Tag Archives: evil

Is the Mars Hill Church board lying for Pastor Mark Driscoll? Or just using weasel words?

Contrast this excerpt from the New York Times (which deals with formal charges against Pastor Mark Driscoll, filed by 21 former pastors in the Mars Hill Church organization) 

In a written statement, Anthony Ianniciello, Mars Hill’s executive pastor of media and communications, said, “We take any complaint or allegation against Pastor Mark and Mars Hill very seriously, and everything is and will be examined by several governing bodies.”

He also pointed to a statement the church’s board issued last week, saying, “The attitudes and behaviors attributed to Mark in the charges are not a part and have not been a part of Mark’s life for some time now.” [emphasis added]

 — With the following excerpt of the formal complaint filed by those 21 pastors formerly in Pastor Mark Driscoll’s organization —

Mark Driscoll excerpt from formal charges

So, what have we learned?

We’ve learned that the church’s board thinks Pastor Mark Driscoll’s subhuman behavior has been submerged “for some time now.”

Meanwhile, the small above portion of the formal charges extends from far in the past through May of this year.

So, one side says Mark is a bullying jerk today, and the other side seems to be saying Mark hasn’t been a bullying jerk for a while, “for some time now.”

What does “for some time now” mean, and why did these allegedly godly men float such an ambiguous phrase?

Does it mean the board is lying on Driscoll’s behalf?

Does it mean the board members are trying to mislead anyone who would care to read their statement?

Are they using the phrase “for some time now” to give themselves an “out”?

For example, “We weren’t lying. We didn’t specify a particular length of time, so we’re cool.”

What is it that they say about the bad apple spoiling the bunch? Has Driscoll turned his entire board into replicas of himself?

Just remember — weasels use weasel words.

And weasels are more successful in politics and business than, say, those lame “let-your-yes-be-yes-and-your-no-be-no” types.

Whatever the reason behind such a vapid phrase, the church board should now be as discredited as Driscoll himself. The entire Mars Hill Church experiment deserves no greater regard than the sleaziest TV preacher’s donation hotline.

After all, Driscoll has plagiarized and bullied with the intent of maintaining a reputation as a godly man.

No sane person would stand by him. Even Tim Keller, quoted in the New York Times article, has been hit in the back of the head by discernment — after the fact, of course, as discernment never happens when anyone needs to avoid danger.

But what special powers of identifying danger after the disaster. Wow. That’s somethin’.

Kind of like Sovereign Grace Ministries, Inc., which allegedly had no discernment about pedophiles operating in their midst for years and years. I’m sure the Holy Spirit was awake and all, just not inside all those Specially Anointed Godly Men With Spiritual Authority Over Your Life.

I know, I know, I’m missing the real takeaway points here:

  • Might makes right
  • Will to power

Got it.

If only Driscoll were in elected office. Then he would face jail time. But since it’s Christianity, someone eventually will give him a pulpit again, along with more mechanisms to screw people.

It’s easier to forgive than to discern the wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Oh praise the Lord and pass the bottle. I could be referring to Pepto Bismol, so you can’t say I meant alcohol — see, I can even learn from Mars Hill Church’s board.

Pastor Mark Driscoll

Plagiarist. Bully. It’s all about the Anti-Jesus.

Justifiable skepticism: What did C.J. Mahaney really know, and when did he really know it?

As the Associated Baptist Press reported last week,

A former youth worker convicted of sexually abusing boys in the 1980s at a Sovereign Grace Ministries church in Maryland was sentenced Aug. 14 to 40 years in prison.

Nathaniel Morales, 56, was found guilty in May of abusing three boys from 1983 to 1991 while working in youth ministries and leading Bible studies at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Md.

