Mars Hill Church “Investigators” Claim Driscoll’s Transgressions Not Disqualifying
In a statement on the website of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, the Board of Overseers, as they referred to themselves, stated: “On Tuesday, October 14, Pastor Mark Driscoll submitted his resignation as an elder and lead pastor of Mars Hill Church. The Board of Overseers has accepted that resignation and is moving forward with planning for pastoral transition….” The statement also stated that “for nearly two months…a group of elders investigated a series of formal charges brought against him (Driscoll)” and that the “investigation” conducted by “a group of seven elders plus one member of the Board of Overseers” consisted of “some 1,000 hours of research, interviewing more than 50 people and preparing 200 pages of information.” Their conclusion was:
“…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.
Now let me see if I got this right. Driscoll, who they continue to honor by calling him “Pastor Mark,” “has at times been guilty of arrogance….” First of all, being “guilty of arrogance” is not an “at times” kind of thing. A person is either arrogant – which is a condition deriving from an attitude, not an act or action that one only does “at times” or from time to time – or they are not arrogant. Arrogance does not come and go; it’s a condition of the mind and heart that when present is constant and consistent. In speaking of the supreme humility of the Son of God, Jesus, which he manifested in humbling Himself, first to come to earth as a Human, and then to the point of death on a cross, Paul said, “Let this MIND (KJV) [‘attitude,’ NASB] be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…” (Php. 2:5-8). Humility – the diametrical opposite of arrogance – is a state of mind, as well as heart. It’s an attitude. Paul, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, directed believers with unambiguous and clear language: “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (Php. 2:3-4).
The cavalier, ho-hum, dismissive attitude regarding arrogance in this statement is reflective of the attitude existing in the church at large regarding arrogance in today’s narcissistic culture of social media exhibitionism and “selfie” obsession. People today think nothing of arrogance, egotism, and narcissism, and in fact arrogance and arrogating over others is rewarded and highly esteemed in the current culture. But David said that of a seven-item list of things God despises, arrogance is at the top of His list:
“There are six things which the LORD hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: Haughty eyes (arrogance), a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that run rapidly to evil, A false witness who utters lies, And one who spreads strife among brothers.” (Pro. 6:16-19)
In Proverbs God unambiguously identifies arrogance as sin: “An high look (haughty eyes; NASB)[arrogance], and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin” (Pro. 21:4).
And, in another verse in Proverbs God declares his hatred for pride and arrogance: “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way And the perverted mouth, I hate” (Pro. 8:13). After all, remember it was the extreme pride and arrogance of Lucifer that fueled his supreme insolence, which he expressed in the five “I wills” (Isa. 14), that caused his fall into apostasy and perdition. That makes arrogance as “disqualifying” of a sin as there is, if you ask me. Make no mistake, pride and arrogance, and it’s resultant insolence and rebellion against God is the very essence of sin. As it has been said many times, it’s the middle letter of the word s-I-n that is the driving force behind it, what psychology refers to as the “id” or “ego.” Despite it being something regarded and called good in the current culture, ungoverned ego, intrinsically is far from being good. As Jeremiah the prophet said, “The (unredeemed human) heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked (sick; NASB): who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9).
The group of “investigators” continue in their conclusion: “responding to conflict with a quick temper and harsh speech, and leading the staff and elders in a domineering manner.” As the statement is written, it makes it sound like they are indicating that Driscoll’s “responding to conflict with a quick temper and harsh speech, and leading the staff and elders in a domineering manner” was an outflow solely of his arrogance, which would be an assertion that is far from the scriptural and spiritual truth. While arrogance would certainly be involved with such “attitudes and behaviors,” arrogance alone is neither their source nor their underlying cause. It’s not that simple.
Arrogance is rooted in rebellion. Rebellion is the ultimate “root” of all sin. Sin is rebellion. Rebellion is akin to the sin of witchcraft/sorcery (expressly delineated as one of the “deeds of the flesh” (Gal. 5:20): “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, He hath also rejected thee from being king.” (1 Sam. 15:23) Notice that rebellion and stubbornness or insolence IS a disqualifying offence to God, in that the prophet Samuel, speaking on behalf of God, specifically declared that the Lord had rejected Saul from being king due to having committed both offences.
