Sunday, May 20, 2018

a Larry Osborne conversation with Mark Driscoll from 2016: Part One: Mark Driscoll recounting his Fall 2004 meeting with Larry Osborne at a Leadership Network event


One of the things that jumps out early on in Jessica Johnson's book Biblical Porn (which we'll try to review some time in the next few weeks) is a relatively passing reference to the Leadership Network.  While Mars hill had its start with the blessing and sending of Hutcherson's Antioch Bible Church it was, more or less beyond doubt, Leadership Network that played a role in making Mark Driscoll one of the rock star pastors of Generation X.  Johnson's book does not really spend any time discussing Leadership Network because of the academic focus of the book.  That said, the book played a helpful role in jotting my memory about how pervasively the name of Larry Osborne comes up in the annals of Mars Hill, most often (as best I can recall) from the pen of Mark Driscoll himself.  

Confessions of a Reformission Rev
Mark Driscoll, Zondervan 2006
ISBN-13: 978-0-310-27016-4
ISBN-10:0-310-27016-2


From chapter 7: Jesus, we’re loading our squirt guns to charge Hell again (4,000-10,000 people)
Pages 164-165


In the fall of 2004, Leadership Network brought together a handful of large-church pastors for a meeting in New York. It was an honor to be among such successful and diverse pastors as Wayne Cordero (Foursquare), Tim Keller (Presbyterian), Michael Slaughter (Methodist), Walt Kallestad (Lutheran), and Matt Hannan and Bob Roberts (Baptist). Each of them had timely insights that helped clarify the plans I was making to grow our church to ten thousand people. During one of the breaks, I grabbed lunch with Larry Osborne, who pastors North Coast, a church of six thousand people in San Diego, California. Our church had quickly blown through the three-thousand mark, and we were expecting to crest at just under four thousand people a week by the fast-approaching spring of 2005.


I was in the middle of putting together a comprehensive strategic plan for the future of our church, with plans to grow to over ten thousand people. Our two morning and two evening Sunday services were all filling up, and we needed to decide what our next steps would be. We searched diligently but once again could not find a facility with three thousand seats or more to rent in the city. And we were unwilling to relocate the church out of the city, where land was cheaper and more options were available. 


As I sat with Larry, I immediately launched into a barrage of questions about growing the church, hoping to maximize our time together. Larry had impressively grown his church from a small congregation to a church of six thousand people while maintaining sound doctrine and incorporating an effective small group ministry.


Larry proceeded to ignore all of my questions and instead started asking me questions seemingly unrelated to growing the church. He asked me how many children I had, their ages, the condition of my marriage, and if being a good husband and father was more important to me than growing a large church. 


I was stunned. Over the years, I had met with many successful pastors to learn from them. Not one of them had ever asked anything about my personal life and my family or even if I was morally fit to be a pastor. The only people who ever asked those types of questions were my elders, because they love me and my family.


The first four pages of chapter 7 are, in fact, a summary of Driscoll’s conversation with Larry Osborne in the fall of 2004.   It builds up to a conclusion that is on page 167


… Simply, he [Osborne] was instructing me on the chief principles of creating a mature missional church.

So I tried to begin with the end in mind. I sought to plan for the church for as far down the road as I could see.  I could envision a church of more than ten thousand people and began working with Jamie to reverse-engineer a plan to become that church. We drafted a strategic plan that was over a hundred pages long, between plans and supporting documents and articles. We then presented our strategic plan to the elders and deacons, who helped us make some changes that greatly improved the plan. The deacons and elders also devised strategic plans so that their areas of ministry could grow with the church. If all the plans were put together, the total master plan would be hundreds of pages long.


Our strategic plan, which is sketched out in this chapter, won’t be fully implemented until after this book is published. By that time, we will know if we had a good plan or if we messed everything up and reduced the church to a small group of people meeting in a phone booth and grumbling about the strategic plan. I am hesitant to end the book with these details because I have no guarantee that they will work.  But it’s where we are at, going into another season of great risk.


