Another Mars Hill “Testimony”: One More Reason to Beware of Covenants

Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. -Martin Luther King, Jr.

Mars: Hubble


I apologize that we have not gotten to the topic of spiritual abuse resources. We will get to them next week. (Promises, promises). The last two days we have focused on legal ways to leave your church. especially if you have signed a membership covenant.  We said that the threat of legal action might need to be employed and this raises the question of the biblical injunction against lawsuits. Kind of sad, isn't it? 

1 Corinthian 6:1-6 (ESV)
When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, … 

Here is why I believe that you have the right to use the legal system in a church matter. Your church has already started the process! Huh? Most membership covenants have been thoroughly vetted by attorneys. in other words, the church has already sought legal advice. Here is what makes it worse. They do not tell the members that they are signing a document which has legal implications.

Why? Can you imagine this scenario. Pastor "Hey Susie, you need to sign this covenant to show your commitment to our fellowship. I need to tell you that this document has been thoroughly vetted and approved by our church attorney and may have some legal ramifications should you decide to take legal action against the church. But don't worry, just sign it." 

Most people would hesitate, and rightfully so, before signing such a document. Instead, the church presents it as a "covenant." It sounds really nice, doesn't it? God makes covenants all the time, doesn't He. Except, He is God and the church leadership is made up of men who are prone to sin, just like the rest of us.

I find this practice DECEPTIVE on the part of church. I believe that any open and honest church would advise its prospective membership of the potential legal ramifications in signing such a document. In fact, this is a good test of the church you are joining. See if they advise you of the lawyers lurking in the background. If they do not, they have failed their first test of honor.

Ken Sande is the head of Peacemakers Ministries. Did you know that all participants in the peacemaking process must sign non-disclosure agreements? "So what", you say? Do you know that they are signing a form drawn up by a lawyer? Yes, Sande is a lawyer. These nice little formalities could be used to limit the freedom of the participants if the process is not fair or takes a bad turn. Everyone who participates in this process should be informed that it is their right  to protect themselves.  They should to encouraged to consult with their own attorney prior to signing any of these forms. 

We believe that it is high time for churches and para-church organizations to own up to this dirty little secret. Churches already have gone the legal road and every church member has the right to respond in a legal manner.

There is an important line in these verses. It states:  "Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers?" From my view in the "cheap seats, I see far too many pastors today who take the authoritarian route in their churches. There seems to be a fallacy running around that if you complete your M Div at a Calvinista seminary and you do a one year internship at one of the NeoCalvinist churches, you are now "The Shepherd". Not so gosh darn fast! defines wise as "having the power of discerning and judging properly as to what is true or right; possessing discernment, judgment, or discretion."  In these stories about Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill, I see precious little wisdom. So the answer to the Apostle's question is a resounding, "No!' And this is one more reason why you should never give up your right to legal recourse.

Now, our Founding Fathers were wise. They knew our country was populated by people fleeing from the discriminatory religious systems of Europe. They knew that mere men have the propensity to sin and hurt the faithful. They built in a legal system to give just recourse and equal access so that those who are abused by unjust men, including religious leaders, had a voice. Never, ever diminish or downplay that right. Only tyrants win when the legal system is ignored.


Today we have a testimony by a man willing to go on record with his name. His story was told, in part, in the NY Times and he was interviewed by Molly Worthen. Mars HIll and Mark Driscoll proclaim that they are a church which answers the questions of today's young generation. But, it seems to us,  that you better ask the right questions or you will be in BIG TROUBLE. Mark Driscoll jumps up and down, saying all sorts of things to gain the attention of the people. But, when he gets that attention, he whines like a stuck pig when it isn't the attention that he thinks he deserves. Well, he got our attention we are are not impressed.

Please pat attention to  the issue surrounding "anonymous" comments at Mars Hill.

The Story of Kevin Potts:

After reading your article on the blog regarding Andrew, and seeing Bent Meyer's response, I thought I would tell my own story. I left in 2008 from Mars Hill Church.

Their culture of abuse is frightening in its implications. Everything said on your blog, on Matthew Paul Turner's site, and on the Stranger is alarmingly accurate: the members are not encouraged to stand up to the leadership when it's acting with wrong motivations or wrong actions, they are told to remain quiet and to trust the leadership. There is nobody to hold the leadership accountable to, and the church's authority structure is such that the only people to go to if you have an issue with one or more of its pastors is, unsurprisingly, another pastor. I can't imagine this being an environment, for anyone who takes a few moments to consider its implications, where anyone would feel safe expressing concerns about the leadership, let alone about Mark Driscoll.

For myself, my story is perhaps one of their earlier examples. At the time, I had been a member for nearly 8 years, having started at Mars Hill in 2000 and becoming a member just two months later with a much less rigorous membership process (which amounted to a quick 2-hour lesson from Driscoll on church leadership's structure, an indication of what being a member meant, handing out membership covenants to those attending, and letting us decide on our own if we wanted to become members). I had been having misgivings about the growth of the church and the increasing separation between the leadership and the congregation, but had largely kept this to myself.

Driscoll, in 2008, was preparing a sermon series entitled "Ask Anything", the intent being to set up a website where questions could be posted and voted on, with the top 5 questions (those that received the most votes) being the ones that Mark would build his preaching series on. Anonymous comments were allowed due to the software that was being used, and people used this to start bringing up questions about the firing of Paul Petry and probation of Bent Meyer that they felt they couldn't ask in the church itself, since they had been directly instructed by (then) pastor "A," in an open letter to the members via the password-protected members' website (The City hadn't yet come into being, though it was close at the time), to remain quiet on the issue while the leadership worked to produce a unified document explaining their actions.

I made one comment on this site under the pseudonym of Kel, and had no further comments published. At the time, one person was using the title of "Concerned" in the comments, and was raising a bit more of a stink, though with some thoughtful and probing questions.

Around this time, I decided to transition away from the main Ballard campus over to the then-titled Wedgwood Campus, as it was geographically closer to where I lived (the campus became the Lake City Campus, which is now closed; its staff were largely absorbed into the Shoreline campus). I was serving as a stage manager in the morning for the Ballard campus, and had an exit interview with the head of the production department, "V". In this exit interview, a discussion of my discomfort with how the Petry/Meyer issue had been handled arose. I made a statement of "I have no interest in causing division. It would be easy to do so with how well connected I am in the church, but I have no interest in doing so."

This was communicated to senior leadership as "Kevin Potts indicated he's going to cause division in the church."

Shortly after that, I received an e-mail from the a person in charge of technology (and creator of The City.  He asked me point-black if I was "Concerned", the poster raising issues on the Ask Anything site. I indicated to him directly that I wasn't. A couple of days later he responded and indicated he thought I was, in fact, "Concerned", as that individual was making statements that echoed my exit interview with V, as well as a statement I had made on the members' site in response to one member indicating it would be a shame if the leadership had to start tracking IP addresses between member posts and the anonymous comments on Ask Anything in order to figure out who were random posters and who were disgruntled members hiding behind pseudonyms. I indicated this wasn't a course that was wise to take, as there were people upset with the leadership, and such an action wouldn't engender the trust the leadership needed to get Mars Hill through the trying situation at the time.

This, according to Pastor V, was me displaying an "unhealthy distrust for the leadership" at Mars Hill (eerily echoing the accusations levied against Paul Petry and Bent Meyer), and it was indicated that my membership was being put on suspension pending a meeting, as three elders had apparently concluded I was "in sin" (without ever having spoken to me first to hear my side of the story).

After much prayer and consideration, I chose to conclude my membership at Mars Hill Church. I sent an e-mail to Pastor V, as well as the then-head pastor of the campus I was transferring to, Pastor X. No "discipline contracts" were offered to me, as I don't think they'd have thought of something like that at the time. Some momentary communiques occurred between me and PastorZ(who is now a Mars Hill pastor at an out of state campus ) shortly after both the Stranger and the Seattle Times had gotten ahold of me, as my name was on a list someone had circulated to those papers as people of interest to speak with regarding the truth, as we understood it, behind Paul and Bent's dismissals.

When I had spoken with Jonah Spangenthal-Lee from the Stranger, and Janet Tu from the Seattle Times, I had indicated in both instances that I didn't want my name used in their articles. I was still, at the time, living in a house owned by Mark Driscoll in Montlake, and didn't want my living situation jeopardized, as I didn't trust Mark or his assistant to do the right thing in light of this. In both discussions with the reporters, I only confirmed what they already knew, referring them to Mars Hill Church and Bent Meyer and Paul Petry for further discussion. "Y" eventually called me to find out if I was, in fact, the person who had spoken with the Stranger and the Seattle Times (and I doubt I was the only one who had), and I confirmed it for him, at which point he proceeded to lay a guilt trip on me, indicating I needed to go to the church and ask the forgiveness of the people I had harmed in talking with The Stranger (who he was sure to note to me "was no friend of Mars Hill, and no friend of Christ") and the Seattle Times.

Keep in mind I was already no longer a member at Mars Hill at this time, and yet he thought that he could still control me to the point of having me apologize to people I was no longer involved with in an attempt to repent of sin that it seemed he was the only one accusing me of, he and those he represented.

At a later point, Molly Worthen from the New York Times Sunday Magazine spoke with me. At that point all ties with Mars Hill were severed for me, and I would have suffered no ill consequences for speaking with her. I gave her my full permission to use my name in her article, Who Would Jesus Smack Down,which can be found here Curiously, she chose not to use my name, though on the 4th page of the article in the link I gave you, I'm the member she referenced in the third paragraph, the member who "complained on an online message board and instantly found his membership privileges suspended".

I was able to get out before they implemented the kind of behavior that Andrew is now experiencing. I'm horrified to hear he's experiencing it. Feel free to use my name and my story here in a blog post if it would be remotely helpful to anyone else who's going through the horrors of attempting to separate from Mars Hill Church. 

Here is a quick tutorial on spiritual abuse. You should be able to ask your church any question about anything that concerns you. If you become the problem after asking the question, that is spiritual abuse. There is a problem at your church. Get out of there, pronto! Kevin responded wisely. We are most grateful for his willingness to share his story. May we all have ears to hear.

