Is Mark Driscoll a victim of vindictive leaders? Or is he an unrepentant narcissist and liar, who refuses to take responsibility?
In part two of this podcast with former Mars Hill Executive Elder Sutton Turner, we discuss the narrative Mark Driscoll has been crafting for eight years. This is one in which Driscoll claims he’s a victim—that leaders at Mars Hill had set a trap, and Mark left before they could destroy him.
In this podcast, you’ll hear Robert Morris, pastor of Gateway Church in Texas, help shape Driscoll’s narrative early on. Just six days after Driscoll abruptly resigned, Morris platformed Driscoll at a Gateway conference. And he likened those criticizing Driscoll to Christians who shoot their wounded.
You’ll also hear disgraced Hillsong founder Brian Houston do something similar. In an interview played at Hillsong’s 2015 global conference, Houston sympathetically responds as Driscoll tearfully claims to be the target of a trap by Mars Hill elders.
But Sutton Turner—an eyewitness to what happened at Mars Hill—tells the other side of the story. Turner gives facts and testimony that call into question everything Driscoll is purporting. Similarly, former Mars Hill Elder Miles Rohde gives reasons he believes Driscoll’s latest narrative is fiction.
But perhaps most gripping is hearing Miles and Sutton, who clearly loved Driscoll and Mars Hill, express their heartache over what’s happened and their warning should Driscoll continue on his path.
Sutton Turner was Executive Pastor, Executive Elder and Board Member of Mars Hill Church from 2011 to 2014. He, Mark Driscoll and Dave Bruskas served together leading the church. Sutton has over 30 years of experience leading companies as CEO across US, Qatar and Abu Dhabi, as well as two stints in full-time ministry with Mars Hill and Celebration Church.
Sutton is married to Marci Turner of 25+ years and has three kids. They live in College Station, Texas and he is currently CEO of Life Bridge Management, a real estate company with over 50 employees.
Miles Rohde was one of eight elders who investigated formal charges against Mars Hill founding pastor Mark Driscoll in 2014. He participated in the Lead Pastor Residency Program at Mars Hill and was planning on planting Mars Hill Spokane when Driscoll abruptly resigned. Instead, he planted Redemption Spokane, where he’s still pastoring today.
Miles and his wife, Pam, have been married for 25 years and have two children.
MARK DRISCOLL, JULIE ROYS, SUTTON TURNER, MILES ROHDE, ROBERT MORRIS, BRIAN HOUSTON
JULIE ROYS 00:01
Is Mark Driscoll a victim of vindictive leaders who simply wanted to take over Mars Hill Church? Or is he an unrepentant narcissist and bully who refuses to take responsibility? Welcome to The Roys Report, a podcast dedicated to reporting the truth and restoring the church. I’m Julie Roys. And in part two of my interview with former Mars Hill executive elder Sutton Turner, we discussed the narrative Mark Driscoll has been crafting for eight years. Ever since abruptly resigning from Mars Hill in 2014, Driscoll has claimed he’s the victim, the leaders at Mars Hill set a trap and Mark left before they could destroy him. In this podcast, you’ll hear Robert Morris, pastor of Gateway Church in Texas introduce Driscoll at a conference just six days after Driscoll resigned. And despite the fact that Driscoll refused to submit to a restoration plan by the Mars Hill elders, Morris says nothing about Driscoll’s sin. Instead, he urges everyone to welcome Driscoll and Morris likens criticizing Driscoll to the church shooting its wounded. You’ll also hear a similar narrative in 2015, in an interview between Driscoll and Hillsong founder Brian Houston. But you’ll also hear the other side of the story, as both Sutton Turner and former Mars Hill elder, Miles Rohde give their perspective. And you’ll hear their heartbreak over a brother who they say has refused to repent from his sin. This is such an important podcast with lessons for both leaders and congregants.
But before we begin, I want to thank the sponsors of this podcast, The Restore Conference and Marquardt of Barrington. I’m so excited to announce the next Restore Conference, June 9 and 10th, at Judson University in Elgin, Illinois. Joining us for this amazing two-day event to restore faith in God and the church will be many leading abuse survivor advocates. These include Wade Mullen, Scot McKnight, Mary Demuth, and Kyle James Howard. I’ll be there as well. But by far what makes this gathering so special is you the survivors, allies, activists, and church leaders who truly desire to see healing and reform in the church. For more information just go to JULIEROYS.COM/RESTORE. Also, if you’re looking for a quality new or used car I highly recommend my friends at Marquardt of Barrington. Marquardt is a Buick GMC dealership where you can expect honesty, integrity, and transparency. That’s because the owners there, Dan and Kurt Marquardt, are men of integrity. To check them out, just go to BUYACAR123.COM.
