Mark Driscoll is Touched by an Angel

Mark Driscoll’s transformation from “young, restless, and reformed” icon to charismatic teacher has been fascinating to observe. He recently said Calvinism is “garbage” and just wrapped up a featured gig at Gateway Church’s pastor’s conference where he talked about his views of spiritual warfare. In that talk, Driscoll told a story about encountering an angel at a park. Watch:

I’m trying to imagine driving into the mountains for seclusion and finding a park full of kids but anyway, that is the story. An angel in the form of a disabled middle school girl gave him a piece of paper with a Bible verse and told him God loves him.

In a way, this isn’t such a departure from the old Driscoll. He also believes he can see the sins of others in the past. He described demon trials while at Mars Hill Church. However, with this sermon (the rest of it was a critique of naturalistic Christianity) and his new books, it appears that the leading edge of his work will be to appeal to the charismatic wing of the church.

Update: Mark Driscoll told this same story in a sermon of about the same content to his church recently. Here it is.

Mark Driscoll: The Five Points of Calvinism are Garbage

James MacDonald (left), Mark Driscoll (right)

On the Debrief Show video blog with Matt Brown, Mark Driscoll told bloggers to blog so of course, I must. About what, you ask? Calvinism and the garbage that it is, according to Driscoll. Watch:

After saying Time magazine dubbed him one of the thought leaders of the “young, restless, and reformed” (YRR) movement, Driscoll added:

I don’t hold to the five points of Calvinism. I think it’s garbage, so blog about that, but anyways, because it’s not biblical.

It is my impression that Driscoll restated Calvinism in several ways over the years (e.g. here) to try to make it more acceptable so I don’t think this is a tremendous departure from the past. I will defer to Driscoll watchers to comment about Driscoll’s devotion to the five points. However, what is notable now is his dismissal of the system as “garbage.”

Even more interesting is Driscoll’s psychological analysis of his former YRR mates as “little boys with father wounds.” Calvin and Luther are father figures as is God. Calvin and Luther are “dead guys” who are distant like their earthly fathers. In a way, he provided an armchair explanation for why conversion could be viewed as a psychological experience rather than a spiritual experience. I wonder if he realizes he did that.

In any case, Driscoll left Mars Hill and told many people that he was ready to be a spiritual father — who we should revere apparently.

The rest of the program before and after the Calvinism disclosure is a rehearsal of the need for fathers and how one’s father image effects one’s God image. I might take it apart at a later time, but for now I have done my blogging duty.

Here in another life Driscoll discusses Calvinism and Arminianism. He named one of his sons after Calvin so at that time he was on team Calvin. In this sermon, he certainly didn’t think the five points were garbage. He agreed with them, albeit with a caveat on limited atonement.

Given that one’s view of God is related to one’s view of one’s earthly father, I can only guess that his view of his earthly father has changed.

Want Mark Driscoll’s Autographed Sermon Notes? Sign UP!

Mark Driscoll (right); James MacDonald (left)

You know you want them. Pastor Mark’s signed notes are essential evangelical merch. All you have to do is add your email to Pastor Mark’s email list and you can have a chance to own these authentic notes the research for which may or may not have been paid for by Mars Hill Church.

No deadline is given, but don’t delay for as Driscoll 3:16 says, “I am the brand, and thou art not the brand.”

UPDATE: Rev. Driscoll removed the tweet sometime on 7/8 but never fear, it is screen captured below.

 

Was Mark Driscoll Disqualified or Not?

This post is some inside baseball for those who remember the end of Mars Hill Church. If you know nothing of that story, you might want to do some catching up.

So here is a little background for the post. Mars Hill Church was co-founded by Mark Driscoll. Driscoll was a lightning rod for controversy and attracted a large social media following and many detractors. Near the end of 2013, he did a radio interview with Janet Mefferd during which she credibly accused him of plagiarism. Driscoll was dismissive of Mefferd and it started a war which I entered. I thought Mefferd might be wrong but soon agreed with her and found citation errors of various sorts in more of Driscoll’s books. All of that led to various disclosures to me by Mars Hill insiders of problems heaped to the Seattle sky. Eventually, the church planting network co-founded by Driscoll — Acts 29 Network — removed Driscoll and Mars Hill Church from membership. Finally, Driscoll resigned while being investigated by his elders, and then the church closed, splintering into several smaller churches.

