Translating Mark Driscoll

This morning I watched the 17 minute videoed announcement from Mark Driscoll this weekend that he is stepping down as Pastor of Mars Hill for a minimum of six weeks. You can watch the video and read the transcript here.

 

Within the announcement Mark speaks of the “court of public opinion” not being useful in addressing issues in a Biblical manner and suggests online conversations, like this blog for instance, are unhelpful. I can see that everyone having OPINIONS can be problematic, but without the courageous tenacity of bloggers across the internet raising the issues, Mark Driscoll would not have taken the very necessary and welcome step that he has. So I’m not going to apologise for adding to the OPINIONS in the public space and I would suggest his denigration of the “court of public opinion” is a tactic to silence the hurting, and as a book we Christians honour states, “For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all.”

 

I have recently begun working with perpetrators of domestic abuse. I am facilitating a Respect accredited programme with men who have chosen to be violent and abusive to their partners. And if there is one thing that perpetrators are “gifted” in, it is avoiding responsibility and manipulating people’s views of them. I would suggest that some of what we see in Mark’s announcement uses those same tactics, whether intentionally or not, whether orchestrated by a PR plan or by the man himself. I would like to clarify that I am not suggesting Mark is perpetrator of domestic abuse, but that his words and actions mirror those of abusers.

 

During the announcement Mark was emotional, at points he seemed very close to tears. It is interesting to note that domestic abuse perpetrators who visibly show remorse change at about the same rate as those who don’t. In our wider context of power based masculinity, men crying, or being close to tears brings out a specific response for many. That act of vulnerability in a society that states the only appropriate emotions for men are humour and anger can change perceptions of an offender in an instant. I’m not for one minute suggesting they were “crocodile tears” but that we must be careful not to use an emotionally remorseful delivery as a litmus test for repentance.

 

This is my translation of some parts of the announcement:

 

“When a small group of us started what would become Mars Hill Church in 1996, we could not have dreamed it would be what it is today. Thousands upon thousands of people have become Christians as the gospel of Jesus Christ has proven powerful over and over. Every day, it seems, I hear of someone whose life has been transformed by the power of the Word of God taught in this place and modeled by so many who call this their church home.”

I’m going to start by reminding you of all the 1000s of people my ministry has saved from hell, so that when I get to my bad choices, we’re all feeling that is insignificant compared to all the people I have helped. So many people’s lives have been transformed by my teaching of God’s Word and you all living out my teaching.

 

“Today, we are blessed with lead pastors who love Jesus and the people He gave His life for. These men faithfully serve the Mars Hill family.”

Though there are 21 ex-leaders of the our church who are publicly stating that I have behaved in horrendous ways and were either sacked or left due to their strong convictions, the current leaders are supportive of me.

 

“While I’m still young, I suspect when I’m old I’ll be known for many things—some good, and some not so good.”

I am a 43 year old grown up, but I am going to describe myself as “young” in order to suggest that my young-ness mitigates the bad choices I have made. I would also like to remind you that I have done good things and not actually say that I have done bad things, but just things that are “not so good”.

 

“I may be an author, a speaker, and a thought-provoker; but in the deepest recesses of my heart, I’m a local church pastor, and that’s what I want to give the rest of my life for.”

I would like to remind you all of the powerful man I am and the many successes I have had in my career so far, but that I also want you to know that I am humble local church pastor, even though I have intentionally and ruthlessly built a large megachurch over the last 18 or so years.”

 

“It is because of my deep love for the local church in general, and Mars Hill Church in particular, that it grieves me to see anything come against it or threaten to harm it. It also grieves me greatly when something I say or do results in controversy and publicity none of you signed up for when you decided to be a part of this church family.”

I get upset when my choices, actions and words result in people challenging me. I am so totally uninterested in the people I have hurt that I’m not even going to mention their hurt in my announcement. I don’t want to accept the consequences of my actions as the leader of a large church which I am paid large amounts of money to lead and rather than say this, I am going to make it about the peripheral hurt of the church family, which I am actually responsible for not those who have challenged me.

 

“Over the years, as I have grown and as the Lord has been molding and pruning me, I have, on many occasions, shared with you some of the lessons I’ve been learning. Some of these have been painful, and some I’ve been slow to learn. I’ve acknowledged and confessed many of my sins, shortcomings and missteps, and God has been more than faithful with His forgiveness. Most of our Mars Hill family has been forgiving as well, and for that I’m grateful and blessed. By God’s grace, I want to always be humble and teachable.”

I would like to remind you all of the times I have said sorry for what I did over the years. The fact that at no point have I actually changed my behaviour is something I’m going to try and ensure you don’t think about by making it all about the ways I’ve learned. I’d like to also remind you that before God I am forgiven. Rather than mention how much I appreciate and value all those who have tried to stop it coming to this point, I’m going to validate all those who collude with my behaviours by honouring those who keep forgiving me. Although I have proven that over the last 18 years of ministry that I am not willing to be taught and am not humble, I am going to say that I am both of those things.

 

“A central theme in my personal walk with Jesus in recent times has been to follow the Apostle Paul’s charge to Believers in Romans 12:8: If possible, so far is it depends on you, live peaceably with all men. God is not honored by conflict, strife, disunity, arguing, slander, gossip or anything else not consistent with the fruit of the Spirit, and I am deeply sorry for the times I have not done my part to living peaceably with all men.”

By quoting Scripture I can reduce my ongoing hurtful behaviour to the term “not living peaceably with all men”. I am going to use the term “my part” so as to suggest that it is not all my fault, but that it is a reciprocal thing where both I and every other person involved are partly to blame for the hurt I have caused.

 

“I want to thank those who have come directly to an Elder, lead pastor or me to tell us of an offense they are carrying. This allows us to deal with it head-on between the two affected parties, rather than in a court of public opinion and public media. I believe God is honored by this approach—the approach He prescribed for us in Matthew 18 and other Scriptures.”

All those who have used public spaces to challenge me are wrong and dishonour God and only those who have come to me and the leadership of the church are right and honour God. I am going to use the term “offense they are carrying” so as to avoid saying that I had hurt people. The fact that when people tried to come to me I refused to listen, sacking them, threatening them and destroying their lives and livelihoods is of absolutely no relevance. God is not honoured by anyone who publicly holds me to account. I am going to mention the first bit of Matthew 18 where Jesus tells us to approach other Christians who we have been hurt by, but I am going to conveniently ignore the bit Jesus says that’s someone who fails to listen should be treated like a non-believer.

 

“Others have chosen to air their grievances with me or this church in a more public forum. As is often the case, some of what is said it true, some is partly true, and some is completely untrue. Lately, the number of accusations, combined with their public nature, makes it much more difficult to know how to respond appropriately. Indeed, many times we have chosen not to respond at all, which probably raises even more questions in some people’s minds, and I understand that.”

I am going to use the term “air their grievances” rather than talk about people being hurt. I am going to talk about truth, half-truths and lies without distinguishing between them so that I subtly cast aspersions on all that everyone has accused me of. I am going to talk about “the number of accusations” increasing which makes the issues external to me, rather than about my own choices and hurtful actions. I am going to reinforce my criticism of people holding me to account publicly, but will use it neutral language like “public nature” to hide that. I am going to mention that we haven’t addressed the issues, acknowledge that is problematic but continue doing it.

 

“In other cases, some have publicly brought up issues that were long ago addressed and resolved, adding to the understandable confusion many of you may be experiencing recently. For example, nearly 15 years ago I wrote some things on a Mars Hill discussion board on our website using a pseudonym. I quickly realized what I wrote and how I did it was wrong. We removed the entire section of the website a few months later and I addressed it publicly in a book I wrote six years later—calling it what it was: wrong.”