It would turn out that the large building Jamie Munson scouted out and that the Mars Hill elders purchased was not zoned for the uses that Mark Driscoll’s grand vision had envisioned.  The alternative to the boondoggle that was outlined confidently as the plan for future growth for Mars Hill was to embrace an older model that had been implemented in the history of Mars Hill, the multisite model.  The key difference moving forward as that the new multisite model would have pastors as administrative heads of a network of churches whose preaching content would predominantly be Mark Driscoll’s preaching; gone were the days when Mike Gunn preached in the south, Mark Driscoll preached in Ballard, and Lief Moi preached in the University District.  The new paradigm of multisite was, famously, filming Mark and broadcasting him across the campuses and times.  Of all the things outlined in the master plan in Confessions that was what managed to get worked out.


What’s worth noting is that as far back as Driscoll’s 2006 book he had emphasized how a meeting with Larry Osborne in 2004 through a Leadership Network event informed his ideas of what needed to be done to strategically grow Mars Hill to the size he wanted.  He insisted in print that he did not care whether he pastored a large or a small church but this insistence seems to have been belied by the recurrent reference to head counts of attenders in the subheadings of every single chapter of Confessions. If he really didn’t care about the numbers in any event why organize an entire book into chapters with subheadings that included numbers of attenders?  But what was, in any case, made clear by Mark Driscoll himself was that it was a 2004 conversation with Osborne he credits with stunning him into a realization that the way Mars Hill was organized would need to change.  The closing chapter of Confessions of a Reformission Rev was presented as a summary of what strategic plans were going to be implemented. Driscoll’s 2006 book was published in April and the next two years would bear out that the gap between what was confidently announced about the future plans for Mars Hill and what actually happened in Driscoll’s efforts to reorganize the governance of the church would throw up some discrepancies.





a Larry Osborne conversation with Mark Driscoll from 2016: Part Two: The plan announced in 2006 for growth runs aground on city zoning, Driscoll and associates regroup by way of a controversial re-org that leads to terminations in 2007



One of the first things that could be shown to have gone well afield of plan was the second Ballard facility acquired in 2005.  It turned out that the building that would become the Mars Hill corporate headquarters could not be used for the second campus aims announced in Driscoll’s Confessions of a Reformission Rev.  That meant the elders embraced an alternative to two Ballard campuses, what came to be known as the multi-site model and the expanded use of “videology”, video-taped sermons that were rebroadcast with or across campuses. 


Because Driscoll summarized the fateful conversation with Osborne there’s no way to be sure whether Mark Driscoll’s subsequent master plan announced in his 2006 book, or the alternative plan of rapidly expanding multisite, were necessarily informed by what Osborne actually advised.  Although Driscoll would continue to credit Osborne with an advisory role in the reorganization of Mars Hill governance it may be impossible to establish how “hands on” or “hands off” that advisory role was.  However, thanks to the website Joyful Exiles and some materials in the way of Mark Driscoll sermons we can highlight that the alternative plan of multisite expansion and governance changes turned out to be more controversial and volatile then, possibly, anyone anticipated.


There were only hints and asides as to just how volatile the situation may have been. By 2007, during the Nehemiah sermon series and what would prove to be the controversial 2006-2007 period of internal reorganization Driscoll rounded off the Nehemiah series with intra-sermon asides like the following:


7:50...
Some of you will then push back, and say "But I've seen spiritual authority abused." and I would say, "So have I."  And what we do is not abandon authority, we appeal to higher authority. If a man is being a bad husband and father he's NOT the highest authority. You can call the cops. You can bring him in for church discipline. We'll pull up some other authority. We'll pull up another authority, of Scripture, and we'll bring God into the equation. 


If a leader in the church, or an elder or a pastor, is not acting in accordance with Scripture, then we appeal to Scripture and they get disciplined as well. No one, myself included, is above spiritual authority. We all need to be submissive and humble. And Nehemiah's frustration is with a bunch of men who will not respect Scripture, they will not respect God, they won't respect Nehemiah (their leader), they won't respect Ezra (their pastor), and he's very angry about that because he sees the devastation of the wives and to the children.


31:17
You either enjoy confrontation or you enjoy sin. You get to pick one or the other. If people sin and there's not confrontation then you better enjoy sin because that's what's going to happen. 


"Then I confronted them and I cursed them"

He's just cussing guys out. 

