Leopard’s spots and sheep’s clothing, part 2

“Mars Hill Church” cartoon © David Hayward - See more at: http://nakedpastor.com/

“Mars Hill Church” cartoon © David Hayward – See more at: http://nakedpastor.com/

I’ve written a few times about Mars Hill Church, a local megachurch that has one of its many worship centers just 8 blocks from my house. This week, several people were tweeting or re-blogging this post: Are Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church sick?, which sums up many of the problems plaguing the church and its lead pastor. It’s gotten so bad that an evangelical organization that Mars Hill’s pastor founded has kicked out the pastor and his church: Acts 29 Network Removes Co-founder Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church From Membership.

On the one hand, good for these folks for taking a stand. However, I should point out that the driving impetus appears to be things such as:

  • the church spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy one of the pastor’s books onto the New York Times bestselling list (leaving crates of the books gathering dust in storerooms in worship centers all around the country),
  • denying the above categorically until legal documents proving it surfaced, then rationalizing it by saying “everyone else does it”,
  • the same book has been the subject of so many proven instances of plagiarism that a chain of Christian bookstores has pulled it from the shelves,
  • members and elders who objected to placing more control and money into the pastor’s hands through a re-structuring plan some years ago have been kicked out, while friends and family members in the church are ordered to shun them,
  • former members are harassed and in at least one freaky incident, the church stooped to calling relatives of a young woman one former member was starting to date and slandering him (neither the young woman nor any of her relatives were even members of the church),
  • religious convenants are imposed on members, elders, and associate pastors, then those documents are used as non-compete contracts to sue said people when they try to leave and go to other churches,

Those are appalling ways for a church to behave, I agree (and I could go on and on). And certainly justify the condemnations they have garnered.

The problem is, all of these reactions are like finding a wolf in sheep’s clothing slavering over the body of its latest victim and criticizing the wolf for the poor quality of his disguise, while completely ignoring the corpse and all the blood on the wolf.

The fundamental theology of Mars Hill Church and its founder is hateful, misogynist, anti-gay, and disturbingly focused on eroticism and sexuality. I understand that most of the other evangelical churches in the group that recently ousted these guys are pretty anti-gay, but you would think that they might notice the pattern. It’s isn’t as if being anti-gay is separate from any of this other stuff.

One of the former members, in a well-thought-out, detailed pair of posts talking about the struggle he and his wife had when they tried to leave Mars Hill and return to their previous church described the Mars Hill doctrine and culture thusly:

The more dirt you spill, the more they admonish and reconcile you of your dirt, the more emotionally dependent on the group and the church you become and the more you sort of wallow in your filth. For men it’s a comfortable dependency because Driscoll is preaching a masculine manly gospel, completely off base with the glory, power, sovereignty and grace of God who is the architect of the universe and author of creation, but comfortable for the flock nonetheless.

But even after describing that doctrine as completely off-bass with his understanding of the grace of God, the same person later says that in a follow-up conversation with a Mars Hill associate pastor, he insisted that he and his wife weren’t leaving for theological reasons. And he reiterates in his post that he has no theological arguments with the church. Despite it being “completely off base” about God.

I think, perhaps, he doesn’t understand what “theological” means. As long as these kinds of critics keep worrying about one or two of the dozens of motes in Driscoll’s eyes while ignoring the logs in their own, they aren’t doing the world any good.

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About fontfolly

I've loved reading for as long as I can remember. I write fantasy, science fiction, mystery, and nonfiction. For more than 20 years I edited and published an anthropomorphic sci-fi/space opera literary fanzine. I attend and work on the staff for several anthropormorphics, anime, and science fiction conventions. I live near Seattle with my wonderful husband, still completely amazed that he puts up with me at all.

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