Elder and worship leader Zach Bolen has resigned from Mars Hill Ballard.
Bolen, a high profile elder at Mars Hill, is the leader of Citizens, a popular band which has become well known outside of Mars Hill circles. The band’s first album, the eponymous disc Citizens, was released in March 2013 and has enjoyed critical and commercial success. Bolen served at Mars Hill University District prior to coming to Ballard in February of this year. Bolen was one of the most popular and accomplished worship leaders at Mars Hill.
Bolen’s resignation comes amid significant staff changes at Mars Hill Ballard. Recently, popular biblical living pastor Phil Smidt was fired and then this week pastor Aaron Mead and elder candidate Tim Klassen resigned. In recent months, elders Nate Burke, Jon Krombein, and Mike Wilkerson also left Mars Hill Ballard.
The UK Christian music magazine Crossrhythms raved about Bolen and Citizens,saying:
"Clearly Citizens have a bright future ahead of them. As Breathecast commented, “Musically, Citizens have created a patented type of indie rock that flutters with the electronic beat of Switchfoot, yet shimmers with the emotional intensity of Hillsong United. Above all, Bolen sings with a sense of honest gravitas; it is as if leading worship is more than just a day job. Rather, he sings with a deep-seated passion that can only come from a man who knows grace.”
Although Bolen’s future in music and ministry looks bright, it will not include Mars Hill Church.
In 2007, Hilde Wiemann, parenting specialist at the ex-gay organization, International Healing Foundation, first denied, then admitted being involved in the Unification Church (Church of Sun Myung Moon who taught that he was the Messiah). Due to her involvement, the International Healing Foundation was briefly placed back on Steve Hassan’s list of Unificationist front groups. IHF was originally placed on Hassan’s list because Cohen was once a member of the UC. IHF was removed when Wiemann recanted and declared the UC to be a “satanic, heretical cult.” IHF founder Richard Cohen initially denied Wiemann was a part of the church but later acknowledged her statement.
Apparently, Ms. Wiemann has changed her mind again. She recently presented a series of sessions along with long time UC member Pam Stein on behalf of the Women’s Federation for World Peace. The WFWP is a Unification Church entity headed by Angelika Selle. Selle pastors a UC church in MD and was appointed to her post as president of the American WFWP by none other than True Mother, Sun Myung Moon’s wife, Hak Ja Han Moon.
Ms. Wiemann has also changed her name. She now goes by Hilde Reinold in her non-IHF pursuits. Any doubt about her identity is dispelled by her Hilltop Retreat bio:
Hildegard Reinold grew up in a small town in Austria and came to the United States in 1982, where she married her husband, John Wiemann. John works hand-in-hand with Hilde as a massage therapist and Shiatsu specialist. John and Hilde have two sons and one daughter in their 20s, all happily married. Being a mother was and is the most important and fulfilling part of Hilde’s life.
IHF continues to partner with Reinold/Wiemann however, often using her Hilltop Retreat Center for their workshops. She is listed as Hilde Wiemann in the IHF literature but Hilde Reinold on the brochure promoting the UC workshop (note arrows pointing out the audience and the presenters):
I addition to the tele-course, Rienold/Wiemann led a session for the WFWP in October as a part of their of their annual National Assembly. During this event, Reinold/Wiemann presented a break out session on leadership and was quoted extensively in the article.
Reinold/Wiemann is not a peripheral player at IHF. In IHF’s Winter, 2012 newsletter, Cohen lauded Wiemann as a “true sister” and said she is “intrinsically laced into the fabric of IHF.”
In October 2012, one of Moon’s sons, Hyung Jin Moon identified Richard Cohen as being in the UC movement and as the “foremost expert” on homosexuality in the UC. There was no comment at the time from Cohen.
For more on the UC, see this in depth New Republic report from Mariah Blake.
In the afternmath of the controversy over citations in books by Mark Driscoll, another Christian publisher is conducting a review of Driscoll’s books. Yesterday, Becky Garrison reported at Religion Dispatches that publisher Crossway is conducting an internal review of Mark Driscoll’s books to ensure “proper citation and documentation.” That is the same thing Crossway told me when I asked about articles I posted on my personal blog about Death By Love, a book authored by Driscoll and Gerry Breshears and published by Crossway.
