A response from Mars Hill Church…

In response to THIS, Mars Hill Church released the following statement:

“In recent days, there has been some discussion surrounding Mars Hill Church and our process of church discipline. We do not wish to comment on the specific scenario in question, as this is a private matter between church leadership and members, all of whom have voluntarily agreed to this prior to becoming members. We do want to be as clear and forthright as possible in presenting our theology of repentance, forgiveness, and church discipline and make clear that our convictions on this come from our study of Scripture and our deep love for our members and a desire for them to enjoy the freedom that comes from walking by the Spirit in response to Christ’s work on the Cross on our behalf. At the heart of the process is our deep belief that church discipline is about the grace of God, not penance.” -Pastor Justin Holcomb

And then they posted a chapter from one of Mark’s books about church discipline. Read the entire response here.

The statement seems a little stodgy at first read. Not bad, but stiff. And I would have loved for them to have responded on some level about their excommunication processes. But hey, it’s a response. I’m happy that they at least “addressed” the matter.

I’m at a conference in Pigeon Forge and am not able to really comment at length on this at the moment. But I wanted to make sure that I offered the response on my blog. Links to this response will be added to both posts.


Matthew Paul Turner’s book Churched for free



  1. Sam says

    This is not a response, unless it is saying “It’s none of your business”. Sorry, when they posted online, they made it the world’s business. Assuming that posting what they did online was keeping it “in-house” reveals extreme ignorance. As my friends in internet security and law enforcement say “post nothing anywhere online if you wouldn’t want to see it on the front page of tomorrow’s newspaper”.

  2. Shelley B says

    2 Corinthians 2 clearly solves this problem. MH is guilty of the same sin as the church that excommunicated a repentant member. End of story. Paul say so. Now go look it up.

    • Leanne says

      except for the fact that the one we are to be like is Jesus and Jesus states treating someone who does not receive them like the tax collectors. And that is in Matthew 18—before he says this he teaches on forgiveness and after he says treat people like tax collectors he preaches on forgiveness. so I am thinking we need to understand Paul is writing a letter, which means we only have half the story, there are 4 letters to the Corinthians and we only have 2 of them–so there are a lot of pieces missing. We also need to read Paul in light of what Jesus says, not reading Paul first and Jesus second.

      • Shelley B says

        Leanne, do you not believe that the Holy Spirit, who is equal with Christ as members of the Trinity, inspired 1 and 2 Corinthians? I don’t believe that these are merely Paul’s words. The words of Jesus don’t “trump” any other scripture. There is no inconsistency with Christ’s teachings in Matt 18 and the rest of scripture, including Paul’s letters.
        By the way, Paul was very aware of Matt 18.

    • Jonathan Foutz says

      I totally agree. Verse 7 is particularly appropriate.
      What irks me is that they think they’re being forgiving. They think they’re doing what they’re doing out of love. One could argue this case with them and they would tell you that they have forgiven this boy and are disciplining him in love.
      The worst and most blatant disregard for scriptural authority they committed with this list of sins, though, is 1 Corinthians 13:5, the famous chapter about love that people quote at weddings: “It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”

      “…no record of wrongs.” Did they just forget about what God told us that love is? In most relationships, we keep records of wrongs. All people do it, especially with our siblings and parents. We remember some thing they said to us years ago. Mars Hill is actually keeping physical and digital documentation of people’s sins and doing it in the name of love! They couldn’t be any more blind in my opinion. When you’ve come this far, it’s hard to come back. So much pride.

  3. says

    the whole thing, including this response is just so familiar to those of us who have grown up or spent any reasonable amount of time in fundamentalist circles.
    It’s true, the majority of leadership among these typse has logical “biblical” rational for their policies and actions, but that doesn’t allow much for grace or the spirit at all.

    Mostly it comes from an extra-literal black-and-white interpretation of scripture that happens organically for the fundamentalist but honestly can’t hold up forever.

        • Noelle says

          He’s not though. This hood has so many different types of theists, agnostics, atheists, etc that you could hardly say it’s the wrong side of the tracks. Let MPT police his own site. And Steve’s being pretty tame compared to what can happen around here. Mildly irritable at worst.

        • says

          What an odd response to Steve. I agree with him. There is nothing logical about our Christian faith and to make it so is to limit it. What “neighborhood” are you referring to?

          • Ian says

            I don’t know about your Christian faith, but I consider mine quite logical. God’s the sovereign creator and sustainer of creation, his presence is evident. Logically, as creature, I should regard Him as such; All Truth is His Truth.

    • Melanie says

      Everyone is speaking of poor Andrew. Andrew took a convenant to be in a position and lead and serve in accordance with biblical teachings. What is a church to do if those who fall from grace and make decisions that spread like a disease in amongst the church body. He was called to repent and receive counsel, according to his own admission. He was not cast out but offered biblical counsel. He ran away. I read what happened, he ran away. If the church did turn a blind eye on this behavior then the same people yelling out that there is no grace would be screamig at the blind eye. The church tried to offer counsel, but this was obviously refused. Andrew is hiding from his own shame casting it out in anger through this guy. We are responsible as Christians not only to Andrew who chose to run away and cast his shame on others but to those who Andrew’s choices have an effect. How as a Christian can you think his behavior is acceptable. Should it be acceptable for all men to act like this. Should we throw out the bible because it does not conform to Andrew’s behavior. Andrew, you got busted and now you are shamed and mad. Pray for guidance as God has already put your sin to death, but you have to come before him with repentance to receive grace

      • Dave says

        “make decisions that spread like a disease in amongst the church body”
        He and his girlfriend both chose to make the decisions they did. They are both adults, both human, both screwed up. But how exactly does this “spread like a disease” once it has been confessed? If he was preying on women throughout the congregation you’d have a point. My goodness we really need to learn how to discern between the Holy Spirit and a control spirit. Both Satan and the Pharisees used scripture to validate themselves and perspective. Even James and John were rebuked by Jesus when they spoke of calling fire down the unrepentant saying “you don’t know what spirit you are of”. The funny thing is James and John were both scripturally “right” in what they requested. Did not the prophets and kings of Israel exact this type of vengeance on their enemies? Yet Jesus still tells them “you don’t know what spirit you are of”.

        And where is the biblical admonition to sign a “covenant” with a church? That is a HUGE red flag right there. Nothing less than a control spirit. Are we not instructed to not make vows and promises….”let your yes be yes and no be no, anything other than this is of the devil”?. Are we so unable to entrust ourselves to God that we need another human to make decisions for us?

        As to being a “leader”, was he not on the security team at church? Maybe I missed something else but that’s not leadership…

      • kisekileia says

        The church did not “offer him Biblical counsel”. They asked him to jump through an endless series of hoops, with no indication of when the process would end, and they asked him to write down incredibly private and personal details about himself that he should never have had to disclose. He submitted to many, many meetings before realizing the process was abusive and walking away. He accepted counsel until the counsel became obviously abusive.

      • joellen says

        how about not try to decide when someone is repentant or if they are repentant enough or not. It sounds to me from the whole situation that they kept wanting something from the church member that proved he was repentant. Since when do we get to be the judge of someones repentance.. Andrew’s repentance is a matter between he and God. I dont agree that he ran away. I think there was man made pressure on him. Discipline yes punishment no… When and who says its time to be back in fellowship or we are repentant enough. If you were to look at Luke 7″36 – 50 an read about the sinfull woman who washed Jesus feet with her hair and tears, ointment too. Jesus forgave her, her many sins.. The phairasee Simon on the other hand was pissed at Jesus, she is marred marked how could you dare let her even touch you.. sounds like he wanted rmore proof of her repentance too. umm what more did she need to give. Jesus knew her heart an Simons.. A repentant heart is evidenced in actions.. I dont think Andrew shows signs of non repentance but more so exhaustion over being brow beaten by meetings an one on ones and I read repentance over majorly screwing up. Hurting not only his girlfriend/finacee, but the past freind too by not controlling himself. We humans seem to think you screw up once you are out on your ass.. God pursues, God calls us back we come back we screw up we run we come back .. God pursues continuallly, Again its God who decides. Where is it in the bible that says we humans need to determine whether someone is repentant enough or not. soo i disagree with you Melanie respectfully.

        • Nate says

          Sexual sin rapes the soul.. It does not go away with a simple I am sorry. And it did not just affect him it affected the people he committed the sin with. So at that point it ceased to be something between him and God, and became a community thing. “do you not know how a little bit of leaven affects the whole loaf.” Not only that with sexual sin there tends to be a root cause… and maybe just maybe they were trying to get at the root cause and tear it up so he can experience true healing and repentance..
          Whether the process was right or wrong I do not know. But for him to be reinstated would take time and evidence of change and repentance because as you said, “only God see the heart”. Well and everyone here who supposes that they know the intentions of Mars Hill Church and Mark Driscoll. If you are so concerned about things being between Andrew and God maybe we should keep quiet and let how Mars hill Church deals with their congregation be between them and God. If it turns out to be faithful stewardship then so be it. If it turns out to be ego-maniacal abuse of power and authority that will come to light in time also.

          What we do see is that God is blessing Mars Hill Church and growing them in numbers and in the grace of God. Maybe just maybe they are doing something along the lines of what God wants them to do, but they are far from perfect. And we all would do well to remember that we are far from perfect as well.

          • Esther says

            I agree with only one part of your statement – “…it affected the people he committed the sin with”. Absolutely! BUT….he did not commit the sin with the entire 6,000 member congregation, he did not commit the sin with the pastors and ‘counselors’ who chose to use their authority to force him to publicize what they considered a sin, and he did NOT commit that sin with the untold number of people that received the letter telling them how to speak with, to, and about him. There was no widespread damage to the church…..if their was, it was most certainly caused by the pastoral staff, spreading information that should not have made public. Yes, he sinned in the eyes of his church (and in most other churches who considered sex a sin, so would the person he had it with). What happened after was neither Christian nor biblical.

          • Kate says

            You should know that the church discipline letter was not sent to the entire congregation. It was sent to 14, maybe 15 members who were in close relationship to him (ie community group). It is standard doctrine and each member is required to read, ask, understand, and sign up for church discipline if it is deemed necessary by church elders. The actions Andrew decided to make after finding out about the letter are what has brought the whole world into this church discipline scenario.
            I believe this is an important piece of information to share.

          • says

            Kate, that’s not true. We have proof that it was sent to far more than just simply 15 people. MH can say what they want. But we know the truth, and the truth has a way of coming out.

          • Angie says

            So, what you’re trying to say is that only “14, maybe 15 members” were supposed to treat Andrew as a “gentile and a tax collector”, and the rest of the members could have had lunch with him and gone to a movie? So only the community group he attended was instituting church discipline against him? I guess Andrew would have been free to go to that wedding then, huh? If this is not what you are saying, I fail to see your point. ‘Standard Doctrine’ does not mean good doctrine, or that it coincides with God’s will.
            Mars Hill has put themselves into the position of determining what a repentant heart looks like, and has made it clear that they will decide whether or not Andrew is fit for God’s kingdom and has left Jesus out of it.

            Who are they to determine if someone is ‘repentant enough’?

            What they are really determining is if someone is ‘good enough’ for God. God doesn’t need Mars Hill to determine Andrew’s heart, or to punish Andrew. Teachers and those who put themselves in the position of interpreting God’s law are they that will be judged most harshly. “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” – James 3:1. It’s bad enough that they place such importance on what are normally open-handed theological issues, but that they actually think they can judge what is in a man’s heart and can assume the authority to tell an entire congregation not to speak to someone takes BALLS. Mark Driscoll and his pastors are absolutely judging for Jesus. Do you know the amount of pain having a community of believers oust you and excommunicate you can cause? Not to mention you have just led thousands of Christians to sin against Andrew. I would not want to presume to know the condition of someone’s heart.

            The whole world was brought into it because what the world of Mars Hill did was wrong. I’m glad Andrew came forward to share his story, and he probably is too. Now he knows that not all Christians listen to Mark Driscoll and not everyone is so eager to judge the condition of his heart by one or two actions that he may or may not be repentant of. Do you presume to know if he’s repentant?

            That being said, I’m actually more inclined to call into question the condition of the girlfriend’s heart and her upbringing for not taking her share of responsibility in the sharing of her body with Andrew. She is not being taught to take responsibility for her actions, and has learned that if she chooses to be deceptive and sexually immoral her actions will be blamed on the guy. She had a choice to tell the truth about the nature of her relationship with Andrew, long before the church elders pumped it out of him. Yet in the end, he gets a church discipline contract for lying and being deceptive. Where was hers? I know he cheated on her, but he was still disciplined for his sexual relationship with her as well. To me, she is a “Christian” first, a woman second. She is still held to the same standards Andrew is. This means she is still accountable for her sin. Again, where is her discipline contract stemming from that standard doctrine you were talking about.

          • Angie says

            Edit: Also, the whole world being brought into it is obviously what’s called for because the congregation of Mars Hill is so into blindly following their leader it takes eyes and ears outside the congregation and the church to bring the harm this church is causing to the light. Stop drinking the kool-aid.

          • Anthony says

            Sexual sin rapes the soul? Rapes the soul? That’s just mean. Root cause? He’s a man. With a penis. Is that your root cause? There is something so obviously wrong with you people.
            Lesson for Andrew and everybody. Keep your mouth shut.

            The mother of all scandals will take a certain someone down. And it’s coming don’t worry. A big, fat, hairy, golden parachute type disaster.

      • says

        “You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.” – Gal 5:4.
        I assure you he did the opposite of falling from Grace. Had he agreed to their process of justification then in fact he would’ve fallen from Grace scripturally speaking.

          • Tyler says

            2 things:Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. (Rom 6:16-19)
            Biblical grace is not a license for sin or lawlessness. Rather, the Holy Spirit graciously allows the righteous requirements of the law to be fully met in us lawbreakers who have been saved by grace through faith in Jesus.

            Second, perhaps something mentioned this and I missed it but I believe it is important to recognize that this was not a passionate in the heat of the moment one time sin. That’s where his guilt and confession apparently came about and how his sin surfaced. But the church wasn’t disciplining him for his single sexual (though not intercourse) encounter with a female friend but for repeated sexual sin with his fiance as we was living in the Christian community group and a member of the church. I believe this pertains directly to the church leaders’ concern as well as Andrew’s (seeming) unrepentance. I agree with Andrew and many others that if he were placed under discipline for a single mistake that he confessed and was repenting of. I do believe Andrew repented from his sin of fooling around with this other girl and cheating on his fiance. Yet Andrew gave no indication of conviction, confession, or repentance of the sin of being sexually involved outside of marriage with the woman he was planning to stand before (presumably) his church family and tell them that he was committing his life to “loving her as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleanser her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present
            the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” (Eph 5:25-28) Andrew, you had no problems with standing in front of your brothers and sisters in Christ and declaring that you had let your marriage be undefiled (Heb. 13:4) even though you were sexually sinning with your fiance?

            Not saying that the way everything was done was correct or anything…just something to point out.

          • Angie says

            Was the girl ever subjected to church discipline? And, if you’re going to tell me all the men of mars hill aren’t boinking their girlfriends in spite of what pastor mark preaches from the pulpit, you’re out of your mind. I can name 3 couples right now who are engaging in premarital sex, and their CG leader is well aware of it. Although they have been talked to about it, no one has drawn up a contract and declared they are unrepentant sinners.

          • Laura says

            Hopefully Mark’s response is satisfactory. Security volunteers (especially those in leadership) are held to a much higher standard, and rightfully so. Some of our members are former prostitutes, and need protection from people from their former lives by people they can trust to love and view them as treasured sisters, not as trashy objects. Security teams protect them, as well as children in our children’s ministry. As members of the body, we are called to love Andrew, but also to offer a safe haven for those most vulnerable to young men struggling with secret sexual addictions. I too have signed the contract and gone through the discipline process, for secret extramarital consensual sexual sin with an adult – my leadership pastor was very gracious and patient throughout the process, and I was restored with unconditional love. I was also encouraged to date again after a period of reflection and personal growth, as would Andrew. However harsh it may seem, a purpose of the membership contract is to weed out pedophiles and sex addicts from serving in that capacity, and the proposed agreement to abstain from dating women FOR A SEASON, NOT FOREVER, was to allow him to get the help he needs, and was completely reasonable, given the circumstances.

      • Margaret says

        Even if, as you say, he “ran away” after being offered biblical council, the church response after that was inappropriate. I’d still find it unsettling, but not inappropriate, if they had left him alone when he chose to leave. Instead they decided to involve the greater congregation in the problem and try to actively bring him back for punishment. That is inappropriate. The matter should have stayed private. Andrew’s leaving was his choice. The church leadership could pray for him on their own without involving the rest of the church.

          • Steve says

            For what they do internally maybe, but not for what they do in public. Andrew left the church and was harassed afterwards.

          • kisekileia says

            Andrew and all other Americans have a legal right to freedom of association. That includes the right to leave voluntary organizations such as churches. The Mormon church has lost at least one case like this. Andrew has a legal case.

          • Judith says

            Yes. According to most states laws on stalking and harassment these churches do engage in criminal “harassment.” We have a problem in America because the religion likes to hide behind the Constitution when she is bad, but step on it when she wants power. When people “submit” to the laws and constitution of a church through membership, the church has the right to “handle” members according to their laws. HOWEVER…when a member withdraws membership the constitution protects that member and they are FREE to exercise their FREEDOM FROM RELIGION!

        • Eric says

          The thing is, though, people talk and rumors fly when the institution doesn’t make a top-down announcement. They’re trying to cover their asses by preemptively putting all the blame squarely on Andrew. Hence the letter and its smug, self-righteous and condescending tone.

      • Erin says

        That’s funny…here I was thinking Jesus forgives us if we only ask in our hearts. Now I know that really the church gives forgiveness if we do what it says. Thanks for clearing that up.

      • Mary says

        You asked this question:
        “What is a church to do if those who fall from grace and make decisions that spread like a disease in amongst the church body.”

        Can I just ask what you’re referring to? What decision of Andrew’s was spreading like a disease among the members of the church? Obviously whoever decided to publish the how-to-shun instructions on the church’s community website felt that there was some danger to the members, but for the life of me I can’t figure out what that is.

        He engaged in foreplay, apparently, with a friend while engaged to someone else, but I don’t think that’s the disease. Do you? He had sex, apparently,with his fiancee, but I don’t think that’s what they’re worried about spreading like a disease amongst the congregation. Do you?

        The one decision that just might spread is the one to refuse to respect the authority of people who have not earned it. I can see how that might be a problem at a place like MHC.

        • Ian says

          Actually, it really does seem like the focus of the discipline is on the physical aspect of his relationship with his fiance, and how they tried to keep it a secret. The blame for which, it sounds like, they lay exclusively on Andrew. There’s mention of ongoing lies and deception around that issue, and no other, as he’d confessed the cheating bit right off; and they’re contending that the intent of Andrew’s relationship was less than pure, presumably because they had gotten physical.
          I think that’s the issue they’re concerned with. And I believe scripture is pretty clear about what SHOULD happen; if they burn with passion, get ’em married, and quick. The problem is that, culturally, the wedding is often this once-in-a-lifetime, tens of thousands of dollars, cast of hundreds, over-blown production, often with a dose of parents’ power play and acting out of fantasy. Meanwhile, during the extended, often year-plus engagement, the couple, who SHOULD be attracted to each other, have to build up this crazy habit of avoiding “living in unrepentant sin,” and then flip a 180 on the wedding day? How is THAT supposed to facilitate a healthy marriage?

      • Sarah says

        Hi Melanie,
        Please explain how he “ran away” from “biblical counsel?” Is a controlling contract (without any scriptures to back up each mandate) that specifies church leadership will determine when you are repentant, biblical counsel? When has serving penance contracts ever been acceptable for the church, except in pre-Reformation Rome? Even if the facts were different, and he was running away from biblical counsel, How is compulsory shunning the proper response to someone who is doing so? Please dont cite Matthew 18. Because it doesnt mention shunning or contracts or proven repentence. If we are inferring that Jesus says we should shun Gentiles and tax collectors, this goes against every other thing he ever said.

      • says

        While your comments are true…no one can be forced into repentance and shamed into healing. Jesus by no means EVER did this to anyone…so how can we do it to him? How many of us are walking around with secret sin – many of us with more sexual sin than we would ever dare to admit – that we have no guts to admit?

        While this is a he said/they said case that is so hard to truly know the facts…victims of abuse often look like the bad ones while the abuser gets away scott free. Both parties play their part and no one is truly free from guilt.

        Furthermore, according to Matthew 18, Andrew took the right steps to repent of his sin. In fact, I’m no theologian on church discipline…but Matt 18 states that “if a brother/sister sins against you, go and confront them…” It notes on to say that if someone denies their sin, then you – the one sinned against – is supposed to take it to the next level and so on.

        However, Andrew doesn’t even fit into this model…he did the confessing of his own free will. He didn’t deny ANY of it – and in fact confessed even more along the way. I know for me…when I finally get stuff off my chest – it feels really good to not be “in hiding” anymore. So I am not even sure that this way of church discipline even applies to Andrew.

        While a church absolutely needs to have a way to discipline their members for sin, I believe this more than anyone as I do believe there are true predators out there, I do not see this as a healthy, grace filled attempt in order to bring Andrew to repentance – the true purpose of discipline. Discipline is not about shaming another into confessing…it is about helping them receive the free gift of grace. Publicly humiliating a young guy – in my honest opinion – is nothing more than a power move in order to send a message to Andrew and the rest of the congregation that MH is in charge and they will not be messed with. For if you do something wrong – you better watch out. Who of us haven’t been more likely to continue to hide our sin, continue to put up the mask of perfection when confronted with an authority like this?

        It makes my heart ache within me that this is what has been done to a brother in Christ – and potentially to a whole lot more.

