Sunday, August 22, 2021

Narcissistic Pastors 2

 I didn't expect to write a part 2 blog post on Narcissistic Pastors.

But listening to The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill podcast put up by Christianity Today is really stirring up memories of my time in a church led by a Narcissist back in the Eighties. So humor me, if you will.

My humble little blog is, by no means, a Watchdog Blog. Even back when I was blogging a lot more, during the fall of Mars Hill, this blog was more about discussing, refuting, and perhaps some reflection.

Those of us who have studied the Word for a few years could see right through Driscoll's Scripture twisting. One of my commenters back in the day stated that Driscoll Uses the Bible as a Sock Puppet That Always Agrees with Him. Back then, it was nice to find someone else that saw this and spoke up against the torrent of people claiming that Driscoll was a brilliant Bible Teacher.

Was Driscoll a brilliant Bible Teacher? Some interviewees in the Mars Hill Podcast still claim that he is. I would counter that with this. No, he's a terrible Bible teacher. Because a true Bible teacher is more concerned with rightly dividing the Word of Truth. Driscoll was far more interested in something else. I repeat, he's a terrible Bible teacher. But, I will say this for him. He is a brilliant propogandist, able to use the Bible as a tool to manipulate, bully, and beat people up as expressed in Episode Seven of the Christianity Today series "State of Emergency".

In Episode Seven, Cosper goes into more detail about how Driscoll used the Book of Nehemiah, from the pulpit, against two elders. Cosper also brought up other ways that Driscoll used the Bible for personal benefit, to built his own kingdom while claiming he was building the Kingdom of God.

Listening to the "State of Emergency" podcast put me into remembrance of my old Eighties pastor, He is referred to in a previous post as Pastor Fred (not his real name).

Pastor Fred used to do the State of Emergency tactic all the time. He used war and battle reference and preached on Joshua and Nehemiah. He was very interested in numbers and getting people saved and plugged into our church. And the indication was that our church was the church in town that had it going on far and above any other church.

As an example of his war/battling for Jesus rhetoric, he one time said something about, sure, new converts were babies in Christ. But they were still in a war and were going to need camouflaged pampers.

One of Pastor Fred's favorite Bible verses was Matthew 11:12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.

He would say that it was the more aggressive ones who were able to make things happen and build the Kingdom of God. Later, thinking back, I thought a better description would be that violent men like Pastor Fred and Mark Driscoll would be the ones who were trying to take over the Kingdom of God and make it their own using bullying tactics and figurative buses to run people over. It seemed that Pastor Fred was using this verse to excuse his bad behavior just like Driscoll used Nehemiah to justify his bad behavior toward innocent and upstanding elders.

Neither view of the above mentioned verse is correct, however. Here is a link to a better explanation Matthew 11:12.

Moving on...

Episode Seven goes into the story of the bullying and maligning two elders, Brent Meyer and Paul Petry. Hearing again how badly Driscoll mistreated these two men and its relationship to his "Mars Hill Bus" and the mountain of bodies behind it quote reminded me of what Pastor Fred did to a young father in his church.

The man's name was Scott*. He was a friendly, outgoing, and charismatic person. Pastor Fred started feeling 'led of the Lord' that Scott should become an assistant pastor and would say so from the pulpit. I didn't know it at the time, but pastor Fred was publicly love bombing Scott and drawing him in. Scott fell for it, like we all did, and became an assistant pastor.

But shortly afterward, Pastor Fred began to publicly indicate that Scott wasn't working out. Scott had fallen from favor somehow and now Pastor Fred did whatever he could to get rid of Scott. Again, at the time I didn't know that Scott was going through the devaluing and discarding phase of the relationship with the narcissist. But what I did wonder was how Pastor Fred could indicate that he was "Led of the Lord" and next thing you know, whatever he felt led to do he was able to flippantly go back on. And I began to suspect that Fred was being led by something else. And now I know that something else was heavily influenced by his personality disorder.