Notice also that the prophet by inspiration of the Spirit identified rebellion as being witchcraft or sorcery (synonymous terms) and that stubbornness, or insolence or insubordination to God’s specific commands, is both iniquity and idolatry. Chronic, habitual, idiopathic manifestation of the deeds of the flesh in a person’s life indicates either that that person is not Born Again – and therefore having become “a new creature” in Christ, old things passed away, new things having come (2 Cor. 5:17) – or if the person purports to be Born Again, then they have not yet progressed in the process of sanctification and daily dying sufficiently to have “crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Gal. 5:24), and if the latter is the case, that person is not yet mature enough in Christ to be occupying a place of leadership in the Church. Otherwise, the person habitually walking in such overt sin is just plain rebellious, and if that is the case, then they are specifically, as indicated, disqualified from ecclesiastical leadership. As Paul the apostle wrote: “Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified” (1 Cor. 9:26-27). The obverse of that, obviously, being that if one does not discipline his body and make it his slave, then he has disqualified himself.
But, the larger point I’m trying to make is that, again, these leaders appear to be doing everything they can to mitigate or ameliorate the reprehensible mindsets and conduct of this man, Mark Driscoll, who they had submitted themselves to and allowed to get away with “attitudes and behavior” that were entirely unbefitting someone who purported to be an exemplary “man of God” and an under-shepherd of Christ charged with care-fully caring for, feeding, and tending to the Flock of God. It seems clear that these men know that making this public statement and conclusion is a heavy indictment against themselves for their lack of spiritual discernment and intestinal fortitude in standing up to this demonized impostor decades earlier (if any of them were around then), and stopping him from lording over fellow believers and dominating and mistreating the sheep of God’s flock like he was an Egyptian hard-taskmaster. Embedded in their statement, it seems to me, is their own guilt, and so they can’t speak too direct and too straightforward and too strongly about the long train of abuses and offences accumulated over nearly two decades lest they indict and condemn themselves.
The language of the statement is just too indirect and abstract for a statement about such egregious conduct over such a long period of time by someone who held himself out as a “mega-leader,” a superstar mega-pastor, who was being held up as a paragon of spirituality that all pastors around the world should emulate if they too want to be a mega-pastor of a mega-church! All of which is and always has been complete nonsense! In God’s Kingdom, there’s only one Superstar and Mega-Shepherd and Model of Spirituality that every believer should want to emulate, and that’s Jesus, King of Kings, Lord of Lords! Over-exaltation approaching the point of apotheosis is nothing but idolatry, and no man is worthy of such adulation and high praise – NO MAN! There has always been far too much of this sort of idolatry taking place in the Body of Christ, and the Charismatic and Neo-Charismatic stream has, in my estimation, been guiltier of it than any other stream.
“Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” (Pro. 16:18, KJV). Fact is: when people like Mark Driscoll set themselves up – and their entourages of sycophants and groupies and pom-pom-waving cheerleaders make their contribution to their sickening exaltation – as the stellar pastoral paragons others should emulate, as he did, they are only setting themselves up for an inevitable fall and for eventual destruction, unless they repent. When you play the childhood game of “King of the Mountain,” once you reach the top of the mountain, there’s nowhere left to go but down. Indeed, this is something a plethora of prideful purporting church leaders of the younger extant generations need to give heed to, especially in America, because eventually they are all going to experience a similar fall if they do not repent, and repent soon! That’s guaranteed! The Eddie Long, Bill Gothard, Doug Phillips, C.J. Maheny, John Piper, and Mark Driscoll stories and a host of others like them are all warnings from God that a day that has long been fast approaching is now finally here when God will assuredly make good on His promise that: “Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain” (Isa. 40:4). He will make good on His promise, as I along with many other prophetic voices have been long admonishing, when He will manifest a fulfillment of the profound prophetic warning contained in the last book of the Old Testament, scribed by the prophet Malachi:
“Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the LORD of hosts. “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. “He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi (the O.T. counterpart of the N.T. Fivefold Ministry) and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the LORD offerings in righteousness. “Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years. “Then I will draw near to you for judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers and against the adulterers and against those who swear falsely, and against those who oppress the wage earner in his wages, the widow and the orphan, and those who turn aside the alien and do not fear Me,” says the LORD of hosts. (Mal. 3:1-5)
The extant generation of church leaders – the “Gen X” and “Millennial Generation” leaders – who have, arrogantly, aggressively, and angrily shoved aside their spiritual forefathers, a la the fatherless culture of the world system they grew up in, as they vaunt themselves to the forefront of ecclesiastical leadership, need desperately to heed the warnings of Scripture and the pleading voices of their prophetic predecessors that “Judgment begins with the household of God” (1 Pet. 4:17), which means that the place where God’s judgment, particularly the judgment that shall immediately precede the coming “Day of the Lord,” begins is “the household of God,” i.e., the church, the Body of Christ. Indeed, what we are now seeing, in the form of more and more exposure of the sinfulness of this current fatherless generation of leadership, is the beginning of judgment that begins in the household of God!
