D.K. Foreman – Personal Blog

Protecting the lambs

Protecting The Lambs: Pope Francis’ approval ratings slump sharply in U.S.

by on Jul.25, 2015, under 2015 Year, Endtimes, General, Protecting the lambs

Pope Francis addresses the congregation from the window of the Apostolic Palace overlooking St. Peter's square during his Sunday Angelus prayer at the Vatican on July 19, 2015. (Photo: Gabriel Bouys, AFP/Getty Images)

Pope Francis addresses the congregation from the window of the Apostolic Palace overlooking St. Peter’s square during his Sunday Angelus prayer at the Vatican on July 19, 2015.
(Photo: Gabriel Bouys, AFP/Getty Images)

Growing conservative disaffection with Pope Francis appears to be taking a toll on his once Teflon-grade popularity in the U.S., with a new Gallup poll showing the pontiff’s favorability rating among all Americans dropping to 59% from a 76% peak early last year.

Among conservatives, the drop-off has been especially sharp: Just 45% view Francis favorably today, as opposed to 72% a year ago.

“This decline may be attributable to the pope’s denouncing of ‘the idolatry of money’ and attributing climate change partially to human activity, along with his passionate focus on income inequality — all issues that are at odds with many conservatives’ beliefs,” Gallup analyst Art Swift wrote Wednesday, when the survey was published.

But liberal fervor for the Argentine pope, who was elected to great acclaim in March 2013, has also cooled, dropping an average of 14 points.

Some observers have predicted that many who embraced the pope’s candor and his views on a range of social justice issues would temper their ardor as they realized he would not change church teachings on hot-button issues such as abortion or contraception or gay marriage.

Another major factor is that the number of those who expressed “no opinion” about the pope or said they don’t know enough about him rose from 16% to 25%. That may be linked to fewer magazine cover stories on the pope, or more critical stories.

The poll comes just as American Catholics are set to welcome the pope this September for his first visit to the U.S. It essentially returns Francis to approval levels he had in the first months after his election.

The fall-off appears to be relatively recent: A Pew Research Center survey from February showed Francis’ approval rating among all Americans at 70%, and at a remarkable 90% among all Catholics.

That number had been steadily increasing, among Republicans and conservatives, as well, despite their concerns that Francis was not stressing issues such as abortion while highlighting social justice themes.

But the Gallup poll, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points for results based on the total sample, was conducted earlier this month in the middle of Francis’ visit to three countries in Latin America during which he delivered some of his most powerful remarks on economic justice and environmental protection.

That prompted Western journalists on the papal plane, with a view to Francis’ upcoming U.S. visit, to ask whether he needs to say more about “the middle class, that is, the working people, the people who pay taxes, normal people.”

Francis responded by saying that he needed to address that aspect of his message and would read his critics ahead of the Sept. 22-27 U.S. trip.

Stephen Schneck, head of the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies at Catholic University of America in Washington, blamed pundits on the right and left, like Rush Limbaugh and Rachel Maddow, for “politicizing” the pope’s teachings.

“He’s not a conservative or progressive, not a Democrat or Republican. So stop trying to clobber him with those yardsticks,” Schneck wrote in an email. “How many times do our pundits need to be told that he’s carrying the same message as John Paul II and Benedict XVI?”

Schneck said that as the visit approaches, he expects Francis’ poll numbers “to rebound to his strong, earlier levels — that is, if both the right and the left will stop dragging him into their partisan squabbles.”

Is it too late? Has “Francis fatigue” displaced the “Francis effect”?

After the Latin America trip, popular conservative Catholic blogger Elizabeth Scalia wrote a lengthy post saying she is “frankly just tired of feeling scolded.”

“I love His Holiness Pope Francis, but for a while now, I have been feeling harangued by him, as he’s been harping on us to do more, and ever more, to practice mercy on the world; to welcome the stranger, to clean up the rivers, to bring about justice and peace in our time; to level the playing fields, visit the sick, and so on,” Scalia wrote.

That lament was picked up by other conservatives, such as Carl Olson, editor of Catholic World Report, who complained about what he sees as Francis’ constant “haranguing, harping, exhorting, lecturing.”

“It probably doesn’t help,” Olson added, “that Francis obsesses over particular points, to a degree that is, frankly, grating.”

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Protecting the Lambs: Mark Driscoll’s resignation letter to Mars Hill Church

by on Oct.15, 2014, under Leadership, Protecting the lambs, Revival In America

October 14, 2014

Michael Van Skaik

Chairman, Board of Advisors and Accountability

Mars Hill Church

Dear Michael:

By God’s grace I have pastored Mars Hill Church for 18 years. Today, also by God’s grace, and with the full support of my wife Grace, I resign my position as a pastor and elder of Mars Hill. I do so with profound sadness, but also with complete peace.

On August 24th I announced to our Mars Hill family of churches that I had requested a leave of absence from the pulpit and the office for a minimum of six weeks while a committee of elders conducted a formal review of charges made against me by various people in recent times. Last week our Board of Overseers met for an extended period of time with Grace and me, thereby concluding the formal review of charges against me. I want to thank you for assuring Grace and me that last Saturday that I had not disqualified myself from ministry.

