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61 Responses

  1. Pineapple Head says:

    This sentence was part of an email I received from a ministry I really like : “ Did you know Jesus has already given us the blueprint for winning back our nation, one life at a time?”

    I guess I hang up on the “winning back our nation” line. What does that mean? Is that an actual goal for the church?

  2. Dan from Georgia says:

    PH…”taking back our nation”…and it’s various iterations is a line used to get you to vote for their (Republican) candidate (Trump), and nothing else. Invoking Jesus’ name is borderline blasphemous. And it’s definitely not the goal of the church to save America.

    On another thread I posted that some writers are wringing their hands in thinking that the church is going to fall because of CRT/BLM/wokeism…I was speaking about the church, not America.

  3. Jean says:

    The way it’s put, “Jesus has already given us the blueprint for winning back our nation,” that is this ministry’s goal apparently. It doesn’t say, “harvesting souls for His kingdom,” or “spreading His kingdom,” or “building His Church,” or “being a holy [i.e., people set apart by and for God] people;” it says, “winning back our nation.”

    But what can we say, when Scripture is incapable of a single, clear and orthodox interpretation. In this light, this ministry’s interpretation of the Church and her mission apparently is deserving of the same weight and validity as any other, and we should probably welcome its members at our open tables.

  4. Dan from Georgia says:

    WAAAAY off topic:

    Lots of Georgia sports action today…MLB Brave in the NLCS tonight and the #1 ‘Dawgs this afternoon.

  5. Michael says:

    Dan,

    Are you as excited about Georgian sports as Minnesota’s?
    I am committing to more sports and cat videos to keep my sanity…

  6. Michael says:

    “But what can we say, when Scripture is incapable of a single, clear and orthodox interpretation. In this light, this ministry’s interpretation of the Church and her mission apparently is deserving of the same weight and validity as any other, and we should probably welcome its members at our open tables.”

    Actually, we measure their interpretation against tradition, history, and the rest of scripture and find it wanting.
    Your sect has many on the far right and they are welcome at your closed tables.
    This is good…keep them there .

  7. Dan from Georgia says:

    Hi Micheal….I’ve kinda absorbed an interest in the Braves during my tenure here in GA. However, my #1 MLB team will ALWAYS be the Twins. As far as the Bulldogs, I’ve never really cared about the SEC, or college football in general. The MN Gophers seem to be perpetually mediocre, but that is probably due to most talent goes to southern schools. For the NFL, always the Vikes. Don’t care much for the Falcons. If wife and I were to move out of GA today, I wouldn’t follow any GA sports from there on.

    Re: keeping sanity…always good to have a (lot of) diversions today. Following Georgia sports is one way to relate to coworkers and friends here in Georgia. Wife and I love our beagles and they always keep us entertained. And I have my little library of YouTube music videos to chill to.

  8. Dan from Georgia says:

    Ugh…morning typing…I mistyped your name Michael. Apologies. Keep the cat posts rolling!

    Had a cool conversation with a friend in Minnesota a few days ago…a Catholic friend of mine and I feel comfortable sharing prayers requests with him about our pets. I believe St. Francis is the saint of animals. We all agreed that we are “Pro-Animals-Go-To-Heaven” – our tribe! Although my theology suffers a bit when I think about roaches and centipedes.

  9. Michael says:

    Glad you’re still with the Purple…though it is always a painful connection… 🙂

    I had to get serious about diversion…I was making myself sick with all the traumas of the day We’re just not wired for continual pain…

  10. Michael says:

    Roaches and centipedes will have a renewed purpose in the new creation.
    Damned if I know what it will be, but it will be good… 🙂

  11. Dan from Georgia says:

    True Michael…always Purple. Purple People Eaters…etc…etc…I grew up watching Ellen, Page, Grant!, Foreman, Tarkenton. Suffered through the Herschel Walker debacle, a former 1-season coach who shall remain nameless, etc.

    Good point about redeeming creation! We don’t have all the answers and I’m not sure how it’ll pan out either.

  12. Michael says:

    Jean,

    The difference between us is that I accept the possibility that I might be wrong about some things…and it doesn’t bother me much because I’m right about and with Jesus.

    I started teaching Romans in our church last week…and I’ll consult dozens off commentaries from the early fathers to the Reformation to today.

    I’ll glean what I think is best and needful for the church I pastor.
    I’ll point them to resources for further study.

    More than that, I’ll preach Jesus….and if they know Him in truth, I’m not going to worry about doctrinal precision.

  13. Pineapple Head says:

    I was in Georgia just a few weeks ago. Loved all the support people showed for their teams. It was even more intense in Alabama!

  14. Dan from Georgia says:

    Ph, yes college football is HUGE here in the the South.

  15. WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

    The Christianity Today podcast on The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill is still kinda … weird. Episode 9 seemed very diffuse and featured would-be protesters who accomplished nothing but can look back on the nothing they accomplished and wish they had found a way to articulate that the “what” of Mark’s views was not the issue but “how” he was such a grand-standing jerk about it. Had Cosper not talked to Preston Sprinkle about how he had an episode coming along that was supposed to explore how hostile public responses bolstered loyalties to Mark I could not have guessed what the intended actual point of Episode 9 was supposed to be beyond some connection to Bobby Knight. I’m not into midwestern basketball so I tried to care but I live in the PNW and for me a Lance Armstrong connection seemed clearer but such is life.

