Me, troublemaker? Thoughts about criticism…

The story keeps getting told. Today, Slate.com’s Ruth Graham told the story again, adding fresh words from both sides of the issue and offering some historical substance to the topic of “church discipline”. At the end of her piece, Graham writes…

…Driscoll made it clear in remarks at a 2009 conference that he does not tolerate divisive “troublemakers” at Mars Hill. “You can really change the culture of a church by just removing a few ‘negatives’ and elevating a few ‘positives.’ Most of the ‘neutrals’ change. You don’t need to get rid of everybody most of the time,” he said.

Getting rid of Andrew may end up being a mistake for Mars Hill, though. Because of him, the chorus of troublemakers is growing louder.

With each retelling, new questions and criticisms arrive in my inbox and on Twitter and Facebook. Most of the criticism is some variation of the following…

@JesusNeedsNewPR I hope you’re happy. Let’s get the nonchristians to see how Christians attack in the blog world.

And then I received this comment on my Facebook wall…

Way to go Matt. You’ve given those far from God fodder for scoffing at Christ and his bride. Read the comments on the Slate article – hope you are proud. I wish I was a blogger instead of a pastor. Then I could take shots at what people do instead of trying to figure out solutions. If you actually want to contribute something, then explain to us how churches should handle instructions to put the immoral out of the church (1 Cor) or the instructions to shun the divisive (Titus 3) or treat the unrepentant as pagans and tax collectors (Matthew 18). Or you can just keep name calling and slandering – I’m sure Jesus said something about that being the way to build his kingdom.

The latter comment stung a bit, not because of what it said, really, but because I know the guy who wrote it. We met when I was in the sixth grade. Even though we’re not close friends today, we once were. And despite distance and life changing that, I admire and respect him, and too, I’ve enjoyed watching from afar God use him and his wife in ministry (he’s a pastor).

In cases like these, I understand why people attack “the messenger.”

But am I to blame for all of the “scoffing at Christ and his bride” happening right now at Slate.com?

Perhaps I am, though I find it hard to believe that those leaving comments just arrived at their opinions of God and the Church after reading this one article. I can only imagine that other narrative threads exist in their stories that led them to some of their conclusions (and angst).

But here’s my real question: Is the comment section underneath Slate.com’s story a reason not to talk about the sometimes crappy situations happening inside our churches? That’s a serious question, one that I’d love to hear your thoughts on…

The other question I get a lot is some variation of this one: Why are you always harping about Mark Driscoll?

And that’s a good question. And here’s my answer: In my opinion, Mark is one of the most influential “Christian figures” affecting today’s “Christian culture”. His reach influences various aspects of Christian life: church growth, ministry, gender roles in the church, relationships, and more. Furthermore, Mark proactively seeks to influence and nurture young male pastors, church ministry workers, missionaries, etc. If Mark’s theologies, actions, and church management style only impacted Mars Hill, I probably wouldn’t care. Well, I would care and certainly make note of it, but I wouldn’t keep coming back to it. But Mark’s “gospel” bleeds into and affects how pastors of churches all over the country (and world) are managing their churches and ministries, from missions to church discipline. His words affect how pastors teach and manage and control a woman’s role in the church, home, work, etc. If you think I’m crazy, go read a month’s worth of comments on his Facebook wall. These pastors watch Mark. They sometimes idolize him. Sometimes they hang on his every word. And it’s all intentional. Mark doesn’t accidentally influence these pastors, it’s his passion and calling. From what I’ve heard and seen, Mark wants to influence how churches all over the world function. And that’s scary in my opinion.

Which is why I responded to my friend (the one who left that message on my Facebook walk) like this…

Why would I be proud, Tim? I’m not proud. But I’m not ashamed, either. I shared one story of a man who was hurt by the system of a large influential church, a system that took small bits of scripture and added their own rules and cult-like practices to its mix. Perhaps you should turn your harshness on that church’s pastors and leaders and request that they change how they handle “discipline” in the future. Because whether you want to admit this or not, I’m not the one who gave “those far from God” reasons to scoff. Mark Driscoll & Company did that. Mark has done that in various ways over and over and over again. And if you could read the numerous emails that I have received from former Mars Hill members, sharing their stories of abuse and pain under the ill-managed processes at Mars Hill, I truly believe you’d change your opinion. Or at least, part of it. I truly value your wisdom and opinion, Tim. But in this instance, I can’t agree.

I loved how Graham ended her piece, saying that the “chorus of troublemakers” is getting louder.

She might be right. Maybe we are a chorus of troublemakers.

But I can’t help but wonder if the real troublemaker in all this is a short stout soloist in Seattle who won’t stop singing.

Comments

  1. JLL says

    Please keep doing what you do, and do it however you want, Matthew. I come here every day, and am so heartened to see that someone who loves God can still see the hypocrisy and hatefulness that almost drove people like me away from Him. After following your blog for a while, I’m reading my bible more, exploring my faith more, and talking to Jesus more. Bless your heart, you sweet sweet man.
    I heard that Truman once said, “I don’t give ‘em hell, I just tell the truth and they think it’s hell!”

  2. Shannon says

    I recently dated a man from Mars Hill Church and I am convinced that he is involved in a “cult”. I do not make this accusation in ignorance at all. I myself was in a school for the ministry right out of high school that has been called a “cult” and where the pastor/leader was asked by those he was accountable to, to step down. My ex told me in a phonecall about how Mark came to preach at his church recently, and he couldn’t believe the security. It was like a celebrity was arriving- very tight security, he then stated Matt had received death threats, so it was necessary. As he told me this, I just got flashbacks of what it was like in this ministry school. We couldn’t agree on the Driscoll thing, so we broke up. I couldn’t put myself under another man like that pastor again. I looked up spiritual abuse, because I was curious as to whether Driscoll and this man I had been under fit the bill. They both (I hate to even say this! I know and love this ex pastor in spite of his faults, I just know he shouldn’t STILL be in the ministry! And numerous people have spoken out to this effect!!!!) fit into the definition of what a spiritually abusive leader is. It angers and frustrates me, because this is NOT the attitude or Sprit of Chirst- at all- and people are getting hurt- BADLY! This is not the Spirit of God! Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is FREEDOM- not control and manipulation. It just is so wrong. :/

  3. says

    I want to second what B Bagwell said. The Catholic church kept silent about priests abusing children to avoid scandal and disrepute. Anyone who thinks that worked out well should go to Ireland and chat with some folks. Jesus is not glorified by secrets and scandals swept under the rug.

