Showing posts with label spiritual abuse. Show all posts
Showing posts with label spiritual abuse. Show all posts

Friday, September 19, 2014

Forbes Magazine Writes About Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill

Posted by Christine Pack

When you've got the secular world (in this case, Forbes magazine) looking in and rightly calling out spiritual abuse, there's a real problem. Frankly, it blasphemes God's name when it has to come to the point where even the lost are pointing and talking.

From the article:
In life, blowhards and bullies will inevitably rise up and do their thing. In the field of management, they tend to rise up and do it with extra frequency and impact. And in religious organizations, they can often do it with maximum impact, because the whole enterprise is usually founded on the notion of absolute authority. 
Mark Driscoll, one of the nation’s most prominent and celebrated pastors, may be the newest and best example of this. He is the toxic leader du jour, though he has stepped away from leadership temporarily to navigate massive waves of accusations that have flowed into his Mars Hill multi-campus megachurch based in Seattle. 
(Mars Hill: Cautionary Tales From The Enron Of American Churches)

The entire article can be read here.

 Additional Resources 

Documenting the Problems With Mark Driscoll

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Current Mars Hill Members Write An Excellent Letter To Mark Driscoll, Make Suggestions

Posted by Christine Pack

Warren Throckmorton of Patheos, who has been doing a bang-up job of reporting on the Mark Driscoll crisis, reports that some current Mars Hill members have written a letter to Mark Driscoll, which they shared with him for publication. This is such a kind, compassionate letter to a man (Driscoll) who is obviously very messed up and needs help. There are also some very wise and practical suggestions from these members for getting Mars Hill steadied.

The bottom line in this is that the church - any church - is not the property of any particular pastor. The church is the Bride of Christ, and belongs to God. Mars Hill is not Mark Driscoll's church to do with as he pleases. These members are trying to help him recognize that, and to act accordingly. I hope that he does.

From the letter, here are a few of the steps these members say that they would like to see implemented in order to put Mars Hill back in order:
- Fire the PR firm. Churches need to tell the truth, not spin it. Please tell us that members aren’t paying for the PR firm? 
- Hire an independent CPA firm. They should be experienced with churches/non profits; have them thoroughly audit Mars Hill financial records for the past 5 years. Then publish their findings in plain English so we can all read them. Forget about the ECFA endorsement; that doesn’t seem to provide much real accountability. At this point, we don’t know what to believe about the money; however there’s enough funny sounding stuff to make us feel pretty uncomfortable and not be very excited to give more money. Time to put all speculation to rest and just lay out the facts to us. 
- Scrap the current governance system. Come up with a new governance system; pretty obvious to everyone but you that this one ain’t working. 
- Report All Progress Through The Patheos Blog. You’ve made us all daily readers of the Patheos blog. Why? Because we feel ‘spun’ when we read much of the Mars Hill official stuff. Patheos may not be 100% Mars Hill friendly; however it does seem to give us more of the straight scoop on what’s going on than the official Mars Hill information channels. 
- Report monthly on the progress with the 21 former pastors/elders on Patheos. It appears that you have an independent arbitrator handling the process with the 21 former pastors/elders, which is great. Now have each of the 21 report back directly through Patheos as each case is resolved. We just want to hear it directly in their own words that “things are fixed”. We want to see progress. 
- Give up your current 6 week “stepping down” review process. Most of us average members don’t really think this review process is that independent, even the newly announced BoE (Board of Elders). Both the BOAA and the BoE are hand picked boards judging those that picked them. What happens to those who disagree in this process? Of the nine men who signed the now infamous letter, eight are gone. Eight very good men. It’s tough to trust a process where dissenters seem to just disappear. Time is too precious; stop this process so we can focus on real solutions. 
- Tell us what the Executive Elders earn. We all saw the outside of your house on KOMO TV news recently Pastor Mark. Million dollar house KOMO said, which was new information to many of us. Looking at your million dollar home, it does raise questions in our minds. You are telling us to contribute more since giving is down. That’s fine; however first show us the money trail, including all EE salaries, book deals, everything. No hiding money in special trusts or backdoor channels. Complete transparency. 
- Show us a current up to date Mars Hill balance sheet. We want to know what assets Mars Hill owns and what it owes. People are being let go and campuses closed to live inside budget. Fine. You are asking us to give more, fine. But if we have assets that can be tapped into or sold, we would like to know what they are. Sources on the internet say that Mars Hill owns real estate valued at over $10 million. If you want shared sacrifice, we need to understand the full picture of what we have to work with. Publish this on the Patheos blog for all to see; if we are walking in the light, what do we have to be afraid of? 
- Hire Paul Tripp. Let him set up a process to fix the ministry culture at Mars Hill. When Mars Hill sent us the email recently saying how angry the elders were that the 9 pastors’ letter was leaked, it kind of missed the point that we all saw plain as day: Paul Tripp thinks our church is the sickest he has ever seen and we are hung up on how the letter got leaked? Doesn’t that kind of prove Tripp’s point a bit? Don’t we all just want the truth here? Paul Tripp needs to have a secure role in partnership with a new elder board of some type to do what he and they think needs to be done, and then report back to us about progress independently. 
- Voluntarily Step Down Pastor Mark. For as long as Paul Tripp and whatever new elder board that is created think you need to. You don’t get to decide your fate at Mars Hill, they do............You’ve said you want to be at Mars Hill the rest of your life; now prove it. Have the [courage] to voluntarily step down now and submit to Paul Tripp and a new elder governance system so you have the time to get your own internal house in order. We don’t know what’s wrong with you Pastor Mark, but you and the Executive Elders seem to be the only ones who are not seeing the obvious: you need some help. No more hiding behind the skirt of self appointed internal review boards and governance rules you wrote yourself. No more PR firms. No more videos. No more explanations about how detractors are anonymous or blaming ‘negative media attention’ for our woes. We’ve had enough of that; it sounds like unmanly whining.
***The letter can be read in its entirety here, but there is some language in the letter that might cause offense***

