My Article At The Daily Beast: Is there a future or a funeral at Mark Driscoll's Resurgence imprint? UPDATE: Apparently there is a future…

UPDATE: Before you read anything in this post, please go read this post for an update on Tyndale’s defense of Mark Driscoll and the Resurgence imprint.
………………………..
As I report at the Daily Beast this morning, Mark Driscoll’s book The Problem with Christianity no longer has a page dedicated to it at Tyndale House. Furthermore, the publisher has no plans to reprint A Call to Resurgence after less than a year in circulation.
Tyndale declined to say why any of these steps were being taken but they seem remarkable. The Problem with Christianity had multiple products associated with it (DVD, study guide, etc.) and was slated to be released in the Fall. My understanding is that the book is finished and uses social science research which was contracted out to a polling firm. As I noted in the Daily Beast article, the book has been in the planning stages since March 2013.
Before the page was removed at Tyndale, the publisher described the book as follows:

Are Christians Crazy? A seismic shift has occurred across the cultural landscape. In a world where Christian values once formed the moral bedrock of society, Christians are now considered nothing short of crazy. Today, questions about social issues and “intolerant” Christians hog the headlines, portraying people of faith as angry and irrelevant. This cultural shift has touched just about everything—from conversations in coffeehouses to interactions with coworkers. And more often than not, the conversation begins with someone saying, “My problem with Christianity is . . .” Whether it’s the way Christians treat gays and lesbians or the church’s stance against abortion and premarital sex, people these days just don’t have much use for Christianity. In The Problem with Christianity, Pastor Mark Driscoll presents the findings of two groundbreaking surveys about the way Christians are perceived in today’s world. And with his trademark candor, Driscoll offers timely advice about how to respond to critics.

For more, go on over and read the Daily Beast.

Hobby Lobby Wins Religious Exemption At The Supreme Court; Social Media Reactions

This Burwell v. Hobby Lobby will be scrutinized widely and my purpose here is to put some links together on the decision.
In a 5-4 decision, the “Court holds that the government can’t require closely held corporations with religious owners to provide contraception coverage, though the government may provide that coverage itself.” The decision is a narrow rejection of the contraceptive requirement and does not invalidate other aspects of Obamacare.
A pdf of the opinion is here.
Follow coverage on the SCOTUS blog.
Some reactions:
Watch the Volokh Conspiracy for Eugene Volokh’s assessment of the case.
Larry Ross assembled a few reactions from religious leaders.

Change.org Petition Seeks Disclosure of Mars Hill Global Spending

A petition calling for accountability has been posted at Change.org and directed toward Sutton Turner, executive pastor at Mars Hill Church and Dan Busby, president of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.
Titled, “Mars Hill Church, tell us how much “Global Fund” money was spent on “international” outreach,” the petition briefly calls on Mars Hill to disclose the way Global Fund money was spent:

To:
Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, Dan Busby
Mars Hill Church, Sutton Turner
Mars Hill Church, please tell us how much “Global Fund” money was spent on “international” outreach. We donors, members and ex-members deserve transparency from the leadership at Mars Hill Church.
Sincerely,
[Your name]

At this writing, the petition has 20 signatures and is seeking 1,000.
Click here for more on Mars Hill Global.

Dear Mars Hill Church: Can You Answer One More Frequently Asked Question About Mars Hill Global?

How much of the Global Fund did you spend on international outreach and how much was spent on U.S. outreach during FYs 2013 and 2014?
On June 3, I posted a question for Mars Hill Church: Where did the Global Fund go? Yesterday, Mars Hill Church addressed that question and a few more by placing a frequently asked questions page about Mars Hill Global on their website.
Here is the answer:

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE GLOBAL FUND?

Since 2009, the term “Global Fund” has been used to help us distinguish between donors who attend our churches and donors who follow us online. Donations to the Global Fund were originally used to “start new Mars Hill campuses, plant new Acts 29 churches, and equip leaders at the Resurgence Training Center (Global Newsletter from 7/7/2009).” To reduce any confusion the name may have caused, we have since consolidated the “Global Fund” into the “General Fund (Local & Global)”, as that is where your gifts have always gone.