      • says

        According the the story, Andrew did confess, over and over again to many people. We must only confess once to God as he has already forgiven all our trespasses. But for a church to make someone jump through so many hoops is ridiculous! I think you are being a little judgemental of Andrew, Did you not read the whole article? HE was the one who confessed voluntarily! he didn’t get ‘busted’!
        Also, God does not see one sin as worse than another. Andrew sinned, yes, but I believe he was truly grieved and repentant, and he willingly confessed to his fiance. Have you ever lied to your significant other? did you immediately confess of it? Did you ever think an ill thought of a friend or co-worker? did you confess to them and repent immediately? See we judge by the severity of the sin, but God doesn’t. God sees a little white lie or an ill thought the same as he sees rape and murder. So put away your judgements. “For if we confess our sins HE is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

        God bless Andrew.

      • Jabbar says

        He came to them, they did not find him in adultery like the woman the Pharisees brought to Jesus.
        He didn’t Deny Jesus Like Peter, ‘whom Jesus said the Devil wanted to sift like wheat’
        I had stopped reading this site because I believed a lot of people used this forum to continue the cycle of hurt and pain brought on by ‘church religion’. It seemed that there was a lot of doubt, even from those who say they believed, but I have grown since then.

        Not only is this article about ‘church discipline’ ridiculous (not the article but the content) so is this response. You sound bitter, which the bible talks against in Hebrew. YOU WILL MISS THE KINGDOM OF GOD if you carry aught in your heart.

        Andrew confessed and they did not have the Love of Christ within them ( and from your response neither do you) and if you do not have the Love of Christ, you are not his.

        There are many in this world who say that they prophecy in His name or cast out demons but Jesus will turn them back at the door.

        Jesus said He would rather have an atheist, than a lukewarm ‘Christian’ (He actually said be hot or cold).

        Please STOP THE MADNESS!!!

        Yes the words of Christ convicts and leads us to repentance and this man thought that those that were elders would help him become who God want him to be.

        We were made in the image of God and make a choice to be made over into the image of a man, or pastor, or church, or denomination.

        The Greatest Gift that God gave us is choice, please choose to work out your Salvation with fear and trembling

        Not fear what man will do, but that we know that only God’s Grace is sufficient for us. Jesus didn’t die, be buried, and resurrected, so one man can take scripture (which is foolishness to the natural man) and use it for their own gain.

        Those that believe that are no better than Simon the Sorcerer (if you don’t know who he is, then maybe you need to read the book you say you believe or don’t believe before you comment)

        • NateP says

          you, Mr. Jabbar, sound like a complete idiot. please do not reference the episode of pharisees bringing an adulteress before Jesus, as we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this episode was fabricated by the gospel writer. hasn’t anyone that pontificates on this site also done their homework on the manuscripts of the NT (specifically on which ones we KNOW are not authentic)?

          • Matt says

            I can’t speak for everyone but I can answer with a resounding “yes!”. I do my homework in the most literal since as it is my focus of study. As a result, and the result of your post, it is clear that whatever homework you are partaking involves mild if any true and meaningfully objective study on the subject. If you had done your homework in its entirety you would certainly have realized that what you claim to be fabricated beyond a shadow of a doubt coupled with my own inference is not nearly as unanimously agreed upon by biblical scholars as you seem to suggest.
            Also, you would at least be aware of the fact that, provided this account was added later, that would be of no surprise to those leaders present in the early church and consequently those involved in the canonization of the NT. Thus, making the inspired scripture regardless of its source.

            Its important to study these things from different angles or at least provide both angles when we are condemning someone to idiocy.

      • John says

        I agree…We see what happens in a society that does not enforce it’s laws. It has a negative consequence for the society. If you oversee a society and are responsible for it, you would do what is right, even when it is hard. I suspect there were personal matters involved that escalated the hoops, because it was an elder’s daughter, but it is a hurtful sin and if you are involved in ministry it makes it more public, which needs to be acknowledged so that it does not spread into gossip. Gossip would create more drama and hurt. Also, If we are truly sorry for how we hurt people, we should not put limits on how we show them we are sorry.
        The grace of God is not given through law, but grace. However, the Church does have structure and needs structure to operate. People think that if they repent to God and do nothing to those that they hurt, they are truly showing their love for those they hurt? This is why Paul has to address so many circumstances that create tensions in Church. It is difficult to live in community, it does not come easy and it is lined in repentance, humility and forgiveness.The man in question agreed to the structure outlined by the Church before agreeing to be a part of that given community. Perhaps it was over the top, but is the system wrong?

        When these issues are not dealt with they lead to bitterness that does not go away. Hence the story by the blogger of being hurt since the 90’s….20 years of bitterness. This is why forgiveness and repentance is needed so badly. But if someone says they are sorry, but will not attend more meeting’s how can you take that repentance seriously?

        I feel as if this blog is written in a very negative light towards Church. What makes this abusive? Are we all just victims? Why are we so scared to take responsibility?

        The tax collector in the gospels repented of His sins to Jesus and he was forgiven, but he didn’t leave it there. He acknowledged that he needed to make amends with those he wronged and pay them back for what he cheated them.

        If Andrew did not feel the love of the Church, then they did not handle it well, but it cannot be easy to restore sin when it leaves a mess…Sin is messy… that’s why it is sin…

  4. says

    I have been following, mostly silently. I’m torn. Putting aside Driscoll’s views on other stuff for a second. I’m torn because I know that church discipline is real, it’s biblical, and sometimes does call for reducing fellowship with someone who’s in sin. The other side of that is that the fellow who was disciplined by Mars Hill was, in fact, repentant, and the church leadership seems to ignore that. Seems the me this entire fiasco is centered around that one point. And it’s heartbreaking.
    Aside: Several comments over the past few days seem to completely misunderstand Jesus’ command to treat an unrepentant sinner “as a Gentile and tax-collector”. I really urge you guys to re-think that one.

    • says

      Man, that comment of mine was badly worded. It’s what I get for trying to sneak in a comment during work time.
      Regarding my last point, see this verse:

      Matthew 18:17 “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 sa Gentile and a tax collector.”

      Clearly, that does not mean “treat him like he did nothing wrong and you’re his best friend.”

      • Matt says

        Thanks for the good, reasonable response.

        Many seem to be casting stones on Mars Hill without caring, at all, about what Scripture says on the matter.

        • Lynne says

          Yes, but what does it mean to treat him “like a pagan or a tax collector”?
          As Christians, many of us constantly say What Would Jesus Do? How, then, did Jesus treat tax collectors? There are two specific instances mentioned in the bible: that of Matthew and that of Zaccheus. On both of these occasions Jesus went to their homes to eat with them (in Matthew’s case this included many of his tax collector friends). So, if we are to do as Jesus did, it seems that this verse is not saying we should ostracise this person.

          I believe it means that we should treat them as we would any non-Christian. We should certainly not shun their company, but should be aware that they don’t walk the same walk we do. This will temper our behaviour without rejecting them.

          • says

            Lynne, in the passage above, Jesus describes how to treat unrepentant sinners, and it’s progressive; each step is a little harsher than the previous one. With this in mind, it would make absolutely no sense for a reader to interpret “And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as sa Gentile and a tax collector” the way you seem to interpret it.

          • says

            I take “treat him as a tax collector and Gentile” to mean “make a point of treating them well even though society says not to.” Go the extra mile for them. Zaccheus in point: GO to dinner at their house.

          • says

            I say this respectfully: how does that even make sense, given the verses and steps right before that verse?Zaccheus is not an apples to apples example, as he was repentant. Jesus was specifically talking about unrepentant Christians.
            (Not that Andrew was unrepentant. I’m not defending MHill’s treatment of him. at all.)

          • Hal says

            I must say James, you make some of the most lucid sense I’ve seen on these posts.
            It is interesting that Jesus did have deep love for tax collectors and Gentiles, and I don’t think that at any point he would urge you to stop loving them, but you are right in saying it robs the passage of its flow and power if it means simply ‘accept him and continue to fellowship with him.”

          • says

            Not sure I agree that it robs the passage of its power and flow if you consider it in light of our command to love both our friends and our enemies. I don’t see why we can’t read that passage this way: we are to do all that is within “our power” as described and if it doesn’t inspire a change, we connect with the person in love and leave it to the Holy Spirit to work on his or her heart…

          • says

            Red, I did not miss the point. I stated very clearly that it was obvious that (assuming Andrew’s story is factual) Andrew did the right thing and the MHC leaders were in error in not recognizing him as repentant.If you read my comments in their entirety, you’d see that my argument about how Jesus wanted believers to treat unrepentant believers is separate from the Andrew situation.

          • St. Ralph says

            On one hand: Zaccheus was not repentant until AFTER Jesus took the initiative, called him out of the tree and invited himself over to Zaccheus’ house.
            On the other hand: In the act of leaping from Bible verse to Bible verse (as they float down the mighty rivers of British Columbia), we are engaging in “prooftexting.” Yes, we get to show off our cleverness and our familiarity with the broad canonical context in which we find a particular verse … but if our goal is to discover the “original intent” of verse A from chapter B of book C, it’s likely that we are only confusing the issue when we bring in verse X from chapter Y of book Z.

            It might make more sense to look at the *immediate* context of Mt. 18 … for example, note that the passage on church discipline is followed almost immediately by the parable of the unmerciful servant, which concerns the principle of forgiveness. If we are concerned about the flow and power of the passages, we’d better ask ourselves how the verses about church discipline are meant to lead us to this parable.

          • says

            Context is not just the chapter in scripture. You have to consider the book as a whole. How Jesus treats sinners and tax collectors is a very important thought in reading that passage. It’s not proof texting.

          • Red says

            I disagree that those verses present a series of steps which get “harsher and harsher.” There is no description of anything getting harsher. It IS, however, presenting a series of steps in which more and more people are brought in to help with the problem. That does not translate to “harsher and harsher.” So there really isn’t any foundation for saying that we must interpret “treat them as an unbeliever” through the lens of “what is EVEN HARSHER than getting the whole church involved?” To do so is, in my humble opinion, to completely misunderstand that verse and run the risk of treating someone in a way that is un-Christ-like.
            If a dear friend at church told me that they had stopped believing in Christ altogether, I would not ostracize them. I would keep lovingly being in their life; however, I would do so with the understanding that we were now walking on different paths, and I would do my best to represent Christ to them in hopes that they would come back.

            And anyway, you are completely missing the point. The Mars Hill staff were treating this guy as unrepentant when he was clearly repentant. You don’t continue to punish someone who is repentant, and you certainly don’t decide for him whether he and his fiancee can forgive each other and heal their relationship. That is where it crosses the line into abuse.

          • St. Ralph says

            Immediate context and canonical context are not the same thing. The former carries more weight than the latter. Furthermore, WWJD is often a logical fallacy. What Jesus tells you to do, and what Jesus himself would do, are not necessarily the same thing.
            None of which is to say that you’re wrong about tax collectors. Sometimes even faulty logic can lead to a correct conclusion.

          • Lindsay says

            James,I agree with your interpretation of this passage. But as we know Andrew was not unrepentant (as you pointed out). Also it is a huge challenge to determine if a Christian is unrepentant or not- and unless someone is blatantly unrepentant, I do not think this verse would apply.

          • Seth says

            Lindsay, it really is such an interesting and difficult dilemma regarding the determining of unrepentance in the heart of an unbeliever. Though he was talking about clergy returning to ministry after sin, I think it is applicable here as well when Spurgeon says that when we are known more for our repentance than our sin we are ready to return to the work God has for us.
            This is deeply disturbing stuff that really shows the tragic state of the unity of the Body of Christ. I think we all would do good to remember the true enemy here is sin and not each other, and that our goal should be reconciliation first to God and secondly the Body, though you could hardly separate the two. When we fail to measure the venom in our words we do more to widen the rift and discord in the Church that whom the world would know as Christ specifically said by our love for one another.

            I feel that this issue has been blown FAR outside the necessary boundaries it should have been contained in by both Mars Hill and us (I mention myself in this as part of the problem, but trying to become part of the solution).

          • David K. says

            How was he unrepentant? He knowingly and willfully acknowledged his wrong doings and sought help and guidance. In return he was strung along and they attempted to force him to accept their every demand.
            It is one thing to offer counsel and steps for improving one self and making amends. It is another entirely to demand that one submit their life to the control of one human man, in this case Mark Driscoll.

            Mars Hill is commanding it’s followers to have no interaction with this man (save tryijng to bring him back under their control) because he refused to submit to their particular view. That is very frightening behavior and not at all Christian. How long until its embers are commanded not to associate with other “unrepentant sinners” such as Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Mormons, Atheists, Catholics, Biddhists, etc. All those listed disagree with Driscolls particular theological take, how are they (we as I’m Catholic) any different than Andrew?

            There is a word for groups that demand you associate only with members and require you to submit to the will of one leader. It’s a very scary word if you have had any experience with it.

            I do not disagree that Andrew engaged in sinful acts, nor am I saying he should be let off with no consequences. But Mars Hills approach is just plain wrong, and not in keeping with Christian teaching.

          • Ian says

            He was repentant about cheating, yes. But he also lied and deceive a lot of people about him and his fiance fooling around. Reading “The Contract,” it seems pretty obvious they were trying to guide Andrew through a process of reconciliation with everyone that he’d lied to and deceived regarding that issue, and have him stop and repent for that sin.
            I don’t think MH went about it the right way, I don’t think we have the whole story, but most importantly, I don’t think it wise to try for an extended engagement and abstinence at the same time. You can realistically do one, or the other, but if you do both your marriage is going to suffer, and / or you’ll fail and end up with guilt, shame, lies and deception.

          • Margaret C says

            Lynne, You wrote “should be aware that they don’t walk the same walk we do. This will temper our behaviour without rejecting them.”This answer resonates with me. This perspective takes a very complex seeming issue and makes it as clear as day to me. Thanks. Do you often think like that?

        • NateP says

          and matt, many seem to be defending the honor of Driscoll, DESPITE both the teaching of scripture and the common sense imbued inside every human being.

      • Jabbar says

        At what point did he not listen. The first part is to go to the person. If he does not listen take him to the leadership, then if that doesn’t do it then excommunicate. Why? So that others will not be ‘infected’. However, He went to his fiance and told her ( the main person he should have told). Then he went to his leadership (the second person to be accountable to), and hopefully he went to God (the only one that can truly forgive). The Holy Spirit is what teaches, not just reading. That is why so many people are lost. That is why He gives people shepherds after His own Heart. Those who wish that non would perish. If Mark Driscoll is one of those then he will be found exonerated, but if not then he will have to answer to the God he says he believes in.

    • emily says

      These posts have made me sick.. I wonder what the purpose of exposing this really was to begin with? Not to lessen the wound this guy received fron the experience, but it was one example coming from a place of being wounded. I worked for a “mega church” & witnessed things that left me questioning what I ever believed in.. God has provided hesling from that through involvement in a healthier church. I don’t believe I am supposed to air the dirty laundry, even though I want to, and feel as though they “deserve” it. What God has shown me to this point is that, He can work through all situations, and brokeness. And while truth should be spoken, it’s His responsibility to handle the justice. I believe the tone in which Matthew speaks from is divisive & sets this apart from sharing a really hard experience. To see close to 800 comments, with arguments, and people saying, see this is why I don’t go to church, etc.. It’s heartbreaking, and irresponsible. My question for Matthew is, do your posts, and the process in which you brought this experience to light glorify God or build up the body? Grace works both ways, and while I will never agree with avoidance, and denial of brokeness in the church, I don’t agree with posting a one sided example and pointing fingers. It doesn’t accomplish anything, and my guess it’s made this guys life a lot harder. I am sorry this guy had to walk through such a difficult experience.. God’s convictions NEVER cobdem us, they don’t produce shame or humiliation.. His kindness is what leads us to repentance.. It may SUCK to walk through it, but when it’s from the Lord, grace covers all else.

      • Judith says

        I am grateful for the posts. I don’t feel so alone now. I only wish someone would sit down and care about my story and weep with me. Secrets make people sick and keep people sick. Thank you for exposing this story.

  5. says

    In the case being discussed, you have a person that admitted everything and was sorry. Not only that, recognized he was doing wrong and stopped in the act.
    Somehow they forgot the part of how Jesus responded to the woman caught in adultery.

    • says

      I agree. That’s the part that is problematic for me. Not that the church practices discipline, but that they seem to be ignoring the fact that he was repentant and had stopped the sinful behavior. I cannot fathom why they are doing this. Of course, we only have his side of the story. I wish they’d elaborate.

      • KLo says

        MPT needs to elaborate. It didn’t seem clear to me that “Andrew” was repentent of everything he confessed to. I got the impression that he repented of the cheating. The Story states that he also confessed to being physical with his fiancee (I’m assuming they had sex). Pre-marital sex is viewed as sin at Mars Hill. The story never says that he repented of that – maybe he didn’t feel that was wrong. Maybe that was the reason for the repeated meetings. Maybe that was the reason for the contract. There are too many lingering questions, because we don’t have the whole story – and never will.

        • AR says

          I agree that he may have not been repentant of the premarital sex, but my question this entire time has been, “What happened to the fiancee?” Is she being held to the same scrutiny – or any scrutiny at all – for her part in that sin? (I’m a woman, by the way, and have a dark and dismal past when it comes to sexual sin. It was my fault, too…not just the men who I engaged in it with.)
          And the one part of the contract that I couldn’t hang with was that he couldn’t date anyone inside or outside of the church. Really? For how long? So if, during whatever time period MH decided he couldn’t date, he met the woman God intended him to be with, he would have to say, “Nope, sorry. Mars Hill says I can’t date you. I signed a contract”? A little creepy, to say the least.

          • kisekileia says

            Someone who knows the situation (I think her name was Lizz) commented to one of Matthew’s first two posts, explaining that the fiancee was hiding behind Mars Hill’s teaching that women are “weaker vessels” who are not fully responsible for their sexual behaviour, and thus was not being heavily punished.

    • says

      I’m in agreement with you Bob. As I’ve sat with what I view as a harsh response to the fact that Andrew was the one who brought all of this to light because he was repentant…I keep coming back to one thing.
      It seems to me that the severity of MH’s discipline is possibly directly proportional to the fact that the offense was to the family of someone in the ranks of church leadership. Had Andrew not been involved with the daughter of a senior leader, I’m left to wonder if the extent of their demands upon him would have been quite as severe.

      Spiritual abuse, not matter what guise it’s cloaked in…eg: church discipline, is ALWAYS ugly!

      • mike says

        They will respond the same way. It does not matter if you are dating the daughter or a man who stuggles with same sex attraction. There is severe punishment. The hoops I went through were tiring I ended up stop attending church all together.

      • current member says

        That is absolutely not true. I am a woman, and I come from a nonChristian family, am the first Christian in my family, and consider Mars Hill to by my spiritual family. I am not a staff member, and have no family members on staff, but have recently been sinned against by a fellow congregant at Mars Hill by being objectified as a sexual object as a young female college age girl who was on her own. I was furious at him when I realized he wasn’t serious about me and had been pursuing another woman. The sin was consensual, but if anything, I was treated BETTER than the fiance in Andrew’s situation, because central leadership knew of my relatively vulnerable and unprotected situation, and in my case, central leadership DID get directly involved. The campus pastor himself met with the offending guy for five hours straight and continued to meet with him personally over the course of several months to make sure he was on track and not stuck in a habit of sin — he was in a position of leadership so he was held to a higher standard. We were reconciled, both restored, and are now on civil terms. I don’t know if he’s dated anyone, but I know that the process was nothing like what is being described here. I didn’t date anyone for awhile, to heal my heart (my pastor wisely advised me that I might need some time off from guys so I didn’t rush into things and hurt more people and myself from a rebound relationship, which are not healthy).

    • Hal says

      Scholars have pretty well established that that pericope was not part of the original Gospel that John wrote, you know.

          • says

            How’s this:
            External links

            John 7:53-8:11 (NIV)
            John 7:53-8:11 (KJV)
            Pericope Adulterae in Manuscript Comparator — allows two or more New Testament manuscript editions’ readings of the passage to be compared in side-by-side and unified views (similar to diff output)
            The Pericope de Adultera Homepage Site dedicated to proving that the passage is authentic, with links to a wide range of scholarly published material on both sides about all aspects of this text, and dozens of new articles.
            Jesus and the Adultress, a detailed study by Wieland Willker.
            Concerning the Story of the Adulteress in the Eighth Chapter of John, list marginal notes from several versions, extended discussion taken from Samuel P. Tregelles, lists extended excerpts from An Account of the Printed Text of the Greek New Testament (London, 1854), F.H.A. Scrivener, A Plain Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testament (4th edition. London, 1894), Bruce Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (Stuttgart, 1971), Raymond E. Brown, The Gospel According to John (i-xii), in the Anchor Bible series (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1966).
            The Woman Taken In Adultery (John 7:53-8:11), in defense of the pericope de adultera by Edward F. Hills, taken from chapter 6 of his book, The King James Version Defended, 4th edition (Des Moines: Christian Research Press, 1984).
            David Robert Palmer, John 5:3b and the Pericope Adulterae

            Wiki-snobs drive me nuts. There is good and there is not so good and most of the not so good is properly challenged.

          • Jabbar says

            OK let’s talk. The Word of God says that it is the Holy Spirit which teaches. Scholars will always debate because of our incessant need to rule and reign outside of the Will of God. Scripture is foolishness to the natural man without the revelation from Jehovah, the God of those same scriptures. Jesus told Peter when he told Jesus, ‘You are the Christ” that flesh and blood did not reveal that to him but the Father in Heaven. He changed his name to ‘Peter’ saying ‘upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it’. What was the ‘rock’… the revelation from the Father. So the only way to know if something is true is to have it ‘revealed’, which is one of the jobs of the Holy Spirit. Because if it does not come from the ‘God’ we say we believe, then anyone can say something ‘like this is church discipline’ throw some scripture with it and call it Gospel. So to believe the “scholars’ means to inherently doubt the spiritual nature of the relationship of the ‘God Breathed’ Scriptures.

