Thursday, November 14, 2019

Mark Driscoll on the Absalom spirit and the business of the father wound, Driscoll describes the "father wound" in ways that map closely to his own history of public ministry

Back when I was a Pentecostal I heard talk, from time to time, about how this or that woman had a "Jezebel spirit".  Being older and having more exposure to conversational language not quite so steeped in Pentecostal jargon I have had time to recognize that for those Christians who are thoroughly steeped in Holiness codes of conduct saying that a woman "has a Jezebel spirit" might be likened to saying a woman would be described, by heathen interlocutors, in terms of monosyllabic words that start only with one of the first three letters of the alphabet.

But growing up in such a context, Pentecostalism, I began to wonder why I heard no equivalent of the Jezebel spirit for men.  Well, thanks to Mark Driscoll blogging so much of his book at Patheos there's basically no real need for you to even buy the book, I have learned that there is a male equivalent, of sorts, to the Jezebel spirit, and it's called the Absalom spirit. Mark Driscoll just posted about the topic today, as a matter of fact.

2 Samuel 15:2-6 – And Absalom used to rise early and stand beside the way of the gate. And when any man had a dispute to come before the king for judgment, Absalom would call to him and say, “From what city are you?” And when he said, “Your servant is of such and such a tribe in Israel,” Absalom would say to him, “See, your claims are good and right, but there is no man designated by the king to hear you.” Then Absalom would say, “Oh that I were judge in the land! Then every man with a dispute or cause might come to me, and I would give him justice.” And whenever a man came near to pay homage to him, he would put out his hand and take hold of him and kiss him. Thus Absalom did to all of Israel who came to the king for judgment. So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.
Absalom was one of the many sons of King David. His sister Tamar was sexually assaulted by their half-brother Amnon, who further dishonored her by rejecting her. To care for his sister, Absalom had his sister live with him while expecting their father, David, to care for and protect his daughter. For two years David did nothing for Tamar, and Absalom seethed with bitterness against David and Amnon.
Absalom murdered his half-brother. With the father wound unhealed, Absalom began a covert campaign to usurp his father, David, and take the throne. Over time “Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.” He succeeded in overthrowing his father, which forced King David to flee.
Absalom was so bitter that he personally led the charge to kill his father. This gave David time to prepare and rout Absalom’s forces. While fleeing the battle on a mule, Absalom’s long hair got caught in some oak tree branches, which killed him. This was not what David wanted, because he still loved his son, and David grieved the death of Absalom.
An unhealed father wound that invites the Absalom spirit compels men (and sometimes women) to believe that if they were in the position of highest leadership, they would do a better job of defending the hurting and caring for the needy. As a result, they seek to form unholy alliances and overthrow established governance. This can be a son overtaking a father in the home, a spiritual son overtaking a spiritual father in a church, or a team member overtaking a leader in an organization.
Though evil and proud, it is done in the name of love, care, and protection, much like Satan, who felt he could do a better job than God and had angels who felt the same.
For those who are new to talk of father wounds. Driscoll's been on a bit of a "father wound" theme in the last few years.  
There are some problems with this approach to the Samuel-Kings narrative.  Driscoll simply asserts that Absalom had an unhealed father wound.  What was the proximate cause of this alleged father wound?  King David did nothing to punish Amnon for raping Tamar.  Did Absalom expect David to "care for" Tamar or to avenge her by killing the man who raped her?  Rapists get described as deserving capital punishment or as being required to marry the woman they raped/seduced if she was unbetrothed.  Setting aside debates about those codes in terms of contemporary American sexual mores, the question I'm introducing is how plausible is it for Mark Driscoll to assert that Absalom hoped or expected his father to "care for" Tamar?  The "father wound", if we have to even use the term, that Absalom seems to have had was he discovered that his father was not willing to punish Amnon, whether by death sentence or even exile.  This matter of claiming that Absalom had an unhealed father wound has me thinking, let's look at a very large swath of narrative and see if there's a "father wound" in there:
2 Samuel 13:23-39 through 2 Samuel 15: (NIV)
23 Two years later, when Absalom’s sheepshearers were at Baal Hazor near the border of Ephraim, he invited all the king’s sons to come there. 24 Absalom went to the king and said, “Your servant has had shearers come. Will the king and his attendants please join me?”
25 “No, my son,” the king replied. “All of us should not go; we would only be a burden to you.” Although Absalom urged him, he still refused to go but gave him his blessing.
26 Then Absalom said, “If not, please let my brother Amnon come with us.”
The king asked him, “Why should he go with you?” 27 But Absalom urged him, so he sent with him Amnon and the rest of the king’s sons.
28 Absalom ordered his men, “Listen! When Amnon is in high spirits from drinking wine and I say to you, ‘Strike Amnon down,’ then kill him. Don’t be afraid. Haven’t I given you this order? Be strong and brave.” 29 So Absalom’s men did to Amnon what Absalom had ordered. Then all the king’s sons got up, mounted their mules and fled.
30 While they were on their way, the report came to David: “Absalom has struck down all the king’s sons; not one of them is left.” 31 The king stood up, tore his clothes and lay down on the ground; and all his attendants stood by with their clothes torn.
32 But Jonadab son of Shimeah, David’s brother, said, “My lord should not think that they killed all the princes; only Amnon is dead. This has been Absalom’s express intention ever since the day Amnon raped his sister Tamar. 33 My lord the king should not be concerned about the report that all the king’s sons are dead. Only Amnon is dead.”
34 Meanwhile, Absalom had fled.
Now the man standing watch looked up and saw many people on the road west of him, coming down the side of the hill. The watchman went and told the king, “I see men in the direction of Horonaim, on the side of the hill.”
35 Jonadab said to the king, “See, the king’s sons have come; it has happened just as your servant said.”
36 As he finished speaking, the king’s sons came in, wailing loudly. The king, too, and all his attendants wept very bitterly.
37 Absalom fled and went to Talmai son of Ammihud, the king of Geshur. But King David mourned many days for his son.
38 After Absalom fled and went to Geshur, he stayed there three years. 39 And King David longed to go to Absalom, for he was consoled concerning Amnon’s death.