At the end when Driscoll resigned,  a committee of then current elders were investigating formal charges filed by around 20 former elders. After conducting many interviews, the elders wanted to place Driscoll into a plan of restoration but he resigned. When he resigned, the governing board of Mars Hill (a super board including some non-member leaders) said Driscoll was not disqualified from ministry but did not release a report from the investigating team. In fact, the report of that team was one of the most carefully guarded secrets I have ever seen. There were more leaks about the Mueller report. I tried to get that report as did others, but no one would even discuss what was in it. Given how leaky Mars Hill Church had become, it was a surprise that the report didn’t slip out.

Well, yesterday someone who said he read the report (pretty good chance he’s right), disclosed at least one key fact. Here is what former Mars Hill Church Communications Director Justin Dean said in a tweet.

Mark Driscoll has given several narratives about the end of his time at Mars Hill. He rarely mentions the name of the church but has mentioned his previous “two decades of ministry.” Blogger Wenatchee the Hatchet has a detailed look at six different narratives of how the end went down.

At the time, the governing board said he was qualified but gave no explanation about their assessment in light of what Acts 29 had said. Also, after Driscoll abruptly resigned, the elders investigation committee read a statement which said Driscoll resigned instead of entering a restoration plan he had previously agreed to follow.

Now Dean tells me that the church leadership was going to let Driscoll keep preaching but step away from management. He would no longer run the show and make decisions. At that point, he resigned. He said God told him a trap had been set and that he was released to leave. He said God told him and his wife this. Odd that God didn’t tell any of the elders or other leaders about this.

Since Driscoll didn’t go through his restoration plan, I have no idea what that signifies for his ministry after Mars Hill. He planted a church in Phoenix and rarely mentions Mars Hill.

Wenatchee the Hatchet put together 8000+ words on this last night so if you want the long version, you can go check that out. Let me give you the digest from WtH:

If in Driscoll’s understanding of church governance and ecclesiology leadership is from the throne down and not the pew up, and if Justin Dean’s account is accurate that the Mars Hill Church governing board offered Mark Driscoll a restoration plan in which he would stop being in a managerial role and would preach, then the most plausible explanation for why Mark Driscoll resigned that takes all of his accounts as factual, face-value accounts is this: he decided that a church as a corporate entity in which he was not seated on the throne (as president and CEO) was not a church in which he would be a member.

WtH provides the receipts but Justin Dean opened the door to consider this. Remember, Driscoll once told his communications staff that he was the brand. If the brand doesn’t control the brand, then is the brand really the brand?

Image: James MacDonald (left) Mark Driscoll (right)

Mark Driscoll’s Church to Host Church Governance Seminar

Yes, that Mark Driscoll.

In the comments, feel free to suggest other workshops which should follow that one. James MacDonald on transparent, controversy-free church leadership should get you started.

Here’s what you will learn on Feb. 28 in Scottsdale, AZ:

HOSTED BY PASTOR MARK DRISCOLL, THE TRINITY CHURCH

SESSIONS TOPICS INCLUDE

How the Church and pastors’ families both suffer under bad governance
A survey of Church governmental models
The biblical standard of singular headship and plural leadership
Theocratic government: a “kingdom-down” not “pew-up” unity focused model
How to embrace apostolic influence
How to implement a God-centered theocratic Church government

They aren’t hiding it. Megachurches in the Driscoll and Gateway image are little theocracies and kingdoms. They are definitely not “pew-up.” There is a lot of confusion about who the gods are.

The description of need for the workshop is priceless:

In an age of multi-site church planting, bad press for Bible-teaching churches, negative social media, lawsuits, disgruntled former leaders, and board conflicts, being a pastor is perhaps more complicated than ever. And too many times, church health is on the backburner, until a crisis happens.