    Episode 10 is a bit stronger. Cosper still seems to think “nobody thought Mars Hill would get so big” despite repeated written statements from Mark Driscoll himself that “world domination” and starting a Bible college and a music label and a publishing company and a church-planting network were part of the vision from more or less day 1. It’s like Cosper is tracking down a lot of people who are willing to talk (and, don’t get me wrong, some of the people he got to talk are great sources whose contributions are salient, especially the recent Nathan Burke) but Cosper’s hamstrung by not seeming to have access to a mountain of written materials or being conversant in them. So if a bunch of his sources say they never imagined Mars Hill would have gotten so big maybe Cosper inferred from that that MARK never thought that. I know enough of the people who have gone on record that my hunch is Cosper has made a wrong inference from the surprise of all the sources at how big Mars Hill got that Mark, too, must not have imagined things could get so big. Mark would SAY that for PR purposes but “world domination” was his half-joking goal from jump.

    Episode 10 has a gut-wrenching tale from Nathan Burke, who used to be an assistant to Driscoll, about how when they were in the UK for a project Burke got infections in both eyes and lost his sight. Mark wanted to know if Burke was infectious and then left him behind while a liaison pastor in the UK led Burke by the hand throughout a city to get the medical care Burke needed. That got to me. I had to stop listening for a while.

    I remain ambivalent about the CT podcast because Christian star-making media institutions seem to prefer to choose between celebrities rather than interrogate their star-making systems. It’s easier to have people gush about Eugene Peterson as a contrast to Driscoll than to ask whether and to how much of a degree using celebrities is what we should even be doing. It’s as though CT is running with a rhetorical “why do we follow these people?” when the questions that stick with me are: 1. How do these kinds of people become celebrities to begin with? 2. If the best CT can do is offer other celebrities as antidotes to the toxicity of one celebrity how does that explicate what celebrity may have done to the toxic one? 3. Four guys on the Board of Overseers had the power to dissolve the corporation but “Who Killed Mars Hill?” in episode 1 went with the royal “we”. Why?

    After years of Driscoll controlling the stories told about him by dint of PR and media output it’s handy to have the CT podcast as something that is clearly not under his control but so far I’d say it’s hardly a compelling oral history and Cosper seems not to be in the best position to assess which sources are credible and which sources aren’t. That’s a not-very-delicate but important issue because one of the people who talked to Cosper said stuff that so flatly contradicts everything the source wrote in 2007 that the basic credibility of the source is in doubt at best but people who were never at Mars Hill are not in a position to know any of this stuff.

    Compared to the “moving on” as though nothing happened, though, the CT podcast did finally give Karen Schaeffer a chance to share what happened to her (which was bad form and showed that contrary to the nostalgia some fellow former members had for the 1999-2002 era there was some bad stuff going on back then, too).

    The most basic question that lingers is the one that hasn’t even been asked, which is how and why anyone thought Driscoll was ever fit for ministry to begin with. I mean, R. Scott Clark kinda broaches that at Heidelblog but that’s fairly Reformed niche.

    So I’ve been busy with supplemental material highlighting that Mark relied on dream divination, by his account, more than he seemed eager to let on when Mars Hill funding in the earlier years depended on the aid of cessationists. It seems as I go back to the old materials the CT podcast can’t get to it looks as though strategic omission and letting supporters reach wrong conclusions was more likely Driscoll’s M.O. than the lying and grifting people sometimes say he was always doing now that they’ve been burned by the demise of the church.

    Mark’s newer book Pray Like Jesus comes after he said in 2019 the TULIP is garbage and yet four notes in a later chapter of the new book cite Arthur Pink. I’m not sure if I can even over-state the irony of that. 🙂

  16. Em says:

    Years ago I heard old J.Vernon McGee (sp?) observe that, when a teacher starts out to teach the book of Romans, be prepared for the devil to attack you…. dunno

  17. Michael says:

    WTH,

    I haven’t listened to any of the podcasts…too many voices excluded…

  18. Michael says:

    Em,

    It has been a brutal week…but I don’t think the devil hates Romans any more than any other book…

  19. WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

    I’m not willing to go on record with CT myself and I know a few people who won’t go on record with CT because they don’t trust where Cosper seems to be going or not going with the series.

    The problem with the series is that it’s an epic fail as any kind of oral history. It wouldn’t matter, ten episodes in, who is or isn’t excluded because unless listeners were actually THERE during the 1995-2015 stretch of Mars Hill corporate history they probably couldn’t even assemble the scantiest timeline as to what even happened.

    I’m soldiering through the CT series out of principle and I’m even trying to give a listen to podcasts reacting to the CT series. But lately it’s been hard for me to shake the sense that the podcast genre by its nature is a complete waste of time and a simulacrum of thought rather than thinking through things.

  20. Xenia says:

    The Mars Hill podcast is going downhill. I wonder what is going on behind the scenes.

    Although… why did I like the podcast better when it talked about more scandalous topics? Seriously, it’s mostly gossip, when you get right down to it. People ratting out their former pastor, who they used to love and admire.

  21. Xenia says:

    I do think the podcast will go down as a fail, although what would a success have meant? More exciting examples of dirt, fewer boring examples of grace? Why do I listen to these things?

    And the narrator casts shade on Pentecostalism when I think Calvinism could be brought up as well. I think Cosper is a Calvinist?

  22. BrianD says:

    Mike Cosper is a Calvinist.

    He helped found Sojourn, a church in Louisville whose soteriology is steeped in Calvinism. Sojourn was a church plant that became part of the Calvinist wing of the Southern Baptist Convention and was part of Acts29, before leaving it to start its own church planting network.

    Cosper does reference his past association as a former pastor at Sojourn (he resigned a few years ago, although I think he’s still a member) and does tell the story of how its founding pastor, Daniel Montgomery, left the church. And he does talk about how Sojourn was influenced by Mars Hill.

