How Did Church Leaders List Get Mars Hill Church's Email List?

Initially, the story of Craig Gross buying an email list from Church Leaders List seemed like a marketing story gone sideways. However, there appears to be much more to the matter.
At the end of Christianity Today’s article on this, Bob Smietana wrote:

On Tuesday, Dean apologized for his part in the drama over the list. He admitted that he’d been involved the initial sale of the list to churchleaderlist.com (screen cap of page now removed from the web).

Now Justin Dean’s website is down (and his Twitter page has been removed) and so that statement is not available (except via Google cache) and screen cap below.
DeanApologyCLL
 
According to Craig Gross’ explanation, Dean’s involvement may have been that Dean was churchleaderlist.com. I asked Dean yesterday and today about his dealings with Church Leaders List but have not heard back from him. Gross wrote:

I found  it interesting that as soon as I posted this that Justin Dean posted a blog on his website that he somewhat apologized for distributing the list to me. Lets be clear, he sold the list to me. He didn’t broker a transaction. He sold me the list along with several other people who paid $1350-$1500 for the list.

I asked the lawyer that was in charge selling the assets for 100k earlier in 2014 and he said that no one has purchased the rights to sell these assets yet.

I have seen communications which indicate to me that Mars Hill Church has not sold The Resurgence email lists. Thus, if the lists have not been sold by Mars Hill Church, then how did Church Leaders List get them?
From my conversations with former Mars Hill staff, I believe there is a limited group of people who have access to the lists.
Mars Hill Church is still a viable entity but has not responded to repeated requests for information or comment. Given the non-profit status of the church, the public and former members still have an interest in their operations. If the church is selling member emails without permission, then they should come forward and acknowledge this. If not, then the question remains, how did Church Leaders List get that information?
 
 

Blood Moon Movie to Rise Again

So Monday night, John Hagee’s Blood Moon movie aired around the country. According to promoters, it was so popular that they are bringing it back in April.
Unless, of course, the world ends before that.
A breathless press release gives the details:
BloodMoonpresser
Read the rest here.
There is at least one sentence in the press release that I bet the writer would like to take back.

 It is rare that science, history and scripture align with each other, yet the last three series of Four Blood Moons have done exactly that. 

If scripture is true, then such alignments should be common place. In fact, believers shouldn’t fear science or history. Instead believers should be wary of other believers who think they have everything in science and history figured out.
As a sidebar to this “docu-drama,” World Net Daily’s Joseph Farah took on John Hagee’s claim that he discovered the Blood Moon alignment, using words like “plagiarism” to describe Hagee’s book and movie (see this for example). Since Farah published another book by Mark Blitz on the Blood Moon deal, he has some skin in the game. Be interesting to see how that plays out.
If nothing happens, probably no one will care much about who was wrong first.
 

Lifeway Pulls All Heaven Tourism Books

To Baptist Press, Lifeway yesterday announced that all heaven tourism books will no longer be sold in their stores.

 LifeWay Christian Resources has stopped selling all “experiential testimonies about heaven” following consideration of a 2014 Southern Baptist Convention resolution on “the sufficiency of Scripture regarding the afterlife.”

This snowball started rolling when Lifeway pulled the book The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven. When the subject of the book, Alex Malarkey, publicly retracted his story of being in heaven, Tyndale House also pulled the book from the shelves. The situation was noteworthy in that Tyndale House knew for at least two years that the child listed as a co-author and the boy’s mother did not have full confidence in the story. I covered this story extensively in January.
Don Piper’s 90 Minutes in Heaven is about to come out as a movie. The announcement from Lifeway was prompted by a question about Piper’s book.

UK Evangelical Blog Calls for Forgiveness for Mark Driscoll

Sunday, Threads, a young looking UK evangelical blog, posted a call from Alex Willmott for people everywhere to forgive Mark Driscoll.
Mr. Willmott wants forgiveness for something he did so he naturally thought of Mark Driscoll. Or something like that.
It is pretty funny actually. To wit:

Time to make some enemies now. Mark Driscoll. He brought the Bible to life for millions of people. He said some really important things. He then said some really stupid things. He caused a lot of hurt. He then said sorry. He probably is sorry. It doesn’t matter though. He may as well have shot a thousand dolphins out of a cannon made of elephant tusks while wearing a SS Gestapo uniform with the words ‘I’m glad Mufasa died’ written all over it.
We’ve written him off. Yes, we believe that Peter could be forgiven for denying Jesus three times. Yes, we believe that King David could be restored despite pretty much breaking all of the commandments. Yes, we also believe that we can all be forgiven for all the horrible things we’ve placed on the throne of our lives. But him?! That vile dolphin shooting bastard. Not a chance. He’s a sexist!