While it is nice to have a clear admission that gifts to the Global Fund have always gone to the Mars Hill General Fund, it would be nicer still if the Mars Hill executive elders would own and explain their contribution to the confusion. Clearly, the name was confusing and it is incredible for Mars Hill to admit that the church gave donors two giving options but the gifts have “always gone” to one fund in spite of the designation of the donors. Why have a Global Fund associated with Ethiopia and India if the money donated to it really just went to the General Fund and was mostly spent in the US?  Isn’t it fundamentally deceptive to have two funds with different names which really just go to the same purpose?

Now, Mars Hill leaders claim that the term “Global Fund” has been used since 2009 to help them distinguish between donors who attend Mars Hill churches and those who don’t but watch sermons online. However, this answer raises more questions because elsewhere Mars Hill Global is defined differently than now on the FAQ page. In a video that precedes every sermon from November 24, 2013 to April 27, 2014, executive pastor Sutton Turner said that both Mars Hill members and those who watch online should give to Mars Hill Global.  Watch (transcript follows):

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcseC6KpSBk[/youtube]

Howdy Mars Hill Church, pastor Sutton Turner here and I’m in Ethiopia, and I just want to thank Jesus for continuing to use Mars Hill Church to make disciples and plant churches. Mars Hill Global is the arm of Mars Hill Church that makes disciples and plant churches all over the world. We not only do church planting, but we help better equip church planters. Most recently, we shipped and now distributed a thousand Bibles into Amharic which is the language here in Ethiopia, and we launched a project to translate Pastor Mark Driscoll’s Doctrine book into Spanish. We have people from over 29 different countries that are giving on a monthly basis to Mars Hill Global.
So whether you’re a member of one of our Mars Hill Church locations in the United States or you’re one of 100,000 podcasters every single week, we encourage you to pray about giving above and beyond your tithe to Mars Hill Global. Thank you and let’s see more materials translated, more pastors sent out, more churches planted, and more people saved by Jesus Christ.

Clearly Turner here distinguishes between the General Fund (“tithe”) and Global Fund (“beyond your tithe”). There are several other videos posted throughout 2013 and 2014 which contain similar messages. Clearly, Mars Hill Global Fund then was about more than distinguishing between members and non-members. Members were asked to give to the fund and were able to designate gifts to the Global Fund until May of this year. Furthermore, the annual report for Fiscal Year 2013 defines Mars Hill Global differently than the FAQ does now:

In this annual report, Mars Hill Global is defined as something that Mars Hill Church does (“participate in the worldwide mission of Jesus”), not a way to distinguish between members and non-members.

When Mars Hill Global transitioned from being a platform to give money for The Resurgence, Acts 29 Network, and Mars Hill church planting efforts, the definition changed. Those who went to Marshillglobal.com in the latter half of 2012 were greeted with this screen:

With this definition of Mars Hill Global, it makes sense that people would expect that donations to the Global Fund would go toward “international ministries.” However, now we find out that all along the donations were going into a general fund and used to fund Mars Hill franchises in the United States. Furthermore, when donors gave money via the website, they had a choice to give money to the Global Fund and designate their location. Watch this demonstration of how the website worked prior to May 2014.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/a4EFX3-RXyg[/youtube]

As the video demonstrates, Mars Hill donors had an option to designate gifts to a Global Fund until May of this year. Now, donors who want to give to international missions through Mars Hill must do so by giving to the General Fund and hope that the leaders will allocate money to that end.  In fact, the FAQs address the fact that there is no direct means to support the international efforts of Mars Hill.  According to the FAQ:

CAN I DESIGNATE MY GIFTS TOWARDS INTERNATIONAL MISSION EFFORTS?

To better support Jesus’ mission and to allow us to effectively and efficiently steward the resources that God has provided us, we encourage all donors to send in their gifts unrestricted so that we can apply them where they are needed most. We believe scripture clearly calls us to be on Jesus’ mission, whether here in the U.S. or in other countries. As such, every donation is a contribution towards our efforts to carry out his mission, here in the US as well as India, Ethiopia, and around the world. Your support means more people are saved by Jesus Christ, more people are growing as disciples of Jesus, and more churches are being planted, no matter the location. You may contact giving@marshill.com if you’d like information on sponsoring specific needs and projects.

