Mars Hill Church and The Trinity Church: Is Past Prologue?

In August 2014, 21 former elders from Mars Hill Church brought formal charges under the bylaws of the church against Mark Driscoll. Recently, I have been listening to people talk about their experiences at The Trinity Church in Phoenix. To quote Yogi Berra, it feels like deja vu all over again.

For those who complain that I am unnecessarily bringing up the past, I will reply with Shakespeare that, at times, past may be prologue. The charges are linked below; those who are currently involved or recently left Trinity Church may want to compare notes with past Mars Hill elders who wrote in 2014. Anything seem familiar?

Read the 2014 Formal Charges 

These charges were investigated by a group of elders. According to Dave Bruskas (who was involved in the discussions), this group recommended that Driscoll be considered disqualified subject to involvement in a plan of restoration. However, another group of overseers who did not hear the evidence but also had oversight did not want to disqualify Driscoll and keep out of the pulpit indefinitely. These two groups could not agree and during  their time of disagreement, Driscoll resigned. Eventually, he started The Trinity Church in Phoenix.

11 thoughts on “Mars Hill Church and The Trinity Church: Is Past Prologue?”

  1. What Driscoll has done has brought him success, and the occasional hiccup has been easily solved by simply relocating and starting fresh.

    From his perspective, why should he change?

  2. “To quote Yogi Berra, it feels like deja vu all over again.”

    Or maybe it’s a case of deja poo: the feeling you’ve heard this crap before…

  3. Is the Past Prologue?

    “Hegel remarks somewhere that all great, world-historical facts and personages occur, as it were, twice. He has forgotten to add: the first time as tragedy, the second as farce.”
    — Karl Marx

  4. I do believe that God can change people, but there may be an old saying that applies here;

    a leopard can’t change their spots.

    (especially when the leopard can’t even see their spots)

      1. COMRADE O’BRIAN, INNER PARTY: “How much is Two Plus Two?”
        6079 SMITH W, OUTER PARTY: “Four.”
        COMRADE O’BRIAN, INNER PARTY: “And if The Party Decrees it is NOT Four but FIVE?”

      2. COMRADE O’BRIAN, INNER PARTY: “How much is Two Plus Two?”
        6079 SMITH W, OUTER PARTY: “Four.”
        COMRADE O’BRIAN, INNER PARTY: “And if The Party Decrees it is NOT Four but FIVE?”

    1. Having witnessed for over 50 years a sociopathic older brother never having to face the consequences of his actions, an abetting made possible by the tragic enabling by our mother who convinced herself it was Christian love to interrupt the relationship between perpetrator and accountability, I see so much of the same in Driscoll and the co-dependent enablers he manages to gather round. As such, I feel a PTSD cringe whenever I hear or read “God can change people.” In my experience, I saw how that belief only tended to sustain the destruction than to call it out and deal with it.

      The story of my family and the story of Driscoll and his destruction are not original stories and nor are they uncommon, and nor do they lack a context. That context is the religious hope out of which Christianity is constructed. It is a hope that the Buddha wisely identified as bearing the seeds for destruction. It is the seductive hope that gives rise to such anti-theists as Christopher Hitchens who deftly stated there was nothing more ungodly than our notions of God.

      It is good that Christianity calls out its wolves, but the fact is Christianity offers the “sheep’s clothing” in which they so easily spring to life and operate. Maybe it takes seeing narcissism up close every day since you can remember to see it in the very thing we refuse to give up—our belief in God.

      1. Agreed. Donald Trump and Josh Duggar also benefited from the same belief (for very different reasons) and neither of those cases ended well either.

        1. It is nice to gain the assent of one with such a noble screen name. And, yes, Trump and Duggar are but two of the “cabbages” that theistic Evangelical Christianity has super-sized and/or produced in its garden.

          Of the three descriptive terms, “theistic” is the operational poison. The need to calm existential fear and uncertainty would seem to drive the human need to fill in the blanks of what he doesn’t know, and thus became God. Yet, the creation story is incomplete and actually part of the trap because it fails to account for how God was created. And, of course, God is the human construct of all human constructions because it entertains man’s fantasies and fallacies; It contains all man would like to be true, all he’d like to deny and all he’d like to keep hidden. To this point, no virtue was used or harmed in the production.

          Perhaps our first order of business is to reconsider our warm and fuzzy self-assurance that the concept of God flows from a noble and good place. How ‘bout we consider that the concept is born from the darkest, most destructive corners of the individual and collective psyche? After all, if Christianity was a consumer product, it would face recall and FTC banning from the market for all the disfiguring injuries it causes.

          Who knew the most critical human discovery wouldn’t be making fire, or the wheel, or transoceanic voyaging or all that was made possible through Newton and beyond. For my money, Siddhartha Gautama’s discovery of the perils of naming God and foreseeing the implications for suffering and destruction is divinity itself. The Buddha predicted the likes of Driscoll. And if he didn’t predict he’d fly the coop and pull the con on a new bunch in Phoenix, well, we did—at least we aren’t surprised.

          This is where the fight has to go wholesale. It’s not enough to deal with the pixel known as Mark Driscoll. As vital as it is to focus on him, it is time to recognize all that supports that kind of ascension and destruction. Maybe we should look into the baked-in fundamental beliefs of Christianity. Maybe this idea that salvation comes in the future is the same promise a Ponzi schemer offers, or the snake oil salesman, or the conman grifter of all shapes and sizes. Maybe “faith” is the cultivated value to keep you focused on the ever unreachable future, which has the effect of failing to focus lives and effort in the here and now. That kind of diversion comes in handy when sociopaths try to escape accountability and consequences.

          In the world of Christianity, no one has to spend a moment focused on the present because their redemption is not their responsibility and the ‘redeemer’ is gonna get it all taken care of down the road on that “blessed day.” In a shockingly large sample of things Christians say, do, believe, allow, fail to oppose and stay silent on, it’s as if a tailor cut an exquisitely fitted coat that a sociopath would be proud to wear.

          Pro tip: allow Jesus to not be required to rise bodily into Heaven and then pull on that thread. See if it doesn’t unwind that whole coat that was given to Driscoll to wear. If you think on it, Driscoll isn’t antithetical to Christianity, he is the fulfillment of it.

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