of people. It has effected those at mars Hill, families, friends, relatives. It has affected those in the Acts 29 network. It has affected Rebecca Lynn and all the people at Countryside Church in Michigan City, IN. It has affected those of us in other parts of the country who see how Mark Driscoll does things and how many wanna bes want to emulate him.

    That said, I thought Will put this so articulately in writing…

    Will Hofman-

    Some thots. I was reminding someone yesterday about how Paul handled problems in the churches. When he saw a church going off the path in some way, he did not meet privately with the elders, or send them a letter clandestinely. No, he sent the church a letter, to be read to all, openly discussing the problems, and admonishing them all to resolve the problems, right quick. Furthermore, when he sent a letter to the Corinthian church, for instance, this included all the Christians in Corinth. These were meeting in various homes. All were not necessarily part of the wrong doing, but there was sin in their midst, and he strongly exhorted all of them to fix it.

    This clarifies some things for our present situation. We are all responsible to fix the problems in MH. It matters not whether we are still in MH or whether we left. It does not even matter whether we were ever there. Someone like Jim Henderson is not an interloper who should butt out. He is doing what Paul commanded. There is a problem in our midst. We are responsible to address it. It also clarifies things like gossiping. That canard is simply to keep us acting like sheep: tithe, serve, and do what we’re told, and the “leaders” will take care of everything else. No, the leaders are the problem.

    Much the same can be said about the charge of bitterness. Certainly some struggle with bitterness. All Christians struggle with such. And anger. It doesn’t mean we need to fully overcome these to speak out. Paul was quite angry when he wrote some of his letters.

    The focus needs to be on the growing blight in our midst called Mars Hill. That is our common problem. Let’s try to find a solution. Together.

  128. First let me say that my honest hope is that Mark Driscoll repents and steps down. That a threat of a lawsuit, all the problems coming forward will get to him, or that someone will speak wisdom to him and he will step aside and do the right thing.

    That is what I am hoping for….but I don’t think that will happen. Totalitarian leaders do not give up power. They drag down a country or a church with them.

    That said, here’s why I think Mark Driscoll needs to fall from power. He needs to fall from power for all the following reasons.

    1. For the benefit of those in Mars Hill who are stuck, trapped or hurting he needs to leave.
    2. For the benefit of those who have left MH and are on the outside. They need healing, closure, and peace and Mark Driscoll calling it quits will help them in their recovery.
    3. For the benefit of those who have family, friends, etc.. trapped inside the MH machine. They need peace, closure and hope as well.
    4. For those in the Acts 29 network I think Mark Driscoll’s fall from grace will shake that up and protect those on the inside from being abused.
    5. Mark Driscoll needs to fall from power because John Piper, CJ Mahaney, Matt Chandler, Mark Dever, etc.. need to understand that they are not above the law. And that if Mark Driscoll can fall…well they can to.
    6. A Mark Driscoll fall from power may result in Mark Dever, Matt Chandler, etc.. from stepping back and asking themself, “have we done something wrong? What did we do?”
    7. Mark Driscoll fall from power can help those still in SGM churches and maybe shake up that system as well.
    8. Mark Driscoll fall from power can help the church show that there are Bereans. The Berans in this case are the Paul Petrys, Bent Meyer, Rob Smith, etc… and be being involved in removing Mark Driscoll they will help make Christianity healthier. Plus to some of the atheists and agnostics on the outside they can show the world how an active, vibrant faith can result defuse many issues that atheists cling to as reasons why not to be a Christian.
    9. The YRR crowd needs to see one of the Big Dogs go down. Why? The need to understand how much they have made Mark Driscoll, John Piper, etc.. an idol. They need to see how much they are worshipping a celebrity pastor over the Lord.
    10. Perhaps a fall from power will also result in a push back against Celebrity Pastors which is a major threat to Christiandom now.

    Just some suggestions.

  129. I would also suggest that Mark Driscoll needs to go down in Christian History as the Hyper-Reformed Jim Baker (minus the Prostitutes of course). (ed. delete to protect Eagle!)

  130. I agree with this statement wholeheartedly:

    “Bombastic arrogance is not a quality that is found in the New Testament. ”

    Maybe it’s the money, or the power, or the control that trips the switch, but when these guys and their organizations implode, you can smell the pomposity going up in smoke.

    Driscoll is a great hero of the pastors who are part of the CBMW . . . so it has been a tough month for them and I suspect they are looking around for another ‘leader’ of hubris to imitate. Gosh, I hope they don’t turn to Furtick next as a replacement ‘hero’, not that this wouldn’t be interesting to observe.

    The whole male-hubris thing reeks of pomposity.

  131. @ Eagle:
    I join you in the hope for the complete dismantling of the Mars Hill/Acts 29 model because I believe it is the only path to healing for many of us. There is a big part of me that wants that validation. I am weary of being accused of being bitter, and or just a big gossip. I am either being purposely misunderstood to shut me up or just bullied by men who are threatened by a woman with a voice. How dare I touch God’s anointed?!? My prayer is that finally there will be a real solution and a spot light shown so brightly on this that no one can escape to crawl under a rock. I do not want to see Marky D come back stronger than ever, to me that thought is a slap in the face. I also hope this will put on notice the next aspiring Marky D clone or idiot sticks as I like to think of them. Let them see that this kind of behavior ends up in the courtroom with RICO being threatened. Maybe that will take the starch out of their underoos some. We have to be vigilant because so many people are being deceived and wounded. Someone has to take the watch, and I am so glad the Deebs have. I held my story in for years before I talked to them. I really had not even thought anyone would care, I mean they got away with all of it here in Michigan City. So why would anyone on the net care? I was blown away by all the encouragement and love I found here, and I really began to pull myself out of my house after that. My heart is heavy for all the others out there, not talking but hiding. I hope they see what is happening and begin to speak out. I am praying for them. I am also praying for Mark Driscoll to truly have to face all his demons. I want him to acknowledge that the mess he is in, is one of his own creation. I want him to
    have to face the pain he has caused others and answer for it. I want him to look at my children all of them in the face and tell them that nothing they saw had anything to do with Christ.

  132. @ brad/futuristguy:

    I guess I didn’t really address the origins or definition of “None” – I think you’re probably right regarding those, Brad. In a sense, the term has several different usages and probably always will.

    I feel I should clarify one of my earlier statements:

    If a professional clergyman were so shrunken in spirit that his highest goal for me were to convert me to his unbiblical ecclesiology, I would struggle to do more than pity him.

    This was in the specific context of Bridget’s comment – i.e. a pastor who declared “none’s” to be non-Christians and therefore viable targets for proselytising.

    But as a standalone comment, I don’t like what I wrote: there are many professional clergymen (and women) I know whose gospel does not move them to pride and arrogance, nor to disdain for people such as myself. I consider their company a pleasure, and their right hand of fellowship a privilege. Of course, they aren’t famous motivational speakers. Jesus stated that that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God, and as he himself showed, the converse is also true.

  133. @ Eagle First let me say that my honest hope is that Mark Driscoll repents and steps down. That a threat of a lawsuit, all the problems coming forward will get to him, or that someone will speak wisdom to him and he will step aside and do the right thing.

    According to the Newfrontiers blogger, Adrian Warnock, there is a ‘lynch mob’ after Mark Driscoll. So the narrative if he does step down will be he was forced to do by the lynch mob. So history will just be re-written to absolve Mark Driscoll of the blame, unless of course, people who express views like Adrian also admit they are in the wrong.

  134. Peter wrote:

    According to the Newfrontiers blogger, Adrian Warnock, there is a ‘lynch mob’ after Mark Driscoll.

    Interesting. Perhaps Adrian is worried that there will be more scandals that will hit closer to home. Adrian cannot get over the idea that the church belongs to more than his buddy leaders.

  135. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    I wonder how any “certifying agency” can prove sustainable in the digital era if they do not respond to legitimate questions like those being raised about Mars Hill leadership and financial structures.

    They dug themselves into a hole. The initiating idea was good. The problem was the long term financing of this “independent” group.So long as any group must market to “leaders” the group, no matter how much the deny it, will be beholden to the leaders.

  136. @ chris:
    Nothing yet. However, Tim Fall said the tweets coming out of the conference dropped precipitously when it was time for the women’s panel. Guess that wasn’t too exciting for the guys.

    Also, there is some chat on marriage in heaven on Twitter. That whole “gender roles in the new creation” is starting to get some play. One person claimed Jesus meant no new marriages in heaven which means all of us who are married will continue to be so.

    My husband and I were laughing so hard last night. I said to him “Well, I committed for 50-80 years. However, if it was for a gazillion, I might have hesitated.” He countered that he thought divorce attorneys would have a new line “death bed divorces.”

    I swear, you can’t make this stuff up!

  137. Christiane wrote:

    so it has been a tough month for them and I suspect they are looking around for another ‘leader’ of hubris to imitate

    Don’t forget-many of them still support the ministry of CJ Mahaney. These guys latch onto leaders like rabid dogs.

  138. dee wrote:

    “Well, I committed for 50-80 years. However, if it was for a gazillion, I might have hesitated.”

    I know. What part of “till death do us part” do they not understand.

  139. @ Albuquerque Blue:

    I love your interaction here! I hope you’ll stay engaged and keep sharing. Not only that but I can resonate with some of what you have experienced or saw. I went through a 5-6 year faith crisis and walked away. I threw myself into reading and watching atheist and secular material. I also attended the Reason Rally here in Washington, D.C. and watched a lot of the evangelical atheists.

    When I decided to try and get some of my answers solved at church I was blown away by how many Christians and churches are out of it. I found some places weird, strange, condescending, or they were intimidated by the questions I was asking. Most Christians don’t have the slightest clue how much courage it takes to walk into some of these places. And then they pile on with the “first time visitor parking spot” or “stand up so we can welcome you..” etc…. It’s awful.

    I learned that many evangelicals have preconceived notions of atheists. They group, pile on, and treat them in ways that are less than honoring. Not only that but many Christians discount atheists because they are atheists. Many atheists say some bold and truthful things that Christians need to hear. I heard atheists express outrage at the Reason Rally to churches that cover up sexual abuse, molestation, spiritual abuse, etc…. It was refreshing to hear this especially since many of the Christians I used to know hung on John Piper or Mark Driscoll’s every word. Atheists are right about churches or ministry leaders that abuse.
    I would suggest that Christianity needs atheists like yourself. We need them to hold Christianity accountable and to speak up. Many Christians do not, and I am grateful for the thoughts and feelings by many skeptics. They do Christianity and humanity as a whole a great service when they speak up. Christians have done themselves, their faith, and human kind a great disservice when they stay silent on abuse.

    So thanks for your comment. I’d love if you hang around and get involved here.

  140. Eagle wrote:

    So thanks for your comment. I’d love if you hang around and get involved here.

    Albuquerque Blue is awesome. I have had some offline conversations. I have a fondness for anything to do with New Mexico, having spent two years there. We used t go to Albuquerque on the weekends and I love, love , love that city.

  141. rebecca lynn wrote:

    I really had not even thought anyone would care, I mean they got away with all of it here in Michigan City. So why would anyone on the net care? I was blown away by all the encouragement and love I found here, and I really began to pull myself out of my house after that. My heart is heavy for all the others out there, not talking but hiding. I hope they see what is happening and begin to speak out.

    My former cult received some negative local news coverage a few years ago, and many people STILL defended them. It didn’t matter that there were molested children involved. It didn’t matter that children are disciplined a la Pearl style. It didn’t matter that people and families are used and taken advantage of. The fact is that many “Christians” simply don’t care until *they* are the ones abused by a “church.” Once you’ve experienced it, you recognize how valuable blogs like TWW are. Even my extended family doesn’t understand what I’m going through. But the people here do.

  142. dee wrote:

    Don’t forget-many of them still support the ministry of CJ Mahaney.

    HUMBLY, of course. (chuckle chuckle)

    These guys latch onto leaders like rabid dogs.

    Fuehrerprinzip.

    Because if you suck up to a Mighty Fuehrer like Tabaqui the Jackal to Shere Khan, You Get To Be IMPORTANT. You get to bask in the Glory of the Fuehrer.

  143. dee wrote:

    Also, there is some chat on marriage in heaven on Twitter. That whole “gender roles in the new creation” is starting to get some play. One person claimed Jesus meant no new marriages in heaven which means all of us who are married will continue to be so.

    Sealed for Eternity in the Celestial Kingdom.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZdVUCpu5yhw

  144. dee wrote:

    @ Albuquerque Blue:
    Could you tell us more about that story? That sounds interesting. I hostile takeover a church? This I gotta hear.

    Well I know a little about it. Short version: Heitzig resigned after a controversy about openness and control of the board and a packed board of cronies. Replacement pastor comes in and Heitzig is still in control of the board. Replacement pastor quits, and after searching available candidates amazingly Heitzigs handpicked board brings him back.