For all of us who are a part of The Fellowship of the Wounded-this is our song of a loving Shepherd who stands in stark contrast to the pastoral arrogance that we have been reading about recently.



Lydia's Corner: Isaiah 37:1-38:22 Galatians 6:1-18 Psalm 65:1-13 Proverbs 23:24


Another Mars Hill “Testimony”: One More Reason to Beware of Covenants — 183 Comments

  1. Scars, undoubtedly. Mostly healed, most likely. More rage, anger and righteous indignation to hear this is *still* going on, and has been going on all along since I left to people I never had heard of before. If they believe in the rightness of their actions, they’ve nothing to concern themselves with if this is all becoming public. If they’re upset about it going public, I have to wonder what the source of that upset is.

  2. Driscoll, in 2008, was preparing a sermon series entitled “Ask Anything”, the intent being to set up a website where questions could be posted and voted on, with the top 5 questions (those that received the most votes) being the ones that Mark would build his preaching series on.

    Why does this sound like a phishing expedition to smell out dissidents and thought-criminals?

  3. I read the NY Times article and I found her last line fascinating. She says that the notion of totally human depravity taught by such people only emboldens them rather than causing humility. How thought provoking! If that is the center of your theology, sovereignty of God and your “suckiness” wouldn’t that cause you to tremble at your own depravity? Wouldn’t you be of a humble heart? Seems to me the leaders of these movements must think this applies to the congregation only. I guess they have moved on to bigger and better things. It’s like a pyramid scheme. You have to get to the top in order to know what the underlings don’t know or can’t know. The scary thing is that is what Scientology does!

  4. Thanks for the song. You know what I have been through personally lately, and it is a very encouraging message. Pastor Burleson’s post today was also very encouraging. Oh, that every church was led by people whose hearts overflowed with the love of Jesus. *sigh*

  5. shadowspring
    Wade Burleson’s sermons and posts are full of grace and so is he. It is a beautiful song and it is so true. Glad to hear from you.

  6. Kevin

    They have built so many justifications into their closed system that they are shocked when the world does not see them as they see themselves. The elders cannot cover up for Driscoll on a global level and they don’t quite know what to do. yep, the world looked at them as they asked. But the world didn’t see it Driscoll’s way. Darn Great story and good courage and you don’t even have security guards.

  7. Just to be clear on who gets painted with the brush tarring Mark — though Piper and others at the Gospel Coalition have supported him in the past, I don’t think you are going to see that much more. He doesn’t listen when they confront him either and is writing off the entire reformed community, if you follow his tweets. He’s in with T. D. Jakes now. I wonder if Jakes will put up with his misogyny and control tactics.

  8. I second Headless Unicorn Guy.

    I grew up the Omega Male of my school career, with a sociopath in my family (NOT my parents) who took over the bullying when I came home. (Aside: Sociopaths are masters at camouflaging what they are.) Doesn’t take much to set off my alarm bells.

  9. Wow! You are smart. I never thought of that! I need you to sniff this stuff out for us! — Dee

    “Fool on the hill,
    Man of a thousand faces
    Standing perfectly still;
    See the sun going down?
    Well the eyes in his head
    See the world — Spinning round!”
    — The Beatles, 1967(?)

  10. Dee said: “Jesus still has nail scarred hands.”

    Yes, they served God’s wonderful and loving purposes.

  11. Dan
    I am not so sure. I doubt there has been a real confrontation. These guys are so mild. The endorse him “with reservations.” The book creds were laughable. As long as there is money to be had by joint conferences they will lay off an any appreciable manner. Good night.!They sent CJ Mahaney to be his mentor. CJ?!! Oh my gosh. What a whacked out crowd!
    As for Jakes, he is used to working in difficult circumstances. He’ll do just fine. He is friends with Ed Young Jr, after all. Who is crazier-Young or Driscoll? Now that is an interesting question.

  12. Leila
    If you are still reading, go to the links in my blog roll and click on Friend’s Jewelry Store.

  13. Notice the other new-reformed folks (Piper, Mohler, Keller…). They only disagree with him on profanity and sexual references. They have never disagreed with him on authority of the pastor of a local church.

  14. Mark
    Do you know that I know the Youngs and went to the church for a short time. I am still repenting. I have used the video. There is nothing worse than a middle aged man pretending he is cool. That goes for both Driscoll and Young.

  15. Dee on scars: “So do human scars. They strengthen the wounded area.”

    Indeed they do.

    Proof you’ve wrestled with God? You limp the rest of your life.

  16. Kevin, You are brave. May the Lord continue to heal your wounds and bring you deeper into knowledge of Himself. Jesus is not like these churches.

  17. Kevin,

    Thank you for sharing your story! I posted it today at my blog as well. It is always reassuring for me to hear from someone who was there long before us, like Wenatchee the Hatchet, you, Bent Meyer…We thought we were crazy when we started experiencing what we experience. It was truly like the twilight zone. First they were our friends and brothers/sisters, and then…THE SHUN.

    I am glad you are speaking out. I hope I will one day, when its further removed, be able to put my real name on it. I was wondering if you still go to church somewhere (no need to say where), if you still have faith in God, and how life is treating you now?


  18. Ed Young must be a nut bag. Hey is he a Calvinista also? I kind of doubt that one.

    Allen your comments were spot on. It is clear to me that the Calvinistas are only worried about authority. So, could it be that one day the actual gospel becomes a secondary issue and keeping your family in line becomes the gospel? After listening to MD all week and hearing his visions, I think the gospel may be a secondary issue in some of the Calvnista quarters. Time will tell if anyone has the courage to address the madness. They didn’t with CJ so I doubt MD will present much of a problem with them either. BOO!!!!!!

  19. Sophia: I definitely still have faith in God, and was utterly heartbroken when I heard Andrew’s story. I had four years’ separation and had fooled myself into believing the witch hunts at Mars Hill were only a result of the furor surrounding Paul and Bent’s removal, but I’m saddened to see that it’s gone on long after their issue was completed. I was reduced to tears a couple mornings ago, and realized I can no longer remain quiet. No, I’m not attached to a formal worship body right now; sadly, the abuses at Mars Hill have convinced me that there’s nothing to be found for me at a formal church. I always covet the friendship of fellow believers, but also realize it can be found in many places outside of a structured church. 🙂 In answer to your final question, life is treating me very well, and I’m abundantly blessed: I have a God who loves me, a keen mind He gave me to use, and an urgent desire to see justice done in the name of those who have been so horrendously hurt by this church. People meet Jesus, then they’re cast head-first into indoctrination that squelches the individuality and glory God gifted each of us with, and this cannot stand in my eyes.

  20. Yes, friendship with spiritually like-minded people can indeed be found outside of “church”.

    God is also very accessible on the outside. In some ways, more accessible. Or maybe it was me who was more accessible to God (once outside of “church”).

  21. It *is* a pyramid scheme – and as far as I’m concerned,, MH is a cult.

    Cult cult CULT!!!

    HUG, yes… like Mao’s let a Hundred Flowers Bloom period of “openness” followed by major repression. (Apologies if the link isn’t entirely accurate; you can Google for further info.)

  22. Kevin
    I am glad. I too am struggling with formal church, I am attending somewhere but very informally and hoping to fly under the radar. I do not trust church people much, not even my friend’s from before MH, as they are excited about reading Real Marriage and many of them are “fans”, and so I don’t feel like I can talk about it with them or tell them about my blog.
    I have no contact with MH people, except one woman, and I definitely don’t trust her as she is all in (married to staff), and the “don’t talk” rule is in full effect. In fact, I feel like 007 agent living a double life because I can’t be honest with anyone about this. I am going to a bible study and mom’s group at the new church, but am leery. I feel like I am walking around, trying to figure out who the Bereans are, and afraid of being wrong.
    I agree, though, that God is good and gracious, and I will be darned if I will allow MD and MH to rob me of such a wonderful gift. I cannot stay silent either! It is hard for us though as we are in a town we just arrived in not long ago and then this happened.

  23. Sophia – my take is that if you feel that leery, hey – take a break. There’s nothing wrong with that, imo – and it could be a God-given opportunity for some time to rest and heal up.

    Am feeling just about ready to attend a church service (at a place where nobody knows me) now. It’s been almost 10 years since I got booted from That Church, btw. I really needed a long break… and you know, some of the kindest and most compassionate people I’ve encountered during this time would definitely be classified as “unsaved” by the Calvinistas as well as most evangelicals.

    all evidence (imo) points to a God who is much greater than our minds can imagine, who works in his own way. (His ways not being our ways, cf. Isaiah i-forget-the-exact-passage.)

  24. Kevin Potts,

    Thank you for having the courage to share your testimony. We are honored that you would allow us to publish it.

    Please know that you are an inspiration to others who have been hurt in hyper-authoritarian churches. Now that some stories are trickling out of Mars Hill, perhaps more victims will speak out and say “Enough!”

    I will be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers. Please be sure to read Monday’s post. I have been waiting to write it for three years, which I will explain.

    God bless you, Kevin.

  25. Also, re. the proliferation (much like toadstools!) of church “covenants,” I would love to know if the definite article Jesus used at the Last Supper is indeed a definite article in NT Greek..

    You know, the place where he said “this is the new covenant…”.

    Hmm. 😉 If it’s “the,” and if the early church had no view to controlling those who came (via written contracts or in other ways), then… ???!

    It’s certainly NOT something Jesus endorsed, as far as we can tell from the Gospels.

  26. Yvonne
    It is my understanding that the Tomczak in your email is not the same Tomczak. I am going to look into it, however and will let you know.

  27. Sophia, there’s nothing wrong with struggling with the notion of a formalized church. Sometimes peoples’ faith grows to the point where there aren’t churches they can’t grow further in without becoming leadership, which they may not either want or just might not have a calling for. Remember that you’re a daughter of an almighty God who wants His best for you, and you are a beloved treasure to Him that He won’t let go for any reason. Remember what Jesus said in His prayer to the Father: “For I have lost none of those you have given me.” The Shepherd doesn’t lose sheep, He protects them and gathers them, and is anguished when they’re hurt. Pray for God’s mercy on Mars Hill, because the alternative, a horrifyingly angry Father, is a fate too terrible to contemplate.