  4. says

    Matt, I’m in the same “business” as you — blogging about the church. And I submit that you and I care as much about the “bride of Christ” as any pastor. You are performing a valuable service. Keep it up.

  5. Teresa says

    Since November, I’ve lost 2 friends to suicide Both we under the age of 19! . One was confirmed as bullying at the church. The other had an addiction problem. Either way, BULLYING is NOT acceptable! Frankly, I’m pissed off. The church should be a place of refuge and not a war zone!

  6. says

    It’s all good. It all serves a higher purpose. This obviously put a lot of people, myself included, in front of mirrors. And we didn’t like what we saw reflecting back at us. It made us uncomfortable. But I think that’s so great! How do we grow if not from a work? How do we have a work if we don’t interact with one another in community? Sometimes it’s calm and peaceful and life-affirming and sometimes it’s chaotic and uneasy and angsty. But it’s all good in the end.

  7. Thomas Sluder says

    Matt,
    I knew you were a trouble maker when you kicked that frozen soccer ball and broke my glasses when we were kids. :)

    Keep your faith strong,

    Tom

  8. says

    If one monitors the atheist blogs, I promise, Driscoll is there without any links back to you pretty regularly. You may have provided the platform for this one story, but his stuff is picked up regularly on its own.
    What is strange to me is that there is all kinds of debate about whether or not we should or shouldn’t be talking about Mark Driscoll because he’s a brother in Christ & he’s leading people to the Lord. But I don’t think there has ever been any discussion about whether it’s okay to talk about folks like Gene Robinson or Mel White or Ray Boltz or Jennifer Knapp. They are ALSO brothers & sisters in Christ and they ALSO bring people to the Lord, but I don’t think I see very many folks talking about whether or not it’s okay to talk about them.

    It seems to me that if it’s in poor form to talk about Pastor Mark, it should also be poor form to talk about Bishop Robinson.

    • says

      I think you have nailed it, Alise. People aren’t ‘scoffing at Christ’ because bloggers like MPT are exposing stuff, it’s because things like MD are happening. So, in many ways, it’s people like MD who are leading people away from God because of certain attitudes, and exposing these attitudes serves to let those ‘far from God’ see that there are still faithful, compassionate, intelligent Christ-followers who can identify what is wrong in the church.

      • says

        But they aren’t Mark Driscoll. People worship him, he’s God’s anointed, his sins are more like bitterness, rage, anger, selfish ambition, not homosexuality so he gets elevated to worship status and they get shunned. THAT is how it is.

  9. HOBO says

    I am a former Pastor, son of a Pastor, and Grandson of a Pastor in a fundamentalist church, a church which subscribes to many of the Misogynistic practices enjoyed by the “men” of Mars Hill.My former church, like Mars Hill, also practiced the art of destroying people in their congregations who don’t submit to the absolute authority of the church Elders by performing 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 I know was to drop out of nursing school and care for her home and have lots of children. If it was left to Mark Driscoll, girls wouldn’t go to school or have any “self” without a relationship to a man. Does the word “Taliban” sound familiar? Though this young woman I refer to 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 family without her income. We no longer live in a culture 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.

  10. Greg Allen says

    Labels come with the territory. I am glad I read your piece. It facilitated some good discussion with one of my kids about the nature of all of this. I think the uproar that occurs stems more from celebrity pastorism than from critique. I always appreciate reading your stuff – it is well done and relevant. I hate that word, but you know.

  11. Kevin says

    Matthew — just remember that along with the choruses of troublemakers and critics there’s another group of people who are singing a silent “thank you” after reading your posts. Keep up the good troublemaking.

  12. says

    I didn’t take this story as a personal attack on Mark Driscoll or Mars Hill (though your opinions are clear), but rather as a launching pad for discussion on church discipline, accountability, and redemption. And I think that’s worth talking about. Thanks for your boldness.

  13. Ric Booth says

    It is part of our human nature to attack the messenger and, unfortunately, to discredit the victim. It happens every time. In people’s shock, it is impossible to believe someone who they’ve looked up to is flawed in some serious way. When I revealed the abuse that took place in my family, the first wave of scathing attacks came from my siblings.
    Therapists & psychologists have something to say about this phenomenon. I do not find it strange that someone who you call friend is firing attacks. It is probably the loudest validation of the good you are doing as an outspoken Christian.

  14. says

    I left the church 5 years ago. It’s because of people like you that I have an renewed interest in Christianity. To see there are people speaking truth and grace and not afraid to speak out against Mars Hill, etc has lead me to consider finding fellowship with open minded believers. I have renewed hope. You are only bringing more people to the body of Christ in my opinion.

  15. says

    Matt, I second what Tony Jones said.
    If the accusation that you’re making Christians look bad had any merit, then we’d have to submit our Bibles to a serious purging. The OT prophets will have to go…all that ranting about idolatry and exploitation doesn’t do much for the ol’ public image. And we may want to delete Paul’s stinging criticism of the church in Corinth for neglecting the poor. Didn’t he realize he was making the church look bad? I mean, they actually put this this stuff in the Bible where ANYBODY could read it, for God’s sake.

    So yeah, let’s protect our reputation at all costs. Because that’s way more important than protecting people.

    (Which is my way of saying keep doing what you’re doing.)

  16. says

    Pftt! You’re a troublemaker? Next you’ll tell me you’re skinny, white & wear glasses!
    None of us like to be told we might need to change. I know I don’t. Remember the Happy Days episode where Fonzie had to say he was wrong? Never could say it.

    My hope is that if there are those who are running from church, ultimately from Christ, that they will slow down long enough to realize that HE loves them more than anything and HE wants to help them and guide them.

    Thanks for making me think. I think. ;-)

  17. says

    One gift the internet has given everyday average people is a shot at holding our leadership accountable for misuse of power. At no other time in history have we had the chance to influence a shift in practice from the safety of our laptops. It has a huge downside for sure. But this situation at Mars Hill stands to me as a good example our opportunity for collective power. I think many people see our society going down the tubes with scandal and abuse of power being revealed around the globe. It’s always been around…it was just much easier to keep hidden.
    People at the very top must be held to a greater accountability, and I’m happy to see it in action at Mars Hill.