    I don’t know how to do links properly here so this may look bad, but here’s an excellent link with sources. http://calvarycostamesa.blogspot.com/2006/03/big-scandal.html

  145. Eagle wrote:

    So thanks for your comment. I’d love if you hang around and get involved here.

    dee

    Thank you both. The way I see it, we’re neighbors, if not in the same country, neighbors in the world. It behooves me to engage with and to try to understand believers in various faiths. I was Christian from about 5-20, now I’m 35 and it’s always interesting going back and checking out churches or joining community’s like this one. I still speak the lingua franca of American Christianity somewhat, but it’s fascinating to see how it’s changed and where its going.

    And Eagle, you’re right about how Evangelicals see Atheists. Not all of them of course, and the reverse can be true as well (I belong to a few atheist communities that I would in no way recommend the faint of heart or belief). We have things to share with each other. As the atheist community grows larger, we have a road map of how to avoid hierarchic folly because of blogs like this.

    Well I worked behoove into a sentence today, go me. ^_^

  146. Who came up with the term evangelical mafia? Love it!! If so does that make Mark Driscoll the evangelical John Gotti? 😛 Does that mean that bodies thrown under a bus are buried in a basement in New Jersey/New York? 😛

  147. The past couple of years have seen the crumbling of the empires of Jack Schaap, Doug Phillips, and Bill Gothard, to name but three. Now we see Ergun Caner, Furtick, and Driscoll under the microscope. Domino effect, anyone?

    Pass the popcorn, please.

  148. Peter wrote:

    According to the Newfrontiers blogger, Adrian Warnock, there is a ‘lynch mob’ after Mark Driscoll. So the narrative if he does step down will be he was forced to do by the lynch mob. So history will just be re-written to absolve Mark Driscoll of the blame, unless of course, people who express views like Adrian also admit they are in the wrong.

    Mr. Warnock is a part of the problem, and he is doing what cultists naturally do: poisoning the well. It is not a valid means of debate, it’s dishonest and unethical, but these things come quite naturally to him given his training and inclinations. This talk of “lynch mob” by Warnock is a sign that he is either benighted and simply ignorant of what is going on or is essentially like Driscoll: ruthless, willing to say anything and do anything to protect the brand, and undeniably, Driscoll is a key part of the brand that includes Mr. Piper, SGM, New Frontiers (Mr. Warnock’s organization) and others.

    I will keep beating this drum until a few people listen: New Frontiers is a cult. There are Christians there–and I was one of them–but in my experience it is in sum and substance an organization that exists to persecute the true church. It just does so with nice words and Brit accent.

  149. dee wrote:

    @ chris:
    Tim Fall said the tweets coming out of the conference dropped precipitously when it was time for the women’s panel. Guess that wasn’t too exciting for the guys.

    I joined in with Tim Fall on his Tweet regarding marginalization of the women at the conference: 20 minutes each for 8 men, 6 women share 30 minutes on a panel – I was called a troll for that comment. And this at a conference supposedly about biblical manhood AND womenhood to a roomful of 1300 white men. Seems like not a lot of women are buying that snake oil.

    Kudos to CBMW for their marketing though, charging only $30 and having it that morning in Louisville when T4G started that afternoon. They are really going all out now with promoting their medicine show.

  150. LawProf wrote:

    dee wrote:
    @ Bridget:
    We did some looking at these statistics and posted on them. We believe that millions of the nones are the faithful who have dropped out of church.
    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2012/03/12/the-nones-are-the-faithful-fleeing-the-church/

    I and my family are in this category. We love Jesus, we are what some would call orthodox Christians, others would call Jesus freaks. We are not the only ones by a million measure.

    We claim no denomination, no affiliation and form small home groups for our ‘forsake not the assembling’ with like-minded Christians.

    When you remove yourself from the institutional religions, they label you as a ‘None’.
    This label comes with a disgusted sneer, as we refuse to accept their man-made dogma and traditions, which in turn makes no money for their building fund.

    Make no mistake, though, we are fully Christian. 🙂

  151. About the “none” category. I am thinking that it does not much matter what the pollsters label something, the polls in this area are pretty worthless. For example, at my church we have lots (droves?) of people who maintain their name on the church roll, and defend their intent to do so (when you can find them) but who have not participated in anything for years and who do not contribute to the church in time, money or presence. But it is almost certain that they would claim to be methodist on any poll. We can’t be the only church where that is going on.

    And I have to admit, for better or worse, I have lied on questionnaires sometimes. To some question that I did not want to answer I would put “none” meaning “none of your business.” No way I could be the only person doing that.

    Just saying.

  152. Sabrae wrote:

    We claim no denomination, no affiliation and form small home groups for our ‘forsake not the assembling’ with like-minded Christians.

    When you remove yourself from the institutional religions, they label you as a ‘None’.
    This label comes with a disgusted sneer, as we refuse to accept their man-made dogma and traditions, which in turn makes no money for their building fund.

    Make no mistake, though, we are fully Christian.

    Sounds to me like you’re doing exactly what the Bible mandates.

  153. Sabrae wrote:

    Make no mistake, though, we are fully Christian.

    I know you are. That is the point we tried to make with our post on the nones.

  154. @ JeffT:

    Is T4G a men only conference? Was CBMW a men only conference? If not, dies anyone know how many women were actually there?

  155. LawProf wrote:

    I and my family are in this category. We love Jesus, we are what some would call orthodox Christians, others would call Jesus freaks

    I believe this with my whole heart. The gospel boys like to say that these folks are not Christians because they con’t control them. They are beginning to define “being Christian” as being a member of a local church. They are soooo wrong.

  156. JeffT wrote:

    I joined in with Tim Fall on his Tweet regarding marginalization of the women at the conference: 20 minutes each for 8 men, 6 women share 30 minutes on a panel – I was called a troll for that comment.

    Ooooh, sounds like a job for me, for I am Sabrae of the Huffington Post, after all ( Ignore the trumpet fanfare that always follows that statement ), and I do hereby promise to take them three times around the dance floor without so much as breaking a sweat before leaving the conversation with their misogynistic nuts in my handbag.

    Wish me luck. 😀

  157. dee wrote:

    They are beginning to define “being Christian” as being a member of a local church

    And of course, there is the corollary, “Being Christian means being part of a small group.” NOT. That one has gotten pretty tedious for me. I did the whole small group thing on and off for about 30 years, and I need a total break from that thing. I am in community with many close friends who are great at holding me accountable. Looking back on my involvement, I now think there are very few times when I actually felt welcomed and part of the group. Ah, being a noncomformist in the church. One of the crazies.

  158. @ dee:
    Dee:

    Sadly it is able control in so many churches. IMO these “churches” are deathly afraid of the Holy Spirit!

  159. dee wrote:

    Also, there is some chat on marriage in heaven on Twitter. That whole “gender roles in the new creation” is starting to get some play. One person claimed Jesus meant no new marriages in heaven which means all of us who are married will continue to be so.

    I’m always amused by the pronouncements of those who have absolute certainty of what Jesus meant.

  160. @ mot:

    Yep, so it appears to me. I think they are afraid of God, any and all of the persons of the trinity, but especially the Holy Spirit. I think that is the root problem. And frankly, the way they seem to be setting themselves up to compete with Jesus for control of His church, they have reason to be afraid.

  161. Julie Anne wrote:

    Dee: Check out this tweet and the front-row lineup at the @T4G2014 conference:
    http://goo.gl/BhXlz4

    I noticed “Louisville Sluggers” Is there some other reference going on here (of course, I know the reference to the baseball bat, to the location where the conf is being held), or is it as I suspect, this is your typical hero worship (tongue-in-cheek here, but still…) that enables sociopaths and/or makes disfunctional abusers out of relatively normal church leaders? So these are the Heavy Hitters, the Big Boys, the Sluggers? Can one possibly get any farther from the truth–is there any way this attitude could be farther from the example set by Jesus and expounded upon by Paul?

  162. Julie Anne wrote:

    Check out this tweet and the front-row lineup at the @T4G2014 conference:

    Interesting. There’s ol’ CJ, right next to Piper.
    The more things change, the more they stay them same.

  163. Sabrae wrote:

    We claim no denomination, no affiliation and form small home groups for our ‘forsake not the assembling’ with like-minded Christians.

    I realise we’re straying somewhat from the topic of the Fiscal Deficit *, but this is a conversation worth having IMHO. The question of how Nones cultivate the company of other believers is important because, by my understanding of the term “Christian”, I cannot be one in isolation.

    One of the reasons Lesley and I look further afield than we used to for the local church is the constant double-meaning of “the local church”. Biblically, it would mean all of the believers in the Stirling area. Nowadays, it means an isolated subset of believers gathered for some particular, usually historical, reason. The Forth Valley holds scores of TheLocalChurch’es, and of course, they have collectively abandoned assembling together. But that doesn’t excuse a holier-than-them attitude on my part.

    * Did you see what I did there? Hee hee hee!

  164. Julie Anne wrote:

    Dee: Check out this tweet and the front-row lineup at the @T4G2014 conference:
    http://goo.gl/BhXlz4

    See that CJ’s there. Bet he gets mike time despite what was announced earlier. The evangelical mafia is ding everything it can to raise their unrepentant buddy Ceej from the dead.

  165. BeenThereDoneThat wrote:

    @ LawProf:
    I *think* Julie Anne may be referring to the fact that Mahaney is still sitting with the “big boys.”

    Oh, that was Julie Anne’s tweet, not the tweet of some worshipful follower, she was being ironic. I get it. Nevermind. : )

  166. LawProf wrote:

    Oh, that was Julie Anne’s tweet, not the tweet of some worshipful follower, she was being ironic. I get it. Nevermind. : )

    That first tweet I posted was from Melton Duncan, Ligon Duncan’s brother.

  167. Marie2

    wrote:

    And of course, there is the corollary, “Being Christian means being part of a small group.” NOT. That one has gotten pretty tedious for me. I did the whole small group thing on and off for about 30 years, and I need a total break from that thing. I am in community with many close friends who are great at holding me accountable. Looking back on my involvement, I now think there are very few times when I actually felt welcomed and part of the group. Ah, being a noncomformist in the church. One of the crazies.

    I find the idea of belong to a small group within a church so that people can hold each other accountable to be really puzzling. Are we all so sinful that this is necessary? I am trying to think of what I might call friends on, were we so inclined. The people that I know are happily married, they go to work, watch TV at night, go to the movies or a concert, play tennis or bird watch, vacation at the beach. Of course life is not perfect, there are health problems, marital conflicts, decisions to be made about caring for elderly relatives, and worry about raising our children when we were younger. But everyone seemed to want to do the right thing. I never saw anything I would want to hold someone accountable for. Just how nitpicking do these groups get?

  168. Julie Anne wrote:

    LawProf wrote:
    Oh, that was Julie Anne’s tweet, not the tweet of some worshipful follower, she was being ironic. I get it. Nevermind. : )
    That first tweet I posted was from Melton Duncan, Ligon Duncan’s brother.

    Ah, so there you go, Melton is the hero worshipper. Beautiful, typical.

  169. JeffT wrote:

    Julie Anne wrote:
    Dee: Check out this tweet and the front-row lineup at the @T4G2014 conference:
    http://goo.gl/BhXlz4
    See that CJ’s there. Bet he gets mike time despite what was announced earlier. The evangelical mafia is ding everything it can to raise their unrepentant buddy Ceej from the dead.

    As long as the lemmings see CJ with the heavy hitters, he’s seen as a heavy hitter. He MUST be okay, right? Public relations campaign is more important than the facts, apparently.

  170. Marsha wrote:

    Marie2
    wrote:
    And of course, there is the corollary, “Being Christian means being part of a small group.” NOT. That one has gotten pretty tedious for me. I did the whole small group thing on and off for about 30 years, and I need a total break from that thing. I am in community with many close friends who are great at holding me accountable. Looking back on my involvement, I now think there are very few times when I actually felt welcomed and part of the group. Ah, being a noncomformist in the church. One of the crazies.
    I find the idea of belong to a small group within a church so that people can hold each other accountable to be really puzzling. Are we all so sinful that this is necessary? I am trying to think of what I might call friends on, were we so inclined. The people that I know are happily married, they go to work, watch TV at night, go to the movies or a concert, play tennis or bird watch, vacation at the beach. Of course life is not perfect, there are health problems, marital conflicts, decisions to be made about caring for elderly relatives, and worry about raising our children when we were younger. But everyone seemed to want to do the right thing. I never saw anything I would want to hold someone accountable for. Just how nitpicking do these groups get?

    In all candor, I do believe we’re sinful and can be perfect buffoons, so I can see the need.

    I was once part of a megachurch that emphasized (but did not demand) small groups. It was a wonderful experience, there was no leadership per se, we got together, rotating duties to lead the study, sometimes there was no study, just prayer or fellowship, it was NEVER about the sermon (“So let’s just discuss Pastor Dave’s wonderful reflections, I’m just so excited to dive into all of pastor’s wisdom tonight!”) or the church’s doctrine. The church dictated nothing to us, that was up to the consciences of the people. We were accountable to one another in a sense, but not really in a cultic way, there was no demand to spill our guts (though we could if we wanted prayer) or reveal our innermost sins, nobody reported back to anyone, I never in years there saw the slightest hint of gossipy back stabbing or sin-sniffing. frankly, the small group was more “church” to me than the Sun or Wed services.