    Eagle: I still believe in God because He’s greater than the worst of His children. I keep coming back to a quote from Stephen King’s book “The Stand”, where someone said to Mother Abigail: “I don’t believe in your god.” She chuckled and said, “Bless you, that’s okay. He believes in you.”

    He’s our Father, he’s our Protector, He is everything that is right and good in the universe, and when we’re at our most broken, He’s all we have to cling to, and how wondrous it is that He desires a relationship with us! He created EVERYTHING! How could I not take solace in that? I spent a lot of nights crying, yelling, bellowing, blaming Him, and all through it, He said, “Who are you? You are my child. I made you, I love you. Trust me when you trust no one else.”

    If He won’t give up on me, how much of a wretch would I be to give up on Him? A friend of mine said “I love God, but I don’t trust His people very much.” For me, that’s the case. I’ve had more hurt and injury at the hands of Christians than blessing and healing and comfort, and that’s as it should be: I should be going to God for healing and comfort, not His children.

    I know He exists, and knowing, how could I turn my back on Him? Satan and a third of the angelic host knew Him intimately, and turned their back on Him. How horrifying their punishment is, and how much worse to come.

    I have faith because I realize there’s no alternative. 😉

  28. I am not saying that signing a membership covenant is a sin but I am uncomfortable with it from a biblical point of view. We are told to let our yes be yes and our no, no. Signing a covenant like that seems to be akin to taking an oath that is unnecessary. CAn anyone point me to this modeled in the NT? It seems very man centered to me.

  29. @Numo~

    I know, its just that I have “X” kids of various ages watching me…my teenager reads our blog and talks with us about it. I hate to throw the baby out with the bathwater so to speak. My younger ones love going and so it is hard to decide. We are going off and on, and I don’t feel bad about it. I have been waffling on the bible study I am doing at the church, especially now that I am blogging. But I also just got to this city and feel somewhat isolated, so having somewhere to go as a SAHM is nice. I don’t know. I will never become a member of any church ever. My husband and I are “free agents” for sure.
    I am reading the Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse…good stuff.

  30. Sophia – Gotcha.

    I wonder if you might want to investigate other kinds of churches – y’know, live dangerously by seeing what they get up to at Methodist or Episcopal or Lutheran or [insert name here] churches?

    Nobody will try and make you sign a single thing.

  31. Here is what my pre-MH church wrote regarding church membership (I would site a link but that would threaten my anonymity, so I will take the risk here):

    we have frequently been asked why we do not have “church membership” by those in the body who wish to be faithful to any pattern of church structure given in Scripture. I think that search is very noble, as we should test what we do against Scripture, and not simply traditions of men. It is for that very reason, that this particular church staff (myself included), has departed from “church membership” as it is traditionally defined, because we have deemed it an invention and precept of men. It is also my stance that this is a non-essential doctrine, that is, it is nothing to divide over, and if it weren’t for the honest questions that are asked regarding membership, I would have preferred to leave it be. However, it is an important issue for many people, so allow me to explain my position for your information:
    First, I want to clarify what you probably mean by “church membership.” Many churches require those who call themselves a part of the local body to “become” members of that church, by going through a series of requirements, like a believer’s class, counseling, baptism, and then usually followed by signing a paper, in which they are then pronounced “members.” Whatever the process may be, we do not distinguish in this way for the reasons below.

    1) We cannot find it instructed anywhere in the Bible. While it is clear that the Church is made up of “individual members” (Rom. 12:5; 1 Cor. 12:20), nowhere does Scripture command us have anyone sign a paper, or have a membership system in place. So, our main reason is that church membership is not supported by Scripture, and therefore unsupported by this church body.

    2) Church membership actually stems from the tradition of the Early Church. In the 1st century, Rome had associations that were legally recognized by the government, some of which were religious. The Jewish religion, for example, was recognized by the Roman government as a legitimate, sanctioned worship structure. Since Christianity came from Jewish roots, the Roman government included it under the umbrella of Judaism, and therefore offered its approval for it. However, this was put to a stop in A.D. 64, during the time of Emperor Nero. Christianity was soon discovered to be completely different from Judaism, and the protective covering was lifted. But what is REALLY interesting is that the Early Church began to mimic Roman associations and pagan societies who had a kind of “belonging” in their groups, and so they adopted church membership in order to bring that same type of belonging to their congregations. So that’s the history of church membership; it did not originate from Scripture, but from the influence of Roman associations and pagan societies.

    Now, the last thing I want to address is the question of how we are able to practice church discipline without a membership in place. My answer is: quite well! Now let me first address the texts that deal with it: Matt. 18:17 and 1 Tim. 5:20-21. The latter text is addressed to Timothy in regards to handling an elder in the church who is sinning, so this text does not apply to members of the church. The first text does, and as far as I can see it, this text can be carried out with or without membership. In other words, membership is irrelevant. Allow me to explain…

    Church discipline is an authority that is granted to pastors of the church who exercise it whenever the appropriate situation arises, and they do so by the authority of Jesus Christ. What that means is that we as pastors do not need to know beforehand that a congregant has signed a document, before we can exercise authority. To do that is to say that our authority as church elders, and our grounds for practicing church discipline comes from that written document! And that is entirely unscriptural. A pastor’s authority comes from Jesus Christ, the Chief Shepherd, who has commanded us to shepherd the flock of God among us, exercising oversight (2 Pet. 5:2,4), and it doesn’t matter whether the attendees are members or not. In fact, Paul the Apostle often exercised church discipline with churches that he had never been to. Why? He was given the authority to do so, by Christ Himself.

    This makes me want to move back home 🙁

  32. add to my last post: I was raised Lutheran and find it comforting to know that I can go to any Lutheran church (within the synod, that is) and the liturgy, etc. will be the same.

    and nobody will try and make me sign some stupid “membership covenant.” I’m a member because I was baptized in a Lutheran church.

  33. @numo

    You know the funniest thing is that right after this happened with MH, a friend of my teenager’s mom said she needed to tell me her deep dark secret. I braced myself for what was coming…and she said “I am an ordained minister”. This confirms to me that God has a sense of humor. I said, “Umm…I don’t care, there are a lot of worse things you could be than an ordained minister!” She said it that way because she new I had been going to MH and she is Methodist. She is one of my good friends now.
    I was raised Catholic (from which I am still recovering, no offense anyone), and so Episcopalian and some of the more traditional denominations are challenging for me. I am, for the first time in my life, pretty sure I have been sold a bill of goods in the name of doctrine, questioning the spin on scriptures I have been given (gender gospel), and probably the most open I have ever been to considering and experiencing how other people on the Christian spectrum see things. I actually want ALL the information, so I can decide for myself what my “doctrine” is. Pretty sure at the end of it all, I will be what my hubby and I have termed our new denom, Berean.
    My grandma used to tell me that the church was full of a bunch of fatheads, while she read her bible every morning. By golly, I think she was right.

  34. All these songs! I never knew any of them until I started working for a Lutheran church, so these “oldies” are actually all new to me right now.

    After reading this revealing article, I have come to realize that much of what I went through at my last two churches qualifies as spiritual abuse. I was the devil because I tried to offer a constructive critique. For pete’s sake, Andy Stanley gets it better than these guys. He tells his staff to be the biggest supporter in public, but an honest critic behind closed doors.

    Cult isn’t the right word for MH, because their theology isn’t skewed, its their practice. We need a new term to describe this: A church holding tenaciously to orthodox theology by using the least orthodox methods.

    Nonetheless, whatever you think about MH, I still like their music. Indie rock just appeals to me, and some of their arrangements are just groovy. Seriously, give some a listen if you haven’t already. The quality is extremely uneven, but it’s fun to hear what they do with some of the old hymns.

  35. After all this news, I am still not theologically opposed to membership covenants on principle. However, I will most certainly read them VERY critically in the future. I think if they are used at all, they should be brief, simple, flexible, and fair. And I’m convinced that its possible.

  36. RE: numo on Fri, Feb 03 2012 at 11:38 pm:

    I too was raised Lutheran. I got sucked into the Calvary Chapel movement in the mid 70’s and got out after enduring 10 yrs. of their nonsense. If I were to ever darken church doors again it would probably be ELCA Lutheran (liberal wing), Episcopal, or some place where there’d be other old reprobate liberals like myself to chum with. ===> (smiley face goes here)

  37. A good resource for those who have recently, as in this lifetime, left an abusive church situation is

    Specifically the posts under the “Spiritual Abuse and Recovery” link on the left sidebar.

    The biggest encouragement is to see that you are not alone, that it is normal to feel like the bottom has dropped out of life. If you had thought lightly of the church relationship you would likely have left easily. It is the leaving with great difficulty and pain and hurt and disappointment that leaves us needing to do a lot of recovery.


  38. Miguel – Eagle’s right; those songs came out of the Catholic charismatic movement. I can actually recall when they were brand-new! (And no, I’m not Catholic, but I used to hang out with a lot of ecumenically-minded Catholics back in the day…)

    As for MH not being a cult, I must beg to differ – their theology isn’t all that cool, either, and it certainly is being skewed in order to put the primary focus on Mr. Mickey Mouse T-Shirt Wearer.

    I mean, can you think of *any* truly doctrinally orthodox church where the sermon is beamed in (on big-scree TV sets) to “satellite campuses,” as opposed to having different people preach in every one of their churches?

    I thought not.

  39. Numo, the focus on Dricsoll is an issue of practice, NOT theology. Theology is what you have on paper, regardless of how you live it out. Of course, we are living in a day where too many churches have generic statements of faith that all look the same, and drastically different methodologies. But as far as what’s on paper is concerned, MH is a typical Reformed Baptist church, despite the fact that they are a little freaky in the way they go about it. The word “cult” doesn’t necessarily mean “something that makes me feel freaky…” As for orthodox churches with the screens and satellites, I’m pretty sure Rick Warren and Tim Keller qualify on those points, but I could be wrong about the screens. I know they’re multi campus, but I wouldn’t be shocked if they were putting different preachers in each branch.