  18. says

    matthew,the trouble with trouble makers is that deep down, we secretly wish we didn’t have to be the one to say something. we wish that society would just get a clue and adjust. unfortunately, this is rarely the case.

    the beauty of your blog, though cynical at times, is the willingness to address the “elephant in the room”. i remember when Anne Jackson’s “Permission to Speak Freely” was announced…i thought to myself, finally a platform to talk about the things that get silenced in church. hell, i even submitted a picture (pg 69) that read, “I spoke up and the church fired me”.

    i have since been labeled a trouble maker and its a label i wear proudly. not because i desire to stir up trouble for the pure joy of watching people squirm, but because i take great joy in being part of seeing others finding healing from a broken institution.

    matthew, you have quickly become one of my heroes, not because of your “church sign of day” posts (although they are a nice part of my name), but because you have put your reputation as a christian on the line to speak the truth and ask the questions that so many are afraid to ask. you have brought light to the dark places of the institution.

    thank you,
    another non-as-famous trouble maker

  19. says

    Speaking out should never =trouble maker. To be apart of the church (universal) I think Christians should have the right to talk about what’s going wrong. It’s like a parent who doesn’t let their kids have any say in life. Church is like family, its messy. Trying act like everything is perfect is just as damaging as pretending everything is horrible.

  20. Thin-ice says

    As an missionary, and an evangelical for 46 years who de-converted (to agnosticism/atheism), I laugh when reading these angst-filled musings, as an outsider looking back into familiar territory.
    Are you guys actually suggesting that by letting the “not-saved-by-the-blood-of-Jesus” crowd see your warts and imperfections, that people will be less attracted to the “gospel”? Well, DUUUUH!

    The evangelical church is full of philanderers, adulterers, liars, charlatans, and criminals at a proportion, I would guess, that is nearly the same as the population that is not “born-again”. Maybe even at a higher proportion, though I have no proof.

    By hiding all the imperfections within your community of believers, you are basically admitting a kind of deception, and afraid to let the un-saved world know that your Church (and your Jesus, by inference?) is no better than the non-religious community. What other kind of conclusion can I come to??

  21. Samantha says

    I think showing this, sharing this and bringing light to a situation like this is necessary. Those of us hurt by our pastors and churches feel isolated enough as it. Showing us (me!) that there is a community, that it’s not just me has been very helpful.
    Keep making trouble please!

  22. Melody says

    I echo what others have said: Keep being a troublemaker. The more the abuse of church “authority” is exposed, the more we will see justice for their crimes. Keep it up!

  23. Derrick says

    I actually had a similar conversation with my father-in-law recently. I’d been criticizing “many evangelicals” a little too often and was accused of “throing [sic] the whole body of Christ into the sam [sic] bag and kicking it.” I described my experiences with a church like faulty home electrical wiring causing a short in a toaster which caused an electrical fire. Healing from the abuses I’ve suffered isn’t as simple as replacing the toaster. The whole system has to be addressed.
    You’ve been an electrician for me many times (yes, I’m still rolling with this metaphor). I am thankful that you are “making trouble” because that means that other people see the kinds of things I’ve gone through. Maybe if enough troublemakers speak up…things will change.

  24. LRA says

    As someone who left the church (partially) because of spiritual abuse and a sense of being over-controlled (especially as a woman), I have to say that someone like Matt validating that what was done to me was wrong makes me more likely to like him as a Christian and not less.
    Matt has shown me that not all Christians are hate-filled control-mongers who want to tell me what to do with every aspect of my life.

    There are other reasons I will not return to Christianity (mainly intellectual ones having to do with completing degrees in philosophy and science), but it’s not because someone like Matt points out the problems with Mark Driscoll’s d*uch-baggery. That is readily apparent whether Matt says anything or not.

    I would like to add here that I find outspoken conservative fundamentalists to be the worst problem Christianity has. They are hypocrites in the extreme and I find them intellectually intolerable in many (but not all) cases. As a Texan, I’m often surrounded by these types, and their obnoxiousness reminds me that I will never be swindled by their lies again. They are not even remotely about love and they are obsessed with control and hatred/intolerance of people different than they are. They have the audacity to claim that they know the mind/will of “God” because they take the Bible to be literal (which is hilarious because it’s an English translation and, as any one with half a brain knows, translation IS interpretation and so there is no such thing as a literal translation).

    So, there you have it… straight from a non-believer’s mouth. Until fundamentalist conservatives reject their own hypocrisy and actually start living their lives the way Jesus would (yes, Jesus would be considered a radical liberal today as he expected people to give away their money and spend their whole lives serving the needy– he talked about money more than any other topic in the New Testament), people like me will continue to find many who call themselves “Christian” to be repugnant.

  25. Terroni says

    Thin-Ice’s conclusion is correct. The Christian is no better than the non-religious man. Said Paul…”In my flesh dwells no good thing.”
    Christians were crucified with Christ because there was NO way to redeem us apart from it. There was no way to save us without crucifying us. Salvation is not a behavior modification plan. It is a man replacement plan.

    And this is the fundamental problem with the fundamentalist Christian church. Christians know they’ve been saved, but they don’t know what the hell that means. They think that on the cross Christ took the hit so they wouldn’t have to–like he pushed them out of the way of a speeding bus. But that’s not what the Gospel says happened there. The Gospel says that he dragged you in front of that bus. It says that you died up there with him. “I was crucified with Christ…”

    And so, to be a Christian is not to imitate Christ, it is to be imparted with Him. “…yet not I, but Christ lives in me.”

    As long as people are simply trying to imitate Him, there will be these gross abuses of power, perversions of the Gospel, and many a Mark Driscoll. Because our righteousness is like filthy rags. Because in our flesh dwells no good thing.

    And that’s what we see on your blog–people trying to act out a Life in their own flesh when they were meant to be “filled up to all the fullness of God.”

  26. SC says

    In your response letter to your friend you said”Because whether you want to admit this or not, I’m not the one who gave “those far from God” reasons to scoff. Mark Driscoll & Company did that. Mark has done that in various ways over and over and over again.”

    I don’t think those far off scoffing matters at all, they scoffed at Jesus for saying he would destroy this temple and rebuild it in 3 days.
    The thing is, it seems like even if what Mars Hill was doing was completely perfect and in accord with God’s will, “those far from God” would continue to scoff at them. And because Jesus was scoffed at, and so were the apostles, and Jesus said in this life you will have persecution, it would be easy for Mark and Mars Hill to interpret the hatred of them, with the fact that Christians are enemies of God in their thinking, so the hatred is proof they are following Christ.

    However the scoffing that should be concerning isn’t those who are far off, since they would scoff at Jesus himself, it is the fact that so many people who are not far off, scoff at it all.

