Before 2007, no one had heard about this twisting of Reformed ecclesiology. It seems to have begun at David Fairchild’s and Drew Goodmanson’s Kaleo church in San Diego, and, like a grassfire, quickly spread to Acts 29, fueled by the convenient gas thrown upon the fire by Mark Driscoll, who used the teaching to consolidate power into the hands of a few handpicked “kings.”
I cannot describe the teaching in a nutshell better than my learned and wise friend Paul Petry, who, as everyone knows, ended up being the brunt of this perverted teaching when he opposed it and was duly expunged from Mars Hill Church in what has become the most documented ecclesiastical trial of the decade:
It is a mutation of a theological theory promulgated by John Frame in his analysis of Jesus being Prophet, Priest, King, and then applied to analysis of church ministries. If a ministry has a preponderance of one type of function, rather than a balance of all three – it is dysfunctional/imbalanced. That is an EXTREMELY condensed version. Frame’s theoretical analysis is really very intriguing. The problem is when megalomaniacal leaders get ahold of it and apply their own perverted version of the theory and make it a practical reality to strengthen their abusive hierarchical control and authority over the flock of God’s sheep entrusted to their care.
If the Reformed resurgence of the last decade is going to avoid imploding, it will need to fully understand why Mars Hill Church is smoldering in the aftermath of Mark Driscoll. Rather than throw him out and pretend like he never existed, groups like Acts 29 and The Gospel Coalition need to dig deep into what they have embraced and identify, extract, and destroy the little Driscoll DNA foxes that have been destroying the vineyard.
These men would be wise to seek outside help in this, as they have tended to be “the blind leading the blind.” There are young restless men all over the world embracing “Triperspectival Leadership” after attending an Acts 29 boot camp or downloading such from the lofty websites of these and other groups in the neo-reformed camp.
If they do not expunge this unbiblical and certainly unreformed view of leadership, we will see ten thousand abusive Mark Driscoll clones follow in his wake. Sadly, rather than bad ecclesiology getting the blame, the blows will land on those beloved and time-tested doctrines that define the great gospel and the abundant life that it promises.
One thought on ““Triperspectival Leadership” – the insidious spark that is burning down Mars Hill Church!”
I am what some call TR (truly reformed). I was reformed before the present movement. I love church history, and find the history of Protestantism in America very fascinating. For the last 20 years I have followed the increase of those that label themselves reformed and/ or Calvinistic and the ministries that have come with it. From the early days of CURE and The White Horse Inn to The
Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals and now The Gospel Coalition and so many more.
I am thankful for the large return to reformation theology, the clarity of the gospel and biblical teaching. But I have had concerns from the beginning about Mars Hill (Mark Driscoll) and Soverign Grace and ministries like The Gospel
Some of the reasons:
1. A flawed model of Church government. This is not just the case with Mars Hill and Sovereign Grace, but also some of these other churches that have popped up.
2. Changing definitions. Being a Calvinistic Baptist does not make one reformed. Historical Reformation theology encompasses much more. Also terms like antinomian, which some are too quick to use.
3. The way differences within the movement. Tullian Tchavidjian and The Gospel Coalition is a good example. In the early to mid 90’s it was not uncommon to have both Michael Horton and John Armstrong at the PCRT (Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology) or R.C. Sproul and Allister Beggs at the Ligonier conference. The tone was different. They agreed on a common goal and respected one another while disagreeing. They worked together while understanding the differences. Even when it didn’t work it was dealt with differently. An example is the ACE, WHI and Bible Study Hour.
I’m only scratching the surface here. Yes, we need to ask ourselves what we have learned. There are areas in which we are moving in the right direction and others where we need to turn the other way.
It has been awhile since I read.G. Hart’s book The Lost Soul of American Protestantism, but it helped me to understand the evolution of American Protestantism. Even for those who take issue with Hart’s assertions regarding pastors like Edwards and Whitfield will at least understand our history in the church a little better.
I really do enjoy this website. Very thought provoking.