  40. “Numo, the focus on Dricsoll is an issue of practice, NOT theology. Theology is what you have on paper, regardless of how you live it out. Of course, we are living in a day where too many churches have generic statements of faith that all look the same, and drastically different methodologies.”

    Miquel, this view really confuses me. How can doctrine NOT drive practice? What we believe drives what we do. What we believe drives our living out our beliefs. Mark is living out what he believes scripture teaches.

    Yes their doctrine is the problem. Many have elevated secondary issues to salvic levels such as gender roles. Mark has included sex in primary doctrine even if he claims he doesn’t. Also their doctrine drives their authoritarianism. One’s doctrine can drive them to practice lowly humble service to others or lording it over. It really depends on what they believe scripture teaches overall.

  41. “As for orthodox churches with the screens and satellites, I’m pretty sure Rick Warren and Tim Keller qualify on those points, but I could be wrong about the screens. I know they’re multi campus, but I wouldn’t be shocked if they were putting different preachers in each branch.”

    A lot of what we see coming out of Reformed wing with celebrity pastors was taken from the seeker movement. From marketing to sat campi. And yes, they broadcast the celebrity out to other campuses. Otherwise they would just plant another autonomous church. It is about having followers. They are more the same whether it is Rick Warren, Keller or Driscoll. Some are nicer about it than others but it all goes back to celebrity and having lots of followers.

  42. Someone asked in a previous thread about Larry Tomczak’s son, and Dee responded that she would check into it.

    My investigation revealed that the individual mentioned is NOT the son of Larry and Doris Tomczak. I have compared photos of Tomczak’s son and the individual cited to confirm my finding.

    Justin Tomczak, Larry and Doris’ son, has a very public persona. You can Google his name and check out his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter. He is/was running for public office in Georgia. I have’t been following his campaign, so I don’t know his current status. Maybe one of our astute readers does and can chime in.

  43. If you are still reading, go to the links in my blog roll and click on Friend’s Jewelry Store.

    Thanks. 🙂

  44. Another church agreement to be aware of is small group agreements. The one I was asked to sign included a line that said, in effect, if I had an issue with something connected to the church I would not sue. Instead, I agreed to mediation with someone chosen by the church leadership. That’s right – if I have a disagreement with the church, I agree to go to their buddies to settle it!

    I did sign but only because I felt trapped. I was at a weekend workshop at a former SBC church. Friday evening opened up painful things from my past. When I returned Saturday morning, I was given the agreement and the expectation was that I sign it in order to continue in the workshop. I did not want to sign – and the way it was handled made me angry – but I wasn’t in a good place emotionally to either protest or to just walk away with my wounds unaddressed. I signed and figured I could claim coercion if the need arose. However, I have have always regretted that I gave in and signed it.

    Just to be clear – I am all in favor of small group agreements for support groups that cover things like confidentially and making the group safe for everyone. Group members is not who this agreement was designed to protect.

  45. Virginia, you’re own the right track, but you’ll have to find a different word. My people are not going to give up one of our dietary staples for your theological terminology. It also happens to be the Japanese word for Octopus.

  46. Miguel – their theology is VERY complimentarian and patriarchal, though I’m not sure if MD knows what “ESS” stands for. 😉

    I don’t see how you (or anyone) could look at actual Reformed doctrine and then state that MD is a typical “Reformed Baptist.” (Whatever that means.)

    But – the internet being what it is – I’m not sure I will be able to convince anyone of that. However, if you look at some of Deb & Dee’s other posts on MD (with copious sourced quotes) you might begin to see him – and his totalitarianism – a little differently…

  47. And… there is something VERY off about “Ultimate fighting Jesus” and MD’s characterization of the Christ worshiped in other churches as a limp-wristed sky fairy (etc. etc. etc.).

    I don’t think church is supposed to = Fight Club.

  48. LUTHERAN MEMBERSHIP: An article,_Lodi,_WI/Covenant_Membership.html

    Yep, if you think there are churches out there that do not have articles of membership you probably haven’t been paying attention.

    Our extremely litigious culture has guaranteed that even a simple church must have membership bylaws – unless it doesn’t care whether or not it is destroyed by an angry person.

    More and more lawsuits guarantee larger membership applications.

    Isn’t satan having fun.

  49. Numo, if you don’t even know what a “Reformed Baptist” is, how do you know Driscoll isn’t one? You keep saying, “look what he DOES! It’s heinous! (agreed) Therefore he is outside orthodoxy!” Well, behavior is not the test of orthodoxy; doctrine, or right belief is.
    A reformed baptist holds to the teaching of the Calvinist reformers as summarized by the Westminster Assembly. Baptist took the Westminster confession of faith and changed two things in it: They rejected infant baptistm and the part about Presbyterian church polity and structure, replacing them with believer’s baptism and the autonomy of the local church. The resulting document is called the London Baptist Confession of Faith, and is the brain-child for all Reformed Baptist teaching. Spurgeon was a lead proponent of this school of thought, and all the neo-reformed, including Piper, Mohler, Dever, Tom Ascol, Russel Moore, and even Dricsol, are heirs of this theological tradition. What he says is his theological position on paper is remarkably similar to the London Confession, with the sole exception that he accepts charismatic gifts.
    I don’t need to see the other posts on this blog. I’ve been observing Driscoll longer than they’ve been writing about him, and I’m well aware of his circus antics.
    Complimentary theology, by the way, has always been considered within orthodoxy. In fact, egalitarian theology is a relatively recent innovation. Patriarchy is usually a cultural phenomena, not a theological one, but unfortunately many preachers aren’t capable of distinguishing their culture form their faith. Driscoll probably doesn’t know what ESS is, but I’m not entirely certain he has explicitly endorsed that position. It wouldn’t surprise me, but I quit listening to him years ago.
    If he does explicitly advocate ESS, that is a heresy and could potentially put him outside of orthodoxy. But being a relatively recent doctrine, it’s a bit above my pay-grade to determine whether it technically qualifies one as non-trinitarian.
    I’ve seen enough of Driscolls totalitarianism (call it like it is!) to be disgusted with him. But he’s not by a long shot the only person I consider “orthodox” that scares me greatly. What he needs most is not re-classification: He needs to be accountable to and under authority that will call him to task for his weakness. The right use of authority is to prevent this kinda stuff, not to promote it.

  50. “I have faith because I realize there’s no alternative.”

    Kevin, it’s been years since we’ve talked, but I praise God for this statement. Thankful you’ve emerged from all with your faith in tact.

  51. Jimmy
    I know that most churches have gone down this road. However, i believe that they must be honorable in how this is presented to the prospective member, including advising them that they are signing a document with legal ramifications.

  52. Dee said: ” However, i believe that they must be honorable in how this is presented to the prospective member, including advising them that they are signing a document with legal ramifications.”

    I’d agree with that Dee.

  53. Robin,

    As far as I can discern, Ed Young isn’t a Calvinista like MD. He’s not worried so much about authority as he is money. As long as you give him his 10, he’s just fine.

  54. Mark
    Applause. on Ed Young.Interestingly the application of two diverse theologies engenders the same results/

  55. Jimmy – I think you’re barking up the wrong tree. That church appears to be part of the Wisconsin Synod, which is a very small – and kinda weird – group. (It has no relationship to the synod I belong to, the ELCA.) And… they might even be a breakaway church from either the WI synod or another (MO Synod, maybe?)

    At any rate, there are no membership covenants involved in ELCA churches – and I doubt MO Synod churches have them, either.

    Those are the two largest Lutheran bodies in the US.

    Miguel – Can we agree to disagree? (Honestly, I don’t want to get into arguing about some of the points that have been coming up in recent posts.)


  56. Miguel, one other thought.

    I do NOT view the Calvinistas/”neo-reformed” as being classic, old-line Reformed. I guess you do, so that’s probably not a negotiable point.


  57. “Complimentary theology, by the way, has always been considered within orthodoxy.”

    Miguel, I typically think bringing up spelling and grammatical errors is petty and a waste of time, but in this case I’d like to point out that for those of us on the second-class citizen side of the issue, “complementarian” theology is hardly “complimentary.” Just sayin’…

  58. Further statements by readers at 9 Marks regarding “authority”
    “those who are caughtup in the false religion of American Christianity. It is the cult than that teaches us to live for ourselves and never submit to any authority established by God.”
    “It’s a needed correction to the worldly idea, proposed here by others earlier, that the local church simply has to accept the resignation of members no matter the reason.
    If your assumption is that pastors and elders are just power-grabbing, and as figures of authority should be granted zero authority, please examine your own heart. Also, I pray that God would bless you with the experience of sitting under and submitting to godly authority.”
    “Gathering together with other believers is commanded by scriptures. Anyone who is not faithfully doing so does make themselves suspect, and need to be lovingly pursued and rebuked.”

    These guys assume that authority is loving. Anyone who has to fuss about authority means that they do not have it and must get it by coercion. Remember, this is the church that allowed CJ Mahaney to hide from all of the people who claim they have been harmed by SGM. In their eyes, it is the people who leave, after being deeply hurt by arrogant pastors, who are the problem. Yet, these harmed people need to be rebuked because they are living in the false religion of America.

    Guess whose priorities are warped? As Bill Kinon said so aptly, This is Hotel California religion. You can check out but you can never leave.”

  59. Final Anon. – I made the same spelling mistake a few posts up from Miguel’s, so don’t put the onus on him. 🙂

  60. Well,I’d just like to point out that contemporary complementary theology – that men and women are equal in nature and different in roles – is not what has been believed at all times by all Christians.

    Women have traditionally been viewed as naturally inferior. Defective men. Women were to assume their place in subjection to men as they were obviously designed by God to do.

    I believe that contemporary complementarian theology arose in the 1970’s. George Knight III, I believe is credited with first making the analogy of a wife’s subordinate role in marriage to that of Jesus’ role in the trinity.

    Popular complementarian ideas have a tradition of about 35 or 40 years.