          • Hal says

            And to make that statement means to inherently doubt the scholars have a spiritual relationship with God and understanding of the God breathed scriptures, to take your model.

  6. Tim says

    Translation… “we love you, therefor we humiliate anyone we deem to be wrong without mercy??” My experience with this type of stuff is that the members they love are the ones who are compliant and will follow without question. or, more literally, the ones who are ok with leadership acting as the holy spirit in their lives.

  7. Bart Wang says

    They didn’t mind making Andrew’s admitted mistakes known to everyone in their church (how many thousands is that, again?) but now they don’t want to talk about it. Are individual congregations/communities segregated in the Body of Christ? If my 5,000 person church knows about my personal life because they are told by leadership, is it reasonable to give a ‘no comment’ response when they are called to account? If a man punches a woman and I see it, he can’t tell me, ‘It’s a private matter,’ and expect that I will accept that. No punches were thrown in this matter but there was a whole lot of shit. Maybe it’s just Bart but if the local Baptist church has questions about something we did at the BIC church, we should probably engage since we’re supposed to be family. The response is lame, I think, but you’re right, MPT, it is a response.

    • Joe Crenshaw says

      Exactly, they made this guy look like a dirtbag, and I guarentee he is better moral and spiritual standing than many folks who are condemning him. Other churches have dealt with these issues in a better way.
      Church discipline is mentioned in the NEW TESTAMENT. We are not in the Old Testament, we are not under the harsh reality of Old Testament law (and I am a big old testament fan and read it more than the new), we must correct in love and go forward. My goodness . . we don’t need trouble makers in the church, they need to go jack rabbit quick, but this guy wasn’t a trouble maker he was a young man who needed support and love, not flogging.

      • Drealee says

        The letter that was published by the church was not published to thousands of people. Just to his community group which was however many that were in that as it seems they were directly involved.

        • kisekileia says

          Go look at Matthew’s first post about this again. He’s updated it with specific information about to whom the letter was posted. It wasn’t just the community group.

    • Phil Rhodes says

      Agreed Bart. MH decided to substitute a works-based “repentance” for Christ’s offer of heart-based repentance. When Andrew wouldn’t fulfill their works-based requirements (a ridiculous and shamefully voyeuristic list), they disowned him as a fellow brother in Christ. Let’s not forget that’s what he was to these people. Now that they’ve been called to account before the larger body of Christ–the Church–they want to clam up. MH needs to explain 1) why they believe Andrew was not repentant, 2) why they wanted him to fulfill that shameful discipline contract, 3) why they needed to publicize his exact sins to the entire congregation (couldn’t they have just said he was an unrepentant sinner), and 4) why they congregationally disowned their own Christian brother. Really, is there ANYTHING in the spiritual discipline contract that is even remotely centered on time with restorative healing power of the Bible and simple prayers and communion with the Holy Spirit? I don’t remember any.

  8. Joe Crenshaw says

    It sounds twisted. I understand and support “church discipline” but my goodness they go way over board into legalism. Also, discipline isn’t want you say but what you pracitce.
    This young man was not a “wolf” my uncle D. was a church wolf preying on vulnerable women in the church left and right. This young man fornicated, like most folks in our churches who aren’t married. We need to encourage him in love but not excommunicate him and treat him and others like serial rapists.

    My Pastor of my current church loves Mark Driscoll, but he’s nothing like Mark D. I don’t get it . .. Mark D. constantly says adn does stuff I don’t agree with. But that is why again he’s not a preacher I listen too nor anyone I would consider listening too.

  9. says

    Pigeon forge? Are you making pigeons? I was going to write a comment about their response, but now I’m totally distracted and can’t shake the image of you manufacturing pigeons…
    I think it’s good to talk about convictions and aspirations on paper, but the events described by Andrew show a process that is quite different from the restoration process we see in the ministry of Jesus and an approach to authority that makes foot washing seem like a quaint thing people used to do back when they dressed in bath robes. I’m glad to see that last line about the grace of God, though I sure wish the word restoration had been in there. When I look at Andrew’s story, there was a lot of discipline, but it seemed like restoration wasn’t as high a priority.

    As I process all of this, I’m reminded that I need to pray for the restoration of the staff at Mars Hill to a healthy practice of authority and restoration of their members. Perhaps this situation will spark some important conversations in many churches who need to reexamine this issue.

  10. says

    The fact of the matter continues to be despite Andrew repenting, this is still not church discipline. This is coercion pure and simple. Reread the response to Andrew again. How much detail on the sexual and emotional history is needed? How much detail on the sexual and emotional sin is needed? Reread the letter. The goal is embarrassment and not church discipline or restoration. This guys file will stay with the elders of Mars Hill Church forever. Or at least until they all drink the Kool-Aid from Pastor Mark.

  11. says

    I am sick of church leaders trying to embody the role of parent in leadership. It speaks more to an inability to have adult relationships than of God’s grace or judgment. The entire scenario from Mars Hill reeks of developmental dysfunction.
    Not only that, the log in my eye hurts, too. Didn’t Paul promise that our vision would be made clear as we keep our eyes on Christ? (Phil 3:15)

    • Alli says

      In regards to adult relationships, this entire thing reminds me of junior high school:
      “Did you hear about Andrew?”
      “OMG I know! He said he was sorry and stuff, but I just don’t believe him!”
      “We totally can’t sit with him at lunch any more.”
      “We need to tell Becky, Sarah and Dave about this ASAP so they know how much he sucks too.”
      “LoL. Awesome sauce!”

      I know that’s a bit over the top, but that was my first thought when I read their letter that was put on “The City.” I understand wanting to hold people accountable for their actions, and Andrew cheating on his Fiancee is a pretty awful thing. But the public humiliation and shunning seems so juvenile to me, especially when it’s in a community that’s purpose is to help you move on from the worst mistakes of your life.

  12. Reader with a shared past says

    Where is the continued love of and compassion toward the “sinner”? Where is the consideration that the husband, although certainly not being sensitive to his ex and his children, is still at church, still seeking the teachings of the church? As is his “whorish girlfriend”? (No grossly over-assumptive judgment there.)
    I have a problem when the church wants to get involved in situations such as these because it seems that they take a huge misstep in immediately siding with the “victim” of the sin. It would have been more appropriate to have met with this man and perhaps his new partner in a private meeting to try to understand WHY this man made the huge, life-changing decisions he made. I hardly believe that a man leaves his wife a children “just because.” Or simply because he found himself in love with another person. There’s almost always more to it than that.

    I suppose I must admit here that I recently found out the whys behind my father leaving my mother when I was a child. As an adult with some interesting experiences behind me, the information split me wide open, and *I* needed to repent for making huge assumptions about my father for the past 20+ years that were not true and for carrying a grudge against him for sins that he hadn’t actually committed – sins that I was told by “the church” he had committed.

    If I had been in my father’s shoes when he left my mother, I likely would have done the same thing as he. And I would have expected that the church, if they wanted to involve themselves in my person, private affairs, would do so respectfully and without assumption until they met with me in private. Not the in lobby of the church, immediately reprimanding me, making demands and obviously taking sides.

  13. says

    It’s a non-response kind of response. And that chapter makes me angry – within the first few paragraphs, we have a comment about a “whorish girlfriend.” What a judgmental thing to say! About a woman he doesn’t know, and never saw again! Ugh! (notice it’s a sexual sin he decides to call out, again).
    I see a lot of preaching about repentance and reconciliation from Mars Hill, with MHC seemingly having no idea what reconciliation ACTUALLY means. Treating someone as a pariah is not going to call them to reconcile. It is controlling, and it is not loving.

    The theological arguments are weak, but I’m too tired to go into them piece by piece.

    Ugh, I am so SICK of this empire of a “church.”

      • St. Ralph says

        I’ve got no problem with the term “whorish” in that context, if the details are accurate. An adulterous couple who smooch in the pew in front of the wronged spouse, as if it were “Bring Your Chippie to Church Day,” deserve a strong rebuke.
        However, it’s pretty clear to me that the “discipline” carried out against our pal Andrew doesn’t follow the principles and guidelines that MD himself lays out here.

        • says

          Whoa, whoa, who says they were smooching? And what makes her whorish? By definition, a “whore” is a woman who has sex for money. Calling her “whorish” is an aspersion against her character that is unnecessary and sexist. You don’t hear him call the man equally terrible things. It also flies in the face of Mars Hill’s stance on sexual sin – that the man is responsible because women are the “weaker vessel.” But be the “other woman” in a relationship, and suddenly you’re a whore?
          That’s pretty awful.

          • St. Ralph says

            1) I’m sorry the chapter makes you angry, but if you are going to comment upon it, you should read it in sufficient detail to know what you are talking about. It includes the following sentence: “Apparently not noticing his wife and children seated behind him, the man proceeded to enjoy the sermon, nodding his head and responding with the occasional ‘amen’ while snuggling with his girlfriend and giving her the occasional romantic glance and kiss on the lips.”
            Hence, smooching.

            2) “Whore” has additional meanings and connotations. It can apply to anyone engaged in sexual immorality, whether or not money changes hands.

            3) Point very well taken: Driscoll uses “adulterous” and “whorish” for the woman but doesn’t employ any colorful adjectives for the man. This, I agree, *is* sexist. “Lecherous” and “philandering” could have been put to good use somewhere in the anecdote.

            4) Put yourself in the shoes of the wronged wife (and I’ll try not to make any assumptions here): Hypothetically, let’s say you’re involved in a relationship that was expressly intended to be lifelong and monogamous, but somewhere down the line it falls apart and your partner starts a relationship with a third person before completely putting an end to yours. What terms might you use to describe that third person? If you used them, would that make you sexist?

          • says

            Point 1 conceded, though I’m not entirely sure that Driscoll is above adding in that salacious detail. Additionally, there’s no way he could have known his ex wife could see them. It’s entirely possible that he thought she had stopped attending the church. As it is, we only get a very slanted part of the story.
            I will push back on your point four, however: It is not the wife who describes her as “whorish” but Driscoll, the author of the chapter – which is a point you concede in your point 3, in saying that Driscoll could have added in descriptions to the man, too. As that is the case, the whole “put yourself in her shoes” doesn’t matter, because “whorish” is a term being used by a (supposedly) dispassionate observer, who was not party to the entire situation, did not know the woman, and yet still decided to vilify her in text as a whore. THAT is sexist.

          • St. Ralph says

            Dianna … it’s fine if you don’t want to trust Driscoll’s eyewitness account, but it’s highly statistically improbable that any account invented by a non-eyewitness will end up being more accurate.
            *Of course* the guy didn’t know his ex was watching … that doesn’t make his actions, or his girlfriend’s, any less despicable.

            As for your pushback on point 4 … again, please read the chapter. MD says he witnessed the entire confrontation between the man, his girlfriend, his wife and the kids, in which the man and the girlfriend admitted they were committing adultery. He was in possession of enough facts to justify using the terminology he did. He just didn’t spread the terminology around equitably.

            And anyhow, if I steal your car, are you the only person who gets to call me a thief?

          • St. Ralph says

            Whoops, I said “ex.” She wasn’t his ex, they were still legally married when all this took place. Which is what makes it adultery.
            Why did I say “ex”? Because Dianna introduced the error and I responded too quickly.

            Dianna, that’s three instances now in which you’ve misrepresented what MD wrote … and in one of those instances you try to blame him by suggesting that he made up the “salacious detail.”

            In the process of calling out Driscoll’s unfair treatment of this person or that person, we should make some effort at fair treatment ourselves, 1) to prove that we know what’s fair and what isn’t; and 2) to prevent our black kettles from being marked Return to Sender.

          • kisekileia says

            “Whore” is not a synonym for an adulterer. A “whore” is a prostitute, and it’s a degrading and dehumanizing term to use for anyone. There is zero evidence that this woman was involved in prostitution.

          • says

            I’d like you to take a minute, step back from the nitty gritty details of the debate and think about this: You are currently defending Mark Driscoll calling a woman he does not know, has met for a total of a few minutes, and has never seen again, a whore. Based on a few minutes of fairly one-sided knowledge.
            You’re defending calling someone a whore.

            Look at your life; look at your choices.

          • St. Ralph says

            Anyone, male or female, who commits adultery, is an adulterer, and insofar as “whore” is a synonym for “adulterer,” then anyone, male or female, who commits adultery is also a whore.
            Is that clear enough for you?

          • St. Ralph says

            P.S. Of course it may be irresponsible, inflammatory, uncharitable or unadvisable to use certain terms in certain ways.
            But that doesn’t make it inaccurate.

          • St. Ralph says

            It’s a dictionary drill, is it?
            Try this:

            Or this, if you really want to get into it:

            “Adulteress” is an established secondary meaning of the English word “whore,” and has been for centuries, going all the way back to the ancient Germanic root word.

            Tertullian’s ‘De pudicitia’ is an interesting patristic document on sexual sin and church discipline, which proves, if nothing else, that the exact same debates have been going on within the church from its very beginning:

          • St. Ralph says

            “Adulteress” is an established secondary meaning for the English word “whore,” and has been for centuries, going all the way back to the ancient Germanic root word.
            See here:

            Or, more particularly, here:

            Tertullian’s “De pudicitia” is an interesting patristic work on sexuality and church discipline — which proves, at least, that the same discussions have been going on within the church practically from the beginning:


    • C.R. says

      Dianna, just so you know, I had the exact reaction as you. I couldn’t read past “whorish girlfriend.” I don’t care what horrible things the woman may have done. I cannot believe a christian leader and pastor would use that word even to describe an actual prostitute. Jesus said even to call someone a fool is to deny their humanity. Shame on him.

  14. says

    It just doesn’t add up. The objection (at least mine, anyway) isn’t that they believe in church discipline. If I were a pastor dealing with a husband and father who had cheated on his wife (the example Driscoll begins the sampled chapter with), I would react in much the same way.
    The issue is making someone who screwed up but is clearly remorseful jump through an indefinite series of hoops to “prove” his repentance. The “contract” he was supposed to sign didn’t even have an end date. That is the exact opposite of how church discipline is modeled in the Bible. Whatever it may or may not involve (and I think it’s reading too much into the text to say it involves shunning the person), it’s supposed to stop the minute the person acknowledges their error and seeks restoration.

  15. Clay says

    I read their blog, and a couple of things jump out at me. In the story shared, it’s noble of the pastor mentioned to feel such pain that the family was experiencing, however there’s no love towards the sinful man. This falls in line with Mars Hill’s history of gender inequality, and it’s saddening. The man may have been a seasoned Pastor, but he’s no mental health professional. That kind of blatant adultery certainly should be confronted, but the solution is not “don’t come back to my church, you disgusting sinner.” The problem addressed was a symptom – not the cause. What drove this man to abandon his family? What kind of pain and trauma is trying to be covered up by this guy? And please don’t misunderstand me on this, I’m certainly not saying “his wife drove him away” but rather that there were events in his life leading up to this, whether it’s a childhood trauma or adult patterns of unhealthy behavior. This guy needs therapy, heck his whole family needs counseling, but the Pastor’s response shouldn’t be the example. If everyone who was living a life of sin was turned away, that would be an empty church. My own church understands this tension. We have convicted sex offenders who come every weekend, and they’re made aware that we know who they are, and they’re very welcome to be part of our community, with boundaries established (not being allowed in areas with children or students, etc..). Mars Hill really makes me sick in a lot of things, but I feel sad more than anything else in this situation. Not cool, you guys.

  16. Jobu says

    Feels like a classic deflection to me. “We don’t want to comment on the allegations being brought against us because its a private matter.” Sounds more like a “No Comment” than a response.

    • DYMongoose says

      Seems to me more like they view church discipline as “church discipline” rather than public discipline and are trying to keep private whatever may still be that way.

      • Deana Holmes says

        Broadcasting it to the entire church on the entire internal “City” website, however, really pushes it out there. If something like that had been published about me to a website with thousands of potential viewers, when I am no longer a member of MH, I’d be paying an attorney several hundred dollars to send a sharply worded letter about libel to MH leadership. And, for the record, I actually DO know what this is like, because a certain space-alien cult has, for over a decade, had a website declaring me and a few dozen of my friends to be “religious bigots.” And, also for the record, I (and the others) have never sued because suing $cientology is just a great way to throw money away.

  17. says

    John 1:14 Says that Jesus was full of Truth AND Grace. We are called to be like Christ. Yes, their response and the idea of church discipline appears to be biblically founded, but where is the grace in all of this? Where is the mercy? For those who are forgiven much, forgive much. I’m really disappointed in hearing this story. I’m disappointed that this man did the bravest thing anyone caught in sexual sin could ever do – repent openly to his leaders and his fiance – and he was met with harshness. The very act of coming clean – to anyone – shows the man was repentant in his heart. Is it any wonder our churches are having a difficult time handling sexual sin? I’m really disheartened by this situation. The most Jesus said to anyone is “Go and Sin No More.” He didnt follow them around micromanaging their every move. He gave a commandment and trusted those who were truly repentant would adhere to it.
    As Jesus said, “Those who love me will obey my commands.” Full of Truth
    “Come all who are weary and I will give you rest.” Full of Grace.

  18. Sally says

    That was an unbelievably long chapter about discipline. There were a few things that jumped out at me: Step 3 lists a bunch of ‘false’ repentances…..who is to judge if they are false? True repentance is a heart issue. They have no idea if Andrew or anyone else has a self-righteous repentance or anything else.
    I’m curious as to what they think restitution is for this specific instance. It seems like he already apologized. It’s a deed he can’t take back….should he marry his fiancee to prove he’s committed to her? Then that would force her into a marriage she doesn’t want….I don’t even get that part of it.

    #4 under sword-wielding – that doesn’t deter people from sinning; it just makes them want to hide it. Being in love with Jesus and having his vision for the world is what should deter us from sinning, not avoiding punishment.

    The list of cases where church discipline is exercised under ‘theology of discipline’ seems INSANE!!!!!!!
    I thought church discipline was supposed to be for really serious sins…doctrine debater? really? sincere but deceived? (someone should mail them a black kettle!!!) teacher in doctrinal error? not consistently in community? What if you’re a single mother who has to work all the time? Promotes legalism!!!!! ……there are no words.

    That is just a huge long process with lots of explanations and it seems like they can apply it to any situation they want, and they admit that it is not confidential and they might tell the whole church. That seems like an invitation to abuse. Unbelievable.

  19. says

    Boy, how did I just hear about the latest twist in the soap opera world of Mark Driscoll? Why is it that the leaders of the church seem to think that they know better ways to do God’s job?
    I for one, am thrilled that my God, and my savior, doesn’t make me “prove” my repentance. There is no 5 Step Path to forgiveness, it is a 1 man path to repentance, taken care of, I don’t need to do anything. Thank goodness for that, because I know that’s something that’d I’d screw up…much like these church leaders.

  20. says

    the chapter quoted from mark’s book suggests church discipline is exercised in some cases it lists which it says have examples found in Scripture. i’ve picked a couple of the cases it lists to illustrate [see the comments in brackets after the rule] how many – maybe almost all christians should – according to these rules – be under church discipline
    1) When a Christian continually blasphemes God [so any texts or post with OMG go to the back of the class]

    2) When a Christian refuses to obey civil laws [anybody out there not broken a speed restriction or no right turn sign?]

    • WenatcheeTheHatchet says

      Does anyone have electrical work in their home that doesn’t quite live up to city zoning requirements for that matter?

    • Phronsie says

      To your bracketed #2 comment: Yup. I haven’t.
      To the first: Quite honestly, in my opinion, if you’re a Christian you shouldn’t use language like that because it should be abhorrent to you. I know I don’t because that kind of language, including the acronym given, make me cringe. The closer you are to God, the farther you are from sin because well, it repulses you.

  21. says

    “…all of whom have voluntarily agreed to this prior to becoming members.”
    So. In order to become a member at Mars Hill Church, one must sign a commitment to have one’s sin posted on a public community website, should a pastor deem that vital as a means of church discipline? Gotcha.

    “At the heart of the process is our deep belief that church discipline is about the grace of God, not penance.”

    Because a good shunning is ALL about grace. Gotcha.

    Despite stopping the act mid-act, despite confessing to his fiancee and dealing with the aftermath and consequences of all of that — Andrew is being treated like some sort of deviant sexual predator.

    So what we’re really saying here is that salvation is a free gift from Jesus — no, wait. It’s already been predetermined whether or not you get that gift when you are born.

    Allow me to rephrase. Ahem.

    Salvation is a free gift bestowed upon us when we are born, and Andrew needs to glorify God by submitting to all of the rules and regulations of Mars Hill pastors, mainly because of his total human depravity.

    This must mean that Mars Hill pastors aren’t human and somehow supercede Andrew because, after all, they are selling some serious books out there. They can’t possibly be as deviant as all that. Why, they are spiritual giants…while Andrew? Well, he’s expendable. Unless, of course, he submits to being a second-class citizen for the rest of his Christian life.

    And he did volunteer for this, you know. To be the Mars Hill equivalent of Hester Prynne? Who wouldn’t?

    Interesting how Mark Driscoll doesn’t answer this himself. He’s probably busy, what with training for his next theological cage match and all.

    I contend that salvation is a free gift from God and God alone. There’s no need for anyone to broker the deal or to sell you on some sort of bogus extended warranty plan.

    For the Andrews out there who are hurting because of this kind of authoritarian hogwash, there’s always a place for you at my table. Peace.

    For the rest of Mars Hill? No one has the right to hold you spiritually hostage with some commitment you made at the start. No one signs up for spiritual abuse. If you need help, there are lots of us out here willing to help.

    Andie Redwine
    Producer/Writer, “Paradise Recovered”

    • kisekileia says

      Agreed! It is always okay and justified to get out of an abusive situation, even if you signed something that made it easier for the other party to abuse you.