"and beat some of them." I'll read that again, "and beat SOME of them."
31:44


Now he's an older guy and he's beating up members of his church. What do we do with that? I'll tell you what I'd LIKE to do with that. I'd like to follow in his example. There's a few guys here that, if I wasn't gonna end up on CNN, that I would go Old Testament on `em even in leadership of this church.


32:08

Here's Nehemiah's deal. Now Romans 13 says we need to obey the government so you can't just walk around beating people up, tragically. 


It DOES simplify things. There's no, like, attorneys and blogging. It's like, "I punched you in the mouth. Shut up."  That's clean. It's simple.

Now in this Nehemiah gets so angry that he can't make these guys stop that he physically assaults them. ...

32:45
I'm not saying it's okay to beat people up, but I understand.


Notoriously, in an October 1, 2007 preaching cadre teaching event for Acts 29 associated leaders, Mark Driscoll said the following:


https://joyfulexiles.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/preaching-paul_edits1.mp3
Here’s what I’ve learned. You cast vision for your mission; and if people don’t sign up, you move on.  You move on. There are people that are gonna to die in the wilderness and there are people that are gonna take the hill. That’s just how it is. 


Too many guys waste too much time trying to move stiff-necked, stubborn, obstinate people. (pause) I am all about blessed subtraction. There is a pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus (laughs) and by God’s grace it’ll be a mountain by the time we’re done.


You either get on the bus or you get run over by the bus. Those are the options; but the bus ain’t gonna stop.  [emphasis added] And I’m just a—I’m just a guy who is like, “Look, we love ya, but, this is what we’re doing.” 


There’s a few kinda people. There’s people who get in the way of the bus. They gotta get run over. There are people who wanna take turns driving the bus. They gotta get thrown off (laughs). ‘Cuz they wanna go somewhere else. There are people who will be on the bus, leaders and helpers and servants, they’re awesome.


There’s also just, sometimes, nice people who sit on the bus and shut up. (pause) They’re not helping or hurting. Just let ‘em ride along. Y’know what I’m saying?  But, don’t look at the nice people that are just gonna sit on the bus and shut their mouth and think, “I need you to lead the mission.”


They’re never going to.  At the very most you’ll give ’em a job to do and they’ll serve somewhere and help out in a minimal way. If someone can sit in a place that hasn’t been on mission for a really long time they are by definition not a leader.  And, so they’re never going to lead.


You need to gather a whole new court. I’ll tell you guys what, too. You don’t do this just for your church planting or replanting. I’m doin’ it right now. I’m doin’ it right now. We just took certain guys and rearranged the seats on the bus.


Yesterday we fired two elders for the first time in the history of Mars Hill last night. They’re off the bus, under the bus. They were off mission so now they’re unemployed. I mean (pause) you—this will be the defining issue as to whether or not you succeed or fail. I've read enough of the New Testament to know that occasionally Paul put someone in the woodchipper, y'know? [emphasis added]


For those who want the audio file source that would be the October 1, 2007 Preaching Cadre and the timestamp in the original file would be about 2:22:23 but since the audio may never have been released the audio at Joyful Exiles has to suffice for now.


What Driscoll shared from the pulpit as an aside and what Driscoll shared with associated leaders in a preaching cadre was not necessarily the same as what he formally told members of Mars Hill had been going on.  In a letter from Mark Driscoll to Mars Hill Church dated November 8, 2007 he wrote of the reorganization and the reasoning for its necessity:




One of the problems was that Mars Hill had essentially outgrown the wisdom of our team and
needed outside counsel. The church had grown so fast that some of our elders and other leaders
were simply falling behind and having trouble keeping up, which was understandable. To make
matters worse, there was a growing disrespect among some elders who were jockeying for and
abusing power. The illusion of unity our eldership had maintained over the years was kept in part
by my tolerating some men who demanded more power, pay, control, and voice than their
performance, character, or giftedness merited. While this was a very short list of men, as elders
they had enough power to make life truly painful.