 Additional Resources 

Documenting The Problems With Mars Hill Pastor Mark Driscoll [UPDATED]

Mark Driscoll's Failed Publicity Stunt That Ended With Him Lying About What Really Happened (with video proof)

Mark Driscoll Repents? Not So Fast, Say Phil Johnson and Chris Rosebrough

Will John Piper Publicly Address The Mark Driscoll Virus That He Unleashed Into the Church by Keynoting Mark Driscoll at the 2006 Desiring God Conference?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Hope For Christians Who Have Been Spiritually Abused

Posted by Sola Sisters

 What Is Spiritual Abuse? 

According to David Johnson and Jeff VanVonderen, authors of the book The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse, spiritual abuse occurs when those in spiritual leadership "twist Scripture to give more authority to the leadership and keep.....members under their control." Johnson and VanVonderen also contend that those experiencing spiritual abuse are often not aware that spiritual abuse is taking place while it is occurring. They explain that such an understanding that can often take many months, even years, to arrive at, and often can be understood only in hindsight, after the Christian has left the abusive environment and is no longer in regular contact with the oppressive leader or leaders. In short, spiritual abuse doesn't occur only among the weak-minded, the undiscerning, or in cults: it can also affect mature, Bible-believing Christians of longstanding. Why is this so? Because for some serious-minded, Bible-believing Christians who desire and are intentionally seeking solid teaching, the warning signs of spiritual abuse might easily be overlooked when everything else (doctrinal statement, consistently solid teaching) seems "right."

Thus, it is important to understand  that spiritual abuse can occur in churches where leaders are consistently teaching doctrinal error from the pulpit, but it can also occur in churches where God's word is, for the most part, being rightly divided. This latter circumstance can be the trickier one to navigate for those who have come out of spiritually abusive churches, as it can be difficult to look back and distinguish teaching that was good and helpful and sanctifying from teaching (from the same leaders) that was at times manipulative, oppressive and controlling.

This issue is in the spotlight these days, of course, because Mark Driscoll, a high-profile pastor in Seattle, WA, has been charged by a number of former elders and members with spiritually abusive behavior. Driscoll, who was an unknown before he was a keynote speaker for John Piper's 2006 Desiring God Conference, has been hailed by his supporters as being perhaps a tad rough around the edges, but otherwise doctrinally solid. But is doctrine the only criteria for someone to bear in mind when evaluating a church?

 Where Does Spiritual Abuse Take Place? 

When you think of spiritual abuse, does your mind conjure up a rigid, stifling environment in which people are expected to dress in an extremely conservative way, and adhere to certain legalistic rules in order to be accepted? While it's true that these are sometimes the marks of a spiritually abusive environment, what about a church whose members are often in true fellowship with each other? Churches where members laugh together, eat meals together, study God's Word together, bowl and bike and hike together, and swap recipes and share coffee while the kids play together? As surprising as it may seem, spiritual abuse can happen in these environments just as much as in the obviously legalistic churches. So it should be noted that a church mustn't be evaluated solely on the basis of whether or not the people are welcoming to newcomers. Many Christians who have been spiritually abused in a church can recall, often with great sadness, how warm and fellowship-filled their early days were at the church where they were abused. Spiritually abusive environments are often described by those who have fled as once having been warm, loving and welcoming to new members. (For more on this, see Jonna Petry's account of her time at Mars Hill as a former elder's wife, and Stephen Martin's online e-book The Heresy of Mind Control.)

By many accounts, Mars Hill was a perfect storm in the making, with its brash young pastor (Mark Driscoll) who preached edgy, but doctrinally solid, sermons in the largely unchurched Pacific Northwest. Within a few years of its first fledging gathering of only a few families, the church had several campuses and many thousands of members. The throngs of young Christians who were there in the early years recount how they felt welcomed and loved and encouraged in this exciting new start-up church. They have shared how thrilling it was for them, having the gospel expounded to them, and having their lives radically transformed by God's saving and sanctifying grace. Yet just 20 years later, Mars Hill went through an explosive and public meltdown. Driscoll resigned in disgrace amid multiple allegations of spiritual abuse, financial mismanagement and plagiarism, and allegedly fled the church discipline process. The church he left behind, once a multi-site church with thousands of members, was now little more than a smoking ruin.

Mark Driscoll, however, is not the only doctrinally solid, but spiritually abusive, pastor out there: he's just the one who's been in the headlines the most recently. Spiritual abuse can mark any church, anywhere. It can be a part of a church from its outset, or it can grow slowly and insidiously, unchecked over the years until it is full-blown. It can occur in obviously rigid, legalistic churches, but it can also occur in churches where there is often a warm, loving atmosphere. Accounts of spiritual abuse can range from the encouraging (a family flees an abusive church and draws closer to God in the process) to the heartbreaking (someone flees the abusive church and ends up walking away from the church, and God, entirely, never to return).