The only accusation I am going to address during my announcement is the one that relates to historical actions. I am going to manipulate the facts to suggest that a book I wrote six years later dealt with what I had done, when in actual fact, that book mentioned that I thought it was funny how I had a man turn up at my house to challenge me; that I talk of things “going crazy”. I’m not going to mention that at no point in the book do I actually own or apologise for my misogynistic, homophobic behaviours and attitudes. I am also not going to mention that for the past almost 15 years I have continued to use similar language and ideology in my preaching and writing. I am going to use language that distances me from my actions by saying “what I wrote and how I did it was wrong” rather than saying “I was wrong and I have hurt people”.

 

“I have taken full responsibility for those actions and will forever be ashamed by what I did, even as a 29 year-old preacher. What I did in this case back in 2000 is indefensible. It is also forgiven; and thank God, I’m not the man I was back then. I have learned hard lessons from this situation, as I have from other situations where I have done wrong things and God has had to deal with me.”

I am going to talk of taking full responsibility for something while still using language that distances me from my choices and actions. When talking about what I did I will mention the age I was in order to justify it as related to being young (like I did earlier in my announcement). Although at 29 years old I had been an adult for over ten years, I will suggest my age made me immature, though I was a married father entrusted with the leadership of a church. I will remind everyone that this happened in 2000, keeping people focused on the historical accusations and not the current ones. I will talk about learning hard lessons which will allow me to suggest I have changed, when the way I have behaved and the choices I have made since then have continued to hurt many people.

 

“Storm clouds seem to be whirling around me more than ever in recent months and I have given much thought and sought much counsel as to why that is and what to do about it. The current climate is not healthy for me or for this church. (In fact, it would not be healthy for any church.)”

I will again talk about the consequences of my actions using language which distances me from any responsibility by talking of what “storm clouds seems to be” doing. I will talk of how unhealthy this would be and subtly place myself as a victim. I will then restart talking of Mars Hill Church as the main victim of the issues, keeping my audience feeling like they are the centre of this and their interests and hurts are cared about while continuing to completely ignore the hurt and pain of the people I have hurt throughout my ministry.

 

“Some have challenged various aspects of my personality and leadership style, and while some of these challenges seem unfair, I have no problem admitting I am deserving of some of these criticisms based on my own past actions that I am sorry for. In recent years, I have sought to apologize to people I have knowingly offended in any way. I’m grateful that God has honored many of these encounters and granted true reconciliation and restoration.”

I will start addressing criticisms by saying that some have been unfair. I will not use language which states that my critics are right, but will instead say “I am deserving of” some criticisms. This sounds like I’m taking responsibility, but subtly avoids doing so. I will use the term “past actions” to suggest that this isn’t related to my ongoing behaviour, thereby subtly connecting it to my previous comments on my actions in 2000. I talk of seeking to apologise to people even though those who have been hurt report being shunned and destroyed by me. I will talk about God honouring these encounters without specifics.

 

“But I’m particularly sorry that any of my past actions or decisions have brought distraction to the mission of Mars Hill Church, and therefore, to those who call this their church home. Part of this is no doubt a function of the media age we live in—anyone can write anything, anywhere, anytime. As a public figure, I recognize and accept this, even if I don’t like it; for this is one of the paradoxes of being a pastor in a media age—the same media channels that can be used to carry a sermon to virtually anyone around the globe can also be used by anyone around the globe to criticize, attack or slander.”

The first time that I start a sentence with “I am sorry” it is related to the impact on the church community which yet again reinforces to the audience that their feelings are validated, but the actual victims of my offences are not mentioned. I make my sorry focused on the mission of Mars Hill, reminding everyone that is the priority, not the reality of the people who have been hurt. I will then yet again criticise people who have publicly challenged me and place myself as the victim by talking of myself as a “public figure”. This makes the situation more about my position than my choices and actions. That I have used media channels to criticise and attack is irrelevant, and I will suggest my detractors are “criticizing, attacking and slandering” without actually stating that is what those who challenge me are doing.

“However, another part of it is simply my fault and I will own it, confess it and move on from it as God continues to redeem me. I will seek to resolve unresolved issues with others, and will seek to avoid such conflict in the future; at least to the extent I have any control over it.”

After spending time being negative about my detractors I will now talk about my fault. Yet I won’t take responsibility for any of it, I will just accept partial fault, which essentially means the other people involved are also at fault. Essentially I am blaming everyone else while using the language of responsibility. I will talk of God redeeming me to remind everyone that God is okay with me, having previously implyred that others have dishonoured God by challenging me. I will use the term “avoid such conflict” which essentially distances me from fault and focuses the issues as conflict based rather than founded in power and abuse.

 

“There is a well-documented list of past actions and decisions I have admitted were wrong, sought forgiveness, and apologized for to those I hurt or offended. I will not review them here, as it is my prayer we can, together as a church, move on as Paul writes in Philippians 3:13—But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind, and straining forward to what lies ahead.”

I will talk about admitting I am wrong when what I have done previously is apologise but continue to do the same things over and over. I quote Philippians and use the word “forget”; this implys that forgetting is the option for the church community. That forgiveness and forgetting are not in any way related and that forgetting is impossible when we have been hurt badly is something I want to avoid people being aware of.

 

“These are serious times we are living in and people all around us are dying every hour without Jesus. It is this reality that drives me and motivates me to keep learning God’s Word, and teaching God’s Word to His people so that together, we can continue to reach people with the saving grace and love and mercy of Jesus. I hope that regardless of whatever else is swirling around us, we never lose this perspective on why Mars Hill exists in the first place – Jesus loves people and people need Jesus.”

I will now spend time explaining how people’s souls are at risk of burning in hell and that in comparison these issues that have been raised are really not a big deal. I will talk about my purpose and call and will talk of the current issues that have resulted from my actions and choices as “swirling around us” yet again distancing myself from being the instigator of the issues.

 

“I realize the vast majority of you just want to come to church and hear God’s Word taught. You want to feed your families spiritually just as you feed them physically, and Mars Hill should be a safe place to do just that. As your pastor, I want that for you more than anything. All of our lead pastors want that for those under their care as well.”

I will keep the audience supportive of me by yet again talking about them as the primary victims in the situation. I will talk about the consequences of my choices and actions in a way that acknowledges the struggles of people are going through without taking responsibility for them.

 

“I have submitted to the process prescribed by our church Bylaws as overwhelmingly approved by our entire Eldership for addressing accusations against me. I invite this process, rather than debating accusations and issues in social media or the court of public opinion. A report on this process will be presented when it has been completed.”

I will not mention that one of the accusations against me relate to changing the bylaws of the church to make it very difficult for the church to hold me to account. I will talk of inviting the process even though it has taken enormous public pressure to essentially force me to take action. Book shops are withdrawing my books from sale, I am being removed from church networks and others and although there have been issues throughout my entire ministry, I have shut down all criticism to the point of changing church bylaws and sacking employees, yet I will state that this is a process that I have invited. I will again reinforce that challenging me publicly is wrong. I mention that a report will be presented, but I haven’t mentioned who that report will be presented to, and I have called it a “report on the process” not implyring whether the outcomes will be made public.

 

As a general rule, I will respond to little if any criticism of me in the media, on social media, blogs, open letters, etc. Conducting church business and biblical conflict resolution through media channels is not healthy and is more likely to prove unproductive at best, and destructive and dishonoring to the Lord at worst.