  22. Becklaw says

    wow-so I assume they are also able then to “rank” sins based on what they deem worse and then act accordingly? I’m pretty sure we are ALL sinners in need of a Savior. Sin is sin. It’s biblical. And Christ came to die for ALL. We all will one day answe to Him and give account. Shame on churches,leaders, whomever, for judging and condemning-showing no grace and love.

  23. jacob says

    We are all aware that there’s a difference in saying “im sorry” and stopping a behavior and repentance, right? Everyone keeps saying Andrew was “clearly” repentant. Nothing is clear, to me, because Andrew was the only person in the room. I think its probably wise to not assume anything about the situation as we weren’t there. I think an appropriate response would be more along the lines of praying for the whole situation, and that if members of Mars Hills staff acted incorrectly they would be corrected by the spirit.
    A big problem is there is a huge culture that has decided Mark Driscoll and his church is evil and that doesn’t allow any rational evaluation of the situation at all.

      • jacob says

        Seriously? That’s an example of Mark being a bully? What exactly does he say in that video that is incorrect? Its wrong for him to be filled with anger in response to seeing men sit in his church, just to go home and abuse their wives mentally, emotionally, and physically?
        What about when Jesus was angry in the temple and threw tables, and cracked a whip at people for doing things He thought were dishonorable to God? I don’t see how that video demonstrates anything wrong. Thinking something is wrong about a pastor raising his voice about such an issue is exactly why its dangerous to view Jesus as this feather haired hippy.

        • says

          I think that it is interesting to assume that I see Jesus as a feather-haired hippie when I seriously question Mark Driscoll referring to his rant as being from the Holy Spirit. Black-white thinking, anyone?
          Jesus threw some tables. He cracked a whip. He didn’t scream at people, then soften, tell them he loved them, and then pass a collection plate just to even the score.

          He didn’t shame people for their sin. He rebuked the people throwing stones. Perhaps the pastor needs to revisit that bit of scripture.

          Jesus was gentle with broken people. He saved his wrath for religious abusers.

          As an aside, Driscoll just announced in book form that God gives him visions about his wife that includes her premarital dalliances:

          “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. 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.”

          He’s willing to share this kind of stuff about his wife (and for me, the dream sequence from God is a little suspect) with the general public. HOW DARE HE?

          Apparently, his own wife isn’t immune from his tirades.

          He paints himself as some sort of feminist. That’s the funny part to me.

          • Steve says

            Don’t forget the part where he blames her for “withholding sex” from him, although it is clear that she is dealing with some serious emotional stuff.

          • jacob says

            To sit in church week after week and continue to behave the way the people he was referring to do is hardly an example of broken people. He wasn’t talking to that first time visitor. He was speaking to the people that attend his church regularly and remain in their sin. Those people have no excuse to do so, as they have heard the truth. To be living a life of sin and take communion without repentance is wrong, and I think that’s a fairly widely accepted idea. Those were the people he was talking to.
            As for his book: his wife wrote the book with him. I would imagine they prayed and discussed the matter and decided it was worth sharing. That’s different than commenting on something going on in the church that involves other people.

          • brendon says

            And why are his visions and prophetic words so often sexual in nature? The part in his book where he recounts having to do premarital or marriage counseling and being forced to listen to the woman’s sexual history and then having to return hometo his frigid wife?! WTF!! There are so many things wrong there. Or in the “Can we…?” chapter, it is implied that if you don’t learn about porn, you are either a prude, a rube, or you don’t care about reaching people. Wow. I have never been a fan of MD, mostly because he comes across as a bully, but this book and this “church discipline” fiasco seem to show a person who is much worse than a simple bully. I am also concerned about this because although I have never seen any of this behavior at my church, our pastor has a very close relationship with MD.

          • says

            Yeah, I’m even more concerned about his wife’s mental health if she “co-wrote” the book with him. It’s awfully one-sided. Maybe she did so out of “submission” as a way to be “transparent.”
            Or maybe MD is just a jackass who likes the sound of his own voice.

            And if dude is this sexually explicit and angry in public, just imagine what he’s like in private.

          • Red says

            “A big problem is there is a huge culture that has decided Mark Driscoll and his church is evil and that doesn’t allow any rational evaluation of the situation at all.”
            The thing is, many of the people in this culture are people that have past experience with, or knowledge of, spiritual abuse. They all identify Mark Driscoll/Mars Hill as having the hallmarks of a spiritual abuser.

            If people who are knowledgeable of abuse see those signs in someone, isn’t it completely rational to want to bring that to the attention of the general Christian community? Yes, it’s always good to pray rather than slander, but when someone continually shows signs of being harmful, is it okay to sit back and do nothing indefinitely? Not everyone who is practicing spiritual abuse will be changed overnight by the Holy Spirit, not without confrontation from Christian brothers and sisters.

            I don’t think you give enough credit to those who are seeing serious red flags with Mars Hill.

          • Phronsie says

            And, honestly, I don’t think most of the people here have heard his preaching every week so we don’t know if he’s this way all the time or not. Notice that not all his stuff gets around, just the stuff that most people don’t like? Sorry, just because he doesn’t preach a fluffy word doesn’t make him a spiritual abuser.

          • brendon says

            The phrase “spiritual abuse” does not strictly come from MD’s preaching; it is plainly seen in how they dealt with Andrew. His preaching is another issue.

            Nice misdirect, though.

          • Melanie says

            They only put in the book that which they both approved of. Don’t speak on behalf of someone’s wife who you don’t know. REally? That’s not respectufl

          • Jason says

            In his first sermon based on Real Marriage he said that it’s been many years since this sin came to light in their marriage, and he never talked about it publicly. She was the one that decided to finally let the story be told, and he wrote about it with her. In fact, in this sermon he refused to say what the sin was because it was “her story to tell”.
            And for what it’s worth, he spent a lot of time talking about how inappropriate his reaction was to it, and how their marriage became stagnant because of his bitterness. It may have been her sin to begin with, but it was largely his sinful attitude that kept them from growing closer to each other. He even said that in those years of bitterness his teaching leaned more towards the chauvinistic, and apologized to the church for it.

            Of course, most people on here probably still think of him as a chauvinist but oh well.

  24. Steve says

    >”all of whom have voluntarily agreed to this prior to becoming members.”
    That’s bullshit. None of them had a clear idea what they were getting themselves into. Yes, they knew some of the theology, but not how it plays out in practice. They may have known some of the control structures, but hardly the full extent of them. Andrew certainly had no idea he would be treated like this for such a relatively minor infraction.

    And that’s deliberately. Cults don’t tell people the entire extent of their teachings and how they work until people are sucked in so deeply that they can’t easily leave. They entice people with fun activities, but keep their true face hidden. Then the slowly reveal their nature step by small step, or keep the truth just out of sight.

  25. Vince says

    Gotta say I’m glad you posted Mars Hills response. I’m probably a bit of an odd ball on here as I am a daily reader of the MPT blog (it’s part of my morning routine) and have two of his books, but I also frequently listen to sermons from Mars Hill & Mark Driscoll and have several of his books.
    While over zealous & legalistic discipline does exist (I’ve seen it and experienced it) I have yet to hear anything from Mars Hill that would lead me to believe that this is their MO. No church is perfect, each one is made up of messed up humans. Church leaders (pastors) will be held accountable by God on judgement days to how they treated their flock.

    I’m a former PK, graduated high school from an independent, fundamental, pre-milleneal, KJV only, tapered hair will get you into heaven, rock & roll is from hell, stay 6 inches away from girls, Bob Jones is the only college,prison. I’ve seen the good, bad, and ugly in churches and the older I get (39+10months) the more I realize that each one of us is a bad decision away from screwing up our lives or doing the same to someone else.

    We must walk in grace, mercy, and humility each day, be in community with those who know and love us so that they along with our leaders can hold us accountable. That is true church discipline. Excommunication is a last resort and was only meant to happen after many attempts to bring a person to true repentance. The emotional pain of excommunication ( being cut off from your community) was a lost resort, and would also cause the community to weep, pray, and cry out to God for their lost friend.

    Sorry for rambling on a bit. I love MPT & I love Mars Hill. I hope both will continue to fill their role in the Kingdom for years to come.

    PS….MPT, I live in Knoxville, just down the road from Pigeon Forge. Would love to meet you sometime.

  26. lizfentondecker says

    I read the response & their lengthy view of church discipline. I’ve read other churches view & steps for restoration. And that’s a big problem. Church discipline is mentioned in scripture. There are other scriptures that leaders can add to their view point. Each church sets their own standard for how, when, who & their steps for restoration. Because scripture does not clearly write out steps1, 2, 3, 4-this leaves actions & reactions up to a pastor/leader of staff. ** If something is to be learned from the most recent exposure of ‘church discipline’ it’s this- When even considering attending any church regularly, find out in print what their view is. What their ‘steps’ to restoration. are. You are under someones’s authority ONLY if you willingly place yourself under their authority. BE CAREFUL. If you leave a church because you don’t agree with their steps & actions, they can try to label you anything they what to whatever church you would like to try with again. PLEASE BE CAREFUL!**Also find out what protection is in place for a congregant to bring a grievance against a leader/elder. Most church offer no protection so no one ever confronts a pastor.

  27. Matt says

    Does anyone have a comment on the kids character that came out with all of this stuff?
    From the beginning it was clearly explained to him that church discipline is an in-house process. And yet, his story is on a blog that is run by a guy that lives in Nashville, TN.

    Adding a wrong onto another wrong doesnt make a right…. Right?

    • Mike Ward says

      Your attitude is common and allows abuse to continue in many places. Those who speak up are criticized for speaking up. I think it is called the “don’t tell rule”. The result is that many people suffer in silence rather than face the scorn of people like you.

      • Matt says

        Suffer? Is this gentleman really suffering?

        Facing scorn from people like me?

        It seems that you are jumping to some ridiculous conclusions about me and my positions.

        Church discipline is biblical and it is an “in house” practice. If Mars Hill was literally causing someone harm I would certainly blow the whistle on them.

        Will I give the benefit of the doubt to Mars Hill over a guy that intentionally broke what he committed to when he became a part of the church? Yes.

        I dont even agree with how Mars Hill has handled this situation, but I am certainly not being absurd about it as many on this thread. To me, it seems the gentleman was repentant and should be reconciled with his church. Im not sure why Mars Hill hasnt done this. But let us also be clear, no abuse is going on.

        • Steve says

          There are way over a dozen blogs dedicated to Driscoll and Mars Hill and how people were hurt there.
          There are therapists who practically specialize in healing people from spiritual abuse. It seems there are even ones who specialize on people who left specific churches.

          Doesn’t tell this tell you that there is something wrong going on there?

          • Noelle says

            Well, since you obviously have extensive training in psychology and sociology, let’s hear your definition. I would hate to think my education has been remiss on this topic. Go on, reality check me.

          • brendon says

            Matt –
            1st, I’m going to make to assumptions: 1. You are a Christian, and 2. You have sinned. If either of those are not true, feel free to ignore the rest.

            If those 2 things are true, how would you feel if you were forced to give a detailed account of every time you’ve sinned in relation to sin X? I know we don’t know both sides of the story, but I don’t care how unrepentant you are: that kind of controlling, manipulative ABUSE is not biblical! And it is especially humiliating and degrading given the sexual nature of the sin. Do these leaders qget off on reading everyone’s sordid, sinful past? Is it like some “letters to Playboy” thing?

            I am going to assume that you

          • brendon says

            Oops got cutoff…
            I am also going to assume that you dislike the negative attention being on Driscoll? While I can believe that he did not have any direct involvement with Andrew, he is the public face, and he has created (and proudly promoted) this ABUSIVE environment.

        • kisekileia says

          “Is this gentleman really suffering?” What the fuck are you smoking? Matthew lost his fiancee and his entire church community, with which he was deeply involved! He’d have to be a robot to not suffer from that! If you honestly think that the way Andrew was treated was likely not painful for him, you have no understanding of human nature whatsoever.

          • Dogselur says

            I would disagree on this point, Andrew didn’t ‘lose’ his fiancee, he gave her up when he messed up. He cheated, not her.

          • WenatcheeTheHatchet says

            If Andrew and his fiancee were already having sex I don’t think the beginning of Andrew’s trouble was the cheating part as being at Mars Hill goes.

        • randplaty says

          How is it an “in house” process? Where in the bible does it say it’s an in-house process? The church in Jesus’ time was an informal name for all of the believers. ALL OF THE BELIEVERS. How is it an in house process? Where do you even get that unbiblical idea.
          This matter wasn’t even taken before Driscoll himself. None of the church members had the opportunity to decide for themselves whether or not this guy was repentant. Even if it was an in house process, they clearly went against Christ’s teachings one way or another.

    • says

      As someone who knows the family that Andrew comes from (and who has spoken to Andrew personally): How DARE you imply 1. that Andrew has bad character simply because he wanted to go public with his story of hurt and pain. The fact that he was willing to talk about it and willing to share the story of something that was extremely hurtful to him is character enough. And you’re implying 2. That some defect in character on Andrew’s part would be enough to justify the way he was treated.
      Andrew reached out to MPT because MPT has a larger platform and a voice. Due to his church setting up legalistic, voyeuristic, and, yes, abusive, rules between him and his Jesus, Andrew lost his church community and his friends. How DARE you imply that he somehow DESERVED that.

      • Dogselur says

        A repentant person is a humble person.A repentant person is someone who is done hiding, and would be open about it all. ( even the old history)
        I would expect a humble person to be willing to put themselves under authority and open to scrutiny in an effort to show their community that they own their stuff.
        Acts 26:20
        “First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and then to the Gentiles, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds.”

        Andrew’s humility would be really evident if he had been willing to allow those in authority over him to gently lead him through accountability and restitution of the hurt he caused.

        • Deana Holmes says

          Erm, no. This is crap. You’re telling Andrew and others that they have to just sit there and take the abuse without complaint. Did you even read the discipline contract? I did. It was all performance-based–on Andrew’s side–and there was no indication of when the repentance process would be complete, if ever. Plus, the demand that he write down all of his sexual sins is simply voyeuristic. It’s no surprise to me to see over and over in this discussion a comparison of what Mars Hill requested Andrew do with what Scientology asks of its “parishioners,” and it’s an apt comparison.
          Earth to Mark Driscoll: Your church is being equated to a notorious space-alien cult and the comparison is DESERVED.

          • says

            NOT TO MENTION that writing a detailed account of all of his sexual “sins” throughout his life, seems to me, would present a HUGE “stumbling block” both to him and to the group of men reading it.Hell, now that I think of it, maybe I’ll write the details of all my sexual encounters just for fun. 🙂

        • kisekileia says

          That’s BS. Just because someone’s repentant doesn’t mean they’re okay with their private business being blasted to all and sundry. It sounds to me like you have accepted church officials violating appropriate boundaries in a way that you really shouldn’t be accepting.

      • Drew says

        Hopefully you are letting Andrew know that there is a community of people who cares about him and supports him in the healing process. I’m sure he’s having a lot of trouble with the idea that his friends and neighbors are withholding their love, and I hope he’s able to land back on his feet.

  28. never-been-to-MH says

    Watch what you sign, what you agree to.
    If you don’t like the contract, don’t join a Mars Hill Church. APPARENTLY, it’s laid out in the membership process.

    “Buyer beware.”

    • kisekileia says

      The “membership covenant” is not at all clear about what Mars Hill’s idea of “church discipline” entails. If a person signs it with the sort of presumption of good faith that most people have when dealing with churches, it’s never going to enter their head that the church might be as abusive as Mars Hill is.

    • AR says

      A little disheartening considering that many people who become members may be new believers who don’t even understand what they’re signing. Thank God it’s not legally binding. I hope.

      • Steve says

        There is also the simple fact that such churches have zero interest in explaining all that stuff in detail up front. They may couch in seemingly harmless terminology, but if they fully explained everything they did, fewer people would join. It’s far better for them to suck them in slowly and then reveal everything when it comes up or when people are so far in that it’s not so easy to just walk away

      • kisekileia says

        Exactly. Lots of people are naive. That book chapter is full of dogwhistles and mindfuckery that most people who are not spiritual abuse survivors and/or really excellent critical thinkers would not question. It would never enter most people’s heads that a church would do some of the egregiously horrible things Mars Hill has laid out deep within that book chapter, long after most people would have stopped reading. Being naive is bad, but it doesn’t mean one deserves abuse.

  29. James in Stumptown says

    That is a careful and decent response. Mars Hill is a busy place. Thinking about this all week, I am sure MHC know they could have handled this much better with Andrew. That said, MHC interpretations and positions don’t leave them much room for non-grace when living out there convictions. Andrew was already falling in line and his Community Leader and the Pastor over-seeing both guys (who also happen to write up the contract) is the guy who needs to go sit down in Mark’s office and get this righted. Even if its not my kind of grace practiced, MHC can do better in their practice.

    • says

      I agree with it being a careful response. Decent? Not so much.
      I’ve been a pastor at a well-oiled church, and everything is shined up through a strong political-filtering system. The response I saw is damage control, with no sign of admittance of any oversight or misunderstanding.
      Maybe I need to read it again, but to me, it lacked empathy to the situation at hand as well as any kind of apology that any person in their church would be hurt/abused in any way.

      I do appreciate your willingness to see another side to this incident as it’s more popular to act outraged on this forum.

  30. Jennifer says

    This makes me want to throw up. How would everyone like their sin posted on the internet (whether to a “Christian” community board or not)? How about a church contract requiring all members to turn over their financial records to the church to ensure they are giving and tithing properly according to scripture? Why is the church always so quick to jump on sexual sin but throw their big welcoming arms around those who hoard obscene amounts of material wealth? Between purity balls for 10-year-olds focusing on their virginity to church leaders who can’t stop talking about homosexuality, the church has become more sexually-focused than a teenage boy on prom night. And this is exactly what Satan wants…All of us focusing on ridiculousness and laying down our own version of the law so that we are distracted from our responsibility to reflect the love, grace, mercy and forgiveness that has been freely given to broken, fallen sinners like me.
    The goal of this exercise for Mars Hill leadership was shame, humiliation, embarassment and removal of fellowship all as a method of control. Disgusting.

    I pray for all of those who have fallen under the spell of sinister and dangerous men who purport to “lead” the church. Talk about “wolves.”

    • Steve says

      Sex is simply a great way to control people. Everyone has sexual thoughts. It’s something totally natural and involuntary. So making up thought crimes (like finding someone sexually attractive) or even just punishing harmless things like masturbation, is a sure way to create sinners. Then you tell them you have the cure, but knowing perfectly well that they will “sin” again, you can be sure that they will be back soon enough. Instilling such intense guilt in people is also a way to break them down mentally and makes them easier to manipulate in other areas

  31. Mary says

    I’m sorry, and I don’t mean to offend anyone, but this is what happens when you take an ancient collection of allegories, legends, letters, and morality tales and try to apply 8 or 10 specific sentences from that collection to a situation involving adult human beings. It’s like forcing someone to eat a recipe . . . the recipe is not the food.
    I go to church. I love going to church, except for the times when someone gets carried away with their interpretation of the bible. The point of church is to make meaning in your life, which is done by forming and nurturing honest relationships, by holding yourself to standards in every area of your life, and by practicing stewardship of the goods and places you’re privileged to enjoy.

    This story is about one thing, and that is an attempt to exercise control that failed. It’s remarkable how many things in the Driscoll church world are about sexuality, isn’t it?

  32. Atticus Finch says

    Reading through their response “Church Discipline in the Bible”, you can’t help but notice the over-emphasis of doctrine & theology. Their post is over 8,000 words and only 21 of those words is the word love or a variation of it. At Mars Hill, it’s not about love, but about conformity, control and forcing repentance/confession through the tool of church discipline (social pressure). If you “err in doctrine” or “not consistent in community” “as determined by the elder team”, then you place yourself in the position of church discipline. Mars Hill operates as an authoritarian regime who “wield’s the sword of discipline” as a fear and manipulation tactic.

    • Steve says

      It’s Calvinism. A theology that has always taken everything to ridiculous extremes. It’s fundamentally inhuman in just about every aspect of its teachings

    • Phronsie says

      Interesting to note that Paul (you know, the guy from the Bible) preached more on what would happen to those who were unrepentant of their sins and didn’t follow God than he did on the combined topics of God’s forgiveness, heaven, and mercy. What does that make him?

  33. Jonathan Foutz says

    “Thus, corrective or restorative discipline is never to be done in a harsh, vengeful, or self-righteous manner. It is always to be carried out in humility and love, with the goal of restoring someone to a closer walk with Christ.”
    In this bit from Mark’s chapter on discipline, Mark seems to have the right idea. In the very least, he says the right thing. One of the problems here is that Andrew was not treated with respect. His leaders were not humble, in fact, they were self-righteous and harsh.

    I went to Mars Hill for a few years at a couple of the campuses in Seattle – Ballard and West Seattle – and the one of the reasons I left was because of two or three situations where a leader took the limits of his own authority beyond what is godly and good. Thankfully, I didn’t have any interactions with any of the pastors like this, but one of my close friends went through a really rough year after being accused of having the “sin of pride” and was subsequently kicked out MH. To be honest, my friend probably was a little prideful, but because of the pastor’s pride, the situation escalated out of control. I would say that the campus pastor’s were just as much to blame as my friend.

    Looking back, it’s easy to blame Mark. But I think doing that is really glazing over some of the more complex issues. Blaming Mark for every issue in the church is like blaming President Obama for every issue in America: he’s culpable, but putting everything on his shoulders is pretty silly. I mean, MH church, just in the Northwest alone, probably has ten thousand members or more. Hundreds of issues occur every day that Mark can’t see or deal with.

