Terry Virgo of Newfrontiers thanks Mark Driscoll

Terry VirgoTerry Virgo, founder and leader of Newfrontiers, in a tweet yesterday just retweeted by Adrian Warnock:

Thanks @PastorMark for your courage & clarity in motivating us in Newfrontiers to move forward. Here we go!

“@PastorMark” is of course the “bully” Mark Driscoll.

So, is Virgo oblivious to the current storm about Driscoll’s bullying and generally unacceptable behaviour? If so, he needs to keep up better with the Christian news. Or is he endorsing such behaviour as the direction for “us in Newfrontiers to move forward”? I certainly hope not!

Virgo’s blog is currently not accessible, redirecting to a holding page with a circular link. Perhaps he needs to hide like this to shelter from the storm which might now blow in his direction. But can he hide from Twitter?


0 thoughts on “Terry Virgo of Newfrontiers thanks Mark Driscoll

  1. Even as I was writing this Adrian Warnock was trying to protect his leader from the inevitable storm by writing:

    He was of course referring to the time Driscoll came and lobbed a few grenades in our direction.

    Well, just possibly Virgo really was being very naive. But just as at the moment no one could get away with praising Rupert Murdoch even for genuine good things he may have done, without being seen as an apologist for the recent scandal, so no one should get away with praising Driscoll without being seen as supporting his bullying.

  2. Peter, thanks for the punch. A bit sad. Mulling on what to do. Not defending Terry here. New Frontiers is not my family. I do host a complimentary link to Terry on my blog. With links to Quakers, a Catholic, and a Greek Orthodox too. I don’t buy into the subordination of women (as Terry and camp do). And am glad you countered Grudem on it (Grudem a former Vineyard defender). Terry spoke at a conference I was invited to attend several years ago in the U.S. Gracious. Easy. Spoke highly of Arminians too – a bit of a rarity among Calvinist charismatics. He seemed to be in a sort of common grace mode of seeing the Spirit act widely. Outside the church. In the world. A generous mood. No bullying in Terry. Not that I could see. Appealed to my Quaker/Vineyard refracted and refractory readings of the world and the scripture. That’s one reason why I’d rather link Terry (my contrarian but graceful Calvinist). Easy. Quiet. Gentle. Dogmatic, yes. But a model of tender behavior. I can’t believe Terry is proud of Driscol’s bullying. I need a bias check on myself. I’ve not followed Terry regularly. And – big and – I don’t know his reputation in England. Or if he has bullied there? Terry previously thanked Mark (I agree Mark’s a bully), that is, Terry thanked Mark because Mark advised Terry to train up leaders to replace Terry at New Frontiers. Maybe that’s what Terry is saying here? Maybe I need to re-think my link? And sad. ~ Jim

  3. Thank you, Jim. I don’t know Terry Virgo well but I don’t think he is the bullying type at all. But I do suspect he is too uncritical of the American leaders he links with, as long as their doctrine is correct, from his point of view. And as you will know from this blog in the past I have a lot of issues with Newfrontiers, especially as portrayed by Adrian Warnock.

  4. You’ll probably find that Terry does not check Twitter. He probably tweets occasionally and then has his PA tweet the rest. He probably doesn’t even know about the latest Driscoll controversy. He was thanking Driscoll as he genuinely had an impact on newfrontiers as a movement. Honestly, some people are so cynical.

  5. Tom, if that is true Virgo is so naive, and he needs a new PA who would warn him about how his tweet could be misunderstood. But I’m not sure I believe this is true. I suspect he knew that Driscoll was in trouble and wanted to encourage him.

  6. This year is the final Brighton conference. This is the time Terry Virgo is laying down overall oversight of Newfrontiers. In 2009 when Mark Driscoll was at the Brighton conference he made is abundantly clear (rightly), that Newfrontiers was in danger of honouring the founder rather than the future, and the time was coming to let go.

    This week Terry Virgo is letting go: hence a tweet thanking Mark for his provocation that brought newfrontiers to this stage of handing of the baton.

    I don’t see anything else beyond it than that. He is aged over 70, is this week in the process of giving up responsibility for a network of hundreds of Churches and is currently hosting a major conference with thousands of people.