At the same time I began receiving other lucrative job offers that would allow me to study, preach,
and write without all of the administrative duties and burdens for which I am not sufficiently gifted
to be responsible for. For the first time in my life, the thought of leaving Mars Hill sounded very
relieving. Since I had given ten years of my life to the church and love the people desperately, it
was obvious to me that something was deeply wrong that such offers would even be intriguing.


So, I began pursuing counsel from godly men outside the church that I respected. I spoke with
Tim Keller about the difficulties of an urban church, John Piper about how to sustain longevity in
the ministry, C. J. Mahaney about bitterness that had grown in me against some elders of Mars
Hill and my need to grow in humility, D. A. Carson about how to best study so as to become an
even better Bible teacher and writer, Gerry Breshears about how to best train other men for
ministry to share the load, Pastor Larry Osborne about how to best architect a multi-campus
church, and Pastors Craig Groeschel and Ed Young Jr. about how to lead a church of thousands
and possibly tens of thousands. On top of that, I pursued counsel from a Christian doctor
regarding my health and what needed to change in my diet, exercise, and schedule. In short, I
sought wise outside counsel regarding if I should stay at Mars Hill and make changes in my life
and our church, or simply move on to another church and start over.


The consensus was that Mars Hill was poorly architected to be a multi-campus, multi-elder, multithousand
person church. My administrative gifts had simply reached their capacity and the church
needed to be re-organized so that campuses could be led by elder teams to ensure that our
people were best cared for, our doctrine best taught, and our mission best led. This meant that I
needed to give up a great deal of power and trust other elders, deacons, and members to care for
the church with the same passionate affection that I have for our people.


To begin this process I had to go first and divest myself of a great deal of power. In the history of
the church I have held the three positions of greatest authority. …


To put it plainly more than just a few members of Mars Hill Church did not believe that Mark Driscoll had managed to do more than formally divest himself of a great deal of power.  Even the question of whether or not Mars Hill was poorly architected to be a multi-campus, multi-elder, multi-thousand person church was never really explained, it was simply asserted that there was a consensus and the implication had to be taken as given as to who constituted the members of the asserted consensus.  Had the elders not sought out a piece of real estate that was not even zoned for the publicly stated uses the problems tacitly assumed to have existed in the architecture of Mars Hill wouldn’t even have existed. 

But since there were real problems with achieving the goals for growth stated in Driscoll’s 2006 book, not least of which had to do with real estate zoning codes, a “plan B” had to be implemented. Along the way to articulating what the projected future governance would be for Mars Hill, Driscoll told Mars Hill members via letter that it was from Larry Osborne he learned how best to architect a multi-campus church.  Within the context of the leadership culture of Mars Hill Driscoll would have firmer, sterner things to say.

a Larry Osborne conversation with Mark Driscoll from 2016: Part Three: Driscoll teaching that “I see things” in a post-2007 context in which he presented dissent or distrust of executive elders as a demonic lie



In a February 2008 teaching seminar to leaders of Mars Hill about spiritual warfare, Mark Driscoll stated that there was a myth circulating within Mars Hill that needed to be addressed:


I think one of the great myths that has come about (it's a demonic lie) is that myself, the executive elders, the senior leaders we don't care about people. [emphasis added] I was the only one who did ANY counseling until we had 800 people. We still do tons of shepherding, counseling, spiritual warfare, conflict. But we try to do so in a way that is humble, that isn't "and here is who I served and here are the demons we cast out and here's the list of people that I've healed." That's demonic. The truth is I love the people as much--actually, more than anyone in this church. And the senior leaders, the campus pastors, the departmental leaders, the executive elders love the people in this church as much or more than anyone else in this church. [emphasis added] And one of my great concerns is not just, "Can you hold hands and help sheep?" but "can you also flip the staff over and defend against a wolf?"  You HAVE to have that discernment, that courage, and that ability to tell someone: "You are in sin. That is false doctrine.  You are not qualified to be a leader. If you do not repent you are not welcome here. And I will speak truthfully to those who want to follow you because my job is for the well-being of the sheep."