At the end of the day, the question remains: How was the money spent that donors designated to the Global Fund? Given that most of the promotional videos for Mars Hill Global were about Ethiopia, it seems reasonable that donors would expect that a large amount went there. However, unless Mars Hill provides a report, there is no way to know.
One reason this issue is important is due to Mars Hill’s accreditation by the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. Ultimately, the ECFA may be the only leverage that the public has to get this information. ECFA’s standard 5 requires organizations to be transparent and provide an accounting of project based giving upon request.

Project reporting.  The standard provides that “on written request,” every accredited organization “must provide a report, including financial information, on any specific project for which it sought or is seeking gifts.” Project reports communicate project results to donors and are a further evidence of the ministry’s accountability.
A “project” generally occurs when a donor places a restriction on a gift as to purpose, or a ministry accepts contributions that are solicited for a specific area of ministry, such as a program or project. Solicitation for project-related gifts may occur via fundraising events, through direct mail, Internet solicitation, by radio or television, and in other ways.
Unrestricted contributions have no implicit or explicit time or donor restrictions and are available to be used at any time and in any exempt area or operation of the organization. Therefore, project reporting does not apply to unrestricted gifts.

According to this ECFA guideline, unrestricted contributions are not subject to the same reporting requirements. Mars Hill appears to be making a case via the FAQs that the giving to the Global Fund was always unrestricted. Certainly they prefer it to be that way now according to the information provided above.
But was the Global Fund giving unrestricted during the 2013 and 2014 fiscal years? To me, it seems that since donors had an option to give to the General Fund or to the Global Fund and the Global Fund was being defined at the time as the church’s means to participate in the “worldwide mission of Jesus,” then Mars Hill is obligated to provide an accounting for at least FY 2013 and 2014 in accord with Standards 5 and 7.2 of the EFCA guidelines. I have asked the EFCA if they intend to require this accounting and they have yet to comment, saying only that they can’t comment while an organization is under review for compliance related issues.
In the mean time, perhaps Mars Hill will add the unanswered question to their FAQ and end the suspense.
 

Mark Driscoll's Spiritual Warfare Teaching and Mental Illness

Yesterday, I posted a link to the We Love Mars Hill website and a story about a woman who mentioned Mars Hill spiritual warfare protocols. The procedure Mars Hill pastors use to put a demon on trial is here.
Since the post came out, readers have sent some other stories and I was reminded that the I had written previously about the spiritual warfare series. Here I want to add some additional information.
Before I do that, let me add that for a Christian, this is a complex issue. I believe Satan is real, but I don’t believe it is helpful to link diagnosed mental illnesses to any kind of demonic activity. In 35 years of experience, I haven’t seen an instance where Mars Hill like interventions were necessary or helpful.* When I have been aware that an individual went through something like that, it was never helpful in a lasting manner. In general, I think it stigmatizes persons with mental illness to include brain-based problems (depression, eating disorders, mental illness) in any kind of spiritual warfare inventory.  People with these illnesses suffer enough without a minister telling them that their problems may be due to demonic influence. Persons with the kinds of trauma and problems listed in the Mars Hill spiritual warfare inventory should be seen by professionals trained to recognize and treat such conditions.
Hopefully, the awareness raised by re-visiting these issues via the Mars Hill experience can take us a little further toward ridding the church of stigma and antiquated methods of helping those with mental and emotional illnesses. Furthermore, I hope Christians working in medicine, psychology, and the helping professions will speak up in support of those they help.
In 2012, Matthew Paul Turner posted a story of a girl he called Amy who said she went through an exorcism like experience with Mark Driscoll. According to Turner, Mars Hill declined to comment but instead referred him to the spiritual warfare lectures on the Mars Hill website. Those lectures are now missing. In the mean time, I have heard from others who sincerely doubt the story. However, since Mars Hill hasn’t commented, it is hard to know. Some of what is described sounds similar to the spiritual warfare trial and other aspects seem exaggerated.
I was also reminded that I had posted a segment from the spiritual warfare teaching previously. In this post, I cover Driscoll’s claims to see the sins of others via visions which he then discloses to those he is with. These incidents come directly from Driscoll and are, in my opinion, completely inappropriate.
Then this morning I saw a promotion for Western Seminary’s partnership with Mars Hill. I wrote Western to ask if they will teach this kind of spiritual warfare trial and they have yet to reply.
 