    I’m on the fence because I’ve known people who came to faith by going to Mars Hill, and in many ways I believe God is indeed doing good things through that church. However, I do believe we have plenty of reason to be skeptical and scoff at some of the things they do. The issue your friend might have is that, by eagerly pointing out their flaws, and making them more widely known to the whole word, you might be failing to point out that Mark does seem to speak the truth about Jesus being the only begotten Son of God who died for our sins.

    The question i really want to know is do you think Mark Driscoll is a Christian?

    • Melody says

      I don’t claim to speak for Matt or anyone else here, but our beef isn’t so much with the church members, necessarily, as with its authoritarian leaders. I do not believe that a pastor is above his/her (yes, her) congregation, much less above scrutiny when it comes to measuring words with actions. Mark loves to rant about men who aren’t masculine enough for his taste and keeping women “in their place,” but he conveniently ignores the verses about humility, a virtue in which he seems to be sorely lacking.
      About church members, you’re right. I’m sure there are numerous good-hearted, loving people that attend Mars Hill. I can’t fathom their reasons for doing so, but if they’re truly following Jesus’ teachings, then I have nothing to say about them. It’s the leadership that should be held accountable, since they are supposedly responsible for guiding this mass of people.

      • JR says

        As a member of MH, my husband and I have had a few conversations with friends as a result of the recent numerous articals. One of the things that we have to point out to all of our friends who ask the same thing (why do you even go there??) is that the Holy Spirit has called us to be there! Will we be there in 10 years? I don’t know. Will we be there in 1 year? I don’t know, but I think every Christian who attends a church needs to make sure God is truly calling them to be there. My husband and I have total peace about being at MH and I have the faith that it is because He wants us there right now (and not because we drank the kool-aid, as people LOVE to say about MH… which I find to be very a very cruel comment to make especially when it comes from other believers.)
        Also, as a woman at MH, no one is trying to put me “in my place.” Complementarian teaching isn’t about demeaning, bullying or lording over your spouse. It means that my husband is called to love me as Christ loves the church, which is really hard but also so beautiful. I am also called to submit to my husband, as the church is called to submit to Christ which is equally as hard, but it is so easy when my husband is faithfully doing what he is first called to do (love me as Christ loves the church).

        Thank you, Melody for differentiating that the true beef isn’t with the church members, but I just wanted to submit the idea that God calls people to MH and God is still using MH for His Glory, as He is doing with every part of His Church :)

  27. John F says

    At least people who are “far from God” and who scoff at Christians will know that if there’s a big issue like this, that we’re not all sheeple all the time and that people do stand up against the stupid and often dangerous things that go on in some churches.
    Matthew, there have been times I’ve thought of un-following you on twitter when I don’t agree with you, (yeah! not just because of the awards show tweets!), but when I disagree with you I realise that I need to be challenged and that there’s another side of the argument I might need to think about. I also like dropping in on the blog sometimes and reading the breadth of comments you get, especially from agnostics and atheists, because their perceptions are often the most important piece of the picture.

  28. Charlotte says

    I know speaking up when something is obviously wrong, especially in something you care about is difficult, so I just want to say thank you.

  29. Katie says

    Hi Matthew, I’ve been reading your blog for a while now, and although I’m British and so don’t understand all of the issues in the American church, I also often feel like Jesus needs new PR…! I’ve never commented before but I did just want to say on this occasion that I admire the grace with which you have handled the comments that have come back to you on this. I’m sad to say that that the unkind and (embarrassingly over-) sarcastic comments that you have received do not surprise me – even though they come from pastors – but I wish they did. Your tactful reply is a demonstration of Christ-like wisdom and grace from which many pastors could learn. Thank you for all of your articles, and for all of the cringe-y video and photo posts which keep me encouraged that people other than me can be Christians and still find Christian culture ridiculous! Best wishes, Katie

  30. says

    I completely respect what you write about. I have grown up in the church and until I started reading your blog, I had never heard of Mark Driscoll in the manner and text you have presented. I had heard the name, but never knew much about who he was or what he stood for.Keep on writing!

  31. Erin says

    Like too many others, I’ve had a lot of pain that came directly from the church. This blog, and others like it, bring me peace and hope, and help me draw near to God. So many vocal Christians and pastors preach thinly veiled hatred and don’t share the awesome, pure, unconditional, complete love of Christ.Their messages break my spirit and my heart, and coming here, knowing that other people recognize the brokenness of the church, helps to heal that.

  32. Twill says

    Really great article from Slate brought me over to your blog and http://www.marshillrefuge.blogspot.com I’ve never been to this church, but sounds pretty fundamentalist to me. I have heard of this church and what their stance are on “women’s work”. I think women pastors are wonderful and have a perspective I want to hear about more often.

  33. kisekileia says

    Your willingness to expose spiritually abusive practices in the church is a balm to the soul of spiritual abuse survivors, and is probably doing a hell of a lot more to help people see the good in Christianity than covering up abuse would. Being a whistleblower in a society that likes to cover up problems is heroic, and revealing the truth is a holy deed. You have a far stronger moral compass than the people who are criticizing you, and I think that non-Christians and skeptical Christians can see that.

  34. says

    Here’s what I’ve learned: peace and unity typically come at the cost of someone. Usually the weakest, the victim, the one being hurt the most. Yeah, I know Christianity has this belief that Christians should just be wonderful and good and kind all the time, but surely no one believes that that’s actually what happens. And so when bullies, and those who hurt others do something and do it in the name of Christianity, somebody has to take a stand. Failure to do so is a stand in fact. Silence says you are complicit. If I watch someone hit someone else and I don’t stop it, I have just aided the bully hitting the person. And if Christians call for silence toward those who hurt others, then what Christians are really calling for are for the people who hurt others to define Christianity. They will be the loudest voices, they will be what people hear, and they will set the tone for way Christianity develops, and how it functions and is perceived by others. I have no use or respect anymore for people who wish for silence so that the victims are never heard, and the bad guys will win out.

  35. Cameron says

    Keep up the good work Matt. First, I greatly enjoy your writing and second (most importantly) I think what you do is needed, I just hope that the cultures of misogyny, intolerance and control within some Christian communities and actually start improving themselves. The current example being Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill…

  36. Kathryn says

    Most would agree it’s not right to stand by and watch someone get the shit beaten out of them and not do anything about it. Also – pretty horrible to witness a rape and just sit there scratching your head. Abuse is abuse and someone needs to speak up about it, Troublemaker.

  37. says

    As I recall, Jesus was something of a “troublemaker” in His culture as well.Not sure why it’s so difficult for us as believers to just love people these days. Well…OK, I guess I do know why, because I find it very difficult to love others a lot of days. Still, why is it taking so much for the church to step up to the plate and just show love?
    Thanks for what you do here, Matt. Glory to God.

