The Wartburg Watch (TWW) recently posted the article What is the New Apostolic Reformation? (NAR) as part of a series exploring where it appears Mark Driscoll may land for “ministering” in his post-Mars Hill Church career. I contributed several comments to this thread, since I had done some in-depth studies of the NAR as part of my case studies on involvement of the NAR Council of Apostles and Prophets with Todd Bentley and the Lakeland Outpouring, and with its incubating the Strategic Level Prayer and Spiritual Warfare movements. Continue reading
Someone working on a research project recently asked me for my definition or description of “spiritual abuse” and how I would “measure” the levels of abuse and recovery that a person experienced. I’ll get to that task eventually, as it is part of my own research work on metrics of transformation.
But, to answer my researcher friend, I realized that first I needed to figure out the contours of what makes a system conducive to either constructive growth or to harm. A quickee checklist of abusive actions would be meaningless for measuring the degree of destructive impact from spiritual abuse. At the least, a workable checklist needs a reasoned and relatively comprehensive theory behind it. If we’ve developed a clear context for said checklist, that makes it possible to interpret the abusive actions, not just observe their presence. And my intuitive hunch is that a systems approach will also make measurement more possible for the overall negative impact or positive recovery from abuse.
So, I started by mentally cataloging what I have concluded a “safe” and “healthy” environment looks like – and then how the elements in that system get corrupted through “abuse” and “power-lust.” I also ran all of that through the grid of the book I’m writing about how to measure the qualitative impact of personal and social efforts for transformation. (We too often look at only the quantitative elements, like dollars and hours spent and the number of people at our activities. But those really only indicate our investment in the opportunity to possibly make changes – not the changes themselves.)
This all meant my approach to what’s “healthy” needed to include frameworks I use, like paradigm systems and quadruple bottom line thinking for achieving goals for the common good. (The definitions of these frameworks come in earlier parts of the book, but I’ll at least sketch them out here.) So, what follows is the overview of safe versus abusive systems that came out of that process. It’s still rough and needs more work, but it’s getting there.
I wrote the original version of the following article as a comment on a spiritual abuse survivor blog post about a controversy involving a “Calvinista” denunciation of gender parity in a particular parachurch ministry’s leadership teams. This “neo-Reformed” movement has become pervasive in the past few years, and I have already written extensively on many of the individual elements in its faith and practice. So, I thought I would edit my comment and present it here as a summary of how I define and describe this movement of “the Calvinistas,” based on my readings about individuals and organizations that have been so labeled, and my analyses of their paradigms (dominant forms of information processing, values, beliefs, organizational structures, forms of collaboration, and cultures).
NOTES: To keep this article from being totally technical, I’ve gone back through to re-edit it to make the language more accessible, and to add some descriptions of what it is and isn’t. Also, please note that I DO NOT categorize all Calvinist/Reformed theologians as “Calvinistas.” There are very specific “markers” that identify the differences between the two.
UPDATE January 2, 2015. At the bottom, I’ve added a comment that addresses the wider question of this being a paradigm problem instead of just a theological situation, and what kinds of theological systems are most susceptible to this kind of toxicity.
UPDATE August 27, 2015. I edited the six core elements in the section on “Idealism, Ideology, and Epistemology” to add what sphere of interaction I believe each element most relates with. Continue reading