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?

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