This page is for highlighting important comments/challenges in this blog which shed more light on the issues.
The following comment was received in my email for my former site marshillchurchabuse.blogspot.com under Freedom from Mars Hill: Prior to Bondage (which is posted on this site on the “Discoveries” page). It was so insightful, provocative and challenging, I wanted to post it here, as well as my response. It caused me to do a lot of reflection and to answer many challenges regarding what I am doing here and how I am going about doing it.
Anonymous (or Sandtman as signed) has since replied to my response to her/his comment and I to Anonymous. This is also included below. And of course, feel free to comment.
I just stumbled across your site as I was researching Mars Hill and just wanted to thank you for sharing both your experience of the church and your perspective on some of Mark Driscolls’ teaching.
I too have been troubled by some of the things that I see coming from MHC and, though I’m not a member, I’ve attended the West Seattle campus numerous times and couldn’t agree with you more on the atmosphere as a whole and the lack of real worship specifically.
And I am in full agreement with you regarding your stance on abusiveness and the need for all of us to be acutely aware of the signs that it is occurring and to stand in clear opposition to it when we see it. MHC does exhibit many of these signs and it is cause for real concern.
Having said that, I do think some of the criticism and questioning of your statements and perspectives in the string above are valid and would encourage you to listen a little more carefully than you seem to be doing. I think you’re missing some good points in your eagerness to defend yourself.
There is room to improve on the blanket statements, historical inaccuracies, video snippets taken out of context, and frequent hyperbole in your criticisms of MHC. You often come off as self-indulgent and that makes it hard, at times, to continue reading what you have to say.
Mark Driscoll has done much good in the world and he is hardly Jim Jones. I think a more balanced and carefully worded presentation would make your valid criticisms much more effective. Like it or not, these are your brothers and sisters in Christ, and your perspectives, I believe, are best served garnished with love and the kind of humility that recognizes that you are most likely not seeing everything as clearly as you probably think you do.
Just an FYI from an otherwise grateful reader.
Thank you Sandtman for your thought-provoking post. I really appreciate the tone and the challenges.
Re: your statement about my needing to be willing to listen to the strings above [see Discoveries Comment by Lisa, transferred from my older blog] … and being eager to defend myself…
The commenter above your comment (to which I think you are referring) stated she’d also listened to the whole Spiritual Warfare series, then she said my view is “skewed,” and gave some of her take on what Mark may have meant. That is her opinion. Based on my research, my experience and studies on abuse, I disagree. Mark’s comments seemed bizarre in the context of that entire series. Bizarre. Other women who have been abused as I have, unlike this commenter per her admission, have responded very strongly to that series as well. When one has been abused by controlling spiritual leaders and/or husbands, one can spot a mile away that which feels like the same kind of manipulative maneuvering and abuse. See equalitycentral.com , specifically, http://equalitycentral.com/forum/index.php?topic=936.0 , wherein Christian women who are seeking equality in the Body of Christ respond to having found my blog and its content…
I am willing to listen, Sandtman. I did listen, and then I still came back to my opinion that Mark’s comments in that series (as in many other places) appear to be way out of line from Scripture, from humble servant leadership and from what the experts have written about healthy churches and church leadership. I think I’ll include a new post on this: Healthy churches and what they look like… I’m not talking “perfect” either, but rather, “good enough.”
The commenter was also trying to come up with excuses as to Mark’s apparent over-protectiveness (control) of his wife, Grace, and in regards to whom she hangs out with. Okay, I can buy it that some congregants might have impure motives for seeking out a friendship with Grace, but Mark’s methods of dealing with it seem controlling, paternal, and similar to DV patterns of abuse (I am not saying MD is Domestically Violent, I am talking about apparent similar controlling patterns which are not healthy in a relationship and either are or tend to be abusive). She’d also inferred I had not done my research prior to bringing this stuff forward. I will defend myself there as well because that is simply not true. It was all the testimonies of abuse and being wounded in the MH system that cried out for someone to speak up about all of this and to bring it all together so it can be viewed as a unified whole. Others can draw their own conclusions, certainly, but here are the things I am consistently running into. One friend told me awhile ago that a therapist friend told her she sees many former Mars Hillians and they are really messed up from what that church did to them…
I cannot imagine being a leader of thousands of people as Mark is, all that responsibility and pressure. I have not walked in his shoes. AND at the same time, I read Ez 34 juxtaposed against MH, and I see what looks like heavy-handedness, abuse of women, and setting up other young men to become little Driscolls, and I am deeply, deeply grieved. He seems to be laying extremely heavy loads on God’s people, and no one in the body in a leadership position is calling him to account. He’s like a loose cannon with a frightening amount of gun powder. Yes, I am defending my stance because I think I am correct in connecting the dots as I compare what the experts in the field of spiritual/church abuse write to what I believe I am seeing at MH.