1. Joab son of Zeruiah knew that the king’s heart longed for Absalom. So Joab sent someone to Tekoa and had a wise woman brought from there. He said to her, “Pretend you are in mourning. Dress in mourning clothes, and don’t use any cosmetic lotions. Act like a woman who has spent many days grieving for the dead. Then go to the king and speak these words to him.” And Joab put the words in her mouth.
When the woman from Tekoa went[a] to the king, she fell with her face to the ground to pay him honor, and she said, “Help me, Your Majesty!”
The king asked her, “What is troubling you?”
She said, “I am a widow; my husband is dead. I your servant had two sons. They got into a fight with each other in the field, and no one was there to separate them. One struck the other and killed him. Now the whole clan has risen up against your servant; they say, ‘Hand over the one who struck his brother down, so that we may put him to death for the life of his brother whom he killed; then we will get rid of the heir as well.’ They would put out the only burning coal I have left, leaving my husband neither name nor descendant on the face of the earth.”
The king said to the woman, “Go home, and I will issue an order in your behalf.”
But the woman from Tekoa said to him, “Let my lord the king pardon me and my family, and let the king and his throne be without guilt.”
10 The king replied, “If anyone says anything to you, bring them to me, and they will not bother you again.”
11 She said, “Then let the king invoke the Lord his God to prevent the avenger of blood from adding to the destruction, so that my son will not be destroyed.”
“As surely as the Lord lives,” he said, “not one hair of your son’s head will fall to the ground.”
12 Then the woman said, “Let your servant speak a word to my lord the king.”
“Speak,” he replied.
13 The woman said, “Why then have you devised a thing like this against the people of God? When the king says this, does he not convict himself, for the king has not brought back his banished son? 14 Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But that is not what God desires; rather, he devises ways so that a banished person does not remain banished from him.
15 “And now I have come to say this to my lord the king because the people have made me afraid. Your servant thought, ‘I will speak to the king; perhaps he will grant his servant’s request. 16 Perhaps the king will agree to deliver his servant from the hand of the man who is trying to cut off both me and my son from God’s inheritance.’
17 “And now your servant says, ‘May the word of my lord the king secure my inheritance, for my lord the king is like an angel of God in discerning good and evil. May the Lord your God be with you.’”
18 Then the king said to the woman, “Don’t keep from me the answer to what I am going to ask you.”
“Let my lord the king speak,” the woman said.
19 The king asked, “Isn’t the hand of Joab with you in all this?”
The woman answered, “As surely as you live, my lord the king, no one can turn to the right or to the left from anything my lord the king says. Yes, it was your servant Joab who instructed me to do this and who put all these words into the mouth of your servant. 20 Your servant Joab did this to change the present situation. My lord has wisdom like that of an angel of God—he knows everything that happens in the land.”
21 The king said to Joab, “Very well, I will do it. Go, bring back the young man Absalom.”
22 Joab fell with his face to the ground to pay him honor, and he blessed the king. Joab said, “Today your servant knows that he has found favor in your eyes, my lord the king, because the king has granted his servant’s request.”
23 Then Joab went to Geshur and brought Absalom back to Jerusalem. 24 But the king said, “He must go to his own house; he must not see my face.” So Absalom went to his own house and did not see the face of the king.
25 In all Israel there was not a man so highly praised for his handsome appearance as Absalom. From the top of his head to the sole of his foot there was no blemish in him. 26 Whenever he cut the hair of his head—he used to cut his hair once a year because it became too heavy for him—he would weigh it, and its weight was two hundred shekels[b] by the royal standard.
27 Three sons and a daughter were born to Absalom. His daughter’s name was Tamar, and she became a beautiful woman.
28 Absalom lived two years in Jerusalem without seeing the king’s face. 29 Then Absalom sent for Joab in order to send him to the king, but Joab refused to come to him. So he sent a second time, but he refused to come. 30 Then he said to his servants, “Look, Joab’s field is next to mine, and he has barley there. Go and set it on fire.” So Absalom’s servants set the field on fire.
31 Then Joab did go to Absalom’s house, and he said to him, “Why have your servants set my field on fire?”
32 Absalom said to Joab, “Look, I sent word to you and said, ‘Come here so I can send you to the king to ask, “Why have I come from Geshur? It would be better for me if I were still there!”’ Now then, I want to see the king’s face, and if I am guilty of anything, let him put me to death.”
33 So Joab went to the king and told him this. Then the king summoned Absalom, and he came in and bowed down with his face to the ground before the king. And the king kissed Absalom.
1. In the course of time, Absalom provided himself with a chariot and horses and with fifty men to run ahead of him. He would get up early and stand by the side of the road leading to the city gate. Whenever anyone came with a complaint to be placed before the king for a decision, Absalom would call out to him, “What town are you from?” He would answer, “Your servant is from one of the tribes of Israel.” Then Absalom would say to him, “Look, your claims are valid and proper, but there is no representative of the king to hear you.” And Absalom would add, “If only I were appointed judge in the land! Then everyone who has a complaint or case could come to me and I would see that they receive justice.”
Also, whenever anyone approached him to bow down before him, Absalom would reach out his hand, take hold of him and kiss him. Absalom behaved in this way toward all the Israelites who came to the king asking for justice, and so he stole the hearts of the people of Israel.
At the end of four[a] years, Absalom said to the king, “Let me go to Hebron and fulfill a vow I made to the Lord. While your servant was living at Geshur in Aram, I made this vow: ‘If the Lord takes me back to Jerusalem, I will worship the Lord in Hebron.[b]’”
The king said to him, “Go in peace.” So he went to Hebron.
10 Then Absalom sent secret messengers throughout the tribes of Israel to say, “As soon as you hear the sound of the trumpets, then say, ‘Absalom is king in Hebron.’” 11 Two hundred men from Jerusalem had accompanied Absalom. They had been invited as guests and went quite innocently, knowing nothing about the matter. 12 While Absalom was offering sacrifices, he also sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David’s counselor, to come from Giloh, his hometown. And so the conspiracy gained strength, and Absalom’s following kept on increasing.

