In the previous post, The Outrageous Claims of Mars Hill Church “Investigators”, I indicated my strong disagreement with the conclusions of the group of elders and an overseer who identified themselves as the “investigators” who conducted an investigation into the long train of abuses, misdeeds, and other allegations against the founding senior leader of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Mark Driscoll. Those men concluded that “While we believe Mark needs to continue to address these areas in his life, we do not believe him to be disqualified from pastoral ministry.”
I ended that post by saying that abuse of spiritual authority is one of the most, possibly the most, egregious affronts in existence to the One who is the Source of all legitimate authority, and that in a follow-up post I would offer 25 reasons why that is so that immediately come to my mind. This post consists of those 25 reasons.
They are not listed in any particular order, except how they came to me. I could flesh each one of them out more than the ones I did, but that would make this article a book – a book that I already wrote and published 18 years ago – Charismatic Captivation, which addresses in greater detail each and every one of these 25 Reasons. In some cases I have cited portions of the book wherein I address particular matters addressed herein, which are annotated with “CC”.
I will say, however, that this article is a “living” document, that I may, as time permits in the future, come back to and fill in more supportive information, links to existing published articles, and additional Scripture-citings for the points I’ve made. It’s far from being a perfected article or comprehensive discourse. I’ve posted what I have at this point, in the state it is, because otherwise it could take me days or weeks to perfect it more, and I wanted to publish it for our readership while the matters to which it relates are still in the public discourse.
25 Reasons Hyper-Authoritarian Church Leadership IS Disqualifying
1. It is sin, sinful, and demonic to desire to control and dominate people who Jesus gave his life to set free; reflects numerous sinful attitudes; since when is overt, habitual sin not disqualifying?
2. Biblically prohibited — 1 Pet 5:1-3; et al.; that alone should be enough.
3. To lead and captivate followers by fear and intimidation is an abomination unto God. As a deliverance minister with a strong operation of the charismatic gift of the discerning of spirits, when I look at photos of many modern Driscoll-like mega-church pastors, I see in their countenance a spirit of murder and spirits of violence, antagonism, hostility, and belligerence that I have often discerned or observed in deliverance counselees who have been involved in some form of martial arts and/or pugilism or fanatical weapon enthusiasm. I don’t know Mark Driscoll personally or much of anything about his personal life other than what I have read in various articles, but I would be shocked if he is not a practitioner of one or more of these types of practices; I see it all over his countenance and disposition. He strikes me as a fierce competitor with a strong, driving “spirit of competition” that makes him always have to “win” at whatever he does, and that just about every undertaking in his life is a “game” of competition that he MUST win at all costs. You might go to the NFL’s Hall of Fame for that kind of fierce competitiveness, but if it’s part of your personal life and walk with God, it will send you to the eternal flames of Hell! That kind of murderous competitiveness is a subtle form of hatred derived from a demonic “spirit of murder” and we know that “no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (1 Jn. 3:15). The Bible invokes in several places the term “a violent man” (2 Sam. 22:49; Psa. 18:48; 140:1,4,11; Pro. 16:29). One of those passage seems particularly applicable in this case:
“I have seen a wicked, violent man Spreading himself like a luxuriant tree in its native soil. Then he passed away, and lo, he was no more; I sought for him, but he could not be found. Mark the blameless man, and behold the upright; For the man of peace will have a posterity. But transgressors will be altogether destroyed; The posterity of the wicked will be cut off” (Psa. 37:35-38).
