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Steve Martin has written a fascinating book, The Heresy of Mind Control, for those in the helping fields and for all of us who have been or are being traumatized and enslaved by an abusive person (pastor, therapist, priest, husband, boyfriend, doctor, lawyer, employer, etc…) or an abusive system/group (totalitarian government, terrorists, church, employment…). Eventually I will post on this when I have my notes completed. For now though, here is Steve’s outline he sent me. You may purchase his book at his website: www.recognizeheresy.com

Freedom

PS. There seems to be a problem with the formatting from the document Steve sent me to transferring it into this post. Please understand Steve had logical formatting and will tend to this little quirk when he has time. In the meantime, the info is there and one can learn more about his book by going to his site and better yet, by ordering it…

………………..

THE  HERESY

of

MIND  CONTROL

Recognizing Con Artists, Tyrants, and Spiritual Abusers

in Leadership

by

Stephen Martin

________________________________________________________________________
Introduction

Just Suppose

Taken in Unawares

What is a Cult?

Terrorist Groups, Cults, and Abusive Relationships

In Unexpected Places

The Meeting Ground of Psychology, Sociology, and Theology

The Focus of this book: characteristics, not certain groups

Format: summary and paraphrase of criteria, various examples, Scripture passages that address and oppose these cultic practices.

Chapter 1

Thinking Inside the Box

(Milieu Control)

The Need for Outside Input – Overcoming Hindrances

Cunning Disregard

Have Nothing to Do With Them

“Don’t Listen”

Overcome Closed-Mindedness

 

 

Chapter 2

Illusion to Disillusion
(Mystical Manipulation)

Visions and Revelations

Stories

Euphoria-inducing Techniques

Power and the sense of Higher Purpose

Misguided Devotion

Submitting to Abuse

Submitting to Exploitation

Chapter 3

Getting Nowhere Fast

(The Demand for Purity)

Amount of Work and Commitment

Amount of your Ability – Works vs. Grace

Attributing Sin

“Reach Maturity Now”

Man-Made Rules for Escaping Impurity

Chapter 4

Vocal Self-Degradation

(The Cult of Confession)

A Misused Bible Verse

“Everyone Else is Doing It”

No-win Situations

No  Privacy

No Restoration

No Encouragement

Demon Labels

Misplaced  Accountability

Restoring Self-Esteem

Chapter 5

Thou Shalt Not Question
(The “Sacred Science”)

The Fear to Disagree and to Criticize

The Power of Charisma

Freedom to Doubt

Consequences of Differing

Fear to Speak Out

The Slant on Slander

Dealing with the Wrongs of Leaders

What about Obedience and Respect?

Why Question and Doubt?

Chapter 6

The Language of Nonthought

(Loading the Language)

Shut out the Truth & Alienate from Outsiders

Create Guilt to Suppress Thought

Create Guilt to produce Dependence

Emphasize Agreement & Unity more than Truth

Control of Behavior

To Label, Hurt, Judge and Condemn

Manipulating the Bible

The Remaining Wounds from Loaded Language

Chapter 7

Fitting the Rigid Mold

(Doctrine Over Person)

Freedom to Be Ourselves

The Remolding Process

Your Feelings

Your History

Your Health

Your Experiences and Circumstances

Predictions that Fail

Denial and Suppression

Narrowing the Playing Field

Different Needs, Different Treatments

Leading by Gentleness

The Priority of Human Well-Being

Chapter 8

The Elitists

(The Dispensing of Existence)

What About Christianity Itself?

We vs. They

Is Salvation Found in a Group?

The Same Claims of the “Only Ones”

Epilogue

From Control to Freedom

 

 

APPENDIX 1

Comments on Visions

 

 

Appendix 2

Therapeutic Confessions

 

Appendix 3

Pros and Cons of an Accountability Partner

Pros

Cons

Other comments:

Appendix 4

What Is Faith?

 

 

Appendix 5

How will God deal with those who have never heard about Jesus?

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To get the full scope of this post, please read or peruse Post #42  Is Driscoll Really Qualified to Pastor? wherein I compare Driscoll’s words and apparent characteristics to Pastor/Elder qualifications in 1 Tim 3 and Titus 1.

Now, let’s look at some things MD has recently said… I found this at kateschosen:

http://kateschosen.wordpress.com/2009/06/28/what-do-you-think-about-mark-driscolls-preaching-on-the-eternal-subordination-of-jesus-the-son-to-the-father/

Kateschosen wrote that she found the following from a link to a conference that Mark Driscoll spoke at recently (June 2009). She said the speakers were John Piper, Mark Driscoll, Matt Chandler, and Ed Stetzer, and that the audio link of Mark Driscoll’s teaching was “ provided by Desiring God Ministries (Piper’s ministry) is here. ”

The following is quoted directly from Driscoll with my comments in [brackets ] :

“Qualified leadership: All right … There are leaders here even in the early chapters of Acts. The Apostles and who stands up? Peter. And why? Because he’s first among equals. His name is always listed first in the list of Apostles.

[But MD and others like him forget that in the case of Priscilla & Aquilla, Priscilla the wife of Aquilla is always mentioned FIRST and they are saluted for the work they are doing and the church in THEIR house. Is she then the FIRST AMONG EQUALS in that partnership, since her name is always mentioned first in the pair, first among equals as MD says males are?]

MD goes into detail about his theory that since Jesus, God the Son, submitted to God, the Father, there’s “equality and there’s functional subordination.”

[He uses this idea to further his favorite theme, SUBMISSION TO ONE’S LEADERS, MEANING HIM if one attends MH. He states this, while having first thrown the doggy bone to we little people, that we are, after all, equals, there are just those other “equals” who are in authority over the rest. Now I know the Bible teaches on submitting to authority, but not in what I perceive as this skewed way in which MD teaches on it.]

“… There are those who have greater responsibility for the oversight. 1 Peter 5 says, “of the flock, the shepherding of God’s people”. Our “day” hates that. “We’re all the same”, well in one sense, because of God’s grace, we are all equally saved. But in another sense, dad’s need to take responsibility

[What about mom’s responsibility?]

“for their families and pastors have to take responsibility for their flocks and leaders have to give an account for those who are in their oversight. That’s what the Bible says.

[Mhm. Yes. MD and others like him, will “give an account,” all pastors, good and bad, obedient to and in love with Jesus, and those who are disobedient to and not really in love with Jesus]

“Some of you, particularly those of you who are young, either because of worldliness from the culture, or cowardice, will not want to be in authority.

[So now it’s “cowardly” to “not want to be in authority”? Perhaps. It really depends upon what kind of authority we’re talking about: true, God given authority (where others recognize the qualities of Christ in the person and also that God has placed upon her or him HIS own authority) versus that which is grasped for by human beings, wherein the person becomes a little despot over his/her own little human-made kingdom… It can also be an act of great courage to withstand false “authority” which is oppressive and selfish.]