  61. “I believe that contemporary complementarian theology arose in the 1970′s. George Knight III, I believe is credited with first making the analogy of a wife’s subordinate role in marriage to that of Jesus’ role in the trinity”

    Dana, you are right. Knight’s book was in response to the culture where women’s rights had taken hold by the 60’s. A lot of youngun’s do not realize that most women had to get their husband to sign on for a bank account. While women had lots of freedoms, financial freedom did not really come about until the 60’s.

    Comp doctrine was a response to all this. Before that, women were simply considered legally inferior to men. I could go into all the laws and unless you were a rich woman, things were not great for you if say, your husband died with no will leaving it all to you.

    They claim it was a response to Gloria Steinham types. But those were a minority. So comp doctrine was a response to the “culture”. It has no basis in scripture unless you proof text it to death and ignore Greek word meanings and the modeling that went on in scripture. There are too many passsages showing the opposite of comp doctrine but are totally ignored or explained away using mental gymnastics.

    Bottomline: There is NO law in the old covenant prohibiting women from teaching men. Yet, comps want us to believe there is a new law in the New Covenant. They actually teach the sin of patriarchy after the fall as virtue. It is insidious.

  62. “I do NOT view the Calvinistas/”neo-reformed” as being classic, old-line Reformed”

    This is SO true and worthy of a deep study showing the differences.

  63. Numo & Miguel —

    It’s a fairly common mistake. Just a pet peeve of mine, considering. I’ve probably read too many blogs today.

  64. “Numo, if you don’t even know what a “Reformed Baptist” is, how do you know Driscoll isn’t one?”

    Miguel, First of all history is really being rewritten for a lot of young folks so they just do not get that “Reformed” + “Baptist” is an oxymoron. They were designated “Baptists” because of “believers baptism”. The Reformers did not go for believers baptism. During the Reformation in Europe, there was a ‘third’ baptism for those who dared to defy the state church and practice believer’s baptism. Drowning. Read Martyrs Mirror sometime.

    Of course, they are redefining “Reformed”. Just as what passes for Calvinism these days even Calvin would not recognize.

    Some of us are finding these words mean whatever the celebs decide they mean and they can find a little piece of history to back it up. Or some confession. But then the other folks who define it differently can find their little piece of history and confession, too.

    But Reformed Baptist is really a hoot. Although I know some take it very seriously and are not amused. :o)

  65. Dee wrote: Further statements by readers at 9 Marks regarding “authority”. Check out the latest. Heb 13:17 takes on monumental proportions, and I fear if I take it on over there, I’ll say something I might regret. This is because I’m trying to take the high road, hoping the post’s author might return to his blog soon and have some sort of dialogue about his article.
    So if any readers here have a good, solid take on that most abused of verses, Heb 13:17, can you help me out over on 9 marks (link on Thursday’s TWW)?
    BTW Dee and Deb. If you wrote a controversial post which engendered a boatload of negative comments here, would you just vanish from the thread after a couple hours?

  66. Wow! Several good rebuttals already over there, likely typed before I made my plea for help!

  67. Eagle
    The comments take a really long time to show. Thanks for trying anyway, if you are being deleted. I always like the communist references from you and HUG. I’m working on a special comment honoring Lincoln’s birthday where I’ll try the communist analogy.

  68. Totally off topic…

    but just watched the movie “Rudy” with my family. So encouraging and inspiring. It stirred my ability to dream.

  69. Some comments after being away since Friday afternoon:

    1. Church polity is how we live out our theology with each other. If the polity does not match the “theology”, then the “theology” is only a smoke screen and not real for that entity.

    2. Since the late 1960s, Catholic churches have adopted and used popular choruses and songs so long as the theology implied does not contradict Catholic teaching. Songs I was raised with as a child in an SBC church in the 1950s and early ’60s, started showing up in Catholic churches in the late ’60s and ’70s. The trend continues. The song in this post is one that we have sung in several Baptist churches for years.

  70. More comments:

    There have been religious charlatans for thousands of years. Shamans, entrails readers, etc. And there were some in the first century claiming to be followers of Christ. So there is nothing new under the Sun and these are not under the Son, but a different spirit, one of evil. It is a way to have a big business with special tax implications and live with wealth on the backs of adoring people who are being deceived. I hope that some of those being misled actually have found Christ in the process, but I worry, because it seems they are worshiping a man and not the Savior.

  71. Kevin,

    You said,

    “I have faith because I realize there’s no alternative”

    Seriously? Of course there are options to having faith…and those options carry with the them support of logic and reason. They are supported by the evidence and are the domain of anyone who would claim a rational approach to living in this world.

  72. Kevin: “I have faith because I realize there’s no alternative.”

    That reminded me of what Peter said to Jesus.

    In in the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John, we read about how Jesus taught at length about His having come from heaven and being the only way to the Father. He used the illustration that people would need to eat His flesh and drink His blood in order to enter heaven. Many found Jesus’ teaching difficult, and, as a result, many abandoned Him and refused to follow any longer.

    “As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. So Jesus said to the twelve, ‘You do not want to go away also, do you?’ Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.’”

  73. Kevin,

    I read your story on Friday and wanted to cry. All of the stories we’ve heard here have been incredibly sad, but there was an element in your story that seemed different to me, and it’s taken me until now to figure out what that was. I think what disturbs me so much in your story is the fact that those who interrogated you and attempted to exercise authority over you weren’t pastors or elders or even community group leaders [I’m not condoning abusive leadership by anyone; my point here is simply that, given what we know about how MH does their version of pastoral care, these are the people we would expect to hear about taking these actions] but lay ministry leaders (a/v team leaders). This is just really shocking to me–in healthy churches, such leaders would reasonably be expected to coordinate team efforts and maintain harmonious group dynamics, but would be taken to task for overstepping their authority if they engaged in the kind of tale-telling and pseudo-counseling you have described. If you are still reading, could you comment further on the lay leadership structure at MH? Did these leaders assume that their teams were community groups in their own right, and that they were, therefore, “responsible” for you? Did the MH leadership expect this kind of reporting by team leaders? Did they offer the lay leaders any sort of counseling training for moments like this? And the biggest question in my mind: just how many levels are there in the church’s hierarchy? How many different people in the church have “authority” over a given member (i.e., if I’m part of a ministry team and a cg, who is ultimately responsible for me? what if their advice contradicted each other?)?

    Thanks for sharing your story. May God give you His peace.

  74. @Bounded Reality,

    You said:

    “Seriously? Of course there are options to having faith…and those options carry with the them support of logic and reason. They are supported by the evidence and are the domain of anyone who would claim a rational approach to living in this world.”

    I am going to go out on a limb here and say that Kevin is speaking from his own experience…I would agree with him that, FOR ME, there is no alternative. I don’t think he was passing judgment on you or agnostics, atheists, etc. in that statement, simply stating that as he has processed HIS experience, there is no alternative FOR HIM.

    I am working with all sorts of MH “refugees” and I understand that the result of spiritual abuse will be different for everyone. I have had stories from every point on that spectrum.

  75. Sophia,

    A person may believe they have only one choice, they may honestly feel like there are no alternatives, but that is rarely if ever the case. I would argue that a rational, direct approach to reality is ultimately a healthier course of action than retreating into a world of your own design.

    If your belief system is based on faith, in other words if what you believe cannot be objectively substantiated, than it is, by process of elimination, a world of your own making. How can retreating into that world, regardless of how comforting it may appear, be better than facing reality head on…taking what there is, accepting it for better or worse…and moving forward.

    It seems to me that faith is no more than a retreat away from what is evident toward something more soothing and pleasurable, but which is ultimately lacking any substantive evidence.

  76. RE: Arce on Sun, Feb 05 2012 at 08:05 am:

    Good comment Arce. It illustrates the fact that Roman Catholicism in its modern form is not afraid of syncretism. It has recognized that instead of demonizing “the other” as bogeyman, the other just might have some good things to offer.

  77. Re. songs, etc.: Vatican II allowed people to start exploring, and one way in which that happened was the development of “folk masses” (with guitars, etc.) and songs that went along with the folk masses.

    There were a fair number of people – some lay, some religious – writing new music in the RC church in the 60s and 70s. I have some LPs of some of the better stuff stashed here somewhere.

    The thing is, there was more ecumenism in the wake of Vatican II *and* the charismatic renewal (which started in the late 60s in RC circles), and a lot of people involved in the renewal started hanging out with Protestants of all stripes – notably old-school Pentecostals.

    I attended a prayer meeting (where everyone else was 60-ish but me and the friend who asked me to come) where the participants prayed like AoG members, because that’s who had “taught” them to pray after they became part of the renewal movement.

    So yes, there was a lot of mixing things up, and I think – though can’t prove – that some of the folk mass-style songs actually migrated into many Protestant churches at that time (late 60s-mid 70s).

  78. Addendum: sadly, that post-Vatican II ferment is gone… though it lingers on in some places, among some people, today.

  79. @ Amy:

    If I wasn’t clear in my narrative, let me be now. The authoritarian approach that was taken with me personally was undergone at every step by actual pastors at Mars Hill. The “person in charge of technology” mentioned in the narrative was, in fact, an actual pastor, Mark Driscoll’s assistant who called me was (and remains) an actual pastor, and though I never found out the actual names of the three men who had concluded I was in sin (again, without ever speaking to me about it first to hear my defense), they were pastors. Mars Hill’s authority structure leaves power firmly in the hands of its pastors, though when they had at the time moved to what amounted to a “council of elders”, they’ve since rescinded that and consolidated power in the hands of Mark Driscoll and two others who each mimic what they feel to be the three primary roles Jesus fulfilled during His ministry (and it’s telling that Driscoll feels his role is mimicking Jesus’ roll as “prophet”, per his pastoral entry on Mars Hill’s primary website). Deacons at the church head up individual church ministries, and in theory retain some degree of authoritative power over those ministries and those serving in them, but they’re laypeople, men and women both, who still answer organizationally to the pastors of the church.

  80. RE: BoundedReality on Sun, Feb 05 2012 at 11:53 am:

    You wrote: “…It seems to me that faith is no more than a retreat away from what is evident toward something more soothing and pleasurable, but which is ultimately lacking any substantive evidence…”

    I think that humans are geared toward pleasure. And why not? Even a lowly paramecium will retreat from anything that threatens its existence.

