Friday, November 02, 2007

Friday video

Mars Hill church, unfortunately, just opened a branch campus about 8 blocks from my house. So now this guy's hour plus long sermons are being beamed in every Sunday morning in a vicinity way too close for my personal comfort. Alas. Warning: this may cause naseaua.


gooditsraining said...

o Lord why!!!! i am sorry you have to deal with the new "branch"!!!

donkey said...

why are you staying away is ito macho-dude for you?

Are you a church chick??

Benjamin Ady said...


um .... I'm gonna have to ask for your help on this. What is "macho-dude"?

And what is "church chick"?

donkey said...

I was referring by macho dude to the robust masculine spirituality espoused by the much maligned Mars Hill and church chick is a woman who goes to church as Jack Nicholson would say:are we clear??
I was being facesious..I do have a question a serious question of all the churches and so called churches and religious institutions in Seattle why the hell was Mars Hill targetted for apicketting and a protest?Honestly! I know feminists don't dig Mark but he is theologically orthodox.
Why did the little SPU guy not organize his friends to go piss on apostate churches or focus on congreagtions that have been ceneters of spiritual abuse??

Benjamin Ady said...


I find your screen name strangely appropriate.

They wanted to picket Mars Hill precisely because they felt that women were experiencing spiritual abuse at Mars Hill. Theological orthodoxy doesn't mean shit. I mean to say that people who were theologically orthodox have done some pretty shockingly abusive things over the years. Have you ever read Martin Luther's invective against Jews, for instance?

donkey said...

yup Luther wrote some heinous stuff some real anti-Semitic vitriole...back to the let's picket Mars Hill...isn't it kinda odd that noone pickets churches that deny the resurrection and none pickets churches in the emerald city presided over by homos?Both groups are heretical Why does no one picket the EMP? or picket Pike's Place market or Frickin Starbucks? The Mars Hill position on women in the church may be unpalatable to many but the issue of male hierarchy egalatarianism etc. so called complementarianism is a theological adophoria on which Christians have disagreed for absolute ages...why put this congregation in the crosshairs?

Your comment about theological orthodoxy is off-base ..Scripture calls for orthodoxy AND orthopraxy Thus paul says watch your life and doctrine closely and John's gospel Jesus comes with grace and truth. It's not either or's gotta be both and. That's what makes the pursuit of radical balance so stinkin' awkward a life infused by truth and governed by love. That's why we have so many jack ass fundamentalsts who claim to have the truth and shout like rabid pedagogs devoid of grace and why there are so many lame-o delusional liberals who in the name of love ( really sentiment or mushy spiritualityback off from the truth and acquiesce to the culture and lose any gospel distinctive or prophetic voice. . One group is brittle and sharp and dogmatic the other is cowardly and frameless.

Is your comment about orthodoxy being jack shit a comment arising from personal pain or a serious philosophical assertion????

Benjamin Ady said...


Thank you for continuing to engage. I'm sorry--I think i was a little rude about your screen name. Please forgive me. =)

Regarding Mars Hill and why people don't picket other churches: specifically, churches that deny the resurrection and affirm homosexuality.

I can't speak for everyone. I wouldn't picket such churches because the resurrection strikes me as reasonably debatable, and I've rather liked all the gay people I've ever known.

I don't see the connection. I wasn't planning to picket Mars Hill about their theology. I was planning to picket Mars Hill because they were (and are) spiritually abusing women. I mean they were treating them very unkindly--wounding them in profound ways, and some people in the community got sick of that sort of thing being done in the name of Christ. That's why I was planning to picket.

I think if we saw some UU church, for instance, hurting people in similar ways, there would be people wanting to picket there as well. Mars Hill got in the cross hairs because not only were they doing that, but they were doing it as a very high profile, very big church.

I'm not going to debate whether Scripture does or doesn't call for both orthodoxy and orthopraxy. Scripture is too wide a field for me. But I *will* say I can't see much of an argument for Jesus requiring orthodoxy. In fact, he seems to rather delight in turning orthodoxy on its head, and saying things like "You don't get it. It's not about the rules, or your belief system. It's about how you treat other people! It's about being kind to people.


In response to your question about me saying that theological orthodoxy is shit. I think you set up a false dichotomy. Can't serious philosophical assertions arise from personal pain?

I certainly wouldn't characterize it as "serious theological assertion", because I simply don't operate in that realm. That's the realm of the modern, of, in a word, orthodoxy as a way-of-thinking-about-the-world, of ... well, of man-made systems. They all break down. Their rather less than more useful, in my humble opinion. The more we think and talk about orthodoxy, the more we close ourselves off from the delight of story. Thinking and talking about orthodoxy, it seems to me, will lead us very quickly to arrogance, and then violence isn't far behind.

