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Mark Driscoll: New Church Same Old Ugly Personality


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  • Coconut Flan changed the title to Mark Driscoll: New Church Same Old Ugly Personality

This post over on Throckmorton's blog had me boggling.  It's by Luke Chase, who was working as part of the Worship team at Trinity Church, and is the brother of Landon Chase -- married to Driscoll's older daughter and employed as a pastor at Trinity:

https://www.wthrockmorton.com/2021/05/30/postcards-from-phoenix-when-church-divides-a-family

Just a few excerpts:

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The church leaders dictated who I was allowed to be friends with. There were some employees I was allowed to spend time with outside of work, probably because of their trust rating. Other employees I was told would be fired soon, and that if I were to hang out with them I might also be fired. Ironically a friend who respected my decision when I ultimately decided to resign and allowed me time to process on my schedule paid a price for being seen with me. He was seen hanging out with me the next week, and he was promptly fired and told that he was not a good fit.

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During my parent’s absence I had to listen to staff repeatedly tell me that my mom and dad were toxic. It struck me as odd since this is what is said of the other in-laws of the Driscoll kids and even of Pastor Brandon Anderson’s in-laws. In fact, their continued presence in my life was viewed as such a threat to my development as a REAL MAN that I was offered a pay raise simply for moving out of that “toxic” environment

It would seem to me that were he to adopt the same measure as Driscoll, then Landon Chase would be within his right to decide to that the Driscoll's were toxic and 'growing stones and taking headship' would involve cutting them out of his and his wife's (and eldest daughter to the Driscoll's) life.

That said, I suspect "Pastor Mark" would not see this as a simple application of the principle of 'what's good for the goose'.

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Previous Mark Driscoll Content linked above. Recent events at his new church in Scottsdale, AZ have brought Driscoll back to evangelical headlines. Several blogs have been covering what is happening. 
 

This article is a long, but very thorough summary of just one recent event that exposes how much Driscoll has not changed. 
https://julieroys.com/mark-driscoll-cult-like-actions-24-7-surveillance-loyalty/

Basic Driscoll summary for those unfamiliar with his history: he was pastor of a mega church in Seattle called Mars Hill. It eventually went down in flames with a lot of hurt people. Driscoll was declared unqualified for pastoral ministry. Undeterred, he took his family to Arizona, managed to obtain an historic church building in Scottsdale, and launched a new church. He has no elders, or any type of accountability. The staff is stacked with his family. He punishes anyone who disagrees with him. Stories have recently started coming out about his abusive and toxic leadership, including from staff and high ranking volunteers who decide to leave. 
 

I suspect that in the weeks and months to come, there will be a significant number of other former attendees who start speaking out. 

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Driscoll's destructive capabilities appear to be accelerating. It took him a number of years (1996 - 2014) to make Mars Hill implode. The AZ church has only been around 4-5 years.

Of course, it probably helps that there's no pesky accountability or oversight at the AZ "church."

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I'm intrigued.  Driscoll promoted an ugly misogynistic theology at Mars Hill; I can't remember if it was overtly patriarchal -- I'll call it hipster patriarchy. 

I just looked at the "Our Beliefs" section of  The Trinity Church website.  

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...We believe that in love God created the first human beings, Adam and Eve, as male and female, equal in dignity, value, and worth, in order to mirror and reflect God as an act of worship and obedience...

Have the Driscolls become a bit more...egalitarian? 

And in the God: Judges section:  

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we trust in Jesus Christ alone for new and eternal life and believe in the reality of spiritual warfare with Satan and demons.

Now I'm curious.  Where does belief in spiritual warfare and specifically demons fall in various theological schools? Is it an important dividing line?  It's been a long long time since I was in Sunday school but I don't recall that the mild and very dear Presbyterian ministers who pastored the churches my family attended EVER discussed demon warfare or even Satan. 

I do recall that Driscoll claims to have visions. 

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Just read this morning that Christianity Today is about to do a podcast series called "The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill". I'm sure Mark is thrilled... hope he's taking his blood pressure medication.

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3 hours ago, MamaJunebug said:

Don’t you just wonder what attracts folks to the Driscoll t

From what I’ve read, a lot of people hear him speak and are drawn in by his charismatic speaking style, and don’t dig much further. Or if they do, they choose to justify it all somehow. Trinity Church has done an amazing job of creating a lot of fun programs to draw people in (really, bribing people to come)- especially young families. I think it was a huge draw for people when Covid was at its height and everything else was closed. I just looked at their IG and they are planning a weeknight marriage series with free childcare after so people can go on dates. All that stuff can be really hard to resist for people looking for a community. For someone who doesn’t bother to look to deeply beyond the surface, I can see how they’d get sucked in. 

