Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll-Under Scrutiny While Another Painful Story Emerges

“Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say “My tooth is aching” than to say “My heart is broken.” CS Lewis


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Today Mars Hill posted a Scripturally accurate, reasoned account of their disciplinary procedures. Here is the beginning and you can see the rest here.

“In recent days, there has been some discussion surrounding Mars Hill Church and our process of church discipline. We do not wish to comment on the specific scenario in question, as this is a private matter between church leadership and members, all of whom have voluntarily agreed to this prior to becoming members. We do want to be as clear and forthright as possible in presenting our theology of repentance, forgiveness, and church discipline and make clear that our convictions on this come from our study of Scripture and our deep love for our members and a desire for them to enjoy the freedom that comes from walking by the Spirit in response to Christ’s work on the Cross on our behalf. At the heart of the process is our deep belief that church discipline is about the grace of God, not penance." Update 10/14/13–Pastor Justin Holcomb” Former Mars Hill pastor, Justin Holcomb, contacted us and said that he was not the author of the  statement. It apparently was a general Mars Hill statement and not attributed to one person.

A lesson in church tap dancing.

Before I present the next Mars Hill horror story, I want to quickly assess the above response on Church Discipline and Mars Hill.

After stating “We do not wish to comment on the specific scenario in question, the pastor presents another story of the need for church discipline. In a nutshell A man has left his wife and kids and is now coming back to the same church, necking with his new honey during church in full view of his wife and kids. He uses this story to outline the need for “Biblical” discipline.

He is either being deceptive, trying to obfuscate the current situation which is going viral all over the blogosphere, or he is really, really stupid. I am hoping it is stupidity because the former is far too upsetting to contemplate.

He is equating this situation to the one involving Andrew. They are not the same thing. Andrew was repentant, he was not bringing his new honey to church and making out with her in the service in front of his fiancée, there were no kids in involved, and on and on.

They are obviously concerned about the increasing publicity centered on both Driscoll and the ministry. They may also be concerned that there are legalities involved. Why? Note this statement. Regarding church discipline “as this is a private matter between church leadership and members, all of whom have voluntarily agreed to this prior to becoming members.”

Mars HIll Slip of the TongueLanguage Bias against Women (add at 10:41PM)!!!!

This is a very important observation which Deb discovered in the Mars HIll document.

The pastor said the following : “On the other hand, the man and his whorish girlfriend would be welcome in the church only if they repented of their sin and lived as Christians. If they did not, they should be the ones to leave.” here is a simple observation. Why is the woman "whoreish" and the philandering, adulterous husband just "the man." This is a revealing and damaging slip of the tongue.

Questions about the membership "agreement"

I have some serious questions for Andrew and others who have “voluntarily” signed such an agreement. Were you informed that you should seek private counsel, legal and otherwise, before signing such a statement? Did you know that most churches have lawyers carefully review these documents in order to avoid the possibility of lawsuits if the church decides to step over the line and impose harsh punishment?

That is why both Deb and I advise most people not to sign any church covenant or membership agreement before spending a significant amount of time attending church. In fact there is little reason, in this current climate, to join a church unless you want to be an elder or deacon. Do you really want it that bad?

TWW has written several post surrounding this issue that might be of help:

The first one, “Hurt? Wary? Afraid? Do Not Join a Local Churchlink received some of the highest number of hits that we have ever received. In it, we give you reasons for staying unaffiliated while still attending church. We emphasize that you can have a rich, vibrant experience without signing some document.

The second one is : Spiritual Abuse Final Exam: Analyze a Membership Covenant. Link.This post presents an actual covenant that was sent to us by a man who quite his church after 15 years. We spotted a number of “red flags” in the document.

This thirdl post, Membership Red Flags Link analyzes, in depth, the previous covenant.

Frankie’s Story

 Today, TWW received this sad email.

“I just found on Facebook my grandson was born yesterday…..Not one person called me or my husband….

 Heartbroken, Frankie”

Frankie recently starting commenting on our blog. She tells a story that will break the hearts of most parents and their children. In the few years that we have been writing this blog, we have both read, and confirmed, a number of instances in which authoritarian and abusive churches have attempted to isolate young people from their parents. We have also read of extreme complementarian or patriarchal churches that instruct husbands to monitor all phone conversations or emails between their wives and concerned parents.

In another blog post, we documented Mark Driscoll saying that he monitors his wife’s emails in order to “protect” her. So, it is not inconceivable to us that the following scenario could occur. Frankie is willing to go on record that this sad event happened to her family. It is important to realize that this involves two daughters who joined Mars Hill, one married a young man in Mars Hill. The other daughter actually married the brother of her sister’s husband….So it is sisters that married brothers!

 (I am beginning to hate that word) to the “ways” of Mars Hill. It is also important to understand that these daughters are quite young. What did we say yesterday about the ease of controlling the young and idealistic?

I have changed very little of Frankie’s comments. So, you will read the raw emotion of a mother who has been deeply wounded. Those of you, who have young children, beware. How would you react if those children who you have loved and nurtured, suddenly become immersed in a subculture and no longer believe that it is in their best interests to speak to you?

I thought only cults did things like this. Hmmmm….

Read this with an understanding of the pain of rejection. The emotion is raw and unpolished. In fact, it is like listening to a friend who has just received some very bad news.

I have bolded some phrases that I found significant.

“This “church” is ruining families by spiritual and emotional abuse. Mars Hill Church led by Driscoll have taken my two beautiful and educated daughters (along with many other young ladies) and convinced them that to get to Heaven they must marry, submit, and become baby makers. That is only the tip of the iceberg in the brainwashing.

I have been shunned and emotional abused while my girls are held “hostage”. They are being told this is what Jesus wants and because I refused to submit to the rules and boundaries that my daughter’s 22 year old husband would “allow” for me to have a relationship with her! I told him I would speak with my daughter not him.

He said he was speaking for the both of them! He reads, answers, or deletes all texts, emails, voicemails, etc. from me, along with any of my family and friends! He (with the help of other Mars Hill “family”) is isolating her from all of us. I am completely heartbroken.

My 22 year-old daughter is about to give birth and I can’t get near her. ”They” have convinced her to have a home birth because “you only have pain in the stressful atmosphere of the hospital setting” I am terrified! Her fellow young female Mars Hill members are on their second and third babies.

Trust me when I say it is a slow and methodical grooming. When I realized what had happened to my girls, it was too late! It is cult…calling itself a church. The members are required to sign contracts.

Driscoll is a bully, no doubt. The young married men are taken out to bars to “tip one back” by the Elders “schooling” them. The young brides are given “instruction” on how to satisfy their husbands by the married Mars Hill ladies before their wedding! I guess that is one way of keeping the members from having affairs in the church, since apparently they all have been taught the same tricks!

I have attended Mars Hill many times, to several of the campuses to see for myself It is very seductive and hip! Wolf in sheep’s clothing! Just like Driscoll and his yes men (two of the pastors are involved with the “families” that my daughters married into) Sucks them right in.

Anyone that has any advice who or how I could report this abuse to I really would appreciate more than you could know, I am going to be a grandma any minute. (Editor’s note-her daughter had a baby boy yesterday. The grandmother was not notified).

Below was taken from a comment on FB page “Mark Driscoll is an *******:
“I think women hear the line that if they are submissive, God will reward them by turning their husbands into the attentive, responsible men of their dreams. They take that in faster than you can imagine. It’s like a gift with purchase deal-hand over your freedom and I’ll give you prince charming. They even tell fairy tale stories about other women in the church who have experienced it to prove it is true. Men get a whole different ‘schooling’ that is equally destructive. They are encouraged to enter this absurdly competitive almost adolescent world.”


Let me address this to Mars Hill. There seem to be an awful lot of uncomfortable stories about your church and your lead pastor. It is beginning to be impossible for some of us to believe that this is all some big “misunderstanding.” If even half of these stories are true, your church, and pastor, are in deep trouble.  Think it's time to regroup yet? While you're at it, think you could tell a couple of your members to give their mama a call? You guys are good at Bible verses. Try "Honor your father and mother."


Finally, here is one more performance by the gifted Prince Poppycock. This is dedicated to our British friends who had to put up with a “Yankee Doodle Bully.” Poppycock reminds me of a certain pastor. There are so many  parallels. The performance starts at 1:00.


Lydia's Corner: Isaiah 22:1-24:23 Galatians 2:17-3:9 Psalm 60:1-12 Proverbs 23:15-16


Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll-Under Scrutiny While Another Painful Story Emerges — 208 Comments

  1. The young married men are taken out to bars to “tip one back” by the Elders “schooling” them. The young brides are given “instruction” on how to satisfy their husbands by the married Mars Hill ladies before their wedding!

    Does this include Oral & Anal?

    (Editor’s note-her daughter had a baby boy yesterday. The grandmother was not notified).

    Because there IS NO SUCH THING as the Grandmother.

    — Charlie the Unicorn

  2. Wow.
    I am heart broken by this story and really bummed that the pastor who wrote the blurb at the top of this post is Justin Holcomb. I am a big fan of the mockingbird blog It is an amazing, grace filled place. On this site they ran a series of discussions with J. Holcomb and his wife on a book they wrote for victims of sexual abuse called Rid of My Disgrace. I am trying to process all of this right now. I feel like I just got hit with a ton of bricks. The J. Holcomb interview was amazing and so gospel centered in GRACE! Now I read this and it is same ole same ole Calvinista garbage.

  3. Thank you for sharing my reality…My hope is that others will see the signs…because it is truly a slow grooming before you know what has happened it is too late! My other daughter actually married the brother of her sister’s husband….So it is sisters that married brothers! They are in Mars Hill quick sand! Trying to Keep the Faith…

  4. Frankie, why did they decide not to speak to you anymore? Was it because you weren’t a Driscoll groupy or were they that controlling? Do you live close to them? Also, what would happen if you just showed up? Did they give any reasoned explanations for not speaking to you? Sorry for all the questions. This is madness to me! I am five months pregnant and it kills me to think of shunning of family during this time! I will pray for your daughter. I wonder if she is quietly hurting?

  5. 20/20, 60 minutes, responsible investigative journalists — your services are requested.

  6. Dee,

    Did you catch this line in the Mars Hill Church Discipline info?

    “On the other hand, the man and his whorish girlfriend would be welcome in the church only if they repented of their sin and lived as Christians. If they did not, they should be the ones to leave.”

    He’s a MAN, and his girlfriend is a WHORE…

    That was the most ridiculous story I have ever read!


    Congratulations on becoming a grandma. Hopefully, your brainwashed daughter will wise up and engage her brain.

    There are no words to describe the juvenile behavior of these brand new parents. Big Papa D must be proud!

  7. The following is something MD labels as false repentance. After going through this list, I am not sure anyone can come out on the other side knowing if they really repented. I love the irony that this is in MD’s book. I wonder when he will be placed under church discipline?

    MH Statement: Self-Righteous Repentance

    “Proud, self-righteous repentance occurs when we confess the sins of other people while neglecting our own manifestations of depravity. It can also happen when people repent of “acceptable sins” to deflect attention from deeper sins. Perhaps the most legendary example of this is spoken of in Luke 18:9–14, where Jesus delineates between the false repentance of the self-righteous Pharisee who confesses the sins of others rather than his own, and the true repentance of the humble tax collector.”

  8. Note to readers;
    I just updated today’s post to reflect Deb’s important catch in the discipline document. Well done, friend!

  9. This is abuse 101. I hope and pray for your daughters’ sakes that there aren’t other things you haven’t been told about. This is straight back to the culture of women-as-property.

    And I pray that the Holy Spirit will be at work in their hearts, revealing to them their freedom in Jesus, and likewise convicting their husbands that their wives are precious and deserve to be treated with far greater respect. I also pray that Driscoll is brought to the realisation that he needs help before too many more lives are destroyed by his immaturity, aggression and projected sexual hang ups

    As the mother of an adult son and daughter myself, I weep with you

  10. Frankie –

    I am so sorry that you are going through this trauma. I certainly don’t understand what is going on with these churches today. I pray that God will restore your relationships with your daughters and that the Holy Spirit will open their eyes to what they are involved in. I pray that the Lord would heal your broken heart.

  11. I actually had forwarded Andrew’s story to 60 minutes and dateline nbc 🙂

    I am with you elastigirl. My husband and I are prayerfully considering our next step.