I will now categorically state that media channels are unproductive, destructive and dishonouring to God. That without these media channels I would be able to continue behaving in hurtful and damaging ways without any accountability or negative consequences. This places anyone who comments publicly about what I have said as unproductive, destructive and dishonouring God. The hurt I have caused people should be compounded further by me attempting to silence and denigrate their attempts to heal.

 

“I have asked our Board of Advisors and Accountability to strengthen our board by adding members to it, and they are in the process of doing so with local members being our first choice.”

We will strengthen the board of advisors and accountability by inviting people who are still in the church and have stood by me throughout all that I have done. Anyone who has had the courage to challenge me has talked of how they were sacked or abused by me. By saying this I yet again focus on my audience, enabling them to feel they are being given power to change things and trusted with that.

 

“I have agreed to postpone the publication of my next book until a future season, to be determined.”

Bookshops have removed my books from sale and due to the current climate I would probably not sell many books if I did publish my book, plus I am no longer able to pay a PR company to unethically get my books onto bestseller lists.

 

“I have begun meeting with a professional team of mature Christians who provide wise counsel to help further my personal development and maturity before God and men. I have never taken an extended focused break like this in my 18 years as your pastor, and it is not a vacation but rather a time to focus on deep work in my soul in the areas of processing, healing, and growing.”

I will talk of meeting with a professional team of mature Christians but will not mention any of their names. The fact I haven’t taken an extended break in 18 years will be used as an opportunity to be applauded for my commitment rather than concern that I have not had a healthy work life balance.

 

“As I look forward to the future—and I do look forward to it—I believe the Lord has shown me I am to do two things with the rest of my life: love my family, and teach the Bible. I deeply love my family and our church family and am seeking the Lord for how to have a godly and loving future that is not just sustainable but fruitful.”

I will now talk about my family which reminds everyone I am a human being with good priorities. I will establish that I plan to continue teaching the Bible for the rest of my life which suggests I will continue be seeking to influence and lead people.

 

“Finally, I want to say to our Mars Hill family—past and present, I’m very sorry. I’m sorry for the times I have been angry, short, or insensitive. I’m sorry for anything I’ve done to distract from our mission by inviting criticism, controversy or negative media attention.”

Having spent over 15 minutes talking I will finally say that I am sorry, not to those I have direct hurt, but to my church family. I talk about inviting criticism rather than behaving abusively and focus on the actions of the commentators rather than my own actions.

 

“God has broken me many times in recent years by showing me where I have fallen short, and while my journey, at age 43, is far from over, I believe He has brought me a long way from some days I am not very proud of, and is making me more like Him every day. The gospel is powerfully at work in me, your pastor, thanks to the faithfulness of our Senior Pastor Jesus Christ, and the best thing for us each to do is look to Him and point others to Him. Thank you Mars Hill. I love you.”

I talk of “falling short” and doing things “I am not very proud of” yet still do not quantify that in terms of identifying what I have actually done. I make this last section about what God is doing in me and still do not mention anything about the people I have damaged who are no longer in Mars Hill church. After this I am given a standing ovation by the church and my wife and children all come onto the platform to embrace me. This reminds the audience that there are children involved in any decisions made about me. The image of them embracing me will be used on the Mars Hill website alongside my statement.

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62 thoughts on “Translating Mark Driscoll

  1. Well said, Natalie. I agree with everything you’ve said, and believe that the final touch was, as you said, rather than leaving the platform after the speech it was carefully staged that the family joined him and they left together.

    I can’t see Driscoll leading another church but I do think he will probably rise again in another guise… as he says, he feels called to teach the ‘word’.

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    • Bogen says:

      I shed tears at the very thought that [he] has indoctrinated his misogyny onto his family where they feel pressured to offer support to [him]. The burden they must carry is one of subjugation and should be included in the total that have been run down by [his] bus.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Patrice says:

    Excellent! Thanks very much!!

    I’ll be linking to this when up against the chorus: “but he apologized!” (I’ve also used an analysis Boz Tchividjian gave a while back of a child sex abuser’s mea culpa.)

    We need to learn to read between the lines and we’re not at all good at it.

    PS: FWIW, publically = publicly

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  3. Paul says:

    You wrote: “Mark speaks of the ‘court of public opinion’ not being useful in addressing issues in a Biblical manner and suggests online conversations, like this blog for instance, are unhelpful.”

    If there were no “online conversations” there would be no conversations. And that is probably how he wants things. No one to challenge him, talk back, or “sinfully question” him.

    Driscoll has purposefully and sytematically insulated himself from everybody. He even shut out the man who for years Driscoll called his “best friend” from any conversation whatsoever. Driscoll appears to have no close friends – at least no one who any observer inside or outside the church can name. What Driscoll has preached about how he defines friends will provide insight to how the culture of fear incubated at Mars Hill, conversation and deliberation has been squelched, and circumstances ended up where they are today.

    http://wenatcheethehatchet.blogspot.com/2008/09/mark-driscolls-friends-vs-gospel.html

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  4. “It is because of my deep love for the local church in general, and Mars Hill Church in particular,”

    Isn’t the Local church (for him) Mars hill? What does this even mean?

    Mark has become an expert at applying lipstick to a pig (make that a dead, rotting pig) and he’s now hired a PR firm to help him take that skill to the next level. Reminds me of Weekend at Bernies.

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  5. Ok, Call me stupid but did I really just watch a man ramble on about nothing for nearly 20 minutes? I mean, he never told us anything! Not what he was addressing, why he was addressing it or how “it” would be redeemed. After listening to the video and reading this post all I can think is this…

    “The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians: who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” Brennan Manning

    It is so true and people like Driscoll prove it. Lord forgive me for my bitterness toward this man.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      My father used to say “Only a lawyer can talk for 20 minutes and say absolutely nothing.”

      Looks like it’s not just lawyers.

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  6. I needed to read this tonight. I’m currently on the receiving end of some the power/ leadership manipulation stuff (smaller scale) that Driscoll is guilty of. It’s been a good reminder for me to see the real meaning of the persuasive and evasive language that has been used by Driscoll and has been used to me. Not cool.

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  7. This is so excellent and I was thinking many of these same thoughts when I heard his speech. Remember, if love/grace/truth/peace is its own PR firm. If you have to hire professional PR, follow smoke to fire. Bad fire. For MD, all i can think of is Mt. 7:2, the measure you used will be measured to you.

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  8. The part that keeps jumping out at me is when he says he regrets doing things that cause controversy and publicity. What on earth does that mean, and how does it address the specific issues that led to his 6-week hiatus.

    And about it being 6 weeks: no one in any organization of decent repute would think that’s enough time for all of this to be looked into and resolved. It’s barely enough time to begin, let alone finish the work.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Steve Flower says:

    The parallels between spousal abuse, child abuse, sexual abuse (all of which horrifies decent folk) and spiritual abuse are all terribly apt, and they just make me physically ill. I will confess to not being able to read Driscoll’s words – it feels much like drinking from a sewer.

    Once upon a time, I admired Mars Hill as a light on a hill. These days, it just looks and feels like Mordor.