4. God says He is opposed to, against shepherds who dominate and control the sheep of His flock, and He personally will demand His sheep from them, and remove such human shepherds from shepherding His flock – Ezk. 34:1-10; Jer. 23:1-4:
Then the word of the LORD came to me saying, “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Prophesy and say to those shepherds, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Woe, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flock? “You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat sheep without feeding the flock. “Those who are sickly you have not strengthened, the diseased you have not healed, the broken you have not bound up, the scattered you have not brought back, nor have you sought for the lost; but with force and with severity you have dominated them. “They were scattered for lack of a shepherd, and they became food for every beast of the field and were scattered. “My flock wandered through all the mountains and on every high hill; My flock was scattered over all the surface of the earth, and there was no one to search or seek for them.”‘” Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: “As I live,” declares the Lord GOD, “surely because My flock has become a prey, My flock has even become food for all the beasts of the field for lack of a shepherd, and My shepherds did not search for My flock, but rather the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed My flock; therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will demand My sheep from them and make them cease from feeding sheep. So the shepherds will not feed themselves anymore, but I will deliver My flock from their mouth, so that they will not be food for them.”‘” (Ezk. 34:1-10)
“Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of My pasture!” declares the LORD. Therefore thus says the LORD God of Israel concerning the shepherds who are tending My people: “You have scattered My flock and driven them away, and have not attended to them; behold, I am about to attend to you for the evil of your deeds,” declares the LORD. “Then I Myself will gather the remnant of My flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and bring them back to their pasture, and they will be fruitful and multiply. I will also raise up shepherds over them and they will tend them; and they will not be afraid any longer, nor be terrified, nor will any be missing,” declares the LORD. (Jer. 23:1-4)
5. Psychological enslavement – “You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men” (1 Cor. 7:23). Enslaving followers is reflective of the devil, not God. Jesus liberates His followers: “He who the Son sets free is free indeed” (Jn. 8:36). Such enslavement is totally contrary to the Good News of freedom in Christ; Jesus came to set the captives free (Lk. 4:18), not captivate and enslave them all over again. “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1). Allowing ourselves to be enslaved all over again once we’ve been liberated by the Son is an absolute affront to God. It is from abject slavery and bondage to the hard taskmastery of the chief false god, the devil, that the Lord has delivered us, and to once again subject ourselves to slavery and bondage which leads ultimately to the devil is to in effect trample under foot the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ and the freedom He thereby obtained for us. The highest intention and indeed the ultimate plan of God is to make believers, the Church – redeemed humanity – not slaves, but sons: “Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a SON; and if a son, then an heir through God” (Gal. 4:7). Indeed, that is what redeemed humanity is — sons of God. “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the SONS OF GOD….Beloved, now are we the sons of God.” Believers should never surrender their will to someone else’s dominion or control. “Do you not know that if you continually SURRENDER yourselves to ANYONE to do HIS WILL, you are the SLAVES of HIM WHOM YOU OBEY…?” (Rom. 6:16; AMP). Coercing, compelling, or persuading others to surrender or submit their will unto someone else is the very definition of witchcraft/sorcery. Psychological enslavement is witchcraft or sorcery, and people who engage in it are sorcerers. Peter’s rebuke of Simon the Sorcerer (Ac. 8:20) and God’s killing of King Saul (2 Chr. 10:13-14) because he sought a medium and operated in witchcraft himself demonstrate that being a sorcerer or operating in witchcraft is disqualifying. See more about this in #6. God absolutely prohibits believers becoming slaves to men. (See Chapters 10 & 11, CC)
6. It is witchcraft/sorcery and thus demonic and practitioners of it are agents of the devil. God killed King Saul because he sought a medium and operated in witchcraft (2 Chr. 10:13-14). Paul the apostle cursed Elymas the magician (sorcerer) with blindness because he was operating in witchcraft. Peter rebuked Simon the Sorcerer (Ac. 8:20) because he was operating in witchcraft for profit and sought the gift of the Holy Spirit to profit by it, and cursed him with death if he did not repent, and history demonstrates he never did and died a horrible death (Ac. 8:20). Sorcery is a deed of the flesh (Gal. 5:20). (See Chapters 10 & 11, CC.) God forbids believers to practice any form or sort of witchcraft and says He Himself will ultimately drive sorcerers from the assemblies of churches:
“When you enter the land which the LORD your God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations. “There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. “For whoever does these things is detestable to the LORD; and because of these detestable things the LORD your God will drive them out before you. “You shall be blameless before the LORD your God. “For those nations, which you shall dispossess, listen to those who practice witchcraft and to diviners, but as for you, the LORD your God has not allowed you to do so. (Deu. 18:9-14)