Oh my, can I forgive him for defining the Mars Hill situation so poorly? If only that is what Mark Driscoll and his friends did.
Willmot then confesses he is using poor unforgiven Mark Driscoll for his own purposes.

As you can tell by my bullish, sarcastic tones, this is a subject that is close to my heart. And the reason for this is because I’m currently awaiting forgiveness. It’s a weird place to be in. I wrote something that offended a large part of a charismatic community. I’ve since been written about, gossiped about and I’m currently being avoided at all costs by a few people who once called me a close friend. Sadly, the word ‘Sorry’ doesn’t seem to cut it anymore. Driscoll has proven that; that Mufasa-murdering, unschooled churl of a man. I too have seen my attempts of an apology cast to one side like gone off fruit. I’ve tried, and I’ll try again.

In this paragraph we find that Driscoll didn’t just wear a tee-shirt, he actually killed Mufasa.
Writing an article people disagree with is not necessarily an offense. I don’t know what to do with an article like this except say that it seems to be more about the author than the subject and I hope Mr. Willmott* finds willing forgivers among any people he has actually wronged. Having talked to numerous people who live in Seattle, I feel confident that Mark Driscoll would find willing forgivers if he asked.
*I corrected the spelling of Mr. Willmott’s name, hope he will forgive me.

Craig Gross and Justin Dean Speak about The Mars Hill/Resurgence Mailing List Story

UPDATE: Just a bit ago, Craig Gross updated his post with the following information:

I asked the lawyer that was in charge selling the assets for 100k earlier in 2014 and he said that no one has purchased the rights to sell these assets yet

That lawyer is Steven Goodspeed and Gross is referring to this information about the sale of The Resurgence website and MCACLLAdvertisementrelated email lists. If these assets have not been purchased, then how did Church Leaders List get the email list?
UPDATE 2: Wenatchee the Hatchet just posted a screen cap of Justin Dean’s Ministry Communicators Association with an ad for Church Leaders List on his MCA Facebook page.
————————————-
Last night, I noted that Craig Gross, director of xxxchurch.com, sent out an email to a mailing list he purchased from a now missing-in-action website called Church Leaders List. The email included former Mars Hill Church members and those who had signed up for information from Mars Hill’s training ministry, The Resurgence. Gross received a backlash from supporters of Mark Driscoll because the email included critical remarks about Driscoll. Read the entire email here.
Now Craig Gross has provided his perspective on the matter at his blog and Justin Dean has done the same on his website.
Dean’s statement to me in full is as follows:

I issued an apology here: http://justinjdean.com/craig-gross-the-real-story/. I regret my involvement in distributing the list and am deeply sorry. While I was not involved in Craig’s email, I’m equally at fault. Although I think it’s a shame that your story isn’t about Craig Gross’s misuse of the list to spread gossip, and his unapologetic attitude towards doing so.

Craig Gross sent a link to his website as well.
From start to finish, here is how I see it.
Someone took out Churchleaderslist.com as a domain on March 3, 2015. A twitter account was established at about the same time. Not long after that, the website was live and twitter activity began advertising the sale of a mailing list of Christians and church leaders. See screen caps below. First the twitter account:
churchleaderslisttwitter
 
The website is no longer available but a screen capture of the cache is below:
churchleaderslistwebsitecache
 
