On Sunday August 7, 2016 Mark Driscoll launched The Trinity Church in Scottsdale, Arizona. This post is about one of Mark Driscoll’s strongest supporters both in Seattle and in Scottsdale. Larry Osborne is a prominent pastor in the Evangelical Free Church of America, (EFCA) and as its known this blog writes about this particular denomination. My question is this…why is the EFCA silent on Larry Osborne’s strong support for Mark Driscoll? This post looks at a corrupt and crude pastor and points out the difficulties and issues that arise due to Osborne’s association with Mark Driscoll and how that taints the EFCA.
“We are making real progress in addressing the serious reconciliation and unhealthy culture issues that have been a part of Mars Hill Church for way too long.”
Larry Osborne and Michael Van Skaik from the BOAA in a statement in August 2014.
“The first thing to know about your penis is, that despite the way it may see, it is not your penis. Ultimately, God created you and it is his penis. You are simply borrowing it for a while.
While His penis is on loan you must admit that it is sort of just hanging out there very lonely as if it needed a home, sort of like a man wondering the streets looking for a house to live in. Knowing that His penis would need a home, God created a woman to be your wife and when you marry her and look down you will notice that your wife is shaped differently than you and makes a very nice home.”
Mark Driscoll explains how women are penis homes
The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. 2 Therefore an overseer[a] must be above reproach, the husband of one wife,[b] sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.
1 Timothy 3:1-7 ESV
My question to the readers…how many standards has Mark Driscoll violated and continue to violate?
Larry Osborne (from Facebook)
Deana Holmes protesting Mark Driscoll
Trinity Church Grand Opening Video
***NOTE this post has some difficult questions and I write about them to ask some hard questions about the EFCA and their silence on Larry Osborne. I write about some issues in Mark Driscoll’s life to ask difficult questions.***
***UPDATE/August 13, 2016 I emailed this post to the leadership of EFCA West and asked for a statement from EFCA West Director Steve Highfill, as well as Church Planter Dave Page. I also emailed EFCA President Kevin Kompelien and requested a statement as well. Non of the individuals would respond or engage to my question as to why is the EFCA being silent on Larry Osborne’s strong support for Mark Driscoll. So I guess that means the EFCA has no problems with the denomination being associated with someone who taught that women are a home for a man’s penis.***
The Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA) has several strong and dominant personalities in the organization who are well known in American evangelism. I would suggest the most well known individuals in the EFCA are D.A. Carson and Kevin Vanhoozer who both teach at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School which is the flagship seminary for the EFCA. Then you also have Charles Swindoll and Larry Osborne. I have written several articles about D.A. Carson and asked why he (along with Justin Taylor and Kevin DeYoung) went after and attacked someone who was raped at 13 all in the defense of C.J. Mahaney. As I analyze the situation since C.J. Mahaney gave money to Al Mohler and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wayne Grudem, and Mark Dever it begs the following question. Did D.A. Carson also receive a large amount of cash from C.J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace? I look back at a dark period in American history and explore how one should follow the money from C.J. Mahaney and see where it leads in this post, “When it Comes to C. J. Mahaney; What the Evangelical Christian Church can Learn from Deep Throat and Watergate.” In regards to Carson attacking someone in The Gospel Coalition statement it also led me to pen this post about the EFCA culture toward sexual assault victims. “From D.A Carson to Steve Estes the Following Question Must be Asked: Is the Evangelical Free Church of America a Safe Place for Sexual Assault Victims?”
Today’s post is about Larry Osborne who leads the largest Evangelical Free Church of America. Yesterday Mark Driscoll’s The Trinity Church in Scottsdale, Arizona launched amidst a protester (way to go Deana Holmes!) and controversy. In the near future I plan to do a review of all that has happened in regards to Mark Driscoll and The Trinity Church these past few months. I have written several articles here, here and here. Plus I want to feature Todd Wilhelm’s article and his experience at The Trinity Church. Todd’s article is called, “Mark Driscoll Set to Launch his Cult in Scottsdale, AZ.” Before I get into the issue of Larry Osborne’s long connection with Mark Driscoll let’s explore who Larry Osborne is.