With all this in mind, here is a short checklist you can use when it comes to making an evaluation:
(1) Do you feel comfortable approaching your pastor/elders to ask a question about something? 
(2) Are your pastor/elders truly accountable to others, or have they surrounded themselves with only those who agree with them and rubber-stamp their plans? (i.e., family members, men who shy away from confrontation, etc.) 
(3) Does your pastor have "two faces"? In other words, does he present himself from the pulpit as humble, gentle, kind, loving, approachable, etc., but behind the scenes is domineering, angry, cold, withdrawn, etc.? 
(4) Do your pastor/elders become upset with you if you challenge or question anything they say, no matter how graciously, biblically or kindly you do so? 
(5) Do your pastor/elders label anyone who disagrees with them as "rebellious"? 
(6) Do your pastor/elders characterize those who have legitimate questions as being "gossips" or as being "divisive"?
(7) More seriously, if you are in a church that practices church discipline, do your pastor/elders threaten church discipline to those who disagree with them over non-doctrinal issues?
One or more 'yes' answers to the questions above doesn't automatically mean that you are in an abusive church. But, it could mean that, or it could mean that your church is subtly moving in that direction.

No-one is above being challenged, and certainly not our pastors or elders/leaders. If the gospel writer Luke commended the Bereans for challenging, with scripture in hand, even the Apostle Paul, shouldn't the same model apply to the church today? Now obviously, we ought to have biblical guidelines in mind when challenging our leaders, such as being respectful and kind and gracious, but questions and challenges, in and of themselves, are not sinful, and if the elders at your church regard them as such, I urge you to tread carefully and keep your eyes open for further abuses of spiritual power.

 Warning Flags: Painful Exits and Smear Campaigns 

Spiritually abusive pastors can't just let someone leave.....they have to destroy them. Pastor Mike Fehlauer, author of Exposing Spiritual Abuse, writes:
In a controlling church, it is impossible to leave on good terms. Because the pastor’s sense of worth is usually based on the control he is able to exert over the congregation, when someone leaves, this insecure leader considers it an affront to his leadership. Therefore he often takes it personally. As a result, when people do leave, they are labeled rebellious, or the rest of the congregation is given the explanation that they left because they had become offended. 
In an unhealthy church, there is never a good reason why anyone should leave. Regardless of the situation, the people who leave are always the “problem.” 
This truism present in abusive churches applies not only to members, but to church staff as well. In one particular church, each time a staff member left, the senior person did his best to cast a shadow over that person’s reputation in the hope that it would destroy any chance of that person succeeding without him someplace else. 
(Warning Signs of Spiritual Abuse, Part 3)
In an interview with NBC affiliate King 5 Seattle News, former Mars Hill elder Rob Smith discussed Driscoll's anger at him when he challenged Driscoll's re-writing of the church bylaws. From the article:
Driscoll forced (Smith) to resign when he challenged the senior pastor's decision to rewrite the bylaws, change the governing body, and give himself more power nearly seven years ago. 
"He slandered my name. He said, 'I will destroy you,'" Smith remembered. 
(online source)
The spiritually abusive pastor who won't let anyone disagree with him and leave quietly isn't always a celebrity pastor in a big megachurch: he can be anywhere, in any size church, of any denomination. Depending on the church environment, he can commit his slander brazenly and openly, or he can wage his campaign behind the scenes in a more subtle, charming way, or he can fall somewhere on the spectrum between the two extremes.

 A "Can't Talk" Rule Is A Marker for Spiritual Abuse 

While it is clear from the Bible that gossip, talebearing and idle talk about others are sinful acts, there are certainly circumstances in which legitimate questions and challenges can and should be allowed. Spiritual abuse experts Johnson and VanVonderen have noted that one significant marker for spiritual abuse is when there is a "Can't Talk" rule that is enforced within a church. This occurs when someone with questions is labeled as being "gossipy" or "divisive," and oftentimes, church discipline is even threatened to ensure that questions aren't asked. These tactics are used in order to intimidate those with questions into silence. Thus, a system in which church leaders can state whatever they like from their positions of authority, and expect that it should never be challenged or questioned, is a mark of a spiritually unhealthy church climate. But as a church elder stated to us while in the course of researching this article, "If someone comes to you with a bad account of someone else who you both know, and who is not present, you not only have a right, you have a responsibility to the one not present to go to them and hear their side."
"The first one to plead his cause seems right, until his neighbor comes and examines him." (Proverbs 18:17)
 Accountability Is the Key 

Whether your church is governed by the Pastor Rule model or the Elder Rule model, the key component for guarding against spiritual abuse, according to most spiritual abuse experts, is accountability. Think about it this way: pride is such a common snare among pastors who govern without accountability because it's far easier for Satan to deceive and confuse and mislead just one person, rather than an entire group of elders or a congregation. Accountability is important for all of us, but it is supremely important for pastors.

It should also be noted that being in a church that is Elder Rule is not a guarantee against abuse. As you can see from some of the questions posted above, it should be obvious that sometimes a pastor can work his way around the Elder Rule model, either through overt means (being domineering, cruel, cold, angry, etc.) or by more subtle means (being "two faced," using charm or manipulation, etc.).

 The Remedy 

So, what is the biblical remedy for those who have been spiritually abused? The Bible is rich with passages describing God and his mercies. Water was often used as a device for portraying God's mercy in the Old Testament. Doesn't sound very exciting? Perhaps not to the 21st century person who can simply turn on a tap and have fresh, filtered water at his or her disposal. But think about how important a fresh, clean source of water has been in centuries past, and throughout all of history, really. This was especially important for a people who lived in a desert culture, as God's chosen people the Israelites did. The Israelites literally lived, and died, by whether or not there was water available to them.
"God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water." (Psalm 63:1) 
"For this is what the high and exalted One says-- he who lives forever, whose name is holy: 'I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.'" (Isaiah 57:15) 
"Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert." (Isaiah 35:6) 
"The poor and needy search for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. But I the LORD will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them." (Isaiah 41:17) 
"The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail." (Isaiah 58:11)
In a spiritual context, these rich descriptions of God and his mercies being likened to flowing, fresh, clean water means that for those who hold fast to Him in trials, the Lord promises, promises!, spiritual protection and care. God can and will use our past experiences with spiritual abuse to mature us, to sanctify us, and to equip us for encouraging others who have had the same struggles, IF that is, we hold fast to Him and his faithful promises never to leave us or forsake us. Spiritual abuse can be heartbreaking, but we need to remember that it is not the Lord who is abusing us: it is sinful men ensnared in pride or lust for power.
"Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!" (Isaiah 30:18) 
Jesus is also revealed as the Good Shepherd, who loves his sheep and watches over them, who understands their weaknesses and struggles, even to the point of becoming flesh in order to identify with them. How great is the love of the Shepherd for his flock? Let him be your Good Shepherd today.