"I assure you we are in touch with Mars Hill and are conducting an internal review to ensure that our books published by Mark Driscoll have proper citation and documentation."
I also reached out to Driscoll via Mars Hill and his co-author Gerry Breshears. Mars Hill did not reply but Breshears pointed me to Driscoll’s recent apology concerning his book on Peter, but declined to comment further on other instances which have been raised.
Driscoll has published nine books with Crossway, three of which are out of print.
In her RD article, Garrison asks pointed questions about how Tyndale House has addressed the controversy as compared to how secular media have handled similar situations. Head on over to RD and give it a read.
See new posts on this topic here.
The Institute on the Constitution's God and Government Project: A Call to Abandon the First AmendmentSaturday, October 12, 2013
Yesterday, the Institute on the Constitution dropped a press release about their God and Government program. From the Christian Newswire release:
The "Institute on the Constitution" has launched "The God And Government Project" the purpose of which is to remind elected officials, and those who seek civil government offices, that government is from God and their first duty must be to obey God and His Word (Romans 13.)
The folks at IOTC want citizens to use open mic time before city council meetings to tell officials that they need to use the Bible as the basis for civil law. IOTC encourages followers to use IOTC-prepared scripts. See an earlier post on the subject and this article for more on what IOTC encourages their followers to do.
The GaG (appropriate) program is consistent with IOTC's Christian reconstructionist worldview. During his course on the Constitution, Peroutka twists history to make it appear that the founders deliberately created a biblical form of government in line with IOTC views. In a current commentary on his IOTC website, Michael Peroutka makes a case that civil government officials are obligated to govern in accord with his view of the Bible.
Since civil government is ordained by God in order to protect God-given rights, then the function of civil government is to obey God and to enforce God’s law – PERIOD.
It is not the role of civil government to house, feed, clothe, educate or give heath care to…ANYBODY! (Or to operate a Panda-cam at the National Zoo.)
According to Peroutka, government can only do what he thinks God says government can do.
The IOTC website enshrines Rousas Rushdoony, the father of Christian reconstructionism. IOTC's Director of Communications, John Lofton, calls Rushdoony his "theological mentor" on more than one occasion. Rushdoony's articles on theocracy and dominionism, politics, taxation, and religion in law are available along with many others. Mark Rushdoony's (son of Rousas) speech on Christian reconstructionism is cited approvingly as well.
According to Mark Rushdoony, Christian reconstructionism sees the church as Israel.
In 1987 Ross House Books (which is now part of Chalcedon) published a book on covenant theology by Charles D. Provan called The Church Is Israel Now.That title sums up the heart of covenant theology, that the Christian church is heir of the promises to and the responsibility of the Hebrew nation of old.
Thus the proper society is ruled by an Old Testament style regime where the Christian reconstructionist's understanding of the Bible is the basis for civil law. This is exactly what IOTC's God and Government program promotes as the message followers should tell elected officials.
Even after his death, Rushdoony's views are controversial. IOTC does not back away from this. On the IOTC website, readers are directed to an interview given to Bill Moyers in 1988 by Rousas Rushdoony. In this interview, Rushdoony affirms that civil government should be based on the Bible, including injuctions that would lead to the death penalty for 15 crimes, including adulterers, homosexuals, and truly incorrigible sons. :
(Click the link to view the video) Christian Reconstructionism in a Nutshell
Listen to the entire segment to get the context. The section on the death penalty is as follows:
Moyers: You've written that the Bible calls for the death penalty, and I'm just running down a variety of things as you can see. You've written that the Bible calls for the death penalty of some 15 crimes: rape, sodomy, adultery.
Rushdoony: Adultery because in the Bible the basic institution is the family. There's no law of treason against the state. The Bible doesn't even imagine anything remotely like that. But the basic institution is the family. And so, several of the death penalties are associated with the family and its life.
Moyers: So adultery was considered a theft of the family.
Rushdoony: It was, yes, it was treason to the family.