Again, joining me on part two of this podcast about what really happened at Mars Hill, is Sutton Turner. Sutton served on staff at Mars Hill Church from 2011 to 2014. First as a general manager and then as an executive pastor, executive elder and board member. You’ll also hear excerpts today of my interview with Miles Rohde, a former elder at Mars Hill who now pastors Redemption Spokane. But we begin with a clip of Robert Morris introducing Mark Driscoll at the Gateway Conference on October 20, 2014. This is just six days after Driscoll abruptly resigned from Mars Hill, refusing to submit to a restoration plan by his elders and abandoning his congregation.
ROBERT MORRIS 03:15
I want to introduce you to a friend, a good friend of mine. And I’ve been speaking with him for several months now. He’s going through a difficulty. And most of you probably read about. I know the behind-the-scenes story. He was supposed to speak at our conference. It was publicized that we canceled him. It’s not true. We did not cancel. When speaking to Mark Driscoll. We did not cancel him. He and I decided together that he was going to step out of ministry for a season and get some healing. He asked me, could I come to the conference and just attend? And I thought that was very big of him to just come and be ministered to. Again, I want to say a couple of things. First of all, I want you to know that everything you read on the internet is not true. And there are some pastors, myself included and some others that you would know that were speaking into his life, and he’s listening. And most of what you read is not true. Some of it is he did make some mistakes. But here’s what I figure. We’ve got two choices. One is we could crucify him. But since someone’s already been crucified for him, the other choice is we could restore him with a spirit of gentleness considering ourselves less we are also tempted. It’s very sad that in the church, we’re the only army that shoots at our wounded. And I want you to stop it. I really do. Thank you. I’d like for you to show your love for him. I’d like for you to just welcome him. Mark, would you stand up? This is Mark Driscoll
JULIE ROYS 05:23
Unbelievable actually, we can’t listen to all that applause because it goes on and on, like, the love for Mark Driscoll. And I’m gonna play the clip of what he said when he got up there. But I just wanted to play that introduction by Robert Morris, because I think it’s spiritually abusive. I think it crafts a lie. And I think Robert Morris knew that, because like he said he was privy. So, you were privy to everything. What do you hear? And how do you respond to what you just heard?
SUTTON TURNER 05:55
So, when you hear Robert Morris that they want to restore him, like There’s pastors at Mars Hill Church that wanted to restore Mark Driscoll. But restoration is the third or fourth stage in the process. We have to have repentance and reconciliation before that before you rebuild somebody back and basically rebuild trust in restoration. And so, I just, I think it’s so well, I mean, it’s typical of an ARC church, to say that, in my opinion, and having served at an ARC church in the past, and I would also say that what Robert says to the men that investigated Mark and found him unfit for ministry, it’s a big push back to those men. It’s in your face, like someone with great character like Miles Rohde, that you didn’t do the work. You didn’t meet with the people that sinned, you can’t read your Bible, and you don’t know what First Timothy says. It just undermines what little accountability we were trying to put in place at Mars Hill. Now granted, that’s the last place that you would say that there was accountability. But there was an attempt at accountability at Mars Hill. And it we failed, right? Because I would say, we failed because the person wasn’t restored. It wasn’t redemptive. It didn’t bring glory to God in that process. Because I’ll tell you like Mark Driscoll repenting and reconciling with all those people and then being restored to ministry, would have been amazing, it would have been awesome. And I think that in the heart of every elder, that that’s what they wanted to see. That’s why they were going through and listening to all these painful conversations that they had to have with people that had been sinned against. So, when I hear Robert Moore say restored, I’m just like, death.
JULIE ROYS 07:58
Well, is this classic DARVO, right? Deny attack and reverse victim and offender. So, he’s basically saying those elders who I think served with integrity in what they did. They’re shooting their own wounded. They’re the bad guys. Driscoll, who has just abandoned his church is the victim, and let’s all create sympathy using scripture, which is the most perverse thing. Scripture to create sympathy for the man who really was at the center of all of this pain and caused so much of it, and yet, he’s manipulating them to feel sympathy for really the perpetrator. And it showed a path to Mark. Six days after he resigned. Yeah, it showed a path to Mark on how he can return to ministry by being a victim, and by shooting the guys that investigated him. He does it on the Daystar. He does it with Brian Houston. He repeatedly he did it at his own church. I mean, he just repeats the same, I’m the victim. I’m the victim. I’m the victim. Those elders were out to get me it was a trap. It was a trap. And by the way, you can’t question that because God told me it was a trap. Oh, and yeah, I that I was in ministry, and I would have people tell me, God told me, and I was like, no, no, no, don’t use that. Because you can’t even discuss it, you know? Like, okay. But let me play what Mark said. And when he actually got up on stage, there at Robert Morris’ church.