You have shared with us that this committee spent more than 1,000 hours reviewing documents and interviewing some of those who had presented charges against me. You have also shared with me that many of those making charges against me declined to meet with you or participate in the review process at all. Consequently, those conducting the review of charges against me began to interview people who had not even been a party to the charges.

I readily acknowledge I am an imperfect messenger of the gospel of Jesus Christ. There are many things I have confessed and repented of, privately and publicly, as you are well aware. Specifically, I have confessed to past pride, anger and a domineering spirit. As I shared with our church in August, “God has broken me many times in recent years by showing me where I have fallen short, and while my journey, at age 43, is far from over, I believe He has brought me a long way from some days I am not very proud of, and is making me more like Him every day.”

Prior to and during this process there have been no charges of criminal activity, immorality or heresy, any of which could clearly be grounds for disqualification from pastoral ministry. Other issues, such as aspects of my personality and leadership style, have proven to be divisive within the Mars Hill context, and I do not want to be the source of anything that might detract from our church’s mission to lead people to a personal and growing relationship with Jesus Christ.

That is why, after seeking the face and will of God, and seeking godly counsel from men and women across the country, we have concluded it would be best for the health of our family, and for the Mars Hill family, that we step aside from further ministry at the church we helped launch in 1996. I will gladly work with you in the coming days on any details related to our separation.

Recent months have proven unhealthy for our family—even physically unsafe at times—and we believe the time has now come for the elders to choose new pastoral leadership for Mars Hill. Grace and I pledge our full support in this process and will join you in praying for God’s best for this, His church, in the days and years ahead. Grace and I would also covet your prayers for us as we seek God’s will for the next chapter of our lives. Therefore, consider this written notice of my voluntary termination of employment.

Finally, it would be my hope to convey to the wonderful members of the Mars Hill family how deeply my family and I love them, thank them, and point them to their Senior Pastor Jesus Christ who has always been only good to us.

Sincerely,

Pastor Mark Driscoll

Mark Driscoll

Mark Driscoll

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Pastor Mark Driscoll’s Resignation From Mars Hill Church

by on Oct.15, 2014, under Leadership, Protecting the lambs, Revival In America

Mark Driscoll - From Mars Hill Church Website

Mark Driscoll – From Mars Hill Church Website

On Tuesday, October 14, Pastor Mark Driscoll submitted his resignation as an elder and lead pastor of Mars Hill Church. The Board of Overseers has accepted that resignation and is moving forward with planning for pastoral transition, recognizing the challenge of such a task in a church that has only known one pastor since its founding. We ask for prayer for the journey ahead.

As is well known, inside and outside of Mars Hill, Pastor Mark has been on a leave of absence for nearly two months while a group of elders investigated a series of formal charges brought against him. This investigation had only recently been concluded, following some 1,000 hours of research, interviewing more than 50 people and preparing 200 pages of information. This process was conducted in accordance with our church Bylaws and with Pastor Mark’s support and cooperation.

While a group of seven elders plus one member of the Board of Overseers was charged with conducting this investigation, the full Board of Overseers is charged with reaching any conclusions and issuing any findings. In that capacity, we believe it appropriate to publicly mention the following:

We concluded that Pastor Mark has, at times, been guilty of arrogance, responding to conflict with a quick temper and harsh speech, and leading the staff and elders in a domineering manner. While we believe Mark needs to continue to address these areas in his life, we do not believe him to be disqualified from pastoral ministry.
Pastor Mark has never been charged with any immorality, illegality or heresy. Most of the charges involved attitudes and behaviors reflected by a domineering style of leadership.
We found some of the accusations against Pastor Mark to be altogether unfair or untrue.
Other charges had been previously been addressed by Pastor Mark, privately and publicly. Indeed, he had publicly confessed and apologized for a number of the charges against him, some of which occurred as long as 14 years ago.
We commend Mark for acting upon the vision God gave him to start Mars Hill Church and for his ministry of faithfully teaching the Word of God for the past 18 years. We commit to pray for him, for Grace, and for their children as they transition from ministry at Mars Hill Church.
We would ask for patience as we now make plans for the first transition of pastoral leadership in the history of Mars Hill Church. We have asked Pastor Dave Bruskas to serve as the primary teaching pastor while we work on long-term plans and decisions. Our elders and board members will work closely with the church staff to support the ongoing operations of Mars Hill in the days and months ahead.

Finally, Mark Driscoll was not asked to resign; indeed, we were surprised to receive his resignation letter. While he can speak to his decision as he chooses, we would point to just two things from his letter. He noted that he had concluded “it would be best for the health of our family, and for the Mars Hill family, that we step aside from further ministry at the church.” Secondly, he specifically wanted to convey “to the wonderful members of the Mars Hill family, how deeply my family and I love them, thank them, and point them to their Senior Pastor, Jesus Christ, who has always been only good to us.”

Mars Hill Board of Overseers

Michael Van Skaik

Larry Osborne

Jon Phelps

Matt Rogers

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