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Mark Driscoll, High-Profile Pastors, and Credibility

I’ve taken this title from an excellent blog post by Matt B. Redmond by the same title.  It is a must read.  Here’s an excerpt. 

“Take Mars Hill Church in Seattle where Mark Driscoll is the 'pastor' as an example.  Paul Tripp has called Mars Hill 'the most abusive, coercive ministry culture I’ve ever been involved with.'  He didn’t say 'only,' he said 'most.' 

“Mars Hill was pointed to for years as a beacon by me and all the high-profile Calvinist leaders involved with The Gospel Coalition and Together for the Gospel.  And all of them talked about the value of the institutional church and still do.  And now in the wake of increasing scandal, the only thing we have heard is that we should pray for Mark Driscoll and his family. …

“If you’re gonna applaud a leader and his church and point others to him and his ministry when things are fine, you will lose your credibility if your only public reaction is to call for prayer for the leader of the abusive ministry and offer none for those abused.”

I absolutely agree with Redmond on everything in his article with one exception.  There was one “high-profile Calvinist leader” who did not call Driscoll or Mars Hill a “beacon” of light.  That was John MacArthur.

In April 2012, I wrote The Twin Brothers Driscoll and Mahaney.  It provides important verification and background for what I am about to say.  

In November 2007, Mahaney, Dave Harvey, Steve Shank, Pat Ennis and I met in Baltimore, MD for a three day Board of Directors retreat.  During this time, Mahaney told us about his serious differences with MacArthur’s “fundamentalist’s” concerns over Driscoll.  Mahaney was willing to “sail on” without MacArthur and replace him at the Together for the Gospel conference with Driscoll. 

Keep in mind this was happening seven years ago.  If Mahaney and Piper had followed MacArthur’s lead and taken strong biblical action against Driscoll, he might have been helped.  Instead, they enabled him with soft action that was partial.  As a result, Driscoll had no reason to fear sinning (1 Tim 5:20) and his abuses continued and worsened. 

Here are my notes exactly as taken at our Board of Directors or team retreat.  I’ve added explanatory notes in brackets [ ]. 

Team Retreat
Hyatt Hotel
Inner Harbor, Baltimore


o  Could be using MacArthur in the process of helping Driscoll [i.e., Mahaney & Piper could use MacArthur] 

o  Rick needs to talk with C.J. [Rick Holland was MacArthur’s executive pastor.  Mahaney wanted to talk with Holland to help adjust MacArthur’s view of Driscoll.] 

o  John MacArthur has more areas of concern for Mark [that Mahaney did not agree with] 

o  Postponing a brawl [between MacArthur & Driscoll] 

o  Fundamentalist tendencies cannot ultimately be restrained [This was a slander.  Mahaney was saying MacArthur would not back off or change his view of Driscoll because of “fundamentalist tendencies.”] 

o  John might not come to T4G planning meeting as a result [MacArthur was taking a stand and might not participate in the Together for the Gospel planning meeting which was also a time for fellowship between its main leaders.] 

o  John wrote 5 pages to Driscoll – Mark is responding humbly, much of it good, first page with evidences of grace [Mahaney claims Driscoll is responding humbly to MacArthur’s 5 page letter.  Driscoll’s response to MacArthur included “evidences of grace” in MacArthur’s life.] 

o  C.J. made clear to Mark Dever at beginning that would not have included MacArthur [That is, Mahaney made clear to Dever in 2006 that he would never have included MacArthur in T4G.] 

o  If he doesn’t sail with us we will sail on without him [If MacArthur didn’t agree with Mahaney and back off on Driscoll, T4G would move on without his participation.] 

o  If MacArthur separates it won’t serve the younger Reformed guys [“Younger Reformed guys” loyal to MacArthur would not participate in T4G if MacArthur separated over Driscoll.  If they didn’t come to T4G, they could not be “served” by Mahaney, et al.] 

o  C.J. has more hope for Driscoll [That is, more hope Driscoll will change than MacArthur will change.] 

o  Will work with Driscoll not MacArthur if comes to it [Mahaney will help, support and commend Driscoll over MacArthur.]    

o  Mark [Driscoll] is pursuing C.J. for help and input [See The Twin Brothers Driscoll & Mahaney]  

o  Rick has some fundamentalist tendencies himself [Holland is similar to MacArthur in his “fundamentalist” view of Driscoll.] 

o  Driscoll could replace MacArthur as a speaker in years ahead [That is, at Together for the Gospel.] 

o  MacArthur doesn’t discern his humility [That is, MacArthur doesn’t discern Driscoll’s humility.] 

o  Stumbles over shirt he is wearing [MacArthur stumbles over the shirts Driscoll wears.] 

o  Driscoll has a large movement – trying to protect from Driscoll’s worldliness [MacArthur is trying to protect those following Driscoll from his “worldliness” which Mahaney discounts as a fundamentalist concern focused on externals.] 

o  No need to interact [No need for MacArthur and Driscoll to meet in person.] 

o  Work from documents [They can interact in writing.] 

o  Dan Dumas is at Southern now [Dumas was MacArthur’s executive pastor before Holland.  Now at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.] 

o  Rick can weakened or agree with MacArthur [Mahaney was trying to win Holland over to his view of Driscoll.  In spite of Mahaney’s efforts, Holland would “weaken” and end up agreeing with MacArthur’s view of Driscoll.]