Exposing Spiritual Abuse author Mike Fehlauer shares an encouraging account of a couple who left a church, and endured a smear campaign at the hands of their former pastor:
One couple went through the process of leaving an abusive church. The pastor did everything he could to discredit them and malign their character. Initially, they both were frightened that they would be blacklisted from every church in their community. At first, they wanted to defend their character. It seemed that this pastor continued to have control over their lives even after they left. They wondered if they would ever be able to escape his influence.
Finally, they realized that God was their defense and protection. Instead of defending themselves, they decided to pray for their former pastor. The more they prayed for him, the less threatening he became in their minds. The anger they first had toward the pastor was replaced with compassion. As time passed, they realized that he didn’t have as much influence as they had initially thought. Because they had kept their hearts pure, they were able to find another church and to continue to grow spiritually.
There is life after spiritual abuse. You may be tempted to feel that you will never escape the controlling grasp of an abusive leader. Satan will cause you to think that the controlling leader’s influence is greater than it really is. Don’t give in to Satan’s intimidation. Trust God to be your strength and your defense. Keep your heart tender. Pray for those who have used you, and bless those who have cursed you. If you will do these things, you will discover a sure path that God has prepared for you as well as His destiny for your life.
God has a healthy church for you. The Good Shepherd is fully able to lead you into a green pasture where you can grow in your relationship with Him (Ps. 23:2). As you allow Him to lead you, He will also anoint your head with oil, healing any wounds you encountered in an abusive environment. (online source)
 A Final Word 

A final word: pray for your pastors. Pray that the LORD will protect them from the common snares of "lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life" (1 John 2:16). Pray that they will genuinely desire, and set up, accountability for themselves. Even though they are in spiritual authority, your pastors are frail flesh, and fallible (as we all are), so don't expect perfection. But, if need be, lovingly and kindly bring your concerns to them, in the same manner that you would want someone to bring a concern to you. None of us are above the snare of pride, but pastors especially need our prayers because they are held to a higher standard than the flock, and will one day be judged more strictly.
"Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly." (James 3:1)
In closing, if you have been spiritually abused, please avail yourself of the resources below, and let me encourage you that you are not alone and that the Lord knows your struggles. I urge you not to turn away from the LORD, but to cling to Him and pour out your heartbreak and your struggles to Him. He is the One who promises never to leave you or forsake you. He turns darkness into light, and makes the deserts into springs. He is the Almighty, the One who sits high and lifted up, and yet who hears the cries of his people. Run to Him, and be comforted.
"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 'The Lord is my portion,' says my soul, 'therefore I will hope in him.'" (Lamentations 3:22-24)

photo credit: Barely via photopin cc
photo credit: 55Laney69 via photopin cc
photo credit: c.flessen via photopin cc


Teaching Series “Domestic Violence and Abuse” (Pastor Jeff Crippen)

What Is Spiritual Abuse? (Got Questions?)

Mark Driscoll, Spiritual Abuse and Cultish Ministries (Charisma News)

Warning Signs of Spiritual Abuse - Part 1 (Pastor Mike Fehlauer)

Warning Signs of Spiritual Abuse - Part 2 (Pastor Mike Fehlauer)

Warning Signs of Spiritual Abuse - Part 3 (Pastor Mike Fehlauer)

What Do Some Churches and Cults Have In Common? Spiritually Abusive Systems

Confronting Abusive Church Leaders (Apprising Ministries)

Hurt, Betrayal and Spiritual Abuse (Stand Up For The Truth)


Churches That Abuse (Dr. Ronald M. Enroth)

Recovering From Churches That Abuse (Dr. Ronald M. Enroth)

Exposing Spiritual Abuse (Pastor Mike Fehlauer)

The Heresy of Mind Control: Recognizing Con Artists, Tyrants and Spiritual Abusers in Leadership (Stephen Martin)

The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse: Recognizing and Escaping Spiritual Manipulation and False Spiritual Authority Within the Church (David Johnson and Jeff VanVonderen)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Former Sovereign Grace Youth Leader Convicted of Sexual Abuse, CJ Mahaney and Joshua Harris Resign From TGC [UPDATED]

Posted by Christine Pack

 Nathaniel Morales Convicted 

[UPDATED: Former Sovereign Grace Ministries youth leader Nathaniel Morales has been sentenced to 40 years in prison, as of 8-14-14]

Christianity Today is reporting that C.J. Mahaney and Joshua Harris, both key figures in the history of Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM), have resigned from The Gospel Coalition (TGC), a parachurch organization of which both were members, following the May 2014 conviction of former Sovereign Grace youth leader Nathaniel Morales of multiple counts of child sexual abuse. That article can be read here.

Former SGM leader-turned-whistleblower Brent Detwiler has written extensively on the ongoing sexual abuse scandal at SGM. You can read his blog here.