Who is Larry Osborne?
Larry Osborne obtained his Master of Divinity Degree from Talbot Theological Seminary. He also earned his doctorate there as well. Larry has served as a Senior Pastor at North Coast Church since 1980. When Larry took over North Coast Church they met in a school and had 128 members. Over the next two decades he has grown North Coast Church into a multi site campus that has nearly 7,000 in attendance. North Coast is one of the most influential churches of the country and as of today it is the biggest Evangelical Free Church in the denomination. The current director of EFCA West Steve Highfill is a member of North Coast Church. Larry is known as a trainer of pastors in the United States. Larry has written several books to include “Sticky Church: Slamming the Back Door Shut,” “Sticky Teams: Getting and Keeping Your Leadership Team & Staff on the Same Page.” In addition he has also written “The Unity Factor: Developing a Healthy Leadership Team” ,”Ten Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe“, “Accidental Pharisee” , “Mission Creep“, and “Spiritually for the Rest of Us.” Those are but a sampling of what Larry Osborne has published.
Larry also serves as a adjunct professor at Trinity Evangelical Seminary. At North Coast Church he is the president of the North Coast Network Training Network. This church has also pioneered video ventures in 1998 which led to the multi site movement. At North Coast Church they offer over 20 different worship options each aimed at a different geographic audience or demographic. This church also built and created a small group program that centers on discussing the sermon that was given. This model spread in the mega church movement. Larry Osborne’s church emphasizes service projects as well. In regards to family Larry is married to his wife Nancy and they have three children. They currently reside in Oceanside, California.
A Mess in Seattle
Mars Hill in Seattle was a problematic church that took a dark turn in 2007 when Mark Driscoll had the by-laws re-written in a way that gave him much more power. The problems that happened in Mars Hill are multiple and could easily be a post of its own. Some of the few issues that came out of Mars Hill when Mark Driscoll was at the helm included the following:
- There was the story of how Mark Driscoll treated one of his closest friends Ron Wheeler which led Ron to pen the following post openly to Mark.
- In Mark Driscoll’s “Confessions of a Reformission Rev” he boasts of stealing sound equipment. Its on page 62 if you want to look it up.
- In Scotland Mark Driscoll taught that Jesus commends a woman to perform oral sex on a man. You can read part of that sermon transcript right here.
- There was Mark Driscoll’s sermon series on Esther in which he called her a slut. Here is a quote from that talk. “She grows up in a very lukewarm religious home as an orphan raised by her cousin. Beautiful, she allows men to tend to her needs and make her decisions. Her behavior is sinful and she spends around a year in the spa getting dolled up to lose her virginity with the pagan king like hundreds of other women. She performs so well that he chooses her as his favorite. Today, her story would be, a beautiful young woman living in a major city allows men to cater to her needs, undergoes lots of beauty treatment to look her best, and lands a really rich guy whom she meets on The Bachelor and wows with an amazing night in bed. She’s simply a person without any character until her own neck is on the line, and then we see her rise up to save the life of her people when she is converted to a real faith in God.”
- There is the situation in which Mars Hill cheated the New York Times Bestseller list to get Mark Driscoll’s “Real Marriage” ranked. Mars Hill paid $210,000 to RSI and gamed the system. Mars Hill not only allegedly committed fraud but did this with money that was given while money committed to the Global Fund remains unaccounted for. People don’t know where $2.3 million dollars that was donated with the intent of ending up in Ethiopia or India ended up.
- There was the rampant plagiarism that Mark Driscoll allegedly engaged in with multiple books. Warren Throckmorton has a break down of all the books that were plagiarized in this link right here.