Justin Dean said he believed the mailing list would be used for spreading the gospel. The website recommended by Dean indicates that the list can be used to promote books, events or products.
The pitch for the website says the lists were compiled from churches, websites and conferences. Apparently, some or many of those addresses have been used without permission.
According to Craig Gross, Justin Dean pitched the mailing list (Gross says Dean pitched The Resurgence list) to Gross’ staff on March 15 (see his post for a screen cap of the text). Dean says in his post that he was “involved in distributing a list of church leaders to a couple of people who I assumed would only use it to spread the gospel and bible teaching.” 
Gross then purchased the list and sent the email which stirred intense reaction from Mark Driscoll supporters yesterday afternoon. Sometime afterwards, the Church Leaders List website and twitter accounts were pulled. Gross received a refund for his purchase from Church Leaders List.
Gross then asked Dean if Dean sold the list. Gross noted that the media templates for Dean’s new Doxa Media company and Church Leaders List phone # is 678-829-4458, Dean’s phone # is 678-829-4455 (also uses 678-829-4450). A call to the Church Leaders List doesn’t get an answer.
According to Gross, Dean denied owning the list, saying instead that he was “involved” in distributing it.
This may blow over quickly but there are some important issues raised. Why did Church Leaders List close down as soon as former Mars Hill people started to complain? Who was/is behind Church Leaders List and where did they get those email addresses? Are the current leaders of Mars Hill Church selling emails of former members? If so, I wonder how Mars Hill Church members feel about this use without permission.
Additional information: It is curious that Marshill.com, Theresurgence.com, and a bunch of other related websites are registered to Justin Dean. Did Mars Hill Church sell them to him? Did they give them to him?
 

Historian Thomas Kidd on Deism During the Founding Era

This brief primer by Thomas Kidd in how deism was understood during the founding era is well worth reading.
Kidd cuts through the fog often generated by Christian nationalists (e.g., David Barton) and the new atheists regarding the religious beliefs of the founders. A brief sample:

So what was deism? In spite of all its diversity, deism was a strain of rationalist religion – many of its advocates, like Jefferson, would have called themselves Christians – which focused on the ethical, rational requirements of true faith and criticized the authority of ministers and institutional churches. Many of them, especially in England and America, believed that there was a true core of Christianity that one could recover through attention to Jesus’s teachings alone. One important aspect of deism that we often miss is that its adherents could hardly imagine a world not organized on theistic moral categories, such as the inherent goodness of charity. Most deists really did consider themselves serious theists, and many considered themselves devotees of Jesus and his teachings. Their deism was not just a convenient cloak for atheism.

I have read more by Jefferson than the other founders and believe Kidd to be on target.
 

Anti-Porn Ministry Buys Mailing List; Turns Out It Includes Mars Hill Church's The Resurgence Emails

UPDATE: It appears that the website used to purchase the list is now down and went down after Craig Gross pointed out where he got the list. I have a screen cap of it and it still exists on Google’s cache. The website does not identify the mailing list as being The Resurgence’s list. It seems Craig Gross didn’t know what he was getting into when he purchased the list at the recommendation of Justin Dean. I am wondering how Church Leaders List (which is now gone from Twitter — see the cache — and the web) got the emails.
See screen caps at the end of the post.
——————————————————-
(Beginning of original post)
There is some irony in this story.
Craig Gross, founder of XXXChurch.com has purchased the mailing list of Mars Hill Church’s training ministry, The Resurgence. In an email forwarded to me by several people (thanks Joe, Brandon and others), he offers a book called Open. Then, in his pitch for accountability software, he specifically identifies Mark Driscoll as an example of someone who was not open to accountability. From the email:

From: Craig Gross <craig@xxxchurch.com>
Date: Mon, Mar 23, 2015 at 4:53 PM
Subject: Mark Driscoll – The Real Story
To
my name is Craig Gross. I started XXXchurch.com 15 years ago to help people with porn addiction. We then created an accountability app called X3watch.com about 9 years ago and have been helping people stay accountable and safe on the internet ever since. In fact, X3watch now has over 1 million users and counting!

Two years ago, we partnered with Mark Driscoll and the Resurgence to be a major sponsor at the R13 conference, meaning we were able to have our logo and product talked about from the stage. The conference was great, our team met Mark and his staff, and we were able to help hundreds of pastors stay accountable to one another, their spouses, and their church staff.

This is where the story gets hard. I’ve seen a lot of pastors come and go because of extramarital affairs, flirting, porn addiction, gambling addictions, and a whole mess of other stuff. It’s never easy to see a pastor, leader or friends shipwreck their life because of bad choices. Usually they lose their spouse, respect from their kids, their extended family, and their job.