    I will agree that “faith” can be abused as if it were some great cosmic binky that the superstitious pop into their mouths every time things go sour or they want something. But for me it is more than that, faith is an agreement with myself that there is something greater than myself.

    Sans evidence? Agreed, I cannot produce a proof that will substantiate my faith, it is only based on what I hope for.

    And by the way, welcome back!!!

  81. Kevin is correct in his assertion that the top two (or three) “pastors” at the organization have arrogated to themselves the titles of “prophet”, “priest”, and “king”.


    The organization, under the new strained philosophical mindset, departed from its humble beginnings to something that would truly be unrecognizable to its early members and those who gave of their time and talents believing that there was actually a biblical eldership model and that MD was accountable to a council of elders, as he often preached from the pulpit during the early years: That is still the perception of many current members who still naively believe what MD preached during those formative years.

    However, everything changed when the organization was “reorganized” by MD in 2007 and the elders voluntarily gave away their votes and abdicated their authority forever, in favor of the top-down hierarchical system which is embedded today. After the new structure was put in place, the “kings” broke covenant with all the members, cancelled all memberships, and demanded fealty to the new system. It is estimated that at least 1,000 of those dismembered members left after that breach of trust, which can no longer be swept under the rug by clever press releases that try to obfuscate the facts. The tragic stories about people like Kevin are now coming to light thanks to the internet – and that should give Kevin, and all of us, hope.

  82. numo,

    You’re right. I was there. Both Lutheran and Catholic bodies imported the folksy style of Dylan and Baez into their worship services when other Protestant sects thought of them as subversive and unpatriotic.

  83. Kevin,

    Thanks–I misunderstood and just assumed that he was a lay leader. Still, it’s no less disturbing: “pastor” means “shepherd,” not “vice pres. of [fill-in-the-blank].”

    Wonder how long it will be before the PR guy is labeled “pastor?”

  84. Amy/Kevin
    It was my fault for changing the names in Kevin’s narrative. He and i agreed that we wouldn’t name actual names for myriad of reasons.i made the changes, substituting “person in charge of technology for pastor in charge of technology. I apologize for the confusion.

  85. Sophia,

    You are looking for ways to meet new people where you live. May I suggest a book club at your local library. I’ve met and gotten to know some nice people at mine.

  86. Muff,

    Thanks for the Welcome!

    I agree with you that we tend, all of us, to move toward that which gives us pleasure or at the very least moves us away from pain and discomfort.

    My question is, as beings capable of critically analyzing our own motivations, shouldn’t we be encouraging each other to move toward a more reality based view of the world? Our tendencies to move away from discomfort and toward a pleasurable sensation, while appealing, are not necessarily good for our emotional or mental well being in the long term.

    When you acknowledge that your world of faith is of your own making…it begs the question, what is it in the world of objective reality that so disturbs you, that creating an alternative, imaginary world, becomes an acceptable means of coping with reality?

  87. On “complementarianism” vs. complementarianism:

    The new women’s bible, CBMW, etc. call what they believe “complementarianism”, but that is a misnomer.

    True complementarianism is a belief that men and women differ in their roles in society. It does not inherently place men in charge of women, or women in a subservient role with respect to men.

    What is added to true complementarianism by many is MASCULINISM or PATRIARCHY in a HIERARCHICAL structure, NONE of which is inherently implied by complementarianism.

    Now on a philosophical continuum, on one end is feminism, then egalitarianism, then complementarianism, then, masculinism, then patriarchy, then hierarchical patriarchy (e.g., some male adults are over other male adults.

  88. Arce-
    I have been thinking about above statements all weekend. Well said. I am complementarian not a “complementarian aka Patriarchy. Why not call it Patriarchy instead of complementarian?

  89. Newspeak: Complementarianism.
    Oldspeak: Male Supremacist.

    Newspeak: Dominionist.
    Oldspeak: Handmaid’s Tale as How-to-Manual.

  90. Eagle you make me laugh! How many years were you involved with “Cru” and other authoritative groups?

  91. Arce, Good description above about comp and what it really means. A blogging friend of mine calls them: Masculinists.

    They simply took a nice sounding word and redefined it. And many fell for it.

  92. Dee or Deb,

    The patriarchal complementarianism as I will now call it basically says that man (males) are subject to God but women are subject to men. Am I correct in that statement? If that is correct then why should women worry about death and what happens to us when we die. What I mean is if we are subject to man (males) isn’t that the same as animals? Genesis speaks of man having dominion over the animals. If that is correct then animals don’t have souls. So, if women are not directly made in the image of God, only man then even if they have a soul is it the same as a mans? I mean you could argue that women have half a soul so maybe even in heaven or hell we will only experience half. I know I am being tongue in cheek but I am seriously trying to understand how this logic can ignore biblical references to the bride of christ being neither male nor female. The bible seems to suggest that as far as creation is concerned we are on equal ground with the males. I do believe we have distinct roles which truly are complementary toward one another but I reject emphatically the idea that men can just lord their authority over us in the way they would cattle.
    I could be wrong with this logic and if I am open for correction but please don’t put give me church discipline via TWW! 🙂

  93. Numo, we can agree to disagree, but “cult” is a word that has a meaning. And apparently, after looking it up, the dictionary doesn’t necessarily side with me on this one; it includes under cult those with bizarre practices. Of course, that would be a highly secularized definition. I suppose you could have technically orthodox theology yet fall into the broader definition of a cult. I was under the impression that a cult was a group masquerading as orthodox Christianity that had tweaked a central doctrine, like the Mormons or the JW’s. But most dictionaries I checked included obsession, spuriousness, and devotion. Under those terms, MH fits the bill actually. So you can have that one, but I still insist their broadly orthodox (trinitarian at least) in theology.

    Most classic, old-line Reformed don’t consider the Calvinistas as legitimate heirs of the Reformation, but then again, they don’t usually consider anyone outside of their very specific micro-denomination as legit either. We could say that they have taken that heritage and modified it a bit. But they’re by no means in the same club as the OPC, RPCNA, or groups like that.

    Final Anon: Sorry ’bout the spelling. I insist it was NOT a freudian slip :P.

  94. Anon1: The Reformed Baptists can trace their heritage as far back as the Westminster Assembly, as many of them were present, though a minority. Their ideas were a fusion of puritan calvinism with the individualistic piety of the anabaptists. So Baptist of English heritage were originally Calvinist at least, while non-Calvinist Baptist movements sprung up in Germany. The European Reformation obviously was a bit earlier, but being contemporary to the Scottish Presbyterian church, they are close enough to the same period, albeit about one generation later. The only groups tracing back to europe are the Lutherans, Continental Reformed (who are no different from Presbyterians) and Anabaptists (Mennonites, etc…)

    In our day, however, many baptists from non-reformed backgrounds (Piper’s denom comes from the German group, I’m pretty sure) are adopting Calvinistic soteriology and think that suddenly they’ve grown 400 year old roots. The TR’s are usually not a fan.

    Calvin is not the determiner of what is legitimate Calvinism: All Reformed churches (except Baptists) adopted Presbyterian polity, which Calvin had not invented yet. Calvin also rejected most use of music in churches, a practice only very small groups have maintained. “Legitimate Calvinism” is defined by the confessions of the reformation era churches: Either the three forms of unity or the westminster standards. People like Mohler and Dever would argue that they stand in the tradition of the Westminster Assembly, which is probably why they’ve stayed with the Southern Baptist Convention. The non-denom groups like Driscoll and Mahaney want John Calvin club membership without the responsibility of denominational ties. I would say they are not legitimate reformed, but groups sticking with the denomination that goes back are. Dever and Mohler believe the same doctrine as John Knox (except for the normal Baptist-Presbyterian disagreements).

  95. Dee & Deb


    I’ll chime in more a bit later..watching TV re-runs at the moment. For the next 4 months or so I am in Chattanooga TN. So if you’re in the neighborhood…let me know!

  96. Robin
    You logic is very good. You said ” I reject emphatically the idea that men can just lord their authority over us in the way they would cattle.” This made me smile. Awhile back I was listening to a talk by a serious complementarian and he went through the process of how his father in law transferred his headship from himself to his new son in law. All this transferring took place without the daughter/wife’s involvement. I made the sound of a cow “Moo” very quietly. People around me started laughing.

    We don’t do discipline.We argue with words, love, and humor, something some churches should try!

  97. Glad you guys enjoy my ramblings. Much of how I learn theology has to do with arguing on blogs. Done rightly, it can actually be educational and productive. I find the history of theological ideas fascinating, partially because I spent the last three years trying to find a tradition to call home.

    Eagle, as a Lutheran now I generally have a hard time with the vast majority of evangelical teachers. They deny that the Lord’s supper is anything more than a mental exercise, and I have become convinced that this is the root of all the circus craziness: When we are unsatisfied with the simple ways that God wants to meet with us (word and sacrament), we begin to invent substitutes: Entertainment, numbers, methods, hobby horses, niche theologies, etc…

    Ignore list includes: Driscoll, Dever, MacArthur, Mohler, Piper. They’re all just so abrasive, and I’m convinced that Jesus was totally not. For my time, I’d rather listent to a person who communicates gracefully without prejudiced rhetoric. The only “reformed” voice I really listen to at all now is Michael Horton, but I would go hear Sproul, Keller, or Chandler if they came to my town.

    Basically, most Baptists and evangelicals, reformed or not, reduce the message of the bible to either: 1. Here’s what you’re supposed to be doing, or 2. Here’s a simple way to have an easy life. It makes me want to puke, cry, and scream all at the same time, because it is a Christianity without Christ.

  98. I know this is waaaaaaay off topic but here goes anyway. I thought Madonna’s half-time show was AWESOME!

    It makes me wanna dig up “The Immaculate Collection” CD and play it on the way to the airport in the AM to pick up my grandson. ===> (smiley face goes here)

  99. Muff
    I always love it when women “of a certain age” show the young ‘uns how to do it! Hugs to your grandson from Dee

  100. on baptist history

    Baptists trace the movement to Smythe and Helwys in 1608 or 1609, more than 400 years ago. They were the first anabaptists who adopted what is basic baptist theology and practice. The idea was that the church should be composed of those who had become regenerate by their profession of faith in God and then been Baptized, in contrast to many baptized as infants who never made a knowing profession of faith prior to admission to the church roll.