    That said, the way it was practiced in the NF church I attended, or in SGM, Acts 29, is viciously destructive–“nitpicky” is far too nice a word.

  171. Marsha wrote:

    I find the idea of belong to a small group within a church so that people can hold each other accountable to be really puzzling.

    Agreed, Marsha. We’ve been looking for believers with whom we can gather to spur one another on to good deeds. Unlike “hold one another accountable”, that phrase is found in the bible.

  172. LawProf wrote:

    The church dictated nothing to us, that was up to the consciences of the people. We were accountable to one another in a sense, but not really in a cultic way, there was no demand…

    Accepting that I cut that quote off in mid-sentence, I hope nevertheless that it’s representative; and it’s why the small group whereof you spake, LawProf, is the exception that proves the rule. Neither the existence nor the structure/function of the group were imposed from above, and the group was evidently a living thing.

  173. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    The question of how Nones cultivate the company of other believers is important because, by my understanding of the term “Christian”, I cannot be one in isolation.

    Is not “cannot” perhaps too strong a position on that? Maybe “should not” or “rather not” or “best not to” but there have been and are certainly solitary believers. For example, there is a long but relatively small tradition of hermits, and there have been and are folks in prisons (even solitary confinement) for long periods for the faith. And there is the description of the isolation of muslim converts to christianity (still in muslim countries) who have no one to whom they can even tell that they believe in Jesus. (That missiology book again.)

    I am not advocating solitude, just thinking that when necessary one can be a believer in isolation,

  174. Sabrae wrote:

    Mind if I pile these trouser bubbles here? I’ll pick ‘em up later.
    OOoo
    oooOooooOOo
    oooo oooooo
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zu4xpDuf84A

    Awww, Sabrae, thanks for the song. I remember singing it because it was the big hit. I getting rid of the record because my family was destroyed by my mother’s sudden need to be independent (or so it looked to a kid,) and now I sing it with pleasure because of my pushing back against ridiculous notions of subjugating women within subcultures of churchianity. ( I many not be invincible, but the rest is true.)

  175. Nancy wrote:

    I am not advocating solitude, just thinking that when necessary one can be a believer in isolation,

    I’m with you there.
    I’ve also known people who warm a seat for Sunday services, Tuesday night prayer meetings, and Friday night small group meetings who do not otherwise behave like Christians.

  176. @ BeenThereDoneThat:

    Yeah, Me too. I am just thinking that the concept of “have to have” can get folks stuck in a bad situation some times. Like the woman who “has to have a man” who stays with an abuser, because the idea of not having a man is unthinkable. So, thinking along a similar line, if somebody thinks they “have to have” a small group, might they not tend to stay in some toxic group way too long and get really messed up?

    A good group, like a good marriage, can be a good thing. But “have to have” can be dangerous thinking.

  177. Nancy wrote:

    @ mot:
    Yep, so it appears to me. I think they are afraid of God, any and all of the persons of the trinity, but especially the Holy Spirit. I think that is the root problem. And frankly, the way they seem to be setting themselves up to compete with Jesus for control of His church, they have reason to be afraid.

    This is what I have felt was the problem from the very beginning with Mars Hill (remember I am VERY familiar with them – unfortunately). Fiscal preaches “It’s all about Jesus” but I never hear about God and especially the Holy Spirit. The church tells their people what to do (I sat in on 2 “counseling” sessions with a family member) and they told us that THEY knew what God’s will was for us”. Uhhhh – NOT! Such arrogance usurping the Holy Spirit’s role.

  178. @ Julie Anne:

    It seems rather awkward that the tweet seems to completely ignore the Black gentleman sitting right in the middle of the “big hitters.” I suppose he is only a pinch hitter? Or a bat boy?

  179. @ Nick Bulbeck:

    Well remember the Big Dogs don’t even follow their own teaching. CJ Mahnaey never followed that while mandating people from CLC be in a small group. What about Mark Dever, and Mark Driscoll? Is Mark Dever submitting to accountability or does Jonathan Leeman just drool all over his lap at the privillege of being able to do just THAT!

  180. Nancy wrote:

    So, thinking along a similar line, if somebody thinks they “have to have” a small group, might they not tend to stay in some toxic group way too long and get really messed up?

    Ah, I see what you’re saying. You’re spot on in my experience.

  181. dee wrote:

    Also, there is some chat on marriage in heaven on Twitter. That whole “gender roles in the new creation” is starting to get some play. One person claimed Jesus meant no new marriages in heaven which means all of us who are married will continue to be so.

    Ah HAH! Now I see it! One of the big things the Mormons put forward is that families can be together forever (as long as you join their organization, pay your tithing, follow the rules and do the temple 1-2-3). They call this “eternal marriage” or “celestial marriage.” Perhaps, perhaps the T4G/CBMW crowd have decided to horn in on the Mormons’ “business” or “selling point,” as it were, so they’re pushing this, “if you’re married in this life, you’ll be married in the next, no temple necessary.” It could be the fever speaking through me, but I half imagine this has occurred to *someone* in that crowd.

  182. Speaking of hubris that might even make the Louisville Sluggers blush, I want you to read this dedication to a book entitled a “A Renegade’s Guide to God” by David Foster. This is an ode to the profession we call “pastor”, it is perhaps the most absurd nugget of peacock pride I have ever read, such as to shame even Kim-Jong Un were it written about him. The punch line is this shameful bit of self-congratulations to the profession of pastor is written by…a pastor!
    ________________________________________________

    I dedicate this book to the most underpaid, underappreciated, under-celebrated group in this country—America’s pastors.

    You are our visionaries, missionaries and leaders. You are the benchmark by which authentic Christianity is measured. You are our renegades for God, keeping dead religion from squeezing Jesus out of our churches and eventually our lives.

    When we go astray, you welcome us back. When we slander your name, you refuse to attack. When we take without giving, you keep giving your best. When we listen without responding, you still lift us up.

    When we take you for granted, you still come to our aid. When we treat you with contempt, you turn the other cheek. And when we treat you as a hireling, you refuse to complain.

    When we trade churches faster than we trade cars, you remain to keep the church fires burning. As God’s first responders, you hold back the rush of evil that longs to ruin us. And though we’re stupid sheep who refuse to thank you, never forget—you are God’s anointed among us and you’ve never needed our approval anyway.

    You are a special class of warrior the likes of which we are not worthy. On your broad shoulders rests the future of the American church. You are our heroes and champions of hope. Forgive us for our sins against you for they are many. May there come a day in this land when we, the church of Jesus, rise up with one voice and call you blessed.

  183. Nancy wrote:

    Is not “cannot” perhaps too strong a position on that?

    I know what you mean, but my statement that I cannot be a follower of Jesus in isolation is one by which I have to stand. Someone imprisoned in solitary confinement for being a believer is facing specific circumstances for which they can’t be blamed; I don’t for a minute thing that they would be beyond the reach of the Holy Spirit, nor of God’s grace. But I’m not in that position.

    Regarding hermits… well, again, I’m not a hermit. Although I’m reluctant to say of someone that God can’t have called him/her to the lifestyle they lead (God is God, and I’m not) I’m sceptical about someone who “feels called” to pursue a life in isolation from other human beings. It’s one thing to withdraw to lonely places to pray for a period of time, but indefinitely? If By this, they will know that you are my disciples: that you love one another, then how is anyone to know that a hermit is following Jesus? There are a lot of new testament instructions that end in “one another”, and if there’s no “one another”, then that’s a lot of basic evidence of Christian life that I can’t show.

  184. Hi, I’m de-lurking to out myself as a None. Religious affiliation: none . . . that’s all it means to me, that if someone asks to what school of thought/organization I’m affiliated, the answer is, none.

    I live in Seattle, which is one of the reasons these conversations about Mr. Driscoll are so interesting. Another is that I was an openly don’t-care-about-the-bible-one-bit member of a big local liberal church for almost 30 years. As in, gave it lots of $$, led its retreats, chaired many of its boards & committees, showed up every Sunday, taught in small groups, etc.

    Somebody upthread used the term “kingdom people,” which I think is how a great many of the people at that church might be willing to be described. They’re not Christians, really, if by that you mean people who think that substitutionary atonement makes sense. I never met anybody there who would have said Jesus died for their sins — not one person, including the pastors. They do, however, at least try to address things like homelessness, hunger, and systemic injustice.

    The other reason I’m interested in the MH discussions is that — like many people writing here — I also became disillusioned with my church, and I also walked away from a community that had become central to my life. For me it was two things: one was the utter lack of balance between what the church was doing for its members (wonderful catered meals, expensive music programs, e.g.) and what it was doing for the larger community (handing over money to a few organizations, mostly).

    The other was boredom. I mean, Sunday morning ho hum, zzzzz. I can’t describe how tedious it became to hear the same old same old, sing the same old same old. In that way, I get the attraction of somebody like MD, whose sermons would be entertaining if the things he says weren’t so absurd and offensive.

    If you start, as I do, from a place where the bible is a deeply weird assortment of texts assembled over time for mostly political advantage, well, it’s just mind-boggling to hear someone claim that it means I’m doomed for all eternity and not welcome in the community right now if I don’t behave in a certain way with respect to my spouse.

    Anyway . . . just thought I’d throw in a perspective you might not have access to. I really am hopeful that those who’ve been trashed by a community they once trusted will find their way through to something richer and better. I know that when your church fails you, it hurts in a very particular way that’s like nothing else.

  185. @ nwhiker:

    Oh come on NW Hiker…didn’t you know Mark Driscoll has a direct fax line with God and that’s how he knows what’s God’s will is! Kind of like John Piper…according to an inside source that I have he gets a text and an email from God everytime a tornado hits Indiana or Oklahoma telling him that tornado was God’s will! 😛

  186. What is the obsession with Old Baldy? Why do people think he’s even worth following. He’s an epic fraud!!

  187. @ Sabrae:

    “I am Sabrae of the Huffington Post, after all ( Ignore the trumpet fanfare that always follows that statement ), and I do hereby promise to take them three times around the dance floor without so much as breaking a sweat before leaving the conversation with their misogynistic nuts in my handbag…”
    +++++++++++++++++++++

    LUCK!!

    sounds very intriguing. can you elaborate? about yourself, and especially about that nuts in the handbag thing??

  188. Eagle wrote:

    What is the obsession with Old Baldy? Why do people think he’s even worth following. He’s an epic fraud!!

    Eagle, he is not an epic fraud. He cannot be. It is very simple:

    1. [(# of human beings who ever have, are, or will come to hear Person T4G speak) + (# of human beings who ever have, are, or will read what Person T4G writes)] X ($$$ human beings ever have, are, or will PAY to hear person T4G speak or read person T4G’s words) = SUCCESS

    2. SUCCESS (as defined above) = “God” gets “glory”

    3. “God” getting “glory” (as defined above) > Everything else

    4. (# of human beings hurt, damaged, or abused by Person T4G’s sins of commission) + (# of human beings hurt, damaged, or abused by Person T4G’s sins of omission) < Person T4G getting "God" "glory" (as defined above) via his SUCCESS (as defined above)

    5. IF "God" gets "glory" (as defined above) through Person T4G's SUCCESS (as defined above), THEN "God" opposes (and possibly even hates) anyone and everyone who might interfere with person T4G's SUCCESS (as defined above)

    6. (Value of the perceptions and direct personal experiences that normal human beings have had as to the sanity, integrity, and/or human kindness of particular Person T4G) X (0) X (Zero) X (Naught) X (Aught) X (Nil) X (Cipher) = How much those perceptions and experiences matter to other Person T4G's (i.e. T4G1, T4G2, T4G3, etc.).

  189. pcapastor wrote:

    Eagle wrote:
    What is the obsession with Old Baldy? Why do people think he’s even worth following. He’s an epic fraud!!
    Eagle, he is not an epic fraud. He cannot be. It is very simple:
    1. [(# of human beings who ever have, are, or will come to hear Person T4G speak) + (# of human beings who ever have, are, or will read what Person T4G writes)] X ($$$ human beings ever have, are, or will PAY to hear person T4G speak or read person T4G’s words) = SUCCESS
    2. SUCCESS (as defined above) = “God” gets “glory”
    3. “God” getting “glory” (as defined above) > Everything else
    4. (# of human beings hurt, damaged, or abused by Person T4G’s sins of commission) + (# of human beings hurt, damaged, or abused by Person T4G’s sins of omission) < Person T4G getting "God" "glory" (as defined above) via his SUCCESS (as defined above)
    5. IF "God" gets "glory" (as defined above) through Person T4G's SUCCESS (as defined above), THEN "God" opposes (and possibly even hates) anyone and everyone who might interfere with person T4G's SUCCESS (as defined above)
    6. (Value of the perceptions and direct personal experiences that normal human beings have had as to the sanity, integrity, and/or human kindness of particular Person T4G) X (0) X (Zero) X (Naught) X (Aught) X (Nil) X (Cipher) = How much those perceptions and experiences matter to other Person T4G's (i.e. T4G1, T4G2, T4G3, etc.).