    I was a former member of Sojourn. I saw first hand the influences of Mars Hill and Acts29 on the church culture; if Montgomery had been like Driscoll, Sojourn would have BEEN Mars Hill.

    I left because I smelled the smoke, felt the fire, and, having learned from the many horror stories here and the ones at Mars Hill, I couldn’t stay at a church that was more about control and growth than it ever was about the two things I wanted desperately: family and connection.

    Jesus was somewhere in the mess, I think. I don’t know that He was in the pastoral meetings as much as He was in the pews and the mandated small groups, and with the people who walked out (or got throwh out) and never came back.

    The sins and mistakes from Mars Hill should be talked about, and learned from. But if there is a failure of the Rise and Fall of Mars Hill, it’s not Cosper exposing the mess and dysfunction at Mars Hill, nor is it exposing the bodies of those run over by Mark Driscoll’s ministry. The failure is in not being more honest about the mess at Cosper’s own church, influenced by not only Mars Hill and Acts29, but C.J. Mahaney/Sovereign Grace Ministries, the SBC and others.

  23. WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

    Xenia, I would recommend a couple of books as alternatives to the podcast at this point.

    Jessica Johnson’s Biblical Porn is literally an academic monograph but her work is currently the baseline from which future writing on MHC likely needs to build. She focused on Driscoll’s cultivation of members as “citizen soldiers” in a new variation of culture war activity. I would modify her metaphor of the citizen soldier a little bit and say that Mark Driscoll clearly had culture war agendas in mind but he preferred, early on (in the 2000-2005 period) cultivating an ethos of individual members as kind of fire-and-forget weapons at his disposal. Driscoll an also be thought of as a kind of Christian (TM) variation on Dan Savage, the editor of The Stranger during roughly the same period as Mark Driscoll’s ascendancy. Driscoll became a sex guru within evangelicalism that most closely corresponded to Dan Savage’s Savage Love (which would, in a terrible sort of humor, make Driscoll a straight Dan Savage knock off).

    Maren Haynes Marchesini wrote a doctoral dissertation on the musical culture of Mars Hill and charted the evolution of its manly man punk ethos and there’s a fascinating chapter near the end about the failure of musicians to establish a Christian hip hop subculture within Mars Hill. I’m not a huge fan of hip hop or rap myself but exploring potential syntheses across “classical” and popular/vernacular styles developed by African diaspora musicians is something I’ve wanted to contribute to much of my adult life. I love the possibilities of ragtime/sonata synthesis so Haynes’ dissertation was a fascinating read. She was clearly conversant enough in both theological traditions and musical traditions to actually know what she was talking about. I’ve recommended her dissertation via link over at my blog.

    Brad Vermurlen’s Reformed Resurgence is more of a fly-over sociological survey of New Calvinism within which Mark Driscoll is the poster boy. Vermurlen charts the development of New Calvinism (as distinct from Dutch neo-Calvinism) as happening within an increasingly fragmented American evangelicalism full of brand contestation. It’s also an academic monograph but a bit easier to read than the other two for non-specialists.

    Finally, Crawford Gribben’s recent monograph through Oxford University Press on survivalists and Christian reconstructionists in the Pacific Northwest is a great little book that situates Mark Driscoll as, I propose, an offshoot of the American Redoubt movement. In fact I’m sufficiently impressed with Gribben as a historian (I’m going through his other books on the evolution of millenarian thought in trans-Atlantic evangelicalism and the Puritan movements) that Gribben is the sort of historian I would love to see tackle a history of Mars Hill (if such a thing were ever going to happen).

    Part of what makes the CT podcast so profoundly frustrating for me is that it’s dropped this year just when I’ve finally come across the four afore-mentioned works by academics that I think will be genuinely helpful for people who want to understand Mars Hill at different levels and in different contexts.

    Xenia, I agree that Cosper seemed to blame charismatic theology for Mark Driscoll’s ideas about spiritual warfare. The short answer to that is, no, Mark was clearly more influenced by the Merrill Unger branch of spiritual warfare teaching than the Basham/Prince wing. Cosper also seemed to insinuate that Mark kept changing his origin stories. That is, in fact, something that can be disproven, as I did at some length.

    https://wenatcheethehatchet.blogspot.com/2021/10/on-christianity-today-podcast-mini.html

    Mark didn’t start dramatically revising his stories of his conversion and call storeis at any points until after he resigned Mars Hill and began to publish at Charisma House. He did a number of strategic omissions and inclusions in his stories from 1992 through 2012 but the core narratives of his conversion and calling are, I think, remarkably stable.

    I’ve written EXTENSIVELY on how Driscoll has had no formal affiliations with Pentecostalism or charismatic groups (ex Assemblies of God here!) and that his earliest patrons were cessationist Baptist/evangelicals (Antioch Bible Church) so Driscoll kept quiet about his persistent use of dream divination.

    https://wenatcheethehatchet.blogspot.com/2021/09/dream-divination-in-ministry-of-mark.html

    I agree that ultmately the podcast will go down as a fail. Munson’s apology read in episode 7 stuck with me and I have it on good authority the apology was accepted! Karen Schaeffer’s story was worth hearing and it reminded me that shortly after she was fired Mark turned around and boasted to Ron WHeeler that Mars Hill had bona fide old dudes in leadership. It meant that Mark had Schaeffer fired for suggesting something and yet turned around and boasted to a man that he did what she suggested that he fired her for!