*I realize that I have not experienced everything and remain open to hearing from people with different experience. All I can do is go on what I have seen in experience and reviewed in research.

League of the South Member Michael Peroutka Leads GOP Field in Anne Arundel County District 5 Council Primary Race, Wins Spot on GOP Central Committee

Past board member of the League of the South, Michael Peroutka, leads in the District 5 GOP nomination to run for Anne Arundel County Council against Democratic winner Patrick Armstrong. Armstrong defeated MD/VA League of the South chaplain David Whitney. Peroutka leads by just 36 votes with absentee ballots to be counted. The final tally won’t be known until all the outstanding ballots are counted by July 7.*
Peroutka also came in third in the race for the GOP Central Committee in MD Legislative District 31 which means he will be a member of the Central Committee and an official in the MD GOP.
According to League of the South President Michael Hill, Peroutka and Whitney are two of about a half-dozen League members to run for office this year. Hill told the Baltimore Sun that League members need to get elected to local offices in order to pursue the League’s goal of Southern secession from the United States. According to Hill, the League advocates for white Southerners and is fighting for the South as a homeland for white people of European descent.
League of the South membership was toxic for Rand Paul’s aide Jack Hunter but apparently not in the Anne Arundel County (MD) GOP.
I wonder if the MD GOP supports Peroutka’s positions on the Confederate army and racial discrimination.
*Earlier I said Peroutka had won the nomination but I failed to take into account the counting of additional absentee ballots. This will begin tomorrow and be completed by July 7. I regret any confusion this caused.

Mars Hill Church's Demon Trials: Mental Illness Considered Sign of Demonic Involvement Along with Pedophilia and Habitual Lying

We Love Mars Hill is a website with stories of people who once loved and attended Mars Hill Church but eventually felt hurt by the church in some manner. A story yesterday by former Mars Hill Albuquerque member Darlene Lopez caught my eye. Darlene Lopez wrote about “demon trials” that a fellow Mars Hill member went through. During the trial, the friend became convinced that she and Lopez should not be friends. This bewildered Lopez, who attended the Albuquerque franchise, so she looked up the protocol for “demon trials” on the Mars Hill website. She and her husband left the church soon afterwards. Referring to her friend (“she of the blue said…”), Lopez described the demon trials:

A couple months passed and then she of the blue said, “I don’t want to be your friend. I went to a demon trial”. Apparently, the elders were doing demon trials on members or anyone who had oppression in their life. Mark Driscoll wrote this whole procedure on how to summon, and then put on trial the demons that are oppressing the believer. It all sounded strange to us. I asked her why she couldn’t be my friend and she said my name was brought up in a demon trial. I asked her what that meant, and she didn’t answer any more questions other than “talk to your elder about it, but that she would no longer ask me for prayer, talk to me about spiritual things, etc. without giving any other reasons. She said we were still welcome to attend community group, though. A flood of emotions came in, there was no sin issue as we had already dealt with her concerns of gossip/talking too much two months prior so I didn’t understand why now she didn’t want to be friends. Her defense was that she should have listened to God two months ago and not be my friend. I asked her if she saw any changes in our friendship since then. She said yes, that we were talking less on the phone and that when we did talk we were praying and keeping it Christ-centered. To this day she says she ended our friendship because of “sin.” But it wasn’t until that demon trial that things changed.
We got a copy of the formality of the demon trial that Mark Driscoll wrote, and my husband thought it was very wacky and unbiblical.

You too can read about the procedure to conduct a demon trial on the Mars Hill website (how long will this remain on the site?). It is also a note on Mark Driscoll’s Facebook page. It is too long to reproduce here (go read it while it is still up, but if they take it down I will post a copy), but I want to put up a couple of startling excerpts.
First, Mars Hill and Driscoll apparently consider depression and mental illness to be manifestations of the demonic. Consider the following aspects of the spiritual inventory a person who might go through a demon trial should consider:

  • Please consider the following list and list each thing that has been besetting and/or habitual for you: bestiality, habitual lying, physically unhealthy, masturbation, lying, pornography, ongoing depression, suicidal thoughts, alcohol abuse, drug use, anger, blasphemy, violence, self-inflicted injury, rape, incest, eating disorders, mental illness, pedophilia, and anything else that comes to mind.
  • Please consider the following list of sins that may have been committed against you or by you: rape, incest, molestation, other forms of abuse (e.g., physical, sexual, mental, emotional), as well as anything else that comes to mind.
  • Please briefly explain any involvement you may have had with the occult, witchcraft, or anything spiritual other than orthodox biblical Christianity.
  • Please briefly list any of your ancestors and any activity they may have been involved in with the occult, witchcraft, other religions, drug use, alcohol abuse, sexual deviancy, rape, incest, mental illness, and anything else listed above or that comes to mind.

To the degree that Mars Hill pushes this teaching, they are part of the problem identified in 2013 via research by Lifeway. Ed Stetzer at Lifeway reported that 48% of evangelicals believe prayer and Bible study alone can cure serious mental illness. In the case of Mars Hill, apparently prayer, Bible study and a demon trial can work.
As depicted on the Mars Hill website, a demon trial is what it sounds like. A person who struggles with any of the issues on that list above is brought into a room with ministers and the demon assumed to be in the person is put on trial via a 12 step process. The “counselee” is expected to cooperate fully:

Step #4 – Explain the counselee’s participation.

  • Our authority is in Christ.
  • You must tell the entire truth.
  • Tell me everything the demon tells you, no matter how odd it may seem.
  • Tell me everything you see, no matter how odd it may seem.
  • Pride and fear will hinder our progress.

In my opinion, these instructions sets up the situation for the counselee to feel responsible if the “trial” fails.
Step 10 attempts to identify the root causes of the problems faced by the counselee (presumably mental illness continues to be on the list):

Step #10 – Ask the Spiritual Inventory questions.
Often it is best to begin with addressing ancestral sin and address it first because it tends to have the deepest root in someone’s life. The counselee can pray something like, “Lord Jesus, if there are any spirits who have anything to do with me, body, soul, or spirit because of my ancestral sin, I ask that you please forgive this sin and cancel any ground they have held against me.”
If there are any demons working in (name) in the area of (issue), we bind all of you together along with all of your works and effects and command that you come forward.
We now command that spirit holding highest authority of all those bound and brought forward in the area of (issue) to step forward alone. We put a hedge of thorns around you, above you, and below you. You will not be interfered with by anyone. 

With the demon now identified and speaking through the counselee, the Mars Hill exorcist can talk directly to the demon:

Then address that spirit holding highest authority of the group bound and brought forward and ask them.
In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ . . .

  1. What is your name?
  • Will that stand as truth before the White Throne of the Lord God Almighty?
  • You have responded to the name ______, we bind you by that name and upon command you will go to the pit bound by that name with all of your works and effects and all of your associates and their works and effects as well.
  • When did you come?
  • Will that stand as truth before the White Throne of the Lord God Almighty?

There are more questions to ask the demon but you can read the rest. This procedure should be repeated to make sure all demons are removed:

Finally, command that the highest-ranking spirit remaining other than the Holy Spirit (if there is one) step forward and identify themselves to ensure none has been overlooked. Complete the process of cleansing. Close with a general prayer to cover anything that may have been overlooked.

Over the years, I have seen the damage this approach can cause. People with mental illness, in their desperation, have sought out these experiences only to be worse off afterwards. The stigma against mental illness is a barrier to effective treatment of treatable conditions and management of chronic conditions. Procedures such as described here are certainly part of the problem.
Here is the entire post from Driscoll’s Facebook page:

Want to tell Mars Hill to stop linking mental illness and demon trials? Write them here.

More Evidence That Mars Hill Global Was About International Missions from 2012-2014

At one time, Mars Hill Global was a platform for people to give to Resurgence,Mars Hill Church and Acts 29 Network. However, by August 2012, the branding had changed as the materials below demonstrate. The means to give to all three was changed to The Connect Desk and Mars Hill Global became the ministry to provide for “church planters internationally.”
Currently, Mars Hill Church has declined to provide me with information about their use of Mars Hill Global donations for FY 2013 and the months up through the end of April. This period of time is relevant because Mars Hill changed the way they marketed Mars Hill Global early in FY 2013 (calendar year 2012). In August 2012, this notice was placed on the domain marshillglobal.com.

current webpage (soon to be removed I suspect but I have a copy) on TheResurgence.com explains what happened.