Now it's possible that for as mighty a warrior as he was described as being on the battlefield , David could be thought of as a pushover in terms of dealing with his children.  He can seem, to a contemporary reader, to have a fault of being willing to let his kids get away with anything, including deception, rape and conspiracy to commit murder as long as he feels like his kids don't hate him.  Driscoll uses "father wound" to describe Absalom but he neither really explains what a "father wound" actually is nor explicates why, if the term means anything, it could be used to describe the relationship between David and Absalom.  Not in the post linked to at the start of our discussion.  
Driscoll does, however, have some explanation as to what he means in his summer of 2019 repudation of the TULIP:

The Debrief Show Jun 4, 2019

Listen in as Pastor Matt Brown interviews Pastor Mark Driscoll of The Trinity Church in Scottsdale, AZ about how to make sure your version of Christianity is actually the right one as they each work through the book of Galatians. (Part 2 of a 3-part series)

Part 2


Reformed theology is "I have a dad who is powerful. He is in charge. He's non-relational. He lives far away and don't make him made because he can get angry really fast and hurt you. And then feminism comes along and says "Let's just be raised by a single parent called God as Mother."


Almost EVERY theological group within Christianity is somehow a PROjection or REjection of their earthly father and the problem is they're starting with their earthly father and looking up, they're not starting with their heavenly father and looking down, and judging their earthly fathers. I think, I've gone so far as to say, I think the whole Young, Restless Reformed movement that Time magazine said I was one of the thought leaders to create that--I'm not, I don't even hold to the five points of Calvinism. I think it's garbage ...


That whole Young, Restless Reformed--God is father but he's distant, he's mean , he's cruel, he's non-relational, he's far away. That's their view of their earthly father.  So then they pick dead mentors.  Spurgeon, Calvin, Luther. These are little boys with father wounds who are looking for spiritual fathers so they pick dead guys who are not actually going to get to know them or correct them.  And then they join networks run by other young men so that they can all be brothers. There's no fathers. And they love, love, love Jesus because they love the story where the son is the hero because they're the sons with father wounds.
Although Driscoll has a checklist of ways to assess whether or not you have a father wound ... 

" ...In a healthy home with godly parents the center of the home is God, followed by the marital relationship of mom and dad, then followed by the children. Children who grow up with a healthy father in a healthy family know they are not the center of the universe. Otherwise they are over-mothered, under-fathered, and selfish. ..."

But providing a checklist of how to know whether or not you have a father wound isn't the same as defining what a father wound is.  Why, for instance, should anyone take as given because Mark Driscoll says so that selfishness comes from people who are "over-mothered, under-fathered and selfish"?  What of the mother happens to be a narcissist or has some kind of attachment disorder?  What reasons would there be that selfishness "only" emerges among those who are "over-mothered" and "under-fathered" and why would that be?  

In Win Your War Mark Driscoll provides a definition of "father wound" on pages 146-147.

"The father wound is an unhealed hurt from a physical or spiritual father or father figure in our lives.  Fathers fail us, and unless we forgive them and invite God the Father to heal our father wound, we remain burdened instead of unburdened, broken instead of healed, and made bitter instead of made better.  It leaves people open to the demonic through hurt and bitterness."

So ... everyone has a father wound?  Fathers fail us and unless we forgive them ... we're left open to the demonic throug hurt and bitterness.  

What that has to do with being"over-mothered" is a bit beyond comprehension.  
On page 149 Driscoll highlights how the specific nature of the father would is reflected in the bad theology of various theological camps.  

He says atheism says there is no father.
Agnosticism may or may not have a father and is indifferent on the issue.
Deism posits an absentee father.
Reformed theology has a father who is distant, controlling, and not very relational (like a domineering dad)
Arminian theology has a passive father who lets us make our own decisions whenever and whatever.
Liberal theology says the father is like a enabling older sibling that won't stop our foolishness.
Feminist theology claims no need of a father since men are dangerous.

Okay, so that last one tips the hand a bit.This is a checklist of not-Driscoll-theologies that he regards as reflecting badly on the not-Mark-Driscoll theological camps or camps he was at some point potentially affiliated with (as reported by the media) that aren't the case of him any more.

Since he's being published through Charisma we can safely guess he didn't become Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, or confessional Lutheran.  He has probably not gotten so far as to say we should all go back and be Catholics just because he didn't put Catholics on the list.

What Driscoll does is revisit a rhetorical flourish he's used throughout his writing career, a taxonomy of stereotypes that indicate the sorts of people you run into that can be described in sweeping terms as a reflection of their disposition rather than engaging the historical trends of textual interpretation in given communities.  Anyone who is in the Reformed theological tradition has a father wound and is somehow connected to a view that God is distant, controlling and not very relational and ...

