In November 2014, I posted Attacking & Discrediting Opponents “the Darkest, Most Destructive & Most Hurtful Aspect of Mars Hill’s Ministry Culture by Far.” I featured a humble and insightful letter of confession by Steve Thompkins. He was a major leader in the Mars Hill’s ministry with Mark Driscoll. You can read the entire letter here.
In part, Thompkins said the following.
“But there is another—and related—area of great sin and blindness that I need to address. In fact, I would say I consider this to be the darkest, most destructive and most hurtful aspect of Mars Hill’s ministry culture by far. I call it the “ad hominem” narrative. Ad hominem is the Latin term for a tactic used when facing off with an opponent over an issue, whereby one seeks to win by attacking and discrediting their opponent rather that honestly debating the issue at hand. In one form or another ad hominem narrative (which can sound very reasonable, especially because it can contain elements of truth), has been consistently used for years to discredit voices of dissent and to silence accusation of wrongdoing and sin.”
In my post, I pointed out that what is true about Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill is also true about C.J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries. In response, a prominent member from Covenant Life Church posted the letter below on my Facebook page. He wanted it to be public. I removed it, but not for my sake. I removed it for his sake. It is shameful and hateful.
This prominent member with the initials IDG is now a photographer and film maker in Hollywood/Los Angeles. He comes from a family of nine that is highly regarded in CLC and prominently featured for their musical skills for many years. Anyone with a history at CLC knows to whom I am referring.
Anyway, IDG wrote to defend Driscoll and Mahaney and to let me know that he and others were praying that I be “silenced.” Readers can decide if he is referring to my death. I hope so. I’d love to be with the Lord!
This type of thing has been going on since August 2004, when it was necessary to lead a meeting with the top leaders from CLC and SGM in order to confront long standing pattern of serious sin in C.J. Mahaney’s life. Ever since, I’ve been the target of ad hominem attacks. You can read about that meeting in Response Regarding Friendship and Doctrine, pages 16 and following.
Like Mars Hill, Covenant Life Church and Sovereign Grace Ministries specialize in the use of ad hominem attacks in order to discredit people including the victims of child sexual abuse. It is “the darkest, most destructive and most hurtful aspect of [its] ministry culture by far.”
Ad hominem (Latin for “to the man” or “to the person”), short for argumentum ad hominem, is a logical fallacy in which an argument is rebutted by attacking the character, motive, or other attribute of the person making the argument, or persons associated with the argument, rather than attacking the substance of the argument itself. (Wikipedia)
Here is the letter from IDG.
Nov 1, 2014
Brent, you are a deep, deep dishonor to the body of Christ and the name of Christ. Your choices with CJ, CLC, SGM, and more, have helped to eagerly destroy decades of Gospel unity and progress, with nothing but an unceasing appetite for more self validation and anti-Biblical destruction. The weight that must sit on your conscience if you were to glance fully at the fallout of your actions should be immense. There are no lengths to which you will not go to defend your continued dishonor and betrayal. There is absolutely nothing honorable or praiseworthy about a single step you have taken, and posting articles like this [the letter from Steve Thompson] is a testimony to your unceasing arrogance, immense entitlement, and desire for further destruction. My words and any others would fall woefully short of the damage you have done. The situation at Mars Hill is largely due to many people and pastors imitating the disrespectful, anti-authority, teenage level rebellion within the church you sanctioned and watched from the cheap seats out of a pure desire for revenge; this cheap entitlement and disrespect towards leaders has grown like a disease, and Satan is using it to silence his most desired targets as the war for the Gospel inevitably escalates into an age of persecution. This disease of disrespect and ultimately fear of the culture and fear of leading as a man should was waiting in the eaves for decades; all it needed was the right person to play Benedict Arnold on a mass scale and set it into motion. I firmly believe Satan has used you mightily, but I know that God is greater. As a 20+ year member of various churches, and watching you act deceitfully in public for many years given your current choices, and aware of each step the barn fire of gossip has done to destroy the church, I am aware of the direct fallout in pastors, churches, and individuals lives throughout the country, and the blame rests squarely in your lap and I would have no shortage of words in saying how I really feel and think about you and your actions. I know many others do, but remain silent. I know personal individuals with 40 years of Gospel faithfulness who have prayed that you would repent and be silenced. On a personal level, I am aware that your choices reflect what is in my view the most dastardly, dishonorable, self-motivated, self-glorifying and cheaply won betrayal I have personally experienced or encountered. Cast no stones about repentance in your shoes, my friend. I pray for the day your voice is silenced, so the Gospel may no longer be slandered and unsullied again. As fearless proclaimers of the Gospel who are targets that deserve the right form of protection, I would take a thousand imperfect CJs and Marks [i.e., Mark Driscoll] over your disrespectful critical, juvenile, selfish, and arrogant infighting and whining to my last breath.
In our day, the people of God should be alert to ad hominem attacks by leaders or their supporters when people raise concerns, ask tough questions, bring charges in keeping with Scripture, or go public when all private means have been exhausted.
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