“ Or you’ll want to diminish and not USE your authority.

[Oh yes, MD encourages “his men” to USE their authority, because that’s what the Christian life is all about, right? …exercising your authority over others and getting others to submit to you. Yeah, that’s what Jesus taught… I don’t think so. Quite the opposite.]

“Some of you will wrongly use your authority; you’ll become dictatorial and you’ll become autocratic. 1st Peter 5 says to use your authority but not lording it over people; not being harsh, mean-spirited and a dictator. And so qualified leadership is ultimately humble leadership.

[I can hardly believe these words are coming out of Driscoll’s mouth. But I’ve seen it too many times to be completely shocked. Those who are abusive, those who are controllers, those who manipulate, those who have Narcissist tendencies (and I’m not saying MD is or has all of these… but he might), ubiquitously uphold the opposite of what they are doing, they claim to have ethics while they are violating them, they claim to qualify as biblical leaders while their own words condemn them as absolutely UN qualified, and they teach on that which they disobey… God have mercy!

[The examples provided in this blog– these alone reveal that MD “wrongly uses his authority” in “dictatorial and autocratic” fashion, and that he “lords it over people,” much of the time. We have seen in his sermons and in his written words characteristics which appear to align with a “harsh and mean spirited… dictator.” And as to humility… Oh my! He has even admitted, in a proud way, that he is not humble… but then unlike a truly repentant humble person, he turns it around as an opportunity for launching into his church for not being humble! “Humble leadership–” I don’t think MD knows what that means; he certainly seems largely to be incapable of living it. I wouldn’t normally be this sharp, I mean, how many of us can claim humility, right? But as a leader, and one who is teaching on this as if he qualifies, one who has made false public confessions of his lack of humility, he is under greater scrutiny and stricter judgment. Plus, it’s a bit much to stomach his words here. I am really, really getting sick of BS from those in power, especially those proclaiming themselves to be Christians.]

“Qualified leadership is male elders: 1 Timothy, Titus 1, as well as deacons.

[This whole “male” only leadership is based on mistranslating the original Greek texts, misinterpreting and misapplying Scripture. It is predicated on the refusal of taking ALL of Scripture into consideration as well as millennia of male dominance and abuse of women. See CBE, Christians for Biblical Equality http://www.cbeinternational.org/ ]

“Some of you will have woman deacons; some of you will have men and women deacons. We have men and women deacons; some of you will fight on that point. Qualified leadership 1 timothy, titus 1 — meeting certain criteria of character and competency and courage and Christlikeness.

[This really makes me wonder if Driscoll is incapable of self-reflection and applying Scripture to himself and his own life. Does he ever ask himself, “Do I meet some, most or all, or any of this criteria? Am I living as an example of good character? Do I manifest Christ-likeness (as in the fruit of the Spirit for example): Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness Goodness, Gentleness, Faithfulness and Self Control”]

“Let me say this: the big problems that you’re having in your church probably start with the fact that you may not have qualified leadership and regenerated members. If the people don’t know Jesus and the leaders are not qualified, you have to start there. You have to evangelize your people and get rid of those leaders who are not qualified. Not qualified.

[Wow. Again, I want to laugh at the absurdity but it’s so sad. First of all, is there anyone in power who would a) discern that Driscoll does not measure up to most of the biblical criteria for pastor, and b) confront him with the truth? And then secondly, if confronted, even by a powerful mega church pastor or famous “theologian” (I don’t know to whom else Driscoll would give audience) would Driscoll even be willing to be “got rid of” for his failure to measure up to 1 Tim 3 and Tit 1? I rather doubt it. In fact, when he has been questioned by his “equal fellow elders” to whom he was supposedly “accountable,” he fired their butts, according to the testimony of many who were in the know and personally acquainted with the unfortunate Petry and Meyer. See the By-Laws here in #13 post and Nielson’s notes regarding them.]

“…Unified by the Spirit … this means that we agree to disagree agreeably.

[I’m sorry, but this is a joke… Again, how can he say this?! MD notoriously allows for no dissent, and that has been repeatedly testified to by those who’ve had the “pleasure” of serving under MD’s rule and reign, and by those who DARED to question him, of whom MD said, “their hearts are not right. It’s the sin of questioning.” Hahahaha. This would really be funny if it wasn’t so tragic because of the enormous impact he has on thousands of lives, and young lives at that. Lord have mercy!]

“cause your unity is around the person of Jesus and the proclamation of the gospel.”

[The Jesus of Scripture is very different from the Jesus MD seems to have created: a macho, tough, un-sissified, jock Jesus. I would not and could not fellowship with MD around HIS Jesus, and a Jesus who would purportedly encourage the permanent subjugation of the female gender, because THAT Jesus would be contradicting Gen 1-3 and the rest of the Bible taken as a whole. Jesus warned there would be many “false Christs” and “false teachers.” If we as Christians do not utilize critical thinking skills and if we are not serious students of God’s Word, we are doomed to follow the voices of misguided oppressors or worse, “hirelings” who care not for the sheep but only care for their own agenda and profit, rather than heeding the voice of the one True Shepherd (John 10).]

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I’ve been wanting to post on this for quite some time… I can no longer put it off.

Is Driscoll Really Qualified to Pastor?

In order to ascertain the answer to this question, I encourage you to read some of the posts on this blog, read the testimonies of the many who have been seriously wounded, and I would say spiritually and psychologically abused, in his church (Mars Hill, Seattle) and by Driscoll, do your own research, listen to Driscoll’s sermons, read some of his books… After you have done that, read the following Scriptures and check off the characteristics that do NOT fit Driscoll… let’s see how many biblically mandated qualifications remain and whether or not Driscoll truly qualifies, biblically, to be a pastor… And then, for what may feel like torture (as it was to me), read some quotes from his recent teaching (June ’09) about the necessity of having qualified leaders who are humble and do not lord it over the flock… The irony… That will be in the next post.

1 Tim 3:1-10

1Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, [pastor][a] he desires a noble task. 2Now the overseer must be:

–above reproach, [MD has said many things which have caused legitimate reproach from other believers, and from the world alike]

–the husband of but one wife, [here’s one that appears to apply]

–temperate (pleasant, mild, moderate), [I don’t think this fits Driscoll either, based on my research and how he carries himself and communicates; he seems to be rather extreme, not moderate, I mean, biblically moderate, not liberally “moderate”]

–self-controlled, [Driscoll has lost control of his anger on many occasion, and he seems to have very little control over his tongue once he gets going—the somewhat amusing thing here is that MH has recently changed the way and the timing in which they broadcast and post his sermons: they are now postponing MD’s sermon broadcasts and posts ONE WEEK LATER after they select which service to use and after it’s been EDITED. This is true even of what the other MH church campuses have access to and watch on their mammoth video screens for their Sunday morning services—they see Driscoll preaching what he had preached in Ballard the week prior. So if you really want the scoop on EVERYTHING MD said, you’d have to go live, to Ballard… Of course when MD announced this at a church service a few months ago, every reason but the obvious was stated. The obvious being the embarrassing habit of MD spouting off something that truly comes from his heart (“Out of the heart the mouth speaks”), but which does not reflect well on him and MH. Now MD and MH can “FIX” that. More on “self-control:” MD has also described himself HITTING a congregant and/or counselee, a male who was really ticking MD off. Driscoll said he lost it so badly he couldn’t even remember the scene very well! Nice! The reference is somewhere in this blog—I’ll dig it up. He really said that!]