  12. Eagle,
    I live in a highly mormonized area so I can appreciate your frequent Mormon comparisons. Several of my wife’s former co-workers were young Mormon men. She got the idea from them that they’d basically be “Jack” Mormons and sew their wild oats without much twinge of conscience. Then they’d settle down and be real Mormons when they decided it time for marriage and family– no repentance required.
    Don’t know how accurate or representative these lads were. But I’ll draw a mars-hillian comparison anyway.

  13. In addition to calling the girlfriend “whorish” in Mars Hill’s address (damage control), it says the husband “sat a few rows in front of her . . . with his adulterous girlfriend.” Wouldn’t it be more apt to describe the husband as adulterous since he was actually married? If the girlfriend wasn’t married to someone else, she wouldn’t technically be committing adultery, right? It’s not exactly “Christian” to be involved with a married man, but using the term “adulterous” to describe her seems a bit misplaced. All of the colourful adjectives are reserved for the female antagonist, not the male. Interesting.

  14. Just started reading the Driscoll article and I can’t even get past the initial story without finding myself hyper-critical.
    “The pastor responded by quoting multiple Scriptures from memory about adultery and rebuked them both for saying they were Christians and living in unrepentant, gross sin.”
    As if the couple didn’t know that Scripture frowns on adultery…. From memory… Impressive.. Living in sin equals shacking up. Hitler was living in sin because of Eva Braun. Gross sins are the ones that really matter— refined, cult-ured (TM), educated, satanic sins, maybe not so much.
    Oh, well, I’ll try again to read the article tomorrow. I may find it gets better and I get convicted for being a hyper-crite (TM).

  15. What Holcomb wrote is boilerplate press release fodder. Now maybe it’s the time I spent doing free lance work for papers that influences me but the minute I read the Holcomb statement my first thought wasn’t “he’s lying or stupid” it was, “Why does that poor sucker have to put his by-line on THAT!?” That could have been sone anonymous statement a la some article in The Economist.

    Like Robin I’d first encountered Holcomb through Mockingbird and it’s too bad he has to be the public name (aka fall guy) for issuing boilerplate non-response. Since the vast majority of the content is just a Driscoll chapter anyway I don’t see what the elder team thought they had to gain by even making a pastor use his own name as the by-line.

  16. WTH said: “What Holcomb wrote is boilerplate press release fodder…Since the vast majority of the content is just a Driscoll chapter anyway I don’t see what the elder team thought they had to gain by even making a pastor use his own name as the by-line.”

    WTH, have you really been involved with MH for so long and still think “the elder team” really had much of a say in this? This sounds more like MD damage-control spin more than anything. And poor Mr. Holcomb. He seems to be a decent man who is being used, like so many others have been, to bring credidibility to the top dog, until his usefulness is sucked dry and he will find himself unceremoniously discarded, like so many other good men.

    As for the byline – who do you suppose actually wrote that “Driscoll chapter” anyway? It may have very well been Holcomb. According to MD, “For a few years before coming on staff at Mars Hill, he humbly and graciously served as my research assistant remotely.”


  17. The trail of broken relationships surrounding the MH community is a blight on the landscape. How can anyone think that this kind of behavior would point people to Christ the reconciler?

    Frankie, congratulations on the birth of your grandson. I’m praying you will get to see and hold him soon and that your family will be whole again.

  18. Driscoll is very misogynistic. Though he tries to hide it of justify his words and actions with thus saith the Lord and saying that women, somehow, get benefits from his horrible doctrine, the truth is…


    From living near a strip club, through the girlfriends he chose (that were unfaithful,) through Grace, and onto all the women of the world. Driscoll has no business pastoring women because he doesn’t love them. They are objects to be used, either for himself or to build his manly men church on. The foundation of his church is built on the backsides and the frontsides and insides of women and what they can do for his army of manly men.

  19. During the Brierley interview, Driscoll quipped:

    “When you’ve got guys in dresses, you know, preaching to grandmas and young men won’t show up as a nation, you’ve gotta ask yourself, you know, have we picked a course that really fits the past but isn’t gonna work for the future?”

    It appears that Driscoll has a real problem with grandmas in particular, probably because they won’t take any flack from a hipster pastor.

  20. TedS, I agree Holcomb was conscripted. That’s what I was getting at earlier. I agree Martian ministry precedent is to recruit people renowned for what they do to homebrew a Martian ministry and then there’s this habit of cutting men loose once the ministry has “outgrown the kingly gifts” of the person who was put in place.

    However, I don’t think the details Andrew gave to MPT point to MD. MD is busy promoting the Real Marriage tour and recently had the Elephant Room. TedS, if you’ve read all the details Andrew revealed to MPT it strongly points away from MD being the instigator of church discipline and toward the campus pastor at Ballard . And if you reviewed the basic details Andrew leaked to MPT in his own account and the letter from the campus pastor it narrows the field of potential pastors so radically it makes it impossible for MD to be the pastor Holcomb has to cover for. Holcomb may have been told by MD to cover for the campus pastor or to provide a non-answer but it probably isn’t MD himself Holcomb’s non-answer is covering for.

  21. Brigitte
    Great pick up. i think this language is most revealing. Mars Hill is under pressure. The fact they even responded at all means they are concerned. What is fascinating is how they responded. They ares o immersed in their subculture that they don’t even realize how poorly they pick words. If they were trying to influence people by their “biblicism” they made a drastic mistake.

    They really need some PR folks reading their stuff. The fact that they don’t (of even worse, they do have an internal PR guy who is inept) means they think they are OK. When they start using words to define the woman (whorish, adulterous) and the dirtbag husband is just the man, they inadvertently show their biases.

    This, more than anything else, is, in my opinion, the most revealing insight into their basic perspective. It is deeply disturbing.

  22. Dee,

    If the pastors use this kind of misogynistic language to defend Mars Hill in the blogosphere, imagine what is uttered behind closed doors.

  23. DP
    I agree with you. They knew they were doing wrong. Instead of showing off Bible verses, there was a deeper question to be asked. He needed to get into their heads and try to understand where they were. I would be willing to bet that there are number of issues regarding guilt, being raised (on the part of the girl) as the daughter of an elder, etc. An even more interesting insight would be to find out if the elder suspected what was going on and turned a blind eye because it reflected on his family.

    There is much to this story that is interesting and involves much more than the “sin.” The issue of “gross sin” should be investigated. The outward sin is usually an outgrowth of much going on underneath. Christians are really good in showing a “nice” face to the world. Underneath, they are just as prone to issues like the rest of humanity. We all put on the nice Christian body suit, keeping it zipped up tight and we end up becoming outwardly focused. Can you imagine what is going on inside Driscoll and his wife?

  24. Bridgitte,

    I LOVED your comment! It’s fascinating to see how these macho pastors react when a little pressure is applied.

  25. WTH
    The content was written in such a way that anyone can see MH bias against women. They should be embarrassed by that response. Is the church that stupid to allow that out without someone checking it for syntax? Mickey Mouse could have signed it and it wouldn’t matter. That document was signed, sealed and approved by Driscoll and his “leadership.” I will keep it for posterity and drag it out as an example of today’s postevangelical “scholarship.” I could get dozens of posts out of it.

  26. Jimmy

    As you know, we are created in the image of God. We also attempt to create others in our image. Never forget, Mahaney was very proud of the fact that he was appointed as Driscoll’s mentor. So, how good did Mahaney do in creating a new image for Driscoll?? Methinks that they are not that far apart except for the sex stuff. In fact, the “discipline” reminds me quite a bit of a certain family of churches.

  27. TedS
    Question: I am most interested in the pastors whom Driscoll mentioned in his “punch them in the nose” monologue. Do you know where they ended up? Are they fearful of further repercussions? I have thought of them frequently over the last year or so. I have always wondered if any of them have told their stories, even anonymously. I know that there are many in the blogosphere who would be interested in such an account, including us.

  28. Mark
    No question. Frankly, the wording in this document reveals their underbelly. They were so involved in writing about their version of “discipline” that they overlooked the language. They were under pressure so they slipped up. In fact, their response is proof, in and of itself, that they are feeling the heat.

  29. Mara
    It does appear that the women in his life exist to serve him and his image. By the way, Driscoll talks the talk but my guess is that he would hide behind the skirts of his wife if anyone actually behaved physically towards him.

    These talkers are usually wimps. My dad grew up in a Russian ghetto in Massachusetts and knew men like this. As he would say “They are full of hot air.” MD still talks of a guy rushing him with a machete in church. There is some talk that this was exaggerated. Driscoll surrounds himself with bodyguards and then acts macho.

  30. Treatment of women is not contingent on someone’s religious persuasion or cultural biases….nor should it be. The concept of praying for someone’s emotional healing and patiently waiting is as misogynistic as was the original act. You are leaving, in that person’s care, those most vulnerable to harm, while you wait for a magical healing.

    All pastors, priests and counselors should be required to take and pass an annual evaluation to root out issues like these….and they should no longer be permitted to hold these positions until those issues are resolved.

  31. I think that the following saying has warrant here:
    “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

    There is only ONE all benevolent, all powerful, all wise King. I am getting so frustrated by the power hungry establishment that speaks as though they have absolute authority.

  32. Actually, I don’t believe it was the “power” that corrupted….They came to their jobs already in a state of disrepair…their position just put a spotlight on it!

  33. dee, let me reframe this as someone who studied journalism. When a useless press release with previously published material is posted in response to a recent controversy that is misdirection. The goal is to keep you from looking at the real story.

    Think about what Andrew leaked to MPT and go look at what you won’t find on campus pastor profiles now, any information about spouses, children or stepchildren.

  34. “When you’ve got guys in dresses, you know, preaching to grandmas and young men won’t show up as a nation, you’ve gotta ask yourself, you know, have we picked a course that really fits the past but isn’t gonna work for the future?”

    Guys wearing dresses = not good enough. Grandmas = not good enough. Young men = target audience.

    Do you notice something about the gender of those who are not good enough? Dresses? Grandmas? Young MEN are the ones he wants?

    Driscoll cannot open his mouth without revealing his heart towards women.

  35. Bounded –

    You are right about coming to the position in disrepair. As the spotlight is turned up, the “true” man behind the curtain is revealed. It is that way with all of us. The only difference is “what” the true man turns out to be.

  36. WTH –

    They are protecting their own. But in a sense it might be wise. Look at what happened to Andrew. I wonder if the girl is getting worse treatment being inside the organization and the family. Think of the guilt that might be heaped on her as a result of all that Mars Hill created with their own ungodly contracts and doctrine. They can easily lay all the blame on her and Andrew. Another young woman to add to prayer with Grace. The system is wicked. I’ve seen the results of this played out. The young and women will take the fall for the stupidity and lack of love by the adults (men and women).

  37. I guess when everything is about Macho Manliness . . . “Real” love and grace, as displayed by Christ, will no doubt go by the wayside. I don’t remember such tactics displayed by Jesus when he found people in sin. I seem to recall “go and sin no more.” No screaming at them. No condemnation.

    MD would have a major problem with the prostitutes that Jesus hung out with. I’m wondering if MD has ever considered himself a whore (or manly equivalent?) in light of his many girlfriends out of wedlock?

  38. I am reading through Justin Holcomb’s Church Discipline information (posted yesterday) and reading Mark Driscoll’s incredulous ‘testimony’ one more time.

    I want to bring attention to a couple of things he wrote.

    “The seasoned pastor motioned for me to follow him as he sped off to catch up with the woman. I stood quietly by, hoping to learn from his example, and I was not disappointed.

    He kindly and calmly asked the woman to please share what was wrong so that he could lovingly serve her.”

    Lovingly SERVE her? Sounds like Sovereign Grace Ministries.

    “As she was sitting in the church service with their children, her husband to whom she was still legally married sat a few rows in front of her . . . with his adulterous girlfriend. Apparently not noticing his wife and children seated behind him, the man proceeded to enjoy the sermon, nodding his head and responding with the occasional “amen” while snuggling with his girlfriend and giving her the occasional romantic glance and kiss on the lips.

    The man’s wife and young children were watching all of this transpire. Obviously confused, the young children began asking their mommy why Daddy was in the church with another woman.”

    I’m sorry, but I’d have to see this to believe it. It sounds like a made up story to me.

    (comment has been edited thanks to Wenatchee The Hatchett’s kind correction)

  39. Those in disrepair coming to jobs which spotlight their corruption reminds me of the Peter Principle, “in a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence”
    Key words for me in the current context are “hierarchy” and “employee” (aka hireling).

