Archive for May, 2009

The following is from lollytruly’s blogspot. It highlights some of the specifics regarding Driscoll’s behavior and words which many, like myself, take to be abusive and non-representative of the character and heart of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The following also fleshes out the sad reality that those who point out abuse in an abusive system become THE problem, while the issue of the abuse and the abuser are swept under the carpet.


Friday, February 20, 2009

…My head is beginning to feel peaceful again after the Mark Driscoll stuff a couple days ago. Crying painfully helps you heal if you process everything while you’re doing it. That’s another fun fact I’ve learned in therapy, that weeping mends you and you have to go there if you’re going to heal from it. I don’t mean for that to be TMI but I think being open can be really good. Makes me think of this quote – “It is important to tell our secrets too because … it makes it easier for other people to tell us a secret or two of their own, and exchanges like that have a lot to do with what being a family is all about and what being human is all about.” — Frederick Buechner


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

it’s not a dead horse and it’s worth beating. let’s not lose hope

Here is a letter from a little over two years ago, written by Shari MacDonald Strong whom I subsequently made friends with because of her character, insight and gentleness. In this she writes about the protest of Mars Hill in Seattle on Dec 3.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Why On Earth Would I Want to Picket a Church? More on the Mark Driscoll/Mars Hill Seattle Action

To: Mark Driscoll
Mars Hill Elders and Deacons
Acts 29 Church Planting Network
Seattle Times

As a Christian woman who is planning to participate in the planned December 3 protest at Mars Hill, I wanted to write to explain my reasons for wanting to do so and to share my concerns about some of Mr. Driscoll’s recent teachings and writings.

Let me start by saying, I appreciate Mr. Driscoll’s recent blog post, in which he amends his previous blog entry about the Ted Haggard affair and about the dangers of pastor’s wives “letting themselves go.” In particular, I am grateful for the gentle tone of the post. I believe that if this were the tone that he was known for, there would not be this current firestorm of emotion around his teachings.

It was the Ted Haggard post that brought Mr. Driscoll’s teachings most recently to my attention. However, I live on the West coast and have heard of him before. I know both that Mark Driscoll is a very powerful man and that many, many people – a large percentage of which are women – have left Mars Hill Church and sometimes the larger church as a result of Mr. Driscoll’s teachings. I also have heard that many people have sought therapy after leaving Mars Hill, as a result of the damage done by his teachings. That last statement, of course, is based on hearsay, so I went online to read some of Mr. Driscoll’s writings and to listen to some sermons. In addition to the comments about women “letting themselves go,” here is some of what I encountered (in random order):

• Derogatory comments made regularly and consistently about people who disagree with Mr. Driscoll’s theology, labeling them not only wrong or liberal, but “wussified,” “#######,” “chickified,” and “effeminate” (e.g., “if the Christ you serve is just a really nice guy – I hate to tell you, but you serve a weak, effeminate, ####### Christ”).

• Stating/implying that men are the only demographic that matters:
The question is: “If you want to be innovative, how do you get young men?” All this nonsense about how to grow the church – one issue: young men. That’s it – that’s the whole thing. They’re going to get married, make money, make babies, build companies, buy real estate; they’re going to make the culture of the future. If you get the young men you win the war – you get everything; you get the families, the women, the children, the money the business: you get everything. If you don’t get the young men you get nothing.

• Calling strong women who disagree with his interpretation of Scripture “godless” and saying the Bible has “a low opinion” of them:
If it’s a godly woman who has a godly agenda who has something godly to say, then she can speak. If she’s an ungodly woman with a godless feminist agenda that she borrowed from the serpent, like her mother Eve in Genesis 3, and she’s on some tirade mission to represent all women, which is what sometimes happens, women nominate themselves to represent all women…But there are women who will rise up like that, saying “I speak for all women. I champion women’s rights. I champion women’s causes” (sarcastically). We say, that’s not a problem if it’s in accordance with the rights and liberties and dignities that are afforded to a woman in the Bible. The Bible doesn’t have a low view of women. It just has a low view of some women.”

• “…women who don’t respect godly authority are demonic.”

• Rather than Mr. Driscoll simply saying that he disagrees with the lifestyles of young men who work in coffee shops and suggesting an alternative or challenging them, he makes fun of them. He uses shame to get men to do what he wants, calling them “chickified,” “limp-wristed,” “#####,” “#######.”

• More mocking of women who disagree with him, painting women who have opinions as “hot-headed” and “emotional,” and more implications that God doesn’t like these women:
“some women think they can do everything on their own” and that if men sit by idly like cowards because they don’t want to get into with with their hot-headed, emotional, wives, eventually the women will take over the church, and then the church will go to hell.”

• Undermining women’s efforts to hold him accountable for his words, implying that the raising of theological questions by a woman is the same thing as them calling the Bible “ridiculous,” and calling the squelching of a woman’s intellect and voice “sexy”:“Does it say, “Ladies, don’t have any questions”? Does it say that? No. Does it say, “Ladies, don’t disagree.” No. Does it say, “Ladies, don’t think for yourself.” When you disagree, when you’re super-theological, when you’re all fired up, the first thing you don’t do is start yellin’ at the pastor and yellin’ at the church, firin’ nasty e-mails, and declarin’ war and puttin’ together a, a, little group of, you know, feminist women with guns who are gonna make a difference.”
If you’re married, you go talk to who? Your husband. You say, “Sweetheart, I was readin’ The Bible, I think it’s ridiculous.” And he would say, “We should probably talk.” “Honey I was readin’ the Bible, I don’t understand.” He should say, “Let’s, let’s study that together. Let’s take some time, and study — together. Now some of you will protest and say, “THAT is SEXIST!” As a married man, I will tell you, it is sexy. That’s what it is. There is nothin’ hotter than a wife with a great new testament, commentaries, concordances, and questions. That is theological foreplay. It’s awesome. Because now you’re connecting at the level of then heart and the soul and god is honoring of that.”

There is more, but I believe I’ve more than made my point. Frankly, I am upset, I am concerned, I am angry, and I am embarrassed to belong to the same religion as Mark Driscoll. I am deeply offended – not by God, but by Mark Driscoll. If I believed that Mr. Driscoll’s words and attitude were reflective of the God of Christianity, I would walk away from Christianity altogether. I read at least one report of a former Mars Hill member who has. Unfortunately, as the Christian religion writer for the Seattle Times, in addition to his other roles, Mark does for many represent the face of Christianity. As that representative, he is showing the world a religion that is mean-spirited and unkind, one that depends upon mockery and shame, ######### and disrespect, smugness and name-calling to make its points.

…Again, I appreciate Mr. Driscoll’s clarifying blog post about the Haggard situation, although I wish he had said “I’m sorry, I was wrong” instead of simply saying he’d been “misconstrued.” Mr. Driscoll should apologize publicly for all the things referenced above, for the mean, flippant attitude with which he is attempting to deliver the gospel.

In the original, offending blog post, Mr. Driscoll wrote: “At the risk of being even more widely despised than I currently am, I will lean over the plate and take one for the team on this. It is not uncommon to meet pastors’ wives who really let themselves go; they sometimes feel that because their husband is a pastor, he is therefore trapped into fidelity, which gives them cause for laziness…” If he realized that the post would make him “more despised,” then why say something he already has recognized as being despicable? …
Yet Mark Driscoll continues to deliver messages filled with meanness and sarcasm and mockery of those who have different opinions or theological positions, and the congregation laughs whenever he does this. Who is holding him accountable? Who, among the Acts 29 community and/or Mars Hill, is talking with him about this, saying: “Mark, you can’t be this mean. This has to stop”?

I realize that I am exactly the type of strong-willed, opinionated woman that Mark Driscoll believes to be “an ungodly woman with a godless feminist agenda that she borrowed from the serpent, like her mother Eve in Genesis 3.” I do have an opinion about this matter (though I don’t have that pushup bra he accused all feminists of having), and I feel it is my responsibility to stand up and say something. Mr. Driscoll will likely see this letter as fitting his example of those “super-theological,” “fired up” “feminist women with guns who are gonna make a difference.” I admit, I do hope to make some difference in this situation (no gun, though); unfortunately, I don’t really expect this letter to change his heart.

I am, however, appealing to those surrounding him: Please listen. Please understand that Mark Driscoll’s teachings and his harsh, unkind, mocking words are hurting women and hurting the church. Please set up some form of accountability (or, if one exists, a stronger form of accountability). Ask him to get some therapy. … Listen to his sermons with a discerning ear and hold him accountable for what he’s teaching; if the tone of the above comments continues, remove him from leadership. Ask him to apologize, publicly. Most importantly of all, please set up some kind of information-seeking group within the church to hear the stories of people who have been hurt by Mr. Driscoll and his teachings – and be willing to act upon what you learn.