And, the problem is, the generation of leaders who have seized the reigns today, are a generation (as a whole) steeped in the no-judgment, no-discipline, humanistic hyper-grace teachings that are so prevalent and popular today.
Well, a day of reckoning and atomic-like collision with the genuine “whole counsel” of the Word of God is here.
“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” (Gal. 6:7-8)
Corruption, rotting, spoiling, cannot be hidden for long before it begins to be revealed by its stench. There’s much taking place in the modern so-called mega-churches today that have a “form of godliness” but they are a stench in the nostrils of God because they are the product of corrupt, rotted flesh! It’s man-exalting, while it purports to be God-glorifying. It’s Nimrod and Babel all over again! But, the end shall be the same: God judges it, comes down, and destroys the tower, allegorically speaking, that men are building in their vain attempts to reach into heaven by their human righteousness and religious works! Like the recent attempts of modern man to send their rockets into the heavenlies, thinking from there they shall rule over the earth, that God keeps destroying on the launching pad. “The heavens are the heavens of the LORD, But the earth He has given to the sons of men” (Psa. 115:16). The heavens are God’s domain, earth is the domain God, as its Sole Proprietor (Deut. 10:14), has consigned to humans. Apparently, what He has so far allowed Man to achieve in the first heaven (satellites, limited space exploration, etc.) is all He is going to allow. The second and third heavens are His exclusive domain which natural, unredeemed Man is forbidden to enter.
God’s people – leaders and laymen alike – need to give heed to the judgments of God that are clearly and undeniably manifesting all around us, and begin to earnestly and thoroughly “Humble (themselves) under the mighty hand of God!” (1 Pet. 5:6) for “God is opposed to the proud but gives His grace to the humble” (1 Pet. 5:5). It is much better for one to humble himself, as Scripture commands, than to refuse and leave it to an angry and avenging God to do the humbling:
“The proud look of man will be abased And the loftiness of man will be humbled, And the LORD alone will be exalted in that day. For the LORD of hosts will have a day of reckoning Against everyone who is proud and lofty And against everyone who is lifted up, That he may be abased.” (Isa. 2:11-12)
You can humble yourself now, or let God humble you later. The choice is yours. But, let it be clear: ALL will be humbled! When God does the humbling because you have refused to humble yourself, the humbling is always accompanied by humiliation before others. Humbling yourself can be done in the privacy of your prayer closet and your heart, for it is a matter of the heart in the presence of God.
The statement of the investigators continued to state: “…leading the staff and elders in a domineering manner.” First of all, the word “leading” starting a phrase that ends with “a domineering manner” is a non-sequitur, and it just shows, in my view, more evidence that these leaders who are making the statement concerning their “conclusion” as a result of their “investigation” are themselves brainwashed or indoctrinated to some degree and need to receive a thorough “washing of water with the Word (of God)” (Eph. 5:26) regarding what “leading” in the church by the Spirit really is. So-called “leading” by domineering is not leading at all, but rather is subjugating and controlling people. Inspired by the Spirit, Peter the apostle warned and counseled all church elders in all ages against such dictatorial domination:
I warn and counsel the elders among you (the pastors and spiritual guides of the church) as a fellow elder and as an eyewitness [called to testify] of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a sharer in the glory (the honor and splendor) that is to be revealed (disclosed, unfolded): Tend (nurture, guard, guide, and fold) the flock of God that is [your responsibility], not by coercion or constraint, but willingly; not dishonorably motivated by the advantages and profits [belonging to the office], but eagerly and cheerfully; Not domineering [as arrogant, dictatorial, and overbearing persons] over those in your charge, but being examples (patterns and models of Christian living) to the flock (the congregation). (1 Pet. 5:1-3; AB)
Additionally, the panel of investigators said that some of the charges against Driscoll “had been previously … addressed by Pastor Mark, privately and publicly,” and that Driscoll “had publicly confessed and apologized for a number of the charges against him, some of which occurred as long as 14 years ago.” This group of leaders obviously attempted some double-speak here with the intent of mitigating the charges against Driscoll that go back at least 14 years that they are acknowledging though that only means that his “attitudes and behaviors” pre-existed all along during his ministry career and that they only came to a head and had to be addressed 14 years ago, and their acknowledgement that Driscoll “privately and publicly” “confessed and apologized for a number of the charges against him,” while having a noble ring to it, intrinsically means that admission and apology aside, he did not repent from “the charges against him,” else the matter would not be where it is and he would not have had to resign.