    Incidentally, the same formula proves that others sometimes discussed on this blog (Doug Wilson, Steven Furtick, Doug Phillips, Bill Gothard) cannot be epic frauds either.

  190. Eagle wrote:

    What is the obsession with Old Baldy? Why do people think he’s even worth following. He’s an epic fraud!!

    I most certainly am not.

    And less of the “old”, thankyou very much – 45 is still young enough to do 30-milers in the mountains.

  191. hopeful wrote:

    If you start, as I do, from a place where the bible is a deeply weird assortment of texts assembled over time for mostly political advantage,

    Welcome to the site, my friend. You are in good company here.

    If you’re interested in de-weirdifying the Bible, I highly recommend the book “Epic of Eden” by Sandra Richter. She is a professor, but she also happens to be a very talented teacher. (Academia joke). She wrote this book specifically for people who look at the Bible and think, “what the heck is this?” She explains everything quite well, and she integrates solid scholarship (i.e. no kookiness) in a very accessible and entertaining way.

    Anyway, sorry for the unsolicited recommendation! 🙂

  192. hopeful wrote:

    Hi, I’m de-lurking to out myself as a None. Religious affiliation: none . . . that’s all it means to me, that if someone asks to what school of thought/organization I’m affiliated, the answer is, none.

    I am so glad that you are here. Belated welcome! I am thrilled that you find our discussions interesting. I’ve thought about this stuff for years and am so glad (and somewhat flabbergasted) to find others who like to discuss all kinds of things.

    I found your comment about the attraction of Mars Hill insightful. I would imagine that it could be quite lively and engaging if you come from a church that is more subdued in both its music and presentation. I hadn’t thought about that before. Thank you!

  193. I tell you some one needs let Hermant Mehta, or Valerie Trechio know about all this. Maybe its going to take an outside audience to write and rport on Mahaney before Christiasn realzie the harm he is to Christianity.

    Do any of these people have any shame?

  194. @ pcapastor:
    I still remember my interview for entrance into the MBA program. I had this stellar score on the GMATs in English and an incredibly low score in math. The director tried to convince me that I had some self induced block against math since it was virtually impossible to have such disparate scores. I think they accepted me to try to figure me out. They didn’t.

    I still remember the day I graduated. The accounting professor said he was impressed with the way I came up with the right answer not using any of the Calculus, etc. that the others used. He said he wished I was sticking around so he could figure out how I did it. I told him that necessity is the mother of invention and that I flat out stunk at math, no matter what anyone said.

  195. Sabrae wrote:

    I am Sabrae of the Huffington Post

    That sounds so official unlike “I’m Dee from TWW.” I need to up my game! Thoughts?

  196. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    There are a lot of new testament instructions that end in “one another”, and if there’s no “one another”, then that’s a lot of basic evidence of Christian life that I can’t show.

    You’re making a solid argument. I’d also add that Hebrews 10:24-25 strongly encourages believers to make sure that they attend the regular assemblies (synagogue – the Greek word used here for “assembly/gathering”). A quick look at the context seems to indicate that the author saw regular synagogue attendance as a crucial part of the Christian life because in this assemblies believers were able to give and receive comfort, encouragement, etc (Grk. parakaleo). I like to think of this concept (parakaleo) as “coaching,” which can include all sorts of things necessary (instruction, correction, encouragement) to get better at something. So maybe the author is conceptualizing regular gatherings of believers as a sort of “practice session” or “training session” where we coach one another in the Christian life. (This reading may have some support in the author’s use of athletic motifs – compare Heb. 12).

    That having been said, I happen to believe that there is quite a bit of flexibility about what fellowship in a synagogue (“assembly”) looks like in practice. I don’t think it has to happen under the auspices of a denomination of formal hierarchy. I do think that there are fairly rigorous requirements for anyone who wants to be a leader in an assembly – high ethical & moral standards, wisdom that comes from being older (prob. 35-40+) , knowledge of the faith AND the ability to communicate that knowledge well (AKA teaching).

  197. dee wrote:

    @ pcapastor:
    I still remember my interview for entrance into the MBA program. I had this stellar score on the GMATs in English and an incredibly low score in math. The director tried to convince me that I had some self induced block against math since it was virtually impossible to have such disparate scores. I think they accepted me to try to figure me out. They didn’t.
    I still remember the day I graduated. The accounting professor said he was impressed with the way I came up with the right answer not using any of the Calculus, etc. that the others used. He said he wished I was sticking around so he could figure out how I did it. I told him that necessity is the mother of invention and that I flat out stunk at math, no matter what anyone said.

    That is amazing. Meanwhile, you have already figured out all the formulas above, using the personal calculus the Lord has given you, and have been faithfully blogging about these things for years. But there are too many who can’t do the math, nor have any other way of figuring out the sick modern reality that is the celebrity pastor….

  198. dee wrote:

    Sabrae wrote:
    I am Sabrae of the Huffington Post
    That sounds so official unlike “I’m Dee from TWW.” I need to up my game! Thoughts?

    Easy. “I am THE Dee of TWW”

  199. Melton Duncan twitter: With the most important Calvinist on the planet @albertmohler #cbmw14
    Oh bruther! Wouldn’t you just love to have Jesus walk onto the stage right about now?

  200. dee wrote:

    Sabrae wrote:
    I am Sabrae of the Huffington Post
    That sounds so official unlike “I’m Dee from TWW.” I need to up my game! Thoughts?

    I’d go with “I’m Dee out of Deebs”.

  201. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    If By this, they will know that you are my disciples: that you love one another, then how is anyone to know that a hermit is following Jesus? There are a lot of new testament instructions that end in “one another”, and if there’s no “one another”, then that’s a lot of basic evidence of Christian life that I can’t show.

    I am very much a loner and could live rather comfortably in semi-isolation. When I go to the grocery store, drug store, hockey games, or an occasional dinner with family, I have ample opportunity to “one another” with those I come in contact with. One-anothering is far more effective if exhibited to unbelievers than believers who are in assemblies where no unbelievers might be present.

    The whole world is our mission field where we exhibit a behavior that is kind, considerate and defers to those we come in contact with on a daily basis. I personally don’t think Paul was referring exclusively to believers one to another, but rather to “conduct ourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity.”

    Christians tend (from my observations) to get cliquey and plan evangelizing events to balance that “club-like” associations.

    I’ve had many more opportunities to demonstrate the love of Christ on a day-by-day basis just walking through life normally and trusting God to put those in my path who need to hear a helpful word or thoughts about a troubling situation.

    I know that isn’t for all as most people have more of a need for fellowship and companionship than others, but having a very large family satisfies my need without having to join small groups for interaction with others.

  202. Outsider’s view of small groups:
    1. a way to make individuals feel connected in a church with 10000 ‘members’ WITHOUT the pastor having to do anything.
    2. a sin sniffing church’s spy system.

  203. dee wrote:

    They should be embarrassed.

    Seriously! How are they not. The tweets coming out of Louisville are astounding. I simply don’t get it. But then again I’m far, far away from “the smartest man on the planet.” Heck, my wife and I don’t even understand how we’ve been married for so long without knowing if we’re complementarian or egalitarian. I spent 13 years in school after high school and had to learn about the comp/egal thing here at TWW. I’m going to watch the T4G live stream at 7pm to see if I can learn something else.

  204. TedS. wrote:

    Julie Anne wrote:
    Check out this tweet and the front-row lineup at the @T4G2014 conference:
    Interesting. There’s ol’ CJ, right next to Piper.

    It’s like the Politboro in front of Lenin’s Tomb watching the May Day parade in Red Square. With Western intelligence services trying to figure out the internal politics from who’s there, who’s not, and who’s standing next to who.

  205. @ Victorious:

    I understand what you are saying and I understand what Nick is saying. And, of course, I understand what I was trying to say. Which leads me to a couple of thoughts. People have different life styles and different personalities and some room has to be made for that. We are not the Borg.

    And “do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together..” does not say anything about when or how often or for how long or how to dress or how to behave specifically or what to bring in the covered dish, or whether it is OK to harmonize if everybody else is singing melody.

    That said, I am not a loner, but I find people exhausting. We introverts do. I spent my whole life, basically, engulfed in the hustle and bustle of one or another hospital. And loving it for the most part. I chat with absolute strangers all the time, sometimes whether they want to or not. Everybody and all the time. I consider it a kind of “mission” I guess. A lot of people lead really lonely lives, and since I have no problem chatting I do it with determination and abundance. It is surprising how often someone acts like I just saved their life or something. But it wears me slap out. Church wears me slap out also. I have to wait until I can get some alone time to think or pray or get my head back to functioning. I “do” christianity alone. There is nothing specifically christian about chatting–in the grocery store, at the place where they service the lawnmower, at the doctor’s office, wherever. It is just a human thing. Sadly, there is not very much that is specifically christian about “chatting” at church either. And sometimes it can become pretty challenging, what with all the “games christians play.”

    But I do get in some praying in church: “Lord, help me keep my mouth shut just this once.” That is tiring. So I have to go home and recover from church. Alone.

  206. Nancy wrote:

    And sometimes it can become pretty challenging, what with all the “games christians play.”

    Love your comments, Nancy! I agree with everything you’ve shared except I always found church waaay to distracting to pray during a service. The quiet of my home is much more conducive to prayer.

    Actually you never know but that your chatting may save someone’s life. We live in such an impersonal, hustle-bustle world that some people may feel invisible. Your recognition and chatting may be a blessing to them.

    Thanks for sharing!

  207. dee wrote:

    CJ started this nonsense calling Mohler the smartest man on the planet. Then they all started with the suck up stuff. They should be embarrassed.

    Just thought of an idea for a cartoon.

    Have all these suck uppers sitting so that each one can scratch the back of the guy in front of him so that if forms a complete circle.
    And have Jesus standing to the side watching, scratching His head or rolling His eyes, or facepalming, you know something like that.

  208. elastigirl wrote:

    sounds very intriguing. can you elaborate? about yourself, and especially about that nuts in the handbag thing??

    Sabrae can speak for herself but here’s my take. Imagine yourself as Ginger Rogers way back in the golden age of Hollywood. You did everything Fred Astaire did as his dance partner but you did it backwards and in high heels. Now imagine being told by a bevy of studio bosses that you can’t do this, that, or the other because you’re a woman. Wouldn’t you want their nuts in your handbag?

  209. Sabrae wrote:

    I do hereby promise to take them three times around the dance floor without so much as breaking a sweat before leaving the conversation with their misogynistic nuts in my handbag.
    Wish me luck.

    Oh, I do hope this went very well! Good luck, though I’m late to this.

  210. Mara wrote:

    dee wrote:
    CJ started this nonsense calling Mohler the smartest man on the planet. Then they all started with the suck up stuff. They should be embarrassed.
    Just thought of an idea for a cartoon.
    Have all these suck uppers sitting so that each one can scratch the back of the guy in front of him so that if forms a complete circle.
    And have Jesus standing to the side watching, scratching His head or rolling His eyes, or facepalming, you know something like that.

    So, do we have an artist in the house? This is an excellent idea!

  211. nmgirl wrote:

    Outsider’s view of small groups:
    1. a way to make individuals feel connected in a church with 10000 ‘members’ WITHOUT the pastor having to do anything.
    2. a sin sniffing church’s spy system.

    Never thought about the fact that the pastor has no connection with the small group. And in a big church, the pastor often has no connection with the people at all. As for a sin sniffing spy system, well, my last small group was just that. I was completely blind to it till I read the instructions for leaders included telling the pastor everything that he needed to know, even if it was a person littering in the parking lot. No, I’m not kidding. (Faceplant!)

  212. Mara wrote:

    And have Jesus standing to the side watching, scratching His head or rolling His eyes, or facepalming, you know something like that.

    I wish I could find it for you, but I don’t remember where I saw it. Someone wrote a fictional story, what if Mark Driscoll met Jesus at a bar, or something.

    In the story, as Jesus talks to the other people in the bar and to Driscoll, it becomes apparent that Driscoll’s values and Jesus’ are 180 degree opposites. It was a very interesting read. I wish I could remember where I saw it.

    I’m not sure if this is it or not, but it’s similar:
    Four Reasons Why Jesus Would Not Call Mark Driscoll After a First Date

  213. dee wrote:

    @ pcapastor:
    I still remember my interview for entrance into the MBA program. I had this stellar score on the GMATs in English and an incredibly low score in math. The director tried to convince me that I had some self induced block against math since it was virtually impossible to have such disparate scores. I think they accepted me to try to figure me out. They didn’t.