    There are a fair number of people who haven’t gone on record or have indicated they don’t feel comfortable getting into stuff. So I am hesitant to say voices are being left out of the CT podcast as much as, bias out in the open here, the smart people have been realizing what a trainwreck this podcast is and are choosing not to talk or have decided that they won’t talk more. That doesn’t mean the CT series shouldn’t have happened, exactly, but I do think that a written history is more what the church(es) need.

    I think success at telling the history of Mars Hill would probably have meant someone spent years putting things together and writing an actual book … but I don’t have the energy or willpower to do that myself anymore. I’m willing to work with scholars who would be interested in doing work toward that end, though.

  24. WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

    BrianD, ditto your comment about Cosper being more forthcoming about his scene being influenced by both SGM and A29/MH leaders and the problems attendant to both.

  25. WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

    Duane, I picked up the Carol Harrison book on Augustine’s De Musica. Looking forward to reading it

    I’m finally getting around to a pile of books by Jeremy Begbie on the nexus of musicology and theology that looks like it should be fun!

  26. BrianD says:

    Obviously, as a former Sojourn member, I was and am in Louisville, across the river from southern Indiana, which has its share of IU fans (and many fans of the University of Kentucky and University of Louisville; there were a lot of people in Indiana who couldn’t stand Knight, and rooted for Kentucky, or Purdue, or any other school).

    But I digress.

    Knight, as a very successful basketball coach (one of the most successful in college basketball history), had almost as much of a hold on the state socially and politically as Driscoll did at Mars Hill. Knight was a grade-A j@ck@$$, to be blunt, but because he won and won and won and because of a large network of people who protected him, anything Knight did that may have been objectionable or worse was hushed up or spun to put the blame away from the coach.

    Similarly, so many people were loyal to Driscoll that he was protected from criticism, through spin or cover up or by blaming the victim(s). Both men were masters of their empires, with a network of apologists who would faithfully defend him.

    History, of course, shows that both men eventually were exposed and forced out of their positions, and moved on to similar positions in another part of the country (Knight to Texas Tech, Driscoll to Phoenix).

  27. BrianD says:

    WTH, just read through your comments. If you say the podcast is a trainwreck, I respect that because I respect you and the work you’ve done, although I have a different view of the podcast to date.

    It is one man’s (and one corporation’s) view of Driscoll and Mars Hill Church, presented in a format that may not be appropriate for what it purports to tackle, in an era where objectivity and fact — and truth — have been discarded in favor of bias and spin in favor of a specific narrative — and if lies or oversights help get the desired narrative across, so be it.

    Not so say Cosper is lying, deliberately or otherwise; but if people who were there aren’t talking for whatever reason, on that account alone those who listen to the podcast should know they are not getting the complete story. And for so many reasons — among them the number of people involved and the vast scope of issues arising from the dysfunction and abuse — the written word, be it a book or a series of books, is the best format for a comprehensive, factual, truthful and unbiased look at the ministry and the people involved.

    Of course, in 2021/22, few people will take the time to read any book. In that respect, Cosper was more correct to choose a podcast as the form to present his version of the story, because it’s easier to listen to a podcast on the go than it is to interrupt your day and take the time to read and digest anything that’s 140-plus words as opposed to 140 characters.

  28. WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

    I think Cosper is doing the best he can with what he has. I know he knows that some of the most important potential sources about the earliest years of Mars Hill (Ken Hutcherson and David Nicholas) are both dead and that trying to pursue leads connected to Spanish River Church and Antioch Bible Church may just literally be dead ends. I have corresponded with him and am happy to help in whatever ways I can. I think he’s trying to cover twenty years of astonishingly messy history with a panoply of sources with credibility levels ranging from sterling to dross and in a scene on the other side of the United States. With all of those journalistic handicaps he’s frustrating me with the end result but I think he’s working in good faith. That it seems to me a trainwreck is partly my preference that we got an actual history and my realizing that Cosper has to work with what he has. There are telling moments in episode 7 where he sounds like he KNOWS some of his sources don’t seem very credible but his advice is we go read Joyful Exiles. Yeah, I think reading Joyful Exiles from start to finish is a prerequisite to even starting to understand episode 7.

    You’re probably right that few people will take the time to read a book.

    There are voices, some important voices, that have opted out and I don’t think it’s Cosper’s fault if they have their own understandable reasons for not going on record. There are some striking moments in the series, though, like Jamie Munson’s written apology to Petry and Meyer and their families. I am in a very good position to know that the apology has been accepted. I also gotta admire the stones Benjamin Petry had to go attend TWO services at The Trinity Church and tell Mark to his face that the possibility for reconciling for real with Paul is still something that could happen.

    Throckmorton posted about that for those who haven’t been up to speed on that.

  29. BrianD says:

    WTH,

    I also wanted to note, re your comments about podcasts, that the scientist Jerry Coyne has lamented the likes of Bari Weiss shifting their creative content to podcasting from writing. I personally like both formats: I listen to a number of podcasts while I’m working or while I’m driving, mostly long-form interviews or news discussion from alternate centrist/moderate sources, and I enjoy written commentary from the likes of Matt Taibbi.

    Both formats have their pluses and minuses. I do think, though, that the 140-character format favored by Twitter and other social media has been a net minus in that it’s trained a lot of people to read in short bursts and lose interest in the long-form-type of articles that are necessary for more nuanced and factual discussion of various topics.

  30. BrianD says:

    It did take some stones for Benjamin Petry to do what he did.

    Throckmorton is one of many sources you have to read in order to get something close to the full story. Your blog, WTH, is a key source and perhaps the most important, due to the year-long work you’ve put into chronicling the Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll stories, and the sheer number of sources you quote that readers can check out for themselves. Those sources are parts of the record. Other podcasts, like BadChristian Podcast, have chronicled other parts of the story.