–respectable, [Is Driscoll respectable in the way he speaks about women? NO (just see my post #8 Christian Taliban…Spiritual Warfare Series). In the way he talks about men who are not –blue collar over-sexed, macho must drive a big truck to compensate– men? NO. Is he respectable when he tells his female congregants to give blow jobs to their husbands as a way of “serving them well”? Hell no! Is he respectable in his subjugation of women? NO. Is he respectable in his language? No. Is he respectable in his obsession with sex and crass way of “teaching” about it from the pulpit? Hell no! Is he respectable when he talks about the mother of Jesus being found pregnant outside of marriage and that the villagers probably thought she was [loosely paraphrased but close] ‘banging boots in the back of a car on prom night?’ Not even remotely!! Is he respectable when he infers that if Song of Solomon is allegorical about the Body of Christ as the Bride of Christ, and that –rough paraphrase—if tasting of ‘his fruit’ is going down when I get there, it’s like, I don’t think so. MD said, “I love you, Lord, but not in THAT way.” No! May it never be that this is considered respectable!]

–hospitable, [I don’t know regarding his home, but at his church, he doesn’t seem to be from his pulpit]

–able to teach, [There has been much discussion about the carelessness with which Driscoll plays at “exegesis.” I read one, whom I think is a theologian, state that Driscoll massacred Song of Solomon. Many very knowledgeable, biblical Christians are scratching their heads at Piper’s and Mohler’s support of such a one as MD].

3–not given to drunkenness, [MD frequently extols his “freedom” to drink his beers… Personally, I am not opposed to a Christian having a glass of wine or a beer, or Cosmo, we are simply told in Scripture to “be not drunk with wine, but be filled with the Spirit.” MD, however, makes a frequent and inflated issue about his freedom to drink, just as he does from the pulpit about his freedom to have sex and “lots of it” within marriage… one wonders what is behind such an emphasis and focus…]

–not violent but gentle, [Well, just watch some of his video clips… just listen to his voice when he lashes out at his congregation… violent, not gentle]

–not quarrelsome, [he argues from the pulpit with those who do not have a similar platform from which to defend their point. He’s been called the “bully from the pulpit,” and I think there is ample evidence of the truth in that.]

–not a lover of money. [I wonder what he earns?]

4–He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. 5(If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) [I can imagine he does this with an iron fist]

6–He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. [I believe this is part of the crux of the matter: MD was a relatively new Christian when he became a pastor at age 25. That’s awfully young developmentally, AND he apparently was not mentored, he wasn’t under the leadership of an older, wiser man or woman of God. MD, per his own admission, was never even a parishioner. He never had to submit to any leadership. In my opinion, he still doens’t. He was top dog from the beginning and so he apparently remains, unhindered, unchecked, unaccountable (carefully read the 2007 By-Laws, they too are included in this blog). And yet despite all this MD sure hammers home teachings on congregant and female submission. Submission in general, and I would say by way of inference submission to HIM as male leader/authority/pastor/elder, is one of his pet doctrines… it keeps others under his “biblical” control.]

7–He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap. [MD has been incredibly and needlessly offensive, and no, not merely about preaching the truth of Jesus and the gospel, but offensive in his mannerisms and extreme, non-biblical views and the way he bandies these about. He seems to have a very BAD reputation with many in the non-believing community in Seattle, among the “outsiders,” as well as with many across the nation and even in other nations, based on discussions across the internet. There are many very biblical Christians who just cannot believe MD seems to be such a “darling” parts of the Christian community! I am one of them. The Bible says we are to season our communication with salt, to give grace to the hearers. We are not to become obnoxious to others for obnoxiousness’ sake, nor are we to use any kind of authority over anyone, Christian or not, as a means of beating them down into subservience and compliance to our wishes and our way of seeing things. Did Jesus ever do this? He did not blast people to obey Him. The only ones we see him blasting were the false teachers, the legalists, the Pharisees and Sadducees. Those who dared to misrepresent his character—these he blasted. Follow the example of Acts and what and how Paul and Peter preached… they were firm about the need to repent and believe on Jesus. They called sin, sin. But they were not obnoxious. And yes, for the gospel, offense was given, but it wasn’t Paul’s or Peter’s offensiveness, it was the “offense of the cross.” The Bible says that, “As far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone,” and we are to “Speak the truth in love…”]

8–Deacons, likewise…10They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons. [From what I can tell, MD was never really tested, and no one seems to be testing him now, not according to these Scriptural criteria, except perhaps bloggers… If anything he is “tested” by his effectiveness in holding an audience’s attention, entertaining them, preaching the Gospel, and by the numbers of people coming into his church. None of these are the criteria we are given in Scripture by which to measure a pastor’s qualifications, no, not even his success. These are humankind’s methods of measuring “success,” (other than preaching the Gospel) but not God’s. “My ways are not your ways…”]

And finally, another Scripture (which I will not be breaking down to analyze MD in comparison; this Scripture just reinforces the prior one).

Titus 1:7-9 7Since an overseer[b] is entrusted with God’s work, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. 8Rather he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. 9He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.

Please see: 43. Driscoll Teaches on Qualified Leadership (Did I Hear Laughter?)

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It appears to me that Driscoll exhibits many of these manipulation and control characteristics in his words and behaviors (see list below). If this is, as CD Host claims in the comments under

14. Cult-Like Spiritual Abuse Issues & By Laws In a Nutshell

merely a reflection of  Driscoll’s Reformed Theology and that all my issues with Driscoll amount to my issues with Reformed Theology (didn’t know I had the latter), then one can expect to receive much, if not all, of the abuse described in this blog as well as in the following list of manipulative tactics from those who are reformed theologians, pastors, believers… That is not my opinion, that is reflecting CD Host’s opinion (so please respond to him on that, not me). Not only that, but everything in this blog as to what I consider the abusive nature of Driscoll’s words and behavior can be attributed to his reformed theology, and hence, according to CD Host, of reformed believers, pastors, churches. I can imagine that many of you would highly disagree with those conclusions… but then again, for those of you who have found yourself in a legalistic setting which happened to be a group of reformers, one might heartily agree with CD Host.

