Denoted by - Therapist:TH  Randy Pope:Pope  John MacArthur:Mac  Stephen Lawson:Lawson  Mark Driscoll:Driscoll  Ligon Duncan:Ligon  R C Sproul:RC

Who's it really centered on?

Suffering from NPD?

TH: How are things with your wife at home, Mac?

RC: That's a little personal, don't you think?

TH: Just probing. Want to make sure we get it all out, RC. It's okay, you don't have to answer, Mac. It's just your voice seems to carry a dominating tone. Was going to follow up by saying that NOVA, the National Organization for Victims of Abuse states that next to the military and police the professional clergy carry the highest incidence of spousal abuse.

Lawson: Huh?

TH: Lawson, that startles you?
Lawson: It certainly does. I love my wife dearly.

TH: I'm not casting doubt on the love you carry for your wife, Lawson. Simply making you aware of a fact backed up by sound research.

Driscoll: You know, we're simply trying to get people to grow in the Lord. We're not perfect.

TH: I'm not doubting your intentions or judging your motives. We're hear to uncover and deal with any and all elements that may point to an issue you all struggle with as it pertains to NPD. And, with the definition of NPD Mac gave, and with statements by the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelism as well as NOVA, there certainly seems to be a pattern in the Institutional Church indicating a high level of NPD.

Lawson: Jeez, what are we up against, here?  

RC: Try to relax, Lawson. It's all predestined by God.

TH: RC, you think everything is pre-ordained and predestined by God, even the fact you may suffer from NPD?

RC: All under the sovereignty of God.

TH: I'm guessing, here, but that flows right out of your Calvinistic doctrine?

RC: Yes, John Calvin did an amazing and remarkable job of bringing that to light. Nothing happens that doesn't pass through God's hands.

TH: You seem rather absolute with that statement.

RC: God is God. He's in control of everything.

TH: I see. This is an intellectual thing, a high minded theological issue that only the smartest and brightest can comprehend?

Pope: Well, in my church if you don't get it you have to accept it whether you do or don't, or you can't move on in leadership.

TH: So this doctrine is paramount to one's ongoing growth in your church even if they have no comprehension of the doctrine?

Pope: It is.

TH: Like the infant baptism you teach and practice?

Pope: We teach it, and we practice it. Yes, we do.

Ligon: Oh, boy. I'm not feeling too good, here. 

TH: Ligon, you've been awfully quiet. What's wrong? What's on your mind? You sick?

Ligon: I got a confession to make. What RC just said. I gotta tell ya. If I'm really being honest with myself it makes me feel like I'm nothing more than a puppet on a string.

RC: Ligon, we've talked about this. I thought we moved you past that.

Ligon: I guess it's apparent that's not the case, RC. I'm wondering if deep down if I'm really buying all this stuff we're indoctrinating people with. I mean, where does God's responsibility end, and where does mine begin? I'm right back to where we were when we spoke last, RC. You're saying God is responsible even if I'm a narcissist, and controlling and dominating people though my pulpiteering in an Institutional Church? It's all predestined, you believe, and have or had me believing.

RC: God is God! He's in control. It's all predestined.

Ligon: Yes, God is God. However, I beginning to wonder if my view of God truly squares up with yours and John Calvin's.

RC: Ligon, I cannot believe what I'm hearing you say.

TH: RC, you seem upset. Can't Ligon be transparent without you making him feel guilty for what he's thinking? Look at him. His head is hanging like a dog that just got beat with a newspaper.

Mac: Hey, Ligon, it's okay, man. You'll get through it. We've all struggled with what you're dealing with.

TH: And, Mac, what if he doesn't get through it? What if Ligon found he doesn't truly believe what he has been teaching, and that he's really not a Calvinist? Do you then ostracize him?

Mac: Ostracize him...not sure. I hate to see him lose sight of the truth, though. That's certainly his prerogative, though.

TH: The truth as you and the other Calvinist see it, right?

Pope: Listen, some people just can't see it. It's over a lot of peoples' heads. It pretty deep stuff.