    If anyone is going to attempt the definitive chronicle of Mars Hill history, I suppose the time might be now.

  31. Xenia says:

    WtH, thank you for the book recommendations.

  32. BrianD says:

    WTH, another thing about Mars Hill and Sojourn:

    After Daniel Montgomery left (a situation in which all of the details have not been publicly divulged, and in which he tells a quite different story than Cosper has on the Rise and Fall podcast), Sojourn transitioned from a church influenced by Driscoll, Mohler, Mahaney, et al to a church very much tied to the social justice wing of the SBC. The lead pastor at the Midtown campus is the son of a professor at Southern Seminary who is very much an advocate of social justice. Sojourn Midtown’s subsite links to a number of recommended resources for the topic of social justice, including books from Ibram Kendi and Ta-Neishi Coates.

    This in Louisville, a blue city in a very red state (although there are a lot of red voters who live here), in a church connected to a seminary where the dominant philosophy has seemingly shifted from Calvinism to leftist social justice.

    My question is a thought experiment: Justin Dean, the former Mars Hill P.R. director, contended in an interview on the BadChristian podcast that Mars Hill could have continued after Driscoll left. If that had happened, do you think Mars Hill might have experienced a similar ideological shift, given Driscoll’s clear conservative views and the political atmosphere in the city?

  33. Linn says:

    Michael,
    Enjoy the sermons on Romans! I was reading through the Bible when I was a teen and hit the book of Romans (I was reading a chapter or two a day over a couple of years). I knew Jesus was “special”, but I wasn’t willing to commit yet, until God brought great conviction to my 15-year old soul through the logic of God’s plan of salvation in Romans. It’s still my favorite book in the Bible. And, yes, I was a rather strange child….but God used my strangeness to bring me to Himself.

  34. Pineapple Head says:

    Dan from Georgia,

    We enjoyed Georgia so much we seriously have talked about making that our retirement. The only thing that was “meh” for me was the traffic on the Atlanta perimeter freeway. I hadn’t driven around the city since the early 80s…it sure has grown! We are thinking about the area near the SC border.

  35. WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

    BrianD, that’s a tricky question! I don’t know if I agree with Justin Dean’s appraisal that Mars Hill could have survived Driscoll’s resignation but since the Board ruled to dissolve the corporation I guess it’s a big what-if. If it HAD survived Driscoll’s resignation then any form of “moving left” or “going blue” would have been back to a more middling position MHC had circa 1999-2004 where the leaders didn’t sound off much on things. I know Mike Gunn screened Spike Lee’s Bamboozled as a film & theology event circa 2001 or 2002 and he seemed sympathetic to more liberal or progressive political movements but Mark once joked he was to the right of Pat Buchanan and Lief has never been especially blue state in his politics. The more powerful MH got the less concerned they were with accomodating progressive or blue-state perspectives, which is something I’ve talked about with a friend I made during my MH years who has always been a moderate progressive for as long as we’ve known each other.

    Brad Vermurlen’s book is a bit Captain Obvious for me at a lot of points after twenty years in and around the New Calvinist scene but he points out something that could become its own book, how the NAAR and African American pastors and theologians within the New Calvinist scene have parted ways with the white mainstream of New Calvinism over the perceived reticence of the big boys in the field to address issues of racial inequality and policy. To go by Mark’s recent Christian Theology vs Critical Theory his shift has been more in a Doug Wilson style No Quarter November set of rants (Wilson’s influence on Driscoll is something Mark has been very open about regarding sex, marriage and sexuality and yet there’s not much discussion about that linkage so far, but I digress). Mark hosted senatorial candidate McSally last year, if I recall correctly.

    What a few former leaders and staff have done post-MHC here in Seattle is pivot to egalitarianism, in some cases pro LGBTQ stances or embraced socialist candidates a la Sawant. Some of my progressive friends have found this post-MHC pivot from former leaders to be a bit disturbing because there’s a sense that the 180 degree lurch to the left or blue state values among former leaders and staff may just be an embrace of not-Mark-Driscoll rather than carefully thinking through WHY they’re shifting. The blunt way to put this concern is that Mark is an extremist who has attracted extremists who may just become extremists whether they veer red or blue. My gut sense has been that the emotionally healthiest people didn’t feel obliged to do complete 180s on their beliefs as they differentiated themselves from Driscoll and Mars Hill or if they did they took an entire decade to get there, not three or so years.

  36. Dan from Georgia says:

    Ph,

    I haven’t been any further east in Georgia than Lake Lanier, but I hear that eastern GA near the SC border is pretty nice! I have been to northern/northeastern GA…think Dahlonega, Helen, Elijay…those areas are really nice also. I do not recommend retirement in the ATL area, nor have I heard anyone else recommend retirement in the area. South of Macon, there isn’t much in my opinion except for Savannah and nearby Tybee Island. Southern GA is very hot and humid in the summer, worse than ATL believe it or not.

    You are right about the traffic on the Perimeter, as well as out to Marietta and McDonough…terrible traffic. In the spirit of full discloser, the absolute worse traffic I have experienced was on the expressway system around Chicago, but then it was my fault for trying to get to a hotel near O’hare airport during rush “hour”. I am in Newnan, and it seems like it’s very difficult to make a trip to other areas of the ATL area on the weekend.

  37. Duane Arnold says:

    WtH

    Glad you picked up Carol’s book. A lesser known treatise, I’ve always thought De Musica was a turning point in Augustine’s thought…

  38. BrianD says:

    Very interesting thoughts, WTH.