- Then there was also the trial against Paul Petry and Bent Meyer. Jonna wrote her story on the blog “Joyful Exiles“. She called Paul standing up to Mark Driscoll in an effort to preserve Mars Hill “her husband’s finest hour.” Meanwhile she also wrote that Mark Driscoll had such an anger issue she firmly believed that if Mark Driscoll could have killed Paul Petry he would have. Here is how Jonna worded it in her story. “I had nightmares and imaginations of someone trying to physically harm Paul, me, and the children. If Mark had had ecclesiastical power to burn Paul at the stake I believe he would have.”
All of this is beyond disturbing to write and yet its but a sample to how Mark Driscoll viewed women which became the tipping for him being booted out of Acts 29.
Mark Driscoll and Women Being Designed for a Man’s Penis
While this issue exploded in late July early August of 2014 due to a post by Warren Throckmorton it is Wenatchee the Hatchet who did the hard leg work who documented and connected the dots. In Mark Driscoll’s “Confessions of a Reformission Rev” which was published in 2006 (the same book he boasts stealing sound equipment) Mark Driscoll talks about an internal bulletin board at Mars Hill called the Midrash. In 2000 Mark Driscoll posted under the name of William Wallace II. In over 100 pages Mark Driscoll wrote about how we live in a “pussified nation.” You can go through the hundred of pages of Mark Driscoll’s pornographic rants right here. Plus here is the background on how Mark Driscoll selected William Wallace II as his name, and the history of the situation as documented at Wenatchee the Hatchet’s blog post called, “The historical and social setting for Mark Driscoll’s development of William Wallace II as a pen name, a kind of postlude/preface to “Pussified Nation.” It was during this time that it came out that Mark Driscoll taught that a woman is a home for a man’s penis. Even Time magazine reported the story which you can read about right here. Mark Driscoll later issued a statement which was covered by Christianity Today. In that statement Mark said that he was young, foolish, and it was wrong to use that forum in the way that he did. In the grand scheme of things I saw Mark’s statement as being bullcrap. What was he sorry for? Being caught…is what he is sorry about. In the light of all the other events that happened this situation really reveals Mark’s lack of character or the ability to do the right thing. I mean really…how many people go around teaching that women are penis homes? This was the first time I heard of such a thing.
Enter Larry Osborne in Seattle
Larry Osborne has a long history with Mark Driscoll. In doing some research on these two figures it appears they got to know each other in the early 2000’s but especially around 2005, 2006. My guess is that the following happened. Mars Hill was growing and moving in the direction of multi site campuses. I am going to take a wager that Mark Driscoll needed to learn how to move Mars Hill in that direction. Meanwhile Larry Osborne is watching from a distance what at the time was the hottest Neo-Calvinist church on the scene. Larry Osborne wanted to get into the action, and he could teach Mark the multi site campus model. Both men had something to offer to each other. According to Wenatchee the Hatchet the relationship between Larry Osborne played an advisory role to Mark Driscoll in the 2005, 2006 period when Mars Hill re-wrote the by-laws and Mark Driscoll went after Paul Petry and Bent Meyer. Eventually Larry Osborne joined Mars Hill’s Board of Advisors and Accountability. He served on that board with Michael Van Skaik, James MacDonald, Mark Driscoll, Dave Bruskas, Paul Tripp and Sutton Turner. Larry Osborne also participated in the 2013 Resurgence Conference and you can read the interview Mark Driscoll did of Larry right here. Apparently Larry Osborne also served on the Board of Overseers along with Matt Rogers, Dave Bruskas, Jon Phelps, and Michael Van Skaik. The Board of Overseers found a persistent pattern of sin in Mark Driscoll when Mars Hill was in the process of imploding due to Driscoll’s behavior and corruption. In August of 2014 Paul Tripp and James MacDonald resigned from the Board of Advisors and Accountability. Then Acts 29 kicked out Mars Hill from the network. Two individuals went to bat for Mark Driscoll as people were distancing themselves from him. Those two people were Michael Van Skaik and Larry Osborne. They released a statement that addressed the sin issue and reconciliation with Mark Driscoll. In that statement saying that they were overseeing Mark Driscoll the following was stated. “We are making real progress in addressing the serious reconciliation and unhealthy culture issues that have been a part of Mars Hill Church for way too long.” In October of 2014 Mark Driscoll resigned and left Mars Hill. The church only lasted for another two months. It’s my understanding and please correct me if I am wrong, but Larry Osborne stayed with Mars Hill until the very end. This set in motion another dark chapter which is starting up in the Phoenix, Arizona area officially today.