It is so complicated in this age where everybody is wrong but the pastor. If only there was a right form of church government which could rescue a pastor from these disgruntled people and negative outsiders.

 

Harvest Bible Chapel: Mars Hill Church 2.0?

James MacDonald (left), Mark Driscoll (right)

From where I sit in small town PA (usually at a fast food place with good WiFi), it appears that there are some similarities between the last couple of years at Mars Hill Church and the current situation at Harvest Bible Chapel.

Elders and Leadership Style

At MHC, trouble had been brewing for several years over treatment of elders and perceptions from departed members and elders that Mark Driscoll was domineering and unnecessarily harsh. The same perceptions and polarization have occurred at HBC involving their founding pastor James MacDonald.

This morning I became aware of something called the Statement of Record on the HBC website where former and current elders are pledging loyalty to MacDonald. Up to the very end of Mars Hill Church, a core group of elders and members remained committed to Driscoll and expressed animosity toward the elders who brought formal charges against Driscoll.

Also this morning, the Elephant’s Debt blog posted a resignation letter from a former elder and staff member. In the letter, questions are raised about the leadership of MacDonald and financial management of the church. This letter along with the texts and emails posted earlier by Julie Roys remind me of various leaked letters and formal charges written by current and former MHC elders concerning the leadership of Mark Driscoll.

Many of the concerns seem similar. Driscoll’s charges included allegations of harsh treatment of subordinates, domineering leadership style, and using the church structure to enrich himself. Similar allegations have surfaced regarding HBC and MacDonald.

Driscoll and MacDonald

It should also be noted that Driscoll and MacDonald have a relationship which dates back to the Mars Hill era. MacDonald was on MHC’s Board of Advisors and Accountability. He resigned near the end of the church’s life in 2014. Recently, Julie Roys reported that HBC gave $50,000 to Driscoll’s new church in Phoenix. And who can forget the little trip by MacDonald (on the left) and Driscoll (right) to John MacArthur’s Strange Fire conference.

We They

Another similarity I see is the adversarial relationship between critics and defenders in both situations. There were sharp differences and strong feelings in the MHC camps. The same dynamic is at work here. When MHC responded to public or media questions, they were cagey and defensive. In private, the sides were fierce in opposition. In the HBC case, a lawsuit is in play. This really ratchets up the polarization.

I can’t see it getting any better as long as HBC maintains the defamation suit. Putting aside biblical arguments for or against the action, I think it is a terrible precedent to set as a matter of public perception of how Christians do things. The tension and animosity will only escalate with each new revelation.  In MHC’s case, the church was always the PR loser when differences emerged into the light of day.

Those supporting MHC’s establishment felt their situation would get better if they could just make their case in the court of public opinion. During the church’s demise, MHC had the blessing of the ECFA, touted numerical results, and portrayed a measured and positive front. However, each new disclosure had a cumulative downward impact. In HBC’s case, the existence of the lawsuit has great potential to multiply this effect.

I suspect there are more parallels but I think this is sufficient to make a point that MHC could be a learning experience for those who have ears to hear and eyes to see. Fair or not, a prolonged public war will erode the church’s effectiveness and probably do more to harm the bottom line than anything the bloggers have done up to now.

There’s More Than One Side to Every Mark Driscoll Story

In a post at his Patheos blog (how strange to be writing that), former Mars Hill Church co-founder and pastor Mark Driscoll provided an excerpt from his new book, Spirit Filled Jesus (read a review of the book here).

My wife Grace and I have five kids—three boys and two girls. We moved to Arizona for a hard reset of life and ministry after years of feeling like a crash test dummy in a car with no airbags. After about two decades in ministry, I took some time off to heal up before entering the next season of God’s will for our life.

That’s one way of looking at it.