Regardless, you might want to take this list with you–and others provided in this blog regarding traits of abusive churches and pastors and symptoms of spiritual abuse– and compare these with what you see and hear as you read Driscoll’s books, read my posts, watch his podcasts, and listen to people who have fallen out of his good graces (that is, DISSENTERS who–gasp–dared to have their own opinions, dared to question him,–which is a sin according to MD– and dared to disagree on any of his Bible interpretations).

(And, by the way, I’d summarized this prior to my knowledge about Driscoll–so I was not writing this “to him” or even with him in mind. Rather, I was thinking of those who exploit, abuse, manipulate and control in general).

Tactics of Manipulation & Control

From  Simon’s Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

As Summarized by Freedom

Minimizing: Turning mountains into molehills (the character disordered and/or perpetrators do this; neurotics do the opposite). He trivializes the nature of his wrong doing. He tries to convince you that you would be wrong to conclude that his behavior is as wrong as he knows you suspect.

Lying: Omission, distortion. Your abuser/manipulator will stop at nothing to get what he wants; therefore, you can and should expect him to lie. They have refined lying to an art. He will withhold a significant amount of the truth from you, or distort essential elements of the truth, to keep you in the dark. He uses smooth, calculated omissions to deceive you.

Denial: “Who Me?” He poses as the humble servant. Your aggressor refuses to admit he’s done something harmful or hurtful when he clearly has. This “Who Me?” tactic invites the victim, you, to feel unjustified in confronting the aggressor about the inappropriateness of a behavior. It’s also a way for him to give himself permission to keep right on doing what he wants to do. He uses this maneuver to get you to back off, back down or maybe even feel guilty for insinuating he’s doing something wrong.

Selective Inattention: Refusal to pay attention to anything that might distract him from pursuing his agenda. He actively ignores your warnings, pleas or wishes and refuses to pay attention to everything or anything that might distract him from going after what he wants.

Rationalization: Excuses. Justifications. A rationalization is an excuse your aggressor/abuser makes for engaging in what he knows is an inappropriate or harmful behavior. This can be very effective, especially when he makes just enough sense that any reasonably conscientious person is likely to fall for it. If he can convince you he is justified in whatever he’s doing, then he is freer to pursue his goals without interference. He will often use shame and guilt to coerce you into buying his rationalizations / excuses / justifications.

Diversion: Distraction. Changing the subject. Dodging the issue. Throw you a curve ball. A moving target is hard to hit. When you try to pin your manipulator down or keep a discussion focused on a single issue or behavior you don’t like, he is expert at changing the subject, distracting, dodging and throwing curves. He utilizes this maneuver to keep the focus off his behavior, move you off track, keep you off balance and maintain his freedom to promote his self-serving hidden agenda. Confronting a manipulator is like trying to nail Jello to a wall.

Evasion: Your manipulator uses vagueness to avoid being cornered on an issue by giving rambling, irrelevant responses to a direct question. He deliberately uses vagueness to confuse you, to make you think you have an answer when you don’t. When he is not responding directly to an issue, you can safely assume he is trying to give you the slip.

Covert Intimidation: This is your abuser’s use of veiled threats to keep you, his victim, anxious, apprehensive and one down. The abuser is adept at countering arguments with such passion and intensity that he effectively throws you on the defensive. A manipulator primarily intimidates you by making veiled threats. This way he can threaten you without appearing overtly hostile and aggressive.

Guilt Tripping: “How could you think that of me??!” “How could you doubt me?!” Your manipulator keeps you self-doubting, anxious and submissive. This is one of your aggressor’s two favorite weapons, the other is shaming. Aggressive personalities know that others have very different consciences than they have. They also know that the hallmark qualities of a sound conscience are the capacities for guilt and shame. Your manipulator is skilled at using what he knows to be a greater conscientiousness in you, his victim, as a means of keeping you in that anxious, submissive state where you doubt yourself and your perceptions. All your manipulator has to do is suggest to you that you don’t care or that you’re being selfish or cruel [in finally calling them on their abuse] and you immediately start to feel bad. Whereas you can try until you’re blue in the face to get your manipulator to feel remorse for his hurtful behavior, acknowledge responsibility and admit wrong doing, to absolutely no avail.

Shaming: Your abuser uses subtle sarcasm and put downs as a means of increasing fear and self-doubt in you. He shames you to make you feel inadequate and unworthy so you will defer to his dominant position.

Victim Stancing: He plays the victim role to gain sympathy, evoke compassion in order to get something from you. He also uses this to play a false one down position to you in order to disarm you. If your manipulator can convince you that he’s suffering, then you, being a caring, sensitive soul, will want to relieve his distress.

Vilifying the Victim: Your abuser makes it appear that he is merely responding to and defending himself against YOUR aggression, making you, the victim, feel like the villain while he masks his aggressive intent and behavior.

Servant Role: Your manipulator cloaks his self-serving agendas in the guise of service to a noble cause; he pretends to work nobly on your behalf while concealing his own desire for power and dominance. One hallmark of a covert aggressive personality is he will loudly profess his subservience while fighting for dominance.

Seduction: He charms, praises, flatters you and overtly supports you to get you to lower your defenses and surrender your trust and loyalty. Your manipulator is particularly aware that to the extent you are emotionally needy or dependent (that is, vulnerable, which everyone is to some extent), you will desire approval and reassurance and a sense of being valued and needed above anything. Appearing to be attentive to these needs can be his ticket to incredible power over you. He melts any resistance you might have to giving him your loyalty and confidence. He does this by giving you what he knows you need most. You don’t find out how important you really are to him until you turn out to be in his way.

Blame Shifting (Projecting the blame onto you): Your aggressor is always looking for ways to shift the blame for his abusive behavior away from himself. He is expert at finding scapegoats in subtle, hard to detect ways. His willingness to blame you for his abusive behavior is in itself an abusive act. At the very moment he is engaging in the use of this tactic or any other he is in the act of aggressing.

Feigning Innocence: He attempts to convince you that any harm he may have caused you was unintentional or that he really didn’t do what he’s being accused of. This makes you question your judgment and sanity and to doubt your right to call him on his abusive behavior. He adroitly uses the look of surprise or indignation, or the sudden gasp at being so accused.

Feigning Confusion: Your abuser acts like he doesn’t know what you’re talking about or is confused about the issue you’re bringing. Plays ‘dumb’ to get you to question your perceptions, sanity, etc…

Brandishing Anger: Calculated, deliberate display of anger he may or may not feel in order to intimidate, coerce and manipulate.

When somebody uses these tactics frequently, you not only know what kind of character you’re dealing with (covert aggressors, manipulators, abusers, Narcissists, Anti-Socials, Borderline Personalities, etc…) but precisely because the tactics are both tools of manipulation as well as manifestations of resistance to change, you also know that he will engage in his problematic behaviors again. You can give up your fantasy that in time he will change and things will be different. Nothing will change until he decides to stop fighting and start accepting. As long as he’s engaged in utilizing these tactics, it’s clear he doesn’t intend to change.