While I recognize how difficult this subject matter is, I think it is important for us as Christians to think on this issue from a biblical perspective. We know from the Bible that the human heart is prone to idolatry, and idolatry can take many forms, including elevating some men and regarding them as being above reproach. According to some former SGM members (among them Brent Detwiler), this was the pattern of behavior at Sovereign Grace. Also, beware of the church that subtly models to the congregants, or gives the impression that certain leaders are above being questioned or held accountable. Having studied spiritual abuse very extensively in the past two years, I can affirm that this is something that occurs even in good churches, with good doctrine and good teaching. Let us always hold fast to God's word, and never be afraid to lovingly, and with Bible in hand, ask questions of our church leadership, and challenge the answers we receive, if need be. The SGM sexual abuse case should be a sobering reminder to us to do that.


Justice for the weak and disenfranchised is a big deal. It's a big deal to God, and it should be to us as Christians. I obviously don't mean in a social justice/social gospel kind of way, but rather, in the sense that we ought to look after the members of our church body as if they were members of our own blood families. One concept that was a big takeaway for me the year that I did a study of Isaiah was that God is angry with those who don't seek justice. He also despises those in authority, especially spiritual authority, who prey upon the weak and helpless in their care:
"Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow." (Isaiah 1:17)
"Your rulers are rebels, partners with thieves; they all love bribes and chase after gifts. They do not defend the cause of the fatherless; the widow's case does not come before them." (Isaiah 1:23) 
"Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine and champions at mixing drinks, who acquit the guilty for a bribe, but deny justice to the innocent." (Isaiah 5:22-23) 
"Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people,making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless." (Isaiah 10:1-2) 
"This is what the LORD says: 'Maintain justice and do what is right, for my salvation is close at hand and my righteousness will soon be revealed.'"(Isaiah 56:1) 
"No one calls for justice; no one pleads a case with integrity. They rely on empty arguments, they utter lies; they conceive trouble and give birth to evil." (Isaiah 59:4) 
"So justice is driven back, and righteousness stands at a distance; truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter. Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey. The LORD looked and was displeased that there was no justice." (Isaiah 59:14-15)
Yes, justice matters to God. It's a big deal to God, and it should be a big deal to us. We should remember that the church has a responsibility to protect the disenfranchised and other words, those who cannot protect themselves, and are often at the mercy of the world (orphans, widows, children, etc.). Are we prepared to do that in the Sovereign Grace situation? Or is it too painful and distasteful to look at and think about? Maybe we should approach this as if these were our own children who had been abused. Would you want others to be brave enough to speak up and seek protection and justice for your children? Then I urge you to do so for the children who are not your own physical children, but who belong to the body of Christ, as if they were your own.

 Additional Resources 

Joe Carter of The Gospel Coalition Says “Detwiler Is Making Up” Admission by Joshua Harris 

C. J. Mahaney, Joshua Harris Resign from Gospel Coalition after SGM Abuse Conviction (Christianity Today)

Mahaney, Harris leave Gospel Coalition council (World Magazine)

Resolution on Sexual Abuse of Children -  ("If this issue is not a valid subject about which Southern Baptists should publicly express a strong voice, I'm not sure what qualifies as an issue we should address.") (Peter Lumpkins)

Joshua Harris comments on SGM child sexual abuse lawsuit

SGM Survivors' Blog

Nathaniel Morales trial: Victim Jeremy Cook testifies

Brent Dentwiler, former Sovereign Grace leader turned whistleblower, interviewed

Former Sovereign Grace Ministries Founder Calls For Christian Leaders To Separate From CJ Mahaney Due To Class Action Sex Abuse Case

Former respected SGM leader Nathaniel Morales accused of abusing boys for decades in Montgomery Co. (ABC affiliate, WJLA)

Sovereign Grace Ministries and Abuse: Time to Speak Out (Patheos)

Lawsuit Claims Sovereign Grace Ministries Concealed Sex Abuse

Sovereign Grace Ministries: In Sex Abuse Case, Courts Shouldn't "Second Guess" SGM's Pastoral Counseling

Flagship Churches Prepare To Leave As Lawsuit Charges C.J. Mahaney's Sovereign Grace Ministries With Covering Up Child Sex Abuse

Copy of Lawsuit Filed Against Sovereign Grace Ministries

 Janet Mefferd Interviews About the SGM Class Action Lawsuit 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Doug Phillips of Vision Forum Resigns, Cites Moral Failure [UPDATED]

Post by Christine Pack

(UPDATE 4-16-14: Doug Phillips' former nanny has filed a lawsuit against Phillips, alleging sexual misconduct. Our article about that can be read here. The filed lawsuit can be read here.... **warning, there is explicit sexual content in the filed lawsuit**)

  Thursday, October 31, 2013  

Doug Phillips has resigned as president of Vision Forum following his announcement of a moral failure, which according to his resignation letter, involved an "inappropriate relationship with a woman." Phillips has long been the face of a particular branch of Reformed Christianity which models very rigid family structures (led by the "Federal Head," the husband), promotes the Quiverfull lifestyle, enforces strictly supervised courtship dating for youth, and also teaches a form of Dominionism (got to have lots of babies, you see, through embracing the "quiverfull" teachings, if you're going to have any shot at taking Dominion of the world). I have personally counseled several women who have come out of this movement, and who didn't quite fit the mold for whatever reason, and whose experiences with Vision Forum leadership ranged from neglect to outright spiritual abuse.

I've also wondered at times, why the Vision Forum form of Dominionism seems to fly under the radar, as opposed to the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) form of Dominionism. Probably because the NAR is so easily dismissed, with its angel feathers and gold dust silliness, while the Vision Forum crew are so theologically buttoned up as to seem to earn them a pass.