You have the power to do something about this. All I have is the power to write this letter. And to stand outside the church, holding a sign. Which is why I still plan to attend the protest on December 3. This isn’t an attempt to be divisive and it isn’t an attempt to persecute anyone, as some Mars Hill members have claimed. It’s simply an attempt to say: “Somebody please do something. Please stop this.” The question is: Are you listening?


Shari MacDonald Strong

Posted by stephy at 9:03 AM 44 comments

Comments to Shari’s letter:

February 17, 2009 1:05 PM

A. [to another commenter] This is not a matter of scriptural interpretation. It’s a matter of your fellow sister in Christ feeling spiritually abused. We can be skeptical and hard-headed (i.e. “Let’s not fight and argue about who killed who”–monty python), or we can honor the fact that Shari spoke passionately into the chaos while others sat idly by and accepted Marks words at face value because he has a degree and a pulpit.

February 17, 2009 1:31 PM


B. How sad that so few people feel safe enough within the evangelical church to stand up and say that something abusive or unkind is transpiring, and how sad that this is the nearly universal response when they do.

Powerful men never fail to have their defenders. Let me tell you how many Acts 29 folks, Driscoll fans, Christian leaders, or others contacted me after this letter was posted widely on the internet, to find out more about how Mark Driscoll was hurting women and whether or not something should be done about it: zero.

If Mark Driscoll (and pastors like him, and I’ve known many) hadn’t driven me away from the evangelical church, responses like this (and a widespread lack of caring about fair/respectful treatment of women within the church) would have.

The evangelical church is perfectly capable of greater kindness and understanding. But until people actually give a crap about the people who get hurt (women, in particular) and want to know more about how and why they’re hurting, it will remain the same sort of self-satisfied, lifeless social club that Jesus had hoped to transform.

February 17, 2009 6:25 PM


…C. Thanks so much for your words, L. The fact that anyone would read Driscoll’s words and would not only not renounce them, but would instead point the finger at someone who is raising a red flag of warning, utterly dumbfounds me. The fact that an entire city, and the larger evangelical community, has little concern about the damage Driscoll is doing in the name of Jesus, breaks my heart.

February 17, 2009 7:03 PM

D.  Dear Shari MacD,

…I like what you said about addressing abusive behavior, and how so many people are afraid to stand up and fight against it. I believe that this because it’s been masked as being OK, simply because it’s being delivered by a man who’s been “called” to preach. (Or have been given a pulpit, like David said.)

We (read: women) are not brought up in our society to question men. I spent a lot of years letting male pastors tell me how to live, and it hasn’t done me much good.

If the percentages are anywhere near accurate, there are a shit ton of women who are living in abusive marriages, and sitting in his congregation every week, slowly going crazier and crazier, with no one to call out to that is stronger than the sadistic, mysogynistic God that Driscoll idealizes. The tragedy in all of this is that, while “young men” are given priority and cuts in line, women continue to live in the belief that what Driscoll says, goes.

But Driscoll’s god is a flimsy imitation of the one who honors the woman, the mother, the sister, as much as he wants to [supposedly] bestow all the power and glory upon the heads of young, middle class men.

February 17, 2009 9:45 PM


E. Thank you, M. I don’t think you wish me ill, and I appreciate you saying so. It just makes me incredibly sad and discouraged that the most common response in the church (in my experience, and in many others’) to those of us who point out areas or patterns of unhealthy/abusive/hurtful behavior, is to place the blame on us for speaking up.

The fact is, Mark Driscoll has harmed a lot of people, and he is delivering hate speech from one of the biggest and most influential pulpits on the west coast. (If you simply go online and listen to his podcasts, you’ll find evidence of this in abundance.) The reality is, a lot of people have gone to Mark Driscoll in exactly the scriptural manner you describe, and it hasn’t helped a bit, because he doesn’t listen, and he just keeps getting nastier. (I know one woman who went with her husband to talk with Mark Driscoll about some of his teachings. When she gently but firmly challenged him on a point, Mark Driscoll refused to speak with her, turned to her husband and said something to the effect of, “If you don’t shut your wife up, I will.” This is typical behavior for him.)

My letter was from two years ago. I believed then that a protest (which I wasn’t organizing, but did support) was the right thing to do because something needed to be done, and the Christians around Mark Driscoll weren’t doing anything to support those who had been hurt, to deal with Driscoll’s behavior, or even to find out more about what was happening and whether action of any kind needed to be taken. My letter was, as I explained at the time, not a personal attack; it was simply an attempt to get people to notice what has been happening at Mars Hill, to look into things more closely, and to hold Mark Driscoll accountable for his words and actions. Why did I think it was the Christian thing to do? Because Jesus was a defender of the harmed, the persecuted, the weak, the maligned, the attacked. Who has been more harmed, persecuted, weakened, maligned, or attacked in the church than women — and especially women who have tried to have a voice?

I honestly don’t care what Mark Driscoll believes, except to the degree that he thinks those beliefs give him the right to mock, disparage, shame, and humiliate people — including, but not limited to, people like me. Ideally, it would be the people around him who would be gently challenging him to be a loving person, and to be his best self. Sadly, I stopped holding my breath for that to happen a long time ago.

Again, I appreciate the clarification. And I just want you to please consider that, when someone stands up to authority — in the church, and elsewhere — it may just be for a good reason. And it is certainly fine to question that person’s position — but I would hope that you would question the other side just as much. As you said, you don’t know me and you don’t know Mark Driscoll. The question then is, why (of the two of us) is he the one who got the benefit of the doubt? I don’t suggest that you answer that question here, or for me. But it is a question that I wish all the people who’ve defended Mark Driscoll, and/or have turned a deaf ear to those of us who are concerned, would ask themselves.

February 18, 2009 9:44 AM

…F. Why can’t we just take a sermon at face value and agree to disagree? Is this Driscoll guy being any more chauvinistic than the apostle Paul? And who cares? Why can’t we just disagree and be independent thinkers? Why do we have to call it abuse and check ourselves into therapy? Maybe because we’re making our pastors out to be gods.

If you think Driscoll is a douche, than stop giving him your money and leave!!!

Self-victimization is a children’s tool. We need to grow up.

February 18, 2009 10:08 AM


G. P.S. Why can’t we take a sermon at face value and agree to disagree? Spoken like a middle-class privileged white man in a society ruled by middle-class privileged white men who never get made fun of from the pulpit by middle-class privileged white men in power. If you were the one being mocked, shamed, and disparaged by “spiritual authority” on a regular basis — or if you actually cared for a moment about someone who was — you might just feel differently.

February 18, 2009 11:15 AM

H. You’re far more brave than I am on confronting spiritual abuse. I don’t know what I told you about the church I grew up in, but there was a HUGE divide created by our (then) Pastor, Richard Frazier, similar to this Driscoll kerfuffle. My father was one of the first to speak out against Richard Frazier and because of that was alienated for a long time in the church community and even had his life threatened at gunpoint (true story) by one of Frazier’s supporters. God-like? No. Thug-like? Yes.

The long and the short of it was many people (including my family) believed Frazier was spiritually abusing the congregation, which, I think goes without saying, involved a lot of emotional abuse. And as emotional abuse goes, some yearn for it because it is all they know while others want better. (Plato’s allegory of The Cave?) My father is a very calm man and was wanting so much to ignite discussion and not the screaming mess that came about prior to Frazier finally being run out of town. We’re still healing as a spiritual family… I think it’s commendable that Shari speak up about Mars Hill. There’s a lot of abusive leaders in the church that need to be called out.

February 18, 2009 5:34 PM


…I. …All you did was position chauvinism as biblical and defend people who hurt others and who refuse to acknowledge that pain or change their behavior — yet you were more than happy to rail at me for raising a red flag and to, essentially, call me a childish whiner. You can’t bait people with comments like yours and then shame them for getting pissed off.

For the record, getting angry about people mistreating other people isn’t throwing a tantrum. It’s just being a decent human being.

May 30, 2009

I don’t know that anyone will follow a comment here this late in the game, but I just came upon this…

In abusive systems, or in the minds of those who are threatened by even acknowledging the reality of the abuse and thus the moral responsibility to actually DO something about it, the one who points out the red flag, the one who, like Shari, says, “Hey, the emperor has no clothes,” becomes THE problem, THE enemy, THE issue.

And Shari, you are so right, you, or anyone else who dares to speak out, becomes the target at a carnival (and it is a madhouse– like a carnival’s house of mirrors, that which is reflected back at you, that which comes at you–when you do speak out).

So, for what it’s worth, I have a site about Mars Hill and what I consider to be church/spiritual abuse coming from that system and from Driscoll.