In Sheep’s Clothing, by George K. Simon, p. 96-112

Freedom’s NOTE: And of course, with an abuser, especially a “professional” abuser, it is never appropriate to hang around in the abusive relationship hoping he will change. The point in the paragraph above is that as long as he’s aggressing, he has no intent to change. Realizing this could prove helpful to us in letting go of more denial about the abusiveness in the relationship and any hope we may have of reconciling with the abuser and picking up where we left off: namely, being abused by him again but calling it ‘love.’

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This is who Jesus says I am… This is who the Bible says I am… What say you?

…And, are half of His precious human creation to continue to be harassed, demeaned and oppressed by you and the men you train?

I pray to God that you and “your men” fall on your knees, repent hard and heavy, and answer, “No more. The abuse of God’s precious women stops here, and it stops now, in the name of Christ, Amen!”

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The following is taken from prayingheart.wordpress.com .  PH (Praying Heart) seems to have checked out the allegations. Several members of MH (Mars Hill) have reportedly attempted to discuss their concerns with Mark, and it would appear that often times they then get banned from the MH forum, and some find themselves disfellowshipped. It seems to be a system where any questions are lumped under “the sin of questioning,” and those who question are labelled “rebellious” and “in sin” because they are not “submitting to their elders.” Therefore, the members are oppressed and silenced, and truth is shut up.

Where does one possibly go for any kind of healing, justice and/or reconciliation in such a place? One has no other option but to leave or to continue to be abused and stand by helplessly as others are treated as egregiously as Peter and Bent (the two elders who were fired under questionable determinations by MH leadership in 2007) and others who are apparently unfairly disfellowshipped. And if one desires to expose what is hidden in darkness (as we are actually commanded to do, see below), it would appear that one cannot effectively or safely do that within the MH system.

So one creates blogs in hopes of helping those wounded by an oppressive system, and perhaps effecting some change for the good in the controlling system (this is very, very rare though, especially if the same leadership remains in place). Probably, more realistically, what we can hope for is to validate the pain and abuse former and current MH members have suffered and perhaps empower enough people to challenge the MH leadership in a manner in which they might be heard.

Eph 5:8-14

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, 14 for it is light that makes everything visible.

Does Mark Driscoll Continue to Lie to Mars Hill Members?

The below was submitted to PH via email. Since each fact checks out and the points are extremely relevant and important, PH is posting the article.

********************************

Mark Driscoll keeps changing the story.

Just as a suspected adulterer lies to cover his sin to appear innocent, Mark Driscoll and the elders are changing the story as they defend their actions.

This is illuminating. It shows that after 5 months there is still pressure to explain their actions. It also shows that Mark Driscoll and the elders are ashamed of the original story they put out and have to come up with better reasons why they fired Pastor Paul and Pastor Bent.

And… story is changing…again. Mark Driscoll now states publicly that the two pastors were fired for poor job performance. Why did we not hear this when they were fired 5 months ago? Because Mark Driscoll did not think of saying it 5 months ago – it was not even on his mind at that point. Furthermore, it never would have passed the laugh test then. They had both received good job performance reviews just a couple of months before their firings. We members have watched these men work harder than any two Elders we know.

So why this new lie from Mark Driscoll?

The new lie is being presented because the truth shows the actions taken to be sinful and wrong. He cannot stick to that story because it is shameful, and he therefore is still looking for the story that the hearers will believe, so that folks will just let this go. Now, he teaches young Acts 29 pastors that “just as he had to recently do, sometimes you have to remove elders even though there is no charge against them – they are simply not doing their job.”

Below is the evolution of what we have been told. Read it, and grieve for the sin of our leaders.

  1. September 2007:The men were “fired for sin” Not moral sin but sin that serious enough to fire them. We members were not told what the sin was so as to protect the two elders and to avoid fueling gossip. (Munson letter on members site)
  2. October 2007: It was all about the bylaws. In the resulting confusion and consternation from the membership, a long time member known for her respectful manner asked to see a copy of the bylaws under which she was governed and these men were fired, she was denied the opportunity. Instead, Mark Driscoll told her in an extremely patronizing tone on the members’ site that she had unintentionally stumbled on the root problem of the matter, the by-laws. (Driscoll post on members site)
  3. October 2007: Violating Elder Protocol. Members were told that these men violated elder protocol by discussing the proposed by-laws with the church lawyer without the required permission. Additionally, these men did not have and that have a proper respect (an “unhealthy distrust”) for their leaders. Elder protocol was also violated when one of these men allowed one member to see the confidential proposed new bylaws so as to ask for his insight on the proposed changes. (Conversations with various elders, the 145 page document)
  4. November 2, 2007: “Posturing and Grabbing at Power and Money.” The Elders presented the infamous 145 page document in which they endeavored to explain their actions. A thorough reading of this document does not imply or even hint that the men had inadequate job performance. Instead, the newest allegation was that the men were posturing for and attempting to grab power and money. This latest allegation had never been mentioned prior to this. A review of the facts shows that that there is absolutely no evidence that this accusation from Mark Driscoll is anything but a lie.* It was just another desperate attempt to pacify the members and put out the fire that they had started.

*PH: A review of the facts shows clearly that if anyone can be accused of grabbing power and money it is Mark Driscoll and the other 4 executive elders. The very men that fired the two pastors and then proceeded to level charges against them are the same men that gained extraordinary power and additional money under the new by-laws. Under the existing bylaws, the executive 5 had only one vote of twenty four. The Executive 5 would have 1 vote of 5 under the new by-laws. The new by-laws stripped all the other elders of any real power. Pastor Paul and Pastor Bent would gain no power or money were the existing bylaws kept in place.*

  1. November/December 2007: “Paul Petry refuses to be reconciled.” This lie has been fairly effective, therefore the elders have kept saying it. James Harleman has said that Pastor Paul has refused to be reconciled despite the elders seeking reconciliation innumerable times. Tim Quiring states that Pastor Paul is divisive, angry, vindictive and “not responded to the grace being offered to him by the Mars Hill leadership.” (the 145 page document, the Shunning letter.) In fact neither of these men have made any contact with Pastor Paul at all in the 5 months since the firings. This is true of almost all the elders. Contrary to Mr. Harleman’s allegation, the number of attempts on the part of Mars Hill have been been pathetically few and usually adversarial in nature. When Pastor Paul did agree to meet with Elder “x”, this elder changed the terms of the meeting and refused to meet with Pastor Paul under the originally agreed upon terms. The Elders have refused to meet with Pastor Paul. While Elder x was trying to arrange this meeting with Pastor Paul, the Elders simultaneously were issuing a public announcement calling for Pastor Paul to be shunned by the members of Mars Hill. This is the grace referred to by Tim Quiring?

The “refusal to be reconciled” line has run its course and is becoming weak and non-credible.

  1. February 2007: “Inadequate Job Performance” (Mark Driscoll – Acts 29 conference)

And the story gets spun and respun.