While I have long disagreed, oftentimes publicly, with many of the Vision Forum views, I have compassion in general for the body of Christ, including those who have been influenced by Vision Forum, Dominionism or Quiverfull legalism. Sadly, so many in Christendom seem to swarm from one big leader to the next, from one hot new book to the next, and now, those in the Vision Forum movement are witnessing the fall of one of the most high profile leaders in the Reformed camp. But Quiverfull legalism and hyper-separationism are no insulation against sin, which is the great leveler of us all. May we all be sobered by this latest scandal, and cleave to our Lord and Savior all the more.

I am sorry for these circumstance for Doug Phillips, and will be praying for him.

The original Statement of Resignation can be read here, along with the Clarification Statement which confirmed that there was a physical component to the "relationship."

 Additional Resources 

Former Nanny to Doug Phillips' Family Files Lawsuit, Alleges Sexual Misconduct

Copy of Filed Lawsuit
 (Warning: Explicit sexual content)

Doug Phillips of Vision Forum Resigns, Cites Moral Failure

Vision Forum Ministries to Close

Hall of Shame: Doug Phillips and Vision Forum (Mennoknight)

Rethinking Vision Forum

Christian Giant Sued For "Using Nanny As Sex Object" (World Net Daily)

Religious Right Leader Sued For Sexual Battery, Treating Young Follower Like A 'Personal Sex Object' (Right Wing Watch)

Woman Sues Christian Right Leader Douglas Phillips for Alleged Sexual, Mental Abuse (Slate)

How God Saves Us In Christ (And Why Legalism Can't Help Us) (Pastor Jeff Crippen)

Why The Law Cannot Sanctify (Romans 7:5-6) (Pastor Kevin Williams)

 Doug Phillips Responds 

Former minister denies allegations that he kept woman as a 'sex object'

Doug Phillips' statement released through is attorney, Jason Jakob

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Documenting the Problems with Mars Hill Pastor Mark Driscoll [UPDATED]

Posted by Sola Sisters

[UPDATE: New links continue to be added regularly]

In order to understand what went wrong at Mars Hill, we highly recommend that you first read this article by former Mars Hill elder Paul Petry. According to Petry (and other witnesses in the form of former Mars Hill elders who have also since come forward), there was a dramatic change in the climate of Mars Hill in late 2007, when new bylaws were instituted under which Mark Driscoll was not accountable to anyone who disagreed with him. (Here is a copy of the 2007 bylaws)

And here is a concise timeline of Driscoll's downfall.

 ** Mark Driscoll Resigns - October 15, 2014 ** 

Mars Hill Pastor Mark Driscoll Resigns, Claims He Is Not "Disqualified From Future Ministry"

Mars Hill “Global Fund” Contributors With Concerns Invited to Contact Washington State Attorney General’s Office

Paul Petry, The First Elder Fired From Mars Hill, Is Interviewed (Paul and Jonna Petry's Website)

 Driscoll Fleeing Church Discipline, Seeking To Set Up NEW Church? 

Former Mars Hill Pastor Mark Driscoll Considering New Ministry, Still Has Not Repented, Sought Reconciliation Say Former Mars Hill Members/Elders

One Year Ago Today Janet Mefferd Interviewed Mark Driscoll

Mars Hill Elders Were Going to Discipline Mark Driscoll (listen beginning at the 37 min mark)

Mars Hill Church Board of Elders: Mark Driscoll Resigned Instead of Entering a Restoration Plan

Gateway Pastor Robert Morris Welcomes Mark Driscoll Onto the Stage One Week After Driscoll's Resignation, Even Though Driscoll Has Fled the Discipline Process at Mars Hill and Still Has Not Repented And Sought Forgiveness From Those He Abused (audio of Mars Hill pastor A.J. Hamilton speaking at 10-19-14 church service, listen beginning at the 37 min mark)

Mars Hill Church To Dissolve

Lessons From Mars Hill - An Interview With Warren Throckmorton 

Beauty From Ashes: 18 Mars Hill Elders Issue Letter of Confession to Former Mars Hill Elders Who were Railroaded Out in 2007

Interview with Former Mars Hill Elder/Pastor Paul Petry, Part 1 and Part 2
Unanswered Questions at Mars Hill Church

 Dr. John Piper Finally Addresses the Issue of Mark Driscoll.....and Misses The Mark 

What John Piper Said When He Finally Addressed the Issue of Mark Driscoll......What We Wish He Had Said Instead

John Piper and Mark Driscoll: Lessons Not Learned?

 Pastor Driscoll's abusive nature toward the flock in his care 

The Out Of Control Bus That Runs Over Sheep (Sarah Leslie, Herescope)

Ungodly Behavior

Mark Driscoll Proud of the Dead Bodies Behind the Mars Hill Bus?

Audio of Mark Driscoll chuckling about the "pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus"

Pastor Mark Driscoll Called Women “Penis Homes”

Mark Driscoll: "Shut Up and Do What You're Told."

Mark Driscoll Brags About Pile Of Bodies Behind Mars Hill's Bus

"Break their nose"

A Former Mars Hill Pastor Speaks Out and Why Others Are Afraid: The Mars Hill Church Non-Disclosure Agreement

Mark Driscoll Joking About His Anger

Mark Driscoll's Church Discipline Contract, Part 1 and Part 2

 Mark Driscoll affirms false teachers as Christian brothers  

Mark Driscoll calls Word of Faith heretic Joel Osteen his Christian brother

Mark Driscoll affirms Trinity denier T.D. Jakes as a Christian brother at his Elephant Room event

 Former Mars Hill pastor claims violations of city ordinances  

Former Mars Hill Pastor: Mars Hill Leaders Ordered Violation of City Ordinances

The Mars Hill Orange County Discrimination Narrative: The Rest of the Story?