7. Covenants with men covenanting to submit to their authority are really covenants with demons and demonic soul-ties that open the door to demonic incursion. When a person surrenders his personal will (volition) unto another person, the result is a “soul‑tie,” which evokes supernatural bondage involving the powers of demons. The person who surrenders his will, whether to a substance, a behavior, or the dominion or control of another person, no longer has full control over his own life, but has surrendered some measure of that control to demons, allowing them entrance and to exert some measure of influence and control in especially the surrendered aspects of the person’s life. This is true, regardless of what domain the soul‑tie is operative in, and soul‑ties can exist in just about any realm of human experience. But, the kind of soul‑ties that are often the strongest and most difficult to sever are those of the ilk addressed here in which a sincere but spiritually naive disciple of Christ has become enslaved to a spiritual leader by means of the deadly combination of fallacious spiritual indoctrination plus fleshly seduction and charm. All such soul‑ties are demonic, invite demonic incursion, and result in submission to evil spirits of slavery (Rom. 8:15). This is why the Lord trumpets forth the simple and clear warning: “therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” It is vital to understand in the discussion of these matters we are discussing here that the “yoke of slavery” is not just a metaphor or a figure of speech. It is real. It exists in the spirit realm. Having extensive experience in casting demons out of people, I have personally witnessed the “yoke of slavery” on people. People subject themselves to a “yoke of slavery” when they submit themselves (i.e., their will) unto the control of someone else. I have seen firsthand the powerful bondage people bring upon themselves when they surrender their will unto someone else, whether it be to Satan and sin or to another person. A yoke speaks of servitude, such as in the case of the yoke that is placed upon a team of oxen (symbol of servants in the Bible) that makes the large animals obedient and docile. There is a huge difference between the “yoke of slavery,” which is Satan’s yoke he places upon people’s necks and the yoke of servitude Jesus’ invited us to “take upon” ourselves. “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take MY YOKE upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For MY YOKE is easy and my load is light” (Mat. 11:28-30). In this open invitation Jesus is bidding us all to take His yoke upon ourselves, thereby placing ourselves under His perfectly virtuous and righteous mastership and ownership, becoming His docile and obedient servants. Inherent in these words is Jesus’ highlighting of the stark contrasts between the yoke of willing servitude unto Him and the yoke of bondage to sin and to the hard taskmasters in the world who captivate the souls of men. Yokes of bondage devised by Satan are extremely heavy and oppressive fetters that in the end will bring you into total weariness and exhaustion of mind, soul, and even body. Whereas, Jesus says His yoke is easy and His burden is light, and they produce rest for our soul. By contrast, the oppressive yokes of slavery and bondage that leaders who are themselves being driven by an evil religious spirit of domination, control, and witchcraft place upon the necks of their followers, Jesus referred to as “heavy burdens” in his denunciation of the scribes and Pharisees found in Matthew 23:
“They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger.” (v. 4)
But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.” (v. 13)
(See pp. 287-288, CC)
8. Brings about numerous negative spiritual and psychological effects upon victims (individuals and families) [I delineate scores of them in Charismatic Captivation]. Though to hear the Mars Hill Church/Mark Driscoll “investigators” tell it, a “domineering leadership style” is a victimless, harmless, and inconsequential behavior; it’s just a “leadership style.”
9. Egregious misrepresentation and reflection of the Chief/Good Shepherd.
10. Such claims infer that domination and control over people has no negative effects upon victims, which is a totally false claim. Indeed, “Multitudes of naive and unsuspecting individuals as well as whole families have been psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually damaged by these very powerful mechanisms of domination‑ and control‑oriented indoctrination. Some have suffered such total spiritual shipwreck and disillusionment that recovery requires the supernatural intervention of God, which happens but is extremely rare.” (Quote from article: Charismatic Captivation) “Departing and ostracized members often suffer from various psychological problems and display the classic symptoms associated with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).” (Quote from article: Signs of Spiritual Abuse)
11. Misrepresents, maligns, suppresses, and supplants the role of the Fivefold Ministry (see Chapter 8, CC).
12. Engenders vertical relationships among ministers, when fact is all ministerial relationships are horizontal. Jesus told the original apostles that they were (apostles, ministers) all on the same level as brothers (Living Translation), don’t do as the Gentiles (unbelievers, the world) who lord over one another, that’s not the Kingdom way.
