There is quite a bit of material in the February 5, 2008 Spiritual Warfare series that has not come up for any public discussion, in spite of the fact that hours of material have been available to the public for years. While other bloggers have tended to focus on the more overtly controversial material such as "I see things" it is possible that a great deal of the substance of the teaching has never been discussed.
But as former members begin to go public with their stories, there's a case study Driscoll shared from his pastoral counseling that seemed worth considering at great length. Although the audio from the Spiritual Warfare series has been pulled Wenatchee The Hatchet has had the material for years back when it was free for all and sundry to download, so it's a simple matter to transcribe and present material Driscoll shared about a particular case of counseling a wife who he believed had wrongly believed her husband was cheating on her.
Now while the link to the original audio is dead ...
still works ... for now. So the dating of the teaching event can be established. While in some cases the event has been dated to February 5, 2005 this turns out to have been inaccurate. So, with all that out of the way:
February 5, 2008
Part 2 - The Devil
John chapter 8, Satan also likes to work through the ordinary demonic of lies. Jesus says there that Satan is a liar. He is the father of lies. He has been lying since the beginning. Lying is his native tongue.
Here's the situation with lies, lies work. [emphasis added] The vast majority of your demonic counseling will simply be figuring out the lies that people believe. Jesus says "You will know the truth and the truth shall set you free." That's, "People are in bondage to lies and the truth sets them free."
This can be theological but sometimes it's just really practical.
I'll give you one situation, I use this analogy all the time. Let's say there's a woman and she believes that her husband doesn't love her and she believes that he's cheating on her committing adultery. Let's say it's a total lie, it's not true. If she believes that will that effect anything? It destroys everything. Why? Because it doesn't need to be true to devastate it just needs to be believed and then acted upon as if it were true.
One of the things I like to do with people who believe lies--and it's amazing [the] lies people believe. We'll get into accusations and vain regrets and all of that--but one of the things I like to do with people is I just like to have them keep a journal. Tell me all the lies you believe about others, God, theology, the truth, Jesus, yourself. What are the lies? I mean, what are the lies.
I've had people come to me with pages and pages and pages and pages of lies. I've had woman tell me things like, "I deserved to be raped." That's a lie. "Well, I got raped because I had too much to drink and I was under-dressed and I was kind of asking for it." That's a lie. I had one young woman tell me (I've done more than my share of abuse counseling and rape victims and molestations and it's devastating but so many of them believe lies) [emphasis added] I had one gal who was molested by her father say, "You know, it really is my fault. When I was a little girl I would sit on his lap and I would rub his face and I would kiss his cheek and he did molest me but it was my fault because I, I caused him to desire me."
No, that's a lie. A little girl should sit on her daddy's lap and rub his face and kiss him on the check and that should elicit no sexual response in the daddy. In fact just the opposite of sexual response, pure fatherly love. Embrace, snuggle, hug, kiss encourage, nothing sexual. That's in him, not in you. That's his flesh. That's not your affection. That's a lie. That's a lie.
People believe all kinds of lies, it's unbelievable. One of the first things you've gotta do is figure out what all the lies are. That's why I have them journal out, "What are all the lies that you believe." Just journal what you think might be a lie. And if they're married I bring in their spouse. I'll ask, "What are the lies that your spouse believes?" and usually the spouse has a better read on it.
I had one woman, wonderful gal, sweet gal, she was convinced of the lie that her husband was committing adultery on her. So every time he'd go to work she would literally have a panic attack and would go into the closet and shut the door
and be there for hours having a literal, full-blown nervous breakdown panic attack.
Her husband's a great guy. Loves Jesus, loves her. It [the idea that the husband was cheating on his wife] was a total lie but something in her believed that lie and I think, for her, that struck at the core of her sense of security and identity and Satan got her to believe that lie and it absolutely undid her. She went to counseling; she was diagnosed bipolar, paranoid schizophrenic, multiple personality disorder (I believe that such things are true but sometimes they're a junk drawer for other diagnoses for people that are experiencing real spiritual problems); they put her on all kinds of medication, she still had panic attacks, still freaking out, still in the closet; and I just told her, I said, "Sweetheart, it's a lie." It's a lie.