Re: “blanket statements, historical inaccuracies”
If you’re going to accuse me of making “blanket statements” and “historical inaccuracies,” please give examples. It is very difficult to respond to generalities. As to “historical inaccuracies,” I am merely taking others’ testimonies and including them here. If you know of some specific inaccuracies, please inform me, I would be happy to post them and make the appropriate changes in my posts.
Re: “video snippets out of context”
Yes, I was wondering about that myself… considering the context is often very important. And at the same time, some of the things Driscoll has said in these video clips seem to me to be inappropriate and very telling regardless of what the context might be. Is it ever okay to say that inquisitive people who want to know the truth who call you to account are “sinning through questioning?” Is it ever okay, no matter what the context, for a leader to say he wants to follow the example of a Martial Arts trainer and bust the nose of those in his church who challenge and question him? How would this have gone over in Galatians when Paul confronted one of the pillars of the church, Peter, for his hypocrisy in front of everyone? I guess we’d have some bloody, broken noses, and perhaps a church split.
RE: “Hyperbole” “self indulgent…difficult to continue reading”
I’ll go back and look it over, perhaps edit out the “hyperbole” and “self indulgence.” I wrote this in an email to my friends in February 2009 when I was first discovering the extent of Driscoll’s apparent abuse and I was (and still am) appalled! Emotions were running high, no doubt. I can understand how this could get in the way of others’ reading it. I feel very passionate about protecting and liberating the oppressed, the victimized, and assisting in their healing, warning others about certain abusive systems and abusive people, and in some cases, bringing justice to the abusers. But I, of course, want my message to be effective and if I am getting in the way of that, I need to adjust that. Thank you for the feedback.
RE: “Mark Driscoll, much good, not Jim Jones”
I have stated elsewhere that Mark is not “all bad,” nor is Mars Hill “all bad,” and I have stated and repeat here, that no matter the good he may be doing–and I rejoice that so many young people are finding the Lord–I can never excuse abuse, I can never endorse or approve of a ministry where people seem to be controlled and abused and where the leader, per others accounts and his own statements, comes across as “untouchable,” “unaccountable,” “above questioning.” It’s ironic that you should mention “Jim Jones,” as Mark actually says, “Shut up and drink your juice box” (aka: Kool-Aid, ala Jim Jones!). //www.youtube.com/watch?v=_dSA5Vs9huc
The sad, confusing thing is that with a lot of good truth, Mark seems to inject a lot of harmful poison. Some people know enough of Scripture and toss out his poison, but if you’re a member there, from what I gather in the membership covenant, you have to submit, and you have to agree to all of Mark’s doctrine; you are also required to sign away your right to legal representation in regards to the church, and you also must agree to sign away your right to confidentiality when seeing any therapist, one of their own “counselors” and even an outside therapist! To me, this is sick and unbiblical control. And then you have so many baby Christians in their very vulnerable 20’s soaking in everything MD says… as I’ve said elsewhere, I wonder what’s going to happen when they wake up in their mid thirties wondering who they really are as people and as Christians, other than MD clones… That sounds harsh, but really: as many othes have stated, “MD leaves very little room for dissent.”
Re: “brothers and sisters in Christ”
Yes, and we are called to correct one another. So I appreciate your correcting me here. You’ve caused me to think deeper about this as well as how I might be coming across. And this is good, needful self-reflection. MD, as my “brother,” also needs some serious correcting in the areas of his tendency toward what looks like spiritual abuse, but he would no doubt dismiss me because a) I’m a woman, and b) I’m “sinning through questioning” him. What’s a girl to do??
Re: “Love and humility… you’re not seeing everything as clearly as you think”
Yes, please pray for me that in my contending for the faith and fighting against darkness, that in my standing up for the oppressed and participating in their liberation and healing per Isaiah 61:1, that I will be covered with His love and humility. I also appreciate the sobering truth that we, all of us, do not see “everything as clearly as we think.”
Many of your words are a good wake up call, informing me that I need to be more reflective in my approach here, and I appreciate it!