The article ended with this note, which refers to Sovereign Grace Ministries founder C.J. Mahaney:

Leaders of Covenant Life initially said they had no knowledge of any abuse until many years after it occurred when an adult who had been victimized as a child came forward. During the Morales trial, however, Grant Layman, Mahaney’s brother-in-law and a former pastor at the church, testified that he knew of allegations against Morales 20 years ago but did not call police. [emphasis added]

That highlighted segment is exactly what casts suspicion on C.J. Mahaney. As Billy Graham’s grandson Tullian Tchividjian said back in May,

“Give me a break. These people, they’re family. Of course he knew,” Tchividjian told The Christian Post. “C. J. was, for many years, the micro-managing head of the organization and nothing happened under the umbrella of Sovereign Grace that he wasn’t made aware of, so for anyone to say, ‘Well he didn’t know,’ that’s totally naive.”

A separate civil lawsuit against Mahaney, Sovereign Grace Ministries, Inc. (SGM), and affiliated ministers and churches, was filed last year.

The civil lawsuit named Mahaney and nine others individuals as defendants. (Morales was not named as a defendant in the civil suit.)

The primary accusation against Mahaney and the defendants is that they covered up sexual abuse and failed to alert police.

However, additional ministers are part of the plaintiffs’ stories of sexual abuse as detailed in the lawsuit.

Unfortunately, as the Washington Post reported back in June,

The claims [in the civil suit] have been dismissed largely because of statute of limitations reasons, but the lawyers have appealed and want to bring the claims back into play.

The details of the suit are graphic and disturbing. I could only read the first 18 pages of the 46-page suit before I had to stop. The particulars are disturbing and degrading.

The alleged perpetrators were involved in ministry. It’s the stuff of horror movies: How could such demonic animals touch a Bible or tolerate worship music?

I guess a crucifix is no match for a vampire.Lord_Vampire

Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) and its affiliates have been accused of more than sexual abuse, but accusations of spiritual abuse are less likely to wind up in court or receive coverage in the mainstream media.

But the chronicles of spiritual abuse have been documented and discussed on the website SGMSurvivors.com, which has archives going back to November 2007.

The founders of the website say they did not have an especially bad experience in their SGM-affiliated church, but they began to realize “SGM saw itself as set apart from the rest of the Christian world.”

SGM has been called a “cult” in at least two reports by WJLA, an ABC affiliate in Washington, D.C. (see here and here).

Update, Oct. 12, 2016:

In a Feb. 14, 2016, article, SGM is called a “cult” yet again:

“Covenant Life Church had a reputation of being really isolating,” says Tope Fadiran, a writer in the Boston area who attended as a teen. “Other conservative evangelicals thought it was a cult because of how intensely people in the church had their entire lives consumed.”

Another piece of the same article supports what Tullian Tchividjian said above:

Former church official Brent Detwiler, however, believes Mahaney knew more than he’ll ever let on. “Nobody worked longer or closer with C.J. in all the history of Sovereign Grace Ministries than I did,” Detwiler says. He believes it’s impossible for all these pastors to have known about abuse and not to have told Mahaney how they were handling it. “It just didn’t work that way.”

SGM-let_the_right_one_in02

A frame from the horror film ‘Let The Right One In.’

Postscript to ‘the reality of pastoral gossip’ — a personal experience

After my sarcastic post a couple of days ago, I want to share a personal experience to demonstrate just how reckless some Christian pastors can be.

Some Christian pastors.

I started college at Western Carolina University, where I spent two years, Fall 1987 through Spring 1989.

(My first year, I was in Reynolds dorm, which had the advantage of being an older dorm with larger rooms, and the disadvantage of being pretty much at the high point of campus, and at a far edge.)

At the beginning of my freshman year, I attended a church and got involved with its college group.

I met a guy I’ll call A.J. Somehow we became buds, which was somewhat odd: I was a white freshman and he was a black upperclassman. (I try to remind myself that some churches can level social hierarchies and open racial barriers.)

Eventually, A.J. started to open up to me, and he had some real hurt and confusion.

He had shared some personal, private difficulties with the pastor of the church.

The conversation was supposed to have been in confidence, but the pastor told some other people on the church staff.

I realize I don’t know exactly what his difficulties were. I realize sometimes a private confession is scary enough to warrant alerting others. Ultimately I just don’t know, but I tend to doubt A.J.’s difficulties warranted sharing. Maybe they did.