Mac: I certainly believe things need to be under control.

TH: With you as the one always controlling?

Mac: I'm the lead pastor. If I don't control it who is?

TH: You're familiar with the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelism, are you not?

Mac: Yes, I am. Great organization. Dr. Billy Graham founded it.

TH: Did you know  they believe  the domination and control of the professional clergy has been a great evil in the history of the church?

Mac: I, uh, well no, I didn't.  

TH: I got one. How do you drown a narcissist?

Group: No response.

TH: Throw a mirror into the bottom of the pool.
Group: Silence, except Driscoll. Ha, ha, hhoo, hoo hoo, ha, ha, ha. (Seeing rest of the group dead panned he quickly brings his chuckle to a halt.)

TH: Come on fellas, let's lighten up a little. Okay, who can tell me what a narcissist is?

Mac: Although most individuals have some narcissistic traits, high levels of narcissism can manifest themselves as a pathological form as narcissistic personality disorder, whereby the patient overestimates his or her abilities and has an excessive need for admiration and affirmation. Got it right here on my laptop from Wikipedia.

TH: Good, and how might that be manifested as pastors in an Institutional Church centered on Calvinism? 

Pope: Need to be up front and center, week after week, month after month, year after year.

TH: Therefore, an excessive need for admiration and affirmation?

Mac: Hey, listen, not sure I'm with you on that.

TH: You have a rather dominating tone in your voice, Mac. Do you need a deep sense of control over those you lead?

TH: Gentlemen, good evening. Thanks for coming together to deal with some issues especially as it pertains to NPD: Narcissistic Pastor Disorder, and Johnny Calvin. How's everyone feeling?

RC: Let's just keep it to one hour as planned, please. I'm not much on spontaneity or that free spirit stuff. Stiff, staid, frozen...that's what's normal for me, and frankly for most of us here.

Pope: Little nervous. First time coming to this sort of thing. Did go once to get advice from a shrink on some emotional pain in the family. He said it was because I wasn't giving enough love.

TH: Really?

Pope: Yea, but when he said that I knew I'd met up with a kook. I'm the senior pastor of a mega church concentrated on

discipleship for crying out loud. Not giving enough love to my family? What a nut, huh? I got up and walked out.

TH: Hmm, I see...RC, you're stiff, staid, and frozen, and that's normal for you?

RC: Hey, why do you think they call us the "frozen chosen"?

TH: Well, let's see if we can't use a little humor to loosen you up a little, perhaps thaw you out. How 'bout a good joke? Anybody got one?

Group: Silence


This is the first in a series of hypothetical group therapy sessions with a group of Calvinists. Hold onto your seat. These sessions promise to be real humdingers!



Pastor Disorder

TH: I understand you believe the Bible is the inerrant word of God, right?

Pope: I do.

TH: Infant baptism cannot be found anywhere in the scriptures - Old or New Testament, but you practice it. You guys just kind of make things up as you go along -- pull things out of the air as you deem fit for the moment?

Pope: Alright, listen, I think you've gone far enough. You got Ligon doubting he's a Calvinist, and, and,'re questioning infant baptism, a dear doctrine of the PCA, my denomination, and I think you're just going a little too far, here.

Mac: I agree.

TH: You guys seem to be getting a little defensive, here.

RC: Hour's up. Got another meeting in fifteen minutes. Gotta go.

TH: Ligon is coming to his own conclusions, Mr. Pope, and infant baptism
is not in the Bible - anywhere. However, RC is right, our time is up. We'll have to
stop here. It's good place to stop.

See you all next session?

All but Pope: Yes

TH: Mr. Pope?

Pope: Yea, I guess. I'm not backing out now. I'll be here.

TH: Good. Now, your homework assignment is to go to the NPD page at Y NOT? The web link is in your welcome packet. Meditate on each question first, and then write an answer to each one. There are twenty five questions. Bring your answers with you when you return. I'll see you all next time. Please pay the receptionist on the way out. Thanks for coming. Have a great day!