MARK DRISCOLL 09:33
Yeah, for me, I’m in a season of just healing up praying, asking the Lord Jesus through wise counsel to show me any blind spots where I can grow. And as pastor appreciation month I just want to say that Jesus, Jesus really appreciates you and appreciate your family. And if you think of anything, just pray for my family. I think there’s a lot I could say that might make me feel better. I don’t know if it would make me look better, but I don’t think it would make Jesus look better. So, I won’t say anything other than, just pray for my family. We’ve had a very trying season and just trying to figure out how to be a good pastor to my family first,. We all know that’s the most important thing. And would you mind if I shared a story or two? Is it okay? Like, I’ve cried a lot lately, that a rough season for the family, I guess you could take a seat. And for those of you I would just say, don’t overlook your family as first ministry. And for me would just really appreciate your prayer for our family. We’ve got five kids, three boys, two girls, ages eight to 17. And we’ve moved three times for safety issues. People arrested at our home, death threats, address posted online, all kinds of things. And more recently, it’s gotten very severe. We came home from break there was rusty nails all over the driveway. We had a night where the kids want to sleep out in the tents. And I got a call that my address was posted online by the media. And so, we went out of town for a few days came back. The kids said, no, we got to sleep in the tent. So, I didn’t sleep. But we were in the tents all night. And I woke up in the morning at about 6;30 or so and huge rocks about the size of baseballs come flying it my kids, 8, 10 and 12 years of age. Call the police flee into the house for their safety. A few days later, I think it was, I don’t even remember, the media flies overhead with a helicopter and it’s trying to flush this out for a story and, and that night, we’re hiding in the house. My eight-year-old son comes down and he’s wearing a military jacket. He’s loading up his airsoft rifle. And he looks at me, and he says, hey, Dad is this is this jacket bulletproof? I just start crying. I said, why is that little buddy? He said, well, it’s bad guys in the helicopter come to shoot the family, right? He didn’t have any concept of media coverage. He thought it was bad guys coming to kill his family. And he was going to defend his sister. And so, praise God, he’s finally sleeping in his bed again. But it’s been a while to get him to do that with night terrors. And so, there’s just a lot going on for our family. I appreciate Pastor Robert and the team here. I just want to come here to sing, to pray, to learn, to grow, to repent, to heal, and God is surrounding me with some great pastors and friends. And if I could just say anything, it’s every pastor needs a pastor. And, and you pastors, your family needs you to be their pastor. So, thank you.
JULIE ROYS 12:34
Again, kind of hard to hear that. I can’t imagine at the time with these wounds so raw for everybody at Mars Hill, hearing Mark say those things, which of course, he’s talking about things happening to his children, you know? I mean, wow! I mean, as a mother, when I hear something like that, if I didn’t know a little bit more, I would probably be I mean, it does. It elicits a lot of empathy for the children for the family. Is it true what he’s talking about?
SUTTON TURNER 13:07
Okay, so I live down the street from Mark. He lived on, let’s just call it an acre and a half, probably. incredibly tall pine trees. I mean, we’re talking in diameter and 40 feet tall, and incredibly thick. It was like a forest behind his house. The place where he told me because I asked him I was like, Okay, so where did this specifically happen? Oh, they parked right here. Okay, so we’re talking 100 feet from where the tent is. And unless these rocks are able to go sideways around because you can’t throw it over. Because we’re talking 40-50 feet trees. So, it was just those are the types of stories that to say that they’re unbelievable, when you hear it, you’re like, oh, super empathy. But then like me, I’m like, wait a minute. So how did this happen? Where did they park the car? So, they threw it, and it went through all these trees and to hit like, it’s just astounding, if you don’t know where he lived. Also, there was a hospital with a heliport within two blocks of his house. There were helicopters flying over all the time because it was the first flight responders in Edmonds. So, like so some of the details that he leaves out to elicit empathy and to tell his side of the story work, but if you don’t know all the details, then you’re like, oh, I’m feel so sorry for him. I can’t believe this is happening. I can’t believe that these elders did that to him.