This was the same teaching event in which Mark Driscoll also made his “I see things” comment:


Spiritual Warfare
February 5, 2008
Pastor Mark Driscoll
Christus Victor (Part 3)

19:19

On occasion I see things. I see things. Like I was meeting with one person, and they didn't know this but they were abused when they were a child and I said, "When you were a child, you were abused. This person did this to you, physically touched you this way." They said, "How do you know?" I said, "I don't know, it's like I got a TV right here and I'm seeing it." They said, "No, that never happened." I said, "Go ask them. Go ask if they actually did what I think they did and I see that they did."  They went and asked this person, "When I was a little kid did you do this?" and the person said, "Yeah [slowly], but you were only like a year or two old. How do you remember that?" They said, "Well, Pastor Mark told me." I'm not a guru. I'm not a freak. I don't talk about this. If I did talk about it everybody'd want to meet with me and I'd end up like one of those guys on TV, but some of you have this visual ability to see things. [emphasis added]

20:13
There was one woman I dealt with, she never told her husband that she had committed adultery on him early in the relationship. I said: "You know (she was sitting there with her husband), you know I think the root of all this is Satan has a foothold in your life because you never told your husband about that really tall blond guy that you met at the bar. And then you went back to the hotel, and you laid on your back, and you undressed yourself, and he climbed on top of you, and you had sex with him, and snuggled up with him for a while, and deep down in your heart (even though you had just met him) you desired him because (secretly) he is the fantasy body type."



I said:
"You remember that place, it was that cheap hotel with that certain colored bedspread. You did it--you had sex with the light on because you weren't ashamed and you wanted him to see you and you wanted to see him."


She's just looking at me, like ...


I said, "You know, it was about ten years ago." I see everything.
She looks at her husband.  He says, "Is that true?" She says, "Yeah. He was 6'2", blonde hair, blue eyes. Yeah."


Some of you, when you're counseling, you will see things. You will literally get the discernment to see things. I can't even explain it. It doesn't happen all the time.


Sometimes your counselee, they will see things. I found this with people, I'm, okay,-like, "I'm gonna ask the demon questions, you tell me what they say."  They don't say anything. I say, "What do you hear?" and they say, "Nothing, but I'm seeing stuff." "What, oh, oh. What's that?"
"I'm seeing, you know, when I was little, my grandpa molested me. I didn't know that."
I said, "Well, let's not assume it's true. Go ask your grandpa." Grandpa says, "Yeah [slowly], when you were little I molested you." Grandpa was assuming they'd be too young to remember so he'd only molest grandkids up until a certain age. But they saw it. Supernatural. It's a whole other realm. It's like the Matrix. You can take the blue pill. You can take the red pill.  You can go into this whole other world and that's the way it works.


So I say tell me everything you hear, tell me everything you see and sometimes I see things, too. I see things, too.  I've seen women raped.


I've seen children molested. I've seen people abused. I've seen people beaten. I've seen horrible things done. Horrible things done.


I've seen children dedicated in occult groups, and demons come upon them as an infant by invitation and I wasn't present for any of it but I've seen it, visibly.


Upon occasion when I get up to preach I see, just like a [makes "whif" sound] screen in front of me, I'll see somebody get raped or abused and I'll track `em down and say, "Look, I had this vision, let me tell you about it." All true.  One I had, I was sitting in my office at the old Earl building.  This gal walks by, nice gal, member of the church. This was when the church was small.  And there just like a TV was there and I saw the night before her husband threw her up against the wall, had her by the throat, was physically violent with her and she said, "That's it. I'm telling the pastor." And he said, "If you do, I'll kill you." He was a very physically abusive man. She was walking by and I just saw it. Just like a TV.  [emphasis added] I said, "Hey! come here for a sec. ... Last night did your husband throw you against the wall and have you by the throat, physically assault you and tell you if you told anyone he would kill you?" She just starts bawling. She says, "How did you know?" I said, "Jesus told me." I call the guy on the phone, "Hey, I need you to come to the office." Didn't give him any clue. [He] comes in. I said, "What did you do to your wife last night?  Why'd you this? Why'd you throw her against the wall?" And he gets very angry, they're sitting on the couch, he says, "Why did you tell him?"  I said, "She didn't, Jesus did." Jesus did. 