As if these “conclusions” by this “group of elders” and one overseer are not egregious enough given the facts and circumstances, they went on in their conclusion to say: “We commend Mark for acting upon the vision God gave him to start Mars Hill Church and for his ministry of faithfully teaching the Word of God for the past 18 years.”
Excuse me, what? You “COMMEND Mark?” After all you and the attendees of Mars Hill Church have been subjected under the heavy-hand of domination by this tyrannical religious dictator, you COMMEND him, when God CONDEMNS such wickedness in His Word? Baffling!
“Faithfully teaching the Word of God for the past 18 years?”
You’re just kidding, right? You CAN’T be serious!
Let me speak plainly. If these men genuinely believe that Mark Driscoll has been faithfully teaching the Word of God for the past 18 years, then they’ve never read and understood the entirety of the Word of God — “the whole counsel of God — and they therefore are as or more dangerous than Mark Driscoll as leaders, and Mars Hill Church is a very dangerous cult and has been since the beginning! But, thankfully, if recent reports are accurate, more than 7,000 people, around half of the previous high-water mark of attendees of Mars Hill Church, agree with me, which is the number of people who have left the church and no longer are attending it. I expect that number to continue to increase, if new, more sensible, Godlier leadership is not brought in quickly to shore up the broken walls of distrust and betrayal. And, if that doesn’t happen, then my prayer is that the remaining 7,000 “may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will” (2 Tim. 2:26), and eventually leave as well.
With respect to the replacement leadership, history, logic, experience, and, I believe, the Spirit counsel that the new top tier of leadership needs to consist of individuals who were not “reared up” under Driscoll and his teachings and were his subordinates, because it is impossible that the leaven of his teachings and ways has not already permeated those who were his subordinates: ” Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened” (1 Cor. 5:6-7); “A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough” (Gal. 5:9).
And Jesus said to them, “Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” (Mat. 16:6)
“How is it that you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread? But beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Then they understood that He did not say to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. (Mat. 16:11-12)
If the replacement leadership were to be former subordinates and associates of Driscoll, the best form of leadership that scenario could produce is “Driscoll-lite,” vis-à-vis a scriptural and Spirit-led model. For that reason, the best thing that could happen for the organization going forward would be dissolution and some form of “redistribution” of the leadership responsibilities that would provide the best chance possible that a repeat of the same problems only with different faces does not occur sometime down the road. [Note: During the editing stage of what I had written in this portion of this article, I learned that the remaining elders and overseers decided that the Mars Hill Church organization would be dissolved and a reorganization plan implemented.]
This leadership reorganization process is going to be a daunting task going forward for what remains of Mars Hill Church, especially when you consider that what Paul through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit prescribed, and, yea, commanded the Corinthian church in order to “clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump” was to “Remove the wicked man from among yourselves” (1 Cor. 5:13) But, in this case, “the wicked man,” did the right and only correct thing that could have been done, and removed himself via resignation. Had Driscoll not resigned, the Mars Hill leadership would have been left with no choice but to remove him. Nevertheless, there are complexities with the Mars Hill scenario that did not exist with the Corinthian scenario, such as the fact that it is not one man involved, but multiple leaders who were Driscoll subordinates. Compliance with the requisite solution indicated in the Corinthian scenario would require that all those subordinate leaders be removed, because: one, they were complicit in the former leadership scenario and whether passively or actively, intentionally or inadvertently, were Driscoll’s enablers and empowered him to do and be what he did and was during his tenure at Mars Hill; and, two, they are all permeated with the “leaven” of false teaching, sinful attitudes, and unChrist-like leadership behaviors that Driscoll modeled, and which they have almost assuredly mirrored themselves in their subordinate leadership roles in the mega-church organization. [Note: Again, while in the process of writing and editing this portion of this post, I learned that one of the former Mars Hill pastors, apparently on his own, having come to some realization of the veracity of what I am saying here, has posted an admission and apology for his own complicity in the Mars Hill scenario over a period of 12 years, for which I commend him and hope that the other subordinate leaders will follow his lead of introspection, as well as public admissions and apologies they are led by the Spirit to publicize. Albeit, the one thing that stands out to me concerning this pastor’s open letter is that he makes no mention of himself stepping down from pastoring, which would be a logical conclusion in that he admits to being guilty of the same offences Driscoll, who did step down, was guilty of.]