I am copying part of Shari’s letter and some of the comments here to my blog, not using the commenter’s names. But since Shari’s letter is public, I am using her name.

For freedom, truth and love!





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I am posting this to provide biblical reasoning as to why I believe Driscoll’s views, sermons and treatment of women are oppressive, anti-biblical, and appear to cross over into abuse as well. The following in its entirety is copied by permission from CBE (for more info go to bottom of page) and captures my understanding of Scripture regarding:

Men, Women and Biblical Equality

The Bible teaches the full equality of men and women in Creation

and in Redemption (Gen 1:26-28, 2:23, 5:1-2; I Cor 11:11-12; Gal

3:13, 28, 5:1).

The Bible teaches that God has revealed Himself in the totality of

Scripture, the authoritative Word of God (Matt 5:18; John 10:35; 2

Tim 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21).

We believe that Scripture is to be

interpreted holistically and thematically. We also recognize the

necessity of making a distinction between inspiration and

interpretation: inspiration relates to the divine impulse and control

whereby the whole canonical Scripture is the Word of God;

interpretation relates to the human activity whereby we seek to

apprehend revealed truth in harmony with the totality of Scripture

and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. To be truly biblical,

Christians must continually examine their faith and practice under

the searchlight of Scripture.

Biblical Truths


1. The Bible teaches that both man and woman were created in God’s

image, had a direct relationship with God, and shared jointly the

responsibilities of bearing and rearing children and having dominion

over the created order (Gen 1:26-28).

2. The Bible teaches that woman and man were created for full and

equal partnership. The word “helper” (ezer) used to designate woman

in Genesis 2:18 refers to God in most instances of Old Testament usage

(e.g. I Sam 7:12; Ps 121:1-2). Consequently the word conveys no

implication whatsoever of female subordination or inferiority.

3. The Bible teaches that the forming of woman from man

demonstrates the fundamental unity and equality of human beings (Gen

2:21-23). In Genesis 2:18, 20 the word “suitable” (kenegdo) denotes

equality and adequacy.

4. The Bible teaches that man and woman were co-participants in the

Fall: Adam was no less culpable than Eve (Gen 3:6; Rom 5:12-21;

I Cor 15:21-22).

5. The Bible teaches that the rulership of Adam over Eve resulted from

the Fall and was therefore not a part of the original created order.

Genesis 3:16 is a prediction of the effects of the Fall rather than a

prescription of God’s ideal order.


6. The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ came to redeem women as well

as men. Through faith in Christ we all become children of God, one in

Christ, and heirs to the blessings of salvation without reference to

racial, social, or gender distinctives (John 1:12-13; Rom 8:14-17;

2 Cor 5:17; Gal 3:26-28).


7. The Bible teaches that at Pentecost the Holy Spirit came on men and

women alike. Without distinction, the Holy Spirit indwells women and

men, and sovereignly distributes gifts without preference as to gender

(Acts 2:1-21; 1 Cor 12:7, 11, 14:31).

8. The Bible teaches that both women and men are called to develop

their spiritual gifts and to use them as stewards of the grace of God (1

Peter 4:10-11). Both men and women are divinely gifted and

empowered to minister to the whole Body of Christ, under His

authority (Acts 1:14, 18:26, 21:9; Rom 16:1-7, 12-13, 15; Phil 4:2-3;

Col 4:15; see also Mark 15:40-41, 16:1-7; Luke 8:1-3; John 20:17-18;

compare also Old Testament examples: Judges 4:4-14, 5:7;

2 Chron 34:22-28; Prov 31:30-31; Micah 6:4).

9. The Bible teaches that, in the New Testament economy, women as

well as men exercise the prophetic, priestly and royal functions (Acts

2:17-18, 21:9; 1 Cor 11:5; 1 Peter 2:9-10; Rev 1:6, 5:10). Therefore,

the few isolated texts that appear to restrict the full redemptive freedom

of women must not be interpreted simplistically and in contradiction to

the rest of Scripture, but their interpretation must take into account their

relation to the broader teaching of Scripture and their total context

(1 Cor 11:2-16, 14:33-36; 1 Tim 2:9-15).

10. The Bible defines the function of leadership as the empowerment of

others for service rather than as the exercise of power over them (Matt

20:25-28, 23:8; Mark 10:42-45; John 13:13-17; Gal 5:13;

1 Peter 5:2-3).


11. The Bible teaches that husbands and wives are heirs together of the

grace of life and that they are bound together in a relationship of mutual

submission and responsibility (1 Cor 7:3-5; Eph 5:21; 1 Peter 3:1-7;

Gen 21:12). The husband’s function as “head” (kephale) is to be

understood as self-giving love and service within this relationship of

mutual submission (Eph 5:21-33; Col 3:19; 1 Peter 3:7).

12. The Bible teaches that both mothers and fathers are to exercise

leadership in the nurture, training, discipline and teaching of their

children (Ex 20:12; Lev 19:3; Deut 6:6-9, 21:18-21, 27:16;

Prov 1:8, 6:20; Eph 6:1-4; Col 3:20; 2 Tim 1:5; see also Luke 2:51).



1. In the church, spiritual gifts of women and men are to be

recognized, developed and used in serving and teaching ministries

at all levels of involvement: as small group leaders, counselors,

facilitators, administrators, ushers, communion servers, and board

members, and in pastoral care, teaching, preaching, and worship

In so doing, the church will honor God as the source of spiritual

gifts. The church will also fulfill God’s mandate of stewardship

without the appalling loss to God’s kingdom that results when half

of the church’s members are excluded from positions of


2. In the church, public recognition is to be given to both women

and men who exercise ministries of service and leadership.

In so doing, the church will model the unity and harmony that

should characterize the community of believers. In a world

fractured by discrimination and segregation, the church will

dissociate itself from worldly or pagan devices designed to make

women feel inferior for being female. It will help prevent their

departure from the church or their rejection of the Christian faith.


3. In the Christian home, husband and wife are to defer to each

other in seeking to fulfill each other’s preferences, desires and

aspirations. Neither spouse is to seek to dominate the other but

each is to act as servant of the other, in humility considering the

other as better than oneself. In case of decisional deadlock they

should seek resolution through biblical methods of conflict

resolution rather than by one spouse imposing a decision upon the


In so doing, husband and wife will help the Christian home stand

against improper use of power and authority by spouses and will

protect the home from wife and child abuse that sometimes

tragically follows a hierarchical interpretation of the husband’s


4. In the Christian home, spouses are to learn to share the

responsibilities of leadership on the basis of gifts, expertise, and

availability, with due regard for the partner most affected by the

decision under consideration.

In so doing, spouses will learn to respect their competencies and

their complementarity. This will prevent one spouse from

becoming the perennial loser, often forced to practice ingratiating

or deceitful manipulation to protect self-esteem. By establishing

their marriage on a partnership basis, the couple will protect it from

joining the tide of dead or broken marriages resulting from marital


5. In the Christian home, couples who share a lifestyle

characterized by the freedom they find in Christ will do so without

experiencing feelings of guilt or resorting to hypocrisy. They are

freed to emerge from an unbiblical “traditionalism” and can rejoice

in their mutual accountability in Christ. In so doing, they will

openly express their obedience to Scripture, will model an example

for other couples in quest of freedom in Christ, and will stand

against patterns of domination and inequality sometimes imposed

upon church and family.

We believe that biblical equality as reflected in this

document is true to Scripture.

We stand united in our conviction that the Bible,

in its totality, is the liberating Word that provides

the most effective way for women and men to

exercise the gifts distributed by the Holy Spirit and

thus to serve God.

Gilbert Bilezikian W. Ward Gasque

Stanley N. Gundry Gretchen Gaebelein Hull

Catherine Clark Kroeger Jo Anne Lyon

Roger Nicole

(c) 1989, Christians for Biblical Equality. Permission to

reproduce the statement in its entirety can be obtained from

the national office of CBE.


122 West Franklin Avenue, Suite 218, Mpls, MN 55404-2451

Phone: (612) 872-6898 Fax: (612) 872-6891

E-mail: cbe@cbeinternational.org


Endorsed by: Miriam Adeney, Astri T. Anfindsen, Timothy Paul Allen, James Alsdurf,

Phyllis Alsdurf, John E. Anderson, P atricia W. Anderson, Carl E. Armerding, Myron S.

Augsburger, Raymond Bakke, Sandra Bauer, James Beck, Virginia L. Beck, Elizabeth Bell,

Roy D. Bell, David G. Benner, Gordon C. Bennett, Joyce R. Berggren, Char Binkley,

Sandra Bostian, Mark A. Brewer, Bettie Ann Brigham, D. Stuart Briscoe, Kathleen K.