There are people who are hyper-spiritual total freaks. They make stuff up.  They hear from demons. They pretend to have insight and discernment and there are some people who have real gift of discernment, and I'm not saying I'm 100% always right with it, but some of you are gonna have gift of discernment and you need to, you need to grow to learn in the use of that gift. Sometimes people will hear things. Sometimes people will see things.

In an earlier sermon from 2005 Mark Driscoll had made it clear that he did believe that God killed sinners and that sometimes he prayed for it.  It’s important to keep this in mind as some background for understanding Driscoll’s 2008 teaching in light of his 2005 statement:


JUDAH AND TAMAR
Part 37 of Genesis
Pasto
r Mark Driscoll | Genesis 38 | June 26, 2005
07:21
“Judah got a wife for Er, his firstborn, and her name was Tamar.” We’re gonna deal with her. She is gonna be a very important story. “But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the LORD’s sight;” – so God smoked him – “Put him to death.” What does that mean in Hebrew? He killed him. Metaphor – he killed him literally – metaphysically challenged. The guy is dead, okay. Oh, that’s troubling. That’s the point. Stop whatever you’re doing. He’s gonna kill you. That’s the point. I know some of you have this wrong view of God as a big sky fairy, lavender tights, lemon yellow half shirt, herbal tea. I know you say, “We love that fairy, Jesus, that hippie Christ. We love that guy.” 

Look, that’s the god up on Broadway today for the parade. This is the real God, all right. This is the real God. This God gets ticked, and he kills people. And some of you say, “Oh, but that’s the Old Testament – his junior high years. He was immature and emotional. And now we have the New Testament God, and he’s all grown up now.” God kills people in the New Testament too.

I’ll give you two places you can look when you go home, Acts 5, Ananias and Saphira. A married couple go into church. They withhold part of their tithe, and God kills them in the church, right? And it says, “Great fear sees the whole church.” Offering went through the roof. They made budget. It was amazing. People are like, “Put the keys in there, Martha, and the credit cards and whatever. Here, put these shoes in – whatever he wants. He seems to be in a mood today.”

The other is in 1 Corinthians 11 where it says people are taking communion without repenting of sin, so they die in the church. Can you imagine that? You’re coming up for communion, you and your girlfriend who woke up together this morning to come to Mars Hill. And the two of you are walking down the aisle, and you’re like stepping over all your drinking buddies, like, “Who am I?” “What happened?” “They didn’t repent.” Like, “Oh, well, let’s go back to our seat then.” You know, this is – he kills people. He does. He kills them. He gets sick of them. He gets sick of them and says, “You keep sinning. You won’t stop. I’ll stop you. You’re dead.”

Okay, this guy’s about 18 years of age. He’s done. He just got out of high school. He was getting ready to go to Cancun, you know, for his big graduation party. This guy was just gonna go to college; just joined his frat; 18 year old kid – done. He’s thinking, “Oh, you only live once. You’re young. Have fun. Have a good,” – dead.

10:16
Okay, now some of you, this bothers you because you’re evil and it scares you. I understand. It’s supposed to. The scary parts are to scare you. It’s crazy how that goes together. You’re supposed to look at it and go, “He kills evil people. I’m an evil person. Oh, no.” That’s the point – supposed to scare you into repentance, go straight. [10:42] Now God still does this. This will sound terrible in addition to many other things I will say. But I still believe that God kills people, and sometimes I pray for it.

10:50
I’ll give you an example – and I don’t. High mercy counseling – a gift. I know. If I wasn’t doing this, I’d definitely be in the counseling. So, I’m meeting with this high school kid a few years ago. His mom and dad were Christians. He and his brother were Christians. They went overseas for many years into a foreign culture to preach the Gospel and start and church and have people meet Jesus. And they were there for many years.
Well, the whole time, his dad was having this escalating online sexual relationship with another man here in the United States. And next thing you know it, dad doesn’t say anything to his boys or the mom or to the church or to the ministry – nothing. He just secretly empties the bank account, gets on an airplane, flies to the United States to go be with his gay lover. I think it was in New York City. And then sends a letter or an email or something back to the family saying, “Good luck.” And the boys get it. They’re like, “What happened to dad?” “What? Dad left the family. Dad’s in New York. Dad emptied the bank account. Oh, I thought we belonged to Jesus.”