Indeed, what the entire Mars Hill Church constituency, including these subordinate leaders, need now is some effective deprogramming and deliverance to “Clean out the old leaven” from their hearts and minds. And that deprogramming and deliverance will have to come through expert and experienced sources who have a thorough understanding of the spiritual devastation dominating and controlling leaders wreak upon adherents – individuals, families, and whole congregations. These psychologically enslaved former captives will also need to learn correct spiritual Truth regarding legitimate and illegitimate authority and leadership in order to be genuinely delivered and set free from the psychological and spiritual damage the demons behind these false teachings and mechanisms of manipulation have wreaked in their lives. Only “deliverers” who were not subject to the subjugation of Driscoll and the demons with which he is demonized, and who are themselves free from the insidious hidden strongholds of Satan the master-Pharaoh can effectively and successfully accomplish this task. Those who are not themselves free in their soul and heart of all the chains and control of other men and devils can set others free. Captives cannot set captives free. Only free men can set captives free! You have to yourself be delivered to be a deliverer! Jesus came to set the captives free (Lk. 4:18), not to enslave people all over again under illegitimate, imaginary, and humanly-contrived bondages of tyrannical religious hegemony. “You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men” (1 Cor. 7:23).
For me, the most outlandish and outrageous, albeit revealing, portions of the statement are: “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” and “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.” When these leaders say, “we do not believe him to be disqualified from pastoral ministry,” I totally believe they sincerely and genuinely do not believe him to be disqualified from pastoral ministry, but that is the crux of problem. I dare say there is nothing more disqualifying from pastoral ministry than domineering leadership, and the 25 reasons for that that I will share in the next post demonstrate that.
Then, their statement that “Pastor Mark has never been charged with any immorality, illegality or heresy” demonstrates their own lack of Bible knowledge and spiritual understanding and how this man has been able to bully and intimidate others, thereby deterring those who should have “charged” him with the heresy he was guilty of teaching in many aspects of his ministry and teachings. By the term, “immorality,” I presume they meant “sexual immorality” or “marital-immorality,” because his misogynistic teachings and attitudes reflected in his publicized teaching certainly reflected an egregious anti-scriptural immorality with respect to women, and even his bizarre brand of hyper-macho teachings and comparisons regarding “real men” and the near-barbaric behaviors he believes they should manifest to demonstrate they are not effeminate or homosexual is an affront to men that, in my view, is just as immoral. Personally, while he may not have been charged with any illegalities, his admitted strategy of reportedly paying a PR company hundreds of thousands of dollars with Mars Hill Church funds to purchase hundreds of his own book to make a best-seller list, if not illegal, certainly qualifies as “immoral” in my book. And, as I’ve already indicated, Driscoll is indeed guilty of teaching heresy, and it is inaccurate to say that he “has never been charged with…heresy,” because I’ve charged him with heresy myself, and so also have a number of theologically credentialed expositors and commentators.
My conclusion about the conclusion of this group of church leaders is that their conclusion and claims are more outrageous and outlandish than Driscoll’s reported “attitudes and behaviors,” and that these men, based on their conclusions and statement, are potentially more dangerous to Mars Hill Church and the Church – the worldwide Body of Christ – than Mark Driscoll ever was, is, or ever could be! Their statement reflects, to me a definite and discernible “fear of man,” of Driscoll, in particular, and that they themselves are not free from the illegitimate authority and dominion of men. When dogs, who have a sense of smell many times stronger than humans, smell the hormones that fear produces in humans, they become fearful, which is what causes them to bark, and even will sometimes attack to defend themselves against the fearful human because that makes the human unpredictable and therefore a danger to the dog. They can also smell the hormones put off by “dog lovers” and will come up to them with their tail wagging wanting some friendly stroking and wanting to show the human some affection they have a built-in desire to share with humans. Likewise, human leaders who are filled with “the fear of man” put off spiritual hormones discernible to the spiritually discerning that make them unpredictable and therefore dangerous, and experience over and over again verifies that conclusion.
Beyond these matters and what the future holds for Mars Hill Church, there is an overriding issue inherent in the Mark Driscoll saga, one that is also reflected in the numerous similar stories reaching the eyes of the media over the last few years, which is the weightier matter of the pervasion of hyper-authoritarianism in the ecclesiastical realm. It is a prevalent problem I have been doing all I can to abate and arrest wherever, whenever, and however the Head of the Church will allow and assist me for several decades. Abuse of spiritual authority is one of the most egregious affronts in existence to the One who is the Source of all legitimate authority. Maybe not just “one of,” but actually the most egregious. Why? Well, in the next part of this article I offer 25 reasons why that immediately come to my mind.###