Brogan, James A. Brooks, Beth E. Brown, H. Marie Brown, F. F. Bruce, Cheever C.

Buckbee, David H. Burr, Donald P. Buteyn, Anthony Campolo, Linda Cannell, Daniel R.

Chamberlain, Caroline L. Cherry, Jack M. Chisholm, Gerald Christmas, Rosemary

Christmas, David K. Clark, Shirley Close, Bonnidell Clouse, Robert G. Clouse, David W.

Clowney, Naomi C. Cole, Mark O. Coleman, Jim Conway, Sally Conway, Kaye V. Cook-

Kollars, C. S. Cowles, R. Byron Crozier, Peter H. Davids, Edward R. Dayton, Paul H. De

Vries, Sidney De Waal, J. Jey Deifell, Jr., John R. Dellenback, Mary Jane Dellenback, Gary

W. Demarest, Dolores Dunnett, Walter Dunnett, Charlotte Dyck, James F. Engel, C.

Stephen Evans, Colleen Townsend Evans, Louis Evans, Gabriel Fackre, Gordon D. Fee,

John Fischer, Patrice Fischer, David B. Fletcher, Joan D. Flikkema, David A. Fraser, Nils C.

Friberg, Donn M. Gaebelein, Kevin Giles, Alfred A. Glenn, Barbara R. Glenn, Arthur A.

Goetze, Tita V. Gordovez, Lillian V. Grissen, H. James Groen, Vernon Grounds, Darrell L.

Guder, Lee M. Haines, Robin Haines, Richard C. Halverson, Sandra Hart, Stephen A.

Hayner, Jo Ellen Heil, Betty C. Henderson, Robert T. Henderson, John J. Herzog, Bartlett

L. Hess, I. John Hesselink, Roberta Hestenes, Janet S. Hickman, Marvin D. Hoff, Colleen

Holby, Arthur F. Holmes, Beverly Holt, Carol D. C. Howard, David Allan Hubbard, M.

Gay Hubbard, Anne Huffman, John Huffman, Philip G. Hull, Sanford D. Hull, Richard G.

Hutcheson, Jr., William J. Hybels, Vida S. Icenogle, Dorothy Irvin, Evelyn Jensen, Alan F.

Johnson, David W. Johnson, Robert K. Johnston, Rufus Jones, Kenneth S. Kantzer, Robert

D. Kettering, John F. Kilner, Herbert V. Klem, Richard C. Kroeger, Harold E. Kurtz,

Pauline H. Kurtz, Bruce Larson, Michael R. Leming, William H. Leslie, Arthur H. Lewis,

Walter L. Liefeld, Zondra Lindblade, Helen W. Loeb, Richard N. Longenecker, Richard F.

Lovelace, Deborah Olsoe Lunde, Kenneth H. Maahs, Faith M. Martin, James R. Mason,

Alice P. Mathews, Dolores E. McCabe, Te rry McGonigal, David L. McKenna, Lois

McKinney, William A. Meyer, Hazel M. Michelson, A. Berkeley Mickelsen, Alvera

Mickelsen, Eileen F. Moffett, Samuel H. Moffett, C. Sue Moore, Edward Moore, Graham

Morbey, Mary Leigh Morbey, Elizabeth Morgan, Stephen C. Mott, Richard J. Mouw, Jeana

Nieporte, William M. Nieporte, Alvaro L. Nieves, Arnold T. Olson, Daisy M. Washburn

Osborn, LaDonna Osborn, T. L. Osborn, Grant R. Osborne, Grace Paddon, John Paddon,

Elizabeth L. Patterson, Virginia Patterson, Richard Patterson, Jr., Philip Barton Payne,

Robert W. Pazmino, Janet M. Peifer, William J. Petersen, Richard V. Pierard, Paul E.

Pierson, Carolyn Goodman Plampin, Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., Christiane Posselt, Quah

Cheng Hock, Robert V. Rakestraw, Sara Robertson, Lianne Roembke, Lydia M. Sarandan,

Alvin J. Schmidt, Richard C. Schoenert, David M. Scholer, Jeannette F. Scholer, Robert A.

Seiple, Ronald J. Sider, Lewis B. Smedes, James D. Smith III, Paul R. Smith, P. Paul

Snezek, Jr., Klyne Snodgrass, Howard A. Snyder, Aida B. Spencer, William D. Spencer,

Adele O. Sullivan, W. Nelson Thomson, Ruth A. Tucker, Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen,

Joseph W. Viola, Virginia G. Viola, Emily Walther, George H. Walther, Patricia A. Ward,

Timothy Weber, Van B. Weigel, Bruce Wilson, Earle L. Wilson, H. C. Wilson, Nicholas

Wolterstorff, Linda R. Wright, Walter C. Wright, Jr., Louis H. Zbinden. (9/95)

(c) 1989, Christians for Biblical Equality. Permission to

reproduce the statement in its entirety can be obtained from

the national office of CBE.


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Phone: (612) 872-6898 Fax: (612) 872-6891

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I was informed about Waneta Dawn’s site, Submission Tyranny, in Church and Society, from equalitycentral.com . She clearly articulates well thought out and biblical responses to what looks like “hard core Complementarianism,” (actually “Subjectivism” as another dubbed it) and the silencing of women who are victimized emotionally, physically, spiritually and sexually by their husbands and  by the church systems which shelter the abusers and encourage this doctrine and lifestyle of husband lordship over their wives.

On her site intro, Waneta writes, “My passion is to educate people about the connection between the church’s focus on wife submission and both physical and non-physical abuses.”

Before I introduce a particular post of hers, I want to encourage you that when you are looking at a person or a system, always look beyond their words to their behaviors. A person, a system, can claim or say anything, and it can sound really good, convincing, biblical and logical… but look at what they do and examine the fruit in their lives… Abusive people and abusive systems tend to be extremely manipulative, but oftentimes, covertly so and when you want to believe in a person or a system because of your own needs, it is all too easy to be deceived and to deceive yourself.

The following is an excerpt from Waneta’s insightful post, Hijacked Christianity. I think it is pertinent to the issues I am addressing here regarding Mars Hill and Driscoll’s interpretations of a few cherry picked Scriptures apart from the overall message of Jesus and of Scripture regarding women and freedom and equality…

Hijacked Christianity

Hijack Christianity? How absurd!” you’ll be thinking about now. “You can’t hijack a concept, a belief.”

Are you so sure? What happens when a plane is hijacked? Someone uses the threat of extreme pain, punishment, attack, or discomfort to impose his will and force another to go in a direction he or she has no desire to go. What direction is Christianity supposed to go? First, Christianity represents the gospel, the Good News of salvation from sin, of deliverance from the bondage that sin brings, of loving and serving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and second, loving our neighbor as ourselves, of developing and using our God-given gifts and talents in the service of Christ and the Church.

How, then, has Christianity been hijacked? By one subgroup of Christians forcing another subgroup into bondage, and by that very action, putting themselves and others in a related subgroup in bondage as well.

“That makes absolutely no sense,” you say.

Let me explain. If a small group of pastors, the first subgroup, decide that Ephesians 5 and other passages about male and female are establishing a hierarchy of husbands having authority over wives, in spite of other passages clearly saying there is neither male nor female, bond nor free, Jew or gentile, and that husbands are to submit to their wives through loving self-sacrifice, and teach their congregations that “head” means husbands are to have “authority-over” their wives, that first subgroup of pastors is in effect putting another subgroup, wives, into bondage, and by that action putting themselves and other men, those in the related subgroup, in bondage as well.

“How could this be?” you ask.

Galatians 3:1-3 gives us a clue. “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?”

Now the context of this was circumcision, but the principle of being saved by works applies for other lawish doctrines, like the doctrine of “Wives submit, no matter what!” (“Wives, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and submit to your husbands and you shall be saved.”) Notice the total lack of a companion doctrine of “Husbands love self-sacrificially, no matter what!” This lack makes the law for the wives an effort to bring the wives “into bondage,” which is what the false brethren were doing regarding circumcision. (Galatians 2:3-4)

If Paul calls them false brethren, should we also be calling these people who are trying to bring wives into bondage false brethren? Ouch! I’m not ready to go that far, yet; I’m too versed in giving people the benefit of the doubt. After all, surely they only hold staunchly to their view because they haven’t yet had their eyes opened to the truth. Or is it because they are not being led by the Spirit of God? I mean there it is, in the Bible. It has been there for nearly 2000 years, and male pastors still do not see that husbands are to give up everything for their wives. They are to sacrifice as they would for their own bodies. What would they do for their own bodies? Very few men would beat themselves into “submission” or rant and rave at themselves for forgetting to buy the ice cream they wanted. Instead they make excuses for themselves or even return to the store to get the forgotten item.