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  10. cm says:

    excellent but you missed a donut hole doctrine (the statements that are made by saying everything in the shape around them so that everyone gets what isnt said but you can never be held accountable for actually saying it. …ie………issues that are talked about by not talking about them in a very special way)
    Whenever Driscoll uses a positive word such as “faithful” and then describes this with his own conditions, as current church goers etc, he is not only unifying the audience, but very, very audibly saying “those who are not here are not faithful/not true believers/not the elect. This is such a given that it doesnt even need to be said. This is a powerful “othering” technique that cues mass shunning without the speaker having to take responsibility for this. In fact they can later say THEY NEVER SAID OR MEANT THAT and get off scott free.
    I am familiar with this tactic not only having witnessed former pastors shame their spouses, children or other backsliders in this manner, but also because my husband and I were attacked from the pulpit with this tactic recently. (different pulpit) Pastor dropped into his sermon the word faithful, and kept adding to the things that were things that showed you werent a fair weather christian or a false believer…… things that due to recent circumstances we were unable to do. The multiple positive conditions served the purpose of clarifying who was being punished without saying the names through process of elimination. (for example, if you were late to sunday school but were still in favor, you knew it wasnt you because you hadnt also missed 5-8 services a year because your kids were tired and you hadnt come to a potluck with empty hands) I really wanted this to be a naive mistake on his part but the spontaneous shunning happened immediately after the service.
    Driscoll actually brings this up by saying its inverse at least 3 times here. So this little bit goes beyond just passing the buck and refusing to take responsibility to actually attacking the victims YET AGAIN by implying that those worthy of being reconciled with – have already been reconciled with, and that the rest are just conflict mongering quasi atheist troublemakers.

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    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      “Donut Hole Doctrine”…

      Excellent tactic to ensure Plausible Deniability, especially if the perp (and his flacks & shysters) stick to the letter of what was said. (And don’t Calvinists and theology wonks like to parse doctrine not only word-for-word but letter-for-letter?)

      Russian/Soviet Bureaucratic Tradition would be proud.

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  11. Jim C says:

    I am not sure what Mark Driscoll did, or is accused of doing – but whether he has abused his power or not, it saddens me more to see Christians knocking down Christians on a public forum. I believe Scripture is clear on how a Pastor or church member should be held accountable – it is a local church matter that should be dealt with at a elder/deacon level. I have heard it said that being a Christian is like flying in formation, like geese – yet if you study geese, you would know that when another goose has been injured or is too ill to fly in formation, it is left behind. Shame on anyone throwing stones.

    Liked by 1 person

    • In order to understand the situation, it would probably be useful to know more about what Mark Driscoll has actually done and the history of this situation. Over the past 18 years Mark has been challenged directly on numerous occasions to no effect. Matthew 18 is clear that if someone does not listen the issues should be taken further.

      Liked by 2 people

      • “Over the past 18 years Mark has been challenged directly on numerous occasions to no effect”

        What I don’t understand is why wasn’t Matthew 18, (being so clear, and the fact that MD is a bible believing, bible preaching leader of a mega church who coincidentally also have bibles in their hands with Matthew 18 in them) acted on 17 years ago before this empire grew into what it has?

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      • Matthew 18:15-17

        “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained a brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”

        1. Mark Driscoll was never your brother. You adamantly disagree with his understanding of Scripture and would not attend Mars Hill even if it were an option.

        2. He did not sin against you. The people who he has allegedly sinned against have the right to confront him, not you… not Rachel Held Evans… not Janet Mefferd… and certainly, not me.

        3. It is not the universal church that carries the burden, it is the local church – the one he attends. Not someone with zero attachment to the community.

        Please respect Scripture and do not use it at whim to support (what you consider) a call-to-action.

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      • 1. In the body of Christ, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ, differences of theology don”t change that, unless you know a Scripture I don’t.

        2. The people who he has hurt often are not in a position to address his behaviours. Many will have watched his announcement, know he is wrong, but be unable to articulate why. My aim was to empower and educate people about the way language hides someone’s true intentions. I have had people contact me to say the blog helped them recognise spiritually abusive people in their own life, so if it has helped people, I am praising God for that.

        3. Mark Driscoll has used the internet age to have a global audience. If he was a local church pastor (he’s a mega-church pastor, speaker, influencer, writer) then you may be correct. By seeking to communicate to the world (there are people in my local church who have been influenced by him) he has benefitted from a global platform, but he is also able to be challenged from a global perspective.

        I’m not sure where in my blog you read a call to action. I have merely laid out an alternative reading of what he said.

        Also if you genuinely believe it is on the local church who should challenge someone then why are you commenting on my blog? Surely you should leave it up to Christians in my local church to challenge me?

        Liked by 3 people

    • Jim C

      You have given us the correct biblical remedy for this but that remedy is predicated on that board of local elders having genuine authority within the local church and a “senior pastor” (unbiblical concept right there) being no more than a first amongst equals who submits to the collective authority of the whole.

      As far as I can see Mars Hill is a one-man show with the various elder/accountability boards existing only as a figleaf to give the illusion of genuine accountability.

      You can’t apply the biblical process where an entire system has been set up that mitigates against biblical accountability and was meant to

      If the situation cannot be resolved at the local level (and this seems to have been attempted over many years) then public fora become a legitimate means of warning the flock. This practice risks being misinterpreted as throwing stones

      Like

  12. Hmm, let’s see what other words we can put in the guys mouth? Can’t we just let a guy apologize any more? In my experience there are very few church leaders even of small churches who would publicly make and apology like that. I’m not defending any of Driscolls actions in the past, but what I’m saying is that it doesn’t help anyone to make fun of what appeared to be a sincere apology.

    Besides clearly, publicly admitting his failures and asking for forgiveness, what else do you expect the guy to do?

    Liked by 1 person

    • The whole point of this piece is to show how language is used to avoid taking responsibility. He has not clearly admitted his failures, at no point in his announcement does he admit his failures or acknowledge the pain he had caused those he has damaged (outside of the existing church family, which most who have been hurt have been shunned from). As Christians we must be as shrewd as serpents (and as innocent as doves), accepting Mark Driscoll’s announcement at face value does not help him, his family or the church. Those in power who have chosen to hurt others need to be held account and challenged at a heart level. Jesus did it all the time, talking of “white washed tombs” and tithing herbs while neglecting justice. We cannot afford to offer anybody cheap grace, but rather we must love people so much that we insist on hearing their heart no matter what their rhetoric suggests.

      Liked by 4 people

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      My Dear Wormwood,
      Surely you have not forgotten my previous epistle on semantics and redefintion of words.
      Your Ravenously Affectionate Uncle,
      Screwtape

      Like

  13. I will gladly admit that Mark Driscoll and MHC have both helped me grow as a Christian man, but I also am saddened to hear about the many dishonorable things that it seems have been going on behind the scenes at MHC for years. Obviously some bad things have occurred that need to be rectified. That being said, this blog post does not give an ounce of credit where it is due. How does the author KNOW that MD’s heart actually reflects her “translation?” Unless she is personally involved at MHC and has personally observed MD over the years it is not possible. The statement is a good statement – let’s wait and see what the result is if/when MDs disposition changes before we throw stones.

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  14. awygle says:

    We have a new story up on We Love Mars HIll today from Lief Moi, who was one of the co-founders of Mars Hill and Mark’s close friend for years (before being forced out and shunned). He shares a lot of your translations on Mark’s attitude and body language. Have a read. http://lks.gd/LiefMoi

    Like

  15. raswhiting says:

    Re: “I believe the Lord has shown me I am to do two things with the rest of my life: love my family, and teach the Bible. I deeply love my family and our church family and am seeking the Lord for how to have a godly and loving future that is not just sustainable but fruitful.”