JULIE ROYS 14:52
Classic kind of move to create empathy for yourself and to bolster yourself and that narrative of being harassed and abused. He was on a podcast with Carey Nieuwhof in 2020, wasn’t it? And one of Carey’s top podcasts of the year. And I remember when that happened, you sent me a text. You’re like, oh, my word listen to this. And I’ve reached out to Carey. He took it down.
SUTTON TURNER 15:20
He took it down.
JULIE ROYS 15:21
Finally, but it wasn’t after my reporting, which I reported soon after that.
SUTTON TURNER 15:27
I called the day that it was released because I was so shocked. And he said, well, I had no idea of the background of it. And I said, Okay, so are you gonna let me come on and tell my story? But the only difference is, you won’t get as many hits with me being on the podcast, as you did with Driscoll. And that’s the key. People do it to build their own platform. They’re using Mark. And Mark is glad to do that because it helps him build his story. But I said, like, and I sent him all the information, not all the information I produced, but I gave him a synopsis. Well, I had no idea that he was under church discipline and formal charges. And that’s the thing that continues to happen and will continue to happen.
JULIE ROYS 16:09
Let me push back on that. Carey is a church leader. This stuff was public by then, all of us knew. I mean, there’s no excuse for that. And after I published the articles on what was happening at Trinity Church, and the things that he was doing, 24/7 surveillance of ousted congregants, you know, who are out of favor with him, this loyalty scale from one to zero or whatever, how loyal you are to Mark determines your access to him. I mean, this is cult like stuff that’s going on. He has no elders, no accountability. Then he supposedly put elders in. I mean, it’s a joke. And by the way, Robert Morris helped him relaunch and stayed on that board at his new church for the longest time. And Larry Osborne continued having him come to Sticky conferences for years and years and years when all of this was out. It took, and again, it wasn’t information that wasn’t known. I will say the rise and fall of Mars Hill, took the information that was readily available. Of course, there was a lot more detail and really, really well done. I think Mike Cosper and CT did a fantastic job. But I’m just saying, if you didn’t know by that time that Mark Driscoll had serious, serious character issues and problems and hadn’t made things right with the people he hurt, then you weren’t paying attention. And so, what it took, though, and this is what I found over and over and over, is it takes public exposure. It’s public pressure. But not for a second do I buy that these people who continued platforming Mark Driscoll didn’t know.
SUTTON TURNER 17:44
You’re probably right. I’m from the standpoint of giving people the benefit of the doubt, assuming that Carey didn’t know the details, and see what I think is Carey listens to something like Robert Morris, okay. And he doesn’t read anything that Warren has done. Throckmorton, or you’ve done, he just takes the story that Mark is creating. And he’s a victim, and we need to empathize with him. And he’s working on things, and his family has been abused. And they believe that line and they don’t hear the other side of it, which is all the people that are lined up to sit down with Mark Driscoll and talk to him and have a repentance and reconciliation meeting. And by the way, that line is massive, massive. Me being with you today, I bet you I get 10 people that reach out to me over the next week, whether it be on social media, or whether it will be on my website, and they’ll reach out and say, hey, I heard you with Julie Roys. There’s something that you did in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, that I have not been able to get over and we need to talk, and I’ll need to set up a zoom, we’ll talk, and we’ll work on some type of reconciliation. But Mark’s never done any of that. Because you know why? Because it’s really hard. I mean it’s really hard work. And it’s emotional and its draining, and you have to empathize with the person that you sinned against, and you have to really understand how you hurt someone from their side of the coin. And that’s the work that Mark doesn’t still does not want to do because he doesn’t see that’s it.
JULIE ROYS 19:30
Well, I appreciate your heart. I appreciate giving benefit of the doubt. I guess my where my skepticism comes in as I reached out to Larry when he was platforming Mark, I got no response. Carey Nieuwhof when you reached out to him, did he change or was it from what I saw, it wasn’t immediately he left that up for it wasn’t
SUTTON TURNER 19:51
It wasn’t immediate it was oh, I’m sorry. I did not know.
JULIE ROYS 19:55
Yeah, but he didn’t take it down again till the public pressure. So that’s where here’s the thing that I’ve heard repeatedly from victims over and over and over again. They said, Julie, it’s not it’s not what James McDonald did. It’s not that there’s a James McDonald it’s not that there’s a Mark Driscoll it’s not that there’s a John MacArthur, there’s not that there’s a Ravi Zacharias. It’s not that, you know, all of these people, it’s not that there’s, there’s people in these positions who do horrible things. That’s not the point. What has hurt me so much, has been the body of believers, that when I have said something, have not listened to me, and have not fought for justice. And what I have found is that so many of them are cowardly in their responses. And that’s why you know, maybe beating an old drum here, but I’m gonna keep beating it. Because until the Christian community stands up and get some courage, and some integrity in the way that they hold each other accountable, this is not going to change.