Well, if that were really the case then why was the most famous and instantly recognizable ordained Presbyterian minister in the 20th century a man named Fred Rogers.  Did Mr. Rogers seem distant, controlling and not very relational?  If Mark Driscoll is going to say that Reformed guys are distant because they just are then years of seeing Mr. Rogers on TV and knowing he was a Presbyterian minister makes it tough for me to take Driscoll's assertions about Reformed theology and the people who train in it as cold and distant seem dubious.   Now if Driscoll were talking about guys who swear by John Macarthur, okay, but I've never liked John Macarthur and I'd say I'm Reformed.  I lean more Richard Sibbes, personally, and I am finding it hard to see how the author of The Bruised Reed fits Mark Driscoll's bill.

Now in Win Your War Mark Driscoll lists off famous Reformation era figures as exemplars of father wound.

On page 150 Driscoll lists off the famous.  John Calvin was involved in the execution of Servetus, and Driscoll writes "John Calvin had a guy murdered".  Well, let's let church historians and historians of Geneva wade into that.  Let's revisit Mark Driscoll himself for a moment.  If Mark Driscoll thinks it's bad that John Calvin had a guy murdered what about Mark Driscoll bragging from the pulpit that he prayed God would kill a guy and then boasted God killed the guy?  For those who haven't read about that, Wenatchee The Hatchet has discussed this before.

Part 37 of Genesis
Pastor Mark Driscoll | Genesis 38 | June 26, 2005
“Judah got a wife for Er, his firstborn, and her name was Tamar.” We’re gonna deal with her. She is gonna be a very important story. “But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the LORD’s sight;” – so God smoked him – “Put him to death.” What does that mean in Hebrew? He killed him. Metaphor – he killed him literally – metaphysically challenged. The guy is dead, okay. Oh, that’s troubling. That’s the point. Stop whatever you’re doing. He’s gonna kill you. That’s the point. I know some of you have this wrong view of God as a big sky fairy, lavender tights, lemon yellow half shirt, herbal tea. I know you say, “We love that fairy, Jesus, that hippie Christ. We love that guy.” 

Look, that’s the god up on Broadway today for the parade. This is the real God, all right. This is the real God. This God gets ticked, and he kills people. And some of you say, “Oh, but that’s the Old Testament – his junior high years. He was immature and emotional. And now we have the New Testament God, and he’s all grown up now.” God kills people in the New Testament too.

I’ll give you two places you can look when you go home, Acts 5, Ananias and Saphira. A married couple go into church. They withhold part of their tithe, and God kills them in the church, right? And it says, “Great fear sees the whole church.” Offering went through the roof. They made budget. It was amazing. People are like, “Put the keys in there, Martha, and the credit cards and whatever. Here, put these shoes in – whatever he wants. He seems to be in a mood today.”
The other is in 1 Corinthians 11 where it says people are taking communion without repenting of sin, so they die in the church. Can you imagine that? You’re coming up for communion, you and your girlfriend who woke up together this morning to come to Mars Hill. And the two of you are walking down the aisle, and you’re like stepping over all your drinking buddies, like, “Who am I?” “What happened?” “They didn’t repent.” Like, “Oh, well, let’s go back to our seat then.” You know, this is – he kills people. He does. He kills them. He gets sick of them. He gets sick of them and says, “You keep sinning. You won’t stop. I’ll stop you. You’re dead.”
Okay, this guy’s about 18 years of age. He’s done. He just got out of high school. He was getting ready to go to Cancun, you know, for his big graduation party. This guy was just gonna go to college; just joined his frat; 18 year old kid – done. He’s thinking, “Oh, you only live once. You’re young. Have fun. Have a good,” – dead.
Okay, now some of you, this bothers you because you’re evil and it scares you. I understand. It’s supposed to. The scary parts are to scare you. It’s crazy how that goes together. You’re supposed to look at it and go, “He kills evil people. I’m an evil person. Oh, no.” That’s the point – supposed to scare you into repentance, go straight. [10:42] Now God still does this. This will sound terrible in addition to many other things I will say. But I still believe that God kills people, and sometimes I pray for it.
I’ll give you an example – and I don’t. High mercy counseling – a gift. I know. If I wasn’t doing this, I’d definitely be in the counseling. So, I’m meeting with this high school kid a few years ago. His mom and dad were Christians. He and his brother were Christians. They went overseas for many years into a foreign culture to preach the Gospel and start and church and have people meet Jesus. And they were there for many years.
Well, the whole time, his dad was having this escalating online sexual relationship with another man here in the United States. And next thing you know it, dad doesn’t say anything to his boys or the mom or to the church or to the ministry – nothing. He just secretly empties the bank account, gets on an airplane, flies to the United States to go be with his gay lover. I think it was in New York City. And then sends a letter or an email or something back to the family saying, “Good luck.” And the boys get it. They’re like, “What happened to dad?” “What? Dad left the family. Dad’s in New York. Dad emptied the bank account. Oh, I thought we belonged to Jesus.”
Now they had a hard time leaving the country. They’re flat broke. They’re totally shocked. The family’s destroyed. All the new converts are wondering is Jesus really God? Does he really change lives? Everything’s thrown into mayhem. I’m meeting with the teenage kid, and he says, “What is all this?” He says, “You know, it’s got me doubting whether or not God pays attention anymore, God cares. We get all these people. They’re getting ready to deny their faith. We’re flat broke. My mom’s heartbroken. My dad’s got all the money, living life, doing what he wants.” He said, “Where’s God in all of this?” [12:21] I said, “Well, here, let’s do this. Let’s pray that he either repents or God kills him – your dad.” 
So, we prayed together. I prayed mostly. And I said, “Okay, here’s the deal. Let’s pray that he either repents, and if he’s never gonna repent, then God will just kill him.” So, we prayed. He says, “Okay, now we’ll see what happens.” About a week later, dad dies of an instantaneous massive heart attack. No history of heart disease in his family. He’s in good health. No seeming cause or trigger. His heart literally exploded in his chest cavity. He died instantaneously.
 [emphasis added] Now all of a sudden all those people go, “Oh, yeah, God does deal with sin.” So the mission gets saved. The churches get saved. You know, everything gets preserved.
You know what? Some people will never change. Not everybody’s going to heaven. Not everybody lives happily ever after. Not everybody makes a turn for the better. Some people just keep going. And God knows their heart, and with certain people, he looks at them and says, “That’s it. You’re only getting worse. You’re never gonna get better. You’re dead. I’m killing you. It’s over.”
Some of you need to realize that it is a terrifying thing, the Bible says, to fall into the hands of the living God. When you’re dealing with a holy, righteous, just God, and you’re just absolutely defying him repeatedly and mocking him, there does come a point with many people where he’s just done because sin leads to death. And if you keep sinning, you’ll either die in your sin, or he’ll kill you for your sin. But one way or another, you’ll die.
So in Driscoll's account, he prayed that a man he regarded as being in unrepentant sin would either be brought to repentance or that God would kill the man.  Lo and behold, Driscoll claimed that the man died.  We're never told who the man actually was and so we can't be sure the man even existed or was potentially a composite.  For the sake of discussing the "father wound" and Win Your War, the question at hand is this, if John Calvin had a father wound the evidence for which is that he "had a guy murdered" what should we make of a Mark Driscoll who boasted from the pulpit "This will sound terrible in addition to many other things I will say. But I still believe that God kills people, and sometimes I pray for it"? Father wound?
The account was recycled in Death by Love it may have been considerably more fuzzy than what was recounted in the sermon above, rather undetailed though even that narrative was.
Death by Love: Letters from the Cross
Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears
Copyright (c) 2008 by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears
Published by Crossway
ISBN 978-1-4335-3533-8
PDF ISBN 978-1-4335-0423-5
Mobipocket ISBN 978-1-4335-0424-3
ePub ISBN 978-1-4335-2121-8