    Implied: Therefore most certainly neither the Board, not the elders, nor the mature Christians advising me, nor any of my critics will ever remove me from my position as Pastor! This is predetermined by the will of the triune god, i.e. me, myself, and I. :0

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  16. iamnot saying but im saying says:

    Having worked with serial killers, I will call myself an expert and note that a common trait amongst serial killers is that they tend to write long-winded, self righteous rants.

    Now, I’m not saying that the author of this blog is a serial killer, but…really, why bring it up then? Surely not to manipulate the reader into associating Driscoll with domestic abusers…

    I’m not offering any input on the actual issue on hand, but this post should stick to the issue at hand to retain maximum credibility rather than equate Driscoll with domestic abusers… Wait…do you have evidence that he beats his his wife or neglects his kids?

    Like

    • Wait? So you’re subtly and facetiously suggesting I’m a serial killer?

      I did spend the majority of the post actually unpicking Driscoll’s language and my explanation of what I do was to preface that I understand how language can be used to avoid taking responsibility, if that’s not how you have taken the post, then we can always agree to disagree.

      Like

      • iamnot saying but im saying says:

        I’m glad you see that I’m being facetious…I wasn’t trying to be subtle at all.

        You spent the majority of the post addressing his comments, yes, but you began by framing it by comparing him to a domestic abuser.

        In everybody’s experience, people who get caught and called out for bad behavior and then get forced into making the public apology tour aren’t genuinely sorry- just sorry they got caught. No need to compare to a wife beating kid smacker when he its acting like an immature child. Maybe a better comparison would be a disgraced politician. I think on that we can agree.

        Like

      • Well if I worked with disgraced politicians, then that would have been what I said. And one of the problems we have in society is that we see men who have chosen to abuse their wives as monsters/scum, when in actual fact they are usually our friends, family, those in our church. The fact domestic abuse continues in society is because we all collude with abusers, by not challenging things, using victim blaming language, imagining we are safe. You’re the one who has put domestic abusers in a category of “disgusting” and suggested that my blog infers Mark Driscoll is being aligned to that. I geninuinely didn’t talk about my work to do that, but in order to explain how I am qualified to understand how language is used.

        The argument that “everybody does it” is both untrue and irrelevant. Many are taking Driscoll’s sorry at face value and are likely to now collude with him and the hurting will be thrown under yet another bus.

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    • Tim says:

      Someone that convinces his wife he can see her sin before they were married and she agrees is abusive. The wife needs help as well for putting up with someone like him. This is from his book Real Marriage. Where there is smoke there is fire and in these types of situations this is a big clue.

      Mark’s version:

      “One night, as we approached the birth of our first child, Ashley, and the launch of our church, I had a dream in which I saw some things that shook me to my core. [Mark Driscoll claims to be a recipient of the “gift of discernment”, where God literally provides him with seedy visions of other Christian’s sin. See also: “charismatic authority”.] I saw in painful detail Grace sinning sexually during a senior trip she took after high school when we had just started dating. It was so clear it was like watching a film — something I cannot really explain but the kind of revelation I sometimes receive. I awoke, threw up, and spent the rest of the night sitting on our couch, praying, hoping it was untrue, and waiting for her to wake up so I could ask her. I asked her if it was true, fearing the answer. Yes, she confessed, it was. Grace started weeping and trying to apologize for lying to me, but I honestly don’t remember the details of the conversation, as I was shell-shocked. Had I known about this sin, I would not have married her.” (p. 11-12)

      Grace his Wife’s response:

      “A bomb had just dropped, and shrapnel was everywhere! Dear Lord, how could I have done this to You and my husband? How could I have acted like such a good person with such darkness in my heart? How can I ever make up for what I have done? Mark wished he hadn’t married me; I wished I hadn’t ever lied. I was pregnant and he felt trapped. I begged forgiveness but told him he had every right to leave. He felt completely stuck; I felt total shame.” (p.12)

      Like

  17. I tend to agree with much of this, more-so now that I know that the speech was worked on by a Public Relations expert that Driscoll utilized and who was present at that service.

    Spiritual Abuse in a church environment is very much like domestic abuse. That is particularly true when the church is based on hierarchy and patriarchy which Mars Hill definitely fits that description.

    This fact is that Driscoll is still fully in charge. He made the announcement and announced the terms and length. The Board he’s relying on has been weakened over the years and more power given to Driscoll. The two most influential members of the Board who had any chance of confronting Driscoll have stepped down.

    I hear “repentance” for intangibles such as “tone” but no responsibility taken for the direct abuse, ruining of people’s lives and families, misogyny, homophobia etc.

    All that I see at work at present is damage control with Mark Driscoll still fully in charge and dictating the length and terms of his own investigation. It was setting the stage for an announcement in 6 weeks that everything is just hunky-dory and they’re going to “move past” all of this unpleasantness.

    Like

  18. CDA says:

    very interesting, comments from others also interesting. what is not clear though is what exactly did he do? does he know? does he understand why people are upset? does he think what he did was acceptable? Thanks mrsglw for your take on what MD was saying it makes for an interesting read and I must say I found 2 minutes of his politician apology speech abit odd so lost the plot within 2 and a bit minutes.

    Like

  19. Quite frankly, you are not qualified to unpack what Mark Driscoll said. Rather, you are simply mocking him and projecting your past experience of abuse onto him. I can’t help but read other contributors in these comments and rage against his “misogyny” and his “homophobia” because the real issue for you is not the accusations of “abuse” it is issues surrounding his theology.

    Let’s be clear, Driscoll is a believer in inherency and you are not – truths that he finds in Scripture regarding male/female relationships or what marriage should be, or even finding our identity in Christ you do not hold to. You, and so many others, are using this issue to throw stones, wave pitchforks, and light torches from afar. Your readers only know you by your soapbox, but the intention from which you speak is known only to yourself and God.

    You, as an individual, are not a part of his church. You are not an overseer of his church – therefore, you simply do not have authority to determine his guilt – but you have already made the conclusion that not only is he guilty, but that you also deserve the right to give voice to determining the consequences of his sin. Whoa to anyone who chooses to convict others of their sin while remaining hidden behind a nondescript blog.

    It is never my wish to belittle someone else’ experience, but perhaps we are becoming a society hell-bent on finding fault with others, looking for ways to be offended. I read your other blog regarding the shoes and it fits the narrative that you set yourself up. Why would anyone believe that they could enter into a discussion with Jim Norton fans and not expect to have their faith mocked? If you stick your hand in the mouth of an alligator, don’t be surprised and offended if he bites down.

    I am already prepared for the type of response I might receive from you and others that disagree – and fine, I have intestinal fortitude and I’ll go about my life whether or not people heed my thoughts or not. But consider this last thought – How does your (and everyone in agreement with you) comments about Mark Driscoll reflect a spirit-filled response? Especially, as far as I can tell, none of you are directly involved in this matter.

    Deal with your own gardens – leave the conviction of sin to the Holy Spirit and pray that Mark Driscoll and the people he hurt find reconciliation and peace. Truth be told, you only adding fire in hopes that they burn him at the stake. How abusive is that?

    Like

    • Though you insist I am not qualified to make statements about Mark Driscoll, you think you are qualified to make statements about me and where I am coming from. I am not mocking him, though I do acknowledge the style of the blog could make it seem that way.

      I have to say the real issues are the accusations, the damage that has been caused to people is my primary concern, which as you haven’t mentioned those who have been hurt in this situation, suggests is not a concern of yours.

      Jesus mocked that the Pharisees tithing herbs while neglecting the weightier matters of justice, mercy and faithfulness.

      You are correct, only God does know me, and for that I am grateful, because it is in God that I live and move and have my being and without which I could do nothing. Mark Driscoll’s theology does differ from mine, but I have friends who believe similar things to him, it’s not his beliefs that are the problem, but his actions.

