088 – Austin Ashcraft on Mars Hill, Celebrity, and Spiritual Abuse

Recently, Christianity Today released a podcast called “The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill” that chronicles the events of megachurch in Seattle, WA. That podcast is a 12-part series that gets into the weeds of how Mars Hill rose to prominence built around the personality of a fiery pastor and how things fell apart rather quickly in the end. Even though I’m not an Evangelical nor from Seattle, this podcast touched somewhere deep inside me. It put a spotlight on an issue that I’ve encountered personally and in the lives of many of my clients: celebrity, pride, vanity, and spiritual abuse in the Church. If you have ever given your life and energy to a ministry, religious order, or movement, only to encounter a system of control or abuse, then this episode of Always Hope is for you. 

Today’s show isn’t so much about the events of Mars Hill but the analogues I have encountered in Catholic environments. You don’t have to listen to the Mars Hill podcast to follow along, but just keep an open mind. There is a profound mystery of grace at work when discernments fall apart because of human sin. 

Joining me on the show to talk about all this stuff is Austin Ashcraft, a good friend from North Carolina. Austin is the person who first tipped me off to the Mars Hill podcast and we’ve had many conversations about these themes over the years and we just finally decided to hit the record button. Consider this episode just two friends talking about our ministry battle scars and how we are still trying to make sense of it all. We talk about the dangers of celebrity culture, is success the only measure of God’s providence?, Joshua Harris and Audrey Assad’s reasons for leaving their respective faiths, the importance to ask questions when facing doubts, and the lingering impact spiritual abuse has on people’s relationship with God. 

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Websites mentioned in the show: Mars Hill Podcast

 

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