Either way, the violation of trust did significant damage to A.J.

He started dropping by my room in the late afternoons and evenings. He would ask me, again and again, “Why? Why did he tell others?” Why, why, why.

A.J. was astounded, hurt, confused.

I was only 18 years old. With a September birthday, I had begun my freshman year as a 17-year-old. I knew less than nothing.

I tried to help A.J., lobbing weak suggestions at his grieved face, nothing I said finding purchase. He was going in circles, we were going in circles, stuck on the question of why the pastor had violated his trust.

My church back home was loosely affiliated with the church near campus. So at times, I even tried to play the pastor’s advocate. But A.J. would reason back at me — to him, there seemed no justification for the pastor to divulge the details of his conversation.

So many conversations. Then, A.J. disappeared for a while.

I welcomed the break. I couldn’t help him. All he did was talk and talk and share his misery. The relationship was becoming a burden to me. I didn’t want him to show up.

Right before he disappeared, I remember passing him in a dorm common area. He was shut down, turned inward, mumbling to himself, yet walking with purpose. It was strange, but he kept walking, and I didn’t want to get into another marathon conversation.

I later found out why he disappeared for a while. He had been in the hospital. He had tried to kill himself.

The night I had seen him mumbling to himself, he had taken a bunch of pills. Later that evening, he had placed his thick leather belt around his neck and tried to hang himself from the bunk bed in his dorm room.

I can’t say with any certainty that the pastor’s gossip, that his violation of confidence, was the direct cause of A.J.’s suicide attempt. He was already struggling. But the pastor’s gossip made it worse.

All this and the recent Ron Wheeler letter regarding Pastor Mark Driscoll makes me wonder what a good pastor really is.

Does a good pastor say the right doctrinal things?

Driscoll has been saying the right doctrinal things for his Reformed circles.

A.J.’s pastor was saying the right things for his church circles.

Does a good pastor have the right leadership skills?

Driscoll has had very good leadership skills for corporate America. He could get a legit NY Times bestseller by writing about gaining and keeping power.

A.J.’s pastor was dominant enough in his church circles to maintain a leadership position and a mantle of authority.

Yet what once grew later fell apart.

I thought, in the Christian faith, what genuinely grows never falls apart.
 
Ministeries falling apart, individuals falling apart
 

Does your brain make you evil?

Bonthius1b

Image via Wikipedia

Last night, I started to watch (and recorded for later) the Discovery Channel’s series Curiosity, specifically episode 12, entitled, “How evil are you?”

For this episode, the Discovery Channel picked a fitting host: Eli Roth, the director and producer behind envelope-pushing horror movies Cabin FeverHostel, and Hostel: Part II.

I watched the earlier minutes of the program when Roth interviews a neuroscientist who once researched the brain scans of numerous murderers.

The neuroscientist — Dr. James Fallon of the University of California, Irvine — says each of the violent criminals have similar characteristics in two parts of the brain, one being above the eyes, the other being an area on the side of the brain.

How far do you take these results?

At very least, it seems that problems in two parts of the brain make a person more likely to commit a violent crime. Do these problems undermine an individual’s ability to choose right instead of wrong? Is a person born with these brain problems any more responsible for his condition than someone born with dyslexia?

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Don’t be shocked that doctors were involved in the terror plots

NPR’s “On Point” was warming up a few minutes ago, and the fill-in announcer referred to the shock that doctors were linked to the failed terror plots in London and Glasgow.

A trendy presupposition underlies this surprise that doctors would do such a thing. Education is supposed to be the cure-all for every problem, and surely doctors are well-educated — even well-educated in a humanitarian vocation.

Yet education is not a cure-all, because human beings are still imperfect and fallen, no matter how smart they are.

Education doesn’t eradicate evil in the human heart.

Education, unfortunately, will not diffuse one’s ability to commit hideous crimes.

Don’t be shocked that doctors can also be violent extremists. You might as well be surprised that doctors are human beings.

-Colin Burch