Her husband's sitting right there, I said, "Okay, God's honest truth, have you ever committed adultery on your wife?"
"When you leave the house are you going to commit adultery?"
"No, I'm going to work."
"Have you ever touched another woman, are you looking at porn, are you doing anything."
He's like, "I'm not doing anything. I go to work and I come home. That's what I'm doing. I love her. You know, I'm delighted to be with her. She's the best."
I looked at her, I said, "Okay, here's what faith looks like for you--believe the truth. Don't believe the lie. If you believe the lie, you're going to ruin everything. If you believe the truth, you'll be okay. And you know what? By God's grace she repented of her feeding the lie. She needed to see that believing a lie was a sin. It was a sin to be repented of. Here's the truth, here's the lie, I chose the lie. That's a sin, I need to repent. I need to believe the truth. I need to have faith to live in light of the truth, like Jesus said, then I'll be free in the truth.
[She] went off her medication, no more panic attacks, no diagnoses, she's fine. This has been some years, they've got a loving marriage, they're doing great, they love Jesus. They're wonderful people. But she fed the lie. Don't feed the lies. And they're everywhere and part of your art in counseling is asking enough questions to figure out what the lies are that people believe.
That was from the Spiritual Warfare teaching, from part 2, given February 5, 2008. Driscoll's description of the counseling with the woman and her husband suggests that this was a specific iteration of a fairly common pattern, women who believe the untrue notion that their husbands are cheating on them. What is striking about the timing of Driscoll's February 5, 2008 teaching event on spiritual warfare is what, by sheer coincidence, happened days later.
Now as related by Christine Carter, then Nicholas Francisco's wife:
That next Monday, February 11, 2008 we emailed our membership resignation letter. It was received and accepted. Two days later, February 13, 2008 my husband of seven years and three kids (I was 6.5 weeks pregnant with our third) did not come home from work.
This disappearance made the news.
Nicholas Francisco was last seen leaving his job at a Queen Anne advertising agency Feb. 13, 2008, saying he was headed home to make cookies with his kids. His wife was expecting their third child at the time.
He never arrived home.
What Carter has also shared in her story is how she was scared and felt her husband didn't love her and was cheating on her. She shared her story at the following link and is quoted below:
I thought I knew what abuse was as I lived in a home with an abusive father for the first twelve years of my life. I experienced a wide spectrum of abuse and thought that I could see it coming. I did not see what was happening at Mars Hill as abuse. I took what I was being fed and foolishly believed it because it was disguised so well with scripture. I believed what was preached numerous times over the years about how a woman should look, so much to the extent that I thought I was being a good wife by starving myself so that I’d be pleasing for my husband to look at almost to the point of my death just after the birth of my second child. I believed the elders that told me that I was not trusting my husband enough (I believe it was in the beginning of 2007) when I went to them, scared, and told them how I felt my husband didn’t love me and that I feared and suspected that he was cheating on me for quite some time. I’ll never forget sitting in that counseling session and explaining how I felt and having the elder look over at Nicholas and ask, “Do you love Christine?” and when Nicholas responded with a simple and cold, “yes”, the elder was satisfied and told me that I needed to trust my husband and that I was the one that needed to change. [emphasis added] I’m not a perfect wife and never claimed to be but what was said to me and how it was said was not okay. When that elder then asked Nicholas if he was cheating on me and Nicholas responded by looking me in the eye with a heartfelt, “no” the elder then repeated to me that I need to trust my husband and let go of my past wounds. You see I was told that because of my childhood I was holding onto distrust and that I had a good husband and I needed to fix myself up and be more available. So I did just that. [emphasis added] What I understood them saying was that all of what I was feeling was my fault and I needed to suck it up and figure it out. This was all too familiar and I just swallowed it ignoring the many alarms going off inside of me. There is much more to what I have just spoken of and I have left out other incidences, many details, too many for this time.
We're fairly clearly looking at two very different situations but the common denominator of the wife being told to not believe the lies is the common denominator. In the first case it might well have been the woman went on to have a happy marriage but the diagnoses sound rather epic.