Let’s rewind to August 8, 2014. On that day, the Board of Acts 29 church network made public their decision to remove Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church from the network. Here is a portion of the letter:

Over the past three years, our board and network have been the recipients of countless shots and dozens of fires directly linked to you and what we consider ungodly and disqualifying behavior. We have both publicly and internally tried to support and give you the benefit of the doubt, even when multiple pastors in our network confirmed this behavior. In response, we leaned on the Mars Hill Board of Advisors & Accountability to take the lead in dealing with this matter. But we no longer believe the BoAA is able to execute the plan of reconciliation originally laid out. Ample time has been given for repentance, change, and restitution, with none forthcoming.

We now have to take another course of action. Based on the totality of the circumstances, we are now asking you to please step down from ministry for an extended time and seek help. Consequently, we also feel that we have no alternative but to remove you and Mars Hill from membership in Acts 29.

Then on August 21, 2014, 21 former elders brought formal charges of wrongdoing against Mark Driscoll as pastor of Mars Hill Church. Clicking the link will take you to the charges. Some of those elders felt like crash test dummies.

Then on August 24 2014, Driscoll requested 6 weeks off while the charges were being investigated. According to church by-laws he had to submit to the process of being investigated.

Then on October 14 2014, Driscoll resigned amid the completion of an investigation into the charges filed by former church elders. The Board of Overseers reported:

We concluded that Pastor Mark has, at times, been guilty of arrogance, responding to conflict with a quick temper and harsh speech, and leading the staff and elders in a domineering manner. While we believe Mark needs to continue to address these areas in his life, we do not believe him to be disqualified from pastoral ministry. Pastor Mark has never been charged with any immorality, illegality or heresy. Most of the charges involved attitudes and behaviors reflected by a domineering style of leadership.

Later, the elders who investigated Driscoll said he was offered a plan of restoration to return to pastoral ministry but declined to accept it.

So yes, he “took some time off” but his explanation leaves out many important components. It is astounding that he does not mention the name of the church which made him famous.  The elders and members of Mars Hill Church might also feel like crash test dummies. Although several years have passed, the scars run deep, apparently on both sides of the crash.

Book Review: Mark Driscoll’s Spirit-Filled Jesus

In this guest post, freelance writer Becky Garrison reviews Mark Driscoll’s new book Spirit-Filled Jesus with a focus on what is missing from the book.

The Revisionist Rebranding of Mark Driscoll from Calvinist to Charismatic

By Becky Garrison

Mark Driscoll’s latest book Spirit-Filled Jesus: Live by His Power slated to release on October 2, 2018 represents his first major public offering since he resigned from Mars Hill Church (MHC) in October 2014 amid allegations of plagiarism, financial mismanagement, and abuse. Backed by the PR muscle of A. Larry Ross Communications, who represents such Christian powerhouses like the Billy Graham Legacy, Saddleback & Rick Warren, and The Family aka Fellowship), Driscoll appears poised to rebrand himself from “young, restless and reformed” to older, wiser and spirit-filled.

One could see signs of Driscoll’s move from Calvinist to Charismatic when he appeared with Robert Morris of Gateway Church on DayStar TV the same month he left MHC. However, by publishing with Charisma House, Driscoll’s transformation into a spirit-filled pastor appears to be complete.

Throughout this breezy book, Driscoll offers simplistic step-by-step instructions for how one can live a spirit-filled life by following Jesus’ teachings. Those well versed with charismatic teachings might find this book of interest as Driscoll mentions Jesus with far greater frequency than most charismatic authors, who tend to focus on the Holy Spirit. However, those well versed in the Mars Hill saga will find his whitewashing of his past telling.

For example, his bios on both his website and the Spirit Filled Jesus website make no mention of his role in founding and pastoring MHC. Nor does Driscoll reference his connections with Antioch Church or the Young Leaders Network, two entities that played a seminal role in Driscoll’s formation as a pastor. (On a side note, Brad Sargent aka Futurist Guy offers this timeline of the US emergent church. A review of this timeline along with Wenatchee the Hatchet’s detailed history of MHC point to the similarities in both entities in terms of their histories of abuse.)

Throughout the book, he makes vague allusions to his pastoral endeavors prior to establishing Trinity Church in Scottsdale, AZ without mentioning Mars Hill Church by name.