Hope I'm making some sense.

Donkey said...

hey thanks for continuing the's got me thinking..which ain't bad i s'pose
and I make 2 further comments

1) Maybe Jesus was a heretic!?In light of what you said maybe he was into scared cow tipping.

2) Why did nobody picket Overlake Church for spending $60 million on a frickin' building?? isn't the gospel supposed to be good news for the would a 60 mill building project represent a violation of the gospel??

Benjamin Ady said...


Glad to hear we're fostering thought around here =).

I had to poke around and imagine a little bit to figure out what exactly "sacred cow tipping" might be. It's a fun image. Thank you for introducing in. I think you're right on. He seems to have been right into sacred cow tipping. Of course in one sense he wasn't super successful at it, as it seems the cow got back up and then proceeded to crucify him. Those same cows seem to be alive and well today, within the movement started by Jesus. Oh well.

Why didn't *you* picket Overlake re: their ... multi million dollar building?

I had a funny experience over there. I used to be involved with the very small eastside home church. One of the guys in that church has inside connections at Overlake, and so they got permission to do a baptism in that mulimillion dollar sanctuary one weekday afternoon for a couple of the kids from the home church. That was kewl but wierd. The "sanctuary" seats some ... I dunnno-- 5 to 7 thousand people? anyway, a lot!! and the baptistry is like halfway up the huge wall behind the pulpit. So there were maybe 20 of us all gathered down in the front couple rows, looking way up there at the somewhat distant baptistry, and the fellow who was doing the baptizing was having to really speak up so we could hear him. It was kind of ... different. A novel experience.

I kind of rather like Overlake more ever since they stretched their limits a bit to let Off the Map do their conference there back in 2006. Although I could never stand to actually go to church there. So astoundingly suburban, middle class, white, .... in a word, "yuck!". That whole American Christian culture thing, where it's very kewl to be a christian, and have the bumper sticker on your SUV, and the t shirt, and do the contemporary christian music thing, and ....

I'll stop now. =) I mean it's not really fair. I mostly can't stand to go to *any* christian church.

teenshelter said...

Hey, i guess i'm a little late in hopping in this but i was wondering...
Benjamin in regards to your comment:
I was planning to picket Mars Hill because they were (and are) spiritually abusing women. I mean they were treating them very unkindly--wounding them in profound ways, and some people in the community got sick of that sort of thing being done in the name of Christ. That's why I was planning to picket.

I was wondering what your experiences in this area are specifically with Mars Hill. I guess I would also be interested to know your definition of "spiritual abuse"

Mike Edwards said...

"spiritually abusing women"? That's a pretty serious charge. How, specifically, has "Mars Hill" (I mean--after all--we're not talking about a service--we're talking about a community of people that identify together) spiritually abused women?

Surely, you cannot just mean the fact that they hold a complementarian position as "abuse"?

Side note: the bodily resurrection of Jesus is a foundational gospel belief. If there is no belief in the physical resurrection of Jesus, there is no acceptance of the gospel.

Benjamin Ady said...

Mike, Ben,

thank you for joining in the conversation.

Mike--when you say what you say about "the gospel", are you saying that for you the resurrection of Jesus is a quintessential part of bottom-line good news?

Another way of asking that is: What do you *mean* when you say "the gospel"? Can you answer with a personal story with details?

Ben: I don't have *that* much *direct* experience with Mars Hill. I've been to a couple of their services. I've been *very* rudely treated by one of their senior pastors at one of those services. Most of my "experience" is in the vicarious forms--people I've gotten to know and trust who have experienced spiritual abuse firsthand at Mars Hill and been hurt awfully by it.

Thank you for asking what I mean by Spiritual Abuse. I have more of a *sense* of it than a ... definition. Which means I could define it with lots of stories. For instance the one linked at the top right of this blog about our being excommunicated. I think a really simple definition would be so called "spiritual authorities" (by which I mean people who are in a position of power in a religious context) being very very unkind, and using their power to hurt other people, and insisting that they are right in doing so. This can happen overtly or subtly. Overtly is like my story about excommunication. Subtly is like when the teaching and "principles" in a religious community create an atmosphere in the community where people are being ... stifled, where some people are considered ... more worthy or better than others, where what the leaders think and say and feel is *more* important than what the plebs think or say or feel.

