Kate Shellnut posted a story yesterday at Christianity Today revealing that 39 elders from the former Mars Hill church, from which Mark Driscoll was removed because he abused the staff and members, have published a letter calling for him to resign from his current church/enterprise, The Trinity Church, in Scottsdale, AZ. The article includes two attachments, the letter by the 39 former elders and a document hitherto unreleased, from 2014, which details Driscoll’s pattern of abusive behavior.
The letter from the 39 former elders is four paragraphs. They accuse him of continuing in a “pattern of sinful actions toward staff members and congregants as he pastors The Trinity Church in Scottsdale, Arizona.” They note that these “sinful leadership behaviors appear similar to what he exhibited in his leadership role at Mars Hill Church in Seattle.” They say they “believe Mark is presently unfit for serving the church in the office of pastor.” They call for him to resign voluntarily.
They continue by expressing sympathy for those who have been hurt by Driscoll’s “domineering leadership, harsh speech, and angry outbursts.” They express grief over “the harm that has come to Trinity Church” and “the damage to the reputation of Jesus among unbelievers” because of Driscoll’s behavior.
They plead with him to submit to a process of reconciliation and express disappointment in those “leaders who affirmed Mark’s role in planting The Trinity Church.”
The second document is a one-page statement by members of the Board of Elders who investigated, in 2014, the earlier charges against Driscoll at Mars Hill. The board concluded, based on eyewitness testimony and their own “direct experiences” Driscoll was guilty of being “quick-tempered” and “harsh speech,” of being “arrogant,” and “domineering in his leadership of the elders and staff.”
They called for Driscoll to be rebuked for his sin and for a process of reconciliation to begin including his removal from eldership and church leadership, repentance and reconciliation, and being brought under the care of pastors and counselors inside and outside Mars Hill.
If you are just tuning in, see the resources below for more background on this saga.
- How To Subscribe To Heidelmedia
- The Heidelblog Resource Page
- How to support Heidelmedia: use the donate button below this post.
- Heidelmedia Resources
- The Ecumenical Creeds
- The Reformed Confessions
- The Heidelberg Catechism
- Recovering the Reformed Confession (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 2008).
- Julie Roys Interviews Insiders From Mark Driscoll’s Current Congregation
- Dear Driscoll
- Notes On Episode 3 Of “Who Killed Mars Hill?”
- Heidelcast 142: When Pastors Abuse
- A Beginner’s Guide To Addressing Spiritual Abuse In The Church
What exactly was the “abuse” of which Driscoll was guilty? Angry words? Inappropriate physical contact? Excessive and unreasonable demands on people’s time and efforts? Sexual sin?
I’m as concerned as anyone else over the flood of abuse allegations (and sometimes, actual cases) coming out of scores of institutions.
Take a listen to the Christianity Today podcast series on Mars Hill and to Julie Roys interview with two former members of his “security team” (of 26 members!) at The Trinity Church in Scottsdale.
These documents are rather understated.
Were I a Maricopa Count DA….
I must be missing something here. If things are so bad, why isn’t his current church in the process of ousting him? This seems kind of like sour grapes from his old church. I’m not defending Driscoll but his former church leadership seems a lot more proactive now than they were while he was in their midst.
You are missing something. “The Trinity Church” is a wholly owned subsidiary of Driscoll Inc. There is no board of elders to which he is accountable. It’s a family-run religious enterprise.
This letter is not “sour grapes.” If anything it’s a little late and little understated. It is a warning to the people in his current enterprise from the people who were run over by his bus (his metaphor) in his last religious enterprise.
Listen to the interviews with the former security team members. Most people in The Trinity Church were either unaware or didn’t understand what had happened in Seattle.
Some people even moved from Mars Hill to Phoenix/Scottsdale to be continue to be with Driscoll.
Take a look at the Dear Driscoll site linked above.
Well here’s something about Driscoll I can’t explain: Why should we care about him especially? He’s not some pillar of the faith. He’s off on his own. His situation has almost become cliché if we’re talking about religious figures with large ministries and little accountability who have gone off the rails. He just doesn’t strike me as unique to the point where I would pay any special attention to him.
We should care because
Dr. Clark is right. For a lot of people outside traditional Reformed circles, the only time they are likely to hear anything about boing Reformed is from YRR (“Young, Restless and Reformed”) leaders. They dominate the conversation.
There was a day not that many years ago that D. James Kennedy and others like him were the public face of what it meant to be Reformed. Like him or not, he had a huge following through his TV ministry and its hard to think of anyone else who was a self-identified Calvinist who was better known than him outside Reformed circles.
In more recent years, lots of non=Reformed people’s idea of what it meant to be Reformed was Mark Driscoll. Fortunately, Driscoll has now rejected the label, which makes it easier for Reformed people to convincingly make the case that he is not one of us.
That case needs to be made or we are going to be blamed for his antics by a lot of people who are not Reformed. The claim will be made — and is being made — that the Reformed faith logically leads to Driscoll’s behavior. That is not true, and in fact a far better case can be made that independent and unaccountable megachurch pastors with no functioning boards of elders logically lead to Driscoll’s behavior, or at least risk such behavior not be being checked once it starts.
Nobody can seriously dispute that pastors being accountable to a body of elders is a core tenet of the system of doctrine commonly called “Calvinism.” It’s easy to make that case, and to cite nearly five centuries of church history as proof. It is not that difficult to show that Driscoll, in his actual practices regardless of what the documents did or not say, was not accountable to a body of elders regarded by him as his spiritual overseers.
I realize there are complications, and key Mars Hill leaders, because they knew what a Reformed church was supposed to look like, actually did try to enforce accountability.
That’s a big part of why Driscoll is out of his old pulpit and down in Arizona, and it might not have happened if Driscoll were just another independent fundamentalist or charismatic nondenominational preacher. His people seem to have understood the logical conclusions of being Reformed better than he did.
So yes, Reformed people do need to care about Driscoll. He isn’t one of us today. A good case can be made that he never was one of us. But we are being blamed for his behavior, so we need to show that the blame is unjustified.
We’ve got got Greg Johnson who *is* one of us at least nominally and we’re worried about being identified with Driscoll? Where’s Greg Johnson’s accountability? Something doesn’t compute.
why must it be one or the other? Why can’t we critique both at the same time for their various errors?