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5 hours ago, Howl said:

Now I'm curious.  Where does belief in spiritual warfare and specifically demons fall in various theological schools? Is it an important dividing line?  It's been a long long time since I was in Sunday school but I don't recall that the mild and very dear Presbyterian ministers who pastored the churches my family attended EVER discussed demon warfare or even Satan. 

In traditional Lutheranism, the devil is very real and very much to be acknowledged for the hideous creature - source of all evil and misery - that he is. You will rarely find kids dressed up in devil costumes for Halloween and very rarely hear people say of a little child “oh she’s got the devil in her!” Or “What a cute little devil.”

My dad used to get very annoyed with an overnight talkshow host who called his imaginary companion “the little round devil.”Big daddy would say, doesn’t he understand you can’t take evil lightly?

Now then as to demons, there is a phrase in the baptismal sacrament that is kind of a preemptive exorcism of any demons, but never would anybody be criticized as being demon-possessed or in league with the devil, just as a way to get someone else’s agenda achieved, in congregational matters.
 

Whereas I think that people like Driscoll and Remnant Fellowship et.al., invoke “demons” as a way to keep people in check. 
 

Philosophizing here: that’s why it’s good to be in a church that has a hierarchy. People like Driscoll are leaders in to themselves, have no one to answer to at all, and can use any tactic at their disposal to get their way, down to accusing an opponent of being demon possessed and thus ejecting them from the assembly.

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6 minutes ago, MamaJunebug said:

People like Driscoll are leaders in to themselves, have no one to answer to at all, and can use any tactic at their disposal to get their way, down to accusing an opponent of being demon possessed and thus ejecting them from the assembly.

Thanks for that insight, @MamaJunebug.   Yes, and Driscoll specifically avoided an elder-led church structure. He's set it up as The Church of Mark. 

I wonder if Grace has been upgraded to an enforcer.  Her role in the women's ministry means she can keep close tabs on any potential discontent on the women's side and problems can be nipped in the bud  potential trouble makers can be identified and ejected. 

I noted on the archived thread, it's typical to see rampant nepotism in authoritarian structures.  Authoritarians hire family, because those are the only people they trust. 

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Posted (edited)

Demonology and spiritual warfare and "casting" out of demons are very big in Pentecostal circles. In Reformed and conservative Baptist circles it's more about being deceieved by the devil and having a wicked heart. Both groups tend to be leery of Halloween, Harry Potter, ouijia boards, etc as forces of evil that are active all around them. Spiritual warfare and a battle between the forces of good and evil are very real and constant in these circles. 

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18 hours ago, Howl said:

And in the God: Judges section:  

Now I'm curious.  Where does belief in spiritual warfare and specifically demons fall in various theological schools? Is it an important dividing line?  It's been a long long time since I was in Sunday school but I don't recall that the mild and very dear Presbyterian ministers who pastored the churches my family attended EVER discussed demon warfare or even Satan. 

I do recall that Driscoll claims to have visions. 

IIRC, Driscoll was kind of Reformed Charismatic, although I think he may have dumped the Reformed part when he left Mars Hill.  I think Reformed Charismatic is basically how John Piper (one of his greatest defenders back in the day) describes himself, as well.  Back at MH, Driscoll conducted "demon trials" and crashed John MacArthur's "Strange Fire" conference because it promoted Cessationism, which I've always thought was pretty standard for Reformed folks.

These days, one of his remote oversight guys (which is total bull, since there's no way he's actually accountable to anyone) is Robert Morris of Gateway who has preached that the Apostle Paul preached while under the influence of a demon.  Also, that you can become possessed if you don't tithe.  ?

I grew up Reformed Baptist and the belief (at least in my church) was that Satan and demons are real, but the emphasis was really on resisting our own sinful nature.  Some of the kids I grew up with weren't allowed to read Frank Peretti books because of the emphasis on demons, as opposed to personal responsibility.

tldr: I think Driscoll kind of makes things up as he goes along.

Edited by forgetmenow
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I posted this (or a version of this) in the other thread. 

But I'm going to repeat myself in the new thread.

One of my personal 'checks' on churches/religious organizations is:  Does it appear to be an employment agency for the Pastoral/extended pastoral family.  (If so, Liss no go, because you are too entrenched for your - and the congregation's - own good). 

I also pay very close attention to fun details like the openness of financial information and 'dumb' little issues like, you know, NDA's being issued (it's church, why are we issuing NDAs?)

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I wonder how long it will take for TTC to come to an end the way MH did. MH took years. Everything Driscoll is doing is so flagrant; I can’t imagine staying there. I know a lot of people have left already, but there are still a ton of attendees. What will it take for them all to see the light?