  38. says

    Matt…I consider myself a ‘normal’ Christian and I also consider you a ‘normal’ Christian. From my standpoint this is the highest praise I can give you. There are not many of us out there. Chin up and keep on blogging!

  39. PLTK says

    Be proud when you are called a trouble-maker by the 21st century pharisees. After all, you are a follower of a trouble maker named Jesus. Calling out for truth will always cause trouble for those with distorted views of God.

  40. says

    There’s so much wrong with that Facebook comment.
    Do we really NEED a shiny, problem-free image for people to accept Christ? Or is our faith a bait-and-switch? We can’t say we’re unified under Christ and you should join us, only to reveal all the dirt under the carpet after they’ve “prayed the prayer” or been baptized. We aren’t used car salesmen. We’re representatives of the Most High – the priesthood of believers, Jesus with flesh on.

    Secondly, didn’t Jesus welcome “pagans and tax collectors” and even party with them from time to time? I mean… I get the point, but just wanted to throw that out there.

    More than anything, I think that you did what Jesus did in his own day. You exposed injustice at the expense of the squeaky-clean “reputation” of those in power. It’s a small price to pay for the redemption of a few.

  41. Rachel says

    I read about Andrew and Mars Hill first on Slate and that brought me here. As I’m sitting here in the library at my grad school tears are running down my face. I too have felt the sting of rejection and “discipline” from a Christian organization in which I was heavily involved in college….
    My boyfriend and I had started struggling with sexual sin after going through some very emotional difficult times. After 4 years of dating, his parents’ messy divorce and mom’s cancer, needless to say, fighting to stay pure was a battle we weren’t winning. We knew we needed help and accountability. I started meeting with a pastor’s wife from our church and she was the reason things turned around. Her godly love, listening ear, prayers, and sincere forgiveness was like a breath of fresh air. I got the accountability I so desperately needed along with the assurance that not all was lost, I was loved by God forgive, and free. My boyfriend also started meeting with a pastor, and our relationship began to turn around. The sexual sin stopped and we were being held accountable and lifted up in prayer. It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, but with God’s strength change and redemption is possible.

    A few months passed and the pastor’s wife encouraged me to share what God was doing in my life with my small group and the team from the Christian organization I was a part of on campus. Lets say I got way more than I bargained for. Immediately, I was contacted by the off-campus leadership of the organization (whom I had never met). They told me I was no longer allowed to take on any responsibilities within the organization, would refrain from leading any younger girls in discussions about God or the bible (unless it was to apologize for my behavior), and would consent to being counseled by one of the other student leaders. After 6 months they would reconsider letting me get involved again. Since I was graduating in 3 months, that last part was pretty moot. A number of the other student leaders stopped talking to me. People started asking my little brother why I was kicked off. After years of working, praying, and building up the ministry on our campus, everything was over just like that.

    It was a huge, sickening mess. The worst part was, I felt like I deserved it. I had messed up and sin has consequences right? I sent a few emails and had a conversation with one of the student leaders about how I felt rejected rather than built up but it was no use. A few close friends, the off-campus pastor and his wife still supported me and made their love clear. Without them I do not think I could have made it those last few months till graduation.

    Happier times came – my boyfriend and I got engaged and then married. We are both in grad school now and love living life together. However I still really struggle with finding Christian community. Except for my closest friends who are my true sisters, I have not shared this story with anyone else. I dont really blame them – their policy for discipline is modeled on Mt. 18 just like everyone else. But it has definitely shut me up.

    If you are a Christian struggling with sexual sin – extramarital sex, porn, homosexuality, you are very unlikely to want to go to your Church for help because you are afraid of what might happen if you bring things into the light. Afraid that what happened to Andrew might happen to you. So you suffer silently and sink farther and farther because sin thrives in the darkness. As strange as this sounds coming from me – please get help. You dont need to announce it to the world, but get help from a trusted friend, Christian counselor, someone. Dont let fear of rejection and judgment keep you in bondage to your sin – that is the devil’s voice. When all is said and done, I have been forgiven and freed even though I lost relationships with some people I considered my friends. But freedom is more important than reputation. Seriously.

    “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God forgave the inexcusable in you.” C.S. Lewis

    Love, Rachel

  42. says

    Okay, Since first reading the story of Andrew and his shoddy treatment by the people at Mars Hill, I have been haunted by this issue. I’ve gone back to my Bible and to my own church elders and even the blog world looking for an answer as to how church discipline is REALLY supposed to be handled. I’ve also struggled with being a writer and a woman and how all that fits into the church.
    So far, all I have been able to find is criticism of Mars Hill and its pastor, and no clear statement of, “No, Mr. Driscoll, That’s not how it’s done, its THIS way!” IF we believe in the Bible as not only the inspired Word of God, If we believe that we are to use it as our guide through life, then how do we reconcile verses in the bible in which stern, almost cold measures are taken to discipline and purify the “flock”?

    Do I agree with how Andrew’s situation was handled based on the evidence I have read? No. Do I believe that discipline in the church is necessary? Yes. But would someone please explain to me what that is really supposed to look like? I appreciate your “troublemaking” ways, Mr. Turner, I fully believe that the church should only be led by one superstar and his name was Jesus.

    However, I’d seriously love to know just what you think SHOULD have been done with Andrew and for the rest of us sinning, broken people.

  43. Bob Graham says

    When I was going through my divorce in the early 90s, my church didn’t really know how to handle it and consequently didn’t handle it well. My ex made it clear to our church that if I attended, she couldn’t. The church chose her. I left. I have a friend who helped me with this line, “The Christian Army: the only army that shoots its wounded.”

  44. Frankie Ann Joseph says

    I have lost my daughters to Mars Hill “Church”. Part of my story aka reality was shared on TWW. There are two pastors at one of the campuses that are directly involved with my daughter’s in laws and helping in the brainwashing. They have convinced them this is what Jesus wants. They have told them lies and slandered me beyond belief! I have been totally and legally shunned and cast off! My grandchild was born over two weeks ago and these people have gone to every possible length to hide them from me and their father. These good “Christian” people allowed my daughter to suffer over 50 hours of labor at a home birth! No doctor would have let this happen. I need help on how to report this abuse. This IS emotional and spiritual abuse. Help!!!!