    Continuing with this what-if/thought experiment: going by your comments, one possibility is that our hypothetical 2020/2021 Mars Hill Church might have gone left politically and socially if those leaders whom you mention went progressive IRL (in real life) were leaders of the various campuses. MHC’s overall response would probably depend on who was in the core leadership, and how much autonomy each campus would have.

    That begs the question: How would they have responded not only to Trump and to COVID, not only to the George Floyd and Breonna Taylor tragedies, but also to the unrest that rocked Seattle last year? I suppose you could ask the people who were in charge at the end of MHC what they would’ve done, but as in any hypothetical, all you can do is guess: you couldn’t know for sure unless it actually happened.

    When you look at Sojourn Collective’s website, the only campus that mentions social justice is the Midtown campus, which is led by the aforementioned Southern Seminary pastor’s son, and includes at least two seminary professors on staff, one of whom is firmly in the social justice camp. I don’t see the issue being pushed overtly on the other five campus subsites, which suggests to me each campus has some autonomy. In our hypothetical, it might give a clue as to how a post-Driscoll MHC might regard social justice in 2021.

    Another question for me is how a Mars Hill Portland would have responded to all of that.

  39. BrianD says:

    Now here’s the flip side to this hypothetical: what if Driscoll had stayed?

    The podcast suggests there was enough support for Driscoll that all of this detractors could have left and the Driscoll bus still would have rolled on.

    Given his political leanings, and assuming Covid, Trump, the unrest, social justice movements, etc., still happened, where would Driscoll and Mars Hill be now? Would it have survived the lockdowns, and how would he and the church have dealt with any part of the protests and violence aimed at them? Would he still be there now, or would he have fled for a more red state (like Arizona, or maybe Texas or Florida or even Tennessee) anyway?

    And what would his sermons have been like? I wonder if he would have tried to avoid the issues of Trumpism/social justice/unrest/Floyd/Taylor/Biden and tripled down on Jesus as much as he could. And how much smaller would a Driscoll-led MHC be now, and would he have spun a mass exodus as addition by subtraction?

    And, how much additional damage would the ‘bus’ have caused with him still in Seattle now, or having left for Phoenix, Austin, Dallas, Tampa, Nashville, or wherever he could have fled to in such a short window?

  40. WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

    BrianD, I stopped attending circa early to mid-2008 so I didn’t get to know enough people in higher tier leadership past that point to be able to make even a guess. I know from Haynes Marchesini’s work that there were efforts to develop a hip hop subculture within the Rainier Valley campus that got snubbed from the top brass. At the risk of using musical culture and subculture bids as a synecdoche for Mars Hill cultural shifts more generally it seems unlikely Mars Hill would have tilted toward many progressive causes whether Mark stayed or not, although contributing to potential cross-genre theorizing and composing is something I personally try to be supportive of if I can.

    Would Mars Hill have survived the lockdowns? See in that case it probably could have because Mars hill had already shifted to Mark preached sermon X live at one campus; it was taped and distributed a week later for the other campuses and most people who didn’t already know wouldn’t have known that Pastor Mark was preaching on a week delay. I found out how few people knew about that when I participated in a small group that met where I lived and I was still at a non-central campus and pointed out that the sermon the group was talking about I hadn’t heard yet because of the relay delay. There was some REALLY awkward seconds of quiet about that revelation. But for folks who never knew about that MHC with centralized preaching probably could have survived the lockdown had it not died by other reasons. Mark probably would have privately ranted about Comrade Inslee and Sawant but have kept up cordial appearances because the church was so formidably set up to do online preaching and gift processing it would have likely worked in some way.

    Based on Christian Theology vs Critical Theory Driscoll seems to regard covid 19 restrictions as nasty, Biden’s victory as some kind of debacle and CRT as satanic. It’s a dumpster fire of an ebook, probably the worst argued and ill-informed agit-prop rant I’ve ever seen Driscoll do even when I set alongside everything he wrote as William Wallace II. But in a way it reminds me that Doug Wilson has been doing his No Quarter November rants and Driscoll as he gets older reveals the ways in which his conversion and ideas about cultural enterprise activity seem ostentatiously indebted to variations of the American Redoubt project. Crawford Gribben’s work on that has been eye opening for me even as someone who was connected to MH for about ten years formally and by proximity for twenty years. Mark is in a lot of key respects Doug Wilson’s ideas on sex and marriage on steroids with blood doping. Wilson has never felt any inspiration to denounce Driscoll despite by now probably knowing about the dream divination stuff because Mark’s career may actually be the surest sign to Wilson his work has had some influence (Wilson did some guest contribution at The Resurgence, IIRC).

  41. BrianD says:

    Thank you very much, WTH. As I said, there’s no way to know what would have happened in either scenario for sure, you can only give your best guess.

    It seems his only real influence lately has been negative, specifically from current and former members of MHC and Trinity Church speaking out about their experiences and Driscoll coming off poorly as a result. If he can get on TBN or Daystar and become the next Greg Laurie, his profile might take off, otherwise he’s just a local pastor who walked away from a mess of a church in another state. I wonder what his legacy will end up being.

    I haven’t read that ebook you referenced. I saw Confessions of a Reformission Rev for 3.99 on the Kindle store the other day and passed; he or the publisher must think there’s some value in a MHC-era book like that still being available, that it has something to teach church planters. But is its value really more historical or cautionary?