The Trinity Church, Mark Driscoll and Larry Osborne
On February 1, 2016 it was announced that Mark Driscoll was going to launch The Trinity Church in the Phoenix area. Eventually he settled in Scottsdale and purchased a building in the city. This time Mark Driscoll is being backed by Robert Morris, whom I hope to do a profile on in the near future. Mark Driscoll fled Seattle with many relationships broken, and him not repenting of his sin. Despite all the problems that happened in Seattle who in The Trinity Church should be in the “Wise Counsel?” None other than Larry Osborne. Larry apparently is standing by and still supporting Mark Driscoll despite all the spiritual abuse and issues from Seattle that dog him and destined to grow again in time. I have quite a bit to say about Larry Osborne which will be in the next section. On Sunday August 7, 2016 The Trinity Church had its grand opening and its official launch.
Why is the Evangelical Free Church of America Silent on Larry Osborne’s Strong Support for Mark Driscoll?
I have a question for the Evangelical Free Church of America…why have they been silent on Larry Osborne’s strong support for Mark Driscoll? Why have they looked the other way and not stepped in and told Larry that he needs to distance himself from Mark Driscoll. Driscoll is bad news, very much a “STD” (Spiritual Transmitted Disease) that is causing profound harm. Here are some of the problems with Larry Osborne supporting Mark Driscoll.
- First and foremost he is enabling him and not helping him. Corruption spreads and this has the capacity to affect the image of the EFCA. To the best of my ability Larry has been silent on the plagiarism, the treatment of Paul Petry, Bent Meyer and the attempt to destroy Rob Smith’s Agathos. When it came out that Mark Driscoll had said that women are penis homes…where was Larry Osborne? Silence not only enables but it supports his corruption. To not speak out and challenge Driscoll in itself is hurting him and enabling evil. To those who were hurt in Seattle its ignoring their pain and trauma and dismissing it, which is outright wrong.
- The EFCA should take a lot of heat when one of their most prominent pastors stands by and supports someone who is unfit and unqualified for ministry. I also ask this question…to have Larry Osborne support Mark Driscoll and support his new church in Scottsdale, when he hasn’t repented or atoned for what happened in Seattle it leaves me with one question. Does Larry Osborne and the EFCA know basic Christian theology of owning an repenting sin? If Larry Osborne is the one who many EFCA pastors look up to then that means that the EFCA is a sick, sick, sick denomination.
- The EFCA is going to have blood on their hands when blogs like “Trinity Church Survivors” or “Trinity Church Refuge” start to pop up. When horrific and deeply disturbing stories start to emerge we should remember that it was one of the most prominent EFCA pastors who enabled and allowed for this to happen. Why? He gave Mark Driscoll credibility in order to help him launch this train wreck. I would suggest that other guilt should be associated with Steve Highfill as he is the EFCA West Director who oversees North Coast Church and Larry Osborne. I would also suggest that responsibility should rest at the feet of EFCA President Kevin Kompelien. This should be asked if Kevin Kompelien is going to be silent on the issue of Larry Osborne and Mark Driscoll.
- To support Mark Driscoll when others have backed away also shows that Larry Osborne struggles with discernment and critical thinking skills. Or it also reveals that Larry Osborne has been corrupted by money, power, fame and the celebrity pastor model which he helped create. It also makes me wonder…does Larry Osborne as well as the EFCA endorse all of Mark Driscoll’s behavior and theology? Does Larry Osborne, Steve Highfill and Kevin Kompelien also believe that women are penis homes? This is a hard question to ask but in light of those outrageous statements, how Driscoll fled and the fact that that down in the Phoenix area he makes no reference to Mars Hill Seattle is deeply troubling. For me this should be a no-brainer that a high profile pastor should distance himself from someone who doesn’t even meet the qualifications of Elder. There are going to be many people hurt in this go around, and the tragedy is that could all be prevented.
