Yep, Mark, This IS "Demon Stuff"

It takes a lot for me to feel even a little bit sorry for Douglas Wilson.

Now, if he were in a serious wreck, or were diagnosed with a terminal illness, or lost someone close to him unexpectedly, I would feel terrible for him — and I pray those things never happen; unlike him, I refuse to pray imprecatorily. But absent those and other horrors, I find Wilson to be a pompous, bigoted, intemperate, boorish faux-intellectual whose difficulties most often come to him via his own recklessness, arrogance, or ignorance, and while I’m deeply pained that these controversies reflect poorly on the Christian faith and its Author, I’m comfortable assigning the blame for them solely to Doug — sola Wilsonia, as it were. When one finds himself bleeding out from a wound inflicted by his own serrated edge, he is hardly a candidate for his critics’ sympathy.

So imagine my surprise that, just last week, I found myself squirming a little at the humiliation Wilson, a devout cessationist — someone who believes the “sign” gifts of the Spirit such as prophecy, miracles, and words of knowledge or wisdom no longer exist in the Church — must be feeling just now. In luring the coolest guy in Reformed circles over to the Anselm Club House, he’s got fellow pastor and cessationist Mark Driscoll co-headlining, with Wilson, his son, and his daughter’s husband, a conference later this month.

Which would, at least for the guys involved, be just fine, except that the Grace Agenda and bonhomie of the weekend has suffered a bit of a wrinkle. It turns out that Wilson’s new pal is on record as saying that the Holy Spirit gives him the supernatural ability to “see things” about other people, things like past instances of rape or molestation or adultery (this being Driscoll, they’re almost always, it seems, sexual in nature) that he then shares with them.

If this is cessationism, it’s the most sensational cessationism you or I have ever heard of, not to mention utterly offensive, dangerous, and un-Biblical — and I say this as a non-cessationist, someone who believes the sign gifts DO, in fact, still exist. Here’s Driscoll on stage at Mars Hill, clad in a brown hoodie and a gray Mickey Mouse shirt, presumably so we’re not overwhelmed by his prophetic gravitas:

The layers of danger here are higher than a Sabbath-dinner dessert parfait, and this odd little and exceedingly dangerous predilection of Driscoll’s ought finally to topple him from any position, real or presumed, as a reasonable spokesman for the Christian faith. And they cause no small embarrassment for the seemingly un-embarrassable Doug Wilson, who evidently hasn’t found Driscoll’s myriad other pastoral and exegetical shortcomings terribly disturbing. But this has our Sergeant of Serrated Spin floundering about wildly as he attempts in Blog and Mablog to defend Driscoll, although rarely by name, while assuring the bewildered reader that when his pal uses words like “supernatural,” “I see a picture,” and “from the Spirit,” it’s not REALLY the same thing as what those charismatic whack-jobs do.

Because Wilson, to be Wilson, has to maintain his rigid theology — Reformed, conservative, masculinist, and cessationist. Lord knows Driscoll and he share the first three, and presumably the still-cessationist Driscoll believes, and Wilson believed, that they share the final point. But even I felt a twinge — just a twinge, nothing more — of sympathy for Wilson as he flailed about in Blog and Mablog, trying to explain that, OK, when Driscoll says things like “I can see things, like a screen over their heads,” attributes that (wrongly) to a gift of discernment and (wrongly a hundredfold) then, based on his salacious hunches, suggests that a woman go ask Grandpa if he molested her when she was three, it’s somehow not the exercise of prophecy or the reception of a word of wisdom or of knowledge. That, of course, makes even less sense than Driscoll’s blathering, albeit with much less danger attached.

I’ll have much more to say about Driscoll’s “spirit-guided” insight into his congregants’ sexual and other sinful histories, but I am unshakeable in my conviction that this practice of his is dangerous. Poor Grandpa, in the example above, if he is, in fact, innocent. Can you imagine the effect on family harmony, not to mention the furthering of the Gospel among unbelievers, when that discussion goes sour? If he’s correct, he’s guessed well; if he’s not, he’s not only NOT hearing from the Holy Spirit — although I absolutely believe he’s hearing from A spirit — but has caused tremendous emotional damage to someone who may not even have sought out his counsel in the first place.

Or how about when, after he gets one of these “pictures” over the head of a woman, Driscoll suggests that she confess during couples’ counseling the lurid details of the adulterous sexual relationship he says the Spirit “shows” him she engaged in? Any potential for disaster there? If he’s wrong, and if her spouse is not a Christian, there’s no blow job sufficiently powerful to turn him around after that. (Remember, Driscoll believes women unequally yoked should augment the teachings in 1 Peter with frequent, robust gifts of oral sex to her reprobate husband). How about when Driscoll tells her, in typically lurid Driscollian detail, about the rape he’s sure she suffered decades before?

After reading the post and watching the accompanying video, you’ll understand why I use women as examples, not men; it seems this “gift” visits Macho Mark to inform him of women’s past sexual experiences more often than not, which is made even more dangerous given Driscoll’s well-deserved reputation for near-obsession with sex and his overtly, coarsely masculinist theology. Wilson gamely writes that he would never cease fellowship with a non-cessationist just because they understand the Spiritual gifts differently. That’s good to know. Unfortunately, he seems entirely willing to NOT cease fellowship with a vicious and vapid man who, even when talking about the things of the Spirit, tends to make you want to admonish him to keep his mind out of the gutter and his hands up on the table, and then look for a bar of soap with which to wash out his smirking mouth.

Leave a Reply