Back in February 5, 2008 Mark Driscoll did a lengthy teaching event on spiritual warfare as a presentation scheduled by the Mars Hill biblical living department that was for leaders within the church. This was not material that was presented from the pulpit in a Sunday setting and so it should not be construed as what Mark Driscoll made publicly known from the pulpit (his broaching the subject of spiritual warfare and demons from the pulpit withstanding).
Instead this series should be considered a more insider, leaders-only instruction and with that in mind we will take some time to look at the teaching not necessarily as a purely doctrinal presentation or even necessarily as a practical exposition on spiritual warfare or counseling within Mars Hill (though that could and probably should be done). Rather, what we'll take some time to do is to look at the narrative presented in this series and consider some general statements made by Driscoll in 2008 with an eye toward assessing the potential significance they may have for other narratives Mark Driscoll presented about his own history and the history of Mars Hill Church. This will largely be a select transcript of audio that is for the moment still available.
SPIRITUAL WARFARE PART 1
February 05, 2008
I'll start with my story. Growing up I didn't know Jesus, not until I was 19 years of age. I did, however, have a lot of demonic--I shouldn't say a lot--I had a few demonic encounters, experiences, that I didn't really know what to do with, to be honest with you. One of them was in a friend's house where a religious leader had lived and committed suicide. Their, one of their parents was really into the occult, into witchcraft and was actually very devoted to the study of religions, and the black magic and black arts. The result was I was coming down the stairwell in their home on one occasion and actually was physically stopped. I couldn't go down the stairwell. I was a teenager and I didn't know what was going on. It was very disorienting. I didn't do drugs. I didn't do alcohol. I wasn't in any altered state of consciousness and I literally grabbed the handrail going down the stairs and I pulled myself to the point that I was about a parallel angle with the stairs and I felt pressure on my chest that something was literally holding me up and I couldn't go down the stairs. It was just very bizzare. I went back upstairs for awhile and eventually I DID go back down the stairs. Just some very strange, supernatural, paranormal things that I couldn't really understand.
When Gracie and I were dating, we were out driving in, I think I was driving her car. We were, again, in our teens, we were stopped when someone walked by us, just this large, ominous figure. Very bizzare-looking guy with a black hoodie on and just kinda creeped me out and creeped Grace out. And we drove by him and he was walking and we were going thirty miles an hour. A few blocks later we hadn't stopped or anything, we passed the guy again. What in the world? She was a pastor's daughter and WAS a Christian. And she was very scared and it was very unusual, it was late at night. And a little while later we went to take a turn to go to her house and the guy was in front of us, literally. This was a guy now we passed three times. He was walking over the course of many blocks. We're going thirty miles an hour. He's never stopped. And we never stopped but there's no way in the world he should be able to keep up with us. It was just one of these bizzare occurences. He literally stepped out into the road in front of us to stop us. And I freaked out. I hit the gas. I was gonna run the guy over. True story. So I go right at this guy and he disappears and he bangs on my window. I have no idea. I can only explain it as non-physical. Grace and I panicked and drove off but in these occurences my body would respond. My hair would stand on end, I really freaked out, I didn't know what was going on because I didn't understand.
Just some bizarre, supernatural things like that that didn't make a lot of sense to me. Just odd experiences and then when I got saved, became a Christian, I had a few, I would say, demonic encounters. And then Grace and I got married and things REALLY stepped up when we started Mars Hill Church, to be honest with you. I was basically taught by some dispensational pastors, not in college, but following graduation that Satan and demons worked in the early church but not today. I thought, "Well that's good." Went to plant Mars Hill Church and the next thing I know bizzare things are happening. REALLY bizzare things are happening. We had one service where, in the middle of the service, some guy stood up and started speaking in the first person, "I am not happy. This is not what I command." I mean, just a real authoritate voice. [the guy] Got up, came toward the front end of the church. I stood up, just during a prayer time, it was a visitor, first-timer. We don't know who this guy was. And I just opened 1 John and started reading a section about Satan and demons and he literally just screamed and ran right out the center aisle right through the back doors of the church and disappeared. He said, "I am God and you are to worship yourself as god." He was just talking crazy nonsense. Really loud, it freaked everybody out.
We were more arty at that time so some people thought this was some, like, arty thing we were doing and once they realized it was a demonized guy it wasn't, wasn't as interesting it was terrifying. So it was Mike Gunn and Lief Moi, two of our pastors, who talked to this guy afterward and we asked his buddy who was with him, "What's up with your friend?" and he said, "I don't know. I've never seen him like that. Totally freaked out during prayer, changed, was prophesy--I don't know who this guy is." Neither of them were Christians. We talked to the guy afterward he, we finally tracked him down he was down the block. He had no idea what had happened. Said, "I don't know what happened. I'm sorry." His buddies tell him, "Dude, you freaked out. You were screaming." ... He was just shocked, "I don't remember any of that." He was back in his sound mind. He wasn't crazy.
He just lost it and something took over in him.
Had other occasions where then I started getting meetings in the church, some very good people, godly people. One woman who would nurse her children she had a real extreme background in Wicca and witchcraft, and she would hear voices, things would manifest, and she reports that on more than one occasion she'd be feeding her child and her chair would levitate, her rocking chair and she's holding her baby.