SUTTON TURNER 20:53
I was one of those people that they need to stand up against. So, I’m not going to sit here and be holier than thou. I sinned a lot against a lot of people that I need to and have reconciled with and will continue to the day I die. Because some people it takes a long time to get over and be able to process that hurt. And that tragedy that happened in their lives. And so, it could be it could be 20 years from now, and still have someone that says, yeah, 28 years ago, this happened. And you’ve got to be willing to meet with them when they’re ready, not when you’re ready.
JULIE ROYS 21:31
Well, I appreciate that. And again, let me just say on the record, it’s not that I don’t believe in restoration, I do. Not necessarily restoration to leadership, some of these guys are permanently disqualified. But restoration to the church, restoration relationships, healing, there’s grace for everybody. None of us have committed the unforgivable sin. But as you said, there needs to be repentance. And while we’re on this, and you’ve mentioned it, and I think it especially now needs to be brought up again, because Brian Houston, who is the founder of Hillsong, who himself has now stepped down, but who is also signaling that he’s relaunching in ministry. He had Driscoll on. And I think it’s worth revisiting that discussion. So, I have a short clip from their interview. And again, this was so this was about a year later, this was in 2015, when Brian Houston had Mark Driscoll come on, and he prerecorded an interview. And then this was played at the big Hillsong conference that they did in Sydney, Australia in 2015.
BRIAN HOUSTON 22:44
So, in your resignation letter, you detailed a fair bit about mistakes you had made, and offenses that you had caused. And did you feel like that was received by people?
MARK DRISCOLL 22:57
I never got to say goodbye to the church and the people. And so, what went public was, uh, it was actually the resignation letter that went to the legal governing board that was in authority over me. And so, I know, under the circumstances that there wasn’t a way to do that that would have been clean or easy. I don’t have any criticism of the board. I think for the people that meant there wasn’t closure. And I didn’t, we didn’t get to say anything. And so, and we didn’t expect to resign, I met with the board. There was a whole list of things that were charged by current and former leaders and there was an internal governance struggle and threats of legal action. And it got very complicated. And a lot of it was anonymous through the internet, so you don’t know who is saying or doing what. And so, I invited the board to do a full examination, interview anybody anything. And we would submit to whatever verdict that they determined. That went I think about eight weeks, we met Friday and Saturday, October 10, and 11th. I remember because the 11th was my birthday. And so, Grace and I were present with the board, and they said, we see in your history of leadership, less in more recent years, but particularly in the past, pride, anger, and domineering leadership style. That would be the three exact words they used. We don’t see anything disqualifying. These are areas we want you to grow. We want you to return to leadership of the church soon. They wanted to do some cleanup internally. We want you back on January 4 in the pulpit, give you time to heal, things to cool down and for some changes to be made.
We agreed to that. I sent in a go forward plan. And then we went home to have birthday cake with the kids. I think it was on Monday night I was in the bedroom Grace was in the living room. And so, we told the board and told the kids, come back and resume preaching and try and love and serve and fix what was a struggling church. and God had provided a way for us to do that as volunteers. And so, our plan was to come back as volunteers. And then on that Monday night, I was in the bedroom, Grace was in the living room. And He spoke to me, and He spoke to her in a supernatural way that neither of us anticipated or expected. And so, Grace walked in. And she said, I feel like the Lord just spoke to me and said, what we’re supposed to do. And I was like, I feel like the Lord just spoke to me and said, that we’re supposed to, it’s not what we wanted. It’s not what we’d agree to, and it’s not what we have planned for. And so, I asked her, well, what to the Lord, say to you?, because I didn’t want to influence her. And she said, (We’re released from Mars Hill.) So, she said, well, what did he say to you? And I said, the Lord revealed to me that, you know, a trap has been set. There’s no way for us to return to leadership. And I didn’t know what that meant, or what was going on at the time. And I said, he said, we’re released, and we need to resign. So, you know, this is not what we anticipated. And a lot of people thought, you know, maybe he’s got another plan. We didn’t, we didn’t know what we were doing. And Grace fell to the floor, and she was just sobbing uncontrollably. And I’d never seen my wife like that she was devastated.
JULIE ROYS 26:48
Your response to that?