But more importantly than the rather general case study given by Driscoll, what is striking about Driscoll's teaching in 2008 about lies as ordinary demonic activity in spiritual warfare is that he focuses almost entirely on it being sinful to believe lies rather than devote any time to those who tell lies. If you believe a lie that's sinful and needs to be repented of, possibly, regardless of whether or not it was wrong for the person who told you the lie to have lied. Since Driscoll focused on what could be described as self-deception the topic of people who lie to others was not very prominent in the teaching. If believing lies is satanic how much more would telling lies be satanic? If Satan is the father of lies and when he lies he is speaking his own language then telling lies would almost by definition have to be the most satanic thing a person can do. And what may be most terrible about lies is that if you believe lies and then tell them to others you may be a liar who sincerely believes you are telling the truth.
Finally, it's important to stress that the February 5, 2008 Spiritual Warfare series was eventually made available to the public but that it was originally a teaching event for Mars Hill leaders. That might be reason enough for it to have been eventually pulled down, since Driscoll may well have shared a great deal of content that could eventually have been considered unsuitable to share with outsiders.
By Mark Driscoll's account he'd appointed Bent Meyer to take over pastoral counseling some time around 2004-2005 because the process was too emotionally draining for him, so it's not entirely clear Driscoll has done any pastoral counseling to members in nearly a decade. Yet if what Mark Driscoll described in the Spiritual Warfare series was typical for pastoral counseling at the time and was implemented by other pastors in what was coming to be called the biblical living department then questions about the competency and conduct of biblical living pastors at Mars Hill isn't a small issue. It was actually concern about this subject and not the specific leadership style of Mark Driscoll that Wenatchee The Hatchet discussed way back in this post. For those who don't recall, WtH has mentioned that in 2008 my concerns were that:
1) Mars Hill did not have a clear, coherent set of precedents and procedures for church discipline and that if this wasn't rectified things would blow up
2) Mars Hill was expanding and acquiring real estate holdings faster than it was cultivating its donor base and that this could lead to systemic deficits
3) Mars Hill had a pastoral counseling approach that seemed to be predicated on a dangerously truncated understanding of sin that would lead to disciplinary responses harsh enough to cause an outcry and probably an eventual appearance in regional news
People have managed to blog a bit about 1 and 2 in the wake of Andrew Lamb's disciplinary situation in late 2011/early 2012. And people have addressed the books controversies but as yet very few people have addressed the history of Mars Hill real estate acquisition and associated leadership appointments excepting, well, basically Wenatchee The Hatchet and bits and bits at The Stranger.
And while some have broached the third topic, the practice and precepts of Mars Hill pastoral counseling, this has understandably not been a topic for discussion because so few were willing to share their stories in any kind of public setting. Since the launch of welovemarshill.com, however, it may be that is starting to change. While Matthew Paul Turner shared a number of not-really-anonymous cases it may be that people sharing their experiences on record is necessary now. If Mars Hill has an opportunity to get better the public testimony of those who have things to share about their time there will be necessary.
The discovery of Nicholas Francisco's double life may not have sent any shock waves through Mars Hill because of member resignations but perhaps there should have been shock waves if there weren't any. For years Mark Driscoll talked from the pulpit about how different marriage and dating was at Mars Hill, or was going to be, compared to the world. Yet with so many years passed since 2007 and before that how much of the "we're better than those outsiders" narrative holds up for Mars Hill Church? This may not be a case of saying "We're not perfect, just forgiven." but more like Elijah lamenting, "Take my life, Lord, for I am no better than my forebears." And yet after saying that God commanded Elijah to rise up and eat ... .
What's interesting about the removal of the Spiritual Warfare series in early 2014 is that back in 2012 when Matthew Paul Turner shared the story of a woman referred to as "Amy", Mars Hill apparently thought enough of the Spiritual Warfare material to refer Turner to that content.
**Late yesterday, I notified Mars Hill Church’s publicity department that I was running this story and offered them an opportunity to comment along with a few questions. Initially, they were going to issue a statement, but later said they would wait to comment until they read the story. They also directed me to this sermon series by Mark Driscoll
So if Turner didn't listen to the sermon series back then it's definitely gone now.