    However, that being said, this sort of issue keeps on happening on different campuses with separated communities. It seems to me that even though Mark isn’t to blame for every problem in the church he started, his preaching seems to create the kind of environment that fosters this sort of behavior. I listened to him preach live for about two years and I have to say that he oversimplifies and understates complex truths on a regular basis. He has many good qualities and I have to admit that he has been a much-needed, strong voice in the lives of many young men around the Seattle area. But these young men that he affects seem to take what he says and make it ultimate truth, becoming “Driscollians” or “Driscollites” in the process.

    I think this is partly because of marketing and how churches are run like businesses in general in America – not to encourage discipleship and intimacy, but to put butts in the seats and increase numbers. I can’t tell you how many times I heard Mark talk aboout how many people got saved or how many people are in the church or how many he hopes to have in the church in the future. The focus seemed to be – at least to a lay person like me – on quantity, not quality. His stark messge brought the young men running from their fatherless homes in droves.

    The worst part about all this is that the outside world and the church outside of MH has no voice or input in the process. Because of MH’s authoritarian take on leadership. Other Christians might have a good thing to say to Mark or other leaders, something to challenge them a little so they can grow and be better pastors, but they won’t have it. In fact, a lot of these problems arise at MH because of people questioning leadership. So, what now?

    I’m personally at a loss. I see this issue happening all around me – I still have a lot of friends at MH – and feel sort of lost. I pray for Mark and I pray for the leaders there and I pray for the congregates, but sometimes the actions of that church are sort of cultish and it scares me. MH is full of people who love Jesus, so what comes after signing “repentance contracts”? How many people have to suffer before this gets any better?

    • A.E. Forst says

      Part of the problem you lay out, all of it falling back on Mark Driscoll, is legitimately a problem, but one created by the man himself. He reduced the size of his board, somewhat controversial. Member get few if any votes and elders are appointed by Driscoll and his cronies. He doesn’t even let the pastors at other campuses preach in their own churches. The buck stops with him because he demanded that it be so.

    • WenatcheeTheHatchet says

      Jonathan, I was at Mars from 1999-2008 and, yeah, what you’re describing is what I saw happening. And, yeah, I agree that there are some people who assume EVERYTHING is Driscoll’s doing like he’s some puppet master pulling the strings of every campus pastor or community group leader even though he probably doesn’t even show up to a campus most of the time except to preach these days. He has assistants screen his email and only forward stuff that’s important but somehow some folks imagine Driscoll knows when a sparrow falls at the West Seattle campus and approves its death.
      The lack of any external accountability has been a dangerous issue with mars hill for possibly as long as they cut any ties they had to Antioch Bible Church, which I think they used to have some connection to at some point.

    • kisekileia says

      Mars Hill has a huge structural problem with how it does discipline. Any two elders can serve as a discipline court. There’s no oversight and no appeal process. The process is highly conducive to abuse. But the thing is, Mark Driscoll runs the church. He set up this discipline process. The fact that the church’s discipline structure lends itself to abuse is ultimately his fault.

  34. says

    I told my story Wednesday on the Wartburg Watch. You can read it and TWW analysis here:



    I do not know if MHC response took my story into account or if it was only a response to Andrew’s story. But I wanted to share here because the response explained some of the unanswered questions we did not have.

    In our particular instance, our “sin” was notifying our leader and co-community group members that we were leaving and that we felt we were meant to go elsewhere. We attended for 4 months and did not become members. Reading their document it is clear that they followed there church discipline policy, complete with shunning (although we were not lucky enough to have a friend share that with us) because we had legitimate questions about the doctrine, none of which we shared due to our right to privacy and not wanting to be “divisive”.

    So we did NOT “sign up” for this treatment. We did NOT do anything that the bible calls sin (the list of sins in Driscoll’s chapter are a riot). And when you do membership, they do not pull out this chapter and explain it to you. I encourage you to read MHC membership covenant (links are in my story).

    • Sarah says

      “When challenged, often does not fly, especially if challenged by me (a woman, with a Bible in my hand)”
      THanks for sharing your story. This was my experience precisely.

    • Angie says

      I just read your post, and I am really feeling lucky that I got out of that church when I did. I got the willies reading about your experience, and my heart goes out to you. I can’t believe there aren’t more people calling for him to be shut down.

  35. says

    Matthew, I’m glad you included Mars Hill’s lost on your blog well done.
    Here’s the thing that I keep coming back to. Just because Andrew says that things went down a certain way, doesn’t mean it’s true. He’s upset and let’s not forget that his deceptions played a role in all of this to begin with. It’s hard to believe that someone who was willing to deceive others in one situation is suddenly a paragon of honesty and truth.

    Proverbs 18:17 is well worth reading in this situation:

    The first to plead his case seems right,
    Until another comes and examines him. (Proverbs 18:17 NASB)

    It’s only fair to give MH the benefit of the doubt until you hear from the people involved in this case. If you are interested in helping Andrew deal with this I would suggest that you go with him back to Mars Hill and meet with the people directly involved in this situation. Find out why they seem to think that he’s not really repentant. Talk to them and encourage him to do the same. He doesn’t have to go it alone, but I don’t believe he’ll be restored until he deals with these folks. Maybe you could help him do that.

      • randplaty says

        I agree that they should meet up with the Mars Hill pastors regarding this issue. Andrew should consult some local pastors and get a meeting with the Mars Hill pastor or pastors.
        The way that this case has been presented with actual documents from Mars Hill is pretty serious. If the 2nd document was unaltered by Andrew, then Mars Hill is in trouble because that 2nd document is in violation of Matthew 18. The pastors have no authority to excommunicate. It is the church as a whole (the entire group of believers in the city) that have the authority to excommunicate. The pastors have no right and no authority to instruct the entire church to excommunicate a sinner. None of the other church members were given the opportunity to investigate the case, determine if he was truly repentant or faking it or anything else. Why are the pastors at Mars Hill usurping the authority that Christ gave to the entire body of believers? There’s a reason why Jesus said to bring 2 or 3 and then moved up to a larger body, the entire church. Because the judgement of a larger body of believers is more reliable. When Driscoll writes that the church discipline process is given to a committee within his church and is not handled by him personally, that is explicitly against the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 18.

        This is ignoring the fact that Matthew 18 is really referring to the entire body of believers in the city… including other pastors and elders. Mars Hill should have consulted other pastors and elders within their city.

        Unless Andrew has specifically altered or forged that 2nd document, Mars Hill’s disciplinary process is unbiblical. I try to remain neutral and that’s why pastors should go with Andrew to speak to the pastor who wrote the letter, but it is extremely hard for me to believe that the 2nd document is a forgery.

        • Melanie says

          Man, first it should not have been made public when it was really was not and now the solution is to tell everyone. Stand him up in front of fifteen thousand people adn express his sin.

          • Angie says

            And if you haven’t noticed, standing him up in front of 15,000 people and making this public is eliciting a mixed response. The only responses in favor of what they’ve done come from fundies and Mars Hill members.
            First off, he is excommunicated from Mars Hill Incorporated, not the universal church. He is not excommunicated from God, nor is his name stricken from the book of life. The problem is, Mars Hill Incorporated have proclaimed they are rightfully the as judge and executioner of Andrew and have left Jesus out of it. Several here believe that Andrew did show signs of repentance and attempts at resolving his problem – truth is, the only ones that know if he is truly repentant are Andrew and God.

            Secondly, It’s out of line to order their members to ‘excommunicate’ him – this behavior is not only ‘wrong’ on a very biblical basis, but also on a humanistic level – it’s spiritual abuse, which is ABUSE. They could have banned him from serving, from teaching, from receiving $$$ help or assistance from the business – but to order other members to not talk to him and to turn away from him is the most disgusting and unchristian thing in the world.

            Thirdly, the people that attend Mars Hill Incorporated and have turned their backs on someone in his time of need (that by the way used to volunteer his time to help them and serve them) should be ashamed. Just because a “PASTOR” says something, does not mean it comes from God or that it is biblical. God will not say in the end, “You ran a good race, even though you ignored me the whole time and listened to every random person who claimed to speak in my name.” Running a good race means that you negotiate obstacles, compete fairly, and keep on track even when others have drawn and followed a chalk line into outer space (or to Mars Hill) and call it “the track”. Read your bible. Go through and read passages about adulterers. Compare what Jesus did and what God said with what Mars Hill is doing and tell me they are the same thing. They are not. Yes, Melanie – pray for your pastors but don’t support abuse and false doctrine. And there is not a church building/denomination/pastor on this Earth that is doing things exactly the way God has intended, so if you think Mars Hill is a representation of what God had in mind for a community of believers, think very hard. I don’t have the answers either, but I know this is not how Jesus and his disciples treated sinners and other Christians.

    • kisekileia says

      Andrew didn’t deceive anyone. He owned up to cheating on his fiancee right away. Mars Hill commented, and they didn’t say anything that actually refuted what Andrew said. We also have other evidence on this–if you google “Mars Hill spiritual abuse”, you will find many stories of other people who were treated very similarly to Andrew, often for much lesser offenses. The other evidence regarding Mars Hill’s typical behaviour is enough to make it clear that Andrew is probably telling the truth.

    • WenatcheeTheHatchet says

      I guess that for a pastor who found out from his future son-in-law that his son-in-law was sexually active with his daughter or stepdaughter that would “feel” like deception. But Andrew not telling other people besides his fiancee that the two of them were sexually active is not deceit. Deceit would be if they were interrogated on the subject and lied in some way. Now if Andrew had lied then we don’t know that the fiancee didn’t also lie. I don’t think we should assume either Andrew or the pastor’s daughter he was engaged to and having sex with were lying.
      There’s nothing from either MH or Andrew that appears to be deceptive to me but what I would suggest was a problem in the entire disciplinary process is that if Andrew were a member at Ballard and engaged to the daughter of a pastor working at Ballard there were automatically systemic problems in place. It would be impossible for campus pastors at Ballard to enact a disciplinary procedure that could avoid being influenced by nepotism, conflicts of interests, double standards that might arise from nepotism, and a temptation to engage in discipline as simple retaliation for Andrew admitting he was sexually active with his fiancee (the pastor’s daughter).

      As Mars Hill is functionally a denomination Andrew could have been referred to another campus like West Seattle or Downtown, somewhere close enough that he could attend that campus while the situation was investigated by a pastoral team that would not potentially be led or influenced by a father who decided Andrew was a wolf because he was having sex with a daughter or stepdaughter of his. If Mars Hill has a disciplinary system in which the pastor who accuses a member of sin is simultaneously the one who issues a disciplinary edict then the conflict of interest and retaliatory nature of the disciplinary procedure is not something that can be remedied within any given network at Mars Hill in which discipline occurs and is misused. It is not at all clear given how things went with the 2007 firings of two pastors that even outside parties will really be permitted to negotiate situations in which pastors bring the hammer down on members or even fellow pastors.

  36. Sarah says

    I used to attend Mars Hill. I’ve seen people get stonewalled for stuff, though in a less organized fashion. I have heard Mark speak of these “wolves, lurking in the congregation.” His near obsession with (and disgust for) sexual sin means that for men, discipline in this area is especially harsh. That does not surprise me. However, the legalism of these documents is frightening. As Mark Driscoll often says, “Jesus was a tough guy – he got angry when it mattered.” However, it strikes me that the people he was most often angry with were the misguided, judgmental and corrupt church members exerting their power over confused sinners for the sake of “upholding righteousness.” I feel like the Jesus I believe in would have seen Andrew with his head hung low and ashamed and would have picked him up off the ground, slung his arm around his shoulders and said “You want to stop hiding? Come on. Walk with me.”
    I’m sure that lots of Mars Hill folks will look at the documents and believe them to be fabricated. And why not? Lots of people are ready to take Mr. Driscoll downtown. So in a way, I was expecting them to deny this, or say that these documents had been fabricated. Because this stuff is so crazy, it’s almost hard to believe. Bouncers at an evangelical church? Compulsory shunning, spelled out in detailed instructions? Sadly, MH does not deny any of it. Their silence on the subject is a mere admission that it’s true, followed by an attempts to prove their reasoning with ONE out-of-context scripture verse (which is about calling someone out who has sinned against YOU personally – not about disciplining your congregants who have just confessed their sin) and a bunch of stuff Mark Driscoll wrote in a book. Goes to show that for as often as they preach that their decisions are based only on The Word, the only word that REALLY matters is Driscoll’s.

    • kisekileia says

      Exactly. And if you read all of the chapter of Driscoll’s book that they linked, they’re very clearly defending exactly the sort of thing they did with Andrew. I have a comment in the works about why that chapter is so messed up, but it’s getting so long that I’m going to ask MPT about making it a guest post. Basically, under the rules laid out by the chapter, leaders can pretty much decide at will that a person isn’t repentant and then order them to be shunned. Everything that Mars Hill has done is condoned, explicitly or implicitly, in that chapter.

        • kisekileia says

          Thanks! 🙂 It’s basically a point-by-point analysis of why the Mars Hill discipline system is screwed up and abusive. We’ll see whether MPT wants to post it though.

      • WenatcheeTheHatchet says

        any two elders that agree on something can run a member through the ringer without appeal. It’s pretty much summed up in the 2007 by-laws over which two pastors got fired. Hunt for “Fired and Brimstone” from The Stranger if you don’t mind an alternative paper with language.

    • Kevin says

      Goes to show that for as often as they preach that their decisions are based only on The Word, the only word that REALLY matters is Driscoll’s.

      I find it interesting that Pastor Justin, of a ” biblically” based church directed us to a book Pastor Mark wrote on Vintage Church?

      When I use the word “interesting”, I mean deeply concerned.

  37. Kevin says

    From his chapter on church discipline…
    “Church discipline is exercised in cases such as the following, examples of which are found in Scripture: When a Christian is a habitual doctrine debater.”

    • St. Ralph says

      I guess we’re all excommunicated then.
      Funny, if you read Sophia’s account over at the marshillrefuge blog, the community group meetings she attended consisted of little else but doctrinal debate.

    • Sarah says

      Kevin – A doctrine debater? Does he mean a thinker? A searcher? It was for this reason that I left Mars Hill. I was told in Bible Study by an angry member, “This is no place for intellectuals. This is a place for reading the Bible and doing what it says!” I’m glad I left before I got served a contract.
      In the following youtube video from a sermon he gave while I was attending, he also states that at Mars Hill, stay-at-home-dads are also candidates for church discipline:

        • Melanie says

          Sorry Sarah. I am a member of MH and cannot believe that anyone would do that to you. That is not biblical or representative of how a community group and fellow Christian should act. I completely apologize on behalf of this person and the bad taste that they obviously left you with. Intellectual debate about scripture and how they play out in our lives is one of the purposes of a community group. We gather, worship, celebrate, and hold each other up through the difficult situations. Did you talk to a community group leader or a coach about this? I am sincerely sorry that one person laid the impression on you that this is how the rest of us would operate. It is a false and sad impression of our fellowship.My hope for you is that you have found a place where you can feel comfortable continuing in the worship of our Savior.

          • Sarah says

            Hi Melanie,
            Thanks for reaching out. It is very kind of you to do so. I know some people at Mars Hill like yourself who are sincere followers of Christ, and who are open-minded and loving, and who care about people who have been injured by harsh treatment. I don’t consider my treatment “harsh” – I just realized it was not for me. Since leaving Mars Hill, I assure you my relationship with Christ is in tact. I have also found a loving community that I am quite thankful for. Thank you for your concern on that regard.

            As for your experience, I am so glad that you have such a supportive community group, and that you feel you can be open with them about your beliefs without being criticized. But I have to disagree that community group is a place designed for truly open debate. In our community group, the leader was a friend of mine, and present for all of these discussions. I once told him my concerns – especially about doctrines Mark seemed bent on enforcing, such as women in leadership and predestination – and he told me there were certain open-handed issues that we could openly discuss together, and the others were close-handed issues that the church enforced and were not up for questioning. Examples of these were predestination, stay-at-home dads and women working outside the home or leading churches. I had so many doubts – based in scripture – about what Mark said about these things, but if I brought up another passage of scripture that would support an alternate view point (such as bringing up that God ordained Deborah as a judge, priestess and general over the Hebrew army – Judges 4 and 5) or the fact that Peter left his own job and his wife behind to follow Christ and live the life of a disciple, I was accused of “intellectualizing” and given some reason why my point was invalidated. What I came to realize was, only the verses that supported Mark’s views were the ones brought up by community group leaders. The idea of debate was “allowed,” but only to a certain extent, and if other, more controversial questions were brought up, the leader had been trained to answer questions in a very specific, targeted way to direct the discussion in a way that would uphold Mark’s views on scripture. This is in the name of “maintaining the truth,” but as I mentioned before, for every doctrine Mark states as the utter, undeniable obvious truth, there is a scripture out there that can unravel it. To state that these things are not up for debate also negates the fact that there have been ongoing dialogues about these issues going on for two thousand years by thinkers and theologians with as much training – and often more so – than Mark. And so I submit that despite what he says, Mark does not know the truth. Not all of it. Only God knows all of it. And if we allow Mark to have the final say on these issues, and enforce them by disciplining, even excommunicating, members like Andrew who don’t adhere to a codified theology that Mark has decided upon, he is taking power that should only belong to God. And this should be very concerning to all Christians, both inside and outside of Mars Hill. In light of legalism, the only truths I can cling to are that Christ is the incarnate God, that He came here in love to die for us, that He was resurrected, that the spirit dwells with us and without the grace poured out by the cross and the victory of the resurrection, we cannot be free.

            Sorry for the very long response. After my experience, and due to the fact that I have many friends still at Mars Hill, this is something I have obviously thought about and prayed about a lot. I appreciate you reaching out, Melanie. But I also encourage you not to take Mark’s word for why these policies are “necessary” and take a hard look at the policies of discipline employed by Mars HIll leaders in Andrew’s situation – contracts, meetings, compulsory shunning, “gospel shame” (their words, not mine) – and decide for yourself whether you believe these actions to be truly biblical and Christ-like. Is this what Matthew 18 is really saying? Does this situation REALLY apply? Is this how Christ would have responded to this person who had just confessed? And if you, in looking at how Christ lived and treated people, see that these policies are not Christlike, I urge you to let it worry you like it does me.

          • Melanie says

            Predestination can be a tough subject to wrap your head around. I wish you would have been in my group last year as I was heavily researching this subject lol We could have had coffee! Unfortunately, different people are uncomfortable or do not have the answers to questions. This is why people sometimes get blanket answers. This may have occurred in your situation. Big shocker, you were dealing with a sinful fallen person, just as we all are. I would ask this of you though–of anyone reading this. Please pray for all our Pastors. All you have to do is look on the web at any growing church to know that throwing stones is easy to do. Instead of throwing stones so quickly at those who are only human trying to Godly work, pray for them. Guess what? They know they are human. The responsibility and calling is huge. They will not please everyone, as they are trying to do God’s work. I am not responding to the way the church handled this situation, as I was no involved in the process and thus do not know the truth of what happened. I would ask that as Christians we have discernment between what we feel and what God desires when posting things or before we speak. If you are worried about any Pastor, pray for him that he does God will and not ours.

          • Sarah says

            Hi Melanie. Thanks for responding. Just so you know, I do pray for your church, and I do trust God. But when you say this shouldnt concern me, you are opposing what Mark teaches. How many times have we heard him say from the pulpit that when we see someone misusing the gospel or some injusice being committed, we should get mad? How many times have we heard him say that Jesus threw tables around in the temple and drove out livestock woth a whip because people were misusing the house of God? Or does this only apply to churches that arent Mars Hill? I agree with you that I could use a little more of the fruit of the spirit in my life. We all could. But if you expect people who have been hurt by Mars Hill to keep their mouths shut, that expectation should extend to your own Pastoral staff. Why is it okay for Mark to verbally flog someone like Joel Osteen or Brian Mclaren from the pulpit, but not okay for people who have been actually hurt by Mark to leave comments on a blog? Have you told Mark that he shouldnt throw stones at other pastors and should sit quietly at home praying for them? My guess is probably not. Because even if you did believe Mark to be in the wrong for casting judgement on the church for the sake of upholding truth, there is absolutely no mechanism in place for him to be held accountable by members of the congregation. According to his chapter on church discipline, people, like those pastors a few years back, and people like Andrew, who question his authority, get excommunicated. Period. So please dont tell us not to get mad when we, gospel fearing christians, believe a highly influential leader is twisting the gospel for selfish purposes, unless you are willing to hold your pastors to the same standard.

          • Melanie says

            I think you twisted my own words by your heart filter and added a bunch there. Like I say pray for discernment as you answered many things that I did not broach.

          • Kevin says

            As a member of MH, what do you think of what has come out with Andrew and how this was handled?

          • says

            Hi Melanie,
            I echo Sarah in that you seem like someone who is a true follower of Jesus. I am glad that your experience in community group has been good. I encourage you to visit my blog, where you can read my story and also link to my husband’s version and others stories of their experience with MHC.

            The blog is marshillrefuge.blogspot.com

            Please know that my goal is not to bash MD but to expose problems in an institutuion. We did not commit any sin, we simply decided to leave before becoming members. We were not divisive, we did not share our reasons, yet if you compare our story to MH release of discipline policy, you will see that they applied it to us and we also were shunned simply becaeuse we didn’t agree and wouldn’t subject ourselves to what Andrew experienced.

            I know that it is difficult when information that challenges your entire life, belief system, and social circle is presented. I recently experienced this when I realized what was happening in a church I very much wanted to love. I encourage you to take in all the information, read your bible (in whatever translation is most clear to you) and askt the Holy Spirit what he may want to show you. We all have the HS dwelling in us. The ground is truly level at the foot of the cross and MD and church leadership have no greater access or clarity than God gives you or me. Please see my scriptures for the journey page for scripture that applies to this situation.



          • Melanie says

            I am not challenged at all. I have a personal relationship with my Savior. The Holy Spirit has blessed me when praying for discernment. I do believe that their are people “called” by God for positions of Pastoral duty. I am blessed with a wonderful community of believers.