When describing his departure from Seattle, he states, “We moved to Arizona for a hard reset of life and ministry after years of feeling like a crash test dummy in a car with no airbags. After about two decades in ministry, I took some time off to heal up before entering the next season of God’s will for our life. For some months, we had church in our home on Sunday mornings before we relocated for safety reasons.” (pp. 31-32)

Later in this book, Driscoll describes how he healed from this unnamed ordeal. “After roughly two decades of teaching, I took a break for healing and learning during the most difficult season of my life for my family and me.” (p. 162) He alludes to this difficult season again with tears as the family gathered for Sunday church in their living room. (p. 185) One familiar with MHC’s history could presume Driscoll is describing the period after he resigned and before he moved to Arizona. But once again, he remains fuzzy on the details.

Then as he proclaims how his church plant in Arizona would be a “family ministry,” he makes this observation. “The first church my wife Grace and I planted, we were just twenty-five years of age with no children.” (p. 32)

While discussing his 2009 preaching services on Luke (available online at the Mars Hill Church website), he does not mention the specifics of where his preaching took place. “It took me roughly two years to preach that book to an audience comprised largely of college-educated singles who attended late night services because they had a hard time getting up by the crack of dinner.” (p. xi)

He later references pastoring a church prior to Trinity Chruch without delving into specifics. (p. 154) In fact, a reader unfamiliar with Driscol’s past would only know he has visited Seattle when Driscoll noted, “We were traveling from Seattle to Orlando” (p. 60). No mention anywhere in this book of his years living and pastoring in this city and the surrounding environs even though as Wenatchee the Hatchet documented most of the Mars Hill Church campuses have survived albeit under new names.

Continuing his revisionist retelling of his over two decades of ministry, Driscoll fails to acknowledge any of the carnage left behind after he departed MHC. Case in point, his chapters “Forgiven People Should Forgive People” and “Seven Reasons to Forgive” make no mention of the Facebook page established by MHC parishioners to air their grievances after Driscoll claimed he could not reconcile with those wronged by MHC because he could not address what he termed anonymous complaints. So one wonders about the validity of his forgiveness challenge designed as part of the book promotional campaign given that Driscoll appears unwilling to practice what he preaches.

Furthermore, given past revelations Driscoll plagiarized sections of Real Marriage and other works, one would think he would be more judicious in citing his sources in this book. His Jesus-filled index is quite sparse with one chapter ironically titled “Facing Foolish and Evil People With the Spirit’s Wisdom” having no citations at all. So just who came up with the “Six Kinds of Relationships” involving wise, evil, and foolish people described in detail in this chapter? Was Driscoll inspired by the Holy Spirit to pen these concepts? After all, he’s now playing in the Charismatic stream where personal revelation trumps traditional scholarship.

Given Les Parrott endorsed his book, I presume he does not object to having his work used by Driscoll without proper citations. However, since Parrott also lives in Seattle, I wonder why he would endorse a book that omits any reference to Driscoll’s controversial Seattle past. While Les Parrott and his wife Leslie are not connected directly to MHC, they co-author a range of relationship books that are represented by Sealy Yates, who was also Driscoll’s agent prior to the Real Marriage fallout. And like Driscoll, the Parrotts utilized Result Source to guarantee their book would chart on the New York Times bestseller list.

Most of Driscoll’s other 24 endorsements appear to be minor players in the Charismatic church scene. However, I am struck by the inclusion of Eric Metaxas, a Fox News pundit and one of the earliest and most stalwart Trump supporters, as Driscoll has never veered into faith based political debates.

I ran down this list of endorsers with Wenatchee the Hatchet to ascertain those individuals who had connections to Driscoll during his Mars Hill days. Here’s his assessment.

  • Larry Osborne was credited by Driscoll with advising him in a way that catalyzed the notorious 2006-2007 reorganization of MHC.
  • James MacDonald is a BoAA member and Executive Elder who helped Driscoll crash John MacArthur’s anti-charismatic Strange Fire conference.*
  • Craig Groeschel was another guy Driscoll name-dropped as someone he consulted with for the 2006-2007 reorganization of MHC.
  • Greg Laurie was a speaker at Resurgence 2013, and a client of A. Larry Ross.
  • Gerry Breshears was Driscoll’s advisor at Western Seminary and co-author of a few of his books, most notably Doctrine and Death By Love.

