Newspring, Perry Noble, Mars Hill, Mark Driscoll, etc

Random thread here, not looking for much in the way of a discussion, but just curious: do these stories matter outside of religious and geographic circles?

Mark Driscoll was (I think) the larger profile story, the pastor of the Seattle mega-chruch Mars Hill who has had a controversial status for a while, and was forced to resign over using church funds for fueling his book sales, or something. I haven’t followed this or many of his other controversies closely, but it’s at least on my radar.

Perry Noble is the pastor of Newspring church, a mega-church based out of Anderson South Carolina who also has a controversial reputation over some minor stuff, but is now getting a lot more heat over a Christmas Eve service where he gave a sermon re-framing the Ten Commandments as the ten promises. Friday the South Carolina Baptist Convention—the denomination they were affiliated with, albeit loosely from what I understand—officially broke affiliation unless Newspring and Noble come back in line with their teaching and some other issues on worship services. This one I’m much more aware of, the main Newspring campus is about 30 minutes away from me, and I visited Newspring half a dozen times at various points in college a decade ago. Lots of my coworkers and friends now go or have been there. So that little controversy has been all over my Facebook feed, from both sides of the issue.

The controversies themselves probably aren’t that interesting if you’re not part of the church or the denomination, but since I live right in the middle of the Bible belt (I’m also five minutes from Bob Jones University), I was just curious if these issues make the secular news at all, whether in real life or on social media or whatever.

So apologies for painting Qt3 with a broad brush as a lovable bunch of secular liberal folks, but compared to my corner of the internet and world, you are, and I just wanted to know if you guys ever even hear about this stuff.

I’ve never heard of these people or their churches.

I knew about the Mark Driscoll thing, but that’s news that I got propagated through religious connections rather than general news. Some, perhaps, peeked into general news, but I noticed them because of my prior awareness of Mark.

Yeah, I wouldn’t expect the Newspring stuff to hit the news anywhere other than the South, if at all, because you know, bible belt. Also, a teaching/theology dispute is a much less flashy controversy at this point to anyone not in the church.

Mars Hill/Driscoll I thought might have been a bigger deal just because it’s a conservative mega-church in Seattle. I wondered if it was enough of an oddity to begin with that it would have some increased secular visibility when the wheels fell off.

I had a business contact with a Mars Hill email address! Once.

What’s interesting to me about this stuff isn’t the controversy and/or hypocrisy of the people involved, which is standard Peyton Place affair, but that mainstream media and “Christian culture” really are two separate worlds today.

The Mars-Hill one hit the news around the Seattle area, I briefly recall hearing something about it. He’s always seemed kinda sleazy and like a dinosaur when it comes to views towards women.

The rest I have no idea, and some of the southern stuff seems almost like complaining about the color of hats*, at least to the outsider like me. Ten promises, ten commandments? Not sure what the difference is.

*I have no idea if anyone will get that reference.

I think you’re right, but I don’t have much historical perspective on it either. There’s nothing salacious to either of these stories, no affairs, no sex scandals, certainly nothing as awful as some of the Catholic church’s problems. And for those who are involved in the Newspring issue, half the argument over Noble’s preaching is whether what he said was that big a deal or not anyway. From one extreme it’s a heretical break from orthodoxy, from the other, it’s “hey, we still believe the same thing, we just said it differently!” I don’t know if that would’ve been any more likely to make the news 30 years ago.

Noble did allegedly slip up and use the word “nigger” in an anecdote recently too. I wasn’t there and don’t know if it was accurate, he was relating a story during a sermon about talking to a friend and allegedly started to say to the friend “my nigger!” in that cringe-worthy white boy way, not in an overtly hateful or racist way, but it’s disputed whether he actually said it or if he was about to say it but caught himself, or was going to say something else entirely. That seems more likely to make news, but I also wasn’t sure if I should even bring that up since I honestly don’t know what happened in that situation (whereas the Ten Commandments sermon he stands by).

Whenever someone is about to do this, they need to just stop. The absolute BEST they can end up with is a ridiculously awkward situation.

It’s like last year (or the year before? I forget now…) when there were like 6 separate republicans who made RIDICULOUSLY BAD comments about rape and stuff. Like, so bad you thought they were trying to be ironic, except you totally knew they weren’t. And it got to the point where it was like, “Look guys… if you are about to make some statement, and the topic is rape or something, you should just sit that one out. Absolutely nothing you say is going to be good. It’s all gonna be really, really, really bad.”


I heard about Driscoll, but only in passing a couple of times back when that news broke and it’s been radio silence ever since. Perry Noble’s name never made it above background noise for me. As for whether they “matter” on a national sense (of course they matter to anyone involved), I suspect only if there are national political connections that are direct enough to be attached to the scandals. I have yet to really hear of any.

Not a peep in Europe of course, but we only tend to get the secretly-gay-meth-addict pastor stories over here.

Hah, yeah, I definitely wouldn’t imagine this reaching Europe. I know we’ve got some posters here from NC, I could imagine them hearing about Newspring, and I could imagine our Northwest posters knowing about Mars Hill. Beyond that I’d be surprised, but hey, never know, so that’s why I asked. Something like Driscoll’s book deal “scandal” seems like it could have been picked up on daytime cable news if it was a slow day, for example.

I’ve been following the Mars Hill story with interest, in the way you would watch a 10 mph train wreck happen gradually over the course of a few years. Driscoll has gotten pretty heavy coverage in The Stranger which, if you’re familiar with the Seattle free weekly, probably gives you an idea of their angle. But I always mainly found it interesting that such a deeply conservative movement had so much success here, I mean this guy preached old school submissive wife and alpha male stuff that I wouldn’t think should fly out here. I saw all this stuff in the Deep South growing up but hey, who knows.

Here in Colorado, and a follower of religious news of mostly a Catholic flavor, I haven’t heard of either of these.