  42. BrianD says:

    I followed a rabbit trail from WTH’s blog that led me to Google, then to the Wandering Eagle blog, where Eagle put up this post:

    https://wonderingeagle.wordpress.com/2021/10/04/jessica-johnson-discusses-the-issues-with-the-mars-hill-podcast-by-mike-cosper-in-the-process-some-of-this-blogs-work-on-the-sojourn-network-is-acknowledged/

    There, he discusses an article by Jessica Johnson, the author of Biblical Porn, on the CT podcast, specifically what Cosper did and didn’t say about his own church:

    https://religiondispatches.org/sharing-many-of-the-same-flaws-as-its-subject-the-rise-and-fall-of-mars-hill-podcast-puts-blame-anywhere-but-where-it-belongs/

    It now appears to me I’ve given too much credit to Cosper and his podcast for shining a light on the dysfunction at MHC, while glossing over the dysfunction and scandal at his own, and my former, church: this may be par for the course in the mainstream and evangelical media, but the church is supposed to be different*. Johnson touches on Sojourn only briefly, but what happened with its lead pastor and how heavily it was influenced by Mars Hill probably deserves its own podcast if not a book (or two).

    I went to that church, by the way. Let’s just say I had some experiences there that informed my own current viewpoint on church and religion in general, and not for the best. I’ve decided to keep the personal details to myself, but I think it’s fair to say that Sojourn at the time (’08-’12) was if not a carbon copy of Mars Hill at the least heavily influenced by it. The criticisms that applied to MHC at that time were applicable to Sojourn itself. Even though MHC wasn’t anywhere near Louisville, it influenced a lot of churches nationwide, including Sojourn, so though I never went to MHC I feel like I can relate to at least some of what the former members and attenders went through.

  43. WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

    Confessions is probably valuable chiefly as a cautionary tale because back in 2005 ish when Mark said he was writing a history of Mars Hill I thought he was ACTUALLY going to write a history of Mars Hill, not a “how I did it” manual wrapped in parts of Mars Hill history. I think the 2006 book planted the first seeds in my mind about what I thought a history of Mars Hill might look like that preserved all the stuff Mark skated past or ignored in Confessions of a Reformission Rev.

    Now that I’m thinking about it again, the influence Mars Hill culture could have had on Sojourn was actually pretty direct, as in leaders transferred from Mars Hill to Sojourn, even if they weren’t high profile enough to get the attention of a ton of people on either the Mars Hill or Sojourn sides, perhaps. I recall that former executive elder Tim Beltz from Mars Hill and pastor Brad House shifted from Mars Hill to Sojourn years ago. For those who haven’t read Joyful Exiles, Brad House shows up in the timeline and his conduct was not particularly praiseworthy in my estimation. Cosper really pulled punches on how the guys who were willing to go on record to him about 2007 (Scott Thomas and Brad House, at least) don’t come off well in Paul Petry’s timeline of documents and correspondence–it’s like Cosper may have had some inkling some of the sources maybe aren’t being entirely on the level with him, perhaps, but lets listeners bear the responsibility of reading everything at Joyful Exiles to come to their own conclusions about whether Scott Thomas’ 2021 podcast account can be reconciled at any level with everything Scott Thomas wrote in 2007.

    Cosper’s podcast is still a step up from Driscoll himself controlling all the stories told about him but as I suspect many people will have guessed by now, that’s still a relatively low bar.

    I think part of the problem with evangelical hot takes on Mars Hill is the progressive wing of evangelicalism has, by and large, seemed to circle wagons around their celebrities as allegedly healthy alternatives to Driscoll but I don’ t see that as necessarily being the case. Transforming discussions of Mars Hill into a pitch for still other Christian celebrities who have their status because of the Christian star-making machines won’t improve things.

    I am not quite caught up on the meta-commentary podcasting about the CT series. I’ve only got so much emotional energy and attention to spare after so many years and sometimes I just feel like the time spent listening to podcasts about Mars Hill could be spent doing other things like reading Jeremy Begbie books or writing music or watching cartoons.

  44. JD says:

    Prayers for you WTH; I have to watch Beverly Hillbillies reruns instead of cartoons for a laugh vacation.

  45. BrianD says:

    WTH, I don’t think the human psyche can take 24/7/365 dealing with something like abuse and dysfunction coming from the MHC or Calvary Chapel or any other church debacle. You have to take a break now and then, and it’s probably better to make it a long, long break.

    My experiences at a local Calvary Chapel led me to this blog, and to me leaving that church. Being a commenter, then moderator, here made me feel like part of a church community for perhaps the first time in my life. I fought for it, too, even going so far as to start a separate blog when PP went dormant for a time. I came back, and fought for it.

    I went to Sojourn in part because I was impressed by Driscoll (and knew nothing of what was going on behind the scenes, only what I heard on his podcast), and in part because I felt like I had fallen thru the cracks at the big church I was going to at the time. I found Sojourn, a MHC-like church, and felt that it would help reconnect me to God and to supercharge my walk with Him.

    I went, and I joined; I signed the membership covenant despite something telling me in my mind NOT to sign it. As I got deeper into church life, I started smelling smoke; what I had learned here at PP, specifically what a dysfunctional church looks like, helped inform my eventual decision to leave.

    The Sojourn-MHC ties go way back before House and Beltz arrived (after I had left); Cosper alludes to the Sojourn staff being well acquainted with the MHC staff well before that. They were buddies with the Journey staff from St. Louis, whom probably were well acquainted with MHC themselves. Montgomery not only knew Driscoll, he was friends with Matt Chandler and Darrin Patrick.