    • Noelle says

      I’m sorry to hear of your pain. I’ve had some family members who shun others for reasons I don’t understand. There are ways to keep the lines of communication open. Write letters to your daughter and grandchild. Doesn’t have to be deep or formal. Maybe more of a diary form in a pad of paper you leave out. Write the date and thoughts. Monday, I made spaghetti today. I remember how you used to call it basketti and it made me smile. Children grow so fast. Give that little one a kiss from grandma.
      You could mail them or save them for later. If they’re returned, put them in a box for later. If your daughter comes around someday, a reminder that you were there and always thinking of her is helpful. Send bday and Christmas gifts, or set up a college fund.

  45. says

    I appreciate your transparency. I am tired of controlling churches and misogynistic attitudes. You are not afraid to speak your mind, but you have always done so in humility. It is nice to hear from a male Christian blogger who is so very pro-women!
    I am praying for God’s will with all this Mars Hill stuff.

  46. says

    Interestingly enough, your childhood friend who said, “I wish I was a blogger instead of a pastor,” does, in fact, have a pretty easy to find blog. I only skimmed the first couple pages, in which he criticized the security staff at his college, a college campus ministry, reposted a criticism of all other students, and slams Rob Bell, both for his theology and being too “hipster”. All that is to say, MPT, don’t sweat it. You may be a black kettle, but you’re not alone.

  47. Noelle says

    From someone else who never knows when to leave well enough alone, I say keep it up. If it were well enough, one wouldn’t have to leave it alone. If it’s well and healthy, it’ll enjoy a good run around and play. If playing with it upsets people, then it wasn’t well. If it’s not well, it needs fixing. Keep up the good work.

  48. shadowspring says

    I want to thank you sincerely for your continuing to call out Mark Driscoll. He is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and he is scattering the weak and the hurting, sending them wounded into the wilderness, while grooming the insecure and proud to be fleeced.
    The church I loved was a small Lutheran sanctuary. Our pastor used to refer to as as the island of misfit toys. Everyone was welcome. Battered women, the homeless, the divorced, rich, poor, showered and smelly. The service was held in a coffee shop, with the pastor’s speaking “platform” actually a step down from the tables and chairs area. Anyone walking in off the street could read the Scripture (on the screen), join the band/chorus (all you had to do was ask) and take communion. Anyone who had been attending for any length of time could offer communion after pastor prayed over and blessed the elements. There was a weekly reading about us all being wounded healers sent out into the world to share Christ’s love, not to have all the answers but to serve in love.

    Then he started listening to Mark Driscoll. I still remember the day he told me he had become a Driscoll fan. He said it tauntingly ( I am a woman) saying, “You won’t like this but…”. I was unfazed. I personally am a Jesus fan; I don’t follow the Christian business empire anymore (though I have spent thousands on all the right books in previous years).

    That was two, three years ago? Now that church has changed so drastically. Hardly any of the people who were finding spiritual strength and life at the place pre-Driscoll are left. The broken left first (the welcome just isn’t there anymore), then the artists left. The church itself left its denomination affiliation so no gay people would think they were welcome at the church. I was pushed out, as well as my son. The band is now closed, scriptures are read in unison so no woman reads them, and he is probably making more money than ever. The people who left have been replaced by others who want to make sure gay people know the church doesn’t welcome them, people whose former congregations did NOT succeed over the gay issue. I hear he pushes tithing and these people are eating it up. It has become just another twisted fundamentalist church, fleecing those who stay to be used and abused, who are actually jostling and pushing on another to get in line for the privilege.

    Mark Driscoll promoted this, appealing to our insecure white male pastor with his cool hair cut and patriarchal domination of the sheep. Our pastor would like nothing more than to be Mark Driscoll.

    He used to want to be like Jesus. So sad.

  49. says

    Having blogged a couple times about these issues, and having received a number of similar responses as you have, including from friends who are current Mars Hill members, I’m left scratching my head.
    We’re the ones being called out for “attacking” other Christians . . . meanwhile Driscoll blasts Christian ministers in the UK, and blasts Rob Bell and Brian McLaren, and blasts Paul Young (author of The Shack).

    If we’re not supposed to publicly bring other Christians to account, why isn’t anyone holding Mark Driscoll to that standard?

    • Joe Crenshaw says

      Good point. Both Matthew and Mark (good names eh?) have their egos, I would love to see both of them during a no holds barred sit down. Again, let’s be fair here. Pastor Mark has thousands of lives to account for, and with sexual sin running rampant in a society that worships it (one of our modern Ashera Poles) you have to be on guard. I do think they botched this situation because the daughter of an elder is involved.
      In honesty I probably am closer to Mark Driscoll’s theology than MPT’s . . but I am willing to cut any follower of CHRIST slack since GOD has given all of us Grace that we don’t deserve.

      The issue is that it does add on to the critics of Christianity who look for any reason to blame all Christians for the error of one or a few. I’ve been blamed for slavery, genocides and wars, which are foolish since all those are before my time and I am African American!

      The truth of the matter is, critics of Christianity will always find a way to hate us . .

  50. says

    If I were you, I’d wear that “troublemaker” badge with pride. From the Slate article I gather that a “troublemaker” is someone who isn’t afraid to speak up about spiritual abuse. There’s nothing wrong with that. ;)
    Hopefully Andrew–and you–will continue to speak out. Your actions will inevitably bring about a positive change in the Christian community.

  51. Jabbar says

    As I read the comments, it struck me that the man in the title of the blog, ‘Jesus’ was a trouble maker. He came to turn the world upside down. He came to set the captive free. Whether I always agree with you or not, what you did was stand up for something you believe in. That’s something that a majority of ‘christians’ will not do. A sidenote for all those who like to cast stones at others expressing their opinions… in Revelation 28:1 it states that the first two types of people to be thrown in the lake of fire at the end of the age, are not the fornicator, the homosexual, the murderer, or the liar, but the fearful and unbelieving. Those last two aren’t those of the world, because they are most likely in the other categories in that verse. No, it is those that say the believe in Jesus Christ, and in the end He will say that He never knew you. Kudos Mr. Turner for being a light in dark places. Continue to allow God to use you to set the captive free. Freeing them from the bonds of man’s religion and showing all the Love of Christ. Whether you know it or not you are an evangelist. The church age is over. Not because God doesn’t want us to spread the Gospel, but just like the Pharisees, the church has become an elitist and secret society that cannot stand up to scrutiny, It will all come out in the wash. What you believe is right and by the Power the Holy Spirit has given you to stand, you actually became “Christ-like’ which is the true definition of a Christian!

  52. Jeff says

    The Pharisees and religious leaders branded Jesus a “troublemaker” as well. Keep your head up. You’re in good company!