But the proponents of this belief claim the authority-over model is God’s idea, not theirs. They are just trying to see to it that women obey God. Again, why this super-concern over women’s obedience to God? When are men going to take a look at their own lack of obedience to God? When Peter was sitting with Jesus, he asked “What about John?” And Jesus said, “What is that to you? You follow Me.” Of course, men could ask why I’m bothering to point this out. Shouldn’t I, too, just follow Jesus and leave them to follow in their own way? In this case there is one difference. They are demanding that women commit idolatry by following and serving THEM, instead of following and serving Jesus, or they claim that it is in following and serving husbands that wives are following Jesus. I am not asking that men follow me or that they do my rules or I will beat them up or punish them in some way. Many of these men are demanding to be their wife’s god. She is to keep her eyes on him and his wants and rules only, to the exclusion of God and everyone else.

This is where Christianity is hijacked. The husband makes a god of himself and demands obedience. This is where he sins and puts himself in bondage to the lusts of his own flesh. Salvation through Christ and service to Christ becomes secondary and sometimes totally out of the picture. His rule is more like “Obey My every whim, make sure I have no reason to get angry, and submit yourself to My rantings and/or beatings, and believe in the lord jesus christ, and you might be saved.” (lower case for the Lord Jesus Christ and upper case for “my” is intentional.)

With this hijacking of Christianity, the abusers think they are going to Heaven, even though they have made themselves their god, and the wives certainly are not allowed any liberty or freedom in Christ, and often deal with extreme confusion about which rules God wants them to obey. They have been put into bondage by one whose behavior closely resembles Satan’s and his minions.

…It is time husbands stop hijacking Christianity and elevate God to His rightful place, and put themselves in their places—on equal ground next to their wives so that both can focus on loving and following Jesus and on loving and submitting to one another.

And if husbands refuse to stop hijacking Christianity? Then what are the wives to do? I mean, telling a wife to disregard this favorite of doctrines and not submit is considered unbiblical, as rebelling against God, and as the evil of witchcraft. Yet, Paul says in Galatians 2:5 “To whom (the false brethren) we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.” When men teach that the “wife submit” doctrine carries more weight than the husband love self-sacrificially doctrine, and that it requires a wife to submit to all kinds of indignities or subtle put-downs at the hand of her husband, that is false doctrine. According to Paul, in cases of false doctrine, we are to give place by subjection “no, not for an hour.”

Indeed, submitting to that works-oriented doctrine steals from the awesomeness of the truth of the gospel. Brothers and sisters, “these things ought not to be.”


pulled 5/25/09

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As you go through this article, see if you can find any similarities between Gothard’s characteristics and tactics and those of Driscoll’s.

The Blinding and Binding Teachings of Bill Gothard

gothardBook review by Paul Sue

A Matter of Basic Principles: Bill Gothard & the Christian Life by Don Veinot, Joy Veinot, Ron Henzel. 21st Century Press, 2002.

It’s probably safe to say that most Christians in North America have heard of or have even attended one of Gothard’s seminars. Because of the popularity and mass appeal of Gothard’s ministry, attempting to question it or criticize it is to face the wrath and anathema of the legion of loyal (blindly loyal in some cases) fans. Gothardites get angry and defensive when you question their beloved leader’s teachings or integrity, as if he is somehow beyond reproach or accountability. To such die-hard supporters, this book will, I’m sad to say, do little to sway them from their steadfast adherence to Gothardism: a case of the blind leading the blind (though you still should encourage them to read this excellent book and pray for them!).

However, for those who are open-minded, willing to study the Scriptures for themselves, and willing to engage in calm discussion without resorting to name calling and angry rhetoric, this book can help them find true freedom in Christ. It is fairly written, well-researched (includes meeting with Gothard on a number of occasions), carefully reasoned, and endorsed by well known seminary professors, apologists, cult researchers and pastors. The authors have demonstrated charity and forbearance towards Mr. Gothard and his staff, both in personal meetings and in their correspondence. Gothard on the other hand, has broken promises, resorted to stonewalling, spread misinformation, threatened lawsuits, and generally not acted in a biblical and loving manner.

The authors are with Midwest Christian Outreach, “a non-denominational, evangelical organization that exists to intelligently present and compassionately defend the Gospel of Jesus Christ, especially to those who consciously reject it due to false beliefs, and to challenge and equip believing Christians to do the same.”

The book begins with a brief overview of the historical developments of the American religious milieu to set the background for the genesis of Gothard’s Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts (now IBLP, Institute in Basic Life Principles). The authors do praise Gothard’s early and humble efforts to reach the troubled youth of the turbulent 60’s. Parents obviously appreciated Gothard’s teachings as an antidote to the rebellious anti-authoritarian attitudes of the hippie culture, and soon his seminar attendance swelled, and unfortunately, so did Gothard’s head. Already in his early days of ministry, he was accused of “spiritual pride” (p. 42), though at the time he was humble enough to confess it.

However, as his ministry continued to grow, problems began to emerge as well. In the mid-70’s, Bill Gothard’s brother (who was at the time the vice-president of the ministry), was involved in sexual misconduct with several ministry employees, though Bill chose not to deal with it. The scandal finally came out into the open in 1980. Dr. Samuel Schultz, professor of OT at Wheaton College and board member since 1965, resigned, stating:

In May 1980 we were shocked to learn of gross immorality that had prevailed for years among the staff under Bill’s supervision as president. Bill failed to share this information with the board nor did he seek their counsel. By the end of that year it became apparent that Bill continued his authoritarian style of leadership, dismissing those on the board as well as staff who disagreed with him. Consequently I found it necessary to resign.

Earlier, Gothard himself had indecent contact with some of his female staff, and “admitted in staff meetings that these actions were ‘moral failures’ on his part.” (p. 54). I think the biblical term is “sin”, not just “moral failures”. However, the authors are not trying to be sensationalistic, but rather, simply pointing out Bill’s style of leadership, especially his reluctance to deal with matters in a timely and biblical fashion, his dogmatism and authoritarianism, his lack of integrity, and his increasing tendency towards a legalistic reading of the Bible. With respect to the latter point, Bill Gothard’s penchant for taking passages out of context, and his misunderstanding of basic hermeneutical principles have resulted in an assortment of bizarre and aberrational teachings that have alarmed many in the evangelical community. Dr. Ronald Allen, Professor of Bible Exposition at Dallas Theological Seminary, attended a Gothard seminar in 1973 and wrote of his experience:

In this seminar, I was regularly assaulted by the misuse of the Bible, particularly of the Old Testament, on a level that I have never experienced in a public ministry before that time (or since). (p. 64)

Dr. Allen has tried unsuccessfully for over 20 years to meet Bill Gothard:

Although Dr. Allen extended to Gothard for over twenty years the offer to meet anywhere at anytime at his own expense if necessary, including lunch or dinner, no meeting was forthcoming. Bill Gothard steadfastly refused to meet with Dr. Allen … (p. 66)

This reflects Bill Gothard’s staunch refusal to be corrected or to be held accountable, his consistent trademark throughout his career. Instead of answering his critics’ concerns, he insinuates that his opponents don’t have the special insight into Scripture that he has (see page 100). The authors are correct that Gothard has created an “Evangelical Talmud” for Christians, claiming his novel interpretations as binding Biblical commands:

Of course, we are all guilty of misapplying Scripture from time to time. We are taking that into account. The concern we and others have is that, with Gothard, abuse of Scripture happens so frequently and seems to have gotten much worse in recent years. The elevation of his personal opinions to the status of scriptural authority extends into medical advice (Cabbage Patch dolls interfering with the birth of children), adoption (tracing family lineage to bind ancestral demons), and other mystical elements (hedge of thorns, umbrella of authority/protection, sins of the father). (p. 102)

If it was just a matter of academic exercise that we disagree with Gothard’s teachings, one might choose to discount the criticisms. However, harmful teachings can dramatically affect lives, families and churches; in the case of Gothard’s teachings, they have been the cause of much personal trauma, the cause of family breakups, and the source of church divisions. The book gives several examples, including the case of a pastor who Bill wooed away to supposedly begin a new ministry (the story is told on pages 211-223). In the end, “after all of the broken commitments and disillusionment with the ungodly way IBLP was administered” (p. 223), the pastor resigned, having still not received the balance of the money that was owing to him. Oh yeah, did we mentioned the lack of financial integrity of Gothard’s ministry?