    I still remember the day I graduated. The accounting professor said he was impressed with the way I came up with the right answer not using any of the Calculus, etc. that the others used. He said he wished I was sticking around so he could figure out how I did it. I told him that necessity is the mother of invention and that I flat out stunk at math, no matter what anyone said.

    By the way, this incredibly high english/incredibly low quant phenomenon on the GMAT is not so unusual, so I’m surprised the director would be surprised. I’ve sat on the admissions committees for biz grad school and looked at my share of GMAT scores, your situation was not unique.

    As you proved, the numbers on standardized tests often don’t mean much, there’s some pretty convincing research supporting this. Anecdotally, I scored super high on the LSAT, Harvard/Yale/Stanford high (didn’t go to such a place, though, couldn’t afford), but plodded along and ended up graduating towards the middle of law school class, nothing special at all.

    I don’t know what sort of madness makes people think they can evaluate a person’s ability to do well over the course of years of complex study based on a single three hour test. In a sense, there’s a lesson that can be learned regarding the cultic churches: you cannot fit people into a neat little box, you cannot measure worth based on ability to conform and succeed on anyone’s idea of a test. God is too creative and makes us too unique and complex for that.

  214. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    We’ve been looking for believers with whom we can gather to spur one another on to good deeds. Unlike “hold one another accountable”, that phrase is found in the bible.

    I LOVE this quote!!!

    I am going through a monumental amount of healing work right now, for many issues…and I used to think I need some people to “hold me accountable”, but now I can say that I have people who spur me on to do good deeds. I am so happy to hear people’s replies on this issue, and even happier that if the word “accountable” triggered anyone, they did not come out swinging against me. 🙂

  215. nwhiker wrote:

    Melton Duncan twitter: With the most important Calvinist on the planet @albertmohler #cbmw14
    Oh bruther! Wouldn’t you just love to have Jesus walk onto the stage right about now?

    Gotta wonder if He wouldn’t come with whip in hand.

  216. @ Muff Potter:

    “Now imagine being told by a bevy of studio bosses that you can’t do this, that, or the other because you’re a woman. Wouldn’t you want their nuts in your handbag?”
    ++++++++++++++

    why, yes. i’m just interested to hear about the procedure! sounds delightful.

  217. @ Marie2:

    hell, let’s write a book, start a website, and get on the travelling conference circuit. “Their Nuts In Your Handbag”. We’ll start in Louisville.

    (hmmmm, merchandise… now that will be interesting)

  218. Marie2 wrote:

    I used to think I need some people to “hold me accountable”, but now I can say that I have people who spur me on to do good deeds.

    I believe the notion of accountability, but each time I tried to find the right way to implement it it always came out looking like someone was a prison guard, or something heinous like that. I’ve also run face first into the crushing blows of a man who had no accountability in his life which made him a monster. So what to do?

    After observing a family that appeared to have everything going for them, spiritually speaking, and then watching member after member make life altering terrible decisions with a “jesus ribbon” around them (justification;) I realized that they were big believers in secrets. They deemed almost all speech to be gossip -and in their best attempt to respect one another- they unwittingly removed that great mitigating factor that holds us in check … natural accountability.

    Natural accountability is when someone knows you and can say, “Really? You want to do what?” when we start losing perspective. Or when we act in such a way as to not incur a rebuke, rather a question of, “Why?” or maybe some silence that says, “I love you, even if we disagree.” Those natural responses are constantly challenging us to check ourselves, ask God again, take time to breath and think before jumping. Natural accountability leaves all the freedom we need to make our own decisions, but available enough for us to not miss that there’s a caution flag, be it small or large.

  219. Marie2 wrote:

    Nick Bulbeck wrote:
    We’ve been looking for believers with whom we can gather to spur one another on to good deeds. Unlike “hold one another accountable”, that phrase is found in the bible.
    I LOVE this quote!!!
    I am going through a monumental amount of healing work right now, for many issues…and I used to think I need some people to “hold me accountable”, but now I can say that I have people who spur me on to do good deeds. I am so happy to hear people’s replies on this issue, and even happier that if the word “accountable” triggered anyone, they did not come out swinging against me.

    There are, of course, such verses in the Bible. see Romans 15:14 and Colossians 3:16.

  220. elastigirl wrote:

    @ Marie2:
    hell, let’s write a book, start a website, and get on the travelling conference circuit. “Their Nuts In Your Handbag”. We’ll start in Louisville.
    (hmmmm, merchandise… now that will be interesting)

    I like it! 😀

  221. Sabrae wrote:

    (hmmmm, merchandise… now that will be interesting)

    Sooooo….THE Sabrae from HuffPost, can you pull any strings anywhere to get this started?

  222. elastigirl wrote:

    hell, let’s write a book, start a website, and get on the travelling conference circuit. “Their Nuts In Your Handbag”. We’ll start in Louisville.
    (hmmmm, merchandise… now that will be interesting)

    OOPS I just fouled up my reply to you….added some potentially inappropriate links…. Made it to moderation.

    Apologies, everyone!!
    I will be in Louisville next summer. I would LOVE to set up a kiosk right outside of where CJ’s living shrine is…..

  223. Nancy wrote:

    And “do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together..” does not say anything about when or how often or for how long or how to dress or how to behave specifically or what to bring in the covered dish, or whether it is OK to harmonize if everybody else is singing melody.

    Well, it’s a bit more complicated than you make it seem.

    When attempting to interpret and apply the Bible, you have to account for the *context* of a given passage. This means (a) the literary context – the broader passage of which the verse is a part as well as the book as a whole – and (b) the social, cultural, and historical context in which the passage was written.

    So, it’s not very good exegesis to read Hebrews 10:25 in isolation and assert that the author didn’t mean to communicate anything regarding “when, or how often, or how long…” etc. For him (or her!) it would have been redundant to include that information, because it was all embedded in their immediate cultural and social context.

    In the original context of this passage, going to “an assembly” meant going to synagogue – that’s the actual Greek verb used in 10:25. Synagogues were an established feature of 2nd Temple Judaism, so why would the author need to explain what they were, when they were, how long services lasted, etc. to his audience of Jewish believers? For them, an “assembly” (i.e. synagogue) would have been an extremely familiar concept. It would have been silly for the author to waste everyone’s time explaining something so obvious – like explaining to a bunch of cowboys what a rodeo is.

    So: when the author of Hebrews tells believers not to stop going to assembly, they certainly did have some specifics in mind (how, where, when, etc.).

    That having been said, you bring up a good question: how are we to understand the meaning of this passage for modern 21st century believers? I certainly wouldn’t argue that modern Christians need to go to a Jewish synagogue! My thought would be that modern Christians should, at minimum, try to distill the most basic characteristics of a 1st century assembly (i.e. focus on the function more than the form). I’d include, at minimum:

    – a semi-regular (weekly? bi-weekly? monthly?) gathering
    – fellowship (including encouragement, comfort, correction)
    – Scripture reading and discussion
    – praying

  224. Mr.H wrote:

    – Scripture reading and discussion

    I am enjoying the dialogue here, and I appreciate your input, Mr. H….Just curious, has anyone been to a Jewish Bible study?

    A friend of mine (a Christian) married a Jewish man, and she told me that when she can, she attends the Jewish version of Bible study, and apparently, it’s a blood sport kind of discussion, where people debate and challenge each other….Then they all shake hands and don’t take anything personal….

    I would love to be a guest at one of those kinds of studies….

  225. @ Marie2:

    Hi Marie!

    I have had the opportunity to visit a Jewish yeshiva – a religious school for Orthodox Jewish boys. The atmosphere of the study sessions is essentially what you describe – super noisy, lots of simultaneous discussions, arguing, etc. To someone more adjusted to the Western, Greek-influenced method of education, it is quite a shock! One of the people with me (a Christian) leaned over to me and remarked, “It’s so chaotic – how does anyone learn anything?”

    Interestingly, there is some evidence emerging from the psychology community that seems to indicate that a more “Middle-Eastern” approach to learning has quite a few benefits over a “Western” approach. (i.e. we learn better when we learn in a group, when we are self-guided, and when we are forced to discuss and work through the content with others who may disagree with us).

  226. @ Marie2:

    (NOTE: sorry to everyone for so many posts…last one for a while, I promise)

    I just want to add . . . if you really want to see for yourself, you can just ask. Our group visit to a Yeshiva wasn’t because of some special relationship. A friend was interested, and called up the head master (a rabbi, obviously) and explained that a little group of local Christians wanted to become more educated about Judaism. The rabbi was a little suspicious at first, but quite accommodating. He arranged for a little guided tour and he answered questions and even gave us some kosher snacks. He told us that many Jewish people are understandably wary of Christians wanting to “dialogue” because they assume it means aggressive evangelism. But if you take a humble approach and just put yourself in the position of a learner, the response can be quite positive.

  227. @ Mr.H:

    You mean there can be more than one thought and opinion in the room at the same time?!?! You mean they don’t have to sit and be indoctrinated (only listening with no speaking allowed unless it is an Amen in agreement)?!?! How wrong, how absurd, how unhierarchial (word?)!! It can’t happen. It can’t be so — the men at T4G would never stand for it.

    But the disciples asked Jesus loads of questions and had many a discussion.

  228. @ Mr.H:
    No need to apologize. Your posts are always interesting and informative. I will try to visit a Yeshiva sometime in the next 6 months. Great idea. Love the Eastern idea of learning through self directed chaos. Funny how these supposed Bible experts just miss the point of seeing a great deal of the New Testament through a Jewish culture lens….

  229. Bridget wrote:

    @ Mr.H:

    You mean there can be more than one thought and opinion in the room at the same time?!?! You mean they don’t have to sit and be indoctrinated (only listening with no speaking allowed unless it is an Amen in agreement)?!?! How wrong, how absurd, how unhierarchial (word?)!! It can’t happen. It can’t be so — the men at T4G would never stand for it.

    But the disciples asked Jesus loads of questions and had many a discussion.

    Well….clearly you are a woman in great need of male help to interpret those dialogs correctly. Those weren’t questions. .. Just edifying kiss up statements. .. wink wink nudge nudge…

  230. @ Mr.H:
    Interesting to me is that the words used for synagogue and assembling in the KJV are slightly different. They both mean a gathering together but the one used in the gospels for meeting as synagogue has one main meaning listed as a gathering of men where Hebrews does not specify gender.

    Also, when I do just a regular reading without looking up original words of Hebrews 10, I see the context as definitely not having anything to do with adding a new law or ritual about meeting together. It is about how Jesus took care of all that synagogue/temple rituals that were just pointing to him all along, now none of that is necessary. So, since the believing Hebrews were realizing this they were beginning to neglect any social get togethers where the theme of the event would be encouragement to each other about their faith in Jesus Christ. I think it still about freedom. This Hebrews passage is an encouragement to get together, not at all a law to set up churches as we have come to know them.

  231. elastigirl wrote:

    @ Marie2:
    omg you actually searched on it! May I offer you the position of VP of Marketing?

    Well I was hoping for something along the lines of President….but I guess I could humbly accept a VP role, and sabotage my way (I mean work my way) to being President. I am extremely honored to be asked for the oh so important role…. 🙂 🙂 🙂

  232. dee wrote:

    Due to the ministry of many kind people on this blog and on the Internet Monk, Eagle was baptized in November.

    Beautiful! It’s funny Dee- when I commented here a few days ago I had been on a reading-comments-bender, on a different site and subject- and was literally sick to my stomach. Verbal fencing -people hurling bible verses back and forth on the subject of a specific theology. I’ve had a simple faith for 20 yrs after a “conversion” in my Boston apartment on my knees in my late 20s. I honestly never even knew what Calvanism and a zillion other things even were until a few months ago. I’ve really enjoyed reading the thoughtful comments on “nones” on here tonight. I hugely relate. Funny how I have felt at times like I’m wayward for never joining a church. (I must mention that I’m in recovery and have been for many yrs, which is where I’m filled with a lot of things that people search for in churches. It’s certainly not what I wanted (to be an alchi) but I’m really grateful.) Relating to the whole topic of your post and efforts -Much could be said here about the fact that there is no leader in that program. None. Nada. Just people helping each other and a loving God. (And some coffee in paper cups) I know it’s a different goal (recovery) and a stretch of an analogy for many people (many faiths) but my point is- the power of God is powerful beyond measure – no need to screw it all up with layers of leaders.

    Lastly- couldn’t help but notice your love of all things New Mexico! Words can’t describe how special that place is for me. I lived in Taos for two years! Cool. You’re growing on me.

  233. Victorious wrote:

    The whole world is our mission field where we exhibit a behavior that is kind, considerate and defers to those we come in contact with on a daily basis. I personally don’t think Paul was referring exclusively to believers one to another…

    I’ve had many more opportunities to demonstrate the love of Christ on a day-by-day basis just walking through life normally and trusting God to put those in my path who need to hear a helpful word or thoughts about a troubling situation.

    Victorious, That was said so perfectly. You articulated exactly how I wander about but have never put words around it. Thank you for that.