These personal notes from our retreat have not been altered, fabricated or embellished in any way.  They accurately portray what Mahaney said and what he meant in context.  National leaders do not understand how Mahaney operates.  He will flatter them in public only to slander them in private.  That’s what he did with John MacArthur and he’s done the same with other leaders. 

Mahaney was wrong about MacArthur and MacArthur was right about Driscoll.  

So were Paul and Jonna Petry when they started writing about Driscoll’s abuses in March 2012.  Their efforts embolden others.  Finally, former leaders at Mar Hills began to speak out against Driscoll and his enablers.  Now, some of the elders at Mars Hill have come under the conviction of the Holy Spirit and are confessing their sins. 

Warren Throckmorton has closely followed all the developments with Mark Driscoll.  He just posted Nine Current Mars Hill Church Elders Take a Bold Stand on Thursday of last week.  Here’s a short excerpt. 

In an August 22 letter to the Full Council of Elders at Mars Hill Church (click link for entire letter), nine current elders called on the church to change the governance and for Mark Driscoll to submit to a restoration plan. They also raised significant questions regarding the veracity of information which has come from the Mars Hill Church Board of Advisors and Accountability. … They prefaced their concerns with a confession of deep concern for the church:

“Where there is nothing to hide, there is no fear of being exposed.  But, rather than seeking clarity, we have cloaked ourselves in non-disclosure agreements.  We have become masters of spin in how we communicate the transition of a high volume of people off staff.  We have taken refuge behind official statements that might not technically be lies on the surface, but in truth are deeply misleading.

“At the retreat this week, Pastor Dave spoke about our church’s credibility problem.  Brothers, this credibility problem is directly linked to the fact that we have not loved the light.

“This is not the fault of one person, or even a just a small group of people.  We all share in responsibility for this in one way or another, and we must all repent of it together, together calling for our church to step into the light.

“It is out of a longing to come to the light that we began to look more deeply into certain issues when the answers that we were being given — answers that were being given to our people — continued to not add up.  We sought clarity, which has been lacking.  We do not believe that looking for answers, asking questions, and trying to discern the truth is a divisive or sinful thing.  Rather, this is the responsibility we have as elders as we are called to lead our people and the church from a position of truth and love.  To ask us not to do so would only be to further exasperate the “culture of fear” that we so desperately want to move away from.”

This is in drastic contrast to Sovereign Grace Ministries where the culture of corruption far exceeds Mars Hill!  And yet, not a single leader in SGM has ever publicly acknowledged a single occasion of duplicity!

I said the following 2½ years ago in The Twin Brothers Driscoll & Mahaney.

“Like with C.J., Mark intimidated his local elders.  Like with C.J., the elders showed Mark favoritism, craved his approval, and allowed him to play by a different set of rules.  Like with C.J., an employee could easily lose their job or be demoted if you confronted or offended Mark.  Like with C.J., Mark set up a puppet board and changed the bylaws (used the bylaws in C.J.’s case) to secure his power.  Like with C.J., you could be excommunicated or shunned if you didn’t comply with authoritarian demands.  These boys are birds of a feather. …    

“In the same way, C.J.‘s sins were covered up, so too were Mark’s.  The scenario at Mars Hills Church with Mark is almost identical to our dealings with C.J. in Sovereign Grace Ministries.  Like C.J., Mark took control of the process.  Like C.J., he silenced dissent.  Like C.J., he removed people he didn’t like any longer because they challenged him.   Like C.J., he surrounded himself with devotees.”

There is finally a small chance Mark Driscoll will be held accountable for his reign of terror.  He should have been disciplined and removed from ministry years ago for multiple traits and actions that violated the clear qualifications of Scripture in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9.  Instead he was held up as an example by “all the high-profile Calvinist leaders involved with The Gospel Coalition and Together for the Gospel” except for John MacArthur who was dismissed by Mahaney as a fundamentalist.

Many of these same high-profile Calvinist leaders continue to point to Mahaney as a beacon of light.  For instance, Kevin DeYoung just preached at his church.  How can this be?  How can anyone be commending Mahaney at this point?   

Mahaney and Driscoll have been lying, spinning and covering up for a long time.  Their deceit greatly exceeds that of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11) and yet there have been no high profile “Peter’s” in the evangelical church willing to call them to account.  It is not enough to remove Mars Hill from Acts 29 for causing problems.  Driscoll needs to be publicly rebuke and removed from ministry for long standing patterns of serious sin.  The same is true of Mahaney.

Here’s my real question.  When is someone going to expose Mahaney and Driscoll for the glory of God?  When is someone going to address their deceit and hypocrisy?  When is someone going to examine them and ask them, “Why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit?” (v.3)  This has clearly happened!

In the same way, when is someone going to ask their deceitful enablers, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord?” (v.9)  Mahaney and Driscoll have been let off the hook time and time and time again.  Doesn’t anyone care about the holiness of God beyond a seminary classroom?  They could be carried out dead tomorrow.   

Moreover, they have done great harm to a great many people and yet national leaders rally around them rather than around their victims in prayer.

Listen again to Redmond. 

“If you’re gonna applaud a leader and his church and point others to him and his ministry when things are fine, you will lose your credibility if your only public reaction is to call for prayer for the leader of the abusive ministry and offer none for those abused.” 

To date, “high profile pastors” throughout the nation have deservedly lost a lot of credibility because they have protected and enabled two men they should have exposed and disciplined while showing little to no concern for all those harmed in their wake. 


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