  7. Blue, as I said to start with, it could be that Virgo was simply oblivious to what was going on. But I would consider that to be a serious weakness in the leader (for the time being) of a large group of churches, who needs to be careful in his public statements. He certainly needs to check that someone he praises has not just been exposed in a serious sex scandal. And if he didn’t know about the bullying accusations against Driscoll, how would he have known if (God forbid) there had been a sex scandal?

  8. I take that point re: whatever the scandal was.

    TV is distracted by being in the middle of one of the biggest week’s in his life. So is the entire admin staff of newfrontiers (which si very small!)

    A public endorsement of Driscoll’s facebook status? Not a chance.

  9. Couldn’t agree more with ‘Blue, with a hint of amber’. And I think Terry is oblivious to the “scandal” that you speak of. I don’t think it’s right to call this a sex scandal. That brings with it connotations of something more sinister, and suggests that Mark has been unfaithful.

    I think that Mark has made a mistake, and he would be wise to apologize profusely. The mistake he has made with this facebook post of his however does not mean that leaders the world over (myself included) should reject Driscoll and denounce him publicly. In my opinion he is a gifted teacher and leader who has blessed hundreds of thousands of Christians the world over.

    He made a mistake. Would you like it if your friends rejected you and publicly condemned you each time you made a mistake? I think not. Yes Driscoll should probably apologize, but I for one feel that the hand of grace should be extended to him, apology or no apology.

  10. Tom, I did not say that this was a sex scandal. I was writing hypothetically. I said that if Virgo goes around publicly thanking Christian leaders without being aware of the latest news about them he might inadvertently find himself praising someone who has just been exposed in a sex scandal.

    Yes, Driscoll made a mistake, and a very public one. I have argued elsewhere that a public mistake merits a public rebuke. I am pleased that he has now admitted to a mistake, and so now it the time to drop the matter.

  11. Peter,

    I misread your post! I’m terribly sorry! Absolutely agree, it’s time to put this one to bed.

    God Bless,


  12. There is no ‘storm’ that Terry Virgo needs to hide from in this or any other area.
    The ‘storm’ (if that is what it is) is only such to you.
    I very much doubt that it would even qualify as squall and even that would be at the risk of exaggeration.

  13. Blue, if a leader in the public eye makes a serious error of judgment in a public statement and then refuses on principle to make any further public statement, that is a further serious error of judgment and suggests that he or she is unfit for that position of leadership. The only issue here is whether this is a serious enough matter to warrant a further statement. I would have thought that Dave Warnock’s post and mine between them have generated enough negative publicity to warrant it.

    Glenn, have you read Dave’s post? That shows that the storm is not just in my mind.

  14. With due respect Peter, I doubt Terry Virgo reads either blog or even knows about any of this.

    I also think that a tweet at the start of a conference remembering a conference two years before which you are fulfilling part of a challenge received is hardly a “serious error of judgement”.

    You are an apologist for Todd Bentley Peter. And you are accusing Terry Virgo of a serious error of judgement? Come on mate. Smell the coffee.

    If Terry Virgo had to respond to every one of Dave W’s posts where he slates newfrontiers then I very much doubt he would have time to lead a movement of Churches.

    Do you and Dave W demand an apology from Terry Virgo for the offence he caused you? Or for the offence you implied into a completely innocent tweet? And who made you judge and jury?

    What next? John Mumford preaches a sermon you don’t like the timing of? Mark Stibbe gives a lecture on the wrong day? Gerald Coates goes on holiday at an inappropriate time of year?

  15. Blue, I sent Terry Virgo a reply to his tweet with a link to my post about him. If he, or his PA, doesn’t read such things, that is their problem.

    You are persistently trying to play down this scandal. Have you read what Driscoll wrote? To put it bluntly, as I just wrote in another comment, if he isn’t a hypocrite, and I don’t think he is, he is a sexist and a homophobe. He is stirring up hatred against women and gays by what he writes. And Terry Virgo praises him publicly!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That is quite disgusting.

    Driscoll has had the good sense to admit that he was wrong to use social media in that way. Virgo needs to do the same if he is to retain any credibility, outside that small circle who worship him and react to any criticism of him as if it were blasphemy.