11:52
Now they had a hard time leaving the country. They’re flat broke. They’re totally shocked. The family’s destroyed. All the new converts are wondering is Jesus really God? Does he really change lives? Everything’s thrown into mayhem. I’m meeting with the teenage kid, and he says, “What is all this?” He says, “You know, it’s got me doubting whether or not God pays attention anymore, God cares. We get all these people. They’re getting ready to deny their faith. We’re flat broke. My mom’s heartbroken. My dad’s got all the money, living life, doing what he wants.” He said, “Where’s God in all of this?” [12:21] I said, “Well, here, let’s do this. Let’s pray that he either repents or God kills him – your dad.” 

12:27
So, we prayed together. I prayed mostly. And I said, “Okay, here’s the deal. Let’s pray that he either repents, and if he’s never gonna repent, then God will just kill him.” So, we prayed. He says, “Okay, now we’ll see what happens.” About a week later, dad dies of an instantaneous massive heart attack. No history of heart disease in his family. He’s in good health. No seeming cause or trigger. His heart literally exploded in his chest cavity. He died instantaneously.
[emphasis added] Now all of a sudden all those people go, “Oh, yeah, God does deal with sin.” So the mission gets saved. The churches get saved. You know, everything gets preserved.

13:08
You know what? Some people will never change. Not everybody’s going to heaven. Not everybody lives happily ever after. Not everybody makes a turn for the better. Some people just keep going. And God knows their heart, and with certain people, he looks at them and says, “That’s it. You’re only getting worse. You’re never gonna get better. You’re dead. I’m killing you. It’s over.”

13:30
Some of you need to realize that it is a terrifying thing, the Bible says, to fall into the hands of the living God. When you’re dealing with a holy, righteous, just God, and you’re just absolutely defying him repeatedly and mocking him, there does come a point with many people where he’s just done because sin leads to death. And if you keep sinning, you’ll either die in your sin, or he’ll kill you for your sin. But one way or another, you’ll die.

We can see that from an accumulation of Mark Driscoll’s statements he made it clear to the leadership circle he had assembled around him between 2005 and 2008 that he said “I see things”, that he regarded rumors and the “myth” that the executive elders didn’t love the people at Mars Hill as “a demonic lie”, and that he had made clear that he had, in the past, been able to pray that God would kill an unrepentant sinner and that the man, in any case, died.  It’s arguable that Mark Driscoll only slightly backpedaled on the certainty that he prayed a man would die and God answered his prayer when he published the following in a book he published with co-author Gerry Breshears in 2008:
Death by Love: Letters from the Cross
Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears
Copyright (c) 2008 by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears
Published by Crossway
ISBN 978-1-4335-3533-8
PDF ISBN 978-1-4335-0423-5
Mobipocket ISBN 978-1-4335-0424-3
ePub ISBN 978-1-4335-2121-8

pages 129-130


... For example, I once met with a young man whose father, a pastor, suddenly left his ministry, wife, and teenage sons to have a homosexual affair with a man he had met on the Internet. He told his teenage sons that there is no God, Jesus did not rise from death, and that there is no such thing as punishment for sin. His sons experienced a profound crisis of faith, and since their dad kept saying that he was happy for the first time in his life, they wondered if God existed, and if he did, whether he cared. To make matters worse, the entire church he had been pastoring was experiencing the same sort of faith crisis. I prayed with one of the sons, asking God to either bring their father to repentance or pour out his wrath on the man as an example. Within days, the father died of an unexplainable, sudden explosion of his heart. [emphases added]


While we can't make a definitive connection of this timely death to the wrath of God, it is in keeping with what we see in instances like Genesis 38 where God kills the two sons of Judah because of their wickedness