  40. Deb –

    It’s the woman’s fault. The wife does not do the right things to keep her man or the adulterous woman
    takes the husband.

    I’d like to read MD’s testimony. I never hear about his mother or father. What was his life like?

  41. Having left one of the recent church plants, the Lead (campus) pastor shared something very disturbing over the pulpit. (He didn’t see it as disturbing, FWIW)
    Apparently, he moved to main campus with the intention/understanding of doing the Acts29 training and planting an Acts29 church in the area he is now in. He shared that they were getting ready to “go”, and he was asked to meet with MD and other elders. They proposed that instead of him planting an Acts29 church, he open a MH campus. Think about what this entails as far as being a somewhat independent A29 plant vs. being a MH campus. He shared that at first he didn’t want to, but then he realized it was the “sin of pride” and so he agreed. (!!!!!)
    It was profitable to MD and MH to do this because it took them into an new state and expanded their market.
    Oh, and it was 6.4 million he asked people to contribute in Nov. & Dec.:
    I forgot to mention that after we were shunned, the main campus still was contacting my references from my children’s ministry application. And we also received letters in the mail asking us to contribute to that 6.4 million. Apparently everyone DID NOT get the shunning memo in our case. LOL

  42. Sophia (Free),

    Here’s what I believe you need to do this weekend. You and your hubby need to go out and CELEBRATE that the Holy Spirit revealed the truth about Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill and that you are indeed FREE!!!

  43. Dee,

    Great post! I appreciate you and Deb continuing to keep us informed of false teachers like Driscoll and the dangers of following them.


    Congratulations on the birth of your grandson! How tragic that your daughter cannot or will not, due to cultic pressures, contact you and invite you to be part of this special time. It breaks my heart to think about you raising and loving and taking care of your daughters and now being rejected and abandoned by them.

    Although I can’t comprehend the pain you must be feeling, I can idenitfy in a small way. My brother is also an authoritarian Calvinista pastor who has effectively abandoned his family of origin. His wife has absolutely nothing to do with us (several in-laws and nieces and nephews). She and their son stayed home and didn’t show up at our family Christmas gathering. My Calvinista brother had very little to say, and things were extremely awkward. I think he showed up because he feels an obligation to our mother.

    Apparently, if your beliefs don’t line up with theirs and if you don’t support what they teach, preach, and live, you get ousted. Frankie, I’m very sorry this is happening to you. My prayer is that you’ll be reconciled to your daughters and have the opportunity to be the loving and doting grandmother I know you want to be.

  44. Wenatchee The Hatchett,

    Oh My GOSH! I glossed over those preliminary words by Justin Holcomb and went straight to the supposed testimony about adultery. Those were Driscoll’s words. Now I’m really mad!

    Thanks for pointing that out. I will edit my comment so no one is misled by what I wrote.

  45. Wendy,

    That was a very compassionate comment to Frankie. I’d like to continue our private e-mail discussion soon because there was more I wanted to share with you. Please give me an update when you have time.

    Blessings to you and your family.

  46. Let’s rewrite the story a bit, as it should read.

    “As she was sitting in the church service with their children, her adulterous husband to whom she was still legally married sat a few rows in front of her . . . with his girlfriend.”

    “On the other hand, the whorish man and his girlfriend would be welcome in the church only if they repented of their sin and lived as Christians.”

    The nerve of them to JUDGE the woman this way. How do they know that she KNEW he was married to begin with? How do they know they were sleeping together?

    I also believe this story was contrived in order to put something on the website. I doubt it even happened. It does certainly reveal the stance of the pastor concerning who is at fault in any marital problems- a WOMAN. They judged the girlfriend as much as the Pharisees did with the adulterous woman in John 8. Even this innocent girl wasn’t even an adulterer! What judgmental hypocrites!

  47. My hope is that others will see the signs…because it is truly a slow grooming before you know what has happened it is too late! — Frankie

    The only times I have heard the term “slow grooming” before this all had to do with pedophiles stalking and entrapping and preparing their prey. Think about it.

  48. I’m sorry, but I’d have to see this to believe it. It sounds like a made up story to me. — Deb

    Maybe MD Saw It All In A Vision (TM)?

    “I SEE Things!” — MD
    (Unknowingly echoing “Israel 666”, a character from the glory days of Tucson Public-Access TV.)

  49. My note: the pastor supposedly “confirmed” his adultery with the husband. Really? In the lobby of the church he asked if they were intimate and the man responded? He should have punched the guys lights out in such a confrontational manner. Even Nathan didn’t confront David in such a hostile way.
    It still doesn’t excuse the blatant misogynistic language he used with regards to the “girlfriend.”

  50. Sophia @ 12:12

    Any independent thinking or hearing from God that is “different” than the leader’s conclusion can ALWAYS be marked off as the “sin of pride” by the authoritarian leader. Leaders often plant the seed themselves. As they develop new leaders, it is common for the new leader to perpetuate this same tactic, knowingly or unknowingly. I I believe that there are spiritually abused leaders, under such leaders, who don’t realize they are!

  51. Deb, the story that Driscoll told about the adulterous man is very suspect. I don’t believe it!

  52. Justin Holcomb’s next line is essential to understanding a core purpose of Mars Hill/Acts 29: to sell books and DVDs by Driscoll and his friends.

    “The following is from a chapter in Pastor Mark Driscoll’s book, Vintage Church, entitled, “What is Church Discipline?” (linked to We offer this to give a full description of our theology and process for church discipline as possible.”

    Mars Hill/Acts 29 not only shamelessly promotes the media products of Driscoll and his circle, but requires its church planters to use those products exclusively.

    Lay people are strongly “encouraged” to read books that aren’t on the approved list, and ideas imported from beyond the sacred shelf are not tolerated by the heavy handed owner-operators of this franchised book club/cult.

  53. Kent,

    Excellent point! It’s not just Mars Hill and Acts 29 that promote Driscoll’s books.

    My daughter was involved in Campus Crusade for Christ for all four years of her college career. She decided to get involved in leadership, so right before the start of the school year she attended a leadership retreat. But here’s the catch, in order to attend the retreat she had to purchase and read in its entirety Driscoll’s book RADICAL REFORMISSION. I know that it was the summer of 2008 because I didn’t know anything about Mark Driscoll. How can I be so sure about the year? Because the following February, Driscoll came and spoke to my daughter’s Campus Crusade group. The question and answer session at the end covered some of the same graphic topics included in Real Marriage. I will soon mark the third anniversary of Driscoll’s notorious visit in a blog post. Here is one of the questions I will be asking:

    Does “CRU” (as CCC is now called) still promote Driscoll’s books and invite him to speak? And if so, WHY?

  54. This is a sad story. I read Andrew’s story and could not believe it.

    The emphasis of sexuality gets my attention. Obviously some of the things they say, and the way they say them, do not sit well with me. But I have suspicions that go beyond that.

    I believe that it is instructive to note that the Mars Hill people acknowledged that others have read about Andrew’s story, by saying that they did not want to get into that one example. A commenter above mentioned that, and I agree.

    Mars Hill is facing, I believe, the embarrassment that comes when a story about a position a church has taken is placed in public for viewing and comment. This happens all the time.

    Churches do and say things all the time that look and sound quite reasonable to the people in the church, when discussed in the church. We are often talking about a practice or policy that is not directly stated in scripture, but is an inference of an inference of an inference from a scriptural passage. The Church then takes this policy or action as being from God as much as the 10 Commandments, if not more so.

    But when the policy or practice is simply disclosed in public (it often doesn’t even require accompanying commentary), it is embarrassing because in the public light the policy or practice is immediately seen as extreme, ridiculous, unsupportable etc., even by those people who agree with the policy or practice. They have to start explaining, parsing, juxtaposing etc.

    I am glad that you have posted these stories. The “I see things” video was enough for me. I believe that if our pastor said that, he would be fired or sent to get professional help. I know that I would work torward that end.

    Maybe as time goes on, things will change.

    I believe that is what is happening with Mahaney. You said he was starting a new church that will be in the SBC. To me, that shows that he is seeking to shed some of the problems that policies at his past churches experienced by running away from them. What the new church will be like is anybody’s guess. If he is agreeing with the Baptist Faith and Message on polity issues, that is a big change from his past polity beliefs, from what I can tell. I am doubtful, as Leopards don’t change their spots.

    But is it the same phenomena – a reaction to stories that simply expose what is going on to the general public. And the embarrassment that brings.

    Sunlight is a great antiseptic.

    Keep it up.

  55. Has anyone noticed that every time MD tells a story that doesn’t quite sound believable, it’s always a story that somehow entails sex and a woman being at fault?

    I’m just saying.

  56. Anonymous said:

    “I believe that is what is happening with Mahaney. You said he was starting a new church that will be in the SBC.”

    Mahaney’s affiliation with the SBC when he starts his new church is strictly a theory. We will just have to wait and see…

    Great points in your comment, Anonymous! We do plan to keep up our investigation.

  57. sad – he usually focuses on sex, but not exclusively. Ever hear/read the one about the man with the machete who supposedly rushed MD while he was onstage?

  58. “TedS,

    I agree Holcomb was conscripted. That’s what I was getting at earlier. I agree Martian ministry precedent is to recruit people renowned for what they do to homebrew a Martian ministry and then there’s this habit of cutting men loose once the ministry has “outgrown the kingly gifts” of the person who was put in place”

    Coming from the mega world and church as business mentality, I understand this perfectly. These guys have mortgages. Trust me when I tell you they all live in constant fear of the money flow drying up. And for some reason, they never seen to connect the dots of what happened to others who fell on their swords for the great leader and the organization. It is uncanny. And it shows a huge lack of wisdom and discernment.

    The boilerplate statement was an attempt to change the subject…not just a defense: Give them a church disciple example that no real Christian could disagree with to deflect from Andrew.

  59. ” If he is agreeing with the Baptist Faith and Message on polity issues, that is a big change from his past polity beliefs, from what I can tell. I am doubtful, as Leopards don’t change their spots. ”

    What is strange about this statement is Al Mohler’s statements to the Courier Journal when Mahaney stepped down. Mohler agreed with Mahaney’s leadership/polity and pretty much said the problem was that the bloggers just did not like it. I think the SBC has much to fear from Mohler’s close relationship with all of these authoritarian leaders. I think Mohler approves of their polity and would love to see all of the SBC move in that direction. I also believe it is what the young minds and future pastors at SBTS are being taught.

  60. Driscoll just tweeted a link to this. The language in this makes me crazy. The language of “ownership.” The only owner is the one who saves us – not his supposed servants. I am trying my very best to avoid swearing, but…

  61. Frankie,

    I too have a difficult time understanding how otherwise intelligent and well educated daughters such as your own get reeled in by these kinds of hucksters. In this case it’s Driscoll, but in other untold stories from concerned parents throughout the land, it could just as well be L. Ron Hubbard or Benny Hinn.

    Take heart Frankie and bear up in the hope that it’s just youthful idealism and exuberance that’s messed with your daughters’ common sense brakes. My son got briefly reeled in by a cultish evangelical group in Arizona some years back, but he grew up and learned to resolve the difference between what’s Biblical & the bovine scatology his Dad refers to as “biblical-shmiblical”.

    With any luck, the guiding hand of Providence will do the same for your daughters too. Just love them and be there for them no matter what, for if and when their belief system comes crashing down and depending upon the degree of human wreckage that’s left, they’re going to need you more than they ever knew.

  62. Kent,

    “Lay people are strongly “encouraged” to read books that aren’t on the approved list,”

    is that “discouraged”?

    I think it must be. Groups that have approved reading lists don’t generally like anyone thinking outside their box!


  63. Bill
    I think this may be his response to those of us who suggest people reconsider joining a church if it means signing a membership contract or “covenant” to us a Christian euphemism. Once you do that, they “own” you so to speak and can impose embarrassing discipline by outing you to the congregation. They cannot do that to you if you are not a member and, in fact, you can proceed with litigation against the church if they do so. These hyper authoritarian bullies want you so they can control you and protect their sorry hides from a lawsuit.

    That is why we advise that people not sign these contracts. Most churches allow you to participate in almost all of their activities as a nonmember. Sure, you can’t become a deacon or an elder but why would you in such a church? Plus, over 50% of church members are women and can’t do anything significant within this sort of a church anyway.

  64. Numo

    That story has been blown out of proportion from what I have heard. Did you know that I couldn’t find any newspaper stories about this? Don’t you think a guy with a machete rushing a pulpit would make the news? i have heard from one guy who said it was a small knife and he didn’t get past security. Can you imagine what else Driscoll might claim as the “gospel” truth. (l am thinking about the pornovisions.)