  53. Joe Crenshaw says

    MPT,
    Let’s be honest here, you don’t like Mark Driscoll. To you he is the symbol of everything you dis like about “the church.” He’s a conservative, he believes in the bible wholly as the word of YHWH, he subscribes to traditional theology and traditional “Christianity.” You to be honest are on the opposite side of the spectrum, but I do believe you are as sincere a follower of Christ as I have read (I read your book “Hear No Evil”) in my many years of being a follower of Christ.

    This story seemed to be right down your alley, but look at from both sides. Mark is a Pastor of a mega church with thousands of members, as most churches I am pretty sure there are single MILFs abounding. You have to protect those women and that is done by making sure serial fornicators are excommunicated expediently.

    I belonged to a smaller church, and my Uncle messed up many things by his serial fornicating with many women in the church. He was a trouble maker who should have been excommunicated. In this instance you have a young man who’s fornicated with one church member and another woman outside of the church. Now, why wasn’t the woman punished as well? As with the woman in St. John’s gospel caught in adultery where was the guy she was sexing?

    I don’t think Andrew should have been kicked out of church, and I think the church tried to make an example of him and backfired. Mar’s Hill owes the young man a serious apology and they need to repent for their foolishness.

    I also don’t agree with Mark Driscoll’s “masculine” approach or other things he believes, he too often uses his personal feelings as doctrine and even worse than fornications.

  54. Mariah says

    I’d never been a big fan of Mark Driscoll. The whole “I’m a pastor and I cuss in church” thing doesn’t sit well with me, so I guess I’m just not cool enough to go to his, and that’s about how much I thought about it. But when friends from COMPLETELY different backgrounds, circumstances, religions and life-views in general start posting articles on Facebook about how this guy is kind of nuts, I figured I’d better start paying attention. Especially when I have dear friends who go to Mars Hill, and know dozens more who listen to Driscoll’s podcasts and like what he has to say.

  55. MG says

    If it’s worth anything, I appreciate your voice. As a female, it’s nice knowing there are guys like you out there. As a Christian, it’s nice knowing that the only voice of Christianity is not Piper/Driscoll.

  56. Jen says

    Did you answer Tim’s call? “If you actually want to contribute something, then explain to us how churches should handle instructions to put the immoral out of the church (1 Cor) or the instructions to shun the divisive (Titus 3) or treat the unrepentant as pagans and tax collectors (Matthew 18). ”
    You do a lot of finger pointing, I’d almost say, that is all you do? I’ve followed your blog for a couple years now and I seem to leave 90% of the time wondering what your point is.

    • says

      And Jen, every single comment that you have ever left on my blog has this same basic tone/message.
      Maybe you should just stop reading my blog if you think it has no point.

      • Jen says

        ouch. ok. happy valentines day. Just because I leave often wondering what your point is, doesn’t mean you don’t have one, perhaps I am just too dim to see it. I apologize that I came off rude, I see now my “that is all you do” comment is/was rude. what a difference a day makes in perspective. I read that twice before I sent it too, dang. Oh well – I guess I don’t understand, I still wonder – what place do you think church discipline has in church/lives of members? I disagree w/ the way the MH pastors have been treating their flock and it is scary to think it is spreading.

      • Christian says

        Seems a bit of a rude way to speak to a woman since you are the great champion delivering us from the misogynist Driscoll….

  57. Juanjoli says

    I’m just gonna say, Thanks for the Blog Matt, keep it up! You do a wonderful job. I’m thinking of doing something like this but in Spanish.

  58. MCG says

    I think you brought up some legitimate issues in a much-needed discussion about church discipline.
    At times, Matt, I do feel a personal dislike of Mark Driscoll colors what are otherwise valid points.

    Much of what was written about in this church discipline case was sad and difficult to read. Public exposure does bring shame to the Church…but perhaps even Mars Hill would agree that if there was wrong done in their discipline process (that mistakes were made), the attitude of repentance (grief for the sinful error, and wanting to make things right) means that Mars Hill would actually humbly accept the criticism and continue to work for a better process.

    Their response here (see link below) does show a recognition that things were not done in the right spirit. And it sounds like several of the people involved in recent church discipline cases were removed from leadership.
    http://marshill.com/2012/02/13/a-response-regarding-church-discipline

    Matt, I enjoy your blog and Twitter. I think you talk about some hard things other people don’t want to talk about. I hope you’ll have a bit more grace for Mark Driscoll, though. He has a lot of faults and is still learning what it means to be like Christ, as we all are. (Thank God we don’t have to save people, whew!)

    I don’t attend Mars Hill, but I have been blessed by many of their sermons. I do not agree with everything they preach. (I don’t agree with everything my own pastor preaches.) I don’t think Mars Hill is a cult. They are a church like any other church…one with many good qualities, and one with many flaws. Perhaps even more flawed than some, because of the pace of growth, their extreme views of male/female roles, and the public exposure due to media attention. And the movement towards control and domination is troubling, though, I do agree.

    But–I’ve attended some churches where there literally was zero church discipline, and honestly, I think there is a healthy middle between “anything goes” and shunning/excommunication. I don’t think Mars Hill in these two cases has found a place that’s healthy, gracious and Christ-like. Churches where sin and apathy and continual divisiveness is allowed, tolerated and ignored, however, are also unhappy places…chaotic and abusive in different ways. I’m not sure we as a modern church have done a good job in seeing discipline as a healthy, normal, educational process that must be addressed, rather than a chance for punishment or a let’s-just-ignore-conflict type reaction.

    I’m glad you brought up this issue, and that it received so much publicity, because a church that is growing so rapidly, that has leaders that lean towards control and domination, that are strongly outspoken about so many non-central tenets of faith…is a church in danger of growing proud and uncorrectable. Again, I love Mars Hill and it has been nothing but positive in my life–but legitimate concerns brought forward by brothers/sisters in the faith shouldn’t be dismissed. Pastor Mark and Mars Hill hopefully will spend some time praying and considering how these valid and serious concerns should be addressed. (Perhaps that link/letter above does indicate a desire by them to do better in this area.)

    Let’s not be hypocrites, though, and, as one person said above, be an army that kills their own wounded. That is, Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll are imperfect and full of flaws. They sin and make mistakes, as all Christians and all churches do. I’m not dismissing the hurt they’ve caused in people’s lives or dismissing that there are many ex-members who were hurt so badly by their actions, some no longer attend church. I’m just saying that pretty much every church has hurt their own flock, even to the point that some no longer believe in Christ. Exposing flaws is one thing, and Matt, that can be healthy when it’s fair and thoughtful, which I think for the most part you were. But writing off fellow Christians as a cult seems to me to be doing the same thing we’re unhappy with Mars Hill about–rejecting, judging, harshly evaluating and lacking in grace.