SUTTON TURNER 26:49
So, it’s similar to other people that have platformed Mark. They refer to the 25 formal charges as mistakes, you know. So, Brian is minimizing Mark’s own activity in the reason why there were 25 formal charges brought against him that found him disqualified. I also find it remarkable when I listened to this, that Mark couldn’t remember the three things that he was charged with. He totally botches it, and can’t even recall, you know that it was quick tempered, arrogant, and domineering in leadership. He got domineering, and leadership. And so that, and then if you if you notice, Mark puts this quote in here, “and there was an internal governance struggle and threats of legal action.” The threats from legal action, were only from Mark, telling people not to say anything. I got that, and a lot of other people got that, that were on the investigating. And this is post Mars Hill. This is 2015, that that happened.
In this internal governance structure? No, there’s no internal governance structure. There was not. It was just Mark; you’re not going to be in leadership. And you’re going to go through a time of restoration. The idea that he was going to go back, Mark wanted to come back. Actually, during the investigation, Mark thought that he was going to preach literally three weeks after the meeting that they had that weekend of the 10th and the 11th. So, he thought that he was coming right back. That’s one of the reasons why he was so surprised. That’s one of the reasons why I’ve documented in the notes on how he was just aggressive to the board at that point in time. But this whole idea that there was an internal governance structure. No, that was not the case. The problem was, they started to realize we no longer can just do exactly what Driscoll wants to do, based upon the information that they had gone through with all of those interviews. And so those are the things that I hear. And it’s kind of a progression, you can put this on a timeline and see Mark’s story evolve. And obviously now he’s added adultery to this because remember, like when he met with Robert Morris, six days later, there wasn’t a trap, but it just grows over time. And I’ll tell you, like, people have asked me to work for Driscoll and what you saw, and Mark has an amazing ability to tell himself something over and over again, that he will then believe is true. Like I’ve seen it happen so many times that he will repeat. Like I am sure that in his mind. You put him on a lie detector test today on the kids getting thrown rocks to their tent, and he will test out I guarantee you he’ll flatline that and pass that polygraph test because he said it so many times, it’s now true. And I saw that so many times over the course, like he would tell himself well, I didn’t know the information on Result Source. And I was like, then like, no, no, no, I can show you the emails that Jamie was sending you about the information. You had a meeting with Mike Anderson. Like, you knew exactly what you were doing. But he’s told himself so many times that he’s able to say, well, I never knew anything. And he thinks, again, just like in the clip that you played from this past weekend, that he can stand in front of Jesus and be blameless on these things.
JULIE ROYS 30:38
I did ask Miles about the most recent like you said this, this story has grown. This is the first time ever, that Mark Driscoll has claimed that the leaders at Mars Hill were planning on accusing him of adultery. There were some plots from what I understand you had received a text that, that if you didn’t resign, some things were going to happen. Is that is that accurate?
SUTTON TURNER 31:01
Who knows where those texts were coming from? They could have been from any country in the world, right? Yes, they’re, they’re scary when you get those texts. And you have to weigh, you have to count the cost at this point in time. So, at the time, there were so many people trying to get Mark to resign, trying to get me to resign, but it was outside pressure. And so, the key here is to not put all of these things because Mark does this. In his statement to Brian Houston, he’s putting together the things that were happening on blogs, on top of these honorable men that were doing the investigation. And that’s not fair. That’s not fair. Like those guys didn’t write those blogs. Those guys didn’t do any of those things. Those guys were investigating 25 formal charges of being disqualified from ministry. That’s what they were doing. And so, to say, I mean, you and I both we can get on Twitter, and we can just scroll through it, we can find hundreds of lies that are out there. And at this point in time, there was a lot of those lies that were out there about me, about Mark, about the church about lots of things, but that’s cluttering the discussion. What he is saying with his adultery claim is, is those investigating elders, many of those that he met with in the summer of 2015, after he had resigned, that then told him that there was a nuclear option that they had discussed using Mark’s words, that was going to blame him for adultery, on Grace, and was going to get him out of the pulpit. And that’s just crazy. So, to me, adding the social media and critics and then adding these honorable elders in, I don’t think it’s fair.
JULIE ROYS 33:01
Yeah. And let me just, I feel a need to speak to the honorable bloggers because I mean, it’s just such an easy target to talk about the media or the bloggers or social media and how awful they were. I will say this Warren Throckmorton had he not blogged what he did, and he sourced it well. Janet Mefferd, if she hadn’t spoken up about the plagiarism. I mean, there’s a number of people. And this was kind of the beginning of holding church leaders accountable, bypassing the gatekeepers. Like this didn’t come through CT initially. This didn’t come through World Magazine, even whose done some great investigations. It came through bloggers; it came through people on social media holding accountable and had that not happened. I’m not sure any of this would have come to light.