  65. sad
    There are quite a few people who are beginning to see this. And it is very bizarre and possibly may point to a serious underlying problem.

  66. Mark
    I think he is getting visions from ? (self, schizophrenia, someone else, other ideas) and is mixing reality up with hallucinations. This at least sound better than outright lying,

  67. Anon1:

    I sure hope not.

    The involvement of educated and strong lay leadership that is not just a rubber stamp board and the congregation is a huge help to the congregation AND the pastoral leadership.

    And some of the most abusive leadership I have ever witnessed was in a total congregational polity setting because the ones the pastor had not hoodwinked were in the definite minority and could be shouted down by the majority.

    We’ll see, I guess.

  68. HUG
    I have thought about this. We come from an experience with a church and a pedophile and I can tell you it is weird.Way too many Christians actually believes that with enough prayer, the pedophile can be healed or cured and does not need to go to jail.

  69. Dee – I think he is literally delusional, from the sound of things. (In his new book he talks about an extremely vivid nightmare re. his wife that he interpreted as a “vision” – ??!! Of course, it’s salacious.)

  70. Numo

    It’s kinda like me. I have been on a low carb diet and it has done well for me. But, I have often have visions of artisan bread and pasta on regular occasions. I imagine people indulging in berry cobblers and hot fudge sundaes. However, I do not wake my husband up in the morning and say “Hey, when you were late last night, were you diving into a profiterole au chocolate?” If I did so, he would take me to a psychiatrist.

  71. Much of what comes out of Driscoll is the byproduct that comes out of the south end of a north facing donkey half-breed after grazing, and it makes him that south end of the north facing donkey, a jackass’s arse. It is useful only after composting and then as fertilizer for non-edible plants.

  72. Heather
    I am such a rebel. If I was given an approved list, I would make sure not to read one book. on the list. in fact, when a former church removed a couple of books from the library, i made sure to read those. I get tired of people who push their agendas through books. For that reason, I use an NIV as a way to protest those who believe that the ESV or the KJV or the NASB as the “correct” Bibles. Bet i can argue Scriptures with the best of those who propose the “correct” versions. One only has to look at Driscoll to see that his endorsements of certain books have not done much for his walk.

  73. Muff
    Your answer to Frankie is the reason I am so glad you take the time to comment on this blog! Awesome.

  74. Deb
    Yeah, that was a TWW “vision”. I saw Mahaney in a vision kissing up to Mohler, et al – Whoops, it already happened.

  75. Anonymous
    Thank you for getting what we are trying to do. “Sunlight is a great antiseptic.” Far too many people accuse of us tearing down the church. Well, if Driscoll represents God’s church then it needs to be scrutinized in light of Scripture.
    BTW, how many prophets had in-depth pornovision, right down to the clothes worn and the color of the bedspread?

  76. Sophia

    The NLT huh? If Calvin was alive, he would make sure you received the second beheading of his administration! 🙂

  77. There is an interesting paragraph in the post linked to at the top of this article. It reads as follows:

    If members of our church or those who regularly participate in church activities are found guilty, they may be dismissed from the church by the agreement of the elder court. The dismissal of a church member may be made known to all church members. If the offense is a publicly known matter, the executive elders (our senior team of elders) have the discretion to determine if the member’s discipline should be made known to the entire church. The Bible does not support an appeal process by the one being removed from fellowship unless true repentance is demonstrated, and so we do not practice it, in general. To do so could allow an unrepentant sinner to take months or even years of various elders’ time and wreak absolute havoc in the church by continually fighting for a different verdict.

    This statement alone flies in the face of the concept of “Reformed/Presbyterian church governance”. The Reformed do have an appeals process for those being removed from fellowship – they are allowed to appeal to Presbytery. In the event that doesn’t work, they also have the right to appeal the Presbytery’s decision to General Assembly.

    The reason for this is that the Reformed churches have historically recognized that you could have a rogue session of elders, and for that matter, a rogue Presbytery as well! The appeals process exists to ensure that the discipline case receives a fair and unbiased hearing – something that can’t happen at Mars Hill, because it is self-contained and is a mockery of elder governance.

    Yet, Driscoll will still get identified as “reformed” by those who either don’t know any better, or are historically unaware, and the church I love will get yet another black eye…

  78. That “own vs. rent” article is ironic,when you consider that the leaders of these MH clone congregations are, in fact, renting their visions from MD instead of doing the hard work of praying, studying the neighborhood, and coming up with a unique vision for their own flock. And MD apparently wants them to clone MH.

    Btw, what the heck color is “hot beige?”

  79. Eagle,

    I’m already bored with Jefferson Bethke. All of this was orchestrated for the glory of Mark Driscoll. 🙁

  80. Best news of the day:
    Comment 13
    Larry Sonnenburg, President of NLM, gave me permission to quote his email (see below). I then replied to that asking a few questions, and I am quoting his reply underneath.

    “Dear ____,
    I want to apologize to you for my slow response to your concern about Mark Driscoll appearing on our radio program. I had a heavy travel schedule of late…

    “I want you to know that we acknowledge the mistake we made having him on the program, and I take responsibility for that. When the request came in, I shared with the person handling the request that I had seen him speak a few years back at a church denominational function, and he gave an outstanding talk on knowing our Christology. I was quite impressed with him. I was not aware of the issues you and a few others brought up. I promise that we’ll do a better job screening guests in the future.

    “Thank you for your understanding, and please forgive us for not doing a better job screening.

    Larry Sonnenburg
    New Life Ministries

    These are the questions I included in my email response:

    “1) May I quote you in your email in a new post on my blog?
    2) Will there be any kind of public retraction?
    3) Will Driscoll’s book be pulled from NLM’s website and bookstore? (it may already be so, I have not yet checked)”

    He replied with,

    “Yes, you may quote my email in your blog. We are not thinking of doing a public retraction—we think it will bring more attention to it, and to people who didn’t hear it the first time and we’d like to not do that. Over a week ago I asked for his book to be pulled and the radio broadcast he was on to be taken out of the archives on our website.

    “I appreciate your support of New Life, financially and as an ambassador to others. All we want to do is present the truth in a truthful way and help people who are hurting and confused find healing and hope.

    “Yours in Christ,


  81. Sophia (Free),

    Thanks for sharing this important information about New Life Ministries. Stephen Arterburn is the Chairman of this ministry according to Charity Navigator New Life Ministries

    Arterburn co-wrote an important book with Jack Felton called TOXIC FAITH, which we have reviewed here at TWW. It was excellent! It reminded me of Jeff VanVonderen’s book The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse. I need to pull Toxic Faith out and read through it again. There is no question that some of the info. in the book could be applied to Mars Hill Church.

  82. And now the defence based on Church Growth, from an @PastorMark Tweet this morning: “Prayer appreciated – Mars Hill has grown by 5000 in 2 weeks. Lots of new hurting people & struggling marriages to serve. It’s a great honor.”

  83. Dee, I’m with you. When I was at CLC, I never read any of the approved books unless we “had to” for care group. My friend at one time stocked the CLC bookstore, and I used to read books by New Life Ministries authors just to get her going.

    On another note, the more I read about (and experience) various pastors, the more I wonder how many of them have some type of mental illness?!

  84. Here is what I have a huge problem with. Andrew confessed his sin and claimed to be in repentance. And according to Matthew 18, he really only had to confess to his girlfriend because he sinned against her (and with her) and God. (Matthew 18 is about “personal offenses”)

    In fact, Mars Hill is totally ignoring 1 John:

    8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

    This is how we know MH is a false church. Beware.

  85. The discipline contract is equivalent to Catholic penance. From my seat, they are adding works to grace.

  86. Dee:

    I sent the 2 stories regarding Andrew to our pastor and one of our other elders. Haven’t talked to the pastor yet, but the elder and I spoke briefly at church today, and he could not believe the “Discipline Contract.”

    He also has seen the “I see things” video, and can’t believe it.

    Again, we really don’t talk about this stuff or other pastors in our church. But it is good to know what’s going on out there.

    Churches really can’t complain, in my opinion, if all you and Deb are doing is just posting what Churches are doing.

    I mean, Mars Hill wrote the discipline contract. How can telling the story be “tearing someone down.”

    Now, a blog site could have that as its goal, but it would not be accomplished by the fair and accurate reporting of what is going on.

  87. Agree with the comparison of the contract to adding works to grace. Interestingly, though, Catholic penance is supposed to console the sinner–there was a big debate in the late middle ages over whether having the priest say “God forgives you” or “I forgive you” would bring more reassurance of forgiveness. Not much consolation in the MH discipline contract, just more shame as the sinner has to confess more and more detail to more and more people. When the Christ you want your pastors (and indeed all men) to imitate is Christ the coming judge and not Christ the suffering servant and redeemer, this is what you get–judgment instead of grace.

  88. In addition to what Amy said, penance is private… there’s no public retailing of one’s sins, or public repentance for such, and definitely no contracts.

    Agree with the commenter who mentioned 1 John as well.

  89. Former CLC’er wrote

    On another note, the more I read about (and experience) various pastors, the more I wonder how many of them have some type of mental illness?!

    You’re not the only one who’s been wondering about this…!

  90. I “third” 1 John 1:8-9. No hoops to jump, no grace-dispensing group leaders– just our confession and a faithful and just God who forgives sins.
    On the sins topic, I noticed the Driscoll book-chapter has a couple additional references to “gross” sins. Any Calvin students out there help me out here please. Does this “gross” vs “refined” sins distinction, with harsher judgement on the “gross” variety of sinners, trace back in part to him?

  91. i have heard from one guy who said it was a small knife and he didn’t get past security. — Dee
    Aww, but that wouldn’t make Driscoll into The CELEBRITY Hero, Facing Terrible Persecution for the Truth.

    Can you imagine what else Driscoll might claim as the “gospel” truth? (I am thinking about the pornovisions.) — Dee

    Which are probably an expression of sexual fantasies which CELEBRITY Megachurch Apostles are not supposed to have.

    Yeah, that was a TWW “vision”. I saw Mahaney in a vision kissing up to Mohler, et al – Whoops, it already happened. — Dee

    “I saw Mahaney kissing Santa Claus…” (sorry, couldn’t resist…)

    On another note, the more I read about (and experience) various pastors, the more I wonder how many of them have some type of mental illness?! — Former CLCer and Numo

    I assume you’ve heard the theory that a lot of psychiatrists & psychologists have a secret mental illness and they became a shrink so they could self-treat without having to go public? This is just the Christianese version of it.

    Since a lot of these churches have an internal dynamic like chickens pecking a defective to death in the barnyard, the Alpha Male/Apostle on top especially can’t show any sign of weakness or imperfection. It’s like a feral dog pack, Except CHRISTIAN(TM). And think what I just said.

  92. “gross” vs “refined” sins distinction”

    Mortal versus venial sins? I don’t know.

    I pray every week in church and the priest reminds me of my forgiveness. I don’t have to sign a contract. (And, I am not Catholic)

    Andrew did not receive grace from MH, but condemnation and public shame. What boggles my mind is that people willingly sign up and subject themselves to this!

  93. I’ve read good articles (written by and for high-church-type folks) on the personality types of many who seem drawn to the priesthood/ministry. Not surprisingly, there’s a subset that seems to feed off the praise of others for their “onstage” performance.

    The thing is, most of the high church (and other mainline denoms) try to work with those in seminary to weed out less suitable candidates for pastoral work. (Of course, that only works if the seminaries are well-run, but still…) But with independent denoms, there are generally no controls except those set by the pastor(s). And if the pastor(s) happen to be emotionally unstable, well…

    Too many people have paid for the sins and problems of those who are On High.

  94. Of course, there’s also the deal with egocentric/narcissistic people wanting their Very Own Reality Show.

    Church is ideal for showboating and flashing $$$ if that’s your particular bent.