Rushdoony: Yes, it was treason to the family.
Moyers: Worthy of the death sentence?
Moyers: Worthy of the death sentence?
Moyers: Deserving of the death sentence?
Rushdoony: Yes, that's what Paul says.
Moyers: But you would re-instate the death penalty for some of these or all of these Biblical crimes?
Rushdoony: I wouldn't---
Moyers: But the reconstructive society--
Rushdoony: I'm saying that this is what God requires. I'm not saying that everything in the Bible, I like. Some of it rubs me the wrong way. But I'm simply saying, this is what God requires. This is what God says is justice. Therefore, I don't feel I have a choice.
Moyers: And the agents of God would carry out the laws.
Rushdoony: The civil government would, on these things.
Moyers: So you would have a civil government, based upon--
Rushdoony: Oh yes. I'm not an anarchist. I'm close to being a libertarian. But--
Moyers: But the civil law would be based on the biblical law. And so you'd have a civil government carrying out a religious mandate.
Rushdoony: Oh yes.
Given their reverence for Rushdoony and the link to this interview, I think it is a fair assumption that IOTC is in sympathy with these views. Since they won't answer my requests for information, I will ask here publicly - IOTC leaders (Peroutka, Lofton), do you agree with Rushdoony here? Would you, in the government you are calling for, put people to death for adultery, homosexuality and the other crimes delineated by Rushdoony?
One thing I don't need to ask about is the IOTC view of public schools. In the citation above, Peroutka says civil government has no role in education. Historically, reconstructionists have been strong supporters of Christian schools as alternatives to public education. One of the leading reconstructionists, and Rushdoony's son-in-law Gary North, said this about the relationship between Christian schools and religious liberty (for a longer quote and commentary, see this article).
The major churches of any society are all maneuvering for power, so that their idea of lawful legislation will become predominant. They are all perfectly willing to use the ideal of religious liberty as a device to gain power, until the day comes that abortion is legalized (denying the right of life to infants) or prohibited (denying the “right of control over her own body,” after conception, to each woman). Everyone talks about religious liberty, but no one believes it.
So let us be blunt about it: we must use the doctrine of religious liberty to gain independence for Christian schools until we train up a generation of people who know that there is no religious neutrality, no neutral law, no neutral education, and no neutral civil government. Then they will get busy in constructing a Bible-based social, political, and religious order which finally denies the religious liberty of the enemies of God. Murder, abortion, and pornography will be illegal. God’s law will be enforced. It will take time. A minority religion cannot do this. Theocracy must flow from the hearts of a majority of citizens, just as compulsory education came only after most people had their children in schools of some sort. But religious anarchy, like “democratic freedom” in ancient Greece, is a temporary phenomenon; it lasts only as long as no single group gets sufficient power and accepted authority to abandon the principle. Religious anarchy, as a long-term legal framework for organizing a society, is as mythical as neutrality is. Both views assume that the institutions of civil government can create and enforce neutral law. They are cousins, and people believe in them only temporarily, until they make up their minds concerning which God they will serve.
While I doubt this will ever happen, it seems clear that the IOTC and like-minded reconstructionists will keep on trying to make it a reality. For IOTC supporters who love the First Amendment, you have a rude awakening coming. As Peroutka and Lofton proclaim, civil law should obey and enforce God's law, and by that they mean their interpretation of the Bible, both Old and New Testaments. Someone's religion must be obeyed according to Rushdoony, and the folks at IOTC want to make sure it is their religion. For now, they will use freedom of speech and religion at city council meetings to get their voices heard but if ever they get their way, one cannot count on these rights remaining. If you really believe in freedom of conscience and religious liberty, then you cannot fully embrace IOTC's GaG program. While the folks at IOTC want freedom of religion to speak at public meetings, they very openly proclaim that they want civil government to obey their religious views to the exclusion of all others.
In contrast, I want the reconstructionists to be able to speak their mind, but I don't want civil officials to use one religion as the basis for their governing. In contrast to Peroutka's odd construction, using one religion as the basis for civil law is prohibited by the First Amendment. Gary North says no one really believes in religious liberty. He is wrong; the framers most certainly did.