One woman claimed that ever since she was a little girl she had an angel who would come and comfort her when she was abused as a young girl. She had this guardian angel that would come and talk to her. Well, then she became a Christian and this guardian angel started telling her not to worship Jesus, and stop going to church, and she's like, "What do I do with that? Is that like a real angel?" That doesn't sound like a real angel, that sounds like a demon to me.
Had other people with night terrors. I had people seeing things. I had people that are clarivoyant. I had people that are hearing things. I start getting prophetic dreams, God's showing me the future. A gift of discernment kinda comes to the fore for me. Not all the time but I can see somebody and I just know their story. I remember walking up to people and, one woman, telling her: "You know, last night, did your husband grab you by the throat, throw you up against the wall, threaten you, and tell you that if you told me that he would kill you?" She's crying, she said, "How did YOU know?" I said, "I don't know. I see it. I see it, like a film."
Go up to another a person and I say, "Hey, I believe that you were sexually abused when you were young. Did so-and-so do this to you, when you were this age? And did a comforting spirit come to you at that point, a demon masquerading as an angel of light?" And they say, "Yeah. How did you know?" I was like, "I saw it."
I started having dreams. I started seeing things. I start reading people's proverbial mail. I did not know what to do with any of this because, in my theology, I'm a cessationist. That means I believe that the supernatural essentially ceased in the early Church so we don't have charismatic gifts today, and the demonic activity isn't real, especially for believers. So I needed to know what to do, so I remembered the pastor and I asked him, I said, "What do I do with all of this?" He said, "That's not for today. That was only in the early church." I said, "Why in the early church?" He said, "Well, you know, there was more demonic opposition and there was more spiritual gifts of the divine, supernatural in the early Church to get it started, to get it going." I said, "Well, I'm planting a church. I'm getting it started. I'm getting it going." It's just as pagan as anything in the New Testament." Seattle is so completely dark and completely unchurched, I said, "How could it not be that the same resistance they had in the planting of the early church that I'm experiencing in the planting of this church?" He said, "Naw, don't worry about it. It's not a big deal, it'll be fine."
Well things got worse. I didn't know what to do. I now have people meeting with me fairly often. I was the only full-time pastor on staff at Mars Hill until we had 800 people. I did ALL of the counseling, ALL of the premarital, ALL of the hospital visits, ALL of the weddings, ALL of the shepherding, ALL of the care. And more and more I'm hearing it--we have people coming to Christ out of witchcraft, out of deep occult, out of all kinds of bizarre new spirituality. We have people that have been sexually abused, that have comforting spirits. We have demonic manifestations, I'm starting to have personal things happen that I can't account for. It's not like I WANT to believe in this stuff, it's not like I'm LOOKING for it. It's just there.
Met another pastor, really good guy. Did his doctoral dissertation on spiritual warfare and he trained me in a lot of this biblically. He said, "Well, here's what the Bible says, here's what you should do, and here's how you can help people." I trained under him for a few occasions; learned from him some things I'll share with you today; and then hooked up with Dr. Gerry Breshears at Western Seminary down in Portland and did my master's degree, kind of in a tutorial program under him (I'm actually finishing up the last class right now) and we spent a lot of time studying this together. Reading, studying, discussing dialoguing. He's former president of the Evangelical Theological Society and a dear, dear friend of mine now and so I brought my questions to him and we started working through it biblically.
And I started reading. Two things I did: I started reading, starting in Genesis and went to Revelation and I read the whole Bible, just pulling out everything in the Bible that dealt with Satan and demons. I just want to know what the BIBLE says. I know some of you guys are, like, researchers and you love software and you do cross references. I'm old school. I just read the whole Bible and highlight the parts that talk about Satan and demons. Took a few months to do that.
And then I read all of the books I could find on spiritual warfare. Guys like Bubeck (?) and Unger and Dickeson and Murphy. Uh, Clinton Arnold, C. S. Lewis' book, Randy Alcorn's got a book similar to C. S. Lewis's. I read the Puritans and Thomas Brooks. I read biographies of Martin Luther, who had, as he accounts it, real encounters with Satan. I looked at all the perspectives from the cessationist to the real strong charismatic and just tried to figure out what everyone said. And it was interesting because there was so much conflict and debate around the issue of Satan and demons and even somebody like Merrill Unger (who was, sort of like, a classic Bible teacher of a few generations ago) he wrote a book about how a Christian can't be demonized and this is extremism and then he wrote another book saying, "I was totally wrong. They can be." So even Bible scholars connected to good seminaries like Dallas Seminary were in the throes of their own personal change in thinking on some of these issues.
I started helping people and counseling them and meeting with them, praying with them. Sharing scripture with them. Started to see people really delivered, to be honest with you. I don't use deliverance ministry language, I'm not big on parading this before people. This has been a quiet part of my ministry for a lot of years: people hearing voices no longer hearing voices;
people tormented no longer being tormented. people with demonic manifestations no longer experiencing that kind of thing; I've even seen people physically healed in my office and I praise God, because so much of it was demonic and Satanic that was harming them.
So I appreciate the invitation to teach on this subject. I come at it from a very practical, pastoral, biblical perspective.
Clinton Arnold is one of those guys who does a great job in studying the New Testament and writing on these issues. He's a great New Testament scholar. I'll leave some of the theological heavy lifting for him and I'll talk real practically and pastorally.