With Mark, the details are different but the core truth remains the same: he didn’t have people speaking into his life to help him make the best choices. This was his downfall. He didn’t let anyone in to help guide him, to speak truth to him, to coach him, to tell him when decisions might be a bad idea.

He didn’t make himself accountable.

As a leader, if you don’t have accountability, your time is coming. You will fall. I’m not saying this to scare you (okay, maybe I am), but it’s for your own good. I hope you all are choosing to be a leader that’s OPEN.

I wrote a book called “OPEN.” It deals with people coming to terms with all their sins and living a life that is transparent and honest.

I want to give you this book FREE. Also I want to give you 50% off of our premium accountability software. This will help you stay accountable online, filter the internet for your family, and help create a legacy worth talking about for generations to come. Simply use the code “resurgence” when you check out at www.x3watch.com. You will get a link to the book once you create your account.

Keep the Faith and Stay OPEN.

Craig Gross

A follow up letter was mailed to the recipients of the first clarifying how xxxchurch got the email addresses:

On Monday, Mar 23, 2015 at 6:33 PM, Craig Gross <craig@xxxchurch.com>, wrote:

Hey Guys and Gals, 

I sent you an email earlier. Just to be clear.
I apologize if my email caught you off guard. I bought an email list from http://www.churchleaderslist.com/.?utm_campaign=website&utm_source=sendgrid.com&utm_medium=email Mark’s right hand guy at Mars Hill told us that this list was the Resurgence list. 

Craig

So the Resurgence mailing list is being used to promote marketing that uses Mark Driscoll as an example of what not to do.
Gross called on Driscoll to step down in early August of 2014.


Sounds like it could be an interesting book.
The Resurgence domain was for sale for $100k; the email list at the time was nearly 60k.
Below is the screen cap of the Church Leaders List Twitter account:
churchleaderslisttwitter
A pdf of the website (now down) is here. A check of it will show that the source of the emails is not identified. How did people get on this list? It appears that whoever is behind Church Leaders List doesn’t want anyone to know. Another unanswered question is did the people behind Church Leaders List have permission to sell these emails to any willing buyer?

Ted Cruz Launches Presidential Bid; Can You Say Secretary of Education David Barton?

Early Monday morning Ted Cruz announced his bid for the GOP presidential nomination.
This has delighted tea party and religious right conservatives; Richard Viguerie thinks Cruz can unite the party and compares him to Reagan. Cruz made his formal announcement at Liberty University.
Another lower profile conservative who hoped a year ago that Cruz would run is New Zealander Trevor Loudon. Speaking at the Western Conservative Conference in Denver CO, Loudon called on Cruz to run and offered advice about the coalition Cruz could put together to energize the party.
His list of advisers and Cabinet members is frightening:

Vice president: Allen West
Secretary of Treasury: Rand Paul
Secretary of Energy: Sarah Palin
Secretary of Labor: Scott Walker
Secy. of Commerce: Herman Cain
Secy. of State: John Bolton
Ambassador to the U.N.: No one
Secy. of Health and Human Services: Dr. Ben Carson
Attorney General: Mark Levin
Secretary of Education: David Barton

Give a listen:
[youtube]https://youtu.be/P-rX5w7WJw4[/youtube]
Cruz has defended Barton’s history, headlined Barton’s state legislators‘ conference and Barton has endorsed Cruz for various public offices. Cruz’s father Rafael proclaims many of the same historical errors that Barton pushes. Today, at Liberty University, Cruz sounded themes Barton is known for – abolishing “common core,” American exceptionalism, etc.
While Cruz has not talked that far ahead, I don’t think it is out of the question to imagine that Cruz would select Barton for some high level position in a Cruz administration.
 
 
 

ECFA Agrees to Hear from Former Members of Faith Christian Church

Last week, former members of Faith Christian Church asked the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability to include them in the ECFA’s investigation of the church.  Faith Christian Church was accused of coercive leadership and financial tactics by former members in an article in the Arizona Daily Star in a series of articles beginning on March 12. Since then, the ECFA initially defended the church but then told the Arizona paper that an ECFA executive was in Tucson to investigate. As of last week, the former members of the Faith Christian Church had not been included in that investigation.
However, after the letter was sent to the ECFA, Executive Vice President of ECFA, John C. Van Drunen requested a meeting with one of the former members, Rachel Mullis. The meeting is scheduled to take place Wednesday, March 25. 
The letter from 22 former members is below.