 Former Mars Hill leaders and church members going public with concerns 

Former Mars Hill Women’s Ministry Leader: “The cult of personality . . . isn’t how God builds his church”

According to multiple witnesses, Mark Driscoll refers to himself as "The Brand" (Seattle Times)

The Reckoning of Mars Hill

Current Mars Hill Members Write An Excellent Letter To Mark Driscoll, Make Suggestions

Former Mars Hill Elder Sutton Turner Releases Explosive In-House Email Detailing Mars Hill's Disastrous Financial Condition (Turner's entire email can be read here)

New Disclosures by Former Mars Hill Elder Bent Meyer (Written record of Mars Hill events compiled by Meyer directly linked here)

Mars Hill Co-Founder and Former Elder Leif Moi Interviewed On Camera About Formal Charges Against Mark Driscoll

Twenty-One Former Mars Hill Church Pastors Bring Formal Charges Against Mark Driscoll (Statement of Formal Charges and Issues brought against Mark Driscoll linked here)

Nine Mars Hill Pastors Take A Bold Stand (Aug 28, 2014)
..........and All Are Now Gone (Oct 8, 2014)
Pastor Dustin Kensrue – Mars Hill Bellevue (RESIGNED)
Pastor Drew Hensley – Mars Hill U-District (DISMISSED)
Pastor Mark Dunford – Mars Hill Portland (DISMISSED)
Pastor Ryan Kearns – Mars Hill Bellevue (DISMISSED)
Pastor Ryan Welsh – Pastor of Theology (DISMISSED)
Pastor Adam Ramsey – Mars Hill Bellevue (RESIGNED)
Pastor Cliff Ellis – Mars Hill West Seattle (DISMISSED)
Pastor Gary Shavey – Mars Hill Bellevue (RESIGNED)
Pastor James Rose – Mars Hill Ballard (RESIGNED)
Nine Mars Hill Church Elders Took a Bold Stand and Now Eight Are Gone

Mars Hill Church Director of Worship Dustin Kensrue Resigns

Members Flee Mars Hill; Remaining Members Are Berated For Not Giving Enough Money

Dozens Protest Mars Hill Church after Leader Resignations and Mark Driscoll Apology

Former Mars Hill Pastor Mark Dunford Explains Dismissal from Mars Hill Church and Much More (Dunford's full statement here)

Former Mars Hill Member and Acts 29 Church Planter Ron Wheeler Goes Public With Concerns, Pleads With Driscoll To Resign (Wheeler's open letter to Driscoll - I. Am. Not. Anonymous)

Former Mars Hill Pastors Repent At New Website (

Former Mars Hill Pastor (Paul Petry) Starts A Blog Detailing Abuse (Joyful Exiles)

Former Executive Pastor Repents for Culture of Fear at Mars Hill Church

Former Mars Hill Pastor Dave Kraft Explains Charges Against Mark Driscoll

Former Mars Hill Pastor Dave Kraft Speaks Out About His Relationship with the Church

Former Mars Hill Pastor Bent Meyer: On His Silence and His Views on Suffering

Former Mars Hill Leader Jeff Bettger Speaks Out in Support of Dave Kraft's Concerns About Mars Hill

Twenty Former Mars Hill Pastors Seek Mediation With Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church Leadership

Former Mars Hill Church Pastor (James Noriega) Issues Statement of Confession

The Seeds of Trouble: Mars Hill Church, Mark Driscoll and the 2007 Purge

More Mars Hill Church Grievances: Former Member Calls For Evacuation

Firing of Mars Hill Pastors Causes Turmoil at Mars Hill

A Former Mars Hill Pastor Speaks Out and Why Others Are Afraid: The Mars Hill Church Non-Disclosure Agreement

Amended and Restated By-Laws of Mars Hill Church (UPDATED)

Mars Hill Church to Former Employees: Don’t Talk

Becky Garrison: Mark Driscoll’s Revisionist History About the Founding of Mars Hill Church

How To Revise History the Mark Driscoll Way

Former Mars Hill Church Worship Leader Luke Abrams to Current Members: Vote With Your Nickles and Noses

[NOTE: All patheos articles about Mars Hill/Mark Driscoll can be found here]

 Driscoll's lies and slander toward a Christian brother, and shameless publicity stunt 

Mark Driscoll's Failed Publicity Stunt At John MacArthur's Strange Fire Conference That Ended With Him Lying About What Really Happened

 Driscoll's unbiblical view on spiritual warfare 

Mark Driscoll speaking to demons: "I want to know who all is involved here and what we're dealing with."

 Pressure being brought for Mark Driscoll to step down from spiritual leadership 

Mark Driscoll's Problem, and Ours (Carl Trueman, March 2014)

Mark Driscoll To Step Down While Mars Hill Elders Review Charges Against Him (Religion News Service)

Mark Driscoll's Statement To Mars Hill Church (Audio Included In the Body of the Article)

Twenty-One Former Mars Hill Church Pastors Bring Formal Charges Against Mark Driscoll

Mark Driscoll: “A lot of the people we were dealing with in this season remain anonymous, and so we don’t know how to reconcile or how to work things out with people because we’re not entirely sure who they are.”

New Group To Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church: We Are Not Anonymous

Dear Pastor Mark and Mars Hill: We Are Not Anonymous (Facebook group)

I. Am. Not. Anonymous. (Acts 29 co-founder Ron Wheeler pens open letter to Mark Driscoll)

Former Mars Hill Members Protest Mars Hill, Call For Driscoll's Resignation (The Seattle Times)

James MacDonald Resigns From Mars Hill Board; Paul David Tripp Resigns But Continues To Work With Mars Hills As Consultant

Paul David Tripp Releases Clarifying Statement

Why Mark Driscoll Might Go Down and Why He Should......

