@alexmagala / Instagram | Inset: @markdriscoll / Instagram

Pastor Mark Driscoll set the evangelical world on fire last week after calling out a men’s conference at James River Church for a having a “Jezebel spirit.” Driscoll, infamous for his role as former pastor of Mars Church and the accusations of pastoral abuse, attended the Stronger Men’s conference in Springfield, Missouri where Alex Magala performed a sword-swallowing act. Magala, who rose to fame after appearing on “America’s Got Talent” and acknowledged having been a stripper, appeared onstage during the event in a full leather outfit before taking off his shirt and performing acrobatic stunts on a metal pole. Driscoll took the stage after Magala performed and asserted, “The Jezebel spirit opened our event.” “This is a rebuke and a correction of no one. This is an observation. Before the Word of God was open, there was a platform; it was a high place. On it was a pole, an Asherah, the same thing that’s used in a strip club for women who have the Jezebel Spirit to seduce men,” he said. He also criticized the numerous sexual identities that have become commonplace in American culture.

James River Church’s lead pastor, John Lindell, then took to the stage and removed Driscoll from the platform. Several men can be heard booing Driscoll’s removal, with some shouting “Bring him back!” “Mark is out of line. If Mark wanted to say that, he should have said it to me first; he didn’t,” announced Lindell, citing Matthew 18, which states that issues between believers should be handled privately first. “I talked to Mark for a half hour,” said Lindell. “There was not one word of that. He’s out of line. If he wants to say it, he can say it to me. 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 this.” Lindell and Driscoll later appeared on stage together, with Driscoll admitting he should have spoken to Lindell privately first. “I should have — between sessions — talked to you, rather than just verbal processing on the stage,” Driscoll said to Lindell. “And, as the father and the head of this house, you could’ve given me a thumbs up or thumbs down, and I need to honor that as spiritual authority. And I honor your spiritual authority — always have.” Driscoll went on to preach his planned message on stage.

The peace was short-lived, however, as Lindell preached a message on Wednesday calling on Driscoll to repent. He stated that Driscoll had been in contact with Lindell’s son, David, trying to convince him that he should take over James River Church and that “there is something evil at work in the church.” He also stated that Driscoll’s constant posts about a “Jezebel spirit” have led to the church receiving death threats. In one post of Driscoll’s, he pushed back against a USA Today that asserted the term is steeped in racism. “The Jezebel spirit is a demon that has worked through men and women for centuries, from Queen Jezebel in 1st Kings to Jesus’s rebuke of the church in Thyatira in Revelation 2. This demon seeks to control and dominate, most often through seductive women but oftentimes through overbearing, domineering men,” asserted Driscoll. Magala, who states he has become a Christian since his days of pole dancing, said Driscoll misunderstood the nature of his performance. He said the performance was “to be a celebration of physical human achievements and is aligned with the James River Church’s purpose in bringing others into the light of God. It’s essential to approach such performances with an understanding of their intention rather than reducing them to mere entertainment.”

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