In 2004, Zondervan published The Radical Reformission: Reaching Out Without Selling Out by Mark Driscoll. In 2006, they published Driscoll’s Confessions of a Reformission Rev: Hard Lessons from an Emerging Missional Church. In these books, among other things, Driscoll addressed the relationships between the Gospel, the church, and culture. In The Radical Reformission, he borrowed a graphic from a book edited by George Hunsberger which indicates a reciprocal relationship between the three spheres. In addition, he outlined how leaving out any one of the spheres could lead to a negative result.
For instance, if a ministry offers the Gospel to the culture but bypasses the church, a parachurch ministry results. If a mission involves the church and the Gospel without considering culture, the result is legalism or fundamentalism. If the church and culture are prominent but the Gospel is neglected, then liberalism results. Finally, the biblical approach is to give weight to culture, church and the Gospel.
Driscoll’s formula has been cited by other church planters and authors since then. However, according to a former close colleague, Ron Wheeler, Driscoll lifted those concepts from work Wheeler did while developing the first Acts29 Network church plant in Mt. Vernon, WA — The Gathering. Wheeler was in the room when the Acts29 Network was organized and spent much time with Driscoll in the early days of Mars Hill Church. From Wheeler, I obtained the following page taken from an in-house church document. See especially the bottom of the page where the relationship between church, culture and the Gospel are outlined.
Compare this page with several pages (19-22) in Driscoll’s bookThe Radical Reformission (the material in Confessions is very similar):
Note that Driscoll credits Hunsberger for the image which Wheeler acknowledged elsewhere in the document came from various Gospel and Our Culture Network’s materials. However, there is no credit for Wheeler in this book or in Confessions of a Reformssion Rev, another Driscoll book which refers to Wheeler’s formula.
Wheeler told me that he began teaching this material in 2003 and that Mark Driscoll did not cite another source since he heard it from Wheeler. I have both books and I can find no reference to Wheeler. Wheeler added that Driscoll called him the night before the Radical Reformission book released to inform him the material was going to be in the book. Wheeler said:
As far as the phone conversation, Mark called and basically said “my book Radical Reformission is being released tomorrow and I don’t remember if I asked you or not, but I used your parachurch, fundamentalism and liberalism categories on the gospel/church/culture model. Thanks bro.“
Looks like I will need to update my chart of other citation errors and plagiarism.
Wheeler added that he thinks Driscoll may have taken advantage of the fact that Wheeler was younger and a subordinate to Driscoll. Wheeler eventually brought charges against Driscoll to the board of the Acts29 Network regarding a pattern of abusive behavior he said he experienced with Driscoll. According to Wheeler, the board did not take his charges seriously. In fact, all of the board at the time may not have seen the charges. According to Wheeler, some of the board members later told him his letter was never seen by the board.
In any case, Wheeler told me that he is stepping forward now because he hopes his former mentor will take the public outcry seriously and move toward change. “After going to Mark and others, I hope the weight of all of these things I am bringing forward will cause Mark to listen and change,” Wheeler said.
I emailed Mars Hill Church early Wednesday and asked for comment or other response to these claims with no response.
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.
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