13. Reflects ignorance of God’s Word – “man of God…adequately equipped (thoroughly furnished, KJV)” – 2 Tim. 3:17.
14. Infers God’s Word regarding this matter is not true and can be ignored without consequence and with impunity from God.
15. Disgraces Christ: Any man who has his head covered disgraces his head – 1 Cor. 11:2-4 and undermines His Headship over every male believer and the Body of Christ. (See p. 126, CC)
16. It’s a betrayal of trust placed in the leader by followers to lead them in a Christ-like and Biblical manner.
17. It is spiritual idolatry and spiritual adultery – apotheosis (i.e., de facto deification) of leaders (see pp. 108-109 CC). To conserve space here in this article I highly recommend you read the excerpt of what I wrote about the former (spiritual idolatry) in Charismatic Captivation by clicking here. I also explained in Charismatic Captivation how that hyper-authoritarianism also is, “Spiritual Adultery.” You can read an adaptation of that section of the book by clicking here.
18. It engenders illegitimate (false) human mediators between God and men – 1 Tim. 2:5 (see p. 95ff, CC). Whether intentional or not, followers of these men who, like Simon the Sorcerer, hold themselves out to be “someone great” (Ac. 8:9) and who are like Diotrephes, who John the apostle called out as one “who loves to be first among them” (1 Jn. 1:9), especially the younger followers, tend to make these men de facto human mediators between themselves and God, and egotistic, narcissistic leaders such as this are all too eager to allow them to regard them as such, take full advantage of such misplaced extreme esteem, and in the case of some of the more unscrupulous such leaders, actually do things to exploit same for self-aggrandizing purposes.
19. Deeds and teaching of the Nicolaitans, which Jesus stated he hates. (See Chapter 3, CC)
20. It is heresy and those who teach hyper-authoritarianism are heretics – Rom. 16:17.
21. Overseers (pastors, shepherds, elders) must be above reproach, temperate (of good behavior, modest), prudent, respectable, hospitable, peaceable (not a brawler) [uncontentious; NASB] gentle (moderate, mild, not aggressive), and must not be pugnacious (li. a striker; quarrelsome). Moses was a man given to anger. Scripture, including the five books written by Moses himself, makes no attempt to sugar-coat or cover over that fact about him. For all the good attributes for which he was hand-picked by God to be the Israelites human deliverer and intermediator of God, Moses also had his flaws. He was not a perfect man. At 40 Moses was overly-aggressive, a striker, not temperate, not peaceable, not uncontentious, he was pugnacious and quarrelsome, and he murdered the Egyptian taskmaster. As a disciplinary consequence, God drove him to the backside of the wilderness where he lived until he was 80 (40 years after he killed the Egyptian), presumably until he had “mellowed” at least to some degree and learned not to attempt to accomplish the purposes and plans of God through his own flesh and power and might – Not by might, nor by power, but by MY SPIRIT, says the Lord of hosts” (Zech. 4:6) – and his own fleshly anger or indignation, no matter how righteous, but to allow God to do the delivering and to work His power and might through him; to wit: the miracles that ultimately persuaded Pharaoh to free the Israelites. Though later, once again Moses temper and anger got the best of him and he was provoked by the people’s disobedience and insolence to strike the rock (he was a striker) [Num. 20:11] – twice – rather than to speak to it once as God had commanded him [Num. 20:8]. For that outburst of anger (the reason for which God said was he did not believe Him [Num. 20:12] and he “broke faith with Him” [Deut. 32:51], his sentence of punishment from God was that he was allowed to “see the (Promise) Land from a distance” (Deut. 32:52) but was forbidden from entering and thereby have a part in possessing it when they finally arrived there after a 40-year sojourn in the wilderness that was in actuality only an eleven-day journey from beginning point to ending point.