In a blog posting addressing the rise and fall of MHC, Breshears writes about those in MHC leadership repenting of their past actions as they replant many of the former MHC churches. So why would he then endorse a book by Driscoll who obliterates Mars Hill’s history with no sign of Driscoll repenting of his actions to date? Furthermore, why did four other individuals who had connections to Driscoll during his MHC days decided to endorse this book, thus participating in Driscoll’s rebranding efforts?

While the teachings of Jesus feature prominently throughout this book, upon further examine, suffice to say this book appears to be full of something other than Jesus.

(Note: The quotes from Spirit-Filled Jesus are from an uncorrected proof, not final copy.)

Becky Garrison is a freelance storyteller/satirist currently based in Portland, OR. Follow her travels via twitter and Instagram @Becky_Garrison

 

*Editor’s note: An earlier version of this review said James MacDonald might have had a “gambling habit” and racked up real estate debt for his church. Although there wasn’t an intention to link the two ideas, at least one reader did so and others may have.  To avoid confusion, I decided to remove this sentence. There was no intent to suggest that any poker playing led to church debt. 

On the point of MacDonald’s gambling, there is a credible report that MacDonald gambled with Jerry Jenkins in the past, but there is no intent in this article or evidence presented that he does now.  Wenatchie the Hatchet added a postscript to a recent article which also addresses this issue.

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Take Mark Driscoll’s Forgiveness Challenge

No, this isn’t the Babylon Bee

With the help of Charisma Media, Mark Driscoll has launched the Mark Driscoll Forgiveness Challenge. Apparently if you give Charisma your email, they will send you an e-book and a bunch of stuff.

Here is the Mark Driscoll who is challenging us to forgive:

Most importantly, Pastor Mark is a family man. In 1988, when Pastor Mark was a 17-year-old high school student, a young woman named Grace gave him a nice Bible. Mark, a non-practicing Catholic at the time, was born again reading that Bible in college. He and Grace were married at the age of 21, graduated at 22, and planted a church at 25 in the living room of their home, while both working full time jobs. At the age of 26 they welcomed their first child, Ashley, and today have three sons and two daughters. The Driscoll kids are all walking with Jesus and helped plant The Trinity Church in Scottsdale, Arizona as a family ministry.

Pastor Mark has debated Deepak Chopra on one of his multiple appearances on ABC’s Nightline; discussed marriage with Barbara Walters on The View; bantered with the hosts at Fox and Friends; co-hosted Loveline with Dr. Drew; and argued for the truth of God’s Word on separate occasions with Piers Morgan and D.L. Hughley on CNN. Additionally, he has authored books including Real Marriage (with his wife Grace), Who Do You Think You Are, Vintage Jesus, Doctrine, and many more.

Notice anything missing? Look for it. There is a gap in the employment history from 1996 until the end of 2014. What was he doing then? How can you promote a forgiveness challenge when you can’t even mention the main reason you might have some issues to forgive or to be forgiven for?

Perhaps some things are better forgotten than forgiven. Now that’s a challenge.

 

 

Mark Driscoll Rocked the Charisma2018 Conference

I missed it.

The Charisma2018 conference is over but the coming out of Mark Driscoll as a charismatic leader is just beginning. Driscoll was one of the headliners at the Charisma2018 conference in Orlando FL held June 22-23.

He’s a long way from The Gospel Coalition and Acts 29. Those were just seasons on the way to a new season.

There were always signs and prophecies of this day: the demon trials, and the x-rated visions, but this season is now full with all that and a new book deal and a keynote.

Yesterday, former colleague and co-pastor at Mars Hill Church Sutton Turner provided a little insight into the last days of Mars Hill. I suspect more is coming as Sutton gets more comfortable talking about what was up back in Seattle.