    Cosper does his audience a disservice by not fessing up to those ties, and discussing how they affected his own church and its former lead pastor. If I were in his shoes, working for a national publication while a member of a church tied to its membership covenant…my decision to talk about that or not to talk about it would be informed in part by whether doing so would upset my church’s leadership, and potentially put me under discipline if I did or said the wrong thing.

  46. Nathan Priddis says:

    The CT podcast..
    I am not current. The last episode I caught was Spiritual Warfare. I’ve had a lot of things happen lately and CT’s thing didn’t seem like priority. It also gave me an uptick in the faith related depression that has dogged much of my life. The podcast is something I personally need to ration. Its not binge content. I also am not a Tweeter, so I happily missed most Evangelical chatter about the series.

    I was appalled at what is..apparently…equivocation on the part of some regarding Driscoll’s activities.
    Complimentarianism and certain specific Pentacostal practices seemed to be the third rail, the sacred cows, touched in the series. CT crossed a line when these subjects came up.
    I was following Remnant Radio ytc, and they did an episode in reaction to CT. I commented in direct reference to the sexuality and contact with unclean spirits. It was immediately taken down.

  47. Duane Arnold says:

    Of current interest…

    “THE LIVING CHURCH does not usually review the memoirs of retired generals, but Colin Powell’s story must be an exception. The former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff tells an engrossing story of a climb from poverty in the South Bronx to senior positions in the White House and the Pentagon.

    Although his autobiography has drawn a wide readership, few reviewers have noted the general’s lifelong devotion to the Episcopal Church. The son of Anglican immigrants from Jamaica, Gen. Powell grew up in St. Margaret’s, the neighborhood parish where he served as an acolyte and came to love the splendor of Anglo-Catholic liturgy. “The higher the church, the closer to God; that was how I saw it”

  48. bob1 says:

    Thanks, Duane, for sharing that. How neat.

    Rest in grace, General Powell.

  49. Em says:

    Good to know that Colin Powell was prepared to meet his maker/redeemer
    Thanks for the information

  50. WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

    “Demon Hunting” had, I think, a lot of significant problems. I’ve written at some length on Driscoll’s ideas about spiritual warfare and whether he got them from charismatic theology or not. The short answer is “no, but he granted that there’s been a convergence between charismatic and cessationist evangelicals that has been attested elsewhere by James S Collins”
    https://wenatcheethehatchet.blogspot.com/2021/09/on-episode-8-demon-hunting-of-rise-and.html
    I also took the Driscolls to task for their wildly irresponsible and lazy take on Native American cultures and spiritualities
    https://wenatcheethehatchet.blogspot.com/2021/07/mark-and-grace-driscolls-win-your-war.html
    and noted a troubling double standard among the Driscolls where Grace exposes her family and personal weaknesses while Driscoll doesn’t disclose his when it comes to “inner vows”
    https://wenatcheethehatchet.blogspot.com/2021/09/the-double-standards-of-vulnerability.html

    I have read some actually good books on spiritual warfare in biblical literature by Robert Ewusie Moses and Esther Acolatse in the last year or so so it’s not all annoying junk I’m plodding through but Cosper might want to be thoroughly steeped in all of Driscoll’s books before suggesting that he was mainly influenced by charismatic theology of any kind on spiritual warfare. When Driscoll wrote a glowing blurb for Karl I Payne’s book that should be an obvious tell about influence!

  51. WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

    Nathan, episode 8 had a few significant issues on backing up claims made, that’s for sure.

  52. Em says:

    Thanking Godl that none of the frustrated hunters took a shot at the deer grazing on our lawn last night….

  53. Em says:

    The United States has their first four star transgender Admiral.
    God noticed this – a slap in His face – pray

  54. Michael says:

    Which is more of a slap in the face to God…the transgender person or the hatred and abuse of migrants?

    The Bible would clearly say the latter…

  55. Em says:

    Michael, i see the acceptance of the transgender – like the canary in the coal mine – a symptom of decay in a nation….
    Should we despise these mixed up people? NO, however, like all sicknesses this one should be met with concern, not acceptance.
    Hatred and abuse of migrants is not right either, but the overwhelming influx of them now IS a problem – IMNSHO. 😇

  56. josh hamrick says:

    “a symptom of decay in a nation….”

    A nation founded on slavery and genocide.

    But its the men wearing dresses that will finally bring God’s wrath.

  57. Em says:

    Josh, this nation wasn’t founded on slavery. The southern states did depend on the slaves to work their cotton and tobacco feilds, but the rest of the nation did not.
    Genocide? The natives did resist the settlers, yes. However, is it right to call the settlers committers of genocide? Not sure. Israel would have been described the same in the O.T. then… Hmmmm – a new ponder to chew on.. Thanks

  58. josh hamrick says:

    Slavery was built into our very existence. Affected every area of the nation, not that it matters, because it was one nation.

    If you can look at the buffalo hunting expeditions our government sponsored…to starve the natives…and not call that evil, I don’t know what to tell you.

  59. Em says:

    Buffalo hunting to starve the natives? Yes, that was evil… but there is more to the story and not all the blame falls on Washington…
    You’d have to elaborate on the slavery affecting every area of our nation, but i am aware that white folk did sell themselves into bondage in order to find a place in the new nation. That was not a permanent “bondage,” but had limits…
    Most of the African slave trade ended up in the south (yes, Virginia is considered the south, i believe).
    God keep

  60. Em says:

    post script – it’s not men wearing dresses, but rather our present affirmation of cross dressing that portends a downward spiral ….. IMNSHO 🙂

  61. josh hamrick says:

    Well, is the Admiral from the north or south? Maybe we don’t have to worry about it. God might say, They had a transgender Admiral, and we can just say, No, he was from the South.

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