Rock Star Pastor Loses His Luster (USA Today)

Mars Hill Church and Pastor Mark Driscoll Removed from Church Planting Network (Acts 29) That He Co-Founded

Acts 29 Pioneer Ron Wheeler Sends Open Letter to Mark Driscoll, Asks Him to Resign

Acts 29 Network Removes Co-founder Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church From Membership (UPDATED)

 Questions about Mars Hill Global Fund 

Former Mars Hill Church Members Speak Out About Church Finances

Mars Hill Member Wants Accounting of Global Fund Donations

Mars Hill Church Scrubs Three Mars Hill Global Videos

 Websites of former Mars Hill leaders 


Joyful Exiles - Website of former elder Paul Petry and his wife Jonna

Jonna Petry's Testimony (Jonna Petry is the wife of former Mars Hill elder Paul Petry)


Mark Driscoll's Salary While At Mars Hill Church

Thoughts On Driscoll and The Biblical Qualifications For A Pastor

"Demon Trials" At Mars Hill Church??

Mark Driscoll: I Made The Mistake Of Trying To Be Under the Authority Of My Elders

Mark Driscoll: It was a mistake to submit to these young, new and green elders

Will John Piper Publicly Address The Mark Driscoll Virus That He Unleashed Into the Church by Keynoting Mark Driscoll at the 2006 Desiring God Conference?

Mark Driscoll Gives Himself a 6-Week Timeout

Former Mars Hill Elder Deconstructs Mark Driscoll's Public Statement

Pastor Jesse Johnson Weighs In

An Open Letter To Mark Driscoll (made after Driscoll's public statement, which can be read and watched here)

Mark Driscoll: A Brash Style That Filled Pews, Until Followers Had Their Fill (New York Times)

After $2 Million Raised For Mars Hill Event, ‘Jesus Festival’ Disappears Without a Trace or Explanation

Mars Hill Resurgence Ministry Cancels 2014 Conference

Lifeway Christian Stores Pulls Mark Driscoll's Books

Mars Hill Church in May and June of 2012: Systemic Deficits and a Million-Dollar Home Purchased in Snonohomish County

An Open Letter To Mark Driscoll (Pyromaniacs)

 Driscoll bought his way onto the New York Times bestseller list 

Mark Driscoll bought his way onto the NY Times bestseller list through anonymous 3rd parties

Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability: Buying Place on Best Seller Lists Violates Standards

Chris Rosebrough interviews Janet Mefferd about Driscoll's latest scandal

The signed contract that helped get Mark Driscoll’s Real Marriage book on the New York Times bestseller list

 Mark Driscoll's plagiarism 

Janet Mefferd's Interview With Mark Driscoll

Allegations That Mark Driscoll Plagiarized Dr. Peter Jones

The Evangelical Celebrity Machine: Janet Mefferd accused pastor Mark Driscoll of plagiarism then deleted all her proof. Why’d she back down?

More on the Silencing of Janet Mefferd, the Shamefulness of Tyndale Publishers, and How Mark Driscoll the Plagiarist is Getting Away With It

College professor James Duncan evaluates evidence of Mark Driscoll's plagiarism, assigns him an "F"

American Copy Editors Society: Leading The Charge Against Plagiarism

The Atlantic Asks Can Megachurches Handle Mega Money? Puts Focus on Mark Driscoll Controversy

This Was No Boating Accident

Of Mefferd and Driscoll and Integrity

On Plagiarism, Tone and Tribalism

Evidence of Plagiarism or Swatting at a Hornets Nest

Mark Driscoll Reacts to Janet Mefford’s Questions About Plagiarism and Strange Fire

New Twist In Mark Driscoll Plagiarism Scandal: 'You May Not Go Up Against The Machine'

Mefferd producer reportedly resigns over Mark Driscoll controversy

The Best Dumbest Excuses Made by Plagiarists

 Driscoll's vulgarity and pornographic mindset 

***Please note that the links below contain strong, explicit sexual content. My desire is not to cause anyone to stumble, so please prayerfully bear this in mind. The links are here for documentation purposes ***

Mark Driscoll: "Look, I had this vision. Let me tell you about it."

Dreamweaver: The Visions of Mark Driscoll

Pornographic Divination

Mark Driscoll Issues Apology for Pussified Nation Comments; Is This Just the Beginning? (**Warning: Extremely Vulgar Content**)

Mark Driscoll and His Rated R Sermon in Scotland - transcript hereaudio here  (**Warning: Very Explicit Content**)

 Explicit sexual discussion/recommendation on Mars Hill website 

***Please note that the links below contain strong, explicit sexual content. My desire is not to cause anyone to stumble, so please prayerfully bear this in mind. The links are here for documentation purposes ***

(NOTE: These links were active as of 2:00 PM EST on 8/12/14, but appear to have been recently removed. Attached is a screenshot of the Mars Hill Q and A about the use of sex toys as it appeared before being removed.)

Mark and Grace Driscoll Comment on a Mars Hill Q/A Regarding the Use of Sex Toys

Link to Sex Toys Site ("Covenant Spice") From the Above-Referenced Mars Hill Q/A

 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
1 Timothy 3:1-13 - Qualifications for Overseers and Deacons
Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap. 
In the same way, deacons are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons. 
In the same way, the women are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything. 
A deacon must be faithful to his wife and must manage his children and his household well. Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
Titus 1:5-10 - Qualifications for Elders
This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party.