In Chapter 8, the authors tell another story, this time of a devoted Gothardite couple, who volunteered to help out with a log cabin program for juvenile delinquents that Gothard was planning. Soon enough, problems arose: it turned out that Gothard’s ministry had failed to comply with state building code regulations. Instead of acknowledging the problem, Gothard adopts his usual strategy of shifting blame, obfuscating the issues, slandering his critics, and accusations of rebelling and fault finding (see the excellent list of Gothard’s conflict resolution style on pages 232-234). How hypocritical for a ministry that preaches “obeying authority” so much, to ignore the authority of the laws of the land! In the end, the couple ended up paying additional expenses out of their own pocket in order to fix the problems due to IBLP’s negligence. In an incredible act of arrogance, dishonesty, and mean-spiritedness, Gothard’s staff “went under the cover of darkness to remove Institute property from the premises. Subsequently, they sent a letter … demanding to the [couple’s] attorney demanding reimbursement for lost income and expenses related to the property.” (pp. 245-246).

Gothard has attempted to bring his legalistic teachings into all areas of life. Indeed, one can now submit all aspects of one’s life under the umbrella of Bill Gothard’s absolute authority: use of cosmetics, clothing, beards, sleep schedules, homeschooling, courtship and marriage, and even medical advice (see Chapter 10, Bill Gothard – Medicine Man).

What emerges as one reads the book, is the unbendable, unquestionable authority that Gothard wields over his staff and his dutiful followers. The total lack of accountability and resistance to correction also characterizes Gothard’s “ministry”. Ironically, in light of what he teaches, Mr. Gothard does not exhibit a teachable spirit; one notes a total lack of references to other books and scholars in his published materials. While this may give an impression of spirituality (“we let the Bible speak for itself”) that appeals to certain minds that are distrustful of biblical scholarship, it actually reflects a “Lone Ranger we know-it-all” attitude. Even when it comes to scripture verses, Gothard seems to use the KJV only, even when other translations could help clarify the meaning.

Furthermore, Gothard has a simplistic and reductionistic approach to the Christian life. He has managed to reduce biblical discipleship into a number of “non-optional” life principles. It is striking that Gothard’s teachings are totally devoid or deficient of grace. His perspective on the Bible is legalistic and moralistic, not the Christo-centric or cruciformic viewpoint that Paul expounds. There is little teaching of the empowering presence of the Spirit to enable us to live godly lives. This is a very significant point: grace, Christ, the Spirit and the cross figure very little in Gothard’s scheme for Christian living. Gothard perhaps needs to take note of Paul’s polemics with the Galatian Judaizers.

We have already made mention of Gothard’s inconsistent and incoherent approach to biblical interpretation. He is guilty of consistently taking verses out of context and prooftexting. He totally disregards the redemptive-historical dimension of Scripture, and reads the Bible “flatly” instead, thereby making all manner of incorrect applications from OT texts. (It is instructive to note how Gothard prefers citing the OT over the NT.) Instead of trying to understand a text in its historical, literary and theological contexts, he searches for aphorisms – and he finds them everywhere!

People will say that we shouldn’t criticize a ministry that seems so successful and has “God’s blessing” on it. First of all, a ministry’s success is not measured according to the world’s standards (i.e. numbers, finances, and glowing testimonies). Secondly, it is presumptuous for us to claim “God’s blessing” on any ministry – we’re not God! We shall all have to await His assessment at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Our goal now is to be faithful to the Word and accountable to one another. Lastly, we are called to be discerning and not to just blindly accept any teaching that comes our way. Even the apostle Paul’s message was scrutinized by the Bereans – and they were commended for doing so (Acts 17:10-12); surely Gothard is not putting himself above the apostle Paul, is he? Questioning or criticizing Gothard’s teachings does not mean we are judging him as a person.

In the book’s Epilogue, the authors explore the issue of leaving an authoritarian or spiritually abusive group and the attendant difficulties involved. They note that:

[p]eople who find themselves in this deep become afraid to point out even serious problems they find along the way. If they recognize some signs of spiritual abuse, hypocrisy, or oppression, their minds tend to reject this input out of fear of reprisal or condemnation for presuming to judge the leader or leaders supposedly anointed or specially anointed by God. They will blame the victim; indeed, they will blame themselves before they will dare to find fault with such a ‘godly’ man as the leader or leaders. This is very common with authoritarian groups.” (p. 315)

Furthermore, Gothard’s strategy is to ignore your questions and concerns and counterattack instead:

Critical questions are not answered in a reasoned fashion. Rather, the response is crafted in such a way as to suggest that questioning itself indicates a rebellious spirit. To question “God’s appointed man” is tantamount to questioning God. This mindset is very difficult to overcome. (p. 316)

The authors go on to list other reasons why people refuse to leave an authoritarian or abusive group, even when the evidence is overwhelming:

  • they’ve invested too much (time, money, effort, emotion) in the group and are afraid to leave
  • fear of ridicule from others; fear that if they were wrong about the group, then they have wasted their lives (p. 321)
  • fear of catastrophic events if they were to leave the protective umbrella of the group; they’ve been brainwashed into believing that the chain of authority to God goes through their leader (the “fortress/remnant” mentality)
  • the people in the group seem so nice
  • afraid of being shunned by family and friends, most of whom are in the group (usually people who join authoritarian groups tend to be isolationists)
  • afraid of being cut off from God

This book is an important read for all Christians, serving as an warning against legalism, authoritarianism and blind submission to fallible leaders. Furthermore, the book underscores the pressing need for all Christians to be more discerning in an age of biblical illiteracy, theological confusion, and false substitutes for the biblical gospel. It’s not entirely Gothard’s fault though. Church leaders have failed to train Christians to be discerning, by giving them the tools to help them understand the Scriptures for themselves. As I’ve stated elsewhere many times, present church structures help facilitate an unhealthy view of authority and spiritual dependence.

Then too, Christians themselves are partly to blame:

  • fascination with novelty (WWJD, Prayer of Jabez or whatever is the latest bestseller or fad)
  • laziness (why study the Bible when you can just follow a few “basic life principles”)
  • superstition (Cabbage Patch dolls are evil; Proctor & Gamble are satanic)
  • sentimentalism (more influenced by Touched By An Angel and Chicken Soup for the Soul than Paul or John)
  • moralism (“let’s clean up our nation for God!”)
  • desire for a strong authority figure to give moral guidance and sense of security in our wicked society
  • attraction to the personality cult (looking for charisma not Christ)

Until churches take seriously the task of equipping their Christians to study the Bible for themselves, and gain a deeper understanding and ability to discern truth from error, they will continue to fall prey to false teaching.

As I put the book down and paused to reflect on what I’ve read, Gothard seems so cartoonish that I felt like laughing – until I recalled the damaged lives and divided families and churches; then I felt like weeping instead.

Note: More information on Bill Gothard is available on Midwest Christian Outreach’s website. There is even an Internet discussion forum dedicated to discussing the teachings of Bill Gothard. For a list of other links on Bill Gothard, please click here.

Here’s another book review and two related articles on Bill Gothard:


pulled 5/18/09

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The following in its entirety is from Praying Heart, dated Feb 15, 2008:


This clip displays one of the areas where Mark Driscoll is especially strong: using displays of so-called humility to further his agenda from the pulpit. Was Mark truly repentant for his pride when this was delivered? It is possible – unlike the Mars Hill Elders, PH does not have the gift of “immaculate perception” (Immaculate Perception: The opinion that the way the one sees things is obviously the way God sees things.) Still, ReallySad1 makes some excellent points in the “about this video” section of the clip:

Mark Driscoll got accolades for his statement regarding his lack of humility.
But if you listen carefully, this set up the church to hear that in fact his followers, especially those that were questioning the recent firings of two beloved pastors, should be ignored because of their lack of humility.

He is saying “I have not been humble, I am proud. Therefore because I have been proud many of you members are also proud. So we will not listen to you and your concerns, even if valid, because of your pride. I repent of my pride and will now teach you to be humble.” In fact, he talks about how the church will humble you or exalt you. In fact that is not the church’s role at all.

This sermon set up members to hear: You are saying good things, your concerns may be valid, BUT!!! You are not humble therefore what you say will be disregarded.

This may be the height of arrogance. Mark Driscoll (as Pastor) can just deem you to be proud. He can therefore disregard what you say. What arrogance!

True humility assumes the best of your brother. Mark Driscoll and his elders have disregarded the concerns and council of many members by accusing of them not having a humble spirit. Sadly, this is in the context of preaching from a text in which we see Jesus taking on the form a servant and demonstrating the humility that pastors ought to have.


pulled Feb ‘09

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The following in its entirety is taken from Praying Heart:


Seeking Justice & Reconciliation at Mars Hill Church

March 2, 2008

Or those in church leadership simply wondering if THEY are crazy.  Trust PH…if you are wondering this, you probably are not.

PH has received excellent  feedback from those who have read book by Dr. John K. Setser:  “Broken Hearts, Shattered Trust/Workplace Abuse of Staff in the Church”.  If any are interested in receiving their  own copy, Dr. Setser is  happy to send on at no charge (at this point).  Just email him at johnsetser@hotmail.com and ask.