      Matthew 18 states that it starts with the personal challenge and spreads out from there if the person doesn’t listen. For 18 years Mark Driscoll has insulated himself from criticism and accountability, and as a member of the global body of Christ, shining light on his actions needs to be done by all. We are Christ’s representatives and we need to hold eachother account. I am responding to you now because we should all be open to hearing what others say and interacting.

      I am not “hiding” myself. I intentionally remain pseudonymous in order to stay accountable to not using social media to build a platform. I work speaking, training and writing and I don’t want to be tempted to “capitalise” on the friendships and conversations on social media to build myself up.

      In relation to Jim Norton a) I genuinely didn’t know who Jim Norton was, I’d never heard of him before and had no idea of how many followers he had. b) replied to someone else with him @’d in not to him directly. c) that you are blaming me for being abused online because I shouldn’t have challenged a famous person deeply saddens me.

      It depends what you see a spirit-filled response as. If you see it as colluding with abuse and enabling someone to do a PR statement as an apology then we will have to disagree. The work of speaking truth to power is a prophetic work, breathed of Holy Spirit. Perhaps writing as I have will enable people to have more wisdom in supporting Mark in a more effective way, rather than colluding with him.

      Many blessings to you. After all, even if we disagree now, we’re probably going to be spending eternity together.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for your honest comments and helpful tone. Alas, we will disagree, but I do take to heart several of your observations. Off topic, regarding Jim Norton – a few months ago I listened to an interview he gave. It was a deeply personal interview and revealed a lot of abuse he endured and has suffered which seems to contribute to a nihilistic worldview he seems to have and he attracts like-minded people. I do not believe you should not challenge people for the sake of the Gospel – that is what we do. Abuse from the world (clearly NOT THE CHURCH) should always be the expectation. I remind you with the same verse in which I take solace – “They left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.” (Acts 5:41)

        I pray you continue to persevere!

        Like

      • Thank you for your thoughts and prayer! Perhaps in our lifetimes we will have the privilege of truly suffering for the Gospel. God is good, all the time!

        Like

  20. “But he was wounded for Mark Driscoll’s transgressions; he was crushed for Mark Driscoll’s iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought Mark Driscoll’s peace, and with his stripes Mark Driscoll is healed. Mark Driscoll like a sheep had gone astray; Mark Driscoll had turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of Mark Driscoll.”

    “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that Mark Driscoll may have life and have it abundantly.”

    “I give Mark Driscoll eternal life, and Mark Driscoll will never perish, and no one will snatch Mark Driscoll out of my hand.”

    “When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore Mark Driscoll’s sins in his body on the tree, that Mark Driscoll might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds Mark Driscoll has been healed.”

    My prayer is that Mark Driscoll will eventually have a fresh understanding of this Scripture and bear real fruit of repentance because of it. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Alright, look, I’m no Driscoll (or church) fan at all. But come on, this is just tragically deviant. The entire post is the very definition of putting words in people’s mouth. If you really are a professional I feel bad if you counsel your clients with this sort of tactic. If you practice this with any conversation, whether about sensitive issues or not, pretty much every person can be conceived as entirely evil.

    Example:

    Your Line: “I have recently begun working with perpetrators of domestic abuse.”

    Translation: “I am an expert and because I can apply a pattern that matches in an entirely unrelated circumstance, what I say can pretty much be taken to be true without question and I have freedom to take liberties in my translation that others do not.”

    Obviously, you didn’t mean that, but so long as you’re willing to, without reserve or honesty, entirely interpret someones intentions – something nobody can do unless you claim to be deity – then this entire post is just a bunch of hateful bullshit.

    Let’s judge people on what they actually SAID, which is plenty bad, lest we descend into irrational madness and beating the hell out of straw men while the real issues quietly slip into the shadows.

    I just think we should be fair… whether we hate someone or not, please just apply the same level of balance and caution you (and I) would like applied to us if the table was turned.

    Sky

    Like

    • Thanks for your thoughts. I acknowledge that the way I approached this post was in a particular way. I always welcome people challenging my language and actions and will reflect in what you’ve said. Lots of people have reflected on many of the other aspects of Mark Driscoll’s behaviour and I felt I could contribute by articulating an understanding of how language can be used to hide someone’s true intentions. I have been contacted by people who have suffered spiritual abuse and they have said this post has been really helpful to them and validated their experiences. My post isn’t going to be agreed with by everyone and I appreciate both positive and negative feedback. Many blessings!

      Like

  22. hakebomb says:

    Whoa, whoa WHOA? On what grounds do you have to even think for a second that you somehow have been given the “right” or “privilege” to dissect this Pastor appointed by God Himself to the point that you ASSUME you know this man’s heart and his “true” line of thought behind his very public and personal confession??? You better start treading VERY VERY lightly me friend for the amount in which you choose to judge this BROTHER IN CHRIST you too, may be judged by that exact same measure yourself…

    You see though, this is what happens when the mindset of the world around us is allowed to infiltrate behind church walls. I am absolutely and thoroughly disgusted by this blog and others which call out pastors for their supposed “failures” when these men of God, while a bit stern at times, have done nothing more than share the Gospel un-watered down, un-compromised, and unapologetically. And yet, when plainspoken heretics like former pastor Rob Bell come out of the cracks, we don’t even bat an eye-lash in their direction!

    I do realize that Pastor Mark Driscoll has been rather crude sometimes in his remarks to people but have we not said the same or worse in the privacy of our own lives at one point and time? So, let me ask you what more must this man of God and the Lord Christ Jesus do to be forgiven by his fellow brethren of the faith???

    He has not committed an immoral act that is unbecoming of a pastor (ie. adultery, fornification, ect.) yet, this very blog is in the same line as GOSSIP and about a fellow Christ follower, no less.

    Perhaps Scripture is the only thing you’ll listen to there, Mr. Blog-writer:

    “But if anyone has caused harm, he has not so much harmed me as he has—and I don’t think I’m exaggerating here—harmed all of you. In my view, the majority of you have punished him well enough. So instead of continuing to ostracize him, I encourage you to offer him the grace of forgiveness and the comfort of your acceptance. Otherwise, if he finds no welcome back to the community, I’m afraid he will be overwhelmed with extreme sorrow and lose all hope. So I urge you to demonstrate your love for him once again.” – 2 Corinthians 2:5-8

    This is how the Apostle Paul dealt directly with a situation very similar to this and yet, you think you know better than the Apostle Paul himself, called and ordained by our Lord Jesus Christ to deliver the message of the Gospel without fear, without compromise, and without apology???

    Better yet, you seriously need to remove that log protruding from your own eye right now and worry about the speck in Pastor Mark’s eye, later.

    Nevertheless, “May the Lord bless and keep you and may He make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. May He look upon you with favor and give you His peace.”

    Amen.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We are all part of the Body of Christ and as such when one part is hurting, so is every part. Those Mark Driscoll has hurt and continues to hurt are my sisters and brothers and as such I felt compelled to challenge the language used by Mark Driscoll to avoid responsibility. I don’t claim any “right or privilege”.

      His personal confession was written with a PR company and as such is crafted to elicit certain responses from the audience.

      I accept that I also will be judged, and I do my best to die to self and be raised in Christ each and every day. I refuse to accept that means I cannot challenge the misrepresentation of the truth and bring to light that which is being hidden. This is a prophetic work. Just as the prophets challenged God’s people and held then accountable for their sin, so today some of us are called to be prophets calling our fellow Christians to repentance.

