You must read Matthew Paul Turner’s most recent exposé of cult leader Mark Driscoll and his Mars Hill Church’s cult behavior when it comes to church discipline.
You simply will not believe what is going on behind the scenes at Mars Hill. We’ve already seen Mark Driscoll discuss (watch about the 3 minute mark) how he builds his church by intentionally targeting young men and their businesses. But now, Mars Hill’s disciplinary practices have been exposed for the cult tactics they are.
Now, according to Turner, a copy of a Mars Hill ‘church discipline’ contract is posted online, where the ‘sinner’ who has been ‘brought under church discipline’ has his sins spelled out, and in turn is asked to write out his further sins in full detail, meet with a prescribed ‘community group’ regularly, ‘write out in detail his sexual and emotional attachment history with women and share it with’ the pastor, and ‘write out a list of all people he has sinned against during this time frame, either by sexual/emotional sin, lying or deceiving, share it with’ the pastor.
Also available is the letter of ‘church discipline’ sent to the rest of the church after the member decided to leave the Mars Hill church. The document spells out the terms of the excommunication, citing the sexual nature of the individual’s sins, and detailing what members of the Mars Hill community can and cannot do with the excommunicated former member on their own time.
It will turn your stomach.
Dr. Benjamin Zablocki, Chair of the Department of Sociology at Rutgers University, defines a religious cult as “an ideological organization held together by charismatic relationships and the demand of total commitment,” usually due “to members’ adulation of charismatic leaders,” often “contributing to the leaders becoming corrupted by power.” (Zablocki, Benjamin, “A Sociological Theory of Cults,” presented at the annual meetings of the American Family Foundation, Philadelphia, PA, 1997.) In my opinion, the behavior of Mark Driscoll and his Mars Hill church meets the classic definition of a religious cult.
The individual in Turner’s exposé is compelled as a condition of further participation in the group to write out in detail a list of his potentially shameful personal sexual history, while refusal to do so leads to personal details already confessed to the leadership being revealed to the community, along with directives to the community to ostracize and not communicate with the excommunicated individual – a community which in many cases is the sole friendship and support group for the individual. That is the definite activity of a cult.
We all knew that Mark Driscoll was a tumor on the face of Christianity, but these latest revelations may signal the end for the community, which if we’re honest, is probably not a bad thing at all.
If you a member of the Mars Hill church, get out. And if you would like help getting out, feel free to comment below or email me, and I can refer you to counselors who specialize in helping people remove themselves from abusive relationships, communities, and cults.
Robert R. Cargill