  101. RE: Bounded Reality on Sun, Feb 05 2012 at 02:58 pm:

    I create an alternate world of faith not so much for the bad stuff that happens to all in this life, but for the continuation of the good stuff in the next. In short, I’m acting purely in my own self interest. Not out of fear of the medieval doctrine of hell, which I reject by the way, but because strict rationalism and pure reason have failed for me personally.

    I applaud those who need no such alternate view of reality and who get by just fine without faith, but that path is not for me. Madonna put it better than I can when she wrote:

    “…Life is a mystery, everyone must stand alone, I hear you call my name, and it feels like home…”

  102. Eagle,

    I can say that might be the grossest story you have ever told on the blogs. That one is on par with Driscoll seeing women raped. Why on earth would someone take someone aside and say “hey man can I tell you about how I pray while having sex?” I don’t think they think that sounds strange! Wow. wow. wow.

  103. Dee,

    you should do a post on the men in these movements that are being abused. I just read something on Imonk that made me think. The calvinista leave no room for the introverted male. I think there are introverted males within this organizations who earnestly want to be pleasing to God but because of their personalities, are being attacked. I could be wrong but this one is close to me because my dear father and husband are both introverts and if they were a part of these groups they would be odd man out. What are your thoughts?

  104. Eagle – actually, you just did an awfully good job of describing a typical discipleship/shepherding movement thing from the 70s.

    I knew people who were told how often they could have sex, when they could have it, etc. etc. No doubt they were instructed to pray about positions as well.

    (This was in the late 1970s.)

    So… as the writer of Ecclesiastes said, there is nothing new under the sun.

  105. Robin

    That is an interesting topic. DRiscoll has made fun of effeminate worship leaders and seem to extoll an “in your face” street bully image for pastor which is imitated by Perry Noble and others. I will toodle on over to the IMonk site and see what they are saying on this matter. Good topic. Thanks

  106. Eagle
    Not only will we be discussing it, but we will be writing extensively about the topic over the next months.

  107. Eagle

    Now that is one that I have not heard before although it does not surprise me. A long time go, I had a friend who said God was interested in helping us with every little detail of our lives. So she would pray that He would help her put the curlers in her hair correctly and pray for assistance in what color to wear that day. I started thinking about the ramifications of this. I would need to spend my whole time in prayer for each step of the day, In other words, why get up? Just pray.

    I think this grows out of an extreme view that man has little free will whatsoever and that our lives are controlled from above. We are essentially Chatty Cathy doll. Pull our strings and we speak. I prefer the life exemplified by Brother Lawrence in the little book called The Practice of the Presence of God. You should read it. he was this monk a few hundred years ago who lived in a monastery and worked in a kitchen. He called God “The God of the Pots and Pans.” He said said God was always present in our day and the more we realize that He is our Friend who encourages us and not a Puppetmaster, the more enjoyment and fulfillment we find in our faith.

    People like the ones you described are trapped in a religious system in which they must perform “exactingly” for a God who is waiting for them to make the wrong step.They are trapped in a works oriented faith and that faith will let them down. I wonder what will happen when, one day they pray, and something awful happens?

    Well, I have to continue to put my kitchen back together after having it painted. i wonder if I should pray to see in which drawer to place the cheese grater?

  108. Forgive the long quote, but this is from a must read over at mattew paul turner’s blog. The entry is entitled “Date the Church”. Very on target , IMO.

    “In one of the best stories in the entire Old Testament, God told one of his prophets, Hosea, to marry a whore, have children with her, and stay married to her even when she went whoring again. His marriage was a living example of God’s faithfulness to Israel. What’s even more incredible is that God became human to keep Israel’s part of the promises. Jesus kept every promise that Israel broke. And then He opened the door for non-Jews to participate in these covenants and become God’s children too.

    This is the kind of commitment we’re supposed to emulate. By dating a church for awhile, you have a better chance of seeing what kind of spouse they are. Roll up your sleeves and get dirty, sweaty, and tired together so you can find out who they are when they’re at their worst. Watch how the people respond to financial pressure. Pay close attention when a family encounters a crisis – does the church blame them for lack of faith or rally around with love and support? Most important, examine how they handle people’s failures. Look for grace, mercy, forgiveness, and restoration. Look for practical help with recovery. As cheesy as it sounds, look for what Jesus would do. If they run the person out on a rail, run as fast as you can.”


  109. Scars! Jesus’s scars represent injustice done to Him by Pharisees, Romans. He knows more about undeserved punishment than anyone of us. The bottom line of the gospel is that Jesus voluntarily bore the wrath of the Father God against sin.

    To us who have borne injustices and the wounds those blows open, Jesus Christ’s scars are our comfort. He suffered and we fellowship in His suffering. We escape the Father’s judgement b/c we believe that Christ’s judgement on the cross is enough. Those who do not believe in the power of the Cross face God’s judgement at the end of their lives and the end of this world. “he has delivered us from the wrath to come”

    The mercy that we have been shown in our escape from the judgement of the Father is why we show mercy to others. Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy. And we forgive b/c we are forgiven.

    Mark Driscoll, CJ Maheny, Young, et al may or may not be destined for that final judgement. We do not know. They certainly seem to line up with the crowd of whom He says, “I never knew you.” If for no other reason than that they do not recognize Christ in the least of us. Their abuse of sheep is their abuse of the Shepherd so the text tells us. And we also know that is is not us they hate but Him though it often feels like us.

    I said all that to say this. Great injustice was committed against me and my husband personally. We were used for MD’s gain and agrandizement however we consciously forgave and let it go knowing that Christ used it to for His good, to teach and protect us. And we count it a joy and an honor to suffer persecution for His name’s sake. And like those who cry from under the altar, “How long, how long?” We wait patiently on our God knowing He is faithful and just.

  110. Eagle–

    I had no idea what Fundagelicals were until I followed a link Numo shared with me from Steph Drury’s “Stuff Christian Culture Likes” called “Stuff Fundys Like” It’s comedic, but a lot of the stuff is just plain ole sad. It has been helpful, though, in identifying fundamentalism and people who are such in my old church. It’s helping a lot of things make sense. I think a lot of ex-IFBers probably now go to less stringent churches, yet disseminate their own ideals and views of Christian culture.

    The other bothersome thing to note is that with more and more church plants being istalled, or ministries like 9 Marks going out to “help” other churches become “healthy”, then you will continue to have this type of infiltration and influence of this type of ridiculous “Christian” culture spread throughout the Christian community.

    People literally are asked to go and help other churches become healthy by attending and modeling as a “healthy” member. I was 2 seconds from doing this and moving to a church in Great Britain to help it become “healthy”. I’m so glad that never happened!

  111. Eagle–

    Also, I was “close” “friends” with an ex-Crusader. Talking about messed up. This girl is suffocated in legalism much like the couple you were talking about. Always obsessing over having negative or wrong thoughts. Always obsessing over praying about how to spend each and every moment of the day dedicated to God. Beyond a plethora of other issue, a real fundamental mess. Legalism and fundy thought will eat up your spirit and make you physically sick, even. The more this person performed and took on for the church, serving to no end, the more I saw them become sick and sicker. It’s interesting how some people think God wants every ounce of us in a way that we translate that to performance and works, that we become physically ill and mentally weak and unstable.

  112. Kevin Potts,

    Many thanks for the courage and concern you’ve displayed in sharing your story. I believe God will use your testimony to comfort, encourage, and warn others.


    “There is nothing worse than a middle aged man pretending he is cool. That goes for both Driscoll and Young.”

    So true! Driscoll tries way too hard to be cool, and it’s not working. In fact, he’s achieving the exact opposite effect. I’m sure there are plenty of MH congregants who think the same thing but don’t or feel they can’t say anything. Whenever I see Driscoll referred to as “hyper-masculine”, I have to chuckle a little. My mind goes straight to the doughy, Mickey Mouse and paisley wearing guy who goes on asinine rants in the pulpit. He is the exact OPPOSITE of masculine.

  113. The discipled/shepherded folks in the 70’s told by their leaders when/how to have sex reminded me of the children of gOd led by “Moses David”, who instructed the young ladies to do “flirty fishing” of male converts, or FF’ing, leading to Escort Servicing, or ES’ing. They’d “show gOd’s love” and collect “donations” for the cult, while also producing a second generation of “Jesus Babies”.

  114. Eagle:

    What a wierd story.

    I often interact with people who were and are involved with Campus Crusade, RUF, Intervarsity, Navigators, Baptist Collegiate Ministries and other similar campus groups.

    I have never heard a story like that.

    I have heard about people trying to raise the dead, but they were charismatics. The folks from these groups that I know are not charismatic.

    Is it your belief that all of these groups are the same, regardless of the campus and no one in these groups is well balanced? Or is it that your belief that the ones you hung out with were off base?

  115. Dee –

    Chatty Cathy – hmmm. Seems we come from the same era!

    Make a joyful noise with those pots and pans! Seriously, the clatter you make in your kitchen as you put it back in order using a God-given brain must surely delight our Father. What a blessing to have a new paint job, too!

  116. About the robot-controlled “pray about every single thing” comment above – I got that idea, too, back in the early-mid 70s, from “teachings” heard/read I am no longer certain where… the point is, I really tried to do that for a while.

    And abandoned it, without being able to articulate why.

    Years later, it’s obvious, but when you’re young and someone who appears to be the best Hearer of God on the block *tells* you to do something, well then….

    Agreed on the resemblance to Chatty Cathy.

  117. It also makes God look like a mean kid with an ant farm who just can’t wait to burm em’ with a magnifying glass when they screw up.

    I am soooooo glad to be free of all that horse crap.

  118. Thanks, Eagle.

    I have heard good things about Maclean Bible Church. The family that lead me to Christ as a young boy and modeled what Christians should be left our area and retired to the DC area to be near grandchildren. I believe they attend MBC. I don’t think that they would do anything like this music person suggested, so I am believing that out of the 12,000 there are some bad apples. I wish you would have reported this to somebody at MCB at the time.