  234. Nwhiker, I understand. I had to wrap my head around what it would be like if there was such a person who had that kind of control or influence/power to twist and scar myself or my family. I’m truly sorry for your experience. I’ve never minimized the seriousness of the issue. With the modern ability to flick around and lay eyes on bits of conversations- context can be lost. I’m happy for you and all else who can finally see the truth catch up and come out. I’ve recently gone through something with a leader at work. Wish I could share about that and you’d see I really do understand. I trust that time will show truths there as well. (I left and didn’t explain to people I was very close to). That’s partly why the subject of a narcissistic leader got my attention. Please know that I’ve only learned of MD a few months ago (living under a rock has it’s pluses) so what is your deep reality is a learning subject for me. Peace to you!

    @ nwhiker:

  235. @ Mr.H: I don’t think it’s a question of East vs. West, but of Judaism as opposed to xtianity. It is a very different religion, and one way that comes through is in their approaches to text and commentary.

  236. @ Patti: synagogues and services there would be very familiar to most evangelicals. The temple was unique; synagogue services didn’t/don’t attempt to replicate what went on there.

  237. Patti wrote:

    This Hebrews passage is an encouragement to get together, not at all a law to set up churches as we have come to know them.

    Help me here, Patti. I do not see anywhere in the NT a prototype model on the one hand or sufficiently detailed instructions on the other hand, for setting up “churches as we have come to know them.” I admire the RCC on this idea, that they do not say they got everything word for word from scripture but rather that the church over the years developed certain disciplines which could, if necessary, be changed. And then they proceed to act on that idea with Vatican II, and now Pope Francis is coming along with a re-emphasis on some things perhaps somewhat neglected over the years. That seems so overwhelmingly obvious to me that I fail to see how evangelicals don’t “get it.”

    But here has been what has so impacted my life, all my life. I figured out as a young child that some of the “reasons” (argumentation) of the baptists (that was my brand of evangelicalism) simply were worthless as arguments. This was partly because I thought the “reasons” were far fetched, and I thought that the assumptions were never adequately defended. (And if “an attorney” is listening, I learned that at the supper table from my father who was an attorney and who thought it important to, in fact, think.) Then somewhere along the way, about the time I knew there was no Santa Clause, I decided that it was all a lie and there was no Jesus. That was a hard fought battle for me, from which I was only rescued by grace–no other way to say it. So there is now engraved on my thinking at some default position the conviction that bad reasoning and unjustified assumptions are seriously dangerous and pose a threat which should not be taken lightly–certainly not to just do church as we have come to know it.

  238. @ numo: familiar in their emphasis on hearing words from scripture.

    Otherwise, services might range from very “alien’ to surprisingly familiar, depending on the branch of Judaism plus custom (and likely all kinds of other things).

  239. hopeful wrote:

    Somebody upthread used the term “kingdom people,”…

    That would be me…

    … which I think is how a great many of the people at that church might be willing to be described. They’re not Christians, really, if by that you mean people who think that substitutionary atonement makes sense. I never met anybody there who would have said Jesus died for their sins — not one person, including the pastors. They do, however, at least try to address things like homelessness, hunger, and systemic injustice.

    “Kingdom people” is a bit vague, so I owe a word or two of explanation. Specifically, by it, I mean people I think might be drawn to the King if they encountered him, because the things that matter to them also matter to Jesus (unless I have completely misunderstood the gospel accounts!).

    An important point here is that the King is absolutely central to the kingdom. In his 3 years of public ministry in Judea, Jesus related to many different kinds of people, and in many different ways. I can imagine a host of different ways in which to relate to him, and to serve under his Kingship. I hardly think that many of the people he affirmed face-to-face were that interested in formulating a doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement *. But no Christ = not christian, and no King = no kingdom.

    Obviously, therefore, when I think of someone as being possibly a “kingdom person” I could be completely wrong. That person may want nothing to do with any kind of God, or any Son of his. In that case, I’d probably describe them as humanists if I absolutely had to pick a label. But they probably wouldn’t describe themselves as Christian.

    * FWIW: I personally think “PSA” is fine as far as it goes, but that it doesn’t tell the whole story by any means. On the other hand, I do believe in sin and its consequences, and that human ingenuity and goodwill alone are not enough to address them. That’s why I believe the Cross is – as the saying goes – good news.

  240. Mr.H wrote:

    @ Marie2:

    Hi Marie!

    I have had the opportunity to visit a Jewish yeshiva – a religious school for Orthodox Jewish boys. The atmosphere of the study sessions is essentially what you describe – super noisy, lots of simultaneous discussions, arguing, etc. To someone more adjusted to the Western, Greek-influenced method of education, it is quite a shock! One of the people with me (a Christian) leaned over to me and remarked, “It’s so chaotic – how does anyone learn anything?”

    Interestingly, there is some evidence emerging from the psychology community that seems to indicate that a more “Middle-Eastern” approach to learning has quite a few benefits over a “Western” approach. (i.e. we learn better when we learn in a group, when we are self-guided, and when we are forced to discuss and work through the content with others who may disagree with us).

    You are correct, there is DEFINITELY a fair amount of new scholarship supporting this. Students do a better job of teaching each other–by fighting it out, checking each other, debating–than the teachers via traditional Western lecture methods. I’ve been told by authorities higher than me that essentially, when the adolescent Jesus was at the temple, bouncing questions off the leaders, when they marveled at his understanding, that the Middle eastern Approach you describe was likely what was going on.

  241. LawProf wrote:

    New Frontiers is a cult. There are Christians there–and I was one of them–but in my experience it is in sum and substance an organization that exists to persecute the true church. It just does so with nice words and Brit accent.

    LawProf, Would you mind elaborating a bit on this? In what sense a cult?

    I am in the UK and a young friend of mine recently left our church to attend a New Frontiers church. I am a little concerned for her.

  242. <But utt@ LawProf:

    “I’ve been told by authorities higher than me . . . ” Do you mind explaining what this means in your comment? (I have to admit it sent triggers through my soul.) But I realize it can be a harmless and appropriate phrase in many cases.

  243. Bridget wrote:

    <But utt@ LawProf:

    “I’ve been told by authorities higher than me . . . ” Do you mind explaining what this means in your comment? (I have to admit it sent triggers through my soul.) But I realize it can be a harmless and appropriate phrase in many cases.

    No no no no, not that cultic, authoritarian church meaning of the word “authority”–Lord help us all!

    I merely mean people who know more about this stuff than I do–which is precious little. I have a long time friend, old college roommate of my wife, who has become an authority (a legitimate one, as in studies a great deal in this area, travels to other continents to pore through old tomes and perform original research, knows true meaning of study as in she got PhD in hard sciences decades ago and now applies same work ethic to her biblical and anthropological research rather than being a half wit with one hand on a Strong’s Concordance and the other on a bully pulpit) in this area and writes books for a living uncovering answers to some of these biblical questions. THAT’S the sort of authority to which I refer.

  244. May wrote:

    LawProf wrote:

    New Frontiers is a cult. There are Christians there–and I was one of them–but in my experience it is in sum and substance an organization that exists to persecute the true church. It just does so with nice words and Brit accent.

    LawProf, Would you mind elaborating a bit on this? In what sense a cult?

    I am in the UK and a young friend of mine recently left our church to attend a New Frontiers church. I am a little concerned for her.

    May, you have reasons for concern. The place is rotten from top to bottom, in my opinion. There is a very good reason why Adrian Warnock comes so vigorously to the defense of Mark Driscoll, essentially calling his detractors, such as Dee here, a “lynch mob online”. Those are powerful words that evoke images of pure evil. To use them in reference to Dee and others like her is sick and in my opinion pure evil. There is a reason why Terry Virgo cozies up to people like Mahaney.

    They are not good reasons, and I have some personal experiences on this. I have met neither Mr. Virgo nor Mr. Warnock, so I have no personal reflections on them, but I am acquainted with one of their regional directors here in the states and I did serve in an elder position on a leadership team of a NF church. I’ve seen the way they do things and the results of their system, which as I’ve said is merely SGM or A29 with British niceties. You can read up on them, they’ve been discussed here at TWW, they had an article on Virgo a few years back. There’s a former leader of NF who posts under the name “Eutychus”, if you google that and Newfrontiers, should find some perspectives as well.

    Your friend is in my opinion going into a very ugly place, but will not likely see it to be so at first. It’s a more insidious thing.

  245. @ LawProf:

    Thanks for clearing that up. Your friend sounds interesting. Would you care to share the name(s) of her books?

    I have spent years knowing Covenant Ministries aka Restoration Ministies, where I in fact did meet Terry Virgo now of NF, and also in the American version of those ministries known as PDI/SGM.

    Concerning me – What God began he is faithful to complete!

  246. Bridget wrote:

    @ LawProf:
    Thanks for clearing that up. Your friend sounds interesting. Would you care to share the name(s) of her books?

    Look up “Dr. Lois Tverberg” -Yes, a “v”.

  247. @ Marie2:

    “Their Nuts In Your Handbag”
    +++++++++++++

    thinking about it all… the principle behind this [movement!] is treating gospel misogyny-ism like one would treat an adolescent boy learning responsibility. When he has been irresponsible with something, that something is taken away, until such a time when he can demonstrate that he can be trusted to use the something wisely and responsibly (like the keys to the car). Their nuts in a handbag is only a temporary measure. For the greater good, of course.

  248. Elastigirl, I wonder how many of these MenaGawd screaming “WOMAN, SUBMIT!” in public are compensating for not being able to raise a finger against She Who Must Be Obeyed (In Private) back in the 16000 sq ft parsonage.

  249. elastigirl wrote:

    Their nuts in a handbag is only a temporary measure

    This reminds me of a conversation I had on the internet with some guy. He was one of those who opposed the “feminization of men (as defined by him)” and tried to tell me that women needed to back off and let men be men. The behavior that he describe that should be allowed was the opposite of the fruit of the Spirit. And he claimed that because God GAVE men testosterone, then these testosterone driven (and sinful) behaviors were God ordained.
    We went back and forth a bit until I finally told him that if testosterone was going to cause him to sin then he should cut it off, like an offending hand or foot, because that’s what Jesus told us to do with members that cause us to sin.
    He suddenly disappeared from the conversation never to be heard from again.

  250. Marsha wrote:

    Marie2
    wrote:
    And of course, there is the corollary, “Being Christian means being part of a small group.” NOT. That one has gotten pretty tedious for me. I did the whole small group thing on and off for about 30 years, and I need a total break from that thing. I am in community with many close friends who are great at holding me accountable. Looking back on my involvement, I now think there are very few times when I actually felt welcomed and part of the group. Ah, being a noncomformist in the church. One of the crazies.
    I find the idea of belong to a small group within a church so that people can hold each other accountable to be really puzzling. Are we all so sinful that this is necessary? I am trying to think of what I might call friends on, were we so inclined. The people that I know are happily married, they go to work, watch TV at night, go to the movies or a concert, play tennis or bird watch, vacation at the beach. Of course life is not perfect, there are health problems, marital conflicts, decisions to be made about caring for elderly relatives, and worry about raising our children when we were younger. But everyone seemed to want to do the right thing. I never saw anything I would want to hold someone accountable for. Just how nitpicking do these groups get?

    Although this article is a few years old, it still offers good advice on the subject of small groups. Such groups are for control, not teaching and fellowship.

    http://christianstandard.com/2011/01/why-churches-should-euthanize-small-groups/

  251. @ Mara:

    “he claimed that because God GAVE men testosterone, then these testosterone driven (and sinful) behaviors were God ordained.”
    ++++++++++++++++

    Charlie Allnut: “…it’s only human nature.”

    Rose Sayer: “Nature, Mr. Allnut, is what we are put in this world to rise above.”