I had a chance to reconnect with Scott and his wife sometime in the Nineties. They were going to a church  that was full of people who had been wounded in other churches and going through their own form of deconstruction. When Scott spoke about the situation, he still really didn't understand what happened. We still didn't have terms available to us in the mainstream like Narcissistic Personality Disorder. But we did have a book called, "The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse" which was widely circulated among all of us who were hurt by Pastor Fred.

I am glad that we have better understanding of personality disorders today. And I'm glad Cosper is taking on this subject. The more information and resources we can get out there concerning Narcissism in the church, the better equipped people will be to recognize what is going on and avoid train wrecks like Mars Hill and violent, self-serving bus drivers like Driscoll.

*Scott is his real name. I use his real name out of respect and solidarity.

Edited to add a link to this newly discovered YouTube video: Is love bombing just a process of grooming?

Saturday, August 7, 2021

Narcissistic Pastors

 I have been talking here, more specifically, about Mark Driscoll. I also occasionally refer to my ex who was also Narcissistic and a pastor and relate it to my understanding of the Driscoll debacle. But I haven't really spoken about the pastor I had back in the mid-eighties who was also Narcissistic.

Yes, clear back in the eighties. That was when I graduated from high school and college, got married and gave birth to my first child. My ex and I met in a church where the pastor was a narcissist. And like the people of Mars Hill, we didn't know he was a Narcissist. In addition, we didn't know that NPD was a thing, an actual diagnose-able personality disorder.

We'll call this Eighties pastor of mine Fred. Anyway, Pastor Fred started off looking okay just like my ex and Mark Driscoll. But as time went on, and he amassed more power and influence, it became clear that something wasn't right. Pretty soon we could see that he was more about building his own kingdom rather than God's. Before we left the state in 1989 for my then-spouse to go to Bible College, Pastor Fred was yelling at his congregation more often. He'd yell at the ones that attended Sunday night service about the absence of those who weren't there. He yelled about people not giving enough money, etc. My parents continued to attend Pastor Fred's church while we were gone. My dad continued to serve on the board. So I got to hear how things continued to spiral downwards.

You see, Pastor Fred was not nearly as smart, savvy, or decent looking as Mark Driscoll. This was also before the internet age, so he couldn't bypass the cultural gate keepers referred to in The Brand episode of The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill podcasts. So, luckily, the damage he inflicted was a lot smaller and more localized than what Driscoll has been guilty of. But that doesn't mean the people hurt were not damaged as much as the people wounded by Driscoll at Mars Hill.

Hearing the latest shenanigans of Pastor Fred from my parents in the early Nineties took its toll on me and I soon I needed to talk to someone. I was provided the opportunity to sit down with the Dean of the Bible College's wife. She listened very empathetically. But when I had laid it all out before her, the words she spoke were hard to hear. She said something along the the lines of, "You have no idea how often we hear about this situation." And she basically said that what I thought was a rare occurrence was really way more common than people knew. What she told me was devastating. It rocked my world and forced me out of my naivety.

Long before I ever heard of Driscoll, I found out the hard way that Pastors like Fred were very common. So when Driscoll appeared on my radar, I already knew that he was one of those pastors. And later I learned about NPD and knew that it applied to Pastor Fred and Pastor Driscoll and so many others.

On discussion boards, I would interact with young, naïve Driscoll lovers who didn't want to hear me bash their idol. They ascribed to me all manner of sin rather than listen to the place of experience that I had come from. They accused me of being jealous of his intelligence or popularity saying that I was too old fashioned and not hip enough to get Driscoll. They accused me of being ignorant, unteachable, prudish, and of trying to be the "bedroom police". The list goes on.

I could convince them of nothing. The Mars Hill Bus had to crash, burn, and go down in flames before they could see the truth.