          • kisekileia says

            Melanie, you really, really should read the entire Driscoll book chapter that Mars Hill put online. It’s linked in this post of Matthew’s. There’s a lot of stuff in it that I think you’d find extremely disturbing.

    • Gwenith says

      Growing up I went to a “hyper Calvinistic” church that eventually excommunicated my parents because they got divorced- It was devastating as a teenager to have your “image” tarnished because your parents are “sinners” My mom and dad in fact stayed married because of the church’s manipulation and chronic counseling. Apparently a man can cheat on his wife, get caught, do it again for 20 years and should never be left by his wife is he says he is “repentant” – My mom got the blame and shame and along with it my whole family was tarnished. I was looked at like a low class citizen- the energetics of everyone I knew around me shifted and although I received the masked smiles of the community, or the fake pity – there was undercurrents of self-righteousness from 99% everyone I saw from that church , 15 years later it goes on to this day…
      “Mark went to one much less intense Calvanist church and lead by a more gentile and soft spoken man (doug busby’s in Pullman) very nearby. I guess that should of been my warning.

      When I started at Mars Hill he was different, but he has evolved into at times a full of scary man. Gosh, I think if I was a kid at one of his sermons it would be full on frozen solid at times. I soon realized I had been sucked into the same exact cult like existence I had been raised in. I guess patterns run deep. I got out before I was in too deep and these posts and sites, although they break my heart, are confirmation for me that my intuition, inner knowing, “voice of God” whatever you want to call it was right.

      This aside, church abuse is REAL- if you disagree with Andrews story fine.. but there are countless others, often even children that are dealing with this abuse, that have no way of understanding it, or verbalizing it or knowing what the heck to do with it— and it deserves to be talked about.

      I think most of us seeking a relationship with God wish there was a safe place to go- to love one another- free of the power driven, self-righteous, doctrine centered- manipulative churches like Mars Hill.

      I pray that each family there never have to experience the harshness of excommunication- the lasting effects of the slander, the coldness of the shunning can take a lifetime to heal.

      “Judgement is mine says the Lord, I will repay” -Romans

  38. Lola says

    This has prob already been said, but not only is it creepy that they called him out on their website, but also that they wanted a detailed list of his sexual history. Wtf? Why in the world do they need that? They DON’T.
    This makes me sooooooooooooooooooo glad I don’t attend fundie churches anymore. Gives me the complete willies.

  39. david says

    personally, i don’t object to the idea of church discipline in and of itself. but that doesn’t mean that all discipline is good discipline.
    to me, the easiest way to judge whether discipline is good or not is to see how effective it is at effecting reform. that, in this case, it took an individual who clearly had some interest in reform yet still drove him away is deeply worrying.

    and given this heavy-handed model, it’s not particularly surprising.

    it’s strange to me because, as a creative professional, one thing that immediately stands out about mars hill is the way they use design and marketing as a tool for evangelism. there’s this vaguely disquieting pragmatism there in the way they appropriate the very modern tricks of the trade of commercialism for proselytizing. it’s this “whatever works” mentality that’s both impressive and also a little bit troubling.

    so why do discipline in such an old-fashioned way–particularly when it has such poor results?

  40. Troy in Indianapolis says

    Stuff like this makes me want to kick myself for wasting as much time as I did caring about what churches had to say about my life. It’s like letting a fear of unicorns affect your mood to the point that you need counseling. Kind of silly and totally unnecessary for poor Andrew to go through this when he could just apologize to whomever he wronged, work on correcting his character and move on.

  41. kisekileia says

    There’s some potentially really useful information for people trying to leave Mars Hill or similar churches here. It’s directed at people leaving the Mormon church, but I would guess that a lot of the information still applies. It looks like people in the U.S. have a legal right to leave voluntary organizations at will, which Mars Hill appears to be violating.

  42. Jamie Alderman says

    I read a good deal of the comments, but not nearly all. I’m Christian, and would never condone this control-obsessed arrogant crap. But more importantly, am I the only one who’s noticed that the negative reinforcement MH is heaping on Andrew through manipulating the Church body is probably actually just motivated to bring him back to MH membership so they can get more money out of him? Gross. (By the way, nice corporate suit Mark)
    The good news I take away from this is that the extremes to which MH is going to gain and maintain control over members and to make money are becoming more and more publicly visible. Like a bloated bureaucracy, MH will likely eventually collapse under its own weight. It’ll just take a leak about the sexual sins of MD or other church elders, or perhaps some money laundering leak, and pop goes the weasel. As Gandhi put it, “There have been tyrants . . . and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it…always.” May we find hope in that sentiment 🙂

  43. Eric says

    Wow. Just spent the last couple hours reading through all of this.
    As someone who spent the first 25 years as a Fundie Christian, I feel obligated to throw in my $.02 worth… though it’s just my own opinion and I don’t claim to know all the answers. I was involved in full-time ministries, communes and various churches ranging from old-school Pentecostal to progressive Presbyterian. So hopefully my words carry a little bit of weight…

    It seems that everyone needs to take a deep breath and ZOOM OUT, step back, get a bigger perspective. Mars Hill is an institution, it is NOT (as is implied in the “disfellowship letter”) the church. The church, I believe, transcends the institutions created to define it. The institutions date back to a time when Christianity was just a little cult of Judaism a couple thousand years ago, institutionalized countless times over the years by countless leaders and governments. But the institutions can never replace the divine relationship aspect of the religion.

    As an institution, an organization, MH can define itself any way it likes, can impose any rigid structure of rules that it likes, teach any whacked-out doctrine that it likes, and quote as many Bible verses to back up its teachings and rules as it likes. Joining it is like joining any exclusive club (or army, or secret society) that demands strict adherence to its expectations. If you sign the agreement to abide by the rules and be severely punished and humiliated at the discretion of the leadership, then you should know you’ll have to pay the consequences when you mess up as a member. Such a rigid structure makes for extreme devotion to the community, and causes members to fear stepping out of line or asking the wrong questions. A harsh but “loving” approach to discipline reinforces the members’ dependence on leadership, and solidifies the paternal aspects of a family environment.

    I truly hurt for Andrew, and for all of the other people who have gone through such a trauma in being shunned from the community they’ve built lives around. But the fact is, he was sucked into MH at the beginning for the same reasons many, many young people are: cool music, awesome tattoos, huggy people, lots of potential mates, and most of all, a charismatic leader who promises to spell things out for you, to give you very simple, specific formulas for life in a world that that throws too many options at you. Unfortunately, these formulas are too often rooted in culture and zeitgeist, and as we know from the teachings of Jesus (the “letter of the law vs the spirit of the law), they can set us up for failure. As a 20-yr-old kid new in a strange city, the allure of the sexier aspects of MH won out over a well thought-out, rational choice when Andrew decided to join the institution. I don’t blame him or think he’s stupid for having done so; I do think that he learned a very valuable life lesson, and is indeed having a significant rite of passage as an adult right about now. He’s still got a lot to contribute to a faith community, and next time I hope he’ll find one that respects his personal dignity, one that doesn’t fetishize sin/punishment to the extent that MH does, and one that doesn’t equate itself with “the church” or set itself up as the final authority on all things scriptural.

    I hope to run into Andrew at some point soon, and let him know he’s not alone in this experience. I had a couple similar experiences with hardcore communal groups at around the same age. No small thing to get over. I try to keep things in perspective, though, and realize that leaders in these groups are human and have a lot of their own demons that they’re trying to keep in check, hence the obsession with legalism. The good thing is that groups like this have to either change for the better, or eventually they implode. Most of the people involved in MH are pretty good at heart; the main problem is the system they’ve built up around a cult of personality who has a bit of an ego problem.

    As for Driscoll, well, he’s a genius. I don’t think I can say much anything more than what’s been said before about this character…. But I will say that he makes people FEEL. And isn’t that what we all want? To feel ashamed, to feel loved, to feel right, to feel wrong, to feel secure, to feel pain, to feel shock, to feel anger, to feel inspired, to feel inadequate, to feel needed, to feel ALIVE? Whatever the feelings he arouses in you, you have to admit that we all appreciate him for making us feel these emotions to the point of wanting to adulate or castrate the guy.

    Andrew reminds us why making decisions based on mostly feelings can get us into a lot of trouble, either with institutions or with relationships. And he now has my full respect for owning up to his actions, and for manning up by walking away (not running away as they cynically claimed) with his head held high when the time came to say “enough is enough.”

    Bravo, Andrew, and wishing you all the best in the next chapter of your life.

    • Eric says

      Oh, and if I may backtrack: I made it sound like Andrew was sucked into MH mainly by the environment and not so much by the doctrine, which isn’t necessarily the case. He apparently put more thought into doctrinal differences than I gave him credit for. My suspicion is simply that with him, as with many other young people who compromise their beliefs when joining that institution, the external trappings perhaps heavily influenced his better judgment in deciding whether or not to join.

      • Steve says

        That’s how all of these churches operate. Sucking people in with the trappings is their whole business model. They offer activities and services that seem cool or useful. For Mars Hill that’s hip services with cool language and music among others. Then they offer tons of activities like Bible study and all kinds of get-togethers, so that bit by bit people’s lives are more and more consumed by the church. Then they heavily discourage their followers to have any social contact with outsiders. So they are eventually completely depended on the church for many things. That makes them easy to control, but also discourages them from leaving, because they have so much invested in it. It also makes eventually breaking one’s ties with them so much harder.

    • Joey says

      “The church… transcends the institutions created to define it.” That is profound. No “church” will ever control me. Only God, when I let go and let Him.

  44. says

    “as this is a private matter between church leadership and members,”
    yeah, that worked. Yet we made it public because the bible said so….

  45. Stacy says

    All of this makes me wonder a lot of things… Like do they exert as much effort to celebrate grace as they do for enforcing discipline? Do they take other sins such as gossip or lying or acting out of anger as seriously as sexual sin? Isn’t all sin the same in Jesus’s book?

  46. Hamilton says

    I wonder if the elders at Mars Hill have heard of the tort called “public disclosure of private facts.” Churches are sued for this tort often. A plaintiff only needs to prove that (1) a statement (true or untrue); (2) that was not newsworthy; (3) was made that a reasonable person would find offensive. Disclosing sexual conduct, especially when confessed in a confidential counseling stetting, is a non-newsworthy statement that most people would find offensive when disclosed. Courts, even in conservative states, have consistently found the church to be liable for actions after the individual withdrew from the church. The waiver (if any) no longer applies and the First Amendment no longer provides a defense for the church’s actions. MH could have some significant legal liability here. What was done was quite clearly against the law.

    • kisekileia says

      That’s excellent news. I think it’s also important to note that legally, Andrew has the right to free association, and that includes the right to leave a church and have his resignation of membership accepted. The Mormon church has been successfully sued for excommunicating people after they resigned membership. Andrew, and anyone else wanting to leave Mars Hill, should google “ex-Mormon”–there are some really useful websites about leaving the Mormon church whose information is applicable to Mars Hill.

      • AR says

        That took me aback, too. Like, WOW, how can you say you’re all about protecting women from “wolves” and then use a derogatory term like that to describe someone you don’t even know. Maybe the woman didn’t even know the guy was married!

        • St. Ralph says

          Read the anecdote carefully, please. MD never says how well he knew any of the individuals in question. Besides, it doesn’t make any difference … the relationship was adulterous, whether MD had known her for six months or six minutes. As for not knowing her guy was married … hm … it’s possible, I guess, but she certainly knew he *wasn’t* married to HER.
          Using loaded terms for the woman but not for the man … agreed, it’s inflammatory and sexist. But not much of a surprise, considering the source.

          As for the pastor who summarily booted the adulterous pair permanently from the church after a single confrontation — MD never says that he approves of that tactic, although he describes the pastor in generally glowing terms. It certainly doesn’t sound redemptive. I’m sure it was necessary to dismiss them *for the day,* to defuse an emotionally charged situation, but at a minimum, the pastor should have followed up with them later, minus the wife and crying kids.

          • AR says

            Good points. And I did read it carefully, but never considered that MD may have known the woman. Not that it would’ve made it okay to call her “whorish” when he’s supposed to respond to people in love.
            However, why would it matter if she knew he wasn’t married to her? There’s something wrong with attending church with a man you’re seeing and snuggling with him if, in fact, you *don’t* know he’s married? Is snuggling outside of marriage forbidden at MH?

            I completely agree with the last part of your post.

          • St. Ralph says

            Hello. She wasn’t just “seeing” him. The relationship was adulterous, which usually means the parties involved are doing the beast with two backs (although one hopes THAT part of the relationship isn’t being carried out on a church pew during Sunday services).
            I guess if you’re of the “fornication’s OK if you really love each other, but adultery is BAD” school, you could argue that A’s ignorance of B’s marital status makes a difference … but even then, you’d have to admit that it’s unadvisable to have a sexual relationship with someone you don’t know that well.

          • AR says

            No, no. I’m not part of that school at all. I made my husband wait until we were married and everything. 🙂 What I was saying is that perhaps MD didn’t know at the time that they were in an adulterous relationship. But, honestly, the more I think about it, I guess he did know, since the wife had already shared the story with leadership. So nix what I said about that. BUT he was still out of line calling her “whorish,” in my opinion.

          • St. Ralph says

            It’s a weird little anecdote to use in a chapter about church discipline. Yes, we can see that the pastor cares about what’s happening to the family and the marriage, and we can see that he tries to intervene … but it’s not clear that he follows any planned-out protocol for church discipline.

  47. Vera van Haarlem says

    I read the part of the book in this post.He wrote: Without this kind of foresight, sinners corner church leaders between a proverbial rock and a hard place, like the guy who early in my pastoral ministry told me he had cheated on his wife repeatedly and feared he had a venereal disease but did not want to tell her and expected me to cover for him under the guise of confidentiality. I just laughed loudly as I picked up my phone to call his wife while he threatened to sue me.

    He laughed when he was making a call that would distroy a whole family? I don’t say he should not make the call, but I think it is terrible the way he does it.

    • says

      Yes. He’s awful. He thinks it comes off as tough and “holy,” but I think he finds pleasure in it. OR he made up the entire story. Mark’s stories aren’t creative enough to be true.

      • Eric says

        Hey now Matthew….. Yes, he has been known to fabricate a thing or two here and there to pump up his cred, but unless you have some kind of proof, you might wanna try to avoid such suggesting that this and other stories aren’t true. 🙂
        But I agree: true or not, it’s awful to find joy in the downfall of others, especially when innocent people are affected. Trying to apply the same principle to myself isn’t easy…. It would be hard to not want to do a dance of joy at the demise of Driscoll’s career, even though it could mean the spiritual/emotional disillusionment of many thousands of his followers. Hopefully if/when that happens, I’ll have the maturity to focus on reaching out to some of those people rather celebrating the collapse of his empire. But it will be hard….. very hard to resist!

        Thanks for providing this forum, by the way, Matthew. Very thoughtful and helpful.

  48. LovetheLivingWord says

    Hey, Just an honest reply from a fellow believer.
    Like I said, I am a believer. I am committed to a thriving church. I understand Church discipline. And I personally long to submit my life to the leadership God has placed over me; It is wonderful to have leadership! I get the sense that there is a stigma towards church’s who have a pattern that they follow when it comes to repentance. If I was in sin I would be asked to step down from leading worship. I agree with that. I would probably be given assignments to ensure that I am stepping in to a lifestyle of accountability, not wanting to hide any longer. And there would be a way for this to be established in my character. Character change does not happen in a month. It takes a long time and it sounds like these leaders were wanting to begin a process, which I know I am incredibly grateful for the processes God has taken me through to form my character and lob things off of my personality that were harmful to me and others I was interacting with.

    I know these things are delicate. I also know that a months time is not long enough with someone going through something of this caliber to make a decision and leave the body he is a part of. There are so may heightened emotions and vulnerable exchanges with matters of the heart, but honestly, the heart is deceitful above all else, who can know?(Jer 17:9) When our decisions are challenged and we are truly repentant, there is a necessary process we must go through to establish trust again with people we sinned against, to truly display a radical change of heart, to come in line with the truth of God’s Word. This takes TIME.

    Counselors give assignments, which, if you pay for it and invite it, that’s cool; no qualms about it. I am actually going through a Biblical Counseling program to become a Biblical Counselor; there are assignments I will be trained to give that are up to 16 weeks long to help guide the counseled through a thorough process.

    But these church leaders were just helping one of their flock and giving a very CLEAR and HELPFUL process for Andrew to walk through and because it was presented in such a way, offense rose in Andrew. I think it is easy to judge the process when it is fresh and want to abandon ship. I actually will pray for Andrew to go back to MH and be given to the healthy process that was set before him. If that doesn’t happen, I pray that in years to come he will be able to look back and see that he was being helped .

    The Gospels are offensive, Jesus claimed to be a rock of offense. He confronted sin and was patient with his followers, but honest. We must invite honest conversations in the processes we are in in being transformed to be more like Jesus! The apostle Paul was true north in dealings with people and I thought to myself as I read through the letter and the contract, “This just sounds like Paul to me.”

    I write these things in all sincerity. It sounds like Andrew did not want the process after he began it, got offended and left. Which, is understandable (I am sure people do it all the time, leave because of offense. It’s sad but true.) I experience offense but I don’t leave my church. I make sure I am actually changed (it does not happen immediately) by the truth of God that is put in front of me and know it will eventually be life to my soul, even if I do not ‘feel’ it at first. I just decide to be given to the process and I pray and tell God that I don’t want to be offended by Him.

    Be blessed and find peace in the process!

    • A.E. Forest says

      I get where your coming from, but I think that your ideal and what really happened are miles apart. They placed themselves in opposition to Andrew, rather than walking alongside him, by not being forthright about what was happening. They did not love him and establish trust, they just handed him a contract (not an honest conversation). They met with him over and over, never mentioning discipline, then sent him a written document that amounts to little more than a checklist, which included asking him to disclose extremely person details and struggles to people who likely barely knew him, and with no confidence, based on their previous conduct, that there was any level of confidentiality. They told him he wouldn’t be allowed to serve, not lead, but serve. Then, rather than walk alongside him, as Jesus did with Gentiles, tax collectors, and unbelievers, they called for a public shunning. While they may very well be sincere, that doesn’t make them right. Painting him as a predator when he came forward in repentence was just as wrong. A recounting of sins long-past seems the antithesis of grace, and the product of detached legalism.
      The gospels are not offensive, and I tire of people using that to behave badly. They are disruptive and uncomfortable, perhaps offend the systems people have been used to, but they are not offensive simply for the sake of being so. Rather, they are fiercely loving and pursue sinners doggedly, and allow that to be offensive it if must. I am glad that you have found a place and people that you trust, but that doesn’t mean that all places and people can be trusted. Their attempt to publicly shame someone on based on misapplied and poorly interpreted scripture, taken out of context, proves them to be the latter. (And, is also, in some states, criminal.) If you are studying counseling, you are likely familiar with the concept of “safe people”, and the actions taken toward and against Andrew proves these people not to be “safe”. If we continue to allow that, the church ceases to be, as it already has for many, a safe place to heal and pursue repentance.

      • LovetheLivingWord says

        Hey, thank you for your reply. I am not super familiar with MH and have only listened to a few of Mark’s teachings and have found them helpful.
        I think what is saddening for me is the fact that not all church’s are healthy when they could be if there was correct theology and interpretation of the Scriptures. At first read it didn’t seem unreasonable to me to have Andrew meet with his current and former small group leaders or the father of his fiance. That seems to be healthy especially if the marriage was going to happen and he had been at the church for a few years; that would indicate to me a level of relationship with these people and a level of trust and the leadership wanting to step in and help, which is good.

        I am just finding it hard to see how this process was without love? It was Andrew’s choice to leave the Church. Perhaps if he was, indeed, never honest with leadership and the sexual sin was happening for so long, they felt a need to be especially aggressive with his situation? If there was such persistence to meet with him and get a handle on what was happening, and after several meetings the leadership was in agreement to apply ‘discipline’, maybe they were picking up on something they thought was more serious. It doesn’t make sense that they would just jump to discipline unless there was a deeper issue they were seeing in Andrew.

        The shunning didn’t happen until after he decided to leave, and to not comply to their (the leaderships) perceived right way of handling the situation. What I am wondering is if they have guidelines for handling this type of delicate situation, for instance, what do they have to see in someone in order to make the call to move that person into ‘church discpline’?

        • kisekileia says

          The guidelines for what sort of offenses lead to church discipline are near the end of the chapter MPT linked. They are extremely broad and include pretty much any dissent from what the leadership teaches. The chapter also describes various types of “false repentance”, which are all worded in such a way that there’s no way for a person to prove their repentance is genuine. Since “genuine” repentance is necessary for restoration to full community at Mars Hill, this allows corrupt elders to extend the discipline process indefinitely. There is no appeal process, all disciplinary measures up to and including shunning can be implemented by any two elders, and Mars Hill continues to assert authority over people who have left. The whole disciplinary structure is extremely conducive to abuse.

        • A.E. Forest says

          Well, we know from the outset that the marriage wasn’t likely to happen, because when he confessed to his fiancee, the primary person he had sinned against, they broke up. I agree that moving him to a new community group was a good idea. However, given that he had confessed and was repentant, Matthew 18 doesn’t apply at all. The chapter opens talking about how those who are lowly in earth will be great in heaven, says that it is better to be maimed or crippled than to cause a brother to stumble, says that God would leave 99 sheep behind to search for one lost one, and then transitions into what to do if a brother has sinned against you. The next section is about the parable of the unmerciful servant, failing to forgive when he has been forgiven. When viewed in that context, the section seems to have little to do with discipline, and everything to do with pursuing people, yet it is the basis for justifying the contract MH sent. In the same way, the very second sentence of that section states that if they listen to you, you have one them over. End of story. It should have been, from any disciplinary standpoint, the end of Andrew’s story. The story may have continued with accountability and a time of intense healing, but nothing punitive. The fact that this section has been so grossly misused and twisted by MH and their leadership makes them unsafe. Love doesn’t have to manipulate scripture to exert control.
          If Andrew was anything like I was, the meetings don’t indicate relationship. In my similar (but different) situation in a church local to me, I met with total strangers who couldn’t be bothered to remember my name. I did want to resolve conflict and restore relationship, and jumped through an insane number of hoops, convinced that Godly people would want the same thing. The thing is, it’s a perfect set-up to shunning. I make myself vulnerable, you behave badly, and if I stand up for myself at all, you call me unrepentant. Any process in which that is routine (as people are coming out of the woodwork to say it is) is not loving. Love doesn’t identify the sin and then set out destroy it, with barely a pause for the human casualty. Love sets out to restore and to build and lets no sin survive that stands in its way.