    Sexism and homophobia have no place in the church. They need to be carefully distinguished from complementarianism and proper teaching about homosexual practice being wrong. By failing to make this distinction Driscoll and Virgo are seriously damaging the church.

    Todd Bentley made his own serious errors of judgment, which I have written about elsewhere. He has had the grace and good judgment to admit to this, come under authority, and repent. Under whose authority is Terry Virgo? Driscoll submitted to the better judgment of his fellow elders in this matter. Who are Virgo’s fellow elders to whom his part in the matter should be brought?

  16. Terry Virgo thanked Mark Driscoll for his input in 2009 at the time he was acting upon it.

    You have to make a huge jump to try and smear Terry Virgo’s reputation because of one of Mark Driscoll’s facebook statuses.

    It just does not make any sense to me.

    Driscoll has had the good sense to admit that he was wrong to use social media in that way. Virgo needs to do the same if he is to retain any credibility, outside that small circle who worship him and react to any criticism of him as if it were blasphemy.

    In what “way” was Virgo using social media that was a problem? To thank someone for a conference talk?

    It is only inappropriate to you because you have applied motive to it yourself. If that is wrong and the whole tweet was an underhand way of Terry Virgo supporting Mark Driscoll in the light of the furore over facebook then I will stand corrected and apologise. In the mean time it is an accusation sorely lacking in any evidence other than your ability to take offence.

    There is plenty you can criticise Terry Virgo for fairly. Writing a tweet the same week as someone else wrote a facebook status is not one of them.

    Retain any credibility? To whom?

    Rowan Williams has not come out against Driscoll either. I suppose that silence may also show a tacit agreement with his views.

    Or maybe the fact Rowan has never said anything like that stands on record in his defence?

    The same with Virgo. He has never made any comments like that.

    I like Mark Driscoll’s teaching against the prosperity gospel.

    That does not mean I agree with his recent actions.

  17. Blue, the point is that Virgo said something very positive about Driscoll at the height of the scandal, without specifying what he was thanking him for. It is your speculation, or initially Adrian’s, that Virgo intended to thank him for something he said in 2009.

    Imagine what would happen if (completely hypothetically) this week Rowan Williams publicly thanked Rupert Murdoch for his high quality journalism, without giving any more details. What would people think? Then what if Williams refused to comment further, and left others in his church to speculate that he was writing about a nice article about the Church of England in The Times several years ago? Don’t you think it would be reasonable to ask for clarification, to make sure people didn’t think Williams was endorsing phone hacking?

    I note that you have not answered my question about who Virgo is accountable to.

  18. Peter, Blue is quite correct about his interpretation of Terry’s tweet. I know that because I was at the conference where Terry explained the future of our family of churches and as he did so, he did what you haven’t and gave the context. The context is that a few years ago he and Newfrontiers were challenged about our future. It was a good challenge and it came from Mark Driscoll. This week we responded to that challenge albeit with a completely different solution to the one Driscoll suggested.

    That was the context and that explains Terry’s tweet. End of story. It’s slightly unfortunate it happened to be at the same time as Driscoll sticks his foot in his mouth.

    Terry is accountable to his international team and to his local church elders just like the rest of us, but I can’t for the life of me see anything here for him to respond to.

  19. Phil, thank you for explaining more of the supposed context, although Adrian already did that as I mentioned in the first comment. The trouble is that the tweet was public, so not only for Newfrontiers people – and was retweeted even more publicly by Adrian. So not everyone knows the context. All I am asking is for Terry Virgo, or an official spokesperson for him, to explain the context and distance himself from Driscoll’s homophobic remarks.

  20. Todd Bentley made his own serious errors of judgment, which I have written about elsewhere. He has had the grace and good judgment to admit to this, come under authority, and repent.

    LOL !!!

    Driscoll submitted to the better judgment of his fellow elders in this matter.

    That is a joke, right?
    A couple of years ago, Driscoll fired the elders who dared question him, and then he changed the church bylaws – stripping the remaining elders of all legal voting authority. He now has two handpicked “executive” elders to whom he is accountable to, both younger men than him who he can fire at will. It is very sad.


  21. Ted, thank you for your clarification. That is rather what I expected. But it seems that Driscoll has backed down to some extent, whether or not thanks to genuine intervention from his fellow elders.

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