  119. Numo
    I am sitting here in my kitchen praying that God will help me decide where to put my toaster….

  120. Dee–

    I would pay to see you Tebow-it in the grocery store!!! I just laughed real loud!! Haha Please have Deb take a picture of u doing that and post for us…

  121. Dee –

    Put it someplace where you don’t see all those pesky crumbs that get left behind so, in turn, you won’t be tempted to worry about having “clean counters” – Ha!

  122. “Birds of a feather, flock together.”

    Why is it that Piper and others don’t’ speak out on this “authority” issue? Because they agree with it.

    My grandmother was a great theologian. She said, “If you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.” Sooner or later, there will be a train wreck.

  123. Folks, I honestly think these guys are totally off their rocker (meds??) and I find it hard to fathom the prayer before/during sex…. really???????!!!!!!! Then there’s Driscol and Young who both seem to have this “we’re the only ones that know about sex and how it should be done” attitude – you’d think they were both Don Juan’s or similar who never fail in their ability to please their wives or themselves sexually in every imaginable way and to that end they write books far more explicit than my post here to educate all of us who, in their minds, are uneducated in these matters. After nearly 16 years of marriage to a wonderful lady (my first and only!) I think we have a pretty good grasp on things sexual – don’t think we need Mark, Ed or an orchestra leader imparting their kooked up ideas on the subject. All this gives new meaning to the word abuse in all its forms!

  124. Knoxville Guy
    Sex is a cover for the new legalism. They pretend they are “oh so free” and instead they are “oh so in control” and into themselves.

  125. Dee,

    I think Arce liked randall slack’s adages (just above his). We’ve used one of them here:

    Birds of a Feather Flock Together


  126. If you lie down with dogs, you will get fleas (and possibly ticks, too). And my great grandmother put it “If you lie down with dogs, you will get fleas and stink like a dog too.”

  127. It’s not enough for these guys to control your church attendance, money, what you say and think, how you believe noooo – now they have to control the most intimate part of life for people…. their sex lives. Is the bedroom not sacred anymore??? Can we not go in shut the door and enjoy the God given/blessed intimacy with our spouses without Driscol and others checking us off on all the things we’re doing right and wrong according to them??? And these guys have the gall to whine, complain and rail against people who question their motives behind all this and further wonder why people leave their “so called” churches or refuse to go at all!

  128. Question:
    We, as a church, have a ‘Partnership Covenant,’ which was not drawn up by a lawyer. We asked the folks to sign it as a understanding of the commitment we are expecting from them (both in service within the church and as apart of the churc). While this is in no way legally binding, we expect them to keep their word. But if they feel called to leave, then so be it, we are not to stop them.
    This document also asks for partners to submit to church discipline if they are in fact living in sin (however the final piece of church discipline differs heavily from that of Mars Hill).
    The questions is this: What are your thoughts about this?

  129. Sam

    How did the covenant get drawn up? Did the church take it from another church or read a book about how to draw up an agreement? If so, there are still legal implications.Does the document spell out the circumstances for church discipline such as shacking up, etc.?

    I have written about a situation at Bent Tree Bible Fellowship (Pete Briscoe) in which the elders quietly asked a man to leave the church who was living with his girlfriend after leaving his wife. The elders then spent the next year or so following up with the guy (not shunning him).Their quiet dedication worked and the man left his honey, reunited with his wife and is now involved in helping others in this situation. Few people at BTBF were aware of what happened. So, when Pete decided to do a sermon on how to handle an unrepentant situation, he got up and said-“I’ll let the guy who went through it tell you all. “The man and his wife got up and told their story. It was a testimony to the maturity and grace of the elders and to Pete.There was not a dry eye on the church that day.

    No big church meeting, no instructions in how to actively shun, etc. were employed.

    However, there are churches that apply church discipline for all sorts of things-like questioning a pastor’s salary, etc. So, it all boils down to whether you are a good church in which love and grace are emphasized or if you are a legalistic, controlling church. What is the point of church discipline? is it to prove the pastor’s authority, to “punish” someone or is it to bring resolution and grace to the situation. I think, if you are truly honest with yourself, you will know which one you are.

  130. First, thank you for your reply. I’m honored to have had it.

    Second, I wrote the main portion of the covenant, not from another church’s form, but from what I thought we’d would be a no-duh deal for most people. It was more of an open communication of what we’ll expect, so there’s no questions or wondering.

    The covenant refers to church discipline as far as pointing to Matt 18:15-18, and leaving it there. However in my understanding of that passage there’s no shunning to even be remotely interpreted through it. (here’s my thoughts on it, at least the final part: )

    This is helpful for me. Thank again.

  131. …both seem to have this “we’re the only ones that know about sex and how it should be done” attitude – you’d think they were both Don Juan’s or similar who never fail in their ability to please their wives or themselves sexually in every imaginable way…

    Maybe they are — in their own minds.

  132. Jazzlynne
    Get him to tell you what he likes about the church. Show him a post from one of the newspapers or one of the blog sites and ask him why people seem to be concerned. If he gets irritated, back off. You might want to give him a book like The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse. Just tell him he might find it interesting. You should read it first to give you understanding.

    Then wait and pray. Things are beginning to escalate and if Driscoll keeps going down this path , I am sure that there will be bigger and bigger mistakes. I am so sorry and i will pray for him as well.

  133. Number Please? “ACT29 Ad Nauseam?” *

    HowDee YaAll,

    Will the Mark Driscoll Rule Book or Acts29 Proper Christian Living Guide for the Seattle’s young ‘reformed’ work for America?  

    Ahem! Will it work for the English speaking world?



    There is nothing wrong with your Acts29 Satellite Viewscreen. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We control the content… We control the message… We control the reception…


    We will control your horizontal relationships?!?
    We will control the vertical relationship with God?!?
    We can enlarge the Driscoll image, make your heart flutter. We can change your mental focus to a soft blur or sharpen it to crystal controlled Acts29 clarity. 



    (For The Next Twenty Years Or So, Sit Quietly And We Will Attempt To Control All That You See And Hear And Do. We repeat: There Is Nothing Wrong With Your Acts29 Satellite Viewscreen.)

    Oh! my…

    You are about to participate in a great religious adventure. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner-city of Seattle to the ‘outer limits’ of Mark Driscoll’s mind. 

    Oh! e Oh, oh oh…

    Enjoy your ‘journey’…


    hahahahahahaha ;~)

    Sopy ♥,† 
    “Lead Me, Lord…Cuz I Can’t Do This Lone!”

    “Snark Reality?”

    * ACT29 Ad Nauseam, is a Latin term used to describe a church process which has been continuing “to [the point of] nausea”.

  134. Sopy
    Take me back to the past! I loved the old Outer Limits and Twilight Zones. In fact, it is a wonderful analogy for what i going on in today’s church. This is one blog that will bring some light to the Twilight howsoever. And the Martians have slipped up and they no longer control what we see. Dadgum that stupid internet. It lets the no accounts take account and they refuse to see it the Martian way.

  135. I am a member of a PCA church, a Reformed church that has as our statement of faith the Westminster Confession of Faith, as adopted by our denomination (the part about the Pope being Antichrist were not brought over from the original document).

    We also have a Book of Church Order — how things are to be done, including election and installation of officers, church discipline, etc. One thing we have is membership vows, which a person takes on joining a church in our denomination. A copy of the vows can be found here: (not my church, but found on a Google search).

    These are vows made before God and the congregation one is joining — not a written covenant WITH THAT CHURCH body. Further, the church and its Teaching Elder(s) is/are accountable to a Presbytery and a General Assembly.

    This differs a great deal from what is the practice of MHC, especially as has been seen recently in the case of “Andrew” and his ordeal with an ad hominem, pragmatic church discipline process that is bent on exclusion, not restoration, of a young man who made the fatal error of cheating on his fiancee, the daughter of an elder…who he also happened to be doing more with than sitting in a dating parlor playing checkers and drinking decaffeinated unsweetened iced tea.

    I hate to say, though, MHC is not alone. The elders of a local church I used to attend, which has been influenced in part by MD and MHC, last year stumbled over themselves figuring out what to do about a good friend of mine who was part of the music rock band leading worship music — who appeared to be dating a woman who was an unbeliever, according to the statement of someone who left the church over something else and offered this as an “oh by the way” parting shot. The lady was a good friend. They later dated and became engaged. She was at the time NOT dating him and WAS a (new) Believer. The mere suggestion of something by a disgruntled former congregant that might seem to some to be inappropriate (gosh! hanging out with unbelievers and sinners! JESUS would NEVEERRRR do something as radical as that, would he?! How DARE His followers?!). He was removed from the “worship team” for a time, while elders (it sounds like there are now 5 members to ever elder, almost) came up with what to do. No BCO or book of discipline, so…pragmatic approach. Thank God for leading me out of there to a church that, though imperfect, is grounded in (gasp, another naughty word for the would-be-reformed) tradition AND Scripture.

  136. Mark
    I fully understand you decision. I know many people who are leaving the madness of the post-evangelcial craziness for the comfort of something grounded in tradition and Scripture. I envy you. I tried to move to an Anglican church but had a little hiccup. (Read last week’s story on betrayal). One day, perhaps. Thank you for your thoughtful analysis.

  137. Kent Johnson,

    How about this comparison:

    FBC The Colony

    “Q: Is the membership covenant a legal document?
    A: Yes, any local church’s membership card is considered a legal document, just as is your current membership card.”

    Mars Hill Member Covenant

    “The member covenant is not a legal document or some sort of cultic rite. It is an affirmation, an agreement, and a source of accountability for both the church and its individual members.”

    Hmmm…. Sounds like a good blog post topic.

  138. Kent

    As to CCK-run, baby run. Do not, under any circumstances, unless you are self destructive, sign such a document. I feel a blog post coming on…

  139. Deb
    At least FBC admits it is a legal document. As such, people should consult their attorney, or at the minimum, a glamorous blog queen, before signing it. You gotta read the one from the Knoxville Cornerstone SGM affiliate. Good night!!