The Racketeer

Readers familiar with my blog will remember my recent post “Fruit? (A Mark Driscoll Post).” Within that post, I argued that Mark Driscoll, in a recent sermon at Grace City Church entitled “Becoming Godly Men”, showed no sign of having repented of his past sins – sins which led to the collapse of the Mars Hill network of churches.

In this post, I focused on three main thematic points.

1. Driscoll continues to objectify women.

2. Driscoll continues to misuse and misrepresent the Scriptural witness for his own gains.

3. Driscoll continues to avoid responsibility for his financial indiscretions.

It is to this last point I want to briefly speak.  As many may now be aware, a RICO lawsuit has been filed against Mark Driscoll.   Former Mars Hill Elder Dave Brusko, Mars Hill CFO Kerry Dodd, and the watchdog agency the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability are among the co-conspirators named, according to Brandy Zadrozny of The Daily Beast.

Driscoll, et al are accused of intentionally soliciting money for various ministries, while using it for non-disclosed or dishonest ulterior purposes.  According to Joel Connelly of Seattle PI, allegations in the lawsuit include:

1. In 2012, over $200,000 dollars of Mars Hill funds was used to promote Mark Driscoll’s book Real Marriage.  This money was used to hire the promotion agency Result Source, Inc. and to purchase 11,000 copies of the book in a scheme to ensure Real Marriage would make the New York Times bestseller’s list.*  This is particularly interesting because Driscoll’s advance for this book from Thomas Nelson Publishing was $400,000 – more than enough to cover the cost with his personal money.

2. From Summer 2012 to Summer 2013, Mars Hill solicited $2.3 million dollars in donations for the Mars Hill Global Fund.  This money was collected under the auspices of supporting global missions, yet only five percent of that money was ever sent overseas.  The rest of the money remains unaccounted for.°

3. In 2013, Mark Driscoll announced the church would be raising an additional $2 million so they could launch an event called The Jesus Festival in August 2014.  After nearly $3 million was collected, the festival was cancelled.  No account was ever given for how the funds were used.^

While these accusations may not be news to many, they still particularly troubling given Driscoll’s newest endeavor. Less than a year after the dissolution of Mars Hill and the very public meltdown of Mark Driscoll amidst accusations of abusive ministry tactics and plagiarism, Driscoll is attempting to launch a new church, The Trinity Church, in Phoenix, Arizona.

It is no small thing for a man claiming to be a prophet of God to be accused of racketeering.  Yet Driscoll has a history of using dishonest and manipulative methods to raise money only to use the funds for his own personal gain.  I want to be abundantly clearing, Driscoll and his associates are being accused of financial fraud – of robbing their church to line their own pockets.

With all of these things in mind, some questions must be asked.

1. Will John Piper continue to insist the fall of Driscoll’s ministry was a “colossal Satanic victory?  Will he continue to claim that Driscoll’s issue is one of personality, not theology?

2.  What will Matt Chandler and Acts 29 do about the fact that Grace City Church – the flagship church of their Northwestern region – allowed Mark Driscoll to lead their worship service?  Do they now believe that Mark Driscoll is repentant?  If so, based on what?

3.  What is to be made of the statement that Mark Driscoll has been very influential behind the scenes of Grace City Church and that he has maintained a close friendship with Josh McPherson, the Regional Director of the Northwest Region of Acts 29?  McPherson’s name appears as a supporter of The Trinity Church, does he do so as a representative of Acts 29? Will they then be contributing funds?

4.  Also on the list of supporters are such prominent figures as Josh McDowell, Les and Leslie Parrott, Perry Noble, Dr. Darryl Delhousaye (president, Phoenix Seminary), Ron Beers (Senior Vice President and Publisher,
Tyndale House), Johnnie Moore, and Greg and Debby Kappas (Grace Global Network).  In what way do these persons see fruit in Mark Driscoll’s ministry?  If they hold him to be repentant and fit for ministry, on what grounds?

In looking at Driscoll’s history of very public sins and the support he has received from prominent Christian despite no evidence of repentance, I am reminded of the following excerpt from the book of James 2:

My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say , “Have a seat here, please,” while to the one who is poor you say, “Stand there,” or , “Sit at my feet,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters…Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith (vv. 1-5, 18).×


Other Resources:

Brad Sargent has written an excellent post on the lawsuit at Julie Anne’s Spiritual Sounding Board.

Warren Throckmorton has offered his own thoughts here.

*These allegations were reported by World Magazine here.

°Warren Throckmorton has written extensively on this here.

^Wenatchee the Hatchet has written on this here.  Warren Throckmorton has further expounded here.

× I recognize I have removed a significant portion of James 2 in this quotation.  The entire chapter speaks to situations of corruption, abuse, and privilege among church leadership.  I fully invoke the entire chapter and encourage the reader to reflect on it in its entirety.


by Nate Sparks

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5 thoughts on “The Racketeer

  1. This is one thing I do agree with Piper on (though probably not in the same way he meant), the downfall of Mars Hill Church was a colossal Satanic victory. I can’t think of any better word than Satanic to describe how Mark allowed his pride, anger, greed, envy and hatred to take root in his heart and his church, destroying both it, him, and inflicting immeasurable damage in the lives of his congregation and friends. Mark’s actions left an untold host reeling and damaged from his malpractice, hostile and questioning the Gospel. We shouldn’t be afraid to call that unchecked sin what it is, satanic.

    Sadly, Piper probably meant it in the “the devil made me do it sense” to try and shift blame off of Driscoll.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I would totally agree with the sense in which you use it. But yes, IMO, Piper meant it in the second sense that this all happened as an attack from Satan on a godly man to destroy his good ministry. Satan is working against Mark Driscoll, he is working with him at this point.

      Liked by 1 person

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