      The mindset of the world had already infiltrated Mars Hill long ago. You are truly welcome to be disgusted by this blog, I accept that many will not want to hear what I have written.

      To describe all that has been done by Mark Driscoll as being “a bit stern at times” in completely inaccurate. The list of things Mark Driscoll has been accused of (with evidence) include:

      – spiritual abuse
      – plagiarism
      – misuse of church funds
      – changing of church by laws to give him greater power
      – hate speech
      – paying to get onto the book best seller list
      – this is just what is known publicly

      To say that we have all done as Mark Driscoll has is completely disingenuous. To those who have been given much, much will be required. And Mark Driscoll has been given an awful lot more than most of us. And he has chosen to use the talents God gave him in a way that have damaged many people and as of yet he has taken no responsibility for that.

      What he must do is stop PR stunts, take responsibility for his behaviour and step down from all leadership. He must accept that the consequences of his behaviour mean he will be unable to lead perhaps for the rest of his time on earth.

      Who are we to say that the acts he has committed are not immoral? Hurting people? Misusing money? Misrepresenting the truth? Hate speech? How can we say those are not immoral acts? Why do you get to decide what is/isn’t immoral?

      Perhaps also you should be aware I am a Mrs Blog-writer, not Mr.

      So far Mark Driscoll hasn’t been ostracised, in fact so far he has had very few consequences for his choices. He is still controlling the accountability process and still leading the church. Those who speak out against him from within his staff are removed from the staff (https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/content_link/94doqih3seEbJ4G6iYYGyQXuY3W7zut0Ts6hMfN7pEDQK3yukcWzOE3OdseTvqCV?dl=1)

      If you don’t believe in judging people or commenting on people’s behaviour, then really you shouldn’t be commenting on my blog, because all that you have written is (by your definition) judging me. If you don’t think we should offer a critique or accountability to those in the Body of Christ who are misrepresenting Jesus, then really you shouldn’t comment on the blogs of people you disagree with.

      I thank you for the blessing you have offered, I bless you also. We may not agree, but we are one in Christ Jesus, and we both share in the celebration of Christ’s victory over death. I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts, many blessings to you!

      Like

  23. Tom says:

    Hey there, this is a really interesting, and potential very insightful and helpful post. I read it, as I have done so many articles recently with great sadness and a heavy heart, having followed MarsHill on line for many years now and having been greatly impacted by Mark’s teaching.

    Whilst I am confident that God Mark’s teaching to have a positive impact on many people’s lives (whilst also accepting that some aspects of his theology are not shared by all Christians) I also believe that there has been some serious unresolved issues in his own life which he has been able to suppress through the fact that he has essentially been the ‘head’ of his own church for so long. It’s a sad truth that a persons strongest gifts can also become their greatest weaknesses, and passionate and gifted communicators like Mark, with strong, charismatic personalities and a low tolerance for people who disagree with them absolutely need to be surrounded by mature, strong, Christians who can and will speak into their lives and hold them to account. I believe that the absence of such a presence in Mark’s life has meant that underlying issues and sin have gone unchecked and unchanged for a long time, and due to the global presence which Mars Hill attracts (and has cultivated) – what we’re seeing now is damage control, rather than true, unmitigated repentance.

    And I think your article does a good job at pointing out some of the ways in which Mark’s announcement is shot-through with ‘damaging controlling’ language, to the extent that it undermines any genuine attempts there may have been to actually wrestle with this serious accusations publicly or make an open, honest apology. However, I also believe that there are aspects to your post which undermine your objective commentary on Mark’s statement, as you allow yourself to wander into dangerously subjective territory on numerous occasion, and given the seriousness of both the accusations made against Mark, and the implicit accusation made in your article (that rather than mitigate him, his announcement did more to confirm that he has all the hallmarks of a serial abuser) I think that both the style and the tone of your article are misjudged and potentially harmful.

    I’m saying this because I honestly think that you’re fundamentally right in your assessment of the situation, not because I disagree with you – and for that reason I hope that you find these observations useful, especially coming from someone who would, one on level, really quite like to find reasons to dismiss your article as just another ‘random rant’ – I know it’s not that, but there are elements of your article which actually make it harder to agree with the serious points you are making. I’ll be honest, I don’t want these accusations about Mark to be true, I’ve listened to hundreds of hours of sermons (every series since about 1997) over the last 5 years and seen God make some incredible transformations in my life, as a direct result. This might go counter to the general trend we’re reading about at the moment, but I can say with all honesty that my relationship with my wife and my children is better and stronger as a result, and I’m more committed to the local church than ever before (I’ve always struggled with the Mars Hill model of local church). So I’d love to dismiss what you’re saying, but deep down I know that most of your observations are correct, and this situation is every bit as bad as it seems. My hope is for genuine repentance by Mark which will lead to greater humility, accountability and ultimately reconciliation with people who have been directly hurt. And for that reason it matters to me that your article doesn’t descend into subjective interpretation or cheap digs – because for this article to be really helpful, it has to be as carefully worded and accurate as possible.

    I’ve noted that in your responses to other comments you’ve admitted on a few occasions that the tone of the article could have been unhelpful, which suggests that you knew when you wrote it that you were treading close to a line, and aren’t 100% happy with the result. Of course lots of people will reply and say it’s the most insightful and helpful thing they’ve read, but to be fair, most of those people are already convinced that you’re right before they started reading, based on their own personal experiences of Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll. But if you’re posting something very personal on a public forum (and I fully accept that Mark is now being tried in a community he willing entered and cultivated) you have to be willing and open to accept both praise and (where justified) criticism.

    So, here are my thoughts about ways in which your article could remain true to its central message, but be communicated in a more balanced and ultimately useful way.

    Firstly, by setting up your credentials at the very start of the article as being based on your work with ‘perpetrators of domestic abuse’ you have to recognise the very strong emotive power of those words. The statement may be factually correct, but the weight of the implication of that phrase is simply too big to ignore. Given that your article is all about the way people use words to manipulate an audience to inferring something that wasn’t explicitly stated – you have to apply this own critique to your own article. As writers we deliberately chose words and phrases to effect our audience and subtly support our own case, whether consciously or not. So even though you later state ‘ I would like to clarify that I am not suggesting Mark is perpetrator of domestic abuse, but…’ I don’t believe it’s good enough to simply add what feels like a legal disclaimer to what is essentially a very serious implied accusation.

    It’s a bit like a prosecutor turning to a jury and saying ‘now I’m not saying that this man is a rapist/pedophile/wife beater but… ‘ the point is, by saying the ‘trigger word’ in association with the accused you cause an implied connection in the mind of the reader. The phrase ‘I am not suggesting’ becomes a meaningless disclaimer, when the broader implication is present. As people approach the rest of your article, the dominant thought it ‘this is what a domestic abuser would say’ – even if you didn’t explicitly state that, or consciously intend to produce that thought

    Now, I’m not saying that you don’t have a point, or that your experience of working with domestic abusers isn’t relevant, it absolutely is. What I’m saying is that you don’t need to justify your article drawing primarily from your own experience. There’s plenty of well documented psychological and sociological studies in this area which provide ample justification to support the main argument in your article, that people who exercise unhealthy control in relationships which could constitute abuse, whether physical or emotional, exhibit certain behaviors and follow certain defensive strategies when confronted about their actions, which are intended to distract from their own responsibility for their actions, whilst appearing to be repentant.