The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will. (2 Tim. 2:24-26)
22. People who do this are sadistic abusers (see 1 Tim. 3:1-9, AMP; pp. 108-109 CC), almost always includes varying degrees of misogyny and degradation of women and teeters on the edge of if not crosses the line of homosexuality. Unchecked and unabated, abuse of authority eventually leads to various other forms of abuse and mistreatment of followers, such as pedophilia and other forms of sexual deviancy, arising out of “power-trips” and deriving from abuse of unbridled, absolute authority. (e.g., Earl Paulk, Bob Jones, Bill Gothard, Doug Phillips, Eddie Long, C.J. Mahaney, Mark Driscoll, et al., and many others who are not so well-known, and who have not yet been publicly exposed in the media). This has been a prevalent, though largely unknown, problem in the Charismatic Movement especially. (See also: pp. 103-106, CC)
24. Leaders who are domineering and controlling are Anti-Christ Wolves — “savage wolves” – Acts 20:28; “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” (See pp. 120-123, CC)
25. Hyper-authoritarianism intrinsically is hijacking the Flock of God from the Chief/Good Shepherd, Jesus. (See pp. 120-121, CC)
This panel of former Mars Hill Church subordinate leaders, in my view, have done a grave disservice to the Body of Christ and Church-at-large in essentially “clearing” Driscoll for ministry somewhere else and to continue to prey upon uninformed and misinformed believers. Their unanimous conclusion that he is not “disqualified from pastoral ministry” means that they believe he is qualified for pastoral ministry, which is outrageous and an affront to the Truth of the Word of God and God Himself. In my book, as well as God’s Book, Mr. Driscoll has indeed disqualified himself from pastoral ministry of all sorts and kinds, and the Body of Christ have a duty and responsibility to obey God’s command concerning such errant leaders — “from such turn away (KJV)”:
Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting. (Rom. 16:17-18)
Driscoll has failed the Sheep of God’s Flock and the Chief Shepherd, and so also have these leaders who failed in their duties to obey the solemn charge of God to “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.” (2 Tim. 4:2) “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Mk. 12:34), and these men have revealed what is in their heart regarding pastoral ministry, which is that the allegations and admitted transgressions of Mark Driscoll, while they believe pastors guilty of such attitudes and behavior as Mark’s need to continue to address these areas in their life, they are not disqualifying from pastoral ministry. In other words, it’s okay for pastors to repeat the sins of Mark Driscoll without repercussions and with impunity.
Huh? Excuse me? What did you say?
I’m sorry, but I beg to differ…and so does God!
“Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the LORD of hosts. “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. “He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will PURIFY the sons of Levi (O.T. counterpart [types & shadows] to N.T. Fivefold Ministry) and REFINE them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the LORD offerings in righteousness. “Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years. “Then I will draw near to you for judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers and against the adulterers and against those who swear falsely, and against those who oppress the wage earner in his wages, the widow and the orphan, and those who turn aside the alien and do not fear Me,” says the LORD of hosts. (Mal. 3:1-5)
Dr. Steven Lambert was ordained in 1977 and holds several earned graduate/post-graduate degrees. Over more than four decades in ministry, he has served as a pastor, radio/TV host, adjunct-professor, Board Certified Doctoral Diplomate Christian Therapist/Counselor, and a speaker/commentator on a range of social, political, and theological issues, particularly as a recognized authority on the matter of ecclesiastical authoritarian abuse. He is the founder/Overseer of Ephesians Four Network (ephesiansfour.net) and its subsidiary, Ephesians Four Network of Deliverance Counselors (efndc.ephesiansfour.net). Dr. Lambert authored several books (catalog at realtruthpublications.com), many published articles, and is the founder/editor of Spirit Life Magazine (spiritlifemag.com). His bio, extensive blog, and scheduling information are available on his ministry website at: http://www.slm.org. You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook.
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