          If Andrew was being moved toward church discipline, he should have been told. In my opinion, anyone entering into that process should essentially be assigned an advocate within the church. I have to think that if they had said, “Andrew, we are sorry that you’re hurting. We’re sorry that you’ve hurt others. We want to walk with you through your healing and facing the consequences of what you’ve done. We’d like to help facilitate reconciliation. Can we start meeting for coffee weekly?” things would look totally different. Love brings closer, while that contract was little more than a threat of being separated, followed by more threats of being pushed away.

          The fact that the shunning happened after he left makes it worse. I could see it if he refused their counsel and correction, but said he still wanted to be a member and show up every week. Then he would be trying to retain the benefits and influence of membership, while failing to be accountable. Instead, he voluntarily left, rejecting both their discipline and their protection, and they continued to try to exert authority over someone who was no longer a member. Not only is that not consistent with the Bible, it’s not loving, and it’s barely legal, if legal at all.

          • kisekileia says

            It’s actually not legal at all. The Mormon church has been sued for excommunicating people after they resigned their membership, and the ex-members won.

          • Jamie Alderman says

            wonderfully put. I especially like the idea of anyone entering a discipline scenario should have a church advocate. GREAT idea!

    • says

      Dear LtLW,
      I couldn’t agree more with you as far as being willing and able to go thru discipline in order to receive the fruit of a better character, refined to be more like Christ. I do not even pretend to have the answer to this…but having lived in an abusive home for many, many years…a lot of the way MH is going about trying to bring this “fruit” seems to be full of truth and not much grace. As Christians – especially if we are to mimic Christ who always extended GRACE FIRST – we need to learn to offer this fine balance between the first, starting with Grace. No one will come to repentance with a heavy hand on them…for that really is more of a threat. A threat removes the freedom to chose what is best for you, and when you remove freedom…love is removed. Love and fear cannot co-exist.

      I think so many times in our churches we are so eager to do the right thing by God because we want to be right according to the scriptures and before God…that we forget we are dealing with an individual. EVERY situation is unique and different because every person is unique and different….we cannot simply formulate a contract and insist that people do what we say. We are not the Holy Spirit for that person.

      What we can do is offer them suggestions on how to get the healing and restoration they are seeking…to allow natural consequences to happen – such as Andrew perhaps not getting married to this girl, being removed from leadership and given a flexible time line as to when he can return based on his deeds in the coming months…and leave room for the Holy Spirit to do His work of bringing about conviction and remorse and healing. What we can do is help them see their choices in the matter, without mandating that our way is the ONLY way to redemption and restoration. What we can do is to not humiliate them in the process but ask them what we can do today, this week, this month in order to help them walk closer to God during this time. We can pray for them, and we can set healthy boundaries as to protect them and the congregation…again without bringing humiliation upon any one.

      I go back to saying if Andrew had denied any of his wrong doing, then this case would be different. Yet, he didn’t deny his wrong doing…and we have to take his word for it that he felt “pressured” by MH. Does that make him right that this is what they were doing? Not necessarily…and maybe that is where the conversation needs to be around. Could MH have presented their case differently as to not seem abusive? Who knows…but my guess is if people are feeling abused by MH …then perhaps they could be doing things differently in order to show that they are not instead of automatically jumping to the defend their systems, their procedures instead of listening to the real people they are ostracizing.

      • LovetheLivingWord says

        Hey there Joy Gal 😉 (I like the name!) Thank you for your reply.
        I agree that there is no fear in Love ( perfect love casts out fear). What a funny concept that MH is full of truth but not grace; Isn’t grace THE TRUTH? I agree with you. It is indeed kindness that leads us to repentance; I know this in my own life as well as from the Scriptures. I can tell that you have found this to be true as well.

        Do you go to MH?

        I am also in agreement that we cannot simply form ‘contracts’; that was not my point. And I think the problem there is semantics; if it was called an accountability sheet with the same logo I bet there wouldn’t be such an uproar. What I am curious about is what made them decide to get the contract out? They were already in a process and there must have been something that the leaders were seeing in Andrew that led them to that ‘next step’. The ‘contract’ was just promoting confession and accountability in my eyes; maybe I am seeing it all wrong. And in the blog part 1, it says that Andrew had already felt like it was discipline for a month so actually stating that that is what it was would seem helpful to me as it would bring clarity to what was going on.

        According to the blog, it seemed that the boundaries of the Church were clear and the leaders were happy to help Andrew out.

        I still don’t see how this is abusive; but again, perhaps I am not seeing correctly. But I see that more than just Andrew are saying that the systems of MH are abusive and that people are feeling this grieves me. I do not condone abuse. I just need to read up more on MH and their processes.

    • kisekileia says

      All ethical counselors provide confidentiality to the extent allowed by the law. Mars Hill explicitly states in the book chapter linked in MPT’s post that they refuse to do so. That is seriously unethical, and if your program is teaching you otherwise, you should switch programs on the grounds that you are being taught to spiritually abuse. It is also seriously problematic to require people to write down their sins, and to force them to allow the church to control their lives in detail (e.g. by restricting dating), especially with no time limit on the church’s restrictions. Andrew was being asked to submit to an inappropriately invasive and voyeuristic process with no indication as to when it would end or what would be sufficient grounds to end it. He was also denied his legal right to free association when Mars Hill tried to continue disciplining him after he resigned membership.
      I really really suggest that you read up on spiritual abuse. There are some good resources on the subject that operate from an evangelical Christian perspective. You need to know what practices are and are not abusive in order to provide sound counsel to people in the future.

      • LovetheLivingWord says

        Hey Kisekileia, (does the name mean something unique? It’s cool.)
        I was not putting the leadership on the same level as a legit counselor as far as confidentiality goes; perhaps my comparison wasn’t good. I am fully aware of that in the counseling world. I need to read that chapter as well. I do not condone abuse and am not being taught to abuse anyone rather I was trying to raise a point that the ‘contract’ seemed helpful as in it was a tangible guideline for Andrew to walk through the process with specific leadership that were caring for him. It didn’t seem extreme at all to me, but rather helpful boundaries as he walked through a process. And he already felt like he was under discipline so I would also think the clarity brought to that would be helpful. Confession for accountability sake is important; it is part of the process in moving forward and forsaking our sins. The Church probably knows that these things take different amounts of time for individuals, so I would be fine if a timeline was not given to me if I was in this situation.

        The process did not seem inappropriately invasive to me. Nor do i understand why the word voyeurism is being used to describe the church. Also, from the letter to the specific people about Andrew after he had left, they could associate with him but the ‘members’ were encouraged to speak truth to him about his situation.

        • kisekileia says

          The word voyeurism is being used because Mars Hill requested specific details of his entire sexual history. All those details are not necessary for confession and accountability.
          The contract was missing something huge: criteria for when the restrictions of the contract would end. It placed Andrew under very strict restrictions indefinitely, with no indication of what he could do to convince the Mars Hill leaders that he was repentant. It was a draconian set of restrictions with no limitations or conditions on him.

          I strongly recommend that you read the chapter. There are a ton of red flags in there.

    • AR says

      I’m probably reiterating what some have said here. My apologies if I am (I unfortunately only had time to skim the replies). But my initial reaction to your post, Love, which I was able to read, is that there’s a difference between helping a person with loving discipline (“we suggest you do the following and we’ll be there every step of the way”) and forcing someone to agree to set terms “or else.” This didn’t sound like Paul at all to me. In my opinion, Paul would’ve said, “Brother, you have a thorn in your side. So do I. We all fall short. But God can take that thorn from you. Let’s talk about what might help you not struggle with sexual sin anymore.” MH said, “You’re messed up, dude. You’re a wolf and we can’t have your kind around here. You WILL conform to our standards and agree to our terms of discipline or you’ll regret it.”

  49. reader says

    A lot of items in Mark’s chapter that require “discipline” are not actually reference as articles of discipline in the NT. It’s a matter of Paul admonishing the Christian to live a certain way…
    Look at the last one for example, why do you discipline someone who was never “one of you”? Paul let’s them go. Mark’s chapter says you must go out and do your discipline on them.

    The chapter also does not take “methods” into account. This is usually where the issues lie… not in the *fact* of discipline but how it is done. Mark’s chapter makes it sound like the *fact* of discipline isn’t in anyone’s mind and he’s going to be the guy to do it, standing there in his leather jacket.

    If one guy reported spiritual abuse, that’d be one thing. When many many people do, that’s another.

    But where is the evidence? Only in testimonies? Spiritual abuse is called “subtle” for a reason, because the hard facts are difficult to pin down to truly bring an accusation against the abuser.

  50. says

    “There are many reasons why the church must wield this sword.”
    1) The Nehemiah sword is used externally not internally. So the analogy does not fit.
    2) Part of the distinction between Old and New is the diminished use of swords.

    Sloppy use of proof-texting to justify dangerous orthopraxy.

  51. Steve Holt says

    Mark’s mile-long, catch-all list of punishable offenses in the church pretty much allows MH to “wield the sword” of church discipline anytime, for any reason. If you attend MH, you live in fear of the chopping block if you:
    – ask too many questions about the church’s theology
    – “promote” false doctrine by, say, linking to an unapproved site or passing around banned literature
    – “are divisive” (has been used to mean absolutely everything)
    – say, “nah” to intervention by an “elder” who you don’t respect
    – are deemed “an idle busybody” — freelance writers, artists, students, and childless people, beware!
    – haven’t been to a community group in a while
    – and so much more!

    All I can say is WOW. If that’s not a blueprint for control and manipulation — a spiritual boot on the throat of everyone who darkens MH’s doors — then I don’t know what one is. Thank you, MPT, for dragging this out into the light. It’s a damn shame.

    • LovetheLivingWord says

      Is this all in a certain book by Mark? Where can I get my hands on more info about the Church and how they function?

    • Angie says

      I went to Mars Hill for awhile. One of the things the ‘community groups’ are big on is not questioning authority, they teach that pastors, elders, community group leaders, etc are put in authority by God. I remember the day one of my CG leaders almost fell on the floor because I said just because a pastor says something doesn’t mean I have to believe it. To me, everything is to be tested – which is biblical. I left Mars Hill church over theological differences concerning what I consider to be ‘open handed’ issues – issues that aren’t salvation related or primary theological issues. Since I am female and I am outspoken, they weren’t that sad to see me go.
      What happened to Andrew could happen to anyone – if I had become a member of this church, it would have happened to me. When I confessed a sin to my CG leaders, they shared it with the group without my permission and it became near public knowledge. I didn’t know that by telling a group leader something in confidence not only would it be shared, but that I would be held up as an example of ‘women being a weaker vessel’, which I absolutely abhorred. I could go in perfect safety and confidence and talk about sin and my personal struggles with my current pastor at my new church and I would receive private counseling, support, and encouragement without the entire congregation knowing my personal life – and stumbling and ‘sinning’ wouldn’t be instantly attributed to my lack of penis. They are the wolves, feeding on the unsuspecting that are trying to do the right thing – I hope everyone hears his story and takes heed. If you attend, DO NOT sign their covenant.

      I’m not condoning Andrew cheating on his girlfriend, but I am applauding him seeking help and attempting to go through church processes and repenting for his actions. He’s not only under stress because of the church’s mishandling of his situation, but remember – he’s lost a woman he was engaged to as well. So for all the fundies out there – he’s had enough punishment, with more to come if he’s going public and this was all over a church elder’s daughter.

      • says

        Hi Angie,
        I recently told my story at the Wartburg Watch. I have started a blog marshillrefuge.blogspot.com where people who are questioning Mars Hill can find people’s stories all in one place. May I copy your comment to it, or would you be interested in sharing your story in more detail (anonymously is fine)?

        • Angie says

          Sure, Sophia.
          You are welcome to share anything I’ve said if it would help someone or let them know they’re not alone.

      • Aaron says

        There’s a deep irony in the Andrew situation as Mark seems with little shame to re-tell his story about how he posed as a Christian to get his pastor’s daughter of a girlfriend in the sack. I don’t know what is more audacious, that or the fact that as someone raised Catholic, he claims not to have had any knowledge that pre-marital sex was a sin. I would guess that MHC is reaping what is sown regarding Mark’s unrepentant sin.
        As far as his visions of the sexual exploits of others. It truly sounds like he has a familiar spirit, not a prophetic gift. The man is clearly obsessed with sex and seems to use it as his Shtick to sell MH to the spiritually immature and unsaved. What Mark has expressed from the pulpit has increased my knowledge of sexual behavior beyond what I knew when I lived in sin and didn’t know Christ. How he extrapolates this from the Song of Solomon I do not know. He is so bad with metaphors, parables, and prophecies in Scripture I want to throw up in my mouth a little bit when ever I hear him try to interpret one.

        I wonder if one could aptly name his interpretive style sexegesis? $50 says one of his daughters gets conned out by a false Christian and half his boys have pre-marital sex. That’s not prophecy, just gambling. Just his sermons and books will have them looking at porn.

  52. redrabbit says

    I’m not impressed with Mars Hill’s “response.” It reads like a generic form letter sent out to people who use the consumer feedback button for a large company. Utterly useless.
    As for the church’s behavior toward Andrew, it well and truly is abusive. Demanding that he write down in detail all of his sexual contacts and activities is a gross invasion of privacy and none of their damn business and informing him that if he’s seen at another church they’ll call that church and tell them all about him is nothing short of stalking and harassment.

    It’s shameful that organizations get away with this garbage but if religion is involved then, according to some, that makes the abuse okay. Utterly shameful.

  53. Dean Carroll says

    Let’s get to the bottom line; church discipline, as administered in fundamentalist and reformed circles, goes right back, not to the Bible, but to Dr. Bob Jones Sr. who was fond of sitting errant students in the middle of a circle, surrounded by Dr. Bob and his lackeys, and interrogating the poor individual until they “cracked.” This practice has been repeated by Dr. Bob’s students and their students, most of whom are accountable to no one but themselves! Church discipline today is merely a means of keeping control and saving face by some sad minister who “loves to have the preeminence” and “lord it” over others.
    I used to attend a “Reformed Baptist Church.” On a regular basis, members would just “disappear” and there would be lots of whispering and gossip until a scary church meeting was called and the “elders” gave a completely one-sided and self-justifying explanation of some horrible sin of which the errant member had committed. More often then not, the “sin” was disagreeing with the elders.

    On the other hand, I later attended a Dutch Reformed Church. On one occasion, an engaged couple admitted to the church that they had engaged in fornication and made an apology. Everyone forgave them immediately. There was no shame or ostracism, “saving face” or secret congregational meeting. This made people outside the church say “see how they love one another.” No wonder a large group of us left that first church and moved to the second one!

    I, personally, am sad that Mars Hill Church is addressing this matter in such a formal and self-justifying manner.


    • Eric says

      Sort of off-topic here, but ever since I’ve been involved in this blog over the last week, this one ad keeps showing up on the side of my Facebook page. Mere coincidence? A sign from above? Is FB in cahoots with MH? Or is this real estate company about to get sued by MH? We may never know….. Spooooky!

  54. DHM says

    I am a former Pastor, son of a Pastor, and Grandson of a Pastor in a church which subscribes to many of the Misogynistic practices enjoyed by the “men” of Mars Hill.Similar to Mars Hill, they also practiced the art of destroying people in their congregations who don’t submit to the absolute authority of the church Elders and perform the public rituals of humiliation which serve to enhance the power the elders have over the lives of other people. The “works” based religiosity practiced by Mark Driscoll and his followers is not original and follows a trend started by weak men centuries ago who need control…control over women, and control over the people around them. I take a personal interest in watching Mr. Driscoll’s progression in his personal dynasty because I have seen the damage his cult has done to one family very close to me. His message to one young woman in my family was to drop out of nursing school and care for her home and have children. Though she completed school at the urging of her mother, she has chosen to pursue the Mars Hill ideal of having lots of children, not working and forcing her husband to be a “leader” and go make enough money to support the brood without her income. We dont live in that culture anymore where one income can support large families. Mr. Driscoll has yet to explain how this part is supposed to work. He will certainly have an answer to all this and the other critiques of his cult. He always does. Mr. Driscoll also has a group of cult followers who are assigned to go on-line and respond to posts about his cult in very scripted answers. The extent of his organizational response is frightening. As a former theologian, and still a follower of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I see the Driscoll cult for what is is…”The People of the Lie”.. The majority of the members are certainly, well-intentioned Christians, but the leadership are representatives of a power we are to fear. Dont’ underestimate his power to harm and destroy families. Jim Jones, David Koresh and many others before them were dismissed as freaks and not addressed until it was too late for their cult followers. Mark Driscoll is not a man of God and does not represent Christianity.

  55. says

    This is clearly a church making the same errors as Medieval Catholicism. Their distortion of Matthew 18 is heretical. Those verses describe Jesus’ prescription for dealing with someone who has sinned against you, and there is no mystery or controversy about what the WORD says. You are to go to the one at fault and tell him he has sinned.If he repents the entire process is complete.
    If he refuses (and only if he refuses to admit fault) you go with another witness to implore him to admit his sin.
    If he repents, admitting his fault at this second stage, the entire process is complete.
    If he still refuses to admit his sin, and only in that case, the two of you, who are then witnesses to the failure of the sinner to admit his sin at each of the first two stages, You take the matter before “the church.”

    The process of Biblical excommunication ensues ONLY when a member, admonished for sin, excuses his sin, justifies his sin or by some means denies that it is SIN and refuses to abandon it at ALL THREE STAGES. Andrew did NONE of those things.

    The circumstances of Matthew 18 are missing AT EVERY STAGE in Andrew’s case:
    1. No one went to him, He BEGAN WITH REPENTANCE.
    2, That means that the Biblical standards of PRIVACY called for by the WORD are applicable here: “go and tell him his fault BETWEEN THEE AND HIM ALONE: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.” and every “leader” “elder” “pastor” who meddled with this poor young man’s life thereafter, who “discussed” it with others, who asked for or got an investigative interview, was in direct disobedience to God.
    3. There was no justification to bring in a second “witness” Biblically. Andrew had already admitted fault.
    4, There was no Biblical authority for the church to enter Andrew’s private life. There was ABSOLUTELY no possible Biblical justification to “bring this matter before the church,” a THIRD STAGE of a process that was settled before the completion of the FIRST.
    In short, the entire operation of the Mars Hill hierarchy was an exercise in cultism: not Biblical, but a COUNTERFEIT of Biblical process, not based in obedience to the WORD, but collective disobedience, not based in love, but the self-righteous puffing up of spiritual pride.

    This is nothing short of a tragedy, not for Andrew, he can recover. Andrew is lucky to be free of the influence of the deception this body has entered. It is, perhaps, the gift of God to him for true repentance. It is a tragedy for the church, itself.
    Of what dimension?
    “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” In falsely accusing Andrew they are persecuting Jesus. There is no possible justification for the unmitigated social assault these self-anointed imams have engaged in, but the damage to themselves and their congregation is worse.
    This is NOT Christianity. But these are they by whom the way of truth is evil spoken of, nevertheless. For their own selfish purposes, through feigned words they make merchandise of their “flock.”

  56. says

    It’s important to realize that this behavior is not exclusive to Ultra-Mega Churches. It happens regularly and across many demographics.
    I’ve blogged negatively in the past about churches/people within churches and know first hand that it’s usually not good. It hurts people’s feelings, betrays trust, and most importantly, seems like casting the first stone (even though its not). In short, it’s usually not a good idea.

    This situation, however, needed attention. It’s becoming increasingly easy for huge churches to hide behind large attendance and famous pastors, enabling them to tweak doctrine in a way that best suits their goals and demographics.

    Having recently come out of the 5th largest church organization in the nation, and in no way comparing my experience to Andrew’s, it’s easy to see the manipulation of scripture, attempted management of opinions, and cattle-prod-style conflict management in hindsight.

    These organizations have the need to maintain a demographic and these methods are a way of retaining their desired cast, and weeding out those who recognize the abuse and refuse to be mistreated.

  57. says

    Well written. If it wasn’t so tragic it would be hard to believe. Been there with church leadership but my situation is like a rowboat compared to this Titanic. As a 21 year member of a “spirit filled” church (an elder for several years) I saw leadership ignore people who disagreed with them until they finally gave up and left. When I finally “woke” up from a deaf and dumb spirit and addressed the situation, my family’s next year and a half were very unpleasant until we left as well. But this situation is like a Stephen King novel…simply bizarre!

  58. says

    I read this article and the previous one showing the unashamed lack of grace and compassion by this Mars Hill Church. They have made themselves God, and have made the decision of what repentance is and how it is to be displayed. Andrew has been through enough as it is. I am not saying that he is 100% in the right, but fleeing from a domineering Calvinistic background myself, and returning back to my Pentecostal roots, I am so thankful for real grace, mercy, and repentance. If Andrew would ever like to share a meal or have a discussion, I would embrace him as a brother who has repented and moved on.
    This idea of church discipline in some churches is nothing more than one leaders attempt to control the entire aspect of a fallen brother’s life, and they will stand judged for this. There is now proof of the lack of grace at Mars Hill Church. Flee from that place, fast and hard. Flee!