March 19, 2015

Dear Mr. Busby:

We write as former members hoping to engage you in a discussion of our experience at Faith Christian Church in Tucson, AZ.

We are aware that Faith Christian Church has been a member of the ECFA since 2004. Many of us have attended since then and are aware of the practices of the church while it was a member in good standing with the ECFA.

We saw in the March 12 issue of the Arizona Daily Star that the ECFA is conducting an investigation of Faith Christian Church and has sent an executive to Tucson for that purpose. We welcome this news, however we respectfully ask that the ECFA investigators speak to former members about violations of ECFA guidelines.  We can offer unique insight to the financial policies that current members or current church leadership cannot.

In violation of ECFA’s Donor’s Bill of Rights, most of us experienced pressure to donate at least 10% of our income while at the church.  In fact, it is clearly written in their membership that tithing is a requirement for membership.  If someone did not comply with this requirement, they were often notified that they were not trusting in the Lord and that they would be cursed.  The pastor, Steve Hall, often said he would not pastor cursed people. Weekly, most of us gave our 10%, but the church also encouraged a financial offering on top of that.  We could not designate where our tithe went, but we could designate where we wanted the offering to go (missions, building fund, etc.).  Sometimes, staff members from the church would ask to see the tax returns or bank statements of church members so that the leaders could know the exact figure the members were to give. Some members were even pushed out of the church for not giving the required amount.

Church members were allowed to see the church budget if they asked, although most of us would have felt uncomfortable doing so.  The financial statements were never reported in a church bulletin or discussed at a church meeting.  There was no outside agency that helped determine church spending, salaries, audits, or financial policies, although Steve Hall did use a formula to justify his salary of $100,000+  a year.  Non-staff members did not know how the tithe was being spent.

We ask that you contact ___________ at ­­­­­­­­­­­­_____________ or _____________ to facilitate interviews with former members for the purpose of investigating the issue of compliance by FCC with ECFA standards.

Sincerely,

The Undersigned Former Members (22 names redacted at their request).


Theologically motivated hyper-partisanship as intellectual vice – Damon Linker on Richard John Neuhaus

I don’t know all the ins and outs of Richard John Neuhaus’ life and work, but I found a gem in this book review of a biography about Neuhaus. Damon Linker, a public critic of Neuhaus, viewed Neuhaus as an ideologue who valued party loyalty over intellectual honesty. In describing Neuhaus in that manner, he said something that describes my current disposition toward politics and intellectual honesty. The money:

I have a genuine respect for politics, recognize its importance and dignity, and think that it reveals certain aspects of human nature more vividly than any other activity or pursuit. But I also believe very strongly that its loyalties and commitments, its partisanship and partiality, stand in permanent, irresolvable tension, even fundamental contradiction, with the pursuit of truth, whether through reason or revelation. When philosophical, theological, or historical ideas are blended with political passions and convictions, the result is very often a species of propaganda.
Reliability may well be a political virtue. It’s also a pretty serious intellectual vice.

Although the casualty Linker describes is intellectual vice, C.S. Lewis believed such loyalties could set the stage for another ruin:

Whichever he adopts, your main task will be the same. Let him begin by treating the Patriotism or the Pacifism as a part of his religion. Then let him, under the influence of partisan spirit, come to regard it as the most important part. Then quietly and gradually nurse him on to the stage at which the religion becomes merely part of the “cause”, in which Christianity is valued chiefly because of the excellent arguments it can produce in favour of the British war-effort or of Pacifism. The attitude which you want to guard against is that in which temporal affairs are treated primarily as material for obedience. Once you have made the World an end, and faith a means, you have almost won your man, and it makes very little difference what kind of worldly end he is pursuing. Provided that meetings, pamphlets, policies, movements, causes, and crusades, matter more to him than prayers and sacraments and charity, he is ours—and the more “religious” (on those terms) the more securely ours. I could show you a pretty cageful down here.

Your affectionate uncle, SCREWTAPE

As I look at my posts, I find myself writing a lot about various “species of propaganda” that believers in Jesus have received in trade for their ability to think for themselves.