These various evolutions of history were occurring as the Elders were being challenged that the charges were silly, the trial not fair and just by any reasonable person’s standards, and that the process was simply a mistake by naïve elders at best or blatantly sinful and cruel at worst. Each new lie has confirmed that the trial had merely demonstrated the sin resident in the heart.

Of course these stories will eventually cease to work because no member would expect a party so badly treated to willingly subject himself to further abuse. Many of us members have inquired of both fired pastors and heard that the Elders are stubborn and refusing to meet or yield. The story told by these men give a totally different perspective of the events. Both men have called for elders to cease their lies and repent of their actions.

The original charges and the ensuing actions taken by the elders cannot stand the test of biblical scrutiny.

We now hear that Mark Driscoll, who clearly and publically voiced to the church his anger towards the two elders in his Sept 30th sermon before he even fired telling us that in fact the men were actually fired for poor job performance.

Well. This latest lie will not stick either.

What will the next lie be?

*PH: Are these the actions of men qualified to be Elders?*

http://prayingheart.wordpress.com/2008/03/01/mark-driscoll-continues-to-lie-to-mars-hill-members/

2/7/09

I encourage those interested to go to PH’s site and review the comments in response to PH’s posting (I’ve included a handful below). Also from PH’s site:

March 2, 2008  Great Book For Abused or Mistreated Elders…

Or those in church leadership simply wondering if THEY are crazy. … PH has received excellent feedback from those who have read book by Dr. John K. Setser: “Broken Hearts, Shattered Trust/Workplace Abuse of Staff in the Church”. If any are interested in receiving their own copy, Dr. Setser is happy to send on at no charge (at this point). Just email him at johnsetser@hotmail.com and ask. Dr. Setser is the founder of Baranbas Ministries: http://www.shatteredtrust.com

http://prayingheart.wordpress.com/

The following responses are taken from the comments to PH’s post:

  1. dfndr.faith Says:
    March 2, 2008 at 10:25 am

I also spoke recently with one of the two fired pastors. He shared the same story that Ph did….about a recent private meeting between Mark Driscoll and a church pastor of a large congregation in the Puget Sound area. The minister was accompanied by one of the fired MH pastors. In the meeting the minister shared with Mark how wrong the shunning document was and that this was giving the church (all churches) a black eye, especially here in Seattle. Mark was also asked if he was referring to Paul and Bent in the famous Nehemiah sermon last fall and he said he no….that he was only referring to some church members. He was also asked why he fired Paul and Bent and he answered by saying that he didn’t fire them….that Jaime fired them because “they were doing a poor job.” What primarily stood out to me from what I heard was that Mark’s tone either vague, evasive, or that he couldn’t remember details when he was asked specific questions.

  1. prayingheart Says:
    March 6, 2008 at 7:28 am

Outsider, as a frequent attender who has chosen to be involved within Mars Hill, and as one who has chosen to research the matters discussed here, PH DOES understand the injustice of it all. Feel free to do any or all of the above and come back with any specific questions you may have regarding the facts or conclusions presented here.

  1. jennifer Says:
    May 25, 2008 at 3:16 pm

PH – I was disturbed in reading the letter you have posted as the preface to the document to the church in the way that the letter of Philippians was cited and “applied” to the situation. I have myself been a long-time member of a church which used Scipture to control members – and this is the same sort of thing I came across there. I have also listened to a couple of the Philippian sermons from the series where he says very similar things to what is written in the letter.

I am surprised since he has many friends among sound pastors if no-one is picking up on this use of scripture which is manifestly massaged to fit the situation. I do hope that some in the church have challenged on this at some stage.

  1. musicman Says:
    December 2, 2008 at 3:32 pm

Claiming all the “good” Mark is doing as an excuse for other “questionable” actions is a slippery slope that you do not want to follow.

http://prayingheart.wordpress.com/

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This article has received A LOT of attention, and since I’ve referred to it in previous posts, I thought it only fitting I should include it in its entirety.

Who Would Jesus Smack Down?
Published Jan 6, 2009

Mark Driscoll’s sermons are mostly too racy to post on GodTube, the evangelical Christian “family friendly” video-posting Web site. With titles like “Biblical Oral Sex” and “Pleasuring Your Spouse,” his clips do not stand a chance against the site’s content filters. No matter: YouTube is where Driscoll, the pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, would rather be. Unsuspecting sinners who type in popular keywords may suddenly find themselves face to face with a husky-voiced preacher in a black skateboarder’s jacket and skull T-shirt. An “Under 17 Requires Adult Permission” warning flashes before the video cuts to evening services at Mars Hill, where an anonymous audience member has just text-messaged a question to the screen onstage: “Pastor Mark, is masturbation a valid form of birth control?”

Driscoll doesn’t miss a beat: “I had one guy quote Ecclesiastes 9:10, which says, ‘Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.’ ” The audience bursts out laughing. Next Pastor Mark is warning them about lust and exalting the confines of marriage, one hand jammed in his jeans pocket while the other waves his Bible. Even the skeptical viewer must admit that whatever Driscoll’s opinion of certain recreational activities, he has the coolest style and foulest mouth of any preacher you’ve ever seen.

Mark Driscoll is American evangelicalism’s bête noire. In little more than a decade, his ministry has grown from a living-room Bible study to a megachurch that draws about 7,600 visitors to seven campuses around Seattle each Sunday, and his books, blogs and podcasts have made him one of the most admired — and reviled — figures among evangelicals nationwide. Conservatives call Driscoll “the cussing pastor” and wish that he’d trade in his fashionably distressed jeans and taste for indie rock for a suit and tie and placid choral arrangements. Liberals wince at his hellfire theology and insistence that women submit to their husbands. But what is new about Driscoll is that he has resurrected a particular strain of fire and brimstone, one that most Americans assume died out with the Puritans: Calvinism, a theology that makes Pat Robertson seem warm and fuzzy.


At a time when the once-vaunted unity of the religious right has eroded and the mainstream media is proclaiming an “evangelical crackup,” Driscoll represents a movement to revamp the style and substance of evangelicalism. With his taste for vintage baseball caps and omnipresence on Facebook and iTunes, Driscoll, who is 38, is on the cutting edge of American pop culture. Yet his message seems radically unfashionable, even un-American: you are not captain of your soul or master of your fate but a depraved worm whose hard work and good deeds will get you nowhere, because God marked you for heaven or condemned you to hell before the beginning of time. Yet a significant number of young people in
Seattle — and nationwide — say this is exactly what they want to hear. Calvinism has somehow become cool, and just as startling, this generally bookish creed has fused with a macho ethos. At Mars Hill, members say their favorite movie isn’t “Amazing Grace” or “The Chronicles of Narnia” — it’s “Fight Club.”