  95. I am one of the men fired the day of Mark’s rant about two elders he felt needed broken noses. Someone asked what has happened since that day.
    I am happy to say, the next Sunday my wife and I attended another Church with far better expository teaching and a community that authentically and generously helps the marginalized.
    I also finished my master program and have a private mental health practice serving the Seattle and Eastside area. This was a very good and satisfying result.
    Regarding whether I spoke up or not. I have not been silenced by any direct or implied threats of retaliation. It is clear that the one who possess the air waves controls the content and spin of a story, so there was not much to be done.
    I thought a lot about how I would response and just what my motives would be. I chose not to be lured into a public argument through the Seattle Times asking me for a blow by blow description of the events I have documented. I have a tendency to keep material for years and years.
    I did prepare my narrative, including supporting documents, for members only to read who came to me for explanation. They had to agree never to disclose any of it to the media. These people have been honorable. As best I know, none have. By doing this I opened up myself to their scrutiny and possible rebuke. I have received nothing but kindness and support.
    As to my motives, I want Mark’s best. In my opinion he is a very troubled man. He is caught in his own hell. The consequence, of course, is the influence he has on others, which is mixed.
    He, Lief Moi, and Mike Gunn, together the founders of Mars Hill Church, sent out to focus on those that were young, upwardly mobile and future leaders. They wanted to position themselves to influence their faith decisions and their life choices. This is a lesson for many church leaders to learn from and choose for themselves.
    The downside is Mark’s pathology shows up in ways that are impulsive, aggressive, irascible, shut off from effective relational influence, and most apparent not respectful and submissive to anyone, though he claims otherwise.
    I have hoped and still hope for something short of him destroying himself that would bring about substantial change for this ever increasing population of worshiper. Some have fretted there will be a great loss of Christians with the demise of Mark and/or the Church. I don’t think so. The church that comprises all of us will survive. The chaff will be blown away, but the church will remain.
    I would speak a caution to all of us. There is much to be learn for the Mars Hill phenomena. Don’t dismiss the hunger and openness to be influenced represented in those ages 18 through 30. Invent content that is useful and distribute it freely on the web. Always incorporate creatively some explanation of the gospel at the end of every teaching session with an invitation to do business with Jesus.
    Even though Mark’s portrayal of masculinity is more like a comic book superhero and women needing to be protected and rescued is his focus, young men coming into manhood is richly important. Absent fathers is epidemic. Think about what it is that has caused them not to attach to their families. Mark comes at it from the standpoint of duty and responsibility, which is mechanical, missing other primary questions. Why do so many men not attach to their families? Why do they abandon family so easily? Mark uses shame and intimidation as the means of gaining compliance, which has the appearance of working, but is not transformational in the long run, or creates other issues of abusive relationships related to power and control. In many men, the tendency is understood in the short saying, “Monkey see monkey do.” Don’t over react, young men need to mature.
    I feel like I need to give attention to the needs of women with equal if not more space since women are marginalized and silenced in so many ways. But, I will leave that for another time.
    I hope this will satisfy the primary curiosity of those who wonder what has happened to me. I will say, the other elder fired at the same times is a good friend and is doing well.

  96. Anonymous,

    Thank you for sharing Andrew’s testimony with your pastor. I believe it’s important to get the truth out regarding what is going on inside Mars Hill. If this is how they control their members, then we need to speak out against it. Here at TWW, we are in pursuit of the truth.

  97. Thank you all for your warm and comforting words…Yesterday was my birthday and the gift I received from my son in law and his Mars Hill family was to block every single way for me to even get a glimpse of my daughter or my grandson….So evil…I must really be a threat! I am still praying that sooner rather then later all will be revealed and my daughter will see the light…I miss her…
    Still trying to keep the faith….

  98. Frankie, is it possible that your daughter and son-in-law think you have interfered in their marriage?

  99. Jimmy
    Before you go down this path, I want you to know I already thought of that possibility. However, I have been at this game for a long time, hearing such stories from parents who have lost their kids in other churches. her story has a number of elements that lead me to believe she is telling the truth. i would tread cautiously in order to not bring more pain to a sad situation.

  100. Jimmy—

    Considering their actions, it seems quite apparent that’s what they think. You wouldn’t do that if you DIDN’T think someone was interfering in your marriage now would you?

  101. Bent
    Wow. Thank you for your comment. It was most unexpected.We would be most interested in posting your story. Driscoll’s general demeanor is both threatening and arrogant. Some of the stories that we have posted here and read about elsewhere are most disconcerting to many people who consider themselves part of the greater evangelical community. We would also be interested on your take on women and the church.

    I am so glad you are doing well. I bet you are an awesome counselor. The best counselors are the ones who have experienced a heart felt pain themselves. i am sorry for what happened to you. And I am so glad that you have found a real church community. That can be hard for some.

    If you would ever be interested in writing a post or our blog, please contact us through our email.

  102. Mark
    A group of friends and I had a good discussion about churches. I told them with all the stuff going on in this postevangelical climate, liturgy which has been vetted over centuries sounds better and better to me. And ,from this point forward, no more contracts for me either.

  103. Another thing.

    IF (and this is a huge if, Frankie, you understand I don’t think so.”

    IF Frankie were actually interfering in the marriages of her daughters, it is really the job of the daughters to set the boundaries, not her son-in-laws.

    With her son-in-laws doing the cutting off, all this can really be is a power struggle and hostile take over. The old authority, the mother, is being ousted by the new authority, the husbands. And it is wrong.

    Nor would it be right for the husbands to coerce their wives to cut off their mother if the wives are not seeing the issues. The husbands can suggest and appeal and even ask someone else to talk to their wives about it in an objective situation. But to do the cutting off themselves??? Those husbands are stealing away authority that does not belong to them and they need to back off.

  104. Anonymous
    Once again, thank you so much. You get it. You made my day!

    It was my shock and horror that I experienced when I saw something in a previous church that changed me forever. I used to be such a Pollyanna. I had been in great churches with wonderful pastors (except for a short stint in Ed Young Jrs church but I thought of that as an anomaly). I started reading and then starting speaking with people who were deeply hurt and confused by churches. The stories had certain themes that made me see patterns. Deb and I would spend hours discussing our concerns. That is why we are here. To alert the greater Christian community to the bizarre nature of some of these post-evangelical leaders.

  105. Anon1
    I agree with you. This discipline stuff is getting out of control. Mars Hill is not the only church which is going down this path. I am becoming more convinced that people should hesitate before signing membership covenants.

  106. Bent Meyer,

    Welcome to TWW! We are honored that you would take the time to comment here. I echo what Dee said. I’m glad you are doing well, and I am sorry for the pain you and your loved ones have obviously experienced. Please know that we are keeping you, the other elder that was fired, and the Mars Hill community in our prayers.

    Blessings to you.

  107. Former CLC’er

    Glad to hear there is another rebel amongst us! I believe that some people seek the pulpit to satisfy a fragile ego. Where else can you get people to listen in silence to you on a regular basis? And, in the case of the hyper-authoritarian individual (as an ex CLC’er – you know what I mean), have influence over people who desperately want to serve God correctly. So, he gets to define how this looks. This unquestioning adoration/power can lead to a vicious cycle, causing the already fragile ego to desire more and more power to conceal the desperate insecurity inside.

    Thankfully, I have known such wonderful pastors in my life: Wade Burleson, Pete Briscoe, Paul Toms and a couple of others to keep me from becoming totally cynical.

  108. Bill
    Driscoll is sounding more and more troubled as time goes by. I wonder- how does he know that lots of those people have hurting marriages – more pornovision? Do people really show up at his churches, stand up and announce “I have a struggling marriage?”

    How would he learn this from 5000 people in 2 weeks?

  109. “Do people really show up at his churches, stand up and announce”I have a struggling marriage?” How would he learn this from 5000 people in 2 weeks?”

    How long ago was his new book released? He’s probably assuming that all these newcomers have come to MH as a result of the publicity generated by the book. Ergo, they must be seeking his help for their marriages… It would square with what we’ve seen recently.

  110. Amy
    Thank you for a laugh tonight. “Renting the visions”-that is funny and all to true at the same time.

  111. Mara
    I was talking about your “Sucks to be you” Gospel with some friends after church today. You have no idea how many people laugh when I tell them this.
    I also agree with you comment. These guys are getting this from Driscoll who tells his people that he monitors all of his wife’s emails. Weird. And he is passing this weirdness down to Frankie’s wet behind the ears, 22 year old husband.

    Who could be so cruel as to not tell a grandmother about her new grandchild? Boundaries??? That is deliberate cruelty.

  112. I think part of the numbers MD is talking about are from the church “plant” in that barren mission field, Orange County, CA where churches are truly few and far between. They had over 600 people come out to their ‘marketing events’ (my term) early last year in the OC. If they’ve added 5,000 people, it’s transfer growth. And his “hurting” people line is pure projection.

  113. The long and short of it is that I actually tread TOO lightly! My daughter and I where attached at the hip until she said “I DO!” I had no idea he was controlling her. I waited to hear from them…they were newlyweds. I never popped over, ever! My daughter was acting like a Stepford wife. I never saw her alone. Once I got upset that his family and the other MH people were snubbing me, along with how weird she was acting and I asked her why. She said she didn’t know. The next day I received a text from her husband. He came to my home and began telling me the rules — what I had to do to have a relationship with her. I told him that I wanted to hear it from her and told him to leave. I then was completely cut off. Trust me when I say…. I am NOT the meddling Mother in these situation. I found out that the other mother is quite the puppet master, all the while looking like the good submitting wife! I found out that my SIL got advice from the Elders on how to get me out of the way…These are really ugly jealous fake people who are surrounding her and her sister with all MH people convincing then this is what Jesus wants. I am in the way…. My heart is so broken for my girl because I know she loves me and wants to see me, but she is so deep into this role she has become that my only hope is for the truth and love to bust through all of this nastiness. At this point those who reach out to her — members of my family, friends, co-workers — are cut out and blocked! It is beyond my comprehension! I am really in shock! These are messed up people, and they have hijacked my family and have no remorse! It is beyond bizarre! if it wasn’t happening to me, I would find it hard to understand! I still don’t know how the heck I got here! So…NO I WAS NOT A BUTTINSKI MIL!!! Please pray for the truth to be revealed, and for my baby and her baby! I have sought counseling for myself…UGH!

  114. Dear Bent,

    I am so glad you commented here. It is nice to hear that you and the other elder are doing well! I am so sorry that the whole situation happened to you.

    It seems that there are many, many more people with stories of abuse at Mars Hill. Thank you for standing up when you did, as when my husband and I started having questions and red flags, we were able to find your story. It confirmed for us that something was in fact rotten in Denmark.


  115. Bill

    ROFL….have you ever searched for churches on a google map in Southern California? It looks like a teenager with really bad acne.

    From what I know, Orange Co. is almost 100% transfer growth. It is cool to be Christian there.

  116. I know of a mega-church in my area that “grew” by 5000 last year. They actually picked up another campus – a church of approximately 5000 in a neighboring city pastored by the son-in-law of the mega-church’s senior pastor.

    They still showed up on a list of churches with the most growth last year.

  117. Numo,

    Many years ago my wife and I did a number of video projects with Maranatha! Music in the heart of the OC. I was being completely tongue in cheek.

    What Sophia said @11:30pm!

  118. Eagle, agreed. I know at least one guy who used to be a Christian who is an atheist now and Mars Hill helped that process along. Actually ex-Martians helped the process along, too, but not in any ways they could recognize.

    A friend of mine who left MH much earlier (around 2004) once told me when 2007 hit that it wouldn’t surprise him if some people just left the faith. It happened at Overlake, for those who know what that refers to. So at least some of us have given these things some thought.

    I don’t know if there are atheists and secular humanists in Seattle who are leading figures in those movements that were ex-Mars Hill. I think there WILL be but it may be too soon just yet for that or the leaders are playing low key roles in the secularist communities in Seattle at this point.

  119. Both atheism and MH are hopeless situations. At least in atheism you feel that you are free to do whatever you want. If a church makes you think atheism is better… LEAVE THAT CHURCH!!!!

  120. A year or two ago my adult son and his wife as well as a second adult son (all in their early twenties) started talking about Mark Driscoll and his “teaching”, which they found to be interesting – maybe even exciting. Thank God we do not live any where near Seattle. Having read this blog, I was able to alert them to be careful with MD and Mars Hill. I asked them to read some of the concerns.

  121. To finish my earlier post which I sent early, let me say my sons and son’s wife took my advice and moved on. Thanks to this blog and what it does. This is one of the real results of what is done here, and I thank you for it.

  122. @ Eagle & WTH

    I have heard at least 1 story that resulted in the person becoming agnostic due to the abuse and shunning that person received at MH. So yes, it is happening and it is sad, and it makes me MAD at the same time. God is a GOOD God, and the spiritual abuse that happens in authoritarian churches misrepresents our loving God. I wonder, if I am mad, how God feels about the topic…

  123. I’m sorry, but I still can’t get past the whole “there is no appeal process” issue that I posted above. The more I’ve ruminated on that statement, more potential problems have cropped up in mind.