Dr. Setser is the founder of Baranbas Ministries: http://www.shatteredtrust.com .


Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Elders: Betrayers of a Trust

February 29, 2008

And then, there is the environment that has been fostered in Mars Hill.

Shut Up & Do What You’re Told


Drink the Kool Aid


PH knows many (mostly former) members who were leveled for respectfully, but vigorously expressing either doubt or dissent with the way that the firing of two beloved pastors was handled. These members were betrayed by the leadership that they had previously chosen to trust. Many of these members were previously not even on MH radar, as their many years of membership history had demonstrated them to be what would be considered “model members.” The members that reaped the devastation during these times were not “immature Christians” as the Elders of MH have tried to portray. Many were, in fact, mature Christians with proven track records in ministry leadership that surpass Mark Driscoll in time and quality. (Despite their never having fostered a “mega-church.) PH would think that an outcry from this demographic would be taken very seriously by leadership within a church body.

Are the men who perpetrated or ignored such betrayal qualified to be Elders?

4 Comments |  Elder (Dis)Qualifications, Pastoral Firings, church discipline, mark driscoll | Tagged: mars hill church, mark driscoll, firing, elders, church discipline, Firings, mars hill, resurgence, Paul Petry, Bent Meyer, members, membership, controversy, Marshill Church, John Piper, Mahaney, Gerry Breshears |  Permalink

Posted by prayingheart


Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Elders: In “Major” or “Minor” Sin?

February 28, 2008


Wow…in less than 2 minutes, this video says more about the injustices instigated by and under Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church than PH could write in 2 pages! Video: Major vs Minor Sins

The topic question can be read one of two ways: Are these guys in sin – OR – is the sin that they are in Major or Minor. PH will let you choose how to read it.

PH raises two follow-up questions, regardless of your read on the topic question.

Are the men who participated in the firings and trial qualified to be elders? And,

Are a) knowing and active disobedience of biblical principles, followed by b) false representations perpetrated to cover up the disobedience MAJOR or MINOR sins, by Driscoll’s definitions?

8 Comments |  Elder (Dis)Qualifications, Elders Response Document, Mars Hill Bylaws, Pastoral Firings, church discipline, mark driscoll | Tagged: mars hill church, mark driscoll, firing, elders, church discipline, Firings, mars hill, resurgence, Paul Petry, Bent Meyer, members, membership, controversy, Marshill Church, John Piper, Mahaney, Gerry Breshears |  Permalink

Posted by prayingheart


Is Mark Driscoll’s Behavior Authoritarian and Abusive?

February 26, 2008

Controlling Personalities in the Church: The Warning Signs

The second in a series of articles on the Wittenberg Gate website

Authoritarian Leadership and Lack of Accountability

God, knowing our weak frame, has given us a structure for church authority. He tells us to have a multitude of counselors, all under the authority of King Jesus. Abusers, however, wish to operate on their own. They want to be king of the congregation Elders/Deacons. Their approach to this may be very subtle. A church council may be in place, but each elder is hand-picked and known to be cooperative. (goodbye and good riddance to the problematic pastors, AND any outspoken members!) They may be inexperienced churchmen who got their elder training only from this pastor,

(Does this sound familiar? Perhaps Jamie Munson? Anybody else? PH needs both hands and a couple of toes to count them!) or overworked businessmen who are relieved to let the pastor make all the decisions. The elders themselves may be manipulated and lied to and have information kept away from them” (not to mention the membership!)

If you need more information to decide the answer to the topic question, check out the articles starting at:


11 Comments |  Elder (Dis)Qualifications, Elders Response Document, Pastoral Firings, church discipline, mark driscoll | Tagged: Bent Meyer, church discipline, controversy, elders, firing, Firings, Gerry Breshears, John Piper, Mahaney, mark driscoll, mars hill, mars hill church, Marshill Church, members, membership, Paul Petry, resurge |  Permalink

Posted by prayingheart


Is Mars Hill Church “Toxic” or “Healthy” Under Mark Driscoll’s Leadership?

February 20, 2008

Toxic Churches

A toxic church exists when “doing” becomes more important than “being.” In a toxic church, service to God is viewed as keeping church systems functioning, God’s blessing is seen as bigger budgets for bigger buildings to accommodate more people, and looking successful replaces love as the key ingredient.  Read the rest of this entry »

6 Comments |  Elder (Dis)Qualifications, Elders Response Document, Mars Hill Bylaws, Pastoral Firings, church discipline, mark driscoll | Tagged: Bent Meyer, church discipline, controversy, elders, firing, Firings, Gerry Breshears, John Piper, Mahaney, mark driscoll, mars hill, mars hill church, Marshill Church, members, membership, Paul Petry, resurgence |  Permalink

Posted by prayingheart


Elders and Deacons at Mars Hill Church

February 16, 2008


el•der (el’der) n. 1. Elected or appointed governing officer within a church. See 1 Timothy 3: 1-7, Titus 1: 6-9 Under the new bylaws, most of the men that Mars Hill Church refers to as “elders”


dea•con (de’ken) n. 1. Attendant or assistant to church leaders. See 1 Timothy 3: 8

(The above definitions are found on the Mars Hill Church website.)

Under the new bylaws, most of the men that Mars Hill Church refers to as “elders” are more accurately referred to as “executive deacons.” With the exception of the Executive 5 (Mark Driscoll, Scott Thomas, Jamie Munson, Tim Belz and Bubba Jennings) no elder has any power of governance. Maybe this isn’t such a big deal…except for the 2000 or so members who signed up for a plurality of elders, in which many men had governing power, and held each other accountable. Of course, it could be said that arrangement didn’t help…after all, these 18+ men voted to give up their power to govern.

In case any folks out there are interested in contacting the Mars Hill leadership and are brave enough to actually do so, their contact information is found HERE:


1 Comment |  Elder (Dis)Qualifications, Elders Response Document, Mars Hill Bylaws, Pastoral Firings, church discipline, mark driscoll | Tagged: Bent Meyer, church discipline, controversy, elders, firing, Firings, Gerry Breshears, John Piper, Mahaney, mark driscoll, mars hill, mars hill church, Marshill Church, members, membership, Paul Petry, resurgence |  Permalink

Posted by prayingheart


Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church: Member Abuse on Parade (Preface)

February 15, 2008

On November 4  & 11, 2007, Mark Driscoll delivered sermons loaded with classic examples of authoritarian abuse. The topic was “Humility” : and they were preached about 5 weeks after Paul Petry and Bent Meyer were fired, shortly after the Starchamber/Kangaroo Court that tried Paul Petry, and 2 days after the 145 page Elders Response Document was published. A number of Mars Hill Members had recently been suspended for questioning the firings and trial procedures. Many of those who remained remember walking out of this one mid-sermon, or not participating in communion because this sermon was so out of line that their attitudes were out of joint. Some guy/gal on youtube called ReallySad1 (again, not PH!) has pulled out some of the more priceless sections, which merit exposure and discussion. Stay tuned for the upcoming series: Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church: Member Abuse on Parade.

1 Comment |  Elder (Dis)Qualifications, Elders Response Document, Pastoral Firings, church discipline, mark driscoll | Tagged: Bent Meyer, church discipline, controversy, elders, firing, Firings, Gerry Breshears, John Piper, Mahaney, mark driscoll, mars hill, mars hill church, Marshill Church, members, membership, Paul Petry, resurgence |  Permalink

Posted by prayingheart


Did Mark Driscoll Lie to Mars Hill Members?

February 15, 2008

Originally posted on Jan 22, 2008 and back by popular request…

In the fall of 2007 the Mars Hill Elders sent out their infamous gazillion-page document that partly responded to many question raised by Mars Hill Members (Prayingheart is trusting that the gazillion pages was an attempt at disclosure and not the classic strategy of dumping so much information at once that few will bother to read it.) On page 24 of the document, when Mark Driscoll responded to questions as to whether this portion of his September 30, 2007 sermon referenced Pastors’ Paul Petry and Bent Meyer:

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2 Comments |  Elder (Dis)Qualifications, Elders Response Document, Mars Hill Bylaws, Pastoral Firings, church discipline, mark driscoll | Tagged: Bent Meyer, church discipline, controversy, elders, firing, Firings, Gerry Breshears, John Piper, Mahaney, mark driscoll, mars hill, mars hill church, Marshill Church, members, membership, Paul Petry, resurgence |  Permalink

Posted by prayingheart


pulled 2/7/09

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Today I was feeling a bit down having had an email interaction with a self-proclaimed “theologian” regarding a completely different issue than MH and MD. Despite the bit of research I had done, he kept stating I couldn’t trust any of the sources I had cited and instead I needed to read the pastor in question for myself. Okay, I understand about going to the source and all that, but how much poison does one need to ingest before one realizes, “Yeah, it’s making me ill”? And why would one want to go back and purposefully imbibe more? This “theologian” would also not dialogue with me re: the points of challenge I had brought up, but rather seemed to speak down to me, making moral judgments about me and insinuating I was part of the those haters who just sit around on the internet criticizing everyone who doesn’t think just like them. Ugh!