Mars Hill Church is the furthest thing from a Puritan meetinghouse. This is Seattle, and Mars Hill epitomizes the city that spawned it. Headquartered in a converted marine supply store, the church is a boxy gray building near the diesel-infused din of the Ballard Bridge. In the lobby one Sunday not long ago, college kids in jeans — some sporting nose rings or kitchen-sink dye jobs — lounged on ottomans and thumbed text messages to their friends. The front desk, black and slick, looked as if it ought to offer lattes rather than Bibles and membership pamphlets. Buzz-cut and tattooed security guards mumbled into their headpieces and directed the crowd toward the auditorium, where the worship band was warming up for an hour of hymns with Bruce Springsteens’s “Born to Run.”

On that Sunday, Driscoll preached for an hour and 10 minutes — nearly three times longer than most pastors. As hip as he looks, his message brooks no compromise with
Seattle’s permissive culture. New members can keep their taste in music, their retro T-shirts and their intimidating facial hair, but they had better abandon their feminism, premarital sex and any “modern” interpretations of the Bible. Driscoll is adamantly not the “weepy worship dude” he associates with liberal and mainstream evangelical churches, “singing prom songs to a Jesus who is presented as a wuss who took a beating and spent a lot of time putting product in his long hair.”

The oldest of five, son of a union drywaller, Driscoll was raised Roman Catholic in a rough neighborhood on the outskirts of Seattle. In high school, he met a pretty blond pastor’s daughter named — providentially — Grace. She gave him his first Bible. He read voraciously and was born again at 19. “God talked to me,” Driscoll says. “He told me to marry Grace, preach the Bible, to plant churches and train men.” He married Grace (with whom he now has five children) and, at 25, founded Mars Hill.

God called Driscoll to preach to men — particularly young men — to save them from an American Protestantism that has emasculated Christ and driven men from church pews with praise music that sounds more like boy-band ballads crooned to Jesus than “Onward Christian Soldiers.” What bothers Driscoll — and the growing number of evangelical pastors who agree with him — is not the trope of Jesus-as-lover. After all, St. Paul tells us that the Church is the bride of Christ. What really grates is the portrayal of Jesus as a wimp, or worse. Paintings depict a gentle man embracing children and cuddling lambs. Hymns celebrate his patience and tenderness. The mainstream church, Driscoll has written, has transformed Jesus into “a Richard Simmons, hippie, queer Christ,” a “neutered and limp-wristed popular Sky Fairy of pop culture that . . . would never talk about sin or send anyone to hell.”

This reaction to the “feminization” of the church is not new. “The Lord save us,” declared the evangelist Billy Sunday in 1916, “from off-handed, flabby-cheeked . . . effeminate, ossified, three-carat Christianity.” In 1990 a group of pastors founded the Promise Keepers ministry dedicated to “igniting and uniting men” who were failing their families and abandoning the church. In recent years, mainstream megachurches — the mammoth pacesetters of American evangelicalism that package Christianity for mass consumption — have been criticized for replacing hard-edged Gospel with feminized pablum. According to Ed Stetzer, the director of LifeWay Research, a Southern Baptist religious polling organization, Mars Hill is “a reaction to the atheological, consumer-driven nature of the modern evangelical machine.”

The “modern evangelical machine” is a product of the 1970s and ’80s, when a new generation of business-savvy pastors developed strategies to reach unbelievers turned off by traditional worship and evangelization. Their approach was “seeker sensitive”: upon learning that many people didn’t go in for stained glass and steeples, these pastors made their churches look like shopping malls. Complex theology intimidated the curious, and talk of damnation alienated potential converts — so they played down doctrine in favor of upbeat, practical teachings on the Christian life.


These megachurches, like Joel Osteen’s
Lakewood Church in Houston and Bill Hybels’s Willow Creek Community Church in Illinois, have come to symbolize American evangelicalism. By any quantitative measure they are wildly successful, and their values and methods have diffused into the evangelical bloodstream. Yet some megachurches have begun to admit what critics maintained all along: numbers are not everything. In the fall of 2007, leaders of Willow Creek sent shockwaves through the evangelical world when they announced the results of a study in which churchgoers reported feeling stagnant in their faith and frustrated with slick, program-driven pastors. “As an evangelical, I would say this tells us something,” Stetzer says. “The center is not holding.”

Mars Hill has not entirely dispensed with megachurch marketing tactics. Its success in one of the most liberal and least-churched cities in
America depends on being sensitive to the body-pierced and latte-drinking seekers of Seattle. Ultimately, however, Driscoll’s theology means that his congregants’ salvation is not in his hands. It’s not in their own hands, either — this is the heart of Calvinism.
Human beings are totally corrupted by original sin and predestined for heaven or hell, no matter their earthly conduct. We all deserve eternal damnation, but God, in his inscrutable mercy, has granted the grace of salvation to an elect few. While John Calvin’s 16th-century doctrines have deep roots in Christian tradition, they strike many modern evangelicals as nonsensical and even un-Christian. If predestination is true, they argue, then there is no point in missions to the unsaved or in leading a godly life. And some babies who die in infancy — if God placed them among the reprobate — go straight to hell with the rest of the damned, to “glorify his name by their own destruction,” as Calvin wrote. Since the early 19th century, most evangelicals have preferred a theology that stresses the believer’s free decision to accept God’s grace. To be born again is a choice God wants you to make; if you so choose, Jesus will be your personal friend.

Yet Driscoll is not an isolated eccentric. Over the past two decades, preachers in places as far-flung as Minneapolis and Washington, D.C., in denominations ranging from Baptist to Pentecostal, are pushing “this new, aggressive, mission-minded Calvinism that really believes Calvinism is a transcript of the Gospel,” according to Roger Olson, a professor of theology at Baylor University. They have harnessed the Internet to recruit new believers, especially young people. Any curious seeker can find his way into a world of sermon podcasts and treatises by the Protestant Reformers and English Puritans, whose abstruse writings, though far from best-selling, are enjoying something of a renaissance. New converts stay in touch via blogs and Facebook groups with names like “John Calvin Is My Homeboy” and “Calvinism: The Group That Chooses You.”

New Calvinists are still relatively few in number, but that doesn’t bother them: being a persecuted minority proves you are among the elect. They are not “the next big thing” but a protest movement, defying an evangelical mainstream that, they believe, has gone soft on sin and has watered down the Gospel into a glorified self-help program. In part, Calvinism appeals because — like Mars Hill’s music and Driscoll’s frank sermons — the message is raw and disconcerting: seeker insensitive.