    Mark Driscoll claims to be a Calvinist – yet where is the traditional Reformed conviction about continuing indwelling sin in the life of all believers? In other words, why does he seem to think that the problem of continuing indwelling sin (the flesh we must war against) applies only to the members of Mars Hill, and not to the leadership structure? I’d love to hear an answer to that question!

    The hermeneutic behind the statement that, “The Bible does not support an appeal process by the one being removed from fellowship unless true repentance is demonstrated…” is mind boggling. Again, given Mark Driscoll’s stated system of belief, i.e., Calvinism, he’s so far wide of that mark that it’s scary. Historically the Calvinist and Reformed do not limit themselves to deriving doctrine form explicit statements of Scripture, as doctrine can also be derived from the “good an necessary consequence” of statements of Scripture. Why is it that Mark Driscoll calls himself a Calvinist, when his doctrine and practice flies in the face of historically Calvinist and Reformed churches?

    I printed out a copy of this so-called “discipline contract” and showed it to 4 Presbyterian ministers, all representing conservative Reformed denominations (the PCA, OPC, and Free Church of Scotland); across the board, when they heard the situation that led to the “contract”, they where enraged. Across the board, they said the same thing: “Repentance had already been shown in this young man approaching his fianceé. Any further involvement by the elders should have been restorative, not punitive.” Not even in one of the most conservative Presbyterian bodies in the world would this sort of thing happened!!

    This is exactly the same sort of shaming and controlling behavior that I saw in the New Testament Christian Churches of America when I was in the Army.

    Ladies, I feel absolutely justified in saying that Mars Hill’s idea of “discipline” is the exact same idea that at least one (if not more) cults practice.

    Κύριε, ελέησον.

  124. Eagle
    You said “Now the Neo-Calvinists will come back and say that they were never a Christian to begin with.” i do not believe that and it has to do with my experience with folks like you. It is obvious you had a faith, you were abused and you are now agnostic. Here is why such a belieef is sick and could lead to problems. Far too many people walk around the church, fearful that they might not be saved. That is a direct result of some poor teaching on election. Deep down inside the average Calvinists is running around trying to “prove” to himself that he is saved. The election system is prone to this sad reality.

    Let me proclaim something to anyone who reads here. If you want to be a Christian and accept Jesus as your Savior you are saved! period! There is nothing you have to do to earn it and nothing you have to do to prove it. He desires that none would perish which means He wants you to be in relationship to Him. He wants you and loves you. Be at peace, He is faithful to you even when you screw up and are not faithful, obedient, whatever. That is grace and we need to rest in it.

    In fact, if you are worried about being saved, this is most likely proof that you are. Those who don’t care about God couldn’t care less if they are saved.

  125. Robin
    This bears repeating “If a church makes you think atheism is better… LEAVE THAT CHURCH!” Applause.

  126. Doug

    Well, you managed to bring tears to my eyes today. We want to help people avoid some of the things we saw prior to this blog. For years, i have had this burning desire to follow trends in the faith. I knew all this stuff and didn’t know what to do with it beyond sharing it with friends. Then I found a friend who also shared a passion for this stuff and this blog was born. To hear that we may have helped your family…wow! Thank you so much for your encouragement.

  127. “These are messed up people, and they have hijacked my family and have no remorse! It is beyond bizarre! if it wasn’t happening to me, I would find it hard to understand!”


    My heart breaks for you. I can feel the pain and hurt in your words. It’s so hard to imagine the rejection by both of your daughters and what you must be going through.

    But your comment “if it wasn’t happening to me, I would find it hard to understand” resonates with me. As victims of Calvinista family alientation, it’s like being in the twilight zone. It’s like “what just happened?!?” It’s strange, swift, irrational, unbiblical, and twisted. It doesn’t make sense. Things seem normal before marriage, and then Bam! Your relationship with your family member is over!

    My family and I are experiencing alienation by my brother and his wife. I’m not the mother and grandmother in my situation, and by no means is this as painful to me as it is to you. And yet, it hurts me because I was so close to my brother. I am much older than he, and I was very involved in his upbringing. I literally was a second mother to him, so this has hit me very hard. He too laid out the rules for contact and relationship with he and his wife. Eventually, he told me that any contact they have will be on their terms – which is almost none. I suppose it’s like any cult – they must limit outside influences at all costs.

  128. Reformed Rebel – Well said. What is passed off as Reformed thinking by these men is not the historic Reformed faith in any way, shape or form.

    Eagle – I agree with your assessment of how damaging this can be. Although not specifically MH, I’ve seen so many blogs written by women who grew up in highly controlling and patriarchal families who now are atheists and want nothing to do with the church or Christ. It breaks my heart both for the daughter as well as the parents. In their zeal to do everything “right”, the parents alienated their own child to Christ. Do I believe that Christ can call that child back? Absolutely! But I grieve for what these daughters have lost both as children/youth and now adults.

    If we are angry and weep over these situations, can you imagine how Christ feels about all of this? Especially since the destruction is being done in His name? It is heartbreaking.

  129. to leave a church with controlling personality, send the following letter, return receipt requested (and tracking, in case the PO lets them have it without returning the card). Put the return receipt number on the heading of the letter (you can get the form with the number at the PO, before typing the letter).


    To the pastors and administrators at ____________ church.

    This letter is notice that I am not longer a member [attender] at _______________ church, effective with the date of this letter.

    As a non-member, I am no longer subject to any of your discipline as of (date on letter). After (date on letter), any publication, notice, or speaking about me by any church staff or recognized church leader is no longer authorized by me. Any negative remark or statement about me, any encouragement that people shun me, or any action other than deleting me from your records will be evaluated for possible legal action for libel or other tort claim against the individuals involved and the organization. If any one asks about me, refer them to me, any other action may result in a tort claim against you.

    YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. You must desist from any act that may harm me or my reputation or come between me and other persons of my acquaintance. Legal action may ensue.



    Of course, you will mail the letter on the date on the letter and they will not receive it for a couple of days thereafter. Keep a copy, print out the tracking showing when it was delivered, keep the green card or, if it is refused, the returned letter (they are legally responsible for the content if they refuse it). Document any response or any failure to comply. If they (leadership or staff) call, listen but do not talk, except to say “I disagree” if they make a false statement about you. Document the conversation. And take it to an attorney if they proceed to trash your reputation or that of your business. Do not respond by trashing the organization.

  130. Anyone see the crime show on TV (I think it was Who the Bleep did I Marry) where the church-going Seattle man just vanished one day, sparking a massive search? Eventually he was found alive and well in sunny southern California, having just abandoned his wife and young children? They didn’t mention whether he’d abandoned his “faith”. Perhaps he ended up at one of those OC church plants. Anyway, earlier in the show they didn’t verbalize the church he’d attended, but merely showed a sign, “Mars Hill Church”!

  131. The whole bleeping ecosystem– I suppose he meant the little lady’s family and friends, Martian or otherwise, but maybe he just got tired of all the rain!?

  132. …the church “plant” in that barren mission field, Orange County, CA where churches are truly few and far between.

    I live Behind the Orange Curtain, and we have churches on almost every block, from Trendy Megachurch physical plants like Crystal Cathedral and Saddleback to Reverend Joe Soap’s One True Church (a dozen strong) meeting in rented storefronts or halls. And a lot of them (like “Portal”, formerly Anaheim Baptist) are trying to out-trendoid each other. As for me, I go to my home parish of St Boniface, which has been there for 150 years since Anaheim was first founded (and during the Roaring Twenties led the anti-KKK resistance movement).

  133. From what I know, Orange Co. is almost 100% transfer growth. It is cool to be Christian there. — Sophia

    “Transfer Growth” — AKA Sheep Rustling.

  134. Driscoll is sounding more and more troubled as time goes by. I wonder- how does he know that lots of those people have hurting marriages – more pornovision? — Dee

    Probably. His Spiritual Vision TV seems stuck on a porn channel.

    “I See Things!”

  135. He, Lief Moi, and Mike Gunn, together the founders of Mars Hill Church, sent out to focus on those that were young, upwardly mobile and future leaders. They wanted to position themselves to influence their faith decisions and their life choices. — Bent Mayer

    i.e. Trying for a trickle-down effect. The usual side effect is “Christ is God of the Yuppies and the Yuppies alone — all the rest of us can go to Hell!”

    (In high school, this would be “Christ is for Football Jocks and Cheerleaders Alone.” And I have heard of “campus ministries” who target exactly that, ignoring to snubbing all the rest of us.)

  136. Bent,

    thank you for bravely posting! I have been following Mark Driscoll/Mars Hill for awhile now with quite a bit of concern. I would be very, very interested in hearing more of your thoughts on how Mars Hill hurts women and men specifically. If you feel that you could share more of those thoughts, please do!


  137. HUG
    Maybe I’m feeling the call to move to Anaheim and plant an ecumenical COTWW there. It’s been kinda cold here this winter. You could be my first elder and rustle the Catholic mutton while I rustle the Protestant mutton. Seeing as your county has more churches than my entire state. it’ll be more economical on gas.

  138. Maybe I’m feeling the call to move to Anaheim and plant an ecumenical COTWW there. It’s been kinda cold here this winter.

    Part of the Curse of the Rose Bowl. You see, no matter how bad the weather is around here at the end of December, New Years Day in Pasadena (Rose Parade & Rose Bowl is always sunny, clear, and perfect. Shirtsleeve daytime temperatures. ALWAYS.

    This gets broadcast all over the country, including areas under 10-20 feet of snow and ice and in the midst of blizzards. And starting on January 2, there’s a continuous caravan of U-Hauls with out-of-state plates from those snow/ice/blizzard states moving west on Route 66.

  139. A former pastor once taught that ones “call” may be of God, when everyone else is “called” to Florida, and you’re headed to Minnesota with a snow-shovel. Years later, I would take that quite literally– except it wasn’t Minnesota, but equally snowy.

  140. Amazingly, I went there after that same pastor, who was not vision-prone, had an honest-to-goodness vision of a man in that community praying for help. (Not exactly Driscollesque.) Some of us concluded that God had called us to preach the Gospel to them. In addition to the heavy snows, that community boasted the highest unemployment in the country, and we foolishly moved with no jobs lined in advance, and no “support”. Though the real praying man (a pastor) was located, some other pastors suspected we were there to steal their sheep. No “church plant” was done, BTW, but hopefully some Good News was preached.

  141. I keep thinking about the women in these authoritarian churches and marriages. How do you suppose they get so sucked in? Many of them seem just as adamant about submission and complementarianism as their husbands (or even more so). In some cases, I don’t think their husbands have trapped and brainwashed them in these relationships as much as they believe this is the way marriage, church, and life should be done. I have some personal experience with women who became dogmatic in their beliefs and lifestyle, not as much due to their husbands but what they were being taught and what they were reading.

    With Grace Driscoll, it’s pretty clear from her facial expressions, body language, and the way she defers to her husband when she is asked a question that she likely feels trapped in her situation for numerous reasons. I really feel for her. I can only imagine her frustrations. She probably feels obligated to cover for him and their marriage, ministry, and family.

    By the way, I just googled complementarianism to be sure I was spelling and using it correctly. The first phrase that pops up when you start spelling the word in the google box is “complementarianism mark driscoll”; the second phrase right underneath is “complementarianism john piper”. Interesting.

  142. It’s well worth reading the entire book chapter Mars Hill posted, because it gets worse as it goes on. The types of “false repentance” that they list are impossible to disprove. It only takes two elders to enact any discipline, including shunning. There is no confidentiality in church discipline or “biblical counseling”, and when Mars Hill refers members to outside counselors, the member is asked to waive their right to confidentiality with the outside counselor. (No ethical counselor would be okay with this arrangement.) There is no church discipline appeal process. Mars Hill asserts authority over anyone who is a member or attends regularly, and doesn’t recognize people’s legal right to resign their membership. The situation is really, really scary.

  143. Wendy–

    To answer in short: (a) salvation through submission and gender roles, (b) akin to the prosperity gospel, if I do A then God will give me B. so if I submit and perfect my roles, then I’ll have a good marriage and a godly husband. Life will be good. (c). Fear: fear of the world; fear of sinning; fear of not being able to control life. Fear of bad things that happen. A husband offers protection from the world; a closed church community in which the husband leads or is seen as authority also offers that protection from real life. Submission and a marriage model that subverts women to men offers a safety net, a sense of security. (d) works based Gospel; being able to earn your salvation through works; right actions.