We live in a different age and in the past maybe people could be silent and stick their head in the sand. No more…those days are gone with the creation of the internet and the free flow of information. Larry can remain a friend to Mark Driscoll if he desires. But Larry can not be in a role where he is officially supporting his ministry. I would propose that the EFCA ask many hard questions about Larry Osborne as a result. For example in Seattle when Larry released that statement along with Michael Van Skaik about Driscoll being overseen, did Larry Osborne have the ability to practice discernment then? Did he know what he was dealing with? Or is Larry Osborne kind of like a moth attracted to the light of fame, stardom, and rock star pastors?
If the EFCA can not deal with this situation then I would further propose that this reveals how unhealthy the EFCA denomination can be. If the denomination can’t deal with a rogue church in Pennsylvania because buildings matter more that an alleged rape victim who was almost killed that is disturbing. And if the denomination can’t pull Larry Osborne aside and say, “Larry you need to distance yourself from Mark Driscoll…its bad theology and our denomination is taking a hit.” Well then this is another reason why you should leave the EFCA and find another church to call home.
Due to the serious nature of this issue of Larry Osborne and the looming stories of spiritual abuse that will come out of Phoenix I am doing the following with this post. I am emailing it along with a series of questions to Steve Highfill and Dave Page of EFCA West. Plus I am also reaching out to the EFCA President Kevin Kompelien in Minneapolis. Those questions that I want to ask are the following:
- Why is the EFCA silent on Larry Osborne’s strong support for Mark Driscoll?
- Does the EFCA agree with Mark Driscoll’s controversial stands and issues that dog him? For example I would propose that Mark Driscoll never atoned or owned his statement on women being penis homes. I focus on this because yes I know its crude, and coarse – but it is also Mark Driscoll. Does the EFCA believe that women are penis homes as well? If they do, well then this goes to show that the EFCA is not a safe place for sexual assault victims or women.
As I said this is a no-brainer as the this is an issue that needs to be addressed. One concern I have is that already there are ethical issues which limit Steve Highfill. Steve is a member of North Coast Church, which means that Larry Osborne is his pastor. Will Steve Highfill be able to get help in this situation? Or are we going to see that the EFCA doesn’t even comprehend basic ethics and conflicts of interest?
The Name of this Post
I can understand that the title of this post will be difficult for some people. Its not easy for me to write some of this material either. However, we are dealing with Mark Driscoll and honestly should we be surprised that this is the content of the material that we are dealing with? Mark Driscoll has long had a crude, crass and obscene way of doing things. I know people that have made mistakes in life but Mark seems to thrive on the controversy and being center stage. In this situation we are dealing with what Mark Driscoll has said. Its disturbing yet all together Mark Driscoll is a disturbing individual. The point of this post is to ask why is one of the most prominent figures in the Evangelical Free movement stand strongly beside Mark Driscoll? What is in it for Larry Osborne? Or in the end does it reveal Larry Osborne’s corruption and how being a celebrity pastor and living in a bubble has crippled his sense of discernment and critical thinking skills? These are difficult questions I know but someone needs to ask them for the health of the EFCA denomination.
In closing I am going to leave you with a Phil Collins song called “That’s Just the Way It Is.” The song as I understand it deals with the madness and violence that was Northern Ireland at the time. I would like to take that theme and address it to another issue. Pastors who shouldn’t be preaching, and the problems they create and the issues that compound the situation. Situations that I believe could be stopped if churches and denominations actually intervened, withheld funding, and ask the difficult questions. That’s it guys know that I love you! If you are from The Trinity Church and need help this blog will gladly air your story.