Most people who attend Mars Hill do not see themselves as theological radicals. Mark Driscoll is just “Pastor Mark,” not the New Calvinist warrior demonized on evangelical and liberal blogs. Yet while some initially come for mundane reasons — their friends attend; they like the music — the Calvinist theology is often the glue that keeps them in their seats. They call the preaching “authentic” and “true to life.” Traditional evangelical theology falls apart in the face of real tragedy, says the 20-year-old Brett Harris, who runs an evangelical teen blog with his twin brother, Alex. Reducing God to a projection of our own wishes trivializes divine sovereignty and fails to explain how both good and evil have a place in the divine plan. “There are plenty of comfortable people who can say, ‘God’s on my side,’ ” Harris says. “But they couldn’t turn around and say, ‘God gave me cancer.’ ”

Though they believe that God has already mapped out their lives, Calvinists have always been activists. Ye shall know the elect by their fruits, not by their passive acceptance of fate. When it comes to wrestling with life’s challenges, however, they reject the “positive thinking” ethos that Norman Vincent Peale made famous in the 1950s. That philosophy still dominates the Christian self-help market in books like “Your Best Life Now” by Joel Osteen, which promises readers that everything from a Hawaiian vacation house to a beauty-pageant crown is within their grasp if only they “develop a can-do attitude.” Marianne Esterly, a women’s counselor at Mars Hill, says she tries to help women resist the desperation that can come with forgetting that man’s chief end is to glorify God, not to obsess over earthly problems. “They worship the trauma, or the anorexia, and that’s not what they’re designed to worship,” she says. “Christian self-help doesn’t work. We can’t do anything. It’s all the work of Christ.”

Calvinism is a theology predicated on paradox: God has predestined every human being’s actions, yet we are still to blame for our sins; we are totally depraved, yet held to the impossible standard of divine law. These teachings do not jibe with Enlightenment ideas about human capacity, yet they have appealed to a wide range of modern intellectuals, especially those who stressed the dangers of human hubris in the wake of World War I.

Driscoll found his way into this tradition largely on his own. He recently earned a master’s degree through an independent-study program he arranged at a seminary in Portland, Ore. Years ago, paperback reprints of old Puritan treatises in the corner of a local bookstore piqued his interest in Reformation theology. He came to admire Martin Luther, the vulgar, beer-swilling theological rebel who sparked the Reformation. “I found him to be something of a mentor,” Driscoll says. “I didn’t have all the baggage he did. But you can see him with a quill in one hand and a drink in the other. He married a brewer and renegade nun. His story is kind of indie rock.”

Driscoll disdains the prohibitions of traditional evangelical Christianity. Taboos on alcohol, smoking, swearing and violent movies have done much to shape American Protestant culture — a culture that he has called the domain of “chicks and some chickified dudes with limp wrists.” Moreover, the Bible tells him that to seek salvation by self-righteous clean living is to behave like a Pharisee. Unlike fundamentalists who isolate themselves, creating “a separate culture where you live in a Christian cul-de-sac,” as one spiky-haired member named Andrew Pack puts it, Mars Hillians pride themselves on friendships with non-Christians. They tend to be cultural activists who play in rock bands and care about the arts, living out a long Reformed tradition that asserts Christ’s mandate over every corner of creation.

Like many New Calvinists, Driscoll advocates traditional gender roles, called “complementarianism” in theological parlance. Men and women are “equal spiritually, and it’s a difference of functionality, not intrinsic worth,” says Danielle Blazer, a 34-year-old Mars Hill member. Women may work outside the home, but they must submit to their husbands, and they are forbidden from taking on preaching roles in the church.

“It’s only since women have been in church leadership that this backlash has come,” says the Seattle pastor Katie Ladd, a liberal Methodist who holds that declaring Jesus a “masculine dude” subverts the transformative message of the Gospel. But New Calvinists argue that traditional gender roles are true to the Bible, especially the letters of Paul. Moreover, embedded in the notion of Adam as the “federal head” of the human race is the idea of man as head of the home.

Nowhere is the connection between Driscoll’s hypermasculinity and his Calvinist theology clearer than in his refusal to tolerate opposition at Mars Hill. The Reformed tradition’s resistance to compromise and emphasis on the purity of the worshipping community has always contained the seeds of authoritarianism: John Calvin had heretics burned at the stake and made a man who casually criticized him at a dinner party march through the streets of Geneva, kneeling at every intersection to beg forgiveness. Mars Hill is not 16th-century
Geneva, but Driscoll has little patience for dissent. In 2007, two elders protested a plan to reorganize the church that, according to critics, consolidated power in the hands of Driscoll and his closest aides. Driscoll told the congregation that he asked advice on how to handle stubborn subordinates from a “mixed martial artist and Ultimate Fighter, good guy” who attends Mars Hill. “His answer was brilliant,” Driscoll reported. “He said, ‘I break their nose.’ ” When one of the renegade elders refused to repent, the church leadership ordered members to shun him. One member complained on an online message board and instantly found his membership privileges suspended. “They are sinning through questioning,” Driscoll preached. John Calvin couldn’t have said it better himself.

Most members, however, didn’t join Mars Hill in order to ask questions. Damon Conklin, who is 41 and runs a tattoo parlor, says he joined Mars Hill because Driscoll made his life make sense — and didn’t ask him to pretend to be someone he wasn’t. “I decided to stop smoking crack and drinking every day,” Conklin says. “I had to find some kind of God in order to do that.” He hated the churches he visited: “I would show up looking as mean as possible, with my Afro blown out, wearing a wife-beater, and then I’d say, ‘Why don’t they like me?’ Then I went to Mars Hill, and I believed Mark.”

Driscoll’s theology “changed how I view women,” Conklin says. He quit going to strip clubs and now refuses to tattoo others with his old specialty, pinup girls (though he still wears two on one arm, souvenirs from earlier, godless days). Mars Hill counts four of the city’s top tattoo artists among its members (and many of their clientele — that afternoon, Conklin was expecting a fellow church member who wanted a portrait of Christ enthroned across his back). While other churches left people like Conklin feeling alienated, Mars Hill has made them its missionaries. “Some people say, ‘You’re pretty cool and you’re a Christian, so I guess I can’t hate all of them anymore,’ ” he says. “I understand where they’re coming from.”

Mars Hill — with its conservative social teachings embedded in guitar solos and drum riffs, its megachurch presence in the heart of bohemian skepticism — thrives on paradox. Critics on the left and right alike predict that this delicate balance of opposites cannot last. Some are skeptical of a church so bent on staying perpetually “hip”: members have only recently begun to marry and have children, but surely those children will grow up, grow too cool for their cool church and rebel. Others say that Driscoll’s ego and taste for controversy will be Mars Hill’s Achilles’ heel. Lately he has made a concerted effort to tone down his language, and he insists that he has delegated much authority, but the heart of his message has not changed. Driscoll is still the one who gazes down upon Mars Hill’s seven congregations most Sundays, his sermons broadcast from the main campus to jumbo-size projection screens around the city. At one suburban campus that I visited, a huge yellow cross dominated center stage — until the projection screen unfurled and Driscoll’s face blocked the cross from view. Driscoll’s New Calvinism underscores a curious fact: the doctrine of total human depravity has always had a funny way of emboldening, rather than humbling, its adherents.

c. 2009, Molly Worthen, New York Times

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