    In essence, they trade their freedom for protection. They trade true salvation which cannot be bought for the idea that marriage is what truly sanctifies and therefore, cleanses and makes one acceptable to God. And finally, wanting to mimick “biblical” patterns, particularly, eternal subordination of the Son to the Father (look up ESS).

  144. And I forgot to mention that these ideologies are always backed with stories, constant preaching from the pulpit, small groups and modeling examples and couples who are supposedly living correctly in this way, who tell you that because of her submission, it enables him to lead and care for her in this way. Most of the weight in these marriages is placed on the woman’s submission.

    The most glaring truth in these churches and ideologies that they completely cannot see, and let’s face it, the men don’t want the women to see and the women want to avoid being called feminists, is that the women truly hold the power. If the women decide to change their minds, the entire system will fall apart. It ALL rests upon her participation and obedience to submission. The foundation to their theology, gender roles and ESS, ALL lie upon the womans willingness to submit and consider men an authority over her, even so far as extending into eternity. This, submission, is her salvation. It’s what saves her from the fire and brimstone. Not Christs sacrifice, which cannot be earned. And believe you me, they will say they know this yet their actions, lifestyles and ideologies prove otherwise.

    It’s why marriage in these circles is the primary idol. If people aren’t dying to be married, they’re dying in their marriages to get it all right. They shun the singles, the widow, the others who are not like them. And they deem such behavior as being supported and ordained by God–their unloving actions towards friends who are not yet or no longer in their station of life.

    I could go on and on. But in the end, it’s all one big hurtful mess for those who haven’t gotten into the special club. And it’s a silent battle for those who have gotten in and their conscience is knawing at them, but they must ignore it. You will never see so many basket cases of women who cannot operate without each other:0; whose dependencies are clearly cultish and absentminded at best. They become little weaklings that you come to despise and pity at the same time.

  145. Trina –

    What is so ironic to me with all the marriage idiocy (that hurts so many) is what Paul said about being married – it’s better to remain single. Have you EVER heard that preached!

  146. Sophie mentioned that the people at the church plant they tried to participate in would get nervous when the Holy Spirit was mentioned.
    And Trina, Wendy, and others have noted how women in these churches are the opposite of free.
    It made me think of a post I wrote last spring about the people of the Spirit wind.

    I wonder if Driscoll, Piper, Grudem, or any of the other role pushers have ever preached on John 3:8. It’s right in the neighborhood and conversation of Nicodemus and John 3:16.

  147. Dave
    You give me hope. Usually pastors are called to bigger churches and bigger salaries. Wonder why?

  148. kisekileia~ Have you read my story? It is scary…our CG leader and most likely our other CG leader decided on our “discipline” without ever even asking their questions, because we wouldn’t do it on their terms (in person on their turf). It was, for sure, authorized by a campus pastor.

  149. Wendy

    You are very observant on many fronts, including the complementarianism driscoll/piper. I, too, have observed the demeanor of Grace Driscoll and believe that there are some issues that will one day come to the fore.

  150. Trina

    Can I make your comments a guest post on my blog? I think it is a very important explanation and i was thinking about what attracted me, and what attracts other women to MH. I can email you a proof before I post.

  151. I think that some women who put themselves in a submissive role do so to avoid responsibility. In some ways it’s easier, less stress to not have to take control of ones life and make responsible decisions. That way if the man makes a bad decision, he cannot blame the wife.

  152. Dee–

    You are so kind, Dear.


    Sure no problem. You can get my email from Dee.

    J. terry–

    I forgot to mention that as well. I echo your statement of wanting to be released from responsibility. Many of these women hated working or had issues from the beginning with satisfaction in their careers. I know because I was one of them. On the Hill, it’s rather easier for a young white woman to marry a man who is or will do well financially. Couple that with frustrations about your career, or caring for oneself independently of another, and you have someone who is going to remedy their fears by creating/fostering a subculture that’s not biblical and will endeavor to make it so by inventing your own cultural theology.

    Being African American was difficult in this place because such lifestyles are not common in my culture–even if the family is well-off. But the allure of it and the gospel preached behind it made it irresistible. But then there was the reality that the men in my church would never have chosen me regardless because I wasn’t white. And so you have a cultural preference read into the gospel that only serves and becomes possible for a select few, but also supports kr hides prejudices amd racism that a Christian doesnt have to be challenged on. Enter the struggle of believing that God simply doesn’t care bout you, but in addition, he is a respector of persons and in particular white culture and white people. Ultimately, the Reformed God and Jesus are white and support white evangelical culture only. I mean to find a black Puritan is a needle in a hay stack. There might be one or two but you get my point. There is tons of rich teaching in the black church in America and yet my church regularly pointed out (including books on the stall) the flaws with it.

    You see what this false gospel breeds???!! It’s ridiculous. And it’s painful to think God has made you an inferior gender but on top of that, made you an inferior race in which he absolutely refuses to bless…at least equally with your Caucasian “brothers and sisters in Christ.”. That ultimately as far as the pure gospel goes, only,a bunch of dead white guys ever got it right.

    There are women who out of instinct and love for their children, really desire to stay home with their kids. I’d be one of them. But no longer because of some role I should submit to or am limited to, but because that’s my natural inclination and what’s in my heart. Yet I see so many women who are being forced into that role and doing a crappy job at it and need to take their butts to work. Some kids would be better off at daycare than at home with a mom who is frustrated 24/7 because she cannot ,are her own decisions and need the constant plethora of parenting models (Babywise) and mommy boards within the church to help her be a mom rather than trusting the love and goodness in her own heart, the Holy Spirit, and learning about the unique needs and personalities of her kids by being willing to make mistakes and risking not always choosing what’s best.

    I can’t wait to see these kids ten years later. I think they’re ginna be a bunch of effed up little brats with huge emotional problems.

  153. An example to boot: a new mom just had a baby. Posted on the mommy board: this baby is so clingy. After I feed him/her, she cries if I put him/her down. What shall I do, I don’t want the baby to become All this baby wants is to be held.

    Listen, I know new parents are scared to death. I get that. But what numbskull doesn’t understand that that little precious thing just left the security and warmth of your womb and doesn’t feel s secure anymore????!!! Would you just swaddle the damn baby and hold it!! It’s an effing BABY for goodness sakes! Get off the dang mommy board and go hold your dang baby!!!

    Already, the little sinner is demanding and needs discipline. You know, because babies are big fat sinners too! WTF!!

    You see, Jenny and Chrissy and all those girls like you who got married in six months and had babies six months later can’t own up to the fact or even admit that having a baby is hard, and especially hard for two people who just met each other and who just got married. Especially hard for a new marriage in which your submission and roles are the backbone. Nobody told you how hard it all really is, did they? Because none of you are emotionally or spiritually mature to decide your own path in life, use wisdom and get out of your High cool in-crowd mentality.

  154. @Trina: Oh, how sad! That poor baby just needs to be held and loved!

    @Sophia: Yes, I read your story. It illustrated very well how Mars Hill uses abusive discipline methods even when there’s no nepotism or real sin involved.

    By the way, I have the Driscoll book chapter about church discipline saved as an HTML file, and I’d be happy to send it to you if needed.

  155. Trina, you reminded me of a bunch of stuff I didn’t like about the culture there even when I was otherwise mostly happy with it. Driscoll had preached through 1 Corinthians somewhere around 2006 and when he got to “it is good for you to remain as I am” his take was that because of persecution at the time it was good to not marry. His application? Unless today you’re called to smuggle Bibles into China or some life-threatening ministry you should be married.

    Uh … so his case study is people doing missionary work to non-whites in other countries? Did he forget that there were at least some non-whites in the church? Did he forget that even some of the very-white looking folks in the church have American Indian parents? Why is the only criteria for not marrying life-threatening ministry to non-whites in some far off land? How about being poor? How about having other things to do? Did you hear those kinds of arguments while at MH? I heard them and found the insufferable. Paul’s arguments for marriage weren’t just that you only avoided it if you were anywhere but America.

    And I’m going to just leave alone for the time being how Driscoll’s rambles on guys sounded to people with disabilities or guys with same sex attraction issues.

    The membership “covenant” was always a contract that had to get renewed at some point. Despite all the talk of “covenant” in church membership and how a covenant relationship was modeled in marriage the church membership relationship to leadership was a renewable contract where one was expected to give. That’s not a “marriage” that’s more like paying for a club membership but not getting to do anything unless granted permission. It’s not like a music society where you get discounts on tickets and a chance to meet professionals in your field.

  156. I’m going to just borrow an observation Drew G. I. Hart made in the midst of the Rob Bell/John Piper ruckus. Hart said that what this dust-up showed was that the emergents and the Piper style Reformed guys are really battling for the hearts of the young upwardly mobile white guys who will become tomorrow’s establishment. For anyone who’s just not Anglo the tempest in the teacup is easy to spot but for white guys gunning for the largest part of the future-establishment pie this is a big deal.

    One of the things that dawned on me after years in MH is that in a lot of ways Driscoll and other Mars Hill pastors were extolling a kind of prosperity teaching where if you get your ducks in a row and love Jesus and get a real job and get married that would be a sign of God’s favor and your obedience.

    In my own life I’m not against marriage and might consider having a family but a decade of non-profit work without upward mobility in a town like Seattle left me despairing of any point bothering getting on the dating scene. Singles could begin to see just how many double binds there are in the church culture. If you want to marry one day and it hasn’t happened you might get told you’ve made an idol of it or an idol of “dependence” but if you don’t want to marry because you have some personal or professional goals that’s an idol of independence.

    If I thought it was a miserable social situation to be in it must be exponentially more frustrating for women. And yet in neo-Reformed land women are taught they have an outlet, to fret about irresponsible men who won’t man up and marry them. As Mara put it elsewhere here the “sucks to be you gender gospel” ends up being pretty unhappy for men and women.

    I’d heard stories of guys who showed up and heard that guys should love Jesus, get real jobs, marry women, and make babies and they’d say, “Yeah! Sign me up.” Then they’d in rare cases fess up to people and say “Wow! This is hard. I don’t know if I can handle this. Well … no shit Sherlock. Don’t the Eastern Orthodox say that marriage is a kind of living martyrdom? Oh, but you wouldn’t be paying attention to that tradition now would you? 🙂 There are some things I get angry and worked up about. The covert prosperity teachings connected to marriage have been one of them. It’s something I’ve compared notes with with a few fellow ex-MH members over the years. I was relieved to discover that married friends of mine who were parents observed this because it meant I wasn’t just seeing stuff that could be dismissed as the crankiness of some single guy with a dead-end job (well, now I don’t have it so it’s not a dead-end job anymore).

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  158. I am not now, nor have I ever been a Mark Driscoll ‘follower’. Neither am I a ‘person’ follower. I believe that Paul was speaking more about ‘personality cult’ issues than denominations in 1 Corinthians.

    Having said that, I will also say that there are ‘issues’ in churches that need to be addressed, not just Mars Hill. Mars Hill’s problems are not unique to Mars Hill. There is nothing new under the sun.

    Having said that, I am also seeing thoughtful criticism with an eye to ‘restoration’ (or whatever term you want to use) lis giving way to gossip and in some instances ‘personal pity parties’ (everyone jumping on the blogosphere to share their ‘stories’. Honestly, we never see the whole story – that’s the way we are.

    Having said THAT, I also wonder how all the ‘blogosmearing’, even if it’s around valid issues, communicates the main reason why we, as believers are even on the planet, to share the message of the gospel freely to all, so that God might bring into the Kingdom all of His elect remnant, and thus hasten the 2nd Coming of the Son to our sin sick world.

    I mean no disrespect to anyone, and perhaps I am just ‘venting’, but I needed to get it out.

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  160. Dan,
    Yes, there is more involved than just objectively critiquing Mars Hill and Driscoll.

    WHEN people come out of oppressive situations, one of the things that they have lost is their voice. They have been shamed, bullied, fed lies, and otherwised SILENCED by the powers that be.

    One of the steps of healing is for them to find their voice again. It has been bottled up for quite a while and allowed to fester.
    WHEN a person gets their voice back, one of the first expressions that they have is anger. They have not been allowed to have a healthy relationship with their anger. And they have had many, many reasons to be angry. That anger may come forth very strongly, at first, and it may even cloud pure objectivity for a season. But the anger MUST come forth. It must clear out. It is a needed step and anyone else trying to shush that anger, even for good reasons, such as yours, misunderstand the dynamics of puursuing real healing for the deeply wounded.