 pages 129-130

... For example, I once met with a young man whose father, a pastor, suddenly left his ministry, wife, and teenage sons to have a homosexual affair with a man he had met on the Internet. He told his teenage sons that there is no God, Jesus did not rise from death, and that there is no such thing as punishment for sin. His sons experienced a profound crisis of faith, and since their dad kept saying that he was happy for the first time in his life, they wondered if God existed, and if he did, whether he cared. To make matters worse, the entire church he had been pastoring was experiencing the same sort of faith crisis. I prayed with one of the sons, asking God to either bring their father to repentance or pour out his wrath on the man as an example. Within days, the father died of an unexplainable, sudden explosion of his heart. [emphases added]

While we can't make a definitive connection of this timely death to the wrath of God, it is in keeping with what we see in instances like Genesis 38 where God kills the two sons of Judah because of their wickedness. 
So if Mark Driscoll here in 2019 wants us to understand that John Calvin's involvement in the trial and execution of Servetus indicates a father wound, Mark Driscoll should consider that his own pulpit history of claiming that he prayed God would kill a guy and that God actually killed said guy should give us a moment of pause.   Mark Driscoll does not really come across like the kind of man who can claim that he's better than John Calvin in terms of murder.  Can someone who specializes in the life and times of John Calvin quote a passage in which John Calvin explicitly said he prayed God would kill a man and that God killed said man? 

Now Mark Driscoll could potentially say there wasn't anything wrong with his praying God would kill somebody compared to what John Calvin did.  The thing is ... there's still an account from Jonna Petry who wrote the following at a document published at Joyful Exiles:

During this whole season since the firing and the months that followed, I was emotionally and spiritually devastated. I was often tormented by fear. I had nightmares and imaginations of someone trying to physically harm Paul, me, and the children. If Mark had had ecclesiastical power to burn Paul at the stake I believe he would have. [emphasis added] I literally slept in the fetal position for months. I stayed in bed a lot, bringing the children in bed with me to do their schoolwork. I became severely depressed and could hardly bring myself to leave the house except when absolutely necessary. I cried nearly every day for well over a year thinking I must soon cry it out, right? But, the sorrow was bottomless. My faith was gravely shaken. How could a loving God allow this? Later it became clear that I had typical symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Depression and that these reactions were common in someone who has experienced spiritual abuse. page 10, paragraph 4

For that matter, one of Mark Driscoll's more memorable comments about his leadership moment in later 2007 featured a line about "a pile of dead bodies".
October 1, 2007

... Too many guys spend too much time trying to move stiff-necked obstinate people. I am all about blessed subtraction. There is a pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus and by God's grace it'll be a mountain by the time we're done. You either get on the bus or get run over by the bus (those are the options) but the bus ain't gonna stop. I'm just a, I'm just a guy who is like, "Look, we love ya but this is what we're doin'."