Yet if it wasn’t possible to make any connection (let alone a definite one) between the “timely death” and “the wrath of God” what was the point of mentioning the story at all?  One possible interpretation as to what the story could “do” would be to situate it as a context in which to understand how the upper echelon leadership of Mars Hill, but specifically Mark Driscoll, could deploy such a story in a context in which, by early 2008, there was a known undercurrent of distrust and dissent toward executive leadership over how the governance changes and terminations of 2007 had been handled.  By alternately invoking supernatural powers to “see things”; having a history of publicly stating he prayed that a man would die and seemed to get an answer to said prayer; and by more or less emphatically and explicitly demonizing dissent, Mark Driscoll spelled out that at a practical level to disagree with what he envisioned as the future of Mars Hill was to reject God.  Again, at no point along the way could the 2007 “re-org” seem to be all that clearly connectable to the a 2004 conversation with Osborne, and yet cumulative Driscoll’s account of what happened and why seems as though it has to be at least partly understood in light of Driscoll’s published conviction that in the wake of a conversation with Osborne he believed Mars Hill had to be reorganized. 

a Larry Osborne conversation with Mark Driscoll from 2016: Part Four: By 2012 Mark Driscoll began to share irreconcilable accounts of his personal history



In spite of the emphatic accounts Mark Driscoll gave about what changed in Mars Hill governance and why, there began to be a problem that eventually emerged in 2012.  The problem emerged in the context of the promotional campaign to promote Mark and Grace Driscoll’s book Real Marriage. 

To put things in the plainest possible terms, it turned out that Mark Driscoll could give statements that could not be reconciled at any level between what he said in his book and what he was saying to reporters while promoting his newest book:


Interview by Katelyn Beaty and Marlena Graves/ January 5, 2012

...

Is there tension in teaching sexual purity before marriage while encouraging frequent and wonderful sex within marriage?



M: No, and for us, we sinned, quite frankly. We were virgins when we met and were sleeping together as high-school boyfriend and girlfriend. Then Grace came back to Christ, and I came to Christ in college, so we had to stop sinning sexually. I'd say if we both could go back and rewrite history and change one thing, that would probably be the thing we would change. [emphasis added] But we did repent and met with our pastor. And then we did get married, between our junior and senior years of college

Real Marriage
Mark and Grace Driscoll
Copyright (c) 2012 by On Mission, LLC
Thomas Nelson
ISBN 978-1-4002-0383-3
ISBN 978-1-4041-8352-0 (IE)

Page 7

Neither Grace nor I was a virgin when we met, and before long we were dating and sleeping together, which continued even after she went off to college while I was finishing high school. [emphasis added]


page 9-10
To be honest, fornicating was fun. I liked fornicating. To stop fornicating was not fun. But eventually Grace and I stopped fornicating, got engaged, and were married between our junior and senior years of college.

I assumed that once we were married we would simply pick up where we left off sexually and make up for last time. After all, we were committed Christians with a relationship done God's way. But God's way was a total bummer. My previously free and fun girlfriend was suddenly my frigid and fearful wife. She did not undress in front of me, required the lights to be off on the rare occasions we were intimate, checked out during sex, and experienced a lot of physical discomfort because she was tense. [emphasis added]

...
Before long I was bitter against God and Grace. It seemed to me as if they had conspired to trap me. I had always been the "good guy" who turned down women for sex. In my twisted logic, since I had only slept with a couple of women I was in relationships with, I had been holy enough, and God owed meI felt God had conned me by telling me to marry Grace, and allowed Grace to rule over me since she was controlling our sex life. [emphasis added] I loved Grace, but in the bedroom I did not enjoy her and wondered how many years I could white-knuckle fidelity. ... We desperately needed help but didn't know where to turn. Bitterness and condemnation worsened. 

That Mark Driscoll really believed that God owed him doesn’t seem like it needs to be disputed.

But only one of the following stories can actually be true.  If Mark and Grace Driscoll were not both virgins when they met as claimed in the Christianity Today interview then the statement in Real Marriage that neither of them were virgins has to be false. Just as obviously, if the “we were virgins” was true then the technicality on which that could be considered true was not explicated.  One of these two accounts would be false by dint of the alternative. Mark Driscoll boxed himself into a corner in which questions about the basic credibility and accuracy of his story about whether he was or wasn’t a virgin when he met Grace Martin had to come up, and in which it became necessary to guess that at least one of the two accounts had to be false.

During 2012 there was apparently enough renewed attention to and questions about Mars Hill governance that a webpage addressing that topic was published.  We’ll turn to that momentarily and when we do we’ll see a name that has been recurring in this account of Mars Hill.