The 2013 Annual Report reinforced this change by only reporting international mission accomplishments.

Up until May 2014, a donor could give to a Global Fund which was tied to the Mars Hill Global website, which was tied to numerous videos of efforts in Ethiopia and India. Only recently, after my reporting on this subject, have we learned that the Global Fund helped pay for the down payment and start up costs for Mars Hill Everett and other franchises.
 
 

The Voice of the Voiceless (sic) Campaign: Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right

Subtitle: Conservatives Against Crazy Therapies #savethepillows (see video below).
Right wing website The College Fix misses the point in an article published last Friday (6/20).
The assumption on the part of Chris Doyle and author Claire Healey seems to be that incorrect information provided by college counseling or resource centers should lead to the addition of more incorrect information at those same centers. In other words, since LGBT centers say some things that might be inaccurate or can’t be proven, ex-gay supporters should be allowed to do the same thing.
This is not “right-minded” but rather wrong-headed.
Doyle can’t offer any evidence for his claims, and as his campaign shows, his group is hardly voiceless.
Conservatives should not react in a knee jerk fashion against what seems like viewpoint discrimination to simply offer what seems to be the opposite position (e.g., gay groups say gays can’t change, conservative groups then should support the notion that gays can change). What seems like the opposite position of the position you don’t like is not of necessity the correct one. In this case, it is true that research has not found a consensus around the causes of homosexuality. However, that does not mean that Doyle’s version of weak fathering and overbearing mothering is correct. In fact, that model doesn’t have support in research. There are many good empirical reasons to question that model for most gays.  Doyle’s therapy approach is based on that causal model which, in addition to the absence of any empirical support, opens it up to skepticism.
Two wrongs don’t create a “right-minded” stance and is a loser as a conservative position.
Chris Doyle’s mentor Richard Cohen in action:
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VtGouVqsmsg[/youtube]
Sorry, can’t imagine a college promoting this anti-science brand of ex-gay therapy but that is what Doyle’s IHF is known for.

Candidates for Maryland County Council Get Blessing of League of the South's President

Institute on the Constitution’s Owner/Director Michael Peroutka and Senior Instructor David Whitney will face voters Tuesday in the Republican and Democratic primaries respectively for the chance to face each other in the election for Anne Arundel County Council.  The Baltimore Sun profiled them on Saturday and shed some light on their relationship with the white separatist group League of the South.
Last June, Peroutka joined the board of the League of the South and Whitney is the chaplain of the MD/VA chapter of the League. When Peroutka joined the board, he told the League that he would dedicate the work of the Institute on the Constitution as well as his family’s resources to the League. When Peroutka’s name recently  disappeared from the League board roster, I asked League president Michael Hill via Twitter why Peroutka was no longer a board member. I received no answer and so I have been curious about the change. With Peroutka moving into politics again, I thought perhaps they had decided to go separate ways toward their mutual goals. Now we read in the Baltimore Sun article that League president Michael Hill is pleased that Peroutka and Whitney are running for office. Although Hill’s group has endorsed Peroutka before for elective office (when Peroutka ran for president as the representative of the Constitution Party in 2004), the League often shies away from election politics. However, according to the Sun article:

Hill won’t say how many members the League of the South has but said that about half a dozen members are running for elective office this year. He praised Peroutka and Whitney for their leadership in running for office and publicly discussing their beliefs.

Hill has condemned modern America as corrupt so why would he be pleased that his members are running to be a part of the system? The Sun article provides information on that point.

The league advocates for Southern secession to create a new governance for Southern states, including Maryland. Hill said the group first must get candidates elected to local offices before formally pursuing secession.

There you go Marylanders. Elect League of the South members if you want to set the stage for Southern secession.
Hill complains about being called a neo-Confederate group. Perhaps if they didn’t wave the Confederate flag all over the place and lionize Confederate heroes and seek to turn the government back to the Confederate constitution (see the Grey Book), then they wouldn’t get the label. I call them white separatist because Hill’s group advocates solely for white Southerners.