There's a few kind of people. There's people who get in the way of the bus.  They gotta get run over. There are people who want to take turns driving the bus. They gotta get thrown off cuz they want to go somewhere else. There are people who will be on the bus (leaders and helpers and servants, they're awesome).  There's also sometimes nice people who just sit on the bus and shut up. They're not helping or hurting. Just let `em ride along. You know what I'm saying? But don't look at the nice people who are just gonna sit on the bus and shut their mouth and think, "I need you to lead the mission." They're never going to. At the most you'll give `em a job to do and they'll serve somewhere and help out in a minimal way. If someone can sit in a place that  hasn't been on mission for a really long time they are by definition not a leader and so they're never going to lead. You need to gather a whole new core. [emphasis added]

I'll tell you what, you don't just do this for church planting or replanting, you know what? I'm doing it right now. I'm doing it right now. We just took certain guys and rearranged the seats on the bus. Yesterday we fired two elders for the first time in the history of Mars Hill last night. They're off the bus, under the bus. They were off mission so now they're unemployed. This will be the defining issue as to whether or not you succeed or fail.

He gets to Martin Luther, who he says drank a lot, had a foul mouth and smuggled a young nun out of a convent so he could marry her.  Father wound. 

This from the man who was described twenty years ago by Donald Miller as "the cussing pastor" in Blue Like Jazz on page 134?  As for Luther and marrying a nun ... the Mark Driscoll who preached that Edinburgh, Scotland sermon might not be in the best position to speak as if he's been better than Martin Luther, either.

I'll tell you a story if you don't tell anyone else of a man who started attending our church because of oral sex. Right? So many women go to church. In your country it's sixty or seventy percent. "My husband won't come to church. He doesn't have any interest in the things of God. He doesn't understand why church would apply to him." We had a woman like that in our church. She became a Christian. Her husband was not a Christian. He hated the church, wanted nothing to do with the church. She kept browbeating him about Jesus. "You need to get saved. You're gonna burn in hell."

He had no interest in that. 

And so, finally, I was teaching a class on sex and she said, "Oh, so oral sex on a husband is what a wife is supposed to do?" I said, "Yes." She said, "My husband's always wanted that but I've refused him." I went to 1 Peter 3. I said, "The Bible says that if your husband is not a Christian that you are to win him over with deeds of kindness." I said, "So go home and tell your husband that you were in a Bible study today and that God has convicted you of sin.  And repent and go perform oral sex on your husband and tell him that Jesus, Jesus Christ commands you to do so." The next week the man showed up at church. He came up to me, he said, "You know, this is a really good church." That handing out tracts on the street thing, there's a better way to see revival, I assure you of that.

So Driscoll throwing shade at Martin Luther for being a rebellious horndog with a potty mouth ... kind of the pot calling the kettle black again.  

Driscoll's list of guys with father wounds who have mentors in the form of dead guys gets to Charles Spurgeon.  

"The emotional Charles Spurgeon struggled with depression over being publicly maligned in the press, was kicked out of his denomination, and smoked cigars." (Win Your War, page 150)

Mark Driscoll has never publicly lamented being maligned by the press, has he?
He was willing to write about the interview he regarded as adversarial with Justin Brierley in early 2012.

As for Spurgeon being kicked out of his denomination ... surely Driscoll ought to be able to relate to that.

August 4, 2014
A Message from the Board of Acts 29 concerning Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church
It is with deep sorrow that the Acts 29 Network announces its decision to remove Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church from membership in the network. Mark and the Elders of Mars Hill have been informed of the decision, along with the reasons for removal. It is our conviction that the nature of the accusations against Mark, most of which have been confirmed by him, make it untenable and unhelpful to keep Mark and Mars Hill in our network. In taking this action, our prayer is that it will encourage the leadership of Mars Hill to respond in a distinctive and godly manner so that the name of Christ will not continue to be dishonored.
The Board of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network

Matt Chandler
Darrin Patrick
Steve Timmis
Eric Mason
John Bryson
Bruce Wesley
Leonce Crump
Why was it, then, that in internal communication within Mars Hill someone could propose that Mark Driscoll could be the Charles Spurgeon of our day?  Warren Throckmorton wrote back in 2014:
I have obtained a 2013 proposal for an expansion of the content management system at Mars Hill. I am pretty sure that very little of this is in place now after the recent round of layoffs. In fact, internal sources tell me that Mars Hill Music and The Resurgence is essentially unstaffed. Since it is a proposal, it is not clear how much of this came into being, but it provides an interesting insight into some of the stories which have emerged over the past year.  Here is the front page which provides the rationale for spending time and money promoting Mark Driscoll’s written works.

Pastor Mark Driscoll certainly isn't a Spurgeon for our time now if he's talking about how Spurgeon demonstrates a father wound by being depressed at being maligned in the press and getting kicked out of his own denomination and smoking cigars.  For whatever reason, someone inside the Mars Hill scene though it was apt to invoke Mark Driscoll as being a Spurgeon for our time.  We don't really need a Spurgeon in our time, though, and in any case with Win Your War Mark Driscoll has let it be known that Spurgeon had father wound issues.
Now we could trawl back into the ancient twenty-years ago foundation of Acts 29 and ask how it was that it was described as founded by David Nicholas and then just a few years on was run chiefly by Mark Driscoll and what was involved in that.  They seemed to be presented as co-founders of some sort in Christianity Today decades ago and then Mark Driscoll became president.  When Driscoll talks about how guys with father wounds become like Absalom and seek to usurp authority that brings me back to one of the more opaque mysteries of the early Acts 29 years, it seemed Nicholas started the organization but within a few short years Nicholas wasn't even in Acts 29, let alone in leadership, while Mark Driscoll was in charge.  Driscoll's recent writing on the Absalom spirit tacitly invites the reader to work on the assumption that he's writing about something he's observed as a problem in others without considering that, for those who have been able to observe his public career from 1996-2014 it's possible to argue the vices of the Absalom spirit as he's described them have often cropped up in his ministry history.  For that matter ... we can quote Mark Driscoll himself as testifying to motives for starting what became Mars Hill as the result of something he would now call a father wound even before he ever identified himself as anything like a Calvinist. 
Driscoll has talked in his new book and in interviews about the young restless Reformed having father wounds as if it is those people who behave in ways that show symptoms of father wounds.  Driscoll doesn't seem to go especially far out of his way to describe how anything about his own life, as chronicled in his own pulpit preaching, could be taken as fitting within the behavioral patterns he's described as typical of those with father wounds.  Even in his books, take this:
Confessions of a Reformission Rev
Mark Driscoll, Zondervan 2006
ISBN-13: 978-0-310-27016-4

page 39

So I decided to start a church for three reasons. First, I hated going to church and wanted one I liked, so I thought I would just start my own. Second, God had spoken to me in one of those weird charismatic moments and told me to start a church. Third, I am scared of God and try to do what he says.  