    So my suggestion would be to start with the evidence – start with the facts about what is known about these sorts of behaviors, and then, once you’ve established the premise for your interpretation, it would be appropriate to reference your own personal experience as forming part of your opinion and giving you some addition, direct insight into this sort of behavior with a particular group of people.

    Knowing that there are many, many, broken, vulnerable and hurting people who feel betrayed and abused and who will read this article gives you a much greater responsibility to ensure that you make every effort not to fan the flames of gossip or do anything which could imply or infer that we can be certain that this announcement is actually evidence that someone is a certified serial abuser. When people are hurting they are far more inclined to believe negative statements about someone who hurt them, because it helps justify their pain, therefore if you’re writing negative statement about the accused, especially in a public forum, you must take that responsibility very, very seriously. This is particularly true if these statements aren’t posed as your qualified opinions, but rather, as the actual thoughts and intent of the individual in question.

    Again, I do fundamentally agree with most of your assessment of what’s going on behind the words in the announcement, I just believe that you have a great responsibility to present these serious accusations (not that Mark is a domestic abuser, but that his public apology was a fraudulent attempt to further manipulate a situation, bolster support and isolate his victims) in a sober and careful way, this is not a subject for careless associations or light banter.

    My other main criticism with the article is the style and tone of the actual ‘translation’ of the announcement. Whilst writing in the first person is a much more emotive and powerful way to engage your readers, I don’t think it’s appropriate here, given the seriousness of the issues at hand. Choosing to literally put words in Mark’s mouth turns otherwise useful observations and correlations into direct accusations. It is also a somewhat cruel way to make those observations because it endows your observations with subjective judgments about what Mark was actually saying, his attitude towards his listeners (which none of use can genuinely know), and his intent, rather than sticking to the facts, and presenting your interpretations as just that. Speaking in the first person means that you inevitably communicate tone as well as content, and what starts out as an interesting thought experiment about what someone might really be thinking when they made those statements quickly descends into mockery, as you begin to infer genuine disdain into Mark’s words and the style becomes increasingly condescending as the article progresses.

    It’s one thing to make the observation, based on evidence and personal experience that someone appears to be attempting to manipulate an audience through a careful selection and phrasing of words – it’s quite another thing to actually state that this was the explicit intention of that individual by putting those words in their virtual mouth. Again, please here my intent here, this isn’t an attempt to undermine your article, quite the opposite! I think that the choices you’ve made in respect to tone and style actually do more to undermine the genuine concerns you raise than any error in your interpretation.

    Another problem with taking this particular narrative approach is that your point is sufficiently well made within the first few paragraphs, but by committing yourself to giving a verbatim interpretation of the entire statement, you make the same point multiple times, and you end up being forced down a route which is quickly becomes entrenched in a very one-sided interpretation of the meaning of the statement, and therefore allows no room for the possibility, however remote, that there is any part of this statement which might be genuine, or any part of Mark which might be trying to acknowledge fault, within the limitations of his own currently-warped world view. And so by the end of the article you have created a fictional monster who is utterly deceptive to the core of his being and is only capable of self preservation and outright manipulation. I don’t think that view serves either Mark or the people who have been hurt by his actions. There are certainly elements of this in what we’ve seen of Mark’s behavior, but the choice of style in the article leads to the creation of a gross caricature, rather than a genuine, thoughtful, provoking critique which I think you intended to write.

    By the end of the article there is a palpable absence of grace and mercy or love. And whilst it is loving to point out someone’s errors (and I wont’ get into the Matthew 18 debate because I don’t think it’s as clear cut as some people imply and I do think we have a right and sometimes a responsibility to comment on the behaviors of church leaders who consciously make themselves public figures) we’re told in Ephesians to always speak the truth in love. I think there is plenty of truth in this article, but its wrapped up in mockery, and as a result the way it’s written and presented isn’t spoken in love.

    I think you know this. I don’t think you’re comfortable with this article. I think that you knew that you could have written a drier, less subjective, and ultimately less entertaining article – which stuck to the facts as far as they can be known and honored everyone involved, including Mark. In the end your article felt more like a ridicule piece which is written for a site like the Huffington post when a disgraced politician makes an insincere public apology – and I fully accept that Mark has invited such criticism, and has used ridicule himself against people who he disagreed with, but isn’t that the point? That as Christians we’re called to a higher standard, to account before God, not men? Should we really use the same techniques against Mark which he’s standing accused of and have brought him to this place?

    In Matthew 12 Jesus makes this stark statement ‘I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak,’ and I think it’s safe to assume that that statement also applies to every word we type, and typing openly on a public forum carries a heavier weight of responsibility than typing a casual email to a friend.

    Mark will give an account for every word he’s spoken (and typed) as will I, as will you – hence my concern about this article.

    I would, in love, urge you to consider re-writing this article in such as way that communicates your concerns, and doesn’t flinch from the hard truths or pull any punches, but also doesn’t place negative, damaging words in someone else’s mouth and doesn’t rely on a narrative style which is entertaining at someone else’s expense. My ‘litmus test’ for whether the article meets those criteria is whether you could sit in a room with Mark’s 5 children, and read the article out loud to them, with a clear conscience. (I’m not suggesting that you should, or that it would be pleasant experience, but I trust you understand the difference I’m implying).

    In writing this I took some time to read some of your other articles (I arrived at this particular article from a link in another article about Mars Hill) and as a result I have every reason to believe that you do write in a style which is articulate, thoughtful, honest, passionate and frequently vulnerable. I also know that you’ve felt the cruel sting of becoming a target of people’s anonymous vindictiveness, and I really feel for you and admire the stance you’ve taken to defend what you believe, and speak the truth, despite the great personal cost. Therefore I feel even more sure in my conviction that this piece doesn’t sit well with you, and although it may, appear to serve your wider cause, I don’t think that, as it stands, it serves you, your readers or anyone involved in this tragic case as well as it should.

    Now, I appreciate that there are a whole tonne of assumptions there about your intentions and your feelings, which I can’t possibly know – and there’s plenty of ammunition for you to mount a lengthy and eloquent defense. Which you are perfectly entitled (though not obliged) to do. However all I’d ask is that you take a moment to think about this, and if there’s any truth in what I’ve said, if any of it resonates, consider if there’s a better way to present this article and the important truth which I believe it does contain. If not for the sake of Mark or his family, then for the sake of the people who have been so deeply hurt – because the only remedy for that hurt is grace, love, forgiveness and truth. And whilst this might make people feel ‘better’ temporarily, if it’s not written from a place of love and seeking the absolute truth then it won’t serve them in their recovery. None of this is intended a defense of Mark, rather a critique of the article. If you were preparing an argument for a legal case and I genuinely wanted you to win the case, this is the sort of appraisal I’d make. If I didn’t want you to win or didn’t care about your argument I would have gone to bed an hour ago!

    Mark is both a gifted communicator and flawed human being who has clearly made some bad mistakes and is currently struggling with finding genuine repentance, in the midst of the media circus he created. But painting him so vividly as a purely cold, calculating, vindictive manipulator creates just another distortion in an already fragmented search for truth in the midst of such uncertainty and hurt. There might well be some truth in that picture, but the real truth is more complex, more nuanced, less neat, and far less entertaining to write or read – but as you’ve committed to putting this ‘out there’ I challenge you to write the more difficult, less simple, but ultimately more loving article.

    I pray some of this is helpful, and I’m grateful that thoughtful people like you exist in the ‘blogosphere’ who I believe won’t just dismiss these comments out of hand, but will give them some thought (or at very least read to the bitter end!)

    I hope there’s both love and truth in this.

    Blessings

    Tom

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