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Ep. 361 Response to The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill, Episode 9

Ep. 361 Response to The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill, Episode 9

Shows Main Idea – Mike Cosper opened this episode by talking about the Cottingley Fairies found in five photographs taken by Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths in 1918. In 1984, Elsie said the photos were fake, and Frances said people wanted to believe in them. This Christianity Today podcast episode about The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill discusses our need to believe in someone and a leader’s sinful desire to get us to believe in him.

Show Notes

You may want to read:

Episode Nine: Demon Hunting

My aim in working through these episodes is to help folks think through the church they attend, the leadership culture of their church, and, potentially, identify things that might not be apparent. I will not provide a “Monday morning play-by-play” critique. I hope you will gain personal insight through this review as well as applications to your teachers and the church you attend.

I Want to Believe

There are two main aspects of this podcast. One is our desire to believe in something, and the other is how to discern when someone is manipulating you. Mike asked it this way, “How do we know when our instinct for astonishment is being manipulated? Then he added, “When do we accept the claims that a person is speaking on God’s behalf, and when do we not?”

One of the interviewees said it more concisely: “I felt Mark had a power, and I was desperate for it.” She was desperate to believe, which positioned her for Mark Driscoll’s cruelties. I’m not suggesting it was her fault because we all default to trust; we want to believe in something outside of ourselves.

Defaulting to truth is how God made us. Would you prefer to default to cynicism, suspicions, and conspiracy theories? God wired you to have faith in something, which is a sane way to live your life. The problem is when others use our default to trust vulnerability for selfish purposes.

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When Satan Talks

In the previous short story from CT, Mark shared about hearing from the Lord to plant churches, study the Bible, marry Grace (who became his future wife), and train young men. Someone asked, “How do you know it was from the Lord?” While mocking the questioner, Mark said it was from the Lord because of what “He asked him to do.” Satan would not tell him to do those good things.

If you believe in Satan telling you stuff, the devil might say those things to a man with a narcissistic ego like Mark Driscoll. If I were the devil and had insight into Mark’s character, I would want to motivate him to plant churches, study the Bible, and train young men because a person with such character flaws would wreak much havoc on the church.

Hearing from the Lord” is subjective teaching that a lot of folks adhere to, and in most cases, there is no vetting of that “word from the Lord.” Because this teaching is subjective, it would be better to bring the discussion down to sublunary actors rather than position the problem as a power play between God and Satan about whose voice will command us.

How Do You Know

In the charismatic world, you’ll hear a lot of, “I just got a word from the Lord.” Or, “The Father told me.” I do not believe this line of thinking, but it’s popular nonetheless. God has given us His Word, which is how we hear from God. However, I don’t think we should be so hardcore that we shut out the Spirit of God and the relationship we can have with Him.

Thus, there should be a discussion between being a cessationist and continuationist, and that literature is out there. But since we’re not going to settle our differences, and you probably have already made your decision about which camp is yours, a wise approach would be to discuss how to guard against statements made without weighing those proclamations.

When you connect a person who wants to believe with someone who wants loyal subjects, there can only be one outcome: broken lives. Here are ten things for your consideration when someone tells you they have heard from the Lord.

  1. It’s Not a Fiat: If someone tells you that they have a “word” for you, be careful. Don’t take it as fiat from God.
  2. Be Biblically Diligent: Just because the “God card” is in play, it does not mean it’s true. Without being disrespectful, be biblically diligent.
  3. Verify with Community: If it is from the Lord, others will affirm it and align with God’s Word.
  4. Watch Fear of Man: Frequently, the recipient of such words struggles with the fear of man just enough not to question the leader.
  5. Don’t Be Extra-Biblical: Discern between historical narrative and normative teaching we should do.
  6. Don’t Be Desperate: How much do you want to believe what someone is telling you?
  7. Suffer Sometimes: Reflect on why nearly all “words from the Lord” are positive. There is no knife through the chest, i.e., Abraham, or going to a cross, i.e., Jesus.
  8. Leader Dependent: Is the “prophetic person” creating a dependency on him, or are you growing more dependent on the Lord.
  9. God Dependent: If someone says something to you and it comes true, are you drawn closer to God and His Word or “prophetic words?”
  10. Bible Dependent: Are you more passionate about God’s Word, evidenced by your time in it, or do you get more excited about “prophetic words?”

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Bonus Tips:

  1. Church Culture: What inflames the passion of the church more: subjective experiences or directives and lessons from God’s Word?
  2. Increasing Pastor: Is the pastor growing in stature, or is Christ increasing in the church?

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