But I try to take all critiques seriously and to see what I can glean from them. So I thought long and hard about what he said, and I applied that to this blog on MH and MD… I began to ask myself a series of questions: Am I just “out to get Mark?” Are my motives to tear down MH for the sake of mean spirited vengeance (although I really didn’t get hurt at MH, just alarmed and I got out rather quickly, so not much to take vengeance on)? What if I’ve made Driscoll to be worse than he is? What if what I’m reporting on can’t hold water? Am I being destructive rather than helpful for God’s people?

While all of that was rumbling around within my mind, I did my weekly “practice run” search in Google to see what is currently showing up when I type in “Mars Hill Church Abuse.” In my present frame of mind you can imagine my sense of validation when I found the following. I’ve cut and pasted some of the forum’s comments, anonymously (but you can visit their site as a visitor, so their forum names/aliases are not top secret or anything)… This thread in their forum was posted at the beginning of April when I was at my old blog site (marshillchurchabuse.blogspot.com), and had recently posted about the Firing of the Elders and the By-Laws.

Anyway, I’m feeling pretty vindicated right about now… and I think I’ve got my vision/mission firmly back in place! 🙂

The following is found at:


New Blog: Mars Hill Church, Driscoll & Spiritual Abuse


This situation happend a few years ago and it is all true. For a while, the two fired elders, who I think were paid, spoke out and then abruptly stopped. All the info about the by laws, etc are true. Driscoll took over completely and has some hand picked yes men. It was a planned coup. There are a few youtube videos where Mark is speaking about this and he is downright mean. You can tell where he is daring anyone to question him.

Actually, this is happening in many SBC churches, too. It is especially prevelant in mega churches. The sin of lording it over is alive and well in our churches. A sign of the times, I think…this almost lazerlike sole focus on hierarchies. It is everywhere.


[Re: Post #8. Christian Taliban & Christian Women Donning Berkas]

“He even warns women not to rely on or trust in older women [contrary to Scripture] because they are likely to be busybodies and gossips, unless they are especially spiritual and very submissive.

“Fifty three minutes: Driscoll describes how he protects his wife from other women who want to go have coffee with her and get to know her, because, guess what, “that is Satanic,” and he says he knows what they’re really up to.”

Wonder what he’s afraid of?  This sounds extremely insecure and controlling to me.
Reminds me of the times my husband used to mock my fellowship with women “are you going to go and play with Chrissie today?” (in a voice dripping with contempt)
Chris (not “Chrissie”) is my 68 yr old female mentor.  If he could have got away with it, I’m sure he would have forbid me seeing her, but I had come out of the fog enough not to allow myself to be controlled like that.


After reading that article, if only half of it is true, it confirms everything I *knew* in my spirit when listening to Driscoll before.  You know, once you’ve lived with one of these types and made it long enough to recognize them for what they are, you can smell them a mile away.  He just has it all over him.  I used to feel kind of guilty for not liking him, back in the day…I just couldn’t stand him, but couldn’t put my finger on it…just the arrogance…and yet all these other people just LOVED him…  I thought, huh, must just be a personality style thing, I guess.  Later I would come to realize what it was that I found so disturbing.

What is shocking on that blog is how many many many commenters are furious at the blog linked to above and others like them for existing and for reporting on such things.  Driscoll is so effective at presenting the Gospel, they say, so leave him alone and stop airing this “in-house” fight.  Driscoll is leading people to Christ, which means he’s above criticism.  Driscoll is an “untouchable,” above the masses.  I mean, people practically worship this guy!

I hate that kind of thinking.  He’s got truth and poison in the same breath, but because there’s truth in there, we’re just supposed to cover our eyes at the poison?  What kills me is how these are the VERY SAME PEOPLE who get angry about books like The Shack, etc, because they say that the poison they feel is in the book is dangerous, so don’t read it even though there is also truth in it and many people who would not otherwise consider Christ are now becoming followers.  *shakes head*  I hate the double standards.


I  KWYM.  It was not apparent that he was that controlling just by listening to one or two or his video’s.  The more we hear , the worse it gets.  And to think that young men and women are listening to this.  The young men grab at it, because it is close to the sin nature to elevate self.  The young women feel obligated because it is close to their sin nature to adulate men, but also cringe because the degree is worse than their sinful inclinations.  Such bondage.  How horrible.


Thank you for listening to and making an excellent summary of Driscoll’s message.  I have to say as one who does ministry in deliverance from your notes I believe Pastor Driscoll is in need of deliverance from the unclean spirit of “the hatred of women”.   His actions he expressed concerning his wife and how he sees women are certainly operations I’ve come to know as coming from the influence of this unclean spirit.

BTW – in deliverance ministry my husband and I have NOT found that we deal with “mostly” women – it is definitely 50/50.  I will also add the hardest person we’ve every had to deal with was a man who saw himself as the “head and priest” of his family.  He wanted to control every issue concerning prayer for his family.  He would “demand” we take authority over the unclean spirits he had decided they needed deliverance from — and would get terribly upset when we refused because we did not discern that these were the issue with his family members.

If Pastor Driscoll ever came for deliverance counseling with my husband and myself I do believe from what you summarized, Lin, that we would be addressing the unclean spirit of “hatred of women”.


I took the excerpts of his teaching from the blog linked to in the first comment. However, I did listen to the peasant princess when it first came out. I could hardly get through it. It made me sick.

I agree with W that he has a deep seated hatred of women. But I think this is because Mark has to have an enemy. Probably always has as that is the only way he could make a living. I am starting to believe that emergent was not profitable enough for him in terms of influence. Too much competition. But not a lot of competition for a counterculture reformed guy.

Women are the perfect target as enemies becasue he can mask it as ‘doctrine’ and it is acceptable. For example: Why do so few people get offended when he alludes that all women are gossips? How can the men and women in that audience not see through such comments from him? Because he has made this primary salvic doctrine and turned it all into a work of salvation. I think men like this are worse than Rome for works salvation. They deny it but it is right there!

He markets his schitk as ‘counterculture’. All he does is slap a tatoo on a fish add works that are feminine and masculine and call it Christianity. It is a business. And he gets paid a lot for his speaking gigs.


I also suspect Driscoll may be a Narcissist and whatever goes along with that.


Where is the outspoken concern for his behavior from other well known pastors?  A few do but not many.


I also wonder if any one else from among us who suffered spousal abuse had their teeth set on edge as they recognized the pattern of cutting the victim off from all sources of help in his disguise “I do this for her protection”.  I know from my own past and counseling that this is a common action of abusers with control issues.  This IS NOT Godly counsel coming from his mouth.   It is a form of abuse.

It makes me so angry to hear him present this form of abuse as Godly counsel.  (I find it to be much the same abuse done in the name of God that the women of the “no longer quiverful” blog are addressing.)

It makes me so very sad to know that many in the church have become so deceived they have become unable to discern the abuse of women in his message.

I am also left wondering who God sent in to be a help to his wife and was cut off by him in the name of “protection”.  My heart breaks for her and cries out for her liberty and freedom.  I pray she breaks out of her cage as Clay and many other women have done and walk in her God given freedom as a woman of God.


When they have been outspoken in an area for a long time and made it part of their entire persona, made a living from it, it is almost impossible to see another interpretation or even admit there is another interpretation to even be considered. It has defined who they are

I wrote this and can see how come could say this would be naive. I want to clarify that the anger we see coming from those who tout these doctrines is taught to them. They see it as righteous anger.

The thing with Piper [& Driscoll], etc, is that they allow no disagreement. You are labeled, perhaps prayed for and put in a category as rebellious, not believing the Word, etc. That is not naive at all. That is protecting your turf. You learn real quick not to question or disagree in those circles. Because there is no real civil discussion of differences in interpretations. Yours is simply wrong and that is that.


(NASB) Proverbs 28:10 He who leads the upright astray in an evil way Will himself fall into his own pit,…

(NASB) Proverbs 28:16 A leader who is a great oppressor lacks understanding,…


I had a pastor like Driscoll once.

…The big issue is control… He didn’t put women down, but he sure did make Jesus out to be a tough guy. It’s the same spirit. Control can show up anywhere. It’s just if you add a hatred towards women to it, it makes it worse.



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