SUTTON TURNER 33:50
As you know, Warren and I have talked many times; told my story to Warren many times. He and I have totally reconciled. I have apologized to him because I attacked him during those days in a vicious, horrible way. And it was sinful, and I needed to own that sin towards Warren. But he did a very honorable job. I mean, literally, if it wasn’t for him on the Medford thing, that because to him, the plagiarism is a huge issue to him. He’s got a real moral compass on plagiarism. And that’s why he followed up on that. He was like, wait a minute, this isn’t right. And if he hadn’t really there’s a lot of chain of events that might not have happened if he hadn’t started with that initial one.
JULIE ROYS 34:38
And he’s an academic, so it makes sense that he would. I want to play what, what Miles told me his response when he heard these allegations on the 23rd again, that there was a plot and his response and what he thought
MILES ROHDE 34:56
I was stunned because it completely just floored me, that he would be so bold to say that when that was absolutely not true. In the meetings, that scenario he had, I know with many people, when probably a lot of those were very difficult to have. But when it came to those who are investigating, I know of a few of us who had meetings at Panera that were primarily, again, this was after he resigned, their concern for him. How was he doing? How’s the family doing? So, he did ask about traps, but we I remember saying there was no such thing, no such thing. And so, the allegation that the nuclear option was going to be accusing him of adultery, it’s shocking, absolutely shocking, that he would say something like that.
JULIE ROYS 35:50
So, Miles was shocked just like you were shocked. And he also expressed some concern for Mark Driscoll’s soul in citing some of the stuff that you did about what he said about standing before Jesus. And I asked Miles, if there’s one thing that you could say to Mark Driscoll right now, what would it be? Take a listen,
MILES ROHDE 36:16
When I heard him say in that sermon that, that he’s ready to meet Jesus, it’ll be a great day for him, I was concerned. It is for those who are redeemed for sure. But before every tear is wiped away, there’s going to be an account of all that is done. And that won’t be a great time. And so, I am worried for his soul. So that’d probably be the thing that I tell him if I could have, just a concern for your soul brother. If you are too, brother, because none of this stuff will matter, in the end. It’s not right.
JULIE ROYS 36:54
And have you ever heard repentance from Mark Driscoll about this like true repentance?
MILES ROHDE 37:00
JULIE ROYS 37:01
I can see on your face. You feel that concern, too.
SUTTON TURNER 37:06
Yeah, I mean, we served together, you know? I mean, my family was super close. My girls were super close with his girls. We went on vacations together; I would have considered him a friend. And it’s sad. It’s sad. I still love Mark. Also, that’s the thing. I still love Mark Driscoll. He’s still my brother. I want to see, the reason why I’m doing all this is to not only to highlight that, but maybe also maybe that there’s a change in him. I told you earlier, like, how glorifying would it be for Mark to reconcile with all those people and for, you know, for the hurt, that he participated in for that to be redeemed and reconciled, and there be a restoration to take place with some of these people? You know, I mean, there was 41 Elders this summer, that signed a letter that we published in CT, to try to actually warn that his current church that he’s disqualified, and to alert them of what happened in the past. And from what we hear, we’re not there. We’re not elders, we have no jurisdiction, like nothing. We’re just Christians like, going, hey, other Christians, you might be in not a good place, you might be lied to. And I just I have seen people be hurt, that are in the church, because I’ve reconciled with them. And I’ve heard their stories. And I’ve heard how it affected their kids, and all the difficulties that they’ve had on going back to church after leaving Mars Hill. Some people haven’t gone back to church, and it’s just horrible and crying with those people. And to think that there’s new people that are in those situations going forward. It just It breaks my heart. It really does. And I don’t want it to keep happening.
JULIE ROYS 39:05
And it continues to happen. I’ve talked to a number of families there at the Trinity Church who have been horribly wounded. I’ve talked to the family members of Driscoll’s own family, his in laws who have been completely cut off because they didn’t toe the party line with Mark Driscoll. I’ve talked to the former head of security and another security person there at the Trinity Church. In fact, if you haven’t heard those podcasts, I would encourage you go back and listen to those. It’s chilling. I would say Mark Driscoll has not been chastened or humbled. He’s gotten more bold, and he’s gotten more brash, and he’s determined not to make the mistake he made at Mars Hill and submit himself to any accountability which is a scary place for any one of us to be, and because all of us need accountability, all of us need our brothers and sisters speaking into our lives. And so, it is a scary thing and Scripture warns about it. I hope right now, if there’s people listening who are going to the Trinity Church, I hope you take these warnings to heart because Scripture is very clear that there will be false teachers out there. And there will be people pretending to be one thing and be another. And there is an awful lot, you know, you know, a tree by its fruit. And if you look at the fruit of this tree, there’s some issues.