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On 6/1/2021 at 12:24 PM, Howl said:

Thanks for that insight, @MamaJunebug.  

I noted on the archived thread, it's typical to see rampant nepotism in authoritarian structures.  Authoritarians hire family, because those are the only people they trust. 

Like Trump.

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7 hours ago, Cults-r-us said:

Like Trump.

Yes, exactly.  During the time of Trump, I've been following several people who study authoritarianism (like Sarah Kendzior) and critique Trump through that lens.  Trump is a classic authoritarian and the blatant nepotism is just one symptom. 

On 6/4/2021 at 3:40 PM, G33kywife said:

I know a lot of people have left already, but there are still a ton of attendees. What will it take for them all to see the light?

I assume he's  a charismatic guy in person. Wow the masses with  entertainment and activities.  Date night. Kids fun.  A lot of things to distract from the dark side of Pastor Mark. 

This article from The Daily Beast about a RICO lawsuit filed by former Mars Hill congregants is a good refresher on the magnitude of financial corruption at Mars Hill and how much money it was generating. 

Lawsuit: Controversial Pastor Ran Mars Hill Megachurch Like a Crime Syndicate  A new lawsuit seeks to find out what controversial pastor Mark Driscoll did with millions in tithes to Seattle’s now-shuttered Mars Hill megachurch.

This Aug. 2014 article from Religious Dispatches  is a good overview of the issues and corruption leading up to the implosion: HOLY HIPSTER MARK DRISCOLL CONTINUES TO FALL

For those not familiar, the implosion of Mars Hill was a big enough deal to be covered by major news outlets like The Atlantic and the New York Times and not just the Christian press. 

And it wasn't just that Driscoll resigned; the entire mega church (Mars Hill and 15 satellite churches) shut down two weeks later.

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OT: @Howl, Sarah Kendzior was my daughter’s classmate from elementary through high school. She was brilliant, even as a child.

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21 hours ago, Hane said:

OT: @Howl, Sarah Kendzior was my daughter’s classmate from elementary through high school. She was brilliant, even as a child.

Wow!  Is your daughter in contact with her in adult life?

Kendzior is both brilliant and completely grounded.  I've read both of her books: Hiding in Plain Sight (most recent) and View from Flyover Country, follow her on twitter.  Need to dip into her podcast.  

 

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According to a YouTube video that I managed to watch before it was taken down, Driscoll/TTC have been sending cease and desist letters to the people who are speaking out. I’ve noticed that quite a few YouTube videos have been deleted, social media posts are down, blogs have gone silent, and more. I hope the brave people speaking up about their experiences will be able to play the long game. Driscoll has a $10M legal fund (allegedly). That’s terrifying to go up against! 

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On 6/1/2021 at 10:34 AM, Antipatriarch said:

Just read this morning that Christianity Today is about to do a podcast series called "The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill". I'm sure Mark is thrilled... hope he's taking his blood pressure medication.

Looks like it's out now: https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/podcasts/rise-and-fall-of-mars-hill/

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A long while ago, I mentioned that a former acquaintance was involved in Mars Hill.  When it collapsed, he scrubbed his Facebook of any reference.  Now I’ve found a mention that he is one of Driscoll’s biggest supporters and donors, and has moved his investment firm down to Scottsdale, Arizona, from Seattle.

Other people have made this connection as well, as evidenced by this link (under spoiler).  I’ll have to listen to the podcast to see if he’s mentioned as being involved in the financial shenanigans.  Just another “small world” moment.

Spoiler

 

Smead capital connection to Driscoll?

Note:  Again, this is something I’ve been speculating for years, but noticed someone else listed his name (Bill Smead) in the comments.  I have no idea what the Phoenix Preacher website is about, but it came up in my search results.  I remember Smead as being a blustery bullshit artist in school, so he’s a good fit with the current crop of fundies and trumpsters we follow here. 

 

 

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I finished listening to the first episode of The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill podcast. It’s quite long (1 hour) and too much to try to summarize for this exhausted mom, but I highly recommend listening. If you haven’t followed the story, there will be some unfamiliar names, but knowing the players definitely isn’t a prerequisite. I liked that they look at the story from multiple angles. The first episode looks specifically at the very very end of Mars Hill. It sounds like the hosts will be working backwards on the timeline. I’m looking forward to subsequent episodes. 

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I remember that there were some very decent seeming people who were trying to steer Mars Hill in the right direction, who were thrown unceremoniously under the Mars Hill bus. 

Then I'd remember that to be that high up in Mars Hill's hierarchy, one had to have total buy in to Mark Driscoll's ugly and "muscular" (i.e., misogynistic) theology.  

So yes, many people were hurt by the demise of Mars Hill but many were damaged by Driscoll's beliefs. 

Edited by Howl
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