    Those who have never been sucked up by movements like Driscoll’s may be uncomfortable by so much anger and they many feel that is undermines reasonable concerns. And, yes, I know the Driscoll camp dismisses the reasons people are angry because of the anger.

    But the prime objective here, at TWW, is to remember the wounded. And one of the things I appreciate about Dee and Deb’s blog is their openness to the SILENCED to find their voices again.

  161. Dan–

    I am always and will forever be concerned when an onlooker or observer classifies the horrible treatment, injustice, pain and suffering of others being talked about as a “pity party”. You, my dear, have broken the golden rule here: You have not FIRST shown any deep felt sympathy and real concern for the brokenhearted, the poor in spirit, the oppressed, the shut down.

    How then can you proceed to tell us what sharing of the Gospel should look like when your thoughts and actions are far from that of the heart of Christ? First and foremost, you should have a deep abiding compassion for others who are truly hurting, rather than judging them and classifying their sorrow as a mere pity party.

    The Gospel is not about making the church look well put together and pristine, containing it’s own issues and problems, but it’s about a healer and saviour who gave his heart and soul, his body and life to people who were hurting, destitute, alone, afraid and sinners in need of a savior. As a Christian, you should be doing your damned hardest to model THAT, and forget all that other legalistic bullsh*t you just spouted off. Seriously! The message of the Gospel is Christ and you have completely neglected that. You should also note that the message of Christ put the Pharisees and religious cults of that day on Front Street and put their business out for all to see it for what it was.

    Call it blogosmearing all you want. Don’t diss the medium and completely overlook the message and the point of it all. You want to save religious face while others want the true Christ to be redeemed in the church.

  162. Mara said:

    “But the prime objective here, at TWW, is to remember the wounded. And one of the things I appreciate about Dee and Deb’s blog is their openness to the SILENCED to find their voices again.”

    Mara, I couldn’t have said it better myself! Thank you for expressing one of our primary objectives here at TWW. Thank you!

  163. Trina, J. Terry, Mara, and others,

    Thanks so much for sharing thoughts and insights on women who put themselves or allow themselves to put in these roles. I appreciate the comprehensive information and hearing your experiences. I’m also wondering if this complementarian push has occurred relatively recently (last 10 years or so)? I’d been taught a little about submission but was never taught submission as a lifestyle and as biblical mandate to be right with God. In more recent years, I’m hearing more about it and seeing more women and marriages embrace it. How has this happened?

  164. Wendy,
    Personally, I think it started with Dr. James Dobson and Focus on the Family back in the 70s and 80s. I believe Dr. Dobson started out with good intentions. He saw the breakdown of the family and wanted to help. And he preached wives submit and husbands get involved with your families and learn to understand your wives.

    Then came the Promise Keepers movement (80s & 90s?). Again, I believe they had good intentions. But the cure they presented was flawed. They added “Husbands lead” to a stronger degree than Dobson.

    There is also the Wild at Heart movement which I blogged on a bit. I liked a lot of what Elderidge was saying in his book. But I see now what the seeds of that book have produced in Driscoll. We have men, like Driscoll with Out of Control Hearts. Driscoll has a released of men to drink beer, cuss, burp, fart, and otherwise do manly men things, while gripping women under a tighter control of legalism.

    Then, of course, there is Vision Forum and their bunch who have done a hostile take over of the Home School movement. They changed it into something the pioneers of that movement never saw coming.

    It was a slippery slope. And few are seeing the obvious. So much focusing on the family, keeping promises (as defined by PK), getting wild at heart, and chasing after worldly patriarchy has only made things worse for Christian marriages and families, not better.

  165. Wendy –

    The complementarian doctrine is being taught in many of the neo-reformed venues. It is prefaced as a “gospel” or “biblical” teaching on the marriage relationship. So, of course, many want that biblical/gospel marriage. I recently read a series of three articles on Tim Challis’s blog on marriage and found his use of scripture and wording errant. But, that is a typicall teaching on the subject if you are interested in reading it.

  166. Wendy–

    In my opinion (notice that I didn’t put humble 😉 I think the reason why the term “complimentarianism” seems quite new to many or the emergence of a new brand of Christianity is because it’s just authoritarianism/paternalism repackaged. Nicer sounding/looking packaging, but the same sh*t inside.

    Dee/Deb– who was that who said recently that complimentarianism is the wrong term and a misrepresentation of what it really is, adn that authoritarianism should be deemed waht it is. It was an actual proponent of authoritarianism who didnt like the play-nice term being used in its stead.

    Wendy– If you take a look at a lot of sites where women are blogging about exiting IFB churches who are clearly not labeling themselves complimentarian, and rather authoritarian, you will see the same abuses, the same beliefs, the same underlying issues and school of thought. Complimentarianism IS authoritarianism/paternalism, male hierarchial rule and female submission. But when you tell modern Christians, who are seeker-influenced (maybe not sensitive, but they definitely want a neo-Calvanist/neo-Reformed church) that you’re authoritarian, well, that might not go over well. To say that men and women compliment each other can be rather vague until you’re on the inside and you really see what that looks like. CBMW (the (self-named) Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood spells out these beliefs and models more clearly). Check out their site. But I must warn you, put a trash pail beside you because you’ll be yaking for days and possibly running a fever because you’re piping mad.

    If we want to trust Scripture, we should trust it when it says thereis nothing new under the sun.

    Eccl 1:9: NIV-What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.

    Interesting how the ESV puts it:

    English Standard Version (©2001)
    What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.

    Bee-Tee-Dubs, I’m gonna sell my ESV on Amazon. hahahaha

  167. There is nothing new under the sun. This reminds me of the practice of Chinese foot binding, and now we have sky high stilettos. It’s the same story, repackaging and reinventing new ways to keep women down.

  168. J. Terry,

    So true! It is so sad that Christian women are prevented from using their God-given gifts!

  169. No matter what “Complementarianism” started out as, it turned into Male Supremacy. Except without the FGM, burqas, and honor killings — Yet.

  170. Mara,
    The history you discussed makes complete sense. The focus on family and marriage has gotten out of balance and now we’re seeing unhealthy and dangerous trends and idols made of these institutions. I’ll check out what you’ve written on these topics.

    With the neo-reformed movement and their emphasis on complementarianism, I agree that this would be a reason that I’m seeing more and more women/couples going down this path.

    I agree there is nothing new under the sun. I have a friend who blogs about her experiences in the IFB church and current scandals within the IFB. Authoritarianism isn’t new, but there seems to be a much bigger push in mainstream evangelicalism now. There has probably been an undercurrent of it for a long time, but it seems to be more pronounced now.

    Just one more question to tie this post and Frankie’s story together with what we’re discussing here – Does complementarianism (authoritarianism/patriarchy) have a direct (or indirect) influence on rejecting, alienating, disowning, and hurting your family of origin? Does it have something to do with rejecting the beliefs you grew up with? Does disowning your family mark the beginning of a life of complementarianism/authoritarianism? Why do they do it? I doubt my situation and Frankie’s situation are the only stories of folks being given the boot by their neo-Calvinist, complementarian family members.

  171. Headless Unicorn Guy,

    It’s so true! Complementarianism, when initially presented, seemed like a (forgive the term) Biblical idea; however, it turned into Patriarchy. I initially bought into complementarianism, but no longer. AND I AM NOT A RADICAL FEMINIST! I am a loving wife who has foregone a career to care for my family. We all need to WAKE UP!!!

  172. I think that some women who put themselves in a submissive role do so to avoid responsibility. In some ways it’s easier, less stress to not have to take control of ones life and make responsible decisions. — J Terry

    In the one case I personally witnessed, that WAS a large part of the dynamic. The wife just burned out after three strong-willed and hyper kids in a row (plus twins on the way) and regressed to childhood herself. She was starting to act younger than her own kids around the time I lost contact.

  173. WTH – I think one of the key things that MD “forgot” is this – most of the church is neither white nor of European descent. (Out there in the wider world.)

    I think there’s still a whole lot of White People are Smarter and Better-ness in the vast majority of white/predominantly white US churches today, whether people are aware of it or not.

    Mara – How about Bill Gothard and his followers? That goes back pretty far, too, and – in my experience – has been closely intertwined with other “movements” over the past 40+ years.

  174. Dan, absolutely classic response. Driscoll and his cronies / henchmen can mistreat, abuse, slander, hurt and destroy people to no end. But how dare any of the victims ever mention that they’ve been treated that way!! Like I said totally classic!

  175. Alan
    This blog exists for the victims. Anytime I get some person defending the honor of an abusive pastor or church, I tell them they have violated our prime directive. If said critic does not first acknowledge the pain of those hurt, then I blow them off as a hopeless sycophant who cannot see beyond his/her idol.

  176. Mara
    I had overlooked linking to your blog. I have now added you to our blog role. How could I ever forget the inventor of “It Sucks to Be You” Gospel?

  177. Wendy –

    There can be many reasons why they do it. Asserting their authority over the wife, not wanting any “wrong” doctrine to infiltrate, etc. To me it mainly boils down to “fear.” Fear of what others in their church think, fear of failure, unhealthy fear of God, fear of the world. Any way I look at it, though, it seems to end up limiting people instead of bringing them into liberty in Christ. They don’t realize how much this doctrine kills the spreading of the gospel. How can a doctrine that cuts Christians off from family, in some cases Christian family, be Christ-centered? And I do understand there are some extreme cases where you have to refuse to be with people. But not as the rule. Jesus was with all kinds of folks.

  178. Dee, back in the day, when I first started hanging around TWW I implied that I didn’t want to be linked because back then I had a couple of extremely wounded followers that I catered my blog to and I didn’t want any foaming at the mouth Drisconians or Piperonians or SGMinions or any other minions going over there with pit bull zeal to shatter the safe place that my blog was to those women.

    Those followers have since either dropped out of the blogsphere or have healed well enough I’m not feeling quite so protective of them.

    So it wasn’t an oversight. Back then, being linked wasn’t a good idea. Being linked now works much better.

  179. numo,
    Oh, yes. Gothard.
    I only forgot him because he was not really any part of my Christian experience. But his influence has been huge in the homeschool movement.

    The things I mentioned were somewhat mainstream, at least to me in my small corner of the universe.

  180. Mara
    I am so sorry. About one month ago, I said I was officially over my head.I am so sorry that I forgot.

  181. You didn’t forget anything, Dee. You’re fine. I started hanging out at TWW a year or two ago. That’s when we had the discussion about whether or not I should be on the list. And it’s never been a huge priority for me to get on everyone’s blog list because I don’t have the time or patience to maintain my blog to the degree that you and Deb keep yours up.

    In fact, I often send people here rather than to my own blog because there will always be someone here to talk these things through with people. Not so on my blog. But I’m okay with that.

    Please don’t beat yourself over the head over anything. There is no reason or need for that.

  182. Driscoll and his cronies / henchmen can mistreat, abuse, slander, hurt and destroy people to no end. But how dare any of the victims ever mention that they’ve been treated that way!!

    The Party Can Do No Wrong.
    Ees Party Line, Comrades.

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  184. I read these blog posts in tears. I can remember meeting Mark at one of the first Leadership Network Conferences in California. I remember hearing and enjoying his talk on church planting (I was starting a church on the other coast) and resonating with a lot of what he said. However, as we were walking back to our cabin, my wife turned to me and commented on his arrogance. It didn’t really strike me at the time; however, as I watched his ministry grow I began to notice it.

    While I don’t have any friends that attend Mars Hill, I do know a host of churches and church planters that are part of Acts 29. If you ask me, THAT is the scariest part of the whole thing. The leadership psychosis that is Mark Driscoll is being exported to churches all over the country.

    I am amazed why NO ONE in the church community — ESPECIALLY John Piper — is stepping into this. Someone who is a leader needs to “bust his nose” so he has a clue as to the damage he is doing.

    Thank GOD for the internet. Thank GOD for twitter. Thank GOD for Facebook. With all the negatives of those mediums, it does provide a public forum where these things cannot be hidden. That is good. It is obvious that in order to get anything done about this, people are going to have to continue to make his comments and actions public…bang the drums and raise awareness.

    I just pray that there are godly people there to pick Mark up when HIS kingdom comes crashing down around him.