Biblical men, men, men, men, manly men, men, men

Biblical men, men, men, men, manly men, men, men April 17, 2024

• Apparently the “Stronger Men’s Conference” is still a thing (see this 2018 post, “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Attend The ‘Stronger Men’s Conference’“). The lineup of biblically masculine speakers for this year’s event included Mark Driscoll, who is apparently also still a thing (see this 2014 post, “The gospel of misogyny“).

Driscoll’s appearance at this year’s conference was cut short, however, when he used his time to rail against the “Jezebel Spirit”* of the previous night’s entertainment — sword-swallower Alexandr Magala, who won Russia’s Got Talent in 2014 and performed at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Somebody saw Alex Magala perform on “Britain’s Got Talent” and thought “THIS is what manly biblical manly men need to see!”

Most of the arts don’t pay, of course, so it’s not like Magala can make a living only as a sword-swallower.  But some of the arts still pay, so apart from gigs like the Stronger Men’s Conference, Magala earns his living as an ecdysiast.

So, yeah, they hired a stripper for the Stronger Men’s Conference, but not to perform as a stripper.

But that’s not the funny part. The funny part, as Julie Roys says, is that Mark Driscoll got “Matthew 18’d.” After Driscoll was removed from the stage for criticizing Magala’s “Jezebel Spirit,” the conference organizer, John Lindell, ripped Driscoll for making his criticism public instead of coming to him privately first:

“Mark is out of line,” Lindell said. “If Mark wanted to say that, he should have said it to me first. Matthew 18! Matthew 18! If your brother offends you, go to him privately.”

Lindell then said he had talked to Driscoll for a half-hour, but Driscoll hadn’t said a thing about his offense.

“You may not agree with me. You may not agree with him. But we are brothers in Christ. And there’s a right way to handle disagreement. And I’m just telling you, I’m not going to sit back and watch somebody do publicly what they should have done privately.”

As I’ve said here many times, “Matthew 18” is a refuge for scoundrels. It’s how weasels change the subject and turn the table when their misdeeds are exposed. Lindell’s lawyerly appeal to that passage here is another example of what I meant when I wrote, “99% of the time that biblical text is invoked it’s by someone who’s being an insufferable, sanctimonious git.”

Mark Driscoll himself does this a lot, which is why it’s so hilarious to see the same sleazeball eisegesis being turned back on him. As Roys writes:

Driscoll is bad. But Lindell may be equally bad. And his conference is an embarrassment to the gospel.

But what really struck me about the fiasco this weekend was the irony of it all. Here was Driscoll—a master manipulator and spiritual abuser, who had used Matthew 18 numerous times to control and manipulate people—getting Matthew 18ed by another pastor!

Yep. And that may be even funnier than the unsubtle sub-text of filling an arena with mega-church, MAGA-church men to celebrate biblical masculinity and having them cheer as a shirtless man swallows the biggest sword they’ve ever seen.

• The other thing we should mention about “Matthew 18!” is that while Matthew 18:15-16 offers wise advice for dealing with interpersonal disagreements, Matthew 18:17 is an unholy mess that’s jarringly out of place.  “… If the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a gentile and a tax collector.”

Might just as well have had Jesus pull out a cell phone. “The church” is an anachronism here. In the setting of Matthew 18, Jesus and his disciples were Jesus and his disciples. “The church” was still a long ways off, and calling it “the church” was something that came even later than that. Also, by the time “the church” had become a thing that used that name, it had become a community that welcomed “gentiles.”

The cruel irony is that this weird insertion into Matthew 18 became the basis for centuries of harsh “church discipline” and excommunications, all 100% carried out by people who were themselves “gentiles.”

• We recently discussed Andrew Wommack Ministries — the creepy cluster of ministries run by the prosperity-gospel televangelist in Woodland Park, Colorado. (See: “The Seven Mountains In The Rockies.”)

Wommack is a disciple of Kenneth Copeland and a “seven mountains” dominionist — someone who believes that God wants people like him to rule everything, government, schools, businesses, media, entertainment … everything. And since Wommack’s church and TV show and Bible college are one of the biggest things in his small town, he leveraged that to take over the Woodland Park school board, getting his loyal followers elected to a majority of seats last year. Having accomplished that, Wommack set his sights on the city council, fielding a slate of candidates in the hopes of securing a majority there too.

That didn’t work out for him. In an election on April 2, Woodland Park elected a new mayor and four new city council members, with voters rejecting all of Wommack’s candidates. Good for them.

* References to “the Jezebel Spirit” are a sign that you’re dealing with someone whose “spiritual warfare” Christianity has devolved into monolatrous polytheism. These weirdos act like “the Jezebel Spirit” is a rival, evil God(dess). And they will pray (cast spells, invoke spirits) to fight against Her.

If you encounter someone using this term in person, just say “I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel” and run away as quickly as possible.

Oh, and the title for this post is from the theme song for the sitcom “Two and a Half Men.”

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