And still, even after everything that went on in Seattle, ignorance and naivety concerning Narcissistic Pastors abounded in the Church. Mark was able to go to Scottsdale Arizona and set up shop again. He now pastors Trinity Church. And lo and behold, the same things are happening in Scottsdale that happened in Seattle, only worse. There seems to be an endless supply of naïve Christians willing to give Narcissistic Pastors more chances to steal money, kill souls, and destroy lives.

This is why we need podcasts like The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill. It may not be perfect. It may not go nearly far enough in dealing with Mark's horrid teachings on Gender and Marriage. But thank God, people are waking up to the problem of Narcissistic Pastors. Thank God this very real, serious, and way too common problem is being looked at and analyzed in earnest.

Monday, August 2, 2021

Narcissistic Love

 Can those suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder love?

It depends.

First off, what kind of love are we talking about? Agape unconditional love? Or just the love one feels at the beginning of a new conquest, chasing after a shiny new target?

Love bombing is another term used to describe what Narcissists do. Love Bombing is usually part of the initial phase of a new relationship. It is also used by cults to draw in new converts. I suppose another way to look at it is grooming as Kyle Howard describes. If love bombing and grooming are not one in the same, they are definitely closely related.

Love bombing and grooming are used by Narcissists and Predators to lure and trap their prey. By prey, I mean a new source of Narcissistic Supply.

There is some question as to whether Narcissists know what they are doing. And I understand this. I understand it towards Mark Driscoll and towards my ex husband. Perhaps I am/was deceived, but I felt like my spouse was all in and wanted to do church and marriage right in the early years. And from what many say about Driscoll, especially in the early years, he also appeared to desire to do church and marriage(s) right, as is mentioned in I Am Jack's Raging Bile Duct podcast from The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill series.

So what happened to my spouse? What happened to Mark Driscoll? Or, perhaps we should ask, what was always wrong, but became worse and more evident with time?

Well, for me, personally, a few years into my relationship with the Narcissist, we entered into a Devaluing stage.(Devaluing and Discarding). It was slow and gradual but unrelenting.

I suppose the covert Spectrum of Trust ratings that Driscoll does at his new church in Arizona is a sophisticated and thought out expression of the Devaluing process. This Spectrum of Trust is described in Inside the Driscoll "Cult" part II podcast starting at the 22:58 mark for those who are curious about such things. But Driscoll mixes up Trust with Narcissistic Supply. When someone no longer panders to him and props up his ego, their "Trust" points go down. So the Spectrum of Trust is in reality the Spectrum of Narcissistic Supply.

Remember the Karen Shaffer story from You Read Your Bible Ringo mentioned in my Mars Hill and How To Become a Tyrant post? Karen's loyalty came into question when she casually mentioned that a very young Driscoll could have used some older, wiser men around him. I used her story in the Tyrant post as an example of Driscoll's Narcissistic Rage. But the full story is also an example of Driscoll's need for Narcissistic Supply and The Narcissistic Devaluing and Discarding process.

When Karen failed to prop up Driscoll as he desired, she was not giving him the Narcissistic Supply he felt entitled to. And the moment he caught wind of her perceived "disloyalty" she was devalued from a trusted administrative assistant clear down to a heretic. Her devaluation was breath taking in speed and scope. Der Fuhrer had nothing on Driscoll and his Blitz Krieg against Karen.

Driscoll has since refined and finetuned his process of managing who is qualified to be a worthy vessel of Narcissistic Supply. That is his Spectrum of Trust rating system. 

So, can a Narcissist love? Sure, as long as his underlings give his ego the supply he requires.

After about a decade of being married to a Narcissist and being devalued by him, I began to get a warped sense of what love was. Around that time, I began meditations on The Song of Songs which was oil and wine for my wounded soul and spirit. It became a healing ointment against the subtle but consistent Narcissistic abuse I was being subject to. This is why I flipped-the-heck-out when I stumbled upon Driscoll and his abuse of women through his Narcissistic twisting and manipulating of The Songs.