    –Humphrey Bogart, Katharine Hepburn, The African Queen

  252. Gav Whi wrote:

    Marsha wrote:
    Marie2
    wrote:
    And of course, there is the corollary, “Being Christian means being part of a small group.” NOT. That one has gotten pretty tedious for me. I did the whole small group thing on and off for about 30 years, and I need a total break from that thing. I am in community with many close friends who are great at holding me accountable. Looking back on my involvement, I now think there are very few times when I actually felt welcomed and part of the group. Ah, being a noncomformist in the church. One of the crazies.
    I find the idea of belong to a small group within a church so that people can hold each other accountable to be really puzzling. Are we all so sinful that this is necessary? I am trying to think of what I might call friends on, were we so inclined. The people that I know are happily married, they go to work, watch TV at night, go to the movies or a concert, play tennis or bird watch, vacation at the beach. Of course life is not perfect, there are health problems, marital conflicts, decisions to be made about caring for elderly relatives, and worry about raising our children when we were younger. But everyone seemed to want to do the right thing. I never saw anything I would want to hold someone accountable for. Just how nitpicking do these groups get?
    Although this article is a few years old, it still offers good advice on the subject of small groups. Such groups are for control, not teaching and fellowship.
    http://christianstandard.com/2011/01/why-churches-should-euthanize-small-groups/

    And this is the rationale offered by those in favour of small groups. The basic principle is that of mild brain washing. You are broken down so that ‘they’ can build you up.

    http://www.smallgroups.com/articles/2011/strengthenconfession.html

  253. Gav Whi wrote:

    Marsha wrote:

    Marie2
    wrote:
    And of course, there is the corollary, “Being Christian means being part of a small group.” NOT. That one has gotten pretty tedious for me. I did the whole small group thing on and off for about 30 years, and I need a total break from that thing. I am in community with many close friends who are great at holding me accountable. Looking back on my involvement, I now think there are very few times when I actually felt welcomed and part of the group. Ah, being a noncomformist in the church. One of the crazies.
    I find the idea of belong to a small group within a church so that people can hold each other accountable to be really puzzling. Are we all so sinful that this is necessary? I am trying to think of what I might call friends on, were we so inclined. The people that I know are happily married, they go to work, watch TV at night, go to the movies or a concert, play tennis or bird watch, vacation at the beach. Of course life is not perfect, there are health problems, marital conflicts, decisions to be made about caring for elderly relatives, and worry about raising our children when we were younger. But everyone seemed to want to do the right thing. I never saw anything I would want to hold someone accountable for. Just how nitpicking do these groups get?

    Although this article is a few years old, it still offers good advice on the subject of small groups. Such groups are for control, not teaching and fellowship.

    http://christianstandard.com/2011/01/why-churches-should-euthanize-small-groups/

    Honest-to-goodness, that may be the norm, certainly may be amongst the A29, SGM crowd, but it need not be the practice. I was a long time member of a church that was as healthy as a church that would have the likes of me as a member could be, and we were involved in a wonderful small group that was more about “Church” than the actual services on Sunday. It was a place where I grew greatly spiritually, I strongly suspect the small groups are still that way at that church. I understand where you’re coming from, I’ve seen the evil side of it (e.g., a young friend who tried to leave had confidences used against him in a most vicious and humiliating way), but don’t chuck baby with bathwater.

  254. LawProf wrote:

    Gav Whi wrote:

    Marsha wrote:

    Marie2
    wrote:
    And of course, there is the corollary, “Being Christian means being part of a small group.” NOT. That one has gotten pretty tedious for me. I did the whole small group thing on and off for about 30 years, and I need a total break from that thing. I am in community with many close friends who are great at holding me accountable. Looking back on my involvement, I now think there are very few times when I actually felt welcomed and part of the group. Ah, being a noncomformist in the church. One of the crazies.
    I find the idea of belong to a small group within a church so that people can hold each other accountable to be really puzzling. Are we all so sinful that this is necessary? I am trying to think of what I might call friends on, were we so inclined. The people that I know are happily married, they go to work, watch TV at night, go to the movies or a concert, play tennis or bird watch, vacation at the beach. Of course life is not perfect, there are health problems, marital conflicts, decisions to be made about caring for elderly relatives, and worry about raising our children when we were younger. But everyone seemed to want to do the right thing. I never saw anything I would want to hold someone accountable for. Just how nitpicking do these groups get?

    Although this article is a few years old, it still offers good advice on the subject of small groups. Such groups are for control, not teaching and fellowship.

    http://christianstandard.com/2011/01/why-churches-should-euthanize-small-groups/

    Honest-to-goodness, that may be the norm, certainly may be amongst the A29, SGM crowd, but it need not be the practice. I was a long time member of a church that was as healthy as a church that would have the likes of me as a member could be, and we were involved in a wonderful small group that was more about “Church” than the actual services on Sunday. It was a place where I grew greatly spiritually, I strongly suspect the small groups are still that way at that church. I understand where you’re coming from, I’ve seen the evil side of it (e.g., a young friend who tried to leave had confidences used against him in a most vicious and humiliating way), but don’t chuck baby with bathwater.

    And to add the my previous, the writer of that article in my opinion commits the capital offense of making it all about the converts, at least that’s his initial thrust and rationale (“Well, Brian, that’s because they don’t work. Small groups are things that trick us into believing we’re serious about making disciples. The problem is 90 percent of small groups never produce one single disciple. Ever…”).

    I think he meant “convert” rather than “disciple”, that seems to be the clear context, because it would be rather difficult to measure with certitude who is and isn’t really becoming a disciple as opposed to merely one converted to a true faith.

    I think the whole thrust of that article is backwards, it almost seems to have been written by one afflicted with the same poison as these church-growth-rationalizes-everything types that we so decry here (the Driscolls and T4Gs who justify whatever they do by the almighty “converts” and “disciples” and increased attendance which drives the almighty dollar which justifies them in their positions), only that he got his butt burned in a small group and now doesn’t like them.

    Just my perspective.

  255. Hi Patti,

    I appreciate the opportunity to dialogue with you! Please forgive me if I am being obnoxious with my ridiculously long responses. I am only trying to be helpful, so I apologize if I am being unhelpful. The internet can be a tricky place to communicate, so please let me know if anything I say is doing more harm than good. Also, I just happen to love Old Testament and New Testament history and culture, so I tend to go on and on when it comes to subjects like this. 🙂

    Patti wrote:

    @ Mr.H:
    Interesting to me is that the words used for synagogue and assembling in the KJV are slightly different. They both mean a gathering together but the one used in the gospels for meeting as synagogue has one main meaning listed as a gathering of men where Hebrews does not specify gender.

    You are correct…the words are slightly different. In many languages, including Greek and Hebrew but also English, words have a “core meaning” that can take different forms depending on the context. In English, for example, I might say to my wife, “The weather is beautiful today – I’m going to go for a run.” In this context, the word “run” functions as a noun. However, I might also say to her, “Do you want to run with me today?” In this second sentence, the word “run” is a verb. Both have the same semantic root, but take slightly different forms depending on context. This is the phenomenon you are noticing in the Greek. As you point out, “synagogue” can be a noun (Matthew 12:9; Mark 1:21; Luke 4:16; John 6:59), but it is derived from a verbal root meaning “to gather together; to assemble.” This verb generally denotes any sort of gathering with a specific purpose, but in the context of 2nd Temple Judaism, it referred to their religious gatherings. Because the first Christians were actually Jews who believed in Jesus, they simply continued using what they knew – their Jewish model of religious community.

    One last note on the language – which can be confusing, I admit. In English it seems that we are more prone to clearly distinguishing between verbs and nouns, but the ancients often has no such qualms. So, while modern Christians would almost use “church” as a noun (“I am going to go to church”), the ancients were more comfortable using both nominal and verbal forms (“I went to synagogue last Shabbat,” or “I synagogued last Shabbat”). For many of us English-speakers, this is strange; we’d never say, “I churched last Sunday morning,” or “Do you enjoy churching?”

    Also, when I do just a regular reading without looking up original words of Hebrews 10, I see the context as definitely not having anything to do with adding a new law or ritual about meeting together.

    I agree that this passage is not about adding a new law or ritual about meeting together. In fact, as I mentioned in a previous comment, I am of the opinion that the author is *assuming continuity* with an already-existing model for religious gatherings. Nothing new at all!

    It is about how Jesus took care of all that synagogue/temple rituals that were just pointing to him all along, now none of that is necessary.

    There’s a somewhat significant interpretative issue here, that is, you combine “synagogue” with “temple.”

    Briefly: Hebrews is about faithfulness and endurance in the faith. The author is writing to Jewish believers who are becoming discouraged, and the author seems to believe that these Jewish believers were in danger of recanting their faith in Jesus. So the main purpose of the letter is to encourage these believers to stay strong.

    The author uses a number of strategies to encourage them. One strategy is to remind them of how the sacrifice of Yeshua is superior to the sacrificial system of the old covenant, to help them stay strong in their current faith and not reject it for their old sacrificial system. (You aptly point this out). But another strategy the author uses is to give them practical advice regarding how to live a faithful Christian life. That’s the context in which the author delivers his warning not to “forsake the assembling of yourselves together” (or, “don’t stop synagoguing,” or to adapt it for modern Christians, “don’t stop churching”).

    This could end up being a very long and boring post, so I’ll just summarize the rest: local Jewish synagogues and the Jerusalem temple were two VERY different and distinct institutions. To argue against the old covenant sacrificial system is NOT to argue against the synagogue.

    If you’re interest in learning more about these sorts of interesting historical details, I highly recommend “Jewish Backgrounds of the New Testament” by J. Julius Scott. Excellent scholarship and very readable. It will really open your eyes to the social and cultural nuances of the New Testament. Another good resource is “The Eerdmans Dictionary of Early Judaism,” but it is, as the name suggests, a dictionary, and so not intended to be read cover-to-cover. (Although those of us who are history nerds might be inclined to do this…)

    So, since the believing Hebrews were realizing this they were beginning to neglect any social get togethers where the theme of the event would be encouragement to each other about their faith in Jesus Christ.

    Current scholarship seems to indicate that the Jewish believers being written to were neglecting assemblies because of social and political issues. They were under pressure to recant their faith in Jesus. They were being ostracized by the larger society in which they lived. They were most likely neglecting assemblies because this would have been a dead giveaway to their neighbors that they were Christians. (Greco-Roman culture was quite suspicious of these early Christian assemblies…there were accusations that incest and cannibalism, among other things, took place during these meetings).

    So, these Jewish Christians had some pretty strong incentives to avoid going to assembly (“church”). And the author of Hebrews nevertheless encourages them to continue gathering together, arguing that these Christian assemblies are a vital element in a believer’s ability to live a faithful Christian life. As I mentioned previously, they allowed believers to study and discuss Scripture (Hebrew Bible and also early forms of the New Testament), to learn theology (primarily through hymns, it seems), and to encourage and comfort and celebrate and mourn with one another.

    I think it still about freedom. This Hebrews passage is an encouragement to get together, not at all a law to set up churches as we have come to know them.

    I agree with you that Christians have freedom in Christ. I also agree with you that here the author of Hebrews is not trying to set up some sort of new model for doing church. Two caveats, however:

    One: Christian liberty doesn’t mean that we can do whatever we want. For example, from a practical standpoint, we aren’t free to commit adultery or steal or murder. From a theological standpoint, we aren’t free to deny Jesus’ divinity or to reject the historicity of his resurrection. So, there are boundaries for what it means to be a Christian. It seems to me that Scripture pretty clearly indicates that regular gatherings/assemblies are part-and-parcel of the Christian life. Which leads me to caveat two…

    Two: The New Testament doesn’t contain a bullet-pointed instruction manual for what an assembly should like, but that assemblies are dispensable. The New Testament provides no detailed how-to manual because none was needed – the first Christians already knew how to “do church” – they had the well-established synagogue model. Modern Christians aren’t beholden to this model, of course. Or any other specific model, for that matter. But we can look at Scripture for some of the basic characteristics that our gatherings should have: Scripture reading and discussion, prayer, singing, fellowship. How we fit all those pieces together is, in my mind, best left up to individual groups of Christians in specific contexts, to allow them to customize their gatherings to best fit their needs and the needs of their community.

    Oh my gosh . . . this is another embarrassingly long post. I apologize yet again, not only for hogging the space, but also for rambling on in a slightly unsolicited fashion about potentially boring sociocultural and historical tidbits.

    I’ll just add one last comment: love trumps all things. I believe that regular gatherings are an integral part of the Christian life, and they are intended to benefit the believer and to help them remain strong in their faith. So, if a believer has experience some sort of deep wound or hurt in a church context – thus making church gatherings no longer beneficial, and perhaps even harmful – then I would say that Christian love and liberty allow for that believer to seek out alternatives to regular church gatherings, in order to facilitate recovery and healing. I say this with empathy but also with sympathy, having myself been deeply wounded by a former church, and having “taken a break” from formal church gatherings for about a year, while my wife and I sought to recover (spiritually and psychologically). If you have been hurt and you need to take a break, by all means, do what is best for your well-being. And thank the Lord for creative Christians who are using technology to offer alternatives (like EChurch 🙂 so that those of us who have been hurt have a place to recover.

  256. Some unfortunate typos in my latest post. Apologies. I think my brain transmits fairly well, but it seems that my hands and fingers struggle to keep up as I type. Most of the typos are of the “silly but meaningless” variety, but one in particular probably needs correcting:

    This: “Two: The New Testament doesn’t contain a bullet-pointed instruction manual for what an assembly should like, but that assemblies are dispensable.”

    Should read like this: “Two: The New Testament doesn’t contain a bullet-pointed instruction manual for what an assembly should like, but that assemblies are dispensable.”

  257. I messed up again! I am cursed! 🙂

    Mr.H wrote:

    Some unfortunate typos in my latest post. Apologies. I think my brain transmits fairly well, but it seems that my hands and fingers struggle to keep up as I type. Most of the typos are of the “silly but meaningless” variety, but one in particular probably needs correcting:
    This: “Two: The New Testament doesn’t contain a bullet-pointed instruction manual for what an assembly should like, but that assemblies are dispensable.”
    Should read like this: “Two: The New Testament doesn’t contain a bullet-pointed instruction manual for what an assembly should like, but that doesn’t mean that assemblies are dispensable.”