  59. mike says

    Amen Melanie, most of this is sooo hypocritical! When the church turns a blind eye and doesn’t discipline their people (Ala Catholic Church issues), the skeptics attack that, but when the church upholds CLEAR biblical mandates, it is seen as “Judgmental” “Controlling” and woe, the biggest evil, “FUNDAMENTALIST!” The fact is we don’t like when our sin is exposed, just other people’s sins, and we (Atheist, agnostics, vegans, Christians, et al) sit in harsh judgment against those that transgress those things we deem “Evil.” Which is quite ironic, since many of you hold to a relative ethic, but a very objective judgment! This is what G. K. Chesterton explains led him to a belief in God; the skeptics kept arguing both sides of an issue, because they didn’t want to believe the truth! Also, half of these attacks on Driscoll are years ago, move on people, have you heard of maturity, grace, gospel transformation and the fact that we aren’t perfect people. As MJ once sung, “I’m Starting With The Man In The Mirror I’m Asking Him To Change His Ways.” It might be a good start for some of you?

    • says

      Mike, the issue, in this case, is not whether or not the church has discipline, but whether or not the church does so in accordance with the Word and the Spirit. In this case the church CLEARLY violated the Word, as I detailed in my previous post. Nothing the church did in this case “upheld clear CLEAR biblical mandates,” but, to the contrary, violated them. I do not know it to be fact, but I am told Mr. Driscoll agrees with me and has taken corrective action.

      • Angie says

        I would be interested in seeing what, if any, ‘corrective action’ he will be taking. Didn’t this originate out of Ballard? The campus he teaches at?

  60. says

    “At the heart of the process is our deep belief that church discipline is about the grace of God, not penance.”.
    How positively Hegelian… These doctrines have always made despotism sound so very righteous.

  61. Ann says

    I think there are a couple things to look at and the first is that the bible does talk about church discipline and very few churches do it outside the fundamentalist church regardless if you’re baptist or not that I have been to. I have been disciplined before for wrong reasons and I eventually left but that didn’t mean that the church stopped trying to reconsil me back even though I had made it more than abundantly clear I had left.The Bible is also very clear about sexual sins and while all sins are sins sexual ones have more consequences in a lot of different areas. It is something the church is not to take lightly at all. Seriously look at all the different words used in scripture for sexual sins and what the bible says about them. I have watched sexual sins take down pastors in churches I have been to and it is heart breaking to see.
    The bible is also very clear about people who are supposed to be in leadership positions and what their conduct is supposed to be like. They are to be held to a higher standard.

    I have not attended MHC but some things I am wondering or thinking about that may or may not apply to this situation but I’ll share them.
    1) What happened to the girl in the church? Was she confronted? What was her attitude toward the whole thing if she had to go through a different process? Was she in a position of leadership? As the saying goes it takes two to tango and it sounds like she was a willing participant when it did happen. Even if she wasn’t willing healing needs to happen.
    2) When you are dealing with someone who has a history of sexual sins it is very important to get to the root of the problem so that you can move on. The root could be a number of things from abuse to lust or whatever but until that root is dealt with you will struggle with it. Is that why they kept having meetings with him?
    3) When you take on a role of leadership in a church you usually agree to a set of behaviors to do or to abstain from. The rules were very clear it sounds like and Andrew chose to go about it secretitely. How is leadership supposed to trust him? I can understand forgiveness but that doesn’t mean that you can trust that person again right away. That person who has hurt you will have to earn your trust again and Andrew being in leadership and being secretive about it only made it harder for people to trust him again.
    4) I can’t say that MHC did everything write. The churches leadership is made of human leaders who make mistakes. I don’t know their thought process but maybe this was to protect the church in a sense and it got out of control. There’s a lot of places in a situation like this that can go wrong or be misunderstood as the person who has sinned is tired of dealing with it and the leadership wants to make sure the problem is resolved.
    5) I know someone posted that there are others who are involved in sexual sin and no one has done anything. Sadly, this is not right. I am not saying annouce their names but the issue needs to be addressed by the leadership of the church. I am not sure if I was them I would be continuing in sexual sin after this issue but it is something that needs to be addressed and then maybe in the future. It’s amazing what sexual sins can do to the church and it’s nothing to mess around with.
    6) I am really shocked that people would go this far to get attention on a matter like this that should stay IN THE CHURCH. I have left a church that was at the time bordering occult and while it was hard and the leadership didn’t leave me alone for months (mainly because my husband went there still but even after we both left it continued) eventually we were left alone. It didn’t mean the accusations which were completely false didn’t stop. However, I was content to be free from the church and instead prayed for the pastor and the church. Eventually the pastor left and the church is on a long road to recovery and it was all done without the media being involved or gossip flying around the place we lived in. It still has taken a long time to get to where they are today.
    7) I lastly am going to say that if you don’t know the situation and even if you do that you need to be very careful regards to what you say about the pastor(s). The bible does talk about talking about a pastor in a negative light. If you disagree with the pastor so fully then you need to try to resolve it biblically or you need to set away from that church and find a new place to worship. I know it’s a verse I am refering to that pastors can use for their own advantage but it’s a fine line I would walk not because of the pastor but because God warns about it.

  62. Beta Kappa says

    I’m not sure why this borders on the illegal. I’m no scholar in jurisprudence, just simply using what I believe is common sense – but if any group of people wants to shun some former member of the group, why shouldn’t they have that right. Granted, MHC may be coercive because of a potential threat of excommunication to current parishioners, but they have a choice in deciding to remain.
    Personally, I’ve got no interest in belonging to any church or even hanging out with religionists – far to much of a rationalist for that. Typically, I’m not even that inclined to give these people my respect; however, I do find discussions about topics like this interesting.

    I would be curious if anyone can provide more detail as to the illegality of MHC in regards to their response to Andrew’s actions and decision.

  63. The Dave says

    I’m trying to follow the posts on Andrew’s experience, but I’m not sure I get it. For instance…this quote: “Do they truly believe that they’re the only church on the planet who can help Andrew engage a pathway toward restoration? Is the Mark Machine really that arrogant? That narrow-minded? That narcissistic?”
    So far as I understand it, Andrew chose to join and become a member and participant in that church, not some other church. That was his community. Those were his friends. That was his body. And he did so not only freely, but gladly. So why should any other church that he isn’t a part of, that he doesn’t belong to, with people he doesn’t know, and to whom he didn’t dedicate himself, be the avenue for his restoration? That doesn’t make sense to me.

    Or this: “At times, this letter comes off like the Roman Catholic church during the Dark Ages.”

    I’m Mennonite. My people were born in persecution to both Roman Catholic and Protestant authorities in the 16th Century. Our people were burned alive, drowned in rivers, hung, hunted down by mobs, forcefully separated from their families, driven from homes and means of living, forced out of our countries, etc, but we refused to do these things. Instead, we used the ban. That is a world of difference. And what Andrew describes and what seems to be the case reading the letters/emails is the same sort of discipline—community ban until proof of change. Knowing the drastic difference that separates that kind of activity from the ones my people suffered at the hands of Protestants and Catholics, I have to wonder how on earth ANYTHING that was posted on this blog could come off like that. Was he hunted down? Did people try to drown him? Was he disallowed access to his parents? Was his means of living cut off? Was he thrown in jail? Was he deprived of food and water? Was he driven from his city or country by mobs and informants? I fail to see any resemblance to the abuse that both Proestant and Catholic Churches thought was not only okay, but beneficial in ancient times.

    “And if this is how they plan to treat Andrew–as an “unbeliever”? How in the world do they treat people who really are non-Christian? (And not to mention the fact that Jesus hung out with Gentiles, tax-collectors, etc.)”

    We are to judge those in the church, not those outside. And that’s the point—Andrew wasn’t outside the church, he was in it. A boy living on the street isn’t spanked or sent into the corner when he does wrong, but a boy with a mom and dad, a boy who is part of a family, is.

    “If they don’t want Andrew to be a member of their church, take his name off the list! But this? I mean, seriously, did any of this letter, except for perhaps the “heavy heart”, infer that Mars Hill loves Andrew?”

    If someone doesn’t care at all for you, are they going to go to the length and effort that these people are going through to schedule all these meetings and write all these letters and dedicate long stretches of their time to getting together with you? Rather, it is the person who DOESN’T CARE AT ALL, who would have just said, “Later. Have a good life.” In a relationship—in a community—you are not a name on a list. You belong to a family. And what you do has an impact on others. When you chose to walk away, you abandon those who gave part of themselves for you as well as those to whom you gave part of yourself.

    If my girlfriend slept with a man and then confessed, there is no doubt in my mind that it would take a me a long time to trust her again and that she would have to prove her loyalty to me again. I might even require her to sign a contract as a sign of good faith on her part that she was willing to give up her freedoms to restore the relationship she had broken between us. And if she refused to sign that contract, it would only deepen the hurt and escalate the need to see change before I could welcome her back again. If your girlfriend cheated on you and you confronted her, and she said she’d rather walk away than deal with the situation she caused, what would your reaction be? “See ya”? I doubt it. I doubt anyone would respond differently than Mars Hill who actually cared because it’s the way normal human relationships work.

    • Judith says

      Was the fornicating fiance “daughter of an elder” put under church discipline? No! It was all about the power and control the Mars Hill leadership must maintain over its members. .

    • Angie says

      “…there is no doubt in my mind that it would take a me a long time to trust her again and that she would have to prove her loyalty to me again… I might even require her to sign a contract as a sign of good faith on her part that she was willing to give up her freedoms to restore the relationship she had broken between us.”
      I have a problem with that. You would have your girlfriend sign a contract and then keep her under your thumb until you were satisfied? If I can’t trust someone, i wouldn’t spend/waste a minute of my day breathing down their back.

      If your girlfriend comes to you and has the guts to say she screwed up, either kick her to the curb or accept her apology. . You are basically saying you’d put your girlfriend in a cage or a basement until you felt like you could trust her again. If you don’t give her her freedoms, how do you know if you can trust her? It sounds to me like you mean “Lock her up so that trash can’t cheat on me ever again.” Punish her. Ground her. Disagreement over going out with the girlfriends on the town? Whip out that contract and shove it in her face, set her straight, because that’s how healing and good relationships are repaired. Besides, the other part of the church’s problem with Andrew was that he was screwing an elder’s daughter. No screwing allowed, and definitely not an elder’s daughter.

      This is not how we should handle our spouses, girlfriends, boyfriends, or fellow Christians. It’s abusive.

      • Judith says

        Thank you Angie! This is the problem. These people are abusive controlling people hiding behind “God.”

        • Angie says

          Thanks Judith.Ya know what really gets me? This is probably bad to even get into this, but I don’t see that Andrew had sex with the other girl. He ‘messed around’. What is that? Like he made out with the other girl? Not that what he did wasn’t bad, it’s just that Andrew had enough consequences just from confessing that were coming to him anyway. The holy spirit is there to make sure we take responsibility for what we do. He did the right thing, he listened and confessed. This really should have been the girlfriend’s issue to deal with him over, the pastors should have been there to counsel him, quietly remove him from ministry. His real punishment should have been to lose the girlfriend. Girlfriend’s choice, of course. She should have been the one that took away his freedoms and locked him in the basement, spanked him, or what have you.
          The first step to repentance is confessing our sin to others, and then to turn a 180 and walk in that repentance. Mars Hill should have let the natural consequences of his actions take place, i.e., the girlfriend. And then let God have it. Not all this.
          The bible also says even an impure thought about another person is still adultery. What if he said he ‘had an impure thought’ about another woman? What would have happened then?
          The only person he was actually having sex with was the girlfriend. She liked it, she was in on it too. I’m totally convinced. She’s immoral, she didn’t tell the truth – she waited for it to come out while he was undergoing his 10,000 meetings and conferences. She wasn’t ‘deceived’ into thinking she wasn’t having sex when she really was.
          “Ooooh, I totally thought I was hugging him or something. Oh wow, I was really having sex? That jerk totally deceived me!”
          She’s not any less culpable for that portion of this, women are not ignorant, or any less equal in their responsibility for sin. Actually, according to Mark Driscoll’s theology on women, she may even be to blame – maybe she felt that she had already trapped Andrew into fidelity and started to really let herself go….

          • Judith says

            Don’t these people a have anything better to do?Normal human beings have sex. Get over it. I doubt God is that interested in such stupidity. The fact that Mars Hill is so interested in who is having sex , what kind of sex they are having, and how often I am sure makes the atmosphere quite titillating. Perhaps these people all need to start jogging and running sprints to get all this sexual tension out. LOL! STUPID! All the women should leave Mars Hill. Then who would Driscoll abuse? Gay men? “Ruben, Ruben I’ve been thnkin’ what a great world this would be if the men were all transported far beyond the Northern Sea!”

          • Angie says

            We should start our own church and call it “Venus Hill”. Leave all the men over there on Mars.

          • Judith says

            As a woman, I used to long for some of these “smart” men to answer the questions I had about the Bible, but I quickly realized that was a lost cause. The one about the “older women teaching the younger women” is a joke too. Boy, I could have benefited from some love and support when my children were young. We lived far, far away from family and friends. I was in a “mommy” nightmare. I guess they were all too busy “disciplining the horny.” What a waste.

  64. jbfromptown says

    Since when we have to confess our sins to man? Are we serving man or God? As long as he made his repentance known and recognized what he did and made it right with MEN, who is a church or a MAN to tell him he hasn’t done enough and he can’t leave.

  65. Jackie says

    Wait a minute, this story is written in such a slanted way that we easily miss the main reason for the church discipline. The discipline IS NOT FOR the crime of cheating. This he confessed and repented for. Mars Hill seems to have put Andrew under church discipline for the unconfessed sin that he was hiding – the physical relationship with his fiance, lying and covering that sin up. Nowhere in this posted story does it even hint that Andrew was repentant of these sins. In fact, it seems he planned to continue being physical with his fiance and covering it up.
    joellen commented: “A repentant heart is evidenced in actions.. I dont think Andrew shows signs of non repentance” Oh THESE sins, Andrew did not show any repentance. He continued hiding them and appears to have wanted to continue the physical relationship with his fiance. He’s only sorry for cheating. But he wasn’t guilty for only cheating. He was guilty for sexual sin and lying. But he only confessed to cheating. What about his sexual sins and lying? I never saw anywhere that he confessed to these too and was repentant for these. If you read the story again and the letters from Mars Hill, this these are the sins that Andrew is being called to repent from. He is not being asked to repent from cheating. In fact, they don’t even address the “cheating”. Their letter is ONLY about “sexual sin with a church member” = his fiance.

    • Angie says

      “Over the course of that month, Andrew also confessed more of his sexual baggage/history.“I confessed to my mens small group leader–a close friend of mine–that my relationship with my fiancée was physical, too.”
      That confession led to more meetings and more than enough long (and sometimes ridiculous) text message conversations with church leadership at Mars Hill.
      “On several occasions, I was called a Wolf,” says Andrew, “which at Mars Hill, is like the worst thing you can be called.”
      – I understand from this that he CONFESSED his sexual history with his girlfriend, and that he was called a wolf.

      Andrew brought his sin to light with a friend and then his CGL. As a result, he is under church discipline with the hope and goal of full restoration upon walking in a repentant lifestyle – I understand from this that he did confess, and it is this confession that brought on the discipline contract.

      He most likely had been lying and covering it up, but I see that he confessed his sin first to ‘a friend’ and then to the church…this says to me that it wasn’t ‘discovered’, he actually brought it to the light on his own. Same with the cheating incident. I don’t deny that his behavior before confession was wrong, I find fault with how they handled the situation and how harshly they treated Andrew. I believe the fact that he did confess shows his steps toward repentance. We are supposed to confess our sins to each other, this I do see that he did, probably with the intention of walking a repentant lifestyle. I don’t see where this sin was ‘discovered’, and they had to hunt for it.

      • Jackie says

        Excellent point, Angie. If he actually confessed on his own, this would show repentance. I missed that word.
        However, keep in mind that these are Andrews words or point of view. “Confess” could mean he “admitted” to it under questioning. But sometimes we use the word “confessed” instead of “admitted.” I just find the context to lean towards the “admitted” interpretation because of this sentence: “Over the course of that month, Andrew also confessed more of his sexual baggage/history.” Why over the course of a month? Why did it take so long? Can we really assume that Mars Hill did not ask him, “Is this your first time?” on the very first meeting? I can’t imagine church leadership not asking about Andrews past. If they asked and he lied, that would not be confessing. If they asked and he “admitted” (confessed) it these other sins immediately, it would not necessarily demonstrate repentance because he told the truth when questioned but didn’t bring forth the info on his own. I don’t think we as the outside world can know the exact details here. Keep in mind, the writer of this blog is a self-admitted hater of Driscoll. So, of course, he will slant things towards Andrew and Mars Hill. I do not find the contract itself unreasonable. Clearly, Mars Hill agreed that Andrew was repentant over cheating, so this is not in their contract letter. However, clearly, they interpreted his admittance of lying and sneaking around with his fiance as unrepentant. If Andrew had actually confessed on his own (as he did with cheating), then Mars Hill would have accepted both, because they are exactly the same senario. But clearly, they believe he did not come forward honestly but their contract implies that he hid these sins and it took the course of a month to disclose them. Admitting is not confessing. Admitting is not clearly demonstrating repenting. So I must agree with Mars Hill on this one. But thanks for your insightful info and calm loving Christian character, Angie. It demonstrates the self-control and godliness inside of you. Compared to the screamers on this board. 😛

        • Angie says

          Thanks for appreciating my insight, hahaha.I don’t like the idea of ‘contracts’, really at all. There’s something about it that just bugs me. Seeing how Mars Hill uses these contracts and the big picture of how church discipline is arranged and carried out I like them even less. I don’t think they should place themselves the the position of judging someone’s intentions and heart, period. Jesus had twelve apostles, and 1 was Judas and the other 11 still needed plenty of rebuke and correction – Jesus never excommunicated any of them, even Judas. He even washed his feet, even when he knew Judas was “a wolf”. I just don’t see Christ in any of this, and even if what happened isn’t how MPT portrays it, there is still room for plenty of human error when you have men involved with judging the condition of someone’s heart – and to error in this way certainly has the potential to result in what is described here.

  66. Joshua says

    Excommunication from a group like that is not punishment! This reminds me of how my daughter’s preschool friends act.

  67. says

    Most contracts outline the responsibilities of both parties. In this contract I only see what Andrew is obligated to do. What exactly is the church going to do to help him? Bullying and controlling behaviors are not really helpful.

  68. says

    This whole aritcle is so one sided as to be laughable. We really dont know if this guy is telling the truth or leaving out important details in order to gain support. Mr Turner has no business getting involved as this seems to be just a big he said she said backbiting mess. I would bet my house that there is more to this than is being printed, there always is.

  69. Judith says

    Therein lies the evil of what they do to the sheep they were entrusted to care for. These people have ruined the faith of many people. Those who have not been hurt in such a way cannot understand. It is a very postmodern way to look at a situation and say that the truth is somewhere in the middle. No, no, no! The truth can be found and known.

  70. Scotty Newman says

    Why does Mark Driscoll, an unrepentant sinner himself, remain “pastor” at Mars Hill then? Very perplexing and hypocritical.

  71. Gwenith says

    Growing up I went to a “hyper Calvinistic” church that eventually excommunicated my parents because they got divorced- It was devastating as a teenager to have your “image” tarnished because your parents are “sinners” – Church for me though was a big intellectual debate on the reason why the Calvinist doctrine was right, we never “rejoiced”- there was no real joy in the service- I hated it all the way through…. I didnt feel or understand how God, the Holy Spirit or Jesus was so interested in the apologetics, logics, doctrines and debates of the literal meaning of the Bible. The legalism as a result was intense, I think churchs like MH and the one I was raised in call it “culture” now- but its obvious that you need to conform or your just not in the club and your just not “right”
    My mom and dad in fact stayed married because of the church’s manipulation and chronic counseling. Apparently a man can cheat on his wife due to serious sexual addictions and psychological, drug and alcohol problems, repent, do it again for 20 years and should never be left by his wife is he says he is “repentant” or that he is “sorry”-

    – My mom got the blame and shame for the divorce and along with it my whole family was tarnished. My mother to this day is severely psychologically damaged by the outright slander, and shunning that happened to her for leaving an abusive marriage.

    Me and my two siblings were looked at like a low class citizen- the energetics of everyone I knew around me shifted and although I received the masked smiles of the community, or the fake pity – there was undercurrents of self-righteousness from 99% everyone I saw from that church , 15 years later it goes on to this day…

    When I first went to MH he was different, but he has evolved into at times a full of scary man. Gosh, I think if I was a kid at one of his sermons I would be full on frozen solid at times with anxiety and fear. Getting screamed at for an hour is not how I like to spend my Sunday’s even if a few good jokes are thrown in.

    I soon realized I was being sucked into the same exact cult like existence I had been raised in.I got out before I was in too deep and these posts and sites, although they break my heart, are confirmation for me that my intuition, inner knowing, “voice of God” whatever you want to call it was right.

    My story aside, church abuse is REAL- if you disagree with Andrews story fine.. but there are countless others, often even children that are dealing with this abuse, that have no way of understanding it, or verbalizing it or knowing what the heck to do with it— and it deserves to be talked about.

    I think most of us seeking a relationship with God wish there was a safe place to go- to love one another- free of the power driven, self-righteous, doctrine centered- manipulative churches like Mars Hill. I am still scarred of going to church, even when I find one I like I deal with extreme fear of getting close with the people inside of it-

    I pray that each family there never have to experience the harshness of excommunication- the lasting effects of the slander, the coldness of the shunning can take a lifetime to recover from.

    I think the solace Andrew, and the others at MH who share a similar story can be found in Romans 12:19

    God bless –

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