  59. says

    Matthew, I am one who respects Driscoll. I could be characterized as young, restless, and reformed (even though I am on the older part of that crowd). I am in the middle of the Acts 29 application process. I want to say to you I am sorry. I don’t speak for all of the reformed blogger crowd. But you should not have been attacked like this. You did what you needed to do. Let’s flip the script around and say that someone with a similar story from the other Mars Hill (Rob Bell’s) came to a reformed blogger. We would jump on that story faster than people were tweeting about Niki Manaj during the recent Grammys. We would post blog after blog after blog never caring if there was another side of the story. This would be the opportunity for us to crush our “perceived” enemy. So how can we treat you the way you have been treated when we are no different.
    I will admit I did not like reading all that you had to say about a church and a pastor I respect. But you wrote with a pastor’s heart. That was clearly evident to me. You were deeply troubled by the story that had been shared with you and you were heartbroken at what had been done. I respect that. We need more of that heart in the world of Christian blogging. We need people who are broken hearted over people because those are the persons that are gripped by the Gospel.

    I do not always agree with you, but I can learn from you. So thank you for being faithful to God’s call on your life and doing so in ways that impacts other people.

    • says

      Thank you, Todd, for this kind, thoughtful, and gracious comment. Your words are much appreciated. And may God bless your journey toward church planting…
      Matthew

  60. Jason says

    Mark Driscoll better not stop being who he is. MPT’s career depends on it God forbid Driscoll changes. MPT would have nothing to write about. Or at least nothing that brings him the hits that anti-Driscoll posts do.

  61. Christian says

    I am speaking as someone who has been abused by spiritual authority in another church context, and also someone who (very sadly) has indirectly hurt people in the context of pastoring due to my own sin and lack of training. Perhaps the real problem is that we live in a broken world with people who are all sinful. There will (sadly again) always be problems in the church of Jesus Christ. That is not an excuse, but a reality that is a very freeing. I know part of the time when I was abused was also related to a bit of idealism that lies within me. The gospel is needed for this simple reality…our ideals and the ideals of scripture don’t always get worked out perfectly. I’m not sure, but I trust that many of the pastors you speak about on this site have themselves felt abused by members of their own congregation at times and have thus sought to set up their structures to try and mitigate the best result for God’s glory and everyone involved.

  62. Angie says

    MPT I am truly very sorry you are receiving backlash from posting the story on Andrew, especially from other pastors who seem to be frustrated over the amount of unrepentant sinners in their congregations. I kind of see the point your friend was making, but on the other hand it is how and when and this discipline process is carried out is wrong. And who. The girlfriend got no punishment for ‘lying and deceiving’ people about the purity and nature of her relationship with Andrew. He did. Not holding the woman accountable for her part in the deception and sin is wrong. She is a Christian first and a woman second. She sinned, period. And there’s little to no deception involved when you know you’re not married and you choose to spread your legs. It’s total BS that she wasn’t held accountable for at least her part in that, if that’s how Mars Hill wants to play.
    For example, I have a friend whose pastor refused to marry her to a man that she was engaged to because he was unrepentant about some things he had done to her. I think that was an acceptable form of discipline, even though she didn’t seem to care, the pastor simply did not feel comfortable marrying them because the man never acknowledged the depth of his sin and its impact on his relationship with his fiance. The church chose not to condone his choices or his actions, and not to bring two people into a union while one was still possibly not yet repentant about his actions. I applaud that. Fine. Great. Wish I’d hear more of that. I know because my friend told me what was going on – not because the pastor stood up and made a big old announcement and told the entire congregation not to condone the relationship.

    To deny or expel someone from serving in ministry where they set themselves up to be an example to other members and Christians while in the process of repenting is acceptable. I’ll even say to expel someone from a congregation who refuses to ACKNOWLEDGE their sin is even acceptable. Well, maybe. As long as whether or not they HAVE sinned isn’t the issue.

    To presume to know whether or not someone is ‘repentant enough’, and to judge the true condition of someone’s heart, and order other members not to commune with the individual is WRONG. MD and friends judged him unrepentant, despite a clear attempt. Not only did they judge him to be unrepentant (when who really knows but Andrew and God), they essentially told him he was not good enough for God and threw him out of community with other Christians.

    Somewhere in that congregation there is another young man feeling guilty about screwing his girlfriend and not confessing his sin because of what happened to Andrew and MH’s discipline process. Before that, maybe not so comfortable knowing how Mars Hill feels about sexual sin. That young man should feel free to step forward, confess his sin, get PRIVATE counseling and begin to walk in repentance. If that young man also has had problems in the past with sexual sin, he should feel free to confess and reveal what those problems are so he can get help. He should not have to fear retaliation from the entire congregation, or fear that he may not be ‘repentant enough’ to still be called a Christian. Actions have consequences, but I just fail to see where the repairative actions taken by Andrew were ‘not enough’ and cause for all of this. It’s like in high school and someone does something unpopular so no one wants to sit next to them in the lunch room anymore. Totally juvenile. And we wonder why psychologists and psychiatrists make so much money, it’s not like someone with a problem can just go to a pastor – if people knew how sinful they were, they might not welcome to warm a church pew anymore.

    So, what you will end up with is not more holy God-fearing Christians, but instead more liars and deceivers walking in unrepentance, not confessing their sins, and not seeking out other fellow Christians to get the help they need.

  63. says

    I always find it particularly hilarious when those of the Reformed/Calvinist stripe blame “troublemakers” for driving people away from Christianity. By their own doctrinal definition people are “Far from God” because … well, God wants it that way. Why does HE want it that way? Who are you Oh Man to even ask about the great mysteries of God?
    So what someone says… whatever complaint they raise against the church or preachers, or the weather, has nothing to do with someone’s eternal location. If there is no human agency in God’s salvific plan that would also include a “negative” in a congregation. This of course would be the doctrine of Election in all its unadulterated glory combined with the doctrine of Limited Atonement, and Perseverance of the Saints. But who wants to be consistent with such a doctrine when people get to evade substantive review with a wave of the magic “you’re just a trouble maker,” wand?

    Here is a thought. How do they get to set the terms of the troublemaking equation? Maybe they are the trouble makers… and their dissent against those of us who rejected their mystic despotism should toe OUR mark.

Leave a Reply