  258. @ Mr.H: Typos: join the club, Mr. H!

    btw, I wonder if it’s more accurate to say that in koine Greek, using nouns in a verb form was normal, rather than just ascribing that to “the ancients”? Rules and usage are so incredibly variable, after all – then and now.

  259. numo wrote:

    @ Mr.H: Typos: join the club, Mr. H!
    btw, I wonder if it’s more accurate to say that in koine Greek, using nouns in a verb form was normal, rather than just ascribing that to “the ancients”? Rules and usage are so incredibly variable, after all – then and now.

    Sure, we could say “Koine.” (Although the blurring of nominal-verbal distinctions I was referencing isn’t restricted to Koine). I was just trying to be as accessible as possible to an audience that may or may not know what the difference between Koine and Classical Greek is. The less confusion, the better, in my opinion. (At least…that’s the goal. Not sure if I always achieve it!) Also, I said “the ancients” because I wasn’t just referring to Greek…I was also thinking of the Semitic languages (Akkadian, Phoenician, Hebrew, Aramaic, etc.) in which we see the same phenomenon: more interplay between nouns and verbs.

  260. @ Mr.H:

    Just realized the convo is becoming increasingly abstract (it’s my own fault). I thought I should give a quick example to make it more concrete:

    One ancient semitic noun meaning “peasant” is actually just a noun form of the verb “to bow down” (we might translate the noun form – somewhat woodenly – as “bowed-down one” or “one who is bowed down”). It’s a very vivid word-picture for what it meant to be a peasant in the ancient Near East – submitted to and serving the local ruler. As you can see…rather than inventing a word for “peasant” they just labeled it with a verb illustrative of what a peasant actually does. It’s one of the reasons I love Hebrew (and the other Semitic languages) . . . they seem to be so vividly expressive of what might otherwise be an abstract concept.

  261. @ Mr.H: I didn’t know that re. Sumerian etc. – many thanks for the info.!

    I guess what I was driving at is that modern languages are incredibly diverse as well, and I have no doubt that the noun-verb distinction is blurred in many of them (as compared to modern English).

    I am kind of geeky about language and translation, though definitely not a grammar maven. (Although grammar makes more sense to me when studying other languages than it ever did when I was a kid taking English classes – might have something to do with the fact that the teaching methods differ. One – for other languages – is practical and like a toolkit for understanding; with English grammar, I felt like we were focused on stupid complexities and I really got lost.)

  262. numo wrote:

    Although grammar makes more sense to me when studying other languages than it ever did when I was a kid taking English classes

    Totally! It is the same for me. I learned more about English grammar and syntax when studying Greek, Latin, and Semitics, than I ever did during english classes in middle and high school.

    I agree that modern languages are incredibly diverse. In fact, through this conversation I’m realizing that even in English we do have a fair amount of noun-verb interplay. (To train > trainer; To drive > driver, etc.). And yet, for some reason it seems like Semitics are more willing to do this than English is. Maybe it’s just my perception?

    I know almost nothing about any of the Asian languages. It’s interesting to hear that Chinese does something similar. When I was studying Sumerian and Akkadian, one day in class I remarked that it felt overwhelming to have to memorize 200+ logograms. A fellow student, from mainland China, replied with something like, “Well then you definitely wouldn’t want to try to learn to read and write Chinese…” (I believe he mentioned that Chinese uses thousands, not hundreds, of symbols?)

  263. And on a brighter note: I see in the news that the Chinese in some parts of China are converting to christianity at a rate that has become alarming to some of the local governments. And that does not even include the house church movement. Yeeessssss!

  264. @ LawProf:
    Law Prof
    The main point of the article is that growth/ fellowship occurs when it is spontaneous and not directed. That was my experience in the seventies and I am now facing the problem of a “directed” small group in 2014. The former was a wonderful experience. Anyone could come, there were no leaders, lots of arguments /discussions and everyone grew in The Lord. The latter is about direction, reading from a script and, although I’ve
    Asked, they won’t say who wrote the script.
    Best wishes.

  265. Sabrae wrote:

    and I do hereby promise to take them three times around the dance floor without so much as breaking a sweat before leaving the conversation with their misogynistic nuts in my handbag.

    Ummmm…Sabrae, are you still there? Looking forward to hearing your story someday, lol!

  266. Mr.H wrote:

    I believe he mentioned that Chinese uses thousands, not hundreds, of symbols?

    Yes, it sure does….And the Japanese language “hijacked” many of those same symbols, and incorporated them into that language….I took a Japanese class with someone who knew Chinese already, and boy was she steamed to see her precious Chinese symbols torn and twisted into Japanese, lol!

  267. @ Mr.H:
    Mr.H wrote:

    numo wrote:
    Although grammar makes more sense to me when studying other languages than it ever did when I was a kid taking English classes
    Totally! It is the same for me. I learned more about English grammar and syntax when studying Greek, Latin, and Semitics, than I ever did during english classes in middle and high school.
    I agree that modern languages are incredibly diverse. In fact, through this conversation I’m realizing that even in English we do have a fair amount of noun-verb interplay. (To train > trainer; To drive > driver, etc.). And yet, for some reason it seems like Semitics are more willing to do this than English is. Maybe it’s just my perception?
    I know almost nothing about any of the Asian languages. It’s interesting to hear that Chinese does something similar. When I was studying Sumerian and Akkadian, one day in class I remarked that it felt overwhelming to have to memorize 200+ logograms. A fellow student, from mainland China, replied with something like, “Well then you definitely wouldn’t want to try to learn to read and write Chinese…” (I believe he mentioned that Chinese uses thousands, not hundreds, of symbols?)

    Although the average number of Chinese characters is reckoned to be about 4000, it is better to aim for 12000. I speak (and write badly in) Mandarin.

  268. Gav Whi wrote:

    Although the average number of Chinese characters is reckoned to be about 4000, it is better to aim for 12000. I speak (and write badly in) Mandarin.

    Hey, great for you. I took a night course in Mandarin (“common language”, is that it?) but I was hopelessly lost almost immediately. They told us that native English speakers are tone deaf. I sure am. I was able to master one sentence: “Excuse my, may I ask, do you speak English?” Worthless sentence, since all you have to do is speak English and the person either does or does not understand you. Oh, well. And I can write the characters for China and for man / person. I never before failed so miserably at anything in my life. Wow.

  269. @ Nancy: English is not a tonal language; Chinese is (all varieties). I dont know that I’d fare any better than you did, Nancy.

  270. Gav Whi wrote:

    @ LawProf:
    Law Prof
    The main point of the article is that growth/ fellowship occurs when it is spontaneous and not directed. That was my experience in the seventies and I am now facing the problem of a “directed” small group in 2014. The former was a wonderful experience. Anyone could come, there were no leaders, lots of arguments /discussions and everyone grew in The Lord. The latter is about direction, reading from a script and, although I’ve
    Asked, they won’t say who wrote the script.
    Best wishes.

    That’s a proposition with which I agree; the more directed, the more the opportunity for control from the top, the less the opportunity for the Holy Spirit to work as it should. This is not the world of Moses (most humble man up to his point in time in the history of the world, I might add!) who alone seemed to possess the power of the Holy Spirit on a regular basis. This world is 180 degrees opposite of that, all believers have the same Holy Spirit, so for these men (who may be just as arrogant as Moses was humble and many of whom likely don’t even have that Spirit themselves) to presume to be able to throw together functional small groups by fiat is nonsense on stilts.

    So I agree with you, that is the main point, I just didn’t like hot shot’s blanket negative statement towards the start of the article, made me want to kick him. I have experienced small groups that do work, as you did in the 1970s, but maybe “small groups” has been co-opted by the cultists, like “local church”, and now has largely a different meaning.

  271. LawProf wrote:

    I have experienced small groups that do work, as you did in the 1970s, but maybe “small groups” has been co-opted by the cultists, like “local church”, and now has largely a different meaning.

    Amen to you both!!! I think I experienced some great small groups in the 80’s, I do have some good memories of them, but over time, things have greatly changed. It’s just a bummer to me now that it’s hard for me to explain to the younger set what the difference is…

  272. Gav Whi wrote:

    @ LawProf:
    Law Prof
    The main point of the article is that growth/ fellowship occurs when it is spontaneous and not directed. That was my experience in the seventies and I am now facing the problem of a “directed” small group in 2014. The former was a wonderful experience. Anyone could come, there were no leaders, lots of arguments /discussions and everyone grew in The Lord. The latter is about direction, reading from a script and, although I’ve
    Asked, they won’t say who wrote the script.
    Best wishes.

    LOTS of arguments……

    I also think that the movie Yentl should be required watching for all pastors in training.

    I cannot get this scene on YouTube, but there is a wonderful episode where the main character gets into the local Rabbi school based on the strength of “her” questions….

    Even though Barbra Streisand is not convincing as a young man, and there are obvious flaws in the movie, I think it is a wonderful attempt to capture a culture that respects questions….something sorely missed in today’s “modern” church….

  273. Marie2 wrote:

    Even though Barbra Streisand is not convincing as a young man, and there are obvious flaws in the movie, I think it is a wonderful attempt to capture a culture that respects questions….

    Yep! Respects questions but not women. It was telling that she had to present as a man to achieve a dream of studying the Torah. I loved the movie.

  274. Victorious wrote:

    Respects questions but not women. It was telling that she had to present as a man to achieve a dream of studying the Torah.

    Yes!!!

    And now, if someone out there is wondering why there is such a growth of blogs like this one, it’s because women are still not respected that much in religious establishments, and because questions are just not allowed in church anymore.

    Pastors are being trained more and more to not be secure in their faith, and be unable to engage with detractors, who, actually in time, could turn into their greatest supporters, if given a chance.

  275. And, apologies for the over burst of enthusiasm for the subject, but here’s to all the “girls” who run blogs, in order to point out the dangers that lurk in so many well-manicured churches!!

    Christianity Today or some other pub needs to make up a “person of the year” award to honor them all, including Janet Mefferd!!!

    http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1003998,00.html

    Persons of The Year 2002: The Whistleblowers
    SHERRON WATKINS of Enron COLEEN ROWLEY of the FBI CYNTHIA COOPER of WorldCom

    By Richard Lacayo and Amanda Ripley Monday, Dec. 30, 2002
    This was the year when the grief started to lift and the worries came in. During the first weeks of 2002, two dark moods entered the room, two anxieties that rattled down everybody’s nerve paths, even on good days, and etched their particulars into the general disposition. To begin with, after Sept. 11, the passage of time drew off the worst of the pain, but every month or so there came a new disturbance–an orange alert, a dance-club bombing in Bali, a surface-to-air missile fired at a passenger jet–that showed us the beast still at our door. In the confrontation with…

  276. Nancy wrote:

    I see in the news that the Chinese in some parts of China are converting to christianity at a rate that has become alarming to some of the local governments.

    And long ago I heard about a defense of Christianity in a Chinese Communist Party Congress. That this religion produced honesty and reduced corruption in its adherents, corruption being a major recurring problem throughout Chinese history.

    However, Chinese culture has also had a recurring “Not Invented Here” attitude throughout its history. It took them well over 500 years to accept that foreign religion from India, Buddhism. It will probably take 500 more to accept that even more Not-Chinese faith, Christianity. Especially when “Not-Chinese” in this case means the Europeans who humbled China and chipped away at the country from the Opium Wars into the early 20th. And when the bloodiest civil war in Chinese history (The Taiping Rebellion) centered around a quasi-Christian cult.

  277. Mr.H wrote:

    It’s one of the reasons I love Hebrew (and the other Semitic languages) . . . they seem to be so vividly expressive of what might otherwise be an abstract concept.

    That’s one of the strengths of Hebrew (and presumably other Semitic languages) — the ability to paint vivid word pictures.

  278. @ Headless Unicorn Guy: not to mention the fact that Europeans (well, the British) made unbelievable fortunes on opium addiction – that is, the controlled the sale and distribution of opium throughout China. I don’t think the Chinese had any reason to love them, given that alone. (Profiting by the misery of so many… Immoral, unethical and a tool of subjugation.)

    Also, keep in mind that China produced Taoism and Confucianism, both integral parts of Chinese society and culture. Buddhism merged with both in China, and given the geography (the Himalayas, Tibetan plateau etc.) it’s no wonder that it took a long time for Buddhism to migrate to China, Korea and Japan.

  279. It seems Mars Hill isn’t the only church scrubbing documents and other content.

    Calvary Chapel Removes All Trace of Fallen Pastor Bob Coy

    By the time Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale announced that its leader and founder Pastor Bob Coy had admitted to a moral failure, his picture was taken down from the staff page. Now all his messages and media content have also gone missing.

    http://www.charismanews.com/us/43468-calvary-chapel-removes-all-trace-of-fallen-pastor-bob-coy