SUTTON TURNER 40:24
Julie, also, too, you know, I work for Vanderbloemen for three years after, most recently, and they are an executive search firm for churches, helping pastors and churches and find them each other. And I will say through that experience, I see hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of churches that I worked with, not from a ministry basis, but from a business basis. And there are a lot of Mark Driscolls out there. So, this shouldn’t just apply to people in the Trinity Church Some of the things that they’re maybe read about that happened at Mars Hill might be applicable to their local church, it might not be a mega church, it might be. And so, I hope it’s illuminating. And by the way, there’s some amazing pastors out there like Miles, that are loving their people and serving their people and serving the Lord and doing an amazing job of being a shepherd. Don’t get me wrong. But there are some bad pastors out there that are hurting people. And so, I only say this not only for the people in the Trinity Church today, but people that are in similar churches as the Trinity Church.
JULIE ROYS 41:41
Well, and speaking of Vanderbloemen, it reminds me of all the reporting I did on Andy Wood, and Vanderbloemen was very involved in the investigation, which they’re not really an investigative firm. I mean, it’s crazy that they were hired to do that. And clear to Andy Wood of the many charges before they even talk to, to victims. So that’s really an amazing investigation that you can do that you can know before you’ve even talked to any victims that a man is innocent of the charges.
SUTTON TURNER 42:11
And I’ll say this on that subject. You look at what the guys did, the elders did at Mars Hill, by talking. They went, two elders went to talk to victims. They took notes, and they listened. And they interviewed those people for as long as they wanted to talk. Okay? That’s, it’s an enormous undertaking. And unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like from what I’ve read, and what you’ve reported on that Vanderbloemen did that. And unfortunately, that’s the only way, in my opinion, to do a formal investigation of a pastor, and it’s exhausting. And you have to pray for those people that are doing that investigation. And to me, those need to be local elders in that local church that know those people and know the circumstances that are around that. That’s my opinion.
JULIE ROYS 43:08
Well, I would have liked to seen a third party that understands spiritual abuse very well, like Grace, come in and do that. And the other thing that I appreciate about Grace is that when they do an investigation, they will only do it under the agreement that that report will be published. And so, there’s just incredible accountability.
SUTTON TURNER 43:29
And you know that there’s some churches that don’t have those people that are, whether they’re volunteer elders, or whatever their polity doesn’t allow that. And so, some places like Grace are needed to come in because that accountability structure just doesn’t exist. So, like if, for example, with Mark Driscoll today, there’s no accountability structure. So, somebody would have to be brought in from the outside to do any type of investigation, because there’s no structure of accountability whatsoever.
JULIE ROYS 43:59
Well, and I’ll say this, and we probably need to wrap this up. We could talk so long about this. There are different ways of holding accountability. Some are within the church themselves, and internal, some are external. And we can debate the validity of all of those. But I’ll say this, it seems to me that what Mars Hill did, there was clearly even though these men had reason, and even, as you said, the fear of crossing Mark Driscoll and despite all of that, they came back with a report they did, and we see Mark not chastened. And so, my hope and prayer is I would love to see him repent as you’ve expressed. But in the meantime, I would like to warn, be the watchman and warn people away until that happens.
Thank you so much Sutton for being willing to speak to me and be so open and share your heart and the truth of things and I want to thank you especially for your humility in admitting your part. That is so rare and yet so necessary in the church. So, thank you.
SUTTON TURNER 45:06
JULIE ROYS 45:07
And thanks so much for listening to The Roys Report, a podcast dedicated to reporting the truth and restoring the church. I’m Julie Roys. And just a reminder that we’re able to do our podcast and all our investigative work at The Roys Report because of support from people like you. If you appreciate our work here at The Roys Report, would you please consider donating to help us continue? To do that just go to JULIEROYS.COM/DONATE. Also, just a quick reminder to subscribe to The Roys Report on Apple podcast, Google podcast, Spotify, or YouTube. That way you’ll never miss an episode. And while you’re at it, I’d really appreciate it if you’d help us spread the word about the podcast by leaving a review. And then please share the podcast on social media so more people can hear about this great content. Again, thanks so much for joining me today. I hope you were blessed and encouraged.