Mike--it is a fairly serious charge. With regards to how specifically, I would refer you to various web sites which have detailed some of this stuff. But only if ... you're willing to be somewhat open minded about it. It would be easy to say something in response to all these web sites and stories such as "Well, these are serious charges and we need hard *evidence*". Which is to say it's relatively easy to simply discount all the stories that people tell if one is convinced that Mars Hill is brilliant. I can understand that. If that's where you're at, I wouldn't bother even looking at all this stuff, cause there would be no point.

praying heart

There's quite a bit of stuff in this thread

I'm not super interested in getting into a debate about Mars Hill. I don't really know where they're at now. I hope they are making some progress in the right direction. Back when I was following them a bit more, I could have talked a bit more about it. I think their fundamentalism is more the root of the problem than the spiritual abuse--the two kind of go hand in hand in many ways.

I found Jeff VanVonderen's book The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse very helpful on the whole subject. I would suggest checking it out.

Ben and Mike,

I'm curious as to how/why you found this particular post on my blog?

I guess at a really simple level my understanding is that the teaching at Mars Hill is that women are "supposed to" get married, have kids, and stay at home rather than pursue education/career etc. is pretty abusive. I'm not saying that they *shouldn't* get married, stay home, and have kids. If that's what they want to do, by all means. But for people in a position of spiritual authority to teach that they *ought* to do that, overtly or subtly, creates and atmosphere of ... disrespect for those who choose *not* to take that path.

Beyond that, a big part of fundamentalism is a basic disprespect for people--a mindset that says "I'm/We're right, and you're wrong, and you should change to be like me/us". It creates a ... 'power over' structure, which is directly contrary to the new 'power under' structure which Jesus said his followers are to use: "You know how with the heathen their leaders exercise dominion and authority *over* them ... but not so with you (my followers)--you are to exercise only power *under* people.

I've carried on at some length here. Hope I've managed to address your questions a little.

Mike Edwards said...

Hey--I stumbled across this post from a reference made elsewhere in cyberspace by teenshelter. I decided to look and it illicited some thought in me I thought was worth perhaps engaging.

On the other hand, perhaps it’s not. I’m not sure. I’m certainly not interested in piling up bible verses and shooting them through spiritual cannons at each other in order to prove a point or to “be right.”

So---without getting off topic too much I guess and without knowing how profitable it will be to continue after this, here are a few thoughts:

Rather than try to concoct my own definition, I’ll just share one of Paul’s more prominent summaries of the gospel in his first letter to the Corinthian church (1 Corinthians 15) when he says this: “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.”

There is MUCH to be gleaned from this, but it’s very obvious that belief in the bodily resurrection of Jesus is paramount to our salvation (not just a pray this prayer and get into heaven salvation, but the entire process of being redeemed and formed into the likeness of Christ). This is not an optional belief for those who claim to belief in Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life. Not because I’m a fundamentalist and need to be right, but because to think otherwise is not only contrary to the plain faith as passed to us through the scriptures but also because to not believe that is incoherent with claiming to love and believe in Jesus.

I hope what’s not happening, is that whatever ministry you’re involved with, you feel as though you’ve got it figured out. Has your involvement with ministry ever subject to anyone to any type of spiritual abuse? I know mine has. However, abuse of truth is no reason to abandon it. After all, no one has a corner market on truth, but one thing that Mars Hill (at least) stands for is the fact that there IS absolute truth, which is something we need despite any abuses or misunderstandings of it, since none of us have our act completely together.

It seems that Mark’s position on manhood/womanhood is what makes you nauseous, in and of itself, rather than just the abuses. I say that because I wonder what would need to change about Mars Hill in order for them to get your approval?
As far as the sites you link to, the one from conversations at the edge was virtually laughable as it was typical blog ranting, rather than anything of substance addressing a real issue. It was more character attacks on Mark (even one’s that just pose THEORETICAL character flaws in order to draw the imagination of the readers into it) than any real issues.

As far as excommunication goes--sometimes it is necessary, if by excommunication you mean church discipline that would ultimately result in no longer fellowshiping with a believer who is unrepentant of something they’ve been called out on that is contrary to life in line with the gospel.

At the end of all this, I’m not interested in a mars hill debate either. Looking back on this, I’d say what really bothered me was the issue of the resurrection. Maybe you can write a post on that and we could deal with it there..or maybe..just call me...or email me..or whatever.

Benjamin Ady said...

Mike, I've reposted part of your comment with commentary and questions here

stephy said...

Mike Edwards is a piece of work! Good to see you last night Bens.

Mike Edwards said...


thank you?