A Twisted Crown of Thorns ®

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Mars Hill Church now being questioned on Mark Driscoll’s cult like control of members

Love him or hate him, Mark Driscoll is a very polarizing personality. Though of late he has drawn alot of concern among many conservative Christians (following his hasty endorsement of heretics, his controversial book and esoteric visions). Now there is Andrew-gate :

Until last fall, a 25-year-old Seattle man named Andrew was happily committed to Mars Hill Church, one of America’s fastest-growing megachurches with more than 5,000 members. He volunteered weekly for security duty at his branch of the church, joined a Bible study group, and had recently become engaged to the daughter of a church elder. Then he made a mistake that found him cast out: He cheated on his fiancee with a community college classmate. The fury over Andrew’s experience—and his decision to publicize the church’s internal disciplinary procedures—has led to accusationsby otherChristians that one of the most powerful evangelical voices in the country, Mars Hill pastor Mark Driscoll, employs a cultlike leadership style…

Perhaps unsurprisingly for a man this interested in structures of authority, Driscoll maintains a firm grip over his congregation. Mars Hill is nondenominational, which means it doesn’t formally answer to any outside institutional bodies, so Driscoll holds the power. He has preached against “sinning through questioning” and once said publicly he would like to “go Old Testament” on dissenters. He has reported that he can sometimes “see things” about his members’ past sins…

Andrew first told his story in January to prominent Christian blogger Matthew Paul Turner, who posted it in two detailed parts on his website. According to that account, Andrew cheated on his fiancee, engaging in some kind of sexual contact short of intercourse with another woman. Racked with guilt, he quickly confessed to both his fiancee and another member of his small group. About two weeks later, he also admitted to having a premarital sexual relationship with his now ex-fiancee. Andrew told Turner he was forced out of his original small group, which is an important touchstone for most megachurch attendees (and a requirement at Mars Hill). For the next month, Andrew met with—and received texts from—many church representatives. He was given a new contract requiring that he write his “sexual and emotional attachment history with women” and share it with his fiancee; he was also told to give her, and his pastor, a list of his sexual and emotional sins. (Turner posted the document.) Instead of signing the new contract, Andrew announced he was leaving the church.

Church discipline is biblical. On occasion a Christian will wander away from the fellowship of other believers and find himself ensnared by sin through ignorance or willful disobedience. It then becomes necessary for the church, and particularly its shepherds, to actively seek the repentance and restoration of that Christian.

The purpose of church discipline is the spiritual restoration of fallen members and the consequent strengthening of the church and glorifying of the Lord. One must always guard against tending towards legalism and cruelty. More so one should also guard against developing a totalitarian control over members…that is simply cultic!


7 responses to “Mars Hill Church now being questioned on Mark Driscoll’s cult like control of members

  1. Born4Battle February 10, 2012 at 22:18

    Marc Driscoll might be guilty, but let’s not hang him merely based on disgruntled members of MH. They might be right, but there seems to be an atmosphere of ‘Christians’ hanging Christians out to dry based on allegations. Some might be true, but chances are really good that among the accusations there’s some false ones. Regardless, does broadcasting all over cyberspace one’s grievances have Biblical support?

    • Acidri February 10, 2012 at 23:04

      One good point in this is that even mega churches are picking up on church discipline. Though it could just be a one off. I agree some of the allegations could be false too.

      • Born4Battle February 11, 2012 at 13:41

        I agree that church discipline is being rightfully restored in some churches, and I think that some of the abuses might exist because we have young men trying to apply it correctly (maybe most of them) and stumbling.

  2. TheoS. February 11, 2012 at 00:08

    The Mars Hill organization’s bylaws have no procedure in place for a “disciplined” or accused member seek redress or dispute or appeal mistreatment by an elder or staff person. The organization is not overseen by a presbytery or denominational structure. It is a top-down chain-of-command. The young man, Andrew, had nowhere to go within the structure to be heard.

  3. Ryan February 14, 2012 at 20:35

    Frustrating. Troubling. Disconcerting. Sad. Frightening. I will freely admit that I underwent my own church discipline in 2000 at Overlake Christian Church and this story horrifyingly reminds me my own account, with much pain and trembling, even 12 years later. My heart BREAKS for Andrew. My flesh CRAWLS at reading this article. We are to be Jesus with skin on. We are to faithfully administer God’s GRACE in its various forms. Legalistic tarring and feathering of God’s chosen people, His royal priesthood, His holy nation, does NOT result in better community or better growth. It results in an impoverished church, a beleaguered sense of trust in God and the body of Christ, and cultivates a climate of fear-based worship where God’s children are walking on eggshells. I can only imagine what Andrew must feel right now. Andrew, I love you in Jesus’ Name. You are repentant, you have repented, and you are forgiven. I do not know you, I have never met you, but you are LOVED IN JESUS’ NAME. I am deeply proud of you for bringing your sin into the light, and for bringing Mars Hill’s leadership’s sin into the light as well. Knowing church discipline all too well, I can freely also admit that one sin that cost me my position of leadership, my community at the church, my connection to the body of Christ there, etc., also eventually lead to an even greater sin which cost me my freedom and sent me to prison. I do not blame my actions on the church or the leadership, but I will indefatigably say that there is an inexorable tie between the church discipline / excommunication I received from Overlake Christian Church, and my eventual crime. Do I wish I could take back my crime? Yes. But I also wish with all my heart that I could take back the church discipline I received, and replace it with something restorative like a warm hug. Alas, warm hugs are not mentioned in Scripture for those undergoing church discipline. And such a legalistic, grace-lacking approaches only send us further down the drain, with no hope of compassionate restoration. Wash your hands of us if you will, you beloved megachurches, and in the process so subsequently condemn yourselves as unloving, uncompassionate, and unbiblical. Jesus loves me the same that he does me, and that is my Amen, because truthfully I’d rather ALWAYS be the guy beating his chest, saying “God be merciful to me, a sinner” than be you.

    • truth March 5, 2012 at 03:10

      First of all sin must be repented of by all of us without exception. Secondly if anyone in your life is so squishy soft as to ignore the mandate to “expose the deeds of darkness” than they are in league with satan not with the truth of the word of God and they are helping you damn your own soul…should you really be seeking to be hugged when your sin has so greatly offended God who is perfectly Holy and that you have so obviously offended and hurt the one(s) for whom you were forced into a prison sentence over??? It would be like saying…”I can’t follow Christ and His truth because people are being mean to me and asking me to tell the truth about my sin (confess) and further abandon my lies (turn and repent) which I have loved with all my life!” It reminds me of a story that a man who said he was seeking to get out of a homosexual lifestyle and the pastor said “We don’t accept fags at our church!” and so this man leaves and says he couldn’t possibly follow Christ because of this offensive pastor and what he had said to him in his greatest time of need. So I make this argument – Has God’s absolute truth changed in this circumstance? No-He and His truth are “the same yesterday, today and forever.” So then this man who is seeking to “escape the condemnation” of his own sin is not really interested in following Christ as Savior and His complete exposure of this man’s sin but rather have someone console him in his sin rather than call him out of it by the truth of the Word of God….You will indeed perish if you do not acknowledge your sin and repent of it and it will continue to destroy your soul and sear your conscience until you are unable to acknowledge your sin…Repent and be saved…if you don’t think your sin is sin then you don’t need a Savior and you have made Christ into nothing and He won’t be made into nothing even in your eyes…

  4. Pingback: 2012: The Best and Worst of the year! « A Twisted Crown of Thorns ®

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