He wasn't even Reformed at the time.  He didn't start saying he was a Calvinist until this century, more or less. If Mark Driscoll wants to talk about how other people need to heal their father wounds so they aren't vulnerable to what he calls the Absalom spirit and leave themselves open to demonic influences perhaps Mark Driscoll might need to explain where he learned about this concept, from whom, and whether or not he hasn't demonstrated the symptoms of an Absalom spirit in his life of ministry.  After all, by his own account he said he hated going to church and wanted one he liked so he thought he would just start one of his own; and God had spoken to him n one of those weird charismatic moments and told him to start a church and because he was scared of God and tried to do what God says ... well, can't we take Mark Driscoll's own words as telling us that he founded his ministry on a father wound, perhaps even a father wound that had led him to have an Absalom spirit?  Did he not basically tell us this in Confessions of a Reformission Rev?  The challenge of Mark Driscoll 2.0 as seriously as he wants to be taken, besides having a whole lot of the ideas espoused by Mark Driscoll 1.0, is that he wants to tell us about father wounds and Absalom spirits as if these concepts couldn't possibly be, not merely applied to his own life and ministry, but also used as ways to describe how and why he ended up in ministry to begin with. 

If Mark Driscoll got into ministry on the basis of a theology that, were it being used to describe anyone else's theology, was motivated by what Mark Driscoll now describes as reflecting a "father wound" or a risk for an "Absalom spirit", why does Mark Driscoll think he's fit to be in ministry if the same weaknesses and vices in anyone else would be something he would regard as demonic?  If Mark Driscoll has a different standard of qualification for himself on these issues than he has for others that double standard could be considered a reason to doubt that he has remained qualified to be in ministry, more, Mark Driscoll's new ideas about father wounds and Absalom spirits may provide an explanation that draws upon his own newest ideas to explain why he was, in light of these ideas, probably never fit to be in ministry to begin with. 

POSTSCRIPT 11-15-2019 0615a
Lori LeibovichJuly/August 1998 Issue 

It’s the Sunday before Easter and, after the rock band finishes a few songs, Driscoll begins preaching about the importance of quiet and reflection during the week before the holiest of Christian holidays. He’s a man of craggy good looks; his face is lined with stubble and his short hair is gelled. Wearing black jeans and a white shirt, he paces before the altar, microphone in hand, tossing out questions like a talk-show host.

“I was raised in a family that went to church, but I had no understanding of what Easter actually meant,” Driscoll begins. “It was like Lincoln’s birthday or the day Neil Armstrong landed on the moon.” The audience laughs[emphasis added] Driscoll comes from a working-class Irish Catholic family. As a kid growing up in Seattle, he says, he was always getting into fights. When it was time to go to college, he chose Washington State University. “The university I attended was pretty isolated so I had two choices: either become a binge drinker or a Christian.”
While a student, Driscoll had a vision that he should start a church for his generation. Without a plan—financial or otherwise—he and his wife, Grace, moved back to Seattle, a city he claims is the “most unchurched in America.” Driscoll, who has a bachelor’s degree in communications, started his congregation with a dozen people who came to his house to study the Bible. Today, Mars Hill counts 800 members.

In many ways it is a model church—its numbers continue to grow, its leader is popular and charismatic. How does Driscoll keep attracting members? “We don’t do Evangelicalism, but we are a mission,” Driscoll says. “We don’t do door-knocking, we invite people into the community. They need to join us and experience Him—over meals, in worship.”
“For financial reasons or whatever, the parents of Gen Xers put their lives ahead of their children’s,” says Lief Moi, 35, a leader at Mars Hill and the co-host, with Driscoll, of “Street Talk,” a nationally syndicated Christian radio show. By playing the “dysfunctional family” card, Moi, Driscoll, and others implicitly coax young people to turn to church as a place where they can experience the family and fellowship they missed out on as a kid. The church then becomes appealing to college students for the same reasons that fraternities and sororities are: instant community. [emphasis added]
Postmoderns receive crucial support—financial and otherwise—from the megachurches. These postmodern ministries are loosely organized by the Leadership Network, a Dallas-based umbrella group for many of the nation’s megachurches. It’s the Leadership Network that keeps Driscoll’s bohemian Mars Hill ministry in touch with the fast-growing, but more traditional, University Baptist Church [emphases added] in Waco by holding conferences and seminars. For the past three years the network has sponsored national conferences that bring together postmodern leaders. The first one attracted nearly 300, the second 500, and the next one, this fall in New Mexico, is expected to draw 1,000.

The network also helps arrange necessary seed money, for example, setting up key contributions from megachurches for the University Baptist ministry in Waco. “We target young, innovative ministries because they are the future of the church,” says Doug Pagitt, 31, of the Leadership Network.
From nine to midnight each Saturday night, Driscoll sits with Moi in a studio high above downtown Seattle, where the two host “Street Talk,” which is broadcast to 16 stations around the country. The show is the brainchild of Moi, who has hosted it for six years.

Tonight’s topic is “The American Dream and Postmodernity: Is There Hope for the Future?” and for the first 15 minutes Moi and Driscoll toss out questions and debate them: Can one be a Christian and be an upwardly mobile capitalist? How can young people reconcile Christian tenets such as service, charity, and community with American ideals such as individualism?

“Some of us haven’t given ourselves over to the American Dream yet,” Driscoll says into the microphone. “How do we make sure we don’t become victims of what harmed us— parents who weren’t around because they were too busy making money so we could go on vacations and look like a family?” The phones are dead.
"How do we make sure we don't become victims of what harmed us ... ?" Couldn't that be read as developing a theological approach around what Mark Driscoll has lately been calling a "father wound"?  It's possible that despite the various shifts and pivots in theology or expression that Mark Driscoll has shuffled the deck but is still playing, so to speak, the same set of cards he was twenty odd years ago. 


If we step back and think about it for a minute, David dealt with Absalom because Absalom's rebellion was part of the prophesied disaster that would befall David's reign predicted by Nathan when Nathan confronted David about his misuse of royal power to serve himself by taking Uriah the Hittite's wife and using his royal command of the military to arrange for Uriah's murder.  If someone has to deal with an Absalom spirit at all it would seem, if we go by the biblical narrative, that Absalom's arise as part of divine judgment on the misuse of royal authority by kings.  So rank and file folks probably don't have to worry about getting trouble from an Absalom spirit, do they?  Or even having one.  

Driscoll describing Spurgeon as having some kind of father wound by invoking Spurgeon's depression at being maligned in the press brings something to mind:
March 6, 2008
Thor Tolo

When the Lord isn’t talking to this man, kiddingly called a short-fused drama queen by his wife, his critics are blogging about him. Some of the sharper barbs make it difficult for Driscoll to hide the hurt.

Bloggers?  People whom Mark Driscoll has regarded from the pulpit as a punchline who can't even be considered official journalists?  To be sure this is a Thor Tolo feature but even in this brief passage Tolo claimed that Grace kiddingly called her husband a short-fused drama queen.  Tolo doesn't quote Driscoll but the  statements help to demonstrate that Mark Driscoll, at least in an interview with Tolo, conveyed the sense that the sharper barbs about him hurt.  


Rob Smith said...

The so-called Jezebel Spirit has been a way for abusive leaders to harm forthright women. No comes this "Absolom Spirit" teaching from a man who led the church viewed by Paul Tripp as the abusive he had ever seen. The trouble with this teaching, is that good men will be accused by abusive leaders as being guilty of having an "Absolom Spirit". Hiw does one prove such, or defend against such. It is merely a tool for abuse... coming from an abusive man.

ExeGe said...

I believe Wendy Alsup and possibly others recall Driscoll telling a story where his father once woke him up by punching him in the face.

So there is at least one instance of a literal father wound.
Hard to imagine an incredibly violent incident like that was isolated.

Hearing his recent unloading on Calvinism, claiming to have never been a calvinist and then calling calvinist 'people with daddy issues' seems to me yet another instance of Mark bald-face lying and yet incidentally telling us the truth about himself.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

I'd never heard of the "Absalom spirit" before Driscoll began to brandish the term. The plagiarism controversy of late 2013 and early 2014 showed how rarely he comes up with his own ideas so whatever the concept is, it seems he got it from the new circles he runs in or he would have used it years ago, back in 2008. Instead he treated dissent or distrust of the executive elders of Mars Hill as based on a satanic lie. To go by what he's written in Win Your War the "Absalom spirit", "father wound" and "church hurt" are new terms that can be used to regard people who dissent from leadership policies or decisions as being under some kind of demonic influence.

But the trouble is, as I began to notice with Real Marriage back in 2012 in cross reference to Mark's 2008 spiritual warfare session, if Mark was as bitter as he claimed he was about the lack of good sex in his life why wasn't he demonized according to the criteria he has laid out for others? It's a question that still lingers in his newer writing.

Driscoll's accounts of his clan being drunken domestic abusers were just general enough that he never addressed whether any of those vices or cycles of abuse actually ended with his own family experience. Nothing in what he wrote as William Wallace II suggests that it did if a sign of brotherly affection mentioned in the course of the debate was brothers striking brothers.

Even though I know Reformed writers and theologians have said that Driscoll is an Amyraldian and therefore not what would be considered historically Reformed on the TULIP, Driscoll was saying, pretty steadily, he was a Calvinist, not least during the years he was okay with accepting backing and support from the Presbyterian David Nicholas. Driscoll ended up in charge of Acts 29 and to date basically nobody can account for how and why Nicholas vanished from Acts 29 leadership who is willing to talk on record.

His whole "don't knock the Puritans" stuff as William Wallace II is still out there for folks to read. If Driscoll wants to act as if he wasn't really Calvinist or in the young, restless Reformed crowd then legacy is getting cast aside in the cultivation of a new market.

If people go read the Patheos blogging he's doing they really don't have any reason to buy the book, btw. Got a second-hand copy I'll write more about later but for anyone who has any kind of curiosity, Mark's book doesn't have a ton in it that's any different from what people can read for free at his Patheos blog. It has really confirmed my earlier suggestion people not buy the book.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

ExeGe, you mentioned Wendy and that reminds me that Wendy posted about the late RHE earlier this year and mentioned that Mark at some point labeled her (Wendy) a contentious woman.

That may have to become a post all its own at some point but I'm trying to not write quite so much about Driscoll during this ... season